• Chapter VIII: Tears



    -Kami, Woohyun's house-



    Rain was pouring outside of Woohyun's house in an infinite cadence that should have soothed Kami into a deep sleep instead of keeping her awake.

    The blonde woman had so much on her mind that sleeping was out of the question, she would just have nightmares all over again.

    Nightmares that she wasn't ready to fight yet.

    Nightmares she just wished would disappear once and for all.

    A sigh escaped her lips as she sat up, taking her face into her hands as wind breezes and rain drops breached the half opened window that Woohyun had forgotten to close before going to sleep.



    Stop thinking...Just relax.



    A few days had passed since her first meeting with Woohyun, during that time Kami had learned almost nothing about the man that had kindly taken her in.

    She refused to use her power on him again and already felt guilty enough for having controlled him once before. Kami didn't want to burden her mind with more unnecessary emotions, she only sought rest.

    She had decided to just let things go their way, she just had to get to know him slowly even if it frustrated her.



    Slowly...Yeah, it's not like I know where to go next.



    Woohyun was kind and respected her, there was no doubt about that.

    He had given her more care than her parents ever did in her entire life and payed attention to her.

    The young man would always leave at least a three meters distance between them to make sure that she did not feel uncomfortable except for when he took care of her injuries.

    And even then his touch remained delicate and hesitant, as if he was scared to hurt her more than she already was.

    She felt somehow precious when she was with him.



    Please let me help...” pleaded the man

    No I can do it alone-” asserted Kami before almost tearing her stitches off as she changed the linens around her cuts.

    You'll bleed to death if you continue.”warned Woohyun,staring a the scarlet bandages around her waist.



    Kami watched him, from her small spot in the wooden room's corner.

    She had been avoiding every possible contact with the man, going as far as creating a line between them with various pans and kitchen utensils.



    ...I'm stronger than what you think.”

    It doesn't look that way to me, you are very pale and are shaking.”



    The young woman stopped for an instant, thinking that she indeed probably needed help if she wanted to last until the end of the week. It would have been too pathetic to die this way after surviving an almost certain death.

    Too pathetic even for her.



    ...Just take care of my wounds...Don't be a pervert alright...?”



    The man rolled his eyes before walking to her and lifting her up with his arms to bring her to his warm bed.



    W..What are you doing?!” panicked the young woman as her cheeks reddened. “Why your bed..??!”



    A small smirk appeared on his lips before letting her down carefully on his mattress.



    Because you are wounded and I am a gentleman, I won't let you sleep on the cold hard floor.” explained the man before grinning even more after seeing her face. “Who's the pervert now hmm? Who's the one expecting me to do something to you?”



    Kami blushed even more, hiding her face with his blanket that smelled like him.

    A smell that she had grown to like, the smell of pine trees and nature.

    A smell so different from the nauseating flowery perfume she had grown up accustomed to.

    A smell that strangely felt like home.



    ...Don't tell me that you do want me to do something to you?”

    Shut up and change my bandages.” said the embarrassed young woman.



    Woohyun would share everything with her, his clothes, his food, his water and other supplies...Everything.

    He would sometimes leave during the day to go hunt, most of the times bringing back small games that were just enough for one person that he gladly gave to her.



    Why are you so kind...? You don't even know who I am and where I come from..



    Kami hated admitting it but she liked his presence. She liked the fact that he expected nothing of her but to stay and be his companion in an otherwise lonely life. She liked the fact that he didn't criticize her or force her to be someone she wasn't.

    She liked his annoying jokes and laugh.

    The young woman brought her legs to her chest, watching him silently sleep in a corner of the room, her previous spot that he had taken over.

    He looked so peaceful, and she wondered if she had ever slept that well before.



    Maybe this is the kind of life that I wanted too? Maybe I wanted to be free of all rules, maybe I should have just ran away all along...



    Would she have been happier? Would she have enjoyed being alive if she had done so?

    Kami clenched her knees harder as tears whelmed up in her eyes.



    It's useless to think about this now anyway.



    The young woman tried to avoid thinking about the incident that had changed her life.

    Kami would help Woohyun sew up his old clothes, help him wash vegetables and clean the house...

    She did her very best to forget the pain, the insults, the disgust people felt towards her and most of all, the gaze of her parents as she begged to be spared. However, no amount of distraction could possibly alleviate her mind of the cruel truth.



    She had been discarded so easily that she now knew for sure that she had never mattered to her parents.



    The worst wasn't the fact that they had betrayed their own daughter but the fact that she had expected them to one day do so just by the way they looked at her.

    Their eyes...

    Eyes full of denial, loathing and disappointment.

    Kami had tried believing in them, them who had brought her into this world.

    She had tried to have faith in the bond that united parents and their offspring only to be disappointed and betrayed in the worst way possible.



    They just wanted me to die.



    Sobs escaped her lips that she tried to muffle with the back of her hand.



    Why...?



    Why couldn't they accept her for who she was? Why couldn't they just love her even with all of her flaws?



    Was I really this unlovable..? Didn't I matter even a little?



    Kami's body trembled as she cried, pouring out her feelings just like the skies poured rain onto their cursed world that night. She cried out all the pain she had kept in her heart during all these years ,she cried for the small lonely girl that used to sob in her dark room, she cried because she finely realized that she deserved better.



    She deserved love, she deserved to be accompanied by good people that cared for her, she deserved to be more than a girl destined to die in a puddle of mud.



    Kami..?” called out Woohyun, awake and rubbing his eyes with his hand. “What's wrong? Do your wounds hurt?” asked the worried man, standing up.



    Kami turn her back to him and froze.

    She had never cried this much before someone previous to that moment.



    He'll make fun of me. He'll find me pathetic...Oh god no..



    N...Nothing. Just go back to sleep..” begged the young woman, wiping away her tears between each sob with the back of her sleeves.



    Woohyun walked up to her and sat before her, leaving a small space between them.



    It's not nothing...You are crying...” whispered her new companion, eyeing her with confusion in his eyes.



    What could she possibly say to him?

    She couldn't tell him about her powers.

    And her story... Where to begin with?



    You wouldn't understand...



    When did her misfortune start?

    Her tenth birthday when her parents started noticing how weird it was for her powers to not have manifested? Or the time she had overheard them talk about how she wasn't enough, and they had to have a son?

    No, her misfortune went back to her very first memory and how their eyes were deprived of love from the very first time they saw her.

    She had been alone from the very beginning.



    ..Do you miss your home...Your family?” asked the man, nervously picking at the mat beneath them.



    My parents? Miss them?

    Far from it.



    No..Absolutely not. I am here because of them.” cried the woman both amused and hurt by the thought.

    Oh?...O-Oh sorry...” apologized Woohyun, awkwardly.



    Kami shot a glance at the man who was slightly rocking back and forth next to her as if to help himself think about what to tell her so that she would feel better.

    Unknown to her, a small amused smile appeared on her lips.

    He was so easy to read.

    It was refreshing.



    You didn't know...You don't have to apologize..”

    Then why...?”



    Can I tell him..?

    Not everything but..Just some things?



    Woohyun didn't know her town or where she came from at all, he didn't know what had caused her to be exiled. He just wanted to help.

    Or that's what she wanted to believe for the moment.



    ..I cry because I have been a fool. I've spent years pursuing something that I could never have. A loving home...Loving parents..Everything would have been easier if I had just given up.” whispered Kami. “They all abandoned me, all those I believed in, and left me for dead.”



    The man silently listened to her words and thought about them for a while before answering.



    Well...I may not be good at giving advice but...I think that you just tried to survive in your own way by giving yourself something to fight for? It may have been a bad goal or an impossible one but...It allowed you to stay strong and go on with life am I right? It shows how strong and amazing you are.”



    Kami's sobs calmed down after hearing him.

    He wasn't wrong. She had always felt like she was fighting for her own survival even though not in an imminent danger. She had always lived feeling that she would lose everything one day .



    We hang on life because there is something waiting for us tomorrow. If you stop thinking so..That's when you give up and feel like death is nothing but a sweet remedy to your problems....You and Me, we are not so different.”



    Kami remembered how he had told her that he wasn't good at speaking with others and smiled.

    She found it amusing that he who had lived alone for the longest time was the one able to tell her the words she wanted to hear the most.



    ...You know...You're quite good at listening to others.” admitted Kami as a small laugh escaped her lips.



    The young man crossed his arms and rested them on the knees he had brought to himself, resting his head on them.

    He watched her for a while before smiling with the prettiest smile she had ever seen.

    She blamed the moon for how it bathed him in ethereal silver rays, she blamed the light wind that delicately made his hair strands move along his slightly tanned skin, she blamed the few rare rain drops that glistened on his perfect nose.

    She blamed them all for how her cheeks reddened and how her heart started beating out of rhythm.

    He was beautiful.



    I may not know what happened to you in details but...I want to help you. I want to help you because nobody deserves to be left to die like you were.”almost whispered Woohyun. “And in my eyes, you are amazing. I find it so beautiful that you are still able to smile after everything...”



    And then there was his voice, his beautiful low voice that had been her only grasp onto reality when she was at Death's door.

    His voice that had led her away from an awful existence.

    Tears started whelming up in her eyes once again as a sudden warmth appeared in her chest.



    Stop saying all those perfect things. Stop you'll make me cry again and I hate it when I do.



    I swore to not let you down and be there for you from the very first time you grabbed my hand.” explained the man in a sweet voice as he grabbed her hand, touching her for the very first time outside of when he cared for her wounds.



    Kami looked up at him in confusion, eyes blurred by the water that wouldn't stop falling from them.



    How do you expect me to one day leave if you are this kind to me?



    Why..? You don't even know me...” blurted the young woman averting her gaze.

    ...You're right, I don't ...but I saw your eyes. You had the same ones that I had once...You wanted to be saved, I couldn't just leave you.” explained Woohyun staring at her small hand in his with suddenly a sad look on his face. “I couldn't...I just couldn't because I knew that your face would haunt me forever.”



    Kami unknowingly gripped his hand tighter , and leaned in to sob on his shoulder.



    I'm sorry...I swear that I don't usually cry like this. I..I'll calm down soon so-”

    You don't have to stop.” smiled Woohyun.

    What...?But...”

    Just cry if you need to...I won't watch you or listen if you are embarrassed.”



    Woohyun slowly closed his eyes and put his hands against his ears.



    I'll stay like this until you are done if you are uncomfortable with me being here...I would have gladly left the house but it is raining way too much outside. Sorry...”



    What are you apologizing for, idiot?

    I'm the one who should be sorry for everything...



    Kami slowly tugged at his night shirt for him to stop covering his ears.

    The young man obeyed, surprised.



    ..Could you just hug me..?” whispered the girl, avoiding his gaze.

    ...Are you sure?” asked Woohyun eyeing her shivering small body.



    What am I doing?



    Yes..I know that we haven't known each other for long but... I just need one.”

    I'll do it.” answered the man, slowly pulling her into his arms.



    Kami closed her eyes, hearing his heartbeats that slowly soothed her as she cried even more.

    How long had it been since she had been embraced by someone? She couldn't even remember.

    Soon, she felt his hand slowly caress her blonde hair.

    Her sobs just kept on growing as she felt how much she had longed for someone's touch.



    So someone's embrace can be this warm and comforting...Or is it just you and your touch?



    Stay like this...Please..” begged the girl

    I will.” gently murmured Woohyun before gently humming a familiar lullaby.



    It was the one he sang as he carried her through the lands.

    It was the song he sang to her each time he healed her.

    It was the melody that had rescued her.



    Thank you.



    -Myungsoo, Green Lands -



    The group had finally left the barren Forbidden Lands and set camp under the first living trees they had seen in days. It was a lovely place with green grass, cold but welcoming weather and berry bushes. It was what they had looked for since leaving the city but Myungsoo didn't like it.

    Each one of them should have been relaxing now that they were out of danger but Myungsoo was more than nervous.



    Where are you?



    Mina had went away as soon as she had been sure that everything was well and in order without even saying a word to him or the others. The guard wasn't used to be away from her and especially in possibly hostile territory.



    Something is off.



    Mina wasn't one to just take off without saying a word, she always tried her best not to worry people close to her.

    It had been almost twenty minutes since she had left and an awful anxiety started to take over Myungsoo along with some thoughts he preferred to not think about too much.



    She must be taking a walk...Right..?



    But what if..?



    What if she had enough of him and just decided to leave definitely?

    Myungsoo clearly knew that she hated him for what had happened and equally felt responsible for the pain and fear she obviously suffered that night.

    He was reminded of it every time he saw her bloody cleavage and the symbol carved into her chest, a repulsing symbol that reminded him of the town that had tried to take her away from him forever.

    Mina had been shutting down any attempt he had done to talk to her or even help her, it was as if she just wanted them to forget everything they had been, to forget years of bond.

    A sigh escaped his lips, the two of them had fought plenty of times before but never to this extent, not to the point where her eyes would be filled with pain every time she heard his voice not to the point where her whole body froze every time his fingers grazed hers .

    Myungsoo feared that he had truly lost her this time and couldn't fully grasp how terrifying this thought was.



    A life without her...?



    He had never thought about it.



    Mina! I'm back!!!” shouted Myungsoo, relieved.



    Minhyun had forced him to take some vacations for himself that he had never asked for. Vacations during which he had been forbidden from entering the palace and seeing the young girl.

    The future High Priest thought him tired from all the days he spent with his sister without even, a reason farther from the truth.

    He could never tell him that he hadn't slept in days, or barely, because of how he wanted her.

    He could never explain how he wanted to strip her of her clothes every time he saw her or when she touched him.

    He wanted her so much that it made him lose his mind and calm.

    He could never tell him.

    Not if he intended to keep on living.



    Myungsoo..!” happily replied the young woman before jumping into his arms.



    Myungsoo caught her and spun, loving feeling her against him.

    The guard slowly let her back on the ground before carefully pushing her against the nearest wall.



    I missed you...” whispered the man, burying his face into her neck.

    I did too...Did you have fun?”asked his love, slowly caressing his hair

    No...It was awful. Never again.”

    Oh why?”

    Because I was bored without you, you're the one that makes my life fun and worth living...Without you it's just an endless cycle of eating and sleeping, I hate it.” explained the guard, letting his fingers graze the waves of her body.

    Me too...I need you...I need you next to me to be happy.” whispered Mina



    Myungsoo felt the heat come back to his face. He couldn't think about this now.

    He had to stop thinking about the soft but firm breasts against his chest and her sweet voice that was a real torture about to break the last piece of mental force he had.



    Are you blushing...?” inquired Mina, oblivious to the thoughts that traveled his mind.

    ..I...I am not.” growled Myungsoo under his breath.

    Then do you have a fever..?” asked Mina, slowly putting her forehead against his.

    I don't...”

    ..I have something for you” whispered the girl for whom he was ready to die.



    The woman slowly let go of him and went to her desk.

    Myungsoo looked at her and smiled, she was so beautiful even when frowning as she looked for his present. After a few seconds of rummaging through her belongings, she finally took out a small notebook out of a tiny red box and gave it to him.



    What is this..?” wondered the guard, running his hand on the hard cover that had been carefully made by her.

    Your birthday present... Since I couldn't celebrate it with you because you were away...



    Myungsoo leaned against the wall,opened the book and immediately noticed drawings of him accompanied by quotes and small messages from her.

    On the first page was a representation of their first meeting and words that represented how important that moment was to her.



    In you I found a companion for life, I found a moon to guide me out of the darkness that has always plagued me.” read out Mina, getting closer to him as he turned another page “ I accept you as my Destiny, and if we indeed are destined, let us always be happy together. Even during the darkest and painful days. Let us go back to each other no matter what.”



