Chapter 6: First Battle Aftermath
Melisa opened her eyes to the somehow familiar sight of a tent’s roof. She groggily raised her upper half from the sleeping bag but didn’t get out of it completely. Instead, her expression showed confusion as she tilted her head to the side, trying to get her sleepy mind to work.
‘Hmm… why do I feel that something is off about this situation…? Let’s see…’
Slowly, her memories returned. From her retreating to her tent after dinner, changing to her pajamas, followed by the goblins’ ambush and the fight before ending with her sitting around the relit campfire with Ragna. Unfortunately, her memories ended right there, which then left one important question…
“How did I end up here…?”
After a while, the blonde finally gave up on thinking of an answer and gingerly crawled out the sleeping bag, before exiting the tent. Immediately, she saw a familiar male sitting on a log while holding a bowl of soup, obviously having breakfast. He spotted her and said,
“Oh, you’re awake. I was about to wake you up for breakfast since we need to leave soon. If you want to wash up first, I found a small river not far from here.”
Melisa absentmindedly nodded before she felt that something was wrong with her view… she turned her head to the side and immediately spotted a very familiar tent, though it was at the wrong spot. She turned back to the male in front of her before speaking,
“Why did you move your tent?”
Ragna raised his eyebrows before replying,
Melisa’s eyes narrowed as she spoke,
“You’re lying, I remember that your tent was on my left… how comes it’s on my right, now?”
The red-head immediately understood the problem as he scratched his head exasperatedly,
“ Huh… Ahh… I see… geez, is this part of the change too…? Seriously… it’s really anything goes at this rate…”
He turned back to the blonde who was still partially in the tent before speaking again with more emphasis on each word,
“I didn’t move it….”
Melisa narrowed her eyes as she finally stepped out of the tent and stood with her hands on her hips,
“You’re still saying that? I obviously….”
The blonde’s next words were stuck in her throat as something suddenly clicked in her head. She looked around and surveyed her surroundings before her eyes stopped on Ragna once again.
Seeing that the blonde was finally awake enough to figure out the answer, with her widened eyes and dumbfounded look, Ragna decided to answer her unspoken question.
“You fell asleep sitting last night and since I couldn’t enter your tent and throwing you in from the outside wasn’t an option either, I carried you to mine instead.”
He paused for a moment letting the blonde to digest the information before continuing,
“Don’t worry, I didn’t do anything to you. I slept outside instead with a blanket.”
To emphasize his words, the youth pointed toward the folded blanket next to him.
Melisa, on the other hand, continued looking at her companion with a dumbfounded look. She didn’t even realize that her jaw was hanging as her eyes remained on him, not a sound escaped her open mouth.
Seeing that the woman was frozen, Ragna cleared his throat and turned his face to the side before speaking again,
“By the way… I… didn’t pay it any mind last night because it was dark and I couldn’t see it clearly… but since it’s morning already… if you don’t hurry and change out of that… nightwear… I’m not sure where to look….”
Melisa finally snapped out of it as she took in what her partner had just said. With a confused “eh?”, she looked at her body… and any remaining traces of sleepiness was gone in an instant as she realized the state of the dress she was in for the first time.
It turned out that during the brief scuffle against the goblins last night, her pajamas had suffered some damage. The thin and soft dress wasn’t designed for a fight to begin with, but it was quickly apparent that the battle had done a number on it. One of the shoulder straps had broken off, and there were multiple rips on the dress. One of the larger ones was actually exposing half of her left breast.
Blood rushed to the blonde’s head as she immediately crossed her arms around her chest in panic. Anger and embarrassment overtook her as she shouted to her companion,
“KYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH!! DON’T LOOK!!”
Melisa’s eyes immediately zeroed in on the one thing within her reach that would give her the most possibility to protect her decency. Without further ado, she grabbed the blanket that Ragna had put next to him and wrapped it around herself.
Once her body was no longer exposed, Melisa rushed toward her own tent before practically diving inside. She re-emerged less than 3 minutes later, still covered in Ragna’s blanket, with her magic bag in her grip as she asked the male,
“You said there’s a river nearby, where is it?”
Ragna raised his eyebrows at the sight of the blonde still wearing his blanket but didn’t comment on it as he pointed to the left,
“That way, about 30 meters from here. Better fill your water bottle too while at it, okay?”
Melisa nodded before walking toward the direction of the river. She had barely walked several meters before she turned her head to look over her shoulder and saw Ragna going into his own tent, presumably to clean up and store it. Satisfied that he wasn’t following her, the blonde couldn’t help but grin as she continued walking.
