Chapter 8: Night Crawler
The stunned people inside the bar slowly gathered their bearings one by one, including Artos, who gave Melisa a once over before turning back to Ragna,
“Dude, if you wanna lie, pick a believable one at least. If someone like her is a guy, then what does a girl look like?”
Ragna shrugged as he replied,
“Whatever you say, pal.”
Ragna and Melisa decided to pay the adventurer no more attention as they ate their dinner. The latter finished her meal first and immediately stood up,
“I’m feeling rather tired today. I’ll go back to my room first, it’s been a few days since we slept on a bed and I intend to enjoy it. Good night.”
Without waiting for a reply, she walked away and climbed up the stairs, presumably toward her room. Watching the blonde goes, Artos couldn’t help but ask the remaining one of the duo,
“You’re okay with letting her go just like that?”
Ragna looked up at the adventurer and grabbed his drink to help him swallow his food quickly before turning back to Artos,
“What do you mean?”
Artos raised his eyebrows as he gestured toward the stairs,
“Aren’t you supposed to chase her?”
Ragna gave him a confused look before asking again,
“Why should I? He said he went back to his room to sleep.”
Sensing that they weren’t on the same wavelength, Artos decided to give him a hint,
“Isn’t she your companion?”
Ragna continued to give him a confused look as he replied,
“Yeah? What would that have to do with me….”
Suddenly, as if a lightbulb went off in his head, the redhead’s look changed. He remained silent for a few seconds before suddenly laughing out loud, much to the bar occupiers’ confusion.
The laugh lasted for a few minutes before he finally managed to calm down enough to speak,
“You… you guys… seriously had the wrong idea… about me… and “her”….”
The redhead took a few calming breaths before speaking again,
“Look… let me get this straight first… me… and ‘her’… are NOT dating. Yes, we came from the same village; Yes, we have known each other since childhood; and yes, we’re traveling together. At the end of the day, however, we’re only friends. At most, I see ‘her’ as a sibling, NOT a love interest… THAT and I’m not into males.”
The people inside the bar gave Ragna a weird look, Artos even wondered if the guy needed to have his eyes and mind checked. Sensing the people’s incredulous eyes on him, Ragna decided to give them a simple explanation
“Look, ‘she’ might look like a girl on the outside but on inside? ‘She’ is totally a guy.”
For a moment, there was silence as the people digested the youth’s words before Artos finally spoke again,
Ragna nodded in response as he spoke with conviction,
“Seriously. Now… can we move on to another topic?”
Thus the bar went back to its usual liveliness for a few more hours before it gradually emptied as people either went back to their own houses or up the stairs to their own rooms if they were staying at the inn, including Ragna.
Once he entered his room, the youth’s expression changed as if a switch had been flipped. His previously relaxed and friendly attitude turned serious and alert as if he was preparing for battle.
Ragna went around the room, checking every nook and cranny and even poked his head out of the window to check the surroundings. Finally, he pulled the window shut and locked it before he finally released his tension with a sigh.
However, instead of heading to bed, the redhead grabbed his magic bag before going toward the door. He carefully opened the door as if afraid of making noise and exited the room before heading toward the room next door.
He knocked on the door a few times, silently hoping that the person inside hadn’t slept too deeply to hear him. Fortunately, he soon heard the sound of the door being unlocked before it swung open, revealing a tired-looking Melisa in her nightdress.
The blonde knitted her eyebrows as she opened her mouth to speak but Ragna quickly covered it with his hand before gesturing for her to keep silent. It wasn’t until the blonde nodded in agreement that the male released his hand before whispering,
“Switch rooms with me.”
Melisa’s eyes narrowed as she silently protested. However, Ragna had no intention of letting her voice her opinion as he whispered again in a stronger tone,
“Just do it, I’ll explain later….”
Seeing her best friend’s expression, Melisa sighed before nodding, a sign of her trust in him. She retreated back into the room before re-emerging with her magic bag in hand.
Wordlessly, she walked past Ragna before going to the other room. At the door, she paused for a moment to look at the redhead, silently telling him that she would really be expecting an explanation from him for her trouble.
Ragna waited until she went into his former room and heard the lock slide in place before entering his new lodging. He gave the room a careful check, mentally noting several differences he found but didn’t move anything before heading to bed. He lied on his side so that he was facing the wall and pulled the blanket to cover most of his body before finally closing his eyes.
Nearly an hour passed and it was nearly midnight when something happened. A thin blade slipped between the gap of the door before it moved vertically until it was blocked the wooden sliding-lock. Using the minuscule gap it was in, the blade carefully moved the sliding lock little by little until it was detached from its locking position.
Once it was unlocked, the door slowly swung in little by little. It was obvious that the person outside was trying to be as silent as possible so as to not disturb the person inside.
Once it was wide enough, 3 shadows slipped inside one after another with the last one slowly closing the door behind him before putting the lock back in place, putting the room back into nearly complete darkness.
The three tiptoed as they silently searched around the room but obviously failed to find anything. Finally, they gathered around the bed before one of them whispered in a barely audible voice,
“You sure she’s asleep?”
The person he was asking whispered back in an equally subdued voice,
“Of course… What am I, an schmuck? I even made sure that she wouldn’t be knocked out instantly to reduce suspicion.”
The second person turned toward the sleeping figure on the bed. However, under the darkness, all he could see was a hazy silhouette even in close proximity. Seemingly unconvinced, he whispered once again toward his companions,
“You heard her companion say that he’s a guy… Do you think he was tellingthe truth?”
The first person seemingly rolled his eyes as he whispered,
“I call bullshit… You were in the kitchen so you didn’t see her clearly… I did, and the chances of her being a guy in drag is impossible….”
The last one finally whispered to his companions,
“Enough talking… It’s been a while since I tasted someone this fine… I can’t wait to hear her screaming for mercy under me with that cute voice of hers….”
Seemingly unable to hold in his desires anymore, the man reached forward toward the person on the bed. Suddenly, just as he was nearly about to touch his target, a hand whipped out from under the blanket and grabbed his wrist.
Ragna’s eyes snapped open as he threw a kick toward the stomach of the man he was grabbing. The man flew backward from the force of the impact before crashing into the table across the room, passing out.
Without wasting the opening the kick provided, Ragna threw the blanket toward the other two. The fabric managed to cover the head of one of them but the other had managed to jump away and avoided it.
Ragna leaped off the bed toward the one that had escaped and threw a punch in midair toward where he assumed their head was. However, the man managed to avoid his fist and attempted to punch him back. Ragna managed to block the attack though it was now clear that the enemy was accustomed to brawling as well.
The two traded several blows but neither managed to get a clean hit on the other and it was apparent that their skills weren’t that much apart. Finally, Ragna managed to duck under the man’s punch before elbowing him right on his solar plexus. As the man instinctively bent forward from the pain, Ragna caught his chin with an uppercut, effectively knocking him out.
The last of the trio who was covered in blanket suddenly drew his dagger, the same one that he had used to disable the lock on the door, and used it to slice the blanket before pulling it off himself. It seemed that while Ragna had managed to disable two of his attackers, it had given enough time for the last one to compose himself. Seeing that his two companions were out for the count, the man glared as he brandished his dagger at Ragna.