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11 Public Display of Affection

 TILLY let the Belington Siblings join her table. Now, the two were enjoying their hot tea while she was having her third glass of iced tea. So far, the siblings offering small talk with her. But she could feel it in her bones that they weren't there to talk about boring stuff like the state of her father's business.

But she was playing along with the Belington Siblings because even if her father was a duke and theirs was a marquis, the House Prescott and House Belington were equal in terms of wealth and power in the social circle.

[In short, I just can't pick a fight with them.]

But luckily, all her jewelries had spirit stones. After all, their family had been producing the highest quality of spirit stones ever since her ancestor's time.

Anyway, one of the spirit tones in her bracelet had the magical ability to record voices. During her time in the modern world, she learned that the best way to "burn" an enemy was to keep "receipts" or evidence. If the situation called for it, she would record her conversation with the Belington Siblings.

"Lady Prescott, I heard you're now officially engaged to Captain Kiho," Lady Belington said with a not-so-trusty smile. "Congratulations."

Tilly smiled politely. "Thank you, Lady Belington."

"Are you really going to marry the captain of the Black Serpents?" Sir Belington asked in a somewhat condescending tone. "What would you get if you marry a commoner like him? I can't believe that Duke Prescott allowed Kiho to be his heir."

[Okay, they're starting.]

Tilly discreetly touched the yellow topaz stone embedded on her bracelet. All she had to do to activate its recording function was to press the stone.

[I'm so prepared.]

"Brother, haven't you heard about the High Priest's prophecy?" Lady Belington asked her brother. "According to His Eminency, the future child of Sir Kiho and Lady Prescott is going to be a special existence to the empire. Because Lady Prescott was personally picked by His Majesty, the duke was forced to accept the captain as his daughter's husband and his heir." Then, the lady turned to her and gave her a look full of pity. "I feel bad for you, Lady Prescott. If you need a friend to talk to, don't hesitate to send me a letter."

"Thank you for the offer but I'm fine," Tilly said with a smile. "First of all, my father wasn't forced to accept Sir Kiho as my husband. He accepted the captain because he believes that it's our noble duty to contribute to our empire by fulfilling the prophecy. But most of all, it's my personal choice to marry Sir Kiho."

"But why would you marry a monster like Kiho?" Sir Belington asked. "Lady Prescott, if you're afraid of breaking off the engagement because of the captain, just say so. I will help you."

Tilly already expected that because in her past life, Michael Belington also expressed his intention to steal her away from Kiho. She turned him down then because she wanted to gain the emperor's trust. But right now, she would not only refuse this asshole. She would also stand up for her fiancé. "Why would you do that when I wasn't even asking for your help?"

The siblings looked shocked by her retort.

Tilly knew that the siblings would now show their true intentions so she pretended to fix her bracelet, then secretly pressed the yellow topaz stone. [Bring it on, evil siblings.]

"Excuse me?" Sir Belington asked, obviously offended. "Lady Prescott, I'm willing to go to His Majesty and convince him to stop your marriage with Kiho. We grew up together so I don't want to see you suffer just because of a stupid prophecy."

"My brother and I were only concerned about you, Lady Prescott," Lady Belington told her with a scowl. "How dare you stomp on our good will?"

Tilly sipped her iced tea before she spoke. "It seems like you won't get it unless I spell it out for you so please excuse my being straightforward: Lady Belington, Sir Belington, please mind your own business. My upcoming union with Captain Kiho has nothing to do with you. Your concern is appreciated but not necessary."

Once again, the siblings looked shocked.

"Aren't you being a little too rude, Lady Prescott?" Sir Belington asked in a loud voice. Thanks to his yelling, now they got the attention of everyone around them. Even the customers from inside the café were watching them even though they couldn't probably hear them. "Is Kiho's lack of proper manners rubbing off on you?"

[Okay, I can't let that slide!]

"That's 'Captain Kiho' to you, Sir Belington," Tilly corrected him in a stern voice. "I'm trying to be patient because I don't want to make a scene. But I can no longer endure the way you disrespect Sir Kiho. You may have your bias, but it won't change the fact that Sir Kiho is the captain of one of the Orders in the empire. I'm disappointed that a member of the Golden Tiger Knights can't even show basic manners to a captain. I'll make sure that Sir Dustin Ainsworth will be informed of this."

