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Talks of marriage

He seemed troubled—and troubled he should be, now that the only thing that made Ellerie a blueblood was taken from her—as he walked toward us, once again taking his seat. Arula and I kept our eyes on him, not saying a word.

“Ellerie and I were given opportunities to grow up together due to the ties of our families,” Remington said, mostly looking at me, since Arula would have already known. “She moved in to my castle on the premise that she would one day, as a representative of her family, wed me to further strengthen our alliance.”

I nodded; Arula stayed silent.

“But now she’s suddenly lost her magical energy to a maid.”

“A maid?” I asked, feigning shock.

Arula, too, creased his brows in deep thought. He was perhaps an even more apt actor than Remington or myself, since he constantly had to pretend he didn’t already know everything.

“Yes, her personal maid Amelia. She has been sent to the dungeon for now. While it’s not that Amelia used to be exceptionally loyal, there wasn’t anything odd or off about her either—but that is an investigation for later,” Remington continued. “Since you are here, Arula...we should perhaps discuss Ellerie instead.”

Arula took a sip of tea from his cup, and put it back down, allowing a moment between us.

“Your question is whether the engagement should still take place if the castle doesn’t bring back her powers, is that right?” Arula asked.

Remington nodded. “The arrangement was made on the unspoken premise that we are both bluebloods; and whether or not we are bluebloods rests on whether we can use magical powers outside of blueblood territory.”

I had known that Remington was a rational person, but never had the opportunity to judge if he would remain rational on issues close to his heart. Previously, I was the one who was sent to the dungeons; I hadn’t been a part of this discussion. Certainly, I was released soon after (only to be sent there again later on), but I was still absent from this library at this point of time. Even so, I would guess that he had previously insisted on the engagement. Although Remington and Ellerie’s relationship was built upon politics, they had developed feelings for each other over time, and political alliances didn’t strictly depend on marriages; in fact, blueblood lords often married whomever they wanted regardless of whether the union had political value.

In other words, by bringing this up, it could only mean that Remington didn’t want to marry Ellerie for personal reasons.

I looked up at Arula, trying to discern if he had arrived at the same conclusion.

“If she has indeed lost all her powers, she is technically no longer a blueblood, and there will be no reason for you to marry her,” Arula said. Yep, he had arrived at the same conclusion.

“I know it’s not in my place to ask,” I interjected, “But what happens when someone is no longer blueblood?”

“That depends,” Arula said, “On what their family decides. In Ellerie’s case, she will most likely come back to my place if it is confirmed that she won’t be able to use magic anymore.”

Feigning a thoughtful expression, I fell back into silence. The rest was not my business.

“Then, engagement arrangements will be put on hold for now,” Remington said, “The most important thing is to ensure Ellerie’s well-being and health at the moment.”

Arula nodded in agreement, the gray in his eyes seeming somewhat cloudy, darkened by the prospect of how quickly Remington could turn his face once someone became useless to him.

“Is there anything else to discuss?” Remington prompted.

“My lord,” I said, my gaze cast downwards, “I would like to join you on the coming expedition.”

“What?” Remington exclaimed. Arula also looked at me in disbelief. While Remington’s shock was to be expected, Arula probably just shifted his disappointment in Remington onto me as a part of his performance. “Larissa, you are a representative of humans, so your opinion does matter when it comes to relations among forces; but to have you join the battlefield is too dangerous.”

“I understand your concerns,” I said, “But as I’ve demonstrated before, although I would be merely human outside of this castle, I am still my father’s daughter, and I am in no shortage of blueblood goods...or experience in messy situations.”

I purposefully trailed off there, now raising my head to meet Remington’s gaze.

“...if you are so sure, I have no complaints,” Remington said, almost sighing. “Where would you position yourself? I’ll be at the front with the—”

“At the back, with the bowmen. Putting me in the middle or front would cause more trouble than necessary.”

That was that, then. Remington stood and prepared to leave the library, instructing me to see Arula to the door after the materials were gathered and put back into place. He himself would be spending time with Ellerie, he said, as her emotional state was quite unstable.

Exactly what I want.

Remington seemed rueful when he made the announcement, so I, too, pinched my lips together in what would look like a frown. Arula simply nodded in acknowledgement.

“How safe will you be with the bowmen?” Arula asked once we were alone again, simultaneously helping carry the heavier books, following me through the many aisles of bookshelves.

I turned to him, smirking. “The question should be: how safe will the bowmen be with me?”

To use magic, one needs to have something to serve as its core, something that allows the generation and regeneration of magical energy in one’s body. For bluebloods, they are born with such a core in their very spirits; no matter where they go, they will be able to use magic so long as their spirit contains that energy. For humans, we gain a temporary core when we become affiliated with bluebloods—in other words, when we stay in their property for a prolonged period of time. It was Ellerie’s core energy that I stole, and how much I actually took of it didn’t matter—it could be a pinch, it could be the whole of it. All that mattered was that I had it.

The rest was up to my own training.

Arula smiled, understanding fully what I meant.

“You should probably burn the book you learned this from,” he suggested lightheartedly.

“I have a feeling Remington put it there on purpose; as for why, I’d rather not guess.”

“You’ll find out anyway, if you so wished,” Arula said, taking the book from my hand to return it to the highest shelf. In the process, his hand brushed against mine, but I paid it no mind.

Now was not the time.

After that, he looked at me again, smiling.

“I know,” he said.

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