Transient Life Ch 1

Chapter One

Change of Fate

Thou art mine always and forever,

for thy fate is mine.

Wrong do not get it,

fate existeth not,

for fate is part of me.

After all, I am the…

In a silent and dark place, there is a small box-like object. It judders, bright light radiating from it. An unpleasant noise keeps repeating itself, like ringing. Someone in the dark wakes up, pissed off by the juddering object. It moves to grab the thing that keeps ringing, turning it off.

She turns the lights on in her room. A young schoolgirl, twelve years old, sits up on her bed. Her hair is long, brown, and messy due to restless sleep. She looks like she’s had rest only for a few hours.

Another school day

With that, she stands up from her bed to prepare for the upcoming school day. She isn’t happy about it, but she doesn’t hate school either. After all, she gets to see her friends daily.

After getting dressed, she opens the door of her room. She doesn’t like the sight that welcomes her. Her home is almost entirely empty. Decorations that remain are packed like the family was about to move—and they are, in fact.

Oh, you’re awake!” Her mother exclaims.

Emily turns to look at her in desperation. “Please, tell me this is a nightmare…”

But her mother shakes her head. After that, Emily looks downcast and walks to the kitchen like an obedient child. Only a table and two chairs remain. There is a sandwich prepared for her on the table with a glass of water. It was made less than half an hour ago. Tableware was packed, so her parents made her day a little easier and prepared breakfast for her before she’d even woken up. She sits down at the table to stare at the sandwich.

She grabs it with both hands, not eating it, but instead, she keeps staring at it, weeping and clenching the sandwich. She hasn’t moved before, and she doesn’t want to leave her home like this. Her friends, her beloved environments, her beloved home, and her somewhat beloved school is here.

The new home will be far from here, and she won’t be able to visit her friends, not unless her parents are willing to let her travel four hundred miles from the new home. Thus the moving pains her even more than their dog’s death two years ago. She doesn’t have any friends where they are moving to, just unknown people she may never befriend. On top of that, Emily’s a person who wants to hold tightly onto whatever she loves, and she seldom likes new things, especially new people. She’s been known as a cold-hearted girl at school to those who have migrated, but not in the sense of bullying, she just never talks to them, ignoring like they weren’t there.

Her mother doesn’t know how to comfort her daughter, she seldom does. Emily is a complicated child, that is what her teachers say about her. She can be emotionally broken, and quickly at that, but if you give her a day, she’ll emerge as a whole new person. The more you make her break in spirit, the stronger she becomes, that’s what her grandfather says. Now that they are moving for the very first time, Emily will be shaken, and as cruel as it may sound, her grandfather waits eagerly to see how Emily emerges out of this one on her own. After all, her grandfather knows all too well that Emily’s parents can’t deal with a broken child; hence she’ll have to swallow the tears on her own accord.

Emily grows furious and throws the sandwich away, imagining that it was her father whom she tosses away, not a sandwich. It was her mother and father who came up with this idea of moving, so demonstrating her wrath to her parents is what she should do, she reasons. Emily stands up and walks hastily towards the front door, not eating anything for breakfast, nor even adding any makeup. She grabs her backpack and steps outside. Every step Emily takes further away from her home makes her feel much better. The words mother, father, and moving, are poisonous to her right now. She makes up her mind to hit anyone who blurts any of those words today at school. No, she doesn’t use violence at school, or at least she hasn’t until this day. She is a kind girl, sometimes even caring. Today is just an exception.

***

It’s still summer and the morning is young. The first light of the day feels warm and welcoming, while the air around shadows feels moist and cold. The air is fresh thanks to the rain last night, but still, Emily ignores all these beautiful and welcoming elements of nature. I’ll lose them all soon enough anyway, so why should I care? With such reasoning, she keeps walking, dark thoughts running wild in her mind.

Emily keeps walking while lost in thoughts. She is doing her best to calm down, for she doesn’t want to show her teary eyes at school. She crosses many roads on the way, almost getting hit by a car due to lack of awareness, but thanks to that dangerous scenario, she manages to hide her anger. It’s a good thing I didn’t add any makeup.

Her school day begins just like always, meeting her friends and so on. Her day starts with math, then history, and finally English. For a moment Emily feels happy at school, but it doesn’t last. Emily’s friends keep reminding her of the fact that her family is moving, and because of that, she almost swings her fist around, but thankfully, she refrains herself from doing that. Instead, Emily gives scary glares at those who remind her. Although it’s the end, she won’t say her goodbyes to her friends, for she still believes there is a chance for her to stay, as desperate as it may seem. When her school day is over, her friends say their goodbyes, but still, Emily won’t say her goodbyes, and that’s what she’ll regret later on. There’s something else ahead other than moving, something that will make her change, and that change will be something her grandfather’s been waiting to witness for all his elderhood.

Emily tries to accept the thought of moving, but moving is just too much for her. She won’t start crying now, but gets angry instead. She directs all the ire to her parents, the source of her cruel fate. They are the reason for moving, and that is a reason good enough to direct her ire to them. Parents? Yeah, they feed you, buy you toys, give you shelter, and so on, but they also cause as much misfortune.

***

When she gets back home, instead of going in, she watches from a distance. She can see a moving van with their family’s car being just behind it. That van makes her anger surface again. After a while, she decides to sneak in from the back door, just to slow down the moving. The moment she gets inside from the back door, quietly sneaking towards her room, but her father notices her as soon as he enters through the front door. Emily steps backward as her father walks towards her, shaking her head like she wouldn’t want any of this cruel reality. She wants to deny it, the very realism. If she could, she’d jump into a fantasy world right this instant, escaping this fate.

No, no, no, no…” Emily repeats as her father walks over to her.

We have to go, and you know that.” Her father says the words that deliver a critical blow to her emotions.

