Prologue (2/3)

LADY: …I’m working tomorrow, but you’re more than welcome to come visit me at the bar if you get lonely. It’s not too far a walk from here. Just make sure you lock up if you leave the house unattended. Help yourself to whatever in the kitchen.

LADY: You feeling okay? Sometimes crossing over can be disorienting for a human.

JUN: Yeah, I’m good, no worries. Thanks, Lady.

This is my duenkhy friend, Lady. Aside from the unusual glow to her eyes, you may not realize she isn’t human at first, but she’s actually a life leech—a creature that can suck the life force from its prey and live forever, if it keeps itself fed well enough.

Scary as that may sound, she’s perfectly cordial in every other way. When she and I were friends in the human world, she was always gentle and kind with me. In our time as penpals, I learned that she’s a woman of many trades due to her long life. She’ll grow bored with her hobbies and occupations every hundred years or so and switch careers to try something different.

She’s as wise as you’d expect someone who’s lived so long to be, but she’s also surprisingly modern. She enjoys keeping up with new trends. She was always a little more hip than me.

She also doesn’t look a day older than she did when I met her years ago. Some might find it uncanny, but it’s actually kinda calming to me. Like a childhood room still just the way you left it.

LADY: How’s the spare room? Is it comfortable enough? Not too old-fashioned, I hope?

JUN: No, not at all. It’s totally fine the way it is.

LADY: Good, good. Oh, and… if you need to talk, don’t be afraid to text me any time, alright? I understand you’ve been through a lot lately, so…

I know she means well, and I appreciate her kindness more than words can express, but the last thing I want to do is force myself to think more about the things that led me here. Her pity sits like a heavy weight in my gut, and I reflexively look away.

JUN: I’m good. Thanks, Lady. It’s just nice to see you again.

LADY: You too, Jun. Now, why don’t you go get settled in and we’ll talk more later, hm?

Lady’s spare room is tidy, if not a little stale from disuse, but it’s welcoming enough. I drop my backpack on the floor—no point in unpacking what few things I brought right now—and fall into bed. My body feels heavier than I realized, and the fluffy blankets are a welcome relief.

I’m really in the duenkhy world right now, huh?

I ponder that distantly to myself before sleep overtakes anxiety. Anyone else in my position might be too shocked by the unbelievable events that had just transpired not even an hour ago, but overwhelming exhaustion hits me like a spell, and I’m out before I know it.

>Rest easy

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