29 A Rival In Love?!
Ofris house wasn't far from the town hall, it couldn't be more than maybe one or two minutes going by foot, but to me, each step felt like an arduous journey. It was late evening, and the farmers working the fields that were surrounding the town, were all returning to their homes.
They all stared at me. Again, there were those who looked at me scornfully, thinking I was a slave, but there were also those who were simply interested in me or our odd group. I could have handled all of this somehow, but there were two additional kinds of strangers staring at us. It was these who made me hide myself at Ofris side like a little, shy child.
One of those were the women, who were giving me envious or scornful looks, thinking I was some kind of rival in love. The others were their love interests themselves, who were not only interested in me as a person.
«They totally want to drag me into their beds!»
「Of course they want. You have a nice body and an openhearted soul - when you are drunk.」
As if he had seen the expression in my face change, Ofris suddenly turned around to me. He looked at me with pitiful eyes, placed his hand on my head and began stroking my hair. I was startled at first, but this feeling changed into something whole different soon.
We had never been close, my mother and I, and I clearly had never been the best son she could wish for, but I loved her. I had really loved her. It must have been years since she had touched me like Ofris did just now, years without her showing any kind of skinship. I was feeling lonely, even though she had been with me on any single day.
"Don't worry about them, Rika," Ofris's gentle voice tried to calm me down. "Once they find out there is nothing between us, they will stop talking like that."
"I would rather have them think there was something," I answered almost inaudible, "so they wouldn't think they had a chance ..."
"They won't try to do anything to you."
"How can you be so sure about that? Don't you see how they look at me?!"
"Risa and the others will take care of you," he promised me, "they won't even dare to flirt with you."
"Why would they care about what she says?"
"She is giving them their work," Ofris shrugged his shoulders, "isn't the person paying your bills somebody you won't offend no matter what?"
"And the others?"
"They are the same, essentially. We have Katrina, who isn't working the counters, but she is the sole healer this city currently has. Aside from you, maybe ..."
"They know that I can heal wounds?"
"You told them you could do it," Ofris revealed, showing a weak smile, "it is just that they don't know if it is true. You were drunk, after all."
"I see ..."
One last time, Ofris stroke over my hair and neck, then he took my hand and turned towards the town hall, which now was only little more than maybe fifty paces from us.
When I let my gaze wander over the building which now would be my home, I found a familiar, curly haired girl standing in front of its doors. Risa was wearing her usual dark grey uniform, new, however, was the disapproving expression I discovered on her face once we were closer. She didn't like me at all.
«Why does she look at me like that?! I never did anything to her!»
Ofris didn't even see her expression, or he blatantly chose to ignore it, instead. It was only when he felt my grip getting stronger, that he forced himself to an answer.
"She will get over it, don't worry."
"Is she really," I hesitated, "envious of me?"
Ofris sighed, "it is fine. Just try not to get on her bad side."
"I think I already did ..."
He could only answer with another sigh, before releasing me and stepping forward to greet Risa. The expression on her face instantly changed into a smile.
«She couldn't make it more obvious ...»
「Don't worry. You can do it!」
«This vixen ...»
"Good evening, Risa," Ofris greeted her.
"Good evening," she answered, without ever lifting her gaze from Ofris.
"Are those rooms ready?"
"More or less. They weren't used for years, after all. But it should be enough for somebody to live in."
«What about me?! I am here, too!»
"Good evening," I chipped in almost inaudibly.
Risa's eyes meet mine. It was only a split second, but I felt like I had seen something close to hate in her expression. It instantly was gone, however, and in its place grew a weak smile.
"Hello, Rika," she greeted me. "Are you feeling better now?"
"I- I do."
«What? She doesn't care! She doesn't care at all! At least try to hide it, will you?!»
A sigh left Ofris lips. "Should we get inside? I guess she needs a good bath and rest for now."
«See?! Even he sees it!»
"You don't have to worry about that. I will show her everything. You can check on Laki for now. She has a new job for you."
"A new job."
"It is something about a group of goblins that raided a farm in the south."
"I see. I will hear her out."
Ofris seemed reluctant to leave, but after being assured several times that everything was fine and he wasn't needed, he slowly made way. It was only when he had entered the large entrance on the other side of the building, that she spoke out to me.
"We should get inside for now."
Risa turned around and stuck a key inside the large wooden door that had been behind her. It had the same color as the roof and the doors on the entrance the adventurers used: a dark brown, that reminded me of walnut wood. This one, however, was decorated with a crest made of polished metal. It showed an animal with an eagle head and what looked to be a lions body.
«A griffon? This world has griffons, too?»
She didn't stop to explain it to me. As soon as the door was opened, she slipped inside and used a wordless wave of her hand to ask me to follow her. After a few moments of hesitation, I made my way inside.
What awaited me, was a large entrance room that had several doors waiting on both it's left and right side. There was a large, colorful rug on the floor, a table and four upholstered chairs, and several pictures on all of its walls.
Although nothing of this really fitted my personal preferences, it gave off the feeling of this being a rich guy's house. Still, it was too big, far too big for me alone.
«I would prefer sleeping on Ofris's couch ...»
A sudden slam startled me. I looked towards Risa, who had just closed the door. She was looking angry, openly even. Nothing was left from the weak smile she had just given me seconds ago.
Before I could understand what was going on, she had already locked the door. She placed her hands on my shoulders and rammed me into the wall. I could only scream out in surprise and pain.
"Listen to me, bitch!" She began. "I don't care what you think about him, you understand? Just because you are a fox doesn't mean you can be with him! You are a beast kin! You can never be together!"
"I- I never wanted to-"
"Who cares what you want?!" Her voice got slightly teary. "Why did you do that?! Why did you kiss him?! Why would you say all of that?!"
Once again she cut me off: "You don't deserve him!"
"I don't want-"
A fierce slap made me shut up again. I was petrified. I couldn't even react to the girl who slowly became blurry behind a veil of tears. My cheek hurt worse than it ever had before, but I couldn't even scream or fight back. It was only when her silhouette left my view and a loud slam announced her departure, that I came to.
«What- what just happened?»
⊱————- Extra ————-⊰
Shiro: This got so exciting just now!
Rika: Why did she- It hurts so much!
Shiro: She is defending her man. There are woman like that, you know?
Rika: But- Ofris isn't my man! He is a friend! We are just being friends!
Shiro: Maybe she turns her envy into hatred~ so exciting!
Rika: I'm screwed ...
Shiro: No, Rika, you are not. That would be your prize for winning against her.
Rika: What do you-
Rika: I WILL NOT SLEEP WITH HIM!