Besides Laffey, Locke’s sister was the other reason behind his growing pile of food. The siblings had only spent a year apart and Lia was already a different person. She was more charismatic than ever, seemingly the effect of her prolonged involvement with magic. There was now a layer of intellectual charm over Lia’s peaceful temperament.
Lia’s aura was starkly different from Angelina and Glace. Locke was so captivated by his sister that he couldn’t help the bold rebellious thoughts running wild in his head. While his women were caught up in conversations, he sneakily kicked Lia, who was seated directly opposite him.
Before she could react, Locke deliberately dropped his cutleries. He promptly reached beneath the table and extended his arms forward till he could touch Lia’s hand. He grabbed her forearm, immediately causing her to blush.
Lia’s cheeks grew hot. She wished to chastise her brother but words were failing her. Instead, she lowered her head and began focusing her attention on a bowl of soup, hiding her red face from sight.
“Brother! There’s no need to do that. You can just have the servants bring you another set!” Kristin, oblivious to everything that was happening in the shadows, pushed at Locke’s shoulder.
Locke’s loosened grip slid forward. Her hand is so soft. Before his mind could process the dangerous thought, Lia kicked him. Locke promptly straightened his posture with odd calmness.
“Alright, let’s dig in! Shall we share the cutlery, Kristin?” Locke grinned at the younger girl.
“Sure!” Even Kristin’s eyes were smiling crescents.
Tonight’s dinner was bound to take forever. It was only when the moon was high up in the sky that everyone folded away their napkins and called it a day. A hoard of servants entered the dining hall to collect the used dishes and presented them with a palate cleanser.
Locke felt incredibly out of place for he had gotten used to the simple meals in Botania and the spatial fortress. The sudden switch of rustic meals to luxurious dishes was hard to get accustomed to.
Angelina, on the other hand, dabbed at the corners of her mouth with practised elegance. Meals in the palace were more ceremonious than this so she had no problems falling back into their old routine right away. Locke made a sour face as he gulped down the lemon water while the others spat it out gracefully.
“Hehe.” Kristin giggled behind her palm, plastered tightly to his side. It had merely taken her an afternoon to be as clingy as before. If it wasn’t for her growth spurt, she would’ve probably snuggled somewhere comfortable against Locke’s chest.
“I’ll be taking my leave now,” Gage bowed to Angelina. The atmosphere in the dining hall was becoming increasingly uneasy for an outsider to stay. Plus, the duke needed to deliver news of the princess’ return back to the Kingdom of Faustian. It was major news that must be reported to the king.
After the Shalorian War, King Faustian stayed on the throne for another six years. It was in those years that the kingdom had experienced its most unstable and chaotic days, thanks to the constant turmoil following the fall of Shalor.
The chaos was a tough one to subdue. Military mobilisation wasn’t the best solution since the uproar had involved the wellbeing and livelihood of its people. The king was the only one that could make the better decision for all.
Prince Kenzir may be brilliant and courageous but he wasn’t as good as his father when it came to governance and policies. Rather than saying that the king had extended his reign for six more years, it was better said that his lengthened reign was all for the sake of leaving behind a prosperous and stable kingdom for his successors. Sadly, the king was growing feeble and his days were numbered.
King Faustian had penned a will a long time ago and placed four copies to be kept by the four margraves of the kingdom. Once the king passed, the margraves would join forces to ensure the smooth succession of Prince Kenzir.
Undoubtedly, Prince Kenzir was the sole heir to the Faustian throne since he was already given control over two-thirds of the Faustian military. In recent years, Margrave Marmen, Margrave De Sandro and Margrave Woode were all in favour of the prince. Margrave Shia was the only one who expressed his stand outright since he’d pledged his absolute loyalty to the royal family. But really, there wasn’t a need for Margrave Shia to voice anything explicitly. Everyone knew that the successors to the throne would be of Prince Kenzir’s lineage.
As the only male in the mansion, Locke brought everyone to the yard after asking around for their opinions. Servants were instructed to place mats on the well-kept grass and everyone laid down to admire the moon. Locke couldn’t help but think that their Zauberian moon was way prettier than the jutty polygonal moon in Botania. July nights in Princeton were as hot as day.
They ushered away some of the servants for some privacy. There was nothing to worry about since everyone in the yard would be safe in the presence of a high-rank Knecht and a mid-rank Lehrling.
On the other end of the mats, Angie the scorpiondrake was fast asleep on the grass. It wagged its tail, sending chilly breezes against the exposed limbs of the servants that were fanning Locke and the others.
“Brother, when will you get me a familiar too?” Kristin wrapped her arms around Locke’s head and whined. She was incredibly envious of Angelina’s familiar.
“I’ll bring you on a hunt for one next time,” said Locke languidly as he stretched his body.
Surprisingly, most of Kristin’s overly affectionate actions had only earned a mere eye twitch from Angelina. Glace, however, decided she had seen enough.
Glace stomped over and peeled the young girl away from Locke. “Are you done with your impetus training and meditation for the day? If not, you better go finish it right now!”
Kristin refused to back down. She pouted and refuted, “But brother is finally back home! Can’t you let me accompany him?”
“No. Perseverance is a virtue. Laffey, keep an eye on her and make sure she’s practising. I’ll watch her meditate later.” Glace huffed.
“Understood.” Since Laffey was her servant, she was quick to follow her master’s orders. Earlier, Locke had invited her to bask in the lunar light with them but she felt incredibly uncomfortable to comply. She figured that it was best to do something else than to place herself in an awkward situation.
Kristin was no match for Laffey since the latter was a mid-rank Knecht. Plus, her considerable field experience had given the servant the upper hand. There was no doubt that she could subdue the spoiled girl easily. As she was dragged into the training room, Kristin could only relent and lament at her ill fortune.