Disconnected – Chapter 21: Fleeting Interlude (pt.1)

Serein’s slowly fixed vision was filled with vast green laden with specks of colorful petals as she finally realized that they’d made it. They have arrived at the heart of The Ervenyl Mountain.

“…So pretty.”

Eyes sparkling in excitement, Pam looked to his left and right with glee as this was the first time in his life to see flowers that weren’t withered or the ugly-looking ones that his brother, Cevahir, used as medicine for his wound.

“These are all plants? Can we touch it? Will we melt–?”

The young hatchling looked rather iffy when he asked the last question. Afterall, he discovered that some plants in the rainforest they lived in weren’t even safe to touch due to his experiences.

In fact, his brother Sam had gotten injured once when he tried to help on picking herbs for Cevahir. Never again ever since. 

“Well, it looks safe to me.”

Cherry commented as she couldn’t sense any foul magic or even mana flows that were outside of the ordinary. Albeit cynical of that judgment of hers, however, that mage was half convinced that this place was, in fact, not tampered with and not any better, or worse, than a normal field.

Still, they both turned to Serein who had now unmounted from the princess’s back and returned to her own two feet for further confirmation.

“To my knowledge, nothing should be able to harm us here.”

—No mutagenic monsters, no diabolical creatures, no animals, humans, or any other life forms were present around here.

However, her face was not relaxed.

After all, the lair they were standing in was supposed to be vacant from any living beings. And yet, they’ve been fighting for their lives and each of them almost died at one point while trying to get through the said shortcut. 

Mind clouded with doubt, Serein was about to take back the assurance she just uttered when–

“It might be safe, but I think it’ll be wise to stick close to each other in case anything were to happen?”

–Almost as if reading her thought process, Cherry chimed in and mentioned what’s been bugging that adventurer.

“That’d be ideal, but we won’t be able to find what we’re looking for at the given time if we’re not spreading the search.”

Plus, their time was further cut short due to the fact that Cevahir was still very likely fending off Aidou on their behalf, or at least managed to somehow make the said guardian busy in the meantime—  He could have died if they wasted more time by acting leisurely here.

“Search?” Cherry scrunched her face in confusion and asked, “It is not specifically located–?”

Serein smiled, and honestly, that’s all Cherry needed to affirm her inquiries even without her guide’s next words.

“It’s gonna be like searching for a needle in a stack of hay.”

After all, at one glance, the flower that they’re looking for wouldn’t look any different than its counterpart.

“Although the herb that we’re seeking for, Adelweirn, is in fact, a flower, what you really want is the seed inside of it.” 

Serein clarified based on the memory she had over her draft.

[Flower with seven plain white petals, whereas inside of it there are parts that produce pollen and seeds.]

That was the description of the Adelweirn flower that they’re seeking. However, the plant itself did not only grow seven petal flowers in a bush. In a matter of fact, the specific flower that they’re searching for was pretty much an anomaly like how the four-leaf clover was a rare variation of the common three-leaf clover in the place Min Suhyun came from.

Serein pursed her lips into a thin line as she was not expecting to be greeted with a tremendous green land that was coated with plenty of other herbs at the same time. 

“Wait…”

Cherry trailed after a soft audible gulp once she realized why her guide looked rather distressed while staring at the vast land ahead of them.

“Don’t tell me that we need to inspect and peel each and every white flower here to find the one we’re looking for?”

Another smile.

“We need to find as many of Adelweirn plants till we hit the jackpot, basically,” Serein said.

At that moment, the pink-haired princess could feel fatigue piling up from the thought alone.

“Given the fact that the flower itself supposedly looks rather general— white petals and yellow pollen stem, I doubt that we can find it so easily if we looked in the same area simultaneously. Although…”

Trailing in her sentence, she reminisced another detail that was mentioned in her old draft.

“The plant will supposedly glow under certain circumstances.”

“It can glow??”

Pam, who had been listening closely, chirped as this topic interested him greatly. All the while, Cherry hummed, pondering.