    Myungsoo looked up to see tears of joy and pure love in her eyes.

    She quickly hid her reddening face behind her hands.



    Sorry...You must find this embarrassing but...It's nothing but the truth...



    Myungsoo kissed her on top of her hands, wishing for them to disappear so that he could have her lips.



    It's not...It's perfect. Thank you...”murmured her guard, slowly lowering her hands to see her face.

    I'm sorry that I couldn't buy anything else...”

    You offered me the best present there is...How could I ask for more?” smiled the man before kissing her forehead.



    She smiled and pressed the book against his chest.



    This is everything, my heart, my feelings...I don't know yours but..Please take care of mine.”



    Myungsoo slowly grabbed her by her waist and slowly started dancing and spinning in her room.



    ...If I am your moon...Then you are my Earth and I revolve around you for all eternity. Just like this.” showed the man as they spun one more time. “You are my green Earth that is the most beautiful thing in the universe. You are life...You are the only thing that matters to me.



    Minhyun finished creating a fire and looked back at his friend who had been silently sitting down on the emerald grass.



    Myungsoo..? Where's Mina?” asked her twin, arching one of his eyebrow.

    I don't know...” sighed the soldier, rubbing a hand on his face.

    I saw her leave I think?”

    I'll go look for her-” declared the man, standing up.

    No, stay here, I'll go.”



    Minhyun walked up to his friend and handed him an empty gourd.



    Then...Please fill this up if you find some water...And bring Mina back without fighting ok?”

    Alright.”



    Myungsoo jumped on his feet and started walking in the same direction she was heading to.

    He felt nothing but pain and emptiness.



    How is it that I just feel like dying when I am not with you?

    Since when I have I relied this much on you?



    The guard crossed a small green hill with a narrow and shallow river at its feet where she was, in her wet undergarments, a few meters away from him.



    There you are love.



    Mina.” called out Myungsoo out of reflex.



    He expected her to turn around and blush seeing him but was instead greeted by her sad gaze that quickly avoided his as she washed off the last bit of blood on her skin.



    You look so tired...

    It's all my fault.



    The soldier finally remarked how much her flesh had been bruised now that her skin was rid off all the dust and dry plasma.

    His eyes traveled from her ankles , knees and thighs that had been cut up by small knives to her cleavage where the bloody triangle was still carved to finally her neck, bruised by the rope that had strangled her.



    Strangled.

    I could have lost her there and then if she hadn't been strong enough.



    Myungsoo imagined her fighting for her breath, held down by the old men he knew to be less than honorable. He could hear her cries of pain and despair.

    Had she called out for help?Had she called out for him?



    Oh god, what if they did more to her than torturing her..?



    Why the surprised look?”asked the young woman with a bitter smile on her lips. “Are you disgusted?”



    Myungsoo entered the cold water and took her into his arms.



    I'm sorry...I'm so sorry..” whispered the man



    The guard felt her hesitant hands brush against his back, as if about to embrace his touch only to slowly push him away.



    Don't touch me...Please.” asked the tired girl he loved in a shaky voice, not violently rejecting him like she had been doing for the past days. “Just...Stop it. I can't deal with this anymore.”

    I can't... I miss you so much.”



    Tears started falling from her eyes as he cupped her cheeks.



    Why don't you understand..? Why don't you understand that when I see you the only thing that comes to my mind is how you just gave up on me? I see nothing but you, avoiding my eyes as they take me away.” sobbed Mina slowly taking his hand off her face

    I'll be better I...I'll change...”



    Myungsoo refused to let go of her and intertwined their fingers.

    She stepped back, watching their hands together.



    It feels right, right? You and me like this...” whispered the man, wiping away her tears that were more painful to him than any sword.

    It did once...”



    Past tense.



    Please just look at me...



    It still does..Can't we go back..? Go back to the way we were.?”

    ...How can we ever go back...? I am just Mina now and you are just Myungsoo. I am no longer the young girl locked in a room and you're no longer that girl's guard. The ties that held us together are no more.”

    Mina...”

    Just leave me be..It'll be better for the two of us. I don't want to keep on shouting at you and pushing you away, it hurts me to do so but you don't leave me any other choice.” sighed the woman, turning her back to him and putting her robe back on.



    How can you just get over us so easily?

    What about all the promises we made?



    ...Didn't I matter to you? How can you give up on me so easily...?”



    Mina froze, not looking back at him.



    ..I can ask you the same question. Wasn't I important enough for you to fight for me? Wasn't I enough?”



    You were, that's why I couldn't.



    A shaky sigh escaped her lips.



    It doesn't matter anymore anyway... You destroyed my heart Myungsoo and I don't have the strength left to put all the pieces back together. Just...Just let go of me, of us. You'll see ,it will get easier with some time.”

    ...Will it ever?” bitterly answered the man



    Myungsoo's fingers brushed against the naked skin of her back, touching one of her bruises.



    ...Let me at least take care of your wounds...Please.”

    Why should I let you do so..?”

    Because I don't want you to suffer. Because whatever you might think, I care for you.”



    He could feel her hesitate without even seeing her face.



    ..Fine.” sighed the woman as he took a small metallic box out of his pocket.



    Myungsoo stepped closer to her, sliding her clothes off her shoulders to see her cuts.

    He wanted to take them all away, he wanted to soothe her pain, he wanted her to be happy.

    But what if her happiness meant not being together anymore?

    Would he still be able to let her go for her sake?



    ....Does it hurt a lot?” asked the man,pushing her hair out of the way to see her delicate neck.

    It's fine.” answered the girl, flinching in pain under his touch as he applied the ointment.



    The guard leaned closer to her, kissing her neck and shoulders so that she would forget the pain, and she did for an instant.



    Why does this feel like a goodbye ? I much preferred it when you fought me back...It meant that you still felt something for me.



    I don't want to lose you...I need you...” begged the man as tears filled his eyes.



    Mina slowly turned back to see him.

    My love, my Mina...My everything.

    Why is it so hard for me to call you this way out loud?

    Why can't I just tell you how much I love you?



    Myungsoo cupped her face in his hands,bringing her lips to his. Kissing her softly and feeling her return it was the greatest thing he had ever felt.

    He had always longed for this, from the very first time he had realized he loved her.

    He felt whole as he held her against him.

    Soon he felt her tears falling onto his hands, warms tears full of pain.



    You already have Myungsoo...You already have lost me.” explained the woman he loved ,stepping back .

    Then why didn't you push me away?”

    Because you deserved a proper goodbye. Because I don't want what we had to end in tragedy. Because I loved you so much that it is the only way for me to one day get over you.” cried Mina struggling against herself to let go of his hand.



    Myungsoo gripped her hand tighter.



    I like it when you are with me.” whispered the young woman, her head resting on his chest. “I feel so safe and at peace.”

    Then I'll stay as long as you desire with you...” answered the man, kissing her forehead



    A light giggle escaped her lips before she took his hand in hers.

    Myungsoo brought her closer to him, breathing her sweet scent in.

    He was hers even if she didn't know it.

    He was a slave to her very breath and lived for the laugh that escaped her lips.

    He was so in love with her that he had lost sense of what was reality and what was a dream.



    Even after ten years...Even after twenty years...Will you still come to me like this?” asked the woman as she brought his fingers to her lips. “Even if life separate us?

    I will come for you even if life itself tries to stop me.

    And what if you get tired of me? Or come to hate me?



    A laugh escaped his mouth. How could he ever hate her? He loved her more than he loved himself.



    No way. I'll die before that day comes.”

    ...Then...What if it is me that leaves you?”

    I'll suffer...I'll probably want to die but...I know that no matter what you'll come back to me.”

    How can you be so sure?”



    Myungsoo leaned in, kissed her cheek and almost the corner of her mouth.



    I love you.



    Because you adore me, right? ”



    She laughed and buried her blushing happy face into his chest .

    Myungsoo rested his chin on her head, slightly blushing at his own words.



    I do.



    Myungsoo closed his eyes and took some time to hear her calm breathing.

    This was heaven.

    Her and him embracing each other under the warm sun rays that bathed them on her bed.

    They needed nothing else to be happy.



    We are one...You and me.” whispered the man.

    We are.” replied the girl intertwining her legs with his.



    Myungsoo didn't know what pained him the most, their past or their present.

    Their past that was filled with regrets and present that was the cause of their foolish mistakes.

    If only he had been honest from the very beginning, if only she had told him what she felt without hiding her feelings, if only he had been more courageous...If only...



    ...I'll wait.”



    Mina froze, understanding what he meant with those words and silently began crying again.



    I'll wait for you to come back to me, no matter how long it takes.” declared Myungsoo



    A small painful smile appeared on her lips as she finally let go off his hand.



    ...Then hang on until I am able to forgive you, please.” whispered the woman.





    -Minhee, Lost in the mountains' valley-



    Minhee somehow managed to escape the high peaks through a small and almost unnoticeable narrow icy way.

    She had limped for hours as the ice took over more and more of her cold body, she had forgotten how cruel and painful the side effects of her power were. It was as if a thousand needles pierced her flesh, she could feel her blood slow down, she could feel her every joint slowly freezing still, she could feel her heart struggle to keep her alive.



    Come on...” cursed Minhee under her breath as her fingers turned even bluer.



    The snowstorm had only gotten worse as time passed and the young woman feared for her lover.

    If he was still alive he could be dying of hypothermia and if he hadn't then she would probably never find him,lost forever in the white infinite field.



    It's so cold...I can't just abandon you here.



    Tears whelmed up in her eyes as she finally reached the bottom of the valley that was deprived of life and that would only be lightened up by the few unwelcoming sun rays that managed to pierce the thick glaciers. There was nothing but the sound of the wailing wind crossing the empty canal.

    A sound heart wrenching, almost as if the mountains cried with her.



    Sungyeol...!” started to call out Minhee, struggling to advance as the snow now reached her hips.



    Her cry echoed between the giants of ice that almost mockingly towered over her.



    Where are you..?



    Sungyeol..!!!



    The gorge was straight, narrow and seemingly went on forever.

    Minhee looked at the snowy ground, hoping to see something, anything.

    Be it blood or a lifeless bump, just something to prove he had been there.



    Nothing.



    It was as if he had disappeared , as if he had never existed.

    Had she been dreaming his existence? All of their smiles and memories together?



    Sungyeol...?” whispered Minhee, breaking down.



    Minhee looked down at her hands covered in his blood, it hadn't been a dream.

    It was all too real and there she was alone all over again.

    The young woman fell to her knees and clenched the cursed snow in her hands.



    Give him back...”begged Minhee



    She wished to at least see him one last time if he was really gone but only felt her heart rip even more apart realizing that even that, the mountain and Cheon had taken away from her.

    If he was no more she wanted to wash him and dress him in the traditional clothes of her town, brush his hair and kiss his forehead for the last time before letting him rest forever in a warm place.

    She couldn't bear the thought of him being lost somewhere without her, she couldn't bear the thought that maybe, just maybe, he was still alive but buried somewhere where she would never be able to help him.



    Sungyeol!!!” yelled Minhee again before digging into the snow with her hands.



    She searched for him for another few hours before sitting down, leaning against a tall ice pillar, exhausted and seemingly out of tears.



    Minhee~” called out Sungyeol laying on the ground of her room as she read a book.

    What~?” replied a laughing young girl still recovering from the overuse of her powers.



    Her friend climbed on the bed and sat next to her, eyeing her still white hands, wondering if they would ever recover their lovely pink color.



    I...I'm sorry. I should have been the one to suffer, not you...”apologized the boy she had been secretly in love with.

    I couldn't just let you die... And if you ever do ,I'll probably join you not long after. ” smiled Minhee, slowly taking his hand into hers.



    He was warm compared to her, so warm that she almost thought that her skin would burn.

    So warm that she didn't notice his face decompose after hearing her hidden declaration.



    ...I'm sorry that I am not stronger...” whispered the boy as tears appeared at the corner of his eyes.



    Minhee hated seeing him cry, she hated seeing him hurt.

    He was the only one in this world she prayed for to be happy.



    It's alright...I'll just have to protect you then-”

    Promise me something.” asked Sungyeol, kissing her fingers.

    Yes...?”

    If I ever do die before you...Please...Please don't try and follow me ok?”



    Minhee blinked a few times in confusion and ache before frowning, how could he tell her to just hang onto life alone? Without him?



    Why? Don't you want us to meet again in the afterlife? Are you already tired of me-” joked Minhee to hide her anxiety



    He shook his head and called her name.



    Minhee.” started Sungyeol “I want you to join me only after having lived your life to the fullest, enough for the both of us, enough so that when we meet again you'll have no regrets.”

    But...I don't want to forget you if you ever die...”



    The boy blew on her hands to warm them up and smiled.



    Getting over the death of someone you love is not forgetting them...You always carry them somewhere in your heart and after some time, even smile when thinking about them.”

    But still I-”

    Promise me.” insisted the boy, resting his forehead against hers.



    Minhee hesitated an instant before leaning in and kissing his cheek.



    I promise but...Don't die alright?

    I'll try.



    Tears whelmed up again in her irritated eyes as she brought her aching legs closer to herself.

    The young woman hated the fact that Sungyeol had for once correctly foreseen their future out of all the small things he had bet on before.

    It was the one and only promise she had never intended on fulfilling from the very beginning.

    And there she was, about to keep it.



    I really am willing to do anything for you...Even the most painful thing.



    You idiot.” whispered Minhee eyeing the small peck of light far away that indicated the way out of the hell that were those mountains. “You fool, you moron...”



    Minhee was scared, scared about what waited for her out there. She was scared to go on living.

    But she was even more terrified of the thought that one day, she would forget Sungyeol's face.

    She wiped her tears, remembering how he hated seeing her cry and stood up.



    ...Fine.” said Minhee as she headed towards the light.



    I am not beginning a new life, I'm not even living in the past.

    I'm not living at all.




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  • Chapter VII: Oblivion



    -Seongwu, Forbidden Lands-



    Two whole days had passed since they had left the cursed city in a hurry.

    The first one had been focused on losing the troops that intensively looked for them as they ran through the uneven ,dangerous, dead landscape.

    There was nothing but scorched earth with dry vegetation and small yellowy patches of grass here and there that grew in deep craters, always under a sky tinted by all the fine dust.

    It was when seeing these lands that the young man remembered that their whole world had been built on a tragedy that had shaken the Earth itself.

    He had always hoped to see these places with his own eyes and not through some old illustrations in one of his book but there he was, regretting his very own past thoughts.

    Seongwu hated the craters, that were sometimes as deeps as the height of Hwa's tallest buildings.

    He hated how he struggled to follow the three other group members that showed no sign of tiredness.



    One another reason to hate Holders I guess.



    One could have wondered why he had to put this much effort into surviving when his companions were all wounded except Minhyun who was strangely more than alright after almost burning the temple to the ground.

    Seongwu felt a strong feeling of injustice fill his guts as a pout appeared on his lips, dried by the peculiar weather.



    Beasts, they are beasts and I am nothing but a worm at most.

    An ant maybe.



    Seongwu, running the day before, had wondered what would become of his house and all his belongings, he wondered what would happen to what his parents had left him now that he was gone.

    He could already see thieves steal his mother's jewels, cheap in value but that meant a lot to him only to sell them for a bronze coin or two in a small market.

    He couldn't really blame them, surviving wasn't easy, especially for those who weren't special.



    The second day of escaping had consisted mostly of hiding in small caves dug out in the craters he so hated. Seongwu had then realized how much he in fact liked his old, crusty and dusty mattress after spending his night battling the cockroaches and various other insects that found him tasty.



    How long until the mountains?” asked Minhyun, looking at the horizon that faded in the sunset.

