“You’re saying that,” Leguna stammered, “Boss has become a werewolf?”
“Strictly speaking, he’s not one,” Eiron explained, shaking his head, “Moonsink Cycle only made your comrade inherit two werewolf characteristics: their regenerative ability and their tendency to go berserk during a full moon. However, that won’t grant him the amazing constitution of werewolves.
“This is the key concern: while werewolves do have staggering regenerative abilities, it is supported by their incredibly high constitution. When werewolves are injured, their wounds will quickly regenerate.
“But the problem is that no lifeform can undergo endless regeneration. Every time it happens, they expend some of their life force. In other words, their lifespan shortens with every regeneration.
“Werewolves have a relatively huge pool of life force, so they can incessantly regenerate their wounds quickly without it affecting their lifespan much. Humans aren’t the same. While your friend has the regenerative ability of a werewolf, it isn’t supported by a tough constitution.
“The man was almost constantly injured during the battle and kept on regenerating. It’s bunt most of his life force. He doesn’t have much left. That’s also why he couldn’t rely on werewolf regeneration to recover his wounds after battle — he doesn’t have any life force left to burn.”
“You mean… Boss’s life force is running out? He’s dying?”
Eiron’s explanation sent Leguna’s mind down a sea of confusion and panic. He wasn’t in the mood to understand and decipher Eiron’s explanations. He just wanted to understand the key problem.
“If we treat him now, he won’t die outright. He’s a really strong human. He has more life force than others. Unfortunately, even though using up too much life force isn’t life-threatening in and of itself, his lifespan has been shortened a lot. As for how much it’s been shortened, I have no way of knowing.”
“I beg you, please help him! We’ll deal with the other stuff in the future. Saving his life is all that matters right now!”
The moment he heard Kurdak could be saved, Leguna snapped to attention. As for his decreased lifespan, there would certainly be a chance to deal with it later. Even if Kurdak was disabled or only had a little time left, it was far better than letting him turn into a corpse, wasn’t it?
Eiron pondered silently as he looked at that hope-filled human him. While he didn’t want to give them such a huge shock, he still had to give them a stern warning.
“Are you sure he really wants to be rescued? He’s already a person cursed with the blood of a werewolf. He… he can barely even be considered human.
“There’s a chance he will maul you to death during the next full moon. As I understand human society, it won’t accept such a danger, it certainly won’t let it live amongst normal people. You’re sure you want to save him?”
Both Leguna and Vera became silent. It was true that Kurdak couldn’t strictly be considered human anymore. So, what would they do? Would they live with a monster that could turn into a bloodthirsty werewolf? Would they even be able to sleep at night, knowing that such a creature was next to them? Even if they could accept him, what about other people?
If Kurdak was exposed, would the others look at him in a different light? Would there not be people who’d consider him a dormant threat? Would he be able to survive? Would he even accept the monster he’d become? Would he still have the will to live, even if it meant living his life as a mutant?
Countless questions ran through their minds. Faced with this situation, the two didn’t know what was the better choice. Should they preserve his life, their most precious comrade, and let him live on in a different form, or should they let him die while he still had the dignity of being human?
“I know this is difficult. I’ll give you some time to consider. You can come find me at the entrance once you’ve decided.”
Seeing the two in deep thought, Eiron didn’t say much else and turned to leave the room.
“Elder, the materials you requested have been prepared,” said Jelanoe when he saw Eiron emerge.
“Good, thank you,” thanked Eiron.
He noticed Jelanoe’s hesitation to speak and smiled.
“Ask away, child.”
“Please forgive my rudeness, but I really don’t understand why we have to help these humans. We don’t even know where they came from. Humans are greedy and cunning. Our people often get roped into their schemes, some have even been sold off as slaves. Should we really be so kind and hospitable to them? This could well end up costing us,” warned Jelanoe.
While he didn’t have a good understanding of humans, he had heard lots about them from rumors spread by other elves, most were negative. He had developed a bad impression of them as a result.
Eiron looked at the respectful man.
“Since you feel we shouldn’t act so amiably, why did you bring them here?”
“I… I can’t just let three lives end under my watch whilst I could do something about it.”
“There’s your answer. Many things in this world are more complicated than you think, and there aren’t any fixed notions of right and wrong. There’s no way we can make the so-called ‘right choice’ for sure either. We have to follow our hearts and instincts. Your kind disposition made you save three lives by bringing them back to the settlement. I feel I should save these three, so I do what I can. We only did what we thought ought to be done. It has nothing to do with right, wrong, or race.”
Eiron gave it a little more thought.
“Also, I believe your perspective on humans is a little too extreme. Even though there are indeed crooks among them, there are kind and gentle ones as well. In fact, this doesn’t just apply to humans. You know a single individual doesn’t represent the whole race. There will be the kindest of souls among the humans we so despise, and individuals as wretched and cruel as demons can also be found amongst our people.”
Even though Eiron was considered the wisest elder in the settlement, Jelanoe didn’t really agree with what he had to say at the end. He had lived in the settlement all his life and had never seen an elf as ‘wretched and cruel as demons’.
“You don’t believe me?” Eiron asked with a smile, “Just think about our underground cousins. They were no different from us thousands of years ago, you know.”
The moment Jelanoe thought about the dark elves, known for being bloodthirsty and cruel, he was speechless.
“Thank you for your teachings, elder. It’s my honor and fortune to be able to receive your wisdom.”
Jelanoe bowed to Eiron before he turned and left.
“Sis,” said Leguna, breaking the silence.
He didn’t say anything else, though.
“He… He’s Kurdak,” whispered Vera softly as she stared at the man on the bed.
“He’s Kurdak,” Vera said, a little louder, “He’s always been Kurdak. I don’t care about anything else. I don’t care if he’s human or werewolf, or something anything else, as long as he’s Kurdak, as long as his heart and mind stay the same, that is enough for me.”
“Ley, will you listen to me this time? I want to save him. No matter what he might become afterward, I still want to save him. He ended up like this because of me. There’s no way I’ll let him die like this. The matter seven years ago robbed me of my sleep already. If I run away from this too, I won’t survive the torture. That’s why, no matter what, I want to save him. We can deal with anything afterwards together. I don’t want to run away anymore… I won’t run away anymore. So, listen to me, alright? Let’s save him!”
Vera sounded very determined. Even though she made an effort to sound negotiable, Leguna could see nobody could change her mind. And in truth, he’d never really thought of changing her mind anyway.
“I want to help you as well!” Leguna said with a smile, “I will always be the third wheel, so don’t even think of leaving me behind.”
The door opened lightly. Leguna and Vera walked out. Both had puffy red eyes.
Was my prediction wrong? Eiron wondered.
He’d thought both would choose to rescue Kurdak, so he had the materials required for a secret ritual prepared. But, looking at their current expression, it seemed they were going to send him off for good instead.
“We want to rescue him, please help us!”
The two bowed in unison.
It seems human emotions are complicated after all, thought Eiron with a bitter smile.