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 gaze was cold at first, then he couldn’t help but be afraid.
“Now, that I had my little fun, let’s talk,” Ran stated. She turned to the priest, “Please don’t misunderstand. It was just a little fun, nothing much. This is nowhere near what I can do.” She was pleased to see him shudder, “Now, how about you tell me everything,” Ran asked.
“I don’t understand. Ran-sama, I don’t know why you are doing…” Kan Yune started.
“Who is behind our summoning?”
“... Ran-sama… we truly need your help to…” the priest couldn’t say more. Ran was staring down on him with disdain.
“Really? Do you think you guys are the only one I questioned so far?” Ran crossed her legs and lifted her chin. “Do you think I don’t know that you planned to have us be ambushed tomorrow by bandits? That you wanted to have Rikku and I killed?” She observed Kan Yune with attention. She didn’t want to miss even the smallest expression on the priest’s face, “I also know that our summoning wasn’t authorised, that you tried to dupe us all along. You fanned our greed and stroke our ego so we’d listen to you. I know about the tracking mark, the drug in the food… Should I go on?”
Kan Yune stayed silent. He was flabbergasted.
Ran smirked, “If you think that you’ll be able to endurance torture, you overestimated yourself.” She walked to Ilia, “I’m a weaver. I weave stuff. Wool, silk, threads.” She touched Ilia’s right temple, “Blood, mana…,” she started to pull another thread, “Soul…”
“Aaaah,” Ilia wanted to beg for mercy. She wanted to beg for a quick death.
Kan Yune trembled. Ran didn’t pull the thread all the way. She left it to dangle out. Kan Yune’s eyes were fixed on the transparent thread. He gritted his teeth.
Ran asked Kan Yune, “Are you going to share about your boss or do I have to force it out of you?”
“You have no idea what you are doing,” Kan Yune glared at me with hate.
“Torture is one of my speciality. I know exactly what I am doing.”
“Torture me if you dare! If you think you’ll be able to escape from…” The priest turned silent.
“From who? The King? The Church?” Ran laughed, “What a good joke. We both know they have nothing to do about the summoning. It must have cost quite a lot, by the way.”
Ran appeared relaxed and carefree, it ired the priest to no end. He didn’t even realise that Ran was playing with him. Every single expression on his face was carefully observed and analysed by the young woman.
“It must have been hard to get those resources and move in secret. Especially in troubled times,” Kan Yune flinched and Ran smiled, “If this is really a troubled time, of course.”
The priest pursed his lips and his face turned a shade whiter. The more Ran talked, the more delighted she became. All those hours binge-watching investigation TV shows about micro-expressions finally bore their fruits.
Ran went on, “Such expensive and secretive operations, I don’t believe…” Ran suddenly laughed out loud, “Trying to commit suicide?” She squatted in front of him and lightly tapped on his lower jaw, “You were so caught up in the moment that you didn’t feel it was loose. Do you really believe I will let you an escape door? I extract and disrupted most of your mana just because I didn’t want you to detonate your mana.” She stared at him with some disdain, “Isn’t it fun to be the one in charge? Arrogance is the ruin of man.”
Ran stood up and towered over him. She lifted his chin up and cradled his head in her hands, “Do you want to talk yourself?”
Kan Yune spat on her in defiance. Her expression sobered up, she had let go of her smiling face.
“Naughty kid ought to be punished. I won’t kill you. I won’t hurt you. I’ll take your mind and slowly erase you. I’ll take your memories, feelings, your very soul.” She leaned in close, almost until her nose touched his, “I’ll take everything that makes you, you. That makes you human. I’ll tear every single strand of your self and feast on them. I’ll let you just enough consciousness to be aware through all of this. Then, when you’ll be just an empty shell, I’ll turn you into an obedient little puppet and parade you under the nose of your former boss. What do you think?”
Kan Yune didn’t believe it. He didn’t want to believe in what she said, “... You’re bluffing…”
Ran brushed her nose against his. She whispered, “Let’s find out.”
Kan Yune felt a faint fragrance coming from Ran’s hands. His body became really comfortable and warm as if he was sinking into a deep, cosy, heated cloud. He couldn’t fight the numb feeling of cosiness. He breathed out in satisfaction and it startled him. His eyes opened wider in horror. He was still aware that it was wrong. He wanted to fight against the feeling. He wanted to shake himself out of this drowsiness. However, his body didn’t respond to him.
