Ch A: More Than Just a Maid
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I took a deep breath. I needed to be quick about finding her. I could not falter in my steps to secure the target. The doors to the hall opened. I stepped in quickly and stiffly, my eyes scanning the room for the correct person. There. Silver hair, and fairly short. It would have been hard to miss her. Perhaps I might have worried too much. I hastily approached her and made eye contact.

“Greetings Miss, I will be your personal servant for the duration of your stay. My name is Agnes, call me whenever you desire.”

I made sure to provide no emotion in those words. The Miss seemed to eye me with satisfaction. It seemed my superior was right in the type of servant she desired. Internally, I was glad, for it was quite repulsive to think about acting overly casual with someone you just met. Especially if I were to play the part of a maid. Some of my fellow servants did not adhere to these preconceived notions, though I guess their clients did not mind. Perhaps my superior manipulated more variables than just my assignment. I would not doubt him to do so.

When I lead the Miss to a small changing room and held up attire, she hesitated. How inconsiderate of me, I had nearly forgotten one of the most crucial details of this mission. The Miss was not used to her own body. It seems I had made a slight mishap, but I efficiently turned it into a test for the Miss. Part of the assignment was to assist her in familiarizing herself with her newfound vessel. I figured I would take a slightly forceful approach in this conversation, to urge her past what I considered one of the first great boundaries in such an experience. Yes, I had no experience of such an event in my own days, but it was easy to theorize how one would feel after such an occurrence. The conversation went like this:

“Miss, is there something wrong with this attire?”

“Well, no, but…”

“If that is the case, then I must politely ask that you get changed immediately.”

I handed the clothes to her. She seemed to shrink into the corner of the room, by the mirror. She addressed me.

“Um… if you wouldn’t mind, could you turn around while I change?”

It seems the Miss was uncomfortable with me looking at her body. That is something that I will need to do eventually, but for the sake of her self-initiation, I will comply with her request, in the hopes that it helps her adapt.

“…Of course.”

I looked at the door we entered through. The Miss was beautiful, so I did not doubt that she was examining herself in the mirror. …She was taking a larger portion of time than I expected though, so I provided an audio cue, in the form of clearing my throat, that she would surely pick up on as a sign to hurry up. And she did.

Looking at her newly dressed form, I can safely say that I picked colors that matched her appearance quite well. Something that caused me to examine her closer than I had intended though, was her mana flow. Since learning to awaken my ability to see such a thing, I had become familiar with labeling certain flows to certain types of people. However, this one was peculiar. It was one I had not seen before. Usually there was one consistent current that would flow in a specific direction around the body. The Miss looked to have two different ones. They were going at different speeds, but the same direction. I wonder what that meant? I decided to pocket the questioning for later, as there was no use in wasting time any further.

--

I was standing by the Miss’s room later that day when she slowly peeked her head out to provide some conversation.

“Agnes, you don’t need to stand there.”

I see. If my superior was correct in describing the Miss’s personality, then this was a test. I answered accordingly.

“Miss, I am obligated to stand by you for when you need my assistance.”

“…Not to be rude, I’m simply curious, but would you do so if I ordered you away?”

“I would remain here, Miss.”

“Please, call me Ren. I’m uncomfortable with the ‘Miss.’”

The Miss granted permission to use her name. It was an advance that I was secretly proud of, but I did not allow it to show on my face. It would be indecent. Of course, I already knew her name, thanks to my superior, but immediately stating it would seem suspicious and rude. I answered her.

“If you desire it, I shall call you Miss Ren.”

“Aaah, no ‘Miss’, please. If you need to grant me a title just call me Hero.”

Obviously, Miss Ren wanted me to avoid addressing her current gender, and I wish I could have avoided doing so, but my mission forced me to say otherwise. I could only hope she accept her new body quickly. I purposefully gave an answer seperate from the one she desired.

“As you wish, Miss Hero.”

In the end, I ended up calling her Miss Ren, and came to be familiar with calling her such a title.

--

I watched as she tripped and fell on her face yet again. Miss Ren was currently dashing back and forth across Amaz’s Field, and she had been doing it for a sizable portion of time. It had been approximately three hours, since she started. I was intently watching her, tracing her intriguing mana flow, when my companion spoke up.

