Chapter 32: Probing
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There was only one person who would knock on my door at this time. Although I predicted her arrival, I didn't think she would come this early. As I walked towards the door, I couldn't help but fondle the pendant in my pocket.

Before I opened the door, I decided to review my repertoire of excuses. I wanted to avoid scenarios where I didn't know what to say and spoke the first thought that comes to mind.

In general, the main idea was to feign ignorance and give generic responses to every question. For example, if Kasa asks about my whereabouts for the past few days, I would say that I was walking around the mansion. If she asks if I went to any particular location, I'll tell her that I just found a random garden and slept there in the afternoon. If she asks me if I had anyone dispel the magic, I'll ask her what she was talking about.

Out of all the scenarios I could think of, the most worrying one was if Kasa saw me talking to Lucan. I wasn't quite sure how I would respond to that because I had no idea how Kasa would react. However, that scenario was very unlikely.

In the last couple of years, I've seen Kasa leave her house less than a handful of times. Most of those were her visiting me, so I'm fairly confident she wouldn't have left her house the past few weeks. I did wonder if there was some sort of 'spying magic' she could use to observe me, but it wasn't likely since Lucan never mentioned that sort of magic in our conversation.

My thoughts were interrupted by a second knock on the door. It was heavier than the first, and I realized I shouldn't keep her waiting.
As I expected, the first thing I saw after opening the door was Kasa smiling at me. Her smile contrasted the piercing stare in her eyes. One of her hands was tightly clenched into a fist, and another had a handful of flowers. In the mansion, there was only one place where they grew.

Kasa began speaking to me in a normal voice. "Hey Rorik."

"Hey Kasa, how are you?"

"I'm fine, I just wanted to say I'm sorry about what happened back then."

"Ah that, it's okay. I'm sorry about how I acted as well."

Maybe this will be better than I expected, it looks like she just wanted to apologize.

She handed me the plants. "I wanted to give you these flowers as an apology."

As I took the flowers, my hand brushed the bottom of their stems. All of them had a clean uniform cut. I gulped inwardly as I realized how proficient Kasa was with magic.

"Thank you for the flowers, I'll put them in my room."

Since my main goal of dispelling the tracking magic was understanding Kasa's true intentions, I decided to start probing a little.

"How did you know I would like these flowers?"

Instantly, Kasa crossed her arms, stopped smiling, and took a deep breath in.

"You, you want to ask me how I know?"

The amount of contempt in her voice made me doubt my ears. As I remained silent, Kasa spoke in the same tone.

"I said, did you want to ask me how I know?"

I felt some sweat accumulating on my back.

"Y-Yeah, I don't think I ever told you I liked flowers."

"Then come with me." Kasa approached me and grabbed my hand.

"Can't you just explain it here?" I said as I tried to break free from her grip.

"No, I can't." She started pulling my hand as she walked out of my room.

From past experiences, I know that in these circumstances you should never follow anyone to a secondary location. However, I couldn't break free from Kasa's grip. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't even make her arm budge. On the contrary, the more I struggled the more force she put on my hand. I stopped resisting as I realized that my hand might break if she put more pressure on it. Instead, I started thinking of an excuse for Kasa witnessing me talking to Lucan.

She brought me to her house and almost threw me inside. As I held my arm in pain I heard the door close with a bang.

Kasa sat down on a pile of books and stared at me intently. When she realized I wasn't speaking, she spoke in a cold tone.

"Rorik, do you recall what you told me after you came back from the engagement ceremony?"

"..." I groaned internally. Why did I ever have to say that?

"Let me refresh your memory. You told me that everyone else is evil." She stood up and spoke in a sad voice. "That we could only trust each other."

A tear dripped down her face.

"We made a promise Rorik. You were the first person I made a promise to in years."

"But then why-" she started choking on her words. "Why?" Her lips tightened and her voice became harsher. "Why did you betray me?"
She screamed and she stamped her foot.

I realized the situation had spiraled out of control incredibly fast, but I kept quiet. I - quite stupidly - didn't prepare a response for this scenario and was still formulating one. I didn't want to say the first thought in my mind and repeat the same mistake that caused this.

Kasa screamed at the top of her lungs "Why aren't you saying anything!" then started to catch her breath.

"No..." She started speaking in a much calmer voice, "No I know why you did that. You must've forgotten how scary the outside world can be." She summoned a fireball in her hand. "Then let me give a simple reminder. Remember, this won't even be one percent of how scary the outside world is."

Sweat was starting to build upon my back from tension and the heat of the fireball. At this point, I had no choice but to use my impromptu, imperfect excuse and hoped it worked.

"But Kasa, I- I don't know what you're talking about."

She raised her eyes, "You, you're still going to pretend that you didn't do anything. No, maybe you still don't realize what you've done."
The fireball in her hand grew a bit bigger.

"I saw you talking to the gardener, you were smiling and laughing and completely forgot about me."

"Ahhh you were talking about that." I pretended to breathe out a sigh of relief. "Kasa you completely misunderstood what happened. I was talking to him, but that was so I could find a present for you."

The fireball became smaller. She took a step back and widened her eyes.

"A present?"

"That's right a present, I wanted to give you something before you left, but I didn't know what would suit a magician. Remember that money that Duke Pendle gave me, I wanted to spend some of it on a good present for you. The reason I was talking to him so much was so he would give me better advice."

I put my hand to my heart, looked down, and rubbed my eyes.

"I'm sorry I broke our promise but I didn't forget it. I would've asked you, but I didn't know how to approach you after we fought and wanted it to be a surprise."

"Was... was that really what happened?"

"Of course, what else could it be. You should really trust me more."

Instantly the fireball vanished, and tears started appearing.

"I'm... I'm so sorry Rorik. I, I didn't mean-"

Instead of waiting for her to finish speaking, I went closer to her and spoke in a calm tone.

"It's okay Kasa, I forgive you."

She hugged me and started sobbing. I stood still and started thinking about what just happened. After a few minutes, Kasa separated herself from me and spoke in a meek voice.

"I just didn't want you to make new friends and forget about me."

"Like I said it's okay Kasa, I'm not mad at you. I'm just a little confused, how did you know I was talking to the gardener?"
Her eyes avoided my gaze as she spoke, "I saw you talking to him while I was practicing magic nearby."

However, as she continued speaking, she made eye contact with me.

"I can ignore it this time, but you did break our promise. The next time you want to talk to someone else, talk to me instead. I'll tell them what you said. Okay?"

"Okay Kasa, I promise you."

She started smiling again and muttered something to herself. I could only make out the words trust, danger, and together. It was rather unnerving to hear, so I made an excuse to leave.

"I'll be right back Kasa, I just wanted to go get a book."

"Sure but don't take too long Rorik!"

My walk to the library was as slow as possible.