The morning routine of mages was surprisingly similar to ordinary people. It started with waking up. Alina wasn’t a morning person. In fact, she wasn’t even a person at all. Her thought process was too austere for a person. No one in their right mind would use 100% of their brain for the sake of research.
She finished her breakfast in one bite. Her body was running on autopilot now. Wafers are nice. They never complained about being eaten. The same goes for water. Use them for anything, and they would always comply, forming into various shapes when required.
Alina never knew it could take Prince Raimond's form until she saw it with her own eyes. A perfect imitation such as that deserved praise. But then it started to talk, and Alina realised it was the real deal all along, just drenched in water from head to toe.
“The fire sprinkler in my study malfunctioned. Can you fix it?”
Water was wet. It caused white clothes to become translucent. Drying the clothes solved the problem. Alina did that with a single spell. She didn’t want the Prince to catch a cold. He was only pretending to be an idiot. That made him still susceptible to colds and other ailments.
“What were you doing in your study?”
There were other things she wanted to ask, something the Prince needed to answer. Yet, it was lost inside the void of her memory. If she can’t remember it, then it wasn’t important.
“Studying, of course. What else?” Prince Raimond said, in a matter-of-fact way.
“Did you eat something weird for breakfast?”
“Unimportant. Can you fix the fire sprinkler or not?”
A fire sprinkler was a mechanism that discharged water when it detected a fire. Every room inside the Imperial Palace has one. Shouldn’t it be called a water sprinkler? It sprinkles water. If a fire sprinkler caused water to appears, would a water sprinkler cause a fire?
The same went for firefighters. They used water. Following the same logic, pyromancers who used fire as their signature weapon could be categorised as waterfighters. If people fight fire with water, why not fight water with fire?
Alina was more concerned with the Prince’s mental health than fire sprinklers right now. He wasn’t as boisterous and outgoing as usual, projecting an aura of coldness that made him seemed calm and calculating; the opposite of his typical demeanour.
What was going on right here? The Opposite Day doesn’t start until next week. Alina must be dreaming or stuck inside an alternate universe where everyone acted differently.
She scrapped the alternate universe theory due to a lack of evidence. What happened to Alina of this universe? There was a decent possibility that the Prince was too irritated at the water sprinkler to bother with doing anything other than finding a solution. At least he had a valid reason to visit Alina now.
“I need to see what’s wrong with the fire sprinkler before I can fix it. Lead the way.”
“Good. Follow me.”
Alina never entered the Prince’s study before. It was located in the same building, but it was always locked. Every room was secured with a fingerprint recognition system. Only people registered in the ward can unlock it. The greatest Magecrafter made it for the Emperor.
Their destination was a simple room containing what someone would expect from a study, with little to no decorations to distract its occupant from doing what they were supposed to do. It doesn’t seem to belong to any part of the Imperial Palace, which has a minimalistic design.
There were two more rooms like this inside the Imperial Palace. One used by the Emperor and the Crown Prince. The Imperial Palace has too many empty spaces. Those empty spaces can be turned into anything somehow. Apparently, having one study wasn’t enough.
“I think I found the problem.”
“What is it? Enlighten me.”
“You’re not supposed to smoke inside a no-smoking area.”
The fire sprinkler was working as intended, a statement that was proven by the existence of a partially-lit cigarette lying inside the trash can. The only evidence Alina needed to condemn Prince Raimond guilty of stupidity.
“Really? I don’t know that’s what going to happen. I never smoked before.”
“Why start now?” Alina asked, wondering if the Prince will turn to his usual self now.
“It’s a new year gift. What am I supposed to do with it? Throw it away?”
He has a point. It was disrespectful to throw away a gift, even if it doesn’t have any use. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure, though. A way to rectify this situation is to give it away to another person who needed it more.
“Great idea. You’re a genius, Ms Alina. You are dismissed.”
“I haven’t said anything yet.”
Wait, Ms Alina? Prince Raimond never called her that. This wasn’t Prince Raimond. This was Prince Rainhard. Those two looked similar when their hairs are brushed down. They were twins; to think that the Crown Prince was as ridiculous as his little brother.
“Good morning, Your Highness. I brought you the reading material you requested,” stated a young woman whose face was hidden beneath the stack of books she’s holding, reaching into the ceilings. The books were taller than her. It must have weighed quite a lot.
“Thanks, Bianca. You can leave now.”
“I can’t. I need to make sure you take a break from reading for every 90 minutes.”
“Let me guess. Ninety minutes have passed? Alright, you win. I know you won’t stop bothering me until you got what you wanted.”
Bianca was a fragile thing. A snow fairy lookalike. Alina wondered if she would start melting if her body was exposed to too much sunlight.
“I’m your fiancé. It’s my job to keep you alive and well.”
“Are you sure you’re not my bodyguard instead?”
Watching the interaction between the Crown Prince and his fiancé firsthand made Alina aware of one thing. Doesn’t this look familiar? One side won’t leave the other side alone until they caved into their demand.
It reminded Alina of her interaction with Prince Raimond. Both interactions followed the same dynamic but in reverse. It must be a Royal Family thing. If the only way to move was forward, was it too late to resign now?
“You don’t need a bodyguard,” argued Bianca. The most dangerous persons inside the Imperial Palace is the Emperor and his heirs. Everyone knows that.
“Obviously. It’s a waste of human resources. I can defend myself.”
The Crown Prince refused to be guarded by anyone. He preferred working alone in silence. Like Alina. A kindred spirit.
“But can you defend from a surprise attack, brother?”