Magic is everywhere, you just don't realize it was there.
Chapter 9: The First Truth
You stared at the young caretaker in disbelief. Toris hung his head in embarrassment. He knew he didn't have the liberty to speak about the matter regarding his master's status, but he had no choice.
"...Prince? You are not serious, right?" You asked hesitantly. The boy kept silent. "Toris!"
"He is, Lady! I'm sorry..."
You angrily stood up from your seat, slamming your hand to the table in front of you. "He never told me anything about it! This is serious!"
"Please, Lady. I know nothing of this matter," the brown haired caretaker stated hesitantly, his emerald orbs stained with fear.
You stayed in that position for a while, glaring at him, before sighing in defeat and returned to your seat. "I know... I'm sorry. I was just... mad."
"I understand. Maybe you should talk to Sir Alfred for yourself."
You bit your lip nervously. Even if you wanted to, you wouldn't know how to begin. You and Alfred rarely ever talked about anything remotely serious, and once you did, it was something as crucial as this.
The silence in the room was broken when Alfred and Arthur both returned to the room. Alfred, as per usual, was being himself and acting all hyperactive, while Arthur stayed his grumpy self as he grumbled about Alfred's indecency.
"We're back! [Name], it's good to see you're okay!" The blonde took a seat beside you.
The anger in your head faded a little. You forced out a smile. "Good to see you, too."
"Oh, and who's this?" He smiled at Yao. "A friend of yours?"
"He's my caretaker, Wang Yao. Yao, this is my... friend, Alfred," you introduced, smiling at your guardian.
Yao smiled at Alfred and gave him a courteous bow. "Pleasure to meet you."
"Nah, no need to be so formal! It's not necessary for me," Alfred said casually, leaning back on his seat.
You twitched. How long was he planning to keep it a secret from you?
Arthur noticed the slight mood change in you and raised his brow. He said nothing nonetheless.
Sensing the slight tense atmosphere, Toris cleared his throat and stood up. "I will go get something to drink."
He went outside the room and disappeared around the corner. Arthur followed him not long after, leaving you, Alfred, and Yao alone. "I'll go take a look around," he said.
The young Mage silently walked to the kitchen, where he found Toris busily brewing tea. He leaned on the doorframe. "What did you say to [Name]?"
Startled, he nearly dropped the cups, but managed to pull himself. He turned around to look at Arthur, fear plastered all over his face.
"N-Nothing, Master. I only asked how the trip here was."
"You know I don't like it when people lie."
The guardian bit his lip nervously. He looked down to the ground. "I'm sorry, Master... I couldn't help it."
Master Kirkland sighed and looked away. "Tch, I knew it. How could you do something so stupid?"
"Whatever," the Dark Wizard said, putting his hands inside his pockets. "What happens, happens. She'll find out about it sooner or later, anyway."
The tension in the air was killing you, and the three of you stayed silent for the last five minutes. There was nothing you wanted more than Toris coming back at that moment, or even the darn Mage was fine. Anything to kill the uncomfortable atmosphere that was overshadowing the small room.
Alfred, despite his usual ignorance to situations, seemed to notice the tension and became quiet, which was rather odd for him. He tried to look away, and avoided any eye contact with you or Yao. It was rather awkward.
Feeling your anger rising up again, you finally took the chance to speak. "Alfred, I need to ask you something, but please, answer me honestly, and no secrets."
Gulping, the boy nodded. "Y-Yeah... sure."
Yao gave you a worried glance. You paused for a moment, trying to find the right words to begin. You held your breath.
"You are a prince, is that true?"
To your surprise, Alfred wasn't that much startled when you blurted out the question. You guessed that he might already know that you knew.
"Geez, I was planning to keep that a secret for a bit longer..." He laughed nervously. "Toris told you about that, didn't he?"
"Figures." He looked away. "Toris is always an honest person. I don't blame him."
There was another silence.
"Why did you lie?"