    I don't know... Maybe three or four days at least?”answered Myungsoo before reaching the edge of another deep and large crater that scarred the arid floor. “Careful.” warned the man after jumping down into the hole, reaching a helping hand towards Mina. “Jump, I'll catch you.”



    The young woman ignored him, jumped into the hole that was at least as high in depth as his house and lightly landed on her feet before passing by him.

    Not even throwing a glance in his direction.



    I don't need your help.” coldly reminded the girl as a sigh escaped his lips.



    Ouch.

    Again.



    Seongwu was quite confused at the two's relationship. What were they to one another?

    Well, he knew for sure that she was angry at him for an obscure reason and that he was trying his best to be forgiven (even though it only seemed to annoy her more than anything).

    Seongwu didn't really know what to think of the newcomer, he hadn't even been introduced to him yet and had just picked up his name along the trip.



    I'll help you.” said Minhyun grabbing him by his waist before jumping.

    Wait-” screamed Seongwu, closing his eyes, expecting to feel a rough shock as they landed.

    ....Open your eyes.” asked his lover, amused by his reaction.



    Seongwu slowly opened one of them, eyeing him.

    His brown wavy hair flowed along the chilly winter breeze, his foxy amber eyes glistened under the sun and his smile...His smile was just pure bliss and made him forget how much his whole body was sore from the endless walking.



    Damn. You surprise me every day.



    Seongwu, even with all the struggles they faced, felt so happy to finally have Minhyun by his side.

    He had loved waking up in his arms as the mosquitoes bit him.

    The young man thought (quite seriously) that he would still be happy to be locked back into his cell if it meant being with his other half.



    They weren't lying when they said that love make even geniuses go dumb.



    How are you?” asked Minhyun, letting him down on the dark and dry ground.

    I'm tired...”

    We all are tired...” reassured Minhyun, caressing his dark hair.

    ...I don't think that you all are as tired as I am if I may differ.”



    Minhyun started walking again with his hand in his this time.

    Seongwu loved feeling his warmth as the wind kept on growing colder the more they got closer to the mountains that still were far away from the group.



    We'll rest soon don't worry and..I'm sorry for everything. I should take better care of you but right-now”



    Seongwu rolled his eyes, Minhyun had been continuously apologizing for the situation they were in for the past two days as soon as one of them opened his or her mouth.

    It was annoying, especially since no one blamed him for the Temple's crimes.



    I swear that I'll punch you if you apologize another time.”

    ..Sorry-” replied his lover out of habit



    The man punched his shoulder and watched his fist bounce off of it.



    Right. They are stronger and I am not even strong to begin with.



    Hwang Minhyun...!”

    Alright alright I'll stop.”

    Good.” said Seongwu walking and eyeing their two companions that walked ahead of them, separated by an invisible wall.



    Myungsoo's desperate stares were lost in the void between him and Mina as she avoided his eyes.

    Seongwu could have sworn that an almost visible wall was growing between them as the days passed. He could tell that they hadn't always been this way and that they had loved the other at one point. This big of a fallout couldn't have happened if no feelings were involved.

    Mina was so different from the woman he had met in his cell, all of her little smiles had disappeared from her lips.



    Hey...What's with the two of them?” asked Seongwu out of curiosity.

    I'm not sure...It's the first time I see them like this.”

    Are they dating?”

    Hmmm..Not really? It's complicated I guess.... He was her guard before everything happened.”

    I see...”



    The group silently kept on moving forward for a few minutes before arriving at the other end of the crater. They had to climb up again.



    Will it ever stop..??



    I hate this so much.” growled Seongwu under his breath as Mina eyed the huge earthy wall before them.

    Why are these here..? Why so many of them..?” asked the young woman touching it. “It doesn't look like something made by nature.”

    It's because it isn't.” replied Seongwu, also poking at the giant before them.



    Can't one of them just blast the whole thing away or something?



    Myungsoo, feeling his leg hurt again, sat down on a nearby rock.



    Let's rest a bit before continuing.”said the guard, exhausted and pale from the blood he had lost.

    Great idea!” exhaled an excited Seongwu before laying down on a patch of grass.

    So...Who made these? When?” asked Mina ,leaning against a dead tree trunk coughing a little because of all the dust.



    Seongwu stretched, watching the colorful sky that slowly drifted into the night.



    They were made during the First war of the Powerful Ones and the Uprising of the Seven.” whispered Myungsoo, discreetly looking at her longingly as he tightened the bandage around his leg.



    She threw a glance at him that he received with a small and almost silent hopeful gasp.



    What's that..?” asked the girl a little bit confused turning back to her brother's boyfriend.



    Seongwu blinked, how could she not know? The whole town was built upon these historical events!

    Not even their town, the whole world.

    Her confused eyes stared at him and it dawned on him, she had just never been told before.



    So you have a sister?” asked Seongwu, laying down as his fingers drew circles on Minhyun's naked skin. “ A younger sister?

    No, she's my twin.” explained the future High Priest kissing his neck.

    How come have I never heard of her before? Everyone in this town knows you and your family.



    A sigh escaped his lips that were brushing against his defined jaw.



    She's...Well let's just say that she's not loved by my family and the Temple. I can barely see her.

    ...So...She's locked away in the palace?”

    ..She is.



    Seongwu kissed him.

    He didn't like seeing this look on his face.

    A look of culpability.



    What is she like?”asked Seongwu,trying to change the subject.

    She's amazing and even more when you consider how she is living. She's way stronger than I am mentally speaking.” smiled his lover. “ Actually, I'm sure that the two of you would get along pretty well.



    Seongwu smiled at the young woman.



    You know who the Light Bearer was right?” inquired the man as she nodded. “ Not long after the Doom, maybe a few decades or a century after it , we humans- well...Your kind appeared on Earth.”



    Minhyun sat next to him and rested his head on his shoulder, listening to him.



    Their apparition led to conflicts maybe even more dangerous than the Doom itself. People after the catastrophe had managed to create what resembled societies that barely functioned in the world that was then full of calamities. The arrival of the Holders threatened everything as they fought among themselves to take what was left of humanity, often killing and raiding whole villages.” said the man, looking at his audience.



    A smile appeared on his lips as he stared at the twins one by one. They looked totally different but the same in the way they smiled or in the way their eyes shined.



    That's when the Light Bearer made his apparition with a group of other Holders , seven of them ,they were all part of the second generation of Holders.”



    Seongwu looked up at the gray, yellowish sky wondering if it had been the same then or if it had changed over the centuries. What about the mounts? Were they as high as theirs? What about the oceans? Were they as blue?



    Him and the group were different from the other Holders, they were so powerful that they destroyed whole mountains and created whole seas and lakes...Or so it is said. Among them, the Light Bearer was the strongest and was the closest thing to a god Humanity ever witnessed. He was what we call an Absolute Being” explained Seongwu as he caressed Minhyun's hand. “..That's why you were so important to the temple Minhyun. You may not be as powerful as him but..What you represent is enough to rule over this whole world.”



    But that's not all, you're mesmerizing.

    You are a literal light to those who surround you and I don't think you are even aware of it.



    And then..? What did he do?” asked Mina

    Then he and the group waged war on all of those who wanted to break and steal what was left of our world. The war lasted a few years during which the whole peninsula changed shape.”

    So that's why there's so many craters..”

    Yes, but not really. You see after the war most remaining Holders and especially the ones that had helped the group win went ahead and built the first cities.”

    Then Hwa..?”

    Hwa was created by the Light Bearer that then settled down , married and had children with the daughter of a Holder that had helped him win the war.”

    And then the Uprising of the Seven happened right?” added Myungsoo

    Yes...The group that helped the Light Bearer wasn't satisfied with what they got in exchange for their effort in the war ..So they started a rebellion, hoping to take over the cities for themselves but were stopped by the Light Bearer and his army before reaching Hwa.” Seongwu yawned “And we are just right where the biggest battle this Earth has ever known took place.”



    Mina slowly nodded, taking in all the things Seongwu had just told her.

    Seongwu smiled, she looked just like the small children he taught history lessons to in the streets.

    She had the same curiosity in her eyes.



    And that's also because of them that people call you an Aberration.” explained the scholar . “They left such a scar on the world and represented such a great danger that all societies united to destroy them as young as possible. It was all out of fear that they would rise up in rebellion again.”

    But...We still are dangerous and don't control our powers well...We truly are dangers to society they aren't wrong...”



    Seongwu shook his head.



    All regular Holders train from the youngest age to master and control their power but you haven't had any training. How do you expect to be excellent at something you have never practiced before? All Holders can snap when misusing their powers... The only difference is that you are stronger and that the damage you cause is on another different scale.” simply said the man as her eyes grew bigger in realization.



    Mina had never even tried to train, her whole life had been focused on restricting her abilities to their minimum to avoid being a danger.



    ...So I and others like me are paying for crimes that are a thousand years old?” realized Mina, troubled , before looking up at her brother “Minhyun...” her gaze lingered on Myungsoo before coming back to her twin “Why hide this from me? You knew right?”



    Oh no.

    Did I just mess everything up?



    I...I just thought that you would hate knowing that all your suffering was due to such a stupid reason...It was so unjust and you could do nothing about it anyway...I didn't want you to carry this weight with you.”

    He's right, we talked about it and decided that it was what was best for you-” started to say Myungsoo, trying to help his friend.

    Shut up.”ordered the young woman, hurt. “I don't care about one of your other stupid decision or excuse Myungsoo.”



    Mina's face crumbled in disbelief.



    You didn't even let me choose what was good or not for myself. I was controlled and restricted even in this way, not even by the Temple but by the two of you, how could you? Do you realize how awful it is..? ”



    Seongwu made himself smaller as the fight between the three of them grew, feeling somehow responsible for diving too deep into the topic.



    You were already under so much stress, we were scared that you would react badly to it...”

    And snap? And then you and the Temple would have lied to me again telling me that it was because I was unstable and that I had to be contained...” scoffed the young girl feeling betrayed.



    Minhyun grabbed her hand .



    I'm sorry. I didn't meant to hurt you..”

    I know that but...How...How could knowing this have been any worse than growing up thinking that I was a monster because of my lack of control? That I was an error of nature that should have just died in our mother's womb?” almost whispered Mina in a shaky voice. “I grew up hearing that I was lucky to be even alive at all while others like me were killed everywhere else for nothing but crazy superstitions!”

    Let's all calm down alright?” finally said Seongwu, standing up. “It wasn't the fault of anyone but the ancestors and priests, we shouldn't fight among ourselves. Not now when we need to be strong and united.”



    Mina sighed, running a hand in her long brown locks. Tears whelming in the corner of her eyes.



    Yes...Sorry. It's just that I would've liked to know...”

    I'm sorry, I won't lie or hide something from you ever again.” declared Minhyun as he hugged her tightly.

    I know...”whispered Mina.



    Myungsoo stepped towards her, wanting to apologize,delicately grabbing her hand that she immediately pulled away.



    Don't.”

    Mina-”

    I don't care about your apologies. Keep them for yourself.”



    Myungsoo bit down on his lips and Seongwu could've sworn that the cuts on them opened up again.

    He watched her jump up the wall before sighing again.



    ....We should get going before it gets completely dark. We have to find some place to stay for the night.” exhaled the guard, massaging his temples.

    Let's hurry and get to Cheon.” added Minhyun eyeing the shadow of his sister on top of the crater's edge.





    -Minhee, Somewhere near Cheon-



    Do you hear that..?”asked Minhee ,turning around.



    Minhee and Sungyeol had managed to flee without being seen for about half an hour.

    They had left through the strangely empty room's window, falling in the snow, discreetly walking through the small districts before climbing down the large chains that held the whole city against the mountain's side's glaciers.

    Everything had been quiet and peaceful, maybe too much for their liking.



    What was that?” inquired Sungyeol as a bad feeling whelmed up in his core.



    Another one.



    Both of them recognized the deafening sound of the town's horns that announced that troops had left the city . It was a terrifying wail, similar to the cry of a giant, that echoed throughout the deep , endless gorges and icy valleys that glistened in a blue glow even through the blizzard.



    Run!” shouted Sungyeol at his lover, griping her hand tighter.



    Minhee cursed the ever so thick snow that almost made it impossible for them to advance, each step was exhausting and made it easier for Cheon's troops to gain back the small head start they had as a sole advantage.

    She could already hear their enraged screams from the other side of the mountain's slope.

    The young woman prepared for the worst, they wouldn't be able to avoid them for much longer not when her body was still slow and heavy from the drugs she had been fed.

    Not when they didn't know where to go or which path to take.



    Sungyeol- J...Just let me go and leave first-”

    No way! Never. We are in this together, until the end.” screamed the man, bringing her closer to him and cupping her cold face. “You don't get to give up on me, on us, ever. I won't let you!”



    Minhee brought his hand to her lips that were shaking in fear.

    He was really her everything, the man that had been there for her from the very beginning.



    You were always the most courageous one out of the two of us.



    I love you...I love you so much...” cried Minhee holding onto him

    I love you too.” whispered the man before kissing her.



    She could feel it with touch, he was also terrified by what would happen next if they ever got caught.

    They hurried, racing against the soldiers and the cruel time that refused to stop or slow their enemies. They both glided down a slope before landing down on a small icy plateau deprived of snow in a loud bang.

    Sungyeol growled, feeling an icicle cut open his right arm during the fall, they hadn't seen the deadly weapons from the top.



    No, no no-not this, not now...!



    Are you okay?!” asked Minhee looking for some bandages in her small leather bag as the horns kept on getting closer.” We have to stop the bleeding-”



    Sungyeol stopped her hand and stood up on his feet as his warm blood splattered on the previously immaculate snow.

    She had never seen his eyes so full of determination before, he was going to get them out of that situation. No matter what.



    We don't have the time, I'm fine, let's go!” shouted the man looking back at the troops now only two hundred meters away from them.



    Minhee ran again as soon as she saw their furs peak above the line of the hill behind them.

    She couldn't possibly describe the fear that started growing in her.

    A fear so powerful that it was almost paralyzing.



    So close. Too close.



    She ran without thinking about anything but the hand that held hers.

    She didn't even feel the violent freezing winds that slapped her face.

    She felt nothing but the need to survive with Sungyeol.



    Fuck!” screamed Sungyeol as they both came face to face with another group of soldiers that had taken another route.



    What next? What should we do??



    The young woman looked at the cliff and ravine behind her as they slowly backed up against it.

    There was no going back, there was only death and victory left.

    Why was it always like this with them? Why did they always have to fight to be together?



    Stop!” screamed Minhee as she stared at the teenager that was being beaten up by the clerics

    We warned you! The two of you can't stay together, you aren't kids anymore! What will her future husband think if he ever discovers your relation???



    No sound came out of his mouth, he was so silent that she feared he was dead.

    Losing Sungyeol was the one thing among all horrible scenarios that she refused to think about.

    How could she when losing him meant losing her whole world? The very reason she smiled?



    Nothing! There's nothing going on so please stop!! You're going to kill him!!!” begged Minhee.



    The men let go of the teenager that fell to the floor as Minhee rushed to take him into her arms.

    She sobbed seeing his bruised face and his bloody long hair.

    She hated this town.

    She hated it for harming or taking away everything that mattered to her.



    ....You better leave him alone. For his own good.” warned the cleric

    Haven't you taken enough from me already?” cried the young girl

    ...Not enough apparently, let's go.”

    And leave him here like this...??”

    He got what he deserved for breaking the law.”

    ...Let me take care of him, I beg you. I...I'll marry whoever you want so....Allow me to help him.” begged the teenager, biting down on her lip.



    This cycle of struggle and pain, it never ended.

    She would sacrifice something for him and so would he do the same for her.

