“I heard you promised to increase the number of security guards? They’re enough, actually, I don’t need them.”

Ashmia tapped Vanessa’s arm.

“Vanessa, for me, you’re enough.
They don’t know, do they?”

“Miss…”

Ashmia smiled and continued speaking to Vanessa who was moved by her words.

“Oh, and…”

“Yes, Miss!”

“Can you give it to me?”

“Huh? What?”

“The car keys.
I’ll drive from now on.”

Vanessa quickly handed the car keys to Ashmia with a blushing face.

***

“Oh, Miss.”

“Yes, what?”

“I apologise, but may I ask when you started driving so well?!”

Ashmia smoothly cornered the roundabout.

“…D-Did you think I was just sleeping in the back seat every day? I learned a bit by watching you over your shoulder when you were driving.”

She thought it was an absurd excuse when she said it, but Vanessa, who was in the passenger seat, said with a twinkle in her eyes.

“You’re amazing! Then, maybe that’s the Lady’s ability?!”

“What? It can’t be.”

Ashmia laughed as if it was ridiculous.

It’s just because I’ve been driving for twenty years.

“I heard that you have the ability to imitate what you see right away!”

“You mean a copycat? It’s not like that.
I just have some talent.”

“But, if you don’t know your powers, why don’t you go to the Supernatural Powers Bureau when you have time?”

As Vanessa kept talking about it, Ashmia became more and more curious.
Was Ashmia Kalanishiel normal, or was she capable? If she was of Kalanishiel’s bloodline, it was most likely that she was, of course, capable of having powers, but Ashmia was listed as normal at the time of her death.

Ashmia stayed at home all the time, so she didn’t have a chance to awaken, but now that I survived it wouldn’t be bad to go where Vanessa suggested.

“Alright, when the time comes.”

“But the police won’t catch us, will they? You’re driving without a license.”

In the Empire, one could get a driver’s license at the age of eighteen.

“Don’t worry.
If you were the one driving, it would be more likely for us to get caught by the police.”

“I’m sorry…”

Ashmia giggled and turned the steering wheel.
The streets from seven years ago were strangely unfamiliar and new.
She may not be able to walk the streets as Michael Rose anymore, but the fact that Ashmia could see those streets again made her a little happier.

For a moment, forgetting yesterday’s terrible death and accident, Ashmia enjoyed the scent of the city coming through the open car window.

***

Ashmia’s safety house was located in a luxury residential area a little far from the city center.
To be precise, the picturesque mansions were lined up here and there, enough to be called a luxurious area.
When she was Michael Rose, it was a place she had never gone to and never had the chance to visit.

“Wow!”

Although it was relatively small, knowing it was her own house, Ashmia exclaimed involuntarily at the sight of the magnificent gothic-style mansion.

“What’s wrong?”

“Huh? No, it’s nothing.”

How is it supposed to be a safe house when it is so gorgeous? It stands out.

While Ashmia was thinking, the garage shutter roared open.
When she got out of the car after parking it skilfully, the eyes of two maids who opened the shutter widened.

“Y-You’re back.”

“Yes, I am.”

She waved lightly to the maids who were embarrassed but still greeted her at a ninety degree bow.
Ashmia handed them the car keys, climbed the stairs of the garage and walked out to the garden.

There, a woman who had her hair gathered and tied up neatly, was waiting at the front door.
She bowed her head towards Ashmia.

“Are you back, Ashmia?”

“Mhm.
Have you been well, Claudia?”

“Yes, but something happened to you.
It could’ve been a big problem.
Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.”

Ashmia walked inside through the front door which was opened by the maid.
She was surprised to see the special room of St.
Catherine’s Hospital, but Ashmia’s mouth fell open when she saw the interior of the incomparably wide and splendid mansion.

“I’m back.”

It was when she greeted the maids gathered in the drawing room as she was about to go up the stairs.

“Huh?!”

Vanessa hurriedly helped Ashmia who almost collapsed due to a sudden weakness in her legs.

“Are you okay?”

“Oh, yes.
I must be a little tired.”

Is this the aftermath of yesterday’s accident? Or because I drove for a bit? How weak is this body…?

Upon arriving in her room with Vanessa’s help, Ashmia said as soon as she sat on the bed.

“Please, warm up the bath water.”

“I knew you would want one so I prepared it in advance.”

In ‘Ashmia’s memories’, this maid named Claudia was a competent woman who always seemed to read Ashmia’s thoughts.
In addition, she was also educated enough to serve as  Ashmia’s tutor.
The only downside was that Claudia seemed so perfect that sometimes Ashmia felt as if she wasn’t human.

