The moment Yumir spoke, everyone understood what was going on. Geoffrey was trying to hire Annelotte to be his assistant. As for the middle-aged magus, he was just there to be the wingman. Perhaps he had already figured out the prince’s intentions before this started.
“Damn it!” Leguna fumed. He understood what Geoffrey was doing, but he didn’t want to get involved. The man was an imperial prince, after all. But if Geoffrey really pushed the envelope, hr would do his utmost to stop it.
“Hey, don’t be rash!” Kurdak hurriedly grabbed Leguna tightly.
“Let me go,” Leguna hissed.
“Calm down!” Kurdak pulled Leguna to a dark corner.
“Calm down? How? You want me to just watch as that stupid prince takes Annie? It’s not like you don’t know what he’s up to!”
“Shut up, you idiot!” Kurdak squeezed, “Don’t always think Annelotte belongs to you! You’re being just as bad as the prince now. If she doesn’t like him, she’ll turn him down. If she does like him, however, you have no right to interfere, and even if you did, you wouldn’t be able to do anything!”
“You!” Leguna’s fury reached its apex.
“At least wait until you hear what she has to say! If she agrees without hesitation, wouldn’t it be out of place to get involved? Do you even have a reason to stop her? What, tell her Geoffrey shouldn’t touch her because you like her?”
“What if she doesn’t want to? Geoffrey’s a prince and Annie’s father isn’t here. How could she withstand that kind of pressure?”
“Why do you always look down on the woman you like? Unable to handle the pressure? Annelotte doesn’t even fear the gods. Who could possibly force her to do anything she doesn’t want?”
“What if Geoffrey forces her?”
“That’s when you can act! But you must first let it be clear to the rest that Geoffrey’s the one in the wrong. At least, it would be harder for him to find a reason to kill you!”
Leguna stared at Kurdak, calming down gradually.
“Alright, Boss. You’ve thought it through better than I have.”
“How would I be your boss if I didn’t?”
Kurdak knew what the prince was up to the moment he started talking about assistants.
“Don’t worry, this isn’t very difficult. At worst we’ll have to leave with Annelotte on an unfriendly footing with the palace.”
“Alright, don’t worry, brat,” Arikos said, appearing beside them unannounced. “Let me deal with this. But this will be the last time I clean up after you. Don’t count on me again.”
“Arikos!” Leguna yelped joyfully.
As a member of the bureau, Arikos couldn’t be ignored or gotten rid of by someone like Geoffrey easily. And Arikos didn’t mind offending the prince since he would soon return to Lance, anyway.
“You finally really what advantages this position brings, right? Remember, only this once.”
The small middle-aged man headed for the pair in the middle of the hall.
Everyone’s eyes were glued to Annelotte.
She glanced at Geoffrey coldly.
“No thank you.”
“Why would that be, Miss Annelotte? This is a great opportunity to serve the emperor, and--“ Geoffrey began.
“--According to the regulations, court magi are obligated to serve the imperial family,” Yumir interrupted, “His Highness is only asking you to be his assistant to help him study magic. It’s a completely reasonable request.”
Yumir glanced at Geoffrey, checking for his approval, which he got.
“In that case, I--“ Annelotte started, frowning.
“--Miss Annie here is occupied with other matters. Apologies, Your Highness. She doesn’t have the time,” Arikos’s voice rang out.
“Mister Arikos?” Geoffrey frowned. He knew Annelotte and Arikos were actually members of Moonshadow. The old man’s appearance didn’t bode well for his plans.
“What urgent matter has Miss Annie so occupied?”
“Things related to the bureau are classified. You don’t have the clearance,” Arikos spoke plainly.
The bureau! Yumir’s expression changed immediately. He was a member of the magi court, any normal person wouldn’t want to have any dealings with them, but he did not fear them. The secret department had a bloody and shady aura about it.
“Then, Mister Arikos, could you tell me about it?” Geoffrey wouldn’t give up just because of some secret.
Arikos looked at him before walking to his side.
Geoffrey set up a silence barrier. He wanted to see what reason Arikos could possibly give.
“I wonder if you’ve noticed, Your Highness, but Annelotte is actually a water swayer,” Arikos spoke nonchalantly.
“What? She’s a gifted?!”
Geoffrey knew Annelotte was exceedingly talented, but to think she was a gifted! Another one! There’s another gifted apart from that bastard?!
The gifted’s talent was envied by most, but Geoffrey despised the.
“Then why didn’t she use her gifts during the tournament?”
“Because there was no need,” Arikos replied lazily, “She won the tournament easily, she was never in a position where it was necessary to use her gift.
Geoffrey was speechless.
“There’s no need for doubt, Your Highness. His Majesty can prove this.”
“What does her being a gifted have to do with the bureau?”
“You should have heard about this before. Two decades ago, Stok started research on the gifted.”
“I have… Wait, you guys...”
“Indeed,” Arikos nodded, “I was recently informed. Mis Annelotte is needed for the program.”
“Does Father know about this?” Geoffrey’s expression turned gloomy right away. He was entitled and arrogant, but no hopeless fool.
He had also found out about some things from reading reports. Stok wanted to know why gifts manifested in some and not others and had run lots of cruel experiments. It was one of the reasons that caused the empire to crumble and Hocke to rise up.
“Naturally. His Majesty personally approved the project.”
Geoffrey kept silent. If this was Larwin’s will, he would be even more unwilling to get in its way.
“Alright,” Geoffrey nodded, “I heard these experiments are... I wonder if Annie will be...”
Heh, to think that you’d be worried about that! Arikos though with a snicker.
“Don’t worry, Your Highness, Miss Annie is the empire’s brightest sapphire. We will not break her because. They’re more like small tests and she won’t be hurt. Even if we dared, Mister Marolyt won’t let us off the hook if anything happens to his precious daughter.”
“Alright, I understand.”
The prince removed the barrier.
“Since you are preoccupied, Annie, I won’t bother you. I’ll think of another way to resolve the problems I have.”
“Thank you for understanding, Your Highness,” replied Annelotte. She wouldn’t need to do anything else, now that the prince had retracted his invitation. I wonder what Arikos told him...
“Well, look. Isn’t it all resolved?” Kurdak asked, relieved.
Leguna looked at Annelotte, Arikos, and Geoffrey quietly.
One day, I won’t have to rely on anyone! I will use my own strength to protect you!
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