No!” Emily shouts with all her soul.

Emily turns around and starts running towards their neighbor’s backyard, escaping through the back door. When she starts to climb the fence that separates their backyard from their neighbor’s, her father catches her. He carries Emily who’s crying furiously back inside, hoping that the neighbor didn’t see this happen. He is the type who wants to keep his profile as shiny as possible, which may very well be dirtied by odd rumors that occasions like this can produce.

However, the neighbor does see this happen, but she never dares to spread rumors of Emily and her family. After all, she is a person who finds Emily an interesting child, just like her grandfather. Poor Emily

Emily tries to fight for her freedom while being taken away by her father. She flails her fists, kicks and bites, but no matter what she does, she’s eventually brought back inside. No matter, Emily reasons. She extends her arms for the back door, but ultimately, the back door keeps getting further and further away, until they exit the house through the front door.

He carries Emily to their grey car, enduring all the pain she’s causing. Emily keeps fighting back worse than she ever has, as she doesn’t want to give up yet. She hits her father once to his jaw, but thankfully he won’t retaliate. Emily’s mother also walks out of the house and tells the van drivers to follow them as they drive. Then she too, steps into the car and starts it. Soon enough, they leave the yard, and the moving van follows them right behind.

Emily’s watching through the window as her beloved home and environment passes by. She’s silent now, but she is weeping while not showing any aggressive behavior. Memories are flooding her mind. She remembers many things she’d done with her friends, a few bad moments, and several good moments. Soon, they all will be nothing more than memories of her earthly heaven she never thought to leave behind.

She closes her eyes, digging for her phone, and starts clenching it violently to ease her sorrow. Tears drop down onto the phone as she grips it, threatening to break it. Her father tries to take it away while it’s still in one piece, though Emily won’t let him take it no matter what.

In time, Emily calms down slowly, but even after an hour, the darkest things a mere child can harbor drive her thoughts. She feels like she is being thrown into a new world, like a noble sunken to poverty, a similar feeling. That’s how moving feels like to Emily. It’s the ultimate evil.

Suddenly out of nowhere, Emily’s heart almost jumps all the way to her throat as her mother makes a swerve to dodge a stag crossing the road. The way how the stag appeared on the road looked like some paranormal party had thrown that stag in front of the car, though that’s the least of their problems. They crash to the road ditch in the middle of nowhere, dozens of miles from any civilization.

The crash looks horrifying from the van drivers’ point of view. They stop the engine as close to the crash site as they can and call for an ambulance at once. When the ambulance arrives and picks up Emily and her parents, it may very well be too late. They’re still alive, but the injuries look so horrifying that one could mistake them for dead without examining. Emily’s condition looks slightly better than her parents’, but she ain’t well for certain. Even if she survives this, the crash will affect her for rest of her life.

***

Later when they get to a hospital, they take Emily and her family to the intensive care unit. Emily and her parents are all put into different operating rooms. As the doctors begin to save Emily’s life through surgery, she suddenly wakes up, even though she’s been given the drugs to remain unconscious. First, she feels unconscious yet awake, until she realizes what is going on. She starts to panic on the operating table, horrified by the fact that she woke up in the middle of the surgery. She cannot move her body much, but her breathing grows far more intense, and her heart starts racing.

The surgeons try to hold her still, but in the end, the shock of seeing live surgery done on her body makes her go unconscious. At first, her dream is complete darkness and silence. She isn’t even aware of the fact that she lives, for such is the void of one’s own thoughts. After an unknown period of time, she hears beeping in the darkness, beeping she doesn’t even recognize at first. For what feels like an eternity, the beeping keeps repeating. Once it has made her self-conscious, she finds herself from her own dream world—which is utter darkness. There is a platform on which she stands, but otherwise, it’s the kind of darkness one might see in psychological horror movies. She wanders around, fearful of what might lurk in the dark. The beeping keeps resounding without halting. It’s vexing her.

She wakes up to this beeping after what feels like an eon. It’s a sound from reality, the sound of the machine which tells her pulse. However, she can’t move her body. She feels like her body was dead except for her head. She can move her head enough that she can turn to look around. Her parents aren’t here. She’s dying all alone.

She can hear two doctors talking about her behind curtains. She won’t live long.

Yeah, she’ll die no matter what we do. The head surgeon couldn’t stop the hemorrhage. We can only help her pass away peacefully. Let’s just hope that we won’t be sued for letting her die.

You’re right. The chief already declared that we can do nothing. I don’t think they can sue us. I mean, the surgery was recorded, right? Anyone who understands surgery will know by watching the recording.

Just what kind of a wound she has? Why can’t she be saved? She’s awake even now, it can’t be that bad in that case, can it? However, in truth, Emily shouldn’t be able to open her eyes now, but she can anyway, and that’s a miracle which hasn’t happened ever before in a case like this. In fact, she should be dead by now, but the miracle happened which let her open her eyes for the one last time before passing away. Maybe the fate wanted to give her some hope, even if it’s a lie.

She tries to accept her fate, and a little later she feels like her body’s becoming exhausted from living. The heart that already felt dead, beats slower by the moment. Legs are already cold, and the coldness spreads fast like winter. The cold comes, please, I want to live! The heart is aching, please, don’t give up! Her sight becomes vague, please, I don’t want to die, not now…

***

It’s cold and uncomfortable, noises of birds can be heard.

She wakes up, looking around and wondering what’s going on. She is no longer in the hospital, but somewhere where she shouldn’t be. It’s a forest full of spruces, and those trees blot out the Sun, but it isn’t completely dark, thankfully. After a moment’s confusion, Emily remembers something really horrifying. She saw a live surgery being performed on her own body, which led to her inevitable death, and she feels like she is okay, like nothing had happened. She can move her arms, legs, and rest of her body like nothing had happened.

