Reg and Riko ride the gondola up to the Seeker Camp, where Ozen greets them. Riko introduces herself and promptly vomits due to ascension strain. Ozen notes that while the effects are lighter in the camp, they are still difficult for children. Ozen already seems familiar with Riko and Reg.
Ozen examines Lyza's whistle and confirms her own identity. Riko immediately thanks Ozen for helping to carry her in the Curse-Warding Box. Ozen coldly admits that she considered abandoning Riko in favor of securing the Unheard Bell instead. Ozen notes that as a Red Whistle, Riko should not even be there. Riko explains that she came because her mother called for her, shows Ozen the message from Lyza's letter, and offers to leave once she's learned a little about her mother. In response, Ozen orders her apprentice, a child named Maruruk, to hear their story in her place, and will speak to them the next day. Maruruk gives Blue Whistles to Riko and Reg. Ozen says this is only so no one will question why Riko and Reg are there. In addition, this privilege is only for the duration of their stay in the camp, and she will keep Lyza's whistle until they leave.
Maruruk guides Riko and Reg through the camp and tells them its history. Maruruk and Reg manage to find some common ground, and Maruruk shares his history: Ozen saved him and made him her apprentice, so that he wouldn't have to return to the surface, as his eyes are too sensitive to light. Riko guesses that despite Ozen's cold exterior, she is a good master. Maruruk agrees, and invites Riko and Reg to stay at the Seeker Camp so he can spend more time with him, as there is no one else around their age. Riko reluctantly refuses, because she is concerned about her mother. Maruruk happily replies that in that case, they should do all their talking now.
Character Appearances Edit
- Leader stated in Chapter 005 that Lyza's decision to abandon the Unheard Bell in favor of saving Riko was not an obvious choice just because she was Riko's mother, given how incredibly valuable such an artifact was. Ozen echoes this by plainly stating she considered leaving Riko behind and taking the Bell instead.
- Maruruk and Riko both have a lingering visual issue where ascension strain is a large factor. Riko ascended as an infant, and was mostly protected by the Curse-Warding Box. But she requires crystal glasses to prevent constant headaches, a symptom seen in those who return from the depths, as stated in Chapter 005. Maruruk fell in an accident, and has been in the Seeker Camp ever since, presumably because of his light sensitivity. It is possible that Maruruk suffered a similar injury, but to a stronger degree, and so either he would need even more accommodations to live on the surface, or it is simply impossible for him now.
- Riko and Reg meet Ozen and Maruruk.
- Riko and Reg temporarily receive Blue Whistles.