Chapter 8: Dead?
Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Rime wakes up slowly. He closed his eyes and could feel the light outside his eyelids. It must be daytime now. He tried to move his fingers. No problem. It seems that he has recovered slowly this time. He opened his eyes, and his eyes were white. At first, he was puzzled, then he realized that it was not ‘Snow White,’ but a white sheet on his face.
Rime lifted the sheets and saw the low wooden ceiling, the faded wallpaper, the coarse cloth curtain on the right hand side, and finally the narrow room on the right, where a wooden table was placed with a kettle and a black cloak on it.
There was a wooden stool by the table, on which sat the bounty hunter Carringer.
Carringer had taken off his cloak, but still had his wallet and arm protector on, and his machete on his waist. He leaned against the table with his arms crossed his legs propped on the bedside table, and when he saw Rime open his eyes, he raised his eyebrows and said, “Good morning.”
Rime looks at him, and he looks back.
The air is filled with a complex atmosphere of embarrassment or tacit understanding. In the end, it was Rime who looked away first.
“Where’s this?” asked Rime.
Carringer shrugged, “I covered you up because you were dead.”
It sounded like a bad joke, but Rime didn’t laugh or get angry.
Carringer saw that he had not spoken for a long time, so he took the initiative, “Lord Rime. You really were dead. It is not a joke. I mean it.”
Rime’s face is still pale, but there’s a little bit more blood in it, much better than the early hours of yesterday morning. Although this picture still looks haggard, not unlike a corpse.
But Rime did not refute. He slowly got up and leaned against the wall.
Usually he walked in the open underground ruins, so subconsciously wanted to keep a further distance with people. The guest room on the second floor of “Pleasing Song Cottage” is so narrow that he can’t stand far away even if he shrinks into the corner.
Carringer asked, “Let me make sure. Do you remember what happened yesterday?”
“Yes.” “Said Rime in a low voice.
“You know you fainted, don’t you?”
“That’s good, so we won’t have misunderstandings,” Carringer said. “I’m a bounty hunter, and I’ve been running around all these years, and seen everything I should have seen. I can tell the difference between ‘sleeping’ and ‘a corpse.’ Not just me, but ordinary villagers can also distinguish this. Early yesterday morning, you fainted in front of me. At first, I thought you had an emergency. Since I couldn’t get into the moon tower, I had to take you down the mountain. After a short walk, I realized that something was wrong, judging from your temperature, nerve reflex, stiffness, etc. I was not holding a drowsy elf, but the body of an elf.”
Rime clutched the sheet in both hands, and his fingers tightened more and more. After the whole person stiffened for a while, he finally choked out a response, “So what?”
“What about it? You were a corpse.. What else do you want me to say?”
“What should I say then?”
Carringer has never met someone so difficult to talk to. He drew the chair closer, with his knees on the edge of the bed, his elbows on his knees, and leaned forward with his eyes firmly fixed on Rime. Carringer asked, “What the hell are you?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
Carringer said, “You are undead.”
“You said I’m a corpse, isn’t it obvious?”
“Are you a flesh demon?”
“A Lich’s container?”
“Not at all.”
“Are you a remote creature attached to an elf’s body?”
Rime didn’t answer immediately. He was silent for a moment and then replied, “I’m not.”
Carringer watched him, and there was a subtle shift between his brows, not the panic of having his secret revealed, but more like being touched by some memories.
“You don’t see where you are, Lord Rime,” Carringer said.
Rime squinted at him: “Oh, what’s my situation?”
Carringer pointed to the door, “This is the second floor of the Pleasing Song Cottage. When I brought you back yesterday morning, a child on the road saw me. Now the news has spread, it is estimated that all the villagers in Black Tree Village know I have brought the elf from the mountain into the village. At this moment, there are more than a dozen curious villagers sitting on the first floor, and some of them are gathered outside the house. They all want to see the elf in the mountain. The shopkeeper said that she would bake a raspberry pie. A child was drawing a picture with crayons, she said it is ready to give it to you. The family members of the village Sheriff have been in great grief recently, but they still helped each other and said they would like to see you. The wife of the Sheriff said that her husband was very grateful to you when he was alive. Now he is no longer here, she wants to thank you personally in his place.”
None of this sounded bad. It’s not the kind of thing that can be used as a threat, but as Carringer says it, Rime’s face gets worse and worse. He shook his head gently. His fingers continued to clench the sheet, making his knuckles white, “No way. Don’t do that. Don’t let them in. Don’t let me out.”
Carringer was just guessing, but he was right.
This elf is very reluctant to have contact with the villagers. The reason is probably quite strange. It must be more than shyness.
Carringer asked, “Why don’t you want to see them? You’ve been in contact with the villagers before.”
“It used to be an occasional accident. How could they do this? How could…”
He continued talking, but his voice is too low to hear clearly. Carringer asks him what he is talking about. Rime looks up disconsolately and asks, “They… How can they want to thank me? They should hate me?”
“Why should they hate you?”
“I’ve been trying to make them hate me… Only this way can we…”
Half way through, he pauses, frowns, thinks for a moment, and gives a long sigh of relief.
“Forget it. I’ll tell you everything,” said Rime.
“I will tell you everything, but let me go back. Let me go back to the moon tower. Don’t let them touch me. Don’t let them follow me.”
“Okay. It’s not difficult.” Carringer’s eyes roll, “Wait for me here. Don’t move or make a sound. I’ll pick you up in a moment.”
