The Siren’s Rune—Chapter 5-Part 2: Lucky Servant
I grabbed Kaiden by his shirt’s collar. “Please tell me we are not at the Cowzer Sect! Why did those mercenaries send us here?!”
This was bad, very bad.
The Cowzer Sect was infamous for kidnapping, fratricide, thievery, indiscriminate warfare…. I had even heard that they ate babies.
“They didn’t.” Kaiden scratched his head. “I changed the location of the rune Alaric cast.”
“What?!” I stared in shock. My mind spun, remembering about the strange spiritual fluctuation that occurred before the warp. I tried my best to maintain a straight face. “You have a lot of explaining to do, but first…”
I need to calm myself down and think with a logical brain. There is no way this boy did something like that!
With shaky limbs, I walked toward a small cushion that was neatly placed in the corner of the room. There was a white robe with a change of clothes next to it. There was even a small bag to hold stone runes.
I scooped up the clothes with my left arm and instinctively smelled them. They were old, but clean; I would survive.
“I am going to change, so get out. And, don’t EVER say that man’s name in front of me ever again.” I motioned for Kaiden to leave.
He shook his head.
“I’m not leaving.”
“Get out!” I said. How dare he disobey me!
“Shouldn’t you be worried if someone discovers that you don’t speak the Appenhund language?” he asked with a sly smile.
My heart skipped a beat. If someone discovered that I was Gnudeerian, Kaiden and I would be executed as spies. Gnudeer and Appenhund had a long history of being cut-throat enemies ever since Gnudeer broke off their alliance and sold them out to the demons of the Demonic Lands.
At least I looked very Beecivetan because of my mother, but unfortunately I did not have her bright orange skin, which would have solidified my mother’s ancestry. Instead, I was a ghostly pale, almost a bluish gray.
“Please,” I said to Kaiden. I circulated my spiritual energy around my soul rune, activating it to give my words a little more kick.
Unaffected, Kaiden shook his head and crawled into a corner. His head faced the wall.
“I’m not leaving,” he said forcefully.
“Why would I?” He cocked his head.
“Because–” I stopped myself from saying my gender. My eyes shyly shifted away.
“I won’t look.” The boy sighed.
You better not or I’ll gauge your eyes from your head.
I quickly took off my black robe, and sorry to see it go, tossed it into a corner. I removed the wrapping around my chest, which, after the the fight with the mercenary, had twisted and begun to dig into my side.
My naked chest was rather flat, and I stared at it, comparing it to the demon lady’s. There really was nothing to compare to her curvaceous body.
At least it’s easy to hide.
Sighing, I retied the wrappings around my body. Then, I slipped on the plain shirt and pants that were left in the room for us. Using my teeth, I tore the sleeves off the white robe. In one of them, there was a socketed stone rune. I removed it before haphazardly tossing the sleeves into the corner.
I held the stone between my fingers and raised it to the broken window pane. The common rune did not look familiar, but it must have been worth at least one Mora Stone. Socketing the robe, I pinned it to the inside of the collar. I then clipped my uncommon rune next to it.
Straightening my clothes, I said, “I’m done.”
Kaiden turned his head to face me, but his eyes, whose strange gaze made me feel anxious, stared at the robe draping my body. Maybe it was its pure white color or its foreignness, but something attracted his attention. Unfortunately, I had no way of knowing what he was thinking.
After a few more seconds, the corners of his mouth turned up in a faint smile. Outstretching his arms, he greedily grabbed his pile of clothes as though I would stoop so low as to steal them. Then without a second thought, he tore off his stained shirt.
“What are you doing?” My cheeks flushed red. There was a difference between me peeking at his belly and him stripping. Knowing whether or not he had abs was one thing, but I could not bare to learn everything.
I covered my face with my hand and charged out the shack as quickly as I could. Even in the streets, I still felt my blood pulse beneath flushed cheeks. The image of Kaiden lifting up his shirt still appeared in my mind.
Fool, idiot, nincompoop!
I could not make the memory go away. Too many deep breaths filled my lungs, making me lightheaded, but I could not calm myself.
“Guh!” I gripped my head as I began to aimlessly walk in circles.
