Seo-yun couldn’t breathe.
Her eyes snapped open, roused by a sudden surge of adrenaline. She didn’t know where she was, or how long she’d been out. She only knew that she was suffocating. There was something tight around her neck, cutting off her oxygen. She tried to reach for it, to pull the thing off of her, but her hands wouldn’t move. They were trapped behind her back somehow, wrists stuck together. Her tails were still free, though, and she ran one over the snakelike thing coiled about her throat. It was some kind of rough, scratchy vine that ran straight up and above her head. She slapped at it with her tails uselessly, unable to pull it away or loosen its grip.
Seo-yun’s lungs burned for air by the time her groggy brain understood what was happening: she was suspended in mid-air with a rope around her neck, her own weight causing it to strangle her. She tried to grab the rope with her tails and lift herself up, but she already knew that in this form even all nine together would be far too weak to support her weight, and she didn’t even have that much: one of her tails was as immobilized as her wrists. So she stretched out her legs instead, desperate to find solid ground. “Spread your fucking legs,” said a male voice, his voice cold and impatient. She was dimly aware that it was that man Levinson, and that he was standing right in front of her, but she didn’t have time to think about what that meant. She could only do as he said, questing out with her toes until they brushed something to either side of her.
She felt around desperately for them, darkness blotting out her vision as her head pounded. Levinson was saying something more, but his words were just gibberish now to her ringing ears. She brushed the unseen surfaces beneath her again, and then a third time. Straining her toes down, barely conscious, she finally managed to make solid contact, and push herself up high enough to take a small rasping breath. A second later her feet slipped off and she began choking again, but the success renewed her determination.
After several minutes, punctuated by more quick breaths snatched whenever possible, Seo-yun found a position where she could almost breathe properly. Her legs were now spread shoulder length apart and she was on her tiptoes. By straightening her spine and stretching her feet out as far as she could, she could just barely touch something with her big toes. It wasn’t an easy position to keep, or a comfortable one; her legs were already aching with the strain, and her red hair was matted with sweat from all the exertion. But as long as she held herself there perfectly, she could keep getting short, shallow breaths.
“Took you damn long enough,” growled Levinson, and Seo-yun’s eyes focused on him, able to spare some attention to her surroundings now that the immediate danger had passed. They were in… she supposed it must be a building, though all the ones she’d ever seen had been made of wood and stone. This one was made of some kind of cloth, its sides swaying from a breeze she could not see. The rippling fabric recalled a memory of the small child doing the “camping” years ago. His family had been sitting near similar things. Tents, he’d called them. This tent was far bigger than those, though, stretching thirty or forty feet. Seo-yun tried to turn her head to see what was to her sides, but the rope around her neck stopped her. She tried to pull her hands free from whatever was binding them, and had no better luck there. Indignation welled up in her when she realized why she couldn’t move one of her tails: they’d used it to bind her, wrapping it around her wrists and knotting it too tight to pull free. The casual comandeering of her body for their own purpose made her blood boil.
Unable to examine anything else around her, she settled for glaring at Levinson. The blond man, who couldn’t have been more than a meager four decades old, was well muscled for a human, and seemed to have a face built for scowling. The sight of him made her remember what he’d done just before she’d passed out, and Seo-yun growled, teeth bared. For the insult he’d given her alone, she would’ve dedicated herself to making the rest of his pitiful lifespan as unpleasant as possible. But on top of that, he’d stolen her fur! Destroyed it!
Seo-yun had spent extended periods of time in her human shape before, like on the few occasions she’d left the forest. On nothing more than a whim, she’d travel to distant lands, bounding over plains and mountains and waters alike until she reached a people who had never heard of gumiho, and did not flee when they saw her disguise despite her ears and tails. She’d live with them for a short time, enjoying the novelty of prey animals too stupid to know better.
She knew that her form, ungainly and frail though it was compared to her real one, was considered quite beautiful by their standards. No matter where she stayed, men would come and praise her long and slender limbs, and her vibrant red hair. Even more praise was showered on the proportions of her body, not in in the form of words, but in stolen glances and greedy stares. Many men and more than a couple women had tried to court her, but with no success; as much as it amused her to be desired, she would never lay down with prey.
Besides, while they admired her appearance, the feeling was not at all mutual. Humans were disgusting creatures, and if not for their delicious flesh and wonderful screams, she wouldn’t have been able to bear being near them at all. They were grotesquely hairless in most places, their shapes were clumsy and ugly, and they stank. Sometimes she wondered how it was possible for a creature to smell so foul and yet taste so sweet.
