Seulgi falls over the warm sheets and groans in both pleasure and relief. Just laying down rids her body of all the strain she was experiencing earlier. Wendy, who is quietly sleeping, is also next to her.
After Miss Hwang left, they rushed to find the village that was introduced to them earlier; the village named “Moon.”
Gyeongsun, shocked, gladly took them in and aided them. He had plenty questions but waited until he got them situated.
Seulgi is laying on her stomach with clean clothes on. Her upper garments are a long sleeved white shirt overlapped by a sleeveless long dark red vest that stretches down to her calves. A thick strip of black fabric is tightly tied around her waist.
Her pants are white, and just slightly cut at the end. The attire is finished with red sleeves around both her forearms with string randomly wrapped around the sleeves.
Wendy was changed into a comfortable loose white shirt and pants; clothes that aren’t fit for battle but are necessary due to her injuries.
They aren’t dressed like the other girls in the village, but for Seulgi, it’s necessary because she must always be prepared for battle.
The door opens just so, and Seulgi’s orange eyes flicker with caution. She sits up with abruptness.
“Don’t worry, it is only me.”
Gyeongsun peeps his head in with a smile. Anything agitates Seulgi at this point. Though her body is rested, her mind is still clouded with unease for Irene and Miss Hwang’s safety.
“How is she doing?” Gyeongsun asks.
Seulgi looks over at Wendy again. “Her face is unusually pale.”
“Even after being treated by a doctor?”
Seulgi nods solemnly and Gyeongsun sighs.
“Well, you go to sleep too, Seulgi-ssi. I will be back here in the morning to discuss things.”
Seulgi nods. “Thank you for letting us stay.”
After the door closes, Seulgi lays back down.
It’s been years since she’s worn such clothes.
She first looks at the ceiling, and then at Wendy. She figures this is fate making a fool of her. Being in Wendy’s time means she’s even further away from home.
Can she go back to her world?
If so, would the person precious to her back there still be waiting? Seulgi doesn’t know.
All she knows is that she misses that person and looking at Wendy makes it worse. She never expected to get involved with Irene or Wendy or get so attached to Irene’s world.
It makes it harder to say goodbye.
Wendy’s sleeping face reminds Seulgi of things she wishes were in her grasp. Seulgi rises and leans closer to the other girl, wanting to feel something she hadn’t in a long time. She wonders if the feelings are still there.
With hesitance, she leans down closer and closer, until her lips touch Wendy’s. She draws back a few seconds later; thinking, then sighing.
Seulgi laughs to herself and lays back down.
It doesn’t feel the same, and she should’ve expected this. She wanted to feel something that’s been out of her reach for a very long time, but feelings like that, to her, can only be felt with one person.
Still, she continues to stare at Wendy’s sleeping face with longing, until she too falls asleep.
Gyeongsun falls into deep thought at the information given to him by Seulgi; things seem to be getting significantly more complicated.
“With the conflict between Toxotis and the Sons, and Aera and Han’s actions, the situation is too out of my reach to handle alone. This village is for those who won’t fight unless absolutely necessary,” Gyeongsun says, “I think now is the time to take fighting into consideration.”
Seulgi nods and places her chopsticks neatly on her bowl with a soft clink.
“I plan to save Joohyun first before anything else. That, first, is top priority for Wendy and me. The rest, you can decide.”
Gyeongsun gets up and Seulgi follows.
“Okay. We are leaving as soon as I am ready preparing a group of Wisps willing to fight,” he says. “It might be difficult. Some Wisps are very skeptical of Seungwan; however, I don’t doubt their loyalty.”
Gyeongsun bows and seems as if he’s about to leave, but he pauses at the door.
“Interfering might just stir up a war, or provoke one, but I owe Miyoung a lot. I won’t fail her.”
He makes his exit, leaving Seulgi and Wendy alone. Wendy stares at the ceiling, face pale and the area under her eyes, dark.
“So, I guess you won’t listen to Miss Hwang?” she asks and Seulgi shakes her head.
“I won’t listen to her nonsense. No matter how strong she is, doing things alone is stupid.”
“…I think she knows that.”
“Of course she does, but it’s still bull.”
