Cottontail Flopsy. That’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time. When Roland was just beginning his journey, he saved a bunnykin girl from a group of imperial guards. I think that’s when he decided to travel the path of an outlaw. If he hadn’t met her that fateful afternoon, maybe the name Golden Rat wouldn’t have seen the light of day. Like the fool he was, he fell head over heels in love with her. That’s right. Roland was a sucker for pretty bunnykin girls. He knew the imperial army was chasing her, yet he forced me, a newly formed spirit, to fight alongside him to save Cottontail. Both of us barely escaped the jaws of death.
After saving the poor bunnykin, we discovered that Cottontail had stolen an armor spirit from one of the princes of the time, which was why she was being pursued. It was at that moment that Roland had his greatest epiphany. If we were in a dark cave, it would’ve been illuminated by the lightbulb turning on over his head. Roland realized if he became a bandit, he wouldn’t have to care about the law, but more importantly, he could join Cottontail in her exploits. And that’s how a poor village boy, within twenty minutes of starting his grand adventure to become a hero, became one of the most notorious outlaws the world had ever seen.
But, Durandal, Snow said Cottontail was his great-grandfather, but you’re saying she was a woman? Well, to avoid rumors amongst their group of bandits, Cottontail pretended to be a man. Don’t ask me why, I’m just a weapon spirit. Did her cross-dressing play an influence on why her great-grandson dressed like a girl? Maybe. And if I’m not wrong, Snow should be one of Roland’s direct descendants. Funny how things work out, huh? Roland’s great-grandson meets his great-grandfather’s legendary weapon, but the legendary weapon’s already taken. But it’s not like I’m the only legend around here.
“Hey.” I kicked Snow’s socks. “How long are you going to hide from me?”
Snow’s eyes widened as his socks shone with a green light. A second later, a small, white rabbit with a single horn sticking out of its forehead appeared in front of us as the light winked out of existence. Not all spirits are humanoid. The reason I allowed Snow to accompany us was this little critter in front of me. “Hello, Bouncykins.”
The rabbit opened its mouth. A deep booming voice replied, “Durandal.”
Lucia’s tail stuck straight up into the air. “That voice doesn’t fit your figure! Wait, no. Rabbits can talk?”
“Bouncykins?” Snow asked and stared at his armor spirit. “T-that…”
“Shut up!” the white rabbit said and thumped its hind leg against the ground. “I am the King of the World, Lucifer, the All-consuming Devourer of Gods and Planets, the Mighty Unstoppable Force of Nature, the Terror of the Eighteen mmph—!!“
“Yeah, yeah.” I covered his face with my hand. He always added another title to his name every time he said it. I’m curious as to how many titles have been added in the past eighty years, but I’m not patient enough to find out. “Bouncykins. Let’s just stick with that, okay?”
“Dammit, Durandal! Quit destroying my thunder!” Bouncykins thumped his legs against the ground like a kid throwing a tantrum. “How am I supposed to intimidate people with a name like Bouncykins?”
“He’s so adorable,” Lucia said and scooped Bouncykins into her arms. She pinched his cheeks and twiddled his floppy ears around her finger. Bouncykins and I froze. What? How did she…? “I wonder what he’d taste like….”
“Filthy peasant! Unhand me this instant!” Bouncykins roared as he struggled. His legs waved uselessly in the air as Lucia held him by the scruff of his neck. “Durandal! What kind of monster have you chosen? How can she catch me like this!?”
“I really don’t know….” Bouncykins was a spirit of wind and shadow. Even Roland would’ve had a difficult time catching Bouncykins. So how did Lucia pick him up so easily? Not to mention the fact she hit Snow when I wasn’t able to. Was there something special about Lucia? Was her presence so harmless that no one was on guard before her?
“You’re thinking mean things about me again,” Lucia said and puffed her cheeks out. Her tail twitched a few times, sending ripples from the base to the tip.
“R-release me…,” Bouncykins said. Lucia was squeezing his neck, causing his eyes to bulge out of his head. His forelegs pawed at Lucia’s hand but to no avail.
“L-Lucia,” Snow said and stepped forward. “Y-you’re killing my armor spirit.”
