제 6 장: On the Hunt

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"It smells like blood," I announced, licking my lips

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"It smells like blood," I announced, licking my lips. The air was saturated with it—someone had to have been killed nearby. I'd been coming across death quite a lot in the past few years due to the war, but it was rare here, on this island with only the lady beside me as company. Death could be good. If the recently-deceased was healthy, they might have a delicious liver that they wouldn't mind me taking.

"I think I just saw another water ghost," my companion whimpered, completely ignoring my statement. She and I had been walking along this path all evening to get to the next town, and I had been hearing her complaints the entire way.

I bit back a sigh at my irritation. "It's an island, surrounded by the ocean. Of course there are going to be water ghosts," I snapped. "We've been here for two weeks already—I would have thought you'd be used to it by now."

The woman pouted. "But—"

"You're starting to get on my nerves, Ra Wolsoo," I warned. "And I assure you, that is the last thing you want to do."

"Everything gets on your nerves," Wolsoo grumbled.

"Not true," I shot back before I could help it. Then I scowled as I realized what I was doing. Bickering with a human? It was beneath me.

But the argument was started, now. "Oh, really? Name one thing that doesn't annoy you," she challenged.

"Humans who don't drink, travelers who stay off my mountain, and shamans who don't argue," I snapped. "That's three."

"Hey! This shaman is trying to help you."

"Oh, don't pretend like you wouldn't make a break for it as soon as my back is turned," I said. "I'm making you help me. There's a difference."

Wolsoo scowled, but didn't dispute the claim. "And why humans who don't drink?"

"Keeps their livers fresh," I explained, flipping my dark hair over my shoulder. Unlike the shaman's frizzy updo, my hair flowed loosely to almost my waist, without any unnecessary ornaments or braids. "They smell tastier, too."

"Remind me to buy a bottle of soju at the next town," Wolsoo muttered after a grimace.

"Don't worry, I won't."

"I'll remember anyway." Her glare was frightening by human standards, but I had seen far worse.

"If you do, you won't drink it, because you still have to stop the Japanese from crawling all over my mountain," I countered. It was the reason I had left my beloved home in the first place—with the war, nothing was safe anymore. Luckily, I had a long line of shamans at my disposal, who for some reason were averse to leaving their family shack on my mountain to go live with the rest of civilization. Each generation had tried to get rid of me. But until they succeeded, I had decided I would use their skills for my own purposes, like bringing peace and quiet back to my home.

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