In the empty chapel, Ophion's voice was as clear as a noisy booming trumpet, especially during such a quiet and ungodly hour.
"I'm very sorry, milord. It won't happen again." Responded Agrias, automatically.
"Agrias is not to blame." Intervened Ovelia timidly. "If we have not wandered off to the garden in the first place, this would not have happened."
Alma nodded in agreement. Nemesis or not, the fact was Agrias had just saved her life and she felt obligated to return the favour.
"Besides, no harm done. We're all fine. Oh! And you should have seen how Agrias kicked their asses. It was amazing--"
Ophion, on the other hand, was not convinced. He cleared his throat, interrupting Alma's rant, obviously not taking the decoy.
"I'm not here to listen about how arses were being kicked. And you two; Alicia, Lavian--"
He pointed accusingly to the other two knights, who were already wincing at the mention of their names.
"What were you two doing down in a well! If others were to find out about this, what would they think!" he barked.
'What if others were to find out about this! Our name would be degraded because of you!'
Turning once again to Agrias, he continued his rampage
"Have you not trained them?! Such disgrace! I'm getting questionable about your abilities."
'You're a disgrace!!'
Agrias deepened her bow to better show her regret but, more so, to cover whatever expression was trying to make its way to her face. The familiarity of the words drove her mind into a blank state as something unknown started to stir in her chest.
"I assure you. It won't happen again."
"Better not. Do not disappoint me further." Threatened Ophion.
'You disappoint me. I do not tolerate failures.'
"Now escort Lady Alma and the Princess back to their rooms. It is still late. "
'Get out of my face. I don't want to see you!'
The weird sensation was harshly pushed back into its place, well hidden beneath the calm facade.
They were walking once again in the quiet halls but in their classic uncomfortable silence that rigidly separated the both of them. It clearly marked their differences and a warning not to trespass the boundaries which existed between the two worlds. Ovelia gingerly looked up at her bodyguard and as usual, his face betrayed nothing except it seemed a little more chillier then usual. She knew he was in a bad mood and it was best that she left him alone but the princess just felt this need to thank him which she had yet a chance to do. Biting her lip to steady her mind, Ovelia spoke.
"Does you wounds still hurt?"
Short undebatable statements regardless of the truth. His tone was just so intimidating and unquestionable.
"I'm sorry you got yelled at." Ovelia added quietly.
"I was careless so it was my responsibility."
"No matter. I still have to thank you."
The princess curiously watched as that smooth stone face slightly lit up in surprise.
"For saving our lives of course. If it wasn't for you, Alma and I would both be dead by now. I just thought you were really brave to stand up against them. I mean, you could have been killed."
"It's my duty to protect you." He replied, oblivious just how sincere and thankful the princess was. It was clear that he regarded that amazing and courageous act as merely responsibility and a matter of need.
Unsatisfied by Agrias's response, Ovelia hurried a couple more steps and cut off her bodyguard's path.
"Give yourself more credit."
Her smile was big and affectionate and her bodyguard stood there, stunned. It was unexpected but pleasantly warm. With another note of gratitude, Ovelia quickly finished the last few steps and ran into her room with a cute blush across her face, promptly closing the door.
Not demanding, commanding or anything near dominating. Just..different. Agrias shook her head and decided to take a quick bath while it was still Lavian's watch. Her wounds were still unattended and the sweat from the last fight hung around her. Making a quick stop at her room, which was just beside the princess's for convenience, she removed her armour and the royal blue jacket then picked up a fresh shirt and a towel.
"Alicia! Hurry up! It's you turn to keep watch!"
With Alma beside her, Lavian rushed to fetch her companion so she may retire for the night.
"I just got in!" came a whining voice from within.
Lavian scoffed. 'Just' was an understatement; for as long as she was running about, Alicia was in the bathroom, indulging herself in her little neat-freak obsession.
"Whatever! I'll be taking Alma to her room now. Just hurry before the captain catches you!"
As the two girls were turning around the corner, a tall, slender figure caught Alma's eyes and she watched the shadow enter the bathroom.
"Was it me, or was that Agrias?"
"Guess so." Shrugged Lavian. She was quite desperate to get Alma to her room as soon as possible but her charge decided to take a sudden stop. The apprentice retraced a few steps and studied the perplexed girl with impatience, inquiring about her delay as a small thought played around in Alma's mind.
Something just didn't go with the picture. Agrias. Bathroom. A bath...Alicia!!
Her mouth and eyes simultaneously went wide as sudden recognition clicked in her dull and sleepy mind.
'Oh no! Alicia just went in...wait, calm down Alma. We couldn't jump to conclusions. Though Agrias is a weak, bossy, stupid loser and a suck up...there is no way he's that bold. It's just a mistake. He probably didn't even know in the first place...then should I go tell Alicia? No, they could resolve the mess themselves but=but--'
Alma was in a major mental battle with herself. A man and a women alone in a bathroom even by accident was quite inappropriate, despite her dislike for that word. If she went in and told them, even if done so nicely, the situation would still be awkward but if she left it as it is, their mutual discovery would be embarrassing as well and then there was the worst possibility of Agrias not being able to control himself.