    Minhee came back to the current situation, startled by the voice of her lover.



    Stay back!” asked Sungyeol, clumsily pushing away one of the soldier with his power.



    If only we had trained more...



    A commandant emerged out of the crowd, avoiding Minhee's desperate attacks. The man was dressed in expensive furs and a leather armor. He was older than the two of them by maybe five years at most and stood tall.

    He eyed the young woman who was panting, almost at her limit .



    ...Kill him and capture the girl.”



    Soon, spears came flying at Sungyeol that was fighting a little away from her with one piercing his leg. A scream left his lips as he crumbled to the ground.



    Minhee froze.



    It can't be real..All of this...



    They weren't fighters and had never thought themselves so.

    Sungyeol could barely call himself a Holder and was severely injured.



    What can I do? What can I do...?



    Minhee couldn't use more of her powers, not if she intended to live.

    It was as if karma had cornered them itself.



    Minhee!” screamed a ten years old Sungyeol, kneeling besides her.



    Most of her body was covered in ice except for her face that had almost turned purple, a white smoke escaping her blue lips. She was on the verge of death and he didn't know what to do except be by her side.



    Why..? Why would you do this?” asked the boy, bathed in the shadow of a giant ice column that prevented his house from falling on both of them.

    Because you are my best friend...My only friend...I can't lose you.” whispered the girl with her shivering lips.



    Their town had been plagued by a huge-scale earthquake, the biggest one in a few centuries when they were innocently playing in the snow.

    The two of them could hear the cries of pain and wailing of the mothers that had just lost their children in the catastrophe.

    They could both hear the glaciers crack in an awful and unforgettable sound.

     

    I know but...Don't do this again, ever.” begged Sungyeol, crying as he held her hand in his.

    Don't cry...Please”sobbed Minhee, feeling his tears roll over her skin.

    I'm not crying...You are ,stupid.” shakily replied the young boy, holding her in his arms to warm her up.

    ...If you say so...” smiled his friend



    Minhee had sworn never to overuse her power to its limit ever again after the lesson they had learned the hard way that day.

    Her father, a few priests and Sungyeol had spent hours and days warming her up by her house's fireplace. They made sure her blood kept on flowing until the ice that was killing her disappeared.

    They had prayed day and night for her recovering.

    A recovering that had almost been miraculous.



    Sungyeol..!” screamed the purple haired woman.



    Minhee rushed to Sungyeol's side, helping him up as well as she could .

    The man she loved struggled to stand and started getting dizzy from all the blood he had lost that had turned the snow into a red field beneath their feet.

    It was all because of her, because of that stupid wedding.

    Because she had been rebellious.

    He was hurt because she had been too proud.

    Because she had been egoist and unable to give up on him.



    Minhee...Just go-”

    You idiot...Have you already forgotten what you told me? We are in this together.” reminded Minhee now standing on the very edge of the cliff, holding his face into his hands. “We'll make it out alive”



    Think.

    Think-



    Another spear flew through the air before she could even see it, lodging itself in Sungyeol's shoulder ,propelling him into the void.

    Minhee realized too late that her grip on him hadn't been strong enough and watched him fall backwards.

    She watched her slow hand reach out to him.

    She had to catch him, she had to.



    No...!!!!” screamed Minhee as her finger tips grazed his, too late.



    Her voice echoed as she watched him disappear in the deep ,endless dark ravine.

    She fell to her knees.



    ...What..?

    Sungyeol..?



    Tears began filling her eyes.



    No it can't be...I just felt your hand..?

    You'll appear right back right?



    She stared at the empty space below her, praying that she would see him.

    Alive and well.



    Sungyeol...” called Minhee in a small and shaky voice



    A firm unknown hand grabbed her shoulder.



    It's over. Come with us.” ordered the commandant.



    Minhee's world was frozen, there was no sound.

    Nothing.

    Her eyes were still fixed on the void before her.

    She could still see his face.

    She could still see him.



    He can't be.

    He can't be dead.



    It's over. There's no way he survived the fall.”



    This voice.

    So annoying.



    A sudden rage filled her stomach as the cold ran through her veins.

    How dared they talk to her after everything? How dared they, them who had plagued her whole life with loneliness and sadness, stand there breathing and alive?

    How dared they take even Sungyeol away from her?

    She had enough.



    ...No.”

    What...?”



    Minhee quickly turned around, impaling the commandant with an ice blade that came out of the ground.

    His blood poured on her face as she stood up.

    A moan of pain and wheezing breathing reached her ears.



    Alive.

    How dare he?



    A sword slowly appeared in her hand that she used to stab him straight into his heart.



    ...It isn't over until I say so. I won't obey this city anymore. Never again.” whispered the girl as she watched the man take his last breath as tears fell down from her eyes.



    The whole army started rushing toward the girl that had just killed their leader.



    I can't fight them all. I can't.



    Slow them down.



    Minhee knelt, hands on the floor and made titanic ice walls appear between her and them.

    The ground violently shook as snowflakes immediately started growing all over her skin.

    She watched the walls thicken to be as wide as a house, they would never reach her.



    Ah-” painfully let out Minhee, clenching her chest .



    She prayed that the ice on her body wouldn't spread too much in her.

    She couldn't die now.

    She had to find Sungyeol, he could be alive.

    He had to, he couldn't just leave her like this.



    Wait for me...Wait...”



    Minhee stood up, struggling as her whole body slowly stiffened by the ice taking over her joints

    She refused to think about what had just happened.

    She had to find him.

    That was all that mattered.

    She had to see him again.






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  • Chapter VI: Hello and Goodbye

     

    -Kami, Woohyun's house-



    Why is breathing so hard?



    Kami was almost surprised to hear her own thought and gasped for air.

    Everything felt strangely numb as if she had been drugged and had slept for a whole century, she couldn't really tell if it was day or night or if she was even alive at all.

    It was almost as if she was floating into the abysses of her own mind.



    Am I dead?



    Kami tried raising herself up on her elbows but felt a sharp pulsating pain in every single part of her body and especially felt her broken rib poke at her lung.

    She frowned before laying back again on the ground she was now able to feel.



    ..I'm alive. Definitely alive.

    There's no way that I am hurting this much otherwise.



    She slowly and almost silently breathed, scared to feel pain again.

    What had happened to her?



    Ok...What was I doing last?

    I was eating dinner with Father and Mother.

    We talked and-



    Everything came back to her in sick flash that she wished would've stayed forgotten.

    Even her own mind seemed to be against her.



    ...Right, how could I possibly forget.



    She was supposed to be dead, how was she still breathing after the beating she had taken?

    The young woman hadn't opened her eyes, hoping and praying that everything had been nothing but a bad, very bad nightmare.

    But deep down, she knew that it wasn't one.



    ...Mommy...?



    Kami had been dreaming of dead people,or more precisely dying ones.

    She had been dreaming that she drowned in mounts of them, always calling for help, never to be heard.

    The young child had woken up in horror, screaming for someone to cuddle and reassure her .

    But nobody came, as always,not even her nanny that had left the house that day to join her family downtown.

    She was alone.

    Kami had courageously braved the darkness and had run to her parents that were still working in their dimly lit study, not wanting to stay alone.

    The child had been silently sitting on their study's couch for a while when her mother looked up to her with a tired look in her eyes.

    ...What?”

    I called for you but you didn't come...” said the girl in almost a whisper, scared to be scolded.

    We are busy. Go back to sleep.” told her father, annoyed.

    But I had a nightmare-”

    Get over it!” screamed the man almost throwing the book he held at her



    Kami sat down on the cold floor almost hidden in a corner of the room, making herself as small as possible. She had learned over the years how to be almost invisible if needed.

    The girl knew that her parents didn't like being disturbed but was way too scared to go back to sleep.

    What if the men painted in red came back?

     

    What should I do if I ever have a nightmare again mommy?” asked a small Kami, hugging her small stuffed pig doll against her chest, teary eyed and snot still coming out of her nose.

    What do you mean? Why should I care? It's only a bad dream, there are far scarier things in this world.” answered her mother, sighing.



    She hadn't known it at the time but her mother had been right, there were indeed things more horrible than nightmares.



    Who would have thought all this time that you and father were the ones I had to worry about?



    All the punches, the wounds carved into her flesh by the soldiers, the burning iron poker that they had used to mark a triangle on her skin... Kami remembered everything and every scream that had escaped her lips.

    It had all been real ,and she would never forget any of it.

    The young woman opened her heavy eyes, covering them with a hand , expecting the harsh sun rays from the meadow to hit her but was instead greeted by a dim and soft light.



    Uh? Where am I...?



    Kami slowly took her hand off of her face and saw, first of all, a low leafy ceiling.

    She frowned, she didn't remember losing consciousness under a tree or even more a ceiling.

    She stared at the roof for a few seconds before finally noticing a soft and warm breath on the nape of her neck.



    What..?



    Her whole body froze.



    ...Who's that?



    Kami didn't dare look at the figure laying next to her.

    What if it was a bear or some other dangerous creature?



    Ok I think that I am truly screwed this time.



    She took a deep breath and slowly rolled over, almost moaning in pain before realizing that her mysterious companion was a man deeply asleep next to her.



    A man.

    A bear would have been better.



    A small scream of terror escaped her lips, waking up the stranger that immediately jumped on his feet as she stood up the best she could.



    I have to leave.



    What-”



    Kami grabbed the nearest object ( a shoe in this case) and threw it at his face.

    The man still drowsy from his sleep used his pillow as a shield as she continued attacking him with every utensil or clothing item that was near her reach.



    Don't come near me!” screamed Kami holding an iron pan between him and her

    Calm down-”

    How could I?! Leave!!”

    That's my house! Why would I leave??”



    Oh.

    Right.



    The man walked up to her, making the pan levitate in the air.



    Shit.

    A Holder.



    Kami froze, she wasn't in a state to fight him, in fact, she didn't know how she was able to stand at all.



    Calm down.” repeated the man looking with worry at her wounds



    Blood had started flowing from her wounds she had teared .

    Kami felt suddenly dizzy as the pain sent a shock wave through her body before falling on her knees.



    What can I do? What should I do?



    The man ran to her.



    Well I am dead. Or I am going to become his slave... or worse...



    Kami gasped.

    What if he ate her? The young woman had heard legends about the wild men that lived in the plains that would sometime eat humans to survive.

    She had always thought these stories to be mere myths but now...



    All myths are based on a small bit truth right?


    An image of herself as a piece of meat flashed in her mind before looking at the man before her.

    His hair was quite long and his skin was covered in bruises that were accompanied by long bloody cuts.



    Charming.



    He looked more than rough with his clothes drilled with holes and ripped at the seams.

    He looked more like a savage than a civilized person.



    ...Wait.

    Wouldn't he already have eaten me by now? I'm not that big.

    I'm just a snack for him.



    The stranger knelt before her and reached his hand towards her bloodied bandages.



    Maybe he wanted to keep me fresh to eat me as a tartar or something.

    Anyway, I am dead.

    Nobody will miss me.



    Don't move. You are opening your stitches.” simply said the man in a weirdly soothing voice trying to undo the bandages wrapped around her naked arms.

    ...Why would you even stitch my wounds? Aren't you going to eat me?”



    The man sat back and frowned in confusion, eyeing her in disbelief.



    What? No. Why would you think that?”



    Kami sighed in relief, well at least he wasn't a cannibal.

    That was one thing off of her long list of possible dangers that this man could be.



    I don't know... You kind of look like someone who would...?”

    Well that is a really nice thing to say to someone who saved you, healed you and carried you all the way here.”



    Kami looked at the man in doubt.

    He could be lying for all she knew but then... She was not outside anymore and was wrapped up in clean bandages from her chest down to her legs.



    Wait.

    Chest?

    How did he-



    ...Did you undress me?” asked the now angry woman as the man realized what was going through her mind. “Did you see me naked?”



    The man stepped back, holding his hands as well as he could up in the air as a sign of peace.

    Kami noticed the shimmer coming from his shoulder under his thin shirt.

    Was that metal?



    What is this man?



    I did but- Don't rush to conclusions ok?” asked the stranger “It was just to disinfect your wounds and clean them up.”

    ...You pervert...!” shouted Kami ,standing up and looking once more for an object to hit him with.

    Wait I didn't really look-!!! There was nothing to see anyway-!!!” screamed the man looking once more for his shield.



    Ok now you are wounding my pride.



    I'll kill you-”

    You would have died of an infection by now if I hadn't done so! Would you have preferred that???”



    The young woman froze.

    He was right, would he have carefully cleaned her wounds if he just wanted to take advantage of her body?



    Maybe he is a decent man, maybe I am being paranoiac.



    Kami looked around the room, trying to calm herself down before her eyes met a plate full of fruits.

    She quickly realized , now that most of the adrenaline had left her system, how hungry she was.

    How could she not? She had probably been sleeping for days without eating anything.



    ...How can I know that you didn't rape me or anything else? You were sleeping next to me just a few moments ago.”



    The man sighed, running his hand through his hair while Kami kept on staring at the succulent looking prunes and peaches.

    The stranger noticed the direction of her gaze and smiled a little, out of exhaustion.



    ...I'll give you one if you sit down and rest.” bargained the man, eager to just rest.

    You really think that I would fall for a pathetic strategy like this one?” answered Kami, swallowing her saliva.



    A small laugh escaped his bruised lips and a warmth filled her heart.

    It had been so long since the last time she had heard someone laugh and felt suddenly more at ease.



    You look less like a savage with that smile on.



    Why was his voice so familiar and calming?

    Kami, during her long sleep, had seen nothing but pure darkness.

    She remembered calling out for help, she remembered a strong back and strong arms that had answered her calls, she remembered a silhouette that sang lullabies to her while she was lost in the abysses of her own mind.

    Her whole body relaxed , remembering the stranger's warm presence over the past days.



    ..Well..Yeah.”answered the man, staring at the almost drooling girl.



    Kami contemplated his proposal.

    He didn't seem like a bad man (she had already forgotten her talk about him being a cannibal) and these fruits were really mouth-watering.



    ...How can I know that you are not a killer or a rapist?”



    The man leaned against the wall, a painful growl escaping his lips.

    He was hurt and was slightly limping.

    How had he carried her in this state?



    Have you ever heard of a killer or rapist offering fruits to his victim?”

    ..No.” admitted the young woman eyeing him suspiciously. “But you could be the first one to do so.”

    Don't you think that I would've easily stopped you if I didn't want you to escape? I am sure that you have noticed that I am a Holder.”

    ...You did try to stop me.”



    The stranger rolled his eyes and walked over to the fruits.



    Oh no ,the bastard.

    He wouldn't dare.



    The man took a perfectly ripe peach in his hand and slowly bit into it.

    He kept on eating it, never ever looking away from her eyes.

    Kami watched the fruit's juice drip and flow along his fingers as her hungry stomach growled.



    ...I hate him.

    That's unfair.



    What the hell are you doing?”

    Tempting you with food since you won't listen to reason.”

    I am not a dog. You can't buy my trust with food.!”

    Oh really? Should we try to test that then?”

    No-”



    A smirk appeared on his handsome face as he grabbed the whole basket of delicacies.



    If you sit and stay like a good girl, this whole basket is yours but if you don't, it all go flying by the window.”

    I don't care, I'll just steal something else later.”

    There's nothing else here. Do you know how to hunt then?”

    ...No.”



    Kami stopped to think.

    Could she allow herself to let these perfectly good fruit go to waste?

    No, she couldn't.



    You know what? Fuck it.



    ...Fine.” answered Kami, sitting on the bamboo mat that the man used in stead of a mattress.

    See?”

    Shut up please. Give me the fruits.”



