Chapter 24: Polka?

I hugged Nate as he shook, but I suddenly remembered how I ended up here. I released Nate and began to look around calling for Polka. I swear, Polka was very foolish to run into this chamber. She could have died.

“Polka, come here Polka.”

Not even a meow. Where is that child?

Nate went next to me and began to call for Polka too. I guess if we are both calling, she is most likely to appear.

“POLKA!”

“You no longer need to call me by that name.”

“Huh?”

I think I heard a woman’s voice. Must be my imagination.

“Did you hear that Reino?”

Nate heard it too? I guess it isn’t my imagination.

The next thing Nate and I knew the ice sculptures had all shattered and a burst of light emerged. I covered my eyes and when the light faded, I opened them again and saw a beautiful woman with white hair and a white kimono. Her eyes were ice blue and lips a light pink. She was really pretty. She reminds me of a Yuki Onna. Wait a second, there are white tiger ears on her head and she has a stripped tail. I definitely know she is not human.

I just fought a snake lady and I am not in the mood to fight a tiger lady next. I go into a fighting stance just in case she attacks, but she smiled at Nate and me and bowed her head saying, “There is no need to be cautious. I will not harm you, especially since you have passed the trial of this mountain.”

Trial? Could it be?

“We passed?” Nate and I exclaimed. The tiger lady nodded and then glanced at the corpse of the snake lady. With a wave of her hand, the corpse turned to snow.

“This creature was created to test the fire users who come to this mountain. All fail and even claim to have gotten the power when it is all a lie.”

Nate’s eyes visibly widened and exclaimed, “But all fire Users that passed the test did get stronger.”

“True, but it was through their own power not the mountains. You and your friend are the first to pass.”

All right, I am definitely confused. We only found this place because of Polka, so we might have…Polka…woman with tiger features.

“Are you Polka by chance?” I asked. The tiger lady nodded.

“NO WAY!”

“I am indeed the tiger and you don’t have to call me Polka anymore. I am known as Yuki on this mountain.”

“Yuki Onna?”

“…I don’t know what that means, but it does sound lovely.”

I didn’t mean to mutter that out loud, but she claims to like it so I guess it is OK.

“Did you lead the previous Fire Users to this place?” Nate suddenly asked. I was curious too, since we would never have found this place if it wasn’t for Polka…I mean Yuki.

“I tried to, but all ignored me. You two were the first to take pity on my animal form and thus I was able to lead you here.”

“So that was part of the test?”

“That is correct,” stated Yuki and then waved her hand. Snow surrounded us and I swear I could feel something flowing into me.

“With this power, you have reached the greatest level of a fire user. No Fire User would be able to copy this power.”

When the snow faded, Nate and I looked to one another and then summoned our flames (I guess our talents were reactivated). The flames were indeed strong…stronger compared to last time and it is easy to handle as well. I like this power. Maybe I can make lava with this…never mind, that would be too dangerous. I don’t want to cause a Pompeii incident.

Nate looks so happy tossing his flames around him…oh he even made rabbit shaped ones. SO CUTE! Nate glanced at me after absorbing his flames and then hugged me.

“The power truly is ours.”

I nodded and hugged him back. His hugs are really warm.

Hold on second…I remember that snake lady mentioning something before we fought her head on…didn’t she say something about a curse?

“Um Yuki?”

“What is it little one?”

“That snake lady mentioned about a curse if she was killed. Is that true?”

“…”

Her silence is making me worried. Even Nate looks worried.

“Sadly it is true.”

“SO WE’RE CURSED.”

“No,” stated Yuki and added, “The curse lands on the one who killed her.”

“But we both ki…”

Oh boy, I bet Yuki meant whoever did the finishing blow is the one who is cursed…I’M THE ONE WHO KILLED THE SNAKE LADY! I’M CURSED!

“So I’m cursed?” I asked with my voice slightly shaking. Nate seemed to understand the situation and was staring at me in concern.

Yuki nodded with a saddened smile. I really am cursed. This has got to be a nightmare, but…

“What does the curse do to me?”

“…You’ll find out when you turn ten.”

I have to wait for the curse to activate? This is INSANE!

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