Jeon Heejin remembered it was pouring hard that day as she scoured the wall of the dilapidated building at the edge of town, rain beating hard on her waterproof gear suit. She was not fond of height, and she was sure that the height she had climbed so far would ensure certain death had her hand slipped. The downpour did not help much but made it worse, as her visibility was impaired, despite the rune enhancements traced by her parabatai earlier. Speaking of parabatai, Kim Hyunjin was crouching on top of the roof, smirking as Heejin’s short legs struggled to mount the last brick.
“You’re slow, Jeon.”
Heejin glared as Hyunjin rose up gracefully, the rain seemingly had done no effect on her physically and mentally. The taller girl twirled her seraph blade carelessly between her fingers, and part of Heejin’s humorless side hoped that the blade cut her in more than one convenient place. Hyunjin seemed to notice Heejin’s menacing thoughts as she looked back and twirled harder in front of Heejin’s face, earning a rightful smack on the shoulder.
“Ouch that hurts,” Hyunjin feigned the pain as Heejin rolled her eyes for the nth time that day. “Considering that you probably had inappropriate thoughts of hurting me, I, Kim Hyunjin, was in no way guilty and deserving of such uncompassionate gestures from my beloved parabatai.”
Hyunjin had come so close that Heejin could smell the faint perfume Hyunjin had worn. It smelled of lavender; very Hyunjin-esque. Heejin felt her face heating up as Hyunjin moved away, grateful that the cloak of darkness masked away her very obvious feelings towards her parabatai. And it was forbidden, Heejin knew. Nobody was supposed to fall in love with one’s own parabatai, as the consequences transcended even death itself. She had read stories of how Shadowhunters who were bound together as life-long parabatai fell into the trap called ‘love’, and only destruction followed their paths afterwards. No happy endings, just desperations and regrets that plagued the rest of their lives as they were stripped away from the happy endings that they desired and deserved.
Heejin shuddered at the sudden memories that resurfaced. She turned her face upwards and let the water droplets wet her face, in hopes to clear her thoughts. She reminded herself that she was on a mission, and that she needed to focus. Although it was a relatively low-risk mission, she still needed to be on high-alert, as she wanted to prove to the older Shadowhunters at the institute that she and Hyunjin alone could take care of the small fries – and maybe some medium fries as well.
Her inner thoughts were broken by a loud clang. She gripped her naginata strapped to her back and spun immediately, fingers closing in on the cool handle just to find Hyunjin grimacing at the rusty lock she had just broken.
“Stupid lock. This is why you’re stationed here under your very enemy,” Hyunjin muttered as she kicked the poor lock aside.
The institute had received an anonymous tip that a warlock was performing an illegal ritual at the basement, so the institute head had tasked both Heejin and Hyunjin to investigate. If it was not dangerous, meddle in. If it was, call for back-up.
Hyunjin pushed the grating door open and they both winced at the loud sound it made while the darkness within seemed to plunge into the abyss. Heejin gulped and could not help being nervous. After all, it was hers and Hyunjin’s first solo mission, and as if the rain was not depressing enough, the darkness seemed to mock them.
“Let’s go. The faster we check and clean up, the faster we can go back,” Hyunjin appeared beside Heejin, patting her back softly. “And the faster we go back, the faster I can eat.”
The sappiness Heejin was feeling from the rare assurance given by the younger girl vanished at the mention of food. “Of course food is all you can think about.”
Hyunjin shrugged. “Honestly it’s the only thing that keeps me going. This job is so overrated.”
“We’re Shadowhunters. We’re supposed to do this.”
“And that’s why I say this job is not worth my time.”
With that Hyunjin went inside and leapt through the railing, not bothering to use the stairs at all. Heejin shook her head at her partner’s nonchalance and wished she had an ounce of Hyunjin’s food-driven confidence. From her back pocket, she withdrew her witchlight and gripped it tighter. In response, light shone from the enchanted stone and brightened her surroundings, although there was not much to see.
The stairwell ran about 20 storeys down and Heejin treaded carefully. The building had been abandoned for quite some time; the thick dust layer evident of the lack of human presence. Dust coated every available surface, but through her enhanced vision Heejin could see that the volume decreased as she went down. Finally, she found what she was looking for. A double door seemed to rise out of the darkness in front of her, and the dust markings on the floor indicated that the doors have been move fairly often recently.
Hyunjin sat cross-legged on the floor, having arrived some time ago as she basically free-fell to the basement, paying no attention to the dust cushion underneath. Upon closer inspection, she was doodling very unflattering portraits of what looked like a bunch of Heejins with the sharp tip of her seraph blade (blessed be the Angels). Heejin scrunched her nose in half-pity and half-embarrassment at the lack of art skills Hyunjin possessed.
