“...Darn it. She ran away...”
Rodan clenched his fists hardly. “White... Nightmare…?”
After musing about it for some time, he turned around and began lifting out boulders and dirt that fell on Ringo.
“White Nightmare… how long since the last time I heard that name?”
He pondered about it silently while helping the apple girl out. Eventually, he managed to recover Ringo out. He bandaged her feet along with a wooden stick as he guessed her bones were possibly broken. After that, Rodan carried her carefully on his arms hence the bad injury she suffered.
“Urgh, why are you so heavy, dammit!” Rodan nagged as he took her on his arms.
“H-How dare you!” Ringo retorted.
“Ten years ago, you were tiny and easy to carry. What the hell did you eat all this time?” Rodan retorted back, rapidly.
“S-Shut up! You’re strange as well! What the heck did you eat all this time? Did green apples made you stay like this for the last ten years?”
“Hmph, speak for yourself. By the way, I remember there should’ve been some knights patrolling this area. Have you seen them?” Rodan asked while looking around.
Ringo immediately reckoned them, the knights who chased down the giant Woruven. All of them were decimated by Ruru’s insane powers.
In a cowering voice, she replied. “...They’re already dead. Ruru… killed them all.”
Rodan halted his breath briefly. “……I see. How unfortunate…”
His words sounded reluctant and heavy. “I should’ve come sooner… what am I going to say to Johnny?”
In the end of his words, he let out a long breath. He gazed upon the field where Ruru had gone into. The ground was left with craters that spanned long into the distance as a result of her movement. Before long, Rodan decided to go back to the safe house.
“Ugh… s-sorry to be a burden, Roro…” she apologized.
“Don’t think about it. Just rest,” he said softly. “I must get you back safely. Only then I will need to find Ruru.”
“…Huh…? What do you mean? Y-You’re still willing to keep her with you, Roro? Have you gone insane?
She’s the White Nightmare!”
Rodan didn’t answer immediately. He was carefully leaping over the crumbled hill from one stepping to another before finally reaching the other side.
For Ringo, however, his silence was implying of his disappointment. She felt uneasy. It was rare for Rodan to not immediately give his answer.
As Rodan landed, he spoke again. “I’m responsible for her actions. Whatever her terrorizing actions are… whatever atrocity she has caused… it is I who must step in to stop her.”
“You don’t have to! You’re just going to kill yourself, Roro!”
Rodan let out a heavy breath. He felt like his soul would tear apart when hearing Ringo, but he controlled his emotions. He calmed himself before he spoke.
When he got calm enough, he gathered enough breath and spoke again in a much smoother voice.
“I know. I thank you for your concern, Ringo. Even though she is the White Nightmare, I will not waver. This…
…is a promise that I absolutely must fulfill.
She is the person that gave me purpose, Ringo.
Please don’t kill my feelings like that.”
Ringo’s felt terrible. She didn’t know what to say to him anymore. In one point, she wanted to make sure her friend didn’t die in vain chasing the nightmare that destroyed her past life. While in another point, she realized that she had no idea of what Ruru is to Rodan. She indirectly made him saddened by her words of bewitching Ruru.
“I’m… I’m sorry,” said Ringo lowly. “I… I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”
Rodan gave an unexpected reply.
“No, I’m the one to say sorry…”
“Eh…?” Ringo lifted her sights upwards and saw his face from below. His words just now were sounded wavy, and as if he was remorseful for what happened.
“I’ve put you in the brink of death, Ringo. I feel guilty for almost having you killed.
Did you know…?
I lied about Ruru as my disciple.
She was… actually a former slave. I bought her after the incident in Gantz not so long ago.
Just by plain sight anyone would knew she’s not a human. Mostly people would denote her as a demon. Her overall white looks and red eyes made her look like a vampire, but in contrast… she’s not. It was obvious of how she’s immune to sun but not to simple light.
I was supposed to find out what she is exactly… but I thought it won’t be that necessary to do, so I let it slide by, thinking that everything would be all right.
It turned out to be fatal.”
“If I knew her true self sooner, then I could’ve averted many bad things from happening.
If she is the White Nightmare… then most of these mysteries have been answered.
They are one of the world’s legendary mythical creatures. They are from the demon race or specifically the White Demon hence their overall white looks. They have about the same level as a Divine Dragon.
If vampires are known as the Harbinger of Terror, then the White Demons are the Harbinger of Destruction.
They are but a huge monster. Just one of them could cause a massive terror throughout the land. Their existence rival that of the demon lord, but records said the last of them were supposedly gone extinct hundred years ago. There were no sign of them returning back.
But apparently, there are words that warned everyone about them, to warn people to not think that the White Demon had perished completely. I’ve seen in some records that illustrated the White Demon as a monstrous creature with overall white and scary features. Those depictions were claimed to be true by some people.
Personally, I only heard tales that White Demon did attack villages, towns, and cities. Unstoppable, fearsome, and powerful, it literally created the term White Nightmare. The White Demon… was forgotten, now replaced with by that new name.
But that didn’t last too long, I suppose.
About twenty years ago, the White Nightmare was gone just like every other White Demon. Nobody knew what truly happened to them. Nonetheless, the warnings were still sounded across continents to stay alerted, even till now.
…If Ruru Blanche, is the White Nightmare… then it answered most of the mysteries here in Astur.
White Demons can create influence that draws attention of monsters to come to them, probably to make them their servants. Their range of effect was extremely great, but their stench of miasma was too powerful to the point that monsters became extremely aggressive when affected by them. Even if the White Demon was no longer around, the effect would still be there for weeks, if not months.
