Chapter 10 – Walking Around Town
Ran and Belle left the castle discreetly and made their way downtown to visit the busy market. It’s been a while since she was in such a lively place that her eyes sparkled with joy. She put aside her shyness and wandered everywhere like a child, hungry to see more. Her figure bobbed among the sea of people as she merrily fluttered from stall to stall, gently patting and pushing people as she passed through. Soon, she was in front of a bakery.
“It’s too bad I don’t have any money,” Ran sighed in disappointment.
“Ran-sama, I forgot to tell you. The High Priest gave everyone a magic purse with 10 pieces of gold,” Belle explained while giving Ran the purse.
“What’s a magic purse?”
“Magic purses are enchanted bags that can hold more than they appear. This one is a top quality, it can hold up to fifty square meters. Most people don’t even have an item box, so it’s best to stay low key,” replied Belle.
Ran took the plain small pouch. It was made of light-colored leather with some abstract embroidery. She took out a cold coin to examine and found it a bit heavier than she thought and without any magic.
“Fantastic! Thank you!” Ran smiled broadly.
Belle smiled back, barely hiding her contempt. The more Ran looked at her maid, the more she wanted to wipe away that smug look off her face. Let’s wait for a couple more days, Ran nodded to herself.
Having 10 gold coins was a small fortune; she had to spend it well. Whatever she wanted to taste and whatever caught her eyes, she bought it. Food came first as she had eaten nothing since she came into this world. She bought sweet bread, jam, and a mountain of various snacks. Shopping for yummy food, souvenirs, knick-knacks, she was like a child left to explore a town made of candy. In her excitement, she took Belle’s hand and dragged her around, making the maid wince.
“Wow! There are so many people in town today!” Ran remarked.
“It’s the market after all,” Belle snorted.
Ran smiled back at Belle. She didn’t talk much with the locals; she wasn’t the type to like crowded people nor people. However, there was no better place than the market to know what was going on in a town. And as she had already guessed, something was going on. Whether Belle and her group knew about it, she would soon find out. After strolling more, both master and maid arrived inside a blacksmith shop.
“Can I buy a dagger?” Ran asked.
“Why would you buy a dagger?” Belle asked back, annoyed. She would have suspected Ran by now, but her prejudice towards Ran was too strong to even do so.
“As a souvenir! I’ve never had something like that before,” Ran’s eyes twinkled.
Belle scoffed. Finding Ran’s naive curiosity towards ores and metal shavings absurd, she decided to wait outside. It boosted Ran’s mood after getting a golden opportunity to shop unsupervised. She cheerfully spent gold coins on a good quality dagger, some darts, and some precious ores; and these gold coins weren’t even hers to begin with! After shopping at the blacksmith’s, she went on to shop at the woodworker’s, the potter’s, and the bookstores. She also stopped by a tailor to buy some clothes, threads, and fabrics. And each time she came out of these shops, Ran would always wear a smug look which was too painful for Belle to see.
“Is there an adventurer’s guild in town? Can I visit it?” Ran inquired. “I’m so curious. Will we register as adventurers too? I wonder how lively the Capital is.” Without giving Belle a chance to respond, Ran babbled on, “Everyone was talking about how there were many mages and adventurers out in town today. Look! See those rubbles? The blacksmith told me those broken statues were made from linestone-a stone which absorbs mana and formed veins. The town used to have many of those statues as lamp posts, but they all exploded yesterday. Now, none of them were left. I wonder what happened.”
As Ran rambled on, she saw Belle’s face grew tense and grave as the maid glanced around to find something. Ran smiled.
“I am not aware of this…” Belle hesitated and suddenly pointed out, “Ran-sama, look! Isn’t that Rikku-san?”
Ran turned around to see Rikku. They nodded at each other in recognition as Rikku walked over to her.
“Rikkun, are you feeling alright?” Ran asked with concern.
“It’s nothing much, just a small fever. How are you feeling?”
“I’m fine.” Ran grimaced. “I can’t compare. I think my fever was mild compared to you guys.”
Rikku observed a hint of disappointment in Ran’s eyes, but he just nodded and didn’t pursue the subject. Then there was an uncomfortable silence. Although they have ‘often’ interacted, there really was nothing common for them to talk about.
“You came to shop too? I bought mostly useless stuff,” Ran broke the silence. On her peripheral vision, she saw Belle and Rikku’s chaperones talked and she softly smiled.
Rikku glanced at their respective maids and slightly squinted his eyes. “Are you hungry? I saw a good restaurant nearby,” Rikku offered.
The offer surprised Ran, but she still nodded and followed Rikku.