Title: El Dorado: The Lost City of Gold
Pairing: Kai/Kyungsoo, Kaisoo
Warning: Choose not to warn experience.
Disclaimer: Not fully based on actual events. I am not giving a history lesson.
Summary: Kyungsoo is a run of the mill biologist who ends up stranded in the New World, during Spain's colonial era. Initially all he wants is to return home and become a world-renown biologist. Then he meets Kai and his whole world is turned upside down.
Kai is the next in line to become the ruler of the Muisca people. He loves going hunting with his friends and has a knack for bringing "ghosts" back to his palace against the wishes of the people and most importantly his father, The Zipa. He comes across a sleeping Kyungsoo and eagerly brings him back, but will this be the last "ghost" the Muisca people encounter?.
~Diary Entry Number 1~
*Sigh* Let me start from the beginning…
Hello, I am Do Kyungsoo; I was a biologist aboard a Spanish ship headed to the New World. My job was to document and sketch all the new species of life that I found and to collect some samples if the opportunities presented themselves. Sounds pretty simple right? Well, here’s where I went wrong…somewhere between studying insects and plant life, I fell in love.
The grass was calf deep and went on for acres; Kyungsoo tugged the brim of his hat down to further protect his eyes. The skin on the back of his neck was already feeling way too hot for comfort. He glanced back at the ship that brought him here and made a mental note of the scenery around it. The rest of his shipmates were pairing off and heading along the coast, looking for any sign of inhabitance. He, on the other hand, decided to head further inland, towards the edge of a forest he could barely make out in the distance. The forest was the most likely place to find undiscovered life forms and Kyungsoo hoped to have an organism named after himself. Absentmindedly, he patted his satchel, and kept his eyes open as wide as he could in the blistering sun as he scanned the landscape once more. Concluding that it would not be too long of a distance to travel there and back before sunset, he set off towards the forest. The melodic clinking sounds of his collection jars provided a pleasant distraction from the humid heat that was plaguing him.
A few hours into his trip, Kyungsoo began to regret it; sweat beaded on his forehead and his back was soaked. However, since he was more than half-way there, he continued on. The scenery hadn’t changed much during the first two hours apart from the ground becoming slightly softer and the grass a tad more green. His black leather boots felt hot and unsteady on the hidden rocks in the grass and his khaki colored trousers were beginning to chafe him around his legs. He took another swig of his canteen, which was more than halfway empty, carelessly gulping it down, expecting to be back before he’d need more. Stumbling over another unseen pothole, his blade slipped halfway out of its holster. Kyungsoo caught himself on all fours and stood up quickly, glancing back at the ship, which was hardly visible, brushed himself off and pinned the latch on his holster securely. He was not looking forward to having to use his sword, but would rather have one than not. Wiping his brow with the back of his gloved hand, he groaned, the trees did not look like they were getting any closer.
After traveling for almost four hours, he reached the edge of the forest. Awestruck, he stared at the ginormous trunks of the trees before him; they were easily twice the size of his arm span wide and thirty times his height. He stepped onto the moist earth and felt the temperature drop significantly, relishing the coolness of the air; he took off his hat and let it hang around his neck. He reached out his hand to touch the bark of the tree; it felt cool to the touch. He welcomed the shade from the sun giddily and had a newfound energy to begin looking for new species. His first discovery was a rather strange looking insect with an elongated body and extremely long legs. He quickly sketched the insect and gave a brief description beneath the picture.
He delved deeper into the forest, captivated by all the new wildlife he was witnessing, he stopped every few feet to quickly to draw each new animal and plant he saw in his sketch book. He found several new types of primates, most of which had never even been heard of in Spain, however, sketching them proved to be difficult as they were constantly moving about. Smiling down at his sketchbook, he could not wait to show the other biologists his findings, they would surely be impressed by all that he found and he may even be promoted from field work.
