Chapter 7:

Lights Out

Chained Regalia

After finishing our meal, Lucia and I headed up the stairs to reach our rooms, which were apparently on the third floor.

According to her, Nerush was a town with more visiting travelers at any given time than permanent residents, so it only made sense that there were an abundance of inns and hostels around to house them. While some only stayed in town for a few days before moving on, many people remained in Nerush for weeks or even months. Several inns, including this one, were designed for long-term stays in mind.

As we scaled the wooden staircase, I was suddenly reminded of my aching muscles. I must be really out of shape. After reaching the end of the staircase, we turned to climb a second set of stairs that continued up.

Once she reached the top, Lucia stopped to yawn. She looked completely out of it. Whatever tiredness I felt probably paled in comparison to hers. Not only had she made the trek both to-and-from the place where I was summoned, but she had also mentioned that the summoning itself took a lot out of her.

Once we made it to the landing, she proceeded through the hall. I was initially worried about getting lost in a maze of connecting hallways, but rather than turn down any of them, she stopped in front of a door in the first hall.

She motioned to the room across the hall. “That one is yours. I made arrangements ahead of time to get close rooms.” Her speech was becoming less precise, and it looked like she was struggling to keep her eyes open. “I will knock on your door in the morning to wake you up, so you will not need to worry about that.”

I nodded and stepped past her towards the door to my room. She clearly needed rest, so I didn’t want to keep her any longer than I had to. She had already unlocked her door and stepped inside.

“Goodnight,” she muttered, yawning again.

“Oh, uh, goodnight.”

These rooms seem decently big, so I wonder what—

I felt a tug on my body and stopped in my tracks. It had just hit me that we may have overlooked something very important.

I slowly turned around to face Lucia, trying to look as apologetic as I could. She had already turned in my direction. Her eyes had widened, and it looked like something had woken her from her stupor.

“Damn the God of Chains. This is his fault.” She muttered what I guessed was a curse and sighed. “I cannot believe I forgot about this.”

It appeared that she realized the problem at the same time I had by coincidence. “Sorry...” I apologized to her on reflex, even though I was only sort of responsible.

She placed a fist to her forehead, thinking. After a few seconds of silence, she sighed deeply. “This is still my fault. When I first thought this through, I was under the impression our range would be much longer. It somehow slipped my mind even after we figured out the maximum distance.”

“In your defense, you’re clearly exhausted. It’s only natural you wouldn’t have realized.” I had been keeping close to Lucia ever since awakening regardless of the range limitation, so the problem hadn’t crossed my mind either.

Still, we weren’t left with too many options. Our range was so short that even if the rooms were significantly smaller and laterally adjacent, we’d still probably be too far away.

We had only just met, so it was natural she wouldn’t be comfortable with sharing a room with a stranger, but…

“We don’t have much of a choice. We will have to share a room,” she said. I couldn’t think of any alternative, either.

“Tomorrow morning, I will try to book a room with two beds, but more than likely we will need to be waitlisted until one opens up. They are very popular among Chainbearers, as you might expect, so there are rarely vacancies. Until then, we will have to make do with one bed.”

I nervously nodded. I hadn’t expected that the first night of my second life would involve sharing a room with a beautiful girl. You know, maybe being a Chain isn’t so bad.

Lucia continued, “I refuse to sleep on the floor, so that’s out of the question.”

“I never would’ve made you do that...”

“Of course not. I’m a princess. Such treatment would be disgraceful to one such as I, and to even have considered it would be blasphemous.” She spoke with exaggerated regality, and she had a facetious grin on her face.

“Uh, I think you lost the right to play the ‘fragile princess’ card the moment you decided to fight monsters.” She had snapped out of her half-asleep state very quickly and was starting to act like her usual lively self again. “Regardless, as a loyal subject of your highness, I shall be the one to sleep on the floor.”

“I cannot tell if you are merely playing along or if you’re being serious.”

“Erm, both.”

