Chapter 9:

White Snow

Through the Christmas Glass

Cardinal Laicolassë was still convulsing, but he uttered some inaudible spell and undid Laura's paralyzing spell. He looked at her with a half embarrassed - half ‘Yeah it was me who ate your stashed pudding’ look.

“My child... this is .... not ...what it... looks like”, he said, gasping for words.
“Really? What does it look like Cardinal? Did you take a mid-night walk with a knife in your hand to spread some butter on... oh wait.. that is not bread! That is Kuro!”
The Cardinal uttered a second spell and regained his breath.

“You wouldn't understand my child”.
“Try me!” Laura was angry but also wary. She wasn't sure if the Cardinal was going to attack both of them to keep their mouths shut.

“Fine. Look... This man should not be here. It is dangerous for our world, if not our entire plane, for him to be here. You know all about the prophecy predicting his arrival, but what you do not know is that there are 4 more verses at the end which were kept top secret. Only Cardinals of our Church and above know them”.

“What do these verses say?”, Laura asked.
“The third stanza goes like this:
‘Blessed be the Otherworlder
for he will show us the Way
after a brief period of chaos
our land will be in order’, as you know.

The secret final stanza is this:
‘He'll revert our world to its original state
all colors, everything, will be made whole
blood will be red, snow will be white
the Sun will be yellow and truly bright!’ “

Revert our world? What does that even mean?", Laura asked.
“It has been largely forgotten by now but there are a few surviving accounts from back then which reported what happened.

These are now kept under lock & key and very few people have access to them. More than 2,000 years ago there was a major incident. A group of dark mages managed to capture the Goddess of Light. They performed a forbidden magic ritual and stole her power and all her life force.

With her dying breaths she cursed our world to have all its colors reversed; or, perhaps, be perceived as reversed, I'm not really sure. In other world we are not normal, he is”, the Cardinal pointed to Kuro. Kuro remained silent and just observed them.

“Then why did you want to kill him Cardinal?”
“Because, my child, it was also written that it took centuries last time for our world to be fully stabilized after that incident.
If Kuro's prophesied powers are awakened and he starts reverting the light and the colors of our world we will, again, have many centuries of chaos and instability ahead of us, not just a ‘brief period’ as the prophecy says”.

“Hello? Excuse me.. sorry to disturb your heated debate, but shouldn't I get a vote in this? I do not care about prophesies, dark mages, inverted colors, goddesses of light, color or darkness. Things just got too complex and political, so I'd just like to return to my world please.

This way you can keep your colors intact and I'll barely make it in time for the New Year's Eve; I already lost Christmas - the one you know as Samtsirch. I will cast spells in my imagination back home; I don't need real ones, thanks but no thanks. After all my sensei just tried to murder me to prevent a prophecy”, Kuro intervened.

“Don't worry Master Kuro, there is a time imbalance between our worlds. For each day in our world only 1 hour passes in yours”, Laura explained.
“Oh, so it's still Christmas Eve in Tokyo. Neat!” Kuro smiled warily.

“It's too dangerous to keep him alive, the prophecy might find some other way to bring him back here”, Cardinal Laicolassë pleaded.
“Is that why you asked me to bring him, to make sure he is dead?”
“Exactly. The risk is too great”.

“Prophecies do nothing by themselves Cardinal, only people who believe in them do. Those are some of the first words you told me when you started training me, did you forget?” Laura frowned.

“Touché my child. But wh.. what if I ordered you to kill him?”
“If you did that would be your first and last order I refused to obey. I would also resign, effective immediately. But I think you need to resign. Did you consult the Archbishop or talk to the other Cardinals about your plans to kill our.. guest?”
“No I did not, my child”.

“Did you also pay that mob who hunted Kuro and told them to say they were paid by Cardinal Curufinwë?”
“I used Curufinwë's middleman to pay them; I instructed him to tell them the coin was from Curufinwë. I paid him double just for that”.
“I have no other choice but to turn you in to the other Cardinals and the Archbishop, I'm sorry”.

“You can't be serious my child. If you do that my reputation will be in tatters!
I will be defrocked. I might even be executed!”, the Cardinal was still holding the knife.

“You need to take responsibility for what you've done Cardinal. As for whether Kuro should stay to continue his training or not I will not defer to the Archbishop or the other Cardinals. It's his life, not theirs. Kuro do you want to stay?”, this was the first time Laura called him Kuro.

”Heck no! If your Archbishop thinks reverting your colors of your world is a good idea I might be stuck here for months, or even years! It was fun while it lasted but I'd like you to take me back please”.
“Then so I will”, Laura said, “I had my magic crystal replaced a while ago, so I can even take you tonight if you want”.

“Please don't do this my child. Please do not tell the Archbishop about what I did. We cannot know if the Archbishop has other people looking for him, perhaps in his world; he also knows about the secret stanza of the prophecy but he has always been conflicted about it. What if he decides to fulfill it on his own?” the Cardinal pleaded.