The blonde soon found the river that Ragna had told her about, it really wasn’t that far from their camp. Moreover, there were enough bushes covering the river from both sides that obscured it from view. As far as the location went, it was probably about as perfect as it could be for her purpose.
She slipped through the bushes before looking around once more to make sure that no one was around, not even Ragna. Once she was sure that she really was alone, the blonde finally released her grip on the blanket and spread it on top of the grass. Next, she took off her ruined pajamas and placed them along with her magic bag on top of the blanket.
Melisa came closer to the river but instead of going into it directly, she dipped a hand into the water to check the temperature. Fortunately, while it was slightly chilly, it was still within the limit that she could tolerate.
The blonde’s mouth curved into a smile, obviously satisfied with the river’s condition before she finally stepped into the water. She continued walking in deeper to the center of the river and realized that the water barely even reached her armpits. Soon enough, she happily washed her body inside the water, even humming a happy tune as she scrubbed her arms.
The bath took a while before Melisa finally made her way back to the riverside, where she had left her belongings. Fortunately, she had kept her eyes on them during her bath and they were still right where she had left them. She pulled a towel from the magic bag to dry herself before reaching in once again for her traveling clothes.
As she put on the top, however, the blonde noticed that there was something weird as she buttoned it, specifically, around her chest area. She knitted her eyebrows as she muttered,
“Weird… this… fit just right yesterday… why is it a little tight now…?”
Still, it wasn’t tight enough to make her uncomfortable wearing the clothes. Therefore, she decided to wear it anyway for now though she made a point to visit a tailor at the next village to get it altered if possible.
Once she finished putting on her gear, Melisa made her way back to the camp. Sure enough, she saw that the camp had been mostly cleaned up including Ragna’s tent and the pot, leaving only her share of belongings left to be taken care of.
Ragna also noticed that the blonde had came back as he lifted a bowl filled with the leftover stew from the night before toward her,
“Drink up, I left this for your breakfast. Once you’re done cleaning up, we’ll depart. We still have quite a distance to cover to reach the next village and I’d prefer if we can reach it before nightfall.”
Melisa smiled at her partner as she received the bowl before downing it in a few gulps. She used some water to clean the bowl before storing it into her magic bag. Once she was done with the food, she went toward her tent to empty and disassemble it.
As she worked, Ragna couldn’t help but ask her,
“Say… did you notice anything different about yourself this morning?”
Melisa paused for a few seconds before continued working as she answered somewhat nervously,
“N-No… why would you ask?”
Ragna raised his eyebrows as he spoke again,
“You’re stuttering… tell me.”
The blonde felt her face got hotter as she peeked over her shoulder and saw that Ragna was looking at her with a serious look. Finally, she sighed as she decided to tell him the truth,
“My clothes seem to have shrunk slightly… it is a little… tighter around my chest… but it isn’t a big deal.”
Ragna’s eyes narrowed as he spoke again,
“Did you use the sword’s power last night after all? You know it will accelerate your change, right?”
Melisa turned her head over her shoulder as she answered,
“I know that, and I didn’t use it.”
Noticing that he didn’t look quite convinced, Melisa sighed as she stored the tent into her magic bag before standing up and turning toward him. She placed her hands on her hips as she pouted at him, looking rather displeased as she spoke,
“You don’t believe me? I swear that I didn’t use it during the battle! Those goblins were too weak for me to actually need to use it to begin with!”
Seeing the blonde’s wronged look, Ragna finally sighed. He had to admit that she had a point, the goblins were too weak to pose a challenge for either of them. It would be a different story if they were led by a higher ranking goblin but since they weren’t, it was an easy battle.
However, as he remembered the goblins, a thought crossed the young man’s mind. He raised his eyes to look at the blonde once again,
“Wait… what about before the battle…? You noticed the goblins coming before they even got close… and even had enough time to warn me about them… you were already asleep before it happened… So… how?”
Melisa’s tilted her head as she pondered,
“Now that you mention it… I… had a bad feeling… I didn’t even know why but I was feeling restless before the goblins showed up…”
The blonde’s eyes widened as she looked at her companion in shock,
“You think that it was the sword warning me of the incoming threat?”
This time, Ragna also remembered a certain detail when the blonde warned him about the goblins: The spot where her heart was was glowing. With no other possible explanation that came to mind, he nodded toward her,
“It is certainly possible… I heard that if humans as the Goddess’ creation are “light”, then monsters would be the “shadow”… since the sacred sword is a piece of the Goddess herself… then it certainly is possible that it reacts to the presence of monsters.”
For a minute, there was silence between them before Melisa spoke again,
“Do… Do you think that also counts… as “using” the sword’s power… although I didn’t consciously choose to do it…?”
A long silence passed between the two, neither actually wanting to know the answer to that question….