The Story Continues

Something In the Drink

Jhon sat at the bar with his usual non-alcoholic drink in his hands as he listened to Axel explain to him what had happened just the day before. As Axel spoke, Jhon could see and empathise with his protective bristling. Honestly, Jhon felt himself bristle as well.

Just yesterday morning Lynus had an encounter with a wanted criminal. He, of course, didn’t know he was a criminal when he first approached him. All he saw was a man in pain and in need of healing. And Lynus could never, ever turn his back on someone who obviously needed his help. The man, however, soon turned on him and boasted about his seemingly long list of misconducts and wrongdoings.

Fortunately, the guards showed up before the man could put into practice any of his boastings and he fled like the rat that he was.

Lynus was understandably shaken up about the whole experience. Everyone was shocked and very protective of him afterwards. Well, more so than usual. No surprise, really. Poor Lynus was jumpy and skittish for a few hours afterwards and wouldn’t wander too far from Axel.

Axel was, of course, unwilling to let Lynus wander too far from his sight as well, though he did express the desire the hunt the guy down just for scaring Lynus like he had done. The man wasn’t on his “Beat to the Inch of Their Life” list. Not yet at least. He would have been on that same list for several other people if he had actually done something to Lynus, god forbid. Scaring him was enough to agitate a lot of people.

However, Axel also appeared somewhat proud and smug about something.

“Lynus then slapped him,” Axel finished his recall of events with an almost prideful smirk on his lips. “Right across the face.”

Jhon nearly dropped his drink. He was honestly and understandably quite startled by the revelation. He was also concerned. He had never seen Lynus actually angry before. He had seen him upset and a little annoyed, but never actually angry.

“Lynus slapped him?” he asked as he furrowed his brow when a protective knot appeared in his stomach. “What did this guy say or do to anger Lynus so much to cause him to slap him?”

Axel took a large gulp of his drink as a slightly agitated expression appeared on his face. “Apparently the guy was a sleaze and made some kind of comment about him being better suited for Lynus than me.” That previous prideful smirk soon made a comeback. “And apparently the thought was so incomprehensible to Lynus that it immediately angered him, hence the slap to the face.”

Ah, that was why Axel looked so proud. Though Jhon could feel that he was annoyed that someone angered his precious Lynus to the point of actually lashing out, but he was also proud that Lynus had took the incentive and was unwilling to allow someone to disrespect both him and Axel like that.

To think that Lynus actually slapped someone, though. If word got out, that criminal would be forever known as the ‘Asshole Who Angered Lynus’. That would indeed be his biggest, most unforgivable crime ever, not just to date.

“I wish I could have seen it,” Axel said as he finished his drink.

Jhon chuckled. “It is nice to see that Lynus is starting to stand up for himself. Pity about the circumstances.”

“Indeed,” Axel mumbled as he stared forward with slightly narrowed eyes.

That caused Jhon to chuckle again and he was about to ask how Axel was progressing with his new goal of hunting down this infamous criminal when Cass shouted out Axel’s name in frustration.

“Axel! Get your ass over here and stop these bastards from messing up my bar!”

Axel immediately groaned out in annoyance.

“Really?” Axel muttered bitterly under his breath as a scowl appeared on his face, seemingly resisting the urge to repeatedly slam his forehead against the bar in pure agitation. “Can’t I have one damn afternoon not throwing out asshole drunks?”

Jhon patted him sympathetically on the back. “Ah, the pains of being too good at what you do,” he said with amusement in his voice and eyes.

Axel shot him a purely disgruntled look before heaving a loud, drawn out sigh of pure annoyance as he slammed his hands atop the bar and hauled himself to his feet. “I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere and don’t accept any drinks from strangers.”

Jhon resisted the urge to roll his eyes. He was well aware of how much of a feather weight he was in regards to alcohol. Axel and Tobyn didn’t have to remind him each and every time they went out for drinks. Honestly.

“Yes yes, just go before things turn violent,” Jhon said as he gave Axel a light push. “And try to open the windows beforehand.”

Axel snorted. “If Cass constantly tells me to get rid of drunks, then he can constantly replace the windows,” he muttered as he stalked away, in the direction of where Cass could be seen with a pair of rough and tumble explorers who were up in each other’s faces.

Jhon truly did feel sorry for Axel sometimes. There were days where all he wanted was to unwind and relax. He couldn’t do that when he was constantly in demand. He was honestly too strong and popular for his own good.

“Oh hey, is this seat taken?”

Slightly startled by a new voice, Jhon turned his gaze away from Axel to see a man dressed in the garbs of a guard, minus that of the helmet slip onto the stool next to him, the one that Axel had previously occupied.

