Chapter 0:

Overture in Teakettles

Teakettle Story

“Without minding the pun, the number of quirky people in the universe is spectacularly astronomical.” As of the last minute in their conference, Teakettle Collector adamantly stayed ambiguous. “If you see yourself differently from the others, then be proud─because the only one who loves you would be yourself. Everyone else will be too occupied loving themselves.”

Teakettle Collector loves uniqueness as much as they hate the notion.

So if anyone says each and every person is essentially the same, they'd beg to differ─all the while elegantly sipping tea in their teahouse above the clouds.

As their name implies, teakettles are particularly fascinating to them.

It doesn't matter which material is used as long as they're used for the purpose of containing tea.

For that reason, Cloud Storage─an island floating above the sacred Twilightwood tree─has a mansion dedicated to their careful exhibition.

Not for sale nor for public engagement.

Solely for themself to bask upon and they would incriminate those who dare enjoy their beauty without their permission.

Teakettle Collector is a rotten and damned gatekeeper, in adherence to the era of peak popular culture.

When a normal person is mesmerized by the sunset, they would feel blessed at their massive collection of utensils. Enclosed in shelves revolving around a fanciful table made from the sacred tree itself, imagining them falling down from any unruly incident would mean death. One could only imagine them being squashed under their weights, evident from how their shelves sagged from the avant-garde clutter.

Teakettle Collector circled around him, on hand their teacup atop a small saucer. Teakettle filled with Darjeeling tea floated, leveled upon their eyesight, alongside desserts of all kinds.

Books on old civilization do glorify tea ceremonies on a cultural level, and they're insanely dedicated to its appreciation. Thinking of which, Hound heard of a bookworm being pounded by books before. Death by ceramic teapots is novel in itself, but death is most often a negative in real life.

“Unless the real life you speak of isn’t real at all,” Teakettle Collector digressed, providing the captive observer his puny miscalculation. “I don’t care about which death is novel. More importantly, are you called the Hound of Warwickshire because you’re a detective?”

Hound tilted his head.

“Hn, you don't know there's a book called The Hound of the Baskervilles, do you?” Teakettle Collector further addressed, “Sherlock Holmes?”

The short answer was─no.

He didn't know there was such a book despite Sherlock Holmes being as popular now as he was in the past.

Whoever called him the Hound of Warwickshire, he could compromise for them knowing the exact book Teakettle Collector mentioned.

That─or it was only a coincidence.

First and foremost, what even is a hound?

It's a dog: he read of them in a book passage before, but there are no dogs in Twilightwood. He has seen no visual records of them. He only read an obscure note describing them as hunting animals, but he shares an incongruence by being cute and fluffy quadrupeds.

Cluelessness isn't a virtue, it's sinful.

Although however clueless he would be, the most obvious route is to travel to the world that has them.

He can't do something so impressive at the moment.

That's why he's fine with being sinful.

"Non, how you were called the Hound of Warwickshire is insignificant to me from the natural level," Teakettle Collector digressed. "I've been living under one mantra all throughout the years, and it's the core of nihilism."

Everything is insignificant, yes, Hound understood the thought.

Although the damningly significant collector cherishes their gallery of teapots, the bottom line exists as the opposite.

Most of all, the vast uniqueness in everything and anything.

Perspective running around insignificance.

They don't care what happens regardless of what they wish to love.

"How does it feel to be clever, Mister Hound?"

He may have popped a vein over Teakettle Collector's skull.

He kept his mind quiet for a few seconds.

Teakettle Collector stood stagnant, looking at him at point-blank range.

Sighed when they no longer sensed the cleverness they sought to eradicate, and circled the Hound once more.

They were being tedious, he had to admit.

If anything, all of their shenanigans have killed the atmosphere.

"That being said, I'm also sometimes a hypocrite."


"I wouldn't have such a massive collection of tea kettles from all throughout time when I say I don't care," they said so cutely that the perspective shifted for an emotional forum. "Say, what should I do about this contradiction?"

They stopped, bent to the side as if a cute school girl, and beseeched for a consultation.

"Should I call it the Collector's Paradox?"

He doesn't know─and for what it’s worth, he doesn’t care.

"What?!" Broken teacup hit over nothing─and its sharp edge pushed against his neck. "I'll kill you!"

And just like that, darkness creeped.

Hound's countenance flushed at the malice.

Violation of personal space, his weakness now and forever.

No, he can't possibly die in the room without serving his homeland.

"Yeah, I know that! Paranoia would soon creep in Twilightwood because of your involvement."

Teakettle Collector withdrew the broken shard─and disposed of it in a pocket dimension.

"Heck, it's even started!"

Gulp, and drip─sweat in a contained room without warmth nor frigidness.

"So, would you mind if you'd be cautious enough not to involve my precious tea kettles in the war you've evoked?"

True, he partly evoked the war─but he didn't know it was the case before the conversation.

He'd been sorry a million times already, and he'd been there for six trillion years, but he could still feel the persecution.

"Hound as you may be called, you're the equivalent of a fly."

Teakettle Collector bent over, and whispered to his ears.

Twitch, and twitch.

"I could swat you however and whenever I want," they whispered more softly.

Twitch, and twitch─from the skin covering the cranium then below the eyeballs.

They stood by, and thought for themself.

"Hmm, maybe I have problems with the name they call you, after all."

Hound looked up, disengaged from the fear again─why has it become a despicable cycle, all this time he couldn't understand.

"Non, problemo ja nai wa… I don’t think I care about it that much."

Mix of languages, and he could only cringe at how impeccably inconsistent his captor has been for the past few hours.

Surely though, you've been wondering how the story can be significant.

One day, a glass teapot broke, allegedly destroyed by a shockwave so strong it broke through the atmosphere. When you live above the clouds and could feel something pierce through, even if it's molecularly unseen, there's no better reaction than being vengeful. Teakettle Collector felt exactly the same emotion swirl in their stomach. One touch of their index to the solar plexus, they can take out your butterflies but they've been holding back.

They cherished uniqueness, sure, but it didn't mean they won't eradicate someone either by reason or impulse.

If all objects in the universe come as unique, then it's a given they can forgo one and it won’t be noticed.

“Let me tell you something.”

Teakettle Collector must have reached the climax to impart a message for him.

He’s not sure of course, but he felt all this time of nonsensical hubris was coming to an end.

"I have been aware of your existence for a long time now, the child left out in the mud by an ungrateful society of humanity who were ousted from Earth. Thanks to them, the moon is a giant revolver pistol. I'd never forget the bullet it blasted to shoot Mars and Jupiter into destruction. From the unnatural shot of nature you fired to kill the wyvern at your second encounter, I felt the same energy. It is what it is, they're your ancestors. It has been a myriad since then, and I lost more than I could save. You returned to do it once more, and I’m extremely appalled!"

Teakettle Collector stretched their hand towards nothingness─then drew from the same pocket space as earlier.

Held in their hand, an alien weapon bearing a small barrel and revolving cylinder, rolled in exhibition for Hound to bear witness.

Lastly, they handed it to him.

“I can’t tolerate your destruction any further than three tea kettles within a year, Hound.” Teakettle Collector bared their secret─and smirked in irritation. “If you can do it again using that revolver and not tear this place apart, then you'd be grateful all your life.”