Chapter 1: PROLOGUE
It was in the nature of humans to be afraid of the unknown. To be wary of the unseen. To be suspicious of the unlocked. How ironic, for they worship gods and goddesses they could not see and hear. But like he said, it was in their nature, as a being of both flesh and spirit.
When Baekhyun was born, the first time he learned to think and speak, he knew he wasn’t like them. He could feel the bubbling power which resides inside him. He could hear whispers in darkness, and songs in light. He could see through the rays of unforgiving sun and watch the particles of light dance with the clouds. At night, he could hear the bell of moon light, chiming softly. The tiny stars giggled at the sight of him, cooing and calling out his name.
He told his mother, who in return, had looked at him in fear and anxiety. She embraced him and told him that no matter what happens, Baekhyun should not tell anybody.
Baekhyun promised, though he didn’t know why.
He grew lonely, not being able to mingle with the other children like him. They always made fun of him because he’s weak, he couldn’t keep up with their games.
Baekhyun was ten when the village’s healer told his parents that his heart was weak and he’ll not live for long. It broke his heart to see his parents cry, and it saddened him that he could not be with them until they reach their old age.
After that, he promised to make them smile more often. To make them proud in his own little way.
And he is.
With a very beautiful soul, Baekhyun was adored by many. He was courted by men for his ethereal beauty. Baekhyun had flawless porcelain skin, white as snow, his hair was dark as charcoal, lips naturally red as blood. His dark eyes were deep black pearls which could hypnotize anyone who stared.
Yet none of them were good enough.
Baekhyun was nineteen when everything started crumbling down. The village was infested with plague and many died from it. One of them was his father. It took months before they were able to heal the ones who survived.
Sorrow had taken over his mother, leaving her in a different state of mind. The people said she was possessed by evil, as she started losing her mind.
It was difficult for Baekhyun to accept what happened to his once beautiful and happy family.
A trial has been made for the fate of his mother. On the first full moon of winter, they decided to lock her up. Baekhyun cried and begged for mercy, “My mother’s just sick… she won’t hurt anyone…”
They didn’t listen. Baekhyun knelt and kissed the ground but they didn’t listen. He offered his life in return, but they didn’t listen.
Seven nights has passed since they took her away. In the end, he received a news that her mother had killed herself with a shard of glass, along with her cold, rotting body.
A heart shattering cry resonated the whole village that night. Baekhyun hugged his mother’s body despite her blood. He sobbed against her shoulder, crying ‘mother’ in broken voice.
Then it happened.
Baekhyun suddenly stopped wailing, tilting up his head upwards as if he was possessed.
A blinding light came through Baekhyun’s eyes and his mouth, beaming direct to the night sky. It looked like his soul is being sucked from his body. He froze mid-cry and the whole village heard a muffled explosion behind the clouds.
Soon, the light disappeared from Baekhyun’s eyes and mouth, a second later a large beam of light came from the sky and fell on the center of their village, creating another explosion.
The ground rumbled and cracked almost splitting the earth in half. The houses were destroyed, a number of the villager’s had died.
Throughout the chaos, Baekhyun passed out from exhaustion, still carrying his mother’s body on his lap.
Thalmos prospered for generations. People were satisfied with their needs and wants. Knights and soldiers were trained to their best potential in order to maintain peace in the kingdom. The High Court were composed of wise and educated scholars, and most of all, King Callis, was a just ruler of this time. King Callis and Queen Esmeralda, gave birth to a beautiful prince they named Kaiduin. And soon, when the time has come, Prince Kai would take the throne and rule the kingdom.
The dimmed light faded from center of his palm as he finished reading the scroll. A smile of satisfaction graced his cherry lips, having another one finished for tonight. He placed the said scroll on the pile he had beside his make shift bed. Pelt of bear and wolves combined, along with a pillow made from dove feathers.
Ever since his mother’s death, Baekhyun had been living inside this cell. A prison, just for him. Locked away from the source of his power. Deep under the ground, the people of his village threw him here. Darkness had become his friend overtime. With only one ray of light to keep him company, Baekhyun survived.
He did not blame his people. He knew they were afraid. He knew he had to be contained.
He was sorry for what he had done several years ago. It was not intended, he didn’t even know what he could do. It was too much, if he would recall. He loved both of his parents. They showered him with love and accepted him for who he was. Could they blame him for the pain?
Baekhyun pulled the pelt over his body to shield him from the cold wind. It’s been six winters since then, and he’s still counting. Six winters of isolation, of loneliness, and emptiness. He doesn’t know if he’d be like this until he took his last breath. But tonight, he would sleep again. And maybe, just maybe... tomorrow would bring him a different day.
Twelve sunrise. He’s been travelling for twelve sunrise on foot for his latest errand. The land of Iris consists of four kingdoms, Thalmos being the largest and most influential.
He was hired to deliver a letter, given to him by a knight of neighboring kingdom. It has to be from someone with title, he presumed. Why would a knight hand him over a letter to deliver to a village in Thalmos?
Well, that’s not part of his job anymore.
His only job was to get the parcel or in this case, the letter, and deliver it to the recipient. They were required to give him the name of the receiver, and the place where they could be found. The rest of it was up to him. His payment, however, was always in advanced. Those people who hired him knew that he gets things done.
Chanyeol was a man of virtue, after all.
For seasons, he’s been travelling the world. Even without a map, he memorized the land by heart. That was why it brought him relief when he reached the borders of Thalmos earlier this morning. He passed by a travelling merchant and bought some stale bread and an apple for his meal.
“May the blessing of Alwin be with you, young traveler,” the merchant said with a smile. Chanyeol mirrored it with a dip of his head, watching the old man push his cart away. Alwin, the patron and god of travelers, has always been with him, and he knows that the merchant was also blessed by the said god. Looking ahead of him, Chanyeol still got a long way before he reaches a civilization. There’d be a river by the end of this road, and then, he’d find a way to spend the night in an inn, if he’s lucky.
The sun has bid goodbye by the time he crossed the said river. Trousers and boots wet, he walked down the path to a village he hadn’t seen before. Curious, he entered with caution. He made his way to the crowd, trying to be invisible. It was a futile attempt, for he towered most of the men in there.
Chanyeol stopped in front of a meat shop, eyes staring at the grilled red meat, dripping with sauce and pepper. His mouth watered while his stomach groaned in agreement. It has been a long time since he had a fulfilling meal.
“A traveler?” the merchant, who probably was in early forties, grinned at him. A tobacco between his teeth, he pointed at the grilled meat, “Ten coins for that, lad.”
“I’d take two,” Chanyeol paid twenty coins. A satisfied moan escaped his lips once he tasted the juiciness of the tender meat. The man chuckled at him, clearly amused.
“It seems like you haven’t eaten for days, lad.” he said.
“Barely,” Chanyeol grinned, swallowing his first bite. “I hardly call them food, though. This one here,” he pointed at the meat, “Is the real food.” He and the man shared a laughter.
“It’s been a long time since a traveler came to our village. Enjoy your stay. There’s an inn down this aisle if you need a place for tonight. Tell the fat man behind the counter that Edwin will pay your one night.”
Chanyeol raised a brow at that, and the man pats his shoulder, “Have a good day, lad.” Edwin, then entertained his new customer, leaving Chanyeol on his own. After his satisfying dinner, he bid him goodbye and a thank you, before taking the path Edwin showed him. True to his words, he found a two storey inn.
Once he opened the door, the songs of the female bard filled his senses, accompanied by chatter of some men on the long table. The fluidity of her voice, along with the banjo she plays, somehow soothes his senses. Ah, it’s been so long since he enjoyed this life.
The fat man behind the counter eyed him suspiciously. Chanyeol, in order to let him know he wasn’t a burglar or something, pulled down the black scarf to show his face. He took long strides and placed a hand on the table.
“Thirteen coins for a night,” he said, voice gruff and thick.
Chanyeol pulled another batch of coins from his satchel. “This is for one night, but I’ll stay for two, Edwin says he’s got one in the house.”
“Ah, alright,” the fat man took the coins. He must have looked curious enough for the older man to elaborate why. It seemed like Edwin owed him money, and it was his way to pay his debt to him. Chanyeol was led to his room by one of the inn keepers. As he followed her, he kept his eyes on the bard singing songs of ancient times.
Come forth, oh child of darkness,
Come forth, the son of death.
Come take the living and ferry their soul to hell.
Serit, Oh Serit, come deliver us from death.
Come forth, oh child of light,
Come forth, the son of love,
Come heal the dying and ascend them tonight,
Serit, Oh Serit, come hear the mortal cry.
“This would be yours for two nights,” the dark-skinned woman smiled. “If you need anything else, just come down and ask,” with that, she goes back to her cleaning duties.
