Chapter 17 – Between a Rock and a Hard Place
“These items were forged meticulously and with great difficulties. An enormous amount of resources was spent on their creation. They are extremely precious items. I do not understand why anyone would hesitate to possess them when they are given for free,” Kan Yune was eerily calm, his bottomless eyes were merciless, just like an abyss, still and without any trace of warmth. His gaze was fixed on Rikku, releasing a heavy aura enough to make anyone concede.
Dorian furrowed his brows. He hesitated. He had his own reservation and felt that it was best to stay cautious. Thus, since their arrival to this place, his guard had always been up. Now, adding the whole ring thing in this sort of situation, his suspicion rose.
“What else does it do?” Dorian asked as he narrowed his eyes. “If it was just as you said, why are you pushing us to accept it?”
A tense silence grew. Kan Yune’s smile stiffened but he immediately smoothed it out. He turned to Dorian and said, “It is also a tracking device. Please don’t misunderstand us. We are doing it for your own good. The world is at war, we have to be wary of many foes and you are still too weak. Being able to know your position makes it easier for us to assure your protection. It is also really convenient during battles,” the high priest took his time to explain.
Kan Yune had no other choice but to gamble. He knew that making them all yield would be a challenge and truthly, he didn’t have much confidence. He couldn’t afford a physical battle so he gambled everything on psychological warfare.
Dorian looked at his fellow heroes who didn’t mind the ring, then stared at Rikku. Sure, he didn’t want to be spied on constantly, but it wasn’t as if he had a choice.
Rikku didn’t pay attention to him, his stare had never left Kan Yune even for a single moment. Meanwhile, Ran was fretful and restless, pursing her lips. If people were paying attention to her, they would think that she still didn’t get what was going on. Despite what everyone thought, she still paid attention to their surroundings and discovered that 2 guards had moved a couple of paces forward. She bit her bottom lip. They were in a deadlock and the longer it lasted, the worse the situation would be. She tugged at Rikku’s shirt.
Dorian who also saw that the guards were moving closer to them, gritted his teeth. While he had no choice other than to put the ring on, he made sure to show that he wasn’t happy about the situation.
“Rikkun…”, Ran pled.
The young man glanced at Ran, and saw her biting her bottom lip, pale and quivering. She tilted her head towards the guards. Following her gesture, he saw what she indicated and his expression twisted.
Kan Yune saw this and frowned, he really didn’t want to fight. It wouldn’t be good for his image nor for the trust those otherworlders had in him. If they all started to be suspicious and rebel… Ridding himself of that thought, Kan Yune kept on putting them under pressure. Rikku didn’t hide his anger but he had nowhere to vent. Ran hung her head low, her mind was racing and struggling to form a plan.
Even though she really wanted to, it was impossible for her to kill all of them. She may have enough potential to do it, but she really lacked the ability right now. Furthermore, slaughtering her way out of this would be unwise. The town was filled with mages and adventurers thanks to their summoning, with them all around, she wouldn’t be able to put one step out of town without notice.
Her cautious and paranoid nature hindered her from making that first step in that direction. After all, she didn’t know much about this world. And that was why, back then, she downplayed her skill set on purpose on the god’s avatar. Making it show her to be weak at the beginning with the potential of an astronomical rise as soon as some conditions were met.
Right now, she was still missing so much information about Kan Yune and everyone around her, so putting up a fight would not be to her advantage. In any case, being too OP and taking care of the whole convoy before reaching the castle or the Capital held more cons than pros. And she couldn’t afford to be discovered nor take a hit. Now, she truly understood what it meant to be between a rock and a hard place.
“Rikku-sama, was my explanation not clear enough?” Kan Yune pressed on. “Please, we…”
While he was pressing, an abrupt shrieking sound and explosion interrupted him.
They all turned to the castle’s door. Ran frowned. What kind of play was this? She was about to say something, impatient, when she suddenly jolted in surprise. She searched the crowd and realised that there was someone missing this morning. Realizing this, a malevolent grin bloomed in her heart.
She rapidly pulled on Rikku’s shirt, making him turned his attention to her, and glimpse a flash of viciousness streak across her eyes. He looked at the guards, then back again to Ran’s laughing eyes. He tried his best to figure out what she meant through observation, yet he didn’t get it. Meanwhile, the castle’s door exploded open and a fiery fireball rushed out of the rubble.
“WHERE IS SHE?!” A furious roar shook the surrounding, “I AM GOING TO KILL THAT BITCH!”
Nora flew out of the castle’s door like a fireball. Her fiery hair was standing upright, her dress was ablazed, and her gaze looked like she had crawled up from hell. She momentarily stopped as she stepped outside, and looked around, searching for her prey.
Kan Yune was displeased. Why was everything going wrong this morning?
“What is going on here?” Kan Yune yelled.
Nora harrumphed and ignore him, “You slut! Where are you? You dared to do something like that to me!”
Dorian who was already in a bad mood, didn’t want to deal with a hysterical woman, “Shut up! Who are you talking about?”
“That coward woman! Who else?”
Every single eye there turned toward Rikku and the woman he was shielding with grim expressions. The situation kept getting worse. On the surface, Ran bit her lower lip until she drew blood, and fought back her tears but couldn’t hide the trembling of her hands. However, within her heart, Ran sneered. Nora gave her the opportunity she was missing. If everything went smoothly from this point forward, she was confident in shaking Kan Yune off her tracks.
Nora pointed at Ran, her eyes filled with malice and madness, “It’s you! You poisoned me! It’s your fault that I am like that!”
The sudden revelation caught everyone unaware.
What was she babbling about?
No one had the time to react to the accusation as Nora had already launched a fire lance in Ran’s direction. The projectile was fast. In the face of that speed, she was helpless.
Shit! By instinct, she pushed Rikku out of the way and could only stare at the incoming disaster. Fortunately, a barrier appeared in front of her before it could touch her. But, she used her quick wits and decided to act like she was ‘blown away’ and collided with the 2 guards behind her. Rikku had wanted to grab onto her but for some reason he didn’t manage to.
“Who did this!” After the failed attempt, Nora’s wrath burned even hotter.
“I did,” Kan Yune replied. His eyes were extremely cold and with just a glance, he managed to shut her up. “What is going on here?”
His hands shook, the force of the impact was stronger than he thought. He had imagined that given their low level, those heroes would need time to develop. He was mistaken. He clenched his fists. He really couldn’t afford having to fight them before they were completely under control. He glanced at Rikku who was helping Ran get up. The high priest discreetly motioned an order to Rikku’s maid. If he tries anything, kill him on the spot.
Nora glared at Ran with fervent rage and loathing, “You poisoned me!”
Ran who had been helped off the floor by Rikku, tightly clasped his hand. Without anyone noticing, she put the ring in his hand and squeezed it twice. Rikku furrowed his brows, glanced at her and saw she had slid on the ring on her finger.
Ran was full of grievance, “Why do you always have to make things difficult for me?”
“You bitch! I was fine before meeting you by the lake!” Nora hissed.
Ran pursed her lips, she was about to refute when Belle spoke first.
“Ran-sama, don’t tell me it was…” as if Belle realised that she said too much, she immediately covered her mouth.
Ran’s expression twisted. That b*tch!