Tanya sighs as she sinks down in one of the chairs circling the round table in the middle of her chambers after dismissing all those fussing over her. Now the only person who remains in the room with her is Yangcha, the masked Daekan warrior Tagon ordered to guard her.
Her eyes drifted over to the warrior, his mask hiding half of his face, standing alert at the doors. Sensing her gaze, he turns his head to meet her eyes. His dark eyes are confused as he stares right back at her.
She’s not sure whether or not he directed the thought at her, but she answers nonetheless. “Why do you wear that?”
His gaze drops from hers and he turns away. Still, she hears his answer, though she knows it wasn’t his intention.
Because I know things that can never be shared.
Tanya begins to remove her jewellery. “Is it a punishment?”
Yangcha flinches, but doesn’t turn her way. A stab of pity swells in her gut like the beginnings of an upset stomach. Tanya frowns and stands once again.
“Yangcha,” Tanya calls his name. He turns to her. A warrior awaiting orders.
Tanya picks up a more simple necklace from her selection of jewellery. This one is a simple leather strap with a small, purple crystal hanging from it. She walks over to Yangcha and holds it out. He looks at the necklace and then up at her, confused.
“I do not know why you are being punished, but I believe it cruel to take away one’s right to speak. This necklace was given to me by one of my people. She said that it was to symbolise freedom.”
Yangcha’s brows furrow as if to say, ‘why are you giving this to me?’.
“I am giving this to you, because one day, I will free myself and my people. I will make my own freedom. You may not get that opportunity. However, if you choose, you may speak freely with me. Whether you do that through thought or by actual spoken words, or not at all is up to you. This necklace is me returning that freedom to you.”
Tanya sees his adam’s apple bob up and down. She maintains his eye contact, watching the storm rage in his black eyes.
After a long moment, he reaches up a hand and gently takes the necklace. He stares at it where it rests in his palm and moves it side to side slightly. As if testing to ensure it’s not a trick. He then raises his head to meet her eyes again and she gives him a small smile.
He blinks slowly. Once. Twice. Then looks down at the necklace again before lifting it up to loop the leather band around his neck. Yangcha looks down at the purple crystal hanging over his chest.
When he looks back up at Tanya with a conflicted look in his eyes, like he’s unsure what to do, she changes topics.
“Now, I’m exhausted and need a nap.” She lets out a breathy laugh, although it’s still quite tense. She turns and sits back down, angling her head towards the ceiling and closing her eyes.
Why don’t you lie down?
Tanya looks up at Yangcha’s voice – although it’s not really his voice. She waves a hand in dismissal. “Myeongjin will be back soon with a new task. If I get too comfortable I won’t want to move. Best to stay like this.”
Yangcha nods and Tanya resumes her previous position. When she cracks her eyes slightly, she sees Yangcha tuck the necklace beneath his tunic and armour, before he once again stands alert and on guard.
Though there’s a large part of her that tells her to ignore him, that he’s dangerous and a monster. Tanya can’t help but hear the small part that is curious about the strange masked assassin.