Hyunjin looked up and beckoned Heejin to come closer. “Look at my masterpieces! Especially the last one, it looks like you right? As they say, practice makes perfect!”
Heejin raised her eyebrow at the crooked drawings that looked more subhuman the more she stared. “That’s a 3…”
“Out of 5?” Hyunjin’s eyes twinkled in anticipation.
“…out of 10.”
She could see the younger girl’s shoulders dropped as she pouted, which was honestly super cute in other occasion, but not today. Dragging the whining girl up with one hand (which was honestly a chore because Hyunjin was physically bigger than Heejin), Heejin pulled at the door handle. It did not budge, as expected. Hyunjin then mouthed an ‘I’ll do it’ and retrieved her stele before drawing an intricate rune to unlock the door. Despite her obvious subpar doodling skills, Heejin could not help but be amazed at her rune-drawing skills. The expertise and ease Hyunjin exhibited when using the stele was in contrast to the lump of dust-chicken she drew on the floor, and Heejin was grateful for that. At least her skin was adorned with beautiful runes and not chicken-human hybrids whenever Hyunjin runed her.
Hyunjin’s gaze flickered at her as both of them held each of the door handle. “Ready?”
Heejin nodded and they pushed the door open at the same time. And the sight that greeted them was exactly what Heejin had expected.
A warlock with three tails was standing over a completed pentagram and conversing his thick book while 4 other Downworlders stood watch around the circle. The ensemble looked up at the interruption to find 2 young Shadowhunters looking back at them. Heejin bit the inside of the mouth as she signaled to Hyunjin, who just nodded in silence.
“I’ll take the warlock and you—”
Before Heejin could finish giving instructions, chaos erupted. The warlock had chanted louder and faster while the other Downworlders lunged at them. 3 vampires and 1 werewolf, Heejin noted.
“Got it!” Hyunjin screamed back as she jumped towards the werewolf with her broadsword brandished out. The clang of the sword and the werewolf’s claws was deafening in the enclosed space, but Heejin had other things to worry about. The three vampires were now encircling her, their bleach-white teeth gnashing at the air as they sized her up.
Heejin smirked as she withdrew her naginata from the strap behind her back. Spinning the gleaming long spear around, she gave the vampires a deviant look before wiggling her middle finger towards the closest one. Taking advantage of the vampires’ enhanced hearing, she mouthed come and get me before jumping upwards.
The vampires, definitely more enraged compared to earlier, chased after her, teeth and claws bared. While she was not physically strong like Hyunjin, who seemed to convert all her calories to brute strength, Heejin prided herself in her speed and agility. She landed on the second-floor railing within seconds, and after making sure her center of gravity was secure, she held her naginata in front of her, awaiting confrontation.
Everything was a blur afterwards. Taking advantage of the naginata’s length, she managed to keep the vampires at bay while attacking them at the same time. She decapitated one of them using the sharp end and kicked his body down, while the other two howled at her for killing their brethren. Enraged vampires had always been the easiest to fight for Heejin, as their thoughts and emotions meddled with the rational part of their minds. Within a minute, the last of the vampires evaporated into dust as she thrusted her spear into her head.
Looking down, she immediately found Hyunjin standing beside what looked like a knocked-out werewolf and warlock. Nice, Heejin thought. As she walked close, she found an ugly gash at Hyunjin’s right cheek and grimaced. Sensing her inquiring gaze, Hyunjin just shrugged.
“Normal day in the business.”
“But we still need to get it patched up,” Heejin started to get her stele out, but was stopped by Hyunjin’s tight grip on her wrist. And so her hand was dangling awkwardly in front of Hyunjin’s face.
“Hold your horses Heekie, we have a bigger problem at hand,” Hyunjin stated, raising her head upwards.
Heejin followed Hyunjin’s trail of gaze and was greeted by a gigantic demon looming behind them. Shax demon. Heejin jumped into battle stance, Hyunjin following suit.
Hyunjin whistled. “Lil Shax grew bigger since the last time I saw it.”
And with that Hyunjin vanished from view, leaping towards the demon with a not-so-appropriate grin on her face and a shriek that sounded like ‘hasta la vista baby!’. Heejin was not going to question her parabatai’s thought process.
Heejin decided to opt for seraph blades instead, her naginata not ideal in this situation as 1) the Shax demon was huge huge and 2) she did not want to accidentally stab Hyunjin again like last time (it was purely occupational accident, she defended). Plucking two seraph blades from her belt, she proceeded to name them.
