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17 Chance Encounter

 "GOOD job," Tilly said to Blake while looking at the broken wheel of the carriage they were using a few minutes ago.

[My father will probably get mad at me but I have to do this.]

Earlier, she asked the coachman to stop the carriage and pretended that her hips hurt from sitting for too long. When they got off the carriage, she asked Blake to cut the back wheel.

Then, she used her communication stone to call a nearby carriage rental. The communication stone was a ruby stone embedded in her dangling left earring. She used it like a wireless earphone. After talking to the owner, she asked the coachman to pick up the carriage and gave him a bag of gold to pay for it.

Anyway, she knew that there was a carriage rental near the premise of the royal palace. If she didn't know that, she wouldn't ask Blake to cut the carriage's wheel. She still had to show up at the princess' afternoon tea party after all.

"Lady Prescott, why are you doing this?" Blake asked in a curious voice. "Pardon me but do you not want to attend Her Royal Highness' tea party?"

"That's not it," she denied while shaking her head. "I just need to create a little detour. I can't be late without a proper reason so I asked you do this. I apologize if my order violated your code of conduct."

He looked flustered by her apology. "My lady, you didn't have to apologize to me. I'm just a mere servant."

"You're Kiho's precious friend and the dependable vice-captain of the Black Serpent Knights," she told him. "Sir Blake, I'd like it if you don't think too little of yourself again."

When she vowed to herself that she would treasure Kiho in this lifetime, she also decided to take care of his friends and family. The captain was an orphan but she knew that he treated the Black Serpent Knights like his family even though some of the members were afraid of him. Thus, she felt the need to look after them like a big sister.

Plus, it wasn't hard to do because the people around Kiho were all good to her.

"Thank you for your kind words, my lady," Blake said with a bow. "I promise to keep that in mind."

She was actually surprised that he used a more polite tone now.

[Did I earn his respect?]

Wow, that was a feat. In her past life, she remembered Blake would always look at her with contempt.

[Ah, I'm slowly but surely changing my fate by simply being a decent human being.]

"Rise, Sir Blake," she said. When he stood up straight and looked at her with respect, she smiled at him. "Would you mind walking me to the Sky Plaza?"

Blake gave her a small smile before he bowed again. "It's an honor to accompany you, Lady Prescott."

She just smiled at that before she started to walk towards the Sky Plaza. It was just a few meters away from the Majestic Forest- a manmade woods built to protect the royal palace. Only people with invitations or summons from the royal family could pass the Majestic Forest.

[The security around the palace is really tight.]

Anyone who was headed to the forest would inevitably pass by the Sky Plaza first. It was the heart and the upscale area of the Royal Capital.

The Sky Plaza also boasted 'Aristo'- the shopping district for the higher nobles. Well, there wasn't a written rule that said only higher nobles could shop there. But the prices of the products sold in that area were so high that the lower nobles couldn't afford them.

[Oh, our jewelry shop is in Aristo.]

The jewelry shop that her father owned was called Prescott's Choice. Their shop was famous for its jewelries embedded with spirit tones. Those spirit stones had variety of functions. They could be used as a communication device, a voice and video recorder, and also for taking pictures like how a camera would work.

The spirit stones in their shop came from the mountain that their family owned. And yes, they had their own mining company.

[No wonder our family is so rich.]

"Move!"

Tilly was surprised when a young boy suddenly came out of the dark alley on her right side. He child even pushed her out of his way. If Blake didn't catch her, she would have stumbled on the ground. Unfortunately, the boy who pushed her tripped and fell flat face.

Tilly gasped and was about to run towards the boy when Blake stopped her.

"Lady Prescott, please stay here," Blake said and pulled away from her. "I'll check on the young boy first."

She nodded because she didn't want to get in the way of his duty.

Blake got down on one knee to face the child who just got up while holding his bleeding chin.

[Oh, that looks painful.]

But she had to say that the young boy looks suspicious. The child was wearing a black beret hat and a black cloak, too. But under the cloak, she could see that he was wearing commoners' clothes. His shoes also looked too big for him.

[No wonder why he tripped.]

Tilly was about to walk towards the boy but she stopped when she found several rolling red marbles on the ground. The marbles came from the child's pouch that fell from his pocket.

She bent down to pick the marbles that rolled towards her shoes.

"Don't touch it!"

She was surprised when the boy screamed at the top of his lungs. Instead of letting go of the red marbles, she only held them tighter in her hand. It was reflex.

The young boy stood up right away and looked at her with a shocked look on his face. Even though fresh blood was dripping from the wound on his chin, it looked like he was worried about her instead. "Big sister, are your hands okay? Did they get burn?"

Tilly opened her hand where he held the three red marbles that she picked. Her palm wasn't burned or anything so she looked turned to the boy with a knotted forehead. "My hands are fine. Are these marbles flammable or something?"

The young boy's eyes widened in shock. "Why aren't you burned?"

Her eyes also widened. "D-Do you want me to burn?"

The child was about to run towards her but Blake grabbed him by the collar. "Let go!" the boy snarled at the knight. "I need to make sure that big sister is safe!"

