Chapter 31:

First Things First

White Nightmare

After an emotional moment, Rodan took her into the skies. But they didn’t head back to Ringo’s house right away.Bookmark here

“How are you feeling now, Ruru?” Rodan asked.Bookmark here

“I feel great. I feel like I’ve returned back to life, tee-hee,” Ruru replied smilingly. Bookmark here

“Huh, what are you, undead?” Rodan joked.Bookmark here

She had loosened her long hair and let it flow along with the wind. Her face was revealed clearly as the air met her ghost white skin. She was cheerful now, and much more open to speak with Rodan.Bookmark here

As they flew above the ocean, Ruru noticed that they were deviating from the supposed way.Bookmark here

“Ahh... the wind’s so cold at this time. If only I had powers like Green, then we’ll have the comfiest ride ever!”Bookmark here

“...Hehe. By the way, Roro... shouldn’t we go back to Miss Ringo’s house? I’m afraid this isn’t the right direction...”Bookmark here

“Ho... so you realized it? Indeed, we are not going back there yet.”Bookmark here

“Why?” she asked curiously.Bookmark here

“I’ve told you before, didn’t I? We gotta do something about your powers from fluctuating again. That’s why, we’ll stop by somewhere to get something.”Bookmark here

“Huh...”Bookmark here

Moments later, they reached a wide continent. Ruru’s eyes were attached at the beautiful sights below her. There was a city near a lagoon, many ships docked in there. There were mountains and forests later, before finally Rodan went to low altitude and touched down somewhere.Bookmark here

As Ruru let go of Rodan’s hands, she saw a strange hut in front of her, whereas around her was nothing but rainforest.Bookmark here

“Where are we?” she wondered.Bookmark here

“My old place,” Rodan replied casually. “I usually hang out around here, but it was a long time ago. Come, follow me, Ruru.”Bookmark here

Ruru nodded and followed him from behind.Bookmark here

As they entered the hut, Rodan nearly puked.Bookmark here

“Bleargh! Goddammit, is there nobody taking care of this hut?” he yelled out loud.Bookmark here

“Hmm... it looks like it’s been left off for a long time, Roro,” Ruru stated as she rubbed the wooden table. There were mosses, molds, and spider webs all over the place, too.Bookmark here

Rodan leaned back against the wooden wall, only to destroy it by the weight of his body. Bookmark here

“—WHAT THE F—” Rodan nearly fell off. The wall was so frail. It proved that nobody had ever taken maintenance to the hut.Bookmark here

“Harrumph... how terrible this place could be?”Bookmark here

“Shouldn’t we clean it up first?” Ruru asked.Bookmark here

“You’re right. But nah, I guess we don’t have to do that. Our primary target was below us.”Bookmark here

“Eh, below us?”Bookmark here

“Yup. Come stand near me, Ruru.”Bookmark here

Rodan asked her to stand still close to him in the middle of the small hut. Shortly, Rodan chanted a magic spell. A medium magic circle was generated right below him.Bookmark here

Ruru was amazed and scared at the same time. Amazed by the fact that the magic was performed beautifully, meanwhile scared by how Rodan’s rapid incantation coming out from his mouth was spoken in language that was impossible to be translated even by her perceiving skill. It’s in a completely incomprehensible language.Bookmark here

A few seconds later, Rodan and Ruru was teleported somewhere. They were now inside a chamber that was decorated in the theme of red. The carpets, the curtains, the walls, even the ceilings. Somehow, Ruru could smell the stench of Rodan all over the place.Bookmark here

“What is this place...?” she wondered yet amazed by her surroundings. “It’s like I’m inside a red palace...”Bookmark here

Rodan told her to follow him again to a sealed room. He opened it by making some knocking unto the door. The sound of his knockings was heard like they have patterns.Bookmark here

Inside that room, it was dark. But when Rodan clapped his hands twice, the entire candles in that room were lighted up instantly. Even their fire was purely red. In the middle of the room, there was a treasure chest. Rodan opened it while Ruru stared at him digging it.Bookmark here

“Roro... what is this place?”Bookmark here

“As I’ve told you... grrrr, darn it, where the hell is it? ...this place may look fancy and royal. But this place is a grave.”Bookmark here

“A grave?”Bookmark here

“That’s right. I’d call it as such because it was dedicated to the Crimson Reaper, who had died and left all his belongings in here. Many people said that to me. His grave was never found, but shockingly, I found it.Bookmark here

I was surprised when I found this place by accident. I decided to keep my mouth shut and never tell anybody about this immersive chamber we’re in. Though this place was a tomb to someone, there was no deceased body in here, thus making this place like a palace. I stored many things in this room to make sure nobody would touch it aside myself.”Bookmark here

