Chapter 3:

How Rodan Deals With Mercenaries (Part 2)

White Nightmare

...Bookmark here

Night time...Bookmark here

Nono was given the task of overseeing the road leading to the Red Forest and warn Rodan of the mercenaries. In his binoculars, he can barely saw anything. It was pitch black. Not a single torch or any source of light was put on the road. Even the red leaves of the forest seemed black at the time.Bookmark here

But for Nono, this wasn’t a trouble. He remembered Rodan’s words in the afternoon:Bookmark here

“Don’t worry of not being able to notice them at night. They’re mercenaries, not assassins. They will bring torches along. Your job is simply to notice their arrival and warn me. The rest... I’ll do the rest, ha-ha-ha.”Bookmark here

“I... I see. But, how would you know they’re coming at night, Roro?”Bookmark here

“Easy. That Stupeyd bastard is a night-loving-killer. He mostly sent his boys at night where little to nobody is awake.”Bookmark here

...Bookmark here

Back to night time, Nono was anxious. In his mind, his concern swung around him.Bookmark here

“Is he going to be alright...? I just hope so. Will it work?”Bookmark here

A few moments later, Nono noticed a glow in the far distance. He waited three seconds and realized the glow went nearer to Red Forest. Not only that, there were more than one source of light there. And upon watching closely, he counted more than twenty torches were marching to the forest.Bookmark here

Immediately, Nono rushed down the branches and pulled a vine which triggered a series of mechanism that gave the warning to his buddy.Bookmark here

Right below, on the surface, Rodan was tying up something. Suddenly he received a wriggling vine behind his back. He turned his attention to it, and then looked upwards and found out that the alarm had gone off.Bookmark here

“W-Wha—they’re here, already?!” he yelled to himself in surprise. “Damn... I was not expecting Stupeyd’s men would come this early. I thought they’d arrive later near midnight. It seems I was wrong,” he added as he stood back up.Bookmark here

“But... sooner is better. Very well, then! If Nono had rung the bell, then they will reach here in roughly ten minutes. Alright... let us begin!”Bookmark here

...Bookmark here

Ten minutes later, a platoon of fifty troops arrived in the forest.Bookmark here

“So... this is where that fool Rodan lived?” said one of them.Bookmark here

“They said this is the place,” another one replied. “Moreover, he lived in that giant tree.”Bookmark here

“What a creepy guy. Living in the forest all by himself? I’d be shittin’ in my pants if I’m living alone.”Bookmark here

Shortly, one of them silenced them.Bookmark here

“Quiet down all of you. We’re not paid to talk here. If you’ve time to talk, then move your arses and follow me.”Bookmark here

“Y-Yes, S-Sarge! My apologies,”Bookmark here

The guy who silenced them appeared the sturdiest among his comrades. He had a set of four scars over his right eye. His left eye was covered behind a black eye patch. His heavy voice implied his self as an experienced man in his expertise.Bookmark here

He is Bartz Totemhand, the leader of the mercenary group in Gantz city. He was called ‘Sarge’ by his subordinates.Bookmark here

The mercenaries went deeper into the forest and eventually found the road to the giant tree, where they were informed of where Rodan Rouge lived.Bookmark here

“What should we do, Sarge?” one of the mercenaries asked.Bookmark here

“Prepare an assault formation,” Bartz ordered calmly. “But don’t do anything else until I give the word,” he added.Bookmark here

“Roger that, Sarge,”Bookmark here

And with that, the mercenary forces took position surrounding the giant tree. They’re waiting patiently to launch their attack.Bookmark here

Then, their leader approached near the giant tree while bringing a torch in his right hand. He looked at the hole in the tree right above him and noticed a pillow on it. But, no light was turned on. It was pitch black. Bartz went to the back side of the big tree, and examined the area. He saw a long wooden table in the open with some upside down stools on it. He came close to it and rubbed the table.Bookmark here

“Hmm... could Rodan knew of our plan to catch him and left his nest beforehand?” he wondered.Bookmark here

He looked into the tree again. There’s not a single activity he can feel. He returned to the front of the tree again. But amidst walking, his head tangled into some dangling vines. Bookmark here

“Yikes-what-the—errgh! Get off me...!”Bookmark here

As he snapped the vines off, he noticed some bulges in the dirt in front of him.Bookmark here

“Hmph... the crow’s in its nest. Time to do the job.”Bookmark here

Bartz climbed up the tree and bashed the poorly locked door, which caused the hinges of the door to be broken and had the door opened by itself.Bookmark here

“Tch! Such poor protection, even thieves would easily stole things in here.”Bookmark here

But...Bookmark here

As he stepped inside, the door was suddenly fixed into place. He was shocked. He tried to pry the door open. But, the door wasn’t budging, even unmoved after being kicked many times by his army boots.Bookmark here

“S-Shit, how did the door won’t open? It was so fragile before!”Bookmark here

Suddenly, behind him, a voice emerged behind him. It spoke to him in a whispering tone.Bookmark here

“Welcome...”Bookmark here

Bartz’s nape hair rose almost immediately as if he was greeted by a ghost.Bookmark here

“—Who’s there?!” he yelled as he drew his sword out. His eyeballs were going wild trying to search for the voice, but he couldn’t see anything inside the tree house. There’s not a single source of light. His torch was mysteriously blown out.Bookmark here

Then... the creeping voice called him again.Bookmark here

“Let’s enjoy a cup of tea...”Bookmark here

Again, the voice was heard in his ears. This time, he glanced behind and noticed a shadowy figure blitzing from one place to another.Bookmark here

