Without wasting a second, I turn around and run back upstairs as Ryou stays behind to fight them off. Since I still can’t use my powers, I would only be a liability for him. It’s best to head back and stay safe. I head into Luella’s room and lock the door before leaning on it.
I close my eyes and take in a shaky breath. What did I just see? I bite my lip to control my emotions. Why can’t I get the image out of my head?
The noise from downstairs gets louder and louder as time passes. Judging by the sound and breaking noises, they defiantly fighting. After I get my emotions in control, I walk over to the corner of the room and pick up the knife. I walk around the room for the next 5 minutes while listening to the sound from downstairs.
What is going on? Why is he taking so long?
I stop in the middle of the room as soon as I hear the sound of someone climbing the stairs. Instinctively I know it’s not Ryou. After living with him for almost two months, how can I not recognize the sound of his footsteps? I turn off the light of the room and stand beside the door while taking a firm hold of the knife. The footsteps stop right in front of Luella’s bedroom and soon the door is flung open.
I hear the person taking a step in but he stops right at the doorway. There is silence for a minute. As soon as I hear the sound of the pistol, the corner of my lips rises at the thought. He knows, doesn’t he? Well, there is only one room upstairs so it must be obvious.
Slowly, I lower myself while leaning on the wall. The man walks inside before I notice him turning his heels to look behind the door from the gap under the door. He peeks behind the door with a pistol in one hand but pauses when he finds no one. Once he starts to lower his gaze, I sweep my leg under his feet.
He falls, hitting his head hard on the floor, letting out a moan of pain. He raises his head and points his pistol at me but I lunge over and dig the knife in his thigh. He shrieks and lets go of the gun, reaching out to clutch his thigh. I take out the knife as some blood splatters on my hand before striking his thigh once again.
He cries out in pain.
I take a deep breath and pull away from him while watching him shouting in pain. Not even a second later, there is the sound of another footstep climbing the stairs.
I turn just in time to see a black ugly creature that almost looked like a mixture of monster and zombie. My face scrunches up in disgust, what the heck? What type of ugly creature is it? He looks at the man lying on the floor and me before it assails me.
I roll over, narrowly escaping his claws, and use my hand to lift myself up. Suddenly, I notice the creature which I am assuming is a tuhu, turning towards me. I give up the plan to stand up and use my hands to throw myself back just when the tuhu makes a runs towards my previous position.
The tuhu stops right before hitting the wall and lets out a growl as he turns to face me again. His face lightened in the light from the hallway which is coming in from the opened door. I crawl back till my back hits the wall before taking out my gun. I grip the gun with both hands and shoot at the tuhu twice. I lower my gun in shock when nothing happens. Why is it still standing in its place? And what was that metal-like sound when the bullet hit his skin?
Tuhu lets out another growl and lunges at me. I immediately reach for the mop with a steel handle on my right and block his mouth with the handle. I grit my teeth and push it as hard as I could, though I know even if I apply all my strength it will still be not enough. My strength is no match for his but what else can I do? What else can I do to save myself?
I lower myself using the wall and try to kick him aside but he doesn’t even budge. What is he made of? I grip the rod more tightly when I feel the strength leaving my arm. The rod is going to break before I could even use all of my strength because of his teeth. And not even a minute later, the rod breaks with a snap just like I expected.
The tuhu pulls back his head to bite me but I use that second to smash his head with the rod as hard as I could. The tuhu lets out a loud whining sound as it falls on the side. I stand up with a huff and run towards the door, only come to a stop when the whimpering sound continues. I stop at the doorway and turn back to look once to only find the tuhu lying on the floor in pain just like the man on the other side of the room.
Why is the tuhu still hurting? If a gunshot can’t affect it why is it lying there just because of a smash? Is something wrong with it? As soon as I glance towards the tuhu, I find something odd near its body. I narrow my eye while taking a closer look.
What is that? Why is the rod glowing?
The rod which I used to hit the tuhu is glowing red like lava. The light of the rod slowly fades away before long it is back to its normal color. Soon the tuhu starts standing back up, I notice this and make a run downstairs. I pass my gaze over the dead body near the entrance and enter the first room on the left.
As soon as I enter the room, I spot Ryou who is making his way towards the door. I notice his sword which I don’t know where did he find, is dripping with black blood. Seeing me he stops in his tracks while I run to the other side of the room and stand behind the couch. The tuhu runs in the room a few seconds after me and stops on seeing Ryou.
His movement turns cautious but in a matter of seconds, Ryou raises his left hand and snaps his fingers.
Sensing something wrong, the tuhu turns to make a run out of the door but right at that second, a sky blue magic circle appears under tuhu’s feet before his body is pierced by multiple ice spears from inside towards outside. I stiffen at my place as the tips of the spears shine in the light. The black blood drips on the floor from glass-like ice spears which are all over the tuhu’s body except his face. I can’t imagine the pain he must be feeling.
Half a minute later, the magic circle and all the spears disappear at the same time.
