130 A Wilful Seed Pt.3

    "Cousin, what happened to your face?"

    Namjoon looked up from the book in his hands towards the door, where Taehyung was standing. It was the following morning and having already had his breakfast, Taehyung decided to visit Namjoon after hearing of his latest escapade.

    "Oh? This?" Namjoon pointed to his right eye, where a purple bruise marred his skin. "I must have collided into something when I collapsed yesterday." He closed his book and placed it aside. "That is what Physician Koh told me when I woke up this morning."

    "You should be more careful," Taehyung reproached as he sat on the stool next to his bed. "Gyuri told me everything. It was fortunate that she found you as soon as she did."

    Namjoon rubbed his neck. "I must have overworked myself. I apologise for worrying you." He peered at the door and then back at Taehyung. "Speaking of Gyuri, where is she? I have not seen her yet."

    Taehyung cocked his head. "Is that so?" He scrunched his lip as he thought aloud, "That is strange, I met her on the way here. I thought she already visited you."

    "Oh." Namjoon was surprised. "No, she had not."

    "Did you need something from her?"

    "Oh, no... nothing." Namjoon looked away. "I- I just wanted to see her is all."

    Taehyung hummed. He searched Namjoon's dimly lit room, taking note of a basin and cloth near his bedside. "So, how are you feeling, Cousin?" he politely enquired. "I must say, it is unusual for you to be the one recovering in a bed."

    "Yes, I know," Namjoon replied with a small smile. "I am feeling much better. Apart from the mild discomfort of waking up in drenched clothing, my head feels much clearer." He placed his hand across his chest. "And strangely enough, my heart feels lighter too."

    "It sounds like that good night's sleep has done you some good."

    "Indeed," Namjoon agreed. He inspected his hand as if he was seeing it for the first time. "Although, I cannot help but feel like I am forgetting something important."

    Taehyung watched as Namjoon frowned. "Are you referring to your work at the sanatorium?"

    At this, Namjoon shook his head. "No." He paused. "Or maybe, yes... I do not know. I cannot remember what it is." Namjoon sighed as he glanced out of his window, where the blue sky was replaced by angry, dark clouds.

    Something about the gloomy weather unnerved Namjoon.

    "Physician Koh has prescribed me bed rest for the whole day, so I cannot go to the sanatorium to check on my patients," Namjoon absentmindedly spoke as he continued to gape outside his window. Suddenly, he glared down at his clenched fists. "I have truly failed as a physician."

    "Cousin, you really should be worrying about your health more right now," Taehyung lightly scolded. "What good would you be to anyone if you are ill?"

    "I know, but I cannot help it," Namjoon grumbled. "The situation with the plague is not improving despite my efforts." He pinched his nose bridge. "I worry for those who do not have access to medication like we do. Without anyone to run the sanatorium, what chance do the people have?"

    "Then, what if I run the sanatorium in your place?"

    Namjoon's head shot up immediately. "You, cousin?"

    Taehyung nodded.

    "No, absolutely not," Namjoon rebuked.

    Taehyung's brow arched at Namjoon's tone. "Why not?"

    "You do not know a thing about medicine."

    "I can learn!"

    Namjoon shook his head. "That is beside the point. I cannot risk you getting sick, especially when I can prevent it." He met eyes with Taehyung. "No, you should stay put, here, in the household until further notice."

    "But, cousin!" Taehyung protested. "This is unjust! Are you saying I cannot go to the village at all?"

    Namjoon calmly nodded.

    "If you are going to forbid me from going, then you should forbid everyone else from going," Taehyung reasoned. "My immunity to the plague is no different from the servants' or the maids' that go out daily to fetch supplies. Why can they go, and I cannot? They are susceptible to catching the plague as much as you and I."

    "Taehyung, I really do not want to be arguing with you right now," Namjoon wearily responded as he picked up his book. "And need I remind you that you solemnly swore to me that you would do as I say."

    Taehyung looked away sulkily. "Yes, cousin..." He got up from his chair, suddenly downcast by Namjoon's firmness on the matter.

    Why is everyone always treating me like a child? He pouted. I cannot wait until I am a man!

    Taehyung got up from his seat as he suddenly thought of a way to improve his bad mood. If there was one person that could cheer him up, it was definitely Gyuri. He started heading for the door.

    But just as he was about to leave, something peculiar suddenly caught his eye. He trudged over to the corner to pick it up. "Cousin, what is this?"

    Namjoon hummed distractedly before tearing his eyes away from what he was reading. "That is..."

    Taehyung returned to Namjoon's bedside with the item stretched out in his hands.

    When Namjoon finally had a good look at what that item was, he explained, "That is my bandana." Taehyung handed over the silk to Namjoon as he continued, "I won this many years ago during the annual juedo."

    "Juedo?" Taehyung repeated. He thought for a moment before exclaiming, "Oh! You mean that tournament between the Jade Lotus Clan members?"

    Namjoon nodded. He traced his hand across the intricately embroidered silk, memories of blood, sweat and swords flooding his mind.

    "Will you ever participate in it again, cousin?" Taehyung queried, his eyes trained on the silk. "I was too young to remember you competing."

    Namjoon handed the bandana back to Taehyung. "No, I do not think so." He turned his attention back to his book. "My fighting days are over. I do not see the need to engage in mortal combat as a sport when I can use that time to help others instead." Noticing Taehyung's disappointment, he added, "Although, when you are of age, maybe I can watch you compete."

    Taehyung's pitch rose. "Me? Surely not..." He blinked several times and Namjoon observed the excited glint in Taehyung's crescent eyes. "I am not good with a sword or Martial Arts."

    "Well, maybe I can teach you."

    Taehyung glanced up. "Really?"

    Namjoon nodded. "Of course. Even if my days in the military are over, that does not mean I cannot pass down the knowledge I have acquired to someone who wants it." He grinned as he playfully mentioned, "Although, my men do say that I am a strict teacher."

    Taehyung's lips stretched into a box-like smile. "That is fine! I am confident I can manage." He flexed his right arm to showcase a small bump of flesh. "See! My muscles are already this big!"

    Namjoon chuckled at the sight of his younger cousin. It was times like these that reminded Namjoon that his skills of warfare were not meaningless after all.

    But just as he was about to interrupt Taehyung's ramblings, a deafening scream pierced through the air, silencing the two.

    Namjoon and Taehyung froze.

    As the sky above shrouded the room in a veil of darkness, a cold chill shot down Namjoon's spine, causing him to shiver. Even without his gift of foresight, Namjoon knew that something terrible had occurred.

    He feared to find out what it could be.
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