Events in the life of a special girl told in 7 short sections. (Complete)
|Prologue: Tangle in the thread
Even if one never met Lady Bellsong until today, her immense love for her 18 month old child would be instantly evident from her radiant smile as she looked down into the crib. Beside Lady Bellsong stood her proud husband, who reached down to gently rub his daughter's stomach.
The baby's eyes followed her father's movements, she blinked and cooed as he kissed her forehead.
Lord Bellsong turned to his wife and said "Come to bed soon, my lady".
She nodded and smiled as he left.
Lady Bellsong gently lifted her daughter to her chest. She paced slowly around the room, singing a soft lullaby as the baby slowly fell asleep. "My little Rian. Please... keep her safe through the night", Lady Bellsong prayed before returning the sleeping baby to her cradle. Her prayers fell on inadequate ears.
Lord Bellsong was awoken abruptly by what sounded like the end of the world. Sheets of rain threw themselves in constant siege against the windows. The sound of thunder staggered through the mansion halls before suddenly stopping and leaving a heavy silence. Silence pierced by the cries of the baby Rian. Lady Bellsong was already out of bed and shrugging into a robe when there was a knock on the bedroom door. Lord Bellsong commanded the person to enter and a young girl came in, carrying the wailing baby.
"My apologies my Lord, I don't know what to do. She won't stop crying." The girl, who was not much older than a child, seemed to be on the verge of tears.
"It's alright. Suk Yang, let me hold her." Lady Bellsong tried to calm the nervous girl with a smile and reached out with both hands.
As the relieved Suk Yang began to hand over the crying baby, she was startled by another bout of thunder and a wind projected branch shattering through the bedroom window.
Suk Yang dropped the baby.
Episode 1: Fate, a benevolent sadist
Rian smacked Toma with her wooden fan again.
"Read the book right!" She warned the boy.
"But mistress... that's what it says. The hungry deers tore the little baby turtles to pieces and ate them all up."
Rian gritted her teeth.
"Toma. I know the book does not say that..." Rian sighed. "Never mind. I have use the latrine." She reached out a hand.
Toma put it on his arm and walked her to the latrine. After she was done, he helped her wash her hands.
"Do you want me to read you another book?" Toma asked hesitantly as they walked back.
"No, I can't stand your warped reading and it's almost time for my lessons" she said.
"Yes, you're right, mistress. I'll go grab your violin and tell Mister Dal to escort you."
Toma was delighted. Although he was a year older then Rian, he had to follow her orders all day. But finally, he saw beautiful hope. He would get some time away from this insane, cruel, stuck-up...
"Toma. I think I will not need Dal. Go tell my Lady Mother that YOU will escort me."
Toma started to utter some excuse and she poked him with her fan, hard.
"Go." She said with a hint of danger in her voice.
"Big fat meanie." He mumbled as he went to carry out her order.
"I heard that. Don't forget, I'm blind, not deaf." She called out to him.
Episode 2: Revealed secret inevitable
Although he hated Rian, Toma had to admit one thing. She had talent and played the violin beautifully. He loved to sit outside her room and listen to her practice. He would never admit it to anyone, especially Rian, but the melody could make his heart race one moment and almost drive him to tears the next. When the lesson was finished, Toma scrambled to his feet and waited for Rian to approach.
"Hey, is the carriage not here yet?" She asked.
"No, mistress. They seem to be running late."
"I see. Let's sit and wait." Rian reached out a hand and Toma led her to a bench.
"So? How did you think I played?" Rian asked after some silence.
"Well uh... you played good." Toma said.
Toma flinched as Rian smacked him with her fan. "Idiot. I played WELL."
Toma wondered, not for the first time, how her fan moved so quickly.
"Say it." Rian started to swing the fan.
"You played well, mistress."
Rian smacked him again. "Liar, you are a liar."
Toma grew annoyed, "What's with this brat? Maybe while no one is looking, I should give HER a smack."
Noticing a beverage stand across the road, Toma decided that he needed to cool off.
"I'm going to get us drinks, mistress" Toma gritted through his clenched teeth as polite as he could.
Rian faced Toma and smiled pleasantly. "Green tea."
"Green tea, black tea, cow piss... you'll drink what I get you. Toma thought.
He ordered two green teas anyway.
Walking back with the drinks, he noticed that two men were standing beside Rian.
"Where are you're parents girly? Bet they're rich, what with the clothes you wear." One man lifted her sleeve with a dirty hand which Rian quickly slapped away.
