Dangers of the Seal
"No, we're not poachers. We're students on a training camp." Lapis explained before the pale blue haired boy got any wrong ideas. He didn't get how someone could sound so cheerful in front of people as dangerous as poachers which they weren't.
"Oh yeah so you're friends with those flying humans." Lalita still believed that Rood and Shicmuon were flying humans.
"No, they're normal humans. And humans can't fly in the first place." Lapis sweat drops at Lalita's comment. Did he really believe that? He was glad that they found Rood safe and sound and thankful to Lalita for helping Rood out, but the latter was a bit of an airhead.
Thank god, Rood was alright. He wouldn't be able to look at Rood straight in the eyes anymore after letting him get into such a dangerous situation like that. It was worth the hassle of listening to Lapis's constant whining on how he dearly missed his precious Rood-nim. He himself nearly jumped down if Lapis hadn't grabbed his jacket in time. Lapis managed to reason with him into creating one of his purple disks and use it to transport them safely down to where Rood was. It was scary how rough and fast he was going. He was practically ignoring all speeding limits and driving like maniac until Lapis yelled at him to slow down for the hundredth time. He was one heck of a lousy driver. One that Dio would preach for as he nearly threw out his breakfast. Lidusis had already fainted halfway of the drive. It took them a while to find Rood from above until Dio spotted Rood and Shicmuon along with another unfamiliar face.
Remembering Linus's previous run down to the ravine, Dio chose to jump down himself rather than take another joyride through the river of the dead.
Following after Dio, that was how they found Rood.
"I'm just glad to see that Rood's fine." Dio lightly chuckled. "From that height, I was worried that he might have been hurt."
Lapis couldn't agree anymore with Dio. Rood's health was their first utmost priority although looking at Dio's beaten up, black and blue face. He was more concerned about Dio. Rood sure did a number on him earlier. Lapis wasn't sure why Rood was in such a foul mood or why he started beating up Dio the moment he saw the latter.
Another thing that weighed on his mind was that Lalita called them poachers. Could he be one of the people hired to protect the animals from poachers? Axel did say that his teammates were a bit weird.
But he was kind of young. Younger than any of them in fact. Probably as the same age Rood maybe. He looked more like he was a student than a hired helper.
Curious, Lapis asks Lalita the question on his mind, "You wouldn't be one of those people hired to protect the animals from the poachers, would you?"
"Hired? I don't know what you're saying. I'm here to meet up with my friends, but I got lost." Lalita honestly answered.
"Is that so..." Lapis slightly brightened hearing Lalita's answer. He was relieved to know that. He should have known better. There was no way a kid like him could be given such a dangerous job.
Lapis heard Linus screaming as the latter jumped off his seat heading off somewhere.
Wondering what the lavender haired Hereis was up to, Lapis turned his head to the side to see something quite unexpected.
"So cute~" Linus said in pure glee nuzzling his idol in his arms.
Black clouds swirl over Rood's head. He wasn't exactly in the best mood at the moment considering that he had no other choice but to wear that dress unless he wanted to be naked. Right now, the second choice was looking really good at the moment.
His male pride was now shattered to pieces.
"S-So cute!" was what Lapis wanted to say but refrained from doing so. He controlled himself. Seeing Rood, Lapis suddenly had the urge to hug Rood but suppressed his desires knowing that if he had taken one step he'd be heading down a place of no return.
Lapis's face immediately blushes at the sight of Rood.
He'd never imagined a guy could look so cute in a dress.
Lidusis who had regained consciousness shortly after Dio found Rood was speechless as well.
"Just kill me, right now..." Rood darkly muttered. He was practically dying of embarrassment.
"So cute~" Linus continued to hug Rood as he was in heaven at the moment.
"You don't like it?" Lalita asked confused by Rood's mood.
Rood doubts there's any man in this world that would be happy to wear a dress unless he was a pervert or a transvestite.
"Then here!" Lalita places a long blond wig with a big pale blue bow tied in the back on Rood's head. "Better?"
"Like hell, it is?!" Rood deadpanned holding back his urge to yell out his opinion.
