They made it to Jonathan’s cabin without issue.
Jonathan wasn’t really in the mood for talking. He had too much on his mind and his spontaneous guest noticed. However, once he set down the two plates, the kid started asking questions.
“Where did you get the jam from?”
Jonathan suppressed a sigh and sat down at the table. “Two of my friends in the village, a couple, make jam out of the berries we pick during the summer.”
A few moments later, Tam inhaled another biscuit and complimented, “It’s really good.”
“I’ll be sure to tell them,” Jonathan dryly replied. He never wanted to have Tam meet Chester’s parents and try to explain their first meeting in the mountains. It would be a bit too painful.
“What books are those?” Tam spoke with a restrained curiosity, always with a tone of half-innocence and half-trained politeness.
Jonathan was surprised at how well the needle tea turned out and sipped at his mug as he spoke. “A book on dragons, a book on myths, and a few other things. I have Alita’s annual almanacs as well.”
Tam spotted the bookshelves where a few dozen carvings sat. She cautiously got to her feet and walked over to inspect the carvings. They were familiar. “Do I know you?”
“We met around two years ago,” Jonathan admitted.
“You’re how I got the carving.”
“I gave you one, yes.”
“I still have it. It’s in my room.” Tam had turned around, a look of intense determination on her face. “You and your friend are people I will always be grateful to. You saved my life.” She extended a fist, the closed palm faced upward.
“You don’t owe me anything.” Jonathan had saved the kid for his own conscience. He shook his head and gestured for her to stop. “You plan to be a dame, and you will be. Do not waste an oath of loyalty or some nonsense on a lumberjack in the middle of nowhere. Live your life, have fun.”
“Will you accept an oath of family instead?”
Jonathan sighed. He could tell this was a losing battle. “You’re not going to give up.”
“No,” Tam firmly stated. “It goes against my code of chivalry to not payback or appreciate those who help me.”
“Fine. I’ll accept an oath of family, now sit down and finish your food.”
Tam smiled for the second time since she had arrived. The first had been when she started eating.
Over the next few weeks, Tam made a habit of showing up unexpectedly for meals. She contributed some of her catches when possible. Apparently part of her training of being a squire was catching animals and living among the common folk, as well as being responsible for her own clothes, food, and shelter.
Tam tagged along with Jonathan on a trip to the village and was mistaken as the transmigrator’s younger sister. Jonathan didn’t bother to correct them. Tam seemed incredibly happy at that. Jonathan had a feeling it was because she was an orphan, and didn’t see any reason to destroy the kid’s heart like that; he most certainly was not getting attached or reminded of his own younger sisters.
The day after he went to the village with Tam, Jonathan opened his door and huffed. “Oh, it’s you.”
“Expecting someone else, my friend?” Peter questioned with amusement. His old farmer’s hat had been replaced by a strange, overly complicated hat. He was wearing fine silk robes. It wasn’t uncommon to see Peter in strange clothing. He had a habit of not caring to change his outfits from the previous world when he stopped by Jonathan’s house.
“Interesting,” Peter commented after he stepped inside the door and looked around the cabin. “Anyways, I’m here to pick up some more carvings.”
Jonathan had already migrated over to the tea pot. He gestured towards the carvings as he started brewing some pine needles and dried herbs. “What type of world?”
“A cultivation one, as you likely guessed. It’s rather annoying to deal with the snobbish or depraved main characters after a while.” Peter picked up and browsed through the collection of carvings on the shelf, figuring out which to buy. He resold most of them, but he had a few favorites he would keep. The one Peter had been given took up one slot of his personal inventory.
“You know the rules. Payment before you actually touch any of them.” Jonathan knew that the inventory that the system gave Peter was ridiculous.
“I’ve known you for three years,” Peter pointed out. The middle aged man gave an innocent smile that oozed far too much unreliability. “You’re still not a very trusting person. I’d even say you’re depressed, somewhat.”
“My best friends have, in order: left me, betrayed me, and died. Not to mention any of the romances I’ve had with women . . . they were all disasters,” Jonathan deadpanned. “Not to mention what happened before—” He cut himself off. The young man had many reasons for his trust in others to be shaky.
“And?” Peter prompted.
“However, I will say that you are still the best transmigrator I’ve met,” Jonathan muttered.
Peter’s smile was a bit wider. “I’ll take that.” He pulled coins out of a small purse, placed them on the table, and picked up the carvings he wanted.
“Good.” Jonathan put two mugs of tea on the table and picked up his money.
There was silence for a while, and Jonathan watched his friend.
Peter spent some time savoring the tea. It wasn’t something perfect or expensive, but it did taste homely. “You put Shilp honey in. What do you want to know?”
“What types of transmigration are there?”
“The most common one, possession, means a switch of some sort. Either both or one stayed alive, both or one died, or one of you died and one of you lived.”
Jonathan already knew far too much about that one. He had thought that was the only type of transmigration for a long time as well. “And?”
“Switch has specific subsets, such as story worlds where someone becomes villains, heroes, or minor characters. System transmigration is where someone has certain goals, and quick transmigration where that person goes to multiple worlds. There are quite a few options and sometimes multiple categories apply.” Peter was rather unaffected by the conversation. This was all normal for him now.
There were more conversations about some things that needed to happen, but Jonathan wasn’t ready for everything yet. “I have some more questions that I want to ask soon.”
“I’ll be back by fall.”
They sat in a comfortable silence for a while, enjoying the quiet and breeze coming through the open windows. Eventually, Peter finished his tea; instead of asking for more, he bought some more carvings and left on his next adventure.
I’ve started working on making new chibi versions of characters. My first attempt at shiny eyes made Chester look very cursed.