Across the room was her Father, Auguste.
At the very least, Amelia expected to be scolded, perhaps given a tedious reprimand. However, Auguste remained unmoving with his arms crossed.
Amelia was puzzled. She thought she knew how to deal with her Father, but the drumming of her heart reminded her of her naivety. And thus, as a start, Amelia took a step. Then a soon as her lips parted to voice out a question, Auguste spoke.
It was but a few words from Auguste, but Amelia’s advance halted. Subsequently, her eyes grew wide and her mouth gaped. However, as soon as those words sunk into Amelia’s mind, her fists tightened—her teeth clenched.
“No!” Amelia shook her head. Her glare towards Auguste was a mix of hatred and confusion. Still, Auguste received it without a hint of expression.
“No...” Amelia’s shoulders lost its strength and her heart fell into a prison of ice—for she knew there was nothing that can change Auguste’s mind.
Amelia took a full turn and rushed towards the door. Not minding the butlers and maids on the other side, she threw the door open and encountered bewildered faces.
“Your Highness!” The servants called. However, Amelia’s figure did not stop. She kept running until she vanished into a corner of the hallway.
Mola walked back and forth, clutching her hair as stress accumulated in her body.
“Just what the hell is happening!”
“Don’t ask me,” commented a man who wore an oval-shaped glasses.
Mola turned around and grabbed the black haired man by his collar. “You’re the only one here who could answer the question!”
The man grimaced. “I told you, I knew nothing of the drama between Her Highness and His Majesty. I’ve been inside the laboratory ever since the Dasbalites were brought in for examination. Well, except for meals and you know what.”
Mola freed the man and sighed. “You’re really unreliable with this stuff.”
“That I don’t deny.”
Mola narrowed her eyes. “Still, it’s a part of your job to know whatever is happening to your employer, especially at crucial times such as this.”
Again, Mola sighed. “Glasses.”
“I have a name, and it’s Al—”
“Whatever.” Mola waved her hand in dismissal. “Anyway, it would be a loooot looot better to hear tidbits of verbal information rather than just reading the outcome from a letter. So, in that regard, you’re a failure.”
“… Mola, you’re awfully fired about this.” Glasses frowned.
“No, this should be a lesson to you. You’re too lax about anything else aside from the research you are interested in.”
“That’s my nature.”
“And I’m telling you to change that. You’re not an independent researcher. You’re working under Her Highness’s command. Remember, everything you wanted to do would be almost impossible without a backing. So don’t be too sloppy with work—or else I’ll demote you.”
Glasses knitted his brows. “Sorry…”
Mola took a seat opposite of Glasses. “So, with all that said, do you really not know anything? Like, what was the reason why Her Highness was forcefully sent back to Aves?”
Glasses sighed. “Like I said, I don’t know anything. Even I was curious after I heard the news and received the order to come here in Academia in advance.”
“Yeah, you were supposed to arrive with Her Highness as per scheduled.”
“When I left, there was quite a ruckus.”
“What kind?” Mola leaned forward.
“Rumors said, that Her Highness brought a legitimate dragon fang and scales.”
Mola caught herself in a fit of a cough. “Dragon you say? Just where has Her Highness been to?”
“Reports says that the Tribe launched an offensive against a Woodland Dragon, and they won. Apparently, Her Highness was part of the operation.”
Mola’s palm naturally found itself on her face. “Your Highness, please, how ridiculous can you be?” Mola sighed. “In that case, the reason Her Highness was sent back to Aves was her recklessness?”
Glasses shook his head. “Apparently, No. Her Highness was immediately apprehended in the gates and was lead to His Majesty’s chamber as soon as she arrived.”
“Then His Majesty has decided even before hearing the report regarding the Tribe’s offensive.”
For a moment, silence descended between the two.
Mola scratched her ruffled hair. “Are there any other orders aside from what’s written in the letter?” Though Mola thought it was useless to ask Glasses, still, she hoped there was.
“Sorry, there’s nothing. Her Highness was taken back to Aves the day after she met His Majesty.” Glasses sighed. “That’s probably the reason why there isn’t any specific order other than to continue as planned. Well, we could wait for a few more days to receive a continuation after sending our own questions through a letter, but I don’t think Her Highness would be pleased that we did not do anything other than wait.”
Mola pinched the bridge of her nose. “That’s obvious. We have legs to stand on our own. We shouldn’t heavily rely on Her Highness. But continue as planned huh… I guess I’ll take both Her Highness’s and Kanna’s role on this one.”
“I’ll be taking you with me, so don’t grin like you’ve won.”
“...” Glasses hunched in despair. “Yes, Ma’am.”
While Mola and Glasses brooded over the situation, a knock came from the door.
“Coming.” Mola stood and turned the knob. The moment she got a peek at the person on the other side, she immediately closed the door shut.