Everything seemed to be going so very wrong. First it was meeting Alaric, then it was the demon lady. Following that, Kaiden began to strip. He had no shame either, he just did it.
No muscles, no ripped body, nothing to show off but his smooth skin covered in dried blood. Its smoothness, though, looked indescribably soft and warm…
“No!” I frantically shook my head in denial. Something was wrong with me, so very wrong.
There was no way that I would like that kid. He had no good qualities aside from his curiously deep blue eyes, innocent demeanor, bewilderingly strong willpower, curious nature, smooth skin, trusting aura, compliant–
Dang it, I need to stop thinking about him!
My blood-shot eyes darted back and forth. I looked at every bloodstain, piece of trash, and overturned rock that defiled the surrounding area. Something, just something, had to distract my already distracted mind. I could not waste my time thinking about Kaiden and what he might be doing right now such as possibly…
I shook my head in agony; I needed something better to think about.
Thoughts of the Cowzer Sect filled my mind; the rumors about it were barely disturbing enough to pull my thoughts from Kaiden.
There were stories about kidnapping, eating babies, and even one about a nine year old boy who tortured and killed his betrothed. Her entrails were splattered throughout her room, and in big red letters, he left the words, “Love is for the Free.”
I shivered; I knew of nothing that was more twisted than that demonic boy. They say he became a servant under the direct bidding of one of the Sect’s Grandmasters. It was strange, because the girl was the daughter of another Grandmaster. One would think that he would be executed for his horrible deed, but he was not.
The story only added to the legitimacy of the Cowzer Sect’s barbarianism. The Secthad five factions: Ruby, Tempest, Blaze, Hail, and Shade, but everyone knew that they were on the brink of war with each other. Just one push, and the Continent of Haven’s most powerful Sect would collapse in on itself.
The more I walked around, the more uneasy I felt at heart. This place was most definitely the Cowzer Sect. Even the emblem on my white robe, which was that of a tyrannical Titan Cow, represented the Ruby Faction. The fierce eyes, the twisting horns, the domineering aura—it could not be mistaken for anything else.
“Ifmmp, hpshfpvt.” A group of three suddenly appeared from around a corner, pulling me from my thoughts. All their eyes were filled with lechery, especially the vulgar, fat girl’s. She was a gigantic slime ball, not even worth the attention of the two plain men at her side.
As her slobbery lips moved, she touched her chin with a chubby finger. “Bsf zpv ofx ifsf? Jg zpv hp pvu xjui nf, J dbo tvqqmz zpv xjui qspufdujpo up ifmq zpv tvswjwf.”
I grimaced. The thing had spoken to me and most likely tried to entice me to bed with her. The very thought of what words she had used made me shiver. Never had I ever been so glad that I did not know the Appenhund language.
“Zpv epo’u xbou nz bggfdujpot, zpv mjuumf cbtubse.” Her expression dropped while her eyes turned fierce.
The two men stepped closer to me. They puffed out their chests like a pair of prideful roosters.
I smiled, knowing what would ensue.
The man on the left tried to grab my arm, but in a horrible fashion. He left himself completely open. Stepping towards him, I swiftly placed my palm on his stomach. His eyes widened.
I pushed him without holding back any of my strength. The power of my spiritual energy swirled within my body, reinforcing it with enough strength to easily lift two thousand pounds. It felt good to finally be able to let loose.
The man was sent flying, and as quickly as I had hit him, I shifted my body. Placing my boot against the other man’s torso, I gave a fierce kick. He, too, was blown away.
They crashed heavily into the nearby shacks, which were protected by enchantment runes that were laced together to form rune formations. The men’s bones snapped, and they crumpled to the floor.
“Npotufs!” The slime ball said as she stepped away from me. Her brows were furrowed in anger, but there was a tinge of fear in her eyes. She glanced at her two buddies; they did not move nor breathe.
I popped my neck, and pushing off the floor, charged at the fatty. I appeared in front of her.
“Hfu pvu pg uif xbz!” A man suddenly pushed the slime ball, who rolled across the floor like a beaten sack.
My punch hit his stomach. He coughed up a mouthful of blood and was pushed back five meters. To my surprise he could still stand. From beneath his long black hair, he glared at me with green eyes.
