Special Bath Salt
Nearby, several bushes rustled indicating that someone was around.
It seemed that Dio's prayers were answered when he heard the sound of some bushes rustling.
However it wasn't who he hoped it would be.
"I found you!" A familiar flying daruma doll pops out of the bushes.
Sadly, it wasn't Rood who showed up.
Oh god, a pain in the butt just showed up. Dio and Lapis put their actions on hold sharing the same feelings.
Not this guy again...
Their mutual disgust and irritation for the daruma doll was evident on their faces.
"Where is my bride?" Erlking looks around for Rood.
It was probably... No, actually a good thing Rood hadn't showed up yet.
Being the older brother figure he is (self-proclaimed), Lapis wasn't going to let such a shady character like Erlking anywhere near Rood if it's the last thing he does. Like Lapis, Dio wasn't exactly fond of Erlking mostly due to his creepy obsession of children. And as Rood's best bud (self-proclaimed), Dio would be out of his mind to allow such a dangerous factor overstay his welcome. Dio and Lapis were going to get rid of that thing before Rood arrives.
"What a cruel twist of fate! My bride is nowhere to be seen! Lalita, comfort me!" In his daruma form, Erlking flies over to Lalita.
Only to be used as a chew toy by Fenrir.
"Gyyyaaa?! Someone get this wild beast off me?!"
For once, Dio was actually grateful that the savage behemoth was around. This time he was biting someone aside from Dio.
Using a near by broken tree branch, Dio takes the chance to get rid of Erlking by hitting him as if he were a baseball.
"Such rude ingrates. I've never met such disrespect before in my entire life." Erlking spatted annoyed that he hardly got enough quality time with Lalita because of so many obstacles in the way. "Alas, although the time we spent together was brief, I will never forget those everlasting memories."
Creepily, Erlking started acting like some teenage girl breaking up with her boyfriend. It appalled them even more when he came out of daruma form like genie coming out a lamp.
Both Dio and Lapis were happy of have gotten rid of him as their faces brightened up while Erlking giving a theatrical speech.
"As a token of our sweet bonds..."
Dio didn't really care about Erlking's idiotic monolog. He just wanted the latter to hurry up and get it over with. The sooner he leaves the safer it is for Rood when he returns.
"I will treasure this beautiful symbol of our eternal emotions."
Erlking breathes in the scent of the blue flower in his hands. The 'beautiful symbol' being a Lilium Lotus. And not just any Lilium Lotus, but the Lilium Lotus that belonged to Lalita or used to in this case.
"Farewell, my sweet child..."
Oh no, Erlking was leaving with Lalita's flower. Feeling guilty, Dio didn't want Erlking to leave with Lalita's Lilium Lotus.
"Watch out. (monotone)"
From above, Dio hears a dull, monotonous voice with absolutely no enthusiasm in it. And before he knows it, a giant ball of fur comes crashing down on him shocking. Not just Lapis but Linus and Lidusis as well.
Eeeeehhhhh?! Lapis internally screams.
A giant furball just came out the sky and crushed Dio? Was it raining furballs today or something?
Another thing that was odd was that the furball had two beady eyes blinking a few times. Not just that but two furry ears pop out of its head. From the side were two small stubby arms. Followed by two small feet and a small tail from its hind-side. On closer inspection, it resembled a large hamster except the size of a boulder seeing its tiny nose twitch around.
And then a young black haired man wearing a long open coat appears from above landing right on top of Erlking trampling the unfortunate guy on the ground.
As for who the young man was, they had no clue to his identity. But they were more shocked by his entrance rather than his identity.
Feeling something weird and kind of lumpy under him, the young man looks down to see Erlking who returned back inside his daruma form after being used as a land pad.
"What's this?" The black haired guy questioned after picking up Erlking in his daruma form out of curiosity. "Some toy?"
He wasn't exactly wrong in that aspect.
Losing immediate interesting in the thing, the black haired stranger threw Erlking away behind like he was some out of date, discarded piece of junk. He starts walking over to Lalita and Fenrir. Then grabs Lalita by the back of his shirt and starts to leave.
"Wait, what are you doing?!" Lapis being the first one to come to his senses shouted out.
"Leaving?" The black haired stranger answered unable to understand Lapis's reasons for questioning his actions.
However his answer had only inadvertently irked Lapis.
What kind of guy just falls from the sky with a giant hamster creature, says nothing, and attempts to leave with a kid.
"That's not what I meant!"
"I don't see what's the big deal about. It's not like I'm committing a crime or anything." The black haired stranger lethargically said.
"So noisy." Lapis's constant nagging was starting to get on the black haired stranger's nerves. "You know I'd appreciate it if you'd stop talking, Mr. Inept Virgin."
"E-Eh... Eh?!" Dark clouds loom over Lapis's head as he has his head downcasted. "Inept... Why is everyone calling me that..."
"Is that really the part you should be worried about?" Dio lightly retorts.