Mola turned her head towards Glasses like a rusted cog. “W-w-was that Her Royal Highness?”
Glasses, who also had a glimpse of Lara, nodded hurriedly.
After confirming the situation, Mola carefully opened the door.
Mola straightened her back the best she could. “Y-your Royal Highness! It’s a pleasure to m-meet you! P-pardon my question, b-but may I ask what business do you have with us?”
“I apologize for my sudden visit, Marianne.” Lara nodded lightly. The strands of her brown hair brushed against her cheeks.
Mola moved to the side and gestured Lara to enter. “Her Highness calls me by the name Mola. You may call me by that nickname as well.”
Though Mola has regained her composure in terms of speech, her movements and her smile were stiff. Not to mention Glasses, who did not even move an inch from his seat.
“And you’re Albert Selton, right?”
Glasses, upon hearing his name, snappily stood from his seat. “Y-ye—ow!”
Lara raised her leather gloved hand to her lips and giggled. “Both of you, it’s fine. Take it easy. I am no executioner or some sort. So take your time and breath.”
Mola and Glasses took Lara’s advice and calmed their breathing. Afterward, Mola offered her seat to Lara while she and Glasses stood.
“Is there something wrong, Your Royal Highness?” Mola asked with her hands tucked on her back.
“Lara, if you please. Calling me by honorary title is quite a disadvantageous for the time I have left.”
Mola shook her head. “Ma’am is the least I could do.”
“Good enough.” Lara smiled. “In any case, I believe you now have an overview of the situation.”
Glasses and Mola nodded.
“And your orders were to pursue what was planned.”
Again, both of them nodded.
“Please divert from the aforementioned plan.”
Mola and Glasses knitted their brows and looked at each other’s bewildered expressions.
The first to ask was Mola. “Ma’am, though I believe you have the right to give us orders, it is our calling to prioritize Her Highness’s. So forgive me, I can’t divert from the plan without Her Highness’s consent.”
Then followed Glasses. “Ma’am, can you give us the reason? And how deep have you dug about the plan?”
Lara tilted her head with a mischievous smile. “Deeper than both of you. Perhaps the whole situation that even Amelia has not yet opened to both of you.”
Mola and Glasses grimaced.
“If that’s the case… you had Her Highness’s consent?” Mola asked as she gripped her hand. She believed she was supposed to be among the first people who should know the situation from Amelia’s mouth—not an unrelated person.
“Apparently not,” Lara admitted. “I’ll be honest. I am moving on my own and I don’t intend to let Amelia know about this. However, as you are now, it’s entirely possible for any of you to leak it—not that I’ll blame you for it. It’s your job after all.”
Mola downed a mouthful of saliva. Meanwhile, Glasses palms drew sweat.
“However, I want you to trust me.” Lara gazed at Mola with resolute eyes. “Still, I have to prove that I’m worthy of being followed, am I not.”
Reluctantly, Mola nodded.
“One week.” Lara stood from her seat and walked towards the door. “Give me one week and I’ll show you that what I’m capable of. In that same span of time, promise me Amelia won’t hear a word regarding this meeting.”
When Lara reached for the knob, she glanced behind. “Mola, take Meiko. Take her on the third level, towards the sanctum of Earth. Also, take the eastern lift at around an hour past midnight.”
Mola’s mind worked its cogs. “You don’t mean! You’ll come with us?!”
Lara chuckled. “No. I won’t.”
“Fuu… Fuu...” White mist formed and vanished in the middle of the garden.
“What are you doing?” Kanna asked Amelia who remained sprawled on the garden at night.
“Trying to feel the cold.”
“With that fur coat on?”
“That’s strange.” Kanna scratched her cheeks and sat beside Amelia. “You know, I think your Father is just worried about you.”
“That’s the problem.” Amelia tried to count the stars on a cloudless night, but she lost count repeatedly.
“Sorry Lia, I don’t have much advice this time around.” Kanna frowned. “I don’t know much about the hierarchy of humans.”
Amelia shook her head. “It’s okay. Refusing Father is a complicated and delicate issue, so I don’t expect anyone to have an outright solution.”
Kanna held Amelia’s hand. “You’ll get through this.”
“Apparently, I don’t have a choice but to go through this, but really, this is a pain...” Amelia shut her eyes. “Father, you’re so flippant. Haven’t you recognized me as an adult recently? So why can’t you trust me? Am I really that unreliable?”
“Lia.” Kanna tightened her grip. “You know that’s not the truth.”
“But I’m glad you did not run away when your Father told you to return to Aves.”
Amelia returned Kanna’s grip. “I can’t become a fugitive at this time and day. It’ll only give me demerits. At worst, it’ll put a stop to everything that I’ve started. And a public dispute between Royals… an unbecoming result.”
“That’s true.” Kanna sighed. “So what do we do now?”
“That’s what I wanted to ask the world...”