On his white robe, three gold stars glittered in the light. They represented the rank of a Three-Star Apprentice.
Ignoring the fatty, I dashed towards the man. He was far beneath me; I was a One-Star Novice. Even the peak of the Apprentice stage, the Five-Star Apprentice rank, was no match for me. My hand shot out, grabbing his throat and clenching his wind pipes.
He struggled to breathe.
“Mfbefs!” the girl yelled. Her eyes met the dying man’s, and she knew that she had to flee while she still could. She sent me a glare, but there was no sadness in her eyes, only hate. “J’mm nblf tvsf zpv tvggfs pof ebz.”
The man completely stopped moving, so I released him. His lifeless body fell onto the floor in a disorganized heap.
I stepped over his body, but a hand clasped my ankle. The man was still alive, and he viciously smiled at me. In his other hand, he quickly revealed three stone runes.
My eyes widened. Those better not be…
He tossed the three stones, and I desperately covered my face. Simultaneously, I wrenched my leg from his grip, bracing myself for impact as quickly as I could.
In midair, rune symbols exploded from the stone surfaces. They forcefully formed into a sphere of about five meters in diameter. As they did so, they crushed the man’s body, splattering blood onto my white robe while slamming me down to the ground.
A wide crater formed, and I laid at its center with a broken leg.
“Those bastards,” I cursed under my breath while I gripped my leg with both hands.
Snap! The broken bone realigned as I savagely applied force. The pain was nothing compared to my anger. With a few waves of my finger, I cast a magic healing rune, completely restoring my leg to perfect shape.
I slicked back my short violet hair and stood up. My eyes peered over the crater, but I could not tell where the fatty went.
“Dang it.” Letting an enemy escape was a hallmark of weakness. Next time, I swore to myself, would be the end of her.
I held onto my breath and slowly reached into the crushed man’s disgusting robe. He had three small bags, but they were mostly empty—a few coins at most and no runes. I checked the other two men; their bags also only had a few useless coins. In total there were 15 silver coins.
Gripping the coins tightly, I shoved them into my pocket. They were not even worth putting into my bag.
Because a group of people dared to attack me, I feared for what might happen to Kaiden. He was weak, ignorant, and looked like a perfect target.
Picking up my pace, I hurried to the shack.
He better not have done anything stupid. If that slime ball dares to take out her anger on him, then I will tear her to pieces.
I kicked the door open, pretending that it was the fatty’s ugly face.
In the middle of the room, Kaiden laid sprawled on the floor. His white robe was disheveled, and he held an old book in his hands as he slacked off. His large sleeves fanned around him, scooping up all the nearby dirt and dust.
I humphed at his unruly appearance and tossed the five empty bags with a flick of my wrist.
“What a pain!” I said. “Those insects can’t even tell the difference between a Razorback Kitten and a Titan Bull. They weren’t even rich.”
Kaiden cocked his head to the side. His innocent look infuriated me, but he must have known why we were sent to the Cowzer Sect.
“You have some explaining to do,” I said. My eyes were almost glaring at him.
He scrambled to sit upright. With a pale face he stuttered, “We’re in District 20…. Rule number 102 says that dying is punishable by death…. There are five factions….”
Does he realize how useless he’s being right now? He’s worse than my many suitors, but he doesn’t even like me… How dare he.
“There’s a stick figure on the map…,” he said, slowly inching away.
“Pointless!” I quickly changed the subject before I strangled him. “You said that you changed the location of the warp rune.”
Kaiden nodded. “I added another stroke to Crane and changed it to Avocet.”
What? I cocked my head much in the same way he had cocked his earlier. Did he? Crap!
“Never put another stroke through someone else’s magic rune. If a fake rune is created, a one-sided magic backlash will kill you and leave the caster unharmed,” I reprimanded this ignorant child. “If you’re lucky, it will create an actual rune and some random effect will appear. However, there is a high chance it will still kill you.
“So, what about the rune you used to open the door to the palace’s forest? Who gave you that rune; I didn’t even know it, and I lived there all my life.” I had to ask him, but remembering the red rune and his sorry state after casting it, I already knew the answer.
