"It's already dark, you should go back to your sponsor for today..."
When she said to leave, Tak, still standing in the puddle, put on a gloomy expression.
"Let's meet again tomorrow."
The gloomy expression vanished. A smile immediately appeared on his face as he nodded towards Ian. As Ian headed back inside, he kept waving at her back. Whether Ian could see him or not didn't seem to matter.
After the door closed, Tak still stood there staring at the door, but he turned around when he heard someone calling. It was Nard, holding onto the arm of the store owner. Tak's perplexed expression gradually turned into panic.
"Uh... I meant to head back right now."
"Please tell me how much you broke after chasing after Ian-ssi."
"Come on. The more you drag on the harder it'll be for me."
Finally, Tak confessed to breaking the window earlier at the restaurant. Nard took a deep breath, bid goodbye to the store owner that guided him there, then caught Tak by the arm.
"Guide me to the restaurant right now."
"...are you ordering me around?"
A number of emotions flitted across Tak's face, but Nard had no way of seeing them. For a while, Tak watched the fearless blind boy in silence, then yielded and led him towards the restaurant.
"You'll be the first human to do this to me and survive, Nard."
"Is that so? Then it might be a good idea to go ahead and kill me. Once you're a criminal on the run, you'll never be able to meet Ian-ssi."
That day, a blind showed a Half what he was capable of. Tak's droopy eyes narrowed as the prey laughed.
The finite - Chapter 15: Encounter
After pouring all night long, the rain finally abated at dawn. As Nard woke up, several thoughts ran through his mind as he stared blankly at the ceiling. No, although his eyes were wide open, they couldn't see. His cloudy eyes seemed lost, not even noticing the sunlight seeping in through the curtains.
Even though they had just been together for half a day, the No. 2 of the Dragon Clan had already made him spend a considerable amount of money. This made him very tired, and made his heart feel weak. 'You shouldn't be afraid', Visnu-nim had told him. So, he tried acting like normal, but it was easier said than done.
It would have been hard on even a brave and skilled fighter, or on a high-ranking magician, but he was just a 30-year-old Quarter who looked like a young 15-year-old boy. He knew how dangerous it was to act so fearlessly in front of the Destruction Dragon. Nevertheless, he needed to keep up the act. He was glad at least that he couldn't see Tak's face and panic. Nard rolled around in his bed a while longer, trying to fall asleep again, then sat up in his bed, thinking.
"...Shess-ssi. What time is it?"
But there was no answer from Tak, who was supposed to be lying in bed.
Thinking something was wrong, Nard hastily put on his pajamas and ran out of the room. In his haste he forget his cane and nearly tripped over the doorstep.
Before Nard hit ground, Tak caught hold of him. Nard turned his head towards him asking 'Shess-ssi?' Without his sunglasses, his eyes wandered without focus.
"What are you doing? You, don't run around just because I can't see."
While Nard was talking, Tak just held him up with one hand like a piece of luggage, while gulping from a cup of milk with the other hand. The previous night, Nard had asked him 'Would you like to order something to drink?' to which Tak replied 'Warm milk, lots of it!', but because of a delivery mistake, the carton of milk that arrived was cold.
"Even if you don't stay in bed, don't leave on your own without telling me."
"I couldn't sleep so I went to drink milk. I didn't go outside."
In fact, he thought of secretly sneaking out to find Ian, but decided against it to avoid causing more problems. That reminded him. Since he put on the earrings, they seemed to be preventing him from sleeping. 'Sleeping a lot' was one of the traits of the Dragon Clan, so it was understandable for him to sleep less while humanized because of the earrings. However, even with reduced sleep, he should have been able to sleep at least as long as a normal human, so something felt off when he stayed up all night.
"Was I unable to sleep because it was some other guy's bed?"
"I'm a little upset, Shess-ssi. I covered the repair costs for last night and..."
"Oh, sorry. I'll pay you back."
"Pay back? How? You don't even have a penny."
"Money's not a problem. I'll work if I have to."
"What if you break even more stuff while working?"
Although Tak couldn't deny that, he rolled his eyes as he sipped milk.
"I could just capture a Superior Sura or something? I heard they traded for a high price among humans."
"A Half is going to capture a Superior Sura?"
Not that. Tak shut his mouth and mentally berated himself. He made a mistake by saying that instead of Inferior Sura. It wasn't common for a young Half to catch Inferior Sura, but it wasn't impossible either.
"Anyway, we'll settle this later. I'm going to see Ian today. We promised to meet again."
"Wait a minute. Don't rush out without a plan and end up causing mistakes again, you know..."
"Don't lecture me. I've been taking it easy for long enough."
There was no way he was going to be okay while pretending to be a Half in a city with a God. As Tak's frustration grew, Nard didn't realize at first how annoyed he was, but realized soon enough when Tak crushed the cup of milk in his hand. Nard went stiff at the sound of the cup breaking, and picked his next words carefully.
"... I guess I slept too long. Is it already daytime?"
At Nard's question, Tak headed to the window, still holding Nard, glanced out and reported.
"Not yet. The shops are just starting to open."
"Then, it's time to head out. It's holiday today, so if you're going to meet Ian-ssi, it'll be a special appointment."
As he said that, Tak let out a huge smile as he shouted at Nard while waving him around.
