Chapter 103: Because of Fear (4)
Ru Hiana woke up from her sleep, and had trouble falling asleep again. While lying on the bed, she looked around the room and felt a bit overwhelmed. It seemed just yesterday that she had slept out in the open, near where the statue of Shahnaz was. But the last couple of days, she was able to sleep where she wanted and walk freely around the fortress. The memories of her being tormented by hunger or hesitating to even take a couple of steps outside seemed like a dream. Just because of a single person’s return, it seemed everything had changed.
Although she felt a sense of her own incompetence as a hero, Ru Hiana felt more joyful than anything else; this was partly because she had the utmost rosy view of Chi-Woo. But soon, these feelings made way for an anxiety that she couldn’t quite put into words.
Questions like ‘What if it was all a dream?’ and ‘What if he disappeared again?’ rang through her mind. After rolling around this way and that, she abruptly sat up.
“I can’t stand it anymore,” she murmured before getting off the bed and going outside.
What she was planning to do wasn’t illegal trespa.s.sing at all. She was doing this simply out of concern for the well-being of a great hero whom she admired. She would just check to see if Chi-Woo was sleeping peacefully and return. Stealthily, Ru Hiana trespa.s.sed into Chi-Woo’s house, but soon burst out in distress. No matter how thoroughly she searched, she couldn’t find Chi-Woo anywhere.
‘Did he go to the bathroom? But isn’t he taking too long? There’s no way it will take so long unless he has constipation? No, he could’ve gone for a morning run…or is that not it?’ All kinds of thoughts rushed to her head, and as more time pa.s.sed, she became more worried. Click, click. She bit her fingernails and looked around worriedly. Even if she went out to search for him, she couldn’t search the whole fortress by herself. In the end, she looked around nearby and hurriedly returned to wake Ru Amuh from his deep slumber.
“Ru Hiana? What is it? It’s still dark…what?”
One of Ru Hiana’s greatest perks was her ability to escalate nothing into the greatest emergency. Thus, Ru Amuh asked, “Calm down first. What if he just went to see the injured?”
“No, I already checked that place, and he wasn’t there.”
“Really? Then, maybe he had some personal matters to attend to…”
“At this time, really? And gone for this long? For what?”
Now that Ru Amuh thought about it, although it had been long since the moon rose, there was still a lot of time before the dawn would break. Ru Amuh finally began to think something was a bit strange and got up.
“Ru Hiana, you search from the inside. I will go outside to look for him.”
Thus, the pair went to find Chi-Woo. Ru Amuh didn’t act like he was suffering from PTSD like Ru Hiana, but inside, he had his doubts. It was truly strange that Chi-Woo had left his room for so long. If Chi-Woo really had something important to do, what was the reason why he went outside of his house by himself? As Ru Amuh debated with himself, he quickly pa.s.sed the three castle walls and was about to exit the entrance when he stopped. He felt not one but two unfamiliar presences with his synesthesia. Following his senses, Ru Amuh looked up to the castle walls.
* * *
“Please give me some time to think,” Chi-Woo said after some thought.
“Time to think?”
“I want to hear other people’s opinions.”
“Why?” the witch asked. “I didn’t come to ask about your entire group’s opinions,” the witch said while motioning to Chi-Woo beside her and added, “I came to ask what you think.”
“But I am an individual inside a group,” Chi-Woo replied. He was telling her that there was no guarantee that everyone would simply follow what he said, and she shouldn’t make such a distinction.
“How long? I can’t wait too long.” The witch spoke like there was no room for argument.
“Hm—Maybe about three or four days?”
Chi-Woo stared at the witch. Hearing that she couldn’t wait long, he had given her a shorter time frame than the one he had in mind, but his suggestion got shot down right away.
“One day. I can’t wait longer than that.”
“Yes, tomorrow. When the moon reaches its highest point in the night sky, let’s meet again here.”
Chi-Woo groaned softly. What the witch told him couldn’t be taken lightly. They were serious matters to consider since it wasn’t just about protecting the fortress, but hunting mutated mutants outside. Even though they didn’t have many options in their current situation, he didn’t want to make any hasty decisions. He wanted to ask several people for their opinions and ensure he had some time to sit on his decision; after all, it was one that would place not only his life but everyone’s life inside the fortress at risk. And of course, he had another goal, and to materialize it, he certainly needed more time.
“You are very firm about the time I have.” In some ways, it was a surprise. The witch had seemed to respect his wishes until now, but in this regard, she insisted and relayed the conditions one-sidedly.
“…I told you. I wasn’t supposed to be here in the first place.” Still she had risked coming to this fortress. Seeing Chi-Woo’s value, she thought she could use him to her advantage and make things better for her empire.
“I want to give you more time… But three or four days is too dangerous. Even two days…is going to be difficult.” The witch added apologetically. “One day. Just one,” the witch emphasized as if she was going above herself to just give him this extra time.
