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Birds of a feather [ON HIATUS]

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Caged bird or bird of prey ?
Art cover by Bang Syah (Ai)

 

« I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings
I know why the caged bird sings »

Sympathy by Paul Lau

Information:
This art cover has been created specially for this story, please do not use it without my autorisation.
If you're planning on translating this story feel free to do so  (I would be more than honored) but please make sure to credit me and to tell me.

 

---

HIATUS NOTICE:
Hello everyone,
As many of you have noticed or have been made aware of through Wattpad, this story is currently on hiatus because of my health but also due to some technical issue. While the latter has already been solved I still struggle with my mental health from time to time and as a result it is still impossible for me to confirm whether or not I will continue this story any time soon. Does that mean I might abandon this story ? Not at all, don't worry. I would never do this to you, not after all the lovely comments you posted and your incredible support ! I'm just posting this message to warn you I might not post anything for a couple of weeks or for the next few months if things get too hard for me. I know this probably upsets many of you and I perfectly understand why because this situation also upsets me a lot, but sadly mood swings and anxiety aren't things I can control.
I really hope I will be able to come back to you very soon with a new chapter and the brand new story I've been working on with TheMeaninglessArt ♥  But while I'm away please make sure to support the other writers of the fandom whether they are from AO3 or Wattpad, they are all very talented and super adorable uwu
Thank you for reading my story, I love you !
Nox Dawn
PS: I hope you like the art cover I commissioned because it is my gift for you :) 

Chapter Text

Yangcha blinked multiple times out of surprise, he couldn’t believe what he had just heard. It had to be a joke, there was no way he had missed something that big in all the years he had served Tagon. However the amused expression on his master’s face confirmed his fear.

— It’s unusual to see you this surprised. said the leader of the Daekan Forces in between two sips of wine. Why ? You don’t think I would do a great father ?

His right hand man frowned, he didn’t really like the way his master made light of the situation. A reaction which only made Tagon want to tease him more. It was rare to see Yangcha express any type of feeling, most of the time he looked like he didn’t care about what was happening around him. And even when people talked to him he would only look at the walls or the ceiling.  A behavior which annoyed more than one but which no one complained about, that was the law of the strongest.

— Are you mad I didn’t tell you before ?

The question immediately made Yangcha drop on his knees, his eyes riveted toward the floor. It was his own way of saying it wasn’t the case and that it would never be. To most people a reaction like this would have only been seen as grandiloquent and hypocrite, however for the masked warrior this gesture was more than sincere. As his most loyal servant he never would have allowed himself to succumb to such petty feelings, that would  have been the same as betraying him. Tagon was Tagon, he could do everything he wanted and Yangcha didn’t have a word to say in it. The servant didn’t need to know what his master was scheming, what he was doing or with whom he was working, all he needed to do was to follow. If his lord had wanted all of his allies gone Yangcha would have killed all of them. If he had asked him to torture a child Yangcha would have found the most painful way. If he had told him to die Yangcha would have obeyed right away. Anything Tagon wished for had to be accomplished. In his opinion the soldier didn’t blindly follow his leader’s orders, no. He followed whatever his master would dictate him because he knew he was never wrong, everything he did had a purpose and with him even a failure could turn into the greatest victory. Which is why the servant wasn’t angry at his lord for keeping this information to himself, if he had chosen to do so it must have been for a reason. And if his servant had wanted to know so much about it he should have paid more attention to his master’s behavior.

— Then why are you so worked up ? Said Tagon more to himself than to Yangcha.

The leader of the Daekan Forces was curious. Having as a right hand man someone who wasn’t allowed to talk would have been a burden for anyone, but not for Tagon. His servant was for him a perpetual challenge and he was someone who liked when things were complicated. Because of his mask the soldier didn’t have many facial expressions which made him hard to read however his eyes would often betray his feelings. But even that way he would remain quite mysterious for most people. Of course Tagon wasn’t like most people, he was more observant and more thoughtful. Whenever he would come up with a plan he would blaber some parts of it out loud not to help himself  think but just to observe Yangcha’s reactions. He liked seeing the young man connect all the pieces together and rejoice. Had the masked man been a simple puppet who only followed his orders without thinking Tagon wouldn’t have kept him by his sight, however his right hand man was smart. He knew how to adapt to situations or when to retreat, he wasn’t the type to discuss orders or to act recklessly. And even when he was kept in the dark about his master’s real aim, when facing difficulties he would always opt for the right behavior. He was the perfect balance between loyalty and intellect, which probably explained why he was so good at pleasing Tagon. Without words the two men perfectly communicated, almost as if they were connected.

— You are worried about the consequences of me having a child with Taealha…

Yangcha slightly rose his head and stared straight forward, Tagon understood the gesture right away. He smiled, his guess was the right one and once again his main man had made an interesting remark. Although they deeply loved each other Taealha and him weren’t married, they couldn’t. She was a yomarae who had been ordered to spy on him and his father by seducing them, she had to stay desirable to both of them and to never let one of the side seem to win her over the other. If she were to have a child with any of them it would put an end to the balance and she would be deemed useless. Her father did not favor Tagon and wasn’t planning on supporting him in his political quest so if he were to be made aware of the existence of the child things would not end well for any of them. However Yangcha’s fear was not founded.

— He is not Taealha’s…

The young man slightly flinched, barely containing his surprise. He didn’t understood, he was sure Tagon loved her and he couldn’t think of any other woman in Arth who would have been worthy of his favor. But then again he had failed to discover the existence of his child so who knew how many things his master had hidden from him. He pondered a lot on the question and Tagon watched over him as he did so, it was an entertaining view. At one point he noticed that the soldier had calmed down which meant he had come to a conclusion. Knowing him he probably thought Tagon had managed to bed a woman from the Asa Clan, maybe even Asa Mot herself, and was thinking of using the child later when he would need to overthrow Asa Ron. While it could have been a great strategy seducing a woman from the Asa Clan — let alone Asa Mot its most conservative member, was an impossible task for any stranger. Especially if the said stranger was Tagon, the son of the biggest rival of their leader Asa Ron.

— He is not from the Asa Clan and he is not even my child either.

While his entire body was frozen the eyes of Yangcha betrayed his confusion, he hadn’t expected this answer at all. If Tagon had adopted this baby it meant it could be of use for him later, but whose parent could it have been for him to make it such a huge secret ? Although he couldn’t see his eyes his leader perceived his bewilderment.

— To be honest I don’t even know his parents...

Once again only the silence answered him, but it was a silence way more eloquent than any speech both  of them had ever heard. This time Yangcha hadn’t provided any answer, he had only asked one question. And Tagon understood it right away.

— Because he is like me.

His voice was cold and his explanation was short, no other words were needed or would be allowed on this topic. The masked man lowered his head again, his eyes glutted to the floor. Even if he hadn’t done anything wrong he felt sorry. He understood the meaning behind this sentence and the weigh it holded on the heart of his master. He should have understood faster or maybe he shouldn’t have asked any question at all. Either way he had done a mistake.

— Now that you know about his existence I have a question for you, will you protect my child ?

Changing of topic abruptly to avoid talking about that particular thing, it was just like him. Yangcha lifted one of his leg in order to only have one of his kneel touching the floor then extended his arm from his forehead toward the ceiling. This meant that he would follow the order, which didn’t quite satisfied Tagon. He didn’t want his soldier to see this as a simple task, he wanted him to consider it as a new role.

— Treat him like you would treat my very own child, he is important to me.

Saying those words Tagon grabbed documents on his table and started to read them. Yangcha knew he wasn’t putting an end to the discussion, he actually was considering something about it. Working on something else at the same time helped him to order his thoughts when taking decisions which bothered him. He hadn’t made his mind on how valuable was the child to him so the masked man had to wait. The waiting lasted quite a while but the soldier didn’t mind, he was used to it. Most of the time he would stand guard in Tagon’s office or outside of his tent. Tagon suddenly stopped writing on the document he was working on and then said.

— He is important but never place him above Taealha. As of now she is way more useful than him.

This time Yangcha simply nodded and Tagon started writing again without even looking at him. The second part of his sentence had created complicated feelings inside of him, he had only met the child a few times but he had already felt an incredible potential. He didn’t doubt he would become a powerful ally in the future, maybe even more than Taealha. “I need to get the throne fast to avoid making such a choice”, he thought to himself.
Noticing that his right hand man hadn’t moved at all he stood up once again and walked to him, the soldier immediately rose to his feet ready to follow him like his shadow.

— You probably are curious about him aren’t you ? Sadly I’m afraid I don’t have much informations to give to you, I only recently started communicating with him.

He pointed at the fire of the chimney and his warrior understood what he was trying to say, he had burnt each one of the letters in order to not leave any trace. Yangcha wasn’t worried about that, he knew his master had read each one of them and probably had memorized most of their content.

—  As of now he is eighteen...Tagon marked a pause after realizing something.

You were much younger than him when you joined the Daekan Forces .”
Yangcha had joined their troops young, way too young even in the eyes of their leader. Both of them knew what he had seen and what he had endured, those weren’t experiences a child should have gone through. Tagon wasn’t really sure on how the young man had managed to keep his sanity but he was at least sure of thing, as long as he was one of his people he would never allow anyone to make him suffer like this again.


— I wanted to have him join me earlier but I felt like he wasn’t ready. He has grown up alone in a tower until his fourteen birthday so I couldn’t just throw him right away on the battlefield.

At the mention of the word “fourteen” the eyes of the masked man lightened up. He understood everything, he had managed to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Tagon smiled to him before leaning on his desk.

— So you finally remembered ? What happened four years ago 

 

Chapter Text

Everything Saya had done until now had brought him to this moment. The years of suffering alone, the fear of the unknown and all the dangers he had faced to arrive here. Everything had brought him to the man standing so close yet so far away from him. Tagon, the leader of the Daekan Forces but most importantly; his father. 

 

— You did well today again, good job !  You all should go and rest now, tomorrow might be harder than today.

Saya admired him as he talked to his men, he looked full of assurance and ease despite the state they all were in. The young boy could easily guess they probably had just finished cleaning up the battlefield on which they had fought. They were covered in blood and dirt but there were no trace left of bodies or broken weapons. He couldn’t help but feel disappointed, he would have loved to witness his father in action. To see him fight and overpower his opponents with his incredible skills. In the lonely place where he had been raised his only source of amusement were the tales about his father Hae Tuak would sometimes tell him. His father was the hero and protector of Arthdal, his greatest fighter and his best strategist. That’s why he always had to be away, that’s why he couldn’t come and visit him. He wasn’t avoiding him, no ! It’s just that his work was too important. He had to protect their great city and all of their inhabitants. A task which could only be achieved by someone as great as him and his valorous warriors, the Daekan Troops. Saya looked up at them almost as passionately as he admired his father, he envied those men he had never met because they had the trust of his father. Sadly he hadn’t been able to gather much information on his heroes as Hae Tuak didn’t knew about a lot of them. She had told him that the best fighter of the group was Mubaek, a man from a tiny tribe who had been the leader until Tagon arrived. Then next in strength was Yangcha, his father’s right hand man. He was a mysterious masked fighter who wasn’t allowed to talk because of a punishment for an important fault he had made. Saya was very curious about it but most importantly he admired the generosity of his father for accepting a sinner among his rank, if the decision had been his he never would have accepted. He sometimes wondered if his father truly was such a virtuous man or if he was the one who still had a lot to learn about the value of men.

— Mubaek I’ll let you take care of the rest.

The voice of Tagon forced Saya out of his train of thought, his father was on the move he had to follow him. However he still had to be careful, none of his men knew about his existence and he didn’t want to create a scene on their first meeting. He had to stay hidden until they returned to the camp, he didn’t knew where his father was heading but it didn't look like he was planning on accompanying his soldiers. If he stayed away from them it would make things way more easier for his son who wanted to talk to him alone, yet again the odds didn’t seem to be on his favor. While most of the soldiers stayed kneeled on the floor, one of them rose to his feet and followed him. “Yangcha…” Immediately identified Saya, he frowned, why was this man following his father when it clearly looked like he wanted some time alone ? While he wanted to complain out loud all he could do right now was curse at him in his head.

— Ah this day is finally over ! happily shouted one of the man while stretching his arms. Time to go home !
— But where is lord Tagon going ? asked another.
— Well lady Taealha was there yesterday, she might have announced to him something important he needs to think about.

The comment of the third man created a wave of confusion among the warriors who started to chat among themselves like undisciplined children.

— Lady Taealha was there ?
— I didn’t see her.
— Me neither and I was on duty !
— Well no one is surprised about that.
— Hey what are you insinuating ?

From there all the chatters turned into loud comments as everyone seemed to have something to say about the person next to them. This hubbub lasted  until the man who had mentioned Taealha’s presence in the first place gestured everyone to be silent.

— You’re all totally missing the point here ! he said to them with an annoyed face. You should be talking about what she could have announced to him instead of blabbering about whether someone saw her or not !

His remark made the crowd go wild once again, all the soldiers were now exchanging theories on what Taealha could have revealed to Tagon. Some of the warriors claiming she may have come to announce to them they were finally allowed to go back to Arthdal, while others were affirming she had only come to give them orders.

— As expected when it comes to gossips no one can beat Gilsun !

Saya tried to gather in his mind all the informations he knew about this man. He was a member of the White Mountain tribe and an influent one at that, which placed him near Mubaek in term of rank but clearly below him in  term of fighting skills. Hae Tuak had said he was quite smart but lady Taealha had called him a “capable idiot” so he wasn’t too sure on what to think of him.

