Arc 2: Doctor Camel Hump Valley
Chapter 12: Reconciliation.
I was happy and angry at the same time. Only Ash was able to bring multiple contradictory feelings as such out of me together. Angry because she was so careless about her health, happy because she was so comfortable riding me, singing at the top her lungs as I chased the wind. Her words eased my heart after all those ‘I don’t want weak mates’ incidents.
People say we shouldn’t be together, too young to know about forever, but I say they don’t know what they talk-talk-talking about- I've been hearing her sing every time she takes a bath but I still wasn’t used to the sweetness of her voice. Cuz this love is only getting stronger, so I don’t wanna wait any longer. I just wanna tell the world that you’re mine, oh~ How does she expect me to ignore ‘that’!
They don’t know about the things we do. They don’t know about the ‘I love you’-s. But I bet you if they only knew, they’d just be jealous of us- I wasn’t sure if my heart picked up so much speed because of her words or I was running too fast. Either way, I didn’t want to slow down. I wanted to reach the village fast so they hear. They don’t know about the ups all night. They don’t I’ve waited all my life. Just to find a love that feels this right, baby, they don’t know about us- They needed to know this was the exact love I had for her.
I increased my speed despite the lack of oxygen turning my vision white. Even before I entered the village’s border, my chest and kidneys were on fire. They don’t know how special you are. They don’t know what you’ve done to my heart. Yes, my heart. It was probably only my heart that was pushing me on, while my brain and other organs froze over.
But I wanna tell ‘em, my throat felt chocked. Air was extinct from my body. Tell... world... mine... Next my ears shut down.
Then went my sight. My legs gave out. Every end of my fur started to prick. The ground suddenly felt slippery and I found myself stumble. Consciousness involuntarily slipped out of my grasp yet my core ached for the one on my back. If she falls off, I hope she doesn’t get hurt too bad. Turns out, I really was too weak to protect her.
Next thing I know....
A light weight was pressing down on me as the smell of honey scented the air. I felt a soft breathing by my side as well as many outside my hut. My senses are back? Is it just me being silly or do I smell and hear better than before? I quickly opened my eyes and saw it was already morning. Then I found her leaning on my shoulder in a sitting position, eyes closed and swollen. Has she been crying? For my sake? Am I allowed to delve in this fantasy? O~ I felt warm.
Tapping on her cheek, I smiled at the slurry voice she replied to me with. “Lu... ca... you’re..” she suddenly sat erect, shouting, “Guys, he’s awake!” In a blink, a crowd rushed in, speaking all at once. “Ah, I’m finally relieved!” “The village doctor was burning up; we didn’t know what to do!” “I helped Ash carry you inside.” ”Thank her for washing you over and over until you cooled down.” “Was she up all night?” “Did she brew medicine too? She could become a doctor.”
This was all I could string together before I felt her soft hands gently putting an animal hide over my waist, “Transform. I need to check your temperature.”
When I transformed, however, the whole room gasped together. A: “Doc, your face...” Confusing me te villagers burst into a frenzy of congratulations. But she drove them away. “Everyone, out for now. The doctor needs rest.” What happened to my face? Did I fall on it? Besides being weak, now am I ugly too? I felt her caress my right cheek vertically down to my chin. “So you fainted because of this? I’m proud of you, Doc. You gained a stripe.” Oh.
An animal stripe? Me? That’s not possible! I was born weak. I was so sure I’d never level up that I studied medicine to support myself... Now what?
At least I was happy. Happy to gain my first stripe in her presence. Happy that she stayed here in my most vulnerable moment. Happy to be one step closer to her. When a single drop of tear slipped down her soft cheek, I licked it off on instinct. I licked her sweat so many times during our trainings, how come she still gets surprised. She can be so cute at times
“Are you allergic to any food, herb or flowers?” She suddenly asked, breaking me out of my reverie. Still, why suddenly... “Erioucauli’s a bit too strong. Apart from that, no shortcomings. No allergies. Why do you ask?” Despite my confusion I answered in honesty.
Just as suddenly, she fled my hut, yelling: “As long as you don't have allergies! Stay at home and wait for me. I’ll bring you a gift.” Will I be being delusional if I thought she was embarrassed? Maybe. But a little bit of daydreaming never hurt anyone, right?
Zayn walked in the field with conspiracy in mind. Z: “Does it smell happy?” Ash was picking some flowers that looked like violet forget me not and red dahlias, when he threw her a bunch of the white flowers.
A: “All white flowers have unique scents.” she replied without paying much attention, She was rather busy thinking back to the time Luca licked her. Was he being a cat again? A man licking her face should feel disgusting. She wondered if she was so comfortable because she had cats as pets before, and his sandpaper-rough tongue actually felt like one. "If you mean charming, it is. What’s its name?” The only thing she payed mind was into avoiding the ‘ero’ thing, Luca made an effort to mention it after all.
“Flos-” But Zayn stopped mid-explanation. What if she recognizes it and tells QingQing? “None of your business, dummy!” Then, he seemed to think of something. ”Ahem. Take some for Luca. Thank me later.”
Suddenly so generous? Ash eyes Zayn with suspicion. Just because I complimented the flower he likes? She looked around the field a bit. With the way he was jumping around picking some bright orchid-like flowers, it seemed he was simply happy at the thought of reconciliation with his chosen mate.