“That is a risk we'll have to take Cardinal. Please hand me your knife and show me your hands; you are under arrest”, Laura materialized a set of anti-magic handcuffs out of the hammer space in the back side of her waist.

“I said no!!” the Cardinal stepped back and threatened Laura with the knife. He chanted a barely audible spell and the blade turned into a three times as long blade made of fire.
‘If he kills her there goes my ticked back home and... to keep breathing as well’, Kuro thought.
But there was nothing he could do. Laura had already told him that the Cardinal was way above her in magic power, and Kuro was still unpowered.

“Please forget you saw me in this room my child; pretend I was never here. In the morning he will be found dead and all will be like before”, the Cardinal now begged, as he started to cry.

“You taught me better than that!!”, Laura yelled,how can you ask me to do such a cowardly thing after all your moral lessons? Did you lose all your shame?!", Laura also cried. ‘Heavy stuff’, Kuro thought, ‘Transuranic even’.

“Forget I just asked you that my dear Laurefindelë Entulessë Hyarmendacil. Please remember me at my best, not like... this”, the Cardinal said. He then cut off his own head with a super swift move of his fire-blade.

“No!!!”, Laura tried to stop him but she didn't even take half a step before the Cardinal's head was off his shoulders and on its way to the ground.
“Nooooo!!”, she started to sob. She held the severed head of the Cardinal and placed it on her chest.

Kuro did not breath a word. He knew better. He stood off his bed, held her shoulder in sympathy and walked out of his room to allow her to grieve.
He grabbed a torch, headed to the dining room and sat alone, with the pastel blue flame of the torch being his sole light in the darkness.

After roughly half an hour Laura found him. She brought him his Tokyo-issue clothes and shoes.
“You said you wanted to go home right? Get dressed with the clothes of your world and we'll go now”.
“What if I'm needed as a witness to the Cardinal's suicide? Won't you get in trouble if I'm gone? My condolences by the way”.

“Thank you Kuro. Don't worry about it, it is an.. internal matter. We will handle it ourselves”.
“Are you sure I should not stay until the morning at least?” Kuro insisted.
Quite sure. Chop chop, get dressed now. After you leave I will alert the other Cardinals and the bishops. I haven't yet because it would get.. messy and you might get stuck here for days”, she turned her back for Kuro to get dressed.

Kuro got dressed quickly. He had started to dislike it here. The initial adventure turned into discomfort and awkwardness. Besides, the guy who tried to kill him offed himself. Heavy stuff indeed.

“So... are you ready?”, Laura asked.
“As ready as I can be”.
“Would you like me to live you in the same place I took you from? That... ‘cafe’ I think it was called?” Laura asked.

Kuro counted the days --> hours that passed. Roughly three, so it was rush hour at that cafe then. If he materialized out of nowhere in a Neko Maid cafe full of maids and otakus along with a blue-faced girl he would make news in all of Akihabara.

“How about somewhere more.. quiet? Do you know Yoyogi Park?”
“Yoyogi... wait, I know this.. do you mean that lovely park with the little lakes and fountains?”, Laura asked.
“That's the one”, Kuro did a thumbs up sign.

“I went there once, while tracking you, so I can teleport us there, sure. Wait, I almost forgot. I brought some mementos to take to your world”, Laura handed him a bag.
“Open it after I take you back to Tokyo, it's a surprise”.
“OK! I'm ready!”

Laura chanted her teleportation spell a few times, her crystal activated, and they were back in Tokyo, in a Yoyogi Park dressed in white.
“How beautiful...” Laura said, looking sad. “Look, when the dust with the Cardinal settles are you game for making our world like yours?

It will not be up to our own Archbishop though. Not even my uncle the King. This would affect our entire planet, so all kings and queens should be consulted. If all of them agreed would you?” Laura asked.

“How long do you think it would take for your world leaders to reach a decision?”, he asked.
“I estimate no less than 2 years, but not more than 5”.
“Fine. If you are all game then I am on board. As long as someone does not try to kill me in my sleep again. You know where to find me if that time comes”, he winked.
Laura winked back, kissed him on the cheek, waved him goodbye and teleported back to her world.

Kuro sighed.
“Home sweet Tokyo!”, he exclaimed. “My parents will be looking for me. I also vanished from the cafe right after ordering and Yuki must be pissed at me. I must come up with a plausible excuse; anything but the truth!”

Kuro then wondered what gifts Laura gave him and looked at his bag.
One gift was a set of chess pieces. They were black & white; they looked like normal chess pieces even though their colors were inverted. A color joke of Laura perhaps. Then he dug deeper and felt three other objects:

A blue orange, a cyan tomato and a flask containing pitch black milk. All three otherworldly but expendable; Laura was still messing with him.
“If I try selling them on e-bay could I possibly find a bidder to buy them after managing to convince them they are not photoshopped but before they spoil?”, Kuro wondered aloud while he was waiting for the metro. “A tall order... Sky high tall”. He smirked and boarded the train back home.