Chapter 32:

Ringo's Present

White Nightmare

In the true present time, Ruru is currently watching a parade in Astur city from above a tower. Not long afterwards, she spots the noble leader of that city riding his white horse in his shining knight armor.Bookmark here

“Baron John Falconet...Bookmark here

He is one of many people that knew the truth about who I am. At first, I was skeptical about him. I feared that he would sell away the information about me and endanger our lives...Bookmark here

Yet... he kept silent. He never spilled the beans. He kept that secret to himself. Not even his men knew about it. I believed he did that for the sake of his country... and to honor Roro.Bookmark here

Now... I respect him as how Roro respected him. He’s one of many reasons why I’m still alive today. But still... I don’t think he would be happy if I tell him that Roro has disappeared.Bookmark here

For now... I will keep looking for him on my own. I will not fail, even if the Nexus tries to stop me.”Bookmark here

Before long, Ruru disappeared like a ghost as the wind blows above the tower.Bookmark here

She teleports herself into the open field where the apple gardens are. She can only stare from far away, not wanting to scare the workers there.Bookmark here

“I doubt they would remember me. I doubt Miss Ringo would recognize me... I don’t have the bravery to come to her... for now.Bookmark here

But it’s quite heartwarming when she did something to me to make up for her mistakes...Bookmark here

I always smile when remembering that time, five years ago...”Bookmark here

...Bookmark here

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Back to five years ago...Bookmark here

Notwithstanding her injuries, Ringo had began working again in her carefree manner. But because of her condition, she was forced by her guild members to stay out of physical works and let them do the job for her. The only thing she was allowed to do was doing the documents.Bookmark here

“Sheesh... I want to carry some of those boxes, not stuck here with doing all of these tablets!” Ringo griped. In front of her were stacks of wooden tablets waiting to be checked.Bookmark here

“That’s what you’re supposed to do, boss, especially in your current condition.”Bookmark here

“Yeah. To be honest, I’m surprised that even though having broken bones but you’re still kicking fine. If it was me, I’d take a month or two for recovery.”Bookmark here

“Aye. I’m impressed. Having able to get back to work almost immediately after receiving harsh injuries is no simple feat.”Bookmark here

“Hmph, well, I can’t let my guild go inactive just because I’m in this state. If we don’t do anything for the next two months, we’ll be kicked out of the guilds list. But still, doing these documents is such a pain in the butt,” Ringo replied. “Why not just Sally, though? She’s better at doing these...”Bookmark here

“Miss Sally is currently working on the documents for our shipping. She has her hands full now. Even though she’s the secretary, this responsibility is still yours to take, boss!”Bookmark here

“Yeah, just enjoy it.”Bookmark here

“Uh-huh, you’re our leader, anyway.”Bookmark here

“Darn it, you guys... argh, fine! I’ll do it! I’ll make you guys pay for making me do this!”Bookmark here

Even though she’s the guild leader, Ringo didn’t emit the aura of leadership hence her friendly and carefree personality. That’s why many of her guild members would talk to her like normal friends. Sometimes, they were pranked by her, and they would prank her back. Such was the characteristic of a non-fighter guild.Bookmark here

Ringo was left alone in her room to rot alongside the tablets she had to check. After checking several dozens of tablets within short time, she saw a tablet where it was written about Rodan’s belated orders. For a moment, she remembered when Rodan took off into the skies to find Ruru.Bookmark here

“Will he succeed in finding her...? Bookmark here

Argh, what am I thinking? He’s Rodan Rouge! He can do anything! Just like how he’s always able to do anything to help me from the start...”Bookmark here

Ringo leaned back on her chair while biting the back of her marker. She stared at the ceiling in rather anxiety. After a moment she laid down on the desk while thinking about something.Bookmark here

“What if he has returned by now? And with Ruru in his side...?Bookmark here

I don’t know what I should say to him. I don’t think I’ll have the strength to see her again. I’m scared, but I wanted to know the truth. Rodan could still forgive her... but why couldn’t I?Bookmark here

The scar in my heart... the scar in my soul of my terrible past... I just can’t get over it. It scared me. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t be like him.Bookmark here

Haah... if he has returned with her...Bookmark here

What kind of face should I be showing to her? What should I do to say my sorry?”Bookmark here

She scratched the table as she pondered deeply. Her eyes slowly scrolled as she viewed her front. When she saw a sculpture of a big apple on the floor, she eventually got an idea.Bookmark here

“That’s it! If I just do that, I think she will forgive me! But... will it work...?” she worried. But shortly, she shook her head and dismissed such thoughts. “Nay-nay-nay! Be positive, Ringo! It has to work!”Bookmark here

