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The boy approaches the room where his loyal pigtails maid is staying for the night and knocks on the door.

“Are you ready, Synnove?”

“Nearly there, Master. Just putting the finishing touches.”

“It’s just dinner, Synnove. It’s not like we’re going out for a night in town.”

“Everyone knows that when meeting new people, one should always put his or her best foot forward. Especially if its dinner with a prospective father-in-law.”

“Oh? You’re thinking of marrying Joze?”

“Haha. Very funny, Master.”

“You know my style, Synnove. I say anything to make you smile.”

The door opens and out comes the third year student. She has her hair down and wearing a long black evening dress (courtesy of Devlin, Ser Derek’s personal assistant).

“What do you think?” asks the girl with long flowing golden hair as she twirls around to give her beloved master a better view.

“You look exceptionally ravishing tonight.” answers the boy truthfully.

“So does this mean a late night visit is in order and I can expect to be ravaged till the morning sun?”

“It’s a school night, Synnove. Maybe later.”

“Promises promises.” sighs the princess from the Jazwin Kingdom.

“Come,” the boy extends his left elbow towards the young lady. “Let’s not keep my newfound father waiting, shall we? We’re already late as it is.”

“Well, you know what they say. It’s better to arrive late than to arrive ugly.” Synnove links her arm in his so he can guide her.

“People actually say that?”

“It’s true. Why do you think it’s called ‘Fashionably Late’?”

“I never thought of it that way.” murmurs the boy as he leads the way towards the dining room.

 

 

***************************************************************

 

“….and that’s how I married your mother.” a heavily tipsy Ser Derek concludes his story with a slight slur before finishing the glass of wine in his hand (his second one that night).

“I see.” the boy replies bemusedly. The elder man sitting opposite from him at the dinner table seems to have forgotten that he wasn’t really his biological son, but the boy decided to humor him and goes along with it. “What a series of contrived and calculated events that led up to the wedding altar.”

“Yes, her father wasn’t as fond of me as I would have liked. Said his daughter was too good for me. That and the fact we came from rivalling companies also played a small part in it as well.”

“Yeah, my father-in-law didn’t quite warm up to me the first time I met him too.” reminisces the boy as he recalls his far distant past.

“What I realized too late that it’s a father’s role to hate the son-in-law. It’s our role to put them through hell just to make sure they know what they’re doing.”

“To our respective father-in-laws.” the boy raises his wine glass in the air.

“Hear hear.” chimes Ser Derek happily as his personal assistant, Devlin, refills his wine glass.

Synnove who is sitting beside the boy also lifts her glass. They finish their respective drinks and put down the empty glasses on the table.

“So Synnove…” the older man finally couldn’t hold back his curiosity and slurrily asks “What’s a nice place like you doing in a girl like this?”

“Oh don’t sell yourself short, Ser Derek. You have a really lovely house here.”

“What I mean is, being a maid is big step down from your previous role isn’t it?”

“Let’s just say I would rather be following behind a storm than stand in front of it.”

“A storm eh? That’s a pretty accurate description.” the older man drunkenly nods.

“Suddenly appearing out of clear blue sky with little or no warning...” says the young girl in a now begining to quiet voice.

“Hey Devlin. Would you do me a solid and catch my old man-”

“And completely tears down your whole wor-“ Ser Derek never got to his finish his sentence. The older man crashes face first into the dinner table with a heavy thud.

“Before he does that…” the boy sighs. “Never mind.”

The reason why Devlin didn’t manage to stop Ser Derek from falling over in time is because the young aide is feeling a bit muddle-headed at the moment. The personal assistant looks at the wine glass, then at the wine bottle before finally resting on the boy.

“Devlin, listen to my voice very carefully. The next few moments will determine our future working relationsh-“

“You!”

“Why does no one ever listen to me!” shouts the boy exasperatedly as he dodges an attack from Devlin. The razor sharp wires hidden in the young aide’s gloves completely demolishes the chair which the boy had been sitting on just moment earlier. The attack also destroys a part of the dinner table where the boy had previously rested his plate.