Coming across a small brook, he refilled his canteen and splashed some water on the back of his neck, he was sure it had been burned by the sun, and face to cool himself down. The clearing he had found was beautiful, it was almost perfectly circular, which gave away signs that there were human inhabitants nearby as perfect circles never existed in nature naturally. The vines that hung from the trees were thick and hearty, and the foliage was quite impermeable, allowing just enough light in to create a dream-like experience. He took a deep breath, relishing the damp, leafy smell all around him.
‘Of all the places I’ve been to in Spain, this is by far the most diverse forest I’ve seen yet.’ Kyungsoo thought to himself, while sketching a particularly colorful bird. Its large curved beak was green in color and had accents of orange and red near the tip and base, it eyed him curiously before flying away. Kyungsoo yawned; suddenly feeling a little tired, he looked for a suitable spot near the roots of one of the large trees and sat placed his hat over his face in preparation of a short nap. He smiled as he closed his eyes and absorbed the sounds of the forest. The flutter of wings from various birds, the rustle of leaves from the gentle breeze and the gurgling of the brook that was nearby, there couldn’t be a more relaxing place in the world.
The turret was fit for a god, and in it lived a ‘god’ of sorts. The Zipa, believed to be the direct son of the Moon Goddess Chia, was the one who resided there. It had stone walls, and open pavilions with vibrant colored pools of water in them. There was room located at the top of the pyramid-like structure and that was where the Zipa stayed, on top of the world, able to look out at his empire and its people. The turret itself could fit twelve families at one time and rightly so as the Zipa had many wives and children. In the front was a vast courtyard that easy covered three acres, it consisted of several flower gardens, an orchard, and a crop field. It was almost always full of hardworking people tending to the gardens or harvesting food for the village. The people that lived in this village were relatively peaceful beings, so long as their goddess accepted you. They were ruled by a kind king, who was getting old with age each moon cycle. His hair was graying and his pace had slowed to that of the elders of the village. However, since he was the Zipa, he was the most respected and revered member of the village and one could only become one by blood.
The Zipa strolled along the courtyard of his palace, a pleased smile adorned his face as he watched two green and blue butterflies chase each other above his effervescent flower garden. Hands clasped behind his back, he looked to the cloudless sky, pensive, there was something in his gut was giving him a bad feeling. He had been feeling this way for three sunrises and sunsets. Today was the day he would consult the Oracle, he was in need of some clarification on his feelings and strange dreams he had been having lately.
The dreams that plagued him were those of fire and destruction of his province. One he had worked so hard to maintain peaceful. These fires were often the end result of strange looking intruders. These intruders were much paler than those of his village and were believed to be ghosts from the spirit realm coming back to claim their land. That was why they sacrificed part of their meal each day to keep their ancestors strong enough to fight off these pale ‘ghosts’ in the spirit realm. After the invasion began, soon followed sickness, grotesque sickness that spread to everyone and killed or disfigured all who contracted it. These were the types of dreams the Zipa was having, these were the types of dreams that foretold the downfall of an empire.
“Father!” Kai called out; running towards his father, spear in hand.
“Yes, son?” The Zipa smiled, shaken from his terrifying reverie. These days, he could not believe how well his son had grown up, and was sure that he’d make an amazing Zipa when the time came.
“I want to go hunting,” He grinned, shaking his spear for emphasis. “With my friends, is that okay?”
“You have my permission, son, may the Goddess Chia be with you.” He touched his son over his heart with a firm hand, wishing for his son’s protection, as was customary.
Kai returned the gesture with a bowed head, “Thank you, Father, may the Goddess Chia, be with you as well.” He paused and met his father’s gaze with determination in his eyes, “I shall return safely and bring to our village a great feast.”
His father chuckled and ruffled his hair, “That you shall, Great Hunter, that you shall.”
He stared after his son, still smiling, as he ran off towards the forest’s entrance. The feeling hit him again and his ears began to ring, he blinked twice and collapsed to the ground, clutching his chest, a strangled cry escaping his throat. One of the gardener’s rushed towards him, screaming for help, and began weeping, burying her face in her hands.