Chanyeol entered the small room and locked the door. His eyes were fixed on the single bed beside the small window. He took his scarf off, followed by the sleeveless vest he’s wearing. He was left with nothing but bandages all over his torso, across his chest and shoulders. He had some of them on his forearms, as well. Chanyeol wore them to cover the scars of the past, aside from the fact he lacks luxury to buy new clothes.
Settling himself on the bed, he stared at the star-studded sky. It was a nice view, alright. Thirteen coins for a night wasn’t so bad after all. Propping his left hand behind his head, he closed his eyes and listened to the muffled song of the bard.
Serit, Oh Serit, forgive your love.
It was the familiar touch on his forehead that woke him up. Through the dim light from above, he saw Martha hovering over him, eyes filled with warmth and love. Martha was the only person who cared for him, after all this time. She was the one who brought him food three times a day, and asked her husband to hunt down bears and wolves for their pelt. Sometimes, she would also come down to his cell with three satchels of water. She would wipe him clean and perfume him from time to time. If it wasn’t for her, maybe Baekhyun would be long dead.
“Time for your breakfast, honey.”
“Martha,” Baekhyun propped himself with his elbows, “Good day to you,” he smiled.
“Mashed potatoes and grilled meat?” she offered the wooden container to him. Once Baekhyun opened the lid, the smell of food invaded his senses. His stomach growled.
“It‘s Edwin’s grilled meat,” he said in awe, taking the fork from her to get a bite. “Your husband makes the best meat in this village,” he giggled. “Thank you...”
Martha reached out and brushed his hair away from his face. Baekhyun leaned close to her touch. She was the mother figure left to him. Having Martha was a blessing. “You poor child,” she murmured, tears already pooling on the corner of her eyes. “I’m sorry for what they’ve done to you.”
Baekhyun reached out and held her hand. It was painful to see her like this. He doesn’t want anyone to suffer because of him. “It’s okay Martha,” he whispered, “I... I am not like the others. I am... dangerous. I don’t blame them for fearing me.”
“You’re just a child, Baekhyun.” she sighed. “If I could just adopt you...”
“I’m grateful, that you look after me and all.” Baekhyun smiled, squeezing her hand, “But you know they won’t let that happen. Edwin will not approve of it either.”
“We never had a child, Baekhyun...” Martha cried, her tears tracing her wrinkled face, “I may not replace your mother but I could take care of you.”
It really broke his heart to see her like this, but they both knew what she wanted was impossible. Wordlessly, Baekhyun pulled her in an embrace, hands rubbing her clothed back. “It’s okay, Martha. Even if you can’t adopt me, you will still be my second mother,” he whispered, “And I’m very, very thankful to have you in my life.” Baekhyun pulled away to wipe her tears, “Think of me as your son then...I wouldn’t mind.”
Martha cried in joy, cupping Baekhyun’s face with tender, hands, she placed a kiss on his forehead and hugged the boy.
“Oh, sweet child.” she mutters, “They made a great mistake for locking you in here...”
Baekhyun pressed his face on her shoulders, his eyes that used to shine with light, suddenly turned dark and malignant.
The darkest part of himself screamed inside.
It was a great mistake indeed.
Chanyeol spent another ten coins for that meat the next day. Tonight he’ll leave the village so he might as well take advantage of it. But of course, once he’s done with his errand, he’d go back here from time to time to get his new favorite meal. Edwin was so amused to seeing him enjoy the meat. Chanyeol, having no place to spend the day, just stayed by the meat shop for some story.
An hour into his stay, he saw a woman, coming inside the shop. She was wearing a maroon dress, hair tied in a bun, while carrying a wooden cylinder on one hand. Edwin frowned when she saw her.
“You visited him again?”
Oh, was she his wife? Chanyeol pretended he wasn’t listening by paying attention to the kids playing on the other side of the road.
“I can’t not just visit him, Edwin. No one’s going to take care of the boy!”
“He’s not a boy anymore, Martha, and he’s not just a boy, you know that!” If Edwin was lowering his voice so that Chanyeol wouldn’t hear him, then he’s doing a very lousy job at that.
“He’s nothing but an innocent orphan! Whatever it was that he did several winters ago, he didn’t mean it, Edwin. He’s a sweet child, and this village, the people in this place, were wrong to punish him like that.” Martha stomped her way inside, probably to the main house that was connected to the shop. Chanyeol by then, caught the ball the kid kicked from the other side. He returned it when the kid asked it back. It did so much to camouflage how he just eavesdropped from the couple’s conversation.
“I think I’ll go around here for a while,” Chanyeol told the man with a smile. “I’ll see you around Edwin.”
While roaming around the village, Chanyeol’s thoughts were filled with the couple’s conversation earlier. They were talking about a boy and his punishment. If he was really just a boy, like what the woman said, then, what crimes did he commit for Edwin to talk about him like that?
Curious, Chanyeol thought.
The first thing he remembered when he opened his eyes again, was visiting a garden near the end of the village. It was so peaceful and silent except for the soft hum of the wind. Perhaps it was the reason why he fell asleep on the bed of grass, under the shade of an old oak tree.
Right now though, something’s different. Aside from the whistle of the wind and distant chatter from the village, he’s hearing an odd note in between. Chanyeol closed his eyes and focused on it.
A melody. A voice.
Chanyeol jolts on his feet, finding the source of the song. He walked further, and further into the vast land of lavenders, dandelions, pepper grass and sagebrush. That was until his foot came across a hard metal, covered with wild grass and wilt flowers.
It was a manhole, to say the least, and there’s only a small opening on the middle, and it’s where the voice comes from. Chanyeol pulled the scarf up, a habit he’d develop when he’s weary of a situation. Curiosity winning over him, he slowly came closer to the void. The first thing he found was a long iron stairs. The void was deep that he couldn’t even see the end of it.
But the song continues, Chanyeol noticed. It’s rather familiar to him and he wondered where he must have first heard it. Before he knew it, he was already climbing down the stairs.
When his feet reaches a solid ground, the song stopped abruptly. It was already given that the person inside this horrible place finally felt his presence. Chanyeol couldn’t see from the darkness, and the faint light from above gave no justice either.
He heard labored breaths from the background, followed by some rustle of fabric.
"Y-you...” the voice cracked. It echoed throughout the confined space. It was a man. And they way he sounded like, it was almost, as if, he knew him.
“H-How did you find me?” the voice asked.
“I don’t know,” Chanyeol said, lifting his shoulders, looking up at the opening. “But I’m sure as hell that you were the boy Martha was talking about earlier.”
“You know Martha?” the man gasped.
“Not really,” he sighed, “I thought it was kind of a prison, but I see now that you are well capable of leaving this place. Why aren’t you?” Chanyeol asked.
The man stayed silent after that. Based on his voice, he couldn’t be much older than him. If anything, Chanyeol could be older than this boy.
“It’s...none of your business. Just leave me alone. And don’t tell anyone you’ve been here.”
He raised a brow for that. “And why not?”
“No one is supposed to be here . I’m locked up for a reason. And if you value your life I suggest you go back to where you came from.”
Chanyeol was not a fool. He could hear the tremble in the man’s voice and hesitance on the way he spoke. But why would he choose to stay in this place? Clearly, anyone would strive for freedom if given a chance?
Rather than taking the opportunity, he chose to turn a blind eye on it.
“Fine,” Chanyeol sighed. He reached out for t he stairs and waited if the man would try and stop him. He heard nothing. Stubborn little fella , he t hought.
As he reached the mouth of the void, Chanyeol took one last look below before leaving the village as planned.
first chapter is up! it's been so long sine I made a whole new universe for a fic. :) if you made it this far thank you so much and see you next chapter!
It took him another five sunrise to find the recipient of this letter. It was a maiden named Aerith, in the small town of Nimbus. She was beautiful, with long, wavy golden hair and emerald eyes, rosy cheeks and pink lips. Chanyeol was left tongue tied upon meeting her.
When he gave her the envelope , beads of fresh tears pooled in the corner of her eyes. But those were tears of happiness . Chanyeol knew from the way she hugged the letter like her life depended on it.
It was a love letter, Chanyeol concluded as he spent the night drinking in the village’s tavern. And the one who sent it must have been a royalty from the neighboring kingdom. Such sweet story, and Chanyeol hoped he helped them in someway. Well, for a price of course.
Somehow, drinking had him thinking about the man i mprisoned from the previous village he had stayed in. He knew he shouldn’t meddle with other’s business. And the reason why someone as young as him staying inside that hellhole, well, quite literally, was not even in the list of his task. He wasn’t paid for that.
