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25 Descendants of Fire Mages

 TILLY was pleasantly surprised when Kiho visited her early in the morning.

Since he was already there, she invited him for breakfast. Her father didn't say much but she knew that the duke had fully accepted Kiho as her future husband. Not only because of the prophecy, but maybe because her father could see that Kiho was good to her.

Anyway, after breakfast, she asked the head chef to prepare sandwiches for Kiho. While waiting for the food, she brought him in the guest room to show off her outfit of the day.

"How do I look?" Tilly asked while spinning around in front of Kiho who was sitting on the sofa while having tea. "I dressed down today so I could move comfortably."

For her scheduled activity today, she wore a plain white long-sleeved blouse with a huge red ribbon (and a corset, of course), an ankle-length maroon skirt, and leather brown boots. She would wear a maroon cloak later because the weather was cold today. Well, she wasn't affected by the cold but she didn't want to get sick.

To complete her look, she applied light makeup on her face and tied her hair in a messy bun.

"You're beautiful, Tilly," Kiho said with a satisfied look on his face. "And I like that you look more comfortable now. The fancy dresses you usually wear will get you killed."

"Huh?"

"Your fancy dresses look heavy and hard to move in," he said. "How are you supposed to run in that if you were attacked?"

"Way to ruin the mood, Captain," she complained. Then, she sat next to him with a pout while her arms were crossed against her chest. "Why do you always talk about being ambushed and the likes?"

"Oh, sorry," he said in an embarrassed tone. "Bad habit."

Well, it wasn't like she didn't understand him.

Kiho was the captain of a squad that specialized in assassination. Of course, his head was filled with strategies on how to kill and survive. Wherever he was, he would always analyze the surroundings and find an escape routine.

[That only goes to show that he's used to being attacked.]

But come to think of it, now that she realized that Princess Nia had an evil plan against her, she should learn how to defend herself.

"Baby, are you upset?"

Tilly smiled right away when she heard Kiho call her in their endearment in a very gentle tone. Thanks to that, her annoyance a while ago disappeared in an instant. "No, not anymore," she said. Then, she hugged his arm and looked up at him with the most adorable face that she could make. "Baby, I want to learn swordsmanship. Will you teach me?"

Kiho looked hesitant. "Why do you suddenly want to learn how to use the sword?"

"Because we live in a dangerous world!"

"That's why I'm leaving Blake to you."

"But you or Blake can't always protect me," she countered. "I should learn how to defend myself. My Mana is useless in a combat so I must pick up a weapon instead."

The captain fell silent.

Then, they heard a knock in the door. The butler informed them that the carriage she rented had arrived in the mansion. Using her family's carriage would gather attention so she decided to rent an ordinary carriage, just like what she did last time.

"Let's talk about this again later," Kiho said. Then, he gently patted her head. "I'll carefully consider your request, Tilly."

"Thank you, Kiho," she said, satisfied that Kiho didn't casually reject her idea. "Oh, wait. I'll ask someone the sandwiches I asked the head chef to make. Bring them with you, Captain. Eat it during your lunch break or snack time."

His face lit up immediately. "You asked your head chef to make lunch for me?"

"I suck at cooking so I can't prepare the lunch myself," she said. "But I'll make sure that once we're living in the same house, I'll make a menu that will suit your palate."

"Sounds good," he said. "Ah, how long do you plan to play outside?"

"Play outside" was a common term that people in the empire use whenever a lady would go out of the house.

"I'm not sure," she said. "Why?"

"I can pick you up after my work later," he explained. "I checked my schedule for today and apparently, I have to patrol the town near Mount Elea."

"Oh, really? Is something wrong with the town?"

"We received reports that a group of rebels was hiding in the town," he answered. "His Majesty asked me to eliminate them..." He stopped and cleared his throat. "Sorry. I know that you already know the kind of work that I do for the emperor. But talking about it with you made me feel ashamed."

"You have nothing to be ashamed of your work, Kiho."

He turned to her with a surprised look on his face. "Tilly..."

"I'm not saying that killing is good," she said carefully. "But you're doing it to protect the emperor. I mean, it's still bad but it's a lot better than killing just because you wanted to. So even if your job makes you a "monster" to other people, I see you as a gentle monster." Her cheeks reddened when she realized that she wasn't making sense. "Sorry. Did I offend you?"