She panics and stands up to look around more carefully. She prepared to be forgotten, and along with it, prepared for the void she’d be sent into. But, what’s this? Isn’t this far worse than void? In a void, you’d not be able to remember your failures and sorrows, but here you can only mourn for what you’ve lost, assuming that this place’s the afterlife and not the Earth. Of course, a faint hope arises, maybe it was just a nightmare?

She is in a forest, and on top of that, she has no idea in what forest. She starts to move around slowly, looking for anything that refers to civilization. The longer she walks the faster she starts to move around.

She doesn’t recognize the plants and mushrooms, but they don’t look strange either. Just normal plants and mushrooms she cannot recognize, which further boosts her hopes. She keeps walking deeper into the forest, if she wasn’t already in the middle of it all. After walking for half a mile, she remembers that her parents might be dead. She’s confused, like any girl of her age should be.

She falls to her knees just next to a spruce and starts crying. She begins to think of the world how cruel it is if death is like this. After dying you get thrown back to life, but to somewhere where loneliness is all she can feel and have. Like she feared earlier today, she’ll be thrown to a new world, of which she thought as the new home at first, but now she is in an actual new world, or somewhere really far away from home. She could be half the globe away, or maybe closer, if it’s still Earth she walks on, though she doubts it.

The forest is becoming scarier in time as she walks around aimlessly, crying because of all the loneliness. Soon her imagination starts to make horrifying visions for her. All kinds of imagination monsters crawl around her, waiting for the right moment to strike, rip and tear her into bits. Emily starts running once a four-legged and hairy creature of her imagination crawls at her, even though she knows that these monsters are not real. She knows that those exist just because her mind lets it happen. When she finds a huge rock, she runs behind it, trying to hide under it where there is a small hole underneath it. A child’s imagination is far too powerful, and in Emily’s case, it’s reaching its climax.

She curls up, hoping that her imaginary monsters won’t see her or attack her. Among the hundreds of monsters her imagination creates, there’s only one that absolutely scares her the most. It’s a monster she’d created on her own during art periods. Face devoid of emotions, such pure white skin that fresh snow pales before it, height over two meters, legs are slender, arms much longer than human’s, and the mouth—a small looking, but it bends and bends wider and wider until its prey can fit in. No teeth, only a maw that can swallow anything whole.

That’s a monster she sees lurking in the woods. It watches her, closes in and keeps watching. The eyes, like the eyes of a dead fish. Emily starts crying out of terror. It’s only imagination, but children possess the ability to create visions that can look realistic.

She hopes her imagination won’t reach her, the imagination that’d devour her. Am I cursed into this forest just so my mind can play with me? Can I kill myself? After all, didn’t I just die? Can I just vanish? Can I? Please, go away! I want to disappear! I don’t want to exist!

After hiding for half an hour to calm her mind, her imagination seems to retreat and fear departs her heart. Emily starts to feel slightly more encouraged to move, and soon she does move from her hide.

But soon after coming out of her hide, she hears something horrifying, and real. Wolves howl somewhere nearby. Now Emily’s fears are coming back and she starts running as fast as she can. But why? What’s the point in living anymore? She keeps running anyway, solely because her instinct tells her to. The howling gets closer as she runs like it’d be no use to run. She tries to run up a ridge, then down the ridge, but the howls are closing.

She jumps through a thicket, only to land face first to the gravelly ground. She picks up a fallen branch, who knows if she can scare the wolves away with it? She clenches it hard as she resumes her flight.

When the howls are less than a hundred yards away, Emily steps onto something that is slimy and makes her slip. The slimy thing is a mushroom which is smashed by her foot now. She tries to stand up fast, and hear the howling so close that the wolves could be leaping at her in no time. She is becoming desperate and runs to noticeable larger spruce. Then, she gives up in front of the tree, dropping the branch. She closes her eyes, clenching her fists, all this anger is focused on the world in which she exists. She can hear the wolves just a few yards away from her back, growling.

When she thinks she’s ready to die in a world where she has already died once, someone places his or her hand on Emily’s shoulder, followed by a feminine voice that tells her to move aside. “If you do not move now, your death wish will be granted.”

Emily is taken by surprise. Before she takes a look at this person, she moves aside as this stranger suggested. This person also pulls her further back, and to Emily’s surprise, the wolves leave her be. They seem to be afraid of her savior, they show respect and withdraw slowly, heads held low like they were in front of an incredibly strong matriarch, or a queen.

Emily takes a look at her savior, she is a somewhat young woman, maybe thirty at best, or maybe she’s in her twenties? Her facial shape looks eastern to Emily, whereas her eyes are definitely her charm. Her hair is black and long, braided into the ponytail. Her clothing is somewhat surprising, for it looks like a dark and stylish clothing an adventurer might wear in an Asian movie. In Emily’s opinion, it looks better than her own hoodie and jeans combo. The woman has a hood around her neck which looks like a scarf. She is also carrying a backpack for supplies, and a weapon. Katana, Emily recognizes. Just who is she?

In Emily’s eyes, this woman looks surely trustworthy and even interesting, but she looks like she hasn’t smiled recently. It makes her look scary if she was an enemy. She doesn’t look negative, but neutral.

Emily wonders why the wolves are afraid now. “Why they won’t attack us?”

The stranger replies, “They have their reasons.”

Emily feels confused. “But, it was a pack of wolves! They could have torn us apart with ease! One swordsman—a woman I mean, cannot fight a pack!”

The woman answers with a succinct word. “Fear.”

Emily gives up and changes the subject to something more topical. “Nevermind. Can you tell me where I am?”

The woman is starting to think that this girl is playing with her. “In a forest where you should not be. Go home lass.”

Emily feels insulted and grimace. “Of course I’m in a forest! But where exactly?”