This time was very different from back then. She’d always been able to resume her normal form whenever she wanted to. Her humanity had been nothing but a mask, easily discarded once people grew suspicious of her true nature, or her need to eat grew too strong to keep hidden. Now… now it was a prison. She would be trapped in this miserable shape forever.
Seo-yun stared at the man responsible for this with seething hatred. “I will not eat you,” she croaked, her throat bruised from the rope. “When I finally have mercy and let you die, I will find a large flat stone, where your corpse will be left to rot in the sun. And I will stand guard, no matter how long it takes, until there is nothing left of you. You will not nourish the earth or feed any of its creatures. You will never return to nature. You will never become anything more than a bloated, decaying corpse.”
Levinson didn’t respond to her promise. His eyes flicked away, to something behind her, and he gave a single nod.
Seo-yun screamed as something struck her bare back, ripping a line across her flesh. The cry immediately transformed into a gurgle as she lost her balance and began choking again, her feet scrabbling for purchase as she swung in place. It took nearly a minute to recover, a frantic minute of straining and gasping, trying to suck in more air even though she knew it was impossible. Legs spread, back straight, toes down, heels up. Only when her body was perfectly positioned could she breathe.
And then the process repeated, another line cutting across her back to disrupt her posture and leave her choking in midair. This one took a little less time to recover from, and when it was over, she was ready for the third attack. This time she swept her tails up, protecting her vulnerable flesh. The blow, whatever it was, landed on the makeshift shield instead, and while it stung on her sensitive tails, it was far less painful than on her back, and she was able to maintain her posture.
“Tails down,” Levinson snapped. When she ignored his command, he stepped forward and seized hold of one of them, crushing it in his grip. “Tails. Down,” repeated, his tone simmering with anger. Though her tail ached with pain as he squeezed it, it was nothing compared to the alternative, and she ignored him again.
Seo-yun didn’t see the knife until it was too late, until the cool metal was already pressed against the base of her tail. The blond man sawed into her with brutal efficiency; before her first horrified scream finished echoing, he’d severed the limb completely. He held it up in front of her, blood dripping down onto the hard packed dirt beneath them. The sight made memories of red on snow rise up before she could push them back down. “Tails. Down.”
The eight tailed gumiho let her remaining tails drop down, exposing her back.
“Good,” Levinson said, and spat on the ground. “Even you aren’t too stupid to be trained.” He tossed her lost limb carelessly to the dirt and looked past her again, his expression as sour as ever. “Start from the beginning,” he said. “Ten lashes.” Moments later, another line of fire struck her. As soon as her trembling toes found their place, there was another. And another. By the time the tenth had landed, Seo-yun was dizzy from the lack of oxygen, and her big toes were in agony. Each time she pressed them against the surface, supporting her entire body weight on the two small points, it felt as though needles were being driven into them.
“Tails up,” Levinson ordered, and Seo-yun reluctantly drew her tails up. She had a suspicion of what was about to happen, and it was soon confirmed as the next blow hit her soft, unprotected backside. Despite knowing it was coming, she still involuntarily yelped from the sharp pain and bucked away from it, accomplishing nothing but more gasps and gurgles. Nine more lashes followed, all of them excruciating, leaving overlapping lines across her cheeks. Having to hold her tails up to expose her own buttocks to abuse made the experience as humiliating as it was painful.
After the tenth blow, Levinson raised a hand. “You’re here, animal,” he said, still sounding irritated, “because my cadre was hired to find, capture, and house train a gumiho. We’ve already done the first two; and now we’re going spend the next two weeks on the third. By the end of these two weeks, you will either be a broken, submissive pet ready to be trained by her owner, or you will be in a shallow grave. I get paid either way.” The look in his eyes infuriated Seo-yun. She’d seen that look before, reflected in her food’s eyes. He saw her as helpless prey. She swore to one day correct his mistake.
“Before we get started,” the blond man said, “you will give me your fox marble.”
Give him her yeowu guseul? Seo-yun was too tired to give the idea the scornful laughter it deserved. The yeowu guseul inside her body was what separated her kind from the cowardly kitsune who lived far to the east. It was formed from the lives of every human she’d ever fed upon, and each life increased its might, making her stronger and faster. Hers possessed the accumulated power of hundreds of humans by now. True, she couldn’t use it while human, which meant it would be completely useless to her for the rest of her life. Even its constant siren song inside her, telling her how sweet and delicious their flesh would taste, was muted. But to give it to the man responsible for crippling and mutilating her… she didn’t have the breath to curse at him, but she managed to spit on his face, the spittle striking him just below his left eye.