A large vein pops on Rood's head.
"Speaking of which, where did that baby wolf go?" Lapis asked just noticing that the baby wolf wasn't with them. Last time, he saw it was when it was in Rood's arms before Dio accidentally pushed him (and the baby wolf in addition) down the ledge.
"Ah..." Rood just realized that too. He had completely forgotten about the baby wolf. It must have landed somewhere else during the fall.
"We finally got rid off that, rabies infect dog?!" Dio's face completely brightens up upon hearing that his arch-nemesis was no longer in their party.
Like a dog heading to its master after being called, the baby wolf immediately found its way to their location. As the saying goes 'Karma bites.' or in this case it was a baby wolf. It was almost like the baby wolf reacted to Dio's words and came seeing how it's gnawing on his head.
At least that settled the disappearance of the baby wolf.
Lalita gasps at the sight of the baby wolf biting Dio's head.
For some reason the mood turned all nice, the moment Lalita and the baby wolf made eye contact. And another thing that disturbed the peanut gallery except for Linus whose mind was purely focused only on Rood and Shicmuon who could care less what going on was that it looked like some cheesy confession scene from an old shoujo comic.
"Fenrir..." Lalita gazes at the baby wolf.
Who? This was just getting weirder by the minute.
"Arf..." The baby wolf answered proudly still biting Dio's head like some handsome popular guy from a shoujo comic.
"Fenrir!" Lalita runs to the baby wolf who leaps off Dio's head and into Lalita's arms. "I missed you so much!"
Lalita continues to hug the baby wolf tightly in his arms as he spins around happy to be reunited with his companion.
"Where were you!" Lalita was so relieved to see the small creature again. "Fenrir~"
"Excuse me..." Rood demurely interjected.
Lalita stops spinning around drawing his attention at the young blond.
"Do you know this wolf cub? You two seem quite close."
"Yeah, Fenrir is my friend!"
"Is that so..." Rood felt satisfied with that answer.
"Before we were on our way to the inn, but for some reason, Fenrir ran off somewhere." Lalita explained.
So they got separated for a while. Rood remembered seeing the baby wolf named Fenrir while they were exploring the land.
"I don't know why, and then I heard him howl in pain so I ran after him."
Wasn't that howl from when Dio stepped on Fenrir's tail?
"Then a flower showed up."
Somehow, Rood had a feeling he knew where this was going.
"It smelled really nice. Made me a little sleepy."
"I almost fell asleep until I fell into a hole and hit my head on a bunch of rocks as I fell. It hurt." Lalita instinctively presses his hands over head from just remembering the painful fall. "I got stuck and couldn't get out."
Rood wasn't the only one who caught on as the others realized it too although two of them didn't really care. Dio starts sweating like crazy as he grimaces in guilt. Wasn't that flower the same one that Dio threw away? It couldn't be that the scent of the flower got on Lalita too? His guilt worsens as he recalls the nightmare he went through because of that flower.
"It was so dark. I could hardly see anything. Luckily, the hole lead to an underground cave, but I got lost and didn't know where to go. I kept on walking and walking but couldn't find an exit. Then I fell in a pool of water filled with flowers that looked like that." Lalita points to the Lilium Lotus in Dio's hand.
"Wait a minute, could it be...?" Lapis takes out the guidebook of Xatyre flipping through the pages in search of a certain page. "Here it is! Grotta di Cristallo. An underground cave where beautiful crystals are located at. These crystals are said to accumulate the mana stored inside them. And as a result is deemed a reservoir of treasure. However the location is extremely hard to find and only few have ever seen it. There's even barely any information on it here."
"You mean this." Lalita takes out a large pink crystal shard from his bag.
"You had one?!" Dio, Lapis, and Rood retorted.
"So this is the famous crystal." Lapis knew at first glance that it was the real deal. The flow of mana within the crystal is without a doubt genuine.
"But wait, what does that have to do with the pool of water he fell in that had this flower in it." Dio asked. He understood that the underground cave was a very big deal but it still didn't explain how the Lilium Lotus which can only be found in lake guarded by its moody lake guardian was in the cave where Lalita stumbled upon.
