Starry Night (2)
"The owner?" Leguna inquired. He only saw the chubby woman.
"He was a nice man called Cook," Eirinn said, "I was dumped in the slave market in a small town. If I wasn't sold off fast enough I would just starve to death."
Leguna's fists tightened once again.
I was so close to never seeing her again. Thank you, oh gods in heaven, for keeping Eirinn safe...
"He pitied me, so he bought me and brought me back here. I would've died long ago if he hadn't taken me in."
"Where is he now?" Leguna owed him a thanks for saving his dear friend.
"He… He's dead."
Leguna suddenly remembered the woman had said her husband had died a drunkard a few years earlier.
"Did... he drink himself to death?"
"No! I don't know how he died, but he was smart and good at things, he wouldn't drink himself to die. I'm sure something funny happened."
"You sure? Okay, I'll look into it. Since Mister Cook helped you, I owe him a favor. I'll figure out how he really died."
Eirinn smiled at Leguna.
"Thank you, Big Brother."
"There's no need to thank me."
The two stared at each other awkwardly in silence for a while, the years still forcing some distance between them.
"Big Brother..." Eirinn broke the silence.
"How've you been since we parted? You know my story, so I want to know yours too. You've… You've changed a lot."
Leguna was still naïve, sly, and happy-go-lucky, but Eirinn could feel an air of savagery and killing intent hidden beneath. He had nothing of the sort when she last knew him.
"I want to know what made you change."
"It's a long story, but I'll tell you if you really want…"
Leguna collected his thoughts and began narrating the years that'd gone by.
(Author's note: If I dragged on for 500 thousand more Chinese characters by actually writing the narration out, I wonder if others will come and pummel me to death with a brick?)
It took the whole night to finish the story; Eirinn listened quietly. He had suffered quite a bit, but his story had its fair share of wondrous moments.
"...So I came back to Chino." Leguna licked his dry lips, swallowing to wet his cracked throat. "Boss and Sis are loyal. I'm really lucky to know them. Annie and Innie are... as important to me as you. I'm really happy to have so many friends, and it's all thanks to you."
"If not for you, I would have starved to death all those years ago. Don't tell me you can get everything I have whilst being dead? Even if I didn't die then, I would have been a really sour and twisted guy if I hadn't met you. I'd basically just be a walking corpse."
"Really?" Eirinn lowered her gaze. She never knew her bit of kindness meant so much to the boy. Mama was right. Being kind always pays off.
"Then, Annie... um..." Eirinn stumbled, unsure how to address the girl.
"She's older than you, I think. I think that woman's even older than me!"
Truthfully speaking, neither he nor Eirinn really knew how old either were, and Annie had never mentioned her age, so he knew nothing about that either. All Leguna knew was that Annie felt like she should be older than the two.
"'That woman'? Who calls a girl that?" Eirinn moaned, rolling her eyes.
"Hmph. I won't call anyone else that even if they want me to!" Leguna declared proudly.
"Do you know where she is?"
"No." Leguna shrugged, "I'm not worried. I'll find her somehow, just like how I found you."
"So, you're going to look for her next?" Eirinn asked crestfallenly.
Leguna had helped her just in time, but now he had to leave again while she had to stay in slavery.
"No. It isn't very urgent. I really pissed her off last time I saw her, so giving her some time to cool off won't hurt," Leguna replied, shaking his head.
A few months had passed since he'd hurt her, but he still didn't have the courage to face her. He didn't think she'd ever been as angry as she was at him before. It was his fault, but he couldn't face her without being at least able to survive the onslaught that would come with it. Best leave it be for now.
"Since Bloodhand hurt you I'll make them disappear."
"Big Brother..." Eirinn interjected. She'd been living in Doen for many years now and knew how terrifying the gang was. How could Leguna deal with them so easily? He was just going to get himself killed!
"You don't have to worry. They hurt you; it's only right that they pay for it."
"But you already..." she murmured.
"I killed them yes, but the rest aren't innocent. They've done a lot of horrible things. Besides, I'm sure the rest will come make trouble once they hear what happened here. I should take care of them before they make more trouble for you."
Leguna shrugged nonchalantly. Seeing Eirinn was about to say something, he continued, "I know you well, but I won't change my mind now. Don't try to talk me out of this. Just rest and get better. You should start packing your things as well."
Eirinn finally gave up.
"Why should I pack my things?"
"You're leaving with me, of course! I didn't just come to visit, you know. I came to get you."
"But the owner..."
"Ah, I don't care about that fat woman," Leguna rolled his eyes, "You were originally a free person. She won't complain if I take you away. What's she gonna do? Report me to the constabulary?"
"Well..." Eirinn hesitated. She felt sorry for dropping the owner like this.
"You really tire me out sometimes, you know..." Leguna sighed, "Fine, I'll give her a few coins okay?"
"Okay..." Eirinn finally nodded.
Leguna looked at her again. Her long silver hair shone dreamily in the moonlight. If not for her horrifying face, she would look like a moon flower. He extended his arms and suddenly pulled her into his embrace. She tried to wriggle loose, unsuccessfully. It was summer, but the cool breeze still made her shiver slightly. Leguna's warmth comforted her. She wriggled more, panic slowly welling up inside her chest.
"Never again," Leguna whispered, "I've finally got you, I won't let you go again, and I won't let anyone hurt you again. You don't have to be afraid anymore."
"Okay..." she mumbled.
"Don't worry. Leave everything to me. I promise I will take care of you properly. I'll get you proper treatment so you will look like you're supposed to. Trust, me, okay?"
Eirinn didn't answer. He lowered his gaze to her to find the kitten asleep. Her budding chest rose and fell as she breathed. Leguna could hear her soft breath in the quiet of the night.
"You lazy little..." he smiled.
He didn't disturb her. This was probably the first time she'd slept worry-free in years. She'd been in this town for many years, but she could not feel at home, she had always been an outsider. And, as a slave, she could never relax or let her guard down. This was probably the first time since they'd parted that she felt safe. Just like before, she trusted him unconditionally. As long as he was with her, nothing could hurt her, at least, that was her firm belief.
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