The tuhu falls on the floor but is still not dead since I can his him moving occasionally. It tries to run away when Ryou begins taking steps towards him but it keeps on falling back down. Ryou walks over to the tuhu and raises his sword before thrusting it in his neck. While the tuhu tries to move away, he keeps the sword dug in his neck till his breath leaves him.
He pulls back his sword with an emotionless face as some of the blood splatters on his hand and face. He eyes the blood on his sword with distaste. I immediately start speaking once he faces me, “One man is upstairs, where are the other two?”
“...One ran away and,” He points towards the tuhu lying on the ground with his chin, “He is the other one. He must be a low middle-level one seeing how he turned without any difficulty...Are you alright? How did you get hurt?”
“Hurt? I am not-” I let out a hiss when I feel a pang of pain in my shoulder. I grab my shoulder and lower my hand on noticing something seeping from between my fingers. It is blood. I look at my shoulder to my whole right side of the top stained with blood. “You didn’t even notice you were hurt?”
Ryou throws his sword on the ground and walks around the couch. “...I was focused on the tuhu so...it must have happened when I was trying to stop him.” His claw must have dig in my shoulder but since I was focusing on forcing the tuhu back, I didn’t note it.
“Let me see.” He raises his hand but I take a step back. “No, it’s alright, I will bandage it at home.”
“Nadya, you will faint if you keep losing blood at such rate.” He takes another step towards me but I take another step back in return, “No. no, I will do it myself.”
He rubs his forehead after scanning my face, “...Okay, we can bandage it at home but put a cloth or bandage over it to stop bleeding for the time being. And let me call someone to clean up the place...One more thing, what happened today should not go out, you are aware of that, right?”
Twenty minutes later, Saul and a dark-skinned man who must be in his late 20s, enter the room after Ryou lets them in. How did they get here so soon? Isn’t Saul and Marlon’s house only 30 minutes away from ours? It should take the same amount of time to reach here as it took us, how did they get here so early? Saul greets me with a wave of his but . “What happened to her?” He asks Ryou when he notices my shoulder. Ryou whispers something to Saul and both of them upstairs.
I did know Ryou and Saul were good friends since Elodie told me they know each other from high school years but I didn’t know he trust him to such an extent. Saul will take care of the bodies and clean up the place once we leave.
I haven’t seen the other man before but he must work for Ryou. And I wonder what happened with that man I struck with the knife. He is alive, right?
Ryou comes down after 15 minutes and he drives back home as I keep my wound closed with the cloth. I enter the house first, wash my hand and face and start making my way to the stairs when Ryou’s voice stops me. “Are you going to bandage the wound with one hand?”
Oh, he is right, my right side so it would be more difficult more to do it alone. I think for a moment before answering, “You can do it for me.” I would have asked Finlay but unfortunately, he is still not back so that leaves me with no other choice. I reluctantly follow Ryou to his room.
He makes me sit on the bed before leaving to fetch the first aid box. As he goes out of the room, I realize one important thing. How am I going to bandage the wound without taking off my top? The cloth is struck with the wound so I will have to cut it but what should I do after that? Should I change into something else to leave the shoulder open? I can’t wear a top so I have to opt for the shirt.
Once Ryou comes back, I tell him I will be back in three minutes and go back to my room with scissors. I cut open my top and change to the oversized shirt before going back down. By the time I enter the room, Ryou has already changed into a white t-shirt and jogger. I sit down on the bed in front of Ryou with my back facing him as he goes through the first aid box.
“Lower your shirt, I will start with the back.” He says while I can still hear him taking out all the necessary things from the first aid box. Slowly, I unbutton the top buttons and lower the shirt off my shoulder till I am holding it up with my hand to cover my chest.
The sound from behind stops and I immediately become conscious of all the smallest of the sound and movements he is making. Like how he has just shifted closer to me and how he is reaching for my hair.
He runs his hand through my hair before trying to move it aside. “Do you have a rubber band? Your hair is falling on your shoulder.”
“I forget,” I forgot to tie my hair, “wait a minute, I will bring it.” I start to get up but Ryou pushes me back down.
“Stay here, I will go. Where did it put it?”
“Bring my claw clip instead, it is in my walk-in closet, in front of the mirror,” I tell him and he goes out.
Soon he returns with my brown clutch before returning to his previous place. Just when I thought he would hand over the clip to me, I feel him gathering my hair with a gentle hand.
A shiver runs down my spine and I squirm at my place at his touch. Is he always so gentle? I have never had my hair done in such a cosseted way. I put my full concentration on not running away from his touch.
The warmth of his skin reaches me before he could even touch me as he gathers my hair in a bunch. “How do you it?” He asks while holding my hair in a ponytail with one hand. Though I don’t know why he is doing it himself, I teach him without asking him questions since he is already planning on it.
Once my hair is secured, he reaches my wound. His hand stays near the wound at one place for a few seconds as he inspects the wound. “It is a little deep, it will take at least a month.”