"Far from it," he said. "Thank you for accepting my flaws, Tilly."

"You accept me wholly, too," she said. [Plus, I won't let you become the emperor's "shadow beast" forever.]

She knew that it would be hard to convince Kiho to lessen his assassination missions. After all, he was close to the emperor. But now that she had her suspicions against Princess Nia, she would do anything in her power to take the captain away from the royal family.

Kiho touched her face. "You're making me want to ditch work today, baby."

"You can't slack off, baby," Tilly playfully scolded him. "See you later, Kiho."

***

"LADY Prescott, are you tired?"

"No, I'm good," Tilly said to Blake, her voice filled with energy. "In fact, I'm having fun."

When they reached the foot of Mount Elea, they had to get off the carriage and climb via foot to arrive at Flint's house.

She also had the option to ride a horse with Blake. But since he said it was just a few minutes of walk, she decided to do it. The trail reminded her of the time she would go on trekking during her second life.

[Sometimes, I miss the modern life I had as Matilda Yap.]

"Please tell me when you're tired, my lady," Blake said. "I'll carry you."

She turned to the vice captain to see if he was serious.

[Oh, he is.]

Blake was carrying a basket in each of his hand. And yet, he still offered to carry her if she was tired? Aww, she didn't know that they could be friends in this lifetime but she was happy to know that it was possible now.

"Sir Blake, you don't have to be so formal with me," she said. "Instead of my family name, you can just call me by my nickname. I'm sure Kiho won't mind."

Kiho treated Blake like his younger brother. So she wanted to treat the vice-captain as her brother-in-law.

"Is that an order, my lady?"

"No," she said with a soft laugh. "More like a request."

"I can't turn down a heartfelt request like that, Lady Tilly," he said, still as respectful as before. "In return, please call me by my name and drop the "sir.""

She smiled at that. "Okay, Blake."

It was a huge relief that she managed to "tame" Blake in this lifetime. In that past, he used to hate her. He didn't even use polite tone when talking to her.

But now, the way he treated her changed.

[He's trying to control his bad temper around me and I appreciate that.]

"My lady, we're here," Blake announced when they were only a few feet away from an old cabin-like house. "That's where Flint and his family live."

As if on cue, Flint went out of the house. The child looked surprised when he saw them. Then, he ran towards her.

"Big sister!" Flint called her. Then, he stopped in front of her and held her hands. Now that he wasn't wearing a beret, she noticed that he had caramel-colored hair. "You're here!"

"I came here to see you how you're doing," Tilly said with a smile. "I brought lunch. Would you like to eat together?"

"I'd love that!" the boy said in excitement. "Can we invite grandma, too?"

"Of course," she agreed. "Where is your grandma?"

"She went to the market to buy milk for my brother," he said. "I can pick her up."

Tilly turned to Blake. "Can you pick-up his grandmother instead, Blake? You've met here so she already knows you. Since the market is only a few minutes away, you won't leave me for too long. I'll be fine."

"I'll protect big sister," Flint said. "I promise."

Blake looked defeated when he nodded as a sign of giving in. "I'll be back quickly, Lady Tilly."

***

"BIG SISTER, I'll show you my little brother."

Tilly smiled when Flint held her hand as soon as put the picnic baskets on the table. Then, the child pulled her towards a small room. She knew that he wanted her to meet his little brother. But she was still surprised when she saw how pretty the sleeping baby inside the crib was.

"Red hair," Tilly said in amazement. "Flint, your little brother has beautiful red hair."

"Big sister."

She turned to the little boy when she heard the seriousness in his voice. To her surprise, he looked as solemn as his voice sounded. "What is it, Flint?"

"My little brother and I are descendants of Fire Mages."

Of course, she wouldn't easily believe that. But not because she didn't trust the child. she was just afraid that their lives might be put in danger if he turned out to be saying the truth. After all, Kiho said that the royal family would execute every Fire Mage they see.

"Flint, don't say that casually," Tilly scolded the child. "Do you want the royal family to execute you and your brother? The knights almost jailed you for spreading the rumor about the return of the Fire Mages. What would you do if they hear your claim?"

"I'm only saying this to you, big sister," Flint insisted. "I'm saying this to you because I believe that you're a descendant of a Fire Mage, too."

***

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