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Locke and Els (2)
The second time he encountered Lorist, Els was naked and seemed like he was running away from something. Lorist could not find any words to describe a person who was covered in plaster and running around without any clothes on.
It has already been a month since the incident where Lorist attempted to save that thieving woman from Els. Charade had only just recently stopped bringing the whole matter up over and over again, much to Lorist’s relief. Additionally, he was fortunate enough to find himself be employed by a nobleman to train his son in the ways of the sword with a salary of three gold Fordes a month. Originally, that noble had wanted Instructor Claude to be the tutor but as Claude didn’t have any extra time, he recommended Lorist to the noble instead.
One night after he finished tutoring the nobleman’s child, Lorist was in the mood of getting some food on his way to the academy.
I recall that there’s a stall just around the corner that sells salted beef kebabs. Charade bought them for me once before and they tasted pretty good. Alright, let’s get some of those along with a barrel of ale before heading back to the academy to have it with that fatty. The moment he finished his thought, a naked person covered in a layer of white appeared to be rushing towards him.
Sol, I think I’ve just seen a lunatic. Lorist hurriedly took a few steps back and prepared to evade that crazy fellow.
Who knew that the moment that man passed by Lorist, he looked him in the eye and instantly stopped before saying, “Hey, it’s you, my brother! Thank goodness, help me out a little and lend me your jacket.”
Lorist was just about to shake that man off when he felt that he had heard that voice before. Huh? Isn’t this Els? Els, who was taking deep breaths beside him, was covered in white plaster from head to toe and looked like a piece of abstract artwork.
“What are you up to now?” asked Lorist with a hint of surprise in his voice. Since when had any syndicate boss ever shown any dedication or interest to street art?
“Don’t even talk about it. You just have to know that I lost a bet with someone. Now, quickly lend me your jacket for a while,” said Els with much urgency.
Oh well, since it doesn’t look like it’ll be raining tonight, I don’t see any harm in lending it to him, thought Lorist as he removed the jacket and handed it to Els before he immediately broke into a run and gave Lorist a warning, “You better make a run for it too, otherwise it’ll be too late.”
Why would I have to run? I’m not crazy like you, thought Lorist as he turned the other way only to find a group of people holding fire irons and metal buckets marching in his way. What are they planning to do? Are they going to help clean the streets at this time of the night?
Before Lorist even understood the situation, some people around him pointed to him and said, “He’s with that man!”
“He lent his jacket to that asshole!”
“Stop him! Don’t let him escape!”
“Beat him up!”
Utterly confused by the situation, Lorist was surrounded by the group of people who started to hit him with whatever they had in their hands. Shielding his head with his arms, he said, “Hey, stop! What’s going on?”
The crowd erupted into a cacophony of noise and not one of them could be heard clearly. Lorist wanted to retaliate but he hesitated as the people hitting him were only normal folk who did not have an ounce of Battle Force. He thought it would be better to hold back lest he accidentally commits manslaughter. Grudgingly, he could only circulate his Battle Force to absorb the hits from the crowd.
One old woman walked towards him with a bucket in hand and demanded that he disperse his Battle Force.
“Huh?” Lorist didn’t understand why she would say that.
“I asked you to stop using your Battle Force!” cried the old woman.
“Why should I?”
“If you don’t, how can I teach you a lesson? Otherwise, given my age, I would only tire myself out by continuously hitting you like this!” said the old woman with a tone that she used to lecture her grandchildren.
The surrounding people were also tired out and stopped the beating. The people beside the crowd continue to struggle to squeeze in to try to get a look at what was happening in there.
“Where’s that prick?”
“Have you got him?”
“Bring him out here!”
As the chatter around him quieted down, Lorist let out a breath of relief, dispersed his Battle Force, and said to the old woman, “Alright, why don’t you tell me what’s going…”
Before he finished his sentence, he could only see the bucket slowly enlarging before his face and land squarely on it, causing him to see nothing but stars. He let out a groan of pain and could faintly hear the old woman say something along the lines of “That’s what you get…”
Bam! Another noise rang out from the impact. “Who asked you to peek at the women’s bath…”
Badonk! “…while pretending to be a stone statue…”
Just as he was going to activate his Battle Force again to protect himself, he suddenly came to a realization at hearing what the old woman had said and understood why Els had been running around nude covered in plaster just now. Good Sol, Els… You better not let me find you…
“It wasn’t me! Sto– cough…” Lorist let out an agonizing voice.