"Hey Arête, can you let go me now?" Lalita asks his captor. "This feels uncomfortable."
Did he just call him Arête? Not only that but based on Lalita's tone, it seems that he knows the man called Arête.
"You know him?" Dio was the first one to ask.
"Yeah, he's my precious friend!" Lalita said in all honesty.
Really? Dio turns his attention to Arête.
"As long as he's interesting..."
"Is that so..." From Dio's perspective, it didn't look like Arête shares the same enthusiasm as Lalita.
"Wow, Arête! You made a friend!" Lalita said in awe at the sight of the giant hamster.
"Isn't that a Haetsu?" Lapis pointed out now taking a better look at the creature.
"Haetsu?" Linus repeated.
"They're a race of hamsters in Xatyre that can change their size at will." Lapis explained. He remembered reading about them in the guidebook. "By the way, they're also one of the animals that are affected by the Veleno Camellia."
"Ah, it's eating Rood-nim's pet." Linus commented seeing the Haetsu gnawing on Dio's head.
In a certain part of Xatyre, a young blond magician along with a long haired aristocrat were walking around carrying some wild fruits they found in the area.
"Y-You alright?" Chevel asks a bit concerned about Rood's health. Mostly due to the Idun's resemblance of his late sister.
"This is quite strange. I mean one moment the weather's fine. And the next thing we know, it starts snowing all of a sudden. Then turns as hot as a desert. No, more like a volcano." Chevel recalls all those weird weather changes.
For some reason, the areas they went through started having drastic climate changes. And the weather changes were only in those places as the surrounding areas were normal. At first, the weather was fine, then it started snowing part way for some unknown reason. They did manage to get out of the snowstorm. But as soon as they did, it practically became as hot as a volcanic region. There was even a line between the two differing areas. One half was freezing cold while the other half was blazing hot.
"This place sure is filled with a lot of mysteries."
"Y-Yes!" Chevel stutters.
"Wouldn't it be better if you looked in front of you?" Rood pointed out to Chevel who had his head completely turned to the side wanting to avoid eye contact with the young magician and has been that way since the beginning.
"Y... You're right..." Still trying to avoid eye contact with Rood, Chevel hesitantly turned his head to the front revealing a very red handprint on his cheek.
If it's one thing Chevel learned through this whole ordeal, it was that Rood Chrishi slaps hard... very hard.
From being crushed by a giant hamster to being used as a chew toy, Dio somehow made it out in one piece. His Lilium Lotus too by some miracle. Although the same could not be said for Lalita.
"Oh no, my flower is gone!"
Lalita just remembered that Erlking who was thrown away like trash took his Lilium Lotus.
"I don't understand what's going on. But it's just one measly flower, you can go pick some random flower on the way." Arête told Lalita.
Thinking about, Dio didn't do anything to help out. In fact, it was indirectly his fault for chasing Erlking out (for good reasons).
"Here." Guilty, Dio offers his flower to Lalita even though it was only way of removing the cursed scent of that flower from him.
"Really! Thanks!" Lalita openly accepts the flower, but not before giving Dio the adequate compensation. If it was one thing he learned, it was to always give something in return when receiving something. Be it food or a punch. Be sure to pay them back especially if they hit you. That's what Arête told him. "You can have this."
Lalita gives Dio a packet of bath salt but not just any regular bath salt.
It was a special premium Lilium Lotus bath salt.
"Where did you get this?"
"My friend sent it to me. He said that he got it in a shop at the inn we're going to."
Is he kidding? They sell this at the inn?
Returning back to the site where he left Lidusis and the others at, Rood handed over the wild fruits he found to them. Lapis was crying tears of joy saying something about how a real angel descended upon them. That is until he made eye contact with Chevel who was forced by Rood to come along and carry the extra food. Not surprising that the two started arguing the moment, they met.
Linus was ecstatic to see Rood and immediately glomped him. He kept on saying strange things about keep the food as a memento of this joyous occasion.
Lidusis quietly ate some berries by himself. Rood noticed it for a while, but Lidusis was acting kind of strange lately ever since he put on that dress. It couldn't be that Lidusis is disgusted by Rood crossdressing. He couldn't blame him. Anyone especially a guy would disturbed by the sight of another guy in a dress.
Another thing he noticed was that he didn't see Lalita anywhere. Did he wander around the forest while Rood was gone? That was not the case when Dio informed him about Lalita's friend. It seems that his friend showed up and he had to leave with him.
"Never mind that. Anyway, we should get going."
"...is what they said and then they left." Dio explained.
Rood wasn't as bothered by Lalita's parting as he was about Dio's battered face. Just what happened while he was gone? Did Dio fight a wild bear or something?
After a long tiring journey and a few runs into animals affected by the Veleno Camellia, the group made it back to the inn. Dio was in high spirits now that he could get rid of that nasty smell on him and spend his time without worrying about running into more deadly animals out for his blood.