The night deepened and he fell asleep instantly. Chanyeol wished he could just forget about it and get over his life. He has his own problems to deal with the next day.
Where is he?! Where is the boy?
Violent, overlapping voices shook him up from slumber. But he was far from being awake. He was lying stone cold on the bed, sweating profusely, as he stared at the shadow looming over his body. Barely tangible, the shadow consists of nothing but dark cloak, floating midair, and what seemed like hood covered the dark space where the face should be. Instead, he only saw a pair of glowing red eyes.
This wasn’t the first time he encountered such creature. They were all over the four kingdoms, hiding and lurking in the shadows. They prey on traveler’s corpses, sometimes, killing innocent lives in order to feed.
But the real question here was how it followed Chanyeol, and why? Nimbus isn’t far from the capital city of Thalmos, and ghouls like this one, never gets too close to these number of people. As naïve as mortals like them had become, there were still people who knows about them, and knows how to exterminate them.
Chanyeol, for example.
The ghoul was taken off guard when a blade passed through its almost intangible form. It’s demonic cry screeches against the peaceful night, while his power disintegrated him into his weaker monstrous form—long boned limbs, hollowed eye sockets, and dried up face. Chanyeol rolled off the bed, taking the blade with him.
It was no ordinary weapon. Chanyeol had it forged solely for his combat style and build. It was a cross double-edged blade. On its center was an obsidian rod which was designed like a pair of fangs. This obsidian was connected to the ring holding the four black blades. On each blade were ancient phrases carved in old alphabet. These phrases were enchantments against evil spirits.
Where is the boy?!
Chanyeol snarled as he swung his right arm across the ghoul, one of the blades slicing through its neck. “I don’t fucking know what you’re talking about.”
The ghoul slowly disintegrated into smoke, but before it completely disappears, the ghoul uttered the truth he’s been trying to forget.
You bear the mark of death, and death shall visit you one of these days.
Pain was something Chanyeol had grown up with. Ever since he started thinking, he was reminded everyday that he should not fear it .
In a world surrounded by bloodbath and cold hearts, the young boy learned how to kill for a living. He was trained physically, mentally and emotionally, how to be a killer. The Blade Brotherhood was his family, the only place he belonged.
The leader told him he was abandoned in front of his door on a cold autumn night. He was bundled with soft dark fabric and was placed in a fruit basket. There were no traces of where he could have came from, leaving them no choice but to take him in.
He wasn’t the first unwanted child that was given to the Blade Brother hood, the leader said to him. There were a lot of people throwing away their own kids for various reasons. However, Chanyeol’s case might be different.
“Do you see that mark behind your right ear?” his instructor asked , right after a session of training.
Chanyeol was twelve and was bathing in own sweat and blood. H is left arm was bleeding from a cut. It wasn’t too deep, but it still st ung.
“Yes, I do,” he un con sciously reached out the embossed birthmark he had on the said spot. The skin felt hot as his fingers brushed against it.
“It’s the mark of death, Chanyeol. I don’t know how or why you have it, but it might be the reason why you were abandoned. ”
“M-mark of death?”
“A curse.” His instructor said. “You’re a cursed child. Someday you will find out why you have it, but today you have to make it the reason to survive. I don’t know much about curses, but I know it was never a good thing. Become stronger, and one day seek out the truth and undo your curse.”
Chanyeol indeed, followed his instructor ’s advice. He reached adulthood with his false name feare d and known by many. He was what they call Reaper. The assassin who mercilessly tears his victims apart, leaving them bleed ing to death.
But no matter how many lives he took, he never found the answer why he was cursed.
Another thing he left along with the life an assassin was the only family he ever knew. His instructor, the leader of the brotherhood, and the rest who grew up with him. He might not have the typical childhood, but it wasn't anything less fun. They might have been killers on training but they still played and made fun of each other.
Maybe it was the reason why his heart clenched at the sight of his dying brother, on the path he had taken a few sunrise ago.
Galfric was one of the toughest assassins in the brotherhood. He was tall, even taller than Chanyeol who was already considered a tower for his age. He was a tough guy, bulky and always sweaty, but he never lost a battle. Many said he's not an assassin material, for one should be lightfooted and unseen, yet Galfric proved them wrong.
He was lying between the bushes, back propped against a moss-covered rock. Three deep gashes marred his neck, on his bare chest was a familiar mark which pulled out a curse from Chanyeol.
“What the fuck happened?!” he asked, pulling the man against his body. Galfric groaned from the movement, yet still managed to show a bloody grin at him.
“It’s been a long time, b-brother,” he murmured. “Didn’t know you—” a bloody cough, “—you’d be around, eh?”
“Save your chat later, what happened to you?” Chanyeol unwrapped the bandaged on his left arm and proceeded to cover the gaping wound on his brother’s neck.
“D-dark witch… happened. Caught me off guard—” Galfric tried to push his hands away, “It won’t help, the poison—it’s spreading,” despite his resistance, Chanyeol still managed to cover the wound.
“Can you stand?” the younger asked, but he’s already pulling the other up. An arm around his waist, another one supporting Galfric’s hand on his shoulder, Chanyeol pulled them both up. The injured assassin held on to his stomach, suddenly throwing up a pile of black liquid.
“We’ve got to hurry,” Chanyeol panted, leading the way back to other village. Nimbus was farther than the previous one he stayed in. Hopefully they have someone who knows how to cure a dark witch’ spell.
He’d receive help from the people. They took Galfric in the healer’s cottage. They were able to stitch the wound, but unfortunately, the healer knows nothing to counter a dark witch spell.
“We are far from the capital, thus lesser knowledge how to counter evil entities like witches. We had victims from time to time, mostly hunters who ‘d gone further into the woods only to come back almost dead. Forgive me for I couldn’t be much of help.” The healer explained.
Chanyeol watched over his brother ’s sleeping form. His throat tightened from thinking of the worst. Galfric is dying and no one here could help him. Traveling to capital was impossible, he’d die on the way there. Who knows how long before the poison completely takes over and kill his brother?
The door of the cottage opened and he found the healer’s daughter coming in. She was holding a bunch of gardenia and walked closer to him. The girl must be around ten seasons old. She was small and fair skin ned , had curly brunette hair and freckled cheeks . She blinked her pretty hazel eyes at him before handing the flowers to him.
“ Is your friend…going to die?” she asked.
Chanyeol shook his head, “I hope not. He’s my brother,” he whispered. “One of many.”
The girl looked at Galfric solemnly, a shadow of pity in her eyes. Then she looked back at Chanyeol, “I know someone who could heal him…” she whispered, then looked around to see if her father’s around, “But don’t tell anyone okay?”
Chanyeol, confused but curious at the same time, just bobbed his head as the girl leaned closer to his ear. “ The other day, I found a dead dove while I was playing. It was shot by a hunter. I took it to the garden to bury it, but I saw a hole in the middle of the flowers.”
That was oddly familiar to him, so Chanyeol listened.
“ Someone was there. He was kind, and he asked why I was crying. So I told him about the dove.” The girl smiled, “He asked me to drop the dove , I told him it’s already dead. I threw it anyway.
“I waited, and when he called me again, I saw the dove flying out of the hole. Free and alive! It was amazing! My father didn’t believe me though, he said it was my imagination and forbid me to go there again.”
Chanyeol was desperate. He took Galfric with him once the latter woke up. The other still had some strength left so he asked him for one last walk. It was dark when they left the healer’s cottage and no one’s awake by the time they reached the garden. Chanyeol asked his friend to wait up there .
“Where the hell are you going?” Galfric groaned.
“Just shut up man, I’m doing this for you alright?”
Chanyeol climbed down the stairs and face the darkness once again.
“You came back.” The voice echoed from the hollow space. “With a friend…” he sounded less scared now, Chanyeol noticed.
“Please… he’s dying. A dark witch did this to him” he said between labored breaths. “The healer’s daughter told me you could help.”
“How can you be sure she’s not making it up? Children are very imaginative…”
“I’d do anything in return, just please, heal him, if you could. I can’t waste more time!”
There was silence in the air, and just when Chanyeol was about to give up and leave, he heard a sound of metal in the background. Through the small ray of moonlight, a figure emerged from darkness. Slim body, covered in tattered rags, greased skin and clumped hair. His ankles were chained, bruised and blistered from its grip. But what petrified Chanyeol was his face.
Dark eyes, penetrating into his soul. A be auty behind scars and dirt, thin, chapped lips but naturally red as rose.
The man was ethereal, however, the darkness in his eyes was too dee p he’d drown in it.
“ You’d do anything?”
Chanyeol’s hope ignites. “Anything. Just save him.”
“ Take him here.”
