༺ Hassan’s Day off (2) ༻
Poking your fingertips with needles when you had an upset stomach was a popular folk remedy in Korea.
If you lightly poked the proper areas with a sharp needle or a filiform one, the stagnant energy and dirty blood in your body would immediately flow out through the poked spot, relieving your stomach aches.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure if it really worked or not, but everyone in Korea tried out this method at least once in their lives.
However, in a world where almost every folk remedy and superstition ran amok, it was surprising that there were no notions of poking hands with needles being used as a medical practice.
Luna could only tremble in fear, not being able to do anything, as she looked at the needle in my hand. Did she think that I was going to hurt her?
“It won’t hurt at all. You don’t have to be so scared.”
The sight of her trembling in fear was somewhat pitiful, yet it felt fun to tease her at the same time, so my lips twisted into an ambiguous smile.
“I’m just going to poke the tip of your fingers with a needle. Don’t you also poke your finger to draw some blood when you are working on your spells?”
“I-It’s two completely different things!”
Of course, there was a huge difference between being prepared as you poked your finger yourself and someone else poking your finger instead.
People who have experienced this already would know that getting poked by someone else was a scary experience.
In that sort of situation, the fear one felt seeing a sharp needle was quite intense.
However, if we kept dragging this on, Luna’s pain – caused due to acute congestion – would only prolong further and might even take a turn for the worst.
So I patted Luna’s arm gently and massaged her so that the blood would flow downward toward her fingertips.
“A-Are you sure that nothing wrong will happen because of this?”
“It’s totally okay, I promise. I disinfected the needle using the fire from the candle. If you’re still feeling scared, just turn your head the other way and don’t look this way.”
Luna turned her head, following my words. However, she, perhaps feeling restless and anxious due to not knowing what was happening, soon looked at me again and started whining.
“It’s scarier when I don’t see it—”
“Yes, that can happen. Then I’ll be poking your fingers now.”
“Look, I haven’t poked you yet.”
When Luna was still overwhelmed by the situation, I quickly used the needle to press on the Ten Dispersions Point at the tip of her fingernail with just the right amount of force.
And then, the clogged-up blood started flowing from Luna’s thumb the moment Hasan poked it.
“Oh! Blood, blood! I am bleeding!”
“It’s more like the blocked energy inside your body is now being released with this.”
Of course not. It was just a blatant lie.
It was natural for the blood to turn black on a spot if you tied the arm around that area for a long time to prevent the blood from flowing down.
However, when you actually look at your dirty blood like this, even the nonsense I was spouting can seem to be plausible.
“Are you feeling better now?”
“Oh, yeah—! Now that you say that, I realize that’s indeed the case. I think my stomach hurts a little less now!”
Luna gave me a thumbs-up, and from her expression, I could confirm that the congestion pains she was experiencing had significantly reduced. However, I hadn’t seen the notification “The congestion is healed” appear before my eyes yet.
Did I have to poke all 10 of her Ten Dispersions Points to heal her?
“Since you now know that it doesn’t hurt, I’ll start poking the rest of your fingers.”
Then, I tightly grabbed Luna’s flailing arms and poked all the spots I could see on the rest of her fingers with the needle.
Finally, the task points appeared in front of my eyes. The number of task points that seemed challenging to collect at first now exceeded 200 already.
It made me feel quite good to think that I could obtain a double level-up again. Damn! I was about to become super strong soon.
“Hugh— Heu— Ugh—”
I thought Luna would get better soon after her congestion had been treated. However, she was trembling as if she had been electrocuted. I felt a little nervous after seeing her precarious condition.
Although I had some experience doing massages with my hands, it was my first time doing something with a needle.
Did this method have side effects that I was not aware of?
So I asked Luna in a careful tone.
“What’s wrong? Are you okay, Luna?”
“I-It feels like Mana is flowing anew throughout my entire body. Uwaahh—!”
Luna kept trembling for a while, and then, all of a sudden, she curled up into a fetal position as though her stomach was hit by an arrow.
Moments after, she started rolling and writhing on the soft deerskin. Not only did she just curl up into a ball, but also twisted and turned, twitching and spasming all over the carpet.
