Gun Princess Royale - Book 3 - Ch13. (Part I)

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Dear Readers,
I apologize for being away for so long. I've been busy with the book, day in and day out, but I haven't posted here because the material I've been writing was for the ebook, not the web release.
To that end, the eBook has 3 extra chapters that are not in the web release.
Chapter 10 was completely rewritten and it grew into Chapters 11 and 12.
Chapter 13 posted below continues on from the new material that's exclusive to the ebook.
However, rather than not post anything until the book's release in May, I decided it was best to reassure readers that the series has not been abandoned. In fact, new artwork has been commissioned as part of a range of changes to be done to the website.
So I'm definitely not throwing in the towel.
For now, I hope you enjoy this latest installment of the Gun Princess Royale.


Chapter 13.

– I –

I returned to my suite on the second floor of the villa.

It wasn’t far. All I had to do was walk along the balcony to the south wing.

Pressing my hand to the scanning plate beside the door jamb, the suite unlocked, and I stepped inside after pushing the door open.

Slamming it behind me, I stood in the wide hallway taking a handful of deep, slow breaths, before striding into the living area.

I looked around for something to kick.

The sofa cushions looked inviting.

Eventually, after walking around in loose circles for a while, my emotions eased down to the point where I stopped trembling angrily and was able to hold myself still.

The door chime dispelled the calm I’d been slowly nurturing within me.

“What?” I snapped, feeling heated all over again.

When no one entered the suite, I took measured breaths, cleared my throat, then called out, “Come in,” but there was no hiding my turbulent emotions.

Crossing my arms under my breasts, my hands clutched at my arms as I waited for my visitor to show themselves.

Wearing his trademark trench coat over a dark suit, Arnval appeared at the entrance to the living area, crossed his arms, then leaned a shoulder against a wall.

“Well, there. You’re looking blue.”

Of course, I was. I had paint over my right arm, face, temple, and hair.

“Who is she?”

Arnval favored me with a puzzled frown.

I shook my head sharply. “Don’t play dumb with me. Who is she? The girl who sniped me.” I took a few steps toward him. “She’s not one of Fatina’s maids. So who is she?”

His gaze narrowed then abruptly widened as he grinned roguishly at me. “You want to meet her?”

“I already met her. Now I want to know who she is.”

He glanced upward at the high ceiling. “No idea.”

“That’s not funny,” I stated harshly, my voice sounding gravelly to my ears. “Not funny at all. And neither was this training exercise.”

“I disagree. You moved quite well. You demonstrated unpredictable thinking—”

“It was a total farce!”

Arnval slowly closed his mouth and then regarded me thinly.

I met his eyes with a cold stare, the frostiest I could manage while keeping a lid on my anger.

“Is that what you think?” he asked me.

“I do….” I uncrossed my arms, then planted my hands on my hips. “I learnt absolutely nothing from that exercise. Nothing at all. And tomorrow I face Tabitha, and I have no idea how I’m going to beat her.”

“You don’t have to beat her. Not this time. You just have to survive thirty minutes and earn yourself a draw. That’s the best you can hope for.”

I started to tremble.

My emotions were breaking apart while beginning to run rampant inside me.

“Get out….”

Arnval looked faintly surprised.

I pointed at the hallway behind him. “Get out. I need to shower. I need to change. I need some time alone. So please, get out.”

“Ma chérie—”

“Don’t call me that.” I held my hands rigidly at my sides, clenched into fists. “I’m sick of it.”

Arnval straightened slowly, then stood silently for a while before saying, “Why don’t we call it quits for the day. No more training. You could do with an afternoon off.”

My innards tightened in confusion.

What the Hell is this?

I felt a frown slip across my forehead. “You’re not taking this seriously, are you?”

Arnval visibly stiffened. “What was that?”

I cocked my head at him. “You don’t expect me to win. You don’t expect me to even earn a draw. You’re setting me up for a fail. Why?”

Arnval’s expression darkened and after a moment he strode up to me. “Is that what you think?”

I looked up at him and nodded. “Yeah…I do.”

For a long while we locked stares and I held my ground every second of it.

Eventually, Arnval exhaled loudly as though venting the heated feelings within him. “Take the afternoon off. Get some rest. You’ve earned it.”