Kai jogged towards his friends, a bow and arrow case flopped against his back and he lifted his spear above his head in excitement. “Let us begin!” He yelled. “Our hunt awaits us!” They cheered with him and raised their spears above their heads in agreement.
They all split up, weaving between the trees on foot, Kai, however, took to the trees, jumping from branch to branch adeptly and without a sound. He had the clear advantage, being able to stalk his prey from above, lead to many opportunities that the others would never encounter. While their feet made the leaves crunch and undergrowth rustle, his nimble traversing produced a sound that was common within the forest and most animals never gave it more than a twitch of an ear.
Spotting a wild boar below, deracinating some sweet potato roots, he quietly removed himself from the tree and crept up behind it, raising his spear. With a bellow, he brought the spear down so fast; the boar did not even have time to react before it was dead. He knelt down over the boar’s lifeless body and whispered the traditional prayer thanking the earth for providing such food and for the return of the animal’s spirit to the spirit realm. Hoisting the boar on his shoulder, he returned to the entrance of the forest, casually glancing into the shadows for signs of his friends. Hearing the almost in audible sound of a feet landing onto moist underbrush, Kai spun around. He squinted in the direction of the sound but did not see anything out of the ordinary. He shrugged and continued on his way to the entrance of the forest. He was planning on dropping the boar off with the group of villagers that prepare the meals, because carrying around a boar this size would not be beneficial to him at all. Spotting a group of nearly nude men and woman clustered in a group he picked up his pace.
The group gasped collectively, “He’s back already?”
Kai smiled and handed the body to one the tribe members awaiting his return. The man thanked him and carried the boar with the aid of another man, whose head was completely shaved aside from a long ponytail at the crown of his head.
He took to the trees once again, hoping that this time he’d find a buck or some other larger animal. Out of the corner of his eye, there was a flash of movement below him, Kai jumped down; the hairs on the back of his neck were standing on end. He loaded his bow and scanned the forest once more and listened for the smallest of giveaways. Behind him, he heard the sound of a branch being pulled back he aimed his arrow, ready to strike whatever emerged from the bushes.
“Whoa!” One of his friends walked out, his hands raised in surrender. "It’s just me!”
Kai exhaled, he hadn’t realized he was holding his breath, “What are you doing this far into the forest?”
“Hunting, obviously.” His friend scoffed.
“I know that, but it’s almost dark soon,” He paused, “You should be heading back.”
“So should you.”
“I know, but I want to at least get a buck, maybe even a doe, or something.”
“You know how hard it is to get one of them, why bother?” His friend sighed.
“You know how I am.” Kai grinned.
“Yeah, I know.” He clapped Kai on the shoulder, “Good luck, try not to get eaten or anything.”
Kai smirked and traveled into the heart of the forest, hoping to spot bigger prey. He glanced down right before jumping towards the next tree, and saw a strangely dressed figure asleep by the roots. He was no buck, but he would suffice, for Kai at least. He lowered himself to the ground and examined the figure closely. The man was breathing, soft little puffs escaping his mouth, muffled only by his hat. Kai reached out tentatively and knocked the hat off the man’s face and jumped back.
He stepped a little closer to examine the man’s face. His heart pounding in his chest, it had been a long time since he’d seen this kind in the forest. Kai sniffed the air, the man smelled funny, like the ocean and tobacco, the same as the others of his kind that Kai had encountered before. He seemed alive enough, but his skin was so different from anything Kai was accustomed to. He reached out a finger and poked the man’s cheek. It squished like regular skin and felt warm to the touch. The man stirred slightly, a low moan escaping his full lips as he swatted at his cheek. Kai pulled his hand back instinctively and looked around him. He spotted the man’s sketchbook and flipped through the pages, trying to figure out how the man captured the image of the forest’s fauna so elegantly. He looked through the man’s bag next, finding nothing of real interest aside from a small piece of glass that when held up to the light casted an array of colors, he put it back and closed the flap. He grabbed the man’s hat and placed it gingerly back on his face and retreated back to the bushes to watch the man.
