Frankly speaking, Rhode felt strange about the whole situation too. Although Anne had always been optimistic and vivacious, she knew how to read body language and had never bothered others persistently. But now, it seemed that something was amiss. But what was the reason behind it?
"I understand now."
"I'll check on Anne in awhile."
Rhode heard the opinion and views of the others regarding Anne. But the more he listened, the more unusual the situation became. Marlene was one who complained the most about Anne because the latter would always look to play with her everyday. But Marlene couldn't find the time as she had too many matters on hand. If it was Anne in the past, she would've left obediently after being rejected. But now, for some unknown reasons, she kept forcing Marlene to accompany her and even retaliated when Marlene disagreed, leaving Marlene in a headache.
Lapis had more grumbles on her side. Usually Anne would sit beside her and watch curiously, which Lapis had gotten used to. But now, Anne often pestered her over the various objects in the alchemy workshop and touched those that she shouldn't, leaving everyone speechless.
Even Christie, who was closest to Anne, expressed her concerns. Although Anne wasn't as headstrong and mischievous as when she messed with Marlene and Lapis, Christie sharply sensed that Anne appeared rather impetuous and distracted as though holding in something unbearable.
On the other hand, Canary and Mini Bubble Gum had also detected Anne's strange behaviors. Canary wasn't that familiar with Anne, but she tactfully informed Rhode that the others didn't seem willing to be around Anne. On the contrary, Mini Bubble Gum bluntly hit the nail on the head. She pointed out that Anne was mentally unsound as though she had taken some wrong medication. However, both of them guaranteed that Anne definitely wasn't under any curse or spell that manipulated her body. Of course, it had nothing to do with the time of the month for a female.
Randolf and Joey indicated that Anne used to join the mercenaries for drinks in the afternoon, but she avoided them now. If the mercenaries greeted her, she would respond unkindly and slip away-a drastic difference from her usual behavior.
It seems that the situation is grave.
Got to say, even Rhode felt strange after gathering all the information. According to everyone, Anne was totally behaving like another person. If it weren't for Canary and Mini Bubble Gum's guarantee, Rhode would think that Anne was under some sort of black magic. But now, since she wasn't affected by any curses or spells and it had nothing to do with a female's physiological response, what was the exact cause?
Seeing was believing. Rhode decided to check her out personally.
Perhaps because Anne realized that her behavior was disruptive to others, she had been locking herself up in her room and basically wouldn't come out unless for food.
When Rhode arrived at her room, he heard some banging behind the thick, locked door. He knitted his brows and knocked. The noises in the room stopped and Anne responded.
"Who is it?"
"Anne, it's me."
Anne's voice went up by an octave and another burst of thumps sounded as though someone was tearing down a house. After a few moments, the door unlocked and Anne peered out with a worried expression.
"Can I go in?"
Anne hesitated, but nodded and opened the door.
Rhode instantly spotted the source of the noises in her room. It was a whole clutter of mess. The bed beside the wall had been shifted to the middle while the slanted wardrobe laid by the window. Even though the table and chairs were scattered all around, he knew that this was Anne's perception on tidying up her room. Those who didn't know would have believed that her room had been ransacked.
"What are you doing?"
Rhode frowned and questioned. Anne revealed an awkward smile.
"This... Leader, Anne is tidying up the room, but the room is too messy... By the way, Leader, want some tea? Or alcohol? Anne has some delicious drinks from the merchants. By the way..." Anne skipped over the pile of 'junk' and flipped through the contents of a cabinet, which released some clanking sounds. Rhode's suspicions had gotten deeper.
Anne had always been the most cheerful member of Starlight Guild. But her liveliness was more like an atmosphere that she brought with her. She was like the morning sun and a smile from her would relax one's mind. In fact, Anne wasn't that talkative and didn't like meddling in others' affairs. However, her behaviors now... Mini Bubble Gum was rather right with her description. Anne just couldn't stop moving as she spoke like she would die if she didn't move an inch.
What exactly is going on?
The doubts in Rhode's heart grew deeper. He finally realized why Marlene, Lize, and Christie were confused about Anne's condition. He believed that he understood Anne well, but what was the cause of this sudden transformation? He couldn't remember anything that was capable of affecting her this way.
Rhode waved his hand.
"It's not necessary, Anne. I'm not here for tea with you."
"Eh? Leader... You don't want to be with Anne?!"
Anne put down the items in her hands and turned around abruptly. She stared at Rhode with her emerald-green eyes and Rhode discovered that something was amiss. Her pupils shrunk into a thin black line instantly and an unprecedented, dangerous aura emanated aggressively from her as though a hungry wolf widened its mouth and flashed its shimmering, razor-sharp teeth.
Rhode positioned himself for self-defense and at this moment, Anne felt a shiver and took half a step back as though she had woken up from her sleep. Along with this movement, the omnipresent enmity gradually vanished and she lowered her head apologetically.
"S-Sorry... Leader, Anne didn't mean to..."
"I know, Anne."
Rhode let out a sigh. It seemed that the overwhelming emotions had failed to manipulate her. Rhode stepped forward to console her. But before his hand patted her shoulder, she shrunk and took a step back hurriedly.
"S-Sorry... Leader. Anne... Anne doesn't know why... Anne knows that Anne has been feeling uncomfortable... And Anne feels terrible without doing something... Anne also knows that everyone doesn't like Anne behaving like this. Everyone seems to hate Anne now, so Anne hides in the room... But... But..."
Anne lifted her head and her emerald-green eyes were full of uncertainty and fear.
"Leader, is Anne sick and can't recover from it? Anne has also seen a mercenary become like this in the past. He was a great person, but he slowly became hot-tempered and often bad-mouthed others. In the end... he even tried to harm his companions. Back then, the leader killed him and he told Anne that the man was ill in his head and couldn't be cured. The leader had no choice but to kill him... Is Anne also..."
"Don't let your imagination run wild, Anne."
Rhode frowned and knocked on her head.
"You'll get such an illness the more you think about it. Don't worry, you won't harm anyone here with me around. I will think of a way, so just be yourself like how you always do."
The panicky young lady calmed down and nodded to Rhode.
But neither of them saw the indistinct green radiance flashing in her eyes.