four

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day 1: illeá forest, 0726 hours.

"ah, here we are," yerim says as they enter a clearing, the bronze of her locks turning blonde once more. jungkook does not see her in blonde as often as he sees her in scarlet, but her beauty is imperishable, no matter what kind of treasure she douses herself in. (enshrouded by stardust, she is ever beauteous.)

in the middle of the verdant clearing, is a small shrine, held up by wooden bars, its crimson color faded due to its withering state. the leaves of the willow trees around them are stained by mauve and cerulean hues, spilling to the grass in the form of wilted fronds.

jungkook looks around in undisguised curiosity. "what are we doing here?"

yerim maintains a straight face as she walks along broken stone walkways, the chiming of bells ringing through the air around them. "shrines prove to have more magic running through them. it'd be easier this way."

"easier to do what?" he asks as they stop in front of the shrine, leather sandals grazing against rough stone. yerim places her palms together, and magic begins to fill the air, dancing through breezy winds.

she glances at him, eyes shifting to emerald green, resembling the garden beneath their feet. she still drags her jewels with her, it seems, judging by the golden bangles wrapping around her spindly arms, weighing her down and down and down (alas, she never sinks). jungkook doesn't say anything much about it; beautiful, she still is.

"to jump," is her reply, as magic dances around her, much like a wayward tango (with all those unpredictable fluctuations in upbeat footwork and sudden halts in step). she takes his hand in hers, snow white skin brushing against the stars on her wrist as glitter pours into his veins.

"jump?" jungkook repeats, biting on his bottom lip, letting the luscious flesh sink between his teeth. her blonde hair turns brown, and she puts her hood on.

the vibrant garden in her eyes are gone too, sadly, replaced by hazel orbs that jungkook has seen all too often. it's okay. even emptiness, she could still find the beauty in.

"mm," she hums, a tune that flies with the wind, strings the magic along with it. "i cannot go as far as the aether kingdom, but i could bring us to the least challenging route."

he furrows his brows, obvious confusion found amongst the creases of his face. "least challenging..?"

all at once, the world around him distorts, resembling how his universe looked like when he first downed sweet, sweet liquor with his brothers, able to find solace in the hazy euphoria of rundown bars. yerim's touch is still numbing to the nerves, but it keeps him from drifting away, so he holds on as tightly as he could, bruising little regulus, that shines brightest amongst the stars in leo.

they appear, and they disappear. they are, and then they aren't.

the clearing is empty now, save for the humming magic in the air, still engaged in their arbitrary tango.

bells chime in the distance. white marble begins to crack.

(a wheel turns, creaking and creaking and creaking.)

°

day 1: the crystal coves, 0729 hours.

when jungkook can finally feel reality with his own fingers again, his vision clears, and he is hit by a sudden nausea.

his knees buckle, and he falls to the ground, a groaning mess.

yerim looks around and sighs, healing the burn that formed on her side. the cold diamond shards that surround them glimmer in the darkness of the caves, with only the mangled sunrays around to illuminate them.

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