“It’s also my first time.
To speak with someone who has… pointed ears like you.”
The man who was described as just ‘pointed ears’ frowned.
His long ears also trembled, adding more to his reaction.
“We, the children of Elandos, are only called that by humans.”
“Only you have short ears.”
The language flowed into her ears as if it was automatically translated, but she couldn’t figure out what ‘Elandos’ was.
Anyway, she could immediately understand that he was offended.
The word ‘pointed ears’ was not used by them to refer to themselves, but rather by the people of the Empire.
And usually, such words were not used in a good meaning even in the world where Jiwoo originally lived.
‘It was a discriminatory word.’
It was clear that she had made a slip of the tongue.
She immediately apologized.
It’s because I haven’t learned much vocabulary.”
The conversation ended there.
Amidst the silence, only the sound of a bonfire was heard.
He stared at Jiwoo, who didn’t even eat the ripe meat, let alone berries, and said in a slightly softened tone.
“Then you don’t have to speak in a language you’re not familiar with.”
“I’m glad the wound wasn’t as deep as I thought.
Let’s first wash and disinfect…”
“I don’t need it.”
He held one of Jiwoo’s arms, but she pulled back.
But he did not give up and took her arm again.
Jiwoo shrunk her shoulders in embarrassment and looked up at him.
“I know you saved me from being swallowed by the miasma.”
“Ah… So that’s why you’re going to take me”
His face turned into a frown.
It was a matter of fact.
The Akarna would not have been something that was useful only to the Empire.
The beasts didn’t just attack humans.
It seems that this person too was seriously injured by a beast before and was about to die somewhere no one would have found him.
Perhaps he would benefit from having the Akarna.
But he frowned and his long ears tilted at an angle.
“I know what you’re misunderstanding, but it’s not like that.
I know it’s polite to repay you for saving me.”
“I don’t need it.”
“Then I’ll escort you to a human village at least.”
“There’s someone coming to my rescue.”
Then his voice, which had been talking non-stop, suddenly stopped.
After pushing this far, he seemed to have nothing more to say.
At first, those races did not like humans anyway.
It seemed like it was already a big favor for him to guide her to the human village.
But he can’t force a favor on someone who keeps refusing until the end.
Instead, he put down all the berries and leather water bags he had brought.
Meat cooked in the bonfire was wrapped in wide leaves and placed next to the fruits.
Also, seeing the Akarna’s particularly thin clothing, he clicked his tongue and took off his cloak, putting it on Jiwoo.
He got up and pursed his lips as if to say something, but he eventually left Jiwoo alone.
Jiwoo, now alone, leaned against the dirt wall and closed her eyes.
She needed to thank him for leaving food and water behind.
But she still didn’t have the will to put those words in her mouth.
She closed her eyes for a moment, and when she opened her eyes, it was dark everywhere.
The bonfire was almost extinguished.
Jiwoo grabbed the cloak that was wrapped around her body once In the peaceful forest, she could hear the chirps of birds, grass bugs, and crickets.
Of course, no one was around.
* * *
The rescue team did not come to Jiwoo immediately.
She had spent two nights in such a conspicuous cave and they still could not find her.
Jiwoo left the cave and followed the path she had gone through and went back up.
There was a big landslide, and the carriage fell there, so she thought they would be able to find her easily, but she was wrong.
The trees that stretched high to the sky were lush, and the grass grew strong.
It wasn’t a popular place for people to go, so there was no easy way to walk.
Besides, the effect of falling from a high place had not yet gone, so her legs still hurt very much.
Walking with a limp just made Jiwoo even more exhausted.
In fact, it looked the same everywhere.
She walked for a long time, but she only felt like she was going round and round on the same road.
Jiwoo, who was spinning through the dense forest, stopped where a thin stream of water was flowing.
It was clear water that reflected her face like a mirror.
She scooped up water with her hands, drank it, and washed her tired face several times.
Then she realized that her body had a serious fever.
‘It would be painful at this rate.’
She learned one thing while living in Akarna.
While this body heals quickly from external stimuli, there was no recovery from internal stress.
