Only after I had arrived in this world did I start looking back at my old life with a hint of regret. The times that I had taken for granted and the indifference I felt towards my parents made me want to go back in time and slap myself. To them, having me experience their day-to-day work was a way to connect with me in an otherwise busy life. It was a chance to bond with their son and share their interests, as well as impart some of their personal life skills. Instead, I had treated those moments as ‘too bothersome’ and ‘time better spent with friends instead.’
In this other world, I had already leaned upon the cooking skills imparted from my dad, essentially becoming the lifeline that tied myself to Eryn. At this point, I had no idea what would’ve become of me if I hadn’t been able to do that.
As I stared at Eryn lying on her stomach on a table, hardly able to move due to her skill’s aftereffects, my memories of the past flashed again, this time with my mother.
When I was young, getting hurt was a common occurrence. Whether it was overextending myself in physical activities or getting roughed up in a fight, I’d end up with a number of minor injuries typical of any rambunctious kid. When that happened, I’d stop by my mom’s office in order to get myself taken care of.
Sitting at her desk waiting for her to come back in between patients, I looked around the room. Instead of the standard diagrams and posters of body parts that one would see in a science textbook, wall scrolls of people with dots covering every part of their body indicating pressure points decorated the wall. Stacks of sample medicine that doctors usually gave out to patients were absent from this practice, with boxes of needles and jars of incense in its place. This was not the typical clinic found everywhere. No, my mom was a doctor that specialized in Eastern healing techniques, such as acupuncture and moxibustion.
While my hair was pitch black like hers, I mostly had the Caucasian features of my dad. Some might have looked at me questionably, but I had been around the clinic often enough that the regulars, mostly Chinese customers, hardly batted an eye at my presence. Some did try to talk to me in Chinese, but I stared dumbly at them. This was not a language I had bothered to learn, instead being obsessed with Japanese due to my otaku nature. While I could make out some of the Chinese characters here or there, I had been strongly against learning anything outside of what I could connect from Japanese, much to my mom’s disappointment.
However, I could make out enough to browse through some of the medical information that had been strewn about, mainly looking around at basic treatments for my sprains and bruises.
Seeing that little spark of interest, my mom started actively teaching me the places that she treated and the corresponding pressure points that had to pushed to ‘activate’ them. Thankfully, she only poked and messaged areas with her hands for my own treatments. I would have chickened out if she had taken out the needles or the fire-heating that some of her other patients got.
Drawing upon those memories, my hands gently traced along the white skin of Eryn’s back as I located several points where her muscles had seized up. Eryn had been hesitant at first, but Carina offered to stand watch in the room, a metal pan in her hand should my hands stray. Pietro had quickly yielded that guard duty to his wife, making me wonder just how threatening this old lady could be. I had never seen her mad, but Pietro was quite fast with the ‘Yes, dear’ whenever she insisted that he do something. Better not to find out.
I tried to clear my mind and focus on the job at hand. Eryn’s shirt had been pulled up so that I could see as well as feel what I was doing. Locating the center of a huge knot, I rubbed it a bit to loosen it before guiding my hand to another point nearby.
“Let’s see…If I remember correctly, this point is supposed to loosen the nerve connecting here…” I mumbled to myself before jabbing a finger into that spot.
Eryn arched her back in response and yelled out loudly. Tears started forming in her eyes.
“Damn it, Claude! That really hurts!”
“S-Sorry! I should have warned you that it would. Can you bear with it for a little bit?”
Eryn looked skeptical. She didn’t see how making something hurt would help her recover.
“Oh, just let the boy try. Who knows what kind of strange knowledge he could be holding onto from his world?” Carina just smiled as she seemed amused by the scene.
“Ugh…I guess. Can you be a bit gentler though?”
I nodded as my hands went back to where I was touching before. Interestingly, the swollen area around the knot had already started loosening up. That was a good sign.
I looked for other spots where the muscles were tense and worked on each of them in tandem. Eryn twitched and groaned as I worked on each area. It was a bit strange, but the sore muscles seemed easier to work with than I remembered. I was able to feel muscles relax and tense as I pressed different points along her back. I didn’t recall it having such an impact on my mom’s patients, but they hadn’t been incapacitated due to a game-like skill. I guess this world behaved differently in this aspect, too.
