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27 Advice from a Fire Wielder

 TILLY watched Captain Denver carefully put a blanket over Flint after he tucked him into bed. She was only convinced that Flint was safe when she heard him snore loudly.

Then, she heard the baby in the crib cry.

She immediately ran towards the crib and carried the baby gently to soothe him.

[Oh gosh... he's so tiny!]

According to Flint, his mother gave birth to his brother a year ago. So this little human being was only a year old.

She almost got emotional while singing lullaby to the baby. Sadly, she couldn't even remember if she had held Winter or sang him a lullaby when he was born. During her past life, she saw her son as nothing more than a tool to gain power.

[Winter, I miss you so much.]

Thankfully, the baby stopped crying. Then, he fell asleep again.

[How cute.]

When she was sure that the baby was sleeping deeply, she carefully put him down on the crib. Then, she gently tapped him on the tummy. She was rewarded by a beautiful smile from the little angel.

[He must be having a good dream.]

"Lady Prescott, pardon me for saying this but you look like you're the child's mother."

Tilly turned to Captain Denver who was now leaning against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest. "Really?"

If she looked like a mother just now, then maybe she could really take care of Winter this time.

Back in her second life in the modern world, she built a daycare center where she would often volunteer as a teacher. Only then would her longing for Winter lessen even just for a while. She hoped that if she was being a good "mother" to other kids, then Lucina Morganna would treat Winter kindly, too.

"Are you preparing yourself to be a mother to your future son with Captain Kiho?"

"You can say that again, Captain Denver."

"Then, be careful next time," he warned her. "If you want to live long enough to marry your fiancé and give birth to his son, then never get involved in dangerous people again."

Her smile disappeared when she remembered that they had an issue to discuss. "Captain Denver, may I know why exactly you're here?"

"Captain Ainsworth told me about the infamous child who keeps on spreading rumors about Fire Mages," he said. "Since I'm the current master of the Fire Wielder Guild, he thought I have more authority in this matter."

She gulped when she realized how serious the situation was for Captain Denver to come here himself. "D-Do you believe that Flint and his brother are Fire Mages?"

"It's a common occurrence for commoners to delude themselves as descendants of Fire Mages," he told her calmly. "They do it to make themselves feel special. But in reality, most of them just have affinity to the fire element. They could use a Fire Wielder weapon, at most. But summoning fire within their bodies is almost impossible."

"But Flint said his parents burnt the bandits to death..."

"I heard that," the captain said. "And that's exactly why I had to manipulate his memories."

She gasped when she realized what he meant. "No..."

"I was sent her to kill the child and his brother if they turn out to be real Fire Mage descendants," Captain Denver said coldly. "But I decided to spare the children. First of all, the boy called Flint doesn't have the evidence to prove that his parents really burnt the bandits to death. We can't also investigate his parents' corpses because they were already cremated and the boy spread the ashes in the sea."

Cremation was common for the commoners who didn't have enough money to buy a piece of land in the cemeteries.

"Second, Flint doesn't show any sign of being a Fire Mage," the captain continued. "He claims that the marbles in his possession can determine if a person has Fire Mage blood or not. But any Fire Wielder can hold those marbles without getting burnt. It's not as special as he makes it out to be. In short, his parents might just really be Fire Wielders who used a weapon to burn their assailants to death."

She wanted to argue and say that Flint didn't look like he was lying. But what would the child gain from that? If Captain Denver determined that the boy was indeed a Fire Mage's descendant, then he would be executed along with his baby brother.

Her heart broke for the child who would be branded a liar from now on. But if it could save his life and his baby brother's, then she'd keep her mouth shut.

[I'm so sorry, Flint...]

"Don't worry too much, Lady Prescott," Captain Denver said. "The Fire Wielder Guild will welcome Flint and his brother warmly."

Her eyes widened in shock. "Really, Captain?"