The wolves are gone by now, and the woman starts to walk away and says her last words. “Get back to your mom before the wolves return and make a feast out of you.”

Now Emily stays silent for a moment before she replies, horrified by the coldness of this woman. She’d lost her mom to whom this woman told to go back to. Emily starts catching up with the woman before she loses her from sight, fearing that she’ll be left behind in this unknown forest.

But I don’t have parents anymore! They are gone! And I’m alone in a world I don’t even know…”

This stops the woman from walking. From Emily’s perspective, this woman seems to have an inner conflict inside her, like she wanted to help Emily yet she doesn’t.

Fine. I’ll take you to closest village and then you are on your own.” She sounds like she is having an uncomfortable moment.

Emily nods and decides to follow her. Who knows if she can find a way back to her parents from this village, if they are alive. Later after walking for a moment, Emily’s curiosity wins over and she decides to ask a few questions from this woman.

But before questions, she introduces herself properly. “I’m Emily by the way. What’s your name?”

The woman isn’t sure if she wants to answer, but she answers anyway. “Susu.”

Since this Susu is an interesting person and Emily has nothing else to do, she keeps inquiring. “Did you steal your clothing and weapon from a museum?”

With irritation showing on her face, she answers; “I did not steal any of these from anyone. Especially not from this, ‘museum’ of yours, or whatever it is.”

She doesn’t know what a museum is!? Emily’s mystified, for that made Emily think if she had somehow time traveled hundreds of years back in time, or if this world is actually a parallel world like she’d imagined at first. “You know what electricity is?”

The answer is a simple, “No,” which confuses Emily. Emily asks one more question but doesn’t manage to finish her sentence. “Do you even know wha—?”

Susu interrupts her. “Shut it.” She sounds pissed, yet composed in her own unique way.

Emily understands and doesn’t even reply to such an answer. Instead, she pays more attention to the environment. The forest is still the same, spruces and ridges, but Susu is leading Emily so that they won’t have to climb any ridge. In time, they arrive at a cliff from where Emily can see miles of this forest and the Sun setting.

The sight of the woodland is breathtaking. They have less than an hour before they lose all the light. Emily can feel the last light of the day warming her skin. The forests are silent and there are no birds flying around. Emily had stopped at the cliff due to the breathtaking sight.

She can hear Susu shouting to her from a distance. “You coming or staying? I may leave you behind if you slow down, you know.” Emily can’t tell if she wants to be friendly or cold.

Emily starts catching up with Susu. They walk in a silence for what feels like an eon, but to Emily’s surprise, Susu is the one to break that silence later on.

If your parents are gone, then how about your other relatives?”

She decides to tell her that she doesn’t have any relatives at all since she isn’t even sure if this is Earth. “No, my relatives are… no more.” And she will probably never see them again. But I will never forget them, she makes up her mind. But telling the fact that she might be from another planet or timeline won’t be convincing at all, no matter how you look at it.

Susu makes her final decision. “Fine. I will pay your night at the inn then. But you better find your own way to survive in this world after that or give me profitable information, and I’ll pay another night. Most likely, I’ll be gone soon after, unless you actually prove yourself useful.”

Emily nods at once and looks downcast. After all, she is separated from her parents and now she is supposed to survive in this harsh world alone or with this adventurer. No one has taught her survival tricks—hell, she doesn’t even know how to cook proper food other than minced meat in a frying pan. Where will she sleep? From where she will get food? What’ll she do if she catches a cold, or an actual disease? But all this could just be a bad dream. Like it was mentioned before, children have horrifyingly powerful imaginary, hence this all could just be a dream.

The village should be close,” Susu believes.

Emily nods yet again and wonders if this village looks historical. After walking for a moment she starts to hear noises coming from the direction they are walking to, and soon the village shows up just beyond a small hill. Just like Emily guessed, the village looks historical. It isn’t big and Emily estimates the population to be from eighty to one hundred.

But that’s only the locals’ population, as there seem to be much more people than a small village can offer shelter to. This small town is probably at some kind of crossroad which travelers like to use. If this is a historic setting, then merchants use roads to travel between towns to gain wealth. This small town could be between two cities where merchants thrive.

Buildings are made of wood mostly and one can clearly see that there is mold in the buildings, it’s a historic setting after all. Looking at those buildings, Emily now understands why people got diseases terrifyingly easily back in this kind of age.

The street roads are just natural earth which has been trampled over time and the streets are dry, so there hasn’t been a rainy day recently. People also look surprisingly healthy and social, but not all of them, of course. Also, the culture here looks different to Susu’s, rather northern than eastern, so this is definitely not some ancient China or Japan.

Susu might be an adventurer who has left her homeland long ago to see the world. I wonder if that alone is a reason good enough to abandon one’s homeland in this kind of age. But who knows, I’m just an overly curious kid.

When Susu and Emily have walked past several buildings, Emily notices that this village is more like a commune. People seem to know each other well and they also seem to know their places in this village. Soon enough the pair gets to a big building made of logs, an inn. When they go inside, Emily thinks it looks comfortable for a hick. It’s a wide saloon with one wide desk and about a dozen tables, the guest rooms being upstairs, and the stairs are just in front of the door. Some dozens of humans are either drinking or eating, speaking or staying silent in the saloon.

Susu walks to the desk at once and reserves two rooms from the innkeeper. In the meanwhile, Emily just looks around and admires the historic environment. There are few trophies on the walls to make this place look even better. Also, there is a hearth in the saloon, but it’s not lit at the moment. The day has been warm enough.

Susu interrupts Emily’s admiring soon and shows her room. Emily follows Susu willingly and they walk up the stairs they saw earlier. Once they are up there, a sight of a long and narrow corridor welcomes them. There are doors to different rooms on both sides of the corridor and some oil lamps light the place.

