She shouted to the door. “Someone! Help! Anybo-” the next word died in her throat.
Something moved nearby. She had been so shocked that she hadn’t paid attention to the chair in front of her. There was someone unconscious on that chair. Her eyes grew bigger as she realised who was sitting there. So many questions flooded her mind. What had happened yesterday? She remembered the camp being attacked by magical beasts. She remembered the panic, how she wanted to escape. Who’d captured her? Why?
Footsteps sounded outside the tent; Belle’s body tensed. She struggled and started to panic. She had never imagined that she would be in such a state. She had noticed way too late that she was having a problem with the mana in her body. At first, she thought it would pass after some time. Who knew that not only was she losing her grip on her mana but her body had also started to weaken?
The cloth door opened and a figure entered. Belle was flustered and shocked. Ran lifted her eyes and raised an eyebrow at the sight of Belle. She made her way to her maid.
“Ran-sama! Thank the Goddess, you are safe!” Belle blabbered. “Ran-sama, save me. We have to escape before the one who tied me up comes back.” Belle insisted.
“Save you and escape?” Ran tilted her head, amused.
“Yes.” Belle urged. Her instincts were telling her that something was terribly wrong and she was in danger. “Please, Ran-sama. We have to be fast.”
“Hahaha!” Ran roared in laughter.
Belle shuddered, a horrific premonition washed over her. She watched Ran pull a chair and place it in front of them. Ran sat down, she waved her hand and water splashed on the unconscious Kan Yune. She saw him shiver and slowly come back to life. Ran gave a smile to Belle, flashing her white teeth. Belle paled.
Under the light of the lamp, Ran seemed evil and full of ill intentions. The Ran in front of her was unknown to Belle. The shy and cowardly young woman had metamorphosed into a confident and proud woman. She had never seen Ran strut with such charisma. That cold, mischievous glint in her eyes made Belle flinch.
Kan Yune groaned, a headache was grinding his mind. He shivered, opened his eyes and blinked. He was drenched. He was also tied to a chair. His body jolted. He struggled on his chair and looked around. To his left, he saw Belle also tied up. He followed her gaze.
“You!” Kan Yune was confused. What was going on?
“Welcome back! How was your nap?” Ran smiled softly.
Kan Yune frowned. He tried to remember. Monsters came through the camp, he fought alongside Dorian, then… he gasped and stared at Ran with incredulity.
“Kan Yune-sama...” Ran giggled, “...isn’t it vexing? You’ve spent so much time and effort to monitor Rikku, when the real threat was so plain in front of you. Had you thrown me out at Linestone city like I’d asked you to, you would’ve escaped this plight.”
Kan Yune pursed his lips, anger surged within him. Belle couldn’t believe her eyes or ears.
“Ran-sama… wh...what… wh...who?” Belle stammered.
She could barely think straight, everything seemed too unreal.
“Belle, Belle, Belle! You sly little thing.” Ran smirked. “Don’t you know that arrogance can ruin someone? You have been a mean and annoying bitch the whole time, haven’t you? I have wanted to tear this annoying sneer off your face for so long.”
“You slutty bitch!” Belle shouted. She couldn’t believe that things had turned out this way.
“Hahaha!” Ran enjoyed the sight of Belle struggling on her chair. “Who would have thought that an assassin like you would be this pathetic?” Ran scoffed. “Didn’t you hate me for being weak? How does it feel to weaken and lose your powers?”
Colours drained out of Belle’s pretty face as she shivered.
“Don’t the beauty products I gave you smell nice?” Ran smirked. “Don’t they leave the skin soft and smelling like honey? They are top-notch products, aren’t they?”
“You poisoned me?”
“Cherry laurel, glass root lilies and some other little things. Did you know that when absorbed by the skin, they can disturb the flow of mana? You just grew weak. You should be happy. Nora rotted inside out.” Ran smiled brightly. She swaggered to Belle and her finger traced the contour of her face. “I had planned so many amusing things for you. It’s a pity that I don’t have much time anymore.” The cold touch of her finger made Belle shiver even more.
The finger ran down Belle’s throat, delicately brushed her collarbone, and made its way to the top of her heart. Ran drew a small circle. Belle’s expression twisted.
“Aaaaah!” Belle bellowed.
A thin thread seemed to have wrapped around the tip of her finger; slowly, she pulled it out as she spun it. The thread seemed to be endless. Belle was thrashing around, howling in pain. Ran was still smiling softly. It took several minutes for the thread to be entirely pulled out. Belle’s face was white, her voice hoarse, and some blood was seeping from the corner of her lips.
“Does it hurt? Poor little thing.” Ran smirked. Her finger moved upward.
Belle spat in her face. Ran pursed her lips, wiped her face and heavily slapped Belle.
“You still have so much attitude… Let’s see how long you can keep this up. It wouldn’t be fun if you begged right away.”
Ran’s finger pressed against Belle’s left temple. Belle gritted her teeth.
“You think you know pain?” Ran was amused. She twisted her finger, inflicting intense pain.
Ran’s movements were slow and delicate. She wanted it to last. She would stop from time to time. Every time Belle fainted, she would stop. She would pour water down her throat, enough to hurt and choke, not enough to completely drown her. An hour flew by. Belle had never felt this much pain before. She had no energy left. Ran had been more vicious than she’d thought.
“So? How much attitude do you have left?” Ran asked. She lifted the maid’s face up. “Does it hurt, Belle? No, I should say, Ilia Nova.”
“Kill… me…” Ilia’s mind was in chaos and her gaze hazy.
Ran laughed. “Kill you? Hahaha, sorry, I’m not that nice! Even if you beg, I wouldn’t kill you. I’ll suck you dry and make sure that insignificant soul of yours serves me well in the future.”
Ran seemed to be satisfied with her former maid’s look. She walked away and sat back. She faced Kan Yune with a smile. He had watched as she tortured to her heart's content. The priest’s gaze was cold at first, gradually fear crept in.
“Now, that I had my little fun, let’s talk!”