Seeing how his friend reacted to the news, Rood wondered if Dio knew there was a cure.
"You do know there's a way to remove the scent from you."
"Really?" Dio looks up to Rood with a hopeful look in his eyes.
"It says here the only way to remove the scent of the Veleno Camellia is to bath in water that has been mixed with Lilium Lotuses, a flower that counteracts the side affects of the Veleno Camellia. "
"That's great!" Dio was happy to be freed from this curse.
"However this unique flower can only be cultivated on Xatyre land in high altitudes near large reservations of water."
"Then let's go!"
"Guarded by the ferocious man hating lake guardian Nyx. All who dare to enter especially men will be given a fate worse than death."
"Man hating?" Dio questioned. "Don't you mean man eating?"
A man hating lake guardian? This was new. He never heard of a man hating lake guardian. Did Lapis misread the text?
"No, it says man 'hating' right here." Lapis assured him. "Apparently, the lake guardian once had an ex-boyfriend. They broke up after her ex cheated on her. As a result, she became very resentful of men and will hold no bars back."
What kind of book is that? And how did they even find out about that? Rood wondered just what kind of weird creatures lied in Xatyre. This was just plain weird.
Even if it was really weird, Dio guessed it made sense that the lake guardian was a 'man hating' guardian as opposed to a 'man eating' one. At least, it was better than a man eating guardian. For his own personal comfort, he'd rather not be eaten. But the guardian sure is whimsical to hate men because of that.
"However the lake guardian will make an exception for extremely handsome and good looking men."
That is one capricious guardian... Both Rood and Dio internally retorted.
So much for being a man hating guardian. Now it was just playing favorites.
"If it's good looking men, then, in that case, I guess I'll have to do it. This is a job only for me." Dio proudly remarked with a straight face.
But that was cut short when he saw the look of contempt on Rood's face. Dio could practically read the harsh words behind Rood who didn't take his joke very nicely.
"Even jokes have limits..."
In fear of his friend, Dio had nothing to say. Instead, he moved his attention to the baby wolf.
The baby wolf just sighed. It just sighed at him. What's more is that Dio could see it. He could clearly see the look of disappointment in its eyes. Disappointed by how much dumber Dio was than it originally thought, the baby wolf sighed. It was mocking to see the baby wolf degrading him like this. Dio had never felt so insulted before in his entire life.
"It's dangerous for weak little children to go." Lapis selflessly interjected. "Just leave it to me! I'll definitely get the flower!"
"This guidebook sure is handy." Rood said ignoring Lapis's outburst. With Dio, Lidusis, Linus, and Shicmuon following him, Rood walks ahead. "It even includes a map of the place. Look there's the location of the Lilium Lotus."
Leaving Lapis behind, Rood and the others head over to get the flower.
Not even a retort?!
Thanks to the map inside the guidebook, finding the flower was only a matter of minutes. Each passing second was pure bliss for Dio knowing that he was one step closer to being rid of this horrible stench.
Leading the way, Lapis followed the map in the book to where the Lilium Lotus was located.
Gazing at the nice scenery from the side, Rood trails along on their task to retrieve the flower for Dio. At the same time, resting in his arms was the baby wolf.
Since they were already there might as well finish up the job and get the flower for Dio. Leaving Dio alone with that weird smell on him would be kind of cruel considering that they were in the middle of a forest. Better get rid of the scent before any animal comes near them.
Although he liked that he got to be with his idol, Linus couldn't stand seeing some new newbie hogging his idol. Not once had Rood let him in his arms or even hugged him. It was him doing the hugging but hugging Rood was not so bad. That aside, he didn't like it when someone was preoccupying Rood's attention not even an animal, but there was one thing strange about it.
"Didn't that book say that it throws any animal near Rood-nim's pet would go in a frenzy and attack him?"
"Who are calling a pet..."
Despite the vein popping from his cheek, Dio holds back on his rage at being called Rood's pet. Why is everyone calling him that?
"That's because only certain animals listed in the book will go in frenzy." Lapis explained.