Feeling as though he was being watched, Kyungsoo’s eyes flew open; he flailed about for a few seconds before realizing that his hat was what was blocking his vision. His cheeks reddened even though he knew no one was watching and he shook his head in embarrassment. He looked up towards the sky and cursed himself; he wouldn’t make it back before sunset. He eyed a low hanging branch and contemplated trying to climb the tree so he could safely sleep through the night, but decided against it.
A twig snapped, and Kyungsoo spun in the direction of the sound, he could make out a pair of eyes staring at him curiously. Amazed at this discovery, he slowly reached for his sketchbook and began furiously drawing the boy, who had emerged partly from the bush. His pencil traced lightly over the shape of the boys eyes as he stared at him. Every time he looked up and caught the boy’s stares, his skin broke out in goose pimples, and his throat became a little drier. He’d never seen a more beautiful specimen in his life, his skin was tanned from a life out in the sun, his hair was lusciously dark, and his eyes held the secrets of a civilization yet to be discovered. Kyungsoo traced over the boy’s lips slowly, matching each curve with a gentle stroke. He worked his way from his face down to his body, following the curve of his shoulder, sketching the contours of his bare chest and abdomen leading down to the loin cloth that he donned. Kyungsoo felt his face grow warm when he realized that was all that the boy was wearing save for the strap from his arrow bag. He filled in the background with the leaves and vines that hung behind him. He briefly wondered why the boy remained so still while he was drawing him, it was almost as if the boy knew that he was drawing him.
Kyungsoo stared at the finished product, quite satisfied with the outcome and smiled. The boy ventured closer, each step with predatory grace, and Kyungsoo turned the sketchbook so that the boy could see it. His hands shook slightly and his heart was racing, he had no clue if the boy was a peaceful human or not, but it was worth the risk. All he could think about now, was how much praise he would receive once he showed this particular sketch to his fellow biologists.
The boy stared at the drawing with a carefully controlled expression, only his eyes gave away his awe. He reached out for the sketchbook and Kyungsoo let him take it. He ran his fingers down the drawing, his fingers turning black from the graphite and peered at it closely. Then a smiled appeared on his face. He looked at Kyungsoo and pointed at the drawing and then back at himself.
Kyungsoo nodded, amazed that the boy was already attempting to converse with him. “Yes, that is you.”
The boy handed the sketchbook back to Kyungsoo and then pointed at himself again and said slowly, “Kai. Kai.” He then gestured towards Kyungsoo with a questioning look on his face.
“Nice to meet you, Kai. I’m Kyungsoo.” He said. When the boy stared at him confused, he repeated himself slowly. “Kyung-soo.” He reached out his hand for a handshake.
Kai nodded, and repeated Kyungsoo’s name with a slight accent and placed his hand on Kyungsoo’s chest and greeted him in his native tongue.
Kyungsoo froze, shocked by the sudden breach of personal space between the two, but placed his hand on Kai’s exposed chest and bowed his head slightly, “Nice to meet you.”
Kai grinned and began walking back towards his tribe. Kyungsoo faltered for a moment, before following Kai after he looked back expectantly with a smirk.
The Zipa was laying on his bed, surrounded by a multitude of lush pillows, in a dimly lit room, encircled by seventeen of his eighteen children, all six of his wives, five priests, several servants and maids, and the Oracle. He opened his eyes slightly, “Where is the heir? Where is my first born son, Kai?” He was worried that he was experiencing his last moments without his beloved first-born.
At that moment, Kai entered the palace with Kyungsoo in tow, everyone on the room froze, eyes wide as if they had just seen a ghost, and in their case, Kyungsoo was as close as they’d ever get to seeing one. Kyungsoo waved shyly and glanced anxiously around at their faces. Kai ran to his father’s side frantically. “Father, what happened? Why are you ill?” He gripped his father’s hand with both of his own.