Chanyeol managed to convince Galfric to come down, of course with his help. The assassin has lost all the blood on his face, his lips gone blue and eyes turning murky white. He laid him down on the ground, and the chained man knelt before him.
Chanyeol watched as he placed his hands on top of his head, the other on the witch’ mark on his chest. The next thing happened , was far from what he expected.
Particles of light eases from the man’s hand and into Galfric’s body. It looked like fireflies sinking i n his skin. As the light travelled inside his body, the man’s hands were suddenly tainted with veiny dark marks. Almost as if he’s sipping out the dark magic from the host.
The wound on his neck healed, even the stitches merged with the flesh. The mark on his chest was gone and his eyes had gone back to normal.
Galfric sat abruptly with a gasp, patting himself and his chest . “I—I … What happened?” bewildered, the assassin asked.
When he got over from the initial shock, Chanyeol turned to the chained man, “I could take you out of here if that’s what you want.”
The other shook his head. “That’s not what I want ,” he denied the offer “I need you to stay in the village for a few days. I sense dark entities roaming in the woods. They will come soon. ”
Chanyeol met his brother’s gaze. Indeed, the dark entities became more bold and aggressive. The ghoul who almo st attacked Chanyeol in his sleep, the dark witch from the woods. Something must have been drawing them out.
The man must have noticed that he knew something’s going on. “ I need you to protect Martha.”
“Martha? Why? Is she in danger?”
Why Martha? Why not him? He’s alone out here, chained for what goddamned reason, and clearly defenseless . Chanyeol was starting to get irritated. Sure he could heal, but not everybody could take down things like these.
The man merely shook his head, “The whole village is in danger, but the only person I care about here was her. ” Their eyes met and Chanyeol suddenly felt a stinging sensation on his birthmark. “Can you do that for me?”
“How about you?”
The man blinked, surprised from his question. “Me?”
“Yes,” Chanyeol hissed, “ I am talking about you. I see now you can’t escape with those chains . You don’t have a weapon, do you even know how to fight? ”
“He’s right, you know?” Galfric took a deep breath. “They would smell you down here. They’d attack you or worse, kill you.”
“I can handle myself,” the man scowled.
“ I know you’re not a mere mortal, but trust me,” Chanyeol rose on his feet, “I’ve killed hundreds of them and it ain’t easy.”
“You said you’d do anything!” the man is obviously frustrated now.
Chanyeol eyed the chain on his ankle, before turning to Galfric. The man grunted, taking the gigantic axe slung on his back. “We’ll protect Martha, but we’ll protect you as well.” The man swung the axe and hit the rusty metal on point. The impact had the chain breaking into tiny pieces . Chanyeol returned his attention to the stranger , meeting his dark pair of eyes.
“You’re making a mistake,” t he man whispered, voice quivering.
“No,” Chanyeol held out his hand, waiting for the other to take it. He could see hesitance in his eyes and a mixture of distrust . Somehow, he found himself drawn to this stranger, as if he was calling his soul. As if he’s someone he knew before.
“I don’t know what you did…not a fragment of your past. But I know you saved my brother.” He whispered, “I know you have a pure heart,”
The man’s breath hitched when Chanyeol wrapped his awaiting hand on his trembling ones.
“I know you deserve better ,” he pulled him up from dirt and into the light. “ Y our place is not here …”
The assassins knew that the prisoner must have done something terrible to have that kind of punishment. But when they reached the village with him, neither of them expected the fear on their faces. Mothers gathered their children in their arms, hunters held onto their weapons , and the elderlies where hidden in their cottages.
“Why did you let him out?”
“He’s cursed ! What do you think you’re doing, bringing him here! ? ”
“ Oh no, we are going to die,”
They all cried at the same time it was almost deafening. Chanyeol shielded the man when he saw a rock being thrown at him, followed by a Murderer! The rock hit his temple instead, grazing his skin and drawing some blood. His little action stunned many, no, in fact, all of them. Gritting his teeth, Chanyeol tried to calm himself as he asked, “There were ghouls and witches roaming in the woods near your village. My friend here was a victim, you all saw that!” He then pointed at the smaller man beside him, “As far as I know, he’s a part of this village. Leaving him out there is as good as offering him to those flesh eating demons!”
“If they kill him or not we do not care!” a young man screamed from the crowd, “If anything, that would be his final judgement as a killer.” Tears ran down the boy’s cheeks, fisted hands trembling. “Because of him I lost my father and sister. Our village is better of without that spawn of evil.”
More rocks were thrown at them, and all the assassins could do was shield the smaller man from them all. Chanyeol managed to get a glimpse of him. Pain and betrayal was clearly written on his face. Lower lip in between his teeth, the other fought hard not to break into sobs. When he met his dark orb once again, the pain became an inextinguishable anger.
The prisoner bolt into a sprint, heading into the woods with nothing to protect his bare and injured feet. Chanyeol followed him, he could care less about the people of the village. He owed them nothing. But that man. He could be killed out there.
It was hard to see through the shade of trees . He couldn’t see a glimpse of the man’s shadow, much less hear his footsteps and labored breaths. He couldn’t have gone far, could he?
He went further into the forest, his blade ready to attack any suspicious form lurking in darkness. As silent as he could, he tiptoed between bushes , eyes keen of any movement. A rustle to his right alerted him, so he followed the silent sob that came a ft e r it.
He saw him pitifully hugging his knees under a tall tree, almost hugged by its gigantic roots. He trembled from the breeze of night air, but nothing was as painful as those words they threw at him earlier. “I told you…you shouldn’t have taken me out of that place,” he said, clearly talking to him.
Chanyeol was moment arily shocked on how he knew he was there. He made sure to come closer as quiet as he could. But the thought quickly slipped from his head when he talked again, “Leave me alone, I said!” he almost growled. “Don’t you understand ? I don’t want your help!”
“And where will you go? How will you survive in that state?” he pressed on.
“It’s none of your business anymore,” he spat. But despite the venom in his voice, his stance was defensive. As if he’s trying to shield himself from Chanyeol’s presence.
“You became my business ever since I took you out of that man hole,” Chanyeol snapped. “Whether you like it or not, I will follow you and make sure you don’t die in here.”
He kept his gaze on Chanyeol, as if he’s waiting for him to take back what he said. When Chanyeol kept his word, the man suddenly looked at the other way, hiding half of his face and murmured, “Didn’t you hear what they said? I am a murderer…” the last word was caught up in his throat.
“ I don’t believe that.”
“Why? Because I healed your friend?!” he scoffed, “I could have killed him.”
“But you didn’t,” Chanyeol said in a matter of fact . The man gaped at his tenacity, and when he’s convinced he won’t be able to win this argument, he kept his mouth shut and ignored Chanyeol for good.
Chanyeol didn’t realize that he fell asleep until his head hit a hard surface, waking him up. A grunt went passed his lips, while he took in the surroundings he was in. At first sight of towering forest and wild bushes, he suddenly remembered how he got here.
Shit, that guy must have left on his own. He thought when he saw the empty spot the prisoner was in. Chanyeol rose on his feet, dusting his trousers. He wondered where he could have gone? He was injured and hurt. He knew the forest wasn’t safe and he dared wandered around like that?
Chanyeol cursed himself for sounding so protective of this stranger. To his defense, it was his fault he’s out here. He knows how to take responsibility. But then, leaving him in that shithole wasn’t even a choice. Maybe he’d feel a little less of a nagging mother when that guy has settled in a warm, safe place.
He took light steps, making sure not to make disturbances in the rather peaceful night forest. He could hear the sound of owls and wing flaps of bats from a distance. The wind made the canopy of tree leaves dance with each other. Everything was in order, not a presence of dark entity was around. That was until Chanyeol spotted the rather, largest and probably oldest oak tree from a distance.
There was a figure sitting between the tree’s roots. A woman in shape, yet not at the same time. Her figure was more of a woman on the upper part, skin was mixture of flesh and wood. Her face was marked with vein shaped mosses, rooting from her jaws up to her cheeks. Sprouts of little flowers and long leaves were her makeshift hair. Her arms were completely wood. She had long point claws, sharp enough to tear anyone’s throat or chest in a blow. Half of her breast, down to her torso, where the same moss and green she had on her face, but thicker, almost serving as her clothes.
Chanyeol’s breath hitched when he found her looking at him with murky white eyes, her head tilting in curiosity.
A dryad. A dryad has shown herself to him. And what’s even more surprising was the fact that the prisoner who disappeared on him a while ago, was sleeping on her lap. The dryad noticed how he stared at the human. She looked down at him, almost fond. Her fingertips, ever so carefully, brushed some fringes away from his face. She looked up at Chanyeol and made a shushing gesture with a fingertip on her lips.
