It was a little before midnight.
Uriel, Sid, and an unusual old man sat together in Uriel’s room.
The old man’s messy white hair bobbed in the air as he devoured the meal Maya had brought several minutes earlier.
Uriel and Sid stared at each other over the man’s head.
“Her Highness told me that she’d finally been able to tame you.
But looking at you now, I don’t think that’s the case.”
“I have no intention of being tamed by you.”
“Your manners haven’t improved at all… what the hell did Her Highness see in you”
“Why should I bow down to you when I haven’t been ordered to honor you”
“Order What are you talking about”
“The order from Apollonia Alistair Ferdian.”
Sid Baian had once been known as the demon of the battlefield.
But Uriel’s provocation made him reel.
He sat back in his chair, and rubbed the back of his neck.
“How dare you say her name with your filthy mouth,” he breathed.
Uriel leaned casually against the wall, enjoying Sid’s reaction.
Sid had been about to say something more, but he was cut off.
At that exact moment, the old wizard next to him licked the last crumb of Maya’s apple pie off his fingers, and burped.
“If I didn’t know better, I might think you were only here to eat your way through our pantry.
Have you been starving for days or something” Sid asked, but sighed.
He’d missed the banquet, so he was still hungry.
He’d wanted a piece of that apple pie.
“People like me have to eat while they can.”
He’d disguised himself as a guest, but he was actually a beggar.
He boasted about his extraordinary knowledge of sorcery, but he lacked the talent or the sincerity to make money from it.
Apollonia had recognized his potential a few years ago, and supported him with money and food.
Sid clicked his tongue and pushed the leftover chicken dish to him.
“Eat a lot.
That way, you’ll be able to get rid of the spell.”
As Sid grumbled under his breath about Uriel and the old man, Maya knocked on the door.
“Her Highness is here.”
The three people rose from their seats.
The wizard reached over and slowly wiped his greasy hands on Sid’s expensive clothes as he rose.
Uriel went to sit back down, but Sid grabbed his collar and hauled him up.
The quarrels between the three of them stopped as soon as Apollonia entered.
“Sorry I’m late.
I ran into some unexpected circumstances.”
All three of the men stared at her, frozen.
They all wore the same shocked expression.
“You-Your Highness…” Tears welled in Sid’s eyes.
It was hard to understand his words from the emotion clogging them.
“Oh my god.
This life was worth living.
I can’t believe I’m finally witnessing your coming-of-age…”
“You’re saying strange things, young man.
It looks good on you, Your Highness.” The wizard wiped his mouth of crumbs, and bowed gracefully to Apollonia.
It was as if he had become a different man entirely.
“It seems the delay was worth it.
It looks like you’ve become friends while you were waiting.”
Apollonia then turned to Uriel.
“I’m sorry to keep you waiting.
How’s your tattoo”
He didn’t hear what she said.
He was still focused on how different Apollonia looked.
Before, she’d been wearing a dark, conservative dress that had covered up everything to her wrists.
But now, she wore a pure-white dress, with sleeves that revealed her shoulders.
Her cheeks were shining a pale pink with rose-colored blush, and her gleaming blonde hair was braided into a wreath around her head.
A golden crown of laurels rested on her brow.
She was so beautiful that he couldn’t look away.
She was said to be the descendant of Apollo, and in that moment, her beauty was close to that of the god himself.
Her elegance and purity was so perfect that he could nearly see it glowing around her in a glorious golden halo.
“How about that tattoo”
It was only after she repeated her question that Uriel was able to pull his eyes away from her and show her the back of his neck.
It burned a fierce red.