Chapter 107 – Mireia’s Visit

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She must have come on her lunch hour. The clock tower bell had tolled Noon shortly before she arrived.

I knew how I looked to Mireia: a pitiful girl sitting in a tub, drenched from head to toe, clutching the bodice of my tea gown to my chest as a wolfkin maid continuously scooped water and poured it on me.

But reality is one thing. Pride is another. I did my best to act as if things were perfectly normal. Of course, I was looking over my shoulder to see her, so my bare, inflamed back was in full view.

She looked quite shocked, and stared at me for several seconds before the head guard said, “What is your business here, young lady?”

With a blink, she turned to him, approached the guard desk where he sat, and curtseyed. “I’m with the student council. We were asked to pass Her Ladyship an evaluation exam for Mathematics which she was unable to take this morning.”

“Bring it here. We’ll put it with her possessions.”

Mireia hovered uncertainly for a couple seconds, then persisted. “She needs to take the exam, Sir. I’m to bring the completed answers back with me.”

She had a small basket hanging from her arm. I guessed that she intended to eat her lunch while I took the test.

“My supervisor has to approve it before we can give it to her.”

She looked uncertain, but nodded and approached the desk. She extracted a sheet from her writing case and gave it to him. Without looking at it, he tossed it into a wire basket on his desk. After a momentary frown, she turned and walked toward my cell.

“No visits without authorization,” the head guard snapped.

She froze, but then seemed to summon her courage before looking over her shoulder. She said, with a puzzled tone, “The student council has permanent authorization to visit detained students. Have you received any instructions that this has changed?”

With a begrudging tone, he groused, “Ten minutes.”

She still had a perplexed look– I presume she found their behavior strange as well– but she turned back to me and advanced to the bars. As she took her skirt in hand to curtsey, the guard barked, “Stay behind the yellow line!”

With a slight jump in reaction, she stepped back, then curtseyed. “My Lady, your condition appears quite serious. May I cast [Heal] on you?”

“You can’t cast magic in this cell,” I told her. “They have anti-magic countermeasures in here.”

She frowned and shook her head. “It looks quite severe though. Why haven’t you had it treated?”

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I gave a tired laugh. “I could have already healed it myself if I weren’t in this cell.”

Her eyes grew wide again. “But you’ve only been here since yesterday?”

It was a condition that shouldn’t have just developed overnight. If I were human, that is.

“You do know I’m not human, correct?”

“Yes, you’re half vampire,” she nodded, but insisted, “but even a half-human would not get this bad so quickly!”

I explained, “I’m not half-human either. More importantly, I’m part naiad. This cell is starving me of water mana, so my body is rapidly drying out. This little bath isn’t enough to sustain me.”

She looked troubled, but she pressed her lips together. “Well, I will let the student council know about it.”

“Wait,” I said, and stood, surprising Genette. She got out of my way as I stepped out of the tub. It took some time to accomplish, since I had to keep the wet dress from dragging and catching on the rim.

“Young Mistress?” Genette asked, puzzled.

Ignoring her, I strode to the bars, still clutching my gown to my chest. The wet garment was clinging to my body, but I ignored the leering smiles of the men appreciating the result. I was rapidly getting colder and too busy tolerating that fact to care.

Mireia looked wary of me. I spoke to her in a lower voice. “Mireia, will you help me?”

Her troubled look increased. Her brow bunched up, as she pulled her head back slightly. In a stiff tone, she answered, “I will certainly tell them about your back, My Lady, but I have no reason to do any more than that. The reason you’re in that cell is all over the school.”

I raised my chin a little. “Based on the way you said that, I suspect whatever reason you’ve heard is false. The real reason wouldn’t make someone refuse to help me.”

“The entire school is terrified right now! Do you deny the vampire attacks started after you arrived in Copen?”

The frightened girl from before had acquired some backbone. Did the jail bars help?

“I have heard so,” I admitted. “Did they stop when I was imprisoned?”

“Of course not!”

That was the last answer I expected. “What? They didn’t stop?”

“Of course they didn’t stop! Your thralls are still out there, attacking girls!”

I stared and asked, “My what?”

“Your vampire thralls!”

I felt a headache coming on. “Vampire thralls are fictional, Miss Mireia. There is no such thing as a vampire thrall.”