And probably other monsters, too…
It explained why they were all growing powerful day after day. They grew stronger to the point that no lower-class adventurers can fight them.
There are no Arch Demons around here. Not only that they couldn’t expand influence like White Demons, but they can also attract many powerful adventurers. But if it is the White Demon... then it makes much sense.
All of them were affected by Ruru’s miasma.
White Demons’ miasma was completely different than other demon counterparts. They cannot be sensed. It’s the reason why no strong adventurers come here. It’s the reason why the government didn’t realize the threat.
It was probably a mistake to bring her along here. Mine. My carelessness has led it to be like this.”
In the end of his story, Rodan gazed into the sparkling stars above. “But still... there’s plenty of unanswered questions.
I appreciate your concern to prevent me from getting her. From your way of telling me that she is the White Nightmare, I believe you have your own reasons why you are so scared of her, Ringo.
But did you know how much she likes you, Ringo? She likes it when you braid her hair, she loves it when you bathe her, giving her cute clothes, and many more.
You’ve built a bond with her. She trusted you, Ringo. She saw you more than just a friend.
If you ever know that she is the White Nightmare since the first time you met her, will you show affection the same way as before? Or perhaps would you kill her right away?
Either way... I will not blame you for your actions. Your past might be the reason. I’m not the one to judge you. Besides, I’m responsible for what happened.”
Ringo couldn’t say a word anymore. She never saw that side of Rodan before in her life.
The air was quiet and gloomy. Both Rodan and Ringo did not talk again until they reached the safe house.
When they arrived at the safe safehouse, Nono was the first to welcome them back followed by some of the guild members who just woke up. But they were shocked when they saw Ringo’s injuries. They immediately sought first aid in the safe house.
The Asturian Knights had gathered there as well. Baron John Falconet welcomed Rodan back warmly. But seeing Ringo in that condition, he quickly instructed his knights to bring out medicines to heal her up. Although Nono and the others had reappeared from the house with many medical supplies.
The female guild members treated her wounds with care. After some time, one of them went back to tell the tale.
“She will need some time to recover, Mr. Rodan. Well, unless we have a priest or priestess, that is...” said one of her guild members.
“Should I contact someone, eh?” Rodan wondered.
“No, no need,” Ringo stated. She forced herself to walk, although her ankles were broken. She held the door frame to sustain her body. “I cannot burden you more than this, Roro. I... I’m not going to trouble you anymore!” she added.
“Miss Ringo, please, you must rest!” said one of her guild members in concern.
“Oh, please... this is nothing compared the ones I’ve been through long time ago. Don’t underestimate me, Sally, haha.”
Not long afterwards, the young baron emerged on their doorstep. He just returned from scouting with some of his men. He appeared to be anxious of something as he began to spoke to Rodan.
“Sir Rodan... I’ve lost contact with some of my men. I tried to find where they are, but to no avail. You returned here from the direction where my men went off. If by chance, have you seen them somewhere?”
Rodan’s eyes felt like blackening out. He knew what happened, but how could he tell this to him? He couldn’t tell that Ruru had killed them.
Then, he found an idea, though arguably not the good nor the correct one.
“I will be punished for this later, I’m sure of it. My apologies, Johnny, I have no choice...”
Rodan told him that there was a single powerful monster that decimated the entire field. Some of his men were killed in the process. When he arrived, he could only slay the beast, but was unable to save his men.
John Falconet and his men were shaken as they heard some of their comrades didn’t make it out alive. Some of his men began to tear up and mourn their deaths. They really valued their colleagues, no matter what their background was.
Rodan wasn’t entirely lying, however. He just did not say that Ruru was the one who did it. Either way, he felt bad for saying it that way.
“It is saddening to hear my brave warriors fell. But in the battlefield, death always haunt us all, but for the sake of our country we fought.
My men... their death will not be in vain, I promise. They will be remembered as heroes to Astur and Augzeria. We will pray to the almighty god that their lives will forever be at peace. And I will find whatever is left from them—armor, sword, bows, spears, or even a piece of cloth to memorize their deed in this battle.”
His declaration made his men much more emotional.
“Bonds... relationships... friends... lovers...
Will finally end when death severed the string. But it doesn’t completely end. As long as people remember them, they will always exist, though not physically.
Sir John and his men really showed that.”
It was dusk. The sun was already seen rising on the horizon, slightly shining the land with its warm light.
Rodan was sitting on a chair just in front of the safe house while watching the sun going up. His moment was disturbed when he heard rough footsteps coming near him.
“Why do you love forcing yourself...” said Rodan as he looked behind him. “...Ringo?”
Ringo appeared leaning on the door. She was in her pajamas. She was having a hard time maintaining to stand properly due to her injuries. Most of her body were bandaged.
“You look pathetic that way, you know? If you force yourself further, then I suppose you’re the masochist, not Nono. Stay in your bed, will ya? Or maybe you want to add more bandages to your crippled body?”
“As usual... you always say something rude, Roro.”
“Hmph... That’s the case when you lied about your condition, Ringo.”
“Y-You noticed?” Ringo got surprised.
“Of course, you fool. We’ve been friends for what, ten years. How come I don’t notice? It hurts, right? Don’t force yourself. With those broken bones, how can you even still walk?”
In Ringo’s mind, she was moved by how Rodan cared for her condition. Even going as far as noticing her true condition that was quite fatal.
“He’s always like this...” Ringo mumbled in her mind. She reminisced of the time when she met him for the first time. “...That eyes of his... they always look after me. How can I not...”
Ringo held her tears back and decided to speak her thoughts to him.
“I... I want to say sorry.”