The seraph blade lit to life after Heejin named it and so she charged towards the roaring demon. She could see ichor oozing from the open wounds that were no doubt Hyunjin’s doings and proceeded to do more damages with her dual blades. Heejin ducked as a stray pincer nearly caught her before severing the leg from the main body. The demon howled in what sound like gurgled pain, and before long she and Hyunjin had cut the demon into two. The demon exploded into a mess of ichor and demon pieces, drenching the Shadowhunters head to toe with its bodily fluid.
“I hate this job,” Hyunjin muttered as she peeled her gooey outer jacket off.
Heejin had brought a handkerchief and proceeded to clean her face and hands, before walking towards the bound warlock, now conscious and wide-eyed as the Shadowhunter loomed over him.
“Jackson Wang, High Warlock of Hong Kong. You’re in charge of illegal activities that have breached the Accords and the Clave’s international and national laws. Illegal activities include unauthorized gathering, smuggling of poisonous and illegal plants from Hong Kong and the summoning of a Shax demon. Care to explain why you’re in the middle of Seongnam doing all this shit?”
The warlock – Jackson – seemed to weigh his chances, which was slim as he was in the mercy of a Shadowhunter that barely reached 160cm in height glaring daggers at him while ichor dripped down all over the place. Heejin could see his shoulders began to relax, although the eyes that were staring back at hers were nothing but steely.
“I was asked by someone to summon a tracker demon to track certain persons in the country.”
“And who contracted you to do it?”
“I cannot say much. After all, I’m bound by contract.”
Heejin felt a hand on her shoulder and saw Hyunjin. “Let me take over.”
Heejin nodded and excused herself while Hyunjin stood in front of Jackson. Silence ensued for 3 seconds and before Heejin could react Hyunjin had punched the high warlock in the face. Without letting the warlock gained his bearings, Hyunjin dragged him up by the collar and pinned him to the wall with one hand, her other hand reaching for the throwing knife on her belt. Twirling the knife, she pressed the sharp tip to the base of Jackson’s throat.
Jackson, although beaten and bloody, let out a shrill laugh that was deafening in the silence. Heejin winced at the sudden loud sound, and even Hyunjin was stoned for a moment.
Hyunjin regained composure and threw Jackson to the wall again, this time harder. “What’s so funny, warlock?”
Jackson seemed to not mind the threat as his laughter turned into an elongated chuckle. He flickered his gaze from Hyunjin to Heejin and smiled. A ruthless smile that did not quite reach the eye. Heejin subconsciously gulped.
“Whether or not I make it alive here won’t matter. Because it’s too late for you Shadowhunters to intervene. This country will be reset, and all hell will break loose! South Korea will be Ground Zero, and no living things shall thrive here!”
Heejin began to walk towards the crazed warlock to demand more explanations when the pain suddenly hit her. She could not muffle the scream coming out of her mouth as she grabbed at her wrist, which was dangerously hot. Pain flared from the back of her hand; a pain so great she had never experienced before. She could faintly make out Hyunjin’s silhouette through her tear-filled eyes, and Hyunjin too was groaning in pain.
The pain lasted for a full minute and by the time it subsided Heejin was sweating all over and was very tired. She did not dare to look at her hand, afraid of what she would find. But she could not run away from her own hand, so she looked at the source of the pain and could not believe her eyes.
Three digits. Heejin was confused. Her skin was still raw and red at the edges, as if the numbers were iron-pressed onto her hand. Her thought process was cut short upon hearing Hyunjin’s grunt, and she immediately rushed towards her.
Hyunjin looked paler compared to just now, her bloody gash a stark contrast to her beautiful white face. Heejin fumbled at her belt to grab her stele and drew an iratze above the wound. The healing rune faded into Hyunjin’s skin with a hiss, and slowly her skin reattached itself back to normal. Hyunjin whispered a ‘thank you’ before examining her hand as well. Etched onto it was also three digits, but the numbers are slightly different.
“What the fuck is this?” Hyunjin furrowed her eyebrows and shook her hand as if to shoo the numbers away.
“No idea,” Heejin shrugged and raised her own hand, showing Hyunjin her digit as well.
Hyunjin groaned and flopped onto the floor, clearly tired. “I say I wanted a tattoo, not ugly numbers on my hand.”
“That is not the worst thing you know.”
“Then what is?”
“Our precious warlock is gone.”
Hyunjin sat upright immediately and turned to look at the tangle of rope with no occupant at the corner. Heejin just sighed as she joined Hyunjin on the floor, fatigue wearing them both.
“I hate this job,” Hyunjin sighed.
“At this point, I agree with you,” Heejin sighed also. “We’re so fucking doomed.”
