An Irreversible Trade-off – Chapter One

A particular cute guy kinda reminded me this blog’s inactivity as of late. ^^” Anywhoo~ just another filler post today since I still don’t have access to a computer at the moment and thus, I can’t do anything productive (not that I do much of anything productive even with a computer in front of me anyways). XD

Now, without further ado, dive into this fanfic world to your heart’s content. =D

Prologue here.

Next chapter here.

Chapter One -Dream or Nightmare

 

The surface was cold and damp.  Feeling uncomfortable, Soeun turned on her side only to experience the accentuated unpleasant stickiness of her cotton shirt trying to peel free from her skin.  The cold sweats forced her to lie on her back again, slamming the chill away.  Indescribable noises, a cross between cawing and civility, further disturbed her from her slumber of sanctuary.  She tried to reach the coffee table for the remote control to turn down the television volume.  However, she soon gave up when all she could grasp was air.  Still keeping her eyes closed, not completely ready to face a repetitive and pathetic reality, she tried to recall how she ended up sleeping on the floor again.

Out of boredom, she had looked over the strange black card that the new, eccentric postman had given her.  However, except for her name, she could not understand anything else.  The rest of the card was filled with strange scribbles, not too different from those found in the ancient caves as seen from the Discovery Channel.

The noises were not going away and were starting to give her a migraine.  She cursed the producer who thought it was a good idea to murder the audience’s ears with such distasteful combination of cadence.  However, the noises were still not providing enough motivation for her to get up and turn off the television.  Instead, she settled to adapt to the noises with determination.  Oddly, she started to understand the noises.  They were not completely nonsense.  It was a conversation amongst several people.  A terrible cartoon, she assumed.

“…awake yet?”

“No.  However, why was she chosen?”

“Yes, she looks like a defect comparing to the rest of the candidates.”

A round of shrew like laughter followed.

“Sunbae, why these creatures?  They’re so…”

“Repulsive?  Yes, our beauty is far more superior.  However, the rich and royalty will always have one or two with eccentric tastes.”

She groaned in annoyance.  For the past six months, she had developed a talent of guessing the general plot or nature of various television programs.  However, she could not come to a proper conclusion with this one, even though she no longer had any trouble with the voices.  Finally, giving in to her curiosity, she forced her eyes to open.

“Sh!  Our lady is getting up.  Mind your manners.”

Eyes.  Eyes as dark as black pearls.  All was gawking at her.  Her attention torn away from those eerie eyes and travelled to the rest of the features.

Black.  Everywhere was feathery black.

“Lady Soeun—”

She screamed.

“Please calm down.”

“S-s-stay away!”  She quickly shifted backward until her back hit the cold concrete wall.  The skin under her eyes twitched as she watched on warily.  Her dry lips quivered, “S-shoo!  Shoo!  Shoo, you crows!”

“Lady Soeun, I would highly appreciate if you could please refrain yourself from putting us in the same category as those low class crows.  We’re ravens,” one of the bird-like creatures, presumably the leader, had her hands on her hips and said.

Beaks opened and closed with the sound of humanity flowing out.  Dark feather-covered bodies were dressed in purple Victorian-style maid outfits.  Hands were in white gloves and at the end of the long dresses were leather work shoes.  A cruel mockery of the black slavery in American history.

Soeun eyeballed left and right.  She pinched herself.

“Please don’t hurt yourself,” one of the ravens reached out a hand to stop her.

She smacked the hand away and screamed on the top of her lungs for the second time.  “Don’t touch me,” she warned.  She continued to pinch herself as she mumbled, “Why can’t I wake up?  Is this a lucid dream or sleep paralysis?”

“This is Hell,” the leader of the ravens spoke up.

‘Hell?’ Soeun stopped to meet the eyes of the leader.

As if the leader could read her mind, her voice became soft, almost motherly, “Come on Lady Soeun, we’re not going to hurt you.”  However, Soeun still flinched with distrust in her eyes.  “I am Isabelle, the Head Housekeeper of the home to Lord Damien.”

Observing the mild mannerism of the strange creatures, she stood up slowly.

She saw a small smile on Isabelle if it was possible.  It seemed the leader of the bird creatures was satisfied.

“Lily,” Isabelle looked at the direction of the smaller raven of the group, “come here.”

The small raven called Lily obeyed.

“Lady Soeun, Lily will serve as your personal maid from now on,”  Isabelle explained.  “You must be tired, Lady Soeun.  Lily will take you to your room and explain the rules to you.  Here, you should always keep this with you as well.”

A gross sensation shocked through Soeun’s fingertips as Isabelle handed over a red oval stone.  The raven’s hand felt like that of a stuffed doll, cotton wrapped with fancy white cloth.

‘Dream or nightmare?’ Then she thought sarcastically, ‘Kim Soeun’s version of Alice in Wonderland.’

“Come on, Mistress,” Lily said excitedly as she walked to her Mistress’s side, “I’ll show you your rest chamber.”

“Sure, it’s not like I have anything better to do.  Mind as well dream a little longer.”  However, still uncomfortable with the bird creature acting like human, she kept a couple of feet’s distance as they strolled down a grand hallway with no other lights than the candle flames mounted on the brink walls.

She felt as though there was no end to the seemingly endless hallway until the raven slowed down her steps at a door with the word Moonlight carved in English cursive writing.

“Mistress, here’s your rest chamber.” Lily opened the door.  “The bath and new clothing are ready for your use.”

Soeun forced herself to take the first step into the room before any hesitation started to take over her.  She froze but her heart fluttered.

A queen-sized bed lay on the centre, with the head side tightly against the comfort green-lime wall.  The beddings were a combination of baby pink and cream white silk.  A window was on the left side of the bed, at just the right angle to see the moon hovering over the night clouds.  There were also a full-sized dresser table with mirror and a huge closet full of fairy tale-like dresses.  Everything resembled the Victorian time so much that she felt as though she had travelled back in time.