“Hm? Oh, actually, that seat belongs to my guildmate,” Jhon said politely and with a sympathetic tone. “He’s busy at the moment, but he will be back.”

The guard, however, made no attempt to move. Instead he rested his elbow casually against the bar and just…stared at Jhon for a moment. Almost as if he knew him from somewhere. Perhaps he simply heard of him. The Guardians were becoming well known, after all.

Still, the man’s stare was uncomfortable.

With the man’s brown hair and silver eyes, Jhon didn’t recognise him in the slightest and honestly felt a rather off-putting vibe from him. He wasn’t sure why. After all this wasn’t the first time someone asked if they could take a seat next to him. Maybe some of Tobyn’s paranoia was starting to rub off onto him. Wouldn’t that be funny? He was sure Tobyn would be pleased to hear that. He would also bristle protectively because if someone caused Jhon to feel wary, then the guy was obviously trouble.

“Oh, I’m sure he won’t mind,” the guard said simply. “I won’t be here long.”

Jhon felt rather puzzled by the man’s response. He was about to reinstate that Axel would soon be returning and most likely would not be pleased to find someone taking his seat when he heard a startled yelp from the other side of the bar. The side of the bar Axel had to venture in.

Immediately turning to look, Jhon felt an amused but still quite empathetic smile slip across his lips when he saw that Axel had grabbed one of the arguing men by the throat and had lifted him off the ground with one hand. The man was, of course, struggling and tugging at Axel’s arm, more likely than not squealing to be let go. But Axel simply kept a firm grip as he turned and effortlessly, and comically calmly, carried him toward the exit.

Well, at least he was using a door this time. Though would a door be harder to replace than a window?

Idly Jhon lifted his drink to his lips and took a large sip as he continued to watch Axel protectively as he dealt with the drunks. But the second the liquid hit the back of his throat and he swallowed it, he pulled the glass away quickly and grimaced. The drink tasted salty and bitter all of a sudden. Nothing like before.

What in the world?

“Feeling ok there, sweetheart?” the guard unexpectedly asked him with a tone of concern. “You turned pale.”

Jhon turned to look at him only to feel unexpectedly dizzy. Nauseating, light-headed kind of dizziness. The glass in his hand slipped from his fingers and landed onto the bar with a sharp crack. As his world tilted alarmingly, Jhon felt his heartrate increase in fear. Something wasn’t right. He didn’t feel right. He felt…sleepy, and yet didn’t want to lie down and sleep. Well, actually he did, but something in the back of his mind was telling him, rather screaming at him not to give in and leave. To get away.

Ignoring the ma, Jhon pressed his palm against the bar counter and tried to push himself to his feet. But his legs felt weak. To simply stand up didn’t seem possible.

Before Jhon could start to wonder what was wrong with his legs he felt something grab his arm and haul him to his feet hastily. And then something strong but decidedly unpleasant wrapped tightly around his waist. To tight. It was painful and restricting.

“Looks like you’ve had too much to drink,” Jhon heard the guard say aloud. His tone was that of carefree amusement, and yet there was something else hidden in the undertone.

Malice?

W-wait, too much to drink? No, he…only had one drink and it wasn’t…it wasn’t supposed to be alcoholic.

He needed to get away. He needed to get to Axel…

When Jhon turned to try to push the other man away, it was then that he realised that the still unnamed guard had managed to pull him against him, against his chest, one arm wrapped painfully tight around his waist as he somehow managed to snare both of Jhon’s wrists with his other hand.

Jhon didn’t know how he managed to restrain him so easily, so quickly, but his mind was screaming at him to push him away. To get away from him somehow. He didn’t know this man. He barely exchanged words with him. Why was he suddenly acting like they were friends or something?

He wanted to get away but his body wasn’t cooperating. Though his mind was fuzzy, no doubt by something inhibiting it, he shouldn’t be this weak.

His weakness wasn’t the result of alcohol. It was something else. Something undoubtedly more sinister.

Had he been…poisoned? Shit. He needed to get help. He needed to get to Axel.

“Let go,” Jhon wanted to say firmly, but it came out as a pitiful mumble.

“Sure, I’ll help you back to the inn,” the guard said as he started to easily drag him away.

No, that wasn’t what he wanted!

“Let go of me,” Jhon mumbled again as he tugged at his restrained wrists, unbelievably dismayed to realise that he could barely move them an inch, barely even able to falter the man’s grasp for even a second.

“You really need to watch your alcohol intake,” the guard said as he continued to play the façade of being his friend. And continued to force him closer to the exit of the bar. “You always do this. Exit is right here. I’ll get you home safely.”

No, Jhon couldn’t let him take him out of the bar. He couldn’t let him take him outside where he would do god knows to him, with him. What he wanted, Jhon didn’t care. He just had to get away. Get someone’s attention.