— I thought you were tired and needed to rest but seeing how you  still have that much energy to talk about things which do not concern you I guess you won’t need a day of rest tomorrow.

The comment from the man who Saya assumed was Mubaek made all the warriors silent. He was just like Hae Tuak had said, more serious and mature than the others.

— Brother, aren’t you being too harsh ? asked the man who had rejoiced about going home earlier. We are just chatting

Saya identified him as Mugwang, contrary to his older brother he was childish and had average fighting skills. Despite thinking of him this way the young boy didn’t despise the soldier, he had heard of how loyal and obedient Mugwang was to his father and nothing in his heart could ever beat such a good attitude.

— We are going back to the camp. ordered Mubaek without paying any mind to how discomfited his brother looked.
— You sure know how to ruin the mood. commented Gilsun. Mugwang is right, you’re being a pain in the ass with your sore attitude.

Mubaek glared at him angrily before walking up to him as if to challenge him into a fight. “Now is the moment !” thought Saya as much as he wished to stay and observe a fight between the two men, he knew their bickering was the only opportunity for him to pass by them without getting spotted. Walking slowly on all fours he circumvented the crowd as silently as he could and went in the direction his father had gone. Even if it was getting darker he didn’t mind, for a reason he didn’t knew he could see very well even during night time. After a few minutes of fast walking he caught up to the two men. His father was still leading as Yangcha followed him, none of them exchanged a word but they both seemed quite concentrated. Saya admired his father once again, he was tall and muscular just like he had had imagined. He was also  handsome and charismatic just as the heroes in the books he had read. There was no doubt in the mind of the young boy that his father must have been favored by the Gods and that simple thought made his heart burst with pride. Pride but also fear, compared to his father he felt so little and insignifiant. He was worried about many things, how would his father react after seeing him, what he would think of him and what he would decide to do with him in the future. “What if he decides to lock me up again in the tower ?” this simple thought terrified him, he didn’t want to go back there again. He hoped his father would understand but he also hoped he would tell him what he had done to be punished like that all those years. “Father please forgive me for my past wrongdoings and let me stand by your side…” too busy repeating those words again and again in his mind to give himself strength, Saya didn’t caught the slight stoppage the two men he was following executed at the same time.

— Leave me, I want to be alone for a moment.

Tagon had said those words without looking back but Yangcha still cared to bow to him. After doing so he turned tails and left, leaving his leader alone in the forest. And the further the soldier walked away, the louder Saya’s heart reasonated. He could feel his entire body shaking and his hands becoming sweaty. Now truly was the moment he had dreamed of his entire life. It was time for him to greet his father. 

— I know you’re there so why are you hiding ?

The question almost made the young child collapse, he couldn’t believe his ears. Had his father been aware of his presence since the beginning ? “Of course he must have” he was the lord of war Tagon, the best strategist of Arthdal. There was no way someone as wise and experimented as him could have been deceived by a small fry like himself. After taking a huge breathe the boy left his hiding-place and advanced. At first he walked, with careful and timid steps but then as he saw his father slowly turn to look at him he started to run.

And it was at this moment that it happened.

He suddenly felt something cold and hard violently grab his throat to pin him on the floor. As he was out of breath and confused he didn’t even think about freeing himself before a shadow suddenly jumped on top of him to pressure him down. The weight of the man was making it hard to breathe and the tears of pain he was trying to refrain from flowing were blurring his vision. He couldn’t see well but he immediately recognized Yangcha because of the dark spot his mask was creating on his face. Afraid the child tried to open his mouth to call out to his father only to have grip of the chain around his neck tighten. Panicking he started to resist but quickly gave up as the soldier increased his pain each time he moved. 

— Well what do we have here ? said Tagon while approaching, after seeing Saya his expression changed. A child ? Now I always knew Mihol had no problem using innocent children for his dirty deeds but it’s my first time seeing him use a killer child.

The masked man didn’t answer but his growing anger and hatred toward Saya didn’t go unnoticed.

—  Hey now...What’s gotten into you ? asked Tagon with a hint of amusement in his voice.

Yangcha looked away, clearly embarrassed by his reaction.

— It’s just a child, he wouldn’t have been able to hurt me anyway.

Reluctantly his loyal servant loosened his chain allowing oxygen to enter Saya’s lungs which made he cough loudly.

— What’s your name kid and what were you trying to do ?

Between two violent coughing fits the child tried to pull himself up but was violently pushed back by the soldier.

— Yangcha. said his lord with a cold voice.

The soldier immediately got off of the boy as if he had been burnt. Having done so he then picked up his weapon without taking his eyes off him. His behavior was calm but the killing intents in his gaze was perceptible. This time Tagon didn’t comment on his attitude and directly addressed the trembling child. 

— Catch your breath kid then answer my question.

Saya nodded to show he had understood and took a minute to himself to gain back a part of his composure.

— Now tell me, who sent you ?

Although he had asked this question with a gentle tone, his son could still feel the authority in it. Out of nervousness he lowered his eyes and his head.

— No one fa... sir.

Yangcha rolled his eyes and Tagon sighed, obviously none of them was convinced.

— Look if you’re going to lie you should at least dot it properly, I don’t want to hurt you but I will have to do so if you keep on lying.
— I’m not lying ! I swear ! I just… he glanced towards Yangcha...C-cannot reveal anything in front of him.

The leader of the Daekhan Forces putted his hand on the shoulder of the young boy and spoke with a reassuring voice.

— As you can see this man is under the punishment of silence, he wouldn’t be able to repeat anything you just said even if he wanted. You can speak without any fear.
— I-I know about this..But, but still… I cannot.

Tagon didn’t hide his irritation to the slightest which made the cheeks of his son reden out of embarrassment, he didn’t want to be such a nuisance for his father but he had to insist. It was the only way to protect their secret and to protect him.

— Fine. Yangcha…

He didn’t even have to finish his sentence, his loyal soldier had already stood up. In the silent exchange of glances that followed a message was passed, his right hand man wasn’t needed, he could leave. Which he did after bowing and looking one last time at the young kid, anger written all over his face.

— I have accepted your request, we are alone. Now tell me, who sent you ?

His heart pounding in his chest like a furious war drum, Saya slowly opened his mouth.“This is it...the moment I’ve been waiting, the scene I have so much dreamed of. The very first time I am allowed to call you...

— Father…

As if he had been struck by thunder Tagon’s heart missed a beat. The sensation made him feel like the entire world was collapsing. The man froze. For the first time in his life he wasn’t sure on to what to say. The fine orator who he was couldn’t think of anything he could have said to regain control over the situation. Until now he had not thought one second that the kid in front of him could have been the same kid he had rescued years ago. He had made many hypothesis about his identity but none of them had hit the mark. Just like he had locked up the child in a tower far away from him, he had locked up his existence in the back of his mind. The same place where he had trapped his old demons in the hope they would stop haunting him. “A mistake…” he thought to himself, he had become too comfortable for someone in such a dangerous situation. Locking away his fears had made him forget about the sword of Damocles he had himself placed above his own head. The arrival of this cursed child was a proof in itself of how fragile everything he had built until now was. A simple kid could have destroyed everything. The years he had spent fighting away from home, all the promises he had broken, all the people he had to kill to protect his secrets. There were so many thing he had sacrificed to become the man he was today and in a single day almost everything had turned to ruins.


— Fa..ther..?

This time Saya’s voice didn’t have as much strength as the first time he had called out to him. He was scared of the look his father was giving him and the pressure he was exercising on his shoulder with his hand. Was he angry ? Disappointed ? Shocked ? The child couldn’t tell, but his nervousness was enough to somehow bring back Tagon to his normal state. With a faked warm smile on his face and slightly trembling fingers he brushed the make up off the mouth of his son to reveal the natural color of his lips; a vibrant purple. He felt a sort of surge of relief by confirming he hadn’t fallen into a trap, the child truly was an igutu, just like him. But at the same time this verification was making him grow anxious. “So many things could have gone wrong.”

— Who is aware of your presence here ? he said with his hand still resting on the cheek of his child. A gesture which totally  made Saya ignore the state his father was in.
— No one outside of Sanarae, I...
— Who is Saenare ?  Tagon’s question had been asked abruptly and coldly yet once again Saya ignored his odd behavior. He was too happy to see his father show a bit of interest in him and to finally be able to talk to him. The world could have ended right this instant he wouldn't have cared. The only thing that mattered to him was having his father sit in front of him and talk to him. His own happiness was blinding him to the point that he couldn’t even read the panic in Tagon’s eyes. To the warrior everything suddenly seemed out of his control and he felt powerless, a feeling which he hated. Just a few hours ago he had been controlling an entire battlefield but now he was at the mercy of a child.

— She’s a servant Taealha gave me a few months ago but she...he hesitated to comment about her in front of his father. She’s a bit weird to be honest, she doesn’t listen well to what I say and she just does whatever she wants !

The Daekhan Forces leader tried to calm himself down to analyze what he had just heard.  Taealha had given a servant to the child without asking him first about it, which in itself was very weird since it wouldn’t have taken much time for the servant to understand their master was an Igutu. “What is Taealha planning ?” The man pondered, if Taealha was going to betray him she would have opted for a far better strategy with lower chances of backfiring.  So what could she have in mind to do something so risky ? As his father was remaining silent, Saya interpreted his behavior as a disapproval of his little tantrum.

— B-but of course I’ll learn soon how to… Uh...Be a good master like you.

Tagon ignored his comment and undertook to ask him more questions.

— Which clan is she from ?
— I don’t know... Probably a minority clan, she lost her entire family in a fire...he paused during a few seconds after remembering something. She once said Taealha wouldn’t have chosen her if it hadn’t been the case, but she refused to explain to me why.

This girl is smart” thought Tagon, she had seen through Taealha’s reasoning although she probably didn’t have all the keys to perfectly understand it. Taealha had chosen an orphan because they were the most obedient servants, they didn’t have any family or relative left with with whom they could share secrets with, and were totally tied to the fate of their masters. If they tried to betray their master and were caught they could be killed and if they got their master into trouble they would be punished alongside them. This is why Saenarae wasn’t too much of a treat, she couldn’t reveal Saya was an Igutu as she had no one left to believe her and support her accusations against the hero of Arth. This thought helped Tagon to calm down, he didn’t have to worry too much about her for now. Now the only thing left on is mind was Taealha, he couldn’t quite figure out why she had decided to give Saya a servant but he trusted her. She was cunning and loyal, he knew she wouldn’t have taken this risk if she wasn’t sure they both would have greatly beneficiated from it. Until now Tagon hadn’t thought even once of what he would do with Saya because whenever the existence of the child would cross his mind he would feel restless. But Taealha probably had considered the question a lot and had found a way to make him useful. Until now she had rarely brought up the topic of their adopted child — Tagon suspected she had noticed how uncomfortable it made him, but they would need to discuss the future of the child one day or another. “Probably sooner than what we thought”  figured the leader of the Daekan forces. The fugue of Saya changed everything both of them had planned concerning their future, they needed to carefully study the consequences of his acts. Not only that but they would also need to discuss the acts of this Saenarae who sounded a bit too smart for her own good and whom he actually knew nothing about.


— Is she kind to you ?

The sudden question made Saya blush a little bit, not because there was anything between him and Saenarae but because he was embarrassed at the idea of his father thinking so.

— Well uh… She is. Sometimes...Not that she’s mean to me ! But she teases me a lot... I guess that I can call her friend… he lowered his head, his eyes riveted on his feet.

Tagon longly looked at him, a part of him was touched by his naivety but the other wanted to make him face reality. In Arthdal Igutus were monsters, it was impossible that this girl ever saw him as something else than that. She only was nice to him because she had been told to be, but if Taealha had ordered her to kill him she would have probably done it without any remorse.“My woman...Taealha” whispered a little voice in his head, a veil of nostalgy covered his eyes as he remembered the moment she had discovered he himself was an Igutu. A sweet yet painful moment engraved in his memory forever. He knew how lucky he had been to meet someone like her, and he knew a meeting like this would never ever happen again.. In his thirty years of existence, from all the people who had learnt the truth about him only four of them had survived. This was how rare people who accepted Igutus were. Something Saya had yet to learn about and which Tagon didn’t really feel  like teaching him yet. Instead he decided to come back to his interrogatory.

— And where is she now ?
— She refused to accompany me, she said it would be better if for our first meeting we were alone. 


Tagon laughed internally, it was evident that Saenarae had only said so after realizing that without Taealha being around she would never be able to stop Saya from escaping. He couldn’t blame her, Saya was an igutu and Tagon knew too well how capable they were when it came to breaking the rules. But still he had to admire her ability to lie so easily. “She would make a great politician” She had refused to go with Saya because she was scared of being punished by Tagon but had managed to convince him she had done it for both of their sake. He wasn’t angry at her for choosing to avoid him either, after all even if Taealha must have seemed scary to her to most people Tagon was way worst.

— I see, how did you find me ?

Saya avoided the gaze of his father and triturated the fabric of his shirt.

— I followed Taealha from afar.

To his surprise, Tagon chuckled softly. The warrior found very funny that the best spy of Arthdal didn’t notice the presence of a kid following her for days. When she would learn about this her pride would most likely be hurt and her lover could already see the annoyed face she would make once he would tell her.  Still, he couldn’t really mock her. This child wasn’t like any other, he was an igutu after all, it was normal for him to be able to accomplish such things easily despite his young age. This thought suddenly made Tagon curious, until now he hadn’t cared about him but his sudden appearance — as frightening as it was, was making him reconsider how he had treated him. He wanted to know, how many things would he be able to achieve under his guidance ?