Carringer got up and patted the elf on the shoulder. Rime lowered his head and felt the gentle pressure on his shoulder and the warm body temperature. After the palm left, Rime raised his head and frowned at Carringer’s back.
About meal time, Carringer came back. He closed the door carefully and said in a low voice, “Okay, I’m finished with the villagers. I’ll take you out. They won’t disturb you.”
“No one’s out there?” Rime asked.
Carringer said, “Come on, cover yourself with this.”
He lifted up the sheet and covered Rime again. Rime lifted the sheet,”What’s this for?”
Carringer said, “I told them you were dead.”
When Carringer brought the elf back,, the people who saw this scene thought the elf was half dead, so the lie seemed particularly credible.
Rime didn’t know what to say for a long time.
Carringer smilingly draped the sheet over his head, covered his face, and put a hand over his shoulder, “Relax, lean on me.”
Rime was still in a trance, “You… You said I’m dead? what? Why?”
“Ai, don’t you want the villagers not to disturb you? It’s okay. I’ll take you back to the moon tower, and then I’ll make up a magic trick to bring you back to life. “
With that, Carringer held the elf in the sheet in his arms.He was stiff and didn’t know how to play dead. Carringer instructed Rime to lean his head on his shoulder and how to hang his hands.
Before going out, Carringer leaned to the elf’s ear and said, “Don’t move. Just relax. Just leave it to me.”
Rime didn’t know if there was anyone in the corridor, so from here on, he didn’t dare to move or speak. Rime’s face is covered, so he couldn’t see the heavy atmosphere outside.
In the hall on the first floor, all the villagers took off their hats and stood up. The shopkeeper and the resident bard had been crying for the sheriff yesterday, and her swollen eyes were once again full of tears.
The younger child took the older one’s hand and shook it gently. He asked his brother and sister, “Did the elf die too?” but the older child did not answer and made a gesture of, “Shhh.”
Carringer walks down the stairs with Rime in his arms, and people automatically separate to let them through. Outside the door, the villagers stand in two lines, all quiet and solemn.
There was an old woman sitting in a wooden wheelchair, gently wiping her tears, “Ai, when my grandparents were young, he had been guarding the dangerous things in the mountains. He has guarded us for hundreds of years… for hundreds of years…”
Someone brought Carringer’s horse. The horse lowered so that Carringer took Rime and sat on the saddle. The horse moved slowly, and Carringer nodded solemnly to the people. There was no one standing in the way and no one was too curious. Although not every villager’s face is sad, everyone’s face shows a heavy respect.
After leaving the village, Carringer spurred his horse to speed up, first jogging in small steps and then galloping. Rime, who was not so secure on his side, had to reach out and hold Carringer.
“Slow down…” Rime still spoke in a small voice.
“There’s no one here. You can revive.” Carringer grabs the reins with one hand and brushes the sheet off the elf’s head with the other. Because of the horse’s gallop, Rime leans close to Carringer. Carringer looks down, and there are tears on Rime’s face. Carringer asked, “It’s you who died. Why are you crying?”
“I couldn’t see, but I could feel that they were sad.”
Carringer said, “Although you speak rudely, the people in Black Tree Village like you very much.”
“They don’t like me,” said Rime.
“Then who?” After asking, Carringer suddenly thought of the answer, “It’s another elf, isn’t it? Your teacher?”
“Yes, it’s Jingh.”
“I dare to ask, is he gone or dead?”
“In a sense, he’s right in front of you.”
“What do you mean?”
Rime sat in Carringer’s arms and looked up at him. “The elf you see is my teacher, Jingh.”
Carringer was not surprised at all. After all, he found out that the elf was dead.
“And who are you? And who is Rime?’” Carringer asked.
“I’ll show you.”
Rime said, ‘I’ll show you’ instead of ‘later.’ Carringer couldn’t help but wonder, this must mean that he was the ‘something’ deep in Moon Tower. Whatever he was, Carringer was mentally prepared. Since there are frequent infections here, the worst thing would be that Rime is an ancient demon corpse or something.
After entering the mountain, Carringer got off the horse, stretched out his arms and helped the elf jump down. The elf hesitated for a moment, read a simple floating spell, and slowly floated down from the horse’s back.
Carringer mumbles a few sounds next to the horse’s ear, and the horse turns and trots back towards the village.
It was still dark in the mountains. They walked slowly on the mountain road, and the steps of Rime were weak and unsteady. Carringer offered to support him, Rime bowed his head to thank him and accepted the help obediently.
Carringer asked with a smile, “You had enough strength to cast a spell just now. How come you are so weak? What was the matter with you before? Why did you die so suddenly?”
“Because I lost a leg,” said Rime.
Carringer looked down and saw that the elf was walking on two legs.
Rime doesn’t have a hard time communicating with people, and it’s obviously not a type of joke. After perceiving Carringer’s eyes, Rime said with a wry smile, “This body is complete, but I’m not. It’s complicated to explain, you’ll understand it in the future.”
Carringer said, “Mn, when we get into the tower, we’ll figure it out. Why don’t I hold you? You’re too slow.”
Rime thought about it and nodded. Carringer held the elf in his arms. This time, he doesn’t have to pretend to be dead, so Rime gently hooks an arm around the hunter’s neck.
When they see the cliff at the top of the mountain, the trees become sparse and the sun finally shines on them again. The mountain wind blows on the elf’s soft, pale-gold hair, brushing it across Carringer’s cheek and neck.
Rime narrows his eyes slightly, lowers his face, and turns into Carringer’s neck, as if afraid of the rare sunshine.