88 The Fair-haired Stranger Pt.1

    "Are you cheating on Papa?"

    Gyuri glanced up from the ground, where she was trying to coax the stray cat to come closer. "Huh? What?"

    "Are you?" Gulnar persistently asked, his brows furrowed into a frown.

    Gyuri stared at Gulnar, unsure of how to answer. Currently, they were outside the soup kitchen, trying to feed the stray cat when Gulnar suddenly asked her something unexpected.

    "I-" Gyuri stopped midway her sentence when she noticed the cat scramble away. Internally, she cursed, Damn it. Why is this cat so hard to get close to? "N-no" she answered as she got up. "Why do you ask?"

    Gulnar continued to pout at her. "Because you keep talking to that man." The little boy gestured to Namjoon, who was currently talking to the peasants inside the storage house. "I don't like him, Mama" Gulnar continued to say. "Please don't leave Papa."

    Gyuri peered down at Gulnar, baffled by his statement. How does a five-year-old even know what cheating is?

    "I agree" Chun Chun said from beside her. Gyuri turned to face her and saw her lips curled into a small frown. "Tae is the better man, Gyuri. You two are meant for each other."


    All three swerved around to look at the young, grubby lad who was busy slurping on his bowl of soup.

    "Little Madam isn't even a good match for Physician Kim" he stated snootily. "He's a noble and she's a servant. I don't understand why you would even think Physician Kim would look her way." He slurped his soup noisily before adding, "Physician Kim is out of Little Madam's league."

    "Who are you to say that?" Chun Chun sneered. "Gyuri is not out of that physician's league!"

    "Yeah!" Gulnar passionately protested.

    Yujin snorted as he pointed his nose up at the air proudly. "Hah! Well if it isn't Little Madam, then it is that Tae of yours. He is no match for Physician Kim."

    With his eyebrows snapped together, Gulnar huffed. "Take that back!"

    "Don't you dare insult Tae!" Chun Chun squeaked. "You don't even know who he is!"

    Gyuri watched as Chun Chun and Gulnar engaged in a screaming match against Yujin, their voices rising in pitch as they continued to squabble.

    "Guys, enough-"

    "Mama and Papa belong together so, only Papa can marry Mama in the future!" Gyuri heard Gulnar argue. "No one else!"

    Gyuri was stunned.

    "I'm right, aren't I, Mama?" Gulnar queried as he gaped up at her. "You and Papa will stay together forever, right?" His big eyes bore into hers. "We'll always be a family?"

    Taken aback, Gyuri fumbled, "Gulnar, I'm-" but before Gyuri could complete her utterance, she was suddenly distracted by a commotion of voices.

    "Look over there!"

    "What's going on?"

    "Do you see that?"

    Gyuri swivelled her head around to find a crowd of people flocking to the sides of the street. It must have been something extraordinary, for everyone had gathered in an excitable manner.


    Gyuri peered down at Gulnar, who had drawn closer to her. "What's happening? What's everyone looking at?"

    "I'm not so sure" she replied distractedly as she got on her tip-toes to see over everyone's heads. "Let's go and see..." Hurriedly, Gyuri paced over to join the throng, where the hubbub was loudest. As she wormed to the front of the compactly pressed huddle, she suddenly heard throaty shouting above the buzzing of the crowd.

    Her eyes widened when she finally located the owner of the voice.

    "Is there a physician nearby?" a fair-haired stranger shouted to the crowd. He looked around desperately but all he could see were blank faces staring back at him. "Please! My friend needs help!"

    "Can they not understand you?" a tall and muscular man asked the blond gentleman in a strange but familiar language. "I thought you said you can speak their tongue?"

    "I can!" the blondie replied exasperatedly. "But I think they are too distracted."

    "Distracted by what?" a leaner man queried. "We need to find a medic in this God forsaken city as soon as possible! Brahms," he said anxiously as he gestured to the poorly man he was supporting, "will not last much longer."

    The man, whose arm was draped across the lean man's shoulder, groaned.

    "I know that Archie" the blondie replied hotly. "But they are too distracted by our appearance. It is not like they have seen our kind before." He shifted his attention back to the bystanders. "Please, can anyone help us?" He glanced around desperately but still, no one dared to answer.

    While the blond gentleman continued to shout cries for help, Gyuri glanced around her and heard the civilians' dubious whispers.

    "Is he speaking our language?"

    "What is he saying?"

    "Shouldn't someone help him?"


    Gyuri peered down at Gulnar, who was tugging on her skirt.

    "Who are they?"

    Gyuri looked up once more as she inspected the small band of men. Dressed in black, double-breasted coats, the dusty travellers fussed amongst themselves while the fair-haired man pursued his incessant pleas.

    I can't believe it... Gyuri spoke internally. This can't be.

    The fair-haired gentleman swept his gaze across the crowd and accidentally locked eyes with Gyuri. Immediately, she froze. It was only for a short moment but Gyuri's eyes were lost under the exotic hue of his irises: while one was the ocean, the other was coal. Gyuri couldn't avoid being enchanted by the odd-eyed stranger. Even though Gyuri should be accustomed to seeing his kind, everything about him fuelled her curiosity. It was like she was seeing them for the first time. From his golden hair down to his westernised attire, Gyuri was speechless.

    No, if they're here then that must mean-!

    "The sanatorium is this way!"

    Gyuri jerked her head to the side at the sound of a voice she recognised. And sure enough, her ears did not deceive her when she spotted Yujin pushing through the crowd to get to the band of foreigners.

    "Mama?" Gyuri peered down at Gulnar, who was tugging on her skirt again. He looked at her questioningly and she soon realised that she hadn't yet replied to him.

    "I-I don't know..." she responded evasively. But in truth, she had some idea of who they were. Suddenly, Namjoon's words rang in her mind as she focused her attention on the band of men again.

    "A bigger threat arrived..."

    Gyuri took a sharp intake of breath as she eyed the tall, pale-faced men. Their features; their style of clothing; their culture was all too familiar to her. It may have been a different era but Gyuri couldn't help feeling an obscure wave of relief at seeing something she recognised from watching movies and studying about at school.

    There was no mistaking it; they were one of her own; they were her kinsmen.

    Gyuri swallowed nervously as she realised that the barbarians Namjoon was referring to were no other than the people she identified with most.

    "...the Waekugin."
Previous Index Next