“Son, I am okay, just the normal chest pain I receive before the Goddess contacts me. She told me that it is time you begin your duties as the heir to my throne.” He pulled him closer and whispered as he stroked Kai’s hair. “My day’s left are numbered and a great horror awaits us, son. Please be strong and carry on my legacy.”
At this, all of the Zipa’s wives began weeping, turning to each other to console their tears. They may not have heard what he said, but the expression on Kai’s face was enough for them to speculate. The Oracle spoke up, "It begins with him and his kind.” He points a knurled finger at Kyungsoo. “He will be our downfall.” The Oracle’s blind eyes looked through Kyungsoo and caused him to shiver involuntarily.
Everyone shifted awkwardly, whispering among one another and Kai stood up, motioning towards Kyungsoo. “No, he’s harmless, just a ghost. In fact, I think he’s my spirit guide.”
“That he is not, young Master. He is alive just as much as you and I. However, he cannot stay here in our village.” The Oracle shook his head solemnly, “He will bring you much sorrow, young Master. Do not let his expression fool you. He brings many deaths and much destruction behind him.”
Kai, not wanting to lose his newfound friend, lifted his chin up, “If he’s not my spirit guide, then he will be my pet. I am to be crowned Zipa anyway, and I say that he stays.”
The Zipa glanced over at Kyungsoo, who was feeling extremely awkward and staring at everyone with a deer-in-the-headlights expression while shifting his weight from foot to foot. “Great Oracle, I understand your concern, but he is not the one I saw in my dream.” He swallowed, “Let me give him my blessing as Zipa and you shall purify him tonight. If the Goddess Chia accepts him, he shall stay.”
Kai gestured towards Kyungsoo to come to the bedside and the Zipa raised a trembling hand and placed it over Kyungsoo’s heart and gave his blessing. Kyungsoo, still unaware of what was being said, could feel the importance of this gesture and bowed his head respectively in thanks. He was then taken away by the Oracle and the priests to the temple before he could protest.
The temple was a grandiose place, much like the palace, gold trinkets and vases glittered in the firelight. Crystal ornaments hung from silken cloths that draped the room. Plus chai lounges and large sitting areas were decorated with intricately beaded pillows and cushions, they were clearly for decoration and not for use. The lingering scent of spicy incense wafted through the air and made Kyungsoo’s nose sting. There was a white marble statue of a woman with long flowing hair, holding up a moon in the center of the room. The walls were covered in multicolored murals depicting the same beautiful goddess holding up the moon, surrounded by the people of a tribe who were dancing in celebration.
Kyungsoo was led to pavilion in the back with a pool of crystal clear blue water. The priests began stripping him of his clothing, which at first he resisted, but gave in a few seconds later, he figured that they would not do anything too terrible to him in their place of worship. They drew him to the center of the pool of water and began chanting a song. Shivers ran down Kyungsoo’s spine and his eyes widened as far as they could. The Oracle then joined them, carrying a large gold and jewel encrusted bowl filled with water from the sacred lake. For some reason he was wearing a set of robes and a golden headpiece. He poured the water over Kyungsoo, leaving him sputtering and coughing at the unexpected shower of icy water, and placed both his hands over Kyungsoo’s heart and chanted even louder, his eyes rolling back into his head as he did so. The priests circled him in the water, waving their arms and flinging their heads in every direction. Their wails echoed loudly in the room and it seemed as if a woman had joined them in their strange song. Kyungsoo’s blood turned to ice in his veins and his heart beat faster than he had ever experienced.
Kyungsoo felt frantic, everything that was happening felt wrong to him, against his own belief system, so he closed his eyes and begged for protection against whatever these strange people were trying to do to him. The priests and Oracle slowly stopped chanting and the priests stopped dancing around him. They just stared at him, as if they were waiting for a sign, and when nothing happened, they all began clapping and laughing and hugged Kyungsoo. He smiled awkwardly and listened to them chattering excitedly, not understanding a word they were saying. They soon exited the pool and gave him a loin cloth of his own to wear.
