Chapter 9 : Watching Each Other’s Backs
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"Much appreciated." An individual wearing a hood said to Errat as some people were jumping off from the merchant wagon. As silent as the wind perhaps, while Roderick was keeping watch to their surroundings.


"Don't mention it, the least we can do for yer request." Errat chuckled as he smiled towards the person in front of him. A few spots of blood were upon the cloth of the individual.


"I owe you one, captain Errat. It's an honor to have the head of the Cackling Storm to accompany us." The figure bowed their head as their companions had gotten off the wagon.


"Well, what can I say? We're two faces on the same side of the coin. No need for such admiration or honor like that. We're all allies, and the Delightful Taps the place you go to call 'em in." Errat patted the individual's shoulder briefly, which Roderick caught with his eyes.


The man huffed as he was averted his gaze from Errat. Watching as the outside of the gates were filled with nothing but the silent wind revolving around them.


"So, payment's back at the tavern, 'ight?"


"It is as you said, we had a deal. And let's pretend that this encounter never happened. Have a pleasant night." The figure said before he turned his back and walked towards his people before disappearing. Errat hummed before placing his hands on his hips.


"Back to ya, mate!" He saluted casually before turning his body around to look at his crew, "Our job's done, let's get back to the tavern and collect our reward. Might be fortunate if we get some fresh food for the way back."


"Can we get curry then, captain Errat?" Jack asked as he rubbed his eyes while leaning against Roderick's leg.


Errat smiled warmly towards the small boy and nodded, "We'll make sure to get ya one."


"Yayy~" Jack lazily celebrated as he slowly pumped his fist into the air before he yawned wide.


Roderick got caught up in the domino effect and yawned as well.


"Gettin all droopy, aren't we?" Errat let out a peal of light laughter,

"It's quite the road, luckily there aren't any monsters around when we pass by. Or maybe we have just avoided them in time," Roderick replied as he gently held Jack's head close so that he doesn't topple over himself.


One of the crew nodded, "Remember what that old lady said? Road's filled with monsters, someone's gotta stay over and watch."


"Let me handle it then, I'm still up and sober," Roderick replied as he picked up Jack into his arms. He then carefully climbed up the merchant wagon and into the driver's seat.


"You sure, Rody? Not feeling any tired? Even bringing Jackie boy with ya?" There was a look of concern on Errat's face.


Roderick only glanced at the man without saying anything, giving his answer. He took a seat and placed the sleepy young boy beside him, "...You'll wake him up, just get in and rest." He added with a low voice.


"Well, if you say so. You better not smuggle the food in the bag while we're sleeping~" One of them teased, getting a cold glare from Roderick - as well as a frown. The other two men then climbed on the merchant wagon.


Meanwhile, Errat kept looking at Roderick and let out a cheeky smile. He then suddenly climbed up the driver's seat. Giving the other man sitting on it a shock as he flinched a little.


"Then say no more~"Errat leaned back into the cover of the wagon and placed his leg over the other. As well as placing his hands behind his head. Looking like a young lad leaning against a tree and biting a stem of weed in his mouth.


"...It could be only me, you can rest inside of the wagon."


"Why not? It's nice sitting next to ya. Moreover, a captain's gotta look out for his crewmate." Errat replied as he winked towards Roderick.


The latter rolled his eyes and went quiet as he whipped the leash he's holding to get the horses walking down the road. Roderick was rather sleepy, but he would hate to admit it to this idiot of a captain. He was already irritated that he had decided to join him.

Though, maybe it's not too bad for him. There was a light breathing sound coming from Roderick's side. As the wagon's wheels carried them down the road, the man peeked at the small boy leaning on his side. There was a serene look on Jack's face that simply made Roderick's heart calmer.


After a while, there was nothing but silence as they were passing through a forest section. It was quite windy, a night's chilly breeze you can say.


"Mnhh..." Jack was stirred a little from feeling the wind blowing towards him.


"..." Roderick noticed the small movement and wrapped his robe around the small boy to give him warmth. The young lad immediately leaned in towards the cloth and hummed in comfort.


There was a warm smile creeping on Roderick's stoic lips.


"Someone's getting chummy~"


And with that, Roderick's little heart-warming session was abruptly interrupted by the irritating sound of an idiot sitting beside him. The man's brows twitched as he side-glared at Errat smiling at him.


"The kid might catch a cold, we don't want that, do we?" Roderick said in a rather annoyed tone.


Errat nodded, "Yeah, yeah, ya got a point. Though..." A sly smirk was upon the silver-haired man's face.


"I never saw you smile like that, guess you're not a frowny face when yer around kiddos, huh?"


"...What smile? How can you even see it when it's dark around here?"


"...I just know it~ Ya just have that look whenever Jackie's around you. I never expected you to be close to him." Errat chuckled as he caressed the small boy's hair.


"Is that an assumption I hear?"


"A pretty obvious conclusion from the prickly pufferfish that had just joined the group a month ago."


In no matter of time, a swift movement was made, ending up the edge of a dagger pointing towards Errat's neck, "Call me that again and I'll end you."