"Hey I'm speaking to you. Ain't your parents taught you to respect your elders?" The other man, a fat unpleasant looking slob, put a plump hand on her shoulder.
"Don't touch me scum." Rian put her hand on top of the fat man's.
"What you say, you little..."
"Hey! Leave her alone!" Toma had dropped the drinks and was running up.
The first man spun and tripped Toma, sending him sprawling into the dirt.
"Who's this? You're little boyfriend?" The man kicked Toma in the leg.
"Get away from her." Toma said through a bloodied lip.
"Kids these days ain't got no manners. I'll teach you..." The man kicked Toma harder.
The fat man cried out and the first man looked back to see him rolling on the ground cradling the hand that he had put on Rian's shoulder moments ago, it was discolored and swollen.
"What's your deal?" The man poked his partner with his toe.
"That crazy girl... she broke my damn... hand!"
"She what?" He looked over at Rian, who was standing calmly.
"Come here you..." The man grabbed Rian by her collar.
Rian stabbed her folded wooden fan into the man's wrist. As the man cried out, Rian ducked under the flailing arm, drove her own elbow into his gut and swung her fan up, catching him in his jaw. As Rian walked over to Toma, she kicked the fat man in his face for good measure.
"My dear Toma, are you alright?" Rian asked sweetly offering him a hand up.
"Uh, yes mistress." Toma stood painfully.
"Good." She whacked him on the head.
"Ah! Why the heck? And where did you learn to do all that?" Toma asked in disbelief.
"Never you mind. Is anyone looking at us?"
Toma looked around but it seemed that no one was paying attention to some kids getting picked on.
"I don't think so, mistress."
"OK. I want you to promise that you will not speak a word of this to anyone, including my Lord Father and Lady Mother. Now promise or I WILL make your life very, very hard." She pointed her fan at him.
"Ye... yes mistress, I will do as you say."
"Good. Now, I think I hear our carriage. How convenient."
As the carriage rode up, Rian turned to Toma again and put her finger to her lips and then swept her hand across her throat, the message was clear to Toma "Shut up or die".
The carriage driver took one look at Toma and said "Ai-ya. Did Miss Rian scold you again?"
He didn't notice the two men crawling away painfully.
Episode 3: A harsh retribution
"Suk Yang!" Toma called out to his older sister as the carriage returned through the gates of the Bellsong estate.
"Driver, stop." Rian ordered.
Both Rian and Toma got off as Suk Yang quickly approached them.
"Good evening Mistress." She bowed to Rian before saying "What are you doing Toma? Take Miss Rian back to the main house!"
"Actually, is it alright if I stay out here a little while too?" Rian interrupted.
"Of course Mistress." Suk Yang bowed again.
Rian sighed. Despite her best efforts to be friendly, Suk Yang was always so formal, cold. Because of her rank and circumstance, Rian concluded that was the way people would treat her for the rest of her life.
"Suk Yang, hey sis! You won't believe what I saw today!" Toma waved his arms excitedly.
Rian's fan shot out catching Toma across the face. He stumbled a step back and fell on his butt.
Suk Yang stifled a gasp.
"Why'd you do that you stupid brat!" Toma shouted.
This time, Suk Yang couldn't stop her gasp.
"Oh! I'm very sorry mistress!" Toma got on his hands and knees and bowed.
"I warned you, fool..." Rian growled.
"No mistress. I wasn't going to tell her about that! I'm not going to tell anyone. Please, don't tell your Lord Father what I said!" Toma groveled.
Rian gritted her teeth.
"Get up. Get up, I said! I'm not going to tell on you. Geez."
Toma popped up off the ground and without missing a beat said, "Thank you Mistress. Noona, this is what I saw, I got you this!"
Toma dug in his pocket and pulled out a carved wooden hairpin.
"How sweet of you Toma." Suk Yang said, still a little rattled by the previous few minutes.
"But I think you should give this kind of gift to the mistress." Suk Yang whispered.
"Eh, what? Why would I do... Ow! Ow! I mean... here you go mistress." Toma said as Suk Yang pinched him.
Rian raised an eyebrow. "What is it?"
Suk Yang quickly snatched the hairpin and put it in Rian's hand. "It's a hairpin, mistress. Shall I put it in for you?"
Rian felt the smooth wood with her other hand, it had a slight groove with metal inlay.
"Pfft. I have hundreds of pins better than this. Don't even think about putting this garbage in my hair, I'll just take it out and throw it in the trash." Rian said.