“Leave….” I indicated the hallway behind him by nodding at it. “Now.”

Arnval pressed his lips together, but I could hear his front teeth clicking together as he regarded me.

I had no doubt the wheels were spinning furiously in his head.

But in the end, he just nodded, then wordlessly turned away.

I followed him for a few steps to make sure he departed the suit.

At the doorway, Arnval paused, then spoke to me over a shoulder.

“Don’t stay up. You’re match with Hexaria is in the morning.”

That revelation rocked me as I’d expected to have the morning for more training. “Wasn’t it in the afternoon?”

“You know that we’re aboard a ship, don’t you?”

I nodded. “Yeah. I can feel it moving.”

A total lie. But what the heck.

Arnval turned slightly toward me and I saw the hint of disbelief and incredulity in his eyes. However, what he said was, “The ship is off the west coast of the northern continent. That means there’s a few hours difference between here and there.”

I took a few steps closer to him, and struggled not to clench my hands angrily. “You mean to tell me that all this time we’ve been behind the clock?” I sucked in a lungful of air and let it out in a rush. “And you’re telling me to quit for the day?”

“You need to unwind,” Arnval replied. “I thought the exercise with the Maid Platoon would help you relax. My mistake.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “How the Hell could something like that make me relax?”

“You weren’t supposed to take it seriously. It was a fun exercise. A game.”

I ground my teeth together as I held back an outburst. “Well you picked a bad time to play games.”

“Obviously. And your lack of a sense of humor didn’t help.”

“A little hard to be funny when you’re future is on the line.”

Arnval raised his chin as he looked down at me. “Are you serious about winning? Does that mean you’re not considering accepting Hexaria’s offer?”

I shook my head. “Considering an offer and being challenged are not one and the same. If she wants me to fight for her Noble House, she could have gone about it differently.”

“Even though you may get a better deal if you compete for them?”

Arnval’s odd persistence made me uneasy, so I asked, “Is that what the Sanreal Family wants? For me to leave—I mean, to be taken away?”

“I sincerely doubt it,” he admitted.

Somehow, I perceived that was an honest reply, but I was still troubled by his line of questioning.

Is he testing me out? Does he want to know how I feel about the Sanreal Family?

I bit my lower lip.

Or is this about my…commitment?

While I was puzzling over his motives, Arnval added, “Like I told you earlier, Sanreal has taken a shine to you. He wouldn’t be happy to lose you.” He glanced away. “Sanreal’s…lost a great deal.”

So he knows about Clarisol and her mother. But what else does he know?

Something felt off, as though Arnval was stumbling through the scene.

But after swallowing quietly, I chose to accept his words with a modicum of suspicion and a tonne of caution.

Why, you may ask? Because wasn’t my whole reason for existing to help further Erina’s research? Didn’t Sanreal want the fruits of her labor? He couldn’t use Mirai as a body for Clarisol’s mind, but I still had value to him because of the Angel Fibers inside of me. Or was there more to it? When I took everything I’d learnt from Ghost, from Erina, Tabitha, from Arnval, Fatina, and Sanreal himself, it didn’t make a lot of sense. And what bothered me the most was the whole premise behind creating Mirai – from Sanreal’s point of view – in order to give Clarisol a shot at freedom by slipping her out from under the Empress’s nose. The fake existence of Isabel Allegrando that I had assumed also needled my composure.

I just couldn’t accept it.

The jigsaw puzzle I’d put together was too fragile, and that was because somewhere down the line – or up the line – someone had lied to me.

Of that, I was certain.

So how do I deal with Arnval?

Perhaps it was best to ignorant and stay in character.

In other words, maybe it was best if I acted like a redhead rather than a brunette.

Standing with arms akimbo, I declared snidely, “In that case, Sanreal should be making an effort to keep me—such as moving the ship east so that I can get a morning’s worth of training.”

“I’ll pass it along,” Arnval quipped.

“Great. Now you can leave,” I snarked at him.

Arnval exhaled wearily, then turned back to the door. “Why are all girls your age this way?”

“What was that?”

He ignored me as he walked up to the door.

I quickly sucked in air. “So you’re not going to tell me about her?”

He stopped with a hand on the door knob. “About who?”

“The bitch who sniped me. The ringer you put into training exercise.”

