The Selection

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Chapter 41 - Post Incident - Temptation

I toss the bloody sword aside and then fall backward. I lie on my back and sigh. A sharp pain shoots across my chest. I slide my fingers across the tear on my armor and grimace. My head spins at the same time. What do I do now…? I’m losing all my strength… Someone…help…

I pass out.

“…Kai…” someone says while my ears ring.

Someone’s voice… Who is it? Something warm touches my face. I open my eyes slowly.

“Kai! Hold on! We’re going to get help now!” Marin exclaims. She gets up and runs out.

We’re…? Luna…is she okay…? I can’t hold on… My eyes feel heavy. Luna follows after Marin before my eyes shut completely. I pass out.

Indistinguishable chatter resounds somewhere far. Luna!

I open my eyes quickly, finding a white ceiling in front of me. I shift my gaze around. My injuries are dressed in white bandages. Luna is sitting in a chair next to the bed. Her head is down. I sigh. She’s just asleep.

The clothes she’s wearing is unfamiliar to me and bloodstained. What’re those clothes…? I’ve never seen her wear them before. And she wasn’t injured… Did she get injured?!

I reach out my hand toward her, when suddenly, she looks up. She smiles and asks, “Oh, Kai! You’re awake!”

“Ah…yeah,” I respond with my hand frozen in place.

She cocks an eyebrow and asks, “What’re you doing…?”

I draw my hand back and explain, “I was—”

“Oh, I see!” Luna exclaims with a smile and then giggles. She takes my hand and pulls it toward her. My hand rests on one of her breasts. “You want to continue where we left off, right?”

“Huh… No! I was just—”

Luna climbs on top of me. I gulp and blush. “You were just…what?”

She flicks her hair back, and my hand falls to the bed. My heart beats like a drum as my eyes linger on her curves. I bite my bottom lip repeatedly while I raise my trembling hands to touch her, but I stop and ask, “Luna, where’d you get those clothes?”

She sits upright, looks at herself, and then answers, “Oh these? Do you like them?”

She leans toward me, grins, and continues, “I got them from this lady next to me when I woke up.”

A lady next to her…? But there were only… Luna’s tongue invades my mouth. I resist my urges and push her back and then ask, “You took it…? From a…body…?”

“Huh? Yeah. She didn’t need it anymore. She was dead. They don’t really fit me, though.”

My thoughts shut off, remembering what happened before I passed out. I grit my teeth. She hasn’t changed from before… She’s not herself!

The pressure around my waist loosens. Luna throws my belt across the room. “I understand, Kai. You’re running out of patience, right?”

“No… Just stop it.”

“You don’t have to be so reserved with me, Kai,” she says as my pants are pulled down. My thoughts and muscles freeze up.

“I don’t want this…” My heart pounds progressively faster. I can’t forget the events that happened earlier.

“Are you embarrassed?” she asks as one of her hands presses against my raging friend. “But I know what you want…”

“Just stop...” She doesn’t listen and pulls down my underwear. I clench my fists, grit my teeth, and tighten the muscles around my entire body. “Stop!”

Luna lowers her head and opens her mouth.

"Stop it you dumb bitch!” I finally manage to move my body and reflexively knee her in the face off the bed. I pant. Still on the ground, Luna turns her head toward me.

“Kai…” she mutters and crawls back toward me. I gulp. I don’t want to associate this fake Luna with her face anymore.

"Get out!” I scream and point to the exit. Luna looks at me with teary eyes for a moment before standing up and then running out the door. Tears run down my face with the back of my throat aching. I pull up my pants and lie back down. I recall the happy days just a few days ago. Everyone’s smiling faces and this morning with Luna. Sitos…

Tears continue to flow down as I recall the nauseating sight of the moments before his death. Drugo…

I think back to the moment I walked into the Adventurer’s Hub and stepped in a puddle of blood, Drugo’s lifeless body next to it. Hiro…

I widen my eyes. That’s right…! I made a promise to Hiro!

I quickly sit up, remembering Hiro’s still stuck in our caravan. I need to hurry!