    The man handed her the basket before also taking a seat a few feet away from her against the wooden tree trunk that was one of the house's wall,not wanting to invade her private space.

    Kami took a bite of a peach and felt like bursting into tears at its sweet taste reached her taste buds.

    It was so good.

    The stranger crossed his arms, looking at her with a mysterious smile on his evilly good looking face.



    Only demons can manipulate someone by using food.



    ...What?”

    Nothing.” answered the man.



    Kami frowned.

    This man was strange, she didn't like how calm he was.

    He may had dragged her out of the meadow but she didn't know him or his intentions yet.

    She couldn't trust him.



    So...Why were you sleeping with me?”



    The man sighed.



    Look. I have one bed and one blanket for the both of us. I was just freezing and you were not awake anyway so... yeah I slept next to you.. Sorry I guess.”

    ...You should have said so from the beginning.”

    I wasn't able to, you were attacking me.”



    Kami winced.



    He is not wrong.



    ...Why did you stop me when I tried to leave?”

    Because you are hurt and second...You may have not noticed it yet but my house is high in a tree, you don't have the strength to climb down and you were hurrying so much that you would have just fallen and broken your neck.”



    Kami silently agreed, she could see herself fly out of the house and miserably land on the ground.

    It had already happened to her in some way before.



    Well thanks I guess.”


    The man handed her a jug of water.



    That's not the only thing you should thank me for you know?”

    ...You took care of me right?”

    I did.”



    Kami finished her peach and took a prune.

    She didn't understand him, she would have honestly left him there if she had been in his stead back then.

    She knew that surviving in the unpopulated lands was hard, she knew how there were traffickers and raiders always scavenging the plains.

    Why had he taken her, a burden, with him?

    What were his intentions? What did he want to do with her?



    Kami didn't believe in the simple kindness of the heart, everyone did something expecting material or emotional gain in return. She believed that even benevolent people that gave to the poorest did it to feel better about themselves, there was always a reason to the best and worst things that happened in this world.



    What could be the thing he desired that she could offer to him.?



    Thank you.”



    A sour taste filled her mouth as she bit into the overly sweet fruit.

    She had to know.

    She had to know for her own good even if it meant using her capacities that she so despised.

    The girl slowly put down the food and locked eyes with the man.

    A rush of power filled her sore veins.



    Tell me what you desire in me, tell me if your intentions are good and then forget that I ever asked you these questions”



    His chocolate brown eyes that had until then been full of amusement and curiosity turned blank as if deprived of life.



    ...I desire that you get rid of the loneliness that has plagued me for years. My attentions are good and have always been good, I was just so lonely that I wished to die.” answered the man under control



    So he hasn't been lying.

    He hasn't harmed me.



    Kami brought her legs to her, sorry to have doubted his words as he came back to himself.

    She watched him looking at his surroundings in confusion, she could trust him.

    Her power had ensured it after all.



    ...What were we saying?” asked the man scratching his head.



    Kami smiled, maybe for the first time in front of him.



    ...I was asking you your name.”



    She watched him blink a few times before clearing a bit his throat.



    I'm Woohyun...Nam Woohyun.”



    The young girl reached a hand out to him, still smiling.



    Kami, Kim Kami.”





    -Minhyun, Tunnel's exit, Hwa-



    Minhyun had run for what seemed like an eternity after leaving Mina with Myungsoo.

    He wondered what could be up with the two of them that were usually so close and inseparable.

    The Fire Holder had never seen his twin this angry before and felt that trying to calm her would have only amplified her wrath, besides, he just wanted to see Seongwu.

    He wanted to hold him against his chest, he wanted to see him breathing.



    Seongwu!” screamed Minhyun reaching the end of the tunnel and finally seeing his silhouette against the morning sun light.



    His lover turned around just in time to embrace him.

    He was there, he was alive.



    Thanks god Seongwu-!” thanked the heir, burying his face into his neck he had kissed only a few hours earlier. “I'm sorry..I'm so sorry for everything-”

    Shut up. It isn't your fault and never will be yours.” just said the young man holding him tighter against him.



    Minhyun breathed in his scent before kissing him.

    Their kiss was desperate, both of them needing to feel the other's touch.



    I love you Seongwu, I love you so much.” exhaled Minhyun before grabbing his face and kissing his forehead.



    Do you like drinking?” asked Seongwu, sat on his couch, eyeing the old bottle of liquor that had been sitting on that one ebony shelf for the longest time

    I don't.” answered Minhyun laying down with his head on his lap.



    The man had been hanging out for a few months at Seongwu's house that had by then become a haven for the heir to the Temple. He liked to spend his evenings there ,playing card games or simply hanging out with his new-found friend.

    The two of them were different to the core, he was almost a prince while Seongwu was a nobody that lived in a slum. Minhyun was a sun and he was a sunflower among many others that lived to see him.

    It had been a true miracle that the two of them shared similar interests.

    It had been a true miracle that they ever met to begin with.



    You should, it's relaxing.” said Seongwu as he grabbed the bottle and poured two glass of it.

    ...Alright.” sighed the heir, sitting up.

    We should cheer.”
    “To what?”

    ...To us.” proposed Seongwu sitting closer to him.

    To us then.” cheered Minhyun before swallowing the bitter liquid.



    Minhyun frowned before looking at his friend, how could he drink this horrible substance without even reacting?

    And why to begin with?

    Some time passed as they silently stared at their empty drinks before Seongwu slowly put the glass down on the small table in front of them, inhaling deeply.



    ...Minhyun.”

    Yes...?”

    There's something I have always been curious about...” started to say the man “...Why me? Why me out of all the slum boys or even girls?”

    What?”



    Seongwu looked up at his friend's confused face.

    Minhyun got scared. What was he supposed to say?





    ...Why is it me, out of this whole town, that gets to be with you?”



    Seongwu's lips were shaking as Minhyun's stomach tightened.



    ....Would you have preferred it if it had been someone else?”

    Just answer the question.”asked Seongwu again.



    Minhyun leaned backwards, staring at the ceiling as Seongwu nervously eyed him.

    He had to stay calm not to scare him away, he who was always about to run away.



    Answer me, honestly.” begged Seongwu.



    The future High Priest always caught his quick and discreet stares, full of doubt and fear.

    He knew that Seongwu always thought himself to be lacking in his presence, not knowing how Minhyun silently worshiped him.

    Seongwu was all he wanted and ought to be, a young man always strong in even the worst situations, a young man that was invisibly made of steel and that could withstand the horror this world had to offer. A man that carried an infinite knowledge of this and the past world, a man that could teach even a lost heir how to be better.

    Seongwu deserved everything he possessed, more than he ever did.



    ... I honestly don't know” honestly answered Minhyun, running a hand in his loose wavy hair “It was just luck that brought us together that afternoon , it was just luck that led me to where I was when I met you.”

    ...So it could have been anyone but me uh?” said a slightly hurt Seongwu, standing up ready to leave.



    Minhyun grabbed his sleeve to stop him.

    How could he ever explain to him what their meeting meant for him?


    Yes I could have met anyone.” started Minhyun, his hand traveling down his arm to catch his “But you're the only one I want or need and I was blessed to have met you when I did.

    ...But it was still only luck.”



    A pained look shot through Minhyun's face who had brought his hand to his lips, kissing the back of it under the gaze of a confused and blushing Seongwu.



    I am glad that it was luck Seongwu.” declared the man. “ You see...Out of all the luxuries...Luck is the only one that I can't possess along with Time.” a sigh escaped his lips that still lingered on his skin. “ All of my life has been planned from the very first breath I took, I have no liberty, no surprise...

    Minhyun stood up and got closer to him.



    So you...You came to me in the most beautiful way possible. You are the very first and most precious present life has offered me. You are the only genuine person that hasn't been strategically placed around me. You are mine and mine only.”



    A small smile appeared on Minhyun's lips as he intertwined their fingers.



    You matter to me, you matter more than what you can imagine.



    Seongwu started tearing up as he realized what the man he had loved from the very sight for the past months implied with these words.



    Do you think that I come back every night just because we sometimes play cards together?Just because we are friends?”

    Minhyun-”

    I love you.” declared the young man.



    Seongwu froze, staring at him.

    What if he had been wrong? What if Seongwu didn't like him?

    Had he misinterpreted his touch or the way he looked at him?

    Had he been wrong all along?



    ...You can't say that, you are drunk.”tried to rationalize Seongwu

    I'm not” seriously said Minhyun.

    ...You don't drink alcohol, you aren't used to its effect.”

    I may not drink but it doesn't affect me. We Holder aren't affected by alcohol.”



    Minhyun took him into his arms.



    Can you feel my heart beat? If you can't trust my words then listen to it.”

    It's not that I don't trust you, you're the only one I trust but...”



    Seongwu looked up to the man standing before him.



    ... I can't give you anything, I haven't given you anything at all. How could you love this me?”



    Minhyun slowly kissed his lips he had longed for, for the longest time.

    You already have given me everything that I needed. A place to call home, someone to go back to, a purpose that hasn't been imposed on me... and the possibility to be myself. That's more than enough.”



    I love you too.” answered Seongwu, slowly caressing his cheek.



    Minhyun's teary eyes fell upon the cuts and bruises on his body.

    His fingers carefully touched them, as if to make sure that he wasn't hallucinating.



    Who did this to you? Who?” coldly asked the man

    ...It's nothing and you, are you hurt?” said Seongwu to change the subject.

    Who?” repeated Minhyun, clenching his fists until they turned white.

    ...The priests and guards.”



    Minhyun felt rage fill him once again.



    How dare they?

    How dare they hurt him?



    I should kill them all.” said Minhyun before heading back to the tunnel, decided to kill all those who had laid a hand on him..

    Don't.” stopped Mina, coming out of it, helping Myungsoo walk. “We have to leave. Now.”

    But-”



    After everything....How could he just let the priests and his uncle get away with all the atrocities they had committed?



    You won't be better or feel better after killing them. Trust me.” coughed Myungsoo now standing on his own.

    But we have to stop them! They'll just continue...!”



    Seongwu grabbed Minhyun's arm, looking into his brown golden eyes.



    Look at your sister and him. They aren't able to fight anymore, not like this.” carefully assessed the man. “Is your revenge worth losing both of them...And even me in the process?”



    Minhyun deeply breathed in the dusty air of the deserted lands surrounding the town.

    His eyes looked at the landscape.

    Nothing, there was nothing but sand and scorched earth.

    The young man had contemplated leaving the cursed city thousandth of times before but felt short of ideas now that he had crossed the tall stone walls that were as high as an eight stories high building.



    Where should we go then..?”



    A smile appeared on Seongwu's lips.



    Anywhere you want.”answered his lover. “As long as I am with you it doesn't matter....But let's avoid cities that want to kill us alright?” joked the man .



    Minhyun bit down on his lips.

    Myungsoo leaned against the wall, staring at his twin sister in longing and heartbreak.



    Mina, where do you want to go?”

    Let's go to Cheon, it's the nearest town.”

    And the army won't be able to follow us into the mountains.” approved Myungsoo, still half lost into his thoughts.

    ...Then Cheon it is.” Minhyun sighed.



    The group started hurriedly walking, heading toward the silvery mounts that glistened under the morning sun.

    All of them seized by both fear and relief.

    Relieved to finally fly away from their cage and scared of seeing this whole new life also end in tragedy.

    Minhyun looked back at the town, the only thing that he knew, the only thing he had been raised for., wondering if he was to blame for the tragedies that had occurred.



    No, no it isn't.



    He stared at the tall walls that had always obscured his sight..



    Goodbye.


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  •  

    Chapter V: Goodbyes

     

    -Myungsoo,Somewhere in the Temple,Hwa_



    Myungsoo felt nothing but a rush, a rush to find Mina. He had been running for what seemed like an eternity in the never-ending corridors that ostensibly kept on getting narrower as he went on.

    He didn't dare rest to take his breath, how could he when she could have already lost hers?



    Stop thinking and run.



    Myungsoo didn't want to imagine the worst, he just couldn't.

    How could he ever bear living knowing that she had lost her life because of him and his foolish decision? But most importantly how could he ever live at all if he wasn't able to hold her close to him?



    Please,

    Please be safe and sound.



    Myungsoo took a right turn in the maze-like Temple, not really knowing where he was heading.

    The guard had never adventured this far in the building and could only hope to get to her some way or another.



    Faster.

    Faster.



    Myungsoo burst through a wooden door , shattering it to pieces and arrived in a great empty hall where a garrison of fifty men awaited him.



    Go back the way you came young man.” spoke the commander tightening his grip on his spear. “No blood need to be spilled today.”



    Myungsoo wanted to rip his head off.

    No blood? And hers? Was she so worthless to them that she didn't even count anymore?

    He should have seen it coming, one way or another.



    Get out of my way.” growled a panting Myungsoo whose eyes were deprived of light.

    I'm afraid I can not. We have been asked to stop you by the High Priest.”



    Of fucking course.

    The High Priest.



    Myungsoo sworn to himself to kill him later even if it meant being executed later on.

    He would never forgive them.

    Azure bolts started erupting from his long fingers making sparkling, high-pitched sounds in the cold air.



    Sir-! We are just Physicals, there's no Mental or Elemental with us!!! We don't stand a chance !! We should just call another team-” started the second commandant.

    Hold your grounds. Follow protocol.” insisted the man.
    “Let me pass. It's my last warning.” coldly said Myungsoo whose arms were now fully wrapped in electricity.

    No.”



    In a flash the guard landed in front of the second commandant, his superior's still beating heart in his hand.

    Myungsoo dropped it as his body hit the ground.



    Move. Move or I'll kill you all. Every single one of you.”



    The man stepped back, startled and horrified by the monster before him.

    He had heard of Kim Myungsoo before.

    The young man was considered a prodigy even among the most powerful nobles of his line.

    He had graduated from the academy at the young age of thirteen to then start his career as the High Priest's niece's bodyguard, a job that everybody had considered too mediocre for his talent.

    Only the high ranking military and priests knew how complicated and risky his task was, the girl had killed almost a hundred guards by her tenth birthday and had grown visibly more and more unstable until meeting him.

    He was the seven hundredth one and the only one that had ever lasted.

    The destruction had mostly stopped because he had survived her fits and had showed her that he was able to withstand the devastation she brought, lessening her overall stress and attacks.

    He was the only thing that had kept her all these years from destroying the whole temple.



    I don't want to harm you.”repeated Myungsoo



    The soldier remembered how the young man had been the most prevalent of Hwa's assassin until meeting Mina, how he was famous for killing a full village of Raiders in the dead of night by himself the day of his seventeenth birthday.

    All had thought that he had softened over the years spent as a guard but here he was with freezing cold eyes, emptier than the darkest nights.

    There was the so feared man who would have become High Priest if the twins hadn't existed.

    Minhyun had been blessed at birth with an unimaginable power while he, even though weaker in strength, had mastered his art better than anyone in the city or the ones nearby.

    He had taken his electricity capacity to a whole new level.

    While previous Holders used simple bolts the young man had managed to apply his electricity to multiple aspects of his fighting techniques, granting him an incredible speed, control of storms and unusual strength for a man that wasn't a Physical Holder.



    ...Ready yourselves for battle. Stop him at any cost.” ordered the second commandant as he swallowed his saliva, knowing that he would probably not come out alive of this fight.



    They had to stop him, for the city's future. It was the only mission that mattered for them.

    Myungsoo closed his eyes.



    Focus on your goal.

    Focus on what you have to do.

    They are but an obstacle.

    Focus.



    The first line of defense threw itself at him in an attempt to immobilize him while the second one ran at him with their spears, hoping to stab him and quickly end the unbalanced fight.