The first room on the right is yours, mine is next. The Sun is setting, you can go sleep now or look around. If you do decide to look around and get lost, I won’t be looking for you. I have things to do tomorrow and I prefer to wake up early.” Her words bite at her with a cold touch.

Emily understands, but she wants to see more of this historic environment. Like, who’d get lost in this small town? Even Emily could find her way back to the inn. “Sure. I will go look around before I go sleep. I don’t feel so sleepy yet.” Also, she needs to calm her mind before sleep, lest she won’t be able to get any rest.

Susu doesn’t care and enters her room. Emily is interested to have a look around in a historic village, although her mind is in turmoil. She won’t walk too far away from the inn, knowing that no one is coming after her if she gets lost.

After walking around on the streets for a while, she finds an interesting looking wooden statue on the streets. It resembles a huntsman who seems to have claws, fangs, and hairy body, almost like a Werewolf, except that this statue reminds her more of a human than a wolf. While she admires it, she gets pulled behind a corner by someone. Her mouth is covered by a stinky hand, and soon she is put in a sack. When in the sack, she gets a smack to the head and then comes the complete blackout.

***

A dozen of minutes later, Susu is sitting on her bed in her room. The bed is on the left side and a small table with a chair is on the right side of the room. And there is a window to the backyard at the end of the room, one that seriously needs some cleaning if someone is to see through it. Susu has a lamp lit and that is pretty much the only source of light she has since the Sun has set by now.

Susu has lived years upon years alone, and Emily is the first to travel with her in a long time, even if it was only for a mile. Susu wonders why she didn’t just leave her to the forest, but it was him who told her to go and find the girl. Whatever he says, Susu will obey.

While she ponders over many things, someone slips a note into her room. Susu picks the note fast and opens the door to check who it was, but she can’t see anyone. Her room was close to the stairs, so the culprit either ran there or he’s in one of the rooms on this floor. She closes the door and sits down on her bed.

Then she reads the note. It reads that Emily is kidnapped. The rascals who kidnapped Emily are threatening to kill her—or there is another option which is to trade her for money. It’s usual in this age, the poor trying to find a way to survive in this world. Be it barbaric or not. In a way, Susu respects their tenacity, but she hates it when they are amateurs and keep making mistakes like this. It’s Susu who they threaten.

She gets angry as she reads the note again and again. First of all, she doesn’t care for her, and second, she should be paying to get her free. A girl she doesn’t even know. Is this a joke?

Her own mistake. I told her that she is on her own. But she got captured though, not lost. Damn it! Well, if she dies at least she doesn’t seem to have any relatives who would cry after her. No, what am I thinking? Think if I was her. What if she hopes that I’d come and save her? She waits until the dawn and ‘knows’ that I’m coming, but then she gets killed knowing that I didn’t come… what am I supposed to do? I don’t see any reason to risk my own life for the sake of one little girl who doesn’t seem to have any hope for the future. Precisely because of all this, I hate having company, it just brings trouble.

A silence takes over her mind and the room. Seconds pass and nothing happens, it’s as if time itself has stopped flowing. To go or not, to take the risk or not, is it worth it? Is there even any risk? These guys are certainly amateurs

Susu stands up like she was in hurry and leaves her room. She walks down the stairs and then out of the inn. When she gets out, she starts to walk towards a direction of an abandoned house. It’s not visible now, but she knows where it is and that is where the rascals are, or so it was mentioned in the note. It’s only a matter of time until she gets there.

Now that she thinks about it, there might be one intelligent person among the rascals. After all, someone did write the note, and writing is a skill not everyone can handle.

The streets are dark and quiet right now. Most of the people on the streets look at Susu like she was a threat to them, but show no signs of aggression. Soon the building shows up in front of her after walking through secluded alleys. The building is just like any other building, except it’s abandoned and slightly older looking than the others. Windows are still intact but dirty, the door looks broken.

And before going in, she reconsiders if she goes in and saves Emily. After thinking again, she starts walking away, changing her mind.

***

Later inside the building, five rascals fiddle about. They look unhealthy, fearsome, strong, and those who have hair have it full of lice. The building stinks from inside, and the furniture is mostly broken. These men are wondering where the woman is, and they seem to be itching for a fight. After all, they have seen Susu at some point, so they expect her to protest. One of these rascals has a sword, one has a spade, two of them have sickles and the last one has a pitchfork. How can a single woman with a thin sword overpower them? She cannot, they reason.

Guys, what do you bet? Will she come or not?” One of the men with a sickle says. His accent is barbaric.

Then the one with sword replies, “I bet she’s coming. After all, she could be her mother!” His accent is almost the same.

In my opinion—nah, I don’t think so. They don’t look alike. And probably better that way, because the adventurer looks—”

The man with spade gets interrupted by something that comes in with such force that the door almost breaks as it slams the wall. Rascals look at the newcomer with their weapons ready, asking the newcomer if she brought the money.

You got the money, eh?” Asks the man who was interrupted.

Shut it. You rascals just crossed the line! A small band of thugs like you is just like all the other garbage I hunt. The sentence is death!” The composed Susu declares coldly, then she draws her blade which Emily recognized as a katana.

She says her last words before charging in, “Jash, ageer ikaera!” Her language is such that the rascals have no idea what she’s uttering. In English, it’d be “Alright, an imperfect Cherry Blossom!” While the words hold no power, there is a meaning behind it, meaning that originates from traditions.

She takes the initiative, her first blow is surprisingly strong and almost overwhelms her first target as he tries to parry the blow. She’s turned her blade upside down before the strike. The point of this weird idea is to measure the opponent’s strength without dulling the blade.

