Her Hand Beneath the Otherworld

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Chapter 1

I focused my whole attention on the reflection displayed in the screen, taking notice of the things that I might need to add to my personal sheet.

“A pair of bright golden eyes—totally in contrast with this dark hair, a unique combination that somehow makes this jilted face decent. My light skin might be a hindrance at the exam, but I’ll just have to prove them wrong...”

A couple more notings and I finally finished my personal sheet within a few minutes. I placed the thin piece of paper under a book, and as for the remaining time—I walked to the sink just to make sure that there are no dishes left to clean. I also double-checked every corner of the living room to see if there’s still dirt left that I could sweep.

As boredom grows every passing second, I walk in circles finding something to do within the living room. Then like an answered prayer, I stumbled upon a big mirror plastered against the wall. I was shocked by the phenomenal reflection in front of me.

“Well, well, well, who do we have here? What’s your name gorgeou—Damn it! you know what?! I’ll just head straight to my usual place.”

I marched up the oaken stairs and went inside my tiny bedroom. After a few minutes of shimmying my entire arm to reach the rope which opens the trap door, I was able to finally pull down the hidden steps leading to the most relaxing place on Sierraglyph, my one, and only rooftop.

The instant that I stepped on the tiled surface, a soothing gust of wind caressed my face while I gasp in awe at the countless stars dotted across the night sky.

Somehow, my hands started to clench tightly in worry about the upcoming Crystal Examination in the next three days. I lost my recent guide book yesterday due to an unfortunate accident and now, I’m racking my brain for possible solutions.

That exorbitant guide book was my everything. It contained all the things I had to know about the exam and the recent changes in its rules. I also inadvertently inserted my parent’s experiences and advice, as well as my only kingdom map.

I breathe in slowly, welcoming the tranquility into my soul. I must find a way tomorrow to settle this matter. I can’t afford to ruin my first exam because of an idiotic mistake, that being said, there’s also no point panicking in the middle of a peaceful night

I set aside the problem and focused my attention on the starry heaven. Sitting here before I go to sleep had become an important necessity. This place eventually became my stress reliever after a busy day.

I sat down on my usual spot, slowly closing my eyes just to savor more of the moment. After a few hours of meditation, I decided to head back inside when suddenly a hard-knocking resounded on the door below.

“Help... please.” I tried to check who it is from above, but the person was fully covered in a thick robe, preventing me to see this stranger’s face from afar.

He tried to knock again but his knees gave up and he fell back on the cold grass, dropping his bag and accidentally exposing his abnormally pale face; like all color from his face had been sucked dry. I immediately jumped down from the low roof and landed on the grass with a roll like a renowned pro.

I wasted no time—I carried him in my back, ignoring the pain from that foolish stunt and laid him on my personal couch near the fireplace. I ran to the kitchen and checked for some leftovers, and seeing that there’s still some left of the stew I cooked for dinner, I preheated it and grabbed a nurse kit from the tray above the fridge, together with materials used for treating open wounds and disenchanting.

I positioned myself beside the bed. Just to be sure, I examined his clothes first for hidden enchantments waiting to be set off. I need to be sure that he is not a spy—even more so if he is being pursued, but so far none of his aggressors dared to place explosive enchantments on his garments.

The consequence of my carelessness would be both of us reduced to nothing but ashes and burned bones.

Seeing that his clothes are fully disenchanted, I quickly placed a heating pad over his head to stabilize his temperature. I took a knife from the kitchen and started to strip him off of his fancy clothing, only leaving his fine undergarment intact.

Goodness, this guy must be royalty! I mean I don’t have much, but this clothing is just way out of my league.

Plus, look at him! No one can ignore these godlike features. The light from the fireplace perfectly encased his shining red hair and angled face that complements beautifully with his golden bronze and well-sculpted body. Damn, even his loose undergarment has to be this tempting.

I breathe deeply, Control is the Key.

The thought was short-lived though as I was pulled back to reality when I noticed that something was terribly wrong. His face continued to pale and turn cold every passing minute, losing a lot of heat faster than the rest of his body. If I had been a little late at placing the heating pad over his head, he would’ve already been a cold, lifeless corpse.

I leaned my ears directly to his chest listening for signs of arrhythmia, but so far so good, his heartbeat is normal and his body shows no signs of wounds received from direct combat. I glared at his shivering face out of annoyance—due to the fact that I couldn’t figure out what is wrong with his body.

Heck, I don’t even know if this type of illness is possible. The face is pale but the body is in stable condition?

Maybe an unknown disease? I’ve never heard about this type of strange symptoms before. Should I just take him to the Nursing station?—Haha, who am I kidding? I can’t possibly carry him for two hours straight going to Renne, on top of that, we’re in the middle of the night!

He lightly shifted his position showing parts of his back up to his neck. I took a glance at his subtle change, and that movement left me completely feeling dumb. Yes, there is an obvious possible reason for this!

I mentally face palmed myself for not noticing it a while sooner.

It must be a new enchantment, one that I have never seen or heard of, embedded on some part of his head. But before I jumped right into investigating, I remembered the preheated stew, so I ran to the kitchen and sought out the flames, placed the stew into a separate bowl together with a clean spoon.

I went back to the living room with the stew on my hand. I made sure to be extra careful when carrying so that none will spill on the floor. I placed it on the nearest chair beside the bed and continued checking his back for any signs of enchantment. And boy was I right, implanted at the back of his neck was a mid-sized circle with small runes drawn inside.

I instantly sprang into action by taking out a hefty amount of orange grass from the nurse kit, rolled it into a ball with my bare hands, and pressed the handmade medicine into the afflicted portion of his neck. He started thrashing from the contact so I had to stop for a moment and tie both his hands and feet before continuing with his treatment.

After half an hour, he started to calm down and his enchantment began to crumble little by little. Orange grass, you truly are the wonder plant.

His condition stopped deteriorating as he slowly succumbed to a deep slumber. I shall expect him to be back in tip-top condition tomorrow, but for now, I can finally rest easy. I transferred him, bridal-style, into my room and gently laid him on the bed.

I stared at him while cheekily smiling in satisfaction. Being able to successfully treat someone is no easy task, so it is only natural that I reward myself with a good night of undisturbed sleep. But just when I was finally merry, I realized that there was still a lot of mess to clean downstairs.

I scratched my head and sighed in irritation. Having no choice, I closed the door loudly out of frustration, went downstairs, and finished the stranger’s untouched soup.
After everything was said and done, I started to wash the used dishes before returning the items back to their respective places.

Following the finished chores, I locked the doors and covered the windows to quell suspicion from my neighbors. It’ll become a burden if I get myself tangled too much with his personal problems, so first thing tomorrow, I must send him off his way. I bet he’ll live, after all, he seems filthy rich.

Yes, sounds like a very good plan.

I went upstairs and proceeded to enter the bedroom when realization dawned upon my innocent mind.

Now my dear self, where are you going to sleep? Next to a handsome mess on your bed? Tempting, but no thank you.

I took out a spare large foam under the bed and covered it with a plain white bed sheet that I found deep inside my closet. I managed to take a pillow from his grasp, and with no hesitation, I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.

Out of nowhere, a voice resounded across my head,

You are chosen.′

Surprised, but I still kept my eyes shut. Too exhausted to even bother with another of my sleeping hallucinations. I changed positions and paid no heed to the voice inside my head as I slowly fell into sleep.

After a while, Airen started drifting into a deep, peaceful slumber.

But little did she know.

Yes, too little.

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