“So, she hasn’t stopped?”

“No, she has not. I fear she may overexert herself in her attempts to get stronger.”

“Fret not, Agnes, she’s a strong one.”

“Even in a different body, sir?”

I glanced upwards at him. He met my cold gaze with one of his own.

“From our battles, I could feel her intense desire to win. If the girl continues to follow her own standards, then she will not stray from the path that I have predicted for her.”

I looked to Miss Ren again. Now she was zigzagging like some sort of crazed rodent. At this distance, it would be difficult to tell for the normal person, but she had an aura of complete focus on her training. She had a drive that I’ve never seen before. I wonder if it was thoughts about her home that caused her demeanor to become like this.

“Sir, I have a question for you that I’ve been meaning to ask.”

“Ask.”

“Why did you assign me specifically to this task? I’m sure there are much more capable units at your disposal. Compared to some senior officers, I’ve only been working under you for under a decade.”

“Agnes, you underestimate your own skills. And, if I dare prod into your conscious, she acts a bit like her, does she not? I figured you would take a liking to the Miss simply because of that.”

“…As much as I hate to admit it sir, you are right. Though, did you also do this to challenge me?”

“…Perhaps. Just be sure not to get too attached. You’ll have to separate eventually.”

“I know, sir.”

He walked away. I continued looking at Miss Ren a little while longer.

--

I assisted Miss Ren as much as I could in getting her used to her new body. I helped her bathe, keep herself tidy, fit clothes, chose outfits, and a multitude of other things. I consoled her through that time of the month and educated her on the expectations of a woman in Gresia. Miss Ren always didn’t directly express it, but I could feel the gratitude radiating from her with every step of the way. It is embarrassing to admit it, but I rather enjoyed the process of taking care of Miss Ren. She reminded me of her. My superior had said it himself. With no one to properly raise either of the two girls, I took on the task of doing so. Now, I have been acquainted with Miss Ren a drastically lesser time than I had been with her, but I dare say that a potential bond, one similar in nature, was forming. It worried me a bit. I’m going to have to let another one go.

--

If there was one thing Miss Ren was prone to, it was surprising me. On one specific occasion, she asked me to teach her to dance. I fear I may have let loose a bit of my surprise, but I obliged with her request. I don’t usually use such words, but she was… cute in the way she stumbled and struggled with her steps. It made me smile against my will. These lessons continued on for more than just one session, something I was not opposed to, as I found them to be quite enjoyable.

Miss Ren was developing fast, and not just in dancing. I could tell that she had been training rigorously over the month. She looked more toned and her eyes were resolute. She would often fall asleep reading various books of magical knowledge. She was able to apply her binder by herself now, and when she needed to get into a dress, such as a dinner with some of the New Heroes, she did not complain as she used to. When she bathed and looked at herself in the mirror, the blushes were less prevalent. It was clear that she was adapting quickly. It was astounding to see her mental growth in such a short period of time. It provided a sort of bittersweet happiness for me. Like a mother when she sends her child off into the adult world.

Something that was very difficult to break down was Miss Ren’s entire concept of her situation. I could tell by the fluctuation of her voice, her maneuvers, and other small factors, that she only viewed her current body as a temporary vessel. She was familiar with it, sure, but she refused to accept it as her own. It was obvious that she stubbornly denied any close affiliation with the body she was in. For example, when one would complement her pretty appearance, Miss Ren shrugged it off and never acknowledged such compliments. I could only theorize that she felt it wasn’t meant for her. It was understandable, she was physically a male in her previous body, and I suppose being the target of praise like that would be foreign to her. It pained me to think it, but Miss Ren probably viewed her body as a curse. I wasn’t particularly religious, but her hair was silver, and I was almost sure that meant something of importance in the Church’s religion. My superior once stated that Miss Ren was previously a First Hero, so assuming that she held knowledge of the facts regarding her silver hair was not out of place. Even if she was unaware, I am sure someone will tell her eventually.

--

It was the last week of the month. Miss Ren was acting… a bit distant. She avoided conversation with her fellow Heroes, and she seldom talked to me. I found that she was escaping out of her window in order to avoid general formalities with other people. On one such morning where she had escaped from me, a certain individual came up to me as I was tending to her room.