Susu strikes again while her opponents are confused by her nimble movements, aiming to disarm the one with the pitchfork. She slashes his hand so that his hand is cut in two, but yet both sides of his hand are still attached to his wrist. Pinky and ring finger are in the other half, while the rest three hang on the other half. His cry resounds in the room, horrifying the others.

Although he still has his left hand, he’s too unused to such pain, and thus he lets go of the pitchfork completely. While he drops his pitchfork, others are on the offense. “You bitch!” One of them cries.

Susu dodges the sword and draws her sheath quickly to block an incoming strike from a sickle, her sheath being made of metal makes it a powerful tool for parrying. She hates clashing her blade against blade, it can break her one and only weapon. After parrying the strike—nay, while simultaneously parrying the attack, she slashes the attacker’s belly open, his guts pouring out. The first death sentence has been carried out.

Susu’s expression doesn’t change from what it was, she’s still composed, and one can only wonder if she’s a sadist for being able to butcher these rascals like she does. Swiftly retreating, she rolls a couple of yards to dodge another strike. After the dodge she stands up, rushing towards a wall, knowing that the sword wielder is after her. With quick and mind-blowing steps, she takes several running steps on the wall while delivering a slash at another victim’s throat.

That was an overkill, but an efficient overkill. The thug’s head is severed with ease, blood gushing out of his fatal wound. To keep up the momentum, she executes the one who was wielding a pitchfork—the one who’d already given up the fight. Killing an unarmed man by sinking her blade into the man’s shoulder as he’s on his knees, the blade penetrates his heart and many other organs as it sinks into him, some people call her a monster for such acts.

Unarmed or not, wounded or not, he was still a threat. While he was crying on the floor, he was building up a grudge. That’s a weapon even I’m afraid of. Anyway, before I barged in here, I asked a local guard if it’s fine to get rid of a few rascals. The guard was more than happy to give the permission. He’ll turn a blind eye to this, and both sides will get profit: I won’t be sued, and the town is free of a few rascals.

Susu never aims for thrusts, even though her weapon is designed for thrusting and slashing. While thrusting is a deadly tactic in a toe-to-toe duel, it’s a fatal move against multiple opponents. The time needed to thrust and pull the sword out is tremendously long, while a simple slash can be executed in a blink of an eye.

Two thugs left, two terrified thugs. The other one’s a little bit smarter than the other, he already rushed to pick up the sword his fellow had left behind. The other one’s just shaking like a coward who knows his fate.

This is easy, just a few more maneuvers and they’re both dead. That’s what Susu thinks. However…

Susu?”

A little girl’s voice reaches Susu’s ears from behind. The speaker isn’t terrified, nor is she disgusted, but instead, she sounds worrying.

Susu turns her head around to see Emily standing behind her with a pained expression like she was hurt physically—and out of nowhere, the man who’d picked the sword brings down the blade, aimed at Susu’s right shoulder. Her right arm from shoulder is dismembered. Fear and confusion show on her face, she’s let down her guard way too easily, and for something so stupid.

First, she falls to her knees, then onto the floor while letting out a cry of agony. The floor which was already covered in blood is now even more bloody. Her blood keeps gushing onto the floor, her body becomes less and less motionless as seconds pass by.

The one who struck Susu sees the opportunity to finish her off completely. Without slow and pathetic movement you’d see in movies where a villain’s about to execute someone, he lifts his sword high and brings down the blade at Susu.

Halfway the swing, he gets knocked to the ground by an armored man. He rushes at the rascal with tiger’s knee, delivering a heavy blow. Add the knee armor to that, it was a devastating slam to the rascal’s side. At best, he might have broken ribs to deal with.

The armored man quickly draws his sword to finish off the other rascal who’s still standing and staring blankly at the newcomer, the one whom the man did not knock with tiger’s knee. The last standing rascal thinks he’s combat ready while holding his sickle, but in truth, he’s just a standing target dummy with a sickle in its hand. He’s dead before he even realizes it.

After executing the other one, the man returns to finish off the sword wielder. A quick death to him as well. In the meanwhile, Emily has fallen to her knees, staring at Susu with face devoid of any expression. Her knees are bloodied, and soon her hands as well as she uses them for support, and when she tries to shake her head in denial, she brings her hands to her face, painting her face in the blood of her savior. Her reasoning has left her.

If Susu didn’t received that blow, she’d be crying out of fear because of the mutilated rascals, but she can’t care about her surroundings in such a mental state anymore, not even if it was the end of the world. Slowly, she regains her sense of reality, but that makes it worse as she starts crying.

It’s not because Susu is dying—if she isn’t dead already—nor is she crying because the dying person is someone she took a liking to, but because she feels like she’s being constantly left behind, be it her family, friends, or strangers, they all leave her behind in a world she doesn’t even know.

She lowers her head, relaxing her body, letting it fall like a corpse against Susu. Her forehead lands on Susu’s left shoulder. By now the armored man has finished his part and tries to comfort Emily.

I’m sorry, I should’ve barged in the moment I saw the thugs breaking the law. But I’d expected her to be capable of handling this on her own so that I wouldn’t have to dirty my hands as well. I’m sorry…”

Emily doesn’t care. The man starts dragging the other bodies to outside. After doing so, he leaves Emily alone. He’ll wait outside, and with that, he’ll also give some privacy to this little girl.

Emily starts pounding Susu’s body—or corpse—with her fists. “Why! Why didn’t I stay silent! Why everyone has to die! Why!? What did I do? Why am I receiving a fate like this!? Am I a devil who needs to be punished!? WHYYY!?”

Emily’s jeans are bloodied thoroughly, and her hoodie as well. Does she care? She doesn’t. To confirm this nightmare, she takes a look at the dismembered arm. She looks around, eyeing for it, only to find out that her arm is nowhere to be seen. H-huh? Where is it?

