24 Chapter 23
"Princess, just what do you do to the prince?" I ask worriedly. "The prince has been searching for you for one whole week!"
"Nothing, Ianthe. How many times do I have to tell you? Stop worrying! We're simply playing." The corners of her mouth tip up. "Why is it so hot here? The... what's it called... what's the point of heating everything up?"
"Your highness, maybe you can consider tuning it down... a bit. That's the sun."
We are on the street! We don't want every single one on the street to know we're out of this world. Even a three year old knows what the sun is.
"Well, why do we even need this...'sun'? We survive just well without this sun underwater!"
"The sun is a vital part for photosyn... Well the sun is just very important, your highness."
I feel like answering a kindergartner. 'Why is the sky blue? Why is there a moon and a sun? Why can't we see the moon in the daytime?'
"Well, I find this heat intolerable. Let's find a nice little cafe. There."
While waiting for our drinks in the shadows this cafe provides us, I notice something. Cordelia is sweating a little too much. Her forehead is peppered with beads of sweat. I have never seen her like that in the short days we have been travelling. Not when we are shopping. Not when we are escaping from raging villagers on horseback. This is abnormal.
"Your highness, are you feeling unwell?"
"What do you think? Can't you see? I feel so hot! The heat!"
Sweat continues to drop from her face to the table. She looks like she is melting. This is not normal. I place my hand on her forehead to feel her temperature. She is burning up. She swat my hand away in annoyance.
"Princess, let's go back to the hotel. You're not feeling well!"
"I told you! It's the stupid sun!" She rolls her eyes. Her face is flushed in a suspicious shade of red.
"You're having a fever! Or something like a fever."
I try to pull her up from the chair and usher her back to the hotel, but she keeps pushing me away.
"I'm not going! That foolish prince is going to walk along this road any second. I'm going to give him a big surprise." She flashes me an evil smile.
"The prince? Do you even know the schedule of the prince?"
"There is a thing called divination. My divination may not be as good as Val...or you, but predicting where a stupid human is going to be is as simple as a turn of hand for me."
"Princess you're not well! How can you meet the prince under this condition? Look you're sweating!"
"I'm fine. Maybe a little hot. It's nearly time. You can take a leave today. Stop buzzing around me like an annoying fly." She dismisses me with a hand.
"But..." She is certainly not fine. She is burning and melting. Suddenly something flashes in my mind. A scene. Princess Cordelia faints and is rescued by the prince. So it is part of the plot. Then maybe I should not intervene.
"Alright, princess. I'll wait for you in the hotel."
She gives me a nod and continues to fixate her eyes on the road waiting for her prince.
I sigh while walking out of the cafe. But what is happening to Cordelia? The scene that flashed in my mind just now indicates that I do remember a bit of the plot. If the scene is unfolding in front of me, the memory may resurface. How unreliable.
I walk along the street aimlessly. I have a day to myself and I have nothing to do. I spot a bookstore around the corner, maybe I can buy a few novels. Reading novels to pass the next few days seem to be a good idea.
The bookstore is a large one. I take in rows after rows of bookshelves and walk towards the shelves holding novels. A gentleman is standing in front of the shelf, browsing for books. I am about to turn to the next row of shelves when he looks up.
The gentleman is handsome. He gives off a warm and gentle feel. And he looks oddly familiar. Where have I seen him before? His chocolate brown eyes and dark brown hair seem to trigger some sort of memory. He feels like someone I know in the past, in the life when I was still a normal university student. But that's not possible.
His eyes light up when he sees me. He offers me a warm smile and says, "Ianthe! I'm waiting for you!"
I widen my eyes in shock. He recognizes me. So does that mean he really is someone I knew from my previous life? But... he called me Ianthe, then he certainly isn't someone from my previous life. I feel a pang of disappointment. Stupid Ianthe, do you think you could find a companion in this world?
His warm smile falters a bit. "Ianthe, are you still angry at me? Am I not welcome?"
Wait. His voice seems familiar. Isn't that...
"Lord Valentine?" I gasp in shock.
"Yes?" The gentleman in front of me tilts his head in confusion.
Now that I take a close look at the gentleman in front of me, I see the similarity between Lord Valentine and this warm looking gentleman. The eyes are of the same shape, the nose is just as straight. The gentleman in front of me is of the same build and height as Lord Valentine. Why didn't I recognize him on first look? Maybe the similarity I felt was because the gentleman is in fact Lord Valentine? No. That's not it.
"Ah. Ianthe, don't tell me you don't recognize me. I'm hurt! I thought you'd at least recognize your own tutor!" He smiles teasingly.
I clear my throat in embarrassment, no doubt my face is as red as a tomato.
"Why are you here, Lord Valentine?"
"Now, I could not leave my dear apprentice facing Cordelia's wrath alone, could I?" He winks. "Go search for a few novels you like. My treat."
It feels like my peaceful time under the sea as his apprentice again. I smile genuinely for the first time after a long time.
"I won't hold back, my lord."
He gives a small chuckle and says, "I think my pocket can handle that."