If her refusal surprised him, Levinson didn’t let it show. He looked past her again. “I’ll be back later, Morris. Don’t stop whipping her. Ten up, ten down, until I return.” Without waiting for a response, he spun around and began to leave the tent.
“Yes sir,” said a male voice behind her. He sounded young, and lacking the confidence of his commander. “Sir, what should I do if she tries to protect herself with her tails again while you’re gone?”
Levinson turned to give the man a withering stare. “You have a knife, don’t you?”
“Then you should already know what to do. If the animal is too stupid to keep any of her tails, that’s not our problem.”
“Yes sir.” He raised his voice. “Tails down?” Unlike with Levinson, the statement was more question than order.
Seo-yun hesitated. Obeying Levinson was one thing; the man was clearly a fellow predator, and he had her in his power. It was galling, but her tails were more important than her pride. But to follow the orders of his lackey? The notion was almost more humiliating than anything else that had happened to her today. Levinson’s eyes met hers, and she saw the warning in them. Quickly she pulled her tails down, silently cursing her captor.
The whip landed on her back, right across several existing welts, and Seo-yun stumbled at the sudden and intense pain . By the time she’d recovered her footing, Levinson was nowhere to be seen. She wondered what he’d gone off to do, but she had no time to consider anything. The whip came down relentlessly, scoring harsh blow after harsh blow on her fragile human body. Sometimes, perhaps one in twenty, she managed to stay strong and keep her balance, but the rest of the time each vicious strike was followed by more choking and frantic grasping. She counted the time that Levinson was gone not in minutes, or even in whippings, but in breaths, each one a treasure that had to be earned. “Tails up,” called her torturer. “Tails down.” Her face burned with shame as she followed his commands, meekly arranging herself to his wishes. More than once she almost refused, but the threat of losing another tail always kept her in line.
By the time Levinson returned, entering the tent with no fanfare, Seo-yun was more exhausted than she’d ever been in her long life. Her body was drenched with sweat, her toes so slick that they kept sliding off the distant ground. Every last muscle in her body ached from the forced posture. Even her tail muscles were tired and sore after being forced to move them up and down countless times. The sight of the blond man kindled the now familiar rage in her heart, but she lacked the strength to even glare at him. She just stared at him dully as she panted hoarsely.
“Such an interesting animal you are,” he said, though there was no amusement in his tone. “A few hours ago, your body was riddled with burns from the cattle prod, and now there’s not a trace. I’d wager even most of the whip marks have already healed over. Is that right, Morris?”
“Yes sir,” answered her torturer obediently. “I can see them fading if I look closely enough.” Despite all her misery, Seo-yun felt some satisfaction at his comment. She might be trapped in this pathetic human shell, but not all of her powers had left her. She was starting to wish that her acute senses weren’t one of the few she’d kept, though. The stink of her own sweaty body was nearly enough to make her gag.
Levinson gave her no warning before he moved. He simply swept a foot forward, beneath Seo-yun’s legs. Her contact with the ground vanished as two small wooden boxes skidded away. “I’ve never seen a more pathetic creature,” he declared as she swung in place, legs kicking, trying to find the footing that she already knew was gone. “Too weak to protect itself, and too stubborn for a quick death. If you were human, or any of the other dozens of creatures I’ve hunted down over the years, we’d have to be more careful with you, try not to be too rough and let you escape by dying. What Morris did to you in the last two hours alone would have killed almost anyone else. But we don’t have to hold back for you. We can torture and abuse you all day, and never have to worry about going too far and leaving an empty husk. You were made for this kind of life, bitch. Would you even die if I left you like this? Or would you just keep wriggling and gasping like this forever?”
Seo-yun honestly didn’t know. She’d only been injured a few times in her life, and they’d always been simple wounds that had healed quickly. She’d never experienced any sort of constant abuse like this. Perhaps she really couldn’t die this way, despite the fire in her lungs and the pounding in her head. She wasn’t certain if that was a good thing. The thought of entire hours or days spent choking like this, denied even the final mercy of death, was too horrible to bear.
“The fox marble,” Levinson demanded. “Now.”