Arnval turned around sufficiently so as to look at me comfortably over a shoulder. “You want to know who she is?”

I gave him a single quiet nod as I watched him with my hands on my hips.

Arnval’s lips pressed into a thin line before breaking the brief silence between us.

“All right…you’ll find out tomorrow.”

Then he smoothly opened the door, and exited the suite.

I watched the door close behind him, released a ragged breath, then hurried to the large bathroom.

I didn’t take a shower.

Standing at the wide washbasin, I washed off as much of the paint as I could, then hastened out of the bathroom, and into the adjacent bedroom.

I rifled through the drawers of the vanity, the bedside table, and the tallboy. I’d lost my blue scrunchy when I dove into the garden stream, and my long black hair was too much to handle without something to tie it with.

Coming up empty, I turned slowly in frustration, when my gaze was abruptly drawn to a bright pink scrunchy lying on a pillow atop the neatly made bed.

My eyes narrowed into thin slits.

Damn that Fatina!

I glared at the scrunchy for a while before snorting like an angry bull.

Walking with stiff, jerking steps up to the bed, I grabbed the scrunchy, and used it to tie my hair into a long ponytail.

Then I stormed out of the bedroom.

The luxurious suite had a kitchen adjoining the dining area that in turn melded into the wide open living area.

More importantly, the kitchen had a fridge with chilled bottles of soda and water.

I took two of the bottles of water out from the door racks, opened one of them, then quickly drank down half its contents.

Having soothed my parched throat, I capped the bottle, slammed the fridge door shut, grabbed both bottles, and then departed the suite in a hurry.

Arnval had told me to take the rest of the day off, but what was I going to do?

Would I lie on the sofa and watch holo-vision programs until bedtime?

Nope. No way. Not when considering my duel with Tabitha was now scheduled for tomorrow morning.

I felt stupid for not having bothered to check local time against Ar Telica time.

I should have asked Ghost when he was still around, but I’d assumed the Citadel was floating about in the vicinity of the Proving Grounds because that island was surrounded by a huge ocean storm. As a result, I’d believed we were three or four hours ahead of Ar Telica, not six or seven hours behind it.

By the way, where is that useless Maestro Awareness when I need him?

Arriving at the elevator, I hesitated before pushing the button to unlock the cage door.

I wasn’t sure if Arnval had restricted my access to the subterranean training facility beneath the villa, but the sound of metal clanking and the door unlocking had me sighing quickly in relief.

No turning back now.

Entering the lift cage, I closed the door shut with a loud clank, then pushed the button that would start the elevator descending to the training level.

After a false start, the cage lurched worryingly before it began to drop to the floor below the villa.

Exiting the elevator cage, my first port of call was the Armory.

To my relief, the Assisting Intelligence – the Overseer – watching over the training facility granted me access to the firing range and the adjoining Armory.

Once inside, I collected two LR-81A Punishers, but I was in need of ammunition.

When I asked the Overseer for help, the A.I. questioned my intentions.

I gave my reply some thought, then humorlessly replied, “Let’s just say I’m going to war.”

The silence that greeted me was a little unsettling.

Very well. Access granted.

“Eh…?” My mouth hung open as I watched a wide section of the back wall of the round Armory – I say ‘back’ because it was diametrically opposite the entrance – slide apart to reveal a separate room.

Please proceed to the Munitions Vault.

I swallowed nervously before stepping into the so-called Vault, and consequently found myself standing on a walkway inside the equivalent of a multi-level warehouse.

“…holy molly….”

Mouth agape, I looked about the interior of the Munitions Vault, somewhat afraid to step any deeper into the immense room.

Procuring munitions and supplies. Please wait a minute.

“…oh, okay….”

I was somewhat relieved that I wouldn’t have to go fetch the ammo myself.

After a half minute of waiting, the faint hum of electric motors reached my ears, and I peered down over the walkway guardrail at the level below me.

A boxy crate with beveled sides flew up toward me, probably propelledd by levitator-field emitters.

It landed on the walkway, then split open like a giant tool box.

For a short while, I studied the contents on display, then carefully placed the Punishers I carried on the walkway floor.

Reaching into the giant tool box, I pull out an ammo belt with pockets for half a dozen magazines.