Sir Dustin Ainsworth was the heir of Duke Ainsworth and the captain of the Golden Tiger Knights. Sir Ainsworth was known for his intolerance to knights who abused their power.

No wonder Sir Belington suddenly went pale.

"Take that back," Lady Belington threatened her. "If you ruin my brother's honor as a knight, I will make sure that the social circle will never accept you or your monster of a husband until I'm alive."

"Do you know that House Prescott produces the best spirit stones in the empire?" Tilly asked with a smirk. Then, she put her elbow on the table to show the siblings her beautiful and very useful bracelet. "I have a recording of everything you said a while ago- including the one where you said that the High Priest's prophecy is "stupid." If this recording spread in the empire, who do you think between us would be kicked out from the high society?" She smirked when Lady Belington's face turned as pale as her brother's. "Definitely not me, right?"

Like Tilly expected, Sir Belington grabbed her by the wrist to probably snatch away her bracelet.

[Hah! I knew you'd do that.]

As soon as Sir Belington touched Tilly, she commanded her Mana to burn. When her magical ability was activated, her body temperature began to rise until she was literally hot.

Sir Belington stood up and screamed in pain. When he let go of her wrist, he looked shocked when he realized that his hand was burnt. Upon realizing that it was her Mana that hurt him, he scowled and tried to attack her.

But Lady Belington stood up and grabbed her brother by the arm to stop him. Then, she turned to the knights that happened to pass by. Based on the knights' crest, they were from the Golden Tiger troop. No wonder the stupid siblings suddenly looked relieved.

"Golden Tiger Knights, help us," Lady Belington said to the knights. "Lady Prescott attacked my brother!"

"She did!" Sir Belington added while pointing a finger at her. "She burnt my hand!"

Tilly rolled her eyes at the jerk before she stood up with her head held high. [Aren't you a knight yourself? Why are you complaining to your fellow knights?]

Tilly was about to put Sir Belington in place when she felt a sudden chill.

Then, her eyes widened when she saw a faint of ice blue, thin smoke around Sir Belington's finger- the one that was pointing at her. It seemed like the guy hadn't noticed yet that his finger was now starting to get covered in ice.

[That's Kiho's Mana!]

***

Tilly couldn't see Kiho yet but she could feel his presence.

She didn't want Kiho to be accused of attacking another knight so she grabbed Sir Belington's finger. Using her Mana, she thwarted the ice around his finger discreetly. Poor Sir Belington once again screamed in pain. "Don't point your finger at me," she hissed at him, then she let go of his finger when she was sure that the ice around it already melted.

"Did you see that?" Lady Belington screamed at the Golden Tiger Knights. "Lady Prescott attacked my brother again!"

"Seize her!" Sir Belington said to his fellow knights.

"Lady Prescott," one of the Golden Tiger Knights called her. "May we invite you to our office?"

"Don't get it wrong," Tilly said firmly while facing the two knights with her chin up. "You shall escort me to your office and not invite me. I will formally file a complaint for Sir Belington's disgraceful actions as a Golden Tiger knight. I'd also like to ask Sir Ainsworth about what kind of training does he give his knights for them to behave like a thug."

The two Golden Tiger knights looked shocked by her demand.

"Sir Belington failed to show proper respect to Sir Kiho, the captain of the Black Serpent Knights, by casually calling the captain's name without his title," Tilly continued in a calm but stern voice. She was glad to see that even though she wasn't raising her voice, she got everyone's undivided attention. "Additional to that, Sir Belington also mocked the royal family by saying that the High Priest's prophecy is stupid." The "audience" and even the two Golden Tiger Knights gasped at her declaration as if they couldn't believe what they just heard. So she raised her arm and showed everyone her bracelet. "I have the evidence here."

The Belington Siblings now looked like they were about to faint, especially now that everyone was glaring at them for mocking the royal family.

"Tell me, good sirs," Tilly challenged the two Golden Tiger Knights. "Between me and Sir Belington, who should you invite to your office?"

The buzzing murmur of the people around them seemed to pressure the knights.

