Since birth, Scrubia lived in a village deep in a forest. When she was just a child, she was glorified by the villagers as an object of worship, holy and inviolable. All the villagers paid her their utmost respect. Even she tried enthusiastically to initiate a conversation with them, they either stayed away from her, or replied her in a reverent tone. None of them would actually listen to what she said.
Scrubia had been haunted by nightmares; instead of demanding someone to eradicate the curse of nightmares from her, she just wanted to find someone willing to share her suffering.
All along, Scrubia could only observe the outside world from a small window in her room. Every time she heard the joyful sound of children playing, she would stand on tiptoe and press her head as close to the window as possible, so she could get a view of the scene. The children were playing hide-and-seek, cackling with laughter. Scrubia envied them a lot. She desired freedom rather than worship, companions than veneration.
The young Scrubia could not understand why they treated her this way. She found her life boring, like a bird in a cage — fed, displayed, and petted. She wanted to explore the world outside, but people confined her in a room in the name of “protection”.
To obtain the freedom she so dearly craved, Scrubia secretly broke the window and coaxed the villagers to offer her some clothes as a sacrifice. Seizing the moment when the guards were not paying attention to her, she disguised herself and sneaked out to explore the village…
Srubia was fascinated to see different kinds of things; to her, everything was a novelty. Just then, she heard the sound of children playing…
Young Scrubia: Can, can I join you?
Little Girl: Of course! Then you will be the “it” to seek us!
Young Scrubia: Seek you...? But I just want to find someone to talk to…
Little Girl: Let’s play first!
Young Scrubia: 99… 100! Ready or not, here I come!
Srubia started searching for the other children on the open space and in the nearby forest, but she could not find anyone. She felt increasingly impatient, thinking of a way to call out to all the hiding children at one fell swoop…
Affected by her growing intention, the power of the dragon soul within her body responded to her wish — her hair transformed into a pair of dragon wings, flapping and causing a gale. All the surrounding leaves were blown away, rendering the hiders visible; some of them were even carried off by the wind and bumped against tree trunks or walls.
The children started bawling, while Scrubia realized that she had made a big mistake. The power of the dragon soul calmed down as her heart was staggered, with the dragon wings turning back to hair. Startled, she looked at everything in front of her, standing numbly, unable to react. Then, people ran to the scene as they heard the sound of children crying. The parents held up their children to comfort them; only Scrubia stood alone.
After the accident, Scrubia no longer had the passion to leave her room. Her manner gradually turned arrogant and obstinate, rendering her unapproachable. People did not know the reason that had caused her change. They assumed the only possible reason she developed such a personality was because she had been long served by others. To satisfy her, they offered more numbers and more varieties of sacrifices as long as she wished.
Even so, Scrubia’s heart grew lonely. She gradually forgot her innate characteristics, mistaking the mask of arrogance as her true self.
Since she inadvertently channeled her power of the dragon soul and injured other children in the village, Scrubia became increasingly obstinate to prevent herself from hurting others again. Also to protect herself, she started to forget her innate characteristics and desires.
She gradually experienced more difficulties as to how she could express her feelings. Even the torment of nightmares grew severer day by day, she could only endure it alone, thinking that only she herself could understand the suffering.
Though she tried to isolate herself from others, Scrubia could not help but fall in love with an adolescent in the village, who was also one of the people serving her. The adolescent’s father was originally responsible for serving Scrubia; but by a quirk of fate, the adolescent became his sick father’s substitute.
Upon their first encounter, Scrubia and the adolescent fell in love with each other. The adolescent always tried to find an excuse to come serving her, while Scrubia would also request the adolescent to come from time to time.
Scrubia was filled with bliss, because she thought she had finally found someone who could share her suffering. However, overhearing villagers’ conversation outside her window, she accidentally learned that the adolescent had actually slept with countless maidens in the village. Scrubia was stupefied; she never expected that she would be this easily betrayed. She wanted to vomit as she recalled his sweet words. It was mere pretense, wasn’t it?
