Richard and Sunny climbed up the stairs from basement 10, but as the stairway was choked full of rubbles from basement 7 to basement 4, they had to stop for Sunny to restore the place. Snapping his fingers, Sunny powdered the rubbles into sand and cemented it to replace each broken step.
“Richard, what’re we going to do after I’ve finished?” Sunny asked.
“We’ll go to Combattre,” Richard said. “I need to look for my friends.”
“They’re insiders too?”
“Yes, both of them. Actually, they’re supposed to be here already. I sent them to get breakfast.”
“Could they have run into trouble?”
“No, I’m positive that they went some place further to get breakfast, like Aquice. I’d specifically told them to go to Combattre instead to save time.” Richard shook his head in resignation.
Entering the hallway of basement 5, Richard and Sunny saw that it was filled with heaps of debris.
“This is a murder of architecture,” Sunny said, aghast at the state of the hallway: the ceiling had caved and the ground had crumbled. “Hmm, I’ve decided that I’m not going to restore the hallway. I’ll restore the hole in the cavern ceiling and we’ll get going, how about that?”
“But didn’t you insist on restoring everything since we were going to use this place as headquarters?” Richard said sardonically.
“Not when it’s this wrecked!” Sunny said, “I’m too lazy for this!”
Pressing his palm against the cavern ceiling, Sunny used Rock Word to learn of the length and width of the tunnel. Then, he snapped his fingers and caused the rubbles on the cavern floor to gravitate toward him, before dissolving them into a thick paste that slithered through the air and into the hole, like a snake back into its dwelling.
“I’m done. The tunnel will fill up by itself,” Sunny said.
“You can create a system?” Richard asked, hardly able to contain his shock.
“Of course, why wouldn’t I? I just needed to know the length and width of the tunnel.”
“You’ll be an exceptional student.”
“What do you mean?”
“Sunny, you’re here not just to help us but also to learn from us. I’ll formally introduce myself. I’m Richard Clanden, Crimson Knight of Bladed Storm. I’m your teacher and I teach short to medium-ranged, weapon combat.”
After learning that Richard was going to be his teacher, Sunny heard the slushing of water from the tunnel and he turned to face it, only to be greeted with hot water. The water splashed burns all over his body and his concentration snapped, causing the serpentine paste of rubbles to revert to its primordial form and crash onto the cavern ground. Sunny fumed as boiling vapor rose in swirls from his pink and raw skin.
“Are you okay?” Richard asked.
“Of course not!” Sunny shouted. “It was hot water. I’d my skin stripped off.”
An awkward pause transpired as Richard stared at Sunny. He then asked, “You…want me to ice you with Blessblizz?”
Footsteps echoed out from the tunnel and Westin and Myrine appeared.
“Richard, you’re still here!” Westin said. “We made it on time!”
“No, you didn’t,” Richard snapped. “You two went to Aquice, am I right?”
“Why would you say that?”
“Because you’re late.”
“No! The reason we’re late is because we’d to fight outsiders on the other side of this tunnel. We’ve just finished!”
“And your breakfast was destroyed in the midst of the fight!” Myrine interjected.
“But you two don’t usually take such a long time in a battle,” Richard said. “I’m positive that you two went to Aquice for breakfast and when the summoning occurred, you two rushed off and completely forgot that I’ve to eat too. And on the way to Floating River, you two coincidentally encountered outsiders just on the other side of the tunnel, am I right?”
The face of Westin stiffened as he said, “Footch…”
“That doesn’t matter”—Myrine steered the conversation away from their precarious position—“who’s the steaming boy?”
Using Heaven Stairway, Myrine materialized barrier plates for Westin and her to use as platforms to walk toward Sunny. They had deduced that he was not an enemy since Richard did not attack him. Instead, he was probably the one summoned. Thus, they had their guard down as they walked toward him to introduce themselves, not knowing that he was waiting to gush a boiling maelstrom at them.
“Sunny, stop!” Richard shouted.
Instantly, Myrine hid in Diamond Safe House while Westin hid in an ice dome. The water surged and soaked both the barrier and ice dome; however, the barrier withstood the heat whereas the ice dome melted, and soon, Westin sloshed powerlessly in the hot water while gurgling the word, “footch”.