“Careful Devlin. You nearly destroyed the plate that my father got as a wedding gift.” says the boy as he continues dodging the follow up attack from Devlin’s wires, all the while balancing the said plate on the palm of his left hand, not an easy task since his right arm is still in a sling.

“It’s a part of an expensive tableware set and I’m supposed to inherent them later, even though some of the cutleries have lost a bit of their shine.”

“You ungrateful cur!” the special threads retract into Devlin’s glove, obliterating most of the food on the dinner table while in the process.

“No, you’ve misunderstood. I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m really grateful to receive such exquisite-“

“I’m not talking about that!” screams Devlin as the young aide seems poised and ready to launch a second attack but the boy secretly knows that the person in front of him is just stalling for time.

Ser Derek’s personal assistant is waiting for the rest of the mansion’s guards to finish assembling outside the dining room before storming in to take the boy out. In the meantime, Devlin is standing between the boy and the unconscious Ser Derek whom the young aide had pushed away from the dinner table earlier during the onset of their confrontation. The older man is currently lying sideways against the dining room wall, far from the reaches of the boy.

“Oh, you mean how my father is accidentaly caught in the mechanism of my scheme? It’s really regrettable to involve an innocent bystander but unfortunately I have little say in the matter.”

“Then why are you targeting him?”

“I’m not aiming for him. I was aiming for her.”

It has finally occurred to Devlin that the young aide has completely forgotten about the existence of another person during their dinner event. Ser Derek’s personal assistant glances to the side and notices that the young lady is currently sitting slumped in her chair.

“Why go through all this trouble…”

“Because I’m about to go somewhere later on tonight and I don’t want her following me.”

“…”

“Seriously, there’s a high probability that she will sneak into my room later on tonight, and when she finds out I’m not there, there will be hell to pay for me in the morning. It’s more convenient for me to knock her out now than to deal with a pissed off Synnove.”

“The kill bag…” Devlin suddenly remembers the various items that the boy had requested earlier that afternoon.

“It’s not a kill bag, okay? It’s just a bag filled with stuff that could accidently kill you.”

“…”

“Now, are you satisfied with my explanation? Or do you and the guys filled with killing intent waiting outside this room wanna go for round two?”

 

****************************************************************

As the boy exits the mansion while lugging a huge bag and heads towards the stable, Devlin follows closely behind him. It’s seems the young aide is still wary of the boy’s true intention.

“You can be suspicious of me all you want, but can’t you at least help me get ready for my departure?” grumbles the boy as he chooses a horse and makes preparation for his night travel, a task made difficult since he only has one good hand at the moment.

“Sorry, can’t. My head is still throbbing from the sedative you slipped into my drink.”

“Hey hey. I did no such thing.”

“…”

“I slipped the sedative into the wine bottle which you poured into your drink. There’s a clear distinction between those two actions.”

“It looks like I have to update the security protocol on how food and drinks are prepared in the mansion.” sighs the personal assistant to Ser Derek.

“I think as long as you don’t leave the soup pot unattended, you guys should be in the clear.”

“…”

The boy climbs onto the horse after he has finished tying the bag full of torturing climbing devices and equipment on its’ back.

“I’ll return before dawn, probably. Depends on traffic.”

“Are you sure you’ll be okay?”

“Why? Finally getting soft on me?”

“Not for my sake, but for Ser Derek’s. I don’t think his heart can take another heartbreak.”

“You really do care for him.”

“He was the only one who took me in when I had no one to turn to.”

“Don’t you worry your pretty little head off. I’ll be back before the old man realizes I’m gone.” smiles the boy as rides out into darkness, much to the young aide’s chagrin.

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A note from mushashi

Sorry for the late chapter update. Got sick with the flu last month and again this week.

This chapter is dedicated to anyone left who is still reading.

Now, let us all wait together for Mother of Learning to update.


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mushashi

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