But suddenly, she heard some of her guild members shouting cheerfully as if someone has just returned. Soon, she heard Rodan’s voice.Bookmark here

“Eep! Speak of the devil he’s here! What should I do, what should I do?! Argh, how could he return so quickly? Ah, that voice... it’s Ruru. She’s back with him, too!Bookmark here

Aw, great, this is just super great. Argh, I don’t care anymore, I must execute my plan immediately! HAAIYA!”Bookmark here

She stomped the floor, only to feel an aching pain across her legs. “Ow-ow-ow... I shouldn’t really do that...”Bookmark here

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“SO! Riiiiingoooo~~!” Rodan exaggeratedly called her while piping his hand in front of his mask. He got irritated when she didn’t respond to his call. “Where the hell are you? Goddammit, where’s that apple girl?”Bookmark here

“Miss Ringo is in the office, sir,” one of her guild members showed up.Bookmark here

“Oh, really? You should’ve told me sooner. Come along, Ruru.”Bookmark here

“Is it... okay if I see her again?” she asked anxiously. “I mean... she looks like she didn’t want to see me at all...”Bookmark here

“Hah... look, Ruru. Ringo is just panicking that time. I think she will be delighted to see you again. I believe she has something to say to you as well. So come along. Don’t worry, I’ll be on your side.”Bookmark here

“...Okay. I trust you, Roro...”Bookmark here

Shortly, Nono emerged from upstairs carrying three crates full of red apples.Bookmark here

“GRRRGRRRGH! Dammit-this-piece-of-lingering-bottomless-pit-of-hell-apple-thing...!”Bookmark here

“Uwah, looks like Nono’s having a hard time...” Ruru thought in her mind. “I think I should give him a hand...”Bookmark here

“Haaa-ha! It looks like you’re having fun while I’m away, Nono!” Rodan teased. His sudden words caused Nono to burn in shadowing fury. But when he noticed it was Rodan, he immediately lowered his tension.Bookmark here

“Grk...! THIS thing’s goddamn heavy—Eh, Roro! You’ve returned! Welcome back! Oh, Ruru, too! Good to see you two once agaaiiiaauuuwaaaaah!” Nono nearly lost balance as he was distracted by their arrival. But gladly, he managed to stand his ground and kept the crates secure.Bookmark here

“I-It looks dangerous, can I help you?” Ruru immediately offered.Bookmark here

“Whew, what’s the sudden change, Ruru? Don’t you worry, this is still nothing compared to those training days that red retard gave me,” Nono stated as he went downstairs.Bookmark here

“Hah? Who do you call a red retard, damned four eyes?!” Rodan retorted. “I will double your training next time!”Bookmark here

“Grk! Not fair, darn it! Ah, I’m going to be late to load these. I’ll talk to you guys later, see ya!”Bookmark here

“Nono is quite a handy person, isn’t he?” Ruru smiled.Bookmark here

“Yup. He’s the best I have. You, too, will be my best as well,” Rodan stated.Bookmark here

“Tee-hee, thanks.”Bookmark here

Shortly, Rodan and Ruru went to the kitchen, only to find the door was shut, whereas it was supposedly to open most of the time.Bookmark here

“Huh...” Rodan approached the door and knocked it. “Yoo-hoo, anybody inside?” he casually called.Bookmark here

“Eeek! Y-You’re already here? Sheesh so fast, erm... hang on for a sec.”Bookmark here

The girl’s voice was recognizable to both Ruru and Rodan. She’s no other than Ringo Pumilia.Bookmark here

“Ringo... what are you doing alone in the kitchen~?” Rodan asked funnily.Bookmark here

“Nothing, really, um... no I mean, yes, I mean, argh! I can’t get my mind straight...Bookmark here

...Bookmark here

...Is Ruru with you?”Bookmark here

Rodan looked towards the white-haired girl, and she gave a nod to him. “Yup, she’s with me.”Bookmark here

“Um... okay. Is there... anyone else aside you and her?” she asked again.Bookmark here

Rodan looked around him. There’s nobody in plain sight. “No...?”Bookmark here

“Great! Um... can you step away from the door?”Bookmark here

“What are you planning to do, blow the door with explosives?” Rodan retorted.Bookmark here

“Idiot! of course not! I’m not a demolition expert. But um... just don’t get in the door’s path, please.”Bookmark here

“Hah... fine, fine. There, I’m not in the way anymore. So will you show yourself now?”Bookmark here

“At once!”Bookmark here

After that short conversation, she opened the door. She appeared to have been able to walk although slowly and carefully. It suprised Rodan that she did that.Bookmark here

