Chapter 17: The Boat
Ruby waited silently around the corner of a small home. The only light she had was the setting sun and the people's lanterns. Her ears straight up, waiting for a sound. Earlier, she had been banging on the doors to the council's building.
Now, her green eyes watched as the residents in this town passed by as they usually did. They were completely unaware of her. That's exactly how I want it, she thought to herself.
The two reasons she stopped is because she was getting tired of banging on the doors and that she thought she had heard Cheren coming her way. She just hoped Cheren was far from her.
Her left ear twitched. She quickly looked to her left with a cold glare on her face. She relaxed once she saw it was a goose with a little one on his back. She took a small step back, continuing to hide in the shadows.
Ruby needed to figure out a way to get to the place Zenghui and their parents stayed in. She tried to remember the name of the building. She didn't recall the name, but she did remember that it was close to the council's building.
She had a small picture of the little hotel she had dashed past earlier. Maybe they stayed there, she thought to herself.
Ruby began to come out of the shadows. She needed to act casual. She kept in mind that she shouldn't be noticed very much. Ruby walked towards the area and saw the little building up ahead.
She looked around. Drawing attention was the last thing she wanted. Ruby tried to keep looking nonchalant when going through the crowds. It was just a small glance and then they continued on their way. She continued to go down the sidewalks and approached the hotel. She heard something. It sounded like growling.
She quickly glanced over her shoulder and saw that it was Cheren. He was storming through the streets, tipping over carts, and pushing people out of his way. She quickly went inside the small building and closed the door behind her.
A female sheep swept the floors and stopped once she spotted the red fox. "Oh hello," she said in a sweet voice.
"Hello, is my family here? They go under the name Mr. and Mrs. Xiaolin. They even have a son named Zenghui," Ruby explained.
The sheep placed the small broom against the wall and said, "I'm sorry, sweetie. But they left awhile ago. They left in such a rush too."
Ruby moaned in frustration. She had come so close to finding her brother and parents. She looked around and found the sign-in desk. She slammed her fist on it and growled, "I can't believe it!"
The sheep saw that her desk now had a crack in it. "Please, ma'am. Calm down," she said, still in a sweet and calm voice.
Ruby began to have a meltdown. "I don't want to calm down! I shouldn't calm down! I deserve to lose my temper for once," she yelled.
The sheep saw the crocodile, continuing down the streets, pushing everyone and everything in his path. He had stopped after hearing someone yelling. He looked over by the hotel.
She covered Ruby's mouth and pulled her aside. She ducked down behind the desk and waited. Ruby started to calm down as they both hoped the crocodile would, for some reason, pass by the hotel.
Cheren stomped across the street, his fists as tight they could be. Bunnies, pigs, and geese ran away from the bandit as he walked by them. Cheren stared at the bamboo door and raised his fist. He was about to punch down the door when he heard someone move in the alley. He smirked. "Come out young one," he said walking towards the alley.
Ruby and the sheep sighed in relief. "I'm sorry," Ruby apologized. "It's been a long day."
"It's alright young one," the sheep replied, getting up and beginning to sweep the floors again. "But why are you here?"
"I'm looking for my brother and parents. That croc bandit out there, Cheren, is looking for me. He's trying to hold me ransom so he can get his claws on my family," Ruby explained.
The sheep was surprised by this. "Oh my. You have had a rough time. How long has this been going on?"
Ruby looked down for a moment, trying to think of the entire amount of days she had been at this. Minus the days where she was with Valerie, Josie, and Peter. She just shook her head and said, "I don't know."
"Why don't you rest here?" the sheep suggested, gesturing to the dark hallway behind her. "This is a hotel after all."
Ruby bowed to the sheep palm-to-fist style and thanked her. "I deeply appreciate this. But I have to leave quickly. I can't stay in one place very long," she explained.
The sheep nodded. "I suppose I understand."
Ruby watched the sheep as she went out into the hall and came back out with a piping cup of tea. "Relax yourself, child. You need it," she told her.
Ruby thanked her again. She sat down on a small and wobbly chair and drank her tea, taking little sips at a time.