Chanyeol sat on his spot, watching the dryad manipulated her element to make a blanket for the prisoner. He was almost jealous of the affection the nature spirit was giving to this man. But then, if he was so malicious and terrible like what those people made him out to be, how come he found himself having a dryad on his side?
“Let him rest,” the dryad whispered, startling him. “He’s been in pain for a long, long time.” her voice was soft, but eerie at the same time. “You should rest as well. No evil will come as long as you’re in my home...”
Chanyeol swallowed, his throat drying up from what just happened. He never met a dryad in his life, not this close. He only saw glimpses, and mostly just on scrolls and paintings of those who had seen them. It was said that dryads do not mingle with mortals especially those with evil heart.
The dryad stared at him, as if looking straight into his soul. “You,” she spoke again, “You have darkness around you... ”
He fought the urge to roll his eyes. Dryads hated disrespectful mortals. “So I’ve been told.”
She hummed, tilting her head, “You can still redeem your soul, mortal...” she then looked down at the sleeping man, “And he could help you undo your curse.”
The dryad caressed the prisoner’s face. “This child here, he can help you lift the curse you’re suffering even from your previous lives." Chanyeol’s attention was now back tothe unconscious man.
“Do you know who he is?” he asked the dryad.
But she merely put a protective arm around the mortal and said, “The question is, do you know who he is?”
thank you for reading! how are you liking it so far? let me know what you think :3.
Oh and April officially started here, so may you all have a productive month! Eat well, have fun and don't forget to support our Chen on his new album oki~?
Chapter 4: Chapter Three
In his twenty-seven seasons of existence, Chanyeol had never come across a difficult person such as the prisoner. Other than the fact that he doesn’t trust the former assassin, he wasn’t very nice to him as well. He refused to eat the fruit Chanyeol picked once they walked out the forest. He barely answered his simple questions like what his name was and how old he was. He’d rather walk on barefoot than accepting Chanyeol’s offer to carry him on his back.
Why not? His feet were bruised and cut. He’d be limping by the next sunrise if he won’t let them rest.
They met Galfric at the borderlines. According to him, there wasn’t any malicious acts around the village and he was guarding the whole night. Earlier that morning, the people had continued their lives as if nothing happened that night.
They decided to go back to Nimbus. Get some food and a place to stay in for the night. They both watched as the prisoner walked ahead of them, having no strength to outrun them or even walk faster than a turtle.
When Galfric was sure he was out of earshot, he leaned closer to his brother and shared the story he heard from the village.
“I heard a lot of things from the village in just one night,” Galfric mumbled, his deep voice rumbling in his attempt of being subtle. “They believed that this guy is a witch. White or dark, they weren’t sure.”
Chanyeol’s face crumpled in a disapproving scowl. “That isn’t enough for them to chain him underground.”
Galfric shook his head, disappointment clearly written on his face, “That’s what I thought as well, but you know,” he lifted his shoulders and stared at the back profile of the prisoner, “People could be very vengeful.”
“Vengeful?” Chanyeol echoed, “What do you mean?”
“Do you remember, several years ago, that strong quake that shook the land of Iris?”
“Yes, but I was not in Thalmos that time, why do you ask?”
Galfric gave him the look, “The people of that village, they were the one who were at the center of it.”
Chanyeol was at loss of words, now turning his attention to the man walking before them as Galfric continued, “And they are all telling me, that he was the one who caused that disaster. Leaving a deep crater, slaying half of the village’s population.”
The two of them halted on their steps when the prisoner stopped on his heels. With his back still on them, the prisoner turned his head, just a bit, to catch them on his peripheral.
“It was called the Tragedy of Estes,” he said, surprising the assassins. So he was listening all this time? More than that, he could hear them? From that distance?
“After the…the explosion which caused the land of Iris to shake, our people moved to another land. But I when I woke up, I’m already locked up.”
Chanyeol and Galfric shared a look, then the former took several steps forward, only stopping when he was only a feet away from the prisoner. “Well then let me hear it from you,” he said, “Were you really the one who…caused it?”
The prisoner faced him, his eyes reflecting Chanyeol’s image, as if searching for something. Chanyeol wasn’t sure why, but there’s something familiar in those eyes. Like he had seen them before, like he had looked at them before, this close, and even closer.
“Would you finally let me go on my own, if I tell you I was?” he asked. Now he could feel the ice from his tone. There’s underlying pain, a touch of betrayal and a shade of distrust in that question. Why does it feel like he’s making it sound so bad for them to fear him? Or worse, hate him?
“No.” Chanyeol stubbornly rebutted.
He frowned. “Why not?”
“Regardless of your past, you still saved Galfric’s life. I wasn’t there when it happened, and I’m not going to trust your words for it.” Chanyeol closed the distance between them. “I’m not a kind of person to judge someone just from the word of the mouth.” Unable to stop himself anymore, Chanyeol reached out to remove some of the prisoner’s hair away from his eyes. The prisoner flinched from the touch, stepping back and covering the spot Chanyeol brushed.
“Suit yourself, but once I regained my strength, you’ll just wake up one day and I’m gone from your sight.”
As Chanyeol watched him take further steps away from him, he wondered what would it take for this man to trust him? How would he show to him that he meant nothing but good?
But he was confused himself.
Why would he want this man to see him in a good light?
Chanyeol couldn’t hide the amusement on his face as he watched the prisoner wolf down his food. They arrived in Nimbus village before noon. At first, the prisoner was still adamant of accepting anything from him. He asked what he would like to eat, but he didn’t answer him. Chanyeol suggested everything on the menu, all that he knew, and when he mentioned the roasted chicken, the prisoner stiffened on his seat and swallowed hard.
Unable to fight it, Chanyeol chuckled in amusement. “We’ll get along with food choices,” he commented before leaving their table to get them something to eat.
“Careful, you wouldn’t want to choke on your food, would ya?” Galfric snickered, tearing a portion on hi own meat as he did.
“Cut him some slack, the boy is starving. I’m paying his bill anyway.” Chanyeol defended.
“I’m not a boy.” The prisoner scowled, wiping his lips with the back of his hand.
“I’d call you boy until you tell me your name,” he shrugged. Or maybe that was Chanyeol’s trap to get a name to match his beautiful face.
The prisoner put down his food, face void of any expression, “I wont stick around long enough for you to have my name,”
“Suit yourself then,” Chanyeol drank his mead with a smirk, “…boy.”
It looked like Chanyeol popped the last bubble of patience left in him when the latter stabbed the fork hard on the wood. The prisoner stood from his seat, turned his back on them and walked straight out the door. Galfric’s laugh annoyed the hell out of Chanyeol so he threw him a bone from his bowl, then headed out to follow that stubborn guy.
He found the prisoner standing near the baluster of the inn, a hand on his hip, and the other one rubbing his forehead. He looked so exhausted-- stressed even. Chanyeol almost felt bad for teasing him. But to his defense, he wanted him to feel at ease in their presence. He wanted him to know that they would not treat him like the way those villagers did.
Chanyeol walked quietly, closing the distance between them. He stopped a foot away behind the prisoner, but before he could say anything, the smaller man turned around suddenly.
"What do you want?" he asked, unamused.
"I'm sorry." Chanyeol said, raising his hands up. "I didn't mean to offend you back there." he pointed his thumb towards the door. "I just wanted to know your name. Well," Chanyeol cleared his throat, "Know you, in general."
"Why?" the prisoner's eyes narrowed to slits, his head held up high in defiance. "Why are you doing this? Why did you take me out of that place, and why do you want to know me?"
Chanyeol's soul was sucked in those dark eyes which seemed to call for him. He was too immersed in its darkness that he almost didn't hear what the prisoner said. Yet once it registered in his head, Chanyeol advanced with a step, cornering the smaller man against the wooden pole.
"You ask me why? I will tell you why," Chanyeol's voice went deep and thick. "There's something about you that I couldn't explain. Something about your eyes. I felt haunted every time I look at them." He reached out a hand, the tip of his fingers brushing gently on the dark circle under those orbs. "And then there's you. You and the cold air around you. You think you're doing a good job pushing me away? It's doing the opposite."
"Then you're making a mistake." the man hissed. "You should know by now that I'm no ordinary mortal. And you should have left me the moment you knew that I was responsible for many people's death."
Chanyeol laughed and it sounded sinister in his ears. "Are you scaring me with death?" The assassin put his hand against the baluster, fencing the prisoner with his arm.