Surely someone had to be suspicious, right?

“The fuck?” was all Jhon heard before he felt someone else grab him by the upper arm and practically haul him away from the guard, effortlessly ripping him from the guard’s grip on him.

Though Jhon was dizzy and instantly fearful that another person was involved, he somehow recognised the presence of the one who was now holding him. He knew the man who had an arm around his waist and another around the middle of his back, propping him up against him.

“Jhon? What happened? What’s wrong?”

It was Axel. Thank the gods.

Jhon immediately turned to Axel and all but clung to him, uncaring at how weak he must look. He was only able to lift an arm over Axel’s right shoulder before he collapsed against him, his chin resting on his right shoulder. “Something in the drink,” he mumbled.

Axel cursed bitterly under his breath as his arm around Jhon’s waist tightened as his other arm inexplicably disappeared from his back. “I’ve got you. I’ll get you to Lynus in a sec,” he said as he moved only to grunt lowly, to which was followed by the sound that was like that of a chair scrapping against the floor and then the sound of…wood breaking? There was also the sound of something heavy hitting the floor. Hard.

Jhon closed his eyes as he clung to Axel, his head now and truly spinning in an ungodly way. He thought he heard the sound of boots running over toward him, but he was feeling too tired and far too dizzy to pay any attention to his surroundings.

“What the hell is going on?” a very familiar voice suddenly asked in high-pitched anger.

“I’ve got him,” Axel was heard telling someone as his arms tightened around Jhon, holding him so that he was practically carrying him now. “That bastard is yours. Meet you back at the inn.”

After that, everything went black.

… … … … …

Jhon’s head was throbbing as he waded through the murkiness of post sleep. He tried to open his eyes, but it was difficult to keep them open. They kept slipping shut to their own accord. It wasn’t that he was still sleepy, it was just…he felt tired. So he just laid there for a few moments, willing himself to open his eyes.

Finally, after what felt like an hour long struggle, he was able to open his eyes. Other than the stifling light hidden behind thick curtains, the first thing his gaze was able to focus on was the ceiling above him. A ceiling that was familiar.

He was in his room. Lying in bed. His bed.

Wait…

Jhon didn’t remember retiring for the night. He didn’t remember coming back from the bar. He certainly didn’t remember getting ready for bed and then crawling under the sheets. He couldn’t…remember much at all.

Understandably alarmed, Jhon grunted lowly as he tried to push himself up onto his elbows, to push himself into a sitting position in order to try to figure out what had happened, what was going on. But as he moved, he felt a wave of nausea wash over him and it took everything he had in him not to immediately drop back down onto the bed and grimace in pain.

“Easy now,” a familiar voice said calmingly to him. “Move slowly. Don’t push yourself.”

Recognising the voice, Jhon paused in his movements and slowly turned his head to find Lynus next to his bed. He was sat on a chair that had been pulled in close to his bed and next to him on the bedside table was his medical bag and a few seemingly empty bottles of medicine.

“Lynus?” Jhon mumbled. “What-?”

“Let’s get you sitting up first,” Lynus gently interrupted as he reached out with his hands to help Jhon ease himself into a sitting position before propping some pillows behind him to rest upon.

As Jhon dutifully allowed for Lynus to fuss over him he felt his concern grow. Did something happen to him? Something that was the cause of his ungodly headache and his dizziness?

“How are you feeling?” Lynus asked him softly, his voice quite soothing, which was fortunate as Jhon’s head was just horrendous.

“Headache,” Jhon mumbled, somewhat startled by how dry his mouth and throat felt.

Without a moment of hesitation, Lynus placed his fingertips on either side of Jhon’s head, at the temples, and uttered a refresh spell. The relief was instant; the relentless pounding fading into a low, easy to ignore thudding.

“What happened?” Jhon asked as Lynus reached into his bag and pulled out a couple of blue medicine bottles.

As Lynus handed one of the bottles to him with the instructions to drink it slowly, he gave Jhon a sympathetic look. “Unfortunately, while you were at the bar last night someone spiked your drink,” he explained. “It was quite a potent drug, one that works almost instantaneously. It was remarkable that you managed to remain coherent as long as you did.”

Pulling the bottle of medicine away from his lips, Jhon started at Lynus for a moment in surprise before images of what happened flash through his mind and he grimaced as he clutched his head. Oh god, that was right. He…

“I, ah, remember that,” he said.

“Thankfully Axel was able to get to you before you were dragged outside,” Lynus said with a tone of utter and sincere relief as he carefully took the medicine bottle from Jhon and replaced it with another. “The man responsible tried to get away, but Axel simply threw a chair at him, momentarily disabling him. He then brought you back to the inn.”

