Chapter 7: Mosa Village (First Half)
Ragna and Melisa continued their travel for the whole day, fortunately with barely any encounters with monsters. The few that they encountered had posed even less threat than the goblins the night before thanks to Melisa’s, though unwanted, early detection which gave them an advantage over the monsters.
However, they remembered that according to the adventurers back in their village, monsters seem to be more active at night. Seeing as the sun had passed the midday by several hours, they decided to increase their horses’ pace in order to reach the village faster.
As they ordered the horses to go faster, Melisa remembered something and she turned to her partner,
“Oh yeah, I’ve been wanting to ask you something. That weapon that you used, what was that?”
Ragna turned to the blonde as he flexed his arm, and the metal plate at the back of his glove extended to form a blade as he spoke,
“You mean this?”
The girl nodded in response, and Ragna withdrew the blade back by unlocking a tiny mechanism on it as he spoke,
“Ah, you remember when they asked what kind of weapon I’d prefer, they gave me a brass knuckle and glove? Well… later on, I remembered Mr. Argo mentioning something about a unique weapon used by warriors from the continent down south.”
Melisa nodded in understanding. Argo was a merchant who frequently visited their village every few months. The guy was rather popular with the youngsters in the village due to his penchant for sharing unique stories about his travels. Rumor has it that there was not a single place that he hadn’t been to… Before the demon land expansion, that is.
Ragna turned his eyes back to the road before continuing,
“According to him, that country’s warriors equipped themselves with a bladed weapon called a ‘Katar’ by attaching it parallel to their hands, giving them the advantage of having a blade but with fighting style similar to that of a barehanded fighter. I figured that it might suit me, so I asked the prime minister to introduce me to the best blacksmith in the city.”
The corner of the youth’s lips raised slightly, looking rather pleased as he continued,
“It was a rushed job and therefore lacks several features, but as you can see, they are functional. I have to say, the blacksmith old man had quite a temper but his skill was the real deal. He even came up with several ideas and recommendations to improve on it further in case I managed to find another skilled blacksmith in another country or city.”
Fortunately, it turned out that they weren’t too far from the village as they soon saw the village gate in front of them. The duo slowed their horses until they were in walking distance before stepping down and walking the rest of the way while pulling the horses along.
As they approached, the village gate guards, a pair of young men, noticed them. They crossed their spears to stop the two before one of them, the senior, spoke,
“Halt, who are you two and what is your business?”
Ragna nodded politely at the guards as he spoke,
“Good evening, I am Ragna and my companion here is Melisa. We are travelers from Barca Village heading for the Holy City of Robuna. We were just thinking of staying the night in this village if it is possible before continuing our journey tomorrow…”
As the senior guard was “interrogating” Ragna, the younger one had his eyes glued to Melisa, obviously fascinated by her beauty. He couldn’t help but think that the blonde was the most beautiful female he had ever seen, even the village beauty paled in comparison to her.
From her golden hair that sparkled under the setting sun, her blue eyes like the clearest sapphire to her white skin that almost glowed like a heavenly being. As the girl noticed him, she gave him a polite smile which had the young man’s heart skip a beat before he turned away to hide his blush.
After a while, Ragna finally managed to convince the senior guard that they really weren’t intending to cause trouble in the village and the guards soon opened the gate to let them through. The guards even helpfully pointed them toward the direction of the inn and the public stable.
As the two made their way through the village, they couldn’t help but notice that they were attracting a lot of eyes from the villagers. Melisa in particular, had been on the receiving end of looks of awe from both males and females the moment she stepped through the gate.
Due to the village’s rather close proximity to the capital, the villagers had seen their fair share of strangers, mostly adventurers. However, Melisa looked nothing like any adventurer that they had seen, if anything she looked more like a noble young lady traveling incognito with her bodyguard.
The two soon found the stable and managed to find empty spaces for their horses, and paid the caretaker before heading for the Inn. Perhaps due to the village’s steady influx of adventurers, the inn was placed rather close to the stable and by the looks of it, they were making decent money out of it.
As they entered the inn, the duo realized that the inn also doubled as a bar and a restaurant with the bartender as the owner of the inn. Without wasting any time, they headed for the bartender, a middle-aged man with a greying beard who immediately noticed them as he spoke in a friendly tone,
“Welcome to the Mosa Village Inn. I am Nordo, owner of this place. How can I help you?”
Ragna once again stepped forward as he spoke,
“I’m Ragna, this is my companion, Melisa. Do you have rooms for the night?”
Nordo smiled as he answered,
“Sure do, will you two be sharing a room? We have a special room for newlyweds up there and… ”
Ragna immediately interrupted the guy and hurriedly spoke,
“No no no, we’re not newlyweds… Can we have 2 single rooms, please? Next to each other if possible.”