Kyungsoo stared at it, trying to figure out how he would get used to wearing such a contraption, but put it on anyway. It was made from a thin, but sturdy material, and was dark greenish in color. Kyungsoo found the loin cloth oddly freeing, way less constrictive than the clothes he had arrived in. Although, he wasn’t quite fond of the amount of body exposure he now experiencing, he figured it was better to do as they want him to do. Besides, this would make for an interesting story to tell at dinner one day to his future family.
Kai paced his father’s room, the empty fireplace gaping at him in the dim light, “What if she rejects him? Can I still keep him?”
“You know the rules, son. No outsiders, unless they can be purified.”
Kai thought of the last “ghost” he brought to the tribe, he was about the same age as him, from a different tribe, with red-brown hair, and a stoic expression. He had been rejected by the goddess, apparently, and was given the choice of either being sacrificed or leaving. Kai never found out what happened to him and no one would tell him what choice the ‘ghost’ had made.
“Why do you keep bringing these ‘ghosts’ to our village?” The Zipa asked.
Kai touched his lip and shrugged, “I don’t know, Father, they always end up lost in our forest and I can’t just let them starve out there.”
“Your heart is too welcoming, son. You can’t just bring everyone you find back here.” The Zipa said.
“I know, and I don’t.” He sat on the edge of his father’s bed, “I’ve seen others that I would rather have not seen, others that have no good in them, and I leave those to die.”
“How many of them are out there?” The Zipa was suddenly worried that his dreams could be coming true faster that he hoped.
“None that I know of, this one, Kyungsoo, was the first I have seen in fourteen moon cycles. He seems to be a bit older than me, but I cannot tell as he does not have the lunar marks we have.” Kai subconsciously rubbed the small scars on the inside of his forearm. He only had eighteen, and would receive his next one after one more moon cycle.
“I see.” The Zipa pushed himself into a sitting position and touched his chin.
“Father, are you sure you should be sitting up? I wouldn’t want you to strain yourself.”
“I’m fine, son.”
Kai stared at his father suspiciously as if he would collapse any second.
“I am fine, son, do not worry.” He smiled.
Before Kai could respond, someone knocked on the door, Kai glanced between his father and the door anxiously.
“You may enter.” The Zipa commanded.
The door swung open and Kyungsoo was brought in by the priests and the Oracle. “Young Master, he has been accepted by the Goddess Chia, she has shown her light extremely favorably on him, more so than I have ever seen, apart from you of course.” He bowed before he left the room with the priests.
Kyungsoo stood awkwardly in the middle of the room, arms wrapped around himself to keep from shivering. Kai turned to his father, “So he stays, right Father?”
The Zipa nodded, “He stays, son.”
Kai bowed his head in thanks and placed his own hand over his heart and thanked the goddess herself for accepting Kyungsoo. Then, he turned to Kyungsoo and stared at him curiously. His dewy pale skin gleamed in the moonlight that gave him the illusion of some ethereal being. The contrast of his onyx colored hair and complexion gave him an otherworldly appearance. Kai tilted his head and circled Kyungsoo and examined him more closely. Kyungsoo swallowed nervously and tried not to make eye contact as he felt even more awkward when he did so and he could not stop the flush from going through his body.
Kai stopped in front of him after circling him several times and placed his hand over Kyungsoo’s heart. Momentarily stunned at how smooth his skin is, his voice faltered and he cleared his throat and greeted him properly. “Welcome, Kyungsoo, to our empire. May the Goddess Chia look over you.”
Kyungsoo nodded his head and tried to repeat what Kai said with his hand over Kai’s heart, causing Kai to chuckle and then correct him in the proper greeting. The Zipa observed this with careful scrutiny before dismissing them from his room. “He will sleep in your room tonight, until he is introduced formally to the rest of the tribe and can be trusted to be alone.”
