- a EunKang short story
- from The Official EunKang Thread SechsKies Eun Ji Won & Kang Sung Hoon
- Parts 1-15
THE BLACK DEATH
The Black Death arrived in Europe by sea in October 1347 when 12 Genoese trading ships docked at the Sicilian port of Messina after a long journey through the Black Sea. The people who gathered on the docks to greet the ships were met with a horrifying surprise: Most of the sailors aboard the ships were dead, and those who were still alive were gravely ill. They were overcome with fever, unable to keep food down and delirious from pain. Strangest of all, they were covered in mysterious black boils that oozed blood and pus and gave their illness its name: the “Black Death.” The Sicilian authorities hastily ordered the fleet of “death ships” out of the harbour, but it was too late: Over the next five years, the mysterious Black Death would kill more than 20 million people in Europe–almost one-third of the continent’s population.
Because they did not understand the biology of the disease, many people believed that the Black Death was a kind of divine punishment – retribution for sins against God such as greed, blasphemy, heresy, fornication and worldliness. By this logic, the only way to overcome the plague was to win God’s forgiveness. Some people believed that the way to do this was to purge their communities of heretics and other troublemakers – so, for example, many thousands of Jews were massacred in 1348 and 1349.
– HISTORY.com –
Jiwon has been away, traveling around for more than a decade when he heard about the plague breakout. Although it was three or four centuries ago when plague hit their county, people had always said it may reoccur in areas that have long remained silent. Without second thought, he headed back to the tribe. He may be a victim of the KANGs’ mistake, but over the years they have become his family. Even he does not stays with them, they would always make sure he is in good condition and never hesitate to do whatever they can when he needs help.
He can’t believe his own eyes. The place where it used to be jolly with the crowd of villagers had become a ghost town; all merchants are closed, no one is on the streets, the ground infested with lush weeds. The disease spread in a frightening speed, people are forced to quarantine any of their infected family members in the house. They will paint a red cross on the door to warn the others of the plight. No one was allowed to go near. The plague doctor or nurse who is on duty the day will visit the plague victims to check on their condition and send them food. The atmosphere was so intense, the only noises that may break the silence were the victims’ moan and the collectors who go around picking up dead bodies with a cart to send them to the mass burial pit. “Bring out your dead!” they cried.
He wandered around the town for a while to observe the situation then took off to the village where the tribe located. It was another disaster there. There were human and animal corpses scattering around, emitting unpleasant odour. The collector clearly doesn’t visit the village as often. He went door to door in searching for any villager, but it seems the tribe had moved away. He then looked around for any trace of signs that they left behind to track their location. That was when he heard something from the other end. At first he thought it was some pest running around, but he soon decided to go check it out as the faint noise sounded too regular.
It all started with swells that appear in the groin, armpits and neck. Then it developed to flu-like symptoms – fever and chills, cough, headache, muscle pain. Eventually he suffers diarrhoea, vomiting and coughing out bloody sputum. The physician makes daily visit to check on his condition and give him medication. He feeds on the potions prepared by the tribe too, but no witch craft can cure a deadly disease like plague, as they do not know the exact cause of it. Everyone else left the tribe, they’re moving into the mountains to avoid from the breakout. His mother however, sent off her daughter and stayed back to take care of him. It wasn’t until when he became affected with gangrene that the physician forced her to leave. “His body is rotting, there is no way he can survive,” he told her. She insisted to stay for her son, but the physician forcefully dragged her away, “you still have a daughter to look after!” he said, sending her to reunite with the tribe and warning them not to allow her to return to the village.
No one step foot to the village after that day. His body became extremely weak, he was so drowsy, he lost count of the days. He dragged his slump body outside the house, laying below a leaking pipe for source of water. He thought he would die there, but someone came… He was awaken by the noise; the noise of doors banging, the noise of things scattering on the ground. He saw a shadow walking in and out of cottages as if he is searching for someone or something. ‘He probably thinks I’m one of the dead bodies,’ he thought. He wanted to call out for help, but his throat was dry and tight he couldn’t make a sound. He used all his energy to move his index finger, tapping against the pipe beside – One… Two… Three… Four… Five…
He was 14 years old when he first met Jiwon. The latter saved him from the hands of Death. He didn’t remember exactly how because he passed out, but Jiwon fed him something. He must have brought along something really effective towards plague, he saved his life. His mother cried tears of joy the day they reunited. She held tight to her son and Jiwon’s hand on each side for the whole night, showing her gratitude. Everyone was grateful to Jiwon that he returned to the tribe when they needed him the most.
Despite having different personalities and their ‘age gap’, the both of them clicked immediately because they shared similar interests. Within a month, they have become best friends who can rely upon each other, understanding each other so well that one doesn’t even need to voice out his thoughts but the other person would know what is in his mind.
Little did he know, there was this man figure who he used to follow around wherever he goes when he was still unbalanced on his feet learning to walk; the ‘big brother’ who is always cautious of the surrounding for a wobbling ‘object’ that would roam towards him unexpectedly.
“I’m glad I found you,” he grinned when Jiwon storied him their past encounter and how clumsy he was as a toddler.
“I was the one who found you, remember?” Jiwon referred to the incident which he saved him.
He hugged Jiwon tight around his waist only to think to himself of how lucky he is to have met Jiwon. “Fate brought us together,” he said as he inhaled Jiwon’s unique scent.
Being one of the KANGs, he did not inherit the family’s talent; his power wasn’t all that strong. In fact no matter how well he studied or memorised the spells, they never work out as how they are supposed to be when he performs them. He can’t even cast a circle of protection properly. But the thing he regrets the most is that his senses are so poor, he didn’t realise Jiwon’s true identity until that day…