Chapter 5 – Feeling Welcomed
Ran’s room was well-lit and spacious, with a whiff of mustiness hanging in the air. Still, this is a far cry from her apartment back on Earth. This room had a canopy bed separated from a small boudoir by a folding screen. In an adjacent room, a dresser and a bathroom could be found. The pieces of furniture that decorate this place were a tad outdated and yet the floors were covered with well-maintained carpets. These people even went the extra mile to make the wallpaper look tattered.
Ran sat down at a table as she was served with bread, pastries, fruits, and tea. She ate slowly with her gaze fixed on the floor. The snacks didn’t have much taste, and her face broke into a grimace. This tea was bland and a bit bitter. She frowned and fixed her eyes on the golden liquid for a long time. She closed her eyes as she noticed her breathing had become heavier. As she put down her cup, her fingers trembled, and the tea spilt on the table.
“My apologies, I made a mess,” Ran apologised without raising her head.
With skilful hands, the maid moved forward to replace the teacup and clean the table. She had been standing mute and still by the door since they entered the room. She had been tracking Ran’s every movement, her breathing cycle, and her mana fluctuations. As the new cup of tea was served, it tipped on Ran’s hand and spilt its contents on her.
Before she could react, the maid quickly grabbed Ran’s hand to wipe it with a handkerchief. This skin-to-skin contact sent a faint static shock through Ran’s body. She winced and retracted her hands and stared blinking at the maid, a grave impression welling up from within her.
“I’ve startled Miss. Please forgive me, I will be more careful next time,” the maid said impassively.
Ran threw her an indifferent glance and nodded before she lowered her head again. As if in a trance, she stared at her fingers as a cold glint pass through her eyes.
Did she just…mark me? Ran thought in a daze.
One after the other… Calming herself down, she once again bit her lower lip with force. She didn’t want to lose sight of the bigger picture. She was afraid she would lose her temper and end up biting someone to death. That maid… A chill rose from her heart as she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Not only did this maid monitor her aura and magic fluctuations, she was even bold enough to put a tracking mark on her! She sighed wearily. There was no point in eating and drinking drugged food, so she went and took a nap to cool down and refocus.
When she woke up, she stood by the huge bay window.
“What kind of name would you like?” She suddenly asked the maid, her gaze still lost outside.
“I do not have any preference,” the maid replied.
“How about Belle?” A dog’s name. “It fits you,” Ran asked without turning back.
“If Ran-sama thinks this way, then please call me so.”
“Alright, you’d be Belle from now on,” Ran turned back with sparkling eyes. “Say, Belle, is it okay if I visit the castle?”
Belle glanced at Ran to assess her intentions and saw nothing but pure childish curiosity.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate,” Belle answered.
“How about the library?” Ran probed with puppy eyes.
“I do not have permission to access the library,” Belle answered flatly.
“How about the garden? Just the garden is fine. I feel a bit suffocated in here.” Without backing down, Ran did not shy away from using the pity card.
“Miss shouldn’t be too stubborn,” the maid admonished her flatly.
“Please!” Ran pulled her most dejected face and pleaded with a piteous voice
“I need to ask for permission first,” the maid said after hesitating for a second.
“Thank you! I really need to get some air,” Rain exclaimed enthusiastically as if she just found a saviour.
Belle nodded and excused herself. When she left, Ran clenched her fists tightly. She knew Belle would be back soon, so she tried her best to restrain her anger in deep breaths. Inside the bathroom, she opened the faucet, looked at herself in the mirror, and frowned. She muttered something under her breath. Looking at her reflection, the coldness in her heart felt like it was about to burst. She wet her hair, made them in a messy braid, and put extra effort to make herself look pathetic. Without even bothering to ask for a change of clothes, she went out feeling better. The more she looked an eyesore, the better.
“Touring the garden is fine,” the maid declared indifferently as she came back.
“Thank you!” Ran flashed her most joyful smile, not minding the annoyed look on Belle’s face.