Rodan, Nono, and Ruru were still staying there, although it’s been a week since the Woruven incident ended. Rodan actually wanted to go home as soon as possible, but his wish was turned down by Nono, saying that he was rude to leave Ringo behind to do all the work by herself.
That eventually caused Rodan to stay.
And after a week, Ringo was already capable of walking around freely as if nothing ever happened to her legs. Even so, she was still prohibited from doing heavy works like lifting crates and stuff. That job was given to her guild members that had a muscular build. And of course, Rodan was given the job.
“Grrr, why the heck am I still here, just to suffer carrying this darned piece of wooden crate?!” he grunted while carrying ten stacks of crates full of apples into a cart. Ringo’s guild members not only were they amazed by how powerful he was, but they also got their job eased off with Rodan overloading himself.
Rodan knew he was being exploited. But he’s still working for them, just for the sake of Ringo, though hoping that she would pay him with more apples.
“At first I wondered what kind of secret this garden has...” thought Rodan while carrying another crate. “I thought there was some deep secret hidden in here. Some... malevolent hidden stuff that none must know except for her and her guild member. But who could’ve thought...?
...That THESE freaking crates are those secrets she didn’t want anybody else know about. She enlisted me to help her out because she didn’t want these wooden crates to be found by the others. I thought it was some serious thing but turned out to be a company’s secret to prevent loss of profit! Darn it, Ringo...”
After putting it on the cart, Rodan looked behind him and found Nono struggling as he pulled a small cart loaded with six crates of apples.
“Ho... good luck tough guy,” Rodan teased.
“Argh, thanks for the encouragement, Roro, but even that won’t give me the ability to pull out Deus Ex Machina out of nowhere and able to carry all of these in an instant!”
“Good luck, Nono!” a delicate voice of a woman was heard. It was Ruru that stood near Rodan giving encouragement to Nono. “You can do it!”
“As I said, not even encouragement can give me enough power to pull this thing. Moreover, aren’t you stronger than I am, Ruru? Give me a hand, please?”
“Huh, poor guy. Go ahead and help him, Ruru,” Rodan told her.
The masked girl nodded, “You got it, Roro.”
Just her share of touch to the cart made it incredibly light and easy to pull. It literally gave the impression that Nono was the weakest among them. But Nono didn’t care. As long as the job’s done, he could go to rest immediately.
“Just what kind of idea did you have to make me do this, Roro? Hah... hah...” Nono asked. His breath was a bit unstable as he was tired.
“Back into you, just what kind of idea did you have to make ME stay here, Nono? If you told me to stay, then I’ll stay. But you will suffer along with me. Oh, wait, imagine it as a part of your training, hehe,” Rodan stared mockingly.
“This doesn’t feel like a training at all!” Nono retorted. “Aside of that, most of the crates have been loaded. Probably tomorrow we can go home.”
“Good to hear! I’m itching to enjoy my afternoon nap on my comfy couch.”
“Huh, all you’re thinking is lazing around, aren’t you, Roro?”
“Tee-hee, Roro must be really tired,” Ruru giggled adorably. “But Roro, don’t forget that you have some things to do.”
“....eeeergh... don’t remind me, Ruru. I want to rest myself after a long work.”
Shortly, someone rushed to them with a wooden tablet in their hand.
“Roro! Ruru! Nono!”
It was Ringo. She looked so happy. She smiled widely and spiritedly as she approached the three.
“Hi, Miss Ringo~!” Ruru greeted her with such friendly attitude.
“Yo, Ringo,” Nono greeted.
“Look, Ringo, do you want to jump back into your sickbed by running like that? If your bones began to shatter again, I wouldn’t want to help you anymore!” Rodan yelled. He’s the only one that didn’t greet her.
“Ahahaha, right, sorry, sorry. I’ll be more careful. I’m just getting excited lately. You’ve saved me and my guild the trouble that should’ve lasted for weeks. Thank you.”
“Hmph, you’re welcome. What’s that tablet on your hand, Ringo? I thought it’s your secretary’s job to do all of those writing stuffs and all...”
“Well, it is, actually. But for this one, I want to do it personally.”
Shortly, the apple girl offered the tablet to Rodan and a piece of quill pen. “Please sign here, Mr. Rodan Rouge,” she smiled kindly. “I promised to give you packs of green apples for free, right? Since you helped me a lot up until now, I will give you more than you could imagine. So, please sign here.”
“Ah, finally! THIS is what I’m looking forward to,” said Rodan as he picked up the tablet and the quill pen.
Meanwhile, Ruru lifted her mask above her head. She was drooling when she heard the word ‘green apple’. “How many apples?” she asked excitedly.
“Huhu~ you can eat all you want, Ruru. You can eat to your heart’s content!”
“Haa..haaa...!” her eyes were blaring in excitement. “Thank you, Miss Ringo!” she immediately hugged her.
Ringo patted her head a few times. She smiled back in return.
“—Ah, your nose is bleeding, Ringo,” Rodan noticed her nose was slightly bleeding.
“Oh, you’re right, Roro. Ringo, are you not healthy?” Nono asked.
“EH?! No-no-no, this isn’t... huh...?” her nose bleeding was immediately halted as a soft glow of light wrapped around her. Ruru healed her right away.
“Thank you, Miss Ringo. I will not forget you.”