— How old are you now ?
— Fourteen father !

The leader of the Daekan seemed disappointed and his reaction didn’t elude his son.

— It’s still too young…

He won’t be useful to me now, but in the future…” he looked at Saya under a new light, while he still considered him as a threat to his safety he couldn’t help but feel excited to see how he could shape and use this new tool.

— I know I’m young father but I also know that I can be of use to you ! You can ask me anything and I’ll obey !

Tagon froze, during a few seconds he saw himself as a child begging his father on his knees to spare him, to give him a chance to be useful. Had he really looked that pitiful ? He couldn’t tell but seeing Saya acts exactly like he used to disgusted him it was like looking at his own reflection, he hated it.
— Don’t ever beg again to anyone.

Saya lifted his head up timidly.

— You’re my son. The son of Tagon, the leader of the Daekan Troops and an heir of the Sanyeok Tribe. You should never kneel in front of anyone, understood ?
— Yes father.

During a few seconds Tagon was troubled by the gaze Saya gave him, he could see how much he had touched the young boy by acknowledging him as his soon. He disliked that. To him Saya was just a tool nothing more so having him look at him with such hopeful eyes annoyed him. He had the impression once again of looking at his old self, naive and optimistic. It made him want to crush the hope he could read in Saya’s eyes. He wanted to make him taste a little bit of what he had endured years ago. It was an act of pure bitterness and Saya didn’t deserve it but Tagon couldn’t help himself and thus he addressed the young boy with a cold tone: 

— You’re useless and weak, nothing but a burden to me.

Weirdly seeing Saya’s face break down didn’t bring him any comfort all the contrary and yet he didn’t stop because it still felt to me that it wasn’t enough. It was nothing compared to what he had heard his entire life.

— You “think” you can be of use when you don’t even follow orders ? We ordered you to stay in the tower but you ran away at the first occasion.
— But father  all I wante-...
— Be quiet !

Saya bit his lips and lowered his head once again.

— What would have happened if someone had discovered you ?! Would you have assumed the consequences ? Would you have found a miracle solution to save us all ?

He paused and grabbed Saya’s face to force him to look into his eyes.

— No you wouldn’t have. And why is that ? Because you’re just a useless child !

He let go of his face and stood up.

— Now if you understood all of this, go home immediately.

He suddenly couldn’t stand the view of Saya in front of him, the interest he had taken in him a few minutes had disappeared to make way for the disgust and uneasiness he was feeling towards him but also himself.

— Then...What should I do ? whispered Saya, What should I do to be worthy of you father ?

Since he still had his head lowered Tagon couldn’t read his expression but he could tell by the sound of his voice how emotional he was. His tone was a mix of rage and sadness and yet it was extremely calm. There was a bit of resolve in it, something he didn’t expect from a fourteen years old. “Interesting” thought his father.

— Look at me.

Saya reludanctly lifted his head and their eyes met once again. “Determination” was the first word to come to Tagon’s mind. He had expected the young boy to crumble in fear and cry of pain but instead he was giving him a daring look. He was awaiting for his next words ready to meet the challenge, an attitude which surprised his father as Taealha had never mentioned that he had such a personality. But then again they rarely talked about him. Still this change of attitude intrigued Tagon who decided to give him a chance.

— I want you to go home and train with Taealha. Now don’t rejoice yourself too fast, I have three conditions.

His son nodded.

— First, your are to obey to everything she tells you. If you ever disobey or talk back to her I will have you locked and chained up in this tower for the rest of your life. he broke off momentarily to let the words sink into Saya’s mind, once he was sure he had understood he continued. Secondly, you won’t ever contact me under any circumstance until you are ready.

Saya frowned, the first condition made sense to him but not the second one. Tagon noticed his trouble and briefly explained.

— I don’t want Mihol or Asa Ron to intercept our exchanges.

That wasn’t the only reason but Tagon prefered to leave it at that, he would never admit out loud that being reminded of Saya’s existence made him restless.

— I understand but..What do you mean by ready ?
— I want to see if I can trust your judgment, once you think you are worthy of accompanying me send me a letter.
His answer made Saya bit his nail, he still didn’t understood what his father expected from him and was worried about sending a letter too early.

— But how would I kn-....?

Tagon interrupted him once again.

— This is the third condition, if you want to join me you will have to defeat Yangcha.

Contrary to what he had expected the young boy didn’t turn white as a sheet but instead smiled slightly.

— Then father we should meet in four years.

Chapter Text

So the child we met that day was his son” this new information was a bit hard to swallow for Yangcha. He closed his eyes during a few seconds as the revelation hit him, like a punch to the face. He had pinned to the ground, chained and choked the only heir of his master. He had harmed him ! And he would have ended up killing him if Tagon hadn’t stopped him. He clenched his fists and lowered his head, he was angry and ashamed of himself. He had almost destroyed something really precious to Tagon on a simple impulse. He suddenly didn’t feel like he was deserving on being by his side. A reaction which didn’t go unnoticed by his lord who chuckled once again, albeit this time he didn’t sound amused at all, it was more of a bitter laugh. 

— I didn’t even recognize him myself so how were you supposed to do ?

Yangcha knew he was right but he still felt bad for his past behavior, in any case he should have dealt with the situation way much better. At that time he had let his emotions get the best of him, like a greenhorn. As Tagon’s bodyguard he should have been used to people tailing him or trying to attempt to his life, but he had failed, his anger had overcome his mind. Thankfully nowadays things were different, he was much calmer when dealing with those types of situations and he knew he would never do the same mistake again. However it wasn’t enough to reassure him as he had another problem to worry about, the consequences of his act: “What if his son resents me ?” He didn’t really care about what anyone thought of him in general, but things were different for people like Taealha, Sanwoong or  in this case Tagon’s sole heir. No matter how cold his master could be when talking about them Yangcha knew they still held a specific place in his heart. « — Tagon just cannot stop himself from loving people » that was what Taealha had once said to Hae Tuak after having a fight with him. At the time he hadn’t understood what she meant by that but after all those years he now agreed with her. Tagon was strong except when it came to the people he loved. It was because he loved them too much that he couldn’t discard them away.  “Does he love his son ?”  Yangcha wished he knew the answer but someone like him couldn’t understand what “love” is. Instead all he could do was guess, as usual. Tagon had said his son was not as important as Taealha, but he had hesitated before saying so. He didn’t believe Tagon’s heir could have possibly been more useful than Taealha which meant that his hesitation came from something else. Love. “Is it possible to love someone you have only met once ?” the soldier pondered for a while on the matter before remembering his own encounter with the son of his master. He had hated him right away, so if he could hate someone at the first sight then the contrary surely was possible. “So he does love him” he concluded and realizing this annoyed him a little bit. “It is unfair” said a little voice in the back of his mind but he pushed it away. It was not, it was just how things were supposed to be. He was the dagger and the eyes behind the back of Tagon, nothing more. It wasn’t because he wasn't loyal or useful enough it was because he wasn’t special enough, between him and the people in the heart of his lord there was an impenetrable wall. He could never give a meaning to Tagon’s life like Sawoong did or comfort him whenever he was on the verge of collapsing like Taealha did. All he could do was obey and listen. “But what can his son do for him ?” Yangcha thought about it for a moment then remembered something, Tagon had saved the boy because he was “like him”, because he was an Igutu. It still didn’t make much sense to the masked warrior but he thought that maybe he couldn’t understand because he had never met someone like himself before. He suddenly wondered if things would have been different if he had been able to talk, but even then he wasn’t too sure of that. The other Daekan soldiers could talk, they were loyal and useful, and yet Tagon didn’t love them. Or at least he didn’t love them the way he loved his father or Taealha. If they ever stopped being useful or if they betrayed him he would get rid of them right away. Yangcha thought back to Sanung, the man had been a thorn in Tagon’s side for years and yet he was still alive. Yangcha couldn’t understand why.  “Love is something quite complicated” he thought to himself and even if he often was curious about it he was glad he couldn’t feel it. If he were to love someone he was sure it would only get in the way of Tagon and he needed to remain useful and loyal, or else he would be thrown away. — You probably are curious about why I am now telling you all of this ? suddenly asked Tagon before taking a big sip of alcohol. This time Yangcha didn’t really pay attention to his words, he  was more concerned by the quantity of alcohol his lord had been wading through since the beginning of their conversation. He knew his leader capable of holding his liquor but that didn’t mean he liked to see him drink. Drinking to celebrate a victory was one thing but drinking because something was on his mind him wasn’t a habit the masked warrior wanted to see coming back. Sadly he couldn’t tell his master anything and even if he had been able to he wouldn’t have, it wasn’t his place, so all he could do was observe him. He glanced at one of the many alcool jars in the tent. They were gifts from rich personalities of Arthdal and from the leaders of The Union, although Yangcha doubted Asa Ron had accepted to spend money on something else than himself. Since alcohol could cause the fall of any good army they were stocked in the tent of the leader to avoid being opened outside of big occasions, however Tagon had never been really good at respecting the rules of The Union. Yangcha sighed internally, next to the writing desk of his master there were two empty jars. As an Igutu, just like any other poisons, alcohol had way less effect on him than Sarams, however he still could get drunk if he wasn’t careful. And Yangcha wasn’t particularly excited at the idea of  dealing with a drunk Tagon, he would act just like the other Daekan members, meaning he would act stupidly. He would say weird things his loyal right-hand man couldn’t understand and would also tease him a lot.

— All of this will depend on you Yangcha. The concerned blinked multiple times out of surprise after hearing his name “Me ?

— I want you to leave tomorrow at dawn and to go to Arthdal.

Did something happen there ? ” silently asked Yangcha totally focused this time.

— Once you will arrive there you will meet my son, Saya.

The warrior repeated the last word in his head “ Saya ”, it sounded nice to the ear. He was curious to see what kind of face accompanied such a particular name. 

 — He chose this name himself, it has multiple meanings since it’s a word used in different foreign languages. explained Tagon while pouring himself another drink. Taealha told me he was smart and enjoyed learning new things, I guess that much is true. Tagon had spoken with a sort of softness in his voice which didn’t escape to his soldier. Was he proud of his son or was it the alcohol ? A part of Yangcha hoped it was the latter, he didn’t know why but hearing Tagon compliment his son didn’t feel good. He didn’t like that. But he didn’t say anything and simply waited for his lord to finish his explanation, as always did.

— When you will meet him, Saya will try to kill you.

Yangcha stiffened but did not lose his composure, he trusted Tagon more than anyone else andmaybe even more than himself, there had to be a reason for his master to send him there despite the threat. Maybe Saya had rebelled and Taealha had requested Tagon to send Yangcha to bring him back ? Or maybe he had been captured by an enemy and Tagon wanted to warn him of the possible reaction his son might have when he would come to rescue him ?  Many theories and questions flew in Yangcha's mind, to the point that he didn't notice Tagon's amused gaze on him for some time.

— Don't go and imagine the most catastrophic stories. he said with a teasing tone, I simply want you to test his skills in a fight. 

Yangcha slightly frowned that was an unexpected order. “Is that all ?” There had to be more to it than just dueling with his son, this was something even Hae Tuak could do.

—  You think it will be a simple task ? If he had to be honest, this order did in fact sound easy to him. A duel against a rookie warrior was a cakewalk for a battle hardened soldier like him. 

 —  He is an igutu and Taealha personally overseen his training.

Yangcha had guessed that much but even then he doubted he would lose, he had killed multiple Neanthals so beating an Igutu would be nothing, he was confident about his win. “Is lord Tagon doubting me ?” the question made him feel slightly anxious. It had been a while since his master had last commented on his fighting skills but until now he had thought it was because he wanted him to figure out on his own what he had to improve. “Could it be that... I am not strong enough ? But that’s impossible” There were only two people in Arth he couldn’t defeat; Tagon and Mubaek. So why did his lord believe someone who had only started training recently could ever overpower him ? “Is he favoring his son ?” Yangcha didn’t knew much about the relationship between a parent and their child but he had noticed parents had a tendency to see their children in a way better light than what they actually were. But he quickly talked himself out of this idea, his master was different from other people even if he “loved” someone  he would never let it blind his vision. “Lord Tagon is just warning me, nothing more” he relaxed his shoulders and slightly rose his chin, there was nothing to worry about, even if there was a little bit of resistance when he would arrive to Arthdal he would crush Saya.

— I guess I don’t need to worry then. said Tagon Before Yangcha could wonder what his master meant by that the leader of the Daekan Forces clapped his hands together and straightened himself up. 

— You can go and rest. ordered his lord. You have a long journey ahead after all, no need to guard me tonight.