“Huh?” Lucia glanced at the limp, frothing rabbit in her hand. “Ah! Bouncykins!” She released his neck, causing him to fall towards the ground. Snow dove underneath her and caught him. He glared at me. Why at me? I wasn’t the one who almost killed your armor spirit.
“You really are Durandal,” Snow said. He placed the rabbit on top of his feet. “Hurry up and recover inside, Lucifer.” His socks shone, and the rabbit faded away.
“Durandal?” Lucia asked. “Can you do that too?”
I mean, I could, but it’s really boring inside of mini-DalDal. Am I really calling my weapon body mini-DalDal now? “No.”
“What?” Snow asked. “But—”
“I. Said. No.”
“I, I understand,” Snow said and lowered his head.
“Well, I guess you’re too big to fit inside this sword, huh?” Lucia asked as she held the six-hundred-pound weapon in front of herself. She thought it weighed five hundred still. Aren’t I a genius?
Snow sent a glance at Lucia that said, “It doesn’t work that way,” but Lucia didn’t seem to notice. Like I thought, simple owners were the best.
“Alright. Enough eating.” After killing the people who were trying to apprehend Snow, we decided to eat the food they had prepared. It was Lucia’s idea. There wasn’t much mealtime conversation. Snow and Lucia ate like animals, completely devoted to their meal while ignoring everything else. Would I be the same if I could feel hunger?
“Mn.” Lucia patted her belly and wobbled while standing up. It took her a second to balance herself with qi. Compared to yesterday, Lucia’s gone leaps and bounds. She was crawling before, but now she can walk.
“Is it … practical to use a weapon that heavy?” Snow asked and furrowed his brow. He really did look like Cottontail. Was he actually a girl in disguise? I should ask Bouncykins when he wakes up.
“This is training,” Lucia said and folded her arms across her chest. Why did she look so smug? Should I increase mini-DalDal’s weight again?
“Training?” Snow asked.
“Training,” Lucia echoed without elaborating. “Anyways, let’s go!” She raised her hand into the air and glanced at Snow. He blinked. Lucia lowered her hand and placed it on Snow’s shoulder. “We’re counting on you to lead the way.”
Snow glanced at me.
I nodded. “That’s right.”
A deep laugh echoed from Snow’s socks. “Still terrible with directions, Durandal? Some things never change.”
Shut up. I stabbed at Snow’s feet with my spear, but he avoided the strikes. How was Lucia able to hit him so easily?
“You’re not going to switch to a sword?” Lucia asked me, ignoring the sweating bunnykin. She gestured at the dead bodies on the ground. I had looted them while the two animals were eating, but I left the swords behind.
“I don’t want to use an inferior sword.” That’s not true, but Lucia doesn’t need to know that. It’s actually just a lot more fun to use a spear. I’ve used a sword my whole life, some changes are needed to keep things interesting, you know?
“Bullshit,” Bouncykins said.
My spear flashed through the air.
“L-Lucifer, please stop provoking Durandal!” Snow said with tears in his eyes. “They’re my feet!”
“What exactly do your socks do?” Lucia asked and crouched down. Snow’s socks looked ordinary, except for a ring of carrots circling the ankle.
“Secret,” Bouncykins said.
“Lighter footsteps and increased agility.” I’ve worked together with Roland and Cottontail too often to not know all their secrets.
“Oh,” Lucia said. “That’s pretty neat.” Why was she looking at me like that? “Then what do you do, Durandal?”
“Everything.” I don’t know, okay? Roland was ridiculously good at everything regardless of whether or not I was there. By everything, I mean he was good at kidnapping children and achieving the results he wanted without my help.
Lucia turned to Snow. “Is there some way to check?”
“Not really,” Snow said and scratched his head. “Usually people do things without the spirit equipped, then do things again with them equipped and check for differences. It’s not very accurate. But most of the time, the spirit should already know?”
Sue me. “Forget about it. You don’t want to rely on me too much or you won’t get as far.”
“That’s true,” Snow said and nodded. He smiled at Lucia. “It must be nice having such a wise teacher.”
For some reason, Lucia hit Snow over the head with the flat of mini-DalDal. “Accident.”
Snow fell to the ground, clutching his head with his ears bent down. Poor, Snow. As we traveled south, a thought came to my head. Was Lucia also going to create a bandit group?