Her reactions scared the living hell out of me. No matter how you look at this, no way in hell was it a reaction that could happen just by poking someone’s finger. God damn it! Did I do something wrong in the process?
I didn’t know what to do, so I couldn’t touch Luna’s body hastily and could only tentatively look on at her writhing figure.
Suddenly, Luna sighed as if she had just had an out-of-the-world experience before collapsing on the deerskin.
“…Hey, Luna. Are you… all right?”
“I-I thought I was going to die there. But my stomachache is gone now. What is this? How did you do that? Hassan, do you also know how to do things other than massaging?”
The eyes of the girl lying down while looking up at me were quite moist. Perhaps, it was because she had undergone something she had never experienced before in her life.
“Other than a massage, I can do simple acupuncture.”
“Acupuncture—? What’s that?”
Luna seemed to not know what acupuncture was.
Of course, I could not say that I knew much about it either. The only thing I’d tried related to acupuncture was just poking long acupuncture needles into a human model a few times.
Learning acupuncture was too hard for me, the son of a health center owner, and it was a topic only a health maniac would want to know, so my father didn’t tell me much about it. Would I get in trouble if I recklessly stuck acupuncture needles in someone’s body?
Anyway, I was taken aback because it was the first time I had seen a mark of that size, that could barely be pressed with a needle, popping up on someone’s body.
My Imperfect Dexterity skill seemed to have much broader applications than my initial expectations.
Just like that, the commotion caused by poking hands with needles came to a pass. We put out the fire again and covered ourselves with the old blankets together. In the next moment, something approached me while wriggling.
“Luna, what are you doing?”
“Huh? I didn’t do anything.”
“Aren’t these your fingers?”
The things were so thin and pointy. I wasn’t sure if it was a fingernail or something else. It tickled as it crawled gently over my arm, and I felt like laughing out loud due to the sensation.
“Don’t lie to me. You’re touching my arm.”
“It’s really not me.”
Luna took her hands out of the blanket.
“Look, my hands are right here.”
“Shit, what the hell is this then?”
So I uncovered the blanket while wondering what it was. Then, I almost fainted from shock when my eyes met with eight eyes that were directed at my own.
“What the fuck! It’s a spider!”
It was a rainbow-colored spider. Was it called Kong Kong or something? Anyway, I was stunned because this fucking animal had crawled over my arms and got stuck in that place!!
Still, I didn’t smash it off with my palm because I knew that Luna was quite fond of this guy and was raising it as a pet.
“Take it away from me! Hurry up! I really hate spiders! Heeeek!!”
“W-Wait! Stay still!”
Only then did Luna transfer the spider that seemed to have stuck itself to my forearm into her hand.
“Did you come out because I forgot to feed you? I’m sorry, Kong Kong.”
The tension building up within me dissipated as soon as the creature fell off my body, and my surging blood gradually settled down. Damn, it was fucking scary. My pounding heart wasn’t able to settle down no matter what I did.
“You are unusually afraid of spiders, Hassan. Brandishing your sword at the cultists should’ve been much scarier than this, though.”
“No, they at least have two legs. I can’t handle creatures that have more than six legs. So, you know, about this guy, can you—”
I stopped myself before I could say something like putting the spider out of my sight or something worse.
I recalled hearing somewhere that conflicts often arise when living with your girlfriend and most of the time those fights were related to the pet of your girl. Even if I don’t like spiders, I shouldn’t go as far as to suggest disposing of them to Luna.
However, Luna spoke out first; as if she had already grasped what I was trying to say, persuading me with subtle words.
“But it can also help us to catch the rats, too. If many rats dig holes in jars or leather bags, it will become difficult to make an elixir.”
“Yes, well, we don’t have any other option then.”
Since this was Luna’s house, I had no choice but to follow along with her wishes.
However, on the other hand, I felt that Luna cared more about that punk, Kong Kong, than she did about me, so I felt a bit disappointed and sad.
Fucking damn it! Regardless, I’d known Luna longer than that hairy fellow. I couldn’t believe she thought that it was cute just because it knew how to catch rats.
Above that, was I seriously feeling jealous of a spider? Thinking like that made me sound foolish, and it hurt my pride, so I lay down again and turned my back as if there was nothing wrong.
“Whatever, let’s sleep.”