"That's because the lake where the Lilium Lotus was at is directly located under the cavern. The part of the water flows down through a small passageway from the lake to the cavern and formed an underground lake there. Several Lilium Lotuses get washed out along the way too."
"I see..." That made sense so that explains it.
"Also, the lake holds the same properties as the remedy for the Veleno Camellia." Lapis added. "Just one dip will be enough to wash out the scent of the flower."
Dio face faults from hearing the news.
"But the cave is really hard to find and nearly impossible to locate. So going to the lake was better since it was on the map."
In hindsight, it wasn't bad luck that Lalita fell in the cave but actually a stroke of good luck. Unlike Dio who had to face the onslaught of deadly animals, Lalita was safely hidden underground away from the carnivorous animals and saw the rare exotic underground crystals of Xatyre. And to top it all off, he found the miracle lake which was nearly impossible to find and held the same properties as the Lilium Lotus.
This guy has crazy good luck... Dio wanted a bit of Lalita's good luck.
"But wait, then how did you get out?" Dio asked. If the guidebook barely had any info on it, then how did he get out?
"Oh, after I fell in the pool of water, I had to dry my clothes. There was an area that was really hot. Thanks to that my clothes dried up faster." Lalita remembers finding an area in the underground cave where the temperature was really high making it easier for him to dry his clothes. He didn't even have to remove his clothes to dry them off and just kept them on. If it was another person, they would have passed out in a few minutes due to the intense heat however Lalita was completely fine with the heat and acted like it was normal temperature. "And while I waited for my clothes to dry, I sat on a rock, but after a while the ground started shaking and water came out from under the rock. I was so surprised when that happened."
Based on Lalita's description, he probably sat on a rock slab that happened to be on top of a geyser. It was likely that there was a geyser in the cave too. That would explain the hot climate in the area. It must have become active again. And Lalita happened to have sat at that exact location.
"Geyser!" Lapis remembered something Axel told him about a geyser. "If it's a geyser, then it's Grotta di Cristallo's famous geyser which is erupts once every ten years. It's a once in a decade phenomena."
What unbelievable good luck?! For someone to find the famous underground cave Grotta di Cristallo, the legendary lake which counteracts the scent of the Veleno Camellia, rare crystals, and be freed when they happen to sit on a geyser that erupts once every ten years events to occur was beyond a miracle. This was just plain outrageous.
Thinking back, didn't Axel warn them about the geyser before they set off?
"Oh yeah, one more thing before you go, whatever happens if you come across that geyser by some freak chance, run as far as you can from that place."
When Lapis inquired him as to why, Axel told him that they were better off not knowing.
"That place is dangerous. And I don't mean your usual danger. So all of you better run especially the kid." Axel pointed to Rood who was slightly peeved.
If that really was the geyser, then how come he's fine? It didn't made any sense to Lapis how Lalita was fine when Axel warned them about the geyser, and it didn't seem like he was joking either though if he said it halfheartedly. "Did anything happen after you got out?"
"..." Lalita's face loses a bit of color and his eyes start to lose the life in them from before. "After I got out, I wanted to go look for Fenrir, but then a weird thing came out and started chasing me saying a bunch of strange stuff I didn't understand. I was able to lose it, but then I got hungry. Luckily, I was near a river so I went to catch some fish. And that was when I saw a flying human for the first time!"
"Like I said, humans don't fly." Rood deadpanned wondering what goes on in Lalita's head.
"That weird thing you saw what did it look like?" Lapis inquired curious about Lalita's story.
"Like that." Lalita points to a round red doll with the face of a bearded man. The drawing style made it look like some mascot character than an actual person.
Dio, Lapis,and Lidusis immediately turns their heads over to Rood's direction and were shocked to see a floating doll hovering behind Rood who was unaware of the doll behind him and was puzzled by their reactions.
"Lalita! I found you! So this is where you were. How mean of you to run away like that." The doll cried. "I just wanted to play with you."
"A-A... A TALKING DARUMA?!" Both Dio and Lapis shouted out.
Back at the inn, Axel looks at the distorted clouds in the sky.