“I guess it can’t be helped.” Chi-Woo raised both hands like he was lifting a white flag. Since it didn’t seem like pleading would change anything, he got to his feet and turned to her.
“Thank you.” The witch smiled slightly, interpreting Chi-Woo’s sigh as agreement. She was about to get up too when she said, “Onorables Evelyn.”
“That’s my old name.”
“I just wanted to tell you my old name since you saw my appearance from the time I was alive.”
“Onorables Evelyn… That’s a unique name.” Chi-Woo stroked his chin.
“If it’s fine with you, can you tell me your name?”
“Yes, well.” Chi-Woo clutched his head. He wasn’t stupid. He knew the witch revealed her name first because she wanted to know his.
“My name is Choi—.” He was about to give his name without any thought when—
“Teacher!” One person jumped over the castle walls. Chi-Woo’s eyes turned wide seeing the blonde young man.
“Mr. Ru Amuh?”
“Here you are, sir.”
“How did you…”
“Ru Hiana told me you disappeared, so I was looking for you. But…”
Ru Amuh’s eyes darted toward the witch sitting on the castle stones. He saw her s.h.i.+ning red pupils and astounding beauty that would make anyone widen their eyes when they saw her. Yet, Ru Amuh instantly recollected his mind and narrowed his eyes. It was because although her appearance was different, she exuded the same energy as the skeleton on the pole.
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“You are…” The witch responded similarly. Her eyes slightly widened seeing Ru Amuh, but then she turned back to Chi-Woo without showing any more interest in the newcomer. Witches tended to be like that. For things they thought had value or had an interest in, they spared no time nor anything else; for things that didn’t interest her, on the other hand, she considered thinking about them for even one second wasteful.
“I’m very disappointed. I thought we would be able to reach an agreement, but I didn’t know that you were such a rude person who can’t follow even the most basic manners,” Chi-Woo said coldly and turned around. “There’s no need for you to wait for me tomorrow.”
“I can’t trust such a rude person. I’ll pretend I haven’t heard anything today. Please excuse me.” With that, Chi-Woo slowly walked away.
“W-wait!” Not knowing what to do, the witch reflexively called out to Chi-Woo. “Two days!”
“I’ll wait one more day.” One day had become two. Chi-Woo hid his pleased smile, but he didn’t say anything and continued walking.
“I’ll be waiting. You’ll come, right? I’ll be waiting here, okay?”
Chi-Woo turned away from the witch’s fervent cries and descended the fortress’ wall. Ru Amuh, who was confused by the sudden turn of events, decided to follow Chi-Woo for now.
But before he could do so, the witch stopped him, “Hey.” Even though she had no interest in Ru Amuh, she had a favor to ask him. “Can you tell him this for me?”
“Yeah. Tell him I’m very sorry, so he should come here in two days. I sincerely want to apologize to him. And tell him to think of my suggestions in a favorable light.”
“A…suggestion?” Ru Amuh’s eyebrows twitched at this word. The witch did not reply. Before he realized it, she had gotten up and turned around like she was going to leave.
“I also have something I wanted to ask you.” Before the witch left, Ru Amuh quickly continued, “We…met before.”
“When we met last time, what you did wasn’t a suggestion, but a threat and extortion.”
“…But you just used the word ‘suggestion’ to him.”
“That’s right.” The witch readily agreed, and Ru Amuh ground his teeth together.
“May I ask why?” As soon as the question was out of his mouth, Ru Amuh bit his lower lip because even he thought it was childish. The witch slowly turned around, but she didn’t look at Ru Amuh. Her gaze was fixed on the direction Chi-Woo had left in. What was the reason why she had threatened Ru Amuh, but didn’t do the same for Chi-Woo? It was an easy question to answer.
“It’s not that I didn’t want to.” It was a very simple and clear reason. “It’s because I couldn’t.” The witch distinctly remembered the moment when she saw Chi-Woo for the first time.
Among beings that stood on opposing sides of beings like her, Chi-Woo was on the very edge; his very existence was the polar opposite of their existence. In fact, he had proven his powers by destroying the immortal lich, which used to be especially cherished by one of the great bosses of the Demon Empire. Moreover, when she met him again, Chi-Woo had La Bella, one of the top G.o.ds in the true neutral alignment, on his side.
What if she hadn’t turned around and decided to fight him when she first met him? What would have happened? If she had gotten hit by that transcending G.o.dly energy… Just the thought of it gave her chills. She wouldn’t fall to the abyss, but would instead return forever to nothingness with no hope. She could answer Ru Amuh’s question with a single sentence. “Because I’m scared.” With that, Onorables Evelyn disappeared into the darkness like a fog.
Ru Amuh blankly stared at where the witch used to be. [Because I’m scared.]
Her parting words kept ringing inside his mind—until Chi-Woo, who had been waiting for him below, called out to him.
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