At some point, I noticed that Eryn had started breathing heavily. She was gripping the table strongly with her hands. Her legs shifted and toes curled back. My treatment must’ve been pretty painful to tolerate. I’ll apologize to her later by making some sweets.
“Eryn? Are you ok? Is it getting too much for you?”
“Eh?…Um? That’s…not it…” Eryn’s voice was jittery.
Eryn had no idea what to do at this point. The sharp pain had surprised her the first time, but she felt it fade soon after. As Claude continued touching her in a more careful manner, she noticed another feeling developing within the soreness of her muscles being involuntarily shifted. Every time Claude poked a location with his finger, a jolt of electricity shot up her back. It wasn’t painful, but it made her jerk. Afterwards, that area would start to feel kind of good.
Claude increased his pace and continued working on different locations on her back, sending jolts running up and down her spinal cord, followed by waves of pleasure. It was getting a bit hard to hold back her voice as an involuntary moan was let out.
‘No, wait. That’s too much!’ Eryn tried to say, but it only came out as incoherent gibberish. The feeling was mind-numbing. She couldn’t control her body anymore as she tried to hold onto the table to regain some sense of her bearings. She had given up trying to get Claude’s attention as the intense feeling clouded over her mind. Her breath got ragged as she continued to ride the wave of unfamiliar sensations. Something warm started welling up in her lower body as she couldn’t keep her body restrained anymore. At that point, Claude paused for a moment.
“Eryn? Are you ok? Is it getting too much for you?”
His question barely registered in her mind. What was he even asking? He looked worried, as if he did something wrong. Eryn tried to respond but her throat had become dry from her hoarse breathing. She couldn’t even hear her own voice trying to speak. Strangely, she felt compelled to allow him to continue.
Claude looked unsure. Slowly, he put his hands back and continued massaging. The jolts of pleasure slowly ramped up once again. As the treatment continued, she knew that she was moving around quite a bit but didn’t care anymore. She didn’t want to think about anything as she was approaching the point of euphoria. The pace suddenly got faster as she was nearing her limit. Finally, her back arched as her muscles tightened. Her last bit of control restraining her voice was torn down, as an intense shock overloaded her head and drowned her in a final wave of pleasure. Her vision turned black as her head fell back down to the table, her breathing slowly calming down as her consciousness faded.
I was now sitting on the floor trying to recall the moments leading up to this outcome.
Eryn had gotten all twitchy again after I started massaging. Since she told me to keep going, I tried to ignore it. Looking over to Carina for any clues, she just stood there with a hand over her mouth, as if she was trying to hold back a laugh. I didn’t think she was the type to find amusement in another’s pain, but I had other things on my mind.
As Eryn’s body started shifting more violently, I decided that it would be better to just finish up quickly. What I hadn’t expected was that she would suddenly throw her back up and cry out loudly. I was knocked off the table and fell to the ground. As she let out a loud cry, her body slumped back on the table, with only the sound of her breathing breaking the silence in the room.
My heart was racing as this was unlike anything that I had seen before. None of my mom’s patients had reacted like that in the slightest bit, certainly not from a back massage. Just what did I do to her?
“Maybe it’s better if you leave her to me for a bit.” Carina’s voice broke me from my trance.
Turning to Carina, I was about to ask her for hints as to what just happened. Carina’s face was a bit flushed.
“Now.” Carina’s voice was laced with a stern warning.
“Yes, ma’am!” I got up and raced out of the room.
I didn’t come back until Carina notified me that Eryn had woken up again, about an hour later.
When I entered the room, Eryn was sitting up on the table, looking the other way. After a moment of awkward silence, Eryn got up and ran past me and out the door. I was surprised that she was able to move so well, seeing that she was nearly dead just before. I guess the treatment was a success, but I must’ve gone too far.
Having stood motionless for several moments, Carina jabbed me in the side with her pan.
“Go to her. She’s not mad.”
Confused, I simply nodded and did as she asked.
