“The height is a little bit more intimidating when you look at it from this angle…” Francis says.

The three of us, once again still in the hot springs bath and still buck naked (how many hours has it been by now?), are standing over the edge of the glass-free window and to the grass on the ground below.

It’s a two story drop. I’ve probably survived a four story drop or two in my time as an [Adventurer,] but I tended to have skills to help me or Thalia’s magical spells to soften damage. So this height is still considerably intimidating now.

“Just remember to hit the ground with your feet flat, your knees bent, and then keep the momentum going with a run or a roll. You’ll be fine if you do that.”

“This is exactly what characters do in Royals of Foreign Lands when they need to minimize fall damage,” Francis says in some sort of quiet awe.

“I’m really worried about, you know, being naked and people seeing us,” Delta says. “Maybe it’s not as bad for you two, but I got a little bit of a different situation here.” She beckons down to her genitals.

“What? You think it’s any better for us? That’s so unfair!” Francis exclaims. “It’s even more embarrassing because—”

“Let’s cease our usual series of silly banter and get on with our escape plan,” I say.

They both nod in return.

So our plan is simple, since Francis is a genius of planning things in clear ways:

First, we take our towels and dry off. That’s only natural. We will keep these towels with us so we can use them if the time comes that they are necessary.

Second, we will leap out the window. It is wide and there is no glass barrier, so it is an easy task in and of itself, but we must take care to land properly on the grass two stories below, or else we will injure ourselves. I would like for my Life Points not to go down from an event like this, so I will take great caution here.

Thirdly, we will find another bath on the first floor of the building and sneak into it to pretend like we were there all along. To be honest I’m not entirely sure how a hot springs works when it is two stories high, but I will leave that question to the wonders of modern Earth technology.

Fourthly, we will call on the clerk attendant to help us retrieve our personal belongings which were left outside the original bath and are too dangerous to get ourselves lest we be spotted by Pablo Rosas himself.

Fifthly, we will call a vehicle over to the back entrance and escape before anyone finds out what happened.

And so it’s a very simple plan. We put it into action as quickly as we can…

Until the third step, that is.

“It’s locked,” Delta says. “The window is locked. There’s glass pane windows on the first floor, and they are locked.”

“That,” Francis says, “is not something I had counted on.”

“Well, what shall we do?” I ask. “What is there for us to do? Could we summon a driver and simply leave our lost possessions behind? Surely they will accomodate our unclothed status if we give extra money.”

“We can’t even call an Uber without our damn phones,” Delta replies.

“Oh, right. Why did we leave our phones in those receptacles again?”

“Because phones will break if you leave them in super steamy rooms,” Francis says.

“What a shoddy design flaw.”

“Yeah, I’m thinking the same thing…”

Our next improvised phase of the plan comes with very little deliberation:

We run back through the front entrance of the hot springs and scramble through the lobby.

The clerk at the front stares at us nonchalantly, as if she were completely unfazed by our being naked and also sprinting.

“Have a good day,” she says.

We run past her and into the baths towards our own room. As we continue going up the stairs at a blizting speed, Francis chuckles, and remarks, “I thought running naked would be really painful, but I don’t feel a thing.”

“You’ve never run naked before?” I ask.

“You have?”

“Well, yes, of course. From time to time.”

“What a weirdo.” He giggles. “And it’s a good thing Delta here has the chest of a teenage boy because otherwise this might be killing her.”

“Can we go five minutes without discussing my breasts?!”

“I must agree on that, Francis,” I say.

“You too, with all your pervert gawking at me!”

“…My apologies.”

We find our bath and run over to the storage bins. All our clothes and phones and other items are still here, just like normal.

And no sign of Pablo or anyone else at all.

It seems safe.

We all get dressed as quickly as we can.

“This seems kinda suspicious,” Francis says.

“I disagree,” I say. “I sense nothing.”

Delta stares at her baggy clothing and mumbles to herself. “….maybe I should get more form fitting…”

“Oh, if you sense nothing, then it should be OK I guess,” he says. “Let’s get—”

“Ah, there you are!” Pablo exclaims as he steps out from a random bath. “I’ve been looking all over for you. Are you guys ready to experience a new day at Paso Robles?”

I step in front of my friends. “Get back,” I warn him. “I am Eryk Solbourne, D-Rank [Adventurer.] I defeated the Persian Mob.”

“You defeated like five guys, not the whole mob,” Delta says, unhelpfully.

“What?” Pablo tilts his head to the side. “But you only just got here. You are already threatening me, but I did nothing to harm you… I only want to help you.”

And then, from each of the baths that were not occupied by ourselves, out steps a different hooded figure. Six in all. They have us surrounded on both sides.

“What are we gonna do…” Francis asks.

“I’ll just have to use one of my best Destiny Cards,” I say. “I will—”

I feel a sharp pain at my neck.

Then I look down and see a piece of metal sticking out of it. A dart of some sort.

[New status effect: Slumber.]

Oh, no…

“You’ll be loving Paso Robles in a few hours,” Pablo Rosas says. “Just you wait.”

Darts hit Francis and Delta as well, but I can’t see what’s happening to them for much longer because my vision blurs.

“You… Fiend…”

“I’m a good friend indeed,” he says.

I collapse on the floor and black out.