I awoke with a start, opening my eyes to unnerving darkness around me broken by a pale light coming from a slightly-ajar door that led off to somewhere. Cautiously, I pulled myself to be seated and locked my gaze on the spot where the glow met the wooden floor of the dwelling. It was the moon's light, I could tell, as I have known it as I was growing up. Many a night had I seen such light cut through the thick canopies back in the forest. White and luminescent unlike that of the sun's yellowish light, it gave me a sense of tranquility. The moonlight was a reminder of home and its presence somehow lessened the fear that was slowly coming to grip my being. Something so familiar can give one comfort when facing something so new… something one could not yet understand and grasp.
Pulling my gaze from allowed my gaze to travel around the room. Where was I, I couldn't tell. The place was unfamiliar to me. Even naming the things in what appeared to be a dwelling I could not do. I felt tears creep into my eyes as my hands curled on what felt like cloth; my grip tightening with fear.
A strong wind gusted through the room and my eyes snapped to the door. It had swung forward, revealing the balcony basking in the borrowed luminescence of the moon. Like someone hypnotized, I loosened my grip on the beddings, hopped off the bed and floated out of the room.
As I neared the door, a searing pain made me double over and land on my hands and knees. I gasped as another one came along with memories of nightmares I did not want to remember. I scrunched up my eyes to block off the pain and the images of what seemed to be the night before. The hunter had killed Shurie. And I… I…
"… had agreed to be his servant… his slave," I whispered, shocked at what I had done.
How could I have done such a thing? I had just betrayed my clan, Shurie, and, not to mention, myself. Unable to accept what had happened, my hands tightened into fists and I gritted my teeth, longing to hurt someone.
I clutched my stomach, trying to feel the place wherein the arrow had pierced my clothes and my skin. It was my weakened state, that wound, which had made me accept it. And the poison…
Reeling from the trail of my thoughts, I stood up. As I did so, something silver dropped to the wooden floor. Puzzled, I picked it up and scrutinized it. My heart stopped as I realized what it was.
This is unforgivable. Those humans dared to use something as sacred as the silver knife of chastity-a token given by the Master Moonlight to those sohees deserving of it-to tame them into submission. This is why my brethren had promised their services to such lowly creatures as humans. And there I was, thinking my brethren were granting their services to these humans like one would help someone weaker than herself. Definitely, this is an incredible insult to our race. By tricking my fellowmen, those abhorring creatures would have to pay with their lives.
They were cunning indeed, those humans. My ancestors were not wrong to have told me to be wary of them and to slay them as soon as my eyes lay upon their skins. Incredibly, I had thought them unworthy of my attention, like someone so small and insignificant as a worm. I was wrong indeed… very wrong.
"And for my master," I said with spite, "you shall die by your servant's hand and by the knife you had used to tame and shame a creature of ancient ancestry as I."
And with proud tilt of the head and steely resolve, watched and waited, anticipating the arrival of my spiteful owner.
The cloudless windy night felt unnatural as I ambled through the concrete streets. Standing tall to cover as much area as they could, street lights palely illuminated my way towards a huge white-bricked establishment like that of all others: The Kafra Corporation Office branch in the southeast.
I hurried my pace as soon as I caught sight of the slightly ajar door. They still transacted business even at this late an hour and I was thankful for that. At night, the Kafras were less strict and suspicious since they most often felt too sleepy to be finicky.
As I stepped through the door, the image of the sohee flashed into my mind for the nth time since I had left the inn, a nagging thought recurring into my mind. I couldn't help but be worried. She was a treasure after all; one that is worth more than jewels did nowadays. Five million golden zenies could be exchanged for such a pet as they were highly useful, and, not to mention, entertaining. Besides, as the value of a thing increases, the probability of its theft does too. That thought did nothing to comfort me. I had to hurry up business and get back. My instinct was telling me so.
"Good evening," said the hoarse greeting of a black-haired Kafra girl. She smiled along with the greeting despite the tiredness evident in her face and tone. Despite a nagging anxiety, I found myself smiling back at the effort she made to be courteous and warm.
"Did any letter arrive from a Mister Johansen?" I inquired.
"I'll look it up, sir. Please wait for a moment," then she disappeared.
As I waited for the girl to get back, I glanced idly at the place, drumming my fingers in a monotonous rhythm out of habit. It was simple and neat, not much ornaments but certainly lovely and comfortable.
Homely, the thought flitted through my mind and I smiled, remembering a certain person using that word to entice me into staying by her side, meaning- marriage.
Marriage! I shuddered at the thought. It wasn't something I was looking for as of now. Freedom. Duties. Family. They were the most important things right now.
"Sir?" came her voice before she appeared at a door. "One addressed to Mister Klifer? Are you Mister Klifer?"
"Yes, that is I," I replied.
She handed the envelope to me and bowed, smiling weakly. With a nod, I turned and saw myself out. "Thank you for entrusting your transactions to the Kafra Corporation, sir," I heard The Kafra girl call out as I stepped into the cold windy night.
I better get back, I decided. It was no use trying to go about business when I felt so worried. The sohee I must bring with me for peace to settle in my mind. Leaving her behind was a mistake - a big one in fact. What if someone stole her?
We followed the hunter into the depths of alleys, our footsteps falling muffled and barely audible. And then we stopped our stalking, watching and standing in the shadows, as he entered a large brick building. It was the office of the Kafra, I recognized.
"Now what would he be doing there?" I muttered.
"Kaylesia," my companion said softly.
I turned slightly to gaze at him as I said, "Hmm?" raising my brows in question.
Leaning against a wall, one arm crossed over his chest and other holding the hilt of his sword balanced on the ground, he did not say anything for a while, staring at me with those mysterious blue eyes of his that made anyone, including me, uneasy. There seems to be something heavy weighing on his mind and he wanted to pour it out; yet hesitating for it might not be so good an idea to do so. At last, he voiced out his thoughts. "Do we kill him?" he asked quietly.
My heart slammed into my ribcage so hard that I gasped. Needless to say, his question made me disconcerted. Kill? Kill… him? I never even considered it.
"I see…," he said quietly, his eyes boring into mine with intensity.
I knew it was mystifying. Following the hunter around-through rain or shine, dark or light-but… I really never did plan to cut his life short.
"I'll do it, anyway…," Raikus muttered evenly, "…with or without your permission." With that, he pulled his sword and, as was his habit, settled it on its hilt atop shoulder before turning on his heel and walking away from me.
I stared after him, frozen in place. Thoughts of the hunter's blood spilling swirled through my thoughts, making me sick in the gut. Unknowingly, my knees buckled underneath me. "No…," I mumbled feebly to myself. I wanted to run after him and stop this madness but it would all be rendered useless. Nothing… nothing could stop Raikus once he made up his mind. That I have known in all the three months we had been together as companions.
The sound of a resounding slap invaded my ears and I felt a sting on my cheek. What was that? was all I could ask myself in my astonishment. Strong arms pulled me up by the waist and I found myself staring into the icy grayness of a pair of narrowed eyes.
"WE kill," came his voice. Raikus' eyes locked with mine in hypnotic gaze, silently commanding me to submit to his will.
Unaware of its implications, I nodded.
Raikus' intense expression softened and he smiled. "Excellent."
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