Toma muffled some sounds as Suk Yang quickly slapped her hand over his mouth.
"Is there a problem, Toma?" Rian turned to Toma.
"No Mistress. Toma is just... so... happy that you accepted his small token." Suk Yang struggled with Toma.
"Whatever. Toma, walk me back to my room."
"As you command, mistress." Toma said with much restrain as he put her hand on his arm.
"Have a pleasant evening, mistress." Suk Yang bowed.
"Suk Yang, I'll see you later, we should have tea together." Rian bowed back.
"Bye Sis." Toma waved with his other hand.
As Suk Yang watched them walk together, she saw Rian smack Toma with her fan.
Suk Yang smiled because she knew, like everyone else (except maybe Toma), that Rian's temper was not so scary.
Suk Yang might know better than most, she was permanently crippled in one leg after personally witnessing the Lady Bellsong's wrath many years ago.
Episode 4: Hesitation
Rian sat very still as the old lady combed her hair for bed.
"Little one, did something happen today?" The old lady was the only one who didn't call her "mistress".
"Uh, no. Why do you ask?" Despite her blindness, Rian could still feel the old lady's stare.
"Okay. The boy, Toma, saw "it" today." Rian confessed.
The old lady's hands stopped and Rian suddenly felt very uneasy.
"Teacher...?" Rian whispered.
"Oh no! My innocent Rian has exposed herself to a man! Now she'll never find a proper husband!" The old lady suddenly shouted, frightening Rian enough to fall out of her seat.
"No wait! Teacher! Toma saw me use my skills today." Rian raised herself off the ground.
"Yes, I knew that. I was just joking." The old lady sat Rian down on the seat again.
"... I'm not so sure." Rian pouted.
"Did anyone else see you?" The old lady asked.
"No, at least I don't think anyone did." Rian said sadly.
"Little one, I know it's hard keeping it a secret, but you must. It is unfortunate that Toma found out, but with his duties, he was bound to stumble across it."
"Tell me again, why Teacher?" Rian was led to her bed.
"You know that you weren't born blind, but when you were just a baby, you had that accident. Oh, it was a tragedy. Your parents called in many specialists, doctors and mystics. But none could heal you, your blindness was permanent. And so your parents resigned themselves to giving you as normal a life as possible."
"I was your mother's attendant after your birth and was asked to help raise you. Your parents, my Lord and Lady, do not know of my past, very few do. What I teach you is a result of the love I have for you, to help ease your suffering. However, if anyone saw you use these skills, the effects would cause a great deal of trouble for your family and everyone around you."
"Is what you teach me... bad?" Rian asked.
"No, little one. It isn't good or bad. But you must be careful with it none the less. Will you do that?"
"Yes, Teacher." Rian yawned.
"Good. Now sleep well."
"Will you stay until I fall asleep?"
"Don't tell me you're afraid of the dark, little one?" The old lady teased.
As the young girl fell asleep, the old lady watched her. She noticed that Rian was clutching something in her right hand, a cheap looking hair-pin. The old lady smiled, smoothed the little girl's hair. Then she slowly walked out.
Episode 5: Rendezvous under the porch
“It’s hot.” Rian complained.
“Yes, it sure is, Mistress.” Toma agreed as he sat next to her in the Bellsong garden.
After some silence, Rian said it again, “It’s hot.”
“Yes it… oh!” Toma grabbed the wooden fan at his side and frantically waved air over her.
“Idiot, stop! Go get some ice cream from the kitchen”, Rian put up a hand to stop the wild gusts.
“But… the cook will yell at me.” Toma complained, the cook was almost as scary as Rian.
“Well then, shall I go instead?” Rian smiled and tilted her head.
“No mistress, just wait right here and I’ll go get your ice cream.”
Toma softly tiptoed into the busy kitchen, the staff was preparing the evening meal for the Main House and no one noticed the young boy nervously looking around and creeping toward the ice chest. As he stood at the wooden box, he glanced back one more time.
Toma lifted the door and peered inside. Next to the frozen fish and huge blocks of ice, which were delivered daily, he saw his prize. He reached in, lifted the small bamboo case and opened the lid. There were only three frozen cream puffs so Toma put the lid back on and decided to take the whole case. After quickly scanning for the cook again, Toma slowly slinked his way out of the kitchen without incident.
“Whew. I made it.” Toma sighed as he stepped outside.
“Did you, now?” The voice behind Toma made him jump as he hugged the case of frozen puffs.