And now, that’s exactly what she’s riddled with.
She had to get up and walk more, but she didn’t have the energy to do that.
Jiwoo leaned against a large tree and sat down.
She closed her eyes and listened to the sound of the flowing water.
* * *
When she woke up, it felt like her body was floating in a sense.
A nice smell lingered too.
Jiwoo unconsciously followed the scent and buried her face, then came to her senses.
Someone was carrying her.
When Jiwoo, startled, got up and tried to escape, he stopped her.
“You’ve been unconscious for three days.
Didn’t you say someone was coming to pick you up Why isn’t anyone coming”
“Put, put me down…”
“I can’t put you down.
You’ll die then.”
Truly, however, she was not so keen on clinging to her life.
Not knowing what Jiwoo was thinking, he fixed Jiwoo’s position on his back, and started walking again.
She couldn’t let herself be carried like this.
If she moved further away from the site of the incident, she would forever not be rescued.
She had to go back now.
As if he knew what Jiwoo was thinking, he spoke.
“Bear with it, I will send you back after you recover first.”
With his words, Jiwoo stopped her movements as she had been squirming and making him uncomfortable.
“You’ll send me back”
I will send you back to your hometown safely.”
He didn’t know exactly where Jiwoo’s hometown is, so he must only be referring to the Empire.
But when she heard the word hometown, there was only one place that came to her mind.
Her body ached, which made it even worse.
And she missed that man even more.
“Will you really send me back once I’m well”
Jiwoo let go of all the tension in her body.
“I want to go home…”
She wasn’t even expecting for this wish to come true.
Even so, her heart was relaxed, because even just hearing those words was good enough.
* * *
Eventually, the fever got worse and she got terribly sick.
There was a time when this happened to her because of the frequent overwork at the temple.
However, the priests did not bring any medicine to reduce her fever.
The body that Akarna resides in this time seems to be too weak.
In this case, it would be better to leave her to die and find a healthier vessel.
That was the reason.
So Jiwoo endured the painful time alone with one maid who took care of her.
Even after the fever went down, Jiwoo couldn’t rest comfortably.
Even if she knew that she couldn’t fulfill her duty as the Akarna, she forced herself to do it.
Because the priests would try to kill her and summon a new body.
That was how the temple tamed Akarna.
“Here, eat this.
Out of her mind because of the fever, Jiwoo couldn’t accept what the man was trying to feed to her.
She thought that it was poison to kill her.
“Hey, it’s okay.”
He calmed down Jiwoo, who got frightened in an instant, and showed the medicine properly.
The cloudy liquid was just like the fever reducer that she knew.
“It’s a medicine.”
To lower your fever.
It’s dangerous if your temperature gets higher than this.
You need to lower your fever.”
However, her trembling body was unable to properly receive or even drink the medicine.
The man clicked his tongue, and after he swallowed the medicine in one go, he kissed Jiwoo.
Surprised, she frowned and pushed him away, but he held her by the cheek to keep the medicine from spilling.
She was repulsed by the bitter taste, but when she calmed down, there was a mixture of sweetness.
Every time his tongue rubbed the bitter liquid, it became really sweet.
Come to think of it, strangely, there was no smell of dirty sweat from this man, perhaps because he was of a different race.
Rather, he was warm and had a strong floral scent.
Jiwoo realized that the sweetness that was mixed with the bitter medicine was the taste of his saliva.
The body, weakened by not having eaten anything, instinctively followed the sweet taste.
To soothe her bitter tongue, she swallowed all the medicine and entwined her tongue with him more.
It was an act she did to live without feeling any pleasure from it.
Would she ever be able to receive such unconditional care again Jiwoo was absorbed in the kiss as if she would die soon if she didn’t cling to this feeling now.
The thick, sweet saliva was felt every time their tongue tangled.
It was as if she was drinking the elixir of life.
In the end, it was he who grabbed her shoulder and pulled his lips off first.
His face as he wiped his lips with the back of his hand, was redder than that of Jiwoo’s, who was down with fever.
Finally, Jiwoo came to her senses.
You must be feeling lost because of your fever.”