Richard, Westin, Myrine, and Sunny were gathered on a barrier plate under the hole in the ceiling.
“Oh, that’s why you attacked us!” Myrine said with an exuberant laugh. She then threw a sideway glance at her brother, whom had hot vapors wafting off him like Sunny. “I apologize. My brother was in a battle and he’d melted the surrounding snow in Avalsnow Land, which was why the water drained into the tunnel and ended up drenching you.”
“It’s fine. I’d my revenge,” Sunny said while looking at Westin.
Just a few minutes ago, after Westin had escaped the boiling water, he and Myrine confronted Sunny and realized his uncanny resemblance to the First. As tears streamed down their cheeks, they stood dumbstruck at the ineffable situation and experienced a tumultuous flurry of emotions: at first, they were astounded, but at the next instance, more emotions would creep into their unready hearts and they turned elated yet confused, and when they thought it was over, the next colorful surge of emotions would pulse once more.
“Sister, please heal me!” Westin said.
“I’ve no time for you,” Myrine replied. “I need to attend to Sunny.”
“But it’s footching painful!”
“You really want to argue? You scalded Sunny!”
“It was accidental!”
“Accidentally on purpose.”
Myrine placed her hands on Sunny and used Compassionate Touch. A warm and embracive light swaddled him and his burns abated with the growth of new skin, and although it itched, he endured it.
“Sister,” Westin said, “you can very well heal both Sunny and me—concurrently. Why would you choose not to do so?”
“Because you’re irritating.”
“But if you hadn’t been so selfish to shield only yourself, I wouldn’t even need to be healed, much less plead with you.” Westin pointed out matter-of-factly.
“Myrine, could you kindly conduct a full body checkup for Sunny?” Richard asked. “He’s suffering from memory loss.”
“Of course, but let’s get moving.” Myrine lowered the barrier plate onto the cavern ground, where it was littered with the broken pieces of moles. “And brother, please fix the hole in the ceiling. It’s the least you could do for Sunny.”
Westin nodded and instantly, the rubbles on the cavern floor liquefied and climbed up the air, before snaking into the tunnel and filling it completely.
“Richard, you wanted to use Undelumi Castle as headquarters, right? So, do I restore everything to its original state?” Westin asked.
“If it’s not too much of a hassle,” Richard replied.
A magic circle spread out from the feet of Westin and he used Elemental Detection: Boundary of Terra. And in just one second, the consciousness of Westin expanded outward and he grasped the situation: he knew of the number of stalactites and stalagmites that broke from the cavern ceiling and cavern ground respectively, the location of the broken moles, the number of Earthen Sharks, the crushed rock creature, the state of the ravaged stairway, and even the ruinous hallway in basement 5.
“Did you two mutilate this place?” Westin asked, and since nobody replied, he took it as a tacit admission.
With the first snap of his fingers, Westin dissolved the remains of the battle into a viscous paste. None was spared: not even the moles, Earthen Sharks, and rock creature. With a second snap, the viscous paste latched onto the stalactites and stalagmites and grew them out. It also covered the walls of the stairway, lined the stairs, and refurbished the hallway in basement 5.
“I’m done,” Westin said, just as Sunny stood beside him with his mouth agape. He had used Rock Word and monitored the work of Westin, and thus, had seen how he skillfully polished the ground, flattened the walls, and measured the stairs. Also, the restored work was in no way contrived: the luminous crystals were spaced apart naturally and the restored work still retained its atmosphere of weathered and senile rocks.
Myrine nodded at the work of Westin. “Look like you haven’t lost your touch, brother!”
“Of course,” Westin said. “I’m an elite too, you know.”
Myrine reluctantly nodded her head and a magic circle spread out from her feet as she used Nurse Joy. And from thin air, a voluptuous lady in a white nurse uniform materialized.
“Nurse Joy, please conduct a full body checkup on Sunny,” Myrine said and Nurse Joy swiftly scanned Sunny from head to toe. “Let’s go. Nurse Joy can do the checkup while we’re walking to the Mirror of Latrop.”
Sunny frowned as Nurse Joy scrutinized his body.
“Are you alright?” Myrine asked.
“She’s staring really hard at me and I feel…naked,” Sunny said.