Yeah, he remembered Axel coming to his aide. He remembered him grabbing him and dragging him toward him where he propped him up against him with an arm around his waist. He also remembered Axel hissing some profanities under his breath, of which was promptly followed by the sound of wood breaking and something hard and heavy hitting the floor.

That must have heard the sound of Axel throwing the chair. With one arm, no less. Hard enough for the chair to break on impact.

He didn’t recall anything else after that, though. He must…have passed out from the relief at knowing he was safe with Axel protecting him.

“I can’t believe that actually happened,” Jhon murmured under his breath as he idly sipped at the new medicine Lynus had given him. He would have to apologise to everyone for worrying. Especially to Tobyn and Axel. After he thanks Axel for helping him.

Gods, he was never going to be allowed to be at the bar by himself ever again, was he?

“I know what you mean,” Lynus said in earnest sympathy.

Jhon lifted his head to look up at Lynus and gave him a weak smile as he dutifully finished off his medicine. “What happened to the guy?” he asked.

But Lynus just smiled at him as he took back the empty medicine bottle. And, honestly, Lynus’ silence spoke volumes. No doubt that the guy was still alive. Beaten into a coma probably, but that was technically still alive.

Lynus opened his mouth, appearing as though he wished to ask Jhon another question in regards to his health before he unexpectedly paused as he glanced over the bed and toward the door of his room. He smiled warmly yet knowingly at someone and made a motion with his hand for them to come closer.

“Want your arrows back?” he unexpectedly asked the newcomer.

Jhon furrowed his brow in time to see Tobyn walk into the room with his hands in his pockets, but his back straight and shoulders taut as he quickly stepped next to the bed Jhon was sat upon.

“Tell him it was a gift,” Tobyn said simply, his voice low and his eyes narrow. “One that will be repeated if and when necessary.”

Again Lynus smiled knowingly as he nodded his head and packed up the empty medicine bottles into his bag before placing it upon his shoulder. “Well, Jhon is free from that drug now, thank goodness,” he said as he pushed himself to his feet. “But not the side effects unfortunately. I do insist on you taking the day off. I need you to drink a lot of fluids to counter the dehydration and nausea of the side effects, which should only last for the day.”

Jhon nodded his head in acceptance and understanding. He knew better than to talk back when Lynus was clearly in his mother hen mode he was quickly becoming famous for.

Just before he turned to leave, however, Lynus placed a soft hand on Jhon’s shoulder and leaned forward to whisper something to his ear. “The two of us are going to be well protected for the foreseeable future.”

Jhon immediately knew what he meant and was unable to stop himself from chuckling. “Thank you for the help, as per usual, Lynus.”

Lynus leaned back and gave Jhon’s shoulder a reassuring squeeze. “Don’t mention it,” he said simply as he smiled. “I’ll leave you in Tobyn’s care now. Axel and I will pop by for a visit in a couple of hours, so try to get some rest. We’ll also try to keep everyone away so you can actually get some rest.”

“Sounds good,” Jhon said with a light chuckle. “And thanks again. Tell Axel I said thanks, too.”

Lynus nodded his head softly as he quietly made his way out of the room, no doubt moving silently in sympathy to Jhon’s headache.

After Lynus shut the door behind him, Jhon immediately turned to look at Tobyn, unable to stop his eyebrow from rising toward his hairline questioningly. “What did you do?” he asked bluntly.

“Nothing less than I usually do,” Tobyn answered rather cryptically with a dissatisfied scoff as he removed his hands from his pockets, briefly allowing Jhon a quick glimpse of white bandages around his knuckles and hands before he sat down next to him on the bed.

As Tobyn leaned against his shoulder, his arm unexpectedly slipping around to rest against his back in a both supportive and comfortingly protective manner, Jhon wondered what it was that Tobyn usually did to the people that hassled Jhon in some way. Jhon wasn’t oblivious enough to not know how protective Tobyn could be of him; he just wasn’t entirely sure what his survivalist did to the people he didn’t like. No one would tell him, after all.

Axel, though, would simply smirk and say something along the lines of how ‘creative’ Tobyn could be.

“I’ll need to make more arrows though,” Tobyn unexpectedly mumbled under his breath, no doubt talking more to himself than to Jhon.

Make more? But Jhon was certain Tobyn had made no less than twenty of them yesterday. What did he…?

…Well, it probably didn’t really matter in reality. Not now at least. Not as Jhon leaned back against Tobyn to rest his head on his shoulder, allowing Tobyn to drop his arm slightly to slip around his waist, to protectively comfort him in return.

Besides, if the guy had both Tobyn and Axel seek revenge on him, the less Jhon knew the less he could say if he was ever questioned by the guards looking into the brutal beating of one of their own.

That was, if they had to guts to investigate it, of course.

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