"Greetings, Sir Adrian Darkheart. I am Evelyn Greatwoods. Pardon me for my sudden intrusion." She curtsied.
She was a great beauty in her late teens. Her blonde hair was tied and her green eyes gave off a royal aura. She did not need a tiara to convey that she was a princess. She was wearing a white one piece dress with red linings which happened to be the third year uniform of the academy.
"It is my honour to be hosting the renowned third princess of the Kindom of Nemphis. And please call me Adrian; I might hail from a duke house but I am still your junior in the Academy." He returned a nobleman's bow. He then looked towards the two maids accompanying the princess directly into their eyes and smiled.
His appearance can only be expressed with terms such as 'Otherworldly' and 'Demonic'. His silky black hair and pitch black eyes which were akin to two deep abysses along with his chiselled face gave him a near perfect look. He was wearing a black robe and pants of the same colour.
The two maids were already having a hard time resisting his charm but his smile rendered that effort futile. Even the princess had to fight a bit before she composed herself. But it was not the case for the maids; they were in a daze, not daring to look away even for a bit- fearing he might disappear.
"I will excuse myself then. I am sure you know the reason for my visit." She got straight to the point completely ignoring her maids' awkward situations.
"Ah, I like people who are direct. But before that, I want you to excuse your maids. We can have a talk then."
"Don't worry. They are like my sisters. I trust-"
"But I don't." He blankly interrupted her.
"Fine." She sighed.
"Leave. I will join you once the conversation is over." She waved her hand.
He watched the maids unwilling leave seemingly losing all the good impressions they had of him.
"Now we can start. Please sit." He said gently pulling out a chair for her. He sat on the opposite side. Only the round table lied between them.
He calmly started to say, "When asked to associate me with one of the sins, most of the people will answer 'lust'. But I beg to differ, I like to associate myself with- "
"Pride." This time, she was the one who interrupted as if she had no intentions to lose.
"You are an extraordinary talent, setting a record in the entrance tests of the academy. You have royal blood flowing through your veins and you are the eldest son of a duke household. And most importantly, you are 'her' son. You have all the reasons to be proud." She continued.
"You are correct. So, I believe you already have the answer." He smiled, not minding her previous interruption at all.
Before the conversation could move any further, a 16 year old girl wearing a simple dress that only commoners would wear brought two teacups and a teapot. She poured tea in a rather clumsy way, clearly showing her inexperience in this regard.
"Excu… excuse me!" She clumsily said.
But neither the princess nor Adrian was offended. Rather, the princess stared at the girl as if she were a national treasure. She felt pity that such a fine specimen as her was acting as someone's maid. Adrian knew what the princess was thinking. He simply smiled and waved his hand.
The girl understood his gesture. She bowed and left. Adrian did not stand on ceremony and picked a teacup, sipping the contents within. The princess followed.
"Yes, it is completely understandable that you do not want to swear fealty to me. Hence, I want to propose a deal." She resumed the conversation. She was expecting his previous answer.
"A deal? Interesting. That means you are viewing me as an equal. So, what are you proposing." He said with a smile while gently rubbing his chin.
"Being 'her' son is already enough for me to consider you as an equal, not to mention your talents. As for the proposal, it is simple." At this part, her calm expression turned serious.
"Make me the Queen and I will make you the King."
"Wow! This is definitely the most unique way a girl ever proposed me." He broke the silence.
"I am serious. You must already know of our Kingdom's policy. We accept talents from everywhere except the nobles from the Empire. Even though the relationship between our Kingdoms is not the friendliest, I believe you don't have any problems joining us because you already lost your right to be the duke." She explained.
"And my Kingdom is the only kingdom other than the Northguard Kingdom that allows women to sit on the throne. Even if the Queen does not have the complete freedom to chose her husband, I believe you will be the top pick not only because of your supreme talents, but also because of the fact that we can rope in your mother." She continued.
"So, what do you think?" She asked.
"Before I answer, I would like to ask you a question. What do you think is the most important factor for victory other than absolute power and desire to win?" He asked.
She was surprised by this question but she still replied "Information."
"Correct- information. So, how much do you know of your 'enemy'- the crown Prince? Nay. How much do you know of yourself? How much do you think he knows about you?" He asked and sipped his tea.
"What are you getting at? Spill it out." She was losing her patience. She knew that those questions were nothing but a suggestion towards a potentially vital piece of information.
"One of your maids, someone you consider as your 'sister', had her virginity taken." He sipped his tea calmly as if he said something completely normal.
But the Princess's demeanour was a stark contrast to that of Adrian's. She was trying to keep her cool but the trembling teacup in her hand revealed her turbulent emotions.
"Sir Adrian Darkheart!" She slammed the teacup on the table spilling most of the tea. A bit of the hot liquid fell on her delicate hand but her face did not betray the slightest hint of pain.
"Me deeming you as my equal does not mean that you can say whatever you want!" She did not believe what he just said. No. She did not want to believe it. All of the recent moves she made against the Crown Prince were rendered futile. She thought that there was a spy among her ranks; she suspected a number of members and her maids were not on the list. Worse, she shared her suspicions with them.
He took out his handkerchief, held her hand and started to gently wipe the tea off. "Denying this will not get you anywhere. You have to face the truth that betrayal comes from the ones you trust the most. If you still chose to deny it- you might still have your 'sisters', but you will undeniably lose the throne. So, you have to make a choice here- either your 'sister' or the throne."
His actions helped her in somewhat regaining her composure. "Why should I believe you? What proof do you have?"
"I have no proof other than my experience with maids and taking virginities or both. But you have no choice but to believe me if you still want to stay in the game for the throne." He shook his head.
She knew he was right. She had no choice.
She took in a deep breath, closed her eyes and asked a question that felt extremely heavy on her heart.
"I won't say it." He casually replied.
"You!" She had the urge to drop all pretences and punch him in the face.
"Unless you pay a price." He went on.
"What do you want? Magic crystals? Gold? Beauties? Title?"
Hearing her words, Adrian started to laugh. He laughed hard as if he heard the funniest joke ever.
His actions enraged her. "What's so funny?"
He stopped laughing. He slowly stood up and slammed both of his hands on the table hard. He looked directly into her eyes.
She felt chills running down her spine. She felt like she was looking at a completely different person. She had seen many great men before- wise magicians, valiant generals or even her great grandfather who is still hailed as the wisest and the greatest King the Kingdom of Nemphis ever had. But none of their auras could match the person who was in front of her. And he was just 16! She found it really hard to believe.
"'What's so funny?' You say. Do you think you can become a ruler just by throwing away money or bestowing titles? No! You either need absolute power or sacrifices? What do you have? I hate to break it down to you but you are weak- pitifully WEAK! And money and titles are not sacrifices- you can always get back the money and bestowing titles don't cost you anything. So, tell me princess."
He lifted her chin with one finger and asked.
"What. Can. You. Sacrifice?"