Seulgi looks over at Wendy, who looks too weak to fight at the moment. There is just one other thing Seulgi notices about the other girl.
“There’s something different about your hair.”
Wendy turns her head slowly and pinches a lock of her hair to look at.
“It’s lighter,” she says lowly with a glint of relief in her eyes. Her hair is noticeably lighter near the ends; not yet blonde, but it is starting to phase back into it. Seulgi smiles and scoffs.
“You can finally start healing yourself and not just lay here like another human.”
Wendy smiles back.
Gyeongsun’s clothes are similar to Seulgi’s, except his blue vest reaches just down to his hips and his pants are black. His arm sleeves are also blue. His long black hair is tied into a high ponytail and lays over the blue headband covering his forehead.
Seeing this and the unfamiliar group of Wisps, Seulgi knows he has gathered all the Wisps willing to fight and prepares herself. The villagers stare in bewilderment; the children peer out from behind their parents, curiosity painting their faces.
For them, it’s not every day they get to see Wisps getting ready to fight.
Wendy limply follows Seulgi outside with a large red robe draping over her shoulders. Seulgi turns and looks in disapproval.
“You shouldn’t be up. I’ll take care of it. You wait here until Irene returns to heal you, got that?”
Wendy’s pupils gently dilate and constrict.
“I can’t just sit around and let myself be useless. I must go.”
Seulgi sighs in exasperation. “If you go, you’ll really end up a useless pile of flesh and bones.”
Gyeongsun tightens his headband and clears his throat. “You must stay here with Seungwan too.”
Seulgi’s eyebrows furrow and before she can say anything, Gyeongsun continues to speak.
“Listen, Wisps here are still skeptical of Seungwan, and there might be some who will try to attack her. There is also the King of the humans who is trying to kill her. Until she heals and gains her powers back, she’s just her other half; a human.”
Seulgi thinks, before nodding in agreement, even though Irene is her top priority at the moment. “I’ll stay.”
Wendy parts her lips silently, incredulous that Seulgi would agree so easily.
Gyeongsun smiles and nods his head. He turns to look at the group of Wisps gathered, their eyes staring with color and anticipation. Seulgi counts eleven fighters; four being female and seven male.
Gyeongsun walks forward and they let him through to lead them. Seulgi and Wendy stare as the gate opens, leaving them to just stare at their backs until the gate closes again. Wendy clicks her tongue in frustration and disappointment.
“If I had my powers I would be able to…damn,” she says and grits her teeth. “And it was so easy for you to just listen to him?”
Although she remains calm, worry is still evident in Seulgi’s eyes. Wendy follows the directions the other girl is staring with a solemn expression.
“Irene would be pretty pissed knowing I left you alone. We need you in one piece if you’re gonna say what you wanna say to her.”
Wendy turns and heads back slowly towards the home, thinking. She was glad to be back in her time for a brief time. It was the naivety and her ideals that she thinks are what got them in trouble.
She thinks about Miss Hwang and how she, too must have enjoyed the little time they spent together. Wendy has been through this time and time again; she doesn’t understand what all that has happened is supposed to mean.
She’s always known happiness to be short-lasting and often taken away before one can even predict; she knows better than to give into the illusion that something will last forever.
But with Irene and the world she introduced, it’s different. Being with Irene, she feels a sense of peace; although she doesn’t know what will happen.
Being introduced to a time that seemed like a whole new world at first with its skyscrapers, shops, clothes, ways of speaking. Irene familiarized it even though she was snappy and impatient, but she continued to guide and teach anyway.
When Wendy thinks about it, she doesn’t know that much about Irene’s time.
From the first kiss to the last; she’s been distracted by Irene.
So with even more determination, she takes a deep breath and limps faster.
If she wants to see Irene, she would have to gain all her powers back.
“We can’t stay here. The longer we stay here the more we endanger the village. I want this place to stay peaceful.”
Seulgi groans and stands up with a visible frustration. She looks like she’s ready to say something but refrains as if waiting for Wendy to continue to explain.
“We just can’t stay here. I just explained as to why,” Wendy says.
“What the hell do you plan to do with all your injuries,” Seulgi replies in a monotonous voice.
Wendy gets up and unties the red robe wrapped around her. It falls to her feet and reveals the uniform she’s wearing.