    Myungsoo avoided every one of them, grabbed the nearest man's weapon after sliding on the ground ,cutting his legs off and speared three soldiers to the nearest wall.

    Blood splashed on his face as the moist sound of their flesh ripping reached his ears.



    Mina

    Only think about her.

    Not the blood on your hands.



    The man jumped in the air, throwing a storm of thunderbolts at the enemies below him and then landing on a man by grabbing his throat and electrocuting him to death.

    Myungsoo didn't even know what his hands or body were doing anymore, he was fully blinded by his need to be back with her, her who had saved him from a life of horror.



    Myungsoo, what are you thinking about?” called out Mina who was laying on his lap as he slowly ran his fingers in her long hair, staring outside her window.

    Nothing.” answered the man now looking down at her pretty face, slowly caressing her cheek with his thumb.

    Don't lie to me...You know that you can tell me everything right?” whispered the young woman, sitting up.



    It was now her who was rubbing his cheek with her delicate hand, her warm and beautiful eyes filled with worry for him.

    Mina wasn't part of his family who had raised him all his life to be a soldier, Mina wasn't his superior, Mina wasn't like her brother who he had to train, Mina was maybe his duty but was also the first one to see the true Myungsoo.

    Not the filial son, not the soldier, not the mentor, just the young man who liked to sit next to a window to take in the beauty of a late afternoon or the one who liked to play instruments in his free time.

    But the one that mostly loved having her by his side.

    Myungsoo didn't want her to know his past, he didn't want her to start seeing him differently.



    You can tell me everything, even your darkest secrets.”



    Myungsoo's eyes traveled down from her gaze to her soft pink lips, how could they so perfectly say the very words he wanted to hear? The ones he wanted to hear only from her.

    His hands traveled to her hips and waist, bringing her closer to him.

    He loved how she would blush under his touch, he loved how she didn't dare look into his eyes each time, he loved how even the tip of her ears would become red.

    Myungsoo leaned towards her, about to lose his mind hearing her breathing and feeling her light exhalation hit his skin.

    He wanted to steal her lips, he wanted to have her all for himself but settled for a kiss on her forehead, remembering the warnings of her uncle.



    ...I'm not as great as you think Mina, I've done bad things , imposed on me yes but that I still regret every day.”whispered Myungsoo his face now a few millimeters away from hers

    It is impossible to live life without ever committing an act that won't affect others in a bad way.



    A small smile of jealousy appeared on his lips as he cupped her face.

    He would have liked to see life as positively as her.



    You don't understand...I've killed Mina, I've killed so many people and I feel guilty to be as happy as I am by your side when I should atone for my crimes.



    The girl slowly kissed his cheek.



    I know Myungsoo, I've always known.

    How?



    Mina parted his hair before also gracing his forehead with a kiss.



    Because you had the same eyes as mine when we first met. You're not the only one who has sinned, I've also spilled blood, be it accidentally or not,before knowing you.

    Then how can you be this friendly with me? Aren't you repulsed? Aren't you disgusted?



    A sad but amused smile appeared on her lips.



    Aren't you disgusted by me then? This question works for you too. Aren't you disgusted Kim Myungsoo?.

    I am not and never will be.”



    Mina grabbed his hand and slowly brought it to her warm cheek.



    I hope so.”



    A groan escaped his lips when one of them managed to stab him in the thigh.

    Myungsoo grabbed the man's sword, ripping it from his wound before slitting his throat and the one of the soldier trying to hold him back.



    Faster.

    Faster.

    I have to get to her.

    I have to end this quickly.



    The skies roared before thunder broke through the high roof and windows of the room, rushing to his hands. Myungsoo could feel his blood almost boil under the massive pressure and quantity of energy that he released in a blast ,immediately killing all the men left in the Hall.

    Myungsoo felt his legs weaken and the upper left part of his body freeze.



    No, not paralysis. Not now.



    Myungsoo looked at the piles of bodies and the blood covering the once white marbled floor.



    ...Look, look at what happens when you are not with me.



    A small painful laugh escaped his lips as tears whelmed up in his eyes.



    I need you, I need you so bad that it hurts.



    He had tried his best to live rightfully so that she would be proud of him, so that one day maybe, he would be able to bury his bloody past.

    Why was it so hard stopping being the killer he had been raised to be?



    How is it that loving you makes me forget everything that I am and despised?



    Mina?” shyly asked Myungsoo, pouting after one of their fight as Mina focused on her sketchbook, visibly annoyed.

    ...Who are you? Do I know you o.l.d. m.a.n.?”



    A frown appeared on his handsome face whose cheek was still red by how hard she had pinched him earlier.

    Mina was now eighteen and Myungsoo had taken a weird interest in picking fights with her for the most ridiculous reasons.

    Teasing her about her fashion choices, annoying her by hiding her favorite books and teasing her about how, now that she was eighteen, tried to act like an adult.



    ...Old man??? I'm just twenty-one!!!”

    I can already see your wrinkles from here.” commented Mina, drawing invisible frowns with her pen in the air.



    Myungsoo sighed, touching his forehead, maybe calling her a “baby” hadn't been his best strategy to date.

    Why was she so angry that day out of all the other ones?



    Hey...Are you going to be mad at me for a long time?”asked the guard, eyeing her as she sat there gracefully as always. “Should I just leave for today?

    ...Why are you always making fun of me? Do I annoy you...?



    Annoying? No ,Myungsoo only hated it when she buried herself in books.

    They used to do everything together but not after that one special day when she had announced that she was over playing games with him and desired to focus more on her studies.

    What was wrong with games?

    And anyway, he was a good teacher, why did she need these damn books to begin with?



    Because it is fun...?



    A hurt look flashed in her eyes.



    ...Am I still just a fifteen years old girl in your eyes?”

    Of course! You are so small compared to me and look at your cheeks!” laughed Myungsoo before noticing the small tears whelming in her eyes.



    His heart stopped.

    Why was she crying? What did he say?



    Mina? Hey what's wrong?” asked the guard rushing to her side as she hided her face behind her arms. “I will stop teasing you so don't cry ok..?

    Why are you always so mean with me when you were so kind with the girl in the garden last time?

    Which girl..?”

    ...The one with the pretty smile and gray eyes.” whispered Mina. “The one who was holding your arm.



    A sigh escaped Myungsoo's lips, so she had seen them together.



    She...It was a meeting organized by our families. Why?



    Mina's voice grew even smaller.



    ...Do you like her? Are you going to marry her?



    Myungsoo scratched his head not understanding why all of this was important or relevant to the situation in any way.



    Maybe...?If everything goes well? She is beautiful and kind I guess?



    Myungsoo didn't really pay attention to women and could only compare them to Mina as he spent so much time with her. Usually their hair weren't as glossy as hers, their skin not as smooth, their lips not as red and well-shaped as hers, their eyes not as beautiful as hers, their smile pale in comparison to hers...

    He also didn't have as much fun with them as he did with her.

    She played chess better than them, she had better conversation than them and listened to him in a way they never did as they were always focused more on his face than on his words.

    She was better than them in every way, she was his best friend after all, right?



    ..Lucky you, then.”simply said Mina looking up at him still teary eyed and heart broken.

    Are you jealous because I may get married before you?” asked the man, reaching to wipe her tears.



    Mina slapped his hand away, biting down on her lip.



    ...Why don't you understand?

    Understand what? That you are being an annoying brat and by not telling me what's wrong?”inquired a now angry Myungsoo.



    Mina stood up, looking at him even more hurt than before.



    ...Then leave. Leave and go play around with other girls, it's better than babysitting right?”

    Why do you phrase things like this??? What's happening to you these days??”

    I want you to stop treating me like a child...!! I want you to see me just you how you see these other girls. Not as a brat or a toy to tease...!”



    Myungsoo stopped to watch her.

    The young man was at loss for words.

    What was that?

    What was that joy he slowly felt creeping inside of him?

    It couldn't be...



    Why should I see you any other way...”



    Myungsoo had never considered the idea, or hadn't he?

    She never left his mind from dusk to dawn , even at nigh during the most unholy hours it was her and only her.

    It was her that occupied his head when he enjoyed life's nicest things, when he ate a good meal, when he wanted a shoulder to rest on.

    It was her that had been on his mind every time he had been to the brothels, her lips he had hoped to kiss every time he kissed the girls, her skin he wanted to touch, her he wanted to have.



    ...You probably won't mind if I ever marry another. You may even be glad.”



    Why had he been so blind to his own feelings?



    ...No. No please don't.”



    Myungsoo bite down on his bleeding lips, struggling to focus on his sight as he walked to the next hall, blood still flowing from his wound.



    Just wait for me.



    -Minhee, Bride's suite, Cheon-



    Minhee had been alone and awake for now a full hour, contemplating the sweet end that would bring the purple vial of poison to her. The maids had stripped her of her every possession except for the small glass container she had hidden into her under garments.



    Funny to think that they forgot the only thing that can truly free me from this place.



    She hated how tight and heavy the traditional wedding dress of Cheon was, she hated its sky blue color that had reigned over her daily life for years, she hated how rough it's silk was against her skin.

    The bride caught a sight of herself in the mirror (the only thing present in the gigantic room) installed before her and loathed the thick snow-white paint that covered her otherwise rosy complexion.

    So there it was, the mask that they always wanted to force upon her.

    She wasn't sad, no she was over all the tears she had spent over the years.

    A small laugh escaped her lips.



    I am done.



    What point was there to life after this? What point was there in living if she was to just become someone's thing, possession?



    My mother left this place a free woman, so will I.



    A bitter-sweet taste filled her mouth as she slowly struggled to undo the vial's small cap.

    Even the most desperate and strong persons trembled before their end, she was no exception.



    I'm sorry Sungyeol.

    Maybe it's better this way, you won't lose me to anybody.



    A strong wind knocked the vial off her hand, spilling its content on the straw mat on which she was sitting.



    No-!”

    You...You STUPID woman!” said a familiar voice , shaking, by the window.



    Minhee looked up to see Sungyeol, standing panting by it.



    ...Sungyeol?How-?”



    The man ran to her, taking her into his embrace before kissing her .

    His lips were hot so hot that the eternal glaciers could have just melted off the mountain's face.

    Minhee wrapped her arms around him, leaning into it as much as she could as tears of relief filled her eyes. His right hand cupped her face as his grip on her hips tightened .



    You stupid- stupid woman- Do you know how much I love you?” said Sungyeol against her lips before kissing her again.



    Minhee could have died of joy right in that instant as his loving eyes met hers, wiping her tears away.

    There he was, there he was with her in the best way possible.



    How could you try leaving me alone in this awful place?!” wondered a still shaken Sungyeol who had heard from his friends that she had been caught fleeing from an arranged wedding. “How could you even think about killing yourself?!”



    Minhee sobbed, burying her face in his neck, relieved to still be able to hold him against her.

    There it was, the scent of spring she loved.



    I..I learned about the wedding and ran as fast as I could to get to you but..They caught me before I even reached the town's entrance.” explained Minhee



    A small laugh escaped his lips.



    Please, never stop.



    ...I told you that you lacked exercise...” joked the man, hugging her.

    And you lack intelligence.” whispered Minhee.

    That's true.” admitted the man, lovingly smiling at her.



    Minhee finally smiled back at him, taking his hand in hers.



    I love you Sungyeol. I always have.”

    ...But the other man-”

    Minhee sighed and kissed him.



    See? You are the biggest idiot this Earth has ever seen Lee Sungyeol.”

    ...Well I am not the one with the clown makeup on.” laughed Sungyeol, wiping the heavy paint off her face with his sleeve. “There, lovely as always.”said the man as he stole her lips once again.



    Minhyun admired the handsome man before her that was now hers.



    ...Let's run away, far from here, far from everything.” whispered the girl, slowly running her hands in his long hair. “Let's free ourselves from this place, from all the chains.”

    I've always been free Minhee, every time I was with you, from the very first time I met you.” smiled Sungyeol pulling her into a soft kiss.





    -Mina, Temple's basement, Hwa-



    Seongwu!” screamed Mina on top of her lungs in the basement's halls that were now starting to fill up with thick smoke.



    She knew who had caused the now fast spreading fire, and even far away from him ,she could feel her twin's pain and grief.

    What happened? Minhyun was never one to lose control.



    Seongwu!!” shouted the girl once again now arriving at the end of the corridor.



    What if he wasn't there? What if he had already been taken away?

    She started panicking again.



    Y..Yes?” answered a voice between coughs, waving a desperate hand in her direction.

    Thanks god!” said Mina, kneeling before the metal bars to see the man who had replied to her calls. “Are you Seongwu? Ong Seongwu?”

    The one and only...” coughed again her brother's other half. “You are...?”



    Mina concentrated and tore the door off its frame with her shadows.

    They had to get out and fast.

    She wasn't sure that the ceilings would last for long.



    ...Well I guess you are Mina.”



    The girl froze before reaching her hand out to him.



    How would you even know..?”



    Seongwu grimaced and grabbed her hand to stand up.



    Well you both have a peculiar way of making grandiose entrances.” said the man before looking closely at her bloodied but still beautiful face, vaguely similar to the one of her twin. “...And also the good looks, definitely.”



    A small smile appeared on the girl's lips, remembering how Minhyun had often described his boyfriend's peculiar personality to her.



    You're not so bad yourself.” commented Mina.

    Believe it or not but I'm even more handsome without the thick layer of ash on my skin” added Seongwu as they both left the corridor towards the stairs now engulfed in flames.



    Crap.



    What's causing the fire?” asked Seongwu. “Why isn't anyone putting it out?”

    Minhyun started it and for why it is still going...”



    Mina stopped , remembering the altar's room and all the corpses she had seen in the hallways.

    She hadn't been the only one on a rampage.



    ...Let's just say that most of the priests and temple's soldiers aren't alive anymore.”

    ...Oh.”simply answered Seongwu ,eyeing the girl next to him. “Do you know what they were going to do to us...?”



    Mina nodded, slowly tugging at her cleavage to show him the still bleeding wounds inflicted to her with the ceremonial knife.

    Seongwu flinched a little and couldn't help but feel lucky.

    It was indeed horrible but Mina was a Holder, a powerful one at that.

    Seongwu would have already been dead if he had been in her stead.



    ....I see, I'm sorry.” understood the man. “So...What do we do now? Shouldn't we look for Minhyun?”



    Mina sat on a nearby chest for an instant, trying to calm down and think.

    She had been frantically looking for her brother's boyfriend , trying to distance herself from what had just happened to her without taking even a second to rest.



    Don't think about it, you are ok now.

    Seongwu is fine.

    Minhyun is probably safe and Myung-



    Mina froze as his name popped up into her mind.



    What of him?

    Had he even tried looking for her? Had he fled the Temple?



    Mina...?”



    She sighed.



    Forget him already.



    Yes...Sorry.”



    Mina slowly moved her joints, she could still fill the strain that her using her powers for the first time in a while had taken on her, she wasn't sure that she would be able to look for Minhyun with Seongwu if she was to be attacked again.

    She had to make a decision.



    Alright..” exhaled Mina before standing up again. “Minhyun told me that there's a tunnel leading to outside the walls in the basement, you just have to go a little further past your cell, pass the first door you see and go right until you see the light . Go first and wait, I'll bring Minhyun there.”



    Seongwu hesitated, could he really let her go alone? Especially in the state she was in?



    Are you sure...?” asked the man. “Will you be alright?”

    Don't worry. I'll be fine. I promise.” said Mina before running off up the stairs, jumping through the fire as the nearby shadows swallowed the flames menacing to harm her.



    Mina ran, following her brother's pain that only she could feel.

    The once cold Temple that was usually so poorly lit now shined in the midst of the blaze that devoured everything in its path.