“Let… let go of… me,” he weakly said as he tried to put up a fight.
“This is just the beginning. Weren’t you looking forward to being turned into a puppet?”
Kan Yune became dizzy. He could feel the mana circulating out of him. He could feel himself getting weaker and weaker.
“Did you plan an ambush on the road?” Ran asked.
The priest’s eyes were unfocused, “Yes.”
“Did you staged the magical beasts’ attack?”
“No,” the priest answered obediently. Deep down, his heart was shocked and filled with terror.
“Do you have a way to take off the ring?”
“No,” the priest shivered.
“What’s your name?”
“My name is,” the priest paused. His face was tranquil, “XXXXX.”
As he uttered his true name, he sighed. Deep inside his soul, a secret seal shone and activated itself. His remaining mana stirred.
Ran rose an eyebrow as she felt the change inside his body, “Who gives you orders?”
A wave of power burst forth. Ran jolted away and stepped backwards. With a passed-out priest as its centre, a spiral of mana swirled around. Some blood seeped out of his lips. The blood travelled along his throat to his chest as if it was following a path. It made its way above his heart and drew a symbol. As soon as the symbol was done, the skin along its lines burnt and the seal carved itself in the priest’s flesh. Suddenly, a bright light came out from the seal. The light converged and formed a silhouette standing in front of the priest. The silhouette was blurry. It wore a long and dark robe with a large hood. It was impossible to distinguish the features of the one inside it.
“It is I who give orders,” a deep and monotone voice sounded.
Ran smiled warmly, “Finally!”
Even though Ran couldn’t see it, she was sure the silhouette frowned. She smirked, “Nice to meet you.”
The silhouette remained silent. Ran went back to her seat and observed the one in front of her. “I really wanted to meet the one who dared summoned me here. You have guts.”
“I am obviously nowhere near your level. Daring to mess with my plans and kill my subordinates,” the silhouette said.
“You killed the priest yourself. As for the rest, it was only legitimate defence,” Ran shrugged.
“Impudent! Who do you think you are talking to? I will make you regret your actions,” the voice replied coldly.
“I doubt it… Your Highness.”
The silhouette startled.
Ran snorted, “You think that everyone is as dumb and incompetent as you? Let me guess, in fighting for the throne?” Even with all the mystery, Ran could see that she stuck bull-eye. “Maybe even… expanding territory.” Ran laughed, “Who knows? Maybe you made an enemy ally and want to use us for undercover missions.”
“YOU-” the voice trembled.
Ran’s face sunk and her brows furrowed. She was talking nonsense just now and she was actually right. The more she thought about it, the angrier she became. They actually hauled her all the way here to be the dog of a secret organisation.
“You really have guts!” Ran was seething with rage. “I can tolerate the whole liberation bullshit, but this!”
The silhouette sneered, “So what? You are fated to be a dog under my command. You think that just because you made a mess there, you will be able to get free yourself?”
Ran’s aura and killing intent exploded. She hated being schemed against. She hated, even more, being forced. She stood up, the chair under her shattered. She rooted herself in front of the silhouette. If there was a physical body, she would have shredded it on the spot.
She tried to rein her temper in, “I’ll let it slide this once. You’ll go your way, I’ll go mine. You don’t bother me and I won’t tear your face apart.”
“You think I will let you go after such a loss. Even torture won’t be enough to make you pay me back.”
Ran snorted, “A stupid princess who thinks she’s smart.” She saw the silhouette take a small step back, “Only an idiot wouldn’t be able to see through your stupid disguise. Tell me, princess, how are you going to find me?” A ring appeared in her palm, “With this?” She let the ring fall to the floor. “Maybe, you’ll be my face on a wanted poster?”
She tilted her face to the side. As she moved, her features changed. Her hair bleached into a sunny blond. Her eyes grew larger and turned green. Her skin whitened and her features matched a Scandinavian beauty. The air around her change, even the mana fluctuation through her body was different. The fair head was extremely discordant with her original body.
The silhouette was stunned at first and rage took her over, “YOU SLUT!” How was she supposed to find her now? When she thought about how much she invested in this project, how much she bet on it… “I will find you! Wherever you are! I will find you and I will tear you apart! You and the rest of your people! We will NEVER let you go! We will hunt you down like dogs. We will make you regret messing with us!”
Ran narrowed her eyes, “We? Then, come, I’m waiting” She opened her arms wide, “Come and get me, Bitch!”