Somewhere in Faerieland
Green exploded around Park Chaewon as she opened her eyes, her surroundings familiar yet unfriendly. Trees and bushes that seemingly ended in nowhere and everywhere greedily covered everything as far as her eyes could see, the outcroppings barely visible in the distance. The sun shone overhead, the rays trespassing through the canopy layer of intertwining branches far above her, but Chaewon still shivered beneath the warmth. It was unfriendly and cool to her bare skin, and she regretted leaving her jacket in the institute before going.
She could feel her legs giving up from underneath her as she stepped forward. She sighed and crouched down, closing her eyes and willing her legs to gain strength. No matter how many times Chaewon had done this, she was sure she would never get used to the accompanying queasiness and fatigue as she landed somewhere in the faerie domain, lost and weak. She often thought it was somehow hilarious how she managed to go in and out of Faerie unnoticed, considering she was still alive until now, despite being so vulnerable after every jump.
Her hypothesis was immediately disproved when she heard the rustling of leaves in front of her. She quickly hid behind the boulder nearby, holding her breath as the sound grew louder. Removing her bow from its holster, she picked an arrow from the quiver attached to her back – specifically the iron-tipped one – and drew her bow. It was common knowledge that faeries’ weakness was cold iron, and so here Chaewon was, hiding behind a boulder with her bow drawn, waiting.
She need not wait long as a faerie emerged from behind a tree, his skin as dark as the bark he seemingly popped out from. A dryad, Chaewon noted. He scaled the surroundings before dropping down to investigate the leaf-filled ground and smiled to himself, a smile that made Chaewon uneasy. She was still hidden behind the boulder, silent like a cat, and yet she could feel like he already knew of her presence there, somehow.
The faerie straightened himself soon after, a motion so trained and poised, and Chaewon caught a glimpse a crude sword-like weapon made out of thorns. Chaewon gritted her teeth. This was not the common folk that was easy to disarm, as the fey she was currently sizing up at is at least a gentry, albeit a lower ranking one. Said gentry looked up and surveyed his surroundings, before speaking to no one in particular.
“I know you’re somewhere nearby, little child. Let us stop playing this game, as dusk is settling in soon.”
His voice was soft like a murmur in the forest, but it was clear to her ears, as if the wind decided to pick it up and amplify it as it travelled on. Chaewon stayed frozen in place, weighing the situation she was stuck in. Although faeries could not lie, they could twist lies into believable truths. The faerie might be bluffing, but the unspoken confidence that trailed behind his words were unmistakable.
For the first time in forever, Chaewon felt fear creeping in her periphery. She could not get caught here. Not only did she trespass into Faerie illegally every time she had the chance to, she was still a Shadowhunter by kind. A Shadowhunter lurking around freely in a domain they were not supposed to be able to enter on their own – she would not be able to answer to the Clave and the rules binding her. Gripping her bow tighter, she decided that it was best to try to silence the faerie gentry, although her chance of succeeding was low.
She jumped out from behind the boulder and trained her arrow tip towards the shocked faerie before releasing it, although the faerie regained enough composure and cut the arrow in half before it reached his heart. Chaewon vaulted over the tall boulder and landed silently on the ground before breaking into a run, withdrawing her iron dagger in the process as close combat was inevitable and her arrows were useless in this case, much to her dismay. Chaewon lunged at the faerie with all the forces that her legs could muster, the initial clash sending an aftershock through her body like electricity. She thanked the Angels silently for the agility rune she had drawn on herself earlier as she could react fast when the faerie swung his sword towards where her head was a second earlier. Twisting her body as she cartwheeled away, she launched herself up and kicked the faerie square at his sides, sending him tumbling into the bushes nearby.
Chaewon’s celebration was short-lived as vines erupted from the bush like earthy tentacles hungry for her flesh. She quickly reacted and cut the oncoming thorny vines, but she knew it was too much for her to handle alone. As the last of the vines had been struck down, saying that Chaewon could barely make it out alive was an understatement, as her body was screaming in agony from the myriad of scratches that adorned her skin as the thorns viciously graced at her. She gritted her teeth as she fell forward, unable to bear the pain, her breath labored.
Her target just stood between the bushes, a ghost of a smile evident on his dark face. He sheathed his sword as he strode towards her. Chaewon willed her body to move, but the wounds and lasting fatigue prevented her from doing so. She could taste the metallic tinge of blood dripping from her forehead as the faerie dragged her upwards harshly, examining her sorry state. She kicked helplessly at her captor, but the arm pulling her was steady and rough. She was brought face to face against the faerie, and Chaewon could see realization behind his turquoise inquisitive eyes.
