The Siren’s Rune—Chapter 4: Strange Feelings
In a place far away, two people conversed happily, ignorant of the wanton slaughter occurring in Gnudeer.
The girl smiled at the young man, her red curly hair waving in the gentle breeze. Her freckly yet beautiful arms danced with each graceful flick of the wrist. Her green robe’s rolled-up sleeves contrasted starkly with her soft flesh.
With a sudden movement, she pulled her right arm back, inciting a small smile to form on the young man’s lips. He had found her movement very witty, as if it was a pun—if one could call it that.
The young man wished that time would hold still for an eternity. The pain and dullness of the world had caused his black eyes to resemble the depths of an endless void. Even his face displayed no emotion.
Only when he was with this girl, a Faed from the Crystal Mountains, did he feel that he had a place of belonging and that he could smile.
The young man moved his tan arms in response to the girl’s joke. His movements were not as graceful, and he paused from time to time. When he turned his hand in the wrong direction, he felt disappointed in his mistake.
The girl shook her head and showed him the correct movement. With a wave, she encouraged the young man to mirror her. He tried again.
This young man was a Faed’s son, but was never initiated as a Faed. Instead, the vicious Cowzer Sect kidnapped him before his sixth birthday. Since then, countless misfortunes befell him. He lost everything. His smile, his emotions, his love, his freedom….
He only had a vague notion that, no matter what happened, the Faed would always be his home. He grasped onto that belief as if it was the world.
A rune flashed on the girl’s sleeve, causing her to frown.
“If you need to go, that’s okay. Don’t let me hold you back,” the young man signed in Faeslan.
“Sorry. I need to go to my rune class. I hope I’m not late,” the girl responded. “See you later, Hanz.”
“See you, Liv.”
The girl rushed away, her green robe flapping in the wind. With a frown she looked back before disappearing around a corner.
Heaving a sigh, the young man felt his liveliness vanish. His face sank, and his eyes became devoid of emotion.
“Am I still considered Hanz?” he asked himself.
He only had the Faed’s Legacy Runes to remember the small boy in his memories—the one who once had dreams.
The young man removed a blue spirit root from within an enchanted bag. He bit into its tip, and although there was a loud crunch, he barely heard it. If it was two years ago, he would have clearly discerned its sound.
“Silence is golden,” he said to himself, feeling the light vibrations in his throat. He wanted to yell, to scream, but he did not have the power to be the ruler of his life.
Hanz waved his right hand, causing spiritual energy to ripple around him. He vanished.
No one could see him, and that was what he loved about his soul rune. It allowed him to imagine what it would be like to just disappear.
I felt my body falling—tumbling through the sky. The ground was not visible, and it filled me with despair. I had never liked heights, and the fear caused the blood to drain from my face. Panicked, I desperately struggled to reach Kaiden who was falling beside me.
I grabbed onto his body with trembling arms and clammy hands. As I held him, I tightly closed my eyes. The support of having him in my hold far surpassed my disgust of his dead-carcass smell.
Struggling, the boy kicked me and scratched my arms. My left arm, which was already injured from numerous ax slices, seared in pain as Kaiden dug his nails into my bleeding flesh. The wind whipped around us, and with all his might he tried to push me away.
This boy must have really disliked me from when we first met, but as I thought back, his marriage proposal confused me.
Did my soul rune make him fall in love with me, or was the proposal something else entirely? He seems to hate me, yet does not.
We fell faster, and as my breathing quickened, I burrowed my head into his back. He felt warm and soft despite being covered in stiff, blood-stained rags.
Our descent stopped. We suddenly fell.
My back hit the ground, and I let out a sigh of relief as I felt the earth beneath me. Although I slowly released Kaiden, he continued to lay on me as though I was a soft cushion. He was thoroughly relaxing and breathed in a deep mouthful of air.
“Get off!” I placed my hands on his shoulders and gave him a shove. Any proper man would not linger while laying on a woman, especially a princess! Face red, I savagely kicked him to enact punishment.
“What do you think you’re doing?!” I asked. This boy knew no courtesy; he just looked at me with a blank face before turning his attention elsewhere.
He looked at the plain scenery—tall grass. Nothing more, nothing less.
“Don’t ignore me,” I commanded. His curious eyes met mine, and it dawned on me that he did not know that I was a girl. Teeth clenched, my eyes suddenly flickered to the side. Even my fist balled up and my nails dug into my palms.
Damn it! What is this feeling? I feel angry yet not angry. Is this agitation or disappointment?
Turning away from him, I frantically cast a Heal Rune to heal my left arm. It was the only thing I could do to distract myself from Kaiden. My spiritual energy fluctuated strangely without my devoted focus. It spewed into the surrounding areas.
I completed the rune, but it was so poorly crafted that it barely healed my arm. Wasting more spiritual energy, I cast another ugly rune. Within my body, the control over my spiritual energy slipped, causing a backlash. Blood dripped from the corner of my mouth…
Such a beginner’s mistake! It filled me with shame.
