I saw my younger in a dark room, looking at a mirror. My mom was brushing my hair as she smiled, I wasn't really liking it. In the mirror, I had a blank bored expression on my face.
"Mom, why can't I go outside?" I asked my mother.
"It's dangerous out there, Sweetie," she answered.
"But, Dad said it's big but not too dangerous," I said.
"Oh Stephanie, your father always thought of it that way," my mom said.
"It's Stephan ," I said.
"Stephanie, I prefer your real name," she replied.
"But it is my-"
"Okay, I am done with your hair," Mom said, "Now let's pick your outfit for today."
I'd always ask her to someday take me outside to visit the village, but she would always say no. Way did she always call me Stephanie?
I wake up realising that memory I lived was a dream. Turns out that what happened yesterday was real, I really left home. The bed I was sleeping in was really warm and soft. I could just stay in it for the rest of my life. But then I felt air down my neck, something wrapped around my waist, and something between my legs. I turned my head to see... Aikan!?
His arm was wrapped around my waist and his tail was between my legs, and to top it off... he was naked! I screamed loudly enough to wake him up.
"Good morning," Aikan lazily said.
"What are you doing!?" I asked.
"I was sleeping," Aikan answered.
"Why are you doing in the same bed as me naked!?" I asked.
"One, keidran wearing clothes in bed is optional," Aikan said, "And two, I was checking on you, then I get tired and fell asleep."
"Oh," I said.
If he was tired, he could just go back to his bed.
"I'm gonna go prepare a bath for me and you," Aikan said.
"Ok, thank you," I said.
I think he has redeemed himself.
After a warm hot bath and more meat for breakfast. Aikan was about to walk out the door. He was shirtless but wore a red loincloth
"Where are you going?" Yeol asked.
"I'm going to meet my friends at Clover's," Aikan answered, "Hey Stephan, wanna come?"
Meeting more people? I've only met two people and I'm still quite nervous.
"Sure, I guess," I answered.
"Great, I'm sure my friends will like you," Aikan said.
Aikan then takes me to this small restaurant.
"This is Clover's, the only place where you can buy meat already cooked," Aikan said.
All I could do was stare at the ground in fear. I wasn't really in high spirits of meeting people. The last time I met someone, it was Aikan and he almost attacked me. Aikan now noticed me staring at the ground.
"What's wrong?" He asked.
"To be honest, I'm a little nervous," I answered, "What if they're not used to seeing a human in an all keidran island?"
"If they can trust me, I'm sure they can trust you," Aikan said.
Those words made me look up, only to be locked in Aikan's eyes. I sort of felt... comfortable looking at him. Aikan suddenly gave an odd look.
"Are you okay?" He asked.
I was so shocked at what just happened, I blushed and started spazzing out.
"O-oh yes, I'm fine!" I said.
"Well then, let's go," Aikan said.
"Yes," I said.
We go inside and see three keidran at a table waving at Aikan. There was a female fox, a male wolf, and a female dog.
"Hey, Aikan," The dog girl said.
"Who's this young lady?" The wolf man asked.
"I'm a man," I said.
"Really!?" He asked.
The wolf was then smacked in the back of the head by the fox girl.
"Coal! That was very insensitive!" She said.
"It's okay," I said.
Why does everyone think I'm a woman!?
The fox had on a dark green shirt and a long skirt. Her fur was orange and white and green eyes, she also had two pigtails.
The wolf had on a black shirt and yellow shorts. His fur was gray and white while his eyes were brown. He also wore a belt with a sheathed dagger.
The dog had on a white sleeveless shirt and blue pants tightened by a yellow line. Her fur was black and her eyes were blue. She was the shortest of the three. She was also holding a sea otter.
"Hey guys," Aikan said, "This is Stephen."
"Nice to meet you all," I said.
"Strange, he kinda looks like Emily," the dog girl said.
"Who's Emily?" I asked.
"She's another friend," Aikan answered, "Speaking of which, Emily's not here?"
"No, she had to stay and watch her animals," the fox girl said.
"I understand," Aikan said.
"Well then, we should introduce ourselves," the wolf man said, "I'm Coal,"
"Hello there," I said.
"My name's Blue," the dog girl said, "And this is Sandy."
She raised up her otter up to my face. All the otter did was stare at me. She's pretty cute.
"She's adorable," I said.
"Sandy's a male," Blue said.
That makes two of us.