“It’s quite convenient to have a place like this, is it not?” Ruru asked.Bookmark here

“I wanted to say it’s convenient, but to be honest, it’s not,” Rodan replied while still searching for something. “It is because that this place has one rule that I couldn’t get away with. Probably anyone else couldn’t get away from an absolute rule in this place.Bookmark here

That rule was that nobody could wander around this tomb more than five minutes. I believe it was meant to keep this place sacred to the so-called Crimson Reaper. That’s why, we must be quick.”Bookmark here

“I-Is there anything I can do for you, Roro?” Ruru offered her help.Bookmark here

“Hm? Oh, wait a sec... AH! There you are!” Rodan finally grabbed the item he was searching for. “Don’t worry, I’ve found what we need. Come on, let’s get out of here.”Bookmark here

As they teleported back into the surface of the world, they walked out of the ancient hut. Ruru was getting nervous of what Rodan was searching back there. Right now, Rodan was staring at the object he just found, which made Ruru much more nervous. But she tried not to show it and simply followed him.Bookmark here

“Ruru,” Rodan turned around and looked at her. In his hands was revealed to be a mask.Bookmark here

“What’s that?” she asked carefully.Bookmark here

“Why the long face, though? Just relax. This here will be an important item that will help you subdue the overwhelming strength within your body. It will compress and could possibly block overgrowing Mana energy for its user. Though, I couldn’t guarantee it since I never tried it myself. It looked tacky, but I think it’ll look good on you, Ruru.Bookmark here

This... is the Mask of Theta, a heritage from someone that cared for me. Now, I want you to inherit it for me.Bookmark here

I hope by using this, you may be able to regain stability over yourself. You can train to control your powers this way.”Bookmark here

Ruru accepted the mask as Rodan offered her. She saw a symbol on the mask. The symbol of theta in black was shining when she rubbed it. The metal alloy that was possibly containing magical elements in it was sensed by her.Bookmark here

She immediately put it on her face. At first, she was curious of how the mask will stick on her face without straps. But her curiosity was answered when the mask simply stuck like a magnet covering her face entirely. The mask was reshaping itself to match the user’s facial profile. And eventually Ruru’s face was hidden. Bookmark here

She felt comfortable still even with the mask on. Her voice was still heard normally, and she could still see her surroundings with ease. Even though the mask looked like it blocked her view, it didn’t actually block its user’s eyesight.Bookmark here

“As I expected... it fits you alright. So how do you feel?”Bookmark here

“I... I feel much more... comfortable.”Bookmark here

The flow of powers that was overwhelming her now got under control as she wore the mask. The mask slowed down her intense influence, to the point it couldn’t affect monsters anymore. Her aura that was leaking like a broken barrel now had been fixed. She felt much more alive at this point.Bookmark here

“Good to know, then. This way, I think you won’t go berserk again,” Rodan noted.Bookmark here

“But this way... you cannot see my face,” she stated.Bookmark here

“You still look cute in that mask. Perhaps cuter, maybe? Gah, I don’t know. I sucked at understanding woman’s fashion anyway.”Bookmark here

“Tee-hee,” Ruru giggled a bit. “Thank you, Roro. This flower hairpin you gave me... and now this mask you just give me. I will take care of them.”Bookmark here

“Yeah. I’ll be glad if you do that. And thank you for still wearing that flower pin.”Bookmark here

“You’re welcome. As I expected... Roro, you are a strange human, after all. I began to question your credibility as one.”Bookmark here

“GECK—W-What do you mean? Do you think I’m not a human?! How dare you, I am absolutely human since birth!” Rodan retorted rapidly.Bookmark here

After a short moment, both had a good laugh.Bookmark here

After that, they launched into the air again and now headed back to Ringo’s house. It took some time to reach her place, since Rodan needed to watch below him to make sure he didn’t miss it. He was not guided by anything, after all. Only the compass, and the white girl beside him helped their way back there.Bookmark here

As they touched down somewhere not far from the city, Rodan walked to the safehouse together with her.Bookmark here

“I will probably never be going to use the ability to fly again. That flight was the longest, enjoyable, and hopefully, the final time I would fly. The ground was much more comfortable rather than staying in the air...”Bookmark here

Rodan decided not to use his flight ability again. It tormented his soul for doing so.Bookmark here

As the sun began to rise above their heads, they eventually returned to Ringo’s apple garden. There were Asturian Knights along with some of Ringo’s guild members helping shoulders to shoulders in removing the traps that had been used in the battle against the Woruvens.Bookmark here