“Ah! Hey sis!” Toma said without turning around.
“Don’t hey me. You weren’t thinking of sneaking away with that ice cream now? You’ll ruin your dinner.”
“Oh no, of course not! I um…” Toma glanced back guiltily.
“Give it here.” Suk Yang put out her hand and Toma grudgingly relinquished the cream puffs.
“Hmm?” Suk Yang looked inside the case and back at Toma.
“I didn’t eat any of them! They were for the mistre… uh… mystery… person, um guy.” Toma waved his hands as he saw the suspicion in his sister’s eyes.
“Uh huh. Well seeing as there are only three…”
“Yes? Yes?” Toma grinned.
Suk Yang returned the case. “Now make sure no one sees you and your mystery guy with those.”
“Sure!” Toma started to walk off with the case.
“Toma! Wait!” Suk Yang called out.
“Huh?” Toma turned around again.
Suk Yang walked up, snatched up a cream puff and bit into it.
“Aww… sis.” Toma frowned in disbelief.
“Huwwy and get owt ov here!” Suk Yang said as she placed her other hand over her cold mouth.
As Toma walked back with the two remaining cream puffs, he saw that Rian was sitting on the bench with her eyes closed and her head tilted, like she was listening for something.
“Looks so peaceful and…” Toma shook away his thoughts.
“Mistress, I brought the ice cream.” Toma announced.
“It is quite hot, I’ll eat them under the covered porch.” Rian stood up and put out a hand which Toma took.
“How many are there?” Rian asked as they sat in the shade.
“Three… I mean two, mistress.” Toma corrected himself.
“I see. Well then, why don’t you have one?” Rian smiled.
“Oh no, mistress… I couldn’t.” Toma quickly said.
“No? Are you refusing my generosity?”
“No mistress, Thank you for the ice cream.” Toma said as he gently pulled out a cream puff and placed it in Rian’s upturned hand.
He waited until Rian took her first nibble before reaching in and grabbing his.
“Mmm, delicious!” Rian smiled.
“Yes it’s very cute.” Toma said as he bit into his frozen cream puff.
“…, what was that, Toma?” Rian asked.
“Huh? What what, mistress?” Toma was almost done with his ice cream.
“What did you say just now. About the ice cream.” Rian asked with an eyebrow raised.
“I said… it’s good or is that well? It's delicious!”
Rian sighed as she continued nibbling on her ice cream.
“Oh! Mistress, it’s melting onto your hand!” Toma cried out.
“It is? Did it drip onto my dress?” Rian held the cream puff arm’s distance away.
“No Mistress. Here, I’ll help you to the water pump.” Toma took her other hand.
“What about this?” Rian still held the melting ice cream in front of her.
Toma quickly snatched it and shoved it in his mouth.
“Did you just eat that whole thing?” Rian asked.
Toma shook his head, but regretted it as sharp pain shot through his skull.
Later that night after the rest of the household staff had gone to bed, Toma, still suffering from a stomachache, stumbled across the first dead guard.
Episode 6: Did you see?
The blade was coming down so slow. It was unbelievable how slow it was coming. Toma could see every minute nick in the razor sharp edge as it arced toward his unprotected head. Glancing up at the covered face of his attacker, Toma thought that he should reach up and remove that mask, show everyone who the intruders were, but his hand was moving so slowly too. “Is this what it’s like before you die?” Toma wondered. ”Gee this really sucks. My sister is definitely going to be mad at me and so will that old lady, because...”
“Boy. You boy!” Toma looked up from washing his face to see who was tapping him. He screamed in fear as he saw a monster two inches from his own face. He fell backward and sighed in relief as he saw it wasn’t a demon come to pull his soul through his anus.
“Gee old grandma, you shouldn’t scare me like that. I thought I was looking at the face of Death!”
The old lady clucked her tongue at Toma. “Are you really a boy? You yell and have thin little arms like a little girl.” She poked him with her walking cane.
“What did you say!” Toma got to his feet.
“Never mind that. Come with me.”
Toma mumbled about manners and asking nicely for help. The old lady led him to the storage room.
“That pole, over by the wall, there. Get it for me.” She pointed with her cane.
“What, the one used for drying? What do you need this… ow!” Toma yelped as the old lady poked him with her cane, he dropped the pole.
“You hit me! What did I do?” Toma backed away from the old lady with upraised hands.
The old lady flipped the pole up with her cane and it landed in Toma’s hands.