Raising her body a little more, something absurd catches her line of sight: Susu has both of her arms intact. Why? She doesn’t know. Does she regenerate? If that’s so, she’ll ask about it soon enough, assuming that she is regenerating. But whatever the case, it just doesn’t make any sense. Hell, nothing makes sense anymore, so she’ll just accept the reality if this woman called Susu can regenerate.

Emily starts shaking Susu’s body like crazy while calling her name relentlessly. If Susu won’t die, her fate might not be so cruel after all, assuming that further deaths won’t happen out of the blue. Just maybe, she won’t have to fall into despair, all alone in this cruel world.

Shaking nonstop, another idea comes to her mind, she checks if Susu’s breathing. After listening carefully, she confirms it: Susu’s alive. With that, Emily’s heartbeat skyrockets.

She’s alive! She’s alive! She’s alive! She’s alive! She’s alive! She… liiiiiiveees!!!

After a couple of minutes, Susu opens her eyes, very slowly. After less than a minute, she asks Emily. “J-just… what?”

You almost died!” Emily answers with teary eyes.

Huh? How’s that—wait… my… arm?” She tries lifting her right arm. It does move like before. “But, how? What did you… do?”

This catches Emily off guard, she wasn’t expecting Susu to direct the source of her recovery to Emily. She didn’t do anything, right? She cried in despair, pounded her body like an idiot, and in the deepest depths of her thoughts, she even planned on ending her afterlife.

I-I didn’t do anything!” Still weeping. “I just… cried.”

After a short silence, Susu speaks, “I see.” Can I use this as an excuse? From the very beginning, she wanted to protect this girl until she found a place to live in, and now she has a reason good enough to look after her. She probably saved her life, and if that’s so, then she owes a lot. Her very life, in fact. Also, there’s this mystery behind her arm’s recovery still unsolved.

A warrior-looking man cleaned up the room of those bodies, maybe he did something?”

Susu denies that possibility, “If a mere guard can heal my arm like this, then there’d be no need for medics which exist among the ranks of guards. Also, such a guard would be sent to the Extinction Wall. If it wasn’t you—no, it can only be you.”

You cannot regenerate like that on your own?” Emily asks like it was possible, just what is she thinking?

What do you think I am? A Demon? That race is either extinct or almost extinct.”

That delivered a finishing blow to Emily, Demons exist? She considers changing the subject and fast before she discovers more things she doesn’t want to know about. “Umm, let’s just return to the inn…”

After taking a deep breath, Susu answers, “Fine, but we’ll visit a pool nearby. The blood’s all over me…”

With some effort, Susu’s able to stand. After a couple of minutes, they are able to get out. Like the guard promised, he waited outside for all this time. At first, he cannot believe his eyes, the dead walks and with her both arms intact.

Huh? She’s alive?! A-and her arm?”

We don’t know,” Susu answers, she has regained her composure.

You can go now, but since we don’t know what happened here, please, do not spread any rumors. If we get an answer, we’ll tell you. Right, Susu?”

Depends.”

The guard tries to understand. He ain’t a complete idiot apparently, so he’ll keep his mouth shut. After all, who’d believe something like this? Nothing in this world can heal lost limbs. “I see. Oh, and I’ll escort you. Who knows if there are more of those thugs?”

Thus they return to the inn once they’ve visited a pool nigh to the village borders. Of course, they don’t let the guard come with them to the pool where they wash their clothes and bodies.

***

Back at the inn, instead of going to bed at once, Susu orders drinks of some sort for her and Emily. While Susu takes the cups over, Emily’s already sitting at a table.

The scent of the drink is pleasant. Susu hands over Emily’s drink while sitting down just opposite of Emily. And now Emily realizes what Susu had bought, it’s tea. She isn’t really fond of tea, she’s one of the coffee faction.

Susu notices her hesitation and convinces her to drink. “Drink. It’s relaxing and tastes just about anything else but tea, even though it is tea.”

Emily turns to look at Susu, and then her own teacup again. She forces herself to drink it, and to her surprise, the tea had a completely new taste. She has never, ever tasted tea like that. But ultimately, she still prefers coffee over this odd tea. Black without any sugar or honey.

Better than any other tea I have tasted, but coffee’s the real thing, no matter how you look at it.”

Coffee, eh? I don’t remember drinking such. How’s the taste?”

Umm, I don’t really know how to describe the taste properly. Bitter, I think? Also, the color of the drink is black. You can sweeten the taste with sugar or milk, but that’s not coffee anymore. Or at least I don’t like calling it coffee anymore after adding milk.”

How can a bitter drink beat sweet drink?” Susu’s oddly interested in this talking point.

Emily’s more than happy to tell about things Susu don’t know or understand. They chat for a while like that bloodbath from just a little while ago hadn’t happened at all. Also, Susu had some odd substance in a small bottle, they used it at the pool, and like a miracle, it removed the bloodstains thoroughly from their clothes. Emily couldn’t believe it.

Emily has drunk her tea long ago and she’s now looking around the table. There are people standing, even though there’s room in Susu’s and Emily’s table. The thing is, the idle chat and friendly tone isn’t enough to convince them to join Susu on the same table, for anyone can tell that she is a killer, not some housewife.

A few men noticed Susu’s missing right sleeve, and they can also guess that it’s not part of her outfit. In fact, they already realized that the sleeve’s been cut off. They just cannot find any logical reason to that missing sleeve…

But then a monk enters the inn. The monk looks just like any other monk. He looks old to Emily, but in truth, he looks just middle aged. This monk has orange clothing which covers everything except his head and hands. And unlike the people here, he is wearing sandals. He is also carrying a strong looking staff which is beautifully carved. The monk’s face is wrinkly, cheeks are puffy, bald head, and he surely has eaten well. This monk seems to order the same tea Susu had ordered for herself and Emily.

