Chapter 160. The Rondo of Scarlet Flame and Silver Ice (3)
After slurping down the noodles in my mouth, I scanned her. She was short, perhaps about 130 centimeters tall. Her face and build were small. She had long silver hair that flowed down to her waist and shined like transparent ice. Her skin was milky white, while her eyes were rosy pink. Silver hair and red eyes. I murmured as I held up my spear.
"Is she not human...?"
"It's albinism, idiot."
Hwaya put down the bowl of ramen she was holding and said as she knocked me on my head. Damn, it's not like I knew everything!
I remembered with what Hwaya said. Albinism. It was the condition where one's skin or hair appeared white due to lack of melanin. I knew about it too. Even though I knew, I've only seen it once in a lion in Africa!
"Are you France's SS ranker?"
Hwaya asked. I also suspected that she was a ranker. Although she looked young, the overwhelming mana she possessed easily matched an SS ranker's mana and even neared Hwaya's and mine. It was also the reason I thought she wasn't human. Really!
"Hi. I'm Hwaya Mastiford."
Seeing Hwaya wave her hand, the girl did the same. Then, she replied with her small pink lips. I couldn't help but notice her refined doll-like features.
"Are you... eating that?"
"Do you want some, too?"
"... You'll give it to me?"
Hwaya smiled and called her over.
"Come here. No matter how much mana you have, it's better to be warm than cold."
"I was told not to go near people."
"You can't go near people?"
"Un. They would die if I did."
While Hwaya was tilting her head curiously, I asked, feeling relieved.
"You're Russia's SS ranker, right?"
She nodded very candidly.
"Wait, Shin! Didn't the prime minister say that Russia's SS ranker was male!?"
"No, now that I think about it, I don't think he said it clearly. I just kind of assumed. Plus, if she's alone, she fits the description of Russia's SS ranker perfectly. If you want to be sure, take off your choker."
Hwaya took off her choker like I suggested. Then, she gestured for us to talk. I asked her again.
"Why do people die when you go near them?"
"Because... everyone becomes like this."
Illina waved her hand. Then, ice crystals formed like fluttering flowers. The space her hand touched all turned into ice, which stayed afloat in the air.
I looked back at Hwaya. She nodded.
"Right, that was Russian."
"*Slurp*, so Russia's SS ranker has an ice ability..."
"She can't control it...? *sip*"
"Second Master, I heard, *slurp*, kids who awaken abilities, *nom*... have trouble controlling their abilities."
The others each slurped noodles or sipped on the soup as they murmured. I wish they'd choose between eating or talking. In any case, it seemed the prime minister had lied. Even so, how could they be so relaxed in front of such a powerful ability user!? I glared at them, then faced Illina again.
"Is that because you can't control it?"
"Un. Because Illina can't control it, everyone said to stay away."
So that was why... From a while ago, she kept her distance without approaching us. However, she wasn't moving away either. In fact, as we conversed, she was getting closer to the pot surrounded by chaos flames. It was then that I realized three weeks had passed since she came here.
"What did you eat until now?"
Golems... In other words, ice.
"Bats... and rats... and armors."
In other words, ice. Ei!
"It was probably thanks to your mana, but I'm surprised you're still alive. Come on, eat. We have lots."
"But if I go... you'll die..."
"No one here is weak enough to die from something like that. Don't worry and come over."
"Mom and Dad also said they wouldn't die, but they did. The Ajusshi from TV also died. The oppa that said I was pretty also died. The Ajusshi who was mad at me died, and the people that came in here also died after saying they wouldn't."
I became lost for words. She was staring intently at the pot, almost as if what she said had nothing to do with her. But that couldn't be the case. There wasn't anyone who would feel nothing after killing their parents.
But I understood why the Russian government wanted me to kill her. How could they control a girl who lost her parents because she couldn't control her powers? Plus, the people that entered this dungeon must have been S ranked at the very least, and they died too... She turned around, leaving me behind.
I shouted instinctively, feeling that I had to stop her. I was confident that she wouldn't be able to hurt Hwaya or me, but from the way she was acting, it didn't look like she'd touch us easily. When I thought about the reason Illina recklessly came into the dungeon, I became more certain.