And in ‘Michael’s memories’, there was not much information because she was Ashmia’s maid, and Michael didn’t exactly know what happened to her after Ashmia’s death.

“Thanks.”

Ashmia answered with a smile and headed towards the bathroom.

***

Ashmia felt as if her fatigue was relieved the second she soaked her body in the warm water.

At first, she was so embarrassed that she couldn’t even go to the bathroom because of her gender change.
Fortunately, after realizing that whether it was going to the bathroom, changing her clothes, or bathing like she did now, she felt comfortable knowing that if she left her body to the original Ashmia, she would take care of it.

First of all, what I have to do is…

Above all, it was to develop physical strength.

I can’t do anything with this body.

No matter how much Vanessa said she would protect Ashmia, she should be able to protect herself as well.

“…Great.”

Having organized her thoughts, Ashmia got out of the bathtub.
After changing her clothes and drying her hair with the help of her maids, Ashmia called Vanessa into her room.

“Vanessa.”

“Yes, my Lady.”

Ashmia motioned for Vanessa to come closer.
She took a few steps closer to Vanessa, who was only two meters away.
Vanessa’s face turned a little red at the slightly burdensome distance.

“L…Lady?”

Ashmia held up her index finger in front of her lips.

“Quiet.”

Then, she slowly traced Vanessa’s body, starting with her neck and her shoulders.
Her armpits, arms, wrists, chest, waist, belly, groin, knees, calves to shins.
After that, she gestured again to take her shoes off.

Ashmia ran out of strength trying to remove the heel of Vanessa’s shoe, so she had Vanessa take it off herself.
After all checks were done, Ashmia pulled Vanessa down slightly so she could whisper in her ear.

“I’m sorry.
I didn’t doubt you.”

Ashmia whispered to Vanessa, who was still embarrassed by Ashmia’s sudden behaviour.

“I’m going to search the room now.
You know what a wiretap bug* looks like, right?”

tl/n: a tiny microphone that can be hidden either on or under clothes and furniture, often used by a third party to monitor communications to investigate someone

Vanessa nodded.

Stand lights, tables, chairs, various picture frames, vases, under beds and mattresses.
After completing her search, Ashmia sat down in her chair and looked at Vanessa.

“Sit down.”

Vanessa sat across from Ashmia, who opened her mouth to speak in a low voice with an expression full of doubts.

“I think we have a ‘rat’* in our family.”

tl/n: rat = snitch

Vanessa was about to say something out of surprise, but Ashmia put her index finger on her lips again.

“I can’t explain what happened yesterday unless the information was leaked.”

The family event was basically once a month, but the date was randomly assigned by Richard each time.

Even if he didn’t change it and they continued to lurk around for a month at the previous location, it was impossible to find the exact location of Ashmia’s car in the middle of the city, which was not even close to the Black Lion’s mansion.
Ashmia’s car, license plate, and route to the Black Lion’s mansion were different each time.

“And yet the bomb truck drove straight towards us.”

As if they already knew where she was supposed to be, without a doubt.

Vanessa nodded with a serious look.

“Once again, I trust you, Vanessa.
I hope you didn’t misunderstand me.
I was afraid that someone else may have played a prank on you.”

“I didn’t misunderstand.
Thank you for trusting me!”

Vanessa’s loyalty was real.
Ashmia could tell just by looking at how Vanessa protected her from the huge explosion yesterday, and there was no doubt about Vanessa in ‘Ashmia’s memories’.

In other words, Vanessa was the only one Ashmia could trust now.

“Father will try to catch the ‘rat’ first before anyone else.
My older sister and brothers too.
Then, the whole family will be in chaos.”

“I-I guess.”

“Instead, the mess will strengthen their vigilance, so the person who tried to assassinate me probably won’t be able to target me for a while.
So, I need to do some work in the meantime.”

“Like what?”

“Training.”

Vanessa’s eyes widened in surprise at Ashmia’s words.

“You should train me, Vanessa.”

“Huh?!”

“I trust you, but I’m so weak that there will be a limit to how much you can protect me.”

Of course, Michael Rose was able to use various martial art skills that police officers had to learn, and he was good at street fighting, but it was impossible to imitate those movements with Ashmia’s body who grew up as a houseplant.
It was also clear that even if she could, it was going to arouse suspicions if she suddenly imitated those skills with that weak body.

Although her first goal was to develop her stamina, she needed to learn martial arts while being trained by Vanessa in order to have an alibi.

“Alright!”

“Oh, and one more thing.”

Ashmia said.

“I’m going to learn horseback riding.”

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