That is if it was just the three of them.
"Don't think I'll let things go your way, you scoundrel! I know your kind!" Believing that Rood was being bullied, Lapis yelled at Shicmuon who was staring a hole in the back of Rood's head and intensely at that.
"It's a dream come true." Linus gleefully noted in pure ecstasy as his eyes twinkle in excitement. "To be in the same room as Rood-nim~"
Rood felt the urge to immediately switch out the room.
Why are they here...
In the middle of the hallway, Van is pacing back and forth right in front of a room contemplating on whether he should go in or not.
What should I do?
Originally, Van didn't want to come on this training camp, but he didn't have much of a choice in the matter. He couldn't just let Shicmuon go unsupervised.
I came 'cause I couldn't leave Shic alone. And I still have the order of watching over Shic.
He seriously doubts any of Helios's professors or the Tower magicians could do anything to restrain the hot headed brat from doing anything crazy. That itself was downright impossible. He'd have a better of convincing Shicmuon to give up on the Black Magician... On second thought, that was even more impossible.
Tch, why do I have to put with this nonsense?! I'm glad that Shic is doing his job, but...
"I just can't accept it after all?!" Van shouted out. "Of all the things, it had to be a bo—"
Unfortunately for Van, as he was walking back and forth, the door to the room he was having trouble entering flung open. His face made contact with the door as the occupants of the room were exiting ignorant of the Association Dog behind the door.
"I wanna go exploring. The animals here are..." Dio merrily chatted with his friends completely unaware of the fact that he ended up hitting an innocent bystander. And of the fact that he's currently squishing the life out the poor Association magician behind the door he flung open.
"Did you hear something?" Rood asked. It might of been his imagination, but he could have sworn he heard a strange noise when Dio opened the door. Although it was more like he was ramming the door to open it.
"Nah, must of been your imagination." Dio nonchalantly dismissed. "Anyway, we better get going! The professors let us have the day off today. Better make the most of it!"
Proceeding on with their plans, the two hadn't noticed the presence of the poor Association magician squashed behind the door.
Naturally, Liduisis who always accompanied them wherever they go (most of the time) came along with Rood and Dio. They didn't mind exploring the forest with Lidusis since it was never their intentions to go off without him. However it seems that they gained a few more hinder... companions.
"You better not think about doing anything weird to that poor innocent child!" Lapis chided.
Shicmuon who could care less about the opinion of someone as weak and insignificant as Lapis stared at Rood from behind keeping a close on eye on the kid so that he wouldn't run away. Rood in turn found Shicmuon's gaze to be rather uncomfortable although that was normal. No matter how many times Shicmuon continues to glare at him, he still can't get used to it.
And that wasn't the worst of it.
Having Linus holding his hand like a couple would wasn't making his day any better especially when said Hereis is constantly staring at him.
Although it wasn't murderous like Shicmuon's, it was still just as unbearable for Rood who disliked attention. He would have preferred to spend his day with Lidusis and Dio as he planned and without the company of the three who forcefully intruded on their free time.
I shouldn't have come.
If Rood had known that Shicmuon was coming, he wouldn't have come. What happened to the 'Idun only' part of the trip?
Knowing the foul mood his friend was in due to the presence of the extra guests with them, Dio tries to think of a way to lighten up Rood's spirits.
With a stroke of luck, Dio saw some pretty flowers up ahead hanging from some vines in a tree. The red scarlet petals around the violet pollen center were very lovely. He didn't know what kind they were but he was sure that they'd cheer up Rood in no time. It works for girls so maybe it'll work the same with Rood. His build is pretty much similar to a girl's.
"Hey, look there are some neat flowers up ahead!" Dio pointed out.
"Flowers?" Lapis repeated.
"You don't need to act so high strung over some flowers. What are you, a girl?" Rood's words harshly crushed Dio's heart.
"Pathetic." Shicmuon spoke out his opinion.
Despite the nasty wound to his heart, Dio heads over to the tree with the idea of cheering up Rood in his mind.
However as he was running, his foot stepped on something. It was kind of small, long and thin like a branch, but branches don't yelp out in pain. Nor do branches have fur on them. In conclusion, it was definitely wasn't a branch that Dio stepped on.
Before Dio could get a chance to identity what it was that he stepped on, something small and furry leaped out from the bush Dio passed by where he stepped on the unknown thing. It jumped on Dio's face scratching him like crazy.
"O-O-Oww! O-Ow! My face?!"
Dio does everything he can to pry off the small beast from his face but to no avail while the others watch Dio get mauled by a small animal.