Errat scoffed as he diverted the dagger's direction with the tip of his finger, "No thanks, I wanna live." He then lifted his head up and stared at the starry sky.

Errat then took in a deep breath and exhaled, "What a beauty, a crescent moon to accompany us on a silent night like this. Isn't that wonderful, Rody?" He asked as he glanced at Roderick.


The said man grunted before he put his dagger back into its sheath, "...A moon's just a moon, why does it make anything better?"


"Cause it's beautiful, that's what," Errat replied.


"...This idiot... Is he purposely saying that?"


"That's a stupid reason, well it's no surprise coming from an idiot like yo-"


"Shh!" Errat suddenly cut Roderick's words and placed a finger in front of his mouth.




"Quiet, I hear something..."


A stern look was laced around Errat's usual laid-back face. He turned his head towards the source of the sound. Seeing how drastic the other man's expression had changed, he pulled on the leash and stopped the horse from moving any further.


Errat grabbed climbed down the wagon in high alert. He furrowed his brows as he saw a few pairs of crimson, florescent eyes staring back at him.


"...We got company, Rody..."


Roderick knitted his brows together as a faint hiss came from the opposite side of where Errat was looking at. He glanced as some monsters with a half-snake and half-human body.


"And they surrounded us." Roderick muttered as he unsheathed his dagger, "They were waiting for us it seems..." He then glanced at his two fast asleep crewmates inside of the wagon's tent.


Roderick then patted on the wood wall of the wagon, "Oi, wake up."


One of them suddenly woke from their slumber, "H-Huh? Have we... arrived yet?"


"No you, arse head. We got something blocking our way. Watch the wagon and the kid." A snarl came from the side Errat was at, alerting the awoken crew in an instant, "A-Aye!"

"Ya can fight, right?"


Roderick huffed some air from his nose as he carefully climbed down the driver's seat. Setting a fighting stance as he was facing the monster in front of him, "What's the use of this dagger if I'm not using it?"


Errat then glanced at the group of monsters shortened the gap between him and them, "I got four, how bout ya?" He looked at the pack of rabid wolves closing in on him.


"One, and it's nasty," Roderick replied as the half-reptile monster hovered over him. The crewmate that had woken up gently cradled Jack and brought him in the wagon's tent.


Errat cracked his neck from side to side, "Looks like it's time for some exercise. Go ahead and do your worst."


A few growls were let out as the wolves charge on him. The man dodged the launching bodies and began to hold them off with both of his hands. Physically fighting against the mobs in front of him.


While Roderick was deflecting the sharp edge of the monster's tail slashing at him. There was a blazing fire burning inside of him as he moved closer towards the monster after deflecting its attacks. Landing a hit on the monster's hip and torso.




The monster cried in pain as Roderick found the right moment of pinning the monster down and slashed its neck with his dagger. Warm reptilian blood splattered across his face, "...May this act of mine let you rest." He muttered before he rushed over towards Errat.


"Oi, you okay?" Roderick shouted as he saw Errat was cracking his wrist as whimpers coming from the wolf pack were heard. All of them ran back with their tails between their legs into the forest.


Errat turned and looked at Roderick before putting his hands on his hips, "Just peachy, I thought they were those werewolves, boy are they a giant." He then noticed the blood splatter across Roderick's face, "This color of blood..."


He then got closer to him and cupped Roderick's face before pulling him closer to inspect, "?!-"


Errat turned the man's head from side to side casually. He then hummed as he began to wipe the substance with his sleeve, "Hm! This is a Medussa's blood! Good job handling it!"


Roderick, on the other hand, wasn't pleased by the sudden wiping motions on his face, "Wha- T-The fuck are you doing?!" He exclaimed as his face was being cleaned by the captain.


"Cleaning yer face, of course! Can't go back to the tavern looking like yer on a murder spree!" Errat replied as he smiled all the while he was wiping Roderick's face.


The latter could feel a squeeze on his heart as he heard the words coming out of Errat's mouth. He held his breath back as a shiver crept up on his back, "...Screw off, will you?" He then prised off the older man's hands from him.


"Well I was gonna let go, it's all clean now!" Errat raised his hands at Roderick and smiled at him.


Roderick gave a blank stare at the man, "...Don't go touching someone's face like that without permission. I can clean myself later..." He said as he hadn't noticed the lingering shadow creeping on his back.


"I'm just doin ya a favor, that's all. Now! Let's get back to go... back..." Errat's eyes were focused onto something, the man wasn't looking at Roderick at all.


Roderick crossed his arms as he tilted his head in confusion, "Yeah? Then let's go right no-"




The man's words were cut as his body was suddenly being enveloped in someone's arms. Just then, an immense force was launched at the anonymous figure embracing him. It made him fell on his back first into the ground. And that was when he saw what was going on.


A towering figure of the monster he had just slain was hovering over them with her claws out, dripping in blood. Roderick's eyes tensed as he glanced down at the anonymous figure whose arms were still wrapped around his body.


Crimson stains were covering the man's whole back, knocked unconscious by the impact. Roderick gasped panickly and his jaw dropped in fear.