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The General

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Won Sul’s numb all the time, lately.

Munsu complains about the stench of his rotting flesh but Won Sul can’t smell it so the General can say what he wants and the Bang Ja can fan the air away from his face however often he has to, it makes no difference to him. Taking offense to perfectly reasonable reactions to a walking corpse seems absurd, given everything else that’s happening in the world.

An added benefit to being deceased is that his hearing can pick up even more, now that the rush of blood in his ears has gone stagnant. His perception of temperature and pain have given way to a heightened sense of pressure from mostly-dead nerve endings, which is all he needs to wield his sword. He doesn’t feel much of anything else, which isn’t so bad.

His current situation, however, is an entirely different story.

Won Sul really hates following Munsu around.

He hates Munsu and he hates the sound of his leisurely stride, his low, cigarette-roughened voice, his steady hands, and he hates the way his coarse hair whips around his face whenever the wind picks up.

He hates everything about the General but most of all Won Sul hates the memory of admiring him, worshipping him, how he would’ve followed the man anywhere, done anything for his approval.

How he still would.

(Which is to say, of course, that Won Sul detests his own weakness, his indecision, his helplessness in the face of Aji Tae’s power. Self-loathing is not an unfamiliar source of agitation, for him.)

He could leave.

His task is to keep Munsu alive, and Lord Aji Tae has ways to exert his influence, but there’s really nothing stopping him from just walking away. He died years ago, when Jushin collapsed, and it had just taken another few years after that for his body to follow. If Aji Tae strikes him down, Won Sul would accept death without regret or hesitation.

(If only Aji Tae would leave it at death, if only he had let him die the first time around, if only…)

But there’s something about traveling with the General; it’s nothing like how he imagined it’d be.

He could leave, but he won’t.

Won Sul’s numb all the time lately, but when the General looks at him— the way he used to, exasperated and warm— he feels alive.