Once in Kai’s room, Kai set up a bed for Kyungsoo on the opposite side of the room, away from the window and any curious eyes lurking out there. He put all his belongings at the foot, folded neatly. Kyungsoo stared at the bed gratefully; he was exhausted and could sleep for days. Just before he climbed under the thin sheet, Kai called him to the floor so that he could teach Kyungsoo the basics of the language. Kai found himself very impressed with Kyungsoo’s abilities and taught him much more than he had planned, using various objects and little drawings of his own, for hours on end. Kyungsoo was a fast learner and by the end of the night, he had memorized all of the greetings and a few conversational phrases along with some vocabulary.
As He readied himself for bed once again, he could feel Kai’s eyes on him once again. He turned around and was met with the same curious gaze from the forest. Kai was sitting crossed legged with his hands clasped in his lap. Feeling subconscious, Kyungsoo pulled the sheet up over his head and turned his back towards Kai and stared blankly at the wall, trying to calm his racing pulse. He could not quite place the feeling he got when Kai stared at him like that and it was unnerving. There was a shuffling sound and when Kyungsoo peered out from under the sheet, he noticed that Kai had curled up on top of his sheet, with his back facing Kyungsoo.
“Kai?” Kyungsoo whispered into the cool night air.
Kai inhaled deeply and squeezed his eyes shut, hoping that Kyungsoo would think he had already fallen asleep. When there was no response from Kyungsoo, Kai rolled over and stared at his fascinating new ‘ghost’ before finally falling asleep.
*Diary Entry Number 2*
I don’t remember much of my first day aside from being “purified” by the priests. I found their ritual quite scary at the time, but now that I understand what exactly was happening, it was not so bad. I also think that was the night I began learning the language. Oh, and Kai was a sound sleeper at that time. Not so much later on, but in the beginning it was nice. My next entry should be better as this was around the time I started keeping one in my sketch book.
The next day, Kyungsoo awoke with a start, his blood pounding in his ears and his head foggy. He stared at the floor where tiny rays of sun dancing as the branches of a nearby tree swayed. He glanced over at Kai’s bed and found it empty and already made. Sitting up slowly, Kyungsoo rubbed the sleep away from his eyes and stretched, a tiny moan escaped him. He swung his legs over the edge of the bed and scanned the room.
It was large in size, much larger than the room he shared back in the ship. There was a hand woven rug on the ground and a bench near another window, apart from that, the room was pretty bare. He thought back to the older man’s room, at how lavish it was, Kai’s room grew even barer in comparison.
Wrapping his arms around himself, he paced in the room, waiting for Kai’s return. His stomach growled loudly and he patted it in response, knowing there was nothing he could do for himself.
“Hello, Kyungsoo.” Kai’s voice caused Kyungsoo to jump, turning away briefly, he suppressed a smirk.
“Hello Kai.” Kyungsoo said clumsily, his tongue fumbling with the pronunciation.
Kai was carrying a tray of food, but the proportions were only enough for one person, he set the tray on Kyungsoo’s bed and commanded him to eat. There were several types of meat, most of which Kyungsoo had never seen before, various fruits and nuts of some kind. Kyungsoo felt his mouth water at the intoxicating aroma wafting from the tray, his stomach grumbled loudly once again. Kai laughed and sat down on his bed to watch Kyungsoo eat.
Kyungsoo stared at him, “Are you not going to eat?” This language was still too foreign for him to be dealing with in the morning so the phrase was jumbled.
Kai shook his head, “I’m fasting.” Kyungsoo stared blankly at him, clearly not grasping the message. Kai mimed praying and pointed to the food and shook his head.
Kyungsoo nodded and began eating a strange colored piece of meat. Rich flavor exploded on his taste buds, the meat was succulent and marinated in some kind of seasoning that Kyungsoo never knew even existed. He closed his eyes and hummed contentedly with each bite of the meat. Next he tried half of a juicy citrus fruit that was perfectly ripe and sweet. A little bit of juice from the fruit dribbled down his chin and he briefly smiled out of embarrassment when he glanced over at Kai, who was once again eyeing him oddly. Only this time, Kyungsoo was able to detect hunger in his eyes.