A shameful part of Seo-yun whispered that she should just do it. What good was her pride now? In the span of a few hours she’d suffered more than she’d ever imagined possible, and there was no reason to think he would stop hurting her. How much more of this could she really take? And all for her yeowu guseul? There was a time in her life when she would have…
Her lips curled back. “No,” she hissed, barely able to force the word out. This was about more than her pride. No matter what he did to her, he couldn’t make her give up her yeowu guseul. He could only ask. In this and this alone, she could still defy him. The power to refuse his demand was the one and only power she had left, and nothing would make her throw that away.
Seo-yun expected anger, and more punishment. She more than half expected him to just leave her choking as he had threatened. Instead, Levinson began unbuckling his pants. “I didn’t ask your buyer many questions,” he said as he stepped out of them. “Doesn’t pay to be too curious in our line of business.” His underwear came next, exposing his manhood to the open air. Seo-yun had seen the thing between a man’s legs many times when she feasted, but they were always soft and small. This one was long and stiff. “But I made sure to ask the most important question: if they needed a virgin. Unfortunately for you, bitch, they said no.”
He approached her, his cock bobbling slightly with every step. Seo-yun knew that he was planning to do something important, but she couldn’t think about anything but her starving lungs at the moment. She twisted this way and that, trying anything that might ease the rope’s choke hold on her, until Levinson’s hands gripped her whipped ass cheeks, his fingers digging painfully into the fresh welts there, and the head of his cock touched her slit.
Seo-yun had heard of sex before, and she knew exactly what his penis was, and what it was for. But she hadn’t seen another fox since she was no more than a pup. The only creatures she possibly could have mated with were humans, and that notion was outright disgusting. She’d chosen a life of solitude instead, finding her pleasure in the hunt. So when Levinson began to push into her, she understood what he was doing, and that his intent was to rape her, but she was completely unprepared for the pain. She whimpered softly as his fat prick began forcing its way in between her legs, the strangling rope preventing her from making any louder sounds of distress.
The blond man wore a smile, the first one she’d ever seen on him. It was an ugly, mean expression with no friendliness behind it. “I’m starting to see why someone might be willing to pay so much for your sorry ass. Are all fox cunts this tight, or just yours?” His vicious smile grew as he butted up against her hymen. “And how’d I know a stuck up bitch like you would be a virgin?”
Desperate to avoid what was coming, Seo-yun lashed out at him with all of her free tails. The furry limbs weren’t very strong, but he was unprepared for it, and the seven of them pushed him back, making him stumble and land on his ass in the dirt. Despite the pain of her body and the continuing torture of being choked, her heart filled with satisfaction at finally managing to strike some small blow against her captor. He wasn’t invincible.
Levinson looked furious as he picked himself back up. “That was a mistake, bitch. Morris, come hold this stupid cunt up! I don’t want her passing out before I show her exactly how stupid she is.” Seo-yun felt a pair of arms circle her waist and lift her up a few inches, allowing her to start gasping for air. The relief this brought vanished immediately when Levinson grabbed one of her tails. She knew what was coming now, and fought to squirm out of his grip, but he was too strong. The knife came down, and after a few quick slices the gumiho was reduced from eight tails to seven.
Panic welled up as he grabbed another tail. “That’s right, you dumb fucking bitch,” Levinson confirmed. “I’m going to cut every last one of your tails off, and then I’m going to shove myself back up your cunt so I can finish what I started.” His knife began to cut into her.
“Sir?” said Morris hesitantly from behind her. “Maybe you should…”
Levinson paused. “What?” he growled.
Morris sounded like he was picking his words carefully. “I think that maybe she’ll be more cooperative now that she knows what she did was wrong. And the buyer would probably want her to keep her tails.”
“Who gives a fuck what the buyer wants?” Levinson snapped. “We already signed a contract.” But he didn’t resume cutting. “Is he right?” he asked, looking up at Seo-yun. “Are you going to be a well behaved fox slut for me while I pound your virgin cunt, or should I keep going?”
“Yes,” she panted, still trying to take in as much air as possible to appease her burning lungs. “Don’t… don’t have to… cut them off…”
“And your fox marble?” he pressed.
Seo-yun almost told him he could have that too, but she stopped herself. She couldn’t prevent him from cutting off her tails, but he couldn’t take the yeowu guseul by force. It was all she had left. “No…” she breathed, knowing that her refusal meant losing the rest of her tails.
But Levinson only laughed. “I’m going to enjoy fucking that stubbornness out of you.” That was all the warning she had before he stepped forward and shoved himself back into her pussy. Morris let go of her waist, and two things immediately happened: the rope tightened around her neck again, forcing out her latest breath, and she dropped several inches, Levinson’s cock ripping right through her hymen as it sank into her. The pain was immediate and overwhelming, and Seo-yun let out a miserable whine as the man continued to push in deeper.