Before she knew it she was dropped to the ground hard, her breath knocked out from her. She winced and coughed up blood – her wounds were definitely worse than she thought earlier. The faerie seemingly paid no attention to the Shadowhunter as he decided to pace around, deep in thought. Chaewon quickly grabbed her stele and hastily scribbled an iratze on her inner arm. Relief poured over her as the bleeding stopped and her wounds closed over, leaving dull aches that were bearable.
The faerie still had not realised that Chaewon was healed, and by the time he turned around it was too late. Chaewon had sniped his shoulder with an arrow, causing the faerie to tumble backwards and bellow in pain. She leapt through the clearing and stationed her iron dagger at the base of the wounded faerie’s throat.
“Move and you’ll die,” Chaewon stated as she jammed her knee towards the faerie’s torso. Using her free hand, she removed his sword and held it level to his side. Chaewon had no confidence in her left hand’s capability of striking down a foe with a heavy sword like this, but better be safe than sorry.
The faerie just raised his eyebrows, clearly amused, and Chaewon was not having it. She pressed her dagger deeper, drawing blood from the faerie’s throat as his skin sizzled upon contact with cold iron.
“What’s so funny?”
The faerie chuckled softly before replying, “Elegant as ever Park Chaewon, or should I call you Go—”
Before he could finish his sentence Chaewon kneed him on his stomach, causing the poor fey to double-take and grasp for air. She jammed her boots onto the faerie’s head. Enough of nice Park Chaewon already.
“How the fuck did you know?” Chaewon hissed as she grabbed the faerie by the hair so that they were now level.
The faerie spitted out blood to the ground, but his face remained calm as ever, as if everything that Chaewon had done towards him was merely child’s play. “The common folk may not know, but us gentries have heard… stuff. Perhaps even more so than you know about yourself. After all, the winds carry news faster than the mundane’s little talks.”
One of the things Chaewon hated the most about the Fair Folk was the riddled way they talked, and knowing that many of them knew about her heritage unnerved her. Nobody was supposed to know much about her, especially after that, and she had made sure everyone that knew had sworn silence.
Her thoughts were broken by the faerie’s soft voice, as if he could read her mind.
“Don’t worry. They still kept their promises.”
“Who told you about me? How much do you know about me? How many of you know about me?”
“Slow down princess. Rushing will only lead to immediate peril and seeking is not always the way to an answer. Just wait, and everything will make sense to you. Something is brewing in the horizon, and you will get caught in it. But everything will be okay. After all, the world has corrected herself so many times unnoticed, and she sure will do it again this time.”
“What the fuck are you rambling about?” Chaewon had grown impatient with the faerie and she knew she did not have much time left. The faerie seemed to notice her agitation, because the amusement in his eyes had finally disappeared, the turquoise color taking on a deeper hue.
“You may have left this place with more questions than answers. But always remember: never run away from your heritage, because it will come to seek you back. Embrace your faerie heritage and name, Park Chaewon.”
Chaewon clenched her fist harder. Not this again.
Their talk was interrupted by numerous footsteps that grew louder by the second. Chaewon’s grip on the faerie faltered and panic rose within her. She needed to get out of here as soon as possible. She closed her eyes and tried to concentrate, picturing the Incheon Institute towers that rose underneath the clear moonlight, but her focus was disrupted as the faerie in front of her grabbed her hands.
“What are you—”
Chaewon could feel the gravitational pull that caused her to lose balance, her head spinning. She could only make out the blurry image of the wounded faerie, his voice distant yet close.
“My name is Drakhar. And I am on your side, Gowon.”
When Chaewon opened her eyes, she was back in her room at the institute, her crumpled bedsheet still crumpled just as how she left it. She sighed and stood up to examine herself at the body mirror near her wardrobe. Her reflection looked tired and dirty, her skin pale under the dim lighting. She shrugged herself from her dirty gear and went for a hot and long shower, losing herself to the water trickling down her body as she recounted her unusual encounter just now.
Drakhar was the dryad’s name. And he was on her side. Chaewon would totally believe him if he told her the opposite, as the straightforward statement bothered her a lot. Why would a faerie be on her side she did not know. Even though one of her parents was a Faerie, she was still a Shadowhunter, and Shadowhunters and the Fair Folk never had a warm relationship in the first place. In fact, out of all the Downworlders the Fair Folk seemed to be the most sinister towards the nephilim and vice versa. To have a faerie – a high-ranking one at that – on her side? Chaewon shuddered at the thought and exited her bathroom.