    Mina could feel the intense temperature rise as she got closer to Minhyun who she discovered to be standing in the middle of their parents' room, alone.

    His eyes were empty even as tears fell from them.

    She reached a hand towards him only to have her fingertips burned.



    Minhyun!” called out Mina, protecting herself as best she could from his flames that circled him like strong winds.

    ...Mina....?” replied her twin, seemingly coming back to his senses and immediately eyeing his surroundings. “What happened..? How-”



    Mina took advantage of his surprise to use her power and absorb a big part of the room's fire.



    I...I heard that you were taken away to be sacrificed- S..Something about blood -” enumerated Minhyun, panicking and barely breathing as his migraine came back.



    The young woman ran to him and took his shaking body into her arms.



    A..Are you hurt?”

    It's alright- I'm alright ok?” reassured Mina . “Everything will be alright, so breath in, slowly.”



    Minhyun listened ,closed his eyes and opened them only to see two carbonized shapes that weirdly looked like human bodies behind her.



    A flash of her mother's face melting into the fire rose in his head.



    ...No...What have I done?”



    Mina turned around to check what her brother's reaction was about and immediately realized what had happened as she spotted the remains of who she guessed to be her parents.



    So that was your end.



    She felt nothing, no sadness, no wrath, nothing.

    Nothing but concern for her twin that seemed about to crumble down.



    ..T..They told me that Seongwu's dead...And then I don't...What happened...?They..How can he- How can Seongwu?”

    He isn't dead, he is well and alive alright? I just saw him, he is waiting for you beyond the walls.” explained Mina, slowly and calmly caressing his cheek.



    It pained her to see her always smiling brother this way, he also was a victim of this city.

    Maybe even more than her for he had believed them all, for he had been betrayed by the whole temple he was bound to inherit and his own parents.

    He deserved better, they all did.

    His breathing calmed down and in his eyes she could see that parts of the usual Minhyun were mending back together.



    Really..? He isn't..?”

    No, he is well and alive. He even joked about how good looking he is.” told the young girl.



    A small hopeful smile.



    ...That's my Seongwu.”



    There he is.

    This is the Minhyun that I know.



    How can we get out?”asked the young man, suddenly remembering that soon the whole army would arrive to stop them.

    Just follow me.”said Mina, taking his hand into hers.



    Mina left without ever looking back at the ashes that was now her mother.



    If there is an after world, look and never rest peacefully knowing that you were killed by the son you cherished and abandoned by the daughter you wished was never born.



    Bricks were falling, linen curtains were burning as they quickly walked through a true hell on earth.

    They could die, crushed to death at any moment but even then...Even still...



    ...Where is he?



    Mina bite down on her cheek.

    No.

    She had to stop thinking about him.



    Are you safe?



    Mina froze, seeing a familiar figure, limping and leaning against a wall.



    So you hadn't left.



    Mina...?” called out Myungsoo, in a daze.



    His usually smiling eyes were half closed and searched for her face,his beautiful onyx hair were drenched in his sweat and his leg was bleeding.

    What had happened to him?



    Why?



    A pain went through her heart as she used all of her will power not to rush to his help.



    Why do I still care for you?

    After everything?



    She hated the fact that seeing him hurt was even more painful than the symbol carved into her skin that throbbed in pain the more she looked at him.

    What was greater?

    Her wrath? Her pain? Or her love for him that still hadn't left her chest?



    Myungsoo-” noticed Minhyun, ready to run to his help only to be stopped by his sister's hand.

    Don't.”simply said Mina.



    -Myungsoo, Temple, Hwa-



    Minhyun had left the both of them at her demand, as she insisted on being left alone with Myungsoo as her twin tried to help the guard.



    She is there, breathing and alive.



    The young man limped to her.



    Is this blood? Is it hers?

    Oh god is she hurt?



    He pulled her in an embrace.

    He felt her flinch, hesitating.



    You're safe....I'm so-” started the bodyguard before violently being pushed against the nearest wall, immobilized by his own shadow.

    Stop it!”

    Mina-”



    Myungsoo didn't really know what to make of her gaze as dark shapes danced around her.



    What is this..? Is it wrath? Sadness?



    Did you know?”asked the girl he had loved for years as tears filled her eyes.

    What?-” answered Myungsoo confused and struggling to move.



    What does she mean?



    Did you know about the sacrifices?” asked Mina, precising her question and now trembling.



    Then the hard and painful truth dawned on him.



    It isn't wrath or sadness.

    It is a look of betrayal.



    Myungsoo would have rather just died on the spot.



    Does she think that I knew something about all of this? How could she..?



    No...! How could you even think that? Do you really think that I could do that to you..?”



    Tears started falling from her eyes.

    Myungsoo's heart broke into pieces.



    Is that how everything end?

    He hadn't even told her how he felt yet.



    I don't know. I don't know anymore.”

    Believe me...Believe me when I tell you that I didn't.”



    Mina slowly walked up to him, crying and releasing him before caressing his cheek with her hand.

    Her touch was soft but awfully felt like a goodbye.



    Don't.



    I did. I believed every one of your promises. I believed you when you said that you would protect me until the very end but you weren't there Myungsoo.”



    His eyes landed on the scarlet wound carved on her bleeding chest.

    Understanding that even though she was breathing, he still had been too late.

    That she had just pushed her limits in despair to make it out and that he had probably lost her in that very moment.



    ..I'm sorry...I'm so sorry.” whispered Myungsoo, taking her hand into his.

    ...I'll take you with us for Minhyun's sake because you are like an older brother to him but that's it.”



    No words could explain how he felt, how much he just wanted to die rather than hearing her next words.



    You will no longer be a part of my life, there's nothing bounding us together anymore.”



    Mina let go of his hand, her eyes filled with pain as she helped him walked to the tunnel.

    It had to be a nightmare.



    It has to be it
















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  •  

    Chapter IV: Annihilation

     

    -Woohyun, Small Plains-



    Woohyun had clearly underestimated the girl's weight and overestimated how much strength he had left. His bloody shoulder was still immobilized by the thick metallic plate that was deeply anchored into his flesh, making it harder for him to carry the pretty stranger who still hadn't woken up from her deep sleep.

    Woohyun contemplated just leaving her somewhere, sheltered with a little food and water but changed his mind seeing how her hand still hadn't let go of his (and thinking about how his mother would have killed him for leaving someone in need if she still were alive).



    I can't believe how you can be this heavy when you are this small-” almost growled the loner.



    Woohyun's steps were accompanied by the light and regular sound of her exhausted breathing, so ever weak that he was worried it would stop at some point.

    It was a calm and soothing melody that he wasn't used too but had grown to like over the two days long journey. He hadn't traveled or been with another human being in years and both felt uncomfortable and weirdly happy to have her as company (even if he sometimes felt like he was carrying a really heavy and grumpy potato bag).



    You better be thankful later..!” let out the exhausted loner as he sat down next to a small and clear stream where he started refreshing his neck that was covered with cold sweat beads that disappeared into his cleaved top.



    Woohyun slowly laid the girl in the dewy ochre grass blades, carefully cleaning the blood off her face with his hand, scared to hurt her more than she already was.

    The young man didn't really know how to act with girls (or really anyone to be honest), they were as mysterious to him as mythological creatures, and he already feared having to talk with her on her waking.

    His mysterious companion flinched when his hands reached her collarbones that were severely bruised. They were probably broken.

    Woohyun grimaced and hoped that she was a Holder like him as their wounds healed faster than regular humans (and also because his healing methods were more than underdeveloped).



    Someone this pretty shouldn't suffer.



    You know...I've had my lot of broken bones too, it can be annoying but with some time....”



    He paused, remembering the empty bottles that had once covered the floor of his temporary house.



    ...and lots of alcohol to soothe the pain ,you just get over it.” said the man as he carefully wrapped a long piece of cloth that he had torn off his coat to fix her shoulder in place. “ Life has been hard for both of us it seems...”



    He sighed and forced a smile on his lips.



    ..But I'm fine. I'm fine.”



    Woohyun was used to talking to himself, maybe too much and to an unhealthy degree.

    It had been a way for him to cope with the constant loneliness that accompanied him everywhere he went. He would talk to the trees, rivers and animals out of habit to fill the deafening silence he was always surrounded by.

    Woohyun liked to think that a little madness was good for the spirit.



    I wonder if you can hear me..I wonder if you know that you are not alone in that meadow's mud anymore.” whispered Woohyun as he slowly combed her hair with his fingers while her head rested on his lap.



    He could tell that they would be gorgeous once the dirt gone.

    Woohyun took one of his hair clip off and gently put it into her hair to better see her face before poking her soft cheek.



    Soft but cold



    ....Maybe it's great that you are asleep, you don't have to deal with my poor company.” whispered the man, cupping her cheeks to warm her up even a little just as his mother did for him when he was a child.

    Woohyun started humming his favorite childhood lullaby to the girl hoping to at least help her have good dreams to forget the pain.

    He remembered too well all the times he had almost lost his life and how he had wished for someone to sing to him so that he could forget the freezing rain and the blood pouring from his wounds.

    He remembered too well what it felt like to want to die to just avoid the pain.



    ...I'm sorry that something happened to you. I truly do. I'm sure that you deserve better.” sighed Woohyun.



    The young man laid down, using his arms as a pillow behind his head, staring at the cloudy sky.



    ...You may wonder how I ended up like this...or not, whatever.” slightly laughed Woohyun. “ To be honest I don't really know myself, I just focused on my survival for years and now here I am, talking to a girl whose name is still unknown to me.”



    Woohyun rolled over to see her.



    Who are you? Where are you from? What's your name? How old are you...?” asked the loner, stretching his sore muscles. “Just wake up please, I want to talk to you.”



    Woohyun heard dry twigs crack and discretely sprang himself up on his elbows, looking at his surroundings through the high grasses before noticing a small troop of men.

    The young man quickly saw the human skulls hanging from their belt and swore under his breath.



    Fuck.

    Traffickers.



    Traffickers were the worst inhabitants of the mostly unpopulated northern lands and almost made the Raiders look like angels in comparison.



    Well no Raiders aren't angels, they still threw me in a lake to drown.



    Raiders were just scavengers that looked for some gold pieces in their victims' belonging when, on the other hand, the Traffickers killed and hunted them.

    These men would chase and capture any lost person ,selling them as slaves to other cities to be either used as labor, sacrifices and sometimes even to be eaten.

    A hundred years after the Doom, Holders discovered that the consumption of other human beings (but mostly persons from their own kind) brought them strength and healed their sicknesses.

    A fact that had been widely hidden by the various temples in an attempt to avoid acts of cannibalism in the numerous cities while some members of the nobility and wild men secretly enjoyed these macabre practices for their own gain.



    Fuck, they are getting closer.



    Woohyun tried assessing the situation, five men against one was more than an unfair fight even if it didn't really matter in the end.

    The young man laid back down on the grass and looked at the girl next to him.

    He couldn't just run ,not with her on his back.



    Just leave her. She is nothing but a burden anyway.



    He was fine alone after all right? He had always lived this way.

    He would just go back to his tree house, change clothes, eat a rabbit or something and go to sleep as if he had never seen her.



    Yes let's do that.



    Woohyun watched her slowly breath as tears rolled down from her closed eyes.



    ...That's not fair.

    That's so fucking unfair.



    How could he ever leave her when she was crying? How could he when once again her hand slowly reached out for him?



    Alright, you win.



    ...You owe me.” whispered the man under his breath, covering her with the outer layer of his clothes he had taken off, ready to fight.



    It wasn't like he had a lot to lose anyway, but her...



    She must have someone waiting for her to come home. She must have someone she loves.



    Woohyun buried his hand in the soil, closing his eyes, praying to feel some metal nearby and found a huge deposit just under their feet.

    Woohyun was lucky that the old civilization liked to use iron rods in their buildings that had been, with time, covered by dirt mounts.

    They made for an amazing power source.

    The loner stood up, glancing once more at the girl whose drowsy eyes were now slightly opened.

    He smiled seeing the blue of them that reminded him of the coasts not far from his old and now gone hometown before walking towards the hunters.



    There.” said a scout, spotting the man walking towards them.

    I'm not here to fight.” declared Woohyun holding his hands up in the air as a sign of peace. “Just go your way and I'll go mine.”

    You know who we are, don't you?” asked the leader, taking his worn knife out of his pocket.



    Woohyun reached his hand out ,pulled the blade from his grasp using his powers and grabbed it to show them he was far from weak even in his bloodied and dirty state.



    I do but trust me, it is better for you to just go when I am letting you.”

    Why? We'll have a good price for you head. Enough to feed us for the next two months.”



    What? Only two months? I'm worth more than that!



    Woohyun carefully eyed each of them, none was an Elemental. They probably were Physical Holders, persons that had powers based on their physical abilities such as strength, speed and healing.

    That was going to be easy.



    The first man dashed towards him at a high speed .

    The loner barely managed avoiding him before being struck by the bone wrecking punch of the second one.



    Fuck.



    Woohyun rolled on the ground and coughed up blood as his body slammed against a rock.

    A moan escaped his lips before concentrating on the ground's metal.



    Come on!



    I don't want to kill you!” pleaded Woohyun grabbing his ribs between each cough, spitting blood.

    You're not one to talk. Just shut up and kindly follow us.”



    Woohyun bite down on his lips.

    He couldn't use too much of his power or the metal would continue spreading on his body.

    Pushing his limits was more than risky, he could turn into an iron statue before even knowing it.



    Who should I first stop?

    The fast one or the strong one? Or the others?



    One of the man looked around and shouted.



    Hey there's someone in the grass behind him too!”



    Shit.



    Woohyun tried standing up but struggled as he felt the broken piece of rib poke at his lungs and nervously watched as one of them approached her.



    Fuck fuck fuck.



    What would happen if they took her?

    What would he do?



    Just leave her! Fight me!” screamed the man, managing to stand by leaning on the rock.



    The pretty stranger had unknowingly broken the infernal circle of loneliness that had been his life.

    He didn't want to be alone, he didn't want to live like this anymore.

    He didn't want others to steal someone from him again.



    She's injured. What should we do with her?”

    Buyers could still use her blood, take her.”

    Hey you shit heads! I'm talking to you!!”



    What was the meaning of his life anyway? Just breathing air and fighting for one's survival each day? What worth was there in that?



    One man knelt beside her , about to touch her.



    He wanted more.

    He wanted to feel alive once again.



    No.

    No fucking way.



    An enormous iron shaft , sharp and irregular ,came out of the ground, and another, and another after that in an ear wrecking metallic screech that made the nearby birds fly out of their trees.

    Woohyun fell on his knees, panting and dizzy.



    Uh?



    Woohyun felt what he thought were rain drops on his skin until he noticed how red and warm they were.

    The young man slowly looked up to the cloudy sun shadowed by giant iron rods and noticed the bodies impaled on them as the metal on his shoulder spread to his arm, blood drops still hitting his face.



    ...Are they...dead?



    Woohyun quickly looked away and limped to the sleeping girl, laying beside her, trying to calm his breathing and jittery body.



    What have I done?

    What now?



    Soon thunder roared and freezing rain fell on top of the two of them.

    Woohyun felt suddenly numb and exhausted.



    It's cold, I hate it.

    I hate it so much.



    ...Hey stranger.” began the young man in a shaky voice, covering his eyes with his forearm. “..Maybe I am not as fine as I thought.”



    He slowly took her hand back into his as some tears fell from his eyes, the first in years.



    ...Maybe I need you even more than you do.”



    A small sob escaped his throat as the small shower turned into a hailstorm.



    Could you please save me?”