The small creature looked almost like a baby wolf except it had black and icy blue fur. It was small like a small stuffed toy. From a girl's perspective, the small creature would have been adorable. One thing they noticed was the flatten part of the tail which anyone could easily deduce that was the section where Dio stepped on. It was no wonder why the baby wolf was acting so vicious towards Dio.
Rood had mix feelings as he saw Dio being mauled by a baby wolf.
It was quite pitiful for Dio to be losing in fight like this with an animal and so one-sidedly at that. It was hard to imagine that his true form was that of a gigantic blue dragon.
Feeling the need to help his friend in his pitiful state, Rood nonchalantly picked up the baby wolf from Dio's face that Dio was struggling so much to remove.
"Ow! That hurt..."
The scratches left in his face stung as the air touches his open injuries.
Finally, he was free from the rabid monster tearing his face off.
Dio was grateful Rood saved him from the baby wolf and wanted nothing more than to hug the life out of him but stopped when he noticed the thing in his friend's arms.
"Rood, be careful! That thing's a wild beast!" Dio warned Rood who was holding the baby wolf in his arms. "Throw it away before it starts ripping your face off!"
Much to Dio's complete surprise, the baby wolf was affectionately licking Rood's face like a cute newborn puppy. Rood was slightly bothered with smothered by the baby wolf's love. He knew it was only being friendly, but it still troubled Rood to be suddenly showered in adoration like that. It wasn't the baby wolf's affection that was the problem but rather not being used to such a treatment. His master was one thing, but someone else was a different story.
Contrary to its previous vicious reaction to Dio, the baby wolf was acting quite affectionate towards Rood. The sight was enough to leave Dio's mouth hanging open in shock.
What was this?
"As expected of Rood-nim..." Linus fawned in delighted. "Only he can tame a wild animal on first contact... That animal is so lucky. I want to do the same thing too..."
Linus was jealous of how the baby wolf was able to act so affectionate with Rood yet Rood wasn't doing anything to stop it. Whereas in his case, Rood would put up some resistance, but Linus didn't mind. Rood's shyness was also part of his charm.
It was also another thing Linus loved about him.
Dio didn't understand how the affectionate baby wolf in Rood's arms could be the same ferocious creature that was hellbent on tearing off his face. He was truly stunned beyond words.
The baby wolf's next action surprised Dio. He didn't expect it to turn its head around.
It was for a brief moment that Dio and the baby wolf came into eye contact. And in that moment, Dio could see it. That smug look on its face acting all high and mighty in Rood's arms. What's more was that it sneered at him! It was looking down on him. Some tiny animal was looking down on him!
"Dio?" Rood said slightly puzzled by Dio's strange actions.
Sparks fly between Dio and the baby wolf as they glare at each other. Although they had only just met and hardly knew each other, they understood one thing.
They'll never get along.
Rood sweat drops as he watches Dio glaring at the small animal.
He starts to wonder if Dio was going crazy for him to be glaring at a baby animal. He must have been stressed out from the lessons.
"That's odd." Lapis was the first one up notice the strangeness of the situation.
"What is, Lapis?" Linus asked his friend not breakup his gaze from his idol.
"This is Xatyre, a nature reservation, where the wildlife and plantation are kept under protection from poachers. So hardly any of the inhabitants come into contact with humans. And usually, animals are very wary of strangers especially considering the level of poaching around here." Lapis pointed out.
He remembered learning about this in class when his professor gave a lecture about it prior to the training camp.
"So why is that that creature acting so friendly?"
They had just got there yet the baby wolf was acting like Rood was one of its companions.
"That's because it likes Rood-nim. Who wouldn't like him? I mean he's charismatic, strong, and smart. His current form is so adorable and huggable. It's impossible to resist his charms although his other form is incredibly handsome. But I like the current Rood better~" Linus continues blathering on nonstop.
"Charismatic? Huggable?" Lapis who lost track what Linus was getting at could barely comprehend what was going on. "Handsome?"
It was like Linus was speaking in another language to him.
Being Rood's best friend (self proclaimed), Dio wasn't backing down from the appearance of a new rival for Rood's attention.
And as proof of his resolution, Dio finishes off where he left before the appearance of his eternal rival (decided on his own) and grabs the pretty flower he saw before this time without any interference.
Dio waves the flower in the air triumphantly showing his trophy.
"Hey Rood, doesn't this look pretty!"
Dio wasn't going to let himself get bested by some animal.