White went well with the colors she chose too. Luca never leveled up in the novel. While wondering if training with her pushed the case, she believed him deserving a gift. She was already planning to get him flowers, only adding food and herbs in her question this morning because she wanted to appear discreet. If a fellow leopard like Zayn was recommending it, and the name didn't start with an ero... what is that ero-whatever anyways? Must be a fruit from around here. What bad would it be adding some to her bouquet?
Meanwhile, Zayn was just happy at the thought of making Ash leave the house without actually doing anything. Finally, he was going to have QingQing all to himself.
Oblivious to his tactless behaviour, Ash presented her collection to Zayn. A: “They’ll make awesome crowns. Wanna dress up as a flower boy?” Z: “What’s that? Will QingQing like it? A: “Can’t trust me? Fine, I’ll dress up such too.”
To congratulate Luca and cheer QingQing, Ash had worn her biggest masterpiece yet, the gown she named ‘Greek goddess’. It was made from a snow leopard hide Luca got from another village in reward of helping with the chief’s childbirth. He did give it away saying it was too soft for a male still Ash paid back with fried fishes. It was really thin and soft, almost like ‘Muslin’. She gave the skirt a flare and floor touch length. The upper part was 2 unstitched rectangular piece covering her back and front and joined at the neck by only a ribbon. With her arms and both sides left open she had a decent air flow. There was no possibility of exposing her underwear as she rarely wore one after she got the wounds at the age of 15. In this world no one except QingQing wears them. No one will mock me. What’s there to worry about?
Zayn only agreed to a half crown and waist band. Ash became too creative and sewed crowns in many sizes. Each around her right wrist and left ankle, around her mid-thigh and mid-arm on opposite side and through the loop of her neck ribbon and waistband.
It was at that moment, they were surprisingly having fun decorating every nook and cranny of Zayn's spacious hut, when QingQing walked in holding something white and messily folded in her arms. “Whoa! For a second I thought it was a greenhouse and almost went away. This... and you both, so beautiful... Any occasion?” But both their broad smiles slipped off the instant they turned their head her way. In QingQing's hold was a messy rood of white fabric.
“A snakeskin?!” Zayn immediately started rambling about destroying it or burning it down. While, Ash flared up in pure rage, “You stupid idiot! How many times did I warn you not to touch things of unknown origin? You even brought it here?!” It was not even a normal snake skin, it was 'his' skin! Q: “I-I thought a v-villager might’ve-” A: “ Oh you thought? Keep thinking that while you get kidnapped and forced into mating and 'do not' come to me. I ain’t facing ‘him’!” she stormed out of the hut, leaving the poor and confused QingQing shaking in tears.
“Feral? Kidnap? Jiejie, wait!” To think she saw such a scary expression on that always so bubbly and kind person, QingQing rushed to right her mistake. I need to return this right now! Unfortunately, before she could exit the village, a naked man blocked her way. He was tall and pale, like a vampire. Long vermillion red hair cascaded over his shoulders like waterfall down to his butt. Although he looked gentle, youthful and soft, a sinister chilliness radiated out of him, freezing the teen in place.
Not already, damn it! QingQing, run back here!”
Zayn’s panicked cry reached her ears. Only then did she realize, she was facing the homeless feral.
Ash was infuriated. I tried to save her from the feral! I warned so many times! She just had to be stupid and follow the plot, no? Why’d she need me then? I shall follow my own path... she didn’t ‘totally’ hate the snake. He had a lonely past, was actually gentle to the fl, and was also the strongest among her mates. However, he was too possessive, and coldhearted towards the rest. QingQing herself was afraid of him so she always gave him the best treatment, hurting her other males in the process. He’d also beat them up whenever their actions weren’t to his liking. This won’t be that much of a problematic personality on earth, a monogamous society. But in this world of polygamy, he only hindered the household’s peace. That’s why Ash wanted to avoid meeting him. She just couldn’t tolerate the biased treatment he got.
Then again, as Zayn’s wild roar pierced the sky, her mind cleared of the rage. Crap! What am I doing? This is the time when he beats Zayn and kidnaps Bai. I left her just like that? There can always be a plan B!!
So she immediately changed direction to the entrance of the village. Her sharp turn made her trip on her long skirt, causing the soft fabric to collide against the knife tied by one of her flower bands and tear all the way up, exposing her delicately decorated thigh. Ash didn’t have the time to mind it as she ran at her full speed. I have to save my stupid little sister at any cost! At the scene, she found a handsome redhead with 4 dark green marks across his neck- 2 on each side. He was about to turn around holding a crying QingQing in one arm. The villagers weren't strong enough to dare compete against him, so they just stood gathered in a distance, worried. Blood was all over the ground, probably Zayn’s yet he was nowhere in sight which meant he was already flung away. Ash called out to QingQing before getting close to them.
“Jiejie...” she whispered back, sounding relieved, voice hoarse from crying. Meanwhile Ash knelt on the ground, “Feral, she’s my sister. Even if you want her as a mate, can’t you let me talk to her a last time? What can I, a mere female, and a village full of one stripped beastmen do to harm you?” Let’s negotiate, snake.
In an instant, he, who was standing 20-25 meters away, was hovering over her. Kya! Is he Flash? Ash had her head lowered to appear submissive so she didn’t see the slow smirk spreading on his pale red lips. He released QingQing and bent down to lift Ash’s chin with two long and slender fingers. They held eye contact all the while QingQing scurried over behind Ash and hugged her aggressively, trembling.
A cool gentle voice flowed into the air, softly caressing her ears: “Honey...”
Yeah...Uh- what? Who’s your honey? Am I missing something?