“This is the only reason anyone cares about a dirty animal like you,” Levinson told her. “Because of this snug hole between your legs. Your worth begins and ends with your twat.” He watched her struggle for breath for a minute as he worked his way in further. He was thick and she was dry, and the blood that ran down her legs came from more than her torn hymen. “You want to breathe again? Then wrap your legs around me, fox slut.”
His suggestion repulsed her, but her need to breathe outweighed her dignity. The hardest part was swinging her sore legs up. It took Seo-yun several tries to lock her legs around him, but once she did, she was able to use him as leverage, pushing her upper body up high enough to take the first full breath she’d received since waking up.
Even if she hadn’t been aware that her movements were also causing her to push herself onto Levinson’s cock, the man made it painfully clear when he grabbed hold of her butt cheeks again, pulling her close. “You keep humping, you keep breathing,” he told her. “Nobody wants a fucktoy who just lays there.” He sneered at the confusion on her face. “Fucktoy. Fleshlight. Warm, wet holes. That’s all you are, bitch, an object for helping humans cum.”
The worst part of his words was Seo-yun could tell he meant them. He wasn’t trying to scare or intimidate her, just speaking plain truth. He really thought of her as nothing more than a, a fucktoy as he put it. It was galling to have such a lowly creature as him looking down on her like this. Regardless of her current situation, she was a superior being, and deserved his respect.
Her indignation must have shown in her eyes, because Levinson took a step back, drawing her with him until the rope went taut and her breath was denied to her again. “Call this fucktoy lesson number one,” he said. “Morris!”
“Start whipping her back. Don’t stop until I say so.”
Whip blows began to rain down on her as Seo-yun tried to struggle away from Levinson, desperate to draw another breath. He responded by pulling her even closer, holding her thrashing body against his. She looked at him, waiting for him to tell her what she needed to do before he’d let her breathe or give his man the command to stop. But he said nothing, just watched her choking, shuddering torment while his cock remained buried inside her, occasionally twitching with pleasure. Those tiny twitches were somehow the worst part of the entire nightmarish experience. She was suffering more than she’d ever thought possible, her need to breathe like a rabid, clawing beast inside of her. The whip was hurting her more than ever, the blows coming too close together for her now to heal before her flesh was torn open again. She could feel her own warm blood flowing freely down her back to drip onto the floor. And Levinson was enjoying it.
Seo-yun was no stranger to cruelty; many of her victims would have considered her viciously cruel, and she wouldn’t have denied it. But the pain she’d inflicted on humans was always with purpose, for the sake of her hunger and their soft flesh. Even those she’d kept alive for days, ignoring their pleas for death, had nothing to do with wanting to hurt them, just the desire to enjoy them for as long as possible. Levinson was different. The pain he was causing her now had no purpose. It was simply pain for the sake of pain, a concept utterly foreign to her. Seo-yun was a monster, but he was something far worse, something she lacked even the words to describe, and the fox woman felt true terror run through her. Death was one thing, but this Levinson was a creature who thrived on pain the same way she thrived on meat. And she was his meal.
Her body slumped against his, limp and trembling, as the last of her strength fled her. Even the steady strikes of the whip couldn’t make her move anymore. As she let out a last slow rattle, the darkness finally closed in on her completely.
And then she was awake again. Still held up by Levinson, still being raped, still being whipped, still unable to breathe. “Welcome back bitch,” the blond man told her. “Ready for round two?” Seo-yun moaned and shook her head weakly, aware that what she wanted didn’t matter. She would suffer until he’d had his fill of her. Sure enough, the next few minutes were the same steady, relentless torture of the rope and the whip, punctuated by the eager twitches of Levinon’s cock inside her.
“Has the lesson made it through your thick skull yet?” he asked after she’d woken up again. Her only response was a whimper, but it seemed to please him. “Good. You want this to stop, you make me cum.”
Seo-yun’s limbs were as heavy as lead. Even her tails all drooped down. But she knew none of that mattered to him. All he cared about was his own pleasure, and her misery only heightened it. So she weakly clutched his body with her legs, and thrust her hips against his, his twitching cock the only sign that she was having an effect. It was a slow, grueling process, and she passed out two more times, but finally Levinson stirred, and he began to move inside her, fucking her himself.
