He should have killed you. It’s what you expected sitting there covered in the blood of the king’s slain soldiers. He should have picked up a gun and shot you for what you had done to save your own skin.
Instead he smiled as if you’d amused him somehow. As if seeing you shocked and bloody in the midst of dead bodies was one big joke. His men certainly didn’t find it funny: they looked more than ready to finish the job their fallen comrades had failed at. However, in Kyrat the king’s word is law. Second guessing him was not something you did if you valued your life, as many people had learned first hand.
So when he didn’t kill you or order his men to and instead offered you his hand, no one could say anything against it. Despite whatever hatred his soldiers may have harbored, whatever distrust they held, none of them said a word. They lowered their guns and their gaze as Pagan Min pulled you to your feet.
He stroked your hair with an unexpected fondness, as if he’d just recovered something precious that had been lost. “We should get you cleaned up.”
You closed your eyes against his touch not out of fear but in a sort of disbelief. What you’d expected had been a knife or a bullet, not kindness and certainly not such tenderness.
Whatever was going on in his head, it seemed you were at least safe for the moment–though that in no way meant he wouldn’t decide to kill you eventually. The king was far more dangerous than anything else the country held and while you had survived the harshness of the jungle and the brutality of his soldiers, it was very unlikely that you were anywhere near safe.
You hadn’t known safety since you first stepped foot in Kyrat.
CH. 1 : Machinations
The cold water brought you back to your senses better than a slap to the face. Though seeing the heavy tinge of red pooling at your feet made you want to crawl back inside yourself and never come out. There was just so much blood–too much blood it seemed–and it felt as though you would never be clean again.
Your clothes had been cast aside without care or modesty almost before you were left to yourself in the bath house. You had wanted so badly to be rid of them, but being without them only brought to light just how much blood had touched your skin. What little room you had in your mind for being thankful was expended on the fact that you’d never been forced to see your own reflection. The image in your head was horrible enough, but to actually see it–to witness first hand your own face covered in blood–it would have likely been too much to take.
Not even a month of trying to survive in this god-forsaken nightmare of a country and you’d already had to kill people. Sure, they were probably going to kill you or worse if they’d had the chance, but this fact only helped in the moment. In hindsight, when you had the time to really put things in perspective, it would likely be much worse.
You tried to fixate on something else and cast your glance around the room for another target, another topic to mull over aside from the death of three people by your own hand. All you saw was a wooden room with very little in it aside from a water pump, barrels, and a pile of clothes belonging to a woman who was probably dead. Pagan had opted to bring you to a house in the nearby town that his men occupied rather than making you wait until arriving at whatever destination he had in mind–you really didn’t have the energy to care what he was planning just then. Whether this was some form of civility, understanding, or even chivalry you weren’t sure. For all you knew he may have just found your current state of blood-drench to be unsightly.
So this had you standing naked in some poor soul’s bath house using buckets of icy water out of a pump to clean off. The old you would have been put off by such a thing. You’d have bemoaned the lack of indoor plumping and winced away from the frigid waters. Oh, how you missed the luxuries of that kind of pampered state of mind. Where such trivial things could bother you and a bad day consisted of dead batteries, unsavory food, and knocking your knee on the bedside table.
After what you had seen that actually counted as a good day by comparison. You’d spent nights alone in the woods with nothing but the sound of feral beasts and gunfire to keep you company. There had been stretches of days where you had eaten nothing at all because the plants were unfamiliar and you didn’t have the stomach to kill animals for food. You’d been scratched, bitten, shot at, hit, and nearly killed on an almost routine basis for weeks. Honestly you were surprised to find that your entire body wasn’t one big bruise.
Another bucket of cold water helped to divert your thoughts for a moment, but then they picked right back up and turned in a direction you were wary of venturing towards.
Why was Pagan Min keeping you alive?
Was he planning something? Had he been impressed by the fact that you had taken out three of his men? It was confusing to say the least. Rationally speaking he shouldn’t have spared you, especially since he had no reason to think that you wouldn’t come after him as well. Then again, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of rationality behind the kings motives under any circumstances. From what you’d seen and heard of him he was the sort of man who did whatever the hell he wanted without a damn bit of concern for what people thought of it.
Partially you were happy to still be breathing, but the confusion and guilt over having to murder to stay alive kind of out weighted anything positive. Especially since it wasn’t entirely the fact that you’d killed that bothered you so much as the simplicity of it.
It had been so easy to kill them–so very easy to end their lives–and you really never thought it would be. Ending anyone’s life, no matter what kind of person they would, should have an affect on the one who kills them. Murder shouldn’t be so simple.
A knock at the door made your entire body stiffen.
“Are you decent?” There was still a tinge of mirth in Pagan’s tone and you didn’t have the stomach to answer.
It was hard to reconcile decency with your current state of nakedness and the copious amount of blood that had pooled at your feet during your slapdash cleansing.
He waited a few moments for a response and either taking the silence for consent, or just to see if you were still alive, he stepped on in. Even in the low light he had a very good view of your naked body from the back, but you couldn’t find the strength to care.
You dumped another bucket of ice water over your head and tried to ignore his presence, though the sound of his footsteps as he came closer made you tense with every step.
He lifted a piece of your drenched hair and you became very still.
“I’d say you’re more than clean enough at this point,” Pagan murmured as you stood still as stone under his scrutiny. “Though if you are trying to wash away the sin, my dear girl, you are wasting your time.” His fingers slid across your shoulder as he dropped the wet lock and leaned in very close. You could feel his breath against the back of your neck and it made you tremble from head to toe. “That never washes out–you just have to learn to enjoy it.”
You turned suddenly, bristling at his playful tone and found yourself nose to nose with the wicked king. The words slipped from the tip of your tongue and vanished right when you needed them most under his heated gaze. There was something in that look that made all the vulnerability you should have felt before come rushing in at the wrong time. The fact that you were naked and he was so very close was suddenly an issue and yet you couldn’t make your arms rise to cover yourself.
The heat coming off of him was such a contrast to the frigid chill the water had left on your skin that it felt like layers of ice were melting off your body. Suddenly you were shivering for an entirely different reason though as you held the devil’s gaze.
He leaned down brushing his lips across your cheek, leaving a tingle in their wake as he slid his mouth towards your ear. “As much as I would love to teach you all about the joy of sin,” His words also left a tingle too, but somewhere else entirely. “If you don’t hurry and get dressed we are going to be very late.”
He pulled back with a playful smile and turned on his heels leaving you confused, warm, and dazed.
Just what the hell was that?