Ringo’s expression slowly melted into a feeling of thrilled. She realized that Rodan and the rest would leave soon. As a parting sentence, she hugged her back and spoke softly to her, “Mm. I will not forget you either, Ruru. Please come to my place sometime later. Let’s play again together.”
“Yeah. I’m looking forward for it.”
“Oh, right, I’ve something to give to you,” Ringo let go of her hug and searched her pocket. “Here.”
In her hand revealed to be a hairpin in the shape of green apple. She immediately put it on her bangs. It looked incredibly cute on her.
“Same as Roro who gave you his attention to you, I wanted to show mine as well. It took me a week to make that, I know it’s not much, but I hope you like it.”
Ruru looked at her new hairpin hanging on her white hair. Soon, she smiled cutely. “I like it... I really like it. Thank you.”
“Tee-hee. Please take care of it for me, will you?” Ringo asked her.
“Absolutely! I will take good care of it,” Ruru replied.
Suddenly, Roro rained down on their joyous parade of feelings. “Are you two done? A’ight, Ringo, here’s the tablet.”
“Argh, dammit, Roro, can’t you at least see this rollercoaster of emotion we’re having? Oh, well, thanks for signing... Ro-ROOO?!”
Ringo was shocked by Rodan’s signature.
“So... it was you, Roro... it was you who made this kind of messy signature. Hey, can’t you have a much better fitting signature than this?” Ringo retorted.
“Can’t you let me be creative, though? It’s my style, after all,” Rodan retorted back.
“Ergh... f-fine... whatever.”
The sun drowned beneath the horizon marking the end of the day.
The next day... just as the sun was about to rise, Rodan and the others bid goodbye to Ringo. It was time for him to go back to the tree house. Ruru barely able to let her go, but after a good and emotional hug for the last time, she eventually parted ways with her.
Rodan’s large cart carried roughly twenty crates of green apples. It was a massive amount and looked like it would last forever, but Nono believed it would dry out soon with two apple eaters in the house.
Nono took command of the horses pulling their cart and eventually started their journey back home.
As they departed, Ringo and her guild members waved their hands, saying goodbye to them.
With Rodan and the others left the area, Ringo stretched out her body to relieve herself from thrilling emotions. Soon, she looked back to her guild members with a spirited face.
“Now, then... let’s get back to work, guys!” Ringo stated. “We’ve got some apples to pick on!”
On the road, Rodan sat on the edge of the cart’s back with Ruru accompanying him. As usual, Rodan was deep in his thoughts.
“At long last, this hectic ride is over. With her garden removed of those monsters, she can finally work again without the fear of getting attacked. With my agreement with John Falconet, her secret may lay safe to her own guild without ever being leaked to public.
I wonder... Johnny’s messenger should’ve reached the capital city by now. With the messenger in the capital city spreading the word to John’s brother, Forenz Falconet, I believe they will be much more aware of their surroundings. Though, I don’t understand why John made a review of my work so far in that message. It’s nothing special at all to be reported.
I cannot hope to live my life peacefully from now on.
I have the White Nightmare as my protege. A White Demon within my cloak... it’ll be convenient if nobody noticed her true origins. But it will be troublesome if there’s someone who knew about her. That’s why, I cannot hope to live my life like before anymore.
Her blast of powers in Astur might’ve gotten the attention of some strong people in this kingdom. I’ll be glad if they didn’t notice her at all. But I think they might’ve realized it, even though subtly.
Soon... I might face hundreds of opponents in my way. Till that time comes, I must prepare each one of us to be ready for such situation. Probably, the Nexus might’ve noticed as well. But I do not wish to mess with them just yet. And I hope they don’t notice Ruru’s presence.
There are dozens of mysteries left unsolved. What made me curious was the person who sold Ruru to that circus ringleader. That man...
I wonder what kind of man he is. I will know when I see him with my own eyes. Probably soon, I will meet him in person.
This was an enigmatic start for me. It was troublesome yet sparked my interests a lot. I’m looking forward for what the future will have for me, Nono, and Ruru.
Even if a dark future awaits us, we will punch through it and be the victor. I will make sure no one gets in our way. I'll make sure of it.
Even if the stars in the skies denied Ruru’s existence... I will make sure my seething determination defeats them all. None of them shall stand against us. I will do my best to protect her with my whole life.”
In a short moment, Rodan gazed at Ruru, before finally stared the clear morning skies. He let out a long breath in a sense of relief.
“Armaris... I’ve finally found her. I can finally begin fulfilling the promise I’ve sworn to you.
The one who was called as the Harbinger of Destruction. The one that was feared by everyone. The one that would bring death like the reaper. The stature of blank white like a scourge of nothingness.
The White Nightmare...
I will make sure she won’t truly be one anymore. I’ve done some fatal mistakes that led her to unveil her true colors. But I promise I will not let the same tragedy happen again. I do not want people around me to get harmed, just like what happened to Ringo and John’s men.
Hopefully one day, I will remove that infamous title from her.
...Hopefully, I will be able to return her to her true home in the distant future...
...As long as this crimson light in my heart still shine brightly, I will never give up on her.
For that... is my eternal promise."
The story of an enigmatic start ends here.
Though it may end, but it doesn’t mean it truly ended. It is simply opening a door, a giant door to a massive and vast world.
Very, very soon...
The White Nightmare shall return.