"I'm the master of the guild. I won't lie to you," he said, probably offended that she questioned his claim. "I personally came here to see if I can recruit the brothers to join my guild. Flint is still young and that could be the reason why he doesn't exhibit any fire controlling ability yet. But I can tell from his Mana that he has the potential to be a good Fire Wielder someday." The captained turned to the baby in the crib. She didn't know if it was just his imagination or his eyes did really glow for a moment. "Especially his little brother. I can see the huge amount of Mana in that tiny body."

"Then, you will take them in as apprentices?"

"Uh-huh," he confirmed. "In our guild, we don't discriminate based on blood. Anyone who has the ability to wield a fire weapon is welcome."

"I just want to be clear, Captain," she said carefully. "Once you take Flint and his brother with you, it means you're going to give them a decent life, right? Shelter, clothes, food, and education. You'll provide them all, won't you?"

"Yes," he answered. "We ran a charity that funds commoners who join our guild." Much to her surprise, the captain smiled charmingly at her. "Lady Prescott, our guild also accepts donations."

She laughed softly at that. "Yes, I will donate to your guild's charity, Captain."

"Thank you, my lady," he said. Then, just like that, he became serious again. "I don't think your Mana is enough for you to be a Fire Wielder. It's too weak."

[Ouch.]

"But the boy said you didn't get burnt when you held the marbles," the captain said. "That means you have affinity to the fire element, no matter how weak it is."

"I know that my Mana isn't fit for combat," she said. "But I want to at least learn how to protect myself from mind control."

"And why would you need that kind of ability?" he asked with a raised eyebrow. "I hope you don't think that learning mind control is easier than learning how to wield a weapon."

"I apologize if my words sounded that way," she said humbly. "That wasn't my intention."

He looked at her long and hard as if he was trying to read her mind. "Tell me the reason why you want to learn resistance from mind control, then I'll decide if I'm going to take you in as my student or not."

"I deeply apologize but I can't tell you the reason."

"Then, why didn't you just lie to me?"

She gasped when she realized her mistake. "Oh. Let me think."

"Too late," he said. "I won't consider your request until you give me a valid reason."

She was about to say something when he raised a finger, so she just kept her mouth shut and listened to him.

"But I'll give you a useful advice," Captain Denver continued. "A mind control weakens if the target is aware that they are being mind controlled. So it's important for the target to fool the user into thinking that they are being controlled."

[Oh. He is saying that I should act like I'm being controlled instead of blatantly acting so stubbornly in front of the mind control user.]

"Captain, how can I act like I'm being controlled if I don't know when it would happen?"

"Your awareness is a variable that the user doesn't know about," he said. "If you are already aware that you're being controlled, then the influence of the user will be weak against you. Most likely, you'll snap out of it as soon as you realize that you're being controlled."

That actually made sense.

In her past life, she didn't have a clue as to why she was so greedy with power. She had always wondered about that even when she was living her life in the modern world. Maybe her doubts made her aware of the mind controlling stuff when she came back here.

[Could that be the reason why I had to be reincarnated in the modern world with the memory of my first life? To make me ponder as to why I was so hungry with power?]

Come to think of it, how the hell did she wake up back in her previous life anyway?

She was so overjoyed by the thought of reuniting with Winter that she easily accepted the fact that she was given a chance to correct her mistakes. But right now, she wanted to know how and why did she come back in that time.

[My head is about to explode from too much information.]

"It seems like my hunch is right," Captain Denver said. "Someone is trying to control your mind. Am I right, Lady Prescott?"

"I neither confirm nor deny your hunch, Captain Denver," she said. "But I'm grateful for your advice, good sir."

"You're quite the stubborn one, huh?" he said like he was amused with her. "Anyway, I don't want to say this but if you tell a single soul about what happened in this room, I'll kill Flint and his baby brother. I may not enjoy killing children, but it doesn't mean I can't do it." His amber eyes glowed as if he was trying to intimidate her. "Do you understand, Lady Prescott?"

"I understand, Captain Denver," she said, trying to hide the fact that she felt shivers down her spine when he threatened her. "I trust that the captain of the Red Phoenix Knights wouldn't speak about my request to other people as well."