The Woruvens had returned to their original form—agile but weak. They’re fit to be hunted down by adventurers once again. Ruru’s influence had no more effect in the region, thus making monsters’ activity lowered significantly.Bookmark here

Some of the Asturian Knights spotted them and left their jobs immediately to greet the red-haired man in person.Bookmark here

“Sir Rodan!”Bookmark here

“Sir Rodan, welcome back!”Bookmark here

“We’ve been waiting for your return!”Bookmark here

Rodan confidently replied to their call, “Yeah... I’m back boys. How’s things while I’m away?” he asked.Bookmark here

“It’s quite well, sir. We’ve removed most of the traps and the palisades around the safehouse as well.”Bookmark here

“Well done,” Rodan complimented.Bookmark here

“Pardon our intrusion, sire. But she is...?”Bookmark here

“Oh, she is Ruru. Ruru Blanche. My apprentice.”Bookmark here

“I see. How lucky you are, lady, to have a great master like Sir Rodan.”Bookmark here

Ruru backed off a bit and hid herself behind Rodan. But Rodan patted her, telling her that it’s okay. She gathered enough bravery to talk to them.Bookmark here

“N...Nice to meet you...” she said faintly.Bookmark here

The soldiers were felt like healed by her voice. “Ahhh... the voice of an angel...”Bookmark here

Shortly, her tiny hands were tightly gripping Rodan’s robes. There, Rodan realized that she must’ve feel uncomfortable around those soldiers where some of them she had killed in her berserk.Bookmark here

“Enough with this. My apprentice doesn’t have time to spend with you fools. Get your arses back to work immediately!”Bookmark here

“Sir, yes, sir!”Bookmark here

“Roger that!”Bookmark here

“Uuuwoooooooooaaaaah!”Bookmark here

Almost immediately, they returned working, and this time, they worked harder. Soon, their leader emerged on the road.Bookmark here

“Geez, these fellas work harder all of sudden... I wonder what’s making them like that....” the baron mumbled when he saw his subordinates. “Ah! Welcome back, Sir Rodan. I see you have found her,” said the baron as he noticed Rodan and Ruru.Bookmark here

“Yeah... it took me some time, but we’ve reunited once again,” said Rodan while giving his thumbs up.Bookmark here

“Glad to hear it. Why is she wearing a mask, though?” Sir John asked.Bookmark here

“Style, Johnny. Style. Don’t you know how women likes to dress? I’m disappointed in you, Johnny,” Rodan stated in a high tone.Bookmark here

“You don’t even know about their sense of fashion, either, sir,” Sir John cringed.Bookmark here

“A-AHEM! W-Well, it doesn’t matter! Um...”Bookmark here

Ruru then spoke to him, “I like this mask. I won’t take it off, S-Sir Johnny...” she said delicately and politely.Bookmark here

“...I see. Pardon my intrusion. You should’ve told me that, Sir Rodan,” the baron bowed down to her. “By the way, sir, I think you should go to Miss Ringo’s house. Mister Norio and Miss Ringo are worried sick, sir.”Bookmark here

“I know. Well, then, go on with your work, Sir John. We’ll go ahead.”Bookmark here

“Sure. Godspeed.”Bookmark here

As Rodan and Ruru walked away in the distance, the baron was still staring at them. He remembered yesterday, after their meeting in Astur, Rodan gave him a pouch of coins.Bookmark here

“Here, take this. It’s thirty gold coins in total,” Rodan threw the pouch on the table.Bookmark here

That time, Sir John Falconet was confused by his actions. It felt like as if Rodan was trying to bribe him. “Sir Rodan... we are not mercenaries. We don’t need to be paid to get the job done.”Bookmark here

“Sir John, do you think I would believe you guys won’t spread out the word about Miss Ringo’s house?” Rodan retorted.Bookmark here

“Are you saying we knights couldn’t keep our mouths shut about it?”Bookmark here

“Precisely. Most of you may be obedient to you to not spread out the word, but there will be always people who wanted to spread the news around them without researching things further. There are things in her house that must be kept a secret no matter what happens.”Bookmark here

“...Hush money, huh...?”Bookmark here

...Bookmark here

..Bookmark here

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Back to present time, Sir John finally understood his meaning.Bookmark here

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“I’ve directed my boys to not do any unnecessary things in Miss Ringo’s house. I knew it was a company product she wanted to keep secret for the sake of her guild. At first, I realized Sir Rodan was giving me hush money to keep that secret of hers, but who could’ve thought... that it was the White Nightmare that I must not tell the world?”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.