I wipe my tears on my arm, sniff my snot, and then stand up. I pick up my belt on the ground and then clip it on my pants. As I put on my boots, a sharp pain shoots across my chest. I crouch down and grimace. Blood seeps through some of the bandages on me.

“Kai!” Marin exclaims as she runs over to me. “What’s wrong?”

I raise my head, revealing my bloodstained bandages. Marin crouches down and says, “Oh, no… Your injuries opened up again… Don’t push yourself. You were lucky to be treated as soon as you did.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well… Luna and I had to run around the entire city looking for help. No one would listen to me, and I didn’t know what to do… That’s when Luna came with a doctor with her. It’s thanks to her that you’re alive…”

I widen my eyes as Marin looks around the room. Luna…

“Where’d she go? She said she was going to stay with you…”

“I said something bad to her…” I say and then stand up. “I’m gonna go after her!”

Marin grabs my arm and says, “Wait, you need to rest…”

“There’s no time!” I exclaim and break free from her grasp.

“Lively already?” a man standing next to the door asks.

“Doctor, quick! His wounds…!”

“So my quick treatment wasn’t enough, eh?”

“So you’re the one who treated me… Thank you. If it wasn’t for you, I might not be...”

The man smiles and answers, “Luna deserves those words more than I do. I was just doing my job…and it seems I didn’t do a good one.”

I ask, “Luna?”

“She’s your friend, right?”

“Yeah…. She is… But still… Thanks for prioritizing me over everyone else. It must be chaotic out there for you.”

He forces a laugh and then replies, “Really, it was nothing. I’m not doing charity work here. Her offer was the best one available at the time. That’s all there is to it.”

“I see. Well, I didn’t bring my money with me…but if you fix me up again, I swear I’ll bring it to you and pay for your services.”

“That won’t be necessary,” the man says as he walks over to the bed. “I only stopped the bleeding before because I didn’t receive the full payment. I’ll close your wounds now that I’ve received it. Take off those bandages and lie down here.”

I stand up and try to find how to unravel my bandages.

“I’ll do that for you…” Marin says as she undoes my wrappings. I lie on the bed. The man puts his hands over my injuries. They glow a faint green as he glides his palms over my wounds. The pain emanating from my chest lessens.

“It’s done,” the man says as he removes his hands from my torso. A dark, red streak remains under the diagonal cut I sustained. “I’ve regenerated the outer skin layer, but your body still has to recover from the inside.”

The man stands up and walks toward the exit. “I’ve got to run some errands now. I recommend taking it easy for now. I’ll be back later to check up on you.”

His footsteps fade away in the distance. I sit up and throw my feet to the floor. I glance around the room, finding my armor and weapons in a corner. “Where’s my shirt?”

“The doctor had to remove it forcibly so…”

“Whatever,” I say and stand up. “I’m just gonna go without it.”

“Wait,” Marin says as she blocks my path. “Didn’t you hear what the doctor just said? You need to rest.”

“I told you, there’s no time. I have to find Luna,” I explain as I move her aside and walk toward the door.

“Wait! I’ll help you find her…just after I grab a shirt from your room… So just rest here until then.”

“Thanks, but I don’t have time…and I know where to find her,” I say and walk out, quickening my pace. I mumble, “It’s not like there’s anywhere else to go right now…”

I go down the stairs, finding that this isn’t the clinic but an ordinary inn. Outside, the indistinguishable chatter intensifies. A group of men is fixing a damaged building on the other side of the street, a man lending a shoulder to another walks past, with a lot of people running left and right. It’s getting dark, but visible smoke rises from multiple places in the distance. Not knowing where I am, I walk quickly in a random direction.

Luna… Was she that desperate to save me…? I think about what she’s been through and her recent actions. I bite my lip. I’m such an idiot… When she just wants to forget it all. And the best way to do that is…

I bite harder on my lip and quicken my pace, eventually arriving at the inn our team stayed at. I knit my eyebrows as the doctor who treated me is in sight; in front of the inn. He’s talking to another man. I can’t move any closer without getting noticed.