After that, even if she was always surrounded by admirers, she did not pay attention to any of them. She just accepted their love and care without giving anything in return. That way, she could mend her lonely heart, and not be hurt again.
Admirer: Scrubia… You’re gorgeous… I love you so much…
Scrubia: If you really love me, show me!
Admirer: My dear Scrubia… For you, I can sacrifice anything…
Scrubia: That’s not enough to prove your love to me; or, that’s all you mean when you say “love”?
Scrubia grew increasingly dependent on the feelings of being loved. For a moment, the dreamlike adoration from others distracted her from her nightmares, alleviating her suffering. Even if it was just a moment of relief, for Scrubia, it was better than none.
Scrubia always wanted to end the nightmares, but she could not get rid of them even after trying various means. She could not even figure out the identity of the curse-spell caster. Scrubia understood that to solve the problem, she must first find its root, but she did not know where to start.
One day, a traveling merchant arrived at the village. He claimed that he sold dragon-slaying weapons. All the villagers thought he was lying; no one believed him, except Scrubia. She knew that he was speaking the truth.
With only one glance at the weapons, she could sense a strange feeling swirling inside her heart. As she stretched out her hand to touch it, the power of the dragon soul within her grew more vigorous. She immediately understood that the weapons were connected to the dragon soul hitched to her. If she could find the wielder of the weapons, perhaps she could eradicate her nightmares…
Scrubia: I am taking all these weapons.
Maidservant: Lady Scrubia, you really want all of them? He is possibly a liar…
Scrubia: Have you heard my words?
Maidservant: Y, yes, Lady Scrubia!
Scrubia was determined to find the dragonslayer, but the villagers would not allow her to leave. Stealthily, she fled the village. To have a servant on the way, she coaxed an admirer to embark on a journey with her, in search of the dragonslayer.
After leaving the village, Scrubia embarked on a journey to seek the dragonslayer, in an admirer’s company. On the way, they went through numerous kinds of dangers. Scrubia thought that the admirer could take care of her and protect her. But instead, in the face of danger, he ran away immediately and left her alone.
Scrubia: He said he loves me so much, but in the end… sigh.
Scrubia was alone again, but she gradually mastered the power of the dragon soul. At first, the dragon wings she created with her hair were too soft that they were not enough to support her to fly. As Scrubia went through the trials and challenges on her journey, the dragon wings gradually grew stronger. They then were not only able to fly and carry Scrubia, but also remove boulders, protect her from injury, and help her overcome difficult situations.
Under the guidance of the dragon soul, Scrubia finally found the owner of the dragon-slaying weapons. His body was preserved by the power of the golden apple, but his life had ended long ago. Scrubia sought help from the dragon soul, and through Scrubia, the dragon soul channelled its power into the dragonslayer. The dragonslayer opened his eyes and stood up! However, the revived warrior could not clearly recall his past; he could only tell Scrubia fragments of his memory…
Beowulf: Nidhogg… Contaminated by the demonic blood… Idun…
Beowulf only remembered that he was with a goddess called “Idun” at the moment of his death. Hence, in order to find the manipulator of the nightmare, Scrubia had to find Idun first.
Scrubia’s face was twisted with agony. She dreamed of herself being wrapped in green and viscous liquid.
She struggled, but that caused her to sink quicker. She tried to shout; but when she opened her mouth, the liquid immediately streamed into her cavity.
She wanted to vomit as the putrid stench filled her throat, but she was inundated by the liquid, with her breath about to stop…
No matter how intensely she suffered in the nightmare, Scrubia just could not wake up.
She eventually gave up struggling and allowed her body to sink deep into the poisonous liquid. Light fade away; only darkness and coldness remained.
Just then, a voice spoke beside her, and a warm hand reached out to her. As she grabbed the hand, everything was swept away by brightness...
Scrubia: No worries. Just a nightmare.