“It’s reasonable to feel that way,” Myrine said with a laugh. “She can function as a medical imagery device, which is why you’re literally naked in her eyes. But it’s for your own benefits—not hers! Also, at least I’m spared from performing the checkup—if you know what I mean…”
“Checkup complete. Do I print the images, Missus?” Nurse Joy asked.
“Yes!” Westin shouted, which caused Richard to snicker. “Do it sister! Let Sunny experience it. This is the best part.”
And with much convincing, Myrine nodded her head and everyone stopped walking.
Nurse Joy picked up the hem of the dress around her right thigh and lifted it, revealing her toned and slim thigh.
“What’s she doing?” Sunny asked in confusion. But as the dress was lifted higher and higher, his confusion turned into panic. And to his surprise, Richard laughed, Westin cheered, and Myrine grinned.
“What do you think she’s doing?” Myrine asked in return.
Sunny peeked at Nurse Joy and saw that her dress was already pulled all the way up; even her white pantie with red crosses was visible. His mind stormed and he struggled to come to an acceptable conclusion.
“Is nobody going to comment? She’s showing her pantie!” Sunny shouted at the loss of his common sense.
“Relax, it’s just a striptease!” Westin said.
“No, it’s not,” Myrine said with a laugh. “Look at the side of her thigh.”
Sunny examined the thigh of Nurse Joy and saw that along the side, there was an opening. Also, a sheet was being pushed out. It then came to his realization that Nurse Joy was printing the medical images—her thigh was a printer.
Looking at the medical images while she walked, Myrine said, “Richard, nothing came up on the MRI. There’re no tumors. His memory loss is not medical.”
“Might it be a mental program?” Richard asked.
“Maybe, but we’ll leave it to Shannen to confirm. Or it might be that the summoning failed?”
“Of course not, Myrine! That was a spell by the First!”
“Alright, I was just brainstorming aloud! Or maybe it’s a curse. But if so, we need Aria.”
Sunny noticed that Richard was downcast. Even Myrine was affected by the conversation. In a bid to change the mood, Westin snatched the medical images from Myrine.
“Let me see,” Westin said.
“Like you’d know better than me,” Myrine said.
“I’m not undermining you, Miss Elite. I just want to look at the images. Why’s this colorful?” Westin held up an image of a brain colored with vibrant hues.
“It’s a PET scan. It’s colorful because the brain of Sunny is healthy. Haven’t I taught you this before—multiple times?” Myrine eyed Westin, whom was not paying any attention. “Did you just ignore me when I answered your question?”
Myrine stomped ahead of everyone to show her displeasure. Behind her, Nurse Joy morphed her right ear into a stethoscope and slipped it into her shirt.
“Nurse Joy, what’re you doing?” Myrine screamed.
“Missus,” Nurse Joy said, “your heart rate is high due to anger. My professional advice is to let it go. Prolonged anger can impair brain functions and increase blood pressure. You’ll—”
“Nurse Joy, you’re dismissed!”
Myrine pulled out the stethoscope from under her clothes and Nurse Joy dematerialized. All the while, the three men behind her stifled their laughter with difficulty.
Sunny finally reached the bottom of the castle, basement 15. As he got ready to take a right turn into the last room, he saw Myrine proceeded straight on, past the last room and into the end of the hallway, where she vanished. Next, Westin also slid into the wall.
Richard quickly explained, “Illusion magic.”
“That can’t be!” Sunny said. “I can clearly sense a solid wall with Rock Word.”
“I know. Westin always complains that he feels weird that the wall is there but it isn’t.” Placing his hand onto the shoulder of Sunny, Richard said, “Just relax and walk. You’ll reach the place.”
Sunny took comfort at the reassuring smile of Richard and turned to face the wall. The wall reflected his limitations and he cringed at his inability to see past the illusion. He thought of Richard, whom was like a venturesome yet vicious viper. If he were to follow him, his world would be splashed with new ideas, but he risked intrusive venom so baleful that his formerly quiet world might blight from. He then thought of Nurse Joy, the spell of Myrine that was so convenient yet irritating to the caster, and he also thought of Westin, whom was able to fix the entire cavern with minimal effort.
“Alright,” Sunny thought to himself. “Alright then.”
And at that moment, Sunny knew that his life had changed.