"I'm gonna tell you something," he whispered, his lips only inches away from him, "I probably killed five or ten times more of the men you may or may have not killed in that incident. My hands is dirtier than yours. But that's not my point here, you see.” Chanyeol tilted his head, “My point is that I don’t give, a fucking damn, about what you’ve done, and what you want to believe. I won’t lie, I like you. And I feel responsible of your well-being. So now stop asking why I am doing this and that. Like it or not, you’re stuck with me for the time being. You’re not going anywhere.”
It has been a long time since Baekhyun felt something other than loneliness. He didn’t know what to think the moment he heard that man said he liked him. Was he serious? He only met him a few days ago, and all of their encounters and interaction had not been a good one. How could he throw those words carelessly into the air just like that?
However, as much as Baekhyun would like to deny, those words meant so much more to him. Those affectionate eyes staring only at him, meant so much more than just a mere infatuation. His heart was racing, it was aching. Because that man didn’t know anything, and yet he was doing it all over again.
It was hard to keep everything. There’s a chest hidden inside him, locked and frozen solid. It contained both happy and painful memories. Those of which he wished he had not remembered in this life.
He shouldn’t have taken him out of that place. It was dark and lonely, yes, but at least, he’s safe from thoughts like this, from feelings like this.
The night has fallen deep, but Baekhyun could not even blink a sleep. He sat on his bed, leaning against the window. He stared at the night sky and listened to the chime of moonlight against the breeze of the wind. The stars are calling his name, over and over, they are singing for him. He wanted to smile, tell them how grateful he was for not being forgotten. But his mind was stuck somewhere else.
“Couldn’t sleep?” Baekhyun jumped in surprise when a sweet, tiny voice disrupted his peace. He turned to look for the voice and found that tiny being, sitting on the window edge. Fragile wings fluttering on her back, her whole form shining subtly against the darkness.
“You startled me,” Baekhyun huffed, opening his palm as an invitation. She giggled and hopped on his hand. “It’s been a long time, little star.” He greeted the little creature.
A tiny human in shape, save for her wings that’s shaped like snowflake, the little lady on his palm is just one of the billions of stars from above. Unbeknownst to most mortals, the burning light that they see in the sky has souls of their own. They have their names, and they have their own personality and own powers depending on their kind.
“Aren’t you looking solemn today?” she asked.
“Just a few things in my mind.” He hummed, smiling at her. “How are you?”
“Same old,” she shrugged, “I’m getting bored up there, honestly. It’s always fun here with you. Although,” she looked around and blinked, “You’re not bound and no longer in that prison.”
“Who are you kidding,” he chuckled, “In prison or not, it would not change the fact that I am a slave of this world, and I have no escape.” Despite the smile, the sadness in his eyes was evident. Tears long gone and dried up, Baekhyun no longer have anything to offer.
“I wouldn’t say a slave,” Solar, the star soul, crossed her arms over her chest. “You play a great role in this world. Don’t let those mortals make you believe otherwise.” Solar flew and floated on Baekhyun’s line of view. “But that’s not why I am here, I have news to tell,”
Baekhyun’s expression dimmed from the tone of Solar’s voice. “What happened?”
“I believe you already know that the dark witches and ghouls are a little too aggressive nowadays.”
“Yes… I sense them a lot and a few days ago, there were hundreds of them, lurking in the forest near the village. It frightened me, actually, since they haven’t been this near to civilization.”
“They are after something, and you should be careful.” Solar informed. “They are after your heart. It was you they want.”
A wave of anger rushes in Baekhyun’s veins when the information sinks in. Against the shadow that casted on his face, his eyes flashed a brightly with light for a second, but then they were replaced by pure obsidian color. Nothing but pure darkness.
“Are they now?” Solar shivered when his voice changed. It sounded like overlapping voices, low and high pitches. It sounded like it came from a very, very deep cave, echoing, haunting.
The soul star bowed her head, “Yes,”
“Let them come, and I will rip them to shreds,” he hissed. “No one is allowed to disrupt the balance of life and death. Have the guardians protect the living, I will deal with the dead.”
Solar bobbed her head, fluttering away with a curtsy, “As you wish.”
The soul star vanished in nothing but stardust, as Baekhyun’s eyes returned to normal.
The sand felt soft under his bare feet, but Chanyeol had no recollection on how or why he got here. The wind felt ice on his skin, and it blew hard enough for him to lose his ground. It was almost like a sandstorm, in the middle of nowhere. It could be a dessert, but Nimbus wasn’t anywhere near one. So how come?
Chills crawled in his spine upon hearing the whisper in the wind. The voice was soft, it sounded melancholic as if it was begging. But what made all the hair on his nape stood was the fact that it sounded familiar.
Please don’t go,
The voice cried, and it’s now louder than before.
Please hear me out…
“Who are you?” he asked, turning on his heels, trying to find the person in the midst of the storm. He couldn’t see a thing, only the particles of sands that the wind carries around him. Chanyeol covered his eyes to keep them away.
Then the unknown person started to sob. It felt like a knife through his chest, turning and squeezing the blood out of it.
Don’t leave me please!
“Where are you?!” Chanyeol cried. He started to run, he tried to look for its source because on every step that he take, the cries get louder. “Tell me where you are!” he shouted. But fuck, he couldn’t see a thing.
Chanyeol spun around, and there, he found the silhouette of a person. It was a man-- a man on his knees, reaching out to him. He couldn’t see anything but his shadow, however, he knew that it was him whom this man was calling.
He reached out, aiming to hold that hand. But as soon as he made contact with the fingertips, the birthmark he has behind his ear suddenly burned. He cried in pain, falling on his knees. And as if the tables have turned, he found the man behind the sand looming over him.
You told me you love me…
Not a single emotion was left on the voice. The colder it gets, the more the birthmark burns.
You told me…no matter what happen, you’ll love me no less.
Chanyeol screamed in pain, the burn spread like wildfire, from the mark, up to his face, down to his neck. “P-Please st-stop--!” he begged.
I can’t stop loving you.
“It—It burns--!” he gasped for air while he clawed the source of his suffering. “Stop it!”
I’ll make you suffer.
If you can’t love me… I’ll make you hate me.
Chanyeol panted like a horse once he woke up from the nightmare. He found himself inside the room he rented for the night. Still in Nimbus, in the inn he rented for the three of them. His hand automatically flew to his birthmark, feeling it throb against his fingertips.
What the bloody hell was that? It felt so real and it still gives him chills. The voice, at the end of the dream, it was hollow. It felt like death itself—cold and lonely.
Little to his knowledge was a pair of dark eyes watching him through the keyhole of the room’s doorknob.
Chapter 5: Chapter Four
Thank you so much for supporting this fic~ I hope you'll love this chapter. Reading your comments and theories makes me smile seriously. I wonder what you'll think of this one.
“Come again?” Baekhyun thought he heard wrong. So he asked the assassin one more time to confirm it.
Chanyeol smirked, “I’m going to take you to the Blade Brotherhood.”
Galfric grunted, drinking from his satchel of mead. “It’s our home. Chanyeol and I grew there.”
Baekhyun crossed his arms over his chest, taking a deep breath, he faced the two towers—though their height did nothing to intimidate the smaller man. “You want to leave me, in the home of assassins after you take me out of my home?”
Chanyeol scoffed, “You call that shithole a home?”
“To shut you up, yes that’s my bloody home.” Baekhyun snapped, “It’s nothing ordinary, but that place was safe for me. I know nothing about the present world. I barely know anyone from that place you talk about. Yet you’re here, claiming possession over my freedom, then dumping me somewhere I could probably die.”
Eyes narrowing to slits, Chanyeol advanced to tower over him. Yet Baekhyun stood on his ground, craning his head up to keep the eye contact. The ex-assassin lifted his chin with a finger, a knowing smirk gracing his lips, “So you prefer staying with me then.”
“Like hell I would.”
“Not that you can do anything about it.”
“Watch me,” Baekhyun hissed, jabbing his fist on Chanyeol’s stomach. The blow was unexpected, causing the latter to topple over him. Baekhyun took the chance to hold on to the man’s shoulder, before kneeing the same spot. Chanyeol grunted, falling back. Galfric was about to catch his brother, but Baekhyun waved his hand, his eyes turning into nothing but light. As soon as he willed it, Galfric was petrified on his feet, unable to move as if someone’s holding every limb he had.
“This is the last time I’m saying this.” Baekhyun’s eyes returned to normal and relaxed his stance. “I can handle myself, and I don’t need your help.”
Chanyeol could no longer see the man’s figure the moment he was able to stand up straight. Galfric regained control of his body a few moments later too. They shared a look which only meant one thing, they didn’t expect that strength and aggressiveness from such a small body. Chanyeol would admit, he had underestimated the man. But what he was regretting more than that, was the fact that he didn’t get the chance to have his name.