It’s a distorted misunderstanding of blood bondage. Blood slaves do gain some powers from their master, but they do not acquire the  ability to grow fangs and feed. Nor do they have any need to, because they’re not monsters. It would defeat the point of blood bondage if they became monsters.

She looked utterly unconvinced, of course. I had forgotten that commoner mortals learn all sorts of superstitious nonsense.

“Well then,” she stated as if preparing to bid me goodbye, “as I cannot monitor your test, I have no purpose here.”

Rather than reciprocating by bidding her good day, I said, “Miss Mireia, before you go, I should like to know what you have been doing with my fiancé.”

Her eyes grew wary. “Your… fiancé?”

“Prince Roderick.”

She grew wary again. “So… you are…”

“Please tell me, Miss Mireia. I have a right to know.”

She insisted, “I have not done anything with him! He simply tried to protect me!”

“From what?”

Her lips pressed tightly together.

“I should like to know. I’ve had people ask me if I’m angry, and I don’t even know what it is I’m supposed to be angry about. Or even whether it is anything I would have a right to be angry about. Please tell me.”

She shook her head, now perplexed. “You’re waiting for the provincial guard to take you away, and you’re worrying about some stupid rumors about me?”

I’m waiting for what?

“I should very much like to hear about that too, but first, what am I supposed to be angry about, Miss Mireia?”

“It’s nothing!”

“It is most certainly not ‘nothing’, or I would have heard nothing,” I pointed out, keeping my tone reasonable.

After pressing her lips together for a moment, she answered, “A couple girls didn’t like a commoner being on the council. But they made a mistake while harassing me after the first meeting. I was knocked unconscious and injured. His Highness became concerned and made me stay close to him, for my protection.”

Her tone was losing the confidence of a student council representative and becoming a frustrated schoolgirl. But she’d told me all I needed to know. I could fill in plenty of details between what she said and how these stories normally roll.

Rod, you charged in without thinking again, didn’t you? No wonder Amelia said Mireia’s problems were your fault.

Her brows wrinkled up and in hurt tones she declared,”The next thing I knew, everyone in school was claiming that I’m trying to sleep with him!”

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The corner of my lip curled slightly. “So, tell me, Miss Mireia. Are you trying to sleep with my fiancé?”

“Of course not!” she flared. “I’m a proper maiden, My Lady!”

I nodded. “I can believe that. So the rumors about you are false, right?”

“Of course!”

Then I raised my eyebrows and tilted my head. “But it seems the rumors about me can only be true? That’s rather unfair of you, don’t you think?”

Her breath caught, and her dander disappeared. “I’m not saying that. I’m only saying…”

“I can’t see how you’re saying anything else!” Genette snapped, interrupting her.

I feared the imminent return of the street rat whom I woke up to. Genette went through a rough orphan childhood on the riverfronts of Pendor before Mother took an interest in her.

“Genette,” I told her. “Please retire for a moment.”

“Yes, Young Mistress,” she answered primly, and stepped away, retreating to a corner of the cell. I didn’t know if her wolfkin ears could pick up our conversation or not, but I wanted to at least provide the illusion of privacy for Mireia.

She now wore a conflicted look. I was shivering, but I managed a dignified manner by main force. In a quieter voice, I stated, “Miss Mireia, I’m not a villainess and I am not from any kind of story.”

Well, at least I’m not from a shoujo title.

She blinked, her face filling with astonishment. I repeated, “I’m not a villainess and this is not a game, nor is it a romance book.”

“How…” Only one word came out, but one word that confirmed my theory about her.

“Miss Mireia, do you know anyone who comes from a different world?”

Such as yourself?

Her eyes became wider. “How do you know about that?”

“It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you know about it. And it matters that perhaps, in that other world, you read stories about people transmigrating into games or stories too?”

Her mouth fell open.

“And you know that your situation looks like a typical protagonist in those stories, I suspect.”

“So you… are also…”

She didn’t finish her sentence, but I nodded. Her lips parted a bit as she continued her confounded stare.

- my thoughts:

There is no paywall. Chapters unlock near midnight (Texas time) on a M-W-F schedule.

Not the end of the scene. It went too long for a single chapter. I was tempted to keep it together and post the longest chapter to date, but I thought it also worked well to pause here. つづく

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