Alfred didn't answer directly, but he said, "I just couldn't tell you. Actually, a lot of people don't know that I'm the prince of Forlin. I'm just uncomfortable with that. I mean, when people know that I have such an important role, people will start acting differently. It's annoying."
You only nodded. Being a princess you were, you knew at least how he felt. People were always trying to be nice and polite whenever they were in front of you, but then they would start talking differently behind you. Most of them only tried to act nice to you to get your attention for their own advantages, seeing that you were the King's daughter and they might get special privileges for it. It was like you were living surrounded by two faced people.
"You don't need to lie to me about it, you know." You frowned. "It's not like I'm going to treat you differently."
"I can't proof it. You didn't know that I was a prince back then."
"You kidding? Alfred, I am a princess. I know exactly what you mean."
He didn't reply and kept his gaze to the door. He finally said, "...Well, that was the first reason. It wasn't the only thing keeping me from telling you who I really am."
"I bet you are not telling me what the next reason is."
"Sorry, but yeah, I'm not telling you." He gave you an apologetic smile. Somehow, you weren't as mad anymore with those kinds of answers. Maybe you had gotten used to them after all this.
Toris finally returned with a tray of tea, and Arthur followed behind him. Toris put the tray on the table. "Sorry it took so long."
"Master told me that you are going to Osylia. But going there takes days and you will need supplies, so you can stay here for the night and start moving early tomorrow."
"Only one night?"
"We can't stay here too long," Master Kirkland said. "This is Forlin."
You didn't dare to question.
"Will Alfred come with us?" you asked curiously, slightly hoping that the cheerful young man would accompany you in the days-long trip.
"He can't, I'm sorry, Lady," Toris apologized.
"Haha, I'm grounded!" Alfred said, rather proudly.
"Remember that time when we first met? I wasn't supposed to be there, you know."
"Let me remind you that if you weren't being so reckless and at least considered about taking me with you, you wouldn't have to be punished, Sir."
The young prince only laughed in return.
"Is everything ready?" Toris asked, putting a box of food supply into the carriage, Yao helping behind him.
"I think so," you looked around, checking for anything left. "Thanks, Toris."
"It's fine, My Lady."
"I assume I will see you again?" you asked, smirking slightly.
The caretaker blushed and nodded. "Probably so. Have a save journey, Lady [Name]."
"Will do. Say my goodbyes to Alfred, okay?" You waved at him and ran into the carriage. Toris returned your wave. "Don't worry, I will!"
Arthur was already inside the carriage, a book in his hand and a bored expression stamped across his blank face. You frowned at him. "Hey, you could at least help with the luggage!"
He rolled his eyes.
You sighed in exasperation and crossed your arms across your chest, looking outside. The carriage was already moving through the same dead streets and started going out the gates, leaving the grand country of Forlin.
You leaned into your seat and played with the hem of your shirt. Arthur looked at you from the corner of his eyes. "Get used to this. The trip won't end for another four days."
"I know... I'm just bored."
"...Then, wanna play a game?"
Your eyes widen upon hearing the familiar voicewhich was definitely not Arthur'sand turned to the source behind you.
The blonde closed your mouth with his hand and shushed you. "Not so loud! We're not far enough from Forlin; they might be able to hear you!"
Arthur shook his head. "I knew you'd do this again."
"I beg you, Art. Don't send me back home."
"Will not. That would only waste my time."
"I love you."
"I hate you."
You pulled his hand away from your mouth. "How did you get into the carriage? Where were you?"
"...The luggage. I'm pretty good with it, aren't I?"
"Whatever." You rolled your eyes. "What if you were found out?"
"You're worrying about that?" Alfred asked with a mocking tone. "Hey, you're not a princess here. The outside world is a jungle filled with wild animals and monsters of all kinds."
You raised your brow in confusion. "Your point?"
"Be glad that I considered about helping you, duh! You and Art could get killed if that jerk Ivan finds you." He cringed, pausing for a moment. You looked at him with light amusement.
"...And the worst that could happen to me from running away? Getting extra detention!"
To be continued...