Same Kind (2)
Eventually she was kicked out of Ian Kerner’s cabin. She would probably never get in again. Because of that, the salty wind didn’t feel as refreshing as it did yesterday. It was pathetic.
She comforted herself by chewing her lip.
‘Don’t be frustrated, Rosen. There will be another opportunity. There always is.’
She was shaking her head, wondering what to do, when she heard a snort.
“Ugh. How are you?”
Henry, clutching the chains tied to her handcuffs, smiled twistedly. Then he examined her from head to toe. With a shameless expression, she raised her head and shrugged as if nothing was wrong.
“I tied back my hair and washed my face… If there was something red, I would’ve painted my lips with it. I’m worth seeing after I tidy up. Aren’t I pretty?
“Delusion is also a disease. You smell so bad, it’s useless.”
“If my smell is the problem, then that means I’m pretty.”
“…Don’t try to be funny!”
Henry snorted, even louder this time.
‘He laughed so hard that he snorted.’
She smiled. Children didn’t know how to hide their emotions. When they denied how they felt, it exposed their inner feelings even more.
“What trick did you pull this time?”
“I play tricks? Why don’t you behave politely? That’s hardly a nice thing to say to a Lady.”
“Don’t pretend. No matter what your tricks are, you’re not going to escape.”
Henry raised his chin and brushed back her hair. She desperately tried to hold back her laughter.
“Do you know what tricks I can play?”
“…I don’t know! Well, something like… this.”
Henry blushed. With his back to the deep, black, and distant sea, she stared at his large form. She wondered if it was quite a shock to him that Al Capez’s witch was more ordinary than he expected?
“What do you mean you don’t know? Are you talking about a man and a woman spending time together…?”
“Hey! Shut your mouth.”
“Do you want to sleep with me? I think so, because you’re asking if it’s a trick or not. Right?”
“Hey! Hey! Hey!”
Henry’s ears, along with his face, were red. Whether it was because he was angry or because he was embarrassed, it didn’t matter.
“Am I threatening you to sleep with me? Any man who passes up on this opportunity is an idiot. It’s okay for you to reject me, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy our time together. Don’t you trust your boss? Don’t you think I’m stupid?”
“No? I don’t believe it, but Ian Kerner does.”
She muttered to herself. She didn’t know that Ian Kerner was such a tightly wound person, but Henry must have known.
Henry was silent as they moved towards the stern*, where her prison cell was. As they walked in utter silence, Rosen spotted a familiar head in the distance.
[*E/N: the stern is the back-most part of a ship.]
She had blonde hair that was as radiant as the sun, braided in two. Her cute body was closer to a doll than a human.
And Henry Reville.
Rosen stared at Henry as he unlocked the layers of the chain on the door. Like a soldier, his head was shaved closely, but his bright blonde hair was clearly apparent. The two were of the same bloodline. What commonalities existed between that adorable kid and this rude, bear-like man?
“Your niece is cute.”
“How do you know her?”
“I know everything.”
She shrugged and answered vaguely. Henry growled, grinding his teeth.
“Aren’t you going to answer me?”
“Henry Reville, this is my real trick. It’s nothing but intimidation and perception. Look over there.”
She pointed with the tip of her chin to the striking blonde child. Henry turned his head in amazement, dropping the bundle of keys in his hand.
“You are a witch. Even when everyone said you weren’t, I thought so.”
“Think whatever you want.”
“It will be revealed soon! D*mn it!”
He nearly fell down three times as he rushed to pull his keys from between the deck seams. She giggled loudly as she watched him panic. Why was he so afraid of a prisoner that had her hands tied? She couldn’t grab the keys, and even if she kicked Henry’s back with her leg, it would almost certainly break her knee.
He attached the keychain to his belt and stared at her like he was going to kill her. Henry seemed to want to strangle her, but fortunately he had other priorities. He shouted loudly.
“Layla! When did you… !”
But no answer came. Layla had barely turned her head towards her uncle, but they immediately noticed that something was wrong. The weak sound of coughing was the only response Henry received. Layla spun around, stiff as a music box doll. Both of her hands were wrapped around her neck. Her face was pale blue.
“Are there any doctors for first class passengers? Are there any?
“Answer me, you idiot! There must be a doctor on the board! Wake them up! Are you out of your mind? I don’t know how long your niece has left!”
Henry was not in a good condition. He stiffened and shook his head. She couldn’t tell if he didn’t know where the doctor was, if there wasn’t a doctor on board, or if he was just spacing out. He was in a state of complete panic. He didn’t move, he didn’t blink, and he didn’t run to Layla to check on her condition.
As he stood there, his face turned so blue that Rosen thought it was fortunate that he didn’t faint. Looking at him, she couldn’t tell who the patient was; uncle or niece.
Rosen soon realized that Henry was of no use in solving the situation. She clenched her teeth, thrust out her wrists to him, and shouted.