“Come on. Let’s see what you know.” The old lady started stabbing at Toma with her cane.
Toma instinctively swatted her slow pokes. “Hey old lady, stop. I don’t want to play with you.”
In response, the old lady swung her cane, smashing the pole in half. Toma dropped one of the pieces. “What are you doing?” Toma whined as he backed up into a wall. He held the jagged broken pole in front of him with both hands. He slapped away another poke and ducked a high swing.
“Old lady, you’re going to get hurt. I don’t want to play with…” Toma’s gasped as he was poked in the stomach.
“Is your mouth still running? Come little boy.” She said as she quickly tapped Toma in the head.
“Alright, you asked for it! I happen to have been training with Mister Dal, you’re in for it now!” Toma swung at the old lady and she dodged, slapping his stick to the side. Again and again, Toma swung and the old lady dodged, responding with a quick smack to the head or butt.
“How is she so fast?” Toma wondered as he faked an overhead slice. The old lady dodged again, like Toma expected and he turned to his side to cut at her head, except there was no head and no old lady.
“Slow and stupid, how uninteresting.” He heard the voice from behind him as he felt his arm being pulled. He fell backward and was looking up at the end of the cane and his splintered sword .
“Enough boy. Get up, I have a task for you.” The old lady stepped back. “Mistress Rian, I want you to protect her. You saw her secret the other day, now you must keep it, and never reveal it.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.” Toma glared at the old lady as he rolled away and got to his feet.
“Good, continue to say that. I’m relying on you to be there when I can’t. Now don’t forget.” The old lady said.
As the old lady vanished out the door of the storage room, Toma heard his sister calling him.
“Here I am, noona!” He answered.
“Oh Toma! Are you in the storage area? Can you bring me the drying pole?” Suk Yang yelled back.
Toma couldn’t stop staring as the blade continued to make it’s descent. He glanced back and forth from the blade to the man’s face. His mind couldn’t make the connection, is the man holding the blade, does the blade hold the man, is this going to hurt, am I dreaming? He looked up again and saw that the man’s eyes had widened and his chest bulged until an arrow head came out from his heart. “How odd.” He thought, “an arrow growing like a flower from a human. Arrow. Arrow? Arrow!” Toma heard a whoosh as everything suddenly moved at normal pace again. The man’s chest shot out blood at normal pace and unfortunately, the man’s blade came down at normal pace. Toma rolled, but the sword bit into his shoulder still.
Toma crawled to his feet and saw that the courtyard was still a battleground. Grabbing the dead man’s sword, he nodded his thanks to the archers and ran to Lord and Lady Bellsong’s room. Except for a few dead men wearing the same garb as Toma’s attacker, it was empty. Fearfully, Toma ran toward Rian’s room. It too was empty, Toma took solace in the fact that there was no blood anywhere here. He ran back outside and saw his sister limp into the storage room followed by two intruders, he dashed the distance and dove in through the open door. The men had grabbed Suk Yang and were busy trying to rip her clothes as she screamed. Toma’s first slice severed one man’s arm at the elbow and Toma kicked him away. The second man had almost gotten his sword up before Toma’s sword buried itself in his face.
“Noona! Are you all right? Are you hurt anywhere?” Toma dove on top of his sister, checking her for any blood.
“Toma!” Suk Yang grabbed her little brother in a hug.
“I can’t breath Noona!” Toma complained as he hugged her back just as hard.
“Sorry, sorry. Thanks Toma. Thanks a lot.” Suk Yang said as she smiled and wiped a tear away.
“Yup! No problem! You can rely on me!” Toma grinned as he helped Suk Yang to her feet. Suddenly she shoved him to the side.
“Why in the heck?” Toma asked as he looked up to see Suk Yang stabbed in her hip by the amputated arm man’s sword. Toma grabbed the nearest weapon, a broken pole and shoved it up into the man’s lungs, under his ribs.
Toma helped his sister lie on some sacks and ripped away the already torn dress. She was bleeding profusely and Toma tore the dress into strips.
“Noona, this is going to hurt really bad. Bear the pain ok?” Toma held her face in his hands. Suk Yang nodded and closed her eyes. Toma started stuffing the wound to stop the bleeding causing Suk Yang to howl in pain. After no more fabric could be inserted, Toma wrapped a dressing over the wound and covered his sister with his shirt.
“Noona. Are you still with me?” Toma asked as he wiped sweat from his sister’s brow.