“That’s great to hear. Hold on, I forgot something in here. I’ll be right back,” the doctor says and then goes into the building. The other man stands in place. I follow after the doctor.

“Kai!” Hina exclaims. I turn around, finding her walking toward me. “I knew it was you. What’re you…”

Her eyes point down, lingering on my chest. “What happened?”

I sigh and then respond, “A lot… More than you know…”

“Well, good to see you still alive. What about that loud monkey and the others?” I frown and shake my head. Her eyes widen. “What happened?”

“Hiro…” I pause for a moment, my eyes getting teary. “A monster got him before the attack.”

I pause again while thinking about the circumstances around Drugo’s and Sitos’ deaths. I clench my fists and teeth and snarl. “Drugo and Sitos died from a skirmish with the attackers.”

Her eyes widen. I look down on my chest and continue, “This…was also during that time…”

“No way… You lost three?”

“Yeah.”

“Sorry for your losses… Those three weren’t weak by any means...despite what I said about the monkey before. The enemies were just too strong. What about the other two?”

“They’re…fine. Yeah… We pro-protected them…” I say and then clench my fists harder. I relax and ask, “What about your team?”

“We’re all fine except for two with minor injuries. I’m buyin’ some supplies from the Trade District to change darling’s bandages.”

“You done?” a man asks behind me. I widen my eyes and turn my head around. The doctor comes out with a small pouch in his hands. It looks loaded.

“Yeah, let’s go,” the doctor says. I immediately dash toward the alleyway close by and then stand close to the wall of the inn. Hina walks in front of my view.

“What’re you doin’…?“

I whisper, “Don’t move.”

Hina cocks an eyebrow. She doesn’t move or say anything. Behind her, the two men walk off. I sigh. Hina turns her head around briefly. “Why’re you tryin’ to hide?”

“One of the two men that just walked by was the doctor that healed me. He told me to stay put and rest, but I didn’t.”

“Why wouldn’t you? That wound doesn’t look like a joke…”

“Well, I said something bad to Luna… I couldn’t wait to apologize, so here I am.”

“Well, what’re you still doin’ here?! Go apologize!” Hina exclaims and points to the inn entrance. I hurry to the entrance. “Cherish her, especially after what you guys have been through.”

I look behind me, finding that Hina is gone already. I sigh and go inside. She’s right… I need to cherish her… We still have each other.

I smile and walk up the stairs slowly. First, I’ll apologize for yelling and hitting her…then I’ll declare that I love her and that I’ll make her forget everything bad that happened…

The image of her bashing Sitos’ head appears in my mind. I shake my head. She wasn’t in the right state of mind. She was attacked and…yeah she wasn’t thinking. It wasn’t her fault. Why would it be? It was that masked guy’s fault…yeah. Luna’s still Luna. She’s trying so hard to forget and move on… I need to stop thinking about this too.

I reach the top of the stairs. My heart beats faster and my palms sweat. I grin while thinking about our special morning. My lower half is already excited. I stand in front of her door. I take a deep breath and raise my right knuckle to the door. I don’t knock as I realize the door is not closed all the way. Heavy breathing and creaking resound beyond the door.

This sound… Luna…with herself…? I realize there are two pitches of heavy breathing and stop smiling.

I don’t want to consider the most likely explanation. While holding my breath, I reach for the door knob slowly and peek inside. I widen my eyes. Luna is naked bouncing up and down on top of an older man I don’t know. My member goes limp.

My lips shake as memories of Luna’s innocent smile, laughter, and cute, mischievous behavior flood into my mind. The expressions of her I’ve never seen until this morning. All of it shatters in the scene unfolding in front of me. Both of their faces contort in bliss. My mind is blank. I let go of the doorknob and quietly walk to my room next door.

I open and then close the door behind me. I walk to the edge of my bed and fall face first. The doubts, second thoughts, and fears resurface from the depths of my mind. That’s when reality hits me. Luna’s gone. The tears flow out of my eyes with snot following out of my nose. Even while in my room, I still hear the creaking of the bed and muffled sounds. I can’t get the images out of my mind. With every sound, I only remember what I saw moments ago. Despite that Luna is no longer the same; her appearance is completely the same.

