"Who are you?" I said, almost stuttered as I fought a rising panic.
I stared at his six-foot-five frame leaning against the large pillar, dressed in a usual assortment of the dark purple overcoat with silver damask patterns down the front and splicing loose pants. His inner clothes were black and gold that highlights the mystery of the exotic and his temperament. And his cape embellished with gold-tone metal plates, and the metal belt highlights the arrogance and the regality of the man.
He looked exactly like any cosplayer or a movie star who played the elf king, and the grim power etched into the beauty of his face and the ruthless intelligence in his electric blue eyes that made me shudder in fear.
"Are you the shrine monk?" I asked quickly before the man could open his mouth to answer. "Are you the one looking for a helper? I could be the perfect one to do the task,"
The man lifts his gaze to mine, keeping careful track of myself. One of his elegant eyebrows quirks.
"Please hire me," I begged as I bow my head.
"I am no monk in this shrine, do I look like one?" he asks the question smoothly, the baritone of his voice reverberating through my bones.
The richness of his tones - luxurious and warm, I can't help to feel the voice and carries me off to a different world where the sound is the power that could change everything wrong in the world.
"Well, where's the monk? He may know that he is looking for a helper,"
For a few long moments, he studies me, his golden eyes dark and glinty in the afternoon-lit temple. "I am looking for a soul," as he speaks, the low rumble of his voice is comforting yet eerie as it wraps around me.
I pretend I didn't hear what he said, trying to ignore it, "let me guess, you're a cosplayer?" I ask, then I slammed my fist into my palm, "Oh, right, you are a cosplayer, there is a coming event this month, and you need a little help to clean up the shrine." and for a moment, I pause and think, tapping my chin, "no, that's not right, cosplay's don't hold in a shrine," and I was talking to myself.
Without any hesitation, he said, "I'm a God," he locked eyes with me, staring with mesmerizing dark blue eyes. He fixes me in a look that would make a person shiver. I then felt like looking into an endless stretch of the midnight sky, dragging me in.
He approached in a still shape that it was perfect in every way. He looked every inch the king with his long white silvery hair. "Aren't you afraid of me, little human?" he drawled, gaze lingering on me with a mocking grin.
Without answering him back, he continues, "tell me, little human, what is it that you most desire?" he leaned forward until we were nose to nose. "tell me,"
For a breathless moment, raw power flared through his eyes, making my body clench with anticipation. I had never seen a man with the kind of face that can stop you and your beating heart as slowly drowning me into his blue eyes. Almost sickeningly blue. It was breathtaking. Then, just as swiftly, the glimpse of emotion was gone.
"What are you doing?"
The man stepped back, his smile tight with annoyance. I can see he is somehow disappointed in something and his face appears to be contemplating a situation and its repercussions. No one speaks a word, the only sound is the rustling of the leaves around us.
What is he up to now? Does he think I will tell him about what I desire? Perhaps he wishes me to believe he will lock me with his intense beauty and answer everything he wishes to ask.
His eyes fall on me, mouth quirks, and his stern gaze softens. "Your bangle is what makes you not obey me,"
The more he speaks, the more I get confused. I guess I met a beauty but in a lunatic state. Poor lad, maybe he stuck here because of some conditions in his brain, saying he is a God, the desire I want, and the bangle. Is it because they are hiring someone to watch over this guy?
That will be no way.
I moved past him. "Please tell your monk that someone else is going to come here. I'm going home."
In an instant, the sky turned black as night, even though it was yet late noon, the blackness around the shrine was replaced with the lit lanterns, giving a candlelight effect in the afternoon-night.
I stared at the scene in great awe, wondering how he does that, but the amazement doesn't cover it that long. The atmosphere was now becoming dense, and I had to move on and get out of this place, but I can't make a move that some invisible force is stopping me.
A sudden chill I felt on my back, sending a shiver down my spine, and feeling my blood chill in my veins.
"You know, Ukiyo," he touched my long straight dark hair, playing between his fingers, as he continues, "I will not going to wait for another person to come in here, I can sense they send you here to me," he said in a rich, silky tone of his voice. He speaks as if he controls the world, his experience seeping in. "And before you could turn your back on me, tell me, what is your desire, and I will give it to you,"
I gulped, tense by his touch, brushing his finger from my hair down to my neck, and it was cold but baby smooth to the touch.