"Let's see..." Lapis turns to the page listing the animals affected by the Veleno Camellia. "There are the Snow Cats..."
That doesn't sound too bad. Dio was relieved that it wasn't too bad. For it to have such a cute name, there's no way it'd do any harm even if it went in a frenzy.
"The Snow Cats are a feline subspecies of the Tigrain."
While Lapis was busy reading the guidebook, Rood noticed a light blue furred cub with cobalt blue stripes stuck on top of a high branch. Rood tried to get it, but he was too short to reach it much to his chagrin. It annoyed him even more when Shicmuon snorted at him. Even Dio couldn't help but let out a small giggle as he tired to stifle his laughter. Slightly pissed, Rood climbed up the tree to help out the small feline cub with the baby wolf lying over his shoulder. Rood extends his hand to the poor defenseless cub.
"They act as bodyguards for the Tigrain."
The blue feline cub jumps to the safety of Rood's hand.
"One Snow Cat is always paired up with a Tigrain especially a cub to protect them from any danger."
Having succeeded in saving the small cub, Rood climbs back down and sets the cub on the ground.
Feeling grateful to its savior, the cub brushes its furry head against Rood's legs purring in delight.
"One thing to be aware of."
Rood pets the feline cub's head making it more happy. Seeing the cute expression on the cub's face, Dio felt the urge to pet its head too. Overcomed by his desires, Dio walks closer to the cub.
"Contrary to its cute name, the Snow Cats are a ferocious and dangerous race."
Dio immediately stops in his tracks when he sees a large shadow looming over him followed by a terrifying bloodlust.
"When they see that their partner is in danger or near dangerous creatures, they will rip apart anything that gets in their way."
Sensing the danger he was currently in, all of the blood from his head drains at the sight of the large four legged beast before him. The beast was none other than a Snow Cat. Like its name, its pure snow white fur as well as the ice crystals around its body was as beautiful as a snow field blooming with crystal flowers. More so a cat, it looked more like a huge leopard or cheetah. It was several times bigger than any of them. Roughly, the same size as a high ranking demon.
Looking at the baby feline cub playfully licking Rood's cheeks, Dio didn't have to be a genius to figure that the cub in Rood's hands was a Tigrain cub and that the giant menacing beast in front of Dio was its bodyguard. Although Rood was slightly bothered by the Tigrain cub's actions, Dio was jealous of the blond. What he wouldn't give to take the latter's place anytime.
"They are especially vicious when their target has come in contact with the Veleno Camellia." Lapis continues to read ignorant of the impeding danger Dio was in.
Come to think of it, he still has the scent of that cursed flower on him. This was not going to end very well for Dio.
Proceeding on with their search, the group continues on as if nothing had happened despite the fact that Dio was mauled by a ferocious Snow Cat. Among the other five members, two hadn't even noticed the danger Dio was in. One was busy staring at his idol. One didn't really care what happened to Dio and just spectated the whole thing as if he was watching a movie. And the last one tried to help Dio but wasn't much help since the Snow Cat attacked Dio before he could even move a muscle.
Guilty that he couldn't help his friend, Lidusis comforts Dio and his tattered body.
Unaware of the previous predicament that occurred, Lapis continues reading off of the guidebook, "Flower Bunnies."
Flower Bunny? If it was anything like the Snow Cat, Dio wants nothing to do with it.
"Hey, isn't that a Flower Bunny?" Linus sees at a cute, little rabbit wearing a mane of flowers around its collar and a cherry blossom on one of its long ears trying to grab some berries hanging from a vine.
At the mention of the dreaded creature, Dio immediately hides behind Rood. Peering over Rood's shoulder, Dio is hesitant about the cutely named Flower Bunny. This time he mentally prepares himself for what sort of beast he is about to face. He won't make the second mistake twice with what happened with the Snow Cat. From the looks of it, it appeared pretty harmless. Didn't look like it could harm a fly. It was quite tiny even smaller than the baby wolf. It was as small as a mouse.