Before she walked away, I hurriedly summoned Ruyue. As soon as Ruyue saw her, she exclaimed in surprise.
[Wow! She's colder than Shin!]
"Ruyue, give this to her. Make sure that it doesn't get colder. Can you do it?"
[Yeah! I can do it now!]
I took out a bowl, putting some ramen noodles in it along with chopsticks. Ruyue made it float with her power and carried it to Illina. Seeing the bowl float toward her, Illina widened her eyes and accepted it. Then, she became even more surprised.
"This... won't freeze...! It's hot!"
"Yeah, my friend helped me."
With her eyes still opened widely, she picked up the chopsticks. After struggling with it for a bit, she frowned and muttered.
"This is hard."
"Hold on, I'll get you a fork."
The fork was also delivered with Ruyue's power. After eating ramen for the first time, Illina stuck out her tongue.
"Ah, was it too spicy for a kid?"
"I'm not a kid!"
A small ice appeared above her tongue. Then, it became dew. So this was how she was drinking water! Although she did it effortlessly, it was nonetheless an amazing skill.
"Spicy. It's spicy... but it's hot. I couldn't eat anything hot after Mom died..."
"Damn, the ramen is too spicy! It's making me cry!"
Father, if you're going cry, do it quietly like Ludia and Sumire! Don't make dumb excuses!
Illina then finished the ramen I gave her and even drank the entire soup. Looking at her reddened face, it was obvious that it was an expression of 'I finished it because it was hot, but I can't handle the spiciness.'
"Do you want ice cream?"
"I don't like ice cream. It's too cold."
"Do you want caramel, then?"
While I delivered caramel to her with Ruyue, the party members were all watching this strange exchange. They were eating ramen while crying silently or wiping their eyes. Hwaya made an indiscernible expression and messaged me.
[It's like you're taming her!]
[... I can't deny that.]
Illina finished the caramel as well. Her expression had become much more relaxed thanks to the caramel's sweetness. At least, that was how it looked. Now was my chance.
"Illina, why did you come here?"
"The ajusshi from TV told me that people wouldn't die if I came here. I came in because I didn't want to kill people... but other people entered and died."
"That son of a bitch."
I still didn't have the full picture. However, I somewhat understood. Illina caused many casualties, including her parents. The Russian government probably wanted to exploit her even if they had to make sacrifices. After all, any sacrifice was acceptable in front of the SS ranker title.
Of course, the sacrifices they had to make ended up being too big for them to handle. In the end, they decided to throw her away. 'Luckily,' an SS ranked gate had conveniently appeared. They probably hoped that she'd die on her own.
What I couldn't understand was why Guardian sent a team of ability users to conquer the dungeon. Did they try to exploit the Russian government's plan?
"Illina, when did you come in here?'
"A month and a half ago."
It was about 3 weeks prior to when Guardian's team entered. I see, if they couldn't hear from her for three weeks, it made sense that they thought she was dead! However, that would mean Illina didn't eat properly for a month and a half. So an SS ranker's magic power was this powerful! Illina's seemed to be especially special.
"I know, I was thinking the same thing."
After answering Hwaya, I looked at Illina. She also looked at me. Her indescribably mystical rose-pink eyes seemed to be sucking me in.
"Illina, if you want-"
While I was still talking, she suddenly bowed. I began to feel uneasy.
"Thanks to you, I had some pasta for the first time in a while."
"This isn't really pasta, but if you want, Illina, we can make you more."
"Kind people and good people... I don't want to freeze people like them anymore."
"Wait. We won't freeze even if you touch us! I can touch you directly! Plus, I have a friend that can control fire and heat-"
"This place is dangerous. You should run away."
With that, she quickly disappeared. I couldn't feel her presence anymore. The only thing left was the bowl that had fallen to the ground.
"Damn, she just did a dine and dash...!"
"Shin, your ability to cloud the issue sometimes surprises me, but now isn't the time!"
Hwaya looked even angrier than me. She gritted her teeth and shouted.
"Russia, those arrogant bastards! They didn't call me, the greatest fire ability user, to control an ice ability user!? They'll pay for this!"
"Who's the one clouding the issue!?"
We argued for a while, forgetting about the matter with Illina. However, there was one thing we agreed on. It was that Guild Revival's tenth member had just been decided.