Hearing his name coming out of Rood's mouth made Dio feel superior over the baby wolf.
"That flower's poisonous." Rood deadpanned.
Poisonous? Did he hear that right?
"He's right." Lapis confirmed while reading a guidebook containing the list of all the wildlife and plants of Xatyre. "According to this book, that's an extremely deadly and poisonous flower you're holding. It says here that the Veleno Camellia contains a very potent and powerful poison capable of paralyzing even a high ranked demon in 10 seconds flat. Just one whiff of the dangerous flower will make the victim fall into a state of unconsciousness for hours."
On reflex, Dio throws the toxic plant away without reservation.
"Contact with the poisonous flower will result in irritable itching..." Lapis continues on.
Suddenly, Dio started to feel a strange sensation around his body. No sooner, Dio is scratching all over his body to ease the tension around his body.
Dio wasn't sure why, but his eyes start pouring out waterfalls of tears.
"And worst of all will cause all animals that come near you to go in a wild fit and start attacking you."
"Eh?" Dio pauses at the mention of wild animals attacking him.
The fact that they were currently in the middle of a forest surrounded by endangered but at the same time ferocious animals that could assault them at any time (at least some of them) slowly sunk into Dio's head.
"It seems that the flower contains a special kind of scent throws animals in a wild frenzy. Or at least certain types that are listed here." Lapis clarified reading from the guidebook he received from Axel prior to their departure.
Back when they were about to explore the land, the six of them had coincidentally met Axel who returned back to the inn for another matter. He was curious about their actions and asked them what they were doing. They replied telling him that they were going to use their free time to explore the land. Axel rummages around his bag searching for something.
"In that case, you babies will need this."
Axel tosses them a book containing a list of all the wildlife and plants in Xatyre. Lapis caught the book first since it was thrown in his direction.
"Some of the animals and plants here are a bit dangerous. It's not wise to touch something you don't know."
"Eee... Sure, thanks..." Rood said with a forced smile ignoring that 'baby' comment.
"Be careful of the poachers too. Lots of them have been showing up lately so security upped too."
Lapis remembered hearing about that when the professors told them to not to stray too far from the inn due to the poaching that has been going on. Because Xatyre contains many rare and endangered animals, poaching wasn't uncommon. It was only natural to increase the level of security around the area to keep the poor animals safe.
"Recently, a small team was hired to fix the poaching problem. Most of them are pretty odd and completely weird, but they're good people. Don't mind if they say anything rude like if they say something about how short or tiny you are..."
A large tick mark appears on Rood's head.
Dio almost snorted but refrained himself from laughing out loud knowing that Rood'll beat him up if he does.
"Or how useless or competent you are..."
Lapis was devastated to hear those words from someone he just met.
"Or how much one of you stinks like a dirty farm animal..."
His eyes obscured by his bangs. Dio's face turns blue with shock offended by Axel's rude, nonchalant comment.
"So don't take it to heart if they act rude to you."
Like you're one to talk. Rood, Dio, and Lapis internally retorted.
They found it ironic to that coming out Axel's mouth considering that he was being the rudest.
"And for your information, I'm a member of the team. Lunette too." Axel added.
What? Did they hear that right? Axel wasn't really a guest but rather someone hired by the inn? Based on Axel's manners and gestures, they assumed he was a guest. But they were more shocked to find out that the scary woman who almost skewered Dio, Lunette, was also hired by the inn. The thought never occurred to them considering that she didn't show a single bit of remorse for almost hurting Dio.
Thinking back at it, Lapis wasn't sure if Axel was helping them or just there to make of them. From what Lapis could tell, he didn't have any malicious thoughts or ill intents. He was rude, but he did give them a handy guidebook. The book had proven to be quite useful, and it's not safe to go around the place without any basic knowledge of the land.
If he known that the flower was poisonous, Dio wouldn't have picked it up in the first place. Now he can't stop scratching, but that wasn't the worst part. He'll be attacked by any animal he comes near. The baby wolf was bad enough but dealing with an army of animals was a different story.
Speaking of the baby wolf, Dio had a feeling it was probably looking down on him again. His instincts were spot on when he saw it sneering at him again. This time it irritated Dio even more seeing it look down on him for his previous mistake.
"How long is this going to last? I don't wanna stay like this forever." Dio asked Rood.
"The itchiness should subside after 10 minutes, but the last side affect is a different story."
"How long will the smell stay on? 30 minutes? 1 hour?"
"The smell lasts for 72 hours."
"72 hours?!" Dio screamed out.
He couldn't believe his luck.