Chapter 110 – Traitor

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Ged and the Royal Knights also began to walk toward me, but provincial guards quickly moved to cut them off. I was surprise at how how confident they were. Even if they had jurisdiction as the local law enforcement, all they had to do was violate one royal statute and the knights would have grounds to step in. 

“You’ve shown your true colors faster than I could have ever dreamed, monster,” Parna said as he arrived. “It’s a good thing I was already prepared.”

“I can’t imagine how you’ve pulled this fraud off, but you are going to regret it when my birth mother learns about it,” I told him. “You are already dead, Duke Parna.”

Perhaps my self-assured response surprised him. Or perhaps he just didn’t expect a young noble girl to speak so coldly toward him. He looked a little shaken for a moment. But he recovered quickly and sneered, “Your birth mother threw you away as an infant. Forcing you on this kingdom was just a way to take revenge. She hasn’t been seen in Orestania since inflicting you on us.”

Was this why he thought he could get away with this farce unscathed? I shook my head. “Oh you poor fool.”

“At any rate, if she comes to take you from my prison, she’ll be attacking the Province of Atianus. Provincial guards are soldiers of the king. If she makes an enemy of our kingdom, we’ll take steps to deal with her.”

It would be a ridiculous interpretation, except as a legal fiction. The Province was indeed officially Owen’s duchy, but the Privy Council actually governed it through their appointed sheriffs. These provincials served Parna, as Minister of the Guard, not Owen.

“And what about Lady Sasara, My Lord? You expect her to do nothing?”

He humphed. “She’ll be dealt with soon enough. You have become an embarrassment to her that I can exploit. Then Pendor will become mine as it was supposed to be in the first place.”

That outrageous claim had me boggling for a moment. “Hah? Are you drunk?”

“My father had it in his hands after Egon died!” he declared. “Before Owen went mad and gave it to that foreign witch, my father had the dukeship claimed for me and would have left Parna to my brother! And once I’ve dealt with Sasara, I will put things the way they were meant to be!”

“You have gone mad,” I told him, unable to believe what I was hearing. “His Majesty will never allow that!”

Another arrogant humph. With his voice lowered he sneered, “When his brother is king, Owen will have no say in it.”

A chill ran down my spine. The only brother I knew about was Cullen, Owen’s older brother. He had been crown prince until he was stripped of it for criminal activities and suspected complicity in the old king’s assassination. After the things he had done, Cullen could never imagine he could claim the throne, even if he could get rid of Owen.

Or was I naive? Could Fate magic do that, too? Could something that extreme be happening here?

I glanced toward where Ged and the royal knights stood, and where Lady Niaela stood. They were too far away to overhear Parna’s traitorous words.

I was seeing a rather extreme result of ‘Fate magic’ right now though. I still didn’t understand how it worked, but it was now obvious that one of the ‘conflicting goals’ for the magic was the removal of yours truly, and somehow it worked into this man’s plans. If those plans included deposing Owen and substituting the disgraced criminal Cullen, then I had a duty to interfere with those plans.

How convenient! I was already planning to interfere with the plan to put me in prison anyway, right? Now I could claim it to be my knightly responsibility!

I had been practicing working with multiple elements ever since I learned how difficult it was during the battle with the fake baron of Cara Ita. I could now juggle five elements. As long as I didn’t manifest or emit the mana, the anti-magic manacles wouldn’t detect it.

I began circulating Wind and Darkness so my wings and my vampire skills would work without delay. I add Earth to support body fortification, and Healing to brace against the effects of the manacles and collar if those items got a chance to kick in. I was already circulating Light to warm my body.

“I’m sorry, Your Grace, but I can’t ignore what you just said,” I told him, raising my voice to be heard by Ged as the magic crescendoed within me. He had been speaking in low enough volume that only his trusted people could hear, but I was under no obligation to keep it down. “Your words are treason against His Majesty, and I am a royal knight.”

Parna sneered, “A royal knight! In those bindings, you’re just a captive monster! If you attempt to use your vampire powers on us, that collar will punish you with purification. If you persist even a little, it will kill you.”

My face brightened. With the increase in adrenalin, as my body primed itself, I was feeling my teasing nature as a fighter kick in too. I made a mocking moue and tipped my head. “Purification? Is that all you got, Your Grace?”