I take in a sharp intake of breath as soon as his hand touches the strap of the bra. He gently hooks his finger under the strap before slowly lowering it off my shoulder. I try to make myself as less tense as possible but I am not sure if it is working. All of sudden, I feel his finger right in the middle of my upper back and I flinch at my place. What is he doing?
Only after feeling the light tugging of my hair, I understand he was moving aside the hair which was left out of the clutch. He starts disinfecting the wound at last and I let out an inaudible sigh of relief. The amount of time he sent my heart racing and the scare I received today might lead me to a hospital if I am not careful.
I close my eyes and press my lips together to not let out the hisses of pain. “Were you sacred back then?” Asks Ryou,
“Rather than scared...I would say I was shocked. Everything was too sudden.” I tell him while remembering Luella’s expression just before she died. “They killed her because they found the pen drive empty,” I state rather than ask.
“Most probably. But with her death, there is no one who can lead us to the person-in-charge.”
“But the number Luella talked about?”
“I have asked Saul to retrieve it if he finds one but I don’t think it would be of any use. Seeing how well they all were prepared, they must have already gotten rid of the loose ends long ago.” He stops cleaning the wound and stands up to move to the front. I shift aside to make space for him as he sits right in front of me.
He starts cleaning the wound without a word. As he is cleaning the wound, he stops on seeing something on my arm. I watch his expression suddenly take a serious turn. He looks up and I lean back as soon as I notice how close we are to each other. When did I lean so close?
He pauses on noticing me moving back but doesn’t address it. “How did you get a scar on your upper arm?”
He lowers his gaze and traces the scar with the lightest of touch. “It looks old, when did you get it?”
A scar? I look down at the scar he is talking about. How did he notice it under such low lightening? “I got that...” I try to think of a way to explain the scar without telling him actually who gave it to me. How should I frame it? “Hmm...It helps me remind myself how I became the person I am currently.”
That’s the best way to explain its existence and how it became part of me. I don’t hate scars but it is also not something that I am proud of. Ryou traces the scar for a few more seconds before going back to cleaning the wound. “You have another scar beside your eyebrow. How did you get that one?”
“That one? I got that while trying to save my brother. Well, I was trying to save him from falling into the pit but while saving him, I fell in myself and hurt myself. Luckily, the neighbors were around and they helped me out since I couldn’t stand up.”
Once he finishes cleaning, he begins bandaging my shoulder. “Raise your arm.”
I raise my arm only to realize a problem and lower it back down. Judging by Ryou’s face, he must have also noticed the same thing. Don’t I need to remove my bra for him to bandage the wound? The bandage will go around my torse for it to cover the whole of my shoulder so...What now?
“Do you want to do it alone or should I continue?” Ryou asks connecting with my gaze. “...You will have to remove,” He clears his throat before continuing, “...you bra.”
I look away, not meeting his eyes while answering, “I can but it will not be perfect...I will do it on my own, I will call you if I need help.”
“Mmm.” He lifts the tray half filled with bloodied cotton balls and stands up, "I will be right outside the door, call me if you need help."
Once he leaves the room, I wait for a minute to be sure. I strip off the shirt and reach behind to remove my bra while glancing towards the door occasionally. I put the bra aside and start bandaging. At last, I did manage to finish covering the shoulder but I can see that it is not perfect. I sigh and reach for my shirt just to hold it against my chest.
I gulp and take a minute to gather my courage, “Ryou, can you come in and help me.” I shout after biting my lip. He is still standing near the door, right? A part of me is hoping that he does not come in while the other part of me wants his help. Now all will depend upon if he heard me or not.
In a minute, the door opens and I get my answer. I don’t look at him, instead, focus on his footsteps. He stops right beside the bed, beside me, and looks down at me. I go rigid and try to keep my breathing normal. He can surely see my bare back despite the dim lighting, I grip the shirt tightly.
Ryou leans down till I can feel him breathing right beside my cheek and grabs the two ends of the bandage. I hunch up my shoulders and turn the other way. His hands stop moving for a moment and I can feel his gaze on my face. But I don’t turn to meet his eyes. He covers the rest of the portion and perfects it before taking a step back. Tension leaves my body immediately, “Thanks.” I whisper.
He closes his eyes and turns around, “You can dress up, tell me once you are done.”
I remove my shirt from my chest and quickly pull it over and button the first four buttons. Once I am sure of how I look, I call him out, “You can turn around now.” He turns around as I get down off the bed. I give him a quick glance, “Uhm...Thank you once again for helping me...I will be going then.”
I stop at the doorway and look back, “Yeah?”
“You forgot something.” Huh?
My eyes widen when I notice my white lace bra dangling from his hand. I make quick eye contact with Ryou and rush towards him. As I seize the bra and try to pull it from his hand, he doesn’t let go. What the...I try to pull once again but end up with the same result. Why is he not letting go?
As soon as I raise my head, I meet his eye but don’t turn away like the previous encounters.
I pull it but he let go this time. I take a step back while noticing a small teasing smile on his face.
I suppress my embarrassment and run out of the room.