I found Eryn locked in her room. Knocking a few times on the door, I waited for a response.
With no other clue what to do next, I sat down by the door and waited patiently. Eventually, the door opened with a click as Eryn shyly poked her head out.
“Yo.” I waved.
Eryn jumped but decided to come out anyway. Her face was beet red, and apparently, she had changed her clothes. More awkward silence.
“Um…I don’t get what happened…but sorry? I didn’t mean for it to get out of hand.” I didn’t know why she was shy all of a sudden, but I decided to apologize just in case.
“Claude.” Eryn collected herself and finally spoke. “You wouldn’t happen to be hiding any magic or skills from your other world that you haven’t told me about?”
“Nope. Those kinds of things don’t exist in my world. And you’ve seen my menu. It’s completely blank.”
“Then…just what the hell did you do to me?”
I was a bit stumped. “I…massaged you like I was taught by my mom. I didn’t think it would end up hurting you as badly as it did…”
“It didn’t hurt that much…but-“
“Huh? Didn’t hurt? Then what was all that flailing? And crying? I thought I did something seriously wrong!” This was making less and less sense to me.
“It was wrong! B-But not in a bad way, I mean…nevermind, I can’t say anymore!” Eryn started to walk away. Before she could escape, I remembered to ask.
“Hey, you can move fine now? I thought you said you’d be down for a few days.”
Eryn stopped in her tracks. “I guess I can…I am still a bit sore, but I can actually move normally.” She turned around in surprise.
“I guess it worked?”
“Yes…but how? Nothing else I’ve tried has worked this quickly. What did you do?”
“I messaged the knots in your muscles and hit some pressure points to promote healing.” I tried to think of anything else that I may have done, but these were just basic things from acupressure. I didn’t spend the time to learn any more advanced techniques, so I didn’t think I did anything strange.
“Yes, I hit your pressure points. Hitting certain locations can force the body to do certain things. In particular, I was aiming for the spots that loosened up your nerves and generated endorphins.”
“Endorphins. It’s something that your body makes to counteract pain. I think it was supposed to make you feel good or something…” Unfortunately, that was all I could recall from science class. Where was Wikipedia when you needed it?
“That… explains some things.” Eryn sighed. “Well, at least I feel better, but I don’t think I ever want you to do that again.”
“I’m still puzzled as to why it worked so well. Usually, you don’t see that much of an impact. I didn’t think a novice like me would’ve got you up and moving on the first try.”
Both of us pondered for a bit. Finally, Eryn’s eyes lit up as she thought of something.
“Hey Claude, can you stab me with your finger?”
What’s with the weird request? Well, if she was going to give me an excuse, then I’d poke her belly. I resisted the urge to scream out the classic Hokuto battle cry. Mostly.
“A-TAH!” My finger lounged forward as I moved dramatically.
Colliding with a hard surface, the pain of nearly jamming my finger made me recoil. I nursed my sore finger, forgetting that my poke registered as an attack, triggering Eryn’s defense. Seeing that, Eryn extended her arm to me.
“Now, can you find one of those pressure points you were talking about and press it? Choose one that will cause a little bit of pain.”
Giving Eryn a skeptical look, I traced my finger along her arm. I didn’t want to purposely hurt her, so I picked one near her elbow that would cause her arm to jump. However, Eryn suddenly grabbed her arm and bent over.
“I said a LITTLE bit of pain! Not make it go numb!”
What? I had used that pressure point on my friends before just for fun, and it had never caused that kind of response. What was going on? Was it this world’s weird mechanics coming into play again? I checked my menu just to make sure that I didn’t gain any new skills. None, just as I had expected.
This world certainly surprised me in various ways. Cutting weak points with the greatest of ease. Shattering rocks that had been cracked. Now, pressure points that behaved much stronger than expected…
Wait. That pressure point hurt Eryn just now, which meant that it didn’t register as an attack. Could I use this to my advantage?
“I think I just figured out something! But first, I need to find Cornelius!” I raced away to contact the only guy friend I had. Hopefully, he’d forgive me because it’d be too awkward to ask this of Eryn.
“Geez, what is that guy turning into?” Eryn shook her head as she watched me leave.