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438 Store Hopping Date, The Rest of the Day in Laguna Province

 Day 80 - 2:12 PM - Mountain Base, Mount Malabito, General Nakar, Quezon

"Ma'am Odel, what do people do in a date?"

Spera asked as she washed the dishes they used for lunch.

Odelina, who was doing some laundry just outside the kitchen, stopped and looked at Spera.

"Hmm..." Odelina tapped her chin. "Different couples do different things. There are too many possible things to do. Most common is spending time together in activities they liked."

"What for? Couples can spend time together as usual. There's no need to go on a date."

Spera asked. She could not understand the concept at all. She was not just talking about Mark and Mei but other couples she had seen before.

To her statement, Odelina smiled.

"You might be right in a sense. However, dates are special in many ways. When going out on a date, a couple will do something different than usual. Example, watching movies, a picnic, eating in a restaurant, or just walking around a park. By doing different things than usual, the couple will see new sides of their partner. That is the most important thing on a date. It is to learn new things that you don't know about the person you like. At least, that's what I think."

"It is that complicated, huh."

Spera looked down while in deep thought.

Seeing that, Odelina continued on sorting the clothes she wanted to wash.

While in deep thought, Spera did not realize that she was flexing her right hand, subconsciously. Realizing what she was doing, she hurriedly stopped it.

It was a mannerism she had not fixed yet. It was because when she still had the ability to open portals, she would do this from time to time to practice while concentrating her powers on her hand. As she got used to this, she would unknowingly do this every now and then. It was even though her ability was already taken away from her.

Nevertheless, it was nothing but pure mannerisms now. In fact, she did not care anymore whether she would get that ability back or not. After Mark and his group took her in, they did not treat her any differently from others. She felt that she already found a place where she was valued, not as an item or tool, but as a person.

"Spera, what are you thinking about?"

A voice was heard as a person entered the kitchen. The person that entered was, the now lively, Emi.

Awakening her dormant blood as a Blood Demon, the connection between her mind and body was fixed. The Emi that was only staring blankly in front of her was no more. She returned to her previous personality. Of course, she still exhibiting some symptoms of trauma. Nevertheless, she was already better.

Now, Emi was helping around the base. She even volunteered to join Spera and Odelina and serve as a maid. Even Emi was oblivious of the reason. As far as she knew, she just felt like it.

That was why, while Edward was leading the training of the combatants, she was here helping do some chores. Like right now, she was carrying new materials acquired from the bodies of the hunted animals this morning. She was passing by to bring the materials into Mark's workshop.

"Ah, Miss Emi." Spera looked to the side. "I'm just thinking about the Master and the Miss."

"Oh, they went on a date, right?" Emi smiled. "I'm kind of envious. It's been a long time since Edward brought me out. It's not possible anymore though."

Emi had a nostalgic expression on her face. It made Spera press more questions about the custom of dating among couples.

Their conversation made the two finish their chores longer than usual giving Odelina quite a headache.

***

Day 80 - 2:31 PM - Spirit Sanctuary, Mount Banahaw, Tayabas, Quezon

After spending about an hour relaxing in the middle of the field surrounded by flowers, Mark and Mei decided to leave. It was not because they were already tired of the scenery, rather, they wanted to do more things before sunset.

Seeing that they decided to leave, the Diwata felt relieved. Most demons were unstable beings. If not for the fact that she was afraid of Mark's ability to control Miasma, she would not let anyone with a demon's decent inside the Sanctuary.

Still, the Diwata could not believe that a Demon was really dating a human woman. If not for her seeing the interaction between Mark and Mei, she would never believe it.

"We are leaving."

Mark said to the Diwata which made her nod and open the portal going outside the sanctuary.

Then Mark said something that made her freeze.

"We're going to visit again sometime."

But while she lamented...

"Here, as thanks."

A marble-sized crystal flew towards the Diwata. Surprised, she reflexively caught it.

Seeing the crystal in her hand, the Diwata was shocked. It was not hard for her to realize that the crystal on her hand was created with pure magical energy.

For humans, this crystal would have minimal effects. To her and other spirits, however, this was a very precious treasure that could raise her powers.

It was too precious that she wanted to return it. Even if it was a payment for Mark and Mei to enter the sanctuary, it was too much.

As she was about to return it, Mark and Mei were already gone and passed through the portal. She hurriedly followed out, however, she was not able to see any traces of the two anymore.

She had no choice but to accept it. The next time that she saw the two, she would openly welcome them to the sanctuary.

With this crystal, she would have more power to protect their home mountain.

***

"Gege, you're being generous to give her one of those."

Mei said as they flew away from Mount Banahaw.

