They moved so fast that she couldn't even see the landscape.
Apparently seeking a decent spot, Tak intermittently stopped, looked around, then ran again, until they finally arrived in a forest clearing filled with piles of blue-gray leaves. The violet sky indicated that they were very far from Mistyshore, and nearer to the city of Rindhallow.
As Ian observed the purple sky, mouth tightly shut, she screamed in surprise when Tak suddenly dropped her. However, she wasn't hurt at all, as the thick pile of leaves cushioned her fall. Ashamed of her screaming, she just stared at the ground.
"It's rather uncomfortable here too. But enough, I'm too sleepy."
It wasn't a very dirty place to lie down, but she was currently dressed in a one-piece, sleeveless dress. The sky was a purple color seen only at Rindhallow at night. Rindhallow was close to the polar regions. Spending the night in the woods in that dress was suicide. As a Quarter, she had better physical resistance than normal humans, so she could still endure it a little bit, but it would be hard to hold out for long.
Even though Ian was trying to tell him something, Tak's irritated response startled her and made her shake her head. Tak knew that she was trying to say something, but wasn't in the mood to consider her condition. He was so sleepy that even hearing words from her mouth felt annoying. Of course, he didn't even think of putting on the earrings right now.
Skipping everything else and uttering just one word, Tak found a spot well away from Ian, lied down, and fell asleep.
It was the same as the first day they met. Even then, she could only look on helplessly while he slept on the beach... Ian looked at him with mix of fear and disbelief, then eventually wrapped her arms around the exposed parts of her body, and tried to withdraw into herself as much as possible.
Did he want her to die... right here?
The finite - Chapter 20: Redemption
It was the middle of the night, but Ian's eyes were still open. There was a time difference because Mistyshore and Rindhallow were far away, so even though it was night here, it would still be a bright afternoon in Mistyshore. She didn't know if Tak chose a dark place to sleep on purpose, but Ian couldn't just fall asleep according to his own sleeping patterns.
Her white breath dissipated in front of her. As time passed, her hands and feet became numb, and her thoughts became increasingly blurred. It seemed that any moment now, her spirit would drift off to where her dead parents had gone.
I can't. I can't die yet.
Ian shook her head to clear her mind, and tried to get up and crawl to Tak's side. Tak seemed to have no idea of Ian's condition and was sleeping very serenely. She didn't know why a Nastika was so overcome with sleep, but she needed to wake him up. She'd die anyway if she didn't.
"T... Tak. W... wake up..."
She called him with a trembling voice, but he didn't seem to care about the noise and didn't budge. Ian almost felt grouchy, and reached out with her trembling hands to pull on Tak's scarf.
Even when she pulled on his scarf, Tak still didn't move. It was only after the scarf caught around his throat that he sleepily half-opened his eyes. He frowned as he woke up, only to see Ian's tired blue lips asking again.
"Here... it's... too..."
It's too cold here. Could we go somewhere else? But her mouth was too frozen for her words to form properly. Tak looked as the shivering Ian stopped talking, then put a hand over her pale blue lips. As warmth spread from his hand, Ian inadvertently let out a sigh of relief.
With sleepy eyes, Tak squinted a few times at Ian's lips, then reached out and pulled her into his arms.
The surprised Ian found her head resting against Tak's scarf. The hem of his scarf brushed against her cold hair, and his scarf was laid across her exposed shoulders. Although troubled by the contact, Ian neither had the strength nor motivation to resist, and buried her face in Tak's chest while closing her tired eyes. Everything felt like a dream. She was still at home that morning, then everything spiraled out of control, and now she wondered what she was doing here.
It felt warmer than when he embraced her earlier in the city. At first she thought that it was because it was so cold outside, but it seemed to be getting hotter. Soon the heat had obviously increased beyond the normal range of body temperature. Furthermore, despite the temperature, it also felt dry as there wasn't a single drop of sweat. Her breath no longer turned white. Finally, unable to endure anymore, Ian shouted.
Suddenly, the temperature dropped. Ian winced at what she carelessly blurted out in casual language, but Tak just wordlessly put his hand on her lips again. Did he mean to silence her because of her use of casual language? Tak's hand over her lips felt like a threat that prevented her from speaking.
(note: Korean language has several levels of politeness, casual language can be considered rude)
Once again, the air started to warm up, until it was slightly above Ian's body temperature, and stopped only after she could breathe comfortably. After checking her breathing, Tak removed his fingers from her mouth and closed his eyes again. After bathing in the warmth for a while, Ian suddenly came to her senses and opened her eyes.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot..."
"I'll go back to my spot. I'm a little better now..."
Even though Ian tried to get up, she was unable to budge him, and was stuck within his arms. She tried calling him a few times, but no answers came, so she finally gave up and closed her eyes. With the freezing cold suddenly turned warm, she soon fell asleep. Soon she fell into a deep sleep, without even time to consider how dangerous the creature embracing her was.
As birds flew over the trees, the first to wake up was Ian.
The green sky announced the bright morning of Rindhallow. Snow had fallen overnight, and save for the space around Tak, all the other places were enveloped in pure white snow. This included the spot she had lain down on yesterday. If she had fallen asleep there, she would probably no longer be of this world by now.
As Ian removed the scarf covering her body and straddling his shoulders, she called once to Tak, whose eyes were still shut. However, there was no reaction from him. He stopped hugging her and moved his arms away however, so he probably knew it was morning and that it was time to get up. Yet it seemed he couldn't be troubled to open his eyes.
Ian gave up on trying to wake him up and sat down next to him, staring at his sleeping face.