It’s like Seulgi’s, but her clothes are all black with white sleeves around her forearms. Seulgi looks her up and down with questions.
“And I’m assuming you wanna fight with said injuries.”
Seulgi clicks her tongue and looks away to think. She can’t exactly stop Wendy. Once she sets her mind to it, no one can stop her.
She can’t leave Wendy alone anyway. If they’re going to jump into the line of fire again, they’d have to go together.
“Okay. Let’s go get that back.”
Wendy grimaces at Seulgi’s remark.
“Why would you call her such a vulgar thing?”
“Thanks old man Dae!” Seulgi yells and shuts the doors before anyone can yell at them.
The two glance at each other with assurance before setting off slowly so Gyeongsun won’t see them on the way.
Together, they plan to save Irene, and kill the man that initiated all of this.
Irene pants frantically. She can’t see, and she can’t remember how she ended up in this place. The floor beneath her is cold and wooden. It’s eerily quiet and she can’t help but feel vulnerable.
Her hair is disheveled, some strands sticking to her parted lips and perspiration forms on her forehead.
Nothing from last night comes to her mind. She remembers that the last thing she saw before blacking out was Seulgi being cut down and words from Wendy that she desperately tries to remember now.
Chills creep her skin and she shivers in response.
Her hands are bound and tied behind a pole. She tries to move but a sharp pain in her leg prevents her from doing so. It feels like a deep gash that was sloppily bandaged up; whoever wrapped it didn’t bother to heal her leg.
After more moments of quivering breaths, she hears thudding footsteps coming closer. Irene’s breathing gets heavier as she tries to break free of the rope that ties her wrists together.
She falls silent when she feels a presence right in front of her. Seconds pass by, until a voice interrupts the silence.
“I’ve felt something peculiar about you from the second I saw you.”
A woman’s voice.
The blindfold that blinded her is pulled off.
Fear enters her body when she sees the terrifying pair of green eyes that stare down at her in the midst of all this darkness.
Aera crouches to get to Irene’s level and squints, as if looking for something.
“Your eyes. They are not glowing although you are most certainly a Wisp.”
Irene doesn’t say anything. There is something about this woman that terrifies her enough to paralyze her.
Aera leans close and raises Irene’s chin with her finger.
“Now, tell me why you attacked your friends. Why are your eyes not glowing?” Aera asks and scans Irene’s wide eyes. “Or should I rip you open for answers?”
Irene gulps and gathers up whatever courage she has left. She takes a few seconds, before she parts her lips to speak.
“Where the hell am I?”
Aera raises an eyebrow. She stands up and Irene follows her every move.
“You know, you are a Toxotis. You shouldn’t involve yourself with the likes of Seungwan and that traitor Hwang.”
Irene says nothing and instead discreetly rolls her eyes in different directions to look for a way to escape.
She grits her teeth, realizing the only way to get away now is to get through the woman in front of her.
“You may not realize this, but deep inside, you want to kill Seungwan,” Aera says, “I can help you with that.”
Irene nearly laughs at this situation; a situation that she thought only happened in movies. The ridiculousness of it all.
“I don’t think so, but more than ever, I want to help her.”
Aera’s gaze flits towards her and the fear that was present earlier returns. Irene shuts right up and closes her eyes to get her heartbeat under control.
She thinks of how alarmed Wendy and Seulgi must’ve been to find out about her disappearance, and hopes they’re coming after her right now.
Irene feels like a damsel in distress, always needing help from others. But in this situation, she doesn’t know what to do other than try to fight as a human and die. There is only so much a human can do in an impossible situation such as this.
“Let me go.”
Aera sits down in front of Irene.
“What did you say to me?”
Irene hesitates. “Let me go. If you were so strong, you wouldn’t need me.”
Aera laughs and shakes her head. She stands back up and walks towards the doors she entered through.
“I know the damage you did to Seungwan. Even though you think you do not wish it, you wanted to do it. Toxotis and the Sons; they will never have the same views and therefore, their discord won’t end. The murders have been committed, blood has been spilled, and the damage has been done. Think about it while you’re in here.”
Aera slides open the doors, but before she can exit, Irene speaks up.