 

 

Dawn came earlier than what Tagon had expected and he almost didn’t manage to wake up in time to bid farewell to Yangcha. He had to admit maybe the alcohol he had drunk yesterday had played a role in his sudden inability to accomplish any simple task. As a member of the Daekan Forces he was used to drink a lot, just like any good soldier he liked alcohol and would get wasted at any given opportunity, but he had tried to lay off this habit of his since he had collapsed in front of Taealha a few years ago. He could still remember the earful she had given him the day after while he was suffering from a terrible hangover. Thinking back about this scene made him smile as he dressed, he missed her. He looked at the letters she had sent him and ran his finger on the ink, she had a way of writing the most upsetting things in the prettiest way. She had written to reveal to him the truth about the last missive he had received from The Union. A few weeks ago he had asked if it was be possible to obtain more men to deal with the Ago Tribe but the leaders of The Union had rejected his request due to « a lack of fund caused by the repeated wars » . Their answer had made Tagon let out a mirthless chuckle “ As if they weren’t the ones who had dispatched us every time they got greedy over a territory ”. But it wasn’t even the thing which upsetted him the most about the situation, according to Taealha his request had  once again been denied due to his father’s meddling. He didn’t want his son to have too many men under his command. He probably expected him to use them to invade Arthdal. The leader of the Daekan sighed, how was he supposed to achieve his goal if his father always  got in the way ? He refrained himself from throwing away the letter and grabbed the second one. This one also bothered him a lot. It was written by Saya, his son. Just like the last time he had contacted him at the most unexpected moment, however this time things were slightly different. He had the situation under control and the risks were reduced even if he couldn’t completely relax. Saya had requested a duel with Yangcha and the outcome of their fight would change their fate forever. If his son lost then it would mean he was useless, nothing more than a liability, a weakness waiting to be discovered and to be used against his father. While Tagon didn’t want to throw him away yet he knew Taealha would disapprove of him. She had never said anything about it since it was a sensitive topic but he knew that until four years ago she had totally been against keeping Saya alive. Thankfully things had changed the past few years, as she taught and trained him she had seem to take a greater interest into the young Igutu. To the point she sometimes even complimented his smartness or his skills when visiting Tagon. Nonetheless, she didn’t seem to consider him as anything else than an useful pawn, she wasn’t attached to him in anyway and Tagon envied her on that point. “ But now isn’t the moment to think about that ” He focused again on the fight between Saya and Yancha and its outcome, she was sure his son would win because « he possessed four things which the warrior lacked » . Those four things she had referred to Tagon knew them very well  because some of them were the exact same reasons his right-hand man had never won against Mubaek. The most notable one was warriness, his loyal servant had a tendency to overlook any warrior who wasn’t Mubaek because beating Mubaek was the only goal he ever had. But if any of what Taealha had said was true if he didn’t want to lose he shouldn’t look down on this particular opponent. Saya was a wild beast waiting to be freed, Tagon had seen it in his eyes four years ago and he was sure the fire he had read in his gaze hadn’t calmed down since then. All the contrary. There was a very slight chance that his warrior might face a defeat. “ If he were to lose now that would only be interesting but that would also change many things for me. ” thought Tagon. He had made a promise to Saya, he had promised to allow him to join the Daekan, to stand by his side. A dangerous proposition when one considered the fact that it increased the chances of his secret being revealed. Until now the only thing he ever had to worry about was bleeding in front of his men or appear shirtless in front of them, but if Saya won then he would also have to worry about someone else. He had taken a dangerous gamble on a simple impulse, just because something in him had told him Saya could help him reach his goal. And now he was wondering if had made a mistake at the time,and he wasn’t the only one after all who had a change of mind. He remembered his conversation with Taealha after he had told her about his meeting with Saya. He had expected her to be angered about his reckless promise but she had simply answered she had nothing to worry about since Yangcha would crush Saya. That was four years ago, but now she was singing a whole different tune. He grabbed the letters and brought them close to the fire, he didn’t need to keep any traces of their correspondence. As he watched them burn he visualised in his mind the fight between Yangcha and Saya, their first encounter hadn’t gone well so it would surely affect their behavior if there was any resentment left. It truly was a pity that he couldn’t witness their encounter. He sighed, he had so many things to accomplish before returning to Arthdal.  He thought once again about Taealha, she had placed her bets on Saya in her letter so now it was his turn to answer. He grabbed a wooden tablet and a nib to write. Once he had finished he put it in one of the many pockets of his clothing and walked out of his tent. Outside Yangcha was waiting for him next to a horse while gazing one last time at the camp. Despite the early hours many men were busy working or chatting, but Tagon easily spotted in the crowd the leaders of his troops to whom he ordered to approach with one gesture of his hand. As they walked in his direction Tagon slipped into one of the bags of Yangcha’s horse his letter for Taealha. Mubaek, Park Ryang-Poong and Gilsun were all absent as the former were overseeing the construction on the Great Black Cliff while the later was now the head of the guards in Arthdal. As a result only three of them were standing in front of him right now : Mugwang, Gitoha and Yeonbal. They all greeted him while throwing curious glances at Yangcha who clearly looked ready for a travel.

— Did something happen lord Tagon ? asked Mugwang.

Their leader shook his head and gave them a reassuring smile.

— Don’t worry I’m simply sending Yangcha on an errand, he’ll be back soon. I simply thought that since you were there you might have wanted to tell him goodbye.

Yangcha looked at Tagon with a surprised expression, he seemed just as puzzled as the other leaders who all looked at each other without saying anything. After a few seconds of silence Yeonbal spoke with a cheerful tone and a smile on his face.

— I see, well have a safe trip. Gitoha cleared his throat and let out an unconvincing « You’ll be missed » which earned him to be elbowed by Mugwan.

—  Yeah so come back soon.

Tagon held back a laughter and then turned to Yangcha.

—  I’m counting on you. he said putting a hand on his shoulder, a gesture which provoked a mild reaction from Mugwang. 

Yangcha slightly bowed before turning tails and then left on the back of his horse. Once he was out of sight Yeonbal addressed Tagon with curiosity.

—  You usually don’t tell us when he’s leaving, why the sudden chance ?

—  As a I said it’s because you were there.

—   Nothing more ?

Mugwang and Gitoha frowned at the odd question and Tagon chuckled

—  What, do you think this might be the last time you’ll ever see him ? he asked with a teasing tone. I’m not sending him to his death he’s going to Arthdal.

—  No no no ! I was just asking because we’ve never said goodbye to him before. answered Yeonbal while laughing.

—  It’s true that it was a bit awkward. said Mugwang while passing a hand in his hair.

Tagon gazed in the direction Yangcha had taken to leave the camp.

—  It’s not because he cannot talk with you that he doesn’t want to interact with you, if you never give him any attention he’ll end up feeling lonely. Don’t you think so ?

They all nodded and their leader smiled at them, he was satisfied to see they had understood and he hoped they would try changing their behavior in the future. It was important to him because he wanted Yangcha to change, not entirely but just enough to keep his promise. Looking back, Tagon thought he might have been too ambitious at the time considering his own goal and the situation they both were in, but even then he knew he wouldn’t come back on his words. There was too much to lose, Yangcha was afterall the perfect soldier. He was fast, strong and smart enough to adapt to any situation. He would obey to any order without complaining and without thinking twice no matter how dangerous or immoral it was. And he would also never give up until he had fulfilled his mission even if it meant he could lose his life. Which was why Tagon always said that he was more of a weapon than a Saram. “But isn’t that what you wanted him to be Shahati ?

Chapter Text

Saya abruptly putted down the book he was reading, surprising Saenarae in the process. She didn’t say anything but observed him as he stood up and started walking in his chambers with a thoughtful expression on his face. She didn’t need to ask him anything as she already knew what was on his mind, they were curious about the same thing; When would Yangcha and Tagon arrive ? They were sure the letters they had sent had arrived safely weeks ago but they had yet to receive any answer. Even Hae Tuak who had visited the leader of the Daekan Forces had said that although he had received them he hadn’t mentioned them when talking with her. “ Could it be that he doesn’t think I’m ready yet ? ” nervously wondered Saya.

— Worrying won’t change anything. suddenly said said Saenarae. Please try to be a little bit more patient my lord.

The young igutu looked in her direction, she had stopped her work to address him with a sweet smile which he couldn’t help but give back. She truly was beautiful. Despite the plain clothes she was wearing he found her prettier than anyone else with her long dark hair, her soft pale skin and her mysterious eyes. As he was admiring her their gazes met and he immediately looked away, despite all those years spent together Saya would still get shy from time to time. “ Her beauty is too intimidating ” he thought, he often wondered what he would do if she ever were to dress up as much as lady Taealha. “ Although I don’t have to worry about it happening any time soon ” He sighed internally, even if he couldn’t go outside during the day he was always wearing the finest clothes and the most expensive jewelries, whereas Saenarae who often had to go outside was only given a simple white dress. Hae Tuak had said it was because he was the son of lord Tagon  and she was just a slave, even if he didn’t meet anyone he still had a rank to maintain whereas no one cared about how a slave looked like. “ To maintain my rank ? For whom exactly ? ” he bitterly thought, there had been a time where he had been naive enough to believe he had to be well-dressed all the time for when his father would finally come home, but it wasn’t the case anymore. He had grew up and had come to understood that Tagon would never come to him if he didn’t spark his interest.  A confident grin appeared on his face; “ I will soon make you come to me, father ”. 

— What are you thinking about ? asked Saenarae with curiosity.
— Hm ? Oh it’s nothing. he answered with a sweet smile.
— Lord Saya…

He approached her and leaned over her shoulder to look at what she was sewing.

— What are you doing ?
— Don’t change of topic please.
— Another shirt !

She sighed and stopped her work once again which made Saya straighten up, he knew she was going to scold him.

— Once you’ll have defeated Yangcha you’ll be going to war. What will you do if your shirts get torn in a fight ? You don’t know how to sew but you can’t walk around with your back exposed !

On the outside Saya nodded with a serious expression but on the inside he was smiling. “ She looks cute ” No matter how he looked at it Saenarae was terribly adorable when she was upset. She looked like a puppy throwing a tantrum and he actually was surprised someone like her was even able to feel something as violent as anger. To him she was the incarnation of love and kindness, and maybe of naivety at times. “ She is like a goddess ” The goddess of love and beauty certainly, it was all thanks to her if Saya had learnt the meaning of “ love ”. She had also thought him “ mercy ” and “ loyalty ” something you couldn’t find in the many texts Taealha made him read all day. Without her he would probably have become a monster, a beast trapped in a golden cage unable to understand Sarams. If his father was the one who had given a meaning to his life, Saenarae was the one who had helped him go through all those years of imprisonment without giving up. Outside of Tagon she was the only person who held any importance for him and that’s why he would have done anything to protect her.  A shadow passed his features as he remembered a un unpleasant memory of his. Blood, footsteps and screams . He took in a deep breath. “ Really anything ”.

—  Are you even listening to what I’m saying ?
—  Of course I am !

She smiled brightly at him and Saya thought for a few seconds he wished time would stop to let him enjoy one of his few moments of joy. Peaceful and lazury days were a rare occurence to him who had only known hard work and discipline under the tutelage of Taealha. After the humiliation he had caused her by escaping as a child she only had one thing left on her mind, getting rid of him. And thus she had trained him with the utmost rigour in the hope he would give up so she could have an excuse to get rid of him. “ But I never gave up ” thought Saya  “ And it was all thanks to you Saenarae

— Ah...It’s getting late. suddenly said his servant.

Saya turned his head to look at the window and noticed that the sun had indeed went down. It was a night without any cloud where the moon was shining surrounded by all the stars. “ A perfect night for a stroll in the forest ” he thought.

— I should head back to my room, lady Taealha wouldn’t be happy to hear I stayed in your chambers after the sunset.

The young igutu looked at her with surprise, of course he knew the rules she had to respect but he had expected her to suggest they stay together a bit longer. He was allowed to walk outside at night as long as he was accompanied by Hae Tuak or her so they shouldn’t have been any problem.

— Why don’t you want to go outside with me ? he asked disappointment written all over his face.

Saenarae gave him a sorry smile before answering.

— It’s not that I don’t want, it’s just that I can’t.
— And why is that so ? he asked a bit more harshly than he had wanted.

She stood up and grabbed his hands to calm him down.

— Yangcha will arrive soon so lady Taealha forbade me to let you go outside at night, she wants you to rest. she explained while rubbing her thumbs on his hands. You have been working so hard the last few weeks I’m worried about you too...

Saya let out a little chuckle, Saenarae truly was adorable. They had been together for years and yet she was still shy in her gestures toward him. It had taken her years to dare to grab his hands and she hadn’t done anything bolder since then. “ Maybe I should be the one to make the first move ? ” tought the Igutu, but as much as he wanted to proclaim his love to her he was also scared of getting rejected. Right now he didn’t have any future to offer her. He wasn’t even strong enough to protect himself so how could he protect her ? “ But soon… ” Soon he would have the acknowledgement of his father, he would have power and  she wouldn’t be a slave anymore. She would become his princess and then... His queen.

— Are you...mad at me ? asked Saenarae with an uneasy voice.
— No don’t worry. he said. I would never be mad at you.
— My lord…

He smiled at her with a look of adoration in his eyes. He loved her so much.

— I wish I could take you with me... he whispered.
— Don’t worry, I’ll come with every message Lady Taealha will send to Lord Tagon.

A long time ago when they were still children he had thought about breaking her legs so she wouldn’t leave his side to run errands all day, but now he was grateful he hadn’t done so, if he had broken her legs at the time she wouldn’t have been able to visit him on the battlefield. “ I made the right decision ” he said to himself.

— Tonight might be the last night we will spend together, let’s take a walk outside.
— My lord… 

— Please Saenarae.

She looked at him for a long time without saying anything before sighing.

— All right, but I’ll have to prepare you beforehand don’t you think ?