She knew the value of the [Mental Crystals] especially since the number of it was limited. At the moment, Mark only had around sixty of these compared to the [Physical Crystals] which was around two hundred, not including the already occupied ones.

"It's fine," Mark replied. "She will need more power to protect this place. That way, we can visit again in the future."

"That's true."

Mei said as she looked at the mountain behind. It would be a lie to say that she did not want to visit this place again.

Mark did not say one thing though. He was in a good mood right now because she saw how happy Mei was. That was the main factor for him to give one of the empty [Mental Crystals]. If he had more of the crystal that he got from the headless priest, he might have given that instead. In his view, it would be even more beneficial to spiritual beings and elementals. Unfortunately, he only had one.

Another thing, he did not mind giving a gift to the Diwata. It was because even though she was not as strong as the flame demon he fought before, she was still stronger than most paranormal creatures he encountered. A friendship with a good creature like her was not bad at all.

***

Day 80 - 5:22 PM - Pagsanjan River, Maytalang I, Lumban, Laguna

Time passed by rather fast. It was an odd concept of time and consciousness. Depending on the circumstances, time could be perceived as fast or slow. It was more apparent when a person was focused on doing something, was doing something they enjoy, or when they were spending time with their special someone.

That was what Mark and Mei had experienced from the rest of the day.

After leaving Mount Banahaw, they went mall hopping. They browsed stores whether it be clothing or just something that interested them. Stores that sold stuffed toys, books, cosmetics, or even children's clothes, they entered all of these establishments.

They did not mind the current state of the mall or the stores they went in. As long as it took their interest, they would check out the store.

It was kind of unfortunate though that Mei couldn't try out the clothes she liked immediately. After being unattended for a long time, the clothes were already covered with dust if not stained with blood from the infected roaming the establishment.

The most that they could do was to pick up some of the things that interested them and try the items out after the things were washed.

Still, the activities they did made them enjoy their time together. They even tried out some kiddy rides while laughing as they played together.

It was a time they enjoyed a lot. Not minding the litter of disembodied corpses and splatter of blood they left at every place they stopped by.

The sun would set soon. That was why they decided to take a walk near the Pagsanjan River as their last stop. While walking, they just kept silent. They already had their fun for today, now, they were just enjoying each other's company before they went home.

Mark and Mei held hands as they crossed the river, with the things they decided to bring home.

***

While Mark and Mei crossed the bridge, a lookout spotted the two.

Just beside the river, not far from the bridge, a two-story house had been fortified by a group of survivors living in the area. The group was led by two Mutators. Coupled with the fact the province had a lesser population density compared to cities, they managed to survive.

The lookout, of course, was surprised to see a couple crossing the bridge.

"Paulo, there are two people on the bridge. They seem to be... On a date?"

The lookout called his partner.

"Chris, don't joke around, a date? Who will believe you?"

"I'm not joking, look."

The teenage boy, called Chris handed his binoculars to Paulo.

"Huh?"

That was all that Paulo could voice out. He was dumbfounded that there would be a couple out on a date after the apocalypse. It was not hard to guess as he could almost see the pink aura between the two people crossing the bridge.

"I don't mind if they really are on a date," Chris said as everyone had their own way of spending their time even if it was already the apocalypse.

"But isn't it bad?" Chris added. "This should be around when those bastards will cross the bridge, won't they?"

Paulo nodded. It was rare for them to see new survivors. Now, however, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Should we warn them?"

Chris asked.

"We better do. I don't want to see more people fall because of those bastards. I can't see clearly, but the girl seems to be beautiful. It will be bad if someone like her fell on the hands of those animals."

Paulo said and he stood up.

"Chris, you keep on the lookout, I'll go out to warn them."

"Uhm... Paulo." Chris said with a dismayed tone. "It's already late."

While saying that, a group of vehicles could be seen on the opposite side of the bridge. Most of the vehicles were large modified motorcycles while there were two heavily modified trucks.

The group feared by people, not only in this place, but in many parts of Laguna. Especially after the apocalypse started, this group became more active.

The criminal group, "Buddha Gang".

They were known for many criminal acts, like robberies, drug trafficking, and especially, contract killings.

Since the outbreak, many survivors had fallen by their hands. Men were killed while women and girls were taken as prisoners. They would also commit abductions of important members of survivor groups and make the remaining members bring ransom to take them back.

Of course, while they were true to their word and returned the person they abducted, they returned them, broken.

As for the other survivors that lived in the area, they were paying this group for protection. Although the payment was rather overpriced, in the least, they could live in their homes, not fearing the infected.

As for the group of Paulo and Chris, they only managed to avoid this crime group because of the two mutators that led them.

Now, Chris and Paulo could only watch in dismay as they saw the couple crossing the bridge get surrounded by dozens of armed people.