Her Observation
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Surprise attacks were usually effective towards unprepared enemies. Some consider it cowardly, while some consider it necessary when no other alternatives are present, making someone attack their target during a moment of weakness.
 
The advantage of surprise would be lost, however. If the person performing said attack announced their intent from the start. Alina couldn’t understand why Prince Raimond did that. The inner machinations of the mind of a man were an enigma. 
 
“Not now. I’m busy.”
 
The Crown Prince easily dodged his younger twin’s dropkick, causing him to crash into a bookcase filled with… well, books. What else? Storing books were the intended purpose of a bookcase. There were no such things as a hidden switch revealing a secret passageway. Not in this room.
 
No books were damaged during this incident—much to Alina’s relief. Fixing a damaged book was harder than healing injuries inflicted on human. Books don’t have their own internal regeneration factor. They weren’t living tissues.
 
“What did I tell you about overextending your kicks?”
 
“Don’t do that?”
 
“Exactly,” scolded the Crown Prince. Before burying his nose on his books. Bianca looked as if she wanted to say something, but she remained as silent as ever. Like a statue.
 
“Why is Alina here?”
 
“The fire sprinkler malfunctioned. It’s all fixed now.”
 
Alina wanted to protest. She didn’t do anything significant. All she did was pointing out the obvious. But if the Crown Prince didn't want his brother to find out about his blunder, Alina would honour his wish. For the moment.
 
Really? Why isn’t everything wet?”
 
“Magic.”
 
What kind of explanation was that? Alina thought the Crown Prince was capable of explaining things in more detail. He was supposed to be the antithesis of his brother. Could he be lowering his intelligence level so that Prince Raimond could understand what he was talking about?
 
So, it was like that. No one knew the younger Prince better than his older twin brother. Observing the interaction between the two would make it easier for Alina to formulate a way to free herself from Prince Raimond’s grasp.
 
Alina wouldn’t be surprised if the Prince wanted the answer to his question now. It has been a while since their fateful meeting at the Imperial Library. Time flew so fast when it doesn’t move slowly. Always forward, never backward.
 
Today, Alina was still searching for a suitable method to reject the Prince’s proposal without hurting his feelings. There were no guarantees that he would stop bothering her after she became his wife. She wouldn’t take that risk. Unless if the Prince proved himself to be worthy of her trust.
 
So far, he hasn’t proved anything yet other than being a constant source of nuisance.
 
“Bianca, it’s time for your Crown Princess training! Mom is looking for you.”
 
The infamous Crown Princess training. Something that Alina would never wish to befall on her enemies. If Bianca’s poker face was impressive, the way she used cosmetics to hide any signs of fatigue from showing on her delicate features were worthy of praise.
 
Should something happen to the Crown Prince; his brother would become the one to be crowned as the Emperor instead. When that time came, Alina would be forced to endure the Crown Princess training if she agreed to marry him.
 
“Don’t do that.”
 
“Don’t do what?”
 
“Only I can order Bianca around. You are not her fiancé. Bianca, stay here until you are feeling better.”
 
Bianca doesn’t respond. Her gaze was directed at the floor in a downcast manner, suddenly finding it fascinating.
 
“What’s going on? Did her soul leave her body or what?”
 
Alina wanted to answer that question, but the Crown Prince beat her to it.
 
“She is just sleeping with her eyes open. I wish I can do that.”
 
“Are you sure? She looked like a zombie. Don’t blame me if she ate your brain.”
 
Zombies don’t eat people’s brains. They eat everything they saw as food, driven by the urge to consume. There were two kinds of zombie—one possessed by lesser spirits and simply a reanimated dead body. Only the spirit-invested variation did that.
 
Misinformation was the bane of Mage’s existence. Now Alina wanted to introduce a real zombie to whoever told Prince Raimond that. Zombies reanimated by Mages weren’t hostile to the living as long as their controller doesn’t command them to start slaughtering everyone in their line of sight.
 
“You’re still here, Ms Alina? Everything is under control. You may return to your quarters.”
 
“And leave us with this zombie? Bad move, brother.”
 
Alina wasn’t sure why Prince Raimond kept insisting that Bianca was a zombie, a living corpse. Someone can’t become a living corpse if their body hasn’t experienced physical death from outside trauma or deteriorations.
 
“Bianca, are you a zombie or not?”
 
The sleeping beauty shook her head.
 
“See? She isn’t a zombie.”
 
“I’m not convinced. What is one plus one?”
 
“Two.”
 
Poor girl, Alina thought. She only wanted to sleep without a pair of Princes asking her frivolous questions—one after another. Alina knew how it felt like to be continuously bothered by them. One of them, at least.
 
“Leave her alone, you two. She isn’t feeling well.”
 
Alina’s lips moved on her own. And before she knew it, the words she uttered caused both Princes to fall silent.
 
“I didn’t get enough sleep last night, but I’m fine now.”
 
Bianca denied Alina’s statement regarding her health. She doesn’t appreciate being treated like she was made from glass.
 
“Did you have those nightmares again?” asked her fiancé, looking concerned or tried to. The Crown Prince wasn’t an expressive person.
 
“What nightmares? I’m too tired to sleep. That’s all.”
 
When someone felt tired but can’t sleep, it could've meant that their circadian rhythm was off. A circadian rhythm was a part of someone’s living body's internal clock, controlling their daily schedule for sleep and wakefulness. Even so, it was not the only thing that prevented people from having enough sleep.
 
“You were having nightmares,” concluded the Crown Prince.
 
“Was it the one where my brother leaves you for a Baron’s daughter? Or a visitor from another world?”
 
“How did you know?”
 
The cat is out of the bag—no use denying it. Not when lying to a member of the Royal Family equals prison.
 
“Because I’m awesome.”
 
Alina ignored Prince Raimond’s self-made remarks. It doesn’t explain where he got the knowledge of Bianca’s ailments. His older brother doesn’t look impressed.
 
“The previous Court Mage has an artefact that let you watch people’s dream. I can’t steal her heart. It's impossible to steal something that doesn’t exist, so I stole that instead.”
 
“Does this artefact looked like an orb?” asked Alina, probing for details.
 
“It does.”
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