Chapter 11 – Heart to Heart Conversation
They didn’t talk much along the way, yet the atmosphere between them was awkward. The restaurant was packed when a server came to welcome them.
“I’m sorry, we only have the first floor private booth available,” announced the server.
Rikku nodded without a word and followed upstairs.
“Is it always this crowded?” Rikku remarked.
The server laughed. “It always is. But today is a bit special.”
He opened the door and ushered them into the booth.
“Whoa! This place is so pretty,” Ran couldn’t hold back her admiration. The small room was bright and overlooked the street, giving them a perfect view of the bustling crowd without the excessive noise and smell.
“What’s so special about today?” Rikku asked while he looked around.
The server glanced around discreetly and said, “Yesterday, at dawn, all the linestone statues exploded. All of them!” He leaned in and continued in a hushed tone, “We’ve been flooded with mages and adventurers since then.”
“Oh, really?” A hint of a smile appeared on Rikku’s lips, “What’s so special about those statues?”
“Customer doesn’t know? Linestone gathers mana into veins. They are expensive and precious. The explosion must have cost a fortune.”
The server whispered, “I think there’s something fishy. Linestone may be fragile compared to marble, but there’s no way they would explode like that.”
Rikku nodded and tossed a gold coin to the server, “Bring us tea and some snacks.”
When the server left, Rikku closed that door and made quick hand gestures to put a spell on it. This surprised Ran. He wasn’t even discreet about it; he didn’t care or wanted her to make a comment. She tilted her head as he examined the man.
“What did you do to the door?” asked Ran.
“I put a spell on the door so people cannot spy on us,” Rikku answered simply.
Ran arched her eyebrows and only revealed a confused face. Rikku paused and examined the girl in front of him. Her long, black and silver locks were free on her back. Her chocolate skin was pale from the fever but it was still spotless and smooth. Her demeanor was childlike and innocent as if she could fall for any deception. Those hazel eyes were clear and naïve, yet there was something unsettling about them. Every time he saw her, he felt something was amiss. Every time he looked into her eyes, he felt chills.
“Don’t you find the whole hero thing weird?” Rikku asked while he sat down.
“Weird?” Ran let out a dry laugh, “I was just trying to take a nap and suddenly, I was transported into another world by this so-called god’s avatar. I was given powers that I didn’t want to be a hero for a world I knew nothing about. I think weird is an understatement.”
Ran felt resentful. She had never asked to be part of this. She never wanted to have power. She just wanted a normal, boring life–no fantasy, no big scheme of the universe, no saving the world, nothing. She wanted to be boring and be bored, do a job she didn’t like, have friends she didn’t enjoy, and die alone of old age. That damn god’s avatar! Now, she was stuck here, surrounded by morons who thought they were invincible and crooks who thought they were clever. As she thought of these things, anger rose in her heart. She hated this. Fantasy? Hero? It’s only a matter of time before I isekai my ass out of here!
Furthermore, she knew how difficult traveling between worlds was; she was definitely stuck there for a long while. She had no intention of taking part in the power struggle for this world. If push comes to shove, she could just obliterate a country or two to make a statement. Rikku observed Ran who was deep in thoughts. She clenched her fist and shook her head, trying to rein in her emotions. Her clear distress about this whole summoning thing was obvious.
“I hate this,” Ran sighed.
“Do you have people waiting for you?”
It took her some time to shake her head and continued to be mum. Soon, the server came back to serve tea and plates of various pastries on the table. The two nibbled on their snacks without a word, while Ran looked outside, lost in thoughts.
“The servants they ‘gave’ us are monitoring us. I don’t know what for but you shouldn’t trust them,” Rikku spoke after a while.
Ran frowned in shock at what Rikku told her. The number of their interactions already exceeded her expectations. For him to make this first step and share this information with her was beyond her imagination. She never planned to befriend anybody during here. Rikku reminded her of someone she didn’t want to remember, she absolutely didn’t want to reminisce about the past. He was obviously uncomfortable around her, yet he kept on approaching her. Didn’t he help her twice already? She didn’t know what to do with Rikku. He must have his own plans, but she didn’t want any part in it. Rikku did not press on the subject. He only hoped she could become an ally, or at least, not an enemy.
“I won’t stay with the group,” Ran said while looking at Rikku, trying to gauge his reaction. “This whole hero thing with the god’s avatar was just… I don’t want it. I don’t want to get involved in this mess. I just want a quiet life.”
Ran hesitated before she continued, “The skills and job I chose for myself… They don’t even fit a hero. They aren’t even good enough to qualify me to be an adventurer.”
“Oh,” Rikku replied flatly.
Ran made a face but Rikku still wore a deadpan expression. After some time, she sighed not knowing what to do or how to feel. It was clear that Rikku came in goodwill; at least he didn’t want to be a foe. Despite not planning to reveal herself, she gave in and told him the truth.
“I’m a weaver.”