“The lesson to learn here,” he told her, “is that your thoughts, your feelings, your pain and humiliation and exhaustion, none of them fucking matter anymore. Not a single person in the entire goddamn world could care less about your suffering, except when it helps them cum. The way you’re squirming right now feels good on my cock, and for the rest of your sorry existence, fucktoy, that is the closest anyone will ever get to caring about you.” His cock swelled, and then began to spurt in her, his hot cum filling her bleeding hole. An hour ago, the thought of human seed inside her would have been enough to make her nauseous, but now she met its arrival with dull acceptance. His cum might mean that he was done hurting her. A meager hope, but it was all she had.
“Can I stop now, sir?” Morris called uncertainly.
Levinson pushed Seo-yun off of him, leaving her to dangle in midair. “Might as well. I’m done with her for the night.” A not quite smile touched his face. “Tomorrow we begin the real training. Put the boxes back before you go.”
“Sir!” Morris said, and Seo-yun finally saw the man. He was a full foot shorter than Levinson and at least a decade younger, not much more than a boy. He had a head of shaggy dark hair, and if he hadn’t been human, she would have said there was intelligence in his eyes. He leaned in close to Levinson and whispered to the man. He was no doubt trying to keep her from hearing him, but with her ears, she heard him more clearly than Levinson did right next to him. “What if something happens to her, sir? She’s not looking good, and if she slips during the night and can’t recover, she’ll die without someone here to save her.”
“Who cares?” Levinson said, not lowering his own voice at all. “If the bitch is too stupid to manage standing still for a few hours, she wouldn’t make it through the rest of her training anyway. I’m not going to coddle her. Now get moving, unless you’re hoping to find out whether or not she really can choke to death.”
“Yes sir!” Morris hurried over to the boxes and pushed them back under her. Seo-yun stretched her limbs, the effort pure agony to her worn out body, and managed to get her toes in place again. For the first time in what felt like hours, she was both conscious and breathing once more. It wouldn’t last though. Her limbs trembled and threatened to give out at any moment. Her chances of making it another five minutes were pitiful. Making it through the night seemed impossible.
But she didn’t care. Despite the pain and the exhaustion, she held her position through sheer force of will. She would not die here. She had lived centuries before this, and she swore to herself that she would survive centuries after. A thousand years after Levinson became nothing more than bleached bones in the sun, she would still be running through her forest, no matter her form.
She was too tired to recognize the warm liquid hitting her stomach at first. Levinson was standing in front of her, his limp dick in his hand and pointed at her, and… he was urinating. Levinson was pissing on her. The shame that rose up into Seo-yun’s throat was almost more stifling than the rope. “Thought maybe you’d understand your new place in life better if I used your own language,” the blond man said. “I own you, bitch.” He casually seized one of her seven remaining tails and wiped himself off with it before getting dressed again.
Both men began to leave the tent, but then Morris stopped in his tracks. “I forgot the whip, sir.”
“Then go get it,” Levinson said, annoyed. “I’ll be in the mess hall; training fucktoys always works up an appetite.”
“Yes sir!” Morris ran back towards her, while Levinson continued walking out of sight. Seo-yun paid the man no attention, even when he stopped right next to her. But then she heard a scraping sound, and the box her left toe had supported itself on was gone. A moment later the other was moved too, and the fox found herself once more hanging helplessly in midair, the rope slowly strangling the life out of her. Morris had just condemned her to death.
As she scrambled for a ground that was no longer there, she wondered idly why the man had decided to kill her. Some sort of human politics perhaps, trying to make Levinson look bad? She would never know, and it didn’t matter. Her story ended here.
A hand grasped her left foot, and to her astonishment, directed it to solid ground. Both boxes were still beneath her after all. They had been pushed closer to her, not farther, which meant she no longer had to strain to reach them. Her position was still hardly one that could be called comfortable, but she was able to rest both feet squarely on the boxes, in no danger of falling off and being strangled. She stared down at the man, thoroughly confused by what had just transpired. Why was he helping her? Did he expect some reward? That must be it. He didn’t want her to die before he had a chance to rape her himself. She mentally braced herself for it, accepting that he would spread her legs and take her just as his leader had.
But… he didn’t. He didn’t do anything at all to her. He only ducked his head and left quickly, never looking at her. Hours after he’d gone, Seo-yun was still staring at the exit, more confused than ever. As far as she could tell, he had helped her, and without seeking anything in return. The concept was even more foreign to her than Levinson’s behavior. What was going on?