“Do you even remember why you all are fighting amongst yourselves?”
Aera turns her head to the side and smiles. “I only picked you up because I questioned why you attacked Seungwan and her friend. If you’re choosing to be uncooperative, then I will come back to kill you.”
Irene is greeted with a slit of light that shines on her face when the doors close slowly, until it is just darkness. Her shoulders drop, and her expression relaxes. She makes an attempt to move her leg, but to no avail.
Wendy’s blonde hair and smile comes to mind and she has never longed to be home as much as she does now.
There is a slight image, a vision of melting ice cream dripping down fingers and laughter in a movie theatre in her mind.
There’s this itching feeling that she can’t get rid of. Irene can’t remember what caused her to wake up; the words that she had been unsure about.
What were they?
“How’d your parents meet anyway? How’d they become so complicated?” Seulgi asks.
They make their way through the forest, stepping on branches and mud here and there. The sky is one solid color; gray with dark clouds accompanied the rustling of trees caused by the wind down below.
Wendy watches her step and tries her best to avoid any holes.
“My mom wanted to live as a human at one point in her life. She suppressed her powers and appearance and eventually met the bastard through an arranged marriage. She soon revealed herself as a Wisp after years of secretly raising me and when he found out, things went to hell.”
Seulgi’s eyebrows crease. She has more questions, but she doubts Wendy wants to answer all of them.
“Well that’s…romantic, I guess. I’m guessing the whole vendetta with the Toxotis and your family are separate situations?”
Wendy shakes her head slowly. “They correlate, in a way.”
The trees around them are tall with branches outstretched to form leaves that have started to fall. It casts a shadow over Wendy, who only thinks of saving Irene.
She looks at Seulgi, who is in deep thought about something.
“What about you? How’d you and your doppelganger wife meet?”
Seulgi didn’t expect that question at all. She thinks, then smiles.
“Well I don’t know anymore. I’ve been gone for so long I doubt she’s still looking for me. I doubt she’d still be mine when I get back,” she answers. “I don’t know if she’s safe.”
They walk in silence for minutes. Wendy empathizes with Seulgi; there is always deep suffering and risks for a Wisp.
They endanger themselves and the one they love. Wendy bites her lip, finding that situation all too familiar.
“That person, is she human?”
Seulgi exhales. “I don’t really wanna talk about this right now.”
“Well you’re the one who kind of brought the topic up,” Wendy says and Seulgi rolls her eyes at this.
“We can have a nice old chat over this after we get Irene back.”
Wendy pauses her speech only to speak again.
“I know you kissed me. That’s why I asked.”
Seulgi tries to find a way to get out of this conversation, but there are only two of them at this moment.
She wasn’t trying to betray Irene when she did what she did. Seulgi knows the person walking next to her isn’t the one in her original world.
“You knew? I guess I was just trying to feel something I haven’t in a while,” she answers, purses her lips, then kicks at some twigs laying on the ground. “You know, me and Irene should’ve gone back after we got you back to your time, but I guess there are more things in store for us.”
Wendy stares up at the gloomy sky as she thinks about Seulgi’s words. Birds fly overhead, and she can only think of the way time stopped when they were back in Irene’s timeline.
“I guess so.”
Irene grunts and writhes in pain when she struggles to move. She feels the gash in her leg opening back up, staining the bandage with a dark red.
Her sounds of struggle are the only sounds in the room. It’s dark and no one else is present, which frightens her. Aera didn’t inform her of what she would specifically do, or where they are.
There is no telling what Aera would do. If she is here, then Wendy’s father must be here too. While thinking about this, Irene knows she’s in a considerable amount of danger; Wendy and Seulgi, even more.
The sound of a loud crash silences Irene. Her breath is caught in and she stares at the doors with wide cautious eyes.
Swords clashing, and yelling can be heard off in the distance.
Irene’s breath hitches and she jerks her arms violently, attempting to free herself of the rope that binds her.
She gets desperate when she hears footsteps quickly approaching. The wooden pole shakes and wriggles, but she can’t seem to get free of the rope.
The doors slide open and she’s blinded momentarily by the light entering through her eyelids.
The man unties her wrists and Irene plans to run for it, but he presses a sword against her neck.
