In the large gardens of the Hesia Palace, there was a greenhouse nearly twice the size of Calian’s room. It’s tall walls and high ceilings were all made entirely of glass and the greenhouse was filled with Ranieri leaves.
Unlike the strong perfume Silica adorned, this greenhouse had a much more fragrant, almost non-existent smell; after all, the mystical white Ranieri flowers only bloomed once throughout the year.
Within this greenhouse, there was a single table, with a white chair- and there sat Silica, beautiful as a painting.
However Lennon looked upon her and flinched, when her fierce eyes met his.
‘She’s in a bad mood again – though it’s understandable why,’
On the first day of the festival, the second prince, Franz had arrived at the festivities drunk and even though that had been enough to frustrate Silica to death, what angered her more was that despite two days having passed, no one even criticised Franz. Because of Calian, no one had even glanced at Franz – and that enraged Silica even more.
As a result, Lennon’s heart also sank. As soon as he had arrived, he had been planning to tell Silica about Alan Manasil’s arrival in Kyris, but he concluded that it would be better for him not to bring that up while the Queen was in a bad mood.
She would receive the news sooner or later, Lennon didn’t have to be the one to deliver the news and bear the reaction.
‘I’ll just give her the shoes and take my leave.’ Lennon signaled to the butler who was standing behind Silica with his eyes and the butler handed the gift box to the head maid.
The head maid opened the lid and lifted the box up for the Queen to see.
“What might this be?” Silica asked, gazing into the box even though she already knew the answer.
Inside the box were pale yellow heels that resembled the colour of Silica’s eyes. A large diamond was attached to the centre of the gold plate that adorned the shoes. Silica raised her brows ever so slightly upon inspecting the shoes. It meant that she was pleased.
“This is the diamond from Tensil that I mentioned to you previously, they found a diamond mine while constructing a canal, and this is one of the few products that has been made using the very first diamonds that have been mined. Is it to your liking?”
A moment later, Silica withdrew her gaze from the shoes and took a sip of her coffee,
“It is not bad at all,”
“I am very glad to hear that. Speaking of which, about the plan—”
Lennon closed his mouth in embarrassment. Having cut off Lennon’s sentence, Silica turned to look at the head maid. It was a sign that she was finished looking at the shoes.
Lennon’s face expression faltered slightly when he was interrupted by the Queen without having been offered even a word of thanks.
‘Does she even know how expensive they were?’
The head maid, however, was oblivious to Lennon’s thoughts. She showed her respect with a stoic face and retreated from the greenhouse with Lennon’s butler..
“It has already been two whole months. Why is there no change yet?” She spoke through gritted teeth and her fist, which had rested atop the table, closed into a fist.
Lennon was not surprised by Silica’s sudden change of attitude. He knew better than anyone that the Queen had always been this way. Lennon pulled out a smile and soothed Silica.
“That, I believe, is because of Sispanian’s Blessing.”
“You told me that you had taken the strength of the blessing into account. I hear about the third prince here and there. It’s quite unpleasant to say the least,”
Lennon swallowed hard.
Silica silently fluttered her fan for a few seconds, deep in thought, before opening her mouth once again.
“On your way back, send me more of the item, I will increase the amount,”
“Wouldn’t that be too dangerous? Using a different method would be -”
Silica did not listen to him.
She turned her head and beckoned towards the door as if she were swatting away a fly. Lennon quitely gritted his teeth, but was forced outside without even being able to bring up the main reason for his visit.
Rumein’s eyes were distant, as he fell deep into his thoughts.
An estate in Kyris?
Of course, this was a completely welcome request. In fact, he had called Alan to his study so that he could convince Alan to stay in Kyris. In order to suppress Silica’s influence, he needed someone as powerful as Alan.
But just what is his intention? He couldn’t help but to doubt Alan’s intentions as he had brought the subject up himself.
“I came across a red-eyed kitten in the plaza, and I’ve taken a liking to it. I am thinking about teaching it a few things and raising it for a while… but I don’t have a place to stay,”
Rumein remained silent for a moment, before asking,
“What do you intend to teach Calian?”
“Does it not sound fun, your majesty?” answered Alan with another question.
He picked up a cookie from the table, cracked it in half and slowly chewed before swallowing. It was an incredibly impolite response to a King’s question, but Rumein waited silently. After drinking a sip of his tea, Alan continued with excitement in his eyes.
“Black hair, red eyes… and magic.”
“In order words… you wish to stay in Kyris to teach Prince Calian magic.”
“Not only that, but I plan to create an environment that the kitten would like. In order to do that, I believe I must assist the home’s master with a little cleaning up.”
Looking after his student was just an excuse. Rumein understood from his hinted words that his true intention was to suppress Silica’s influence and support Calian as the next crown prince.
Of course, this would not be anything that would hurt Rumein. He picked up his teacup and took a sip.
“Do you believe you will be able to handle it? You would probably know, but my house is quite chaotic right now.”
“It is also my first time looking after something, I wonder if I will be able to handle it?”
Rumein smiled faintly,
“Anyway, the justification is good enough; a teacher and his student,”
A student-teacher relationship with a prince. It was the best way to justify Alan’s stay in Kyris. Silica and Marquis Brissen’s family were bound to be against the prince learning magic, but they were up against the famous Alan Manasil.
“I am the one stepping forwards to teach Prince Calian, so Brissen does not have a good reason to stop me. Since I cannot just be teaching magic all day, they will not be able to prevent a royal tutor with time on his hands from assisting His Majesty. It was quite a clever invitation.”
Rumein subtly tilted his head. Alan was speaking as if Calina was the one who came up with this excuse. However, Alan did not provide any further explanation. Rumein gathered his thoughts and formulated a reply.
