Eun-Soo stared at the dead eyes of the assassin before her. She didn't know why but she felt the jerk of the body as the unfortunate man expelled his last breath with a gurgling sound, staring down at her with a surprised, almost questioning gaze in his glassy eyes.
She couldn't turn away, couldn't close her eyes to shut out the plea she saw in these eyes, she felt compelled to watch as life left this man's body and his blood gushed warmly over the hands that held the knife, her knife.
She had killed.
"Eun-Soo-ah," the honorific sounded distasteful in her ears and for a moment she fought hard the bitter bilge that started to rise in her throat.
She felt hands slowly, meticulously opening the fingers that still enclosed the knife's hilt. She would never forget that awful sound, as the blade left the body of the man she just killed, that slippery, gushing sound as blood still gushed out, over the knife, over her hands, over her soul.
She had killed.
"Eun-Soo," at the sound of her name she turned and stared at Choi Young crouching more than standing in front of her and for a short moment she inhaled deeply, taking in the stain of blood, of death.
"Let's go, I need to examine you," she was surprised that her voice sounded strong even though a scream was piling up in her throat, a scream she was sure, that would have sounded like the death scream of a gumiho.
"Eun-Soo …" Choi Young said again, willing her to look at him, but she slung an arm around his shoulders.
Choi Young sat by the window, his wounds long been seen and tended to as Doctor Jang Bin walked into the room at the Herbal Apothecary.
"Are you alright?" The doctor asked and Choi Young looked briefly over his shoulder before returning his gaze to the solitary figure down below where Eun Soo was sitting in the herbal garden.
"I'm alright," The young General replied tersely. Ever since they had come back from the village, Eun-Soo had refused to talk to him or anyone. In silence she had treated his wounds, had stayed by his side while he had slept but never uttering a single word.
He could not fully imagine what she had gone through, was still going through. From what little she had shown of her personality, he knew that the death of the assassin at her hands would weigh heavily on her conscience. While he was surrounded by death, Eun-Soo was not used to it and her being a healer, a doctor, she was more used to giving life than taking it.
No, he could not imagine what she was going through but he knew that he was partly to blame. He had been the one person that had dragged her into this life, into this time.
"How is the High Doctor?" Jang Bin stepped up beside Choi Young and joined him watching Eun-Soo.
"Is she still not talking?" After a shake of the General's head, Jang Bin sighed. "It's unfortunate."
Eun–Soo felt so utterly cold. Even in the bright sunshine, her hands and feet were ice-cold and she doubted that any heat in the world would ever make her warm again. If she closed her eyes, her mind would take her immediately back to the moment where she consciously, with the intention to annihilate, had taken the life of another human. She could still feel the sickly warmth as his life's blood gushed over her hands and the smell of iron and something sweet rushed into her nostrils. It made her choke, the stink of death making the bile in her throat rise and her stomach queasy.
Rubbing her hands together as if to remove some invisible stains, she willed herself to calm down. She knew that the image of the dead man would forever haunt her. Every time she would close her eyes, she would be taken back to that moment, where Doctor Yoo Eun-Soo had murdered a man.
A part of her wanted to blame Choi Young. He had been responsible for bringing her here, uprooting her and turning her whole life upside down. However, he had told her to step back, to turn around and run. It had been her choice to kill in order to have him live. Life's choice … live and die.
So, she had to live with the consequences, live with the guilt and shame she felt. It had been her choice after all.
When she heard a sound behind her, she looked up and over her shoulder. Choi Young was still pale looking but she was relieved that he seemed to be on the mend, that he was healthy enough to wander the healing rooms on his own.
Turning her back on him, she remained seated and was surprised when Choi Young sat down beside her, his right leg rubbing against the silk of her trousers and hanbok. Eun-Soo closed her eyes, steeling herself against the words that sure would follow but her eyes flew open when she felt a strong calloused fist encompassing her hands.
Sudden tears spilled over her cheeks when Choi Young took her hands and gently rubbed his thumb over the soft skin of palm, almost mimicking her gesture when he suffered from the frost bite of Ki Cheol's supernatural powers.
With a gasp she looked up at him and was surprised to see so much gentleness and understanding in his eyes.
"Araseo," he whispered while he drew her into his embrace. "I know." Silently he held the woman in his arms while she wept. Knowing that he was the very reason that hurt her so much.