Previously: Biryukov suggested that Yi Fan try on the golden mask of El Coco. And now…
â€œWhy me?â€ Yi Fan asked.
â€œBecause he doesnâ€™t expect it,â€ Biryukov said, looking at Twain, who was sweating and shivering from the sudden shock of having his finger broken.
â€œIf one of us puts the mask on, will it hurt us?â€ Yi Fan asked Twain.
â€œNo,â€ Twain said, panting. â€œItâ€™s disorienting, but not harmful.â€
Yi Fan looked at his face for a long moment, searching for deception. Then she picked up the mask. â€œOkay.â€
She placed it over her face, and the room spun madly as her head filled with the ringing of a distant chime. When her head cleared, she lay on the floor, shivering and cold.
Distantly, she heard Biryukov laughing, and then his hands were grasping her arm, the one that wasnâ€™t still pressing the mask against her face. He lifted her to her feet, surprisingly strong for such a slim man. â€œThat is wonderful,â€ he exclaimed. â€œI have no idea what this fellow was trying to accomplish, but I am so glad that we tried it on you rather than me!â€
[blockquote type=”blockquote_quotes” align=”right”]For a moment, she remained calm; everything felt so dreamlike, and finding yourself suddenly naked like this was not uncommon in dreams. But this was not a dream…[/blockquote]Yi Fan suddenly realized what felt so wrong and looked down to confirm what her goose-pimpling skin was telling her. For a moment, she remained calm; everything felt so dreamlike, and finding yourself suddenly naked like this was not uncommon in dreams. But this was not a dream. She shrieked and pulled the mask down to cover her pubic hair.
She heard Biryukov gasp, saw Twain was staring at her in wonderment. Could he be starting to feel for her the way heâ€™d told her he would? Had this been the catalyst? This?
She threw her free arm across her breasts and said, â€œStop staring at me!â€
â€œLiu Yi Fan,â€ Biryukov breathed. â€œYour face…â€
â€œMy face?â€ she repeated, putting a hand up to her scar as she so often did when she felt self-conscious. â€œSo youâ€™ve noticed I still have a…â€
Her skin was smooth. The scar was gone.
She looked wonderingly at Birykov. â€œMy hair?â€
â€œBlack as can be,â€ he said. â€œNot a hint of white. What about…?â€
She searched within herself and found nothing. Only blessed silence. â€œItâ€™s gone. The curse has been lifted. Itâ€™s gone!â€
She lunged at Biryukov and hugged him happily, forgetting herself in the joy of the moment. Then she turned to Twain, tears in her eyes. She stepped around the table and caressed his sweaty face. â€œYouâ€™ve given me my life back. Thank you.â€
She kissed him softly, and though he was still surely in great pain, she felt him beginning to respond.
â€œFascinating,â€ Biryukov said behind her. â€œThis explains so much.â€
The moment of elation passed, and Yi Fan felt a sudden panic as she drew back from Twain. â€œWhat does it explain?â€ she asked, trying to keep the fear from her voice, though she knew Biryukov could sense it no matter how well hidden.
â€œWhat this man is doing here,â€ Biryukov said. â€œHe has a mask that steals powers. He has come to kill the Czar!â€
What can Twain and Yi Fan do now? Join us tomorrow for our next thrilling episode!
To read from the beginning, click here…