Beowulf responded with silence. Scrubia did not intend to continue the discussion either, since she had already got used to the fact that no one could understand her misery. She believed that the person in front of her would be no different. Unexpectedly, Beowulf asked further after a while of silent contemplation:
Beowulf: What kind of nightmare was it? I want to know.
Scrubia was surprised to hear his caring question. After a moment of astonishment, she started describing every nightmare she had to Beowulf. He did not interrupt with a word; he just attentively listened to her. As if untying all the knots in her heart, Scrubia felt a great relief. In Beowulf’ s company, she had overcome her fear of nightmares and fell asleep again.
Beowulf: I am sorry. I never intended to make you suffer. However, I must take vengeance on the people who took away my freedom.
Gently, he caressed Scrubia’s hair. Strands of hair quickly gathered because of the dragon soul’s power, but it was only a slight bit of power, so it soon dispersed and her hair returned to its normal state. This “Beowulf” had the same appearance as before, but affected by the dragon soul, his will and soul had undergone a drastic change. He, was no longer the dragonslayer of yore...
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To find out the mastermind behind the nightmares, Scrubia brought Beowulf back to life through the power of the dragon soul.
However, the revived Beowulf lost parts of his memory; he could only recall some fragments of it, such as the battle against Nidhogg the Dragon of Poison, the fact that he was contaminated by its demonic blood, and how he received help from Idun. Along the bumpy road, the pair searched for any relevant clues while heading toward Idun’s location.
Beowulf: Be careful. Give me your hand.
Scrubia: I can do it myself. It’s just a rivulet.
Beowulf: Accidents are always unexpected.
Beowulf did not wait for her response. He just grabbed her hand and helped her safely cross the rivulet. When their hands touched, Scrubia found her heart beating rapidly. Her feelings had never been so intense, not even when she was in love with the adolescent in her village. She assumed it was because the dragon soul inside her body had some kind of connection or resonance with him. In fact, it was all because of the subtle changes in her heart.
From her experiences, Scrubia learned that she should never easily show her fragility in front of others. However, as Beowulf “rescued” her from her nightmares time after time, she gradually let her guard down with a growing trust. Together, they went past many different places, and finally arrived at Idun’s place.
Idun: B, Beowulf?! How is it possible that you are here? Aren’t you already…
Idun: Let me understand your situation first.
Idun gently touched Scrubia’s head, from which she could sense the power and pneuma of a dragon soul. Though the soul was not stirring vigorously, Idun who stayed by Nidhogg’s side for years quickly realized that the dragon soul within Scrubia was a split of the Dragon of Poison’s. She withdrew her hand and her godly power; frustratingly, she said to Scrubia:
Idun: This is unbelievable… The dragon soul in your body is a fragment of Nidhogg’s…
Idun: The nightmares you suffer are its consciousness, the resentment and sorrow deep within its heart.
Scrubia: Can you please remove the soul from me, so I won’t have these nightmares anymore?
Idun: Sorry, I am not able to do that. I guess the dragon soul attached itself to you because Nidhogg wants your favor.
Idun told Scrubia and Beowulf the location of Nidhogg. However, it was sealed in a place with other mighty lords; it was impossible for the pair to climb the tower with the power they currently possessed. Even after the long journey, they were actually running on the spot — the problem could not be solved.
Scrubia: Beowulf, we should go now! Don’t stay here and disturb Idun!
Idun: Wait a minute…
Ignoring Idun’s words, Beowulf followed Scrubia and left. Idun felt something unutterably peculiar about the “Beowulf” in front of her. He was revived by the power of the dragon soul, but why would he give off pneuma of Nidhogg’s? His personality changed as well… However, they had long gone, Idun decided not to spend any more time pondering over the question.
After leaving Idun’s house, Scrubia and Beowulf resumed their journey, in hopes of finding out a way to eradicate Scrubia’s nightmares. Perhaps this would be an endless journey, but Scrubia was excited. For her, whether she could find a cure was no longer important; the most important thing was, with whom she could build memories.