I don’t know how long I spend face down on my bed crying, but it feels like my head might explode if I stay any longer. I wipe my tears and snot on my sheets before forcing myself to stand up. I try to hold myself back from sobbing any more than I have, but my face twitches uncontrollably. I can’t believe they’re still going. I rush out of my room and down the stairs, never looking back. When I’m finally outside, the gentle breeze reminds me that I forgot to put on a shirt.

I grit my teeth and stand in place for a moment. I shake my head and walk as fast as I can away from the inn. The creaking and heavy breathing still echoes in my mind as if I’m right next to it. I smack the bottom of my palm on my forehead trying to forget and to think of something else. After several smacks, I remember something important. A promise I made earlier today. I widen my eyes and then run to the Adventurer’s District.

Everything here is as I remember it. The area is completely deserted. I find a large charred pile of wood in front of the Adventurer’s Hub where I last saw the caravan. Hiro…

I kneel down to the pile and begin picking up the pieces and moving them aside. I force a smile.

Hiro, you’ll be home soon. Don’t worry. Drugo and Sitos… More tears drip down my face. They’re gonna be there too, so you won’t get lonely.

After I remove several pieces of debris, one of his blackened legs is visible. I quicken my pace as my memories of him play out. “That’s Hiro the Great to ya…

“Remember that one time? I chased ya with a carrot in my hand, and ya ran around forever!” I uncover the other leg.

“With him at his best, it’s a guaranteed win!” I uncover his body.

“I don’t wanna! Lemme go…! What’re ya doin’?! No! It hurts!” I uncover an arm.

“What’re ya worried ’bout? It’s only an E ranked monster. Hiro the Great wins against Albino Flying Squirrel!” I uncover the other arm and then sigh. I reach for the last few pieces, when suddenly, someone grabs my shoulder. I turn around instantly with my heart beating fast.

“Kai.” Marin is standing behind me. “Are you okay?”

“Huh...? Yeah…”

“You weren’t responding… So I thought something was wrong… What’re you doing?” I turn back around, remembering what I was doing.

“I promised him I would get him home.”

“Hiro’s not in any hurry… He knows you will get him home, but he wouldn’t want you hurting yourself over him. It’s getting late… Please rest… Hiro will still be waiting for you tomorrow.” I uncover all the wood piling on top of his body.

“There… You’re not suffocating anymore,” I say with a smile.

“Were you able to make up with Luna?”

“Luna…?” My limbs freeze in place. The noises they were making echo in my mind. I squeeze my eyes shut and wrap my palms around my head. “Noo!

A light weight rests on my back. “Kai, what’s wrong?”

“Make it stop! I don’t wanna hear it!”

Suddenly, a sweet aroma wafts through the air. A gradually tightening force surrounds my body. “It’s okay, Kai.”

I open my eyes, finding myself in Marin’s embrace. My eyes are on the verge of exploding into tears again. I wrap my arms around her and rest my chin on the back of her shoulder. I can’t keep it composed anymore. I bawl my eyes out.

After some time has passed, I calm down, still in the same position. I let my arms down with my mind completely blank. Marin lets go of me too, her face inches away from mine. Our eyes meet, but she turns away and then stands up. She offers me a hand and smiles. “Come on, Kai. Let’s go back.”

It’s dusktime. I grab her hand and stand up. I walk in the direction my arm is being pulled toward, my mind zoning out.

The next thing I know, I’m standing in a room. Where am I…?

I look around, finding that it’s the room I woke up in not too long ago. I knit my eyebrows. That’s right… I was bringing Hiro back and…

My eyes water up a little as I mutter, “Luna…”

The door closes behind me. I turn around, when suddenly, Marin throws her arms around me while shoving her lips over mine. Our tongues wrestle for several seconds before she pulls back. She blushes and points her eyes away.

My body takes over. I embrace her back and meet her lips again. Our clothes fly off soon enough. I push her down on the bed, my inner beast taking over.

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