His dark, red skin were a darker shade than his horns. His thick eyebrows contrasted with the thin eyelashes underneath, and his double-eyelid eyes were shut tight. Overall, it would be difficult to assess his face as "handsome" or "good-looking", but it was close to her ideal male face. He currently only had the looks of a 15-year-old boy, but as an adult, he could have looks she could have fallen for. If he were a human, she would have liked to meet him as an ordinary person living in the city...
She then recalled his cruel appearance from the day before, however, and the fact he took her out almost by force. Looks she could have fallen for, what a joke. Alone, Ian shook her head and adjusted her thoughts, then examined him again. 4 red horns were visible between his curly dark brown hair, reminding her that he wasn't human.
Still staring at them, Ian carefully reached out a hand to gauge the size of the horns. His horns were tiny, but not small enough to be hidden by his short hair. She was wrong to think that they were covered by his hair before. It wasn't clear how he had managed to conceal them before, and she neither knew why or how he did it. Whether he was with or without horns, his personality seemed to alternate, but...
At the sound of his callous voice, Ian recoiled in surprise and removed her hand. She didn't even touch his horns, so she didn't know how he found out with his eyes still closed. Ian quickly brought her hands to her lap, sitting down in a more polite position.
"I... I'm sorry."
"No, you don't have to be sorry."
Tak still kept his eyes closed, but seemed to wake up as he reached out his hands and fumbled around.
"Ah... where did they fall?"
"There... look for the red earrings around me."
She had never seen the horns when he had the red earrings on. Ian searched for them on the ground, then placed them into his hand. Tak accepted them and silently put them onto his earlobes. Thanks to his regenerative abilities, the holes had already disappeared, but he made new ones whenever he pinched his ears with the earrings.
A few seconds passed after he put on the earrings. Ian stared wide-eyed as the four horns disappeared like a lie. But after that moment of surprise, she had to face a bigger change.
As soon as Tak put on the earrings, he bowed his head towards Ian. The bewildered Ian placed her hands on his shoulders and asked in a trembling voice.
"W... what are you doing?"
Before answering her question, Tak first wrapped his scarf around her.
"Damn... I must be crazy. No matter how sleepy I was, why here of all places... I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. I should have taken better care of you since you are dressed like this..."
After wrapping his scarf around her once, Tak tied it up in the shape of a ribbon. Seemingly satisfied, he smiled. Ian was stiff with surprise. She noticed that he had returned to his friendly personality, and even spoke to her with a faint smile. Searching her expression, Tak asked mildly.
"Uh... did I scare you a lot yesterday?"
Ian said nothing, but gave a small nod.
"I... I'm sorry. I'm really unfeeling without the earrings. I promised myself many times that I would not show you that scary side..."
"When I thought I couldn't take you with me, I just couldn't bear it... so I removed the earrings. With the earrings off though..."
'In order to take you.'
Ian, still quivering, just shut her mouth tight as she looked at Tak. Even though his personality seemed to change with the earrings, he didn't seem intent on letting her go either way. Even the affectionate side of Tak would not allow her 'freedom.'
She wanted to cry. But crying wouldn't change anything. If he wouldn't let her go anyway, he should at least keep the earrings on. Whenever she recalled the horrible sights yesterday, she couldn't help but feel terrified. She didn't want to be with someone so cold-blooded who had no qualms against harming others.
"Tak... could you not remove the earrings?
Tak seemed to ponder Ian's request for a while, occasionally rolling his eyes in concern, then set his eyes on Ian again, causing her to recoil.
"You won't run away?"
Although he asked in a soft tone, his red eyes scared her. She didn't want him to discard the earrings.
"O...of course not. I won't run away."
"Okay. Then I won't take off the earrings."
Tak smiled happily, held Ian's hands, came a little closer to her and sat down. Ian was a little surprised by the sudden physical contact, but stayed still to avoid giving the impression of rejecting him.
"You know... Ian, I'm a Nastika."
"Ah... I know."
"However, I can't tell you which species I am yet. Is that okay?"
Even if it weren't, it wouldn't help. If she said it wasn't, he might remove the earrings again. She was devastated by how she had no way of refusing. She couldn't even escape save for committing suicide. Until now, since her goal was 'revenge', she didn't treat her life carelessly.
As the thought emerged, she looked at Tak, heart pounding. It would be absurd of her to try to get revenge on her own, but if she borrowed the strength of another Nastika... if so...
Her future, that had seemed dark until then, suddenly seemed to brighten.
"Tak. Could you do one thing for me, please?"
"Sure. Just name it."
Tak smiled as he listened to whatever she was asking for.
"T...The first time we met, do you remember... what I said?"
"The evil dragon who destroyed my village... 'Taksaka', please help me kill him."
Tak's smiling face went stiff. It was him. The one named 'Taksaka' whom she wanted revenge against was none other than himself. Of course, he wasn't the one who destroyed her village, but she believed the culprit to be Taksaka. To solve the misunderstanding, he would have to catch the real culprit. But that was...
"I know it'll be hard. Taksaka is the No. 2 of the Dragon Clan... I've heard that he is much stronger than other Nastika. So I'm trying to ask this of you. Please... help me. I will do anything."
Voice trembling, Ian bowed to him. Tak started to feel uneasy and had a very awkward expression. Then Ian let out a whimper of surprise when he hugged her.
"Oh, okay. I'll help you. I'll help, so don't cry."
"Thank you. Thank you, Tak..."
Ian whispered in a small voice as she clinged to him, her head against his chest. Tak only managed to look cross, but was unable to push her away, so he just sat there while hugging her.
To be continued.
Congratulations Ian! You've nabbed yourself a husband who will do your revenge for you!
I bet Tak wants to beat up Visnu again.
Edited by Mizura, 05 July 2013 - 08:03 AM.