"I don't have one. For now." my voice almost croaked to speak. In the blink of my eyes, the man was now standing right in front of me. "How do you know my name?" I was sure I didn't mention my name to him.
"Your desire." says the man, still ignoring my question. His dark purple and gold robes have a life of their own from the flickering shadow flames of the lanterns.
I shudder away from him. This guy is a lunatic.
"So, you're a genie now?" and I almost stumbled over certain words with tightness in my voice. "A god will never come down here, to meet someone in person, someone like me, and that's absurd!" I could feel my cheeks started to feel warm as I continued, "and like me, will a god ever hear my prayers, and if you are one, you know what I desire without telling you, right?"
He didn't speak, keeping himself silent, but not letting his eyes off me.
I scoffed at his sight, "Cat got your tongue?" I mocked. My hand was gripping on my upper arm. "I don't know why I ever believed the job hiring ad, coming all the way here just to make fun of me, are you happy now?" I said, shaking my head.
He moved towards her. In his towering presence, a little rise in the corner of his mouth creating a smirk, his thick eyebrows slightly raised, showing a crease of amusement. "My, my, aren't you mad now, little human?" his hands clasped behind his back. "What if I tell you I am here to answer your prayers? You would not like to go home being humiliated again by your cousin, Mairin, right?"
He saw the shock register on my face before I could hide it. A small smile played on his lips, and he continues, "you even think the Dark Shrine isn't real."
I tip my head back to gaze towards him. This man is much taller at this close. I stepped back from him, inhaled some air, and gathered the courage to confront this stranger. "What kind of a god are you? How about a Demon God?" My breath makes white clouds in the air. I wrap my arms around myself. This place is getting colder as I am concerned about my being. I need to get out of here.
"What about it? Does it matter what God am I? I will grant your desire."
"I am not sure what I desire the most."
"Not sure?" frustration flared through him. "No human can hesitate like that, dear."
My sigh forms another visible cloud. Still, I have doubts to believe such a thing happens to me today. My voice quivers at the edge of laughter until I can no longer contain it. By the slightest reminder, the pain in the back of my mind comes forward, and as much as I tried to hold it in, the painful memories and scars I've been keeping for so long came out.
The beads of water started falling one after another, without a sign of stopping, the walls making me strong, that holding me up just...collapsed. I didn't care if the man was there, and I just broke down, driving me to my knees.
The sobs echo through the empty shrine.
The early sun filtered through the clouds, signaling the beautiful morning, birds chirping. The students arrive through the gates, hustling and bustling down the corridors. The bell rings, and everybody runs and goes into their respective rooms.I sit on the edge of the plastic chair, bathing me from the sunlight right outside the window, and
It was a good day in the city. The long night of heavy rain had washed every sidewalk and gutters clean, and tincture of freshness still lingered in the air despite the sun and the vehicle fumes. The clouds were as puffs of radiant joy, ready to dispense into the wind. Already, the place was humming in activities.
It was late afternoon when I arrived at Hyeon's residence. I did not make any sound as I entered the house. Everything seems quiet, so I made my way to the stairs. Mairin still isn't home even the driver fetched her, and she never let me join her in the car.And for Kurai. He was still with the Principal when I left. He let his driver accompany me home.
"How do I look?"I stood and stared at herself on the wall-mounted looking glass in my new black A-line dress with a black choker and a white color in a preppy style; hair styled in a messy bun, and a pair of white classic ballerina flats.
*Nestled in her casual green barrel chair, cozy as it was, she was watching the singing audition while perusing her social media page on the massive microLED television attached to the wall. A random person took a video and shared it with the internet.
The car stopped at the front gate, and before I could climb out, the lady said, "Take this," handed over the small suitcase, "Use the card to open the front door, and a key to your room," she instructed.
I find myself staring in the bathroom mirror. It was still early in the morning, and yet, I fell asleep soundly last night. It was the best sleep I ever had since I was in Hyeon's mansion.I blink, closes my eyes, and blinks again.
“My apology, Mr. Drayce,” I somewhat hesitated to say what I wanted to say, to relay what Kurai would like to happen about the contract. And I wish I could call him back before I could say something that could make Mr. Drayce disappointed.Do I need to feel that? Where is that damn god, anyway? “This is about the contract...” I