Pairing: eventual!Onew/Jonghyun, maybe more later
Summary: Jonghyun comes upon a street magician who performs a lot more than simple card tricks. He traps people in a world of magic and places curses upon them the moment they arrive. Jonghyun meets Taemin, Kibum, and Minho, three people who, like himself, are cursed. Taemin's soul has been torn to pieces, Kibum is turning into a fox, and Minho dreams of a city underwater. Jonghyun himself is paralyzed by moonlight. They must break these curses to escape the magician's dreadful world, but that's easier said than done.
AN: This chapter is pretty slow and I'm not good at writing intense scenes so please bear with me! I hope this didn't turn out too terrible.
Taemin continued to walk down the pathway without a thought of Jonghyun’s words. The boy really did have no emotions. So Jonghyun just stopped trying to talk to him and only followed him. He didn’t know how long Taemin had been there, but he seemed to know where he was going more than Jonghyun did. Jonghyun didn’t need to fall into a hole when he was already lost and confused.
Before he realized it, Taemin was leading him into a forest. It was extremely dark inside and the vibes Jonghyun was getting from it were not too comforting, but he followed Taemin inside anyway. The forest seemed to be completely devoid of life. There were no animals prowling about and there were no sounds. There was just the eerie quiet. After walking for about ten minutes, Jonghyun was about to ask Taemin a question when he began to hear a voice.
“Minho, wake up!” he heard the voice say. Whoever they were, they sounded worried. Taemin immediately shifted his direction towards the sound without a word. Jonghyun followed confusedly. As the sounds grew closer, Jonghyun heard the voice saying more and more. “Calm down already and wake up!” the voice shouted angrily.
A twig snapped under Jonghyun’s foot and the voice silenced. Taemin didn’t seem to notice it, but Jonghyun got an odd sensation from the situation.
“Who’s there?” the voice suddenly demanded. Jonghyun froze where he was and just watched Taemin walk off without him. But Jonghyun was sure that he was not alone. The voice he had heard was still calling him every so often, asking who he was. “Who’s there?” But his voice was stuck in his throat. He could not answer. “Don’t try to hide,” the voice said. “I can smell you and you aren’t getting away from me that easy.”
Jonghyun decided following Taemin wasn’t worth it. He turned to run away from this creepy place. But as soon as his foot hit the ground after one step, a heavy weight landed on his back and he was thrown onto his stomach. There was an angry growl from above his head and Jonghyun covered his head with his hands as best as he could.
“Who are you?” demanded the voice once more. It what from above him where the growling was coming from. Jonghyun risked looking back at whatever was on his back. He was shocked at what he saw.
On his back was a boy. But this boy had furry, pointed ears on the top of his head, sharp nails on his fingers that looked more like claws, a bushy fox tail, razor-sharp teeth, and a feral look in his golden brown eyes. The words in Jonghyun’s throat remained firmly lodged where they were.
“I’m going to ask you one more time before I slice you open,” the animal-like boy warned. “Who. Are. You.”
“I’m Jonghyun!” Jonghyun blurted finally. “I was tricked into coming here, and I found that kid and followed him here! That’s all, I swear!” The boy didn’t look like he believed him, but he stopped baring his teeth at him and instead leaned down to sniff extra carefully at Jonghyun’s clothing and skin.
“I can smell the bastard on you,” the boy growled after a few moments, staring at Jonghyun with menacing eyes.
“Oh, come on, Kibum. You know you love me,” a teasing voice suddenly said as it came over their heads. Kibum’s head shot up and he looked around frantically. He jumped off of Jonghyun and stared up at his surroundings. Jonghyun was also looking around. He recognized that voice. “You know, you should really stop being so paranoid and get a move on with finding the lock to that key of yours.”
The boy – was his name Kibum? – growled into the air at the voice. “Come out, coward!” he shouted angrily. Jonghyun got up onto his feet, but at that very moment, the moon emerged from behind the clouds. The light hit his skin and his whole body was once again paralyzed. He fell once more to the ground, unable to move.
A chilling laugh came to his ears. “Oh, Kibummie, I think you need to help this one out!” Jinki’s voice called from somewhere above him. There was silence for a little while before Jonghyun heard fast footsteps approach his still body. An arm flipped him over and studied his face for a moment. All Jonghyun could do was stare back at him with frightened eyes.
The furry ears on top of Kibum’s head laid themselves back in fury. He looked towards the sky for the source of the voice. “What did you do to this one?” he demanded to the air.
A moment later, the magician, Jinki, materialized out of thin air. He was wearing a black suit and top hat like all the traditional magicians and he stood with unbelievable poise and grace. It was not the stance that Jonghyun expected from someone he had witnessed tripping over air just a while earlier. His hands were stuffed into his pockets and his face was not covered with the bright, kind smile that Jonghyun had seen on the street when he was performing magic. He had on a dark smirk that showed only hatred for the world and a cockiness that infuriated Jonghyun beyond reason.