He smirked as if he really found her amusing. "The rumors said that Lady Prescott was your typical spoiled kid from a rich family. But I guess they were wrong. You have the eyes of a predator, young lady."

"I'll take that as a compliment, Captain Denver," Tilly said with a smile. "Thank you."

Captain Denver laughed heartily. "You're interesting, Lady Prescott," he said, his eyes glowing for some reason. "Very, very interesting."

***

TILLY was amazed by Captain Denver's mind/memory manipulation.

When Flint woke up, he referred to himself and his brother as descendants of Fire Wielders instead of Fire Mages. The child also apologized to Captain Denver for spreading "false rumors" to "gain attention."

It made her sad that Flint's memories were manipulated but she was glad that the captain spared him and his baby brother.

[Oh, the baby's name is Julian.]

Anyway, she had lunch with Flint, Blake, Captain Denver, and Grandma Rosa (the acting guardian of Flint and Julian). She was glad that she brought a lot of meat.

While having lunch, Captain Denver told Grandma Rosa about his intention to bring Flint and Julian to the Fire Wielder Guild with him. Flint, for her brother, decided to accept the captain's invitation.

And just like that, Flint bid his goodbye to Grandma Rosa.

While Flint was packing their things, she volunteered to look after Julian. She sat on the bench outside the house while Julian was sitting on her lap. She secured the baby's position by wrapping an arm around his tiny waist.

Anyway, Blake was standing beside her and Captain Denver was on her other side.

"I'm going to miss you, Julian," Tilly said to the baby. Then, she gently pinched his chubby cheek. "Should I visit you every weekend?"

"You can't do that," Captain Denver, who was standing beside her, scolded her. "Our guild isn't a playground."

"Then, I'll visit you twice a month," she said to the baby, ignoring the captain. "Make sure to always be healthy, okay?"

"If you donate a huge sum of money, we'll make sure to feed everyone in the guild healthy food," the captain said.

She turned to the captain with a glare. "I'll donate every month if you want if you accept my request, Captain."

Captain Denver raised an eyebrow at her. "Ohh. Someone knows how to compromise."

She just gave him a polite smile before turning to Julian again. When she saw the baby's huge green eyes, she giggled and pinched his other cheek. "You're so cute, Baby Julian."

Of course, her Winter was just as cute.

Her son had burgundy hair, golden eyes, and milky sin. She wouldn't be biased if she said that Winter was beautiful. Now, she missed her child even more.

[Winter, your father and I have positive feelings towards each other now. This time, I'll make sure that you'll have a loving family. Who knows? Maybe in this lifetime, Kiho and I might give you a sibling.]

"Julian, please grow up healthy," Tilly said to the baby. "I want you to be friends with my son someday."

Julian looked at her like he understood what she just said. Then, the baby placed a hand on her chest without breaking eye contact. After that, he giggled like an angel that he must be.

She was about to smile back at the child when suddenly, she felt like her heart was burning. It was so hot and that made her confused. She had never felt like she was burning even if she raised her temperature. But now, she felt like someone had put her heart on fire- literally.

"Blake," she said in an urgent voice while clutching her chest with her other hand. "Hold Julian for me."

Blake immediately carried Julian in a swift but careful move. But he didn't take his eyes off of her. "My lady, what's wrong?"

She couldn't answer because she didn't know what was happening to her.

And she didn't have time to think about it when Captain Denver suddenly grabbed her by the arm. He pulled her until she was standing in front of him. Then, much to her shock, the captain raised his hand as if he would touch her chest.

She couldn't complain because it was hard for her to breathe, much more to speak.

[Captain Denver, what kind of help are you planning to do?!]

Her fears vanished when Captain Denver's hand literally froze in mid-air. A thin layer of ice suddenly covered his hand and arm.

[Ice...?]

"Captain Mikhail Denver," said a familiar deep but angry voice. "Just what are you trying to do with my fiancée?"

Tilly turned to the owner of the voice and like she expected, it was indeed Kiho.

[And he looks very, very angry.]

***

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