Drying her hair as she went out of the bathroom, she adjusted the witchlight to maximum brightness and examined her healing wounds. Everything seemed to heal perfectly fine, before she noticed weird markings on her left hand.
Chaewon frowned and drew an iratze below the marking, but the healing rune did not have any effects on it. The surrounding skin was hot, and she wondered whether Drakhar was the one who chanted it there. She gave up and plopped onto her messy bed, her thoughts still too jumbled up to make coherent plans for the future.
All Chaewon knew for now was that she had a lot of asking to do.
Ha Sooyoung had always liked patrolling, especially during full moons. The city landscape below her was illuminated beautifully by the moonlight, making it looked like something out of a page from a children’s fairy tale; light reflecting of the skyscrapers that towered everywhere. The air was crisp and smelled of big cities, if big cities had their own distinct tastes, and it was a smell that Sooyoung was very familiar with. After all, she had never been anywhere but here, and here was her home. But not today.
“What the heck are the frontliners doing?” Sooyoung kicked at the incoming demon before impaling it with her seraph blade. Ichor sputtered out from the demon as it disintegrated into fine dust. She turned to look at her parabatai, who had just made a demon skewer with her guisarme, ichor dripping everywhere around her.
Jung Jinsol turned around and Sooyoung was impressed by how the disgusting demon fluid did not touch Jinsol at all, despite the mess she just caused with her exotic weapon. One of the reasons why Sooyoung declined the symbolic guisarme from the institute head because it was a messy weapon. Throwing knives were more efficient and killed cleaner. Grab the handle, flick the wrist, swish, thunk. Easy as Hell.
Said girl with the shining guisarme just shrugged. “No idea.”
Sooyoung grunted as another wave of demons came tumbling from one of the small alleys. Unlatching the knives from her weapons belt, she immediately incapacitated multiple demons as the runed knives flew like a barrage of raindrops. Jinsol was a few steps in front of her and was now stabbing the demons surrounding her, creating an arc of light as she moved about in the dim and dingy alley. Together they cut through the hoard like Moses parting the Red Sea (Sooyoung had read the Bible for fun and thought that she and the Christian god had the same sense of dark humor and donelessness towards the helpless yet ungrateful humans): Sooyoung with her throwing knives like starlights and Jinsol’s guisarme shining like the crescent moon, beautiful yet cold. They killed the last demon at the same time – Sooyoung’s throwing knife clinking with Jinsol’s sharp tip as the demon shrieked into oblivion.
“And that last one would be mine.” Sooyoung’s singsong voice was carried through the alley at the same time as Jinsol’s “That’s mine.”
Sooyoung stopped picking her scattered knives and raised her eyebrow, meeting Jinsol’s harmless glare. “My baby hit that demon first.”
“Your ‘baby’ may hit it first, but my blade is the one that end it,” Jinsol returned, purposefully drawling at the word baby, knowing perfectly well that it irked Sooyoung to no end.
“What makes you so sure that your weak scratch killed that thick skin of a thing?”
“I just know. A Jung never miss, you know.”
Sooyoung snorted at the bold proclamation. “Says the one who missed a platform during training cause my cousin calls you cute. And it’s not even about your face, but your stupid lemon pants.”
Jinsol’s face flared in embarrassment. “It was 2 years ago and mind you, that pants were cute! Even Sunmi said so!”
“She just doesn’t wanna hurt your wittle feewings, cause lil Jwung Jinsow ish a cwybaby,” Sooyoung cooed mockingly and was nearly decapitated as Jinsol swung her guisarme low.
Sooyoung raised her hands to surrender, earning a slap on her shoulder that would have knocked a grown man down. But she was used to Jinsol’s strength and that was why they were parabatais. Only Jung Jinsol could tolerate Ha Sooyoung, and a Ha Sooyoung tolerating a Jung Jinsol. Simple math.
Their playful banter was cut short by a scream piercing through the night sky. The two Shadowhunters looked at each other and nodded, remembering their real mission. Originally it was supposed to be a recon job for the frontliners, which consisted of around 5 Shadowhunters, to spy on a suspected illegal activity happening downtown and come back to report. But a young Shadowhunter had come back after only one hour, clear desperation on his face as he mumbled out words separately, too shocked to form his thoughts properly.
It was a trap. We were ambushed.
The institute’s head – Sooyoung’s uncle – had called for reinforcements to help the frontliners, including both Sooyoung and Jinsol. When the both of them had boarded the institute’s truck (yes, Shadowhunter owned vehicles, because jumping on building rooftops were tiring), the rest of their companion knew that the situation was more serious that what was let on. After all, she and Jinsol were the institute’s best Shadowhunters, despite their young age. To dispatch the institute’s best two to a supposedly spying job? The night would not end without any bloodshed.