"She's not your "big sister,"" Blake told the child strictly. "Mind your manners and call her 'Lady Prescott,' brat."

The boy looked at her with a knotted forehead. "You're a noble?"

She smiled at the boy as a response and walked towards him. Then, she gestured Blake to let go of his collar. When the child looked up at her, she bent down to reach his eye level. Looking closely, she could tell that he was around nine to eleven years old. And wow, his eyes were a beautiful shade of orange. "Boy, I have a lot of questions for you but we have to bring you to the hospital first," she told him. Then, she held his hand and put the red marbles in his palm. "I hope your marbles didn't get scratched."

"Big sister, these marbles won't get scratched even if you try to cut them with a sword," the boy said. "And only people with affinity to fire can hold these marbles without getting burnt-"

"There you are."

Tilly was surprised when she heard the stern voice. When she turned around, she was even more surprised to see Sir Dustin Ainsworth- the captain of the Golden Tiger Knights.

[It's really him.]

Sir Ainsworth was the oldest among the captains of the Four Orders.

He had light blonde hair, sharp gray eyes, and a faint scar on his chin. He was also lean, tan, and undeniably handsome.

Because of the appearance of Sir Ainsworth, a crowd of nobles gathered around them.

She immediately stood up straight and gave Sir Ainsworth a polite greeting. Blake also greeted the Golden Tiger Knights' captain.

The boy with orange eyes attempted to run away from them but was caught by a Golden Tiger knight right away.

Her chest tightened while watching the child struggle to be freed but to no avail.

"Sir Ainsworth, may I know why the boy is being arrested?" Tilly asked out of curiosity and worry. [He's too young to be a criminal, isn't he?]

"Lady Prescott, that child is known as 'Flint' and he's being arrested for disturbing the peace," Sir Ainsworth responded in his usual stern voice. "Unfortunately, the child is spreading rumors about the return of the "Fire Mages.""

Sir Ainsworth said the last two words as if he didn't believe in the existence of the Fire Mages.

"The Fire Mages are real!" Flint yelled as if he was offended by Sir Ainsworth tone. "This empire's Fire Wielders are nothing against the real masters of the fire!"

"Mikhail would be sad to hear that," Sir Ainsworth said.

The captain was talking about Sir Mikhail Denver- the heir of Marquis Denver and the captain of the Red Phoenix Knights. As far as she remembered, Sir Denver was one of the empire's most talented Fire Wielders and the second youngest captain from the Four Orders.

[Kiho is the youngest among them.]

"Mikhail Denver is a fake!" Flint yelled again. "Every Fire Wielder here is only a cheap version of the real Fire Mages!"

The buzz among the crowd started to grow louder.

The nobles were making fun of the child, treating Flint like an insane person. Some of them were even urging Sir Ainsworth to execute the boy.

[How heartless!]

"Sir Ainsworth, I understand that you have to arrest the child," Tilly said in a desperate attempt to turn the captain's attention away from the people who wanted Flint to be killed. "But doesn't he need medical assistance first? He got hurt when I bumped into him." She lied so Sir Ainsworth wouldn't question her concern for the boy. "I won't be at ease until his injury is treated."

"Very well," Sir Ainsworth said. Then, he turned to the knight holding Flint in place. "Bring the boy to the hospital. Once he's treated, transfer him into my office."

"Yes, Captain," the knight answered politely before marching away from them while holding Flint by the neck.

[Poor boy.]

Flint turned to her with a sad look on his face.

Tilly wanted to assure the boy that she would look for him later. But then, Sir Ainsworth suddenly blocked her view. The captain also glared at the crowd which caused them to disperse.

[Good riddance.]

"Lady Prescott, may I know if you have time to talk?" Sir Ainsworth asked politely. His face was as blank as a canvas so she couldn't really read what was on his mind. "It's about a certain knight from my troop who displayed rude behavior towards you."

[Ah, he must be talking about Sir Belington.]

"Sir Ainsworth, I would love to have a talk with you but the timing isn't right," Tilly said politely. "I have a scheduled tea party with Her Royal Highness this afternoon. I'm actually running late. The carriage I was using a while ago had a problem so my coachman went to a carriage rental. I'm just waiting for his return."

"Oh, I'm about to head to the royal palace as well," Sir Ainsworth said. "How about we share my carriage and have a talk there, Lady Prescott?"

***

KIHO didn't know why but he suddenly felt annoyed.

He was supposed to use his mallet to crack the lobster's huge claw but when his mood changed, he accidentally crushed the shell in his hands.

Whitton and Damian who were having dinner with him in the ship's kitchen looked surprised. But when he frowned at the two knights, they shifted their eyes away from him and continued eating the lobsters in silence.

[What's this unpleasant feeling?]

For some reason, he could also vividly see Tilly's beautiful face in his mind. Well, he never got her out of his head ever since they met at the port. But this time, she came into his mind when he couldn't understand why he felt angry for no reason.

[I hope nothing bad happened to her. Blake is with her so I'm sure she'll be safe. But why do I feel uneasy?]

And why did he feel like he wanted to punch someone?

***

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