Kai’s stomach growled audibly, he was starving, having not eaten anything since midday yesterday. He looked away from Kyungsoo, who now had juice dripping down his chin. Watching this ‘ghost’ eat was like watching a starving man eat food for the first time in years. He stared at his lap, willing himself not to breathe too deeply lest he inhale the fragrance of the meat. Suddenly, half of what was on the plate was in Kai’s line of vision. Kai looked up at Kyungsoo and shook his head, but the ‘ghost’ did not move. Kai caved and took a slice of fruit off the plate, what his father did not know, would not hurt him. Kyungsoo grinned at him and left the plate on Kai’s bed and went about straightening his bed and wiping off the bench, trying to busy himself while Kai ate.
A few hours later, Kai finished with Kyungsoo’s language lesson for the day. “Good job!” Kai praised Kyungsoo by patting him on the shoulder, “You are a very fast learner.”
Kyungsoo blushed; the language was unlike any other language he had to learn, but being submerged in it certainly helped him learn it faster, especially since it was the only means of communication. He glanced outside at the setting sun and sighed. Tonight was the night he would be officially accepted into the tribe. The very thought made him nervous, he had no clue whether the tribe would accept him or not. He already endured the cold and confused stares from the Zipa’s servants and was not quite sure how he would handle an entire village not accepting him. He had struggled to find his place among the biologists on his ship and settled with the tiny role he was given.
Truthfully, his voyage to the New World was lonesome. For the first few months he ate alone, until one day, a zoologist invited him to sit with him for lunch. They hit it off instantly and Kyungsoo was happy for the moment. They talked daily and even made a few inside jokes and were seen everywhere together. However, halfway through their trip, his red haired friend contracted smallpox and died shortly thereafter. Kyungsoo was devastated that he had lost his one and only friend on the ship and his days returned to their dreary solitude, he had no one to talk to and kept his emotions hidden by day. He had hoped once they landed in the New World that he’d be able to impress the rest of the biologists and finally be accepted by them, but at the rate he was going, they probably had not even noticed that he was gone.
Kai cocked his head, “What are you thinking about?”
Kyungsoo shook his head to erase his thoughts, suddenly remembering why he was here in the first place, “Nothing.”
“Yep.” Kyungsoo knew he was causing the awkwardness but he was not ready to tell Kai anything too personal, yet. He wanted to keep things on a professional, observer-observed level. He figured that once he had left this place that the boy would only remember him as a ‘ghost’ and he wanted to keep it that way. He did not want the complications that came with developing relationships among these people. He was here to study them and nothing else. Although he was nervous about tonight’s activities he told himself that if he was accepted by the masses then he would be happy because it would make his studies easier, and if he was not, well, he would still continue to observe the people anyway.
Kai cleared his throat, “We need to get you ready for the ceremony.” He held out his hand to help Kyungsoo up, but he ignored it. Kai’s eyes darkened, “Follow me.”
They walked in silence to the center of the village, the air between them thick with tension. He peeked over at Kai, who was staring straight ahead, his expression set in stone. Kyungsoo was covered by a large robe with his hood pulled low over his face. He could see the strange looks he was getting, but they were merely filled with curiosity. It was the first time he really got to see the village up close. There were houses made from various materials such as stone, grass, and mud, each with its own unique style. There were stick-thin children running around chasing each other and playing in the dirt road they traveled on. They too looked upon Kyungsoo with curiosity as he passed, but did not move from their positions.
Once in the center of the village, Kyungsoo noted that the preparations were already underway. There was a large fire pit in the middle and wood was being continuously piled on top of it. Some members of the tribe were painting their faces with white and blue colored paints. Others were donning colorful masks that depicted strange distorted expressions. The oracle was wearing a large feathered headpiece with gold accents and the priests had painted their entire bodies with crude looking runes in red and black. Kyungsoo was not sure if it was a trick of the light, but the runes seemed to be shifting and changing positions as the priests prepared themselves.