Chapter 16 – Start Of a Crisis
“What bad luck!” scorned a powerful voice.
Bad luck indeed! As if seeing Belle’s face wasn’t enough, she just bumped into Dorian first thing this morning. Her eyes and mouth were opened wide in shock, like a deer in the headlights. Dorian gazed at the girl and examined her carefully. She had long, damp hair, average-looking face, light eyes, and full lips. Her height was average, her chest not big enough to his taste, and her body didn’t seem to have any alluring curves. In fact, she looked old-fashioned in her plain dress. Her only redeeming feature would be her fresh rose perfume.
Dorian had a faint yet negative impression of this girl. He remembered how she had made him wait before. But no matter how arrogant he was, he wasn’t a complete idiot. He wanted to entertain the idea that Ran could not be a simple character. But having witnessed how her empty eyes avoided any contact with his and how her body could not endure the slight aura he released, he gave up the idea. He huffed and puffed in disgust, turned around, and left without a word with his sexy maid following behind him.
The maid glanced at Ran and Belle with pity. Belle enjoyed the sense of schadenfreude looking at Ran’s miserable state as she sat looking down on the ground. Ran bit her lip hard and chanted mantras in her heard. Be calm. Be mindful of the world. Don’t rip people’s faces. Be serene. Burn nothing and no one. Be kind and generous in conduct. You can do it. I can do it.
It took Ran several minutes to regain her composure and control the shaking of her hands. She followed Belle through the corridors with her eyes almost closed. You need to be calm. You need to be magnanimous. I need whiskey and rum, that’s what I need!
Once again, Ran arrived last and made everyone wait. She endured everyone’s piercing gaze as she bit her lip hard, making her hazel eyes water. Everyone had a frown on their faces; with disdain written all over their faces. Disgraceful! Ran rushed past the crowd and placed herself in the back, near Rikku, who couldn’t help but sigh and shake his head.
Kan Yune paid attention to every little expression and gesture, anything he could learn about these otherworlders. He took a peek at Ran; he still needed time to observe her. Rikku, on the other hand, he agreed that he was a threat. This man would not be easily controlled. He was definitely dangerous; if it wasn’t for the tight surveillance and the magic mirror, he would have never known he could roam around unnoticed. What frustrated him the most was helpless about it. Twelve heroes were a handful and he knew that if he lost control of Rikku, he would be doomed. Despite all of this, Kan Yune always kept a polite smile on his face.
He climbed some steps and greeted the heroes, “Good Morning, Heroes. I hope you are feeling better. Because of our negligence, you have suffered. We could never have imagined that your bodies would react like that to our world.” He bowed his head and politely said, “My apologies. Since we could not do the appraisal here and we still needed to head out, we would push forward with the appraisal in four days in Orchard City. It’s not a big city, but there is a master appraiser there. However, please know that this is a detour and will have to pass through a danger zone.”
The high priest paused and let the people consider his words. He noted how Rikku kept his cool while the others got hyped up, eager to fight. Only Ran was still meek and staring at the ground. He scowled; she was fidgety and kept rocking herself back and forth.
“You need to be on your guard at all times. Even though we have soldiers with us, the convoy would still be low key. I hope we could to witness your valor!” He narrowed his eyes at Ran who hadn’t paid attention at all since the very beginning. The others followed his line of sight; even the priests and soldiers cast disapproving gazes toward her.
Ran was oblivious, and it was for the best. Rikku slightly moved so that his body would hide hers and glared back at the crowd. He had made a clear stand to be her bodyguard. The corner of Kan Yune’s lips lifted.
He clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention. “The official ceremony would be in a month’s time, where you could finally get an official status and rank. This is why His Majesty game magic seals for each one of you as a token of identity,” he produced a handful of well-crafted rings with the dynasty crest.
Rikku frowned and elbowed Ran. She raised her limpid eyes, still seemingly lost, and glanced around.
“Each ring is a top-grade magic item that would help you recover mana faster and amplify your mana output,” Kan Yune explained.
Rikku frowned even harder. Ran tilted her head to the side, perplexed. Kan Yune waved his hand and 11 rings flew out. The first to put on the ring was Kirito. He slid it on his finger with enthusiasm.
“Ouch! It hurts!” Kirito yelped all of a sudden.
“It’s nothing,” Kan Yune said in an amused voice. “Because it’s a top-grade magic item, it needs to recognize its owner; so it will only take 2 drops of your blood. Please don’t worry.”
Ran watched the scene with curiosity, but inside, she was swearing loud and clear. For Fuck’s sake! She eyed the ring that was floating in front of her. She glanced at Rikku who was glaring at Kan Yune. Kan Yune returned the glare with a smile and released his aura. Ran grabbed on the hem of Rikku’s shirt.
“Does Rikku-sama has something to say?”
“I don’t really use magic. I have no need for this ring,” Rikku replied coldly.
“The ring is the proof of your status as Heroes of this world,” Kan Yune stated gently. “Whether or not you have a use of it, as a summoned heroes, without this ring who knows what could happen?”
Ran’s hand tightened on Rikku’s shirt. That’s a threat. He dared to threaten me!