Kaiden’s eyes were locked onto me. They were so deep blue and calm that I wanted to gouge them out and toss them very far away, especially because he had seen my blunder.
I angrily wiped away the blood with my robe. “You are despicable,” I said.
The boy innocently blinked his eyes. “You were the one who tried to suffocate me. If you didn’t cling so hard to me, I might not have squashed you.”
My face reddened.
What?! You dare to say that you little pervert!
I wanted to yell at him, but the urge was quickly held back. For some reason, I could not bring myself to reprimand him. My teeth clenched.
From nowhere, Kaiden said something very random. It poked needles into my chest and spurred my anger.
“Being separated from your parents at such a young age must hurt a lot. I know how you feel. The loneliness is so painful that you deny it and refuse to let yourself cry, but sometimes you just need to let out how you feel.”
His eyes began to lightly water as though he truly felt my pain.
You understand nothing about my life! No one knows the pain that I felt when I lost my mother—no one does!
Once again I resisted the urge to yell.
Holding back fake tears, Kaiden had the audacity to continue. “If you need to cry, go ahead. I won’t make fun of you. It’s a way of life and kids cry all the time.”
His lines were the exact same as the ones Vaughn had told me years ago. I remembered it as if it was yesterday that Vaughn had spoken them. At the time, his words had sounded so sweet to my ears like a goddess’ song…
With a soft smile, Vaughn’s arms spread to the side, ready to embrace me. My legs made a sudden tremble, and I snapped. Tears burst from my eyes, streaming down my cheeks in an unending flow. I rushed into his arms and buried my head in the warmth of his chest.
His hand stroked my long hair, and my heart beat faster as I raised my head to look at him.
Meeting my eyes, he smirked as though my actions proved that I was a child!
From that moment, I had vowed to myself to never cry again and show weakness. Today when I saw Alaric, it was the first time I had cried since then. Kaiden had seen my shattered state. It filled me with anger.
I can take care of myself. I’m not weak!
“I’m an adult,” I declared to Kaiden.
“Where I’m from, you need to be at least eighteen, not twelve,” he said.
“You think I’m twelve?” I was aghast at his words. How could I be so young? I had escaped from the palace, saved Kaiden’s life, and defeated Lycan. My looks and height were additionally nothing like a twelve-year-old kid.
Kaiden nodded, believing that I could be nothing but twelve.
“My name is Vaughn, and I am a seventeen year old guy.” I said the first male name that came to mind, but I quickly regretted it. Feeling a strange pang in my heart, I wished I had told Kaiden my real name and gender. However, I also did not want him to know. He would treat me differently just how any man would look down on a woman.
But why did I have to give him Vaughn’s name!
“@#$ %$# #@$!” Strange words reached my ears. It sounded like the Appenhund language.
Jolting, I turned my head. My eyes widened, and I quickly ran behind Kaiden, ready to use him as a shield.
There were three people riding on a giant, ten meter-tall Titan Bull. The Titan Bull, which had black shaggy fur with white spots, wore silver armor that shimmered in the light. There were even magical tassels hanging from its ebony horns. This was no normal Titan Bull, it was an Imperial Titan Bull!
“#$%@ $@! $# @#$%@$ #$ %@#$!” Kaiden yelled, attracting their attention.
My heart skipped a beat. I hurriedly whispered into his ear.
“What are you doing? They purposefully warped us here for a reason. We don’t—no I don’t—speak their language.”
My teeth clenched.
This boy is going to get us killed!
Kaiden grabbed my hand and, smiling, continued shouting. His hand felt warm, and I suddenly intertwined our fingers. I blushed and tightened my grip, but he seemed to have noticed none of it.
Snapping awake from that strange trance, I hurriedly scoffed at him for his naïve mind. That too Kaiden ignored, and I felt disheartened. It quickly turned into frustration.
The ground vibrated as the Imperial Titan Bull approached with earth-shattering footsteps.
Normal Titan Bulls were significantly smaller—around five meters in height—and were extremely gentle and lethargic. However, people needed to be wary of Titan Cows. Unlike their male counterpart, they were violent, vicious, and completely fickle. They did not produce milk for their young; instead, the Titan Bulls would act as mothers and make milk.
The three people, who were sitting on the bull’s head, wore brown cloaks over which hung bows. Rare, blue stone runes circled each of their bodies. The three were far more powerful than the mercenary Lycan.
The woman, who had black hair and eyes, made a reaching motion towards her levitating stone rune.
My heart skipped a beat, and I defensively tightened my grip as I held Kaiden’s hand. His hand, although caked in blood, soothed my nerves. I no longer felt like using him as a shield; I was prepared to pull him behind me.
The woman, to my relief, quickly put the stone rune into a rune-enchanted bag. Only until after the bag’s mouth—from which green talons wisped—closed, did I relax.