If you’d ask him, Baekhyun didn’t leave them just because of his ego. Solar’s warning that night was enough reason for him to go on his own. If not, they’d be dragged into a mess they don’t even understand. The ghouls and witches lurking in the village were there because of him. Because he left the village, Galfric didn’t encounter any attack from the dark creatures when he decided to stay the night. The reason? Baekhyun wasn’t there anymore. And those greedy, flesh and soul eating monsters was following him all these time.
It was true that he knew nothing of the present world. He’s been locked up for a very long time. Well, not that he knew a lot since he never left their old village back then.
S ince Baekhyun didn’t have much choice left, he took the road to North.
The sun has set when he finally crossed the stone bridge which connects the southern part of Thalmos to the nearest city—the city of hunters, Rogkhar .
Baekhyun knew this much as he received some education back when Estes was still at peace. His mother used to buy scrolls and old books for him to read. And he knew that Rogkhar isn’t the safest city in Thalmos . The place was rumored to be the home of ruthless mercenaries, forest hunters and even criminals.
It shouldn’t bother him. He could handle himself right?
“Who goes there?!” the guard’s gruff voice startled him. The night has fallen and only the torches of the city’s gate had given him some light to see the two of them. They wore iron plates on their chest, iron headgears and holding spears on their hand.
“I’m a lost traveler,” Baekhyun came up with a lie quickly, “I…I got robbed on my way here,” he reasoned out when the guards studied him from head to toe, “I-I was hoping if I could stay in— i -it’s cold out here.”
He wasn’t lying. He didn’t have anything with him and he didn’t have a place to stay. Baekhyun wished they’d believe him, else he’d be forced to stay in the forest, probably seek out some dryad’s help. That idea was dangerous, though, for anytime he’ll be attacked by a dark creature in his sleep.
“We don’t let outsiders come inside the city without official business, lad.” Said the second guard. He sounded less rough than the first man. But the way he said that left no more room for argument.
Baekhyun took a deep breath, shoulders sagged in disappointment. Turning on his heels, Baekhyun started to think about how he’d survive the night somewhere else when someone spoke up,
“Just let him in fellas,” Baekhyun whipped his head around, seeing a figure on the entrance’s stone pillar. He could see nothing but his silhouette. Tall, well built, had a sword slung on his back.
The guards turned to him, the first one grunting, “You know this guy, Jongin ?”
The man from the shadows stepped into the light, “No, but he could use a hearth to warm up tonight.”
Baekhyun was looking right into a face of a young man, probably a few seasons older than him. He’s got a scar from on top of his right eyebrow down to bottom of his right eye. It was a few shade lighter than his golden skin tone. A warrior, Baekhyun felt the soul of a warrior just from looking into his bottomless eyes.
“Come on inside,” he tipped his head back, “You can stay in the city’s inn for tonight.”
“I’ll be fine outside, just near some fire,” Baekhyun waved his hand in disagreement, “I don’t have money to pay for—“
“It’s fine,” the man said, “I got it.” He then sported him a wink and a wolfish grin.
Baekhyun followed the stranger— Jongin —if that was his name, inside. The guards said no more. They took a turn to their right and entered a narrow passageway. Baekhyun was too conscious of the others staring at them that he did not see Jongin coming for his throat.
The sword he had on his back was now pressed against his neck, while his back was flat against a damp wall of bricks. Jongin has fisted the collar of his ragged shirt, body fencing his smaller frame.
“What is a witch like you doing here ?” Jongin asked dangerously.
Baekhyun sensed both hatred and fear mixing from the man’s ton e of speaking. But what he didn’t understand was how this man knew he’s not a mortal being.
“I’m not a witch,” he denied.
“Liar,” Jongin hissed, pressing the blade harder.
Annoyed, Baekhyun lifted a hand and held onto the blade against his neck. He pressed his palm on the sharp side, pushing the weapon out of the vital part. His skin was cut, then his flesh, and came out a gush of fresh black blood from the wound.
Jongin , mortified of what he just did and what he just saw , pulled the weapon away but still kept a hand on his collar. Baekhyun groaned from the harsh treatment, “You let me in just to kill me?”
“What are you doing here?” Jongin repeated.
“I needed a place for tonight!” Baekhyun grabbed the other’s wrist. “But it was clear now that I’m unwelcome. I’d rather stay out in the cold than deal with a na rrow minded, nut head like you!”
An unexpected force came in, throwing Jongin at the opposite wall. He watched the witch, or so he believed, ran out the gates .
What he didn’t see coming was the horde of ghouls attacking from the gates, blocking the witch ’ path.
It hadn’t been long since Chanyeol parted ways with his brother. Galfric needed to report about his mission prior the witch attack. As he bid him goodbye, the assassin reminded Chanyeol that the leader is still waiting for his return. “You’re still part of the brotherhood, Chanyeol. I hope you’ll find it one day to visit us again.”
Chanyeol could only give him an unsure smile. After all, it was still hard for him to get by the fact that he was abandoned because of the curse. Now that he met someone who could help him undo it, he won’t miss this chance.
He took down the road to the north, knowing that Rogkhar would be the only place where the prisoner could go to. Only this time, it wasn’t the pair of rude gatekeepers who greeted him. A shroud of darkness was blocking the gate of the city, almost hundreds of ghouls floating around the place. Chanyeol sprinted towards the direction, wielding his own weapon. He passed through a number of these faceless creatures, swinging the blade effortlessly, killing them with a couple of fast attacks. When he passed through the cloud of black smoke, he found all the warriors and mercenaries in a battlefield.
In the background, he could hear screams and battle cries. The authorities are leading the people to safety. They shout command after command.
Chanyeol stood in the middle of the battle, eyes wandering in hopes to find a familiar figure. However, even the skies weren’t keen on helping them. The wind blew hard, pushing the clouds to cover the only light they could count on.
As if the ghouls weren’t enough, the city heard the distant cackles.
“Witches!” cried someone from the crowd.
The battle continued from there. Chanyeol didn’t stay in one place as he still had hope he would find the prisoner. He bathed in sweat, shivered in the cold. He ran fast as he could, killed as many as he could. He got attacked by three witches all at the same time, received a fatal blow on his cheeks with a poisonous claw. When he swung his blade towards the direction of that son of a bitch, the blade went past its neck, beheading the witch. His weapon spun back to him. Chanyeol caught it in time to dodge the attack of the other one. Its staff was emitting black miasma, another poisonous thing he shouldn’t inhale.
A painful grunt escape his lips when the last witch flew past behind him, clawing his back deep and hard.
Chanyeol knew he’d not be able to hold his defense much longer. His feet was sliding against the ground. The poison was eating his strength. And the ugly face of the witch, cackling in front of him didn’t help either. She’s got cracked skin and black teeth. Her hair was almost gone and left with nothing but burnt flesh.
“Tell us where the boy is and we’ll spare your life, mortal,” she hissed.
A boy. Chanyeol briefly remembered the ghoul asking for the same thing. They were looking for someone certainly. But who? Most importantly, what do they want from him?
“Leave him alone, Vshia .”
The witch pulled back her staff, turning on her heels to face the source of the voice. Chanyeol almost fell on his ass if not for his impeccable balance. He lifted his head and found the prisoner standing before the two of them. But he wasn’t anything like the man he met down the manhole he was imprisoned in.
His eyes were pure light, skin glowing silver so was his hair that was pale as snow. They were dancing along with the wind. But what caught Chanyeol’s attention was the fact that the prisoner had long ivory claws, sparking with electricity, while his ears, they became long and sharp.
The witch no longer had interest on him. He noticed that the others had abandoned their own opponents and flocked around the prisoner and the witch named Vshia .
“Ah…” the witch cackled, “The fire speaks of truth after all,” she took a closer step, bowing before the prisoner. “The Elven Prince returned!”
The ghouls and witches roared, as if they were celebrating. “We are so pleased to have you here, your holine --- ackk !--“
Strands of white strings came out from the prisoner’s claws, piercing the witch’ throat before they yanked her closer to him. The other hand caught her jaws in tight grip. “And I am so pissed, seeing all of you here.”
Chanyeol witnessed how the witch turned into nothing but smoke when another claw went passed through her chest. The death of Vshia petrified the rest of the ghouls and other witches. Their triumphed faces morphed into fear.
When their gazes finally met, Chanyeol was caught with the same string s which caught the witch earlier. But their grip on him were firm but gentle. It pulled him towards the prisoner—or the Elven Prince—whatever he really was—Chanyeol doesn’t understand anymore.
“You’re a great fighter, right? You’re not going to stand there and watch me take these all by myself.”