And Sooyoung was correct. She and Jinsol had run immediately towards the source, which was an abandoned warehouse, and was met with blood. Everywhere.
Crumpled bodies of what Sooyoung assumed was the frontliners were stacked at one corner, and the way the limbs were twisted out of shape gave a clear indication that they were already lifeless. Her other comrades who came with the two of them were nowhere to be found, and Sooyoung hoped that they were not within the bloody pile she just saw. Moonlight poured in from the many windows of the warehouse, but she could not see beyond the corpse corner, because demons were pooling in front of her like a portal from Hell.
Correction – a demon.
“What the hell,” Jinsol gasped. “A chimaera? I thought they were already extinct–”
As if called, the demon roared, its echo reverberating throughout the enclosed space. Sooyoung dropped low and covered her ears in vain as the demon leapt forward in their direction.
“Watch out!” Sooyoung jumped to the right as Jinsol scrambled to the left, with the chimaera in between the two Shadowhunters now.
Jinsol unclasped her guisarme from her back as Sooyoung readied her knives, weighing the situation. The chimaera’s lion head was facing Sooyoung, its eyes shining bright in the darkness and full of dark intent. The serpent tail hissed upon seeing Jinsol’s shiny guisarme, threatening to extend and whip at it if it could. The goat head protruding from the back eyed the surrounding carelessly, the rectangular slits of the pupils scanning back and forth between Sooyoung and Jinsol. Sooyoung had a bad feeling about the goat head’s eeriness, but was not given time to think when the chimaera dashed towards her, unbelievably fast for its overgrown body.
Sooyoung crossed her knives in front of her as they clashed with the creature’s fangs. She gritted her teeth as she was pushed back by the immense power, feeling her grip on the knives loosened. Shit. “Jinsol, hurry up!”
Black clouds of fire emerged from the lion’s throat, and the impact was immense. Had it not been for her fireproof gear Sooyoung would have been toasted as she jumped out of the way, her eyebrows nearly singed in the process. Sooyoung turned to look for her parabatai, who should have come to her aid sooner. But she only found Jinsol crouching down on the floor, panting hard. The chimaera, sensing the change in the tide, turned towards Jinsol, who was preoccupied over… her hand? Sooyoung could not see through the sprawling black mass around the demon as it moved closer to Jinsol.
“You owe me for this one, idiot!” Sooyoung shouted as she leapt forward to chase after the demon. Unlatching a seraph blade from her belt, she whispered Gabriel and the blade came to light. In one swift motion, she decapitated the tail, the leftover stump pulsing and oozing disgusting ichor. The creature howled in pain as it turned its trajectory towards its assailant and before Sooyoung could process what had happened, she was kicked hard on the chest by the chimaera’s muscular hind legs. She flew and hit the wall hard, coughing out blood as she struggled to breath. She yelped in pain as she tried to get up and knew that more than one of her ribs were definitely broken. Sooyoung crumpled down as the demon trod closer, seemingly taking its own sweet time against two puny and helpless Shadowhunters.
Sooyoung wanted to laugh, if only it did not hurt this much. Her life would end here, in a dirty warehouse somewhere in Busan with busted ribs. Gone were the days where she thought she would die in glory, Shadowhunter-style, not in some random distress patrol call. The chimaera had closed its distance, its glinting fangs very close to Sooyoung’s face. She could feel the heat building up from its throat and closed her eyes to accept the inevitable.
But she was soon released from her torture as Jinsol leapt through the clearing and slashed the lion’s head, its howl a dying message as the demon slumped down, its goat head still eerily upright.
“Sooyoung,” Jinsol started, her face still pale-stricken and beaded with sweat. What had happened to her, Sooyoung thought in her haze of pain. “I’ll explain later but we have to kill it quick. Something weird is happening and I have a very bad feeling about this.”
As Jinsol said this, she waved her hand around and Sooyoung caught a glimpse of black mark on top of her hand and took a mental note to ask her later.
Jinsol finally came close enough to assess Sooyoung’s condition and Sooyoung saw her bit her lip to stifle her tears. With quivering lips, she immediately crouched down and took out her stele. Her fingers grazed Sooyoung’s cheek gently before resting on her jaw as Jinsol drew an iratze on top of a deep gash on her forehead. The healing rune hissed before working, and Sooyoung heaved a relieved sigh. She pointed down at her ribs and Jinsol understood immediately as she lifted up Sooyoung’s shirt and drew another healing rune right below the diaphragm. It took 4 iratzes continually being drawn to the skin to completely heal Sooyoung’s broken ribs, and even then Sooyoung still felt groggy. Jinsol helped her stand up, her face still full of remorse and guilt.