Nordo raised his eyebrows as he glanced at the blonde before turning back to Ragna. He leaned forward and whispered at the youth,
“You sure? I have to say, your companion there is a damn fine catch if you know what I mean… If you don’t hurry, someone may just come and snatch her, you know?”
Ragna couldn’t help but sigh exasperatedly as he spoke again,
“2 rooms… please….”
The inn owner shrugged as he replied,
“As you wish then… That will be 2 silvers.”
The two quickly paid for the rooms before Nordo called a waitress, his daughter actually, to guide them to their rooms on the second floor. They inspected the rooms to make sure that they were in good enough condition and that nothing suspicious was inside before giving the girl a tip.
Unbeknown to the two, the moment they went up the stairs, many people had flocked to the inn owner, most of them being male adventurers. Every single one of them asked about the pretty blonde who had just checked in.
Fortunately, the innkeeper was rather experienced in dealing with such a crowd. His eyes glinted sharply as he answered them,
“You lot better leave her alone. She looked like a well-bred lady, and the last thing you want to do is to accidentally offend a noble. If I find any of you trying to lay a paw on her, I’ll throw you out myself.”
Seeing the man’s serious expression, most of the older ones retreated. They knew that the old man was a lower B rank adventurer before he retired due to injuries and opened the inn. Simply put, he was likely able to carry out his threat… literally.
The younger generation, unfortunately, were less accepting of being warned by an old man. Still, they understood that the man was a respected figure in the village and it wasn’t wise to anger the owner of their only lodging in the village lest they get kicked out and forced to camp.
As Nordo continued to fend off the youngsters’ attempts to pry for information from him, the subject of their talks had reappeared at the bar, still accompanied by her male companion. They quickly found an empty table before heading straight to it, every single eye in the room following them.
The same waitress who had guided them to their rooms immediately approached them with an experienced business smile as she recommended some dishes and took their orders before heading to the kitchen for the chef to prepare.
The duo had barely sat for 5 minutes when a young man with short, dark hair approached their table. Judging by his outfit and attitude, the two quickly judged that he was most likely an adventurer. He pulled one of the empty chairs and sat on it without waiting for permission or invitation. His eyes were practically glued to Melisa as he spoke,
“Hi there, cutie. I’m Artos, those guys behind me are my party members, we’re called The Sky Hawk. We’re about to be promoted to a B rank party so we’re rather well known, you see.”
He pointed his thumb over his shoulder toward the group sitting on another table before continuing,
“It is quite dangerous to be traveling alone, especially for a pretty lady like you. So, why don’t you join our party? We’ll make sure to keep you safe until your destination, okay?”
Finding himself being quite brazenly ignored by the adventurer, Ragna couldn’t help but raise his eyebrows, though he was actually quite impressed, and amused, by the adventurer’s attitude. While he wouldn’t say that he’d seen many people, Ragna had the feeling that finding such shamelessness was quite rare.
Melisa also raised her eyebrows at the uninvited adventurer though she was more confused than anything else. She turned to look at Ragna as if searching for an explanation at which the red-head simply shrugged in response. Finally, she turned back toward the adventurer and pointed her finger at her nose as she asked,
“Umm… could you be referring to me?”
The adventurer, Artos, smiled wider as he spoke in a tone that he believed to be “sweet”,
“Of course I am, my dear. Who else can rival your beauty in this room, no, in this kingdom? So, what say you, princess?”
Melisa’s expression really couldn’t be described as anything else but stunned as she heard Artos’ attempt of a pickup line, and wasn’t quite sure how to respond to it. She turned back to Ragna who had his head lowered and shoulders shaking slightly.
Finding no help from her companion, the blonde turned back toward the strange adventurer. After clearing her throat, she answered him,
“Thank you for the offer but… I’m not traveling alone, you see…? I mean… my companion is… sitting right here?”
Artos finally turned to look at Ragna. He sized up the youth several times before scoffing as he turned back toward the blonde,
“This guy? He looks like a weakling, how can he protect such a pretty lady like you? He’d probably run away at the first sight of a goblin or something.”
He then gestured toward his party at his back before continuing proudly,
“Me? My party and I have just slaughtered a group of 20 goblins that had been ransacking the field. Easy job for us, wasn’t it guys?”
As the Sky Hawk members affirmed their leader’s statement with a cheerful laugh, the food for the two arrived. They paid for the food to the waitress before Melisa finally turned toward the boisterous adventurer,
“I’m sorry but I’m not interested in your offer. My brother here is more than enough as a companion for me, thank you very much.”
The adventurer’s eyes widened at the blonde’s decisive answer, especially how she had emphasized the word “brother” regarding her companion. However, Melisa didn’t pay him any more attention as she started eating her meal.
Ragna turned toward the stunned Artos before a grin appeared on his lips as he casually pointed at the blonde before he spoke to him,
“Oh, by the way… This… person that you’ve been calling “pretty” and “princess”… is a guy.”
Suddenly, the bar tuned so silent that one might even be able to hear the sound of a needle dropping.