After all, the citizens were criticizing Sir Belington for his careless actions. So no wonder the two Golden Tiger Knights were forced to arrest their fellow knight. If they didn't do that, the people would definitely complain.

On the other hand, Lady Belington broke down into tears while begging the knights not to arrest her brother.

[Hah!]

"You'll pay for this, Lady Prescott!" Sir Belington yelled at her while pointing his finger at her. Again. "I'll make sure you'd regret this!"

Tilly ignored him and she was about to go back to her seat when she felt that strange chill in the air once more.

This time, she wasn't the only one who noticed it. Everyone near her suddenly started to embrace themselves to protect their bodies from the cold. The sun was still up and it wasn't snowing but it sure felt like winter there.

"Are you threatening my fiancée, Sir Belington of the Golden Tiger Eyes?"

Tilly turned around and like she expected, it was Kiho.

[Oh, he's not alone.]

Aside from Damian, the captain had another companion.

[Blonde curly hair, light blue eyes that always glares at people, and a huge built... ah, that's definitely Vice-Captain Blake.]

At the appearance of the captain and vice-captain of the Black Serpent Knights, the people around them now shivered in fear. Well, Kiho's Mana was still oozing so it was still cold. But the temperature was no longer the reason why everyone was trembling.

[Kiho is mad but he's doing a good job at hiding it.]

But damn, the captain and Vice-Captain Blake really looked intimidating. Even Damian who seemed like a baby a while ago now had the eyes of a warrior.

[No wonder the Black Serpents are feared.]

Kiho stood next to her while Blake and Damian stayed behind them. The Black Serpents all had their guards up. No wonder the people around them were intimidated.

"Tilly, are you okay?" Kiho asked in a gentle tone.

Tilly was surprised by not only his tone but by what she called him. He called her in an affectionate manner as if he wanted to let the public know what kind of relationship they had.

She didn't mind though.

"I'm okay, Kiho," Tilly assured her fiancé with a smile. Well, her body still felt hot but she could manage. Especially now that Kiho's cool Mana was helping her lower her temperature. "Thank you for worrying about me."

Kiho just nodded, then he gently put a hand on her forehead.

Everyone who was watching let out a collective gasp as if they couldn't believe that the "monster" was capable of being this affectionate.

Even Blake and Damian looked stupefied.

Tilly could only smile was savoring the funny reactions they were getting. Most people probably didn't notice but Kiho was actually giving her some of his Mana to help her burning body cool down. And it was working.

Kiho looked relieved when her body temperature returned to normal. When he was sure that she was now feeling better, the captain turned to Sir Belington. As soon as he did, Kiho's face turned murderous. Gone was the gentle side that he would only show to her.

Anyway, the Belington Siblings and the two Golden Tiger Knights looked scared as hell when Kiho faced them. Lady Belington even covered her mouth with her hands as if she was afraid that her breathing would get the captain's attention.

[If you are that scared of Kiho, then why do you talk behind his back?]

Ah, that was probably it. The Belington could only talk behind Kiho's back because they didn't have the courage to bully the captain.

"Sir Belington, I believe you owe Lady Prescott an apology- a private and a public one," Kiho said in a voice colder than his Mana. And his glare? Damn, if looks could kill, Sir Belington would have dropped dead a while ago. "If you refuse, the Black Serpent Knights will have to take this matter into our own hands. I don't take threats to my fiancée lightly."

Sir Belington's knees gave up. The fool probably couldn't handle the Mana pressure from Kiho. When he fell down on the ground, he immediately shifted to a kneeling position and bowed his head to Tilly politely. "L-Lady Prescott, I humbly ask for your f-forgiveness."

Lady Belington let out a sob while glaring at her brother. She probably couldn't believe that the future head of House Belington kneeled and bowed in front of the person they called a "monster" just a while ago.

Tilly didn't expect that things would turn out like this. She didn't enjoy having someone kneel and bow to her in apology. But she knew she had to take a stand. She would take this opportunity to let everyone know that they couldn't look down on the future duke and duchess of House Prescott. "Rise, Sir Belington," she said in a formal tone. When Sir Belington looked up at her, she gave him a sweet, fake smile. The Belington Siblings were still high nobles so it would be better to wrap this up as soon as possible. "How about we talk and reach for a settlement instead of going to the court?"

***

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