Her tone turned friendlier. “I am not going to make you do that. I’m not that cruel, okay? Give me some credit.”

“The audacity to say that after I asked for the same thing at dinner and you refused to grant it.” I then adjusted my tone as well. “Seriously, though, what other option do we—”

“We’ll…” She turned her gaze away from me before speaking again. “We’ll… just have to sleep together.”

My mouth moved faster than my brain. “Huh? You’re coming onto me already?”


Lucia face instantly flushed red. “Y-you idiot! That’s obviously not what I meant! You know what I meant!”

“I-I’m sorry!” Neither of us could even attempt to make eye contact with the other.

“… Never mind, I take it back. You’re sleeping on the floor for that.”

I nodded, accepting the verdict as just.

With a mixture of intense embarrassment and aggression, she then replied, “I obviously won’t actually make you do that!” Immediately after, she shut the door in my face. I’m getting some real mixed messages here…

Through the door, I could hear her whispering to herself. “Idiot. He’s such an idiot. Why would he… stupid. What a stupid thing to say…” I couldn’t tell if she was actually insulting me or if this was her way of coping with the embarrassment.

After a prolonged, incoherent rant to herself, she raised her voice to a normal volume. “I am… going to change. Stay as close to the door as you can so I have room to move.” She had attempted to stabilize her tone, but the embarrassment in her voice still rang clear.

I was also massively embarrassed, so I understood. Your poor phrasing was also at fault, okay?

A couple of minutes later, the door opened. Lucia entered my vision looking timid, as if awaiting my reaction. She had changed into a rather fancy white nightgown. Her hair was untied, and it now flowed down to about the bottom of her shoulder blades. Sure enough, she was breathtakingly pretty no matter what she happened to be wearing.

‘Beautiful’ doesn’t even truly capture—

“Hey, pervert, can you stop staring at me with that look on your face and just get in here?” I jumped in surprise at her voice. My idiotic reverie had left me completely out of it.

Clicking her tongue, she grabbed the sleeve of my shirt and pulled me into her room.

“Huh? W-wait. What? Why?”

She closed the door behind me. “Your clothes are dirty. Change into something from the chest over there; the inn provides some basic nightwear.” Her instructions were overly curt, but I supposed I had brought that upon myself.

“And… you’re going to stay in here while I change?”

“Well, um…” Her tone had been somewhat icy, but soon it turned bashful. “It would be far too embarrassing to wait in the hallway while wearing this, so you will have to deal with me being here. I will look away.”

I didn’t have much of a choice, so I did as she requested despite how flustered I felt. I took out basic articles made of a light cloth, and, confirming she was facing the other way, I quickly changed out of my current clothes. I hadn’t made note of them before, but my clothing was extremely peculiar. I hadn’t seen anyone in Nerush wearing anything like it. Despite that, I hadn’t noticed anyone giving me a lot of strange looks, either.

Slipping on the provided shirt, I announced, “I’m done now.”

Lucia nodded and walked over to the left side of the bed without turning to face me. Is she still mad? A lit oil lamp sat on a nightstand, and she moved to extinguish it.

“Get in bed while you can still see.”

She wasn’t looking at me, but I still nodded in response for some reason. The bed was definitely large enough for two people, but that didn’t make this situation any less embarrassing. Doing as she ordered, I slid into the blankets on the right edge. While doing so, I got a glimpse of her face. She looked to be just as embarrassed as I was, naturally. There was no way I would have had the courage to face her while we slept, so I turned on my side and faced away instead.

The room soon dimmed, and I could feel the blankets rustling lightly. Sleeping. I’m about to go to sleep. Sleep. Yeah. I’m tired, so I can’t wait to sleep!

My feeble attempts to lower my heart rate and ease my embarrassment were futile. Soon, the rustling stopped, and I heard a soft voice. “Goodnight, Layn.”

If it weren’t for the fact that I was completely exhausted, I probably wouldn’t have gotten a wink of sleep that night.
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