The sun is already high. But, as like any other day in winter, the sun is unable to make people warm. And such is the condition of one small room in a certain building in a certain part of the city. A young woman, sitting in the bed with her arm bandaged, is looking at one side of that room. There resides one small device that glowing red and radiating warmth all around the room.
“It’s one impressive little device,” Aqua, the young woman, is impressed with the portable heater. She’s curious about how the device work, but the pain from her injuries is winning against her curiosity. She decides that it’s better to just rest for now. She could ask the owner of the room about it later.
Aqua then turns her head to the book on her lap. It’s a ‘novel’, Ren said to her. A book that contains a fictional story created to entertain its reader. There’s a similar kind of book in Demonrealm, but novel is different. In Demonrealm, story books tell stories of grand adventure, heroic achievement, and grandeur. Yet, this particular novel she’s reading for example, although it tells story of achievement, is telling story of someone that’s insignificant to the world. But, to her amazement, it doesn’t lessen the excitement of the story.
She’s been reading this book since this morning when Ren went out. He said that he’ll be gone for a while, yet it’s already hours since he left. Aqua’s glad that she asked for some books before he left. With the help of general English dictionary and her basic English knowledge, she can learn quite a lot about Earthrealm simply from reading a book.
Although she’s having fun reading, but Aqua’s not too comfortable being alone. As a princess, she usually had companions almost all the time. Plus, it’s been a while since she had her breakfast. She’s not hoping for Ren to be home soon, she just want him to bring her something to eat.
Aqua looks to the door when she hears the door’s unlocked. The door opens and there he is in his red jacket and pink scarf. Ren comes inside and closes the door behind him. Aqua is about to comment on his lateness but then she stops herself when she notices something. There’s blood dripping from his arm and staining his white shirt. Aside from the arm and gaping wounds on his stomach, there’s also small cuts and bruises here and there.
“Ah, I’m back,” Ren greets Aqua in a nonchalant way despite his condition.
“Wait, what happened to you?” Aqua closes her book and put it on her side.
“Hm? Ah, this? Nothing much. Just got into a fight,” Ren removes his scarf and hangs it in the hanger near Aqua’s scythe.
“Why are you act like it is nothing? That wound,” Aqua points to Ren’s stomach, “looks really bad!”
“Wait,“ Ren turns toward Aqua as he about to removes his jacket, “Are you worried about me?”
“Of course, I am!” She answer without hesitation, “if something happens to you, who would take care of me while I’m in this condition?”
“That’s a valid reason, I guess. Ugh,” Ren flinches as he remove his jacket. It seems that the sleeve of his jacket is sticking slightly to the wound on his arm and hurts a bit when it’s pulled.
“Hey,” Aqua calls Ren.
“You need help?”
“Ah, no. I’m okay. Besides, you need some rest,” Ren removes his bloody shirt. Aqua’s surprised when she sees the wound on his stomach. It’s gaping open as if something sharp is trying to cut his insides.
“No, you’re not okay. Ugh,” Aqua feels some pain on her chest as she gets out of bed.
“See, you still need rest until you’re healed.”
“It’s nothing, just a sting. Now, you sit down and let me repay you,” Aqua ignores the pain and walks toward the sink to fill the washbasin there with water.
“You don’t need to re-”
Ren’s surprised with the sudden outburst and instantly sits on the bed without thinking. Aqua sighs when she sees Ren is finally sitting on the bed without objection. She takes the basin on the sink and fills it with water. With her better hand, Aqua grabs a cloth on the sink there and brings it back to Ren with the basin.
Aqua puts the basin on the bed besides Ren and kneels near both. Seeing the gashing wound up close gives a different sensation to her. It’s grotesque and deep. It looks like it hurts so much. Aqua then wets the clothes and move closer to Ren to washes the wound.
But, she’s stop before touching him. She hesitates as her heart beating fast. As a princess of a kingdom in Demonrealm, Aqua never touch a man’s bare skin before. Let alone touching man’s bare skin, it’s rare for her to be on a very close proximity to a man. Not even her brothers and father has been this close to her for years. Understandably, it makes her rather nervous.
But, she doesn’t let the hesitation to stay long. She needs to look strong and act like a dignified princess to the public, and Ren is not an exception. The hesitation only last a second, but it feels long for Aqua until she moves the clothes to washes the wound.
“Ugh,” Ren flinches as the cold cloth touch his wound.
“Ah, sorry. Did it hurt?” Aqua looks concerned.
“A little bit,” although Ren knows it hurts more than just a bit. Just like Aqua before, Ren is also nervous. There’s no sane man that can stay calm when a very pretty girl like Aqua washing his body like this. He just hopes that Aqua won’t realize that his heart is beating fast.
Aqua slowly and carefully washes Ren’s wounds, although she’s sometimes being clumsy and ends up pressing the wounds too hard which makes Ren flinches. After several couple of flinches and sorry, Ren’s wounds are clean from blood stain and dirts. With several helps and instructions along the way, Aqua manages to use the bandages to wrap the wound on Ren’s stomach too.
“Thanks,” Ren thanks Aqua as he wear a clean t-shirt, “Sorry to make you do that with you still have your injuries.”
“This not a problem for me,” Aqua smiles with dignity, just like how a royalty should smile. She’s happy that she’s able to help the person who helped her earlier.
Aqua’s face turns red as her stomach let out quite a loud growl. It’s already late noon, so it’s natural for her to be hungry. She’s a little embarrassed though since the sound was loud. She thinks it is not proper for a lady to let out a growl as loud as that.
“Khuhuhu,” Ren laughs a little seeing Aqua’s reaction, “It’s already that hour after all. What do you want to eat?”
