Chapter 6 - The Offer

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.

I was about to enter my room when Carii stopped me.

I saw Carii was giggling as she approached me, "Ukiyo!" her muscles are shaking, eyes half-closed with a big smile plastered on her face making me a bit uncomfortable, but I know that Carii was happy.

"Look!" She showed the white envelope to me, "someone came to deliver and was looking for you to have this!" and handed over the flat paper container.

"What is it?" hesitant to accept it, glancing at Cari back to the envelope.

"Maybe it's a love letter?"

I snorted, "you're kidding,"

Carii shrugged, "Well, I don't know. Just open it," 

I was more curious when there's no address, no stamp, or name to whom it is from, but sealed in black wax with the ornate letter N. I have no idea what this means. I plucked the paper from the envelope, releasing a floral aroma.

"What is it?" Carii blinks while reading the letter, too. "Is that for real?" a tingling feeling of excitement raised in her. "You're going for an audition!" and she was clapping with joy.

"But how?" But I already have an idea who might be doing this, if it isn't the co-owner of the Nocturne Music Industry playing as a god himself. I don't doubt it.

"Does it matter? And you are going!"

I smile, give my head a slight shake. "Please, Cari, you can't be excited about the audition? I might not make it till the end. I'm sure there are hundreds or thousands will be joining,"

"Oh, shut up," she hits my shoulder, "even if you don't make it for the audition, I am still happy for you, but you call me if you need anything, and I mean it." 

The pleasant sensation grows. I know that Carii is worried, and she always talks about her life non-stop, and I never tell much about mine. I don't mind that she keeps pushing me about joining any singing competitions. She always believed in me.

"Thanks, Carii," I smiled.

"Hey, change your clothes, there may be someone who will notice that you're gone and get mad," she grins.

"Yeah, right, better hurry,"  and I stepped inside my room.

Leaning over the closed door, I somehow felt grateful for letting me have my room. My uncle, Mairin's father, permitted me to have my personal space. Does he know that I am in this kind of situation? But, I can't tell my uncle about it, and he's always busy taking care of their company here and abroad. He seldom comes home, too.

I let my backpack drop on the floor and slumped on my bed. I left the lights off. The light posts outside give a little light in my room through the thin curtains. It relaxed my feeling as if it was a heart-beat at rest.

Oh, the softness of the comforter is irresistible, too. There is something so great about my room after school. I lay the envelope on the table, next to the photo frame of my late mother and father, and me when I was five, standing in the middle. My eyes settled on it for a moment. How I missed them so much, the family I wished to come back. But way too impossible.

Perhaps I should take it seriously to get into that competition and work on my voice singing in some good songs. But what song could I think of for the contest?

"My apology if I can't give what you wish to bring your family back, little human," said a male voice from behind.

I turn around. My brain stutters for a moment, and my heart leaps to see the figure sitting on the single couch, which places right at the corner of my room. It is Kurai.

"You scared me to death, you-" I stuttered in wild eyes, moving my back to the pillows as if I had seen a ghost and tried to get far away from him.

Kurai stood, his soles rested on the cold floor, hands clasped behind his back. He wore his robes the first time we met at the shrine. I was like staring at the beautiful emperor in the far away dynasty. 

He walks over from where he sits, his sharp eyes darting over the room to the books scattered on the table. He is likely to have disparaging thoughts about the place and my habits.

"Stop playing like a god, what is your real  name?" I asked. 

"Do you still think that, little human? That I am not a god?"

"Oh, a billionaire would be like a god,"

The corner of his mouth lifts, "How can you guess that I am a teacher, and in a split second, I am a billionaire, but no one bats an eye?"

He was right. No one said anything about him becoming the art teacher and yesterday, a billionaire. What now? An emperor? Like he can play any people's memory. Except for me. But I'm still not convinced.

"How did you get in here?" 

Kurai's face gives away nothing as he leans over and examines me. He was about to lean closer to me when a pillow slumped on his face stopping him in between. 

He slowly stepped back, mouth curved into a smirk, "I'm a God, remember?" He turned his back and faced the curtained window. "I can appear anywhere I want, except to that place," he said, almost a whisper. His eyes fixed on an unknown point beyond the starry night.

We both paused in silence, lost in our thoughts. I wonder about what Kurai wants and act as if everything is normal. Why me?

I scoffed, resting the pillow on her lap, "You're not a god, and you're making me nervous for the competition," looking away with a heavy heart.

My eyes widened the moment his face was in front of me. I didn't even notice the slight movement he makes. This time, my nose touched his, and it was freezing yet smooth. Is this guy spending a lot of time in the snow?

Trying to move away, but I was stopped by an unseen force wrapping around my body, making me unable to move any further.

He does look like an inferior person whose beauty is beyond imagination but saying he's a god, this guy is a lunatic. She can tell that this guy can play people's minds. But, why can't she move from the spot and he keeps staring at her with his eyes like ebony.

"What are you doing?" my voice croaked as I struggled to move from the unseen grasp around me. "Could you please let me go?" I could feel my cheeks are on fire.

"I'm not doing anything," he keeps staring at her without showing any expressions on his face.

"You liar,"

"I thought you don't believe me, and no human can do that to you,"

"Okay, fine, are you a god?"

"Good question, little human, and I have already answered that - many times,"    

"Well, actually you don't, maybe you're just a sorcerer,"

"You gotta be kidding me,"

"No, I'm not, you're supposed to grant what I desire, right? I'm not feeling it," I shrugged with my lips pouting out in disbelief.

"I know what you desire, little human, but I want to hear it from you," 

Why is it he keeps telling that he is a god? There are so many questions that I wanted to ask, but I wanted to see if he is just a hoax, and I'll try to get along with his act.

I let out a heavy sigh, "Fine, we will see about that,"  and I sound defeated. 

He lifted my chin, drawing my eyes to gaze on his, "Then, do tell me, what is it that you desire?" I closed my eyes that moment, feeling his cold icy breath resting on my face, thinking he was like a dead guy whose ghost still lingers on this earth, and was here to disturb my slumber.

And came along with my painful memories, were like books with chapters, deep and horrible, and the suffering I wanted to end. I recall how my body jarred with each blow, how the pain seared through my skin, and took away every feeling of safety I ever had. I vaguely remembered my childhood, my family with me, but my longing to journey to succeed, my dreams to be recognized, to get out of my miserable life burned in my heart like a tattoo. 

"I desire to have a voice. The most beautiful singing voice." 

Kurai straightens to his fullest height, peering down his nose at me, "Then, you will have it,"  he walks to the side table, near my bed. He held his empty hand over and paced away, leaving a small container glass on the top of the side table.

"What's that?"

He flicked his finger in the air, and the lampshade lit up.

My brows shoot upwards. A rectangular long-shaped and equally wide at the root and has a slender tip, it looks like a gelatin-based chewable gum in rosy red.

"Are you kidding me," I crossed my arms, raised an eyebrow, "you're giving me a gummy tongue?"

His hardened jaw and humorless expression are telling signs that he is not joking around. I swallowed a huge lump in my throat. He is dead serious.

My stomach twists into an unpleasant tangle.

"Don't tell me it's a real human tongue? And I am going to eat it?"  my lips trembled, studying the small muscular organ inside the sealed container. Instead of pink, it was bluish and scaly in the middle. I almost screamed when I saw the shape start to twist, making little contortions of its own.

"But...But..." I stammered, "it's alive."

"It's a siren's tongue," he said coldly, “and yes, you will eat it.”

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