“What a lunatic girl you are... good grief...” said Rodan rubbing the back of his head, pitying her.Bookmark here

“S-Shut up, you’re far more lunatic than I am! Placing traps all over the place in my garden and made my guild members do all the job to disarm them!”Bookmark here

“Yeah, yeah, I’m sorry. I should’ve returned sooner. Then? Why did you force yourself out like this? That crate behind you was quite big. What’s in that?”Bookmark here

“Um... it’s actually for... Ruru.”Bookmark here

“...For me...?” Ruru disbelieved.Bookmark here

“Hmph, I see what you’re up to. Can you go to her, Ruru?” he asked. “You don’t have to force yourself.”Bookmark here

“No... I can do it.”Bookmark here

“I see. Well, then, go ahead. I will wait on the other side.”Bookmark here

As Rodan left the kitchen, there’s only Ruru and Ringo in the room.Bookmark here

Both were having their hearts racing, thumping as both shared the same fear. It was an awkward moment of silence. But eventually, they both started speaking at the same time.Bookmark here

“Ruru...!”Bookmark here

“Miss Ringo!”Bookmark here

“Ah, y-you could go first, Ruru.”Bookmark here

“...No, no, I don’t have the right to begin the conversation...”Bookmark here

Both were sweating profusely. But Ringo took enough courage to speak up to her worst fear.Bookmark here

“Miss Ringo... I...”Bookmark here

“—I’m so sorry, Ruru!” she suddenly bowed down in almost perfect L shape.Bookmark here

“Eh?”Bookmark here

“I’m sorry for calling you such a terrible nickname. I didn’t mean to make you feel that way. I didn’t know you at all, Ruru. I somehow saw you looked very similar to the ones I’ve faced in my past... Bookmark here

Meanwhile I... I don’t have the proof that you are the one, I was panicking, and um... and um...”Bookmark here

Ruru gave a graceful smile. “...I’m sorry, too, Miss Ringo. I’ve caused so many troubles to you... to be honest, I wasn’t aware of who I was. But now... it was quite clear. If you feared me... I don’t think it’s wrong for you to do so. Because I shared the characteristics of the White Nightmare, you feared me.Bookmark here

It's what many people knew about me. The theme of white, red ruby eyes, powerful and scary aura... that’s how the White Nightmare is. That’s how we, the White Demons are.”Bookmark here

“...Ruru... is this her true feelings...?Bookmark here

“But Miss Ringo, I wanted to have people I can trust to. I want to fix my life. I want to find what’s missing in me... that’s why... please don’t hate me. I want to be friends with you, just like how you treated me with such care in these short few days. I really enjoyed it. I truly have fun with you. Those times I shall never forget, so please, my heart can’t take it if you hate me, please forgive me!”Bookmark here

In the end of her words, Ruru bowed down just like how Ringo bowed to her. Ringo was moved by her words. Her view of her changed drastically.Bookmark here

“Impossible if she’s the White Nightmare...Bookmark here

No way she’s the one. Such beautiful and kind girl like her is the scary White Nightmare? She has stated her true feelings towards me... and I’m happy to hear it. I’m scared about her true nature. She admitted the fact that she’s a White Demon. But at the same time...Bookmark here

She shared human feelings. One that I could comprehend. How can I not forgive her at this point?”Bookmark here

In the end of her thoughts, Ringo rubbed the white girl’s hair. “There, there... I’ve forgiven you, Ruru. I hope you can forgive me as well for saying such rude words to you.”Bookmark here

She turned around to the crate behind her and picked something from it. It was revealed to be a large apple. Ruru reflectively opened her mask to make sure her eyes weren’t fooling her. As a result, her eyes grew bigger, flashing in such interest.Bookmark here

Ringo offered it to her while expressing her thoughts kindly.Bookmark here

“This isn’t much, but please...” Ringo paused for a moment and took a deep breath. She smiled sincerely and ultimately spoke to her:Bookmark here

“I have a present for you. Please take this apple as a token of my apology. This apple is the best one I have. It’s not a green apple, but I guarantee it tastes better than you think! Bookmark here

So... I’m looking forward to having fun with you again. Will you forgive me, Ruru?”Bookmark here

Ruru looked her in the eyes. She showed her cute and adorable smile to her. She ultimately nodded, allowing Ringo to light up her world once again.Bookmark here

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Meanwhile...Bookmark here

Rodan met with the Baron of Astur, John Falconet just in the front yard of the safehouse.Bookmark here

“Oh, speak of the devil, Johnny. I’ve something to talk about with you,” said Rodan casually.Bookmark here

“My, my, Sir Rodan. What coincidence, I also have something to speak of to you.”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.