    -Minhyun,Palace, Hwa-



    Minhyun was practicing his speech and slowly growing anxious when Myungsoo jumped through his bedroom's window.



    What-”

    Sorry to barge in but something happened. I need to talk to you.” panted Myungsoo, a serious and worried look plastered on his face

    Couldn't you just come through the door?” playfully asked Minhyun as he walked up to him, still happy from his night.

    The whole building is in lock down because of your ceremony, I had no other choice.” said Myungsoo, closing the window after checking if no one had seen him climb up.



    Minhyun had rarely seen his friend this restless, the last time being when Mina had fainted for two whole days after one of her panic attack.

    Myungsoo was almost like an older brother to the heir who had spent his childhood training with him.

    He wanted him to be happy and get everything he desired in life.

    Myungsoo had been the one who taught him how to control his powers and him who had been there to listen to all of his concerns when he had learned that he loved men.

    He was the one who had looked after his sister and was more a family member to him than both of his parents and uncle combined.



    What's going on ?” asked the young man, grabbing his shoulder.



    The man sighed and ran a hand through his hair.



    ...Did you know that Mina was needed for the ceremony?” inquired Myungsoo as he visibly struggled to stay still.

    Well, I heard that she is part of it but I don't really know what her role is. Why?”

    Because armed guards came to take her away and now they are stalking me.”

    Armed guards? But that's against the law?”

    I know! Something's off, they're trying to keep me from seeing her. That has never happened before.”



    Minhyun sat on his bed, crossing his arms, deep in his thoughts.

    Some strange things had been happening for a while in the city, right after the day they had announced the date for his anointment.

    People disappearing, priest rushing through the corridors late at night in secret, how he hadn't been able to see his sister for the past weeks or been allowed to attend the usual rites...



    Was there anything else that you found unusual?”



    Myungsoo was making nervous rounds into the lavish room, almost as if about to explode.



    There was blood in a bowl that they used to mark her.” simply said the man trying to calm down

    We never use blood during rituals.”



    Their ceremonies were centered around the light, candles and fire that represented life and the sun. Nowadays there was never animal or human sacrifices involved.



    I never should have let them take her...” whispered Myungsoo in the middle of a full mental breakdown.

    Myungsoo, was any of this approved by a high ranking priest?” inquired the younger man

    Yes, the High Priest himself, your uncle.”



    Minhyun sat there thinking about all the planning he had done with him for the ceremony.

    There had never been a seat for Mina for the dinner that took place after the event.

    Why would she be absent there if she was a part of the ceremony to begin with?



    Odd.



    You're right. There's definitely a problem.”

    Then that's it. I'll look for her-”

    Wait Wait Wait- Let's go see my parents first instead of just running around with no plan, they must know where she is and will tell us what's going on if I ask them.” said Minhyun as Myungsoo tightened his arms' protections.

    Alright let's go.”



    The two of them ran to his parent's room located deep in the East end of the Palace, passing halls ignoring the clerics' calls but were finally stopped by two guards that stood before them.



    Step aside.” asked Minhyun.

    But-”



    Myungsoo pushed them and was soon followed by his friend who started calling his parents.

    The room was dimly lit and as obscure as he remembered.



    Mother! Father!!”



    The couple who had been relaxing by drinking a cup of tea by the fireplace stood up in a hurry, suspiciously tensed.



    Son what's this? We have taught you better than to just barge into other's room.” coldly said his father.

    Sweetheart you should be getting ready for the ceremony....What are you doing here?”

    Where's Mina?!” shouted Myungsoo now surrounded by small electric bolts.



    Minhyun grabbed his friend's arm, shaking his head.

    Violence wasn't a good way to obtain an answer.



    How dare you scream at us young man? Know your place.” scolded Minhyun's mother as she tried taking her son's hand in hers to separate him from the guard she had never liked.



    Minhyun stepped back.



    Where's my sister and what does uncle plan on doing with her?”



    The mother froze, slowly blinked before looking back at her husband and exchanging a long knowing stare.

    Minhyun had always hated these gazes full of secrets that were never explained.



    Why the weapons and blood? Why all the secrecy?!” screamed a now nervous Minhyun under the gaze of his parents, shocked to see their son in such a state.



    Minhyun had always been the perfect son, student and heir. He had always been obedient to every one of their request and had always smiled even when hurt, partially because he had always been scared of ending up like his twin.

    His mother while kind and nurturing had always stared at her son in awe, only seeing the second coming of the Light Bearer and not the little boy who sought her recognition.



    Mommy? Why am I the only one that can use the Light?” had asked the boy one day as he sat on her lap.

    Because you're a very special little boy.”smiled the beautiful lady,slowly patting his wavy brown hair.

    Then...Would you stop loving me if I ever lost the Light?”



    The caress stopped for an instant that he never forgot even later as a grown adult.



    ...How was your lesson today?



    Minhyun's eyes met his father's who had calmly and coldly been staring at him.



    His father was a mysterious figure even for him.

    He had never shared a close bond with him and had barely relied on him growing up, only seeing him a few times a month at most.



    She'll make you stronger.” simply said his father before being interrupted by his wife.

    Don't -”

    Why? It's time for him to know the truth. You've sheltered him enough.”

    What truth?”

    Mina was spared as a baby to die today during the ceremony. You'll drink her blood and you'll reach a whole new level of power.”



    What?

    Drink her blood?

    What are they saying?



    Myungsoo grabbed the middle-aged man by his throat.



    It's the last time I'm warning you ! Tell me where she is or I'll make your heads blow up whether you are of the sacred family or not!” threatened Myungsoo, surrounded by electricity as thunder growled outside of the palace.



    ...She's in the Temple's basement, next to the Fire.” said the woman, still looking at her son, worried about his silent reaction.



    Myungsoo dropped the old man to the floor and grabbed Minhyun's shoulder who was lost in his thoughts.



    What?

    Mina a sacrifice?

    His sister?

    Why? Why? Why?

    It couldn't be right, right?



    His whole world was crumbling down.

    The image of the lonely little girl staring at him from her window, the memory of her crying in that room of hers, the sound of her talking to herself to fill the silence carved in his mind.



    All of this...All of this just for her to die?

    Where is the justice in that? Where is that so called justice in that?

    She was supposed to be happy after today.



    Are you coming?!We have to hurry up!!!”



    Mina was to be sacrificed and it was all because of him.



    I'm so sorry...I'm so sorry...



    Mommy...Why is Mina locked up?” asked a barely six years old Minhyun, sat in the palace's gardens “It's nice outside, she would like the flowers.

    The mother exchanged a gaze with her brother.

    Well your sister is dangerous. Her room is very nice she doesn't need to be out here with us.” answered the High Priest.



    Minhyun took a red flower into his hands, pouting.



    She'll never go out then?



    The mother took her child into her arms before kissing his cheek, admiring his eyes that shined like gold under the sun light.



    Mina has an important role just like yours, so she also has to stay in her room to make sure that nothing happens to her until then.



    How could he have been so blind to what his family had planned? All the signs had been there from the very begin.



    ..I..Just go ahead.”

    ... Stay with them, I'll go look for her” sighed Myungsoo before disappearing in the hallway as fast as a thunder bolt.



    Minhyun was left with his parents who were too silent for his comfort.

    Everything made sense to him now.



    ...How could you?” asked the young man, finally able to talk as his lower lip shook in rage “How could you do this to your own child? Your only daughter?”

    Minhyun-” called out his mother, trying to take his hand, wanting to explain herself.



    The betrayed son stepped back, pushing away the hand that had ruined his sister's life while caring for him.

    He felt sick to the core.



    Don't touch me!!! Don't you dare!!!”

    Minhyun I beg you- Let us explain-”



    A scoff escaped his lips.

    The lack of shame in them was baffling.



    How could you ever justify this??? How could you ever justify keeping her alive only to kill her later???”

    It was all for you, to make you stronger son.” said his father, frowning.

    Sometimes sacrifices have to be made sweetheart..You'll understand one day.”

    No I won't.”



    Minhyun's gaze now landed on the sky that was slowly lighting up on the sleeping city through their room's window.



    ...I don't want any part of this if it means sacrificing others, especially loved ones. Have it for yourselves.”

    It's too late. Where do you think the missing persons went? They were burned for your anointment, will you let their death mean nothing?”

    ...I'm done listening to you and all your lies and manipulation.”



    Slow flames started burning the wooden floor, spreading to the walls and ceiling in the span of a second.



    To hell with it all.



    Minhyun's head was hurting him so much that he wanted to break it open with a hammer if possible.

    His mouth was dry and his whole body just felt like a furnace.



    I'm suffocating, it's too hot.



    He had never asked for any of this, the only thing he had ever wanted was to be free with his friend, sister and love far .

    Soon his hands started glowing as bright as the sun.

    He wanted to clean the bloody walls with his fire.

    He wanted everything to turn into ashes.



    Stop it! You're going to destroy everything!!!” screamed his father before being circled by flames.

    Calm down-” pleaded the woman he used to call mother.



    Always the same words.

    They always told him to be calm and perfect.

    He was sick of it.



    I won't.” whispered Minhyun watching the family paintings burn down.



    There was not even one with her in it.



    You're not my family anymore, no, you never were. The true one that I should have followed from the start is waiting for me. I'm leaving as soon as this wretched palace and temple are nothing but ashes.”

    ...Seongwu's dead.” lied his desperate father in hope that his son would abandon his foolish dreams if he thought that nothing awaited him outside of these walls.



    ...What?”



    How do they know him?

    How do they know his name?

    Wait..Wait-

    Why are they saying that he is dead when I was with him only a few hours ago?



    Something's are not meant to be. We helped you get rid of a burden that you were too young to notice. You'll thank us later.” continued the father



    No.

    Not Seongwu.

    Not him, not him.



    The light in his hands kept on getting brighter, burning even the air around of them.

    Soon his eyes flared up as much as his palms as his tears evaporated into nothing.

    There was no use living for him if he wasn't with his soulmate.

    The world didn't deserve to live if he wasn't there.

    Nothing did.



    -Mina, Temple,Hwa-



    The priests whose faces were covered by masks, were singing in an old language that Mina couldn't understand, sometimes dancing before drawing symbols with blood on her burning naked skin that had been rubbed with peppermint oil.

    They had stripped the young woman of her clothes and had thrown her in a boiling hot white milky bath as she struggled to free herself.

    She had been drugged and was barely able to breath because of the strong myrrh that corrupted the small room's air, she was so dizzy that she was barely able to tell how many of them there was.



    Where am I...?



    Please...Let me go-” moaned Mina noticing that she was tied up.



    Mina tried moving as the clerics carried her to the altar after having dressed her in a porcelain white silk dress .



    Bring the boy next.” said a cleric in the back at one of his companion.

    Who?”

    Seongwu. The heir's..friend.”

    Alright.”



    What? Why was Seongwu here?

    And Minhyun?



    Mina looked around and soon recognized the huge carved wall facade of the inner Temple she had once visited.



    Why was she here?



    Mina, you will come back here one day.” had told the mother to the five years old child who had been carefully staring at the large golden triangle sculpted before the altar.

    The strange figure was only lighted by her mother's fire in an otherwise night dark room.

    Why mommy?”asked Mina in a small voice, spotting a weird red brownish stain on the stone that ran all the way down to her feet.



    She didn't like this place, there was something scary about it.



    ...To help your brother fulfill his role.” explained the mother, kneeling in front of her

    Minmin will also come then?”



    A bitter and almost sad look flashed upon the woman's face.



    No he won't.”

    And you?”

    ...I won't be there either. But when the time comes, be a good girl and listen to the priests alright?”



    Mina smiled, it was the very first time she spent some time alone with her mother during daytime (be it in a basement), a time usually reserved for Minhyun.

    It was also the first time she had set foot outside of her room.

    Before then, her mother had only secretly visited her at night, making sure that the child she had birthed only to die was still there and well even if it was only for a while.



    Yes I will.” answered the child, eager to please her mother before reaching for her hand.



    The woman looked down on the small hand and small fingers.

    She couldn't allow herself to get attached to her.



    ...Don't touch me.”

    Mommy?



    The woman stood up and quickly turned her back before getting out of the room.

    Leaving the small teary child in pure darkness who didn't even dare cry, scared that if she did she would forever be left alone there.



    So that's what they meant by role.



    Mina's jaw stiffened when she felt the thick ropes tying her dig deeper into her raw and irritated flesh.

    Tears started whelming in her eyes just like that time when she was but a child.



    ...So that's really all I was to them? Not only a monster but also a sacrificial lamb?



    Everything was clearer now.

    The distance her parents had set between them and her,it suddenly made sense.

    Why bother loving a child that would just die in the upcoming future anyway?

    Why bother loving something so disposable ?

    The loud and deep drumming began.



    Myungsoo...” called out Mina whose mind couldn't help but think about the tall dark-haired man.



    Myungsoo...Where is Myungsoo?

    Does he know what's going to happen to me?



    Her guard wasn't there.

    He who always stuck by her side.



    ...Did you also know Myungsoo? Is that why you refused to stop them?

    Did you also know that this is my end?



    Myungsoo...Help me please.”begged the young girl between sobs



    Her tears of betrayal, pain and sorrow fell from her eyes onto the blood stained rock.

    Why was he so late?



    I don't want to believe it.



    A man approached her with a long golden knife in his hand as fear slowly crept up in her stomach.



    He was going to come right? He had to save her.

    He always did.

    He did every single time.



    The priest undid the knot that closed her cleavage and ran the cold blade down from her neck to her heart, brushing the tip of it against her skin.



    He is going to barge in at the last moment, isn't he? Calling out my name, taking me into his arms and telling me that this nightmare is over....

    He will come.



    She couldn't die.

    She had to live to see the world, she had to live to see Minhyun truly happy.

    She had to live to save Seongwu , a man she had never met but that had brought so much joy into her twin's life.

    She still hadn't told Myungsoo about how much she loved him. How could she go first and abandon him?

    She couldn't die.

    Not yet.



    Please come, please...



    She remembered the way Myungsoo had looked away a few hours ago when she had begged him to not let go of her.

    She remembered how he had ignored her pleas and how he hadn't even tried to stop them.

    A realization and a pain sharper than the knife slowly digging into her flesh pierced her heart .

    A pain so intense that her whole mind turned black.

    He wasn't coming, he had already abandoned her.

    He had been the first one to do so.



    You're the one that destroyed me.



    High and long unshaped shadows ,as deprived of light as the universe's black holes, appeared out of the darkness of the room, grabbing the fleeing priests.

    Mina watched as they silently screamed, as their blood and organs spilled on the stone where hundreds, thousands of innocents had died before that day.

    There was no smell of blood, there was no sound as they died.

    All had disappeared into the infinite black voids that soon vanished back from where they had come from.

    Mina stood up, now free of her links and wiped the blood slowly flowing from her nose, looking up at the crumbling ceiling.



    P...Please...”begged a now legless cleric, slowly dying on the ground among what remained of his comrades and superiors.



    Mina looked at the man frowning and wiping away her now empty tears.

    She felt nothing but emptiness and pain.

    It was suffocating.



    ...No.”

    Please...I..I beg you...” said the man once more as his blood reached the girl's bare feet.

    Remember how I and many others before me begged. Remember how you ignored each one of them as they died.”

    I'm..I'm sorry...”

    Apologies don't erase what you did. Apologies don't bring back what is lost.” replied the woman, heading for the exit.



    Mina looked down at Myungsoo's necklace hanging from her bruised neck and slowly took it into her hand.

    The young woman ripped it from her neck and threw it into the nearest fire.

    She silently watched the string burn to ashes and the stone disappear between the glowing coals before running away into the hallways, she had to find Seongwu and Minhyun.


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