“I’m alright Toma. Go find Lord Bellsong, help him.” Suk Yang smiled although Toma could see she was in a lot of pain.
“I don’t want to, Noona. I’m scared.” Toma whispered.
“Toma. You need to be a man. Go help our Lord. I believe in you.” Suk Yang squeezed her brother’s hand. Toma nodded his understanding. Hiding Suk Yang behind a wall of jars and boxes, Toma promised her he would be back before running out again.
The fighting had died down and Toma saw that many people lay dead or dying. He squinted his eyes as he saw a group of intruders gathered to his right. Remembering his sister’s words, he ran toward it. He was amazed to see that the old lady and Rian were fighting off the group. Toma cursed as he realized he had no weapon, Shouting, he jumped on the back of the nearest man and started punching him in the head. Another man grabbed Toma by his hair and yanked him off. Toma turned angrily, a patch of hair coming off in the man’s hand. Toma kicked the man in the groin and was tackled by another man. Toma rolled on the ground, when he looked up, he saw the man was walking to him. Toma grasped frantically for a weapon and found an arrow on the ground. Grasping it, he jumped up and stabbed it at the man. Dodging the attack, the man grabbed Toma’s arm and punched him in the stomach, causing Toma to vomit a little. The man threw Toma on the ground and started stomping on him. Toma covered himself but the kicks stopped suddenly. Toma peeked up with his one good non-swollen eye and saw the man’s head had deformed to one side. The old lady pulled away her cane, causing the man to fall, and Rian ran to Toma and asked him if he was alright. Toma climbed unsteadily to his feet and nodded.
“Yes mistress. I’m fine.” Toma coughed although it hurt to talk.
“I’m glad.” Rian surprised Toma by hugging him. She shivered and Toma noticed that she was still wearing her sleep clothes, which consisted only of a thin shift and panties. Toma could feel the heat of her body contacting his bare skin. Toma blushed and quickly grabbed a dead man’s jacket, placing it around her shoulders. Fortunately, it covered her to her knees.
The old lady led them back through the main house to a secret room where Lady Bellsong had been ushered to. Lady Bellsong cried with joy when she saw Rian. Then she cried again when she saw Lord Bellsong return, covered in blood that he assured his wife wasn’t his. While the mansion’s guards secured the area and brought Suk Yang and other survivors back, Lord and Lady Bellsong retired to another room.
Toma saw the old lady staring at him from across the room then whisper something to Rian. Rian suddenly grasped the jacket tighter around her and swung her head back and forth until the old lady put a wrinkled hand under her chin to guide her face in Toma's direction. Toma was certain that her sightless eyes were glaring at him. The old lady whispered something else into Rian’s ear and she nodded slowly. Then the old lady left and went into the room where Rian’s parents were.
“Mistress, are you alright?” Toma approached her as a servant brought Rian a blanket.
“Yes. I’m fine.” Rian said abruptly.
“That’s good.” Toma said, realizing that Rian’s demeanor had turned cold. “If there’s anything you want.”
“I want to be left alone.” Rian interrupted.
“As you wish, I’ll just be right over here.” Toma pointed.
“Toma. Wait. I want to ask you something.” Rian stopped him.
“Not here, lead me to a corner of the room, away from everyone.” Rian raised a hand and Toma guided her by a wall out of earshot from the handful of servants and guards.
“What is it mistress? Are you not feeling well? Do you need to use the latrine?” Toma asked as he noticed she was looking flush.
“Toma, I’m going to ask you something, answer me honestly.”
“Yes mistress. Of course.” Toma gulped.
“Did I? Toma repeated before getting kicked.
“Don’t rush me. I want to know, did you see… it?”
“See what it mistress?” Toma asked after a pause.
“It! It it it! Did you see it?”
“I’m sorry mistress, I don’t know what it is.”
Rian blew out a frustrated breath. “My panties! Did you see my panties!”
Toma blushed as he registered what she said. “Uh um… well, you see, this and that happened and then…”
“So, you did see it!” Rian shouted.
“Yes. I’m sorry mistress.” Toma bowed his head.
“… well it couldn’t be helped due to the circumstances.” Rian said, surprising Toma.
“But I don’t want you peeking again!” Rian said.
“Of course not, mistress! I’m sorry again.”
As Toma apologized, the old lady called out to them. She had finished speaking with Rian’s parents. She informed Rian that she needed to prepare for a trip leaving immediately that night.