"What's with you? Got a new hobby of cloud watching?" A feminine voice sarcastically remarks from behind.
"This is rare. Normally, you don't bother to meddle in the affairs of others. So what do I owe the visit?" Axel humors his female teammate.
"Can it, you worthless man."
"Today, the clouds are agitated. I sense it has something to do with the geyser in Grotta di Cristallo."
"Geyser? You don't mean..." Lunette had a feeling she knew the answer to the question.
And her bad feeling was right.
"Ugh, that pedophile is out." Lunette gagged in disgust.
"Can't be helped the talisman used to keep him sealed up only lasted ten years and then a new one must be placed otherwise he'll get out."
"Hard to believe that there was some child loving creature who preyed upon little children and went around forcing them to play with him until the people couldn't stand it any longer and sealed him up for good. Too bad the seal only lasts ten years."
"Still, how come the seal was broken? If I remember correctly, I sent that dumb dog out to renew the seal."
"It's your own fault for relying on that pervert. Why don't you go and check yourself if you're so worried?"
"I would, but the Boss is coming back from his mission so I need to fill him in on the details."
"What! Did you say the Boss!" Lunette yelled out in surprise. "He's coming back! Why didn't you say so sooner! I've got to get ready for his arrival before he shows up."
Lunette runs off to her room to get ready until she stops momentarily.
"Don't you dare bother me!"
Axel sighs, "I will never get women."
Axel scratches his head left pondering by himself. He just hopes Lunette's welcoming won't be the same as the one she prepared before when those students from Helios showed up.
"Oh well, I just hope the Boss didn't pick up another stray or kid. He has a hobby of doing that." Axel looks back at the sky. If the seal really did break, then wouldn't those six students he met before be in trouble then? "I already warned them so it's not my fault if any happens."
"How rude?! I'm no daruma doll! I'm the great Erlking, governor of Grotta di Cristallo!" Erlking took to great offense although he did look like one. "But it's not like you uselessly big mortals could understand. Every ten years or so, some pesky human comes and seals me away in some geyser. This is why children are better. Not only are they cute and adorable, but they also know how to respect their elders. The really young ones with small builds especially."
Drool starts to run down Erlking's mouth.
"That place is dangerous. And I don't mean your usual danger."
So this was what Axel was warning them beforehand.
Yep, he's dangerous alright.
Both Lapis and Dio shared the same thought as they stared at Erlking with cold, lifeless eyes. Without a doubt, this daruma doll was dangerous. For more reasons than one.
"Now that we're reunited again. Let us play to our hearts' content." Erlking flies over to Lalita that is until...
He is bitten in the head by Fenrir who refuses to allow him anywhere near Lalita.
"Waaahhhh?!" Erlking cried out in pain. "What do you think you're doing?! Get off me, you stupid mutt!"
Pissed by Erlking's comment, Fenrir sinks his fangs even harder into Erlking's skull.
"Gyyyaaa?! I'm sorry! I didn't mean it! I apologize for being so impudent!"
And shortly afterwards, Fenrir returns back to Lalita's arms satisfied with his revenge. Erlking on the other hand was completely battered and beaten as his head now had teeth marks on it.
Dio could sympathize with Erlking as he too was a victim of Fenrir's ruthless attacks and constant bites.
"What a scary creature... I've never seen such a monstrous beast before..."
Erlking had no choice but to give up on Lalita who was guarded by the beast from hell.
Weeping over his loss, Erlking sees the most beautiful creature he had ever laid his eyes on. From their long flowing hair to their adorable face, Erlking's heart starts to flutter around.
"I'm in love." Erlking flies over to Rood who was freaked out by Erlking's confession more so by the fact that the latter was a floating daruma doll. "Marry me!"
As Erlking was heading to Rood, his body split in half like a matryoshka doll as a bearded middle aged man wearing a red hooded robe appeared out of the daruma doll.
"Be my bride!"
Before Lapis or Dio could stop Erlking, the doll's sudden action had caught them off guard preventing them from making it in time to stop the daruma doll.
"No." Rood bluntly answered rejecting Erlking's proposal completely.