Actually, it was a big deal, but I could handle it, and thanks to my fairy side, no amount of purification could be fatal to me. Hideously painful, yes. Fatal, no.

He gave a dark chuckle. “Foolish child, did nobody teach you about your own nature? Go ahead and try it, monster, so I can truthfully report that you committed suicide. The collar contains sufficient charge to kill you.”

Completely underestimating his target’s abilities. First standard evil mastermind mistake, right there. No, wait. Second. First was taking time to tell me his plan, right?

“Monster, Your Grace?” I laughed. “You forget I’m also a fairy. Worse, you forget I’m a fairy princess. I’m sure, as a member of the Privy Council, they told you about it?”

He retorted with a bark of laughter. “The fairy king has spread princesses far and wide by the hundreds, monster. He probably doesn’t even remember you exist.”

I suspected ‘hundreds’ was an exaggeration, but I lacked data on the subject.

“He will care, when I report to him of your deeds,” I insisted. “To protect my kingdom,I must now inform my grandfather that your foolish actions are the work of a traitor and not of my king. It’s my duty as a royal knight.”

The mana circulating within me was reaching the level were I might begin giving off the glow which I believed was caused by accidental manifestation as the levels passed what I could keep in my grip.

But I didn’t hear anyone noticing it yet. It was still daylight after all.

The duke sneered, “What do you suppose you can do, bound as you are now?”

“Well, first,” I answered in a matter-of-fact tone, “since I’m a fairy, these manacles are certainly worthless.”

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I pulled them apart like modeling clay.

They probably had silver plating to allow magic to be enchanted into them, but the basic manacles were made of steel, and the thin layer of silver only slightly dulled my effect on them. I had been feeling them slowly deforming as they lost their strength. They stood no chance against the muscles of a fairy vampire at this point.

As they parted, I whispered “[Heal]”, pouring out my Healing mana to coat my body while I turned my earth mana into fortification.

“G…  glowing,” I heard someone gasp.

The duke’s eyes grew huge as my hands emerged from behind me. He looked past me to order the sergeant, “Kill her!”

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Several things happened in slow motion.

Ged pulled his sword on the provincials blocking his path and shouting an order.

Belgar, Chiara and some of the others were pulling their weapons already, before he spoke.

The tip of the spear jammed into my back, accurately avoiding backbone and ribs. The silver spear head felt white hot as it entered my body.

And mysteriously, some unknown caster’s [Wind Wall] was forming behind me, although too late to block that spear.

But the spear could only penetrate less than an inch into my fortified body. I barely noticed it anymore once the searing heat of my Healing magic came to full strength and overwhelmed the fire of the silver.

By this time the royal knights had engaged the provincials, the duke was drawing his sword, and the spear had withdrawn, probably so he could try again with more force. That would be a failure, since the [Wind Wall] spell was now fully active.

I leapt into the air with my wings materializing, blazing in brilliant white, and flew over the duke’s head as his sword connected with the side of my leg. It must have been a magic blade, as it penetrated my fortified flesh as far as the bone.

But my two wounds thus far probably faded from the Healing magic before arrows started striking me. A couple penetrated just far enough to stick for a moment, before the Healing magic forced them out.

Those fools are shooting arrows with this many students around?

The provincial troops included a small troop of hippogryph riders. My hands closed on the collar and I pulled with every ounce of strength I had. I probably didn’t need to; it was also normal steel. The lock failed immediately and the hinge ripped apart. I tossed the two halves away and focused on the beasts rather than the riders as I circled and Commanded, as hard as I could, “Remain on the ground.”

“Ti!” I heard Ged yelling.

I yelled back as I turned to fly away, “I’ll be in Tëan Tír!”

Part of me was griping, why isn’t it Rod shouting to me? It should have been Rod! Where is he?

No, it wasn’t because he was my fiancé. I wanted both my brothers to be there. Amelia, too.

But I did see my attendants. And Mireia. They were standing together in the crowd of onlookers. And she was giving me an approving smile and a thumbs-up, of all things.

Was she cheering for me?

- my thoughts:

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Is Parna the mastermind or just the tip of the iceberg? Ain't sayin' yet.

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