“Special circumstances, huh…?” Cherry asked, tilting her head a bit in thought. Her face was doubtful, to say the least. She then added, “Would the plant start glowing when the surroundings turn darker or something?”

However, Serein shook her head in response.

“They’re not responsive to light stimuli. Instead, the edges of the petals and leaves will glow when touched.”

“Ooooohhhh~!!”

In contrast to Pam, who looked excited and ready to jump onto the task, Cherry looked on with dead eyes as she now saw the problem the way her guide viewed it.

“Touch sensory…” She mumbled before then letting out a sigh. “I guess there’s no other way then?”

“Yep. Grab as many of those glowing plants, until we feel another earthquake.”

“…”

Cherry almost dreaded to ask any further, but clearly, she needed a clarification here.

“What does this earthquake mean this time?”

There were more earthquakes that happened in the last two days than she had ever experienced in her whole life.

So, if her guide actually knew what would happen, she would love to know just what’s the reason behind the chaos this time.

“Oh, that? Nothing much. It’s just likely to be Aidou wilding out because he’ll notice that we took the most important part of his main territory.”

“…”

Oh, how she wished to scream right now.

“Ah! so the old man would get mad if we found the right flower?”

—And now mischief bloomed in that pair of green eyes as the owner jumped down to the grassy ground.

“What are you waiting for, then? Let’s hunt for pretty flowers and make the oldie go crazy!”

Chuckling softly, soon enough the two humans followed the young wyrm’s steps by crouching down to find their targeted flower.

The hunt started off rather peacefully in the first minutes of it until the youngest member of their current group could no longer stand the awkward moment and decided to give a commentary, which soon bloomed into a conversation.

“Oooh, this is fun! Reminds me of how once I went with Ceva-chi and brother to collect herbs before~”

“Oh? So Pam-min should be an expert?”

Serein hummed while collecting the flowers, patting his head a little before continuing her task again. 

“Oh no no. Not at all. Although I am smart, I have no expertise in herbs.”

“Hmm? Is that so?”

The young hatchling nodded as he kept tugging more plants by slithering around the tall grass.

– Shashashashashasha!

Pam absolutely went crazy on the grass as he laughed brightly. His wild run had made the blades of grass sound like it was being beaten by the wind.

His body was a blur while he occasionally jumped about. If Serein had to make a comparison, he was similar to a cat running around the house in a strange frenzy.

“Yeah, I said that I only get to go once, right? Well! Brother got hurt so Ceva-chi forbade us from searching for herbs again and we can only hop on his shoulder.” he continued his story lightheartedly.

Pausing a bit, Serein noticed that her client had also halted as she then heard the mage’s voice chiming in.

“Sam-min got hurt?” 

Cherry asked, obviously concerned about the other adorable wyrm. However, she didn’t forget to continue moving her hands to gather the flowers. 

“Yes, it was soooo bad! Nasty herb! Brother’s tail was almost melting. It looked like it was burning as well. It was so scary!”

“Huh? Was it a herb related to the acid of the forest?”

Serein stopped for a moment, racking her brain to remember if she mentioned anything about this. After all, she was quite fond of these cuties and planned to help them for a little bit to avoid the bad fate she wrote for them. 

“Uh… Dunno? It was similar. Ceva-chi called it Dododomil or something?”

“Dododomil?”

Serein echoed in a questioning tone. A mirror image of Cherry who seemed to click with the name and easily picked up on the topic.

“Do you mean Dophomile, Pam-min? If so, then I believe I’ve seen a treated herb from that flower before.”

Hearing this, Pam whipped his head towards the mage, seemingly piqued that this pink human knew the thing that he’s talking about.

“Really??”

Excitedly he asked. Whereas witnessing this, the princess couldn’t help but smile at the young wyrm’s cutesy.

“Really.”

She responded jovially while thinking just how cute Pam was— when something else suddenly clicked in her head.