“I will look to it that you have a place to stay. I suppose a man with a cat shall not make things any worse around this messy house.”
Alan slightly bowed his head to express his gratitude.
However, the conversation wasn’t over. Separate from giving permission, Rumein’s questions continued.
“However, I must say, I’m curious, I heard that there was nothing special about the child,”
“Nothing special, Your Majesty?” Alan’s eyes narrowed meaningfully.
“It was, in fact, difficult to find normalcy in Prince Calian.”
Even his health had been uselessly special.
“I did hear that he is afraid of many things, however. I was told that he is also afraid of horses, but I suppose he is no longer seeing as how he followed after you.”
Alan recalled Calian riding his horse with great familiarity and leaning on the very horse to support himself. Suddenly, he was hit with a strange sense of displacement as he listened to Rumein.
‘Now that I think about it, why does it seem like…’
“I heard that Randell is like the deep ocean and that Franz is like its fierce waves. As for Calian, well, I only heard that he is quiet and reserved. I did not know that he possessed such a gift.”
‘Why is he saying that he has heard about all this? It’s as if -’
‘As if he never paid attention to them himself.’
“If there was something about him that stood about, I would have heard about it. That’s why I was a little surprised.”
Alan drank the remainder of his tea and stood up. He walked to the window and stared at the garden outside. It seemed he would have to relay the more important news now.
“Just like you, Your Majesty, I got married at an early age. I already have a lovely granddaughter as well.”
Rumein’s fingers twitched.
Even though he knew about Alan’s age, it seemed that he would need some time to become accustomed to a youthful-looking man talking about his granddaughter. Of course, Alan’s granddaughter was not the ‘more important news’.
Alan raised his arm and gestured beside his torso with his palm facing down.
“She was about this tall when I last saw her. She’s most likely taller now… around here, let’s say.”
Alan raised his arm a little further. Rumein was unsure of the reason behind all this talk about height, but listened quietly regardless. Alan stared at the King.
“Do you happen to know the princes’ height, Your Majesty? How tall they are compared to you?”
Rumein didn’t answer. He did not know.
Alan had expected this silence. He looked over at the piles of documents that were stacked on top of the desk.
“I am aware that concern can sometimes act as poison as negligence can act as medicine. However, it is even more true that being busy is not a good enough excuse. You were with the princes yesterday, Your Majesty. How could you not know when you were standing and walking together?”
Rumein’s eyes turned cold. He felt as if Alan was intruding on the King’s private life.
“It seems that you are overly concerned, Sir Manasil. You have only just met me today. My way of raising my children does not need to align with your standards.” He said.
Then, without bothering to hide his discomfort, he added,
“I find it amusing that I must explain this to you, but I do care for the princes.”
“Do you really believe so?”
Rumein paused and stared at Alan. He knew the value of the man before him, and he did not want to show his anger any further. He wanted to end this pointless conversation quickly.
“Especially for Calian, your student, yes. He is my dearest child. I shall look past your attitude since you are willing to teach him, but—”
“Hah!” scoffed Alan.
It was clearly a sneer that interrupted the King’s words. Rage took over the King’s face, but Alan wasn’t one to care. Alan stared at Rumein without wavering.
“If so, you must stop hearing things from others and take a look yourself.”
“Take a look at what?” asked Rumein without hesitation, as though he had done nothing wrong. He had no clue as to what he was supposed to look at.
Alan squinted his eyes. ‘He really doesn’t know.’
“Before calling him dear, I beg of you to actually look at him. Look at who he is now as opposed to then, instead of looking at a bitten finger and calling it painful, bite your finger and find out if it’s painful or not.” growled Alan.
“If you’re only here to sightsee, you will lose him.”
“Speak clearly, Sir Manasil,” snapped Rumein.
Alan walked back towards Rumein and faced him. He recalled Calian’s emaciated figure. This time, Alan’s voice changed; he was quiet and quick like a gust of wind.
“His skin is tinted blue and his fingernails are turning purple. His lips are dry and he pants with every breath. I noticed that the rim of his pupils are turning dark. He closes his eyes and pauses before standing up. It means he must be feeling dizzy. I could tell that his clothes were tailored in a rush. It must have been made smaller. How long does it take for one to tailor a set of clothes? A month?”
Anger faded from Rumein’s face. He couldn’t say anything to Alan’s question. Instead, he bit his lip in realisation of Alan’s message.
“Could it be that somebody is trying to—”
“Yes. You caught on right away.” Alan cut Rumein off once again.
“Then you could have seen it right away as well. Your Majesty… you have experienced it once already, and so have I.”
Rumein remembered the name once again. It was a name that he had finally managed to tuck away into the corners of his mind.
“Even if it weren’t for her, you should have been able to tell if he had to resize his clothes in just a month. Even if you didn’t know how tall he was, even if you never examined his hands and lips, you should have known that he was rapidly losing weight. The person that he looked for in order to save his own life should not have been a mage that he had never met before, it should have been his own father!”
Rumein bent his back forwards and covered his face with his hands. His fingers trembled. He couldn’t have even guessed.
“If he really is dear to you, Your Majesty, you must now look at him properly.”
Alan bent forward and picked up the other half of his cookie. He gazed down at the King as he chewed and swallowed. He could see the King’s miserably crumpled face through his fingers.
“If not, you shouldn’t make that kind of face.”
Alan took a step backwards. As he had to Calian, he wanted to show that he would no longer anger Rumein.
“Please continue to ignore this issue, now that it has come this far – it would be better to continue disregarding it. I dared to say this with hopes that such things would not repeat in the future, forgive me for my impudence, your majesty,”
Alan bowed as he showed the King the appropriate amount of respect and left the room with his chin up, fully poised.
YOOOOO ALAN’S VERBAL SMACKDOWN!!!!