Kibum growled in Jinki’s direction and placed himself between the magician and Jonghyun’s paralyzed form. This was a complete one-eighty turn from how he had been treated by Kibum only moments ago. Kibum had been ready to attack him without hesitation and had been skeptical in believing that he had just arrived and was not going to harm Taemin. Now he was protecting him in the only way he could.
Jinki did not look concerned by Kibum’s display of anger and defensiveness. He made a few small, sudden moves to get Kibum nervous over nothing. He laughed when Kibum’s tail twitched and he snapped his sharp teeth in warning. Then without warning, his hand shot forward and grabbed Kibum’s neck in a tight grip.
The breath in Kibum’s throat got caught for a moment as Kibum was lifted up from his crouching position by his neck. He coughed around Jinki’s hand on used his hands to try and get Jinki to let go, but Jinki was stronger than Kibum and continued to hold him there as if Kibum were a helpless puppy.
“You’ve become more feral,” Jinki noted. Kibum seemed to stop moving altogether at those words. From what little Jonghyun could see of the whole thing, he was worried that Jinki’s hand had halted Kibum’s breathing and killed him. But once Jinki continued to talk, he knew that the magician couldn’t be talking to a dead person. “I’d say you had better hurry, Kibum, before you lose yourself to my magic.” He just laughed as Kibum resumed his struggle.
Then the moon disappeared once more behind a veil of clouds. Jonghyun regained stiff movement. He struggled to get on his feet. Once on his feet, Jonghyun willed his wobbly legs to move forward. Jinki didn’t seem to notice that Jonghyun had regained movement. He was still concentrated on Kibum’s struggling form.
“Do you want to know what I did to him?” Jinki asked Kibum. Once more, Kibum stopped struggling to listen. Jinki smirked at Kibum’s curiosity. Jonghyun paused in his stiff movements to listen as well. “Every time the moonlight touches his skin, a piece of his soul is sucked away,” Jinki proclaimed. “The more the moonlight touches his skin, the quicker he will begin to disappear.”
Those words struck Jonghyun with immense fear. Disappear? He was going to disappear? His mind became completely occupied by that one thought. What brought him back to his senses was Kibum coughing loudly. Jonghyun’s head shot up and he ran forward on his stiff muscles. His fear momentarily forgotten, he charged at Jinki.
The magician turned his head towards Jonghyun just a fraction of a second too late. Jonghyun landed an adrenaline pumped punch to Jinki’s face. The magician let go of Kibum in surprise and stumbled away. Kibum fell to the ground, still coughing and struggling to breathe.
Jonghyun stared at Jinki, his whole body shaking from the returning fear. Jinki stared at Jonghyun, the dark smirk growing on his face. “I guess I need to pay more attention,” Jinki said with an interested look on his face. He clasped his hands behind his back and walked towards Jonghyun without any fear of being punched again. Jonghyun was shaking too much to punch again anyway. When he was directly in front of Jonghyun, he smiled a less menacing smile and said, “I like you already.” Then with a quick peck to Jonghyun’s cheek, he disappeared into the thin air from whence he came, leaving Jonghyun and Kibum alone.
Jonghyun turned to Kibum who was still on the ground. His coughing had for the most part calmed down. Jonghyun walked over and crouched down next to Kibum. “A-are you alright?” Jonghyun asked shakily. Kibum didn’t look up at him for a moment.
“Yeah,” the animal-like boy responded, coughing once, “I’m fine.” Then he finally turned to face Jonghyun. His eyes widened upon seeing Jonghyun’s face. “The question is, are you alright?” Jonghyun’s eyes were wide and he was still trembling all over. He wasn’t responding to Kibum’s question. “Hey, are you alright?” Kibum asked again. When Jonghyun still didn’t respond, he shook Jonghyun’s shoulders. “Hey, wake up already!”
“Am I really going to disappear?” Jonghyun asked quietly. Kibum stopped shaking him, realizing that he was merely in a state of shock. “Why me?” Jonghyun asked. “I wasn’t doing anything worthy of being killed. I only met the guy for the first time today.” Tears that Jonghyun didn’t know he was containing finally fell from his eyes.
Kibum hesitantly put his arms around Jonghyun, holding him gently. “Everyone here thinks the same way,” he informed Jonghyun. “I don’t know why that stupid magician brought any of us here, but he did and we have to find our own way out.” He pulled away from Jonghyun, his eyes reflecting the sadness in Jonghyun’s. “I’ll tell you more later, alright? We need to get back to Minho and Taemin first.”
Jonghyun numbly nodded in response. He still wasn’t completely out of his state of shock, but he was getting a little more aware. He vaguely registered Kibum taking his hand and leading him away. He didn’t know where they were going, but he was willing to go anywhere if it meant that he would get answers.