That mage remembered reading about the untreated form of the said flower as a herb that could serve as a paralytic ingredient.

At first, nothing seemed to be wrong with that fact. However, her expression hardened and turned to one of shock when it finally came to her that the ones that they encountered here were raw ingredients. 

“Wait! The sap from that plant can melt human skin if not treated right— is Sam-min okay???”

“Hmm?”

The greenish-blue wyrm tilted his head.

“Really? He’s fine though– Well, Ceva-chi did bring us back to treat brother, but brother Sam was all fine afterward. Definitely no melted skin!”

Nodding as if agreeing to himself, Cherry was still quite alarmed and was about to ask further when a chuckle reached her ears. She then turned to her guide, who looked quite amused. 

“They had Cevahir-min with them, princess. We only met him not for long, but knowing that it was him, it should be an easy task to heal the damage from that flower acid. Especially with their lair’s location. It’s convenient, really.”

“Right…”

–Was all Cherry could mutter before slapping herself internally and going back to work. Of course, she made herself look silly again. 

At this point, she really questioned how her image as a princess in Serein’s eyes was faring. Because of how much she’s embarrassing herself, she can’t think of herself as anything but a silly, dumb princess like in the kingdom’s storybooks. 

There were so many embarrassing situations that had happened to her ever since she met the adventurer, that she was wondering if her misery was related to Serein’s existence. 

Pushing these thoughts aside, she decided to listen to Pam silently this time. 

“So, Pam-min, what happened after that?”

“Yes yes~! As the little human said, Ceva-chi helped to treat brother easily, so you don’t need to be worried, pink human! We might be smaller, but we are strong!”

“Such a supreme being, indeed. I suppose we should learn how to survive that flower if we accidentally got hurt as well. Please tell us some more, Pam-min.”

Serein encouraged him while gathering more of the white flowers. That adventurer hummed in satisfaction as she noticed the amount she gathered. 

Stopping for a bit like a meerkat, Pam blinked at her and then proceeded to shake the grass to its core.

“It was with another herb and then Ceva-chi used his mana to control it! Ceva-chi is great, you know! He was able to use his mana to get rid of the toxins while treating Brother’s burnt tail manually. It took some time, but brother now is completely okay!”

“As expected of dragonic race~ Their capability is unmatchable~”

Serein chirped with a grin, reaching for the last white flower on her side before turning to Cherry who had almost finished as well. 

Proud of his brother’s abilities, Pam bragged a bit more as Cherry and Serein ended up with a couple of bouquets’ worth of white flowers by the end of his long story.

“There you go~! The last pretty white plant!”

Pam reported in glee while handing the last few herbs with white flowers that he had collected.

‘…’

“Hold on…”

It took her a while, but after some time looking around afterward, Cherry finally took notice that there were no more plants with white flowers to be picked. All of them were already gathered in their possession– Some were still in their arms while the rest of them were stored in one of her magic bags.

“There’s no shaky shake?”

The baby wyrm wiggled his body when he asked so. However, neither of the two humans really paid attention to the adorable sight as they both also realized that something was not right.

“Did we miss it?”

Cherry, who had been anticipating another chaos to ensue could only wait in unease while glancing at Serein who, for once, also looked confused.

‘Why is there no reaction? Was I… Mistaken? Did I misremember it?’

Was it not white in color?

Was the location wrong?

What’s not in place?

—There were millions of possibilities that could have driven this failure… If it was indeed a failure in the first place.

So… What could it be?

Did they really fail…?

Those were the only things that echoed in Serein’s head as she wondered in utter confusion, knowing too all too well how she was the only person they could rely on since stepping into this place. 

While pondering in puzzlement, Serein could only drive her mind to come to a useful conclusion as quickly as possible.

Author Note: Heyya folks! Anemic Bunnicula here~! Here goes another update for the week + Art that you can check on the discussion channel. Hope you all would enjoy it, and I’ll see you again in the next chapter, Chao~!

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