===

The moon was already quite high in the sky when Yangcha arrived in Arthdal, he had been traveling for five days now but he didn’t feel tired at all. The years he had spent walking around all Arth to fight tribes and conquer territories had made this ride of a few days feel like a simple stroll. “It’s been a long time since I’ve last came here alone ”. The masked warrior stopped his horse to observe his surroundings, unsurprisingly there wasn’t one soul in sight at this hour of the night outside of the guards making their rounds. Yangcha observed them from the shadows of the edge of the woods, thinking about what his next move should be. As a member of the Daekan Forces and Tagon’s most trusted ally  the warrior knew he could enter and leave the city whenever he pleased, the guards would have opened the gates without asking him any question. However there was still downside to this privilege, if he entered the city publicly Sanung would soon know about it since his eldest son was the Captain of the Guard and Yancha wanted to avoid attracting any attention on Saya as long as his master hadn’t introduced him to the world. He glanced at the other side of the city wall. He still had another way in. The warrior ordered his horse to advance and guided it with easy through the darkness of the forest thanks to the light of the moon. After having trotted for a moment Yangcha dismounted and attached the animal to a nearby three while making sure it was kept away from any indiscreet looks, the last thing he needed was to have a group of soldiers sent to find out why a horse was waiting so near the city and not inside of it. He looked at the walls and counted from afar: “ three ”, there were even less guards than usual on this side of the wall. It was a bit surprising but not too much either, this side of the town was difficult to access because of the marshland standing outside of it and with such a great natural barrier having guards to look out for an attack was pretty much  pointless. There wasn’t a horse or a fully armored warrior who could have been able to go through those swamps without sinking in it. Thankfully for him Yangcha was light and agile so as long as he was careful passing through the marchy ground wouldn’t be too much of a challenge. He squinted his eyes to try to discern what the guards on the walls were up to and wasn’t surprised to discover they were more busy talking to each other than looking out for enemies. Such a lack of discipline would have never happened if Tagon had been the head of the Guard but Sanung had decided to choose Danbyeok instead, showing once again his favoritism for his other son. Yangcha thought it was a stupid decision although he had to admit that it was quite convenient as this bad decision was what would allow him to enter the city without any trouble. After a few minutes spend on mentally preparing his path he started running. With agility and speed he jumped and advanced through the marshland using the few rocks and pieces of wood he could find to avoid falling in the mud until he reached the base of the walls. Anyone else would taken a break but Yangcha didn’t, he immediately started climbing the wall using his chain and the stones that protruded from the old wall. After a few minutes of intense physical exercise he reached the top, now all he had to do was to go pass the guards without getting noticed. “ I could knock them out if needed ” He looked at them from the machicolations but abandoned his plan once he recognized them, there was no need to ressort to violence. Instead he finished climbing the wall and pulled himself up on the other side of it.

— Oh Yangcha ! said one of the three men.

The other two who had not noticed him (as they were too busy to argue over something) flinched when they heard his name.

—  Shit ! Can’t you announce yourself ? asked one of them
— And how could he have done that ? He can’t talk. answered his companion.

Gilsun, Pyeon Mi and So-Dang those three men were from the White Mountain Tribe and worked as guards in Arthdal. The reason why they weren’t shocked by his sudden appearance and seemed so relaxed in his presence was because they were on Tagon’s side, at least most of the time. Gilsun was a former member of the Daekan Forces and had sworn loyalty to its current leader but the same couldn’t be said about So-Dang and Pyeon Mi whose loyalty mainly belonged to the Asa Clan. They had never done anything against Tagon and had kept their mouth shut every time he had come to Arthdal in secret but that was only because he hadn’t done anything to their tribe or the Asa clan. If he ever were to act against them, which he would probably do one day, they would turn their back on him Yangcha was sure of it.

— We were waiting for you, we were told to make sure you could enter the city easily.

Yangcha ignored So-Dang and glanced at Gilsun.

— I’ll be back soon guys, I’ll walk a bit with him. the guard said after nodding to show he understood his silent question. Don’t do anything stupid while I’m away.

His two companions exchanged a look but didn’t answer anything.

— Understood ? asked their superior
— Yeah yeah. said So-Dang without any conviction.

Gilsun lifted his fist as to hit him but stopped when he noticed Yangcha had disappeared.

— And of course this idiot didn’t wait for me… he said with a sigh before running after him.

Shortly after he caught up to the Daekan soldier who was waiting for him at the bottom of the wall. He couldn’t go any further without the help of Gilsun since he ignored when and where the guards would make their rounds. This situation was quite convenient for the latter who hoped to worm information out of him. “ But first I should explain the situation

— They were there because lord Danbyeok wouldn’t have let me guard the wall alone, we are at war with the Ago tribe so he’s being careful. But trust me those two won’t say anything to Asa Ron unless something suspicious happens during your visit.

Yangcha didn’t react in any way to his comment but Gilsun guessed he was satisfied with his explanation as the warrior started walking.

— Is everything going well with the Ago Tribe ? he asked with curiosity.

Yangcha nodded without looking at him, a habit which slightly annoyed the soldier. It was hard to tell when people lied if you couldn't meet their eyes and the warrior had always made sure to avoid the gazes of others whenever they addressed him. Was it to hide what he was thinking or just because he liked to disrespect people in general ? Gilsun himself couldn’t tell but in any case it wouldn’t stop him from trying to figure him out.

— But he wouldn’t send you if  there wasn’t a problem which needed to be taken care of... What could it be ?.. Since you can’t talk there aren’t many things you can be useful to lord Tagon for…

His former companion abruptly stopped and looked at him with an annoyed expression which startled Gilsun who hadn’t expected this kind of reaction from him. 

— No need to get angry like that, if you can’t tell  I’ll just ask Lady Taealha tomorrow ! he said to relieve the tension.

Yangcha continued to stare at him for a few seconds before averting his gaze, his anger had calmed down. The soldier let out a discreet sigh of relief and started to walk again. He had witnessed first-hand what Yangcha was capable of and he didn’t want to experiment it himself. “ But it’s weird, he usually doesn’t react when people talk to him no matter what they say. ” He quickly glanced at Yangcha who was once again displaying his usual calm expression. “ He can be weird sometimes but at the same time I can’t blame him for that. ” He shivered after remembering the state he and Tagon had found him in, it actually was surprising that he wasn’t crazier than this. “ I wonder how the other Daekan soldiers would react if they knew what kind of monster lived with them ” he grinned, Gitoha who was already quite scared of Yangcha would surely faint if he discovered the truth about him. But they would probably also understand why he was so strong as well, afterall the Children of Shahati weren’t simple fighters.

— Did you manage to beat Mubaek yet ?

The masked man slowed down the pace of his walk for a few seconds before shaking his head no. Gilsun was surprised to see Yangcha was now able to feel something like disappointment, in all the years he had known him he had only seen him express anger and curiosity. “ It’s start. Maybe one day he will also be able to understand what happiness is, but it would probably take him many more years. ” He had been trained to be emotionless in the most horrible and gruesome way possible and Gilsun had always thought the effects of his training would never be reversible but it seemed like once again Tagon had proved him wrong. “ He might actually be able to keep the promise he made to Yangcha ”. At this point it seemed like nothing was impossible for the all mighty Tagon. “ Following him instead of Asa Ron Niruha might have been a risky decision but it might end up being the best one I’ve ever made ” As of now Tagon was only the leader of the Daekan Forces but once he would make his return to Arthdal who knew what role he would take ? “ And I will accompany him on his rise to power ” Because standing was the top was the only way to survive, but also because standing above all was his dream. “ Now that I think of it what could Yangcha possibly dream of ? Probably to beat Mubaek I guess ” He pitied the warrior, he had been trying to beat his elder for twenty years and he still hadn’t managed to. 

— It’s ok, I’m sure you’ll beat him soon. he said with a comforting tone. Mubaek might be strong but you aren’t like the others and that’s your strength.

The warrior didn’t show any type of reaction and simply gazed into the distance which made Gilsun roll his eyes, this certainly was the last time he would try to be nice to him.

— Well this is where we part ways, I’m sure you don’t want to follow me to follow you...

...and I really don’t want to know who and how you’ll kill the person Tagon sent you after ” he added in his mind.

— ...so I’ll leave. If you need me for anything just signal it to lady Taealha and I’ll come to see you.

Yangcha rapidly nodded and left, he didn’t like being near Gilsun. Not that he hated the man, although he had to admit he was quite annoying at times, but he remembered him of a time he rather forget. The time when he was still weak. “ But did I really change that much ? ” he looked at his fists and clenched them, he wasn’t as weak as back then but he wasn’t strong enough to beat someone like Mubaek. A simple Saram. “ A little bit more, just a little bit more ” he needed to train more and then he would be able to beat him, he was sure of it. “ But what if Lord Tagon’s patience runs out ? ” They had made a pact but what would happen if he didn’t fulfill his part of the engagement ? What if he was deemed useless ? “ He would get rid of me ” this thought made him feel like there was a knot in his stomach, he felt uneasy and sick. “ That feeling, again. ” He stopped walking to try to focus on what was happening to him but it was useless, he couldn’t find the right words to put on what he was feeling, all he could say was that he felt “ agitated ” or whatever that word even meant. Understanding himself was even harder than understanding other people. But it wasn’t really his fault,  he hadn’t be trained for that he had been trained to kill.

— Please be quiet you will attract the attention of the guards !

Yangcha jumped into the shadows immediately after hearing those words, even if this person clearly wasn’t a member of The Guards he still  had to be careful. His own appearance was quite recognizable and he didn’t want the news of his return to spread through all Arthdal. He looked in the direction of where the voice had come from and was surprised to see a lady in a cape stand in front of Tagon’s house. “ Could it be... lady taealha ? ” The person who had spoken gestured to someone inside the residence to follow them. Another woman appeared, wearing a burgundy cape very similar to one of Taealha’s although it certainly wasn’t Taealha. Yangcha frowned and immediately placed his hand on his chain, ready to attack. “ Thieves ? ” The first woman, who was wearing a brown cape, locked the door before being dragged away by her companion who let out a soft laughter while doing so. Their behavior confused Yangcha, they weren’t acting like two people who just had robbed a house but rather like two children going on a walk. He looked at the house wondering which course of action he should make. Should he enter to see if lady Taealha was there and learn who they were ? Or should he follow them and discover the truth by himself ? If he did the former he was taking the risk of losing two potential threats but if he did the latter he might end up creating an awkward situation for the woman of his master. “ What should I do ? ” he asked himself while looking successively at the house and the two girls. In the end he choose to do the latter, he would follow them and discover what they were up to. But after following them for a long moment Yangcha came to the conclusion that he may have been wasting his time, the two ladies weren’t going in any particular direction but just wandering around while whispering and laughing. H e wondered once again what he should do, afterall they really didn’t look dangerous at all ? However as he was about to give up his tailing, a certain part of their conversation caught his attention.

— And you still see her in your dreams ?

Dreams ” ?... He tried to concentrate on what they were saying but didn’t hear the answer of the other woman, he was too far away. Because the moon was shining so bright it wasn’t easy to find places close to them to hide and therefore he had to maintain a certain distance to avoid being spotted. 

—  Maybe they are …….. your past life ? In any case, I don’t …… …...give it too …...importance.

Yangcha frowned, he couldn’t even hear half of what the woman in the brown cape was saying from this distance, he had to take a risk. He started to approach them but as he was getting closer the other lady suddenly turned around as if she had heard his steps. He immediately concealed himself behind the nearest wall of stall and observed her as she looked at her surrounding with a suspicious expression on her face.“ She is pretty ” thought the warrior, not that he cared about that kind of things the same way other men did but rather because he was being wary. To him beautiful women weren’t a treat for the eyes as all his companions seemed to think, but rather a poison only few people were able to resist. Thankfully for himself his training as a Child of Shahati had made him immune to this kind of things but he couldn’t say the same of the other members of the Daekan Forces. He could still remember the day Ryan-Poong almost had his throat clear-cut during a victory celebration by a female warrior of a rival tribe who had disguised herself as a dancer .

—  Is there a problem ? asked the other woman.

Yangcha looked at her intensively, she wasn’t wearing any makeup but she still looked pretty although he was sure the other one was more popular. “ Maybe lady Taealha is using them as yeomari ? ” She was acting as one at the moment so it wouldn’t have been too surprising? There wasn’t one person in Arth who knew better than her how to win the heart of a man and how to steal information from him. To Yangcha she was a frightening person because she had realized what had always seemed impossible to him; seducing Tagon and deceiving Sanung, two of the smartest men in Arthdal. Taealha was an incredible strategist who only made moves when she was sure to win.“ So why is she using those two ? ” He concentrated his attention once again on the two women who had resumed their walking while whispering to each other things he couldn’t hear. “ I’ll have to get closer ” he tried to step forward but was slightly drawn back by his chain.

Clinck.

The two women froze and so did Yangcha. He had been so focused on trying to understand their conversations he hadn’t noticed his chain had hung itself on one of the tiny wooden pillars which served to attach the horses. The two ladies slowly turned in his direction a look of surprise on their face but Yangcha wasn’t dupe, he noticed right away that they were both faking surprise. They had taken a defensive stance and had slipped their hands into their pockets. “ Daggers ” he guessed. The masked warrior didn’t wait any longer and immediately freed his chain before grabbing it in an offensive stance. He would tie them both up before they could try anything and then would bring them back to Tagon’s house. There was a chance they were indeed working for Taealha but he wouldn’t take the risk of letting spies or thieves escape. 

— Yangcha ?...asked the lady in the burgundy cape.

Yangcha immediately stopped in his movement and widened his eyes, totally taken aback. Even though the tone of the voice had been sweet this definitely wasn’t the voice of a woman.

— It’s really you. confirmed the person standing in front of him with what sounded like a mocking tone. We finally meet again.

She, or rather he, took of his hood and completely revealed his face under the moonlight. It was the face of a young man, a pretty one but still a man. The Daekan blinked multiple time in confusion, the lady he had been following had been a man all this time ? He couldn’t believe his eyes. But what was confusing him the most was the fact that they apparently knew each other. He was really good at remembering faces and he was sure he had never met such a particular man like him before.