It was midnight. She didn’t know where the doctor was. The only doctor she knew of was the old man who worked at Al Capez, who boarded the transport ship with them. However, his mind came and went because he had dementia. By now, he was likely asleep in his room, which was deep in the hallway of cabins. By the time she woke him up and brought him all the way here, Layla would be dead. Moreover, she knew how incapable the little girl was right now.
Doctors had a valuable talent. The government sent a minimal number of doctors to the front lines to reduce their fatality rate during the war. Therefore, the doctor assigned to Al Capez couldn’t possibly be a good one, right?
-Emily, do you even need to know these things?
-Rosen, you should know. People don’t just die during war. We are fragile creatures that get hurt and die for the most absurd reasons.
She didn’t know how long Layla had been like that.
How many minutes did it take for a person who suffocated due to a blocked airway to lose consciousness? D*mn, she had been locked up for too long. The little useful knowledge she had learned had long since faded.
But there was no time to complain. Besides, there were people here who were more useless than her. She was the only one who could save the little girl now. She kicked the frozen Henry and urged him.
“Are you going to kill her like this? The baby can’t breathe! Release me for a second! I know how to save her!”
“Are you worried that I might run away in the midst of this? You have a gun! If I do something, just kill me! You know I can’t run away! Time is tight! The later-”
Henry was released from his paralysis, like a man doused with cold water. Fortunately, without a single thought, he pulled the keyring from his belt and knelt in front of her. The key didn’t fit well in the rusty lock hole. One fumbling second felt like an eternity. When the lock finally opened, Layla’s eyes were half-closed. She was on the verge of losing consciousness.
Rosen’s chains fell to the deck with a bang. Her body staggered, unused to the light feeling of being released from her shackles. Barely holding on to her spirit, she ran. Her leg muscles screamed, but now was not the time to care.
“Please save Layla.”
“D*mn you, you’re crazy, shut up!”
She belatedly rebuked Henry, who was about to cry, and stood Layla up. She wrapped her arms around the child’s body, below her ribcage.
Honestly, she wasn’t confident. She had never actually performed this maneuver, it was a method she learned far too long ago, and she was illiterate. But she believed in Emily. Unlike her, Emily was a very smart person. She had repeatedly practiced these unusual treatments and remedies. There were things she developed herself, and things she learned elsewhere.
And Emily always said that the body had better memory than the mind. Just like an old soldier who had been discharged long ago who could still assemble a pistol, or a dog who had been abused avoiding people until it died.
She took a deep breath and thrust her arms into Layla’s body.
-So no one knows that you can heal people.
-How did you find this method and why don’t you teach it to people? That’s why Hindley ignores you and condescends. What Hindley doesn’t know is that Emily taught me everything!
-Because one person can’t save the world. There’s no one special enough to do that.
-No, Emily is special. Everyone ignores how special you are, Emily. I don’t think Hindley is amazing.
-Shhh! Don’t forget to always be careful with what you say.
-I’m sorry, but…
-Rosen. I’m a witch. That’s why I started studying medicine. I can’t use magic anymore, but there are moments when everyone needs healing.
The child coughed loudly. It was a good sign. She prayed to a God she didn’t even believe in.
‘Please, please, please.’
-These past four years were useless. You always think you’re so special.
-Hindley, stop it. Please don’t hit Emily. Hit me! Hit me instead.
-She is my wife, not my friend! Know your place.
At that moment, something popped out of Layla’s mouth. She loosened her arms from around the child’s waist. Layla, who had been gasping heavily, burst into tears. It was a sign of success. Being able to cry meant she was able to breathe.
“Layla! Are you okay? Are you really okay?”
Henry, his face wet with tears, ran and hugged Layla. Suddenly, their surroundings became bright. People with gas lamps rushed to the deck in their pajamas to investigate the commotion. It was surprising that none of them stopped her.
On the surface, it must have looked like she, the witch of Al Capez, was holding this child and torturing her.
A white-haired old man jumped out of the crowd, pushed Henry away, and hugged Layla tightly. He was wearing a navy uniform. He was the captain of this ship, and stunk heavily of engine oil.
Standing to the side, she crouched down and picked up the hard object that had fallen to the deck. It was a rather large candy. That cute little kid nearly died from candy. Emily’s words came true.
A bullet and a candy could equally kill a person. Then… soldiers weren’t the only ones who could save and kill people.
She saved Layla. A strange sense of pride and satisfaction filled her heart. Even if she was misunderstood and was locked up in a cell, she could accept it now, without feeling wronged. She laughed to herself.
At that moment, someone’s long shadow was cast onto the deck in front of her. It was a tall one. The shadow approached slowly, and placed a hand on her shoulder. Rosen thought it was Henry, so she spoke to him meanly, without looking back.
“Henry Reville… If you are grateful, give me some water to wash. It’s also okay if you just give us prisoners more food. We’re not greedy.”
“…I’ll do that.”
A familiar voice responded.
It wasn’t Henry’s. She stiffened as soon as she turned around.
It was him. Ian Kerner. The face illuminated by orange lamp light was identical to the picture on the flyers. Before she was even aware of it, excuses poured out of her mouth.
“…Hah. I was just saying that to mess with Henry. I didn’t do this for a reward.”