“It’s okay,” Sooyoung patted the younger girl’s head. “Thanks for saving me.”
“But I…,” Jinsol stammered as she was close to tears.
“Don’t mind it. I’m still alive, see?” Sooyoung beamed, pulling Jinsol into a brief hug. “You don’t need to explain if you can’t, I understand. But we still have business to do here.”
Both Shadowhunters turned around to see the goat head on top of what was left of the chimaera carcass still standing upright, its eyes looking directly at the both of them. Sooyoung revolted at the sight and quickly threw a knife towards the head. The goat showed no resistance as the knife sunk right on its forehead, ichor bursting from the open wound. It bleated on last time before disintegrating, the sound very clear and loud that it chilled their bones. Silence fell in the warehouse afterwards, the only sound coming from Sooyoung and Jinsol’s ragged breathings.
After making sure the demon was dead for sure, Sooyoung finally relaxed. “That was surprisingly anticlimactic.”
Jinsol did not return her sentiment. She still looked pale and rigid, her eyes darting warily as she scanned the warehouse one more time using the demon detector. As the detector’s steady beeping showed no sign of impending danger, Jinsol relaxed a bit, although she still looked taut like a drawn bowstring.
They found no survivors within the frontliners, who succumbed to the merciless mutilation done by the supposedly extinct demon. Both Sooyoung and Jinsol recited the Shadowhunter farewell to the slain warriors before contacting the Silent Brothers to help with the cremations.
“Ave atque vale.” Hail and farewell.
The rest of the Shadowhunters who came with them arrived late to the scene as they were preoccupied by the waves of demons, their horrors compounded when seeing the remaining carcass of the chimaera and the slain Shadowhunters. Sooyoung’s mind wandered as the older Shadowhunters discussed about the abnormal scenes and number of demons present, having found no evidence of the summoners or the portals to transport the demon hordes into this area. Sooyoung heard something along the line of notifying the Seoul Institute and answering the Clave, but her mind was preoccupied by her jittery parabatai in front of her.
Jinsol was strong, the strongest and most skilled Shadowhunter of the new generation perhaps, with some exceptions being some Shadowhunters from the capital. She was always relaxed during missions, never fazed, no matter how much the odds were stacked against her. It was always her who was consoling Sooyoung, who was fiery and impatient in nature, not the other way around. Sooyoung could not console someone easily – she was bad with direct affection, especially so towards her parabatai. The ride towards the institute was grim and silent, but Sooyoung resolved to cheer Jinsol from whatever was haunting her back then.
As the vehicle entered the institute’s gate, Jinsol got off first and disappeared behind the double doors. Sooyoung stumbled out and ran to follow, but as she entered the institute, all trace of Jung Jinsol had disappeared.
It was easy to find where Jinsol was inside the institute, since Sooyoung knew her favorite places to hang around like the back of her mind. It was even easier now that Jinsol was her parabatai. Parabatais were bound together forever, physically and mentally, and Jinsol’s heartache echoed at Sooyoung’s heart. Sooyoung followed the tug because she knew that it would lead her to Jinsol.
As Sooyoung rounded the corner, pain blazed from her left arm and she screamed in pain. Her first thought was demon poison, especially since the chimaera demon was barely researched and reported now. Who knows what that thing has in store?
But the pain was constant and felt as if a hot iron plate was pressed onto the skin directly. By the time it subsided, Sooyoung steadied herself as she gathered her thoughts. The pain seared and went as if it was never there in the first place, the only evidence of it ever happening was the black numerals on top of her hand, brand new and hot to the touch.
Now Sooyoung knew what had happened to Jinsol back then.
As if on cue, Jinsol came rushing towards her, blabbering incoherently until Sooyoung asked her to calm down.
“I feel you,” Jinsol touched the parabatai rune above her heart. “You’re hurting badly just now.”
Before Jinsol could inspect Sooyoung, the older girl had grabbed her left hand and exposed the same black letterings on the top of her hand, albeit of a different number.
Jinsol’s eyes widen and she began to try explaining herself. But she stopped after Sooyoung showed her hand.
“What the fuck is going on here?”
- Name: Jeon Heejin
- Born: 19 October 2000
- Kind: Shadowhunter
- Residence: Seongnam Institute
- Weapon: Naginata
- Parabatai: Kim Hyunjin
- Name: Kim Hyunjin
- Born: 15 November 2000
- Kind: Shadowhunter
- Residence: Seoul Institute (former), Seongnam Institute
- Weapon: Broadsword
- Parabatai: Jeon Heejin