"And I'm Clover," the fox girl said, "Nice to meet you."
"You mean as in this restaurant?" I asked.
"Yeah, my parents own it and they named it after me," Clover said.
"Clover's a great chef," Coal said, "She was about to make us breakfast, want some?"
"Thanks, but we just ate not long ago," I said.
"I wouldn't mind seconds," Aikan said.
"Already!?" I asked.
"Yep, that's Aikan for you," Clover said.
It took a while for Clover to cook our food, but she later came out with five plates of grilled chicken and steak. The meat covered in some sauce, it smelled so good. Once I grabbed my fork and took a bite, I felt a tingle in my cheeks. It was tangy and salty, a very interesting taste.
"This is amazing," I said.
"That's what everyone says," Clover said, "I wish I could make stuff with like rice and such, but keidran only eat meat."
"Well since I'm human, I could try it," I said.
"I'd love to make special meals for you," Clover said with joy.
"Now that you mention it, how did you get here?" Coal asked.
"It's a long story," I said.
I told them about my story of how I was running away from my mother and how I survived the ferry wreck only to be taken out by a large wave. After the big disaster, I woke up on the island and later met Aikan.
"So it's because of your mother?" Blue asked, "What did she do to you?"
"I don't want to talk about it," I said.
"That's cool," Coal said, "But man, getting wiped out by a large wave. Luck's hard on you."
"At my ring stayed with me," I said.
I almost forgot that my ring was on me the whole time. On my left ring finger was a ring made entirely of rose quartz.
"It's all crystal, even the ring is crystal and not metal," Coal said.
"It was my dad's," I said.
"I bet he's worried about you," Blue said.
"My dad died years ago," I said.
"Oh, sorry," Blue apologized.
"It's okay," I said.
"Well then, how we visit Crystal Springs?" Clover asked.
"Crystal Springs?" I asked.
"It's a hot springs in a cave that has a bunch of crystals inside," Aikan answered.
"I wouldn't mind," Coal said.
"I'd love to," Blue said, "Sandy would also love to."
Her otter is just eating out of a oyster. He's so cute.
"I'm in," Aikan said, "How about it, Stephan?"
"Sure, my first hot springs," I said.
We took a long walk til we across large mountains. Huh, I guess not all mountains have snow, I always assumed they do. Inside the mountain was a large cave. As we walk, we see crystals in many shapes and sizes as they reflect light all over the place. It was beautiful. Finally, we found the springs
"There it is," Blue said as Sandy jumps right in.
"Great, I can use a soak," Aikan said.
All of a sudden, everyone was taking their clothes off leaving them naked.
"Wait, what are you doing?" I asked.
"We don't want our clothes wet," Clover said.
"Why? Are you uncomfortable with nudity?" Coal asked.
"No, I've just never seen another person naked," I said.
"You saw me naked this morning," Aikan said
"Wait, what?" Clover asked.
"That was different," I said to Aikan, "You just showed up in my bed."
"What?" Blue asked.
"Wait! Nothing happened between us!" I said.
"Okay?" Coal said.
As they were completely undressed, I decided to undress myself, starting with my shirt.
"Huh," Blue sighed.
"You are a guy," Clover said.
"You actually didn't think I was a guy?!" I asked.
"We were having doubts," Blue said.
After undressing myself and proving that I was a guy with my lower half. I stepped foot in the warm water. It felt so nice, I could just fall asleep.
"This feels so good," I said.
"Yeah, this is one of the best places in the Menagerie," Clover said.
I can see why. While I do miss my mom, I hope rescue never comes for me. If humans found out about Menagerie, it would ruin these people. They could become slaves or just be killed.
"What's wrong?" Coal asked.
"Not feeling well?" Blue asked.
"Oh, it's just that I now worry about this island," I answered.
"How so?" Clover asked.
"If humans found out about here, the worst things can happen," I said.
"That won't be likely," Aikan said, "Menagerie is nowhere to be seen on maps, they'll never find it."
"But also, I worry about losing you all," I said, "I've been isolated in my house my whole life, and now I just made friends."
"Don't worry," Aikan said, "We'll always be there for you."
"Of course," Blue said.
"Count on it," Coal said.
"We could always use a sixth member of the group, including Emily," Clover said.
"Seven members, if you count Sandy," Blue said.
"Right," Clover replied.
So this is what it's like to have friends. Here I thought it would feel weird because I'm human and they're all keidran, but instead I already feel accepted.