“I believe we have met before, no?”
Irene’s eyes remain wide open.
She’s grabbed and taken outside with her wound quickly reopening and dripping blood. The man picks her up and she grunts at the contact.
With gritted teeth, she’s unable to say anything until daylight nearly blinds her.
The face of the man that started it all hides the sunlight from blocking her vision.
“What is this? Put me down!” Irene struggles and jerks, but each time she moves, the sharp pain in her leg persists.
Geumryun, infamously known to Irene and Seulgi as Wendy’s father, runs into an open field and on the other side of it, a forest that Irene assumes would lead to his safety. Irene pauses and closes her eyes, gathering the strength.
She takes a deep breath and clenches her fist before striking the man’s jaw. He grunts, surprised at how much strength she has and drops her.
Irene pants and struggles to stand on her own two feet. Relying mainly on her left leg, she tries to limply run away.
Geumryun spreads out his palm, and as if routine, red particles gather around his hand, formulating the weapon that he’d intended to kill everyone who stood in his way with.
Irene stops to look, confused and bewildered at the sight of the red weapon in his hand.
“But you-you’re not a Wisp!” Her confusion is growing by the minute.
How does this man, who was in some way so hard to stop, suddenly have the powers of a Wisp?
The man chuckles and cups his jaw. “I have my ways.”
Irene clenches her fists. She grits her teeth in frustration, knowing that running away will only get her killed.
At this moment, she remembers the training Miss Hwang gave her. Even though she is still very much in her injured human state, she decides to try.
Her fists rise, and she takes her fighting stance with stern eyes. Geumryun laughs at her actions.
“Little girl, if you are so willing to die, then I don’t see why Aera ever needed you.”
Irene can fight freely right now instead of having to worry about her uniform skirt flying up every now and then. Miss Hwang’s clothes give her relief; however, she knows she is still weak.
But if she’s Wendy’s healer, then she must also learn to fight.
He runs towards her, sword in hand. Her body tenses up and she shifts to the side avoiding the monstrous blade. She falls and while doing so, slides her leg against the ground, attempting to trip him. This fails due to her injured leg; even bending it hurts.
Geumryun stumbles back and acts quickly. He wastes no time to raise his sword to finish her off.
Irene rolls to the side at the sight of his sword. He barely manages to land a cut on her cheek when she avoids the attack.
There is barely any strength left in her, but Irene wants to make her effort count. This time, she didn’t expect his sword to get close so quickly. Out of reflex, she blocks the blade of his sword with her hand.
The contact stings in excruciating pain and her arm shakes, almost vibrating.
“!” she hisses but takes this chance to grab his wrist with her other hand and bite him.
It isn’t an ordinary bite; Irene’s teeth rip through the cloth of his clothes and, eventually, his flesh. It’s as if Irene was taking a bite out of a sandwich. She backs up and spits out the lump of bloody flesh inside .
The man yelps and growls after grabbing onto his wrist that is now profusely bleeding.
Irene’s mouth and teeth are stained in his blood. She continues to spit to rid of the horrible taste.
He strikes a cut against Irene’s abdomen; a cut that surely worsens her condition. Irene growls and grunts. Only adrenaline moves her now as she rolls and gets back up, hand on her stomach.
She ignores him and runs the opposite way. Her vision gets blurry and her eyelids start to droop, but she tries her best to remain awake. The amount of blood she’s lost, she doesn’t know.
“Damn it Irene. Come on, come on,” she mumbles to herself in between pants. Her lungs burn with each breath. The muscles in her leg refuse to move any further. The cut in her stomach renders her unable to breathe normally.
Something else upsets her; her Toxotis powers only reveal themselves when she is trying to kill Wendy.
It doesn’t make sense to her.
Why not now? Why only then?
Irene falls to the ground on her knees. Her hands grab the grass when she feels the pain in her leg, hand, and stomach refusing to just heal.
“Why not now? Why not now?!” She yells through gritted teeth when she hears the angry taunts of the man out in the distance behind her getting closer.
Waves of pink come dominating over the brown in her eyes.
Her eyes phase into the brightest pink they have ever been, and she rises when pink particles gather around her in a circular motion.
Geumryun pauses, shocked to see the pink particles sur