A gentle touch on his wounded cheek, Chanyeol felt the particles of light flowing into him. It was a heatwave, soothing the pain, healing the wounds, purifying the poison. He didn’t know when he closed his eyes, but when he opened them, their faces were too close.
“Elven, huh?” he whispered.
The prisoner scowled at him, but right now, he didn’t look as hostile as before, “Baekhyun.” He said. “Call me nothing but that.”
Chanyeol grinned, his energy was back. They turned towards the enemies, back to back. The creatures attacked all at once, but fighting side by side, joined forces with a man he barely knew, Chanyeol felt like he could trust him with his life. As the fight goes on, he slowly noticed and realized, how their stance, their fighting techniques and even movements synchronizes with each other. Whenever Chanyeol would sway to the right, he’d take the left. When Chanyeol would duck, He’d almost fly into the air. In short, they never had a hole in their formation.
The last blow came with Chanyeol letting his blade flew in a circular motion, Baekhyun zapping the weapon with the electricity he had in his claws, all the while, he had the rest of the ghouls and witches trapped in his strings together in a circle , massacring the crowd.
Chanyeol caught his blade, the electricity flowed through his hand and up to his head.
“You’re the most beautiful person I’ve ever met. Inside and out…”
“Stop making such ridiculous compliments, it’s not working.”
“Did I offend you, my love ?” he chuckled.
“I said stop it or I’ll fry you like meat!”
It was brick ceiling and wooden walls that greeted Chanyeol when he first opened his eyes. The unfamiliar room smelled of herbal tea and eucalyptus. The small bed he was lying on was a little too hard for his back.
Groaning, Chanyeol sat up and tried to remember the last thing that happened before he lost his consciousness.
“ Baek —Baekhyun…” the name rolled smoothly on his tongue, the elven image of the man flashing back. Where is he now? Why was he in this place? What is this place?
He pushed hi mself to stand up, to walk to the door and see if he’s around.
Chanyeol just managed to hold the knob of the door when it opened from the other side, startling the man who was about to go inside. He had shining doe eyes, pale skin and face so feminine he’d take him for a young lady if it wasn’t for his voice when he said, “Oh, you startled me.”
“Who are you?” Chanyeol asked, eyeing the wooden tray of what it looked like a herbal medicine the other man was holding. “Where is this place?”
“You’re still in Rogkhar , don’t panic,” the man chuckled, “I’m Luhan by the way, and I’m the city’s healer.”
“I-I don’t remember why--?”
“Your companion brought you to me last night, unconscious. He asked for my help. The way I see it, you’re exhausted from the fight last night.” Luhan placed the tray on the small table near the bed he was lying on a while ago
Chanyeol closed his eyes, rubbing his temple with his fingers. “ Where is he? I need to talk to him.”
An understanding smile graced Luhan’s lips before he bobbed his head. “Drink this first, it will help ease the pain. I’ll go tell him you’re awake.”
When Luhan left the room, Chanyeol sat on the bed and took the medicine. It was bitter, but the flavor of honey remained as soon as he finished drinking. It wasn’t so bad at all, he thought. Waiting, Chanyeol took time to remember what happened before he passed out. He remembered the fight, and Baekhyun’s other form. He looked like—no, he just doesn’t look like it, he was light himself. The personification of it. The white hair, light eyes and the electricity dancing on his fingertips.
But that witch called him something else.
The door creaked open right after a couple of knocks. Baekhyun was standing there, back in his ‘mortal’ form. Obsidian locks, dark, bottomless eyes, along with same colored robe which was similar of a priest’s.
“I thought you’d run away while I was unconscious.” Chanyeol started the conversation light.
“But I didn’t,” Baekhyun closed the door gently, taking a few steps inside the room and sat on the stool in front of him.
“Why didn’t you?” he asked.
Baekhyun crossed his legs, placed his hands on top of his knee. “Wherever I go, they would follow. If I stay in a peaceful village like Nimbus, it’s no different than sentencing them to death. Rogkhar , however, seems like a place where battles are welcome. There’s a lot of warriors, and even women can fight. Here, n o one will be killed because of me.”
“After you? Those things?” Chanyeol asked, referring to the dark creatures from last night, “Why?”
“That is something personal.” Baekhyun turned to the empty bowl of medicine. “For now, I’ll find a way to start a life here. As for you, you can just go back to the brotherhood and forget what you saw last night.”
“Forget what I saw?” Chanyeol laughed with no humor. Does he really believe that he could just forget it? “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that. As much as I wanted to know what you really are, I figured that you wouldn’t tell me a thing. Yet there’s something I need to ask from you, a great favour…so forgive me if I’m desperate.”
Baekhyun bit back the urge to show any reaction when man before him turned his head, brushing the short strands of hair just behind his ear. He saw it clearly, the mark. It looked like burnt scar, shaped like a six-pointed pentacle.
“This was a birthmark and a curse.” Chanyeol stated. “My master told me, that it was a mark of death. I believe that this was the reason why my family threw me away.” If Chanyeol’s concealing the sadness in his voice, Baekhyun could see it directly in his eyes. Nothing could ever hide a soul’s cry. Baekhyun would always see them, feel them, and even touch them. “I don’t know why or how I was cursed, I don’t know what this does to me. But I wish I could undo it…I wanted to undo it.”
A moment of silence passed, Chanyeol couldn’t see any reaction from Baekhyun. He thought he didn’t understand a thing. He even considered explaining again, but before he could open his lips, Baekhyun interrupted him.
“Why are you telling me this?” he asked courtly.
“The dryad told me you could help me.” Chanyeol confessed.
“Dryad?” Baekhyun’s brows furrowed. “Which dryad?”
It was Chanyeol’s turn to frown, “The dryad in the forest where you ran to, after the villager’s acted so righteous when we took you out of the manhole.”
“Oh,” Baekhyun’s scowl disappeared, replaced with a small smile. It seems like the memory of this dryad brought him a bit of happiness. The cold façade he always wore vanished in a blink of an eye, and was replaced with warmth. “Her name is Myra. The oldest and the most powerful dryad living. You were fortunate to see her…”
“Am I? I believe it’s more fortunate to meet you,” Chanyeol stated. “If I may ask,” he added, “That witch… he called you—“
“The Elven Prince.” Baekhyun finished for him, his lips pressed into thin line. “I’m many things…but a prince.”
“So you’re an elf? That would explain your healing power, and Myra’s words about you helping me undo this curse.”
Baekhyun took a deep breath, leaning against his chair. “I was born from two mortals. I don’t believe I’m an elf, like what she said. I am different, but elves, they are higher beings, myths, they were the original inhabitants of Thalmos.”
“Then how would you explain what you did last night?” Chanyeol clicked his tongue. “Forget what you are, I don’t really care, I just need your help. I want to understand this curse, and undo it.” The assassin closed his eyes, cupped his face with both of his hands. He remembered the haunting nightmares he had for the past few days. “I think it’s starting to get worse…and you’re the only hope I have.”
Chanyeol’s soul, through his eyes, emitted a glow of desperation, it throbbed anxiously. But what’s more than that, was the underlying confusion, familiarity and longing. Baekhyun fought the burn creeping in the corner of his eyes, fought the emotions bubbling inside. If there’s anyone in this room who yearned the most, it wasn’t Chanyeol.
“What makes you think I could help you?”
Gritting his teeth, Chanyeol leaned forward, “You said it yourself, Myra’s the oldest and most powerful dryad. She knew I was cursed without looking at the mark. Are you saying that she lied to me?”
“No,” Baekhyun winced, hearing the crack in his voice. “But you understand that this would not be easy. And there’s a chance that your curse cannot be undone.”
“How could you say that so easily without trying?” Chanyeol huffed.
This time, the aura Baekhyun’s emitting was nothing short of danger, a threat, for the lack of better word. “The mark you bear, is the mark of Serit—the son of death itself.” He took a deep breath. “It isn’t easy to deal with a powerful being, such as he, but I can try…We’ll look for a way.”
The name Serit echoed in Chanyeol’s head like an enchantment. The headache came unexpectedly that he no longer heard the words Baekhyun said after.
The darkness soon came, clouding his vision, taking his consciousness away.
My love…Please don’t leave me…
Baekhyun caught Chanyeol’s body before he collapsed on the floor. Slowly, he guided him back to the bed and covered him with thick blanket. And just like the rain, the sole image of the man before him put out the fire in his heart.
Trembling hands reached out and touched the man’s face, gently caressing, more like…remembering.
“I’m sorry…” he whispered. Baekhyun leaned down, touching his forehead against Chanyeol’s. “I shouldn’t have done it…” Along with muffled cries and endless tears, Baekhyun helped the man sleep soundly by chasing away unwanted and forgotten memories.
“I’m so sorry…”