— Do you know how long I’ve been waiting for this moment ? asked the mysterious figure with an evil smile. Four years ! 

Four years ? Then, could he be ?...

— Yes it’s me, Saya the son of lord Tagon.

Chapter Text

Nunbyul knew she should have left, she knew she shouldn’t have stayed and yet here she was, standing there and looking at the most incredible fight she had ever witnessed;
A woman fighting against a member of the Daekan Forces.
Nunbyul wasn’t amazed because she was one of those people who wrongly thought women weren’t strong enough to be warriors, but rather because she had never thought it was possible for anyone to resist against the soldiers of the elite troop of Arth. Nunbyul was an Neantal, a race of beings who were stronger and faster than any animal, let alone Sarams. And yet even her knew she would have never been able of defeating one of the members of the Daekan Forces. Why ? Because they were the ones who had decimated her entire race. During ten years they had chased every Neantal, women and men, youngs and olds, and had murdered them in the most violent ways. All in the name of peace and prosperity. They had hunted each single one of them until the entire ground of Arth had been covered in their blue blood. Until there wasn’t one single Neantal left to resist them. And Nunbyul was sure of it she was the only one who had survived. She hadn’t survived because she had been able to beat one of the Daekan no, she had only managed to make it out alive because a Saram had accepted to help her. When it came to the Daekan Forces strength and speed didn’t mean anything all the contrary, they made her stand out in a crowd of Sarams who couldn’t run faster than a tiger and lift as much as a bear. That’s why she had let her adoptive father render her powerless, because she wanted to survive and the only way to survive was to be weak. Or at least that’s what she had always thought. But now that she was witnessing this fight she couldn’t help but wonder if that really was the truth. What if she had been mistaken ? What if she had thrown away the only way for her to protect her family ? The memories of the murder of her parents came back to her mind and she suddenly felt nauseous. She shook her head and tried to focus on the fight once again. Now wasn’t the moment to have regrets, she was there to learn the truth. The woman in the burgundy cape was fast, extremely fast. But the Daekan soldier wasn't lacking either, he was using a chain to keep her away, as if he was afraid of what she would do once she got closer. “ A chain and a mask ” his appearance was familiar but Nunbyul didn’t want to think about it, she was afraid of the memories he would trigger. She looked at the female warrior with her heart racing, she wanted her to win. And almost as if she had heard her prayers the woman stepped it up a notch. She suddenly threw her dagger at the face of the warrior who used one of his hands to stop it, confidently. “ Big mistake ” He had lowered his guard by doing so and the mysterious woman immediately took advantage of his reaction. She jumped above him and threw at him another dagger she had kept hidden in one of her pockets. Nunbyul observed this scene play out with apprehension. There was only two possible issues for the Daekan soldier, he could try to avoid it and risk to get tangled in his own chain or catch it and lose his chain in the process. He opted for the second option and caught the dagger with his other hand. His opponent seemed to have predicted his reaction as she immediately closed up the distance between them before taking out another dagger. Nunbyul was impressed by the quick thinking of this woman she admired more and more as time passed. The Daekan warrior took out his sword at the last second and blocked the dagger, the woman in the burgundy cape tried to kick him in the ribs but he stopped her with one hand. The young Neantal was impressed, no matter their size swords were heavy but if you added to it the weight of your adversary it became almost impossible to hold it with only one hand. And yet here he was holding his adversary and holding his sword at the same time. Nunbyul gasped in horror before putting her hand in front of her mouth “ Is she going to lose ? ”. She was afraid but the female warrior still had a few more tricks up her sleeves; she used her other leg to propulse herself and spin around, freeing herself in the process. She then stepped away from the warrior and took a defensive stance, ready for the next attack. On the other hand the Daekan soldier didn’t move and simply looked at her. from where she was standing Nunbyul couldn’t read the expressions of the two fighters but she could tell tension had reached its height. She held her breath waiting for their next moves.

— Enough you two ! hissed a voice.

Nunbyul was so surprised she almost let out a little cry, she hadn’t expected for a fourth person to be there. The person who had spoken walked in and joined the two warriors, standing between them. She was covered in a cape as well, a brown one, so it was difficult for the young Neantal to distinguish her face.

— I know you’re doing this for me but please think about your goal ! she begged while touching the cheeks of the woman in the burgundy cape. If you get discovered here it will be the end.

There was a long moment of silence during which no one moved until the female warrior nodded slowly, the masked man seemed to relax but didn’t lower his guard. To prove she was truly giving up the fight his opponent threw away her last dagger and approached him slowly, once she was next to him she put a hand on his cheek before slipping her hand on his throat in a caress, a threatening one. She then leaned in and whispered something into his ear. The soldier didn’t resist, at most he clenched his fist as if he was restraining himself. The Neantal was curious to know what they could have talked about but from where she was standing she couldn’t hear anything. In any case the agreement they had reached seemed to satisfy the woman in the burgundy cape who turned tails without worrying about exposing her back to him. The daekan soldier put his sword away,  grabbed his chain and pushed the daggers at his feet in the direction of the two women. The one in the brown cape tried to bent down but was interrupted by her companion who picked them up herself before putting them back at their place. Nunyeol thought it was a really cute gesture, it reminded her of her big sister Chaeeun. She smiled until she realized something. She had been away almost the entire night her sister must have been so worried ! She looked one last time at the three mysterious figures who were having a big discussions.

— Let’s all go home now, I’ll prepare a bath and something to eat. said the woman with the brown cape after grabbing the hand of he friend.

So they know each other well... ” this revelation should have surprised her but it didn’t, after what she had witnessed nothing seemed to surprise her anymore. A Daekan soldier, two mysterious ladies, a fight and a draw. It was a night Nunbyeol was sure to never forget. When she arrived at her house later she was welcomed by the warm hug of her crying sister. Nunbyul felt bad for worrying her but she also felt angry. If she had been strong her sister wouldn’t have to worry about her whenever she left the house, she would have been able to protect herself but also her family. Thinking back about the fight made her realize something, she had been mistaken the entire time. And when her father called her to ask where she had been Nunbyul didn’t reveal what she had witnessed, instead she directly asked him:

— Father would you teach me martial arts ? 

===

As someone who had served the Hae Tribe for years Hae Tuak was pretty used to tense situation, lord Mihol and lady Taealha did not have the best relationship and it was pretty common for both of them to address each other in a passive aggressive tone with a smile on their face. However none of her years spent working at the Fortress of fire  had prepared her for the scene she was going to discover by stepping into Tagon’s house that night. 

After coming home from a way too long journey to another city in the name of Mihol, her and Taealha had agreed to directly go to bed instead of working late as the lady of the Fortress of Fire usually did. At the time Hae Tuak had rejoiced herself at the perspective of being allowed  for once to sleep early, but of course as always things hadn’t went her way. As she was helping her lady to undress Taealha had ordered her to check if Saenarae was in her room and if Saya was sleeping. A simple task in sum but which had turned into a critical situation; the two young adults had left in the middle of the night and without an autorisation. When Hae Tuak had shared her discovery with Taealha she had expected her mistress to get angry or panic but she had remained calm and had simply told her to check Tagon’s house. She was sure Saya didn’t run away and her servant hoped she was right. After running through the secret passages connecting the fortress to the house, Hae Tuak had reached Saya’s second bedroom eager to obtain explanations but the room was empty and there was no sign that someone had slept in there recently. That was when she had heard big noises coming from down stairs and how she had ended up stumbling upon the most unexpected scene.

Yangcha and Saya facing each other in the front hall, so close to one another that it almost looked like they were going to kiss. Almost because they clearly looked like they were more focused on finding out the best way to murder the other rather than bounding in any way. To Hae Tuak seeing Saya angry was one thing, afterall in the twenty years she had served him she had multiple occasions to witness his temper tantrums, but seeing Yangcha look so irritated was a rare sight. The servant wasn’t the most observant person but even she could tell he was restraining himself from choking Saya with his chain. “ What is happening here ?! ” As she was about to intervene a voice called out to her.

— Ma’am you’re back !

She turned around and noticed Saenarae who was holding towels with a desperate expression on her face. It seemed like she was the biggest victim of this incredible situation. The two men looked in the direction of Hae Tuak and immediately changed their attitude. Yangcha slightly bowed his head and Saya stepped away from him to approach Saenarae and Hae Tuak.

— Did you know he would arrive today ? he asked with a disdainful voice.

The servant quickly glanced at Yangcha who was concentrating his attention on a point on the wall, as if he wasn’t the one being talked about.

— No...she said before addressing the masked man. Is lord Tagon back in Arthdal as well ?

The soldier gave her a slightly confused look before reaching for something in one of his pockets. “ A letter ” Hae Tuak extended her hand to receive it but Saya was faster, he immediately pried it out Yangcha’s fingers with an excited expression. A reaction which triggered the other man’s reflexes as he violently grabbed his wrist.

— Let go. ordered Saya.

He had spoken in a calm tone but his anger was palpable, his jaw was clenched and his entire body tense. He was like a volcano on the verge of exploding, and yet none of this seemed to impress Tagon’s right-hand man who even tightened his grip on his wrist. Saya slipped his hand in the pocket of his cape and Yangcha put a hand on his sword. Hae Tuak decided to step in before one of them killed the other.

— Please stooop ! she yelled. Lord Saya please hand me the letter, it is probably as usual addressed to lady Taealha. As for you Yangcha have some manners ! Lord Saya is the son of your master !

The two young men exchanged one last heinous look before abruptly releasing each other. Saya gave her back the letter and Yangcha went back to ignoring him again. Saenarae who was still holding the towels gave a sympathetic smile to Hae Tuak as if to say that she understood her discomfort. Although she knew she wasn’t the unwelcomed person here the strain was such that Hae Tuak temporary thought about leaving the room and never come back.

— Where is lady Taealha ? suddenly asked Saya as if nothing had happened.

His question made the masked warrior frown in confusion and Hae Tuak interpreted his reaction as him wondering why he didn’t call Taealha mother . She was a bit surprised herself to see that Tagon hadn’t talked about this with Yangcha before but she could understand why as well, maybe the leader of the Daekan knew nothing about the complicated relationship he had created between Saya and Taealha. There was hatred in it but also a sort of mutual respect that could only be find between two mortal enemies. Taealha didn’t consider Saya as her equal but she considered him as at least half better than the rest of the people of Arthdal. While on the other hand Saya who hated her more than anyone else in Arth still admired her intellect and her strength. They were enemies and allies, predictor and student, master and owner. “ In a way their relation is similar to the one between Lady Taealha and lord Miho ” thought Hae Tuak, even if for her Taealha was a way better parent than Mihol had ever been to her. “ Saya hates her but that’s only because he doesn’t realize how sweet his childhood was compared to the one of my lady ” She sighed, maybe their relationship wouldn’t have been so sour if they both knew how to communicate properly ? Lady Taealha had never been very good at mincing her words and sadly her adoptive son seemed to have inherited this bad habit of hers which often created conflict between the two of them. But Hae Tuak was sure of it, behind all their harsh words there surely was a bit of love between those two.

— Hae Tuak ? asked once again Saya with a voice that sounded more like a growl than a human voice, his patience was wearing thin.
— Oh ! I apologize my lord I was lost in my thoughts. answered the servant with a little bit of panic in her voice. Lady Taealha went to bed.
— I see. he nodded slowly with a unreadable expression on his face. I guess we won’t be allowed to fight before tomorrow.
—  Exactly ! said Hae Tuak with a barely disguised enthusiasm, she didn’t want any of them to get hurt or die under under her supervision. Now how about we all go to bed my lord ? I’m sure both of you will need all your energy to fight tomorrow !

Saya exchanged a look with Saenarae who nodded at him with a smile, a sweet exchange which didn’t escape Hae Tuak’s notice who had to bit her tongue to not make any comment. “ Aren’t they adorable ? ” After all those years spent together they still were very close and always made sure to protect each other “ just like siblings ”. They could understand one another with just one look and spent most of their times together. At first hae Tuak had though they might have been romantically involved but both of them had denied before clarifying that they were more like a brother and a sister. Something which her mistress had laughed about but that Hae Tuak firmly believed in. If there had been any type of romantic feelings between those two she was sure she would have been the first one to notice. 

—  Then I’ll excuse myself and return to my chambers, goodnight you two. 

Having said those words, Saya glanced one last time at Yangcha whom  he had deliberately ignored and started to walk up the stairs. The mood wasn’t as heavy as before but it still felt uncomfortable so Hae Tuak tried to lighten it up a little bit by complimenting her master. 
—  Ah I almost forgot to say but your makeup looked really pretty today my lord !

The igutu froze during a few seconds before leaving without giving any word back.

—  Did I say something wrong ?
—  I’ll explain to you later. whispered Saenarae with an uneasy face.

I hope I’m not in trouble ” thought Hae Tuak, she could still remember the last time she had upsetted Saya. Most people when angered would react right away, they would throw a tantrum, shout and maybe even resort to violence. But it wasn’t the case of her master, for he would do all the contrary. He would simply stand there, irradiating with anger and hatred without doing anything. After a moment he would calm down and then act as if nothing had happened, he would accept apologies and smile to the person who had wronged him with the utmost sincerity. However all of this every time his comportement was nothing than a lie. Saya never forgave anyone who harmed him, he would simply wait for the right time to get his revenge and then strike his enemy with a fatal blow. No one was safe from his fury except lady Taealha.

—  I drew a bath for you, I was just about to bring the towels to your room. explained Saenarae, extending her hands. Hae Tuak noticed that her hands were slightly shaking but didn’t make any comment, maybe she was cold ? After all it was quite cold at this time of the year.

