After finishing up my check-up, Ying tied up the bandages behind me: “You’ll be able to move from tomorrow.”
Sitting in front of Ying, I asked, “I tried to stand up in the day but failed. Did you use something on me?”
From behind, Ying bluntly replied, “That’s right.”
“Why stop me…?”
“Because you may never stand again if you move about thoughtlessly.”
Ying picked up a small knife and cut the bandage in her hand. I didn’t suffer any external injuries. The bandages were used to set my bones. I looked at the empty porcelain bowl that I finished. In a soft voice, I said, “Why do you insist on helping me? Not only did you save me, but you’re treating me, too.”
Voice monotone, Ying explained, “No, I didn’t save you. You were washed up to shore. I could’ve ignored you, but you’re the first person I’ve seen survive a huge wave that fellow caused; you could argue he hurt you. My duty is to protect people from his attacks. He injured you, which means I didn’t fulfil my obligation. As such, treating you is a form of compensation for an error on my part. You need not thank me or feel grateful. It should be me who apologises.”
Ying hand on my back stopped. I heard a rustling sound from behind. I turned my head around to her black hair touch the ground. She knelt onto the ground. With her head down, she sincerely apologised: “Sorry.”
Hopeless, I said, “Why are you apologising? You saved my life.”
“No. As I mentioned, I failed to protect you.”
“The person tasked with protecting me wasn’t you but my guard fleet. Moreover, nobody can guarantee they’d made it through a storm safe and sound, can they?”
Ying was bewildered. Frankly, I had no idea what tone she was speaking to me in. Her monotone voice reminded me of the crisp and emotionless female tone machines used, rendering me speechless. She raised her head: “If pirates or a dinichthys hurt you, then, indeed, it would have nothing to do with me. However, they weren’t the ones that hurt you. It was a wyrm that hurt you. You were supposed to be its food, but he ran for some reason. The wyrm threatens the village’s safety; my duty is to protect the village from the threat. The wyrm should not harm a soul as long as I breathe. You were hurt, though. I sensed it going on a rampage, but I couldn’t save you in time. I can’t absolve myself of the fault.”
Ying bowed her head and solemnly apologised again: “Sorry.”
I gently placed my hand on Ying’s shoulder. Tone solemn, I responded, “It’s all right. Ying, raise your head. You don’t need to feel apologetic. We’re not from your village, so you don’t have a responsibility to protect us.”
“No. Even if you don’t belong to our village, I should protect you once you enter this region of the ocean. You must’ve lost a lot of people in the water. If the wyrm infects you with its breath, you’ll become a flood corpse. Flood corpses will harass the villagers by the shore. I do my best to not let people die in the water. In other words, if your wives are still at sea, they may be in danger.”
“Flood corpses? Can they be killed?”
Ying straightened herself up. Adopting a proper sitting posture, she explained, “They’re fundamentally the same as humans. You can kill them by beheading them or piercing their heart. It’s just that one human corpse can usher ten flood corpses over. As you might imagine, there are too many of them once they swarm you. With that said, none of them rushed to the shore last night. Somebody by the shore saw lots of headless flood corpses this morning. Additionally, the wyrm didn’t convert all of the corpses into flood corpses in time. Something there must’ve scared them off.”
I dallied for a moment before noticing that a smile slowly crept up onto my face. My entangled feelings relaxed all of a sudden. My mind calmed down for the first time; nightmares stopped plaguing me. I slowly lied back down and laughed.
Ying must’ve been confused as to why I was laughing. I wiped the tears at the corner of my eyes. In a shaky voice, I stated, “I’m so glad. I’m so glad. I’m so glad. That means my wives made it. My wives are still alive. Flood corpses can’t possibly hurt my wives. I’m absolutely certain they were the ones who killed the blood corpses. I’m certain of it!”
Ying fell off track for a second. She then emphasised, “They?”
“Ah, I have two wives.”
“No, what caught my attention was that they dared to fight the flood corpses. It sounds as though your wives are soldiers specialised in combat. It would be great if they’re safe as you assume. Have a good rest. When you’ve recovered, return to them. There is no other land around nearby. If your wives are still aboard the ship, they will likely come here. The wyrm hasn’t been active for the last two days; therefore, the ocean has been considerably calm.”
Ying’s indifference to the fact I had two wives was awkward to me. She stood up and carried the tray with her to the door. Eyes on her white kimono, I called her. She looked back. As a result, her long black hair gently glided through the air. I looked at her red eyes and thanked her: “Thanks.”
“I told you: you don’t need to thank me.”
Ying turned around. I raised my voice: “Thank you for taking care of me during this time in addition to protecting me. Thank you very much, Ying!”
I think that was the first time I addressed Ying by her name. She suddenly froze in place. Her black hair swayed a few times. She didn’t turn around, and I didn’t look away. I, instead, looked at her back with sincerity. I didn’t look away despite only seeing her back.
She left the room a short moment later. My mood literally did a one eighty from daytime. I felt relaxed. Nier and Lucia were the two who’d be capable of killing so many flood corpses. I believed the two of them were fine and would soon arrive on the island.
It was a very dangerous ordeal, but I guess you could say it didn’t turn out too bad. The rescue fleet should soon arrive. I’d bet anything there were boats in the village, as well. I just needed to inform my people of my location. I was incredibly interested in the small island. I wanted to take a good look around before I head back. I also had to find out more about Ying.
“Is Ying her original name?” I wondered. I didn’t know, but having something to address by was good enough. Moreover, I was going to spend a long time with her, so I figured I’d get to know more about her.
I closed my eyes. The breeze outside blew in. Something seemed to land on my face. I touched it with my hand. I thought it was a bug of some sort. Only to find that it was a soft flower petal. I opened my eyes and looked over to the huge moonlight seemingly hanging on the tree. With the moonlight gracing it, the leaf appeared a radiant silver colour. The wind blew the tree trunk and branches which, in turn, caused flower petals to rain down elegantly as a waterfall running down and between the rocks in a cave.
From underneath the clear moonlight and twirling sea of flowers, the girl in white slowly gazed up at the sky. Ying’s long black hair splayed out in the air, while her sleeves fluttered. The floating flower petals spread out on her hair, a sight akin to snowflakes gently landing on the ground. The moonlight illuminated her captivating face. However, her expression was as cold as the moonlight…