Final Episode: Sayonarra, I’ll never forget you
The cold compress felt good against Suk Yang’s hot forehead. Slowly opening her eyes, she saw hundreds of stars on a black ceiling. “How pretty” she whispered.
“Noona? Are you awake?” Toma rushed to her side. “Does it hurt anywhere?”
Suk Yang smiled as she tried to calm down her brother. “I feel okay. What happened?” Looking around, she saw that she was in Rian’s room. In fact, she was lying on Rian’s bed. She sat up and winced when pain shot through her hip.
“Miss Suk Yang. You mustn’t be moving. The doctor said that you shouldn’t or the stitches will rip. We were so worried when you suddenly fell down while packing clothes.” Suk Yang looked behind Toma and saw that the young mistress had another wet towel in her hands. Toma gasped as he felt his back drenched with water. He turned and said “No, mistress! That’s too much water! Here let me…” When he reached out and touched Rian’s hand, she dropped the towel. While Toma and Suk Yang watched, Rian quickly swooped down and caught the falling cloth before it hit the ground.
“Mistress Rian, how did you?” Suk Yang exclaimed. Rian frowned and water poured out the wet cloth onto the ground. “I… uh… didn’t want it to get dirty and so… I…” Rian looked to Toma for help.
“Noona, that is, she… she’s really a… monster, yah that’s right, with evil magical powers!” Toma blurted out remembering his promise to Rian.
“M…monster?” Rian squeezed the cloth even tighter. “Evil, am I?” Toma head snapped back as the towel hit him in the face. Rian turned and ran out of the room.
“Sorry about that noona.” Toma dipped the cloth in a basin of water and walked towards his sister again. “You really should lay down now.” Suk Yang snatched the wet cloth and threw it down.
“Never mind me. I’m fine. Go find the mistress and apologize!” Suk Yang shouted. Toma looked at his sister then at the open door, his angry sister, open door, very angry sister with vein bulging out of her forehead and getting red in the face, door, angry sister about to get out of bed and slap him… okay, open door then.
“I’ll be back noona!” Toma called out as the other wet towel chased him out the door.
He found Rian sitting in the covered porch in the garden.
“Mistress, I’ve been looking all over for you.” Toma cautiously walked to her, she was sitting halfway in the dark shadows and he couldn’t see if she had something to hit him with. “I wanted to apologize for earlier. I was panicking and couldn’t think of what to…”
“Remember when you made me that paper boat? The one we floated in the pond?” Rian interrupted.
“The boat? Yes, I remember.” Toma replied as he stood in front of her. He realized that despite the lack of sleep and her hair not being combed, she was quite beautiful in the moonlight. She motioned for him to sit next to her.
“You know, I wished that we could have gone on a real boat trip, you and I.” She said, leaning her head back.
“Really? Okay, so why don’t we? Tomorrow. I’ll ask my sister to make us a lunch and we’ll go together.”
“Yeah. We should go. It’ll be like a date, right?” Rian smiled and although both of them knew that there would be no such thing tomorrow, Toma wished that he could make it happen, just to see her smile always. Rian stifled a yawn and Toma realized it had become very late. “Mistress, shouldn’t you go sleep, you’re leaving early tomorrow morning.”
“I suppose. Oh! Wait, isn’t Miss Suk Yang on my bed?”
“So? We’ll just kick her off; she’s wasted enough time sleeping instead of working hard like the rest of us, anyway.”
“No! I really don’t think we should move her yet. The doctor said that she could collapse again!” Rian took Toma’s words seriously.
“Well, then… do you want to sleep in my bed?” Toma joked.
Silence. Toma realized that he had said something bad. Something that would probably get him kicked out of the Bellsong mansion, something that might have deeply offended Rian, even if it was said in jest.
“Mistress, that was rude. I’m sorry.” Toma stood in front of her, bowed his head in humility and closed his eyes hoping that a slap would be all he got.
Rian tilted her head up and leaned up. Toma’s eyes shot open as he realized her lips were right on his. He stepped back. “Mistress? What?”
“That’s your punishment. I’m going to sleep in the old lady’s room. Goodnight.” She floated through the garden and back into the main house.
The next morning, Toma had bloodshot eyes as he got up for work. He couldn’t sleep thinking about the feeling of Rian’s soft lips, her warm body and how her hair smelled...
“No no no!” Toma splashed more cold water on his face. It dripped down his shirt and soaked his sleeves. Rian would be leaving soon; he had to be professional, if only for the next few hours. He slowly walked to Rian’s room and knocked on the door.