With a graceful leap, the woman dismounted the bull and landed lightly on the floor. Her cloak waved behind her like a majestic cape while her red dress flowed around her body. It highlighted her seductive curves and her red lush lips, yet something about her still seemed strangely motherly.
She wore a worried expression as she ran towards us, looking as graceful as an angel and as enchanting as a siren. Even her hips swayed seductively.
From the corner of my eye, I saw Kaiden staring at the woman.
I felt a pang in my chest. My hold tightened over his hand.
While I was distracted, the woman grabbed my left wrist. Her long fingers were like an iron grip trying to have me for herself. She touched my arm, and I felt foreign spiritual energy invade my body. It took away my ability to move.
Controlling her energy, the woman scanned my whole body and soul rune.
She made a sudden frown, and after wiping some blood that was on my arm, she began to cast a rune.
I frantically tried pulling away, but it was useless. I wanted to cry for help, but my mouth would not open.
“@#$% @#$ %@# $%@# #$%?” Kaiden said. His voice dispersed the woman’s concentration, allowing me to move my arm just enough to shatter the incomplete rune.
Turning her attention back to me, the woman released my arm. She stared deeply into my eyes. Her right brow raised while she wore a faint, wry smile. She had found something amusing, but I was at a loss for what it could be.
“@#$% @ @#$%@#$ %@#$%,” she said as her smile grew larger and more lovely.
She swooped her hand behind me and, before I reacted, pulled me closer to her chest.
The movement caused me to let go of Kaiden’s hand. Our fingers brushed apart as he indifferently released his hold. It was as though he had forgotten we were holding hands in the first place—or maybe he never cared. Any person would have been wild with joy to even lightly touch one of my fingers.
How dare he pay more attention to this evil woman.
The red-dressed demon spread her arms in the most exaggerated and vulgar way possible. She then viciously hugged me as if I was the cutest thing in the world.
My legs trembled in fear of her, but I smirked at Kaiden. At least she liked me more. He could keep dreaming.
“Princess,” the demon whispered into my ear.
With a light laugh, she released me. The other two people, who were still sitting on the Imperial Titan Bull, quizzically glanced at each other before leaping down.
They jogged to us, and the short, chubby man humphed at me. His face displayed all his thoughts of disdain, and he was clearly jealous that the demon lady gave me a hug. Not even his mustache, which curled around his upper lip, could hide his poor upbringing.
“@#$ %@# $%@ %@#$%@#?” The stout man glared at me, his fat belly spilling from under his brown cloak.
“@ #$%@ #$%@” Kaiden shrugged.
The other man, who was a head taller than both the demon and the chubby man, spoke with an indifferent voice.
“@#$ %@ #$% @#$% @#$%@#$%”
His eyes, which were sharp and uncaring, rested on Kaiden. Although he seemed cold and distant, intelligence seemed to dwell within him. He was far different from the chubby man. It made the tall man to stick out like a sore thumb.
The man slapped the enchanted bag beneath his cloak. A stone rune flew out.
I took a step towards Kaiden, but the red-dressed demon blocked my path to him. She smiled sweetly at me, but there was a dangerous glint within her eyes.
“@# $%@# $%@#$%@, @#$ %@#$%@ #$ %@#$ %@#$%,” Kaiden said something.
The demon poked me, inciting a wry smile to form on her face. “@#$, %@#$ %@ #$%. @# $%@# $% @#$%@ @#$%@#$%. @#$%@, %@#$ %@#$ %@#$ %@#$ %@#$ %@.”
“@#$%@#, $%@#.” The chubby man looked softly at the demon. The sight of his loving face made me want to barf.
He should just give up. Although evil, she’s way out of his league.
“@#$%” The demon laughed. Turning towards me, she released spiritual energy to pressure me.
“@#$%@ #$%@ #$%@ #$%@#$ %@#$%?” she said.
The overbearing force caused me to take a step away from the demon. I quickly glanced at Kaiden. If that amount of spiritual pressure could force me back, it might be able to turn him, a normal person, into meat paste.
He seemed perfectly fine.
I looked at the woman, who was still releasing pressure. My gaze unconsciously shifted back to Kaiden because a weird feeling pestered in my chest. For some reason, I could not stop worrying.
“@#$%@ #$% @#$% @#$%@#$, %@#$%@#?” The pressure released by the demon increased by twofold.
Sweat slowly dripped down my forehead, and my knees were beginning to buckle under the pressure.
Kaiden, with a soft smile, said something, which placated the demon lady. The pressure vanished.
Wearing a lovely smile, the demon lady touched my head and said a bunch of long, windy words. Her voice was happy and contained a hint of pride towards whatever she was speaking about.
As she finished, her expression dropped while her dark eyes filled with blood lust. A thin, red mist formed around her body. Its presence choked me in its grasp.
The demon’s eyes shot towards Kaiden.
Don’t you dare!
I stepped forward, hatred shining in my eyes.
She slowly turned her head to face me. A smile formed on her red lips.