On a whim, Rood plucks the berries off of the vine for the Flower Bunny and offers them to the Flower Bunny.
The Flower Bunny cries in joy at its kind benefactor. It was so hungry and wanted to eat those berries so badly. The Flower Bunny jumps on Rood's hand and merrily eats the berries from Rood's hand.
"Soft..." Rood commented on the Flower Bunny's soft fur as he gently rubs its head with his finger.
"How cute~" Linus found the Flower Bunny cute nowhere near as cute as Rood but still cute.
Like Linus, Lidusis too thought the Flower Bunny was cute. His cheeks slightly blush at the sight of the adorable tiny creature.
After finishing up the berries on Rood's hand, the Flower Bunny climbs up Rood's sleeves to Rood's head so that it could eat the berries a few centimeters over his head.
Seeing a Flower Bunny over Rood's head was a once in a life time opportunity. Linus didn't want to miss the chance to capture this.
Before the Flower Bunny moves somewhere else, Linus searches through his bag that his pack mule was carrying.
"Hey, stop messing around. It's hard to read like this." Lapis was not too happy with Linus grabbing him by the bag the latter forced him to carry only to rummage through it.
While Linus was searching through his bag that he made Lapis carry for him, the Flower Bunny struggles to reach the berries over Rood's head. Unfortunately, its tiny limps and small body inables to even as much as touch the berries. After a few tries, the Flower Bunny takes a brief breather and noticed Dio behind Rood for the first time.
Knowing that he should be wary of the adorable, small creature, Dio still couldn't help but feel on edge even if the Flower Bunny looked nothing short of harmless. It didn't look like it could harm a fly.
"Warning: Although they appear cute and harmless, when frightened or trapped in a corner, Flower Bunnies transform into their true monstrous form." Lapis read consequently ruining the mood.
A cold wind blows past Dio.
Did he hear that right?
In that case, this was not good.
"They are twice as dangerous and ferocious as the Snow Cats."
He takes that back. This was a nightmare. It got even worse when the Flower Bunny started transforming into a terrifying monster or at least the upper half of it while the lower half was still making itself comfortable in Rood's hair. But that still didn't help Dio in his situation since the Flower Bunny was heading towards him almost like it was going it eat him.
As Dio was attacked, Rood remained oblivious of what was happening to Dio unaware of what going on right behind him. Lidusis was dumbfounded by the scene. It surprised him how Rood could not notice the gory scene just a few meters from behind. Not bothering to help Dio, Shicmuon watches the comical scene like a spectator.
"Alright, next is..."
"No more! I think we've already heard enough!" Dio interrupts not wanting to take the chance of being attacked again.
He barely managed to keep himself in one piece after being mauled by that Snow Cat and Flower Bunny. His body wouldn't be able to handle one more attack.
"We're fine! You don't have to say anything!"
"Please I'm begging you. I don't think I'll have enough lives if this continues."
Lives? What did that have to do with anything?
"..." Unable to understand Dio's thoughts, Lapis does as Dio asked and stopped reading the guidebook.
Now Dio can rest easy knowing that he wasn't going to be attacked by any more animals. Wanting to get to the flower as soon as possible, Dio walked a bit ahead of the others.
Lapis didn't get why Dio was making such a big fuss. All he wanted to do was tell him one thing.
"I was just going to say that we're here."
As soon as Lapis said that, Dio's mind momentarily drifted from his path and towards Lapis's words instead. Coincidentally, in front of Dio was a lake. And as fate would dictate, Dio ended up falling (or rather stepped in) the lake.
A few air bubbles gush up from the lake. No sooner did Dio emerge but not without taking a fresh breath of air first.
"Say that sooner?!"
If Dio had known that, he wouldn't have fallen into the lake which was really deep for a lake.
Like the guidebook said, the lake was located near a cliff. In the middle of the lake was a large rocky base. And on the rocky base was a three tier fountain that flowed out water from its basin and into the lake making the whole lake look like a giant fountain. On the top tier of the fountain were beautiful blue lotuses where Lilium Lotuses grow at. Several of which were dangling in the air from its base to the lower base under them.