Next, I filled up the ammo belt with magazines loaded with fifty ten-millimeter high penetration rounds a piece – at least, that’s what the markings on the side of the black casings indicated.

A suggestion, if I may.

I stopped and stared up at the ceiling. “Ah, sure.”

The border of a compartment within the ammo box began to glow with a blue-white light.

Please attach the feeder to the LR-81A units.

Retrieving the device from the compartment, I saw that it was a side mounted magazine feeder that allowed me to insert the large ammo mags vertically rather than horizontally. This meant that they wouldn’t stick out from the side of the rifle, and considering their size that was a good thing.

After outfitting both Punishers with the adapters, I then slapped a magazine into each feeder.

Counting the ammo mags in the belt I wore snuggly around my waist, I now had four hundred rounds at my disposal.

Well, I did tell the A.I. that I was going to war.

Giving the contents of the ammo container another look, I saw a bandolier with pockets for more magazines. Wondering if I could wear it and the ammo belt at the same time, I also noticed a row of narrow rectangular boxes and recognized them as batteries for the Punishers. My gaze then fell on a row of long ammo drums.

Maybe I should take a couple of those as well, but how am I going to carry them?

Deciding it was overkill, I straightened with a sigh as I continued peering at the container’s contents.

A grimace flickered across my face.

That’s certainly a lot of ammo.

As much as I regretted leaving it behind, it was more than I believed I could comfortably carry.

I departed the Munitions Vault, exited the Armory, then walked out of the shooting range.

I made tracks to my next port of call – the Obstacle Course.

Once inside the immense hangar sized room, I took off the ammo belt, shrugged off my tracksuit jacket, reaffirmed my ponytail was tightly secured with Fatina’s bright pink scrunchy, and then spoke to the A.I. overseeing the facility. It was then that I realized I’d left my water bottles behind.

“…great….”

Shaking my head slowly, I chose not to make a trip back to the shooting range to retrieve the two bottles.

Instead, I gave the training room a studious look. “Hey, can you manifest target holovids in here?”

Yes, I can.

“Can you give me targets to practice against?”

Are you planning to go to war in this room?

I took a very deep breath, uncertain of how to explain my intentions for coming here. “I want something to shoot at while I run the obstacle course.”

The A.I. Overseer didn’t reply, perhaps because it was deliberating conscientiously on my request.

I waited patiently at first but the silence began to gnaw at me and I grew distinctly anxious. “Hello? Are you there?”

Yes, I am here.

“Okay…so…about my request—?”

Granted. We will provide you with a suitable quantity of targets. Please equip yourself.

It took a moment for me to understand what she meant, then I quickly slipped the ammo belt around my waist, tightened the straps to ensure it wasn’t going to fall off or move about.

Then I picked up a Punisher in each hand.

“Ready,” I announced.

Please assume your position on the starting line while I make preparations.

“Huh? Oh, right. The starting line. Gotcha….”

Taking my spot as suggested, I waited for something to happen.

I wonder what she means by preparations?

As the seconds ticked by into a minute, I began to shift impatiently on my feet.

This waiting is not helping my mood….

Moments later, the door to the training room slid open, and a trio of dark metal crates on wheels rolled into the facility.

I watched them begin dispensing metal balls about the size of rock melons over the floor of the room.

It was as though they were laying mines behind them as they crisscrossed the room, weaving in and out of the obstacles course.

After a hundred or more of the balls were cast about, the three autonomous crates returned to the entrance, and drew to a stop abreast of each other.

Generating holo-targets.

Within seconds, the metal balls littering the floor began to rock.

Mirai’s ears caught a low hum emanating from them as tiny panels slid aside on their surface, and shortly afterwards the metal balls split into two hemispheres. However, they remained attached to each other via countless strands that resembled optical fiber cables that shone with tiny beads of light.

I swallowed nervously, wondering what I’d gotten myself into.

“What the heck is this—huh?”

The metal balls floated upwards into the air, then hovered about four feet above the floor.

“Okay,” I whispered anxiously, “this is new….”

Without warning, tiny lights appeared all over the metal balls, and within moments each of them was surrounded by the image of a hungry zombie.

“Oh shit….”

Seconds later, the room was swarming with a legion of undead.

A