Having landed on the ground from the swing of the bucket, he desperately tried to crawl out from the crowd as myriads of blows hammered down on his body. In the end, he managed to escape with his clothes in tatters.
Right as he was about to sit down at a corner to catch his breath, a stranger who thought that he was a beggar tossed him a copper coin out of kindness given his pitiful appearance.
Lorist held the coin in his hand and gnawed his teeth as he mused to himself, “Els… You really have done it this time… Just you wait…”
But where was he to find Els? Lorist recalled that Charade had said that Els seldom stayed in a fixed location and was almost impossible to find. While he held the position of a syndicate boss and had three districts under his jurisdiction, the affairs of the districts were usually handled by his subordinates. However, Els greatly feared that uncle of his, who happened to be the owner of the Red Grace Inn.
I know, I’ll just head to his uncle’s place. Given his upright demeanor, if he knew that Els was fooling around and peeking in the women’s bathroom by posing as a stone statue, I’m sure he would teach Els a lesson he would never forget.
Lorist spent quite a little effort to call for a horse cart as most of them thought that he was just a beggar and were unwilling to stop for him. When he finally got on one, he asked the driver to send him to the Red Grace Inn. The moment he got off the cart, the driver reminded him kindly, “Mister, while I’m sure there’s a reason why you’re dressed like that, you better change before going in or you’ll probably be chased outside. I wish you a good night, sir.”
Fortunately, Lorist wasn’t thrown out of the inn as Charlando recognized him from that time he beat up his nephew. The only question that lingered within that man’s heart was how did a person with Lorist’s abilities get roughed up to that point? While he wasn’t bleeding out from any wounds, his face had been covered in bluish-black bruises.
“How did you end up like that?” asked Charlando.
“Hi, mister. Have you seen Els? This was all his fault!”
Lorist subsequently explained the events that transpired to Charlando and expressed his regret from having offered Els his help and wished that he had just left him for dead.
With a grim expression, Charlando instructed the serving girl, Louise, to get Lorist a cup of blackcurrant ale before going out to look for Els
It didn’t take long for him to return to the inn with Els in hand. He was still dressed in his pajamas that had several boot marks on it; it was evident that he had been kicked out of bed and dragged over here by his uncle.
“So you’ve been peeking in the women’s bath while posing as a statue, huh? Instead of spending your time on something worthwhile, you’re going around peeping at the ladies?”
Els retorted and said, “That wasn’t peeking. I was only practicing my stealth abilities! Who’s interested at looking at a bunch of old women bathing…”
Pushing Els in front of Lorist, the old man said, “Speak, what happened just now?”
Els was shocked to see Lorist in such a state. “Oh my, what happened to you? Weren’t you looking fine just now?”
Struggling to resist the urge of smashing the cup against Els’s face, Lorist said, “What did you think happened? Why was the mob chasing after you? You still dare to ask what happened to me!?”
Els instantly understood. “Oh, so you were caught by them. Didn’t I warn you to run away as well? Do you regret not listening to me?”
“Good… Good Sol! It wasn’t me who went to peep in the bath!” screamed Lorist, enraged.
“Don’t get so angry, bro. Fine, I’m sorry. I’ll make it up to you. How about this, I’ll treat you to a drink tonight. Order as much as you like,” said Els graciously as he pat Lorist on the shoulder.
Sol… He thinks that I’ll be placated by a few cups of ale? Lorist suddenly felt more rage than ever before. Having seen Els’s character during the last time, he should’ve never bothered to come look for him here in the first place.
Stepping out of his bounds, Els instructed the serving girls to treat all the guests at the inn to a cup of ale and bathed in their praises, totally ignoring the grim expression of his uncle.
