"So that's why you never reacted when she said your name... I knew you weren't stupid enough to miss that detail," Eolande teased Lone after hearing what he knew and thought about Scratchy.
"Of course Master noticed it," Breena replied with some annoyance in her voice as a frown clouded her expression. Clearly, she didn't like Eolande making fun of her precious master whom she viewed as an older brother and role model.
Lone sighed and lightly petted Breena's red and purple hair to soothe her as he glared at Eolande. "Take this a bit seriously, would you?"
"Why? You said that she was barely an X-ranker, right? Even I can deal with her then," Eolande shrugged.
At this point, Swind chimed in. "Mr Immortus-ss clearly ss-stated that ss-she is-ss a Homunculus-ss, Miss-ss Eolande."
"So?" Eolande asked. Naturally, she wasn't particularly interested in science and any schools of magic that wasn't the illusion school or enchantment school, so even if she enjoyed reading, she never studied up on subjects like Homunculi and how to create them.
Lone interjected and answered for Swind. "Homunculi are Immune to all forms of magic. Which means that you're useless in dealing with it, my Mental Destruction might still work, but it's not confirmed, and Sophie's barriers probably won't work either."
"You don't need to be so harsh..." Eolande pouted. "I'm sorry I didn't know something that you hadn't told me yet," she added sarcastically.
"Tough love," Lone grinned. He felt a certain someone pinch his ribs, so he followed up with, "All of the books in my personal library are available to read at any time, you just have to ask, like Swind does. That's how he's smarter than you even though he's over two-hundred thousand years younger than you."
At this point, Eolande was blushing out of shame. Rare was it that she would get embarrassed over something, So Sophie took this moment and etched it deeply into her mind for future reference.
To change to topic from her ignorance, Eolande asked, "What's the plan then? Do we tell the King about her?"
Lone leaned back into his chair and sighed. "Maybe? I mean, as far as we know, she could have already told everything that she's found out about the tree to her superiors, or, like I said, it's one big coincidence."
He then closed his eyes and thought for a few seconds. "I guess, for now, we stick together and keep an eye on her. I'm pretty confident that we can kill her if we all work together as a team. Who knows, maybe she's here to take me out? It wouldn't surprise me if that Darkness Dragon, Ythmagobla, has already found out that I cured Lars and Tama as well as the fact that I've been consuming so many Darkness monsters."
"I guess that makes sense. I'll just stay in my Glade then. That way, I'll always be near you. Swind, Rachel, you should join me in there. There's plenty of room," Eolande said with a smile. Clearly, her usual composure had returned in full.
"That's-ss a good idea, Miss-ss Eolande," Swind said as he laid his palm out for Rachel.
The small girl timidly took it, so the Lemurian stood up and walked towards Eolande. "We'll be in your care until this-ss is-ss all over then, miss-ss Eolande."
Lone nodded his head in approval of this idea. "Don't worry about your missions for however many days this is going to last. I'll talk to Elder Luckful and even the King himself if I need to. Your safety matters more me to me than the rules here do."
Over the last third of a year, Lone had become good friends with the small Fairy elder of the council. This was thanks to his constant support of Elder Luckful's efforts to heal the tree.
Elder Luckful had also taken note of how the tree was gradually getting healthier as the days passed and this had only started to happen after Lone's team were assigned to the dungeon, so, naturally, he had put two and two together like many others had.
This fact alone had boosted Lone's team's image to the very top. Of course, there were still those that resented Tal'hat'mata and those that wouldn't let go of their racial prejudices, but nonetheless, most High Elves and Wood Elves respected Lone and his team.
"Thank you, Mr Immortus-ss."
With that, Rachel and Swind entered Eolande's dimension. Lone turned to look at Breena, who, without needing to hear anything, nodded her head and jumped into his shadow.
"Soph, you should stay in the summoning room with Kyuubi. If the worst happens, that Homunculus will freeze so long as I don't resist," Lone declared with a reassuring smile.
"I hate that I'm so useless whenever things get serious..." Sophie mumbled in a depressed voice as she cuddled the small fox, their daughter, Kyuubi, to her chest.
'She looks so adorable like that. Kyuubi's almost the same size as her now... I wonder if she'll show us her Human form soon? It's been six months since I heard her voice... unless that was just another trick played by Clicker?' Lone wondered before he lowered his head and kissed Sophie gently.
"You've never been useless, not even once ever since we first met. Do you remember what I said to you the first time you acted like this?" Lone asked her in a soft tone.
"Mmm," Sophie lightly bobbed her head and then quoted, "'I'll look after you. Also, don't look down on yourself, Soph, your skills don't define you as a person.'"
"You have a great memory," Lone laughed lightly, forcing Sophie's lips to unconsciously form into a beautiful smile. "Like I said almost three years ago, Soph, your skills don't make you who you are. I don't care if you can help me deal with this Homunculus or not. You simply existing helps me in more ways than you can imagine, so don't worry about it, okay? In fact, I'm the one who's holding you back."
"Huh?" Sophie was touched by Lone's heartfelt words, but his last statement befuddled her.