“Well, I’m not well-versed with the delicacy of Earthrealm, so I’ll leave it to you to pick one,” Aqua looks slightly away from Ren since she’s still embarrassed from before.
Ren pulls out his cellphone from his pocket and makes a call, “Then, we’ll have Italian for lunch.”
“What happened between you two?” Rick asks Gerogom while walks and take a seat in one empty table. They all now in one of the room inside Gerogom’s lab. The room is quite spacious and has several complicated equipments scattered about that seemingly connected to each other through the numerous cables that crawl the floor and walls. There are some tables on the room on which gadgets, gears, tools, and a lot of stuff rest. The only empty table are the one where Rick sits. Soon after, Tama climbs up the table and sits down in kneeling position near Rick.
On one side of the room, there are a couple of big tubes. Inside one of them, Ignis’s laying down slightly leaning backward. There are probes, cameras, and other mechanical arms surrounding him and moving around.
“Me and Ren?” Gerogom answers while looking at a monitor attached to Ignis’s tube. “Not too much. Without going into detail, I simply opened a portal to the Demonrealm for her sister, Yui. He wasn’t pleased that I helped her sister.”
“And she hasn’t return to Earthrealm?” Tama asks out of curiosity.
“No. Unless she lost her left hand, I would know if she’s in this realm. I put a tracking device on her hand.”
“Wait, why did you do that?” Rick asks.
“Testing my new tracking system,” Gerogom presses some button on the panel connected to the monitor and the mechanical arms start focusing on different part of Ignis, “I designed a tracker that supposedly able to deliver signal from Demonrealm. I hate to say it but I only partially success. I can only detect the signal when a route to Demonworld opens, just like two days ago. I think it’s good news that the tracker still working after spending 2 years in Demonrealm.”
“So you know there was a portal opened that night?”
“Well,” Gerogom finally turns and face Tama and Rick, “I won’t call those portals.”
“Those?” Rick looks confused, “There’s more of it?”
“Oh yes, indeed. There were at least five occurrence that day alone. And it’s not a proper portal as far as I can see. It’s different and I’m still not sure what caused it,” Gerogom looks intrigued with the topic.
“If we know what caused it, it would help me to find new ways to open portals,” Gerogom continues with a somewhat creepy smile on his face.
“Anyway,” Rick tries to change the topic, “What happened to Tama? You haven’t told me yet.”
“Well, I fixed her,” says Gerogom in a matter of fact manner. He presses several button on a panel attached on the wall. Near that panel, holographic images appears on the wall as if it’s a monitor.
“You see here,” Gerogom points to an image on the monitor wall, “This is an unknown substance that was found circulating Tama’s body.” The screen shows a glass tube with pitch black gaseous substance floating inside. “I still have no idea what this is, since you two out of sudden barged in uninvited thus preventing me from making a thorough examination on this substance.”
“This black…. ‘miasma’,” he continues, “was corrupting Tama’s very body. I detected the anomaly when my drone was scouting the area. The reading suggested that the corruption was on a quite late stage and threatened her life. Thus I took the liberty to bring her here and extract that miasma.”
“I see. I must give you my thanks then.”
“Oh, no need,” Gerogom casually refuses Rick’s gesture, “I’m happy that I get my hand on this unknown substance. After all, I have no use of your thanks.”
“He also said that when I thanked him,” Tama informs Rick.
“Uh, so why did you suddenly, um…, grow?”
“Ah,” Tama’s ear moving slightly, “That’s because-”
“She used a lot of her life energy to suppressed the miasma inside,” Geregom cuts Tama before she’s able to explain. She shows a visibly annoyed look on her face. “That happened instinctively and she didn’t has direct control of it. To adapt with the lack of circulated life energy, her body regressed to her younger form which needed far less energy.”
“So this is her original form?”
“Yup, yup~!” Tama answers with nods and smile on her face.
“But, how is that even possible?”
Gerogom looks annoyed with Rick’s question, “Obviously, it is because of how the Spirit’s body and metabolism have far more dependency with life energy than most of other races. In her condition, human and demon would be dead before the sun rises.”
“Oh, is that so….” Rick nods in amazement.
“Now, that’s the exit,” Gerogom points toward the corridor which connected to the front door.
“Well, she’s fixed and I have no need of you and the fox spirit girl, especially you. So, I prefer if you two just start to get going. I need to do examination on the Miasma.”
“What? Really? Just like that? You gotta be kidding me.”
“Do I look like I’m joking?” Gerogom gazes at Rick with very annoyed eyes.
Rick stays still for a second before jumps down from the table he’s sitting on and walks toward the exit, “Let’s go, Tama. We’re not welcomed here anymore.”
“Oh, wait for me, Mr. Hobo.” Tama jumps down and lands gently before following Rick. Soon after they’re already gone from view into the corridor.
“Ah! Almost forgot!” A cute voice can be heard echoing in the corridor not long after Tama and Rick enter the corridor. The voice is followed with the sound of steps and then Tama’s body partially emerged on the door connecting the room and the corridor. She looks inside the room and with a cute smile shout, “Thanks again, mister Gerogom.”
Hearing the sudden shout, Gerogom reluctantly turns his head towards the door. After giving another smile, Tama returns back to the corridor with echoing steps. Gerogom sigh and then returns his attention to the wall’s monitor. “Finally it’s quiet,” he grumbles while examining the Miasma from the monitor.
“You won’t have any friend if you’re like that,” Ignis, who’s been silent all this time, suddenly speaks.
“If you can’t stay silent there, you’re welcomed to stops the fixing and go home,” Gerogom says it without diverting his attention from the monitor.
“Alright, I’ll keep quiet,” seeing that he still needs the treatment, he decides to keep silent.
“And please excuse yourself from here when the fixing is done,” Gerogom adds with his usual uninterested tone.