Giving him a heavy slap, Charlando said, “Where have you got the money to treat these people? You better settle this issue tonight or I’ll break both of your legs myself lest you go embarrass me even further!”
Finally entering a serious mood, Els admitted that he had sneaked into the bath as a result of losing a bet with someone. He told the people present of his dream to study the ways of a rogue from the magic era. The rogues of ancient times were not like the common thieves of this age but were people who specialized in stealth, lockpicking, tracking, investigation, traps and even assassination. There were also legends of powerful rogue guilds that struck fear deep into the hearts of many.
Els continued to say that given the dark attribute Battle Force passed down through his family, he believed that his ancestors might have been one of the enigmatic rogues during the era of the magic civilization and said that he aspired to train hard and one day rediscover the lost arts of the mysterious rogues.
One day during a drinking session with a friend, he bragged about how he was the descendant of the mystical rogues that once roamed the world. His friend said that if the skills of the rogue were that potent, it would definitely have been passed down throughout the generations. “Do you remember the book you showed me that told of a tale of a hero of the magic civilization?” asked his friend. “It was said that a rogue had sneaked into the bathroom of a princess from an enemy kingdom and overheard her discussing the plans to take down the hero with her lover. While I won’t ask you to sneak into a royal bath, you should at least be able to enter that bath house at that street over there. If you can stay there until the bath house closes without being discovered, I’ll believe that the ancient rogues were truly as powerful as you have claimed.”
Els accepted the dare only to discover that sneaking in was the easy part. The bath was a really wide room that had no corners for him to hide in and only had a number of bathtubs cluttered around in the middle. There was no blind spot at all.
Later, Els discovered a statue that had been discarded at a corner of the bath which looked more or less like a standing man in deep thought. So in the following night, Els creeped into the bath again, broke the statue into pieces and moved it out of the bath. On the second night, he covered himself in white powder and stood in the very same corner that statue was at.
Els was confident that he would not be discovered by the unsuspecting customers as long as he did not move about too much given the relatively low light in the bath house and the steam that further aided in blurring one’s vision.
While everything seemed perfect on paper, there was no way to account for unexpected situations. Coincidentally on that night, two young women walked over towards Els and stopped beside him to share some secrets.
The curvaceous girl told the story of the pleasurable night she had with her lover the night before while the other girl listened with much awe and envy. As the girl told her story, she accidentally knocked the towel that Els had wrapped around his genitals away.
He was startled to find the curvaceous girl pointing at his member as she said to the other girl, “Here, take a look. Men’s cocks usually look like that. While it’s small and harmless right now, you only have to give it a light rub to get it hard and long. It’ll enlarge even more quickly if you use your mouth.”
As she explained away, she used her hands to demonstrate it on Els’s junk. “Come on, try it out yourself like how I’m doing it. I guarantee that most men would get hard in no time.”
The girl merely stood beside the statue with her mouth agape as the well-endowed one continued on, “Pay attention. It’s done like this. It’s already turning hard. If you go at it longer, it will start to let out some secretions…”
She continued to stroke so hard as she chatted away until the male organ sprayed out a thick, white liquid.
“That was too fast! And this is even smaller than my boyfriend’s, how useless and disappointing…” commented the girl.
Els really couldn’t take it anymore, especially after the girl made that final comment, which greatly wounded his pride.
Pushing the two girls away, Els leaped towards the exit with a wounded heart as her comment reverberated in his mind.
“The statue’s alive…”
“Lady goddess, what in the world is going on?”
“No, wait. That’s a man!”
“There’s a naked man in the bath! Catch him!”
The curvaceous girl suddenly came to a realization and blushed heavily before saying, “Catch that asshole! I swear I will kill him!” as the whole bath house erupted into chaos.
The stocky women standing guard at the bath house entrance saw Els run past them without a single article of clothing on him and were totally dumbfounded. “Freeze! Stop, you pathetic peeping jerk!”
The rest of the people on the street soon joined the chase.
Having just came out of the bath house without anything to wear, he could only continue running until he saw Lorist nearby.
Their second encounter also ended with injuries to both sides: Lorist suffered physical blows while Els suffered mental ones to his pride and even sulked about the matter for quite some time.