They had found the Lilium Lotus. The flower they needed to cure Dio of the side effects of the Veleno Camellia.
But before they could move a muscle, the water in the lake starts to shift around almost like an earthquake was occurring which wasn't. Dio wasn't sure what was going on, but the water around him was acting really strange.
The water was acting as if it had a mind of its own submerging Dio in the water and then spitting him out like he was a piece of gum onto the ground where the others were. Right next to Rood too.
"You alright?" Rood asked his friend concerned about Dio's health.
"Y-Yeah, a little..." Dio coughed up a bit of water out of his mouth. He was a bit moved to see that Rood cared about him so much.
"I see... That's what you get for playing around in the water like that." Rood deadpanned.
"I wasn't playing?!"
Dio's heart broke in two at the indifference in Rood's tone. So much for friendship.
"Who dares..." A feminine but eerie voice boomed in the air. "Enter my domain without my permission..."
A pretty turquoise colored lady with eyes as blue as the lake rises from the water.
"Especially a filthy lying man." The woman stares down at the six students.
Based on her appearance, the woman was clearly the famous lake guardian from the guidebook. Just as the guidebook stated, she hated men with a passion.
"I have no business with good-for-nothing, lying, cheating scum." The Lake Guardian shoos them away.
"Doesn't look like she'll let us through." Linus said.
"It's just like the book said. Then in that case, she'll only let good looking men through." Lapis was thankful for Axel for giving them the book.
"Since she threw Dio out. Doesn't that mean he's doesn't count?" Rood pointed out.
This in turn wounds Dio who was moping in the corner very deeply in the heart. He didn't have to say it so bluntly.
Taking pity on his friend, Lidusis tries to comfort Dio as best as he can. Sometimes, Rood can be much crueler than a demon.
It had been some time since the Lake Guardian had seen some humans before. They weren't bad looking. In fact, their looks were better than average, but that didn't sway her heart the least bit. Just a few decent faces weren't enough. Not after being dumped like that by her ex.
She soon changed her mind when she saw Shicmuon. Never before had she seen such a man. That cold, distant air around him enhanced the mysterious in him.
He's exactly my type!
The Lake Guardian never would have thought she'd meet such a perfect man before. Her face flushes just looking at his stoic face.
Seeing the Lake Guardian's actions, it was so obvious to Lapis that she classified Shicmuon as a bishounen.
This was the perfect opportunity for them.
As much as it irked him, Lapis knew that Shicmuon was the only one who qualified as a 'good looking man' to the Lake Guardian.
"This is your chance. All you have to do is get that flower—"
"Don't want to." Shicmuon had absolutely no interest in retrieving some flower for Rood's pet. He was only there, because Rood was with them.
"Why you..." Lapis muttered some incomprehensible words under his breath since there were children in the area.
"If he doesn't go, then we can't get that flower."
Hearing those dreaded words from Linus's mouth, Dio breaks out of his depression and cries, "Noooo! I don't want to be stuck like this for 72 hours!"
"Can't be helped. Baldwin doesn't want to do it, and he's the only one who passes. Nothing, we can do." Linus stated.
The Lake Guardian didn't know humans were so strange. She had never seen humans act like. To be crying over one little flower. Out of her good will, she might let them one thing.
"If he doesn't wish to cross, you may sent someone else."
Really! Did they hear her right?
"There is one more person among you that I don't mind into my lake."
"It wouldn't be me, would it?" Lapis conceitedly said with a straight face only to be splashed with water by the Lake Guardian.
"It would be him."
The Lake Guardian points to Rood.
"Me?" Rood didn't get why he was picked.
"As expected of Rood-nim~" In Linus's eyes, he had no doubt that Rood would have been picked since he was beyond good looking. There was no one who wouldn't call Rood good looking. He was so cute. It was practically impossible.
"Him? Why him?" Dio curiously asked.
"I don't mind kids." The Lake Guardian bluntly answered. "I hate men, but children are okay."