Chapter 2:

Better Call Saul

Your Soul!My Pen

The Bric a Brac store was a run down mess of a place on the corner of a street, conveniently located right next to Jake’s house. The owner, Saul, filled the store with lots of unique items, from random notebooks to stuffed animals. Several rodents and even a few dogs and cats roamed the isles, looking for some type of food to eat. The most prominent pet cat of them all, Joan “The Arc” Johnson, was particularly dangerous to be around. Several times, Joan would chase around several customers and even bully Saul. Joan would talk about how she was an anime girl trapped in a cat's body, and tried several times to do magical rituals that would return her to her normal form. Jake had even helped with a few, and Aerith even tried to reverse the ritual, to no effect fortunately.

“That sister still whining at you again” Saul’s ragged voice could be heard from the back of the countertop. He wiped his beard for a second and coughed heavily, “Y’know you could always grab some herbs for her if you need it, but it’s a little early for that eastern medication type of junk y’know?”

Jake only parsed through a few items before returning. He passed by the broken, cobweb filled shelves. Bits of the larger furniture creaked with every step, and only the more astute were able to avoid breaking anything. The more prominent items Jake passed by were several lighters and various herbs Aerith needed in her rituals.

Jake came back with a pen soon after, It was that type of cheap black and gold that’d you’d only find in bulk. It looked like it’d barely be viable as a basic toy, much less a writing utensil.

“Ah, that piece of junk” Saul laughed, “Some girl came over and dropped it over one day, something about that weird magical nonsense your sisters obsessed with. Something about a...lion or somethin’ ”.

Jake nodded, “Sounds interesting..I’ll take it”

Saul only laughed,

“You mean that stuff really gets to you huh? Tell you what, I’ll give you it for...a quarter”

Jake nodded, grateful that his charm worked out for him. He flicked the quarter away at the salesman and went off. Now with a working writing utensil, Jake only had make the 3 minute trip back to his house. His street was abandoned, and his house even more so. It was little more than a shack with a small second floor. The walls were practically melting, and the windows were all but entirely gone. Jake swung open the door to see his sister yet again. His sister’s hair now partially covered her right eye, and she wore a gothic dress with a small bowtie at the waist.

“You. Did you bring any of the stuff? Y’know, the leaves” Aerith elegantly explained

“Ha, no. All I bought was a pen. Come on, we gotta get ta’ school” Jake laughed as he brought out the writing utensil to demonstrate. In response, his sister yoinked the pen out of his hand and inspected it closely.

“There must be something more to this, however. Did this pen not come from the very man who delivers my herbs, Saul Incognito?” Aerith ever so gracefully inquisited. Jake only nodded in response.

“But there must be more to it! Some type of ancient evil, or maybe an alternate persona. Perhaps this resembles the Millenium puzzle, or some type of gateway like an isekai. Perhaps we must prove ourselves worthy?” Aerith began to mutter to herself as she researched further.

“Definitely. Must be an ise-whatsit I reckon. Can we go to school now?”

“Oh yeah, sure” Aerith finished. She suddenly stopped and handed Jake the pen as they both walked out their broken door. Just in front of their house was the bus stop, conveniently enough. Because of this, Jake’s friends often made a habit of meeting him and Aerith at the stop right before the bus got there. It became something of a tradition.

Just now, Zackory Yokito, one one Jake’s best friends, pulled back his beanie and waved hello to his dear friend,

“Oh hi Jak--”

“Oh hiya Jake, hey Aerith! Finish any of your homework?” Layalli Tamaly waved with a smile, she softly elbowed her sister, Nadene Tamaly, “Come on Nadene, say hi to Aerith and Jake”

Nadene only hid in her large scarf and slightly muttered, “Hello Aerith and Jake...” and immediately turned around to look at the empty street and wait for the bus, she pulled up a long patterned gray scarf up to her nose, with the rest of fabric just barely grazing the floor. Zackory joined soon after.

“No, didn’t get any of my work done. I’m sure Aerith did though, right Aerith?” Jake said

Aerith only carefully eyed Jake’s pen, still clearly analyzing it in her head. Jake sighed and dropped down to sit, the bus was gonna be a while most likely. The street down here was broken and ragged, most of the citizens would kill you just as soon as look at you. Layali did the same and brought herself down next to him,

“So, remember that show on Netflix I wanted you to watch?”

Jake sighed and thought for a moment, “Wait, was that the one with the number one hero or the number one ninja?”

Layalli giggled, “Neither, it was the one with the gems in that highschool for people with like...super powers and stuff”

Jake looked on in confusion. He hadn’t even heard such ridiculous premise before, let alone taking time out of his day to sit down and watch it.

“Ehm...there was the strong guy, and the fancy one? And the girl who pulled things out her chest?” Layali stuttered as she tried to explain further,

“Still doesn’t ring a bell…”

“M-Maybe you only watched the first episode or two? There was that guy who did the thing? And other one who became the strongest hero of them all”

“Layali you shouldn’t be taking the kinda stuff Aerith does. Trust me…” Jake suggested. Now it sounded like she was talking about some other random web series on You!Tube or something. Honestly whatever it was, it sounded generic.

Layali gave in and deeply sighed, “There were those two gay guys?”

“Pffft. Oh right, I remember that. Yeah it was pretty good. Dunno why that Natsu guy didn’t just 86’ those pirates before they got to Chi-Chi. Honestly though I thought they could’ve given Sasuke a bit more screen time before he went of and sold his soul to the Shinigami king. But then again that was just the first episode, is Jojo ever gonna get the third blue eyes before I-Island crashes into wall maria?”

“No spoilers here, but I knew you’d love it” Layali teased, “We can watch it after school if ya’ want, meanwhile I got some new Polaroids developing, should have them by this evening”

“Can’t you just use that smartphone you have? The one that can hold like...thousands of photos?” Nadene pipped in

“Well yeah, but older stuff is better. Takes more effort and time, also it’s a bit more fun” Layali noted. She shrunk a bit in her speech and bundled up a little closer to herself. An awkward feeling filled the room and Zackory felt the need to break it,

“Hey, so wh—“