His Secret
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Nothing happened in the Imperial Capital this week. Or rather, nothing noteworthy happened. It was impossible for nothing to truly happen unless everyone and everything around the Capital stopped existing spontaneously.

It was a peaceful and uneventful week for those who called the Imperial Capital of Heartland their home. However, the fact that no one died because they were killed inside the city’s walls wasn’t necessarily a good thing. Some people were more paranoid than most. It caused them to feel anxious.

“Brace yourselves. Something big is coming.”

“How big?”

“Bigger than big.”

The Imperial Guards were people too. They weren’t immune to paranoia. Worse, most of them tend to shoot first and ask later, or never at all. Their swords excelled at both cutting and piercing, but they barely used the blade outside training, preferring to use the peculiar firearm combined with the sword instead, in most situations.

It seemed like being trigger-happy was a requirement to join the order of knights responsible for the Imperial Capital’s security. Their most likely response to a crime was to fire a warning shot aimed near the offender.

“Let me guess. The lizard people are planning another invasion?”

“Nothing we can’t handle, I hope. If it’s living, we can kill it.”

The pair of knights who guarded the Imperial Palace’s garden resumed their duty upon the Second Prince’s arrival. They stopped talking and saluted him. Prince Raymond was accompanied by another knight, the weird one who couldn’t quite comprehend the concept of chivalry and honour.

Reuben was no fool. He knew what chivalry and honour meant for a knight—a set of rules and regulations to follow or ignore. No more, no less. He wasn’t ignoring it. He simply thought it was too complicated to follow.

“You want me to become your uncle’s bodyguard? That was a good joke.”

“I’m serious,” said the Prince to the knight who once tried to stage a robbery with Alina as its target. His friend was up to something, and it was the Prince’s duty to distract him from turning another of his dastardly plans into fruition.

“Your uncle killed a dragon with a shovel. He doesn’t need a bodyguard.”

“It wasn’t a dragon, just a really big lizard. Besides, no one is immune to sneak attacks.”

Dragons ruled the world ages before the first human existed. There was only one continent back then, and it was big enough to hold all of the dragons living there. However, everything changed when a giant rock of doom appeared from space.

“Dragons are extinct, I know. I’m not stupid.”

“Then why call it a dragon?”

“It sounded better than calling it a really big lizard that can breathe poison with scales tougher than diamonds.”

That was awfully specific and mouthful. Contrary to popular belief, dragons weren’t as extinct as most people thought. Earth Dragons were the only species affected by the meteor. Those who lived up in the skies and deep beneath the oceans hadn’t met their end yet. However, their existence was kept secret because their leader wanted them to stay hidden.

Heartland’s Royal Family members were the only humans in Heartland privy to the secret. The need for absolute secrecy was the only thing that prevented Prince Raymond from telling the world that his family owned the legendary dragon blood said to cure any illness.

The last time he checked, handing a small sample of miracle cures to an Archon won’t cause an imbalance on the space-time continuum. But he did felt stupid for not trying it to cure Bianca's nightmares first. She was already considered as a part of his family.

“It’s strange, you know? One day I’m a criminal, and now I’m part of the guards. I’m supposed to destroy them, not join them.”

“The guards need someone who can think like a criminal. I’m surprised they hired an actual criminal like you.”

Technically, being a con-artist wasn’t illegal. It was a perfectly valid profession. Deceiving people for monetary gains wasn’t a crime when no one found out about it. Accusing someone of fraud without proof were frowned upon since it could be counted as defamation. An event that wasn't identified as a crime or remained undetected was the definition of a perfect crime. If the guards were to hire a criminal, they wouldn’t hire average criminals. They would rather hire a mastermind who was capable of perpetrating perfect crimes on a daily basis.

“Can’t blame them for that, I’m just that awesome.”

Aside from his self-proclaimed awesomeness, Reuben was also known for being a free-spirited troublemaker. He denied it, of course, by using the excuse that he wasn’t the person responsible for the chaos around him. Trouble followed him wherever he goes, but it wasn’t his fault.

“Watch where you’re going! You’re lucky I’m in a good mood today.”

He bumped into someone who carried a pile of books that obstructed their vision. People can’t see what was in front of them when something prevented them from doing so. Not everyone could saw through solid objects—even Alina.

“Oh, it’s you. Perfect timing, Prince Raimond was looking for you. He said he has something he wanted to tell you.”

“Don’t speak of me as if I’m not here,” protested the Prince. He didn’t like the direction where this conversation was heading.

“He said it’s an S-rank secret. The only way for you to know is to marry into the Royal Family. Something about a deal with a devil.”

Wait, why hadn’t the Prince thought of that sooner? That was brilliant! Instead of saying, “I can tell you, but then I will have to kill you,” he should have said, “I can tell you, but then you will have to marry me,” when asked for the details of his dealing with Marcyziel.

“Is that so? I’m not interested, thanks.”  

“Come visit us again if you changed your mind.”

The Court Mage left with a negative response, resulting in another failure. Why wasn’t it working? Either Alina lost interest in previous week’s events, or she forgot about it after her mind deemed it as no longer important, which seemed more likely, considering the world hasn’t ended yet.

Out of all Archons, Marcyziel was the easiest to please. Even a rock with googly eyes was enough to appease her as long as it was given sincerely. Alina received that information from Prince Raimond’s aunt, whose knowledge of spirits rival her husband.

“Alina: 343, Raimond: 0.”

“That’s a made-up number, right?”

“You wish.”