"Hey. That's the best thing I've heard from you so far!"
Nard was almost strangled as Tak pulled on the hem of his clothes again before letting go. A close-up encounter with a Nastika was certainly not part of a human's ordinary routine.
After an entire night of non-stop rain, large puddles had formed in the garden. As Tak tried to avoid them, he lingered between tall trees for a while, watching the droplets occasionally fall from the leaves. He should try knocking on the door. Since he didn't want Nard to stick nearby, Nard tried to stay away, but now that he was alone, Tak felt even more nervous about knocking on the door to visit Ian. As he recalled Ian's scared and crying face from the day before, he thought that maybe he was too hasty in telling Nard to stay away.
On this weekend morning, Ian opened the door while holding a cup of just-boiled tea, but tried to get back inside as soon as she saw Tak standing in the garden.
Of course, it was a failed attempt.
When Tak caught her wrist, she reflexively withdrew and screamed. Catching the cup dropped by Ian, Tak gathered the droplets of tea scattered in the air at lightning speed before handing the cup and platter intact back to Ian. The puzzled Ian accepted the cup, while Tak let go of her wrist and stopped approaching.
"Uh, no matter how much you wanted to meet me, coming to my home in the morning is..."
"Why? Is there something wrong with meeting in the morning?"
"No, I uh... I mean..."
With him so close in front of her, she turned sideways so she wouldn't face Tak from the front, and stammered as she failed to finish the sentence.
"...? Why are you so nervous?"
As Tak took a step forward, seemingly puzzled, the startled Ian bolted into the building and slammed the door shut with a loud bang.
It happened very quickly, but Tak could clearly see Ian's appearance as she went inside. He may not have been aware from a distance, but he was quite sure close up. She was dressed in an almost translucent pajama gown. It was certainly not something she'd wear in front of a man outside her home.
"Oh... I didn't notice."
Tak shrugged and scratched the back of his head. Nard was sitting on the second floor balcony across the street. He was chatting with the landlord of Ian's home, an elderly woman. While Tak waited for Ian to come out, several other people, also women, came out from other doors. All of them seemed much older than Ian. Either way, if only women lived in this building, it was normal for Ian to come out to greet them while dressed like that and holding tea.
Tak turned around at the sound of the door opening. In a short time, Ian had changed into something more suited for outdoors and tied her hair up. She still looked dazzling, though he thought she looked better with her hair down.
"Why did you tie your hair up? Is it also because of the manager?"
"No, I don't have to work at my part-time job today, so it didn't really matter. My hair was pretty tangled, so it would have taken some time to untangle it."
Although Tak didn't complain, he put on a dour expression.
"If you want me to untie it, could you wait a little longer please?"
"Ah, n-no! The ponytail's fine. Very good."
"Really? Then I can leave it tied up?"
"N-no wait, it's actually not a... good thing..."
He hated the ponytail, but he hated waiting even more. Ian laughed at his plain answers. There was no question that he liked her.
"Then, how about this?"
Ian gently loosened her hair then flipped and tied it over to her right side, before sweeping the remaining strands behind her ears. Tak just stared, mouth wide open, then nodded eagerly when Ian called him.
"Is he your sponsor?"
Ian pointed towards the balcony on the second floor. Before answering, Tak took a look at Nard, then nodded. Even though Nard was talking to the landlord, he appeared to be listening.
"Yeah. 'Nard Lehn', a Quarter magician. He seems to be about your age."
A Quarter magician of similar age. To sponsor a Half, he must be at least B-rank or higher. It wasn't easy to receive such a rank by that age, so Nard was clearly better than average, but Ian still felt ashamed that she couldn't even get admitted into a magic school at that age.
"What's wrong? Are you still uncomfortable around me even if I have a sponsor?"
For a while, Ian bowed her head in shame, then let out a wide smile.
"What are your plans for now?"
"Huh? Uh...? Well I was thinking that even if I spent the whole day here just watching you..."
As Tak muttered, he made eye contact with Ian and hurriedly waved his arms while saying.
"N-not at all. I put a lot of thought into this. So that is..."
Tak had just envisioned them walking and having conversations, but then he recalled certain facts.
She had captured the heart of a Superior Sura. He could take her wherever she wished, from the peaks of the mountains to the depths of the oceans, while flying through clouds of storm, or even watching the stars forming the night skies from up close. Above all, the thing he wanted to try the most was to take her to meet other Sura and proudly tell the other Nastika, 'This is my woman.'
But as these thoughts trailed off, his expression became somber. Unfortunately, he couldn't carry out these plans right now. They were delusions he could only have in his sleep.
"You don't have anything in mind?"
At Ian's question, Tak couldn't think of a reply and just scratched his head. Ian smiled as she watched him, then reached out and she put a hand around his arm.
Seeing Tak's surprised expression, Ian let out a big smile, and continued while looking up at the taller boy.
"Let's just walk. I'll choose the destination, alright?"
Tak rapidly nodded while blushing from ear to ear. Nard, who was listening from the second floor, finished talking with the landlord, and came back down to the garden with his cane. Although he didn't want to disturb an encounter between a young man and woman, he couldn't help it because he didn't know what Tak could do.
To be continued.
Shess-ssi! Shess-ssi! Jessy!
Edited by Mizura, 24 June 2013 - 08:40 AM.