"Well," Lone scratched his neck with some minor embarrassment. "If I was a higher rank, maybe you'd have already unlocked your immortality, right? If you had that, I wouldn't need to worry about you so much. Then again... even if you were immortal, I still don't think I'd like to watch you get hurt..."
Sophie grinned from ear to ear and pecked Lone on the cheek. "I love you, Lone. And it's not your fault. I'm sorry for getting upset for such a stupid reason again. I'll try my best not to do it again."
"I don't particularly mind, after all, you're cute when you're sad, just don't stress out over it, 'kay?" Lone replied with a genuinely concerned expression on his face.
Sophie looked at him coyly and placed a hand on his chest. "So I only look cute when I'm sad, do I?"
"What? I didn't say that," Lone protested.
"Then prove it, Dummy," Sophie giggled and then pressed her lips against Lone's while she gently inserted her tongue into his mouth.
Kyuubi, sensing where things were going, crawled off of Sophie and sauntered over to the other sofa before she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep. At this point, her innocent curiosity towards what her parents were doing was long gone and she just wanted them to be quieter when they touched each other.
The young Fox didn't know why they made loud noises whenever they played that game where they did strange things to each other's body. At most, when she was ever patted or had her belly scratched, she would wag her fluffy tail and fall asleep from the comfort. She really couldn't understand the world of adults no matter how wise she appeared to be at times.
Several days passed like that with Lone being the only Wanderer actively going out on missions.
Itchy had watched him and she was very confused. 'Where did the other people go? It's weird that they just disappeared... Did they go on a mission?'
Itchy wasn't very smart, despite her years. She was a simple Unhcegila who didn't like to think too much. Doing that was what caused her people to nearly go extinct, after all.
"I should be safe to kill him now, right? I really hope that Ythy doesn't get mad again soon... I don't want to see him get hurt badly like last time..." Itchy muttered to herself.
She then waiting for Lone to return from his daily mission and she observed him as he chatted with the bald Human, Eko. Itchy had no interest in anyone except for Lone since he was the only person that her master had ordered her to kill, so she had ignored Eko, Fep and the Demon Princess along with Letty for the past few days.
Itchy wasn't evil. She didn't like killing unnecessarily, so she had been waiting to assess Lone's strength, which she was fairly sure of now, to avoid getting other people dragged into her assassination attempt. The Unhcegila was still unsure of how he managed to cure the two Crimson Foxkin, but at this point, it didn't really matter.
Itchy sat in one of the manor's living rooms with a peculiar grin on her face. "It's the perfect plan... ehehehe... There's no way he can resist my body! I'll lower his guard tonight and then.... ehehehe..."
Clearly, the girl residing in the Homunculus had some nefarious schemes rolling around inside of her head.
Several hours passed by peacefully, and it was now nearing midnight, so Itchy picked herself up off of the couch and walked towards Lone's room. She made sure to try very hard to memorise which of the many doors led to his bedroom, and not someone else. This alone had cost her an entire day's worth of time.
She knocked and waited for a minute to pass before the door gently swung open. Lone, dressed in casual sleeping attire, gazed at her with a bit of a lazy look in his eyes. "Can I help you, Scratchy?"
"Scratchy?" Itchy tilted her head in confusion. 'Ah, right! I lied about my name!'
"Ahahaha... Eh, well, can I come in?" Itchy awkwardly asked. 'I don't think he noticed, right? After all, I'm a super sneaky Unhcegila.'
Lone raised an eyebrow, making the ancient soul sweat a bit internally, but he soon groaned and opened the door. "Sure."
Itchy heaved a sigh of relief and walked past Lone carefully and sat down on his bed. She made sure to expose her thighs and some of her breasts for good measure. Lone closed the door and pulled out a chair from the desk in the corner and sat on it before he wearily rubbed his eyes.
'He... He's not looking at me? W-Well then.. onto plan two!' Itchy declared in her mind before she timidly began unbuttoning her shirt. If playing coy wasn't going to work, then be brash and up front! That's what her master had always taught her.
Though, just like in Ythmagobla's experiences, being aggressive rarely worked for the girl. "So, care to tell me what a Homunculus wants from me at this kind of hour?" Lone suddenly asked, surprising Itchy a great amount.
"A... Homuncluwhatus? I-I don't see anything like that here," Itchy played the fool as her eyes violently darted around the room looking for some sort of escape to this horribly stressful situation.
"Is that so?" Lone sighed. "Okay then, why don't you tell me what you're doing here with a body containing more than a million points of Darkness?"
"Huh?" Itchy was sweating violently at this point. 'How... How does he know so much?! I need to deal with him now! H-Hopefully I can deal with him, that is...'
Itchy wasn't used to her new body, but she still launched a full power attack with her soul, manifesting the Darkness within her into a solid force that washed over Lone. Oddly enough though, as soon as the dark-purple cloud of miasma came into contact with Lone's skin, it evaporated into nothingness and Itchy felt her entire body go stiff, almost as if it had been frozen in place.
Lone pinched the arch of his nose and sighed while he looked at the frightened and confused girl who had no idea why or how her attacked had failed. "So, do you want to tell me who you are now?"
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- The Scottish Slothy Sloth
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