And to Emily’s surprise, this monk walks next to Susu and Emily, asking, “Excuse me, but may I sit here?”

Susu turns to look at this monk and answers gently, “Of course.”

The monk bows and sits down. He doesn’t seem to fear Susu at all. That makes Emily wonder if this monk and Susu knew each other. “You two know each other?” Emily asks both.

We have seen each other a couple of times. Our relationship is like acquaintances,” answers Susu.

Then are you Susu’s master? Like, did you teach her or what?” Emily asks the monk. After all, Emily’s got an impression of monks that they’re some kind of martial artists. All thanks to movies.

No one has ever taught me.” Susu answers again.

At this point, Susu seems to remember something she’d like to ask from the monk, “You know anything about a method that can recover a whole arm if it is cut off for instance?”

The monk seems to wonder if that’s even possible. Then he notices that Susu’s right sleeve is cut off and realizes what she meant. For some reason, he smiles like he’d accomplished something. Emily is starting to think that Susu is taking her arm’s recovery too hard.

No… not really, why?” Wonders the monk.

I lost my arm today, and I passed out. When I woke up, I found out that my arm’s back and intact. So I decided to ask if you knew.”

The monk nods, wondering. Emily feels like Susu was chasing ghosts. That’s why she is pretending to sleep on the table with her arms covering her face. The monk asks for details of this incident. Susu tries to describe it as well as she can, and Emily is about to go insane due to an insane talking point. Emily believes it to be a miracle from the heaven she’s lost faith in, and that’s it. Magic doesn’t exist, it’s paranormal. I repeat it, paranormal things do not exist. Only a short while ago she was ready to accept the paranormal regeneration, wasn’t she?

Emily decides to interrupt them both to state her opinion. “Please, what do you think it’d be? Magic, huh? Magic doesn’t exist! What happened today was a miracle and it won’t happen again! And since you’re abandoning me tomorrow for good, can we have a nice discussion about something else? For example, how do you make your living, Susu?”

Both, Susu and the monk have puzzled expressions. Although Susu has known Emily for quite a short time, she didn’t expect her to be so furious at times, but this is nothing compared to her furiousness before her family began to move. The monk turns to look at Susu soon after Emily’s words, and their eyes meet. The monk stares into Susu’s eyes like he was telling her this; “You shouldn’t abandon her.”

That hurts Susu since both of them have misunderstood her intentions. She won’t abandon Emily until she’s found a new home, not anymore after what happened in the old building. While half of it is about pity, the other half is that she wants to know whether Emily is capable of paranormal things or not. The latter half’s pretty much the only reason why she’s going to look after Emily if you exclude the fact that Emily might have saved her life. Susu’s a person who won’t do something that doesn’t benefit her. But if she actually wants to do something that doesn’t benefit her, she’ll look for a reason good enough to do it.

Then the monk says his last words, “Well then, if you two are having your last meeting, then I guess I should leave you two be. I have to keep traveling anyway, so I wish you two happy evening.” The monk stands up and bows before leaving.

Emily watches the monk for as long as she can until he is out of sight. She didn’t mean to shoo him away. Now Susu and Emily stare at each other like they had done something wrong, except it wasn’t Susu’s fault. Actually, Susu’s staring at Emily just because she is staring at her.

Then Emily breaks the silence between them. “I guess you don’t have anything to say, so I’m going to my room then.” She says with a voice full of disappointment.

I shall go sleep as well.”

Both walk through the saloon which is still almost full and noisy. Once upstairs, Emily stops in front of her room and watch as Susu walks over to her room’s door, but before she can even open the door, Emily asks one question.

Are you really going to leave me now?”

Susu stops and stays still for a moment. She doesn’t know how to answer, for she hates to show her kind side. “Good night,” she says and steps into her room, full of regret. Once Emily gets to know her better, she’ll know why Susu acts like she does.

Emily watch the door Susu just closed. She is looking downcast knowing that Susu is going to leave her on her own tomorrow. She enters her room and tries to get some sleep. As she lies on the bed, she also tries to come up with some ideas as to what to do tomorrow in order to survive. Also, she won’t sleep at the inn tomorrow since she doesn’t have any money. And on top of that, she is in a historic world, she has no idea how to survive in these conditions.

I die, I live again. But what if I die again? Will I get back home, to mom and dad? What have I done wrong to get such punishment as this? And what is this… world, precisely? Or am I just dreaming, am I still home, sleeping and rolling on my bed? And what will I find from this world? Wait, is it the first of April? No, it’s not. This can’t be happening.

Soon she falls asleep and dreams take over her thinking.

***

In the morning when she wakes up, she stands up as soon as she feels she can. She leaves her room and stares at Susu’s room which is probably empty by now, then she walks down the stairs, but stops halfway. There are people everywhere sitting, eating or drinking in the saloon. She wonders as to what she should do now, until a familiar voice below her speaks up.

Do you always sleep so long? Come on, we have to go soon if we want to reach Seventh before the nightfall!” Susu speaks from below, sitting at a table just next to the stairs.

Emily turns to look down from the stairs, right below her. A smile appears out of nowhere on Emily’s young beautiful face. She runs down the stairs and towards Susu.

She does something absolutely awkward to Susu, one that makes her heart scream in protest. Emily hugs her. Susu doesn’t really seem to like hugging and hesitates as to whether she should let her hug or not. She ain’t sure if she wants to let Emily have her hug, lest her heart dies of screaming.

But she lets her have her hug in the end, she deserves it after what Susu had said to her, even if her heart is crying in pain. “Okay, you got your hug. Shall we go now?” She asks surprisingly gently, but still with composed voice. Nay, it was more like she was forcing the gentle part.

She’s a killer, a killer of thousands, after all.

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