In response Yangcha showed his hands covered in dirts.

—  Ha ! My apologies, I should have thought about that I’ll immediately put them in your room !

Yangcha nodded and then started following her as she guided him to his room. “ Their difference of height is actually very cute, he’s even taller than lord Saya ” noted Hae Tuak. They actually looked good together, her who was so delicate and sweet and him who was so strong and dangerous. They kinda looked like a princess and her bodyguard. As she watched them walk side by side an idea popped into Hae Tuak’s brain. “ What if those two fell in love ? ” Yangcha may have been extremely good looking and have a great job with a good salary, he rarely was approached by women because of his mask. Receiving the punishment of silent meant you had committed a crime related to speech, you could have spread lies about someone, betrayed a friend, disrespected the founding tribes of The Union or failed to keep your words. Receiving this punishment meant you weren’t trustworthy and that was a sstigma which made it impossible or extremely difficult for Yangcha  to bound with someone. Hae Tuak ignored what exact crime Yangcha had committed but after witnessing him risk his life for Tagon so many times she believed he wasn’t the traitor every citizen of Arthdal whispered about. He was a good companion som maybe he would even do a great husband. “ What should I do ? ” she wondered, she had the future of Saenarae in her hands after all. The young woman was a slave so her only future prospects were either working till the end of her life for the Hae tribe or to be fred if she was extremely lucky. But there were only two ways of obtaining freedom; The first one was to be fred by your master, which for Saenarae certainly was impossible since she knew many secrets of the Hae tribe. And the second one was to marry a member of one of the founding tribes of Arthdal, with of course the agreement of the owner of the slave. Yangcha may have been a simple soldier but he still was a member of the Sanyeok Tribe therefore if Saenarae were to marry him she would become a free woman. Moreover Taealha would never be against this union since she trusted Yangcha. Hae Tuak clapped her hands together, she had found the perfect solution for her protege.

—  Hae Tuak I’ll take care of his meal you can go to bed don’t worry.

Had it be any other person than Saenarae, the servant would have teached them a lesson for not addressing her properly but the young slave was an exception. She was greatly appreciated by Hae Tuak who she had charmed with her kindness, her politeness and her positivity.  She was the little sister the servant had never had.

—  Don’t worry I’ll stay with you Saenarae but tell me…

The girl looked at her with a puppy like expression which almost gave to Hae Tuak the urge to hug her and tell her she had worked hard. “ She truly is adorable, poor child if only she hadn’t been a slave she probably would have married a good man ”.

—  What do you think of Yangcha ?

Saenarae blinked multiple times as if she had heard something ridiculous, which in all honesty may have been the case.

—  I don’t understand, what do you mean by that ?

I forgot how innocent and inexperienced she is, I need to take it slow ” thought Hae Tuak, she grabbed the slave’s hand and dragged her in the kitchen.

—  Let’s get to work I’ll explain.

The two women started cooking and Hae Tuak tried a new approach.

—  Don’t you think Yangcha look handsome ?
The slave paused her work for a few seconds before continuing while avoiding on purpose the gaze of her superior.

—  I don’t know he wears a mask so I can’t tell. 

—  He didn’t take it off in front of you ?! suddenly yelled Hae Tuak making the young slave flinch.

—  W-why would he do that ?
—  But...But...You accompanied him for his bath…

Saenarae seemed to understand what she meant and let ou a “ Aaaah ” before answering.

—  He is not my master so I didn’t help him to get undressed.

Hae Tuak put down the knife she was holding and sighed.

—  Do you realize how many girls wished they had been in your place ? Yangcha never takes off his mask !

The young woman ignored her tantrum and poured different spices in the pot she had been watching over.

—  Of course he wouldn’t, the mask is there to inform and remind people that he is a sinner. He can’t just take it off whenever he feels like it, that would be the same as mocking his punishment.
—   I know… said Hae Tuak with a sad voice. But no one would know if he took it off in front of me or lady Taealha, he could do it. Imagine how horrible it must feel to wear this all day.

Her comment made Saenarae interrupt her gesture.

—  Lady Taealha never saw him without his mask ?
—  Keep stirring or else it’s going to taste weird. ordered the servant. Well I’ve never seen him without it, I’m not sure about lady Taealha she never said anything particular on this topic.

The two women continued to prepare the meal for a long moment in silence until Saenarae whispered « —  What if he was an igutu ? » Her question created a panic in Hae Tuak who immediately put her hand on her mouth to stop her from adding anything else.

—  Don’t say things like that out loud ! 

The young woman delicately freed her mouth and bowed her head in apology.

—  I’m sorry I’ll be more careful next time.

Hae Tuak glanced around her as if she was being spied then and then whispered back.

—  He isn’t one I’m sure of it I’ve seen him bleed.
—  I see...That’s a relief then.

Hae Tuak scrunched her face, as someone who had grew up with an Igutu Saenarae shouldn’t have been uncomfortable with the presence of one.

—  What do you mean by that ?

The young woman paused for a few seconds what she was doing and then turned to look at her superior with her usual smile.

—  Oh I was just thinking about the fight of tomorrow, it would have been too difficult for lord Saya if they were identical…Could you give me this please ?

The servant scolded herself “ What was I thinking ?

—  Here you go ! she said while handing to her companion the meat. Ah ! Since we are on that topic...she lowered her voice. Do you know what happened between those two ? 

Saenarae bit her lips with nervousness.

—  To be honest I don’t really know myself, everything happened so quickly… 

—   Tell me everything. We have all the time, the meal won’t be ready before a while.

The slave pondered for a moment before telling her story.

—  Since lord Saya had requested me to accompany him on a walk, I had advised him to remain in Arthdal.
—  Why ? Isn’t it less dangerous for him to walk in the forest ?
—  If we had walked in the forest we would have spent the entire night there, I know him.

Hae Tuak nodded in agreement, that was another common point he had with Taealha they both seemed to lose track of time whenever they were doing something only them enjoyed.

—  Moreover as you saw I had done his makeup so he was unrecognisable. added Saenarae with a certain pride in her voice.
—  Oh it’s true that it was quite well done ! He really looked like a fine young woman, in the dark I wouldn’t have recognized him. But why was he mad when I complimented him ?

The young slave tried to contain her laughter while explaining.

—  Well ..I think until now he had forgotten he was wearing makeup so your remark probably made him realized he had been acting quite...Manly while being all dolled up.

Hae Tuak tried to hold her laughter in as well but failed miserably when she imagined Saya talking down to a confused Yangcha and maybe even threatening or promising him he would beat him during their dual while looking even more delicate than any flower. After a few minutes of laughter the two ladies regained their composure even if their smiles hadn’t left their faces.

—  Should I continue ? asked the young woman.

Her superior gestured her to continue with her hand « —  Please do  ». Saenarae nodded and resumed her story.

—  We were walking and talking about his...she lowered her voice. Dreams.

Hae Tuak immediately interrupted her by waving her hands excitingly.

—  What does he dream about ?! she yelled before whispering. I mean...I would love to ask… you know who because I’m so curious, but I can’t !

Saenarae laughed softly at her remark and explained.

—  He dreams of other young people, he has a hard time remembering their faces and their names but he said that they often play together in grand fields.

Hae Tuak noticed that the young woman looked a little bit sad while saying those words, maybe she envied those people who appeared in his dreams ? Or maybe she envied their freedom, it was hard to tell since Saenarae never complained. 

—  I wish I could have dreams, it seems fun. said the servant with compassion.
—  Me too…

They both sighed.

—  Oh excuse me I interrupted you ! And then what happened ?
—  Ah right ! Well lord Saya started noticing noises coming behind us so he told me to be careful and then... Yangcha appeared.
—  Yangcha ? He was... Following you ?

Saenarae remained silent for a few seconds a thoughtful expression on her face before hazarding a guess. 

—  I suppose he saw us leave lord Tagon’s house and assumed we had broke in ?
—  Ah it’s true that we didn’t tell them you both had the keys of his house…

The young woman let out a little “ Ah ” as if she had just realized something.

—  Then it would explain what happened after...
—  What happened ? asked her the servant, but the girl didn’t answer.

Instead her face darkened as if she was reminded of an unpleasant memory.

—  Is everything alright ?
—  Y-yes ! Of course ! she said while making sure to avoid any eye contact with Hae Tuak.

The servant grabbed her hands to reassure her.

—  You can tell me don’t worry I won’t be mad at you.
—  I’m not worried about me...

Aaaah how adorable... She’s always covering up for lord Saya ” thought the servant refraining a little chuckle from escaping her lips. They truly were the most adorable siblings.

—  It’s fine ! I won’t tell lady Taealha so don’t worry about lord Saya.
—  It’s not about lord Saya.

Hae Tuak furrowed her brows.

—  Then who ?
—  Yangcha. finally answered Saenarae after an hesitation.

Her answer confused even more the Hae Tribe member who had known the warrior for years. She knew he wasn’t the type to make mistakes.

—  He...attacked lord Saya without a reason.

The eyes of Hae Tuak widened in shock, it wasn’t possible. Even if he had suspciouns about them Yangcha would never have attacked a inhabitant of Arthdal without concrete evidence that there were  a threat. Lord Tagon had sent him here undercover, it would have been stupid to cause harm to a civilian which would have brought attention on all of them. He also didn’t have any reason to want to harm Saya as they were to fight the day right after. “ It doesn’t sound right ” Hae Tuak opened her mouth to ask her something but was interrupted by Saenarae’s sudden gasp. Yangcha was standing at the entrance of the room. It was hard to tell if he had heard anything as he had his usual look of boredom on his face and didn’t seem upset to the slightest. “ Since how long has he been standing there ?! ” screamed the servant in her head. “ Did he heard what we were talking about ? ” she hoped he hadn’t, this would have been way too awkward. 
—  Sit down Yangcha, your meal is ready. she said with a jesting tone which only had for effect to highlight how uncomfortable she was.

But Yangcha didn’t pay any attention to her, his entire attention was focused on Saenarae who he was staring at as if he was seeing her for the first time. There wasn’t hatred or anger, just interest as if he was evaluating her. Hae Tuak grabbed the dish Saenarae was giving her and furrowed her brows. 

—  Is there a problem ? she asked while putting the plate on the table.

The warrior switched his gaze to her before looking at the dish, Saenarae had cooked in the last hour; a stew which smelled very good and looked quite tasty. “ After such a long travel he will probably be happy to eat something like that and it might even make him forget what we were talking about ! ” thought Hae Tuak with a smile but contrary to what she had expected the masked man bowed politely and then left.

—  Uh ? Yangcha ? You are not eating ? Yangcha ! she called him a few more times but the soldier didn’t come back.
—  You should give up he’s probably in his bed now... said Saenarae with a sigh.
—  But what do we do with the stew ? You worked so hard to cook it…
—  It’s ok don’t worry, it doesn’t bother me. answered the young woman with a sad smile. We can just eat it tomorrow.

Hae Tuak felt really bad for Saenarae, although she was trying to hide it her elder could see how saddened she was to see her hard work ignored. “ What’s wrong with Yangcha ? ” Yes, he was very bad at interacting with people and the fact that he couldn’t talk often left room for misunderstandings but what he had done to Saya was wrong and the way he had treated Saenare was simply rude. “ He has never done something like that before and he has no reason to hate Saenarae so why would he-... ” she paused, feeling like she had finally put her finger on something. “ Of course ! ” She let out a little squeal of excitation and grabbed Saenarae’s hands, making the young woman flinch out of surprise. 

—  I think Yangcha likes you !

Saenarae looked at her with wide eyes.

—  Hae Tuak I think you’re misunderstanding things…

But the servant didn’t listen and continued to explain to her the reasoning she had done to come up with that conclusion.

—  Yangcha is a little bit shy and I’m sure he only did this to attract your attention ! You know like how little boys pull on the hair of the girl they like ?...Or the contrary since in your case you used to-...
—  I really don’t think he likes me !
—  No need to be shy~ teased the servant.

They continued their cute bickering for a while, while from the top of the stairs Yangcha looked at them, a dark expression on his face.
 

 

Chapter Text

Yangcha stabbed the guard standing in his way. If only he had more time he would have done way worst to him, such a peaceful death was too good for people like him.

— Hey ! Who are-..!

The warrior didn’t give him time to finish his sentence and threw a dagger in his direction, the blade buried itself into his throat. A perfect shot, he had to thank his master for teaching him that. “Lord Saya…” thinking about him angered the warrior, if he hadn’t messed up during their mission they still would have been together. He abruptly picked up the dagger from the body of the guard, spilling blood all over his hand and his face. Yangcha didn’t pay much attention to the state of his outfit and grabbed the ring of keys before standing up. Once he had them he immediately rushed into the stairs leading to the cells. They were all occupied by men in terrible states who all begged for his help as he passed but he ignored each one of them. The only person he cared about was Saya, he was worried about the state he would find his master in. He discovered him in the last cell with his head covered by an iron mask, he was on his knees forced to remain in this position by multiple chains. Yangcha opened the door in panic and rushed to his side, the sudden noise made Saya flinch. He tried to get up but was painfully forced to remain on his knees by the chains holding his neck and the ones on his ankles. He was terrorized. Yangcha was mute therefore he couldn’t tell Saya he was mistaken, that it was him and not a guard. He couldn’t reassure him but he could see how much he needed to be comforted. He clenched his fists out of anger. “What did they do to you ?” his master wasn’t the type to fear anything so to see him react like that only meant one thing: He had been tortured. The warrior knew the lord of this castle had a fascination for vampires but he ignored that the first thing he would do if when he would manage to put his hands on one was to harm him. “You will pay for this Mihol” but not today, Tagon the chef of their assassination squad had requested for his utmost discretion on this mission. Mihol was currently an important tool in the many plans of their best client Taealha, the own daughter of the lord. She had promised he would get to kill him and do whatever he wanted to him in a few weeks, but for now all he was allowed to do was to recuperate his missing teammate, nothing more. 