This fool had randomly scribbled something! I did not know if his luck was super good or just so heavenly defying that he had almost killed himself.
He innocently scratched his head, trying to come up with an excuse. Whatever he said, there was no way he was fooling me! I had to keep a close eye on this kid and prevent him from doing anything stupid.
His response, however, took me by complete surprise.
“It’s like writing. I knew the word, so I wrote it,” he said.
“What did you just say?” I thought my ears deceived me. He came up with the worst lie known to man.
“I wrote it? Is there something wrong with that?”
Yes—I could name a millions things wrong with the phrase, “I knew the word, so I wrote it.” No one knew the Ancient Language and much less how to write it. Not even the Faed, who were believed to have grasped the meaning of some runes, knew the forgotten language.
“People don’t just ‘write’ something. A specific rune must be carefully memorized and duplicated while the person’s soul resonates with the original essence of the rune,” I said.
Kaiden frowned. “Didn’t you say that runes are based on the callings of the soul and the breath of the earth?”
Did I say that? I slowly nodded. I might have.
“Then, isn’t that a lot like a written language if the earth and soul could talk?” He continued to stick with his obvious lie.
“It doesn’t work like that.” I shook my head. “But, I suppose you aren’t so useless after all.”
At least he had luck, and my mother always said that luck was the most important thing in life. My luck, however, was as rotten as a tomato squashed by that fat slime ball of a girl. Not only was I born with this horrible soul rune, I was born in Gnudeer.
When I grabbed Kaiden’s arm, I noticed that he was completely clean. He no longer smelled like a dead-carcass, but rather fresh and earthy like clay after a summer’s rain. It intoxicated my senses, and my heart skipped a beat.
My grip tightened. He was messing with my head.
“What are you doing?” Kaiden asked.
I mustered a smile; my soul rune activated at full strength. Anyone else would have lost their mind, but he maintained complete clarity.
My teeth clenched as my heart skipped another beat.
This boy was far beneath me, nothing more than a peasant. I was going to marry Vaughn, and this kid was going to help me by being my servant.
“We are going to train,” I said. “You must become stronger and become accustomed with the ways of this world. One day you will help me get revenge and find Vaughn.”
“Vaughn?” he asked, raising a brow.
My head turned away so quickly that I almost pulled a muscle. Still holding onto his arm, I dragged him outside. I did my best to calm my thumping heart.
I feared that he would ask questions: What’s your name? Are you really a boy? What do you think you’re doing with your life?
My palms grew clammy in anticipation. The seconds passed like hours.
In my worries, I could not remember why I had disguised myself as a man. I thought that it was because I wanted to be treated equal, but…
Appenhund did not look down on females, and neither did the country Beecivet nor Hartebeest. It was just Gnudeer, but Gnudeer had fallen.
Realizing that I could not lie to him forever, I glanced at Kaiden.
He was looking intently at the plain blue sky. There was a light smile on his calm face, and he looked unimaginably handsome with that soft gaze. I could not tear my eyes away.
Something about the sky’s dullness marveled him, but it was that captivated look that made me remember…
I was tired of men gazing at me. Their shallow eyes could never satisfy the wanting of true love within my heart. By disguising myself I had hoped it would end, but it did not. Both men and women continued to give me the same shallow look. And if they could not have me, my soul rune filled them with rapt hate and frustration.
Some people, such as Vaughn, could perfectly hide their shallow feelings, but it was only Kaiden who could see me for who I was. It made me incredibly happy, yet also pained.
My heart twisted, possibly jealous of the sky. I was beautiful, gorgeous, perfect, but the sky was mundane without a single cloud. It, not me, captured all of Kaiden’s attention.
I looked into his deep blue eyes. There was a hint of sadness in my own.
It’s funny—my one wish came true, but now I wish it had not. I had wanted there to be a single person who was immune to my soul rune. Now I have met him, and I have found myself constantly lying about my feelings.
The truth is this: I want him to fall head-over-heels in love with me. I don’t want Vaughn.
A true servant would never leave a princess—or so they say. That’s the real reason why I want him to be my servant. Others may laugh at my silly belief, but they wouldn’t understand.
I don’t have anyone else to hold on to. Just call him lucky if you don’t believe me.