Bartz began to feel dizzy for being unable to find his target, moreover something moved in so fast in there. The voices he heard echoed, as if a ghost was calling out to him. He sweated uncontrollably, which ultimately led him to give his full power to break the door open.Bookmark here

“Come on... just a cup of tea... and a pack of GREEN APPLES!”Bookmark here

“—SHHIIIIIT! I’m not paid to be an exorcist!”Bookmark here

*BAM!*Bookmark here

He tackled the door and surprisingly, the door broke apart. His full force made him unable to stop and caused him to fell down. His subordinates were shocked and rushed to his disposal.Bookmark here

“S-Sarge, what happened?!”Bookmark here

“Sarge, are you alright?!”Bookmark here

Their leader quickly stood up and regained composure.Bookmark here

“I’m fine. But there’s something in that tree... but it doesn’t matter. The crow’s not in his nest apparently,” said Bartz.Bookmark here

“O-Oh... that’s too bad,” his men stated.Bookmark here

“We’ll wait for him to return, then,” another one of his men added.Bookmark here

Few moments later, Bartz walked into beneath a large branch, followed by two of his men, ordered to accompany him. He then leaned against the body of the tree and thought of something.Bookmark here

“This tree... must be ancient. It’s a home to a certain spirit or something. I’m a fool to enter it without proper manners.”Bookmark here

Shortly, he noticed something on the ground.Bookmark here

“Vines...?”Bookmark here

Then, those vines moved a bit and shocked him. In that exact time, he was greeted by the homeowner.Bookmark here

“Welcome, Rodrigo. Looking for me, big guy?”Bookmark here

The leader and his mercenaries quickly looked up and there, they found their target, Rodan Rouge all tangled up in vine ropes.Bookmark here

“R-Rouge...!!!” Bartz quickly drew his sword, followed by his men.Bookmark here

“Whoop—before you start going wild, why don’t you hear me out for a sec, eh?” said Rodan casually as he went upside down with his feet hanging on a small branch along with his arms crossed. “I have an offer for you, Rodrigo.”Bookmark here

“Who’s Rodrigo?” Bartz’s subordinate asked.Bookmark here

“Idiot! Keep your mouth shut!” his friend nudged him in the head.Bookmark here

Bartz’s eyes went sharper. “I am not Rodrigo. He’s dead. I am his younger brethren, Bartz Totemhand.”Bookmark here

Rodan’s eyes went bigger for a moment, “Oh... I’m sorry to hear that.”Bookmark here

“I don’t want to hear that from you.”Bookmark here

“Now, now... if you would listen to me, I can give you an interesting offer.”Bookmark here

The mercenaries halted their move instantly as they heard Rodan’s words.Bookmark here

“An offer?” Bartz asked.Bookmark here

Rodan smiled behind his mask. “Hm-hmm... yep. It is something I believe you mercenaries won’t want to miss.”Bookmark here

“Don’t make me laugh. We swore fealty to Lord Stupeyd Dumias. A criminal like you could never give us more than him,” Bartz yelled out loud.Bookmark here

“Ho-ho? I’m not so sure about that. In case you coin-hunters don’t know, I’m way richer than him!” Rodan replied confidently.Bookmark here

“I’m not so sure about you, either. You can’t even afford to get a good door and you say that you could pay us more than Lord Stupeyd?!” Bartz retorted.Bookmark here

“Yeah...” Rodan answered the mercenary’s question with utter confidence. “I promise you I will pay a hundred times better than that stupid dummy-ass. What do you say?”Bookmark here

“...”Bookmark here

The air was filled with nothing but uncomfortable silence. Only noises coming from the rustling leaves can be heard. After a minute of silence, Bartz asked him again.Bookmark here

“...Are you certain you can do that?”Bookmark here

“Absolutely,” Rodan replied. “Also, can you make your decision quickly? My head’s hurt for staying too long in this position...!” he added rapidly. He was still upside down, dangling under the branch of the massive tree.Bookmark here

“How much will you pay us?” Bartz asked for the final time.Bookmark here

Rodan hopped down in front of him...Bookmark here

...and he gave his answer.Bookmark here

Upon hearing his answer, the mercenaries, either their leader, the ones who accompanied him and those who were hiding in the forest were stunned. Almost immediately as well, Bartz called off the attack and ordered his men to gather in front of the giant tree.Bookmark here

Rodan, who saw the amount of people going to hunt for his head to be this much, he sweated a bit while maintaining his arms crossed. His feet were trembling upon seeing the mercenaries gathering in front of his house.Bookmark here

“Ho-holy shit, they’re so many. G-Good thing I managed to assure them... ahaha...haha...”Bookmark here

After arraying his men, he came to Rodan and asked with far more seriousness in his eyes.Bookmark here

“You’re truly going to give us that? Do you promise it?”Bookmark here

Witnessing the eyes of the mercenary leader, Rodan could feel his emotion. He nodded and assured him for the last time. “You bet. I guarantee it with my life.”Bookmark here

“...Hmph... very well, then, from tonight and onwards, my men and I will serve you, Rodan! Give us your instructions.”Bookmark here

...Bookmark here

In that night, Rodan made a promise with the numerous mercenaries and made them change sides to fight for him.Bookmark here

Rodan talked to himself while staring far into the road leading to Gantz city.Bookmark here

“Stupeyd Dumias... I have a surprise for you. Just you wait and see...”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.