— Please...Not...Again… begged Saya.

Under his mask Yangcha bit his lips until it bled a little, he kneeled and started to work on the locks keeping the mask in place. “ Silver ” the only material capable of harming vampires, everything he had mistaken for iron until now was in reality silver. For humans it was the same as being chained him up with fire, it was extremely painful. He took off the mask and Saya blinked a few times before looking at him, as soon as he recognized his servant he immediately smiled a little bit. He tried to speak to him but coughed blood instead which took Yangcha aback. Even if his master was only half vampire his wounds, internals or externals, always healed immediately. Which probably was why Mihol probably had enjoyed a lot his play time with him.

— What with...The face…? Were…. he coughed again. Were you worried ?

 Yangcha looked at him with a pained expression on his face. “ How could I not ? ”. Saya cracked a small smile which disappeared as soon as he was taken by a new cough fits. The warrior stopped staring at him and started to work on the lock on his master’s neck. The keys he had were only useful for the doors, so he had to crochet the locks. The space between the walls and Saya was too small for him to stand so he was forced to work while standing in front of his master. “ In a way it looks like he is hugging me… ” thought Saya, the gesture didn’t feel too bad he actually liked it. “ He’s warm and he smells like blood… ” He closed his eyes and rested his head on the shoulder of the masked man who froze.

 — Continue. muttered Saya. 

 Yangcha returned to his task but his master felt like his hands were slightly shaking. “ Ah.. of course ” The dhampir lifted his head and met the eyes of his savior who immediately averted his gaze. His reaction disappointed him but didn’t surprise him either, no matter how close they were there wasn’t any sane human who would have been comfortable with being so close to a blood sucker. The silver collar around his neck and the chain linking it to the wall fell on the floor. Saya took a deep breath, he already felt a bit better but the rest of his body was still in pain. At least now he could talk and breath more normally.

— I’m sorry...he said while looking at the ceiling.

 Yangcha momentarily stopped his work but then continued without looking at him, his brows slightly furrowed.  

— I didn’t realize you would hate it if I... leaned on you like that.

 The chains around his wrists fell on the floor as well but before Saya could even realize it Yangcha pulled him against his chest. “ I’m not afraid .” said the assassinin his head and he hoped his master would understand. However the dhampir didn’t say a word which worried the young man. Maybe he was inconvenienced by his gesture ? He slowly tried to break out their hug but Saya pulled him back. They stayed like this a few seconds until the latter suddenly grabbed him by the shoulders.

— Are you hurt ? he asked with a worried tone between two coughs.. Your heart is beating too fast ! 

The masked man pushed back the dhampir and leaned on his side to start crocheting the two remaining locks on his ankles. But also to avoid to show his face to him, he was feeling extremely hot and he knew his face was probably quite red, his hands were shaking and his palms were sweaty. He was embarrassed. 

— Wait. ordered Saya but his servant deliberately ignored him which made him sigh, instead he continued to work for a few more minutes like this until his master was totally free. Once it was done he turned around and pointed at his back.

— I can walk.

 The warrior stood up and extended his hand, his companion grabbed it and with his help managed to stand up. They walked a few steps but quickly Saya collapsed on Yangcha who caught up on the door. “ He needs blood” the masked man thought, fine there were plenty of prisoners outside any of them would do. He helped the dhampir sit down on the floor and tried to leave but was stopped by Saya’s hand on his wrist.

— We don’t have time for that...he whispered. I can wait. 

Yangcha shook his head. “ No you can’t ! ” he could see how difficult it was for him to breath and the drops of sweat rolling down his face. He was entering a blood frenzy which meant he would become uncontrollable very soon, he would try to feed on anything he could put his hands on until he felt satisfied. But before he reached that point he would suffer terribly as resisting to a blood frenzy was extremely painful and tiring. 

— If we stay any longer we will get caught...argued Saya. I can hold it in a bit more...Let’s go...he saw in the eyes of his servant an hesitation and decided to add with a commanding voice. It’s an order 

 

♠♦♠♦

 

After a long march they were finally outside of the castle and almost safe from the danger that was lord Mihol. The only remaining problem now was Saya who had clearly reached his limit. He was covered in sweat, trembled and sometimes moaned because of the pain, he also couldn’t walk anymore and had to be carried by Yangcha on his back. The dhampir tried to resist as much as he could to his own nature but they were progressing too slowly. His weight was slowing down the assassin and the ground wasn’t easy to walk on as it was quite slippery, which was the reason why the warrior had to let his horse at the bottom of the they were on. Yangcha started to curse the owner of the castle once again but was interrupted by the fingernails of Saya digging themselves in the skin of his torso. His master was going through a new wave of pain, he hoped it would go away quickly however it lasted longer than the previous ones. Once it was over the dhampir panted for a moment before snorting. “ Are you...Crying ? ” This was too much. Yangcha stopped and delicately put him down, he was indeed crying although he tried his best to hide it by wiping his face. The assassin clenched his jaw and pretended he hadn’t notice to not hurt the pride of his companion but they both knew the truth.

— Why...did..you stop…? asked Saya between two breaths while also trying to avoid looking at Yangcha’s face. The warrior still had blood on his mask but because of the darkness of the castle he and the dhampir hadn’t noticed either until now. “This explain this sweet smell” Saya closed his eyes, when he opened them up again Yangcha was unbuttoning his shirt. — What are you doing ?! he shouted with the little bit of strength he had left.

 The assassin stopped and tilted his head to the side, he was pretty sure his gestual was pretty self explanatory.  

 — If... If I drink your blood I won’t be able to stop ! 

 Yangcha gave him an unimpressed look “I trust you.

 — You don’t... Understand. tried to argue Saya but his voice was too weak and the assassin was ignoring him on purpose, he had to find something else. The mask ! Give...Give me your mask !

The concerning furrowed his brows but obeyed and slowly started to untie the knots behind his head. As he was doing so Saya looked at him with an expression he couldn’t read but which made him blush. “ It’s probably just the blood...Yes he must be excited by that...Just the blood ” He had to calm himself down, what was he even thinking about in the middle of the night on the enemy's territory and when his master was feeling so bad ? Once the knots were untied he grabbed his mask and felt something liquid on it, it was the blood he had received on his face earlier, he ignored it and extended it to Saya who almost prayed it out of his hands. The warrior couldn’t see what the dhampir was doing with it since half of his face was hidden by it but from the noise he made he guessed he was lickling it. Once he had finished he extended it back to him with an awkward smile, Yangcha noticed his eyes had almost taken back their normal color even if they were still slightly red. 

 — Can I lick it ?

 Yangcha froze. “What ?

— Please. Your hand. 

The warrior looked down at his hands and noticed he still had blood on it. “ Ah… ” He slowly nodded and let Saya grabbed his hand to lick his fingers. The dhampir was doing it very slowly and with the utmost care almost as if he was eating the ultimate delicacy. His behavior in addition to his piercing gaze made Yangcha feel extremely weird, he felt like he was doing something wrong he didn’t know where to look. He lifted his head to look at the sky and took in a deep breath. “ Calm down. Calm down. Calm down. ” He repeated in his head but it was difficult to do when he could feel the warmth of Saya’s tongue move around his fingers. The moves were slow and languorous just like a passionate kiss between two lovers. Yangcha took in another deep breath and closed his eyes this time. He started to imagine Saya kissing him with his tongue then going down his neck, his torso, going down even more and then reachin-...

— That’s not enough.

Yangcha lowered his gaze and their eyes met again. He liked the way Saya looked at him, it was scary and fascinating at the same time. There was hunger but also desire, it was something very thrilling. A side of him no one except him had never seen been before. The dhampir slowly extended his hand towards the face of the assassin and grabbed it a bit roughly than he intended. He inspected it, there was blood all over the forehead and a bit on his right ear. Saya licked his own lips and approached his prey slowly, once he was close enough he delicately pushed him on the floor. His vampiric instinct wanted him to bit him and be over with it but something else inside of him wanted to take it slow and enjoy the moment. He leaned on the top of Yangcha and started to lick the blood he had on his forehead before taking care of his ear. Once again his instinct ordered him to bit and he obeyed but did it very softly, Yangcha opened a little bit his mouth but didn’t protest. The dhampir buried his head in his neck and inhaled deeply, he knew it was wrong and how risky it was but he could barely control himself. The warrior smelled wonderfully good, an undescriptible smell which reminded Saya of a forest after a long rainy night, and if he could have he would have bottled the mysterious fragrance to always keep it with him. “ More ” he wanted more of him. He licked his neck, it tasted a bit salty probably because of the sweat. He liked the taste but that wasn’t what his instinct reclaimed, what his body ached for. A new wave of pain went through his entire body and he instinctively digged once again his fingers nails in the skin of Yangcha. “ Don’t bit him or he will die. Don’t bit him or he will die. ” To avoid doing so he bit his own tongue until he started bleeding. Yangcha passed a hand in his hair to help him calm down and Saya hugged him even more tightly. Once the pain had calmed down he was left all sweaty, shaking and panting on the top of the assassin who gently caressed his cheek. They remained like that for a while until Saya tried to get up only to fail miserably and fall back on Yangcha who gave him a look full of worry. 

— I’m...fine. he lied.

He looked at the lips of Yangcha, there was a little wound on them and it really really looked delicious . The dhampir licked his own lips, now that he was this close he could smell the blood and could already imagine its taste in his mouth. “ Maybe if I only lick it… ” he hesitated a few seconds, but then went down for the kiss. Although he was a bit startled Yangcha answered quickly and the shy kiss he had received at first turned into a way more intense moment. They both were touching and embracing each other as if it was their last night together, as if they were all alone on earth. It was something intense but non violent, in fact Saya was making his best to control his instinct. The beast inside of him complained about his lack of predatory instinct — he hadn’t eaten in days, he should have bit this prey ! But he totally ignored it, the only thing that mattered to him right now was the sweet taste he was feeling. When he stopped his eyes met those of Yangcha and he was surprised to read in it something he had never seen before: love . The assassin was drunk in love and nothing could have made his lover happier because he had himself also realized something; he not only wanted wanted Yangcha’s blood, he also wanted him . If he had been in his normal state he would have stopped there because going any further no matter how pleasing it was would put Yangcha in danger but right now he didn’t care, he was feeling greedy. He wanted Yangcha’s everything and he would get it now . The beast inside of him approved of this and encouraged him to continue. The dhampir started to unbutton the shirt of his lover while kissing him passionately, he then slowly went down his neck before stopping abruptly. “ What am I doing ?! ” if he didn’t control himself he could kill Yangcha, they had to stop now . However his lover wasn’t planning on having any of his attitude, he could see how much his other half was in pain and he wouldn’t let him starve any longer. Therefore if he didn’t dare to make him bleed a little, he would do it himself. He grabbed his dagger and aimed it at his hand. 

— No ! yelled Saya. Ok, you won I’ll bit you. But please don’t do that ever again when I’m in ...he stopped momentarily because of his breathing difficulties. When I’m like this...Because if I see blood I won’t be able to control myself and I...he coughed a bit before continuing. I will tear your hand apart. 

Yangcha nodded he was satisfied with his answer but now he was curious to know where he would be bitten and how it would feel. No matter which state he had been Tagon had never laid a hand on him therefore the only biting experiences he had were those of all the victims his other master had eaten. They didn’t seem to enjoy it at all as they screamed, begged for their lives or simply fainted. But the assassin wasn’t scared at all, those people weren’t like him after all.

— Take off your pants. ordered Saya without looking at him. The assassin was extremely glad he wasn’t looking at him because his cheeks had probably reddened a lot. 

— The only non lethal and discreet...he coughed. Place I can think of is this one. 

He then tapped on a point on the thigh of Yangcha which made him shivers. Although he had his pants on the assassin could feel the cold hands of Saya and it didn’t help him relax at all, all the contrary it. He obeyed and undressed, it wasn’t the first time his lover had seen him undress but it sure was the first time he looked at him like that. He sat down once again and Saya immediately jumped on him like a starving cat, he leaned on his tight and licked his skin with his eyes closed. The assassin swallowed his saliva with difficulty, how could something so simple made him feel this way ?

— It will hurt a lot. announced Saya in a shaking voice, his entire body had reached his limit and he was having a hard time controlling himself. he opened his eyes and indicated the dagger laying next to Yangcha. If I take too much blood… He didn’t add anything more and looked at the pulsing vein he had in front of him. He had never been more excited to eat than right now, his hands were shaking and he had a hard time calming himself down. He needed to stay focus if he didn’t want to miss the vein and make a mess but the temptation was strong. He slowly opened his mouth and bit, although a bit more abruptly than he had wished. Yangcha let out a moan which didn’t escape to the dhampir who immediately lifted his head to look at him, without stopping drinking. It was too sweet, too tasty, too perfect for him to stop no matter what happened. And yet when their gazes met he almost did. He had always thought Yangcha was a handsome man but right now he found him more attractive than he had ever been. Was it because of his taste or because he was in love ? He couldn’t tell yet but all he knew was that he wanted him for himself. He wanted to hug him, kiss him, drink his blood everyday, cover him with bite scars and scratches, and many other things. But for now he would only drink a little bit, after all they still had a lot of time left before dawn.