Luna fed the spider a dried jerky, let him go, and slipped into the blanket again. Perhaps because I was turning my back, Luna put herself excessively close to my body.
The sudden warmth attached to my back made me feel really good.
“Hassan, are you mad because of Kong Kong?”
“No, I’m not angry.”
“Then why are you turning your back on me?”
“I usually sleep on my sides like this.”
Then, while I was laying on my sides, with my back still facing her, something thin and pointy began to touch my arm. This time it was definitely Luna’s hand.
“But Kong Kong wants to be friends with you, Hassan.”
Luna’s fingers moved with the intention of trying to tickle me.
It felt amusing and weird that she was trying to imitate a spider by using her fingers.
Soon after, she even started shouting like the wolf spider. I couldn’t help but laugh at my own childishness. It was really ridiculous of me to behave like this.
“All right, I understand. It’s my fault.”
As I lay down straight, like usual, Luna also turned her body towards the ceiling, slightly twisting her body sideways that had been leaning towards me.
So we fell asleep while facing the same old ceiling.
* * * * * * * * * *
I had a nightmare where spiders were crawling around my neck. It was a truly horrifying and heart-palpitating nightmare.
It was when I tried to calm down my pounding heart and, at the same time, lift my body that—
I couldn’t move my body; it felt like heavy lead was pressing down on me. Did I have sleep paralysis or something?
Holy shit, did I feel so shocked by that nightmare that I was even experiencing sleep paralysis, right now? I felt utterly disoriented in my mind, wondering just what the hell was going on with my body.
It was my first time having a nightmare that induced sleep paralysis like this. So, I had absolutely no idea what to do in this situation. Should I just go back to sleep? That was the first thought I had in my mind.
However, I was feeling scared, thinking that I might have another nightmare if I fell asleep. Moreover, whenever I tried to relax my mind and tried going back to sleep, I was washed over with a feeling as though I was falling into the darkness of a deep obsidian dark sea.
So I chose to wake up.
I remember hearing somewhere that if you put pressure on any part of your body, you can get out of the sleep paralysis state.
When I was trying desperately to put strength on the pinky of my right hand—
At that time, I felt faint movements coming from my stomach, so I tried to lift my eyelids.
As soon as I opened my eyes, they met with a pair of emerald orbs, looking down at me from above.
It was none other than Luna.
She was looking down at me while lying face down on my stomach.
I wondered what the hell was going on with her, but I couldn’t even open my mouth or lift even a single one of my fingers for some reason. It felt like my whole body was being pressed down by heavy lead or some other similar substance.
What should I do now?
Why was she lying on my stomach like this?
It was the very moment when I felt utterly confused by the shocking set of events that—
Luna suddenly stuck out her tongue and licked my cheek. She looked like a dog or cat licking its owner’s face.
The warm and soft sensation made my head dizzy for a moment. Nevertheless, my body showed no signs of getting up no matter what.
However, Luna kept on licking my face like that for a while.
“. . .”
All of a sudden, she even started muttering something in some alien language that I had never heard of in my life.
Perhaps I am dreaming right now? But isn’t my brain showing me very bizarre content even though I am dreaming right now?
I wondered if my subconscious mind had become so twisted because I’d been thinking about too many vulgar things these days.
So when I thought that I should just let go of my consciousness and wait for the morning to come that—
I was startled by something like a strong pressure that was being applied to my neck. Luna licked my face and was even biting my neck now!?
The pain was so vivid that it pulled me back to reality.
Because of this, the weight and pressure on my body seemed to have disappeared, and my mouth and hands regained their freedom.
“Ugh, Luna! What are you doing—?!”
I was so shocked that I grabbed Luna’s shoulders and shook them back and forth. Luna shuddered as if she was surprised by my actions.
“H-Hassan, you are up—!?”
“Huh, what are you doing? Why are you biting my neck?”
Luna hesitated as if she had been caught red-handed in the midst of doing something wrong. She actually did something terrible to me right now. You shouldn’t bite a sleeping person’s neck while pressing down on them like that, after all.
“I’ve been feeling heavy in my body when I sleep these days, and it turns out that you are the culprit behind that sensation, huh…”
“That’s— a s-spell—”
“What? A spell?”
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