“Hello, hello? Ren, that person is here, yes?”

I looked towards the voice. The voice belonged to a tan man with short and messy black hair. His eyes were hazel, and he seemed to be generally lost. His attire was beige and simple, though he looked to have multiple medals regarding some sort of military achievements. Why was a man of this quality seeking Miss Ren? I answered his question.

“Miss Ren is currently unavailable, but I can relay a message to her if you’d like.”

“Not here? My my, unfortunate this is, yes yes. To take her to a meal, I was planning. To talk to her about books, I was willing, yes.”

The way this man was speaking made me think that he was foreign. It was a peculiar way of speech, but what was important is what he was saying.

“If I may inquire you, sir, how do you know of Miss Ren?

“Bumped into me near the Tower Library, she did, yes. Scurried far, no time to talk to her, superfast, she was. Hollered her name, said to find her, she said, yes.”

Miss Ren encountered this man. Interesting.

“And your name, sir?”

“My my! Rude, that is me, yes. Apologies I shall give. House Dunri, 3rd heir, I am. Releth Dunri, my name is that, yes.”

An heir to House Dunri has business with Miss Ren. House Dunri was the leading house in the country of Sha-Kalashka. They are based in an intense desert, and the residents are a different breed of human that have bodies that deal with the scorching heat. Going by Miss Ren’s recent attitude, I decided to turn him away for now. It seems she is focused on something much more important.

“Sir Dunri, I will relay your message to Miss Ren, but I must turn you away for now.”

“Unfortunate, yes, that is. To go home today, the plan is. But Ren, I want to meet again, yes, that you must tell her, I plead.”

“Of course, Sir Dunri, have a safe trip home.”

“Home, you get safely too, I hope.”

I’m already in my current residence, but I politely decided not to point that out. I decided to not tell Miss Ren of that meeting. I figured that the time would be more appropriate after the fight with the Elves.

--

It was a chaotic night, and I was currently in Miss Ren’s room with my superior.

“You don’t know where the girl is?”

He sipped on tea that had long been cold. Miss Ren didn’t drink any this morning.

“Sir, with all due respect, even I couldn’t predict that Miss Ren would attack the Church. Her whereabouts are a mystery to me.”

“This falls within the range of the path I predicted, but I never expected her to be so drastic in her efforts. Were there any clues you picked up? A change in the way she acted?”

“Well, this entire week, she seemed more distant to the people around her than usual. She was even sneaking away from my detection. I only knew it was her bombs because they were laced with traces of her mana.”

“Even so, they were harmless. I wish they had been actual bombs.”

“Sir, you seem to not like the Church.”

“Agnes, this blasted Church has been a pain in my spine for too long. Now that the girl is known to be a failed soul, they will try to capture and reform her. If the girl had just waited, she would have been safe under my protection. She’s mauled the Pope, and they will only be hungrier for her presence.”

“She attacked the Pope? Miss Ren really did that?”

“Yes. I’ve yet to find out all the circumstances. I could only assume that she was pressured.”

He took another sip of the tea.

“Agnes, this tea is awfully cold, fetch me a fresh cup, would you?”

“Sir, that tea is from this morning. I have no access to any supplies because the Church has the entire castle on lockdown.”

“Ah yes, my apologies. You know, you play the part of a maid so well that I sometimes forget you are one of my subordinates. I must be a great instructor.”

I wasn’t exactly sure how I should respond to that, so I switched the subject back to Miss Ren.

“Truth be told, sir, I am concerned for Miss Ren. More than just her possible use as an asset. Regrettably, I’ve become attached.”

“…It was bound to happen, even with my warning. I assume that you want to chase her down? I’ll grant you the assignment if you continue to promote her growth.”

“Of course, I will do so with all my effort.”

“Then prepare to set off tomorrow morning. I will send you instructions to secure a way out of here. Do not disappoint.”

My superior got up from the bed and started to walk away.

“Sir?”

“Yes Agnes?”

“Thank you.”

Hello! Sorry again for the delay. Had a bit of a writing block, but here is Agnes' chapter. Daigo is next!

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