“Young man, if you’re looking for your sister, she’s in the kitchen.” A servant carrying a load of blankets told him. Nodding his gratitude, he ran to the kitchen.
“Noona! What are you doing?” Toma caught her cutting vegetables.
“Toma, nice timing, go get me that salt over there.” Suk Yang pointed. Toma grabbed the container and handed it to her before continuing. “Shouldn’t you be resting or something?”
“Nonsense, I feel fine. At least good enough to cut a carrot! Now either help me here or get out of my way.” Toma knew that arguing with his sister was a waste of time, so he grabbed a knife and started chopping up vegetables into odd shapes.
“Never mind that. Go get some more rice from the storage room.” Suk Yang ordered.
Toma rolled his eyes and left the kitchen mumbling about how she didn’t act like she was injured at all.
“Boy. Hey boy.” Toma decided to ignore the voice. He couldn’t ignore the sharp pain on the back of his head as the old lady’s cane came down.
“What is it, old lady? Gee, you have to start with me so early in the morning? I’m not a boy! My name is Toma!” Toma tried to push the growing lump down.
“Mistress Rian is asking to see you. She’s in the garden.” The old lady winked seductively and Toma’s skin crawled.
“Mistress?” Toma called out. She didn’t answer and Toma was about to walk out of the garden when she pulled him into a group of tall flowers.
“You scared me.” Toma said as Rian put a hand against his mouth.
“Shh… Quiet” Rian said.
“Mistress, what is this all about?” Toma whispered.
“Come with me.” Rian said suddenly, excitement forming in her normally cloudy eyes.
“Come with you?” Toma shook his head.
“Every time I’m away from you, it hurts for some reason. When you’re not around, I want to hear your voice, I want to hold your hand.” She said as she reached down and grabbed his fingers. “My father tells me that this trip, I’ll be away for a very long time, months, maybe years away. I want you to come too. I’m in love with you so come with me.” Rian said blushing.
“Mistress, you know I can’t. I have to stay here with your Lord Father; and my sister, I can’t leave her.”
“I’ll ask my father. Just come with me?” Rian hugged Toma.
“Mistress, we can’t do this. You’re my master and I can’t.” Toma softly pushed her away.
“Toma. Is that all I am to you? How do you really feel about me?”
Toma hesitated. “I see. Your silence is all the answer I need. I’m sorry; you must be very uncomfortable with me confessing like this. You’re right, I’m your master and you, you are a servant boy. Take care of yourself, Toma.” Rian held back her tears and left as Toma stood silent.
Toma didn’t see Rian for the rest of the morning; he sulked and walked around the mansion in gloom, prompting another lecture from Suk Yang. He finally ended up in front of Rian’s room. Earlier, Suk Yang and some servants had packed up the majority of Rian’s possessions. Without her energetic presence, the room had already developed a dull atmosphere. Toma stepped inside; it wasn’t his mistress’ room anymore. Looking down at the table where she used to sit, something caught his eye. He reached down and snatched up the hairpin.
Rian obviously didn’t see Toma for the rest of the morning either. She sat in the carriage with her mother and the old lady as it pulled out the front gate of the mansion, closing her eyes, she breathed in the smells of her home, flooding her head with memories of time spent. She heard Toma’s voice, not from memories but in the present time as her carriage began to slow.
“Rian! Stop the carriage already, hey you… I’m getting dragged here!” Toma yelled as he grabbed the rear of the carriage. He crashed into the back as it jolted to a halt.
Rian could feel the warm sunlight enter through the door Toma yanked open.
“Young man, what is the meaning of this!” the old lady riding beside Rian asked.
“My apologies my lady, mistress Rian, old hag. I just wanted to tell the mistress something.” Toma leaned more into the carriage and grabbed Rian’s hand placing the hairpin in it. “I was stubborn, I’m sorry. I’ll wait for you, here. So if, so when you come back, I’ll be here. Okay?”
Rian nodded slowly.
“Okay, get out now. You’re bothering Lady Bellsong and the young mistress. How brutish, charging in like that. Mistress Rian, I don’t know why you put up with this fool.” The old lady put a wrinkled hand against Toma’s face and started pushing him out. Toma shuddered as the loose skin on her hand got in his mouth and he fell out of the carriage. He looked up and saw that Rian was smiling at him, silently mouthing the words “thank you” before placing the pin in her hair, as the old lady reached out and pulled the door closed again, signaling the carriage to move once more to take his mistress, his love, far away.