"Hello...Alma. Earth to Alma."
Too deep in thought, the waving hand and call to reality was entirely dismissed as Alma kicked herself for thinking in such a direction but the odds was high...should she, or should she not.
'What should I do???'
"hey, captain! Didn't expect to see you here."
'Great. Just when I thought I could have some peace.' Sighed Agrias. She didn't expect anyone to be taking a bath so late but then again, they all needed it, especially them who had fell into the well.
'I'll come back later.' She thought reluctantly.
"Sorry, Lavian. I didn't know you were here."
Alicia was quite nice about it was simply smiled back.
"Oh, it's al...AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
The piercing scream reached Alma's ears and ended her resolve. The worst had become truth.
"Oh no!! Alicia's in danger!"
The outburst flew right over Lavian's head.
"Impossible. She's safe with the captain." comforted the auburn girl. As much as Agrias scared her, her teacher was a division 1 captain, recognized by the church and if the scream was of an attack, the older women alone could take them on, and protect her friend. Besides, it was late. Her quota for assassins and shurikens was full for the night.
"That's what I'm worried about!!"
With her legs already in motion, Alma landed an arm around Lavian's, dragging her to confirm a slight suspicion.
Damn she hated to run. And work. Or anything that required strength but nevertheless, the iron grip around her wrist did not allow her drowsy body to rest.
"Worried about what??" questioned Lavian in confusion as she was literally hauled back to the bathroom but the query never reached the young Beoulve's ears.
With a quick turn, the yelling grew into obvious evidence of molest while sounds of items being thrown and struggle became clear. This hardened and further consolidated Alma's resolution.
"AHHHHH!!! Don't come near me!"
"Stop throwing things!"
The voices were unmistakably Agrias and Lavian.
"Go away, go away!"
"Stop struggling! You're making this difficult!"
Without another thought, she barged through the door, past the frame, which blocked the front and found the intruder she was looking for.
Alicia was in the large wooden basin, fear and tears in her eyes, armed with one of her shin guards, ready to throw. Agrias, with only her gray tunic and shorts which she wore beneath the rough slacks, looked up from her task of pursuit and extermination to see the inappropriate appearances of her charge and apprentice.
In his half-dressed state and many articles of clothing spread across the floor, it further infuriated Alma as her mind quickly formed the 'Holy' knight's 'holy' intentions. With burning anger, she marched up to Agrias.
It was a clear, crisp hit but his steady built kept him on his feet as his head flew to the side from the surprise attack. Lavian's hand covered her dropped jaw at Alma's courage to hit the captain. The possibility of the situation further reddened her cheeks which seemed impossible. Why would the captain want to molest another girl?
"YOU PERVERT! How dare you to show your face in HERE!" yelled Alma. Her eyes were shooting direct daggers.
Agrias reached up to touch her burning cheek, glaring at Alma. She hated being caught off guard and being suddenly hit and called a pervert was not pleasant either.
The shameless little innocent act brought her fury to its peak. Alma immediately reached up to grab the loose collar but a wrong step combined with Lavian's sudden shriek of panic and frantic movements, they were pushed into each other and onto the ground. Alma's first reaction to this intentional and molesting feat was to send whatever attack was available. Agrias easily caught the flailing weak punches and held the thin arms in place.
"Let me go, pervert!"
"There must be some misunderstanding, Lady Alma."
However, Alma simply ignored his lies and continued the struggle. Under such intense and violent thrashing, Agrias had to release her grip, afraid of injuring the girl but only brought on more annoying punches and a large portion of her hair being pulled at ruthlessly.
Choosing the perfect timing as ever, a groggy and irritated Ophion decided to make his grand entrance along with the princess tagging just behind. Whoever just disturbed his beauty sleep was going to pay. He was determined to punish the cause of this disturbance, the second time of the night but a 'proper' lady and a half dressed knight on the ground in a pile was the last thing he expected.
"Lady Alma, Agrias! You better have a good explanation for this-this... scandalous display!!"
Alma stopped her thrashing to seek justice and tried to prop herself up from the misleading position, landing a convenient hand on the knight's chest.
Surprises were just everywhere tonight. Just as words were about to leave her mouth, the letters decided to jumble at her throat. Alma did not know how to react and the evident tenderness under Agrias's shirt left her cheeks too stunned to blush and her mind too distorted to think. All she could manage was one word.
But before she could recover from the shock, a small furry creature scurried straight in front of her eyes. Now she understood Alicia's scream for help and Lavian's sudden panic for there stood the culprit; a vermin of extreme disgust with lifeless, revolting beady eyes, scrawny ghastly limbs and rough repulsive fur most widely known as a rat; a girl's worst nightmare.
To be continued...
Many thanks to Amineanie's great advise and opinions!! Though, I myself, is not afraid of rats, but they seem to be a personal favorite of anime as extreme dislikes/fears.
Another thing is about Alma and Ovelia: I had purposely made them more crazy and reckless for reasons you'll see later on...yep, I'm not going to spoil it for you. Besides, funny, crazy Alma is much more fun, ne?