“What is this place…?” she was awed with the miniature Victorian-themed museum.

“This is Mistress’s room,” Lily answered.

Soeun turned around and looked confused.  “No, what is this place?  Why’s everything so…so nineteenth century?”

Now it was Lily’s turn to look confused.  “My Mistress, I’m not sure what ever do you mean?  However, if you are looking for a general answer, the Head Housekeeper has already explained — this is Hell, but Lord Damien’s home to be exact.”

The awe-struck glint withdrew from Soeun.  She muttered to herself, “The heck is with this dream?  Damien, Damien, Damien…Why does this name sound so familiar?”

“Mistress, are you feeling fine?” Lily asked, seemingly out of genuine concern.  However, Soeun could not differentiate between the bird’s expressions very well.

‘Yeah, I would be fine if you could stop your beak from yapping,’ she wanted to say.  However, she suppressed the urge because Lily seemed harmless and even sweet, despite of her creepy beak.  “Never been better,” she answered curtly.

Now, she thought this dream was oddly slow moving.  Where were all the other bizarre elements flying in and out in a flash?  Then, she noticed the raven’s presence was still there.  “Well, you brought me to my room.  So, shouldn’t you be on your way to your other duties now?”

Bewildered, Lily responded, “My sole duty is to serve you, Mistress.”

“Then could you, perhaps, serve me by leaving me alone?” Soeun suggested.  The last thing she wanted was to be stuck in the same room with a human-acting raven.

“If Mistress insisted, I shall obey,” Lily sounded deflated.  “However, before I leave, I must relay the rules to Mistress.”

“Okay, go on.” Soeun dropped back comfortably on the bed, already getting used to the power disparity this place had structured.

“Rule number one: please be presentable at all times.”

She stared down at her own clothes.  ‘Is this feather-brain saying that I’m dirty?’ she wondered.  ‘Fine, it’s nothing a simple shower couldn’t fix.’

“Rule number two: please return to your chamber when the Time Stone turns violet.  If it turns black, Mistress must stay in your room.  Please feel free to go about as you wish once the stone returns to red.”

‘Stone?  She must mean this one.’ She held up the stone and turned it from side to side to examine.

“Now Mistress, if you shall wish for my assistance at any time, please chant out ‘Lily of the Ravens’ three times would suffice.”

“So, that’s it?”

“Yes,” Lily answered.  “Is there anything you would need at this time?”

Soeun shook her head.  “No, you may leave.”

Lily bowed and suddenly vanished into thin air.  This shocked Soeun to back up against the wall.  Despite what she decided as a dream, she was still not used to the unforeseen bizarreness of this dimension.

***

After giving herself a royal spa treatment, Soeun stepped out of the bathroom dressed in a short, red gown embellished with dark, blood roses flowing from the right side of the hip to several inches beyond the hem.  The dress emphasized the whiteness of her skin.

Appreciative of her reflection in the mirror, her lips curved upward.  “Not bad.”  Then her stomach growled.  “But isn’t this dream a bit too detailed?”

She opened every drawer in the room, hoping that some high quality western cuisines would magically appear to satisfy her hunger.  To her dismay, nothing but pretty cosmetics and fancy laces filled the drawers.  Suddenly, an idea popped up in her head.  “Abracadabra!” She pointed her finger at the empty space.

Nothing.

Her shoulders slumped as she sighed, “I’m sure there’s a kitchen around here.”

She opened the door and turned to take in the view of the beautiful room one more time before she travelled down the endless hallway again.

As she wandered further down the hallway, she began to wonder if she should just wake up and cook a ramen.  The hunger was becoming unbearable.  Just then, voices from just a couple of doors ahead temporarily diverted her attention from the hunger.  Curious, she peered through the small gap.

“…forgive me.” A young woman, not much older than Soeun, kneeled on the floor and sobbed.

Soeun could not get a clear look, but it seemed as though the woman was begging at the feet of someone.

“Damien, you know my love for you is never an act.”

‘Damien…’ The name dawned on her. ‘Why am I kept hearing this name…? Did I read a book about someone named Damien?’

A man’s chuckling made Soeun’s heart stopped.  She tried to get a better look without interrupting the flow of the conversation.  She could not put her finger on it, but it suddenly seemed crucial that she must not make herself known.

“Oh no, darling.”

She saw a slender finger gently pushed the woman’s chin up.

“I have never questioned your love as an act.”

The woman tried to suppress her sobbing.  Fear suddenly overtook her eyes.

“It’s just not enough,” the man stated.

Soeun felt the lethal conviction in the man’s inexplicably familiar voice.  Cold sweats formed on her palms as she shakily but carefully pushed the door opened a little wider.

The woman suddenly screamed and rolled on the floor frantically.  Burning blue flames covered her like a well-made blanket.

Soeun wanted to look away, but her body was paralyzed.  Beautiful, olive skins and red, plumped flesh melted away like cheese.  The agony of the woman only lasted a few seconds, but the sickening smell of the burning corpse seemed it would last for an eternity.

The man walked towards the dead body that was still catching bits of the flames.  He stepped on it nonchalantly, as if he was merely putting out a campfire.  A cruel smirk formed on his otherwise handsome face.

‘Jaerim sunbae…’ A breath caught in her throat.  Dream or nightmare, for the first time in the longest while, she chose to follow her intuition no matter how ridiculous it sounded.  Now, her ridiculous intuition was telling her to stay out of sight and run from here as fast and far away as possible.

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One thought on “An Irreversible Trade-off – Chapter One

  1. Pingback: An Irreversible Trade-off – Chapter Two | CapriquariusMei

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