Kibum led him back in the direction that he had come from. They went deeper and deeper into the forest. Kibum seemed to know where he was going. Jonghyun wasn’t worried. Kibum seemed to know more about the strange world than Jonghyun did and that helped Jonghyun draw the conclusion that Kibum had been there longer.
They came to a narrow tunnel of low branches. Kibum ushered Jonghyun inside as quickly as possible. He followed shortly after, rushing Jonghyun ahead as if something were following them. In a sense, Jonghyun supposed Jinki was always following them, even when they could not see or hear him.
The tunnel ended in a small clearing with a makeshift roof over their heads. There was a nest of leaves and fur coats off to the side where a boy with a long body lay asleep, shaking and quivering as if he were having some kind of nightmare. Jonghyun turned his head to see Taemin on the other side of the clearing, staring at the ground with no kind of expression. He was still completely blank.
“Move it!” Kibum called from behind him, nudging him forward a little more. Jonghyun moved with a small apology and watched Kibum move slowly across the clearing towards Taemin with purpose. He watched as Kibum planted a small kiss on Taemin’s cheek. He wasn’t at all disappointed when Taemin didn’t say anything about it. It almost looked like it was something he was used to; something he had resigned himself to accepting.
Then Kibum moved to the sleeping boy on the other side of the clearing with a concerned look on his face. He tried to shake the sleeping boy from whatever bad dream he was having, but the boy refused to wake. Kibum sighed sadly.
“This is Minho,” he informed Jonghyun. “His curse is dreaming. He sees Atlantis on the day it sank. In these dreams, he sees vivid images of the people who lived there drowning and dying from other accidents as they tried to escape.” He watched Minho toss and turn as his seemingly endless dream played in his head. “He wakes up and screams for the dreams to stop. I don’t know what to do for him.”
“He needs to raise Atlantis.” Jonghyun’s head whipped around to face Taemin who had just spoken. “He must raise Atlantis and his curse will be broken.” His voice was still dead and his face held a lack of interest that was creeping Jonghyun out the more he saw it. “But there is no clue for him to follow, unlike Kibum.”
At those monotone words, Kibum pulled up his sleeve and revealed a simple bracelet around his wrist with a key attached to it. Jonghyun’s eyes were immediately drawn to it for some reason. It was as if there was a strange aura surrounding the key and it was telling him something. Kibum and Taemin seemed to be oblivious to the seemingly magical pulse, but it was clawing at Jonghyun’s mind.
“You can tell already what my curse is,” Kibum said, eyeing Jonghyun with a serious expression. “I’m slowly turning into a fox and to break my curse, I have to find the lock to this key. If I can find it, I’ll be free.” There was a bright, hopeful light in Kibum’s eyes when the last word fell from his lips. Jonghyun looked at Kibum with admiration for wanting to keep moving. Currently, Jonghyun just wanted to crawl in a hole and hide from the moon for as long as he could, but that would get him nowhere.
His eyes fell on Taemin once more after Kibum pulled his sleeve down to cover the key and bracelet. “What’s Taemin’s curse?” he asked curiously.
Kibum glanced at Taemin sadly. “Isn’t it obvious?” he asked. “He has no emotions. But I have no idea how to give those back to him.” He looked up towards the roof as if he could see past it and towards the sky. It was like he was looking for answers. “But once, I could have sworn–”
Screams broke from Minho’s mouth next them as his eyes flew open. Jonghyun jumped and his heart started racing while Kibum lunged towards Minho to hold him down. Minho’s long arms flailed about in a frightened manner and it took him a long time to realize that he was not still stuck in one of his terrible dreams.
When he finally stopped screaming, he stared up at the ceiling with wide eyes brimming with tears. He was breathing heavily and Jonghyun wondered how many nights he had woken up in the same state. By the way Kibum talked, it sounded like they had all been there for a long time, but if that were true, wouldn’t Minho have been used to the dreams by that point? Or were the dreams really that frightening?
“I just want them to stop,” Minho sobbed. He wasn’t talking to anyone in particular, but Kibum responded with calming shushes and soft whispers as if Minho’s words had been meant for him to hear. “I just want them to go away. I don’t want to see those people die over and over again.” The tears fell down Minho’s face without end and there was nothing anyone could do for him.
Angry fire burst inside of Jonghyun and his fear disintegrated into a pile of ash. He stood up straight and called into the air, “You stupid sorcerer! I will help these people break their curses and I will break my own. Try to stop us! I will kill you as well so that no one will ever have to go through this again!”
Kibum stared at him as if he were completely out of his mind. He had never dared challenge Jinki himself. It was like committing suicide because none of them could use magic, and Jinki was already driving them all to insanity.
A cold chuckle echoed through the air. “To war we go, then.”