Although there was one who did not share the same feelings as his friend.
Thinking about, he has to walk back to his room in a dress. All the way from the entrance to their room. What's more is that their room is located on the top floor. That's probably because they have Shicmuon with them. It'd be worse if he was placed on the lower floors. Who knows what havoc he'd do there. Like destroying the support beams or water vaults.
More than that, Rood didn't want to go all the way up to their room in that dress. He absolutely didn't want anyone to see him in that ridiculous get up. Even though most of the students were probably resting in their rooms or went out to explore the land like them, he didn't want to run into anyone on their way.
Left with no other choice, Rood hides behind Chevel burrowing his head in Chevel's back. He needed to use someone as a cover so that no passing bystander would look at his face. Normally, he would have chosen to hid behind Lidusis, but he didn't want to be a bother to Lidusis at the moment. Linus was out of the question. Something told him that Lapis wasn't going to be much help. And Dio went off on his own world so he was hardly going to be of any assistance.
No matter what he wasn't going to let anyone see him like this. Keeping his head down, Rood wasn't going to show his face not until he changes out of this cerulean piece of fabric.
So far everything was going well. Not many people were in the hallways. And the few people they happened to pass by didn't ask about him although Rood could feel their stares. It's not like he did anything out of the ordinary that would attract attention. Still, it would be eye catching if some unknown person was stuck onto a Hereis.
Unbeknownst to Rood, all of the students that they happened to pass by particularly the male students immediately flushed at the sight of the unknown beauty by Chevel's side. It was a shame she hid her face.
On their way to their destination, someone calls out to Chevel.
Chevel's father rushes over to his son's side.
"There you are! Where have you been? I've been looking everywhere for you. Weren't we going to the Lucidus Caves to find the shrine which is said to bring you great happiness and allow you to see the person most important to you."
This was exactly the reason why Chevel went to the forest. He didn't want to be stuck with his father.
I shouldn't have returned.
"Now that we've finally got some time quality time to spend, you go off who knows where. Don't you want to spend your vacation with your father!"
And wasn't this a training camp. Not a vacation. Plus, he's also a professor right now.
Did he already forget why he's here?
As a professor, he had a duty of overseeing the Iduns' lessons since he decided to join the training camp.
Sometimes, Chevel wonders if his father was thinking right in the head.
As he was talking, Chevel's father noticed a small blond figure behind his son.
It couldn't be...
Ibriel! Marquis grabs Rood's arms taking a good look at his face.
No, it wasn't Ibriel, but... Even though the face a bit different and the eye color wasn't the same, it felt like he was seeing his daughter again.
This wasn't good. Rood needed to think of something and quick. He didn't get why Chevel's father suddenly grabbed, but he wasn't exactly comfortable being stared at.
"Uhm... Father, could you..."
Hearing his son's voice, Marquis snaps back into reality.
"Ah, pardon my forwardness." Marquis lets go of Rood. "You just reminded me of someone."
Rood wasn't sure what that was about, but at least, he was released.
"If you're feeling lonely, you can think of me as your father. I don't mind."
Rood wasn't the only one surprised by Marquis's words as the others were too especially Chevel who was shocked by his father's actions.
"Or rather I would prefer it if you did." Marquis requested this time more forwardly.
Rood didn't get it. What kind of person asks another person to think of them as their father?
Is he crazy?
Not long after, Marquis was called to discuss the training regime for tomorrow much to Rood's relief. With Marquis gone, Rood was able to safely reach his room that he shared with his two close friends and three extra intruders.
Having changed out of that embarrassing outfit, all that's left to do was to return the dress back to Lalita. Since Lalita was staying at the inn too, it shouldn't be too hard to find him. But before that, there was something he needed to do first.
"Lidusis, I'm going to return this. I'll be gone for a while." Rood said. "You should rest while I'm gone. Today was quite exhausting. And lessons start tomorrow so be sure to get as much rest as you can."
Lidusis meekly nods in agreement still a bit uneasy.
"If Rood-nim is going, then I'm going too!" Linus didn't want to be away from his idol for even a second.
"Me too. This place is very vast. And we're still unfamiliar with the area. You'll get lost." Lapis added not wanting to leave a poor, defenseless child by himself.
"I want to thank him for the bath salt so I'll go too." Dio joins in.
To be honest, Rood didn't mind Dio coming along with him, but he absolutely didn't want Linus or Lapis tagging along especially not Linus. However for the sake of his goals, he's no choice but to bring them.
"Then you don't mind keeping Lidusis company while we're gone, do you?" Rood not so innocently asks Chevel. Underneath his sweet smile was one monstrous aura that said 'Say yes or die.'
Scared out of his wits, Chevel fervorously nodded his head in agreement in fear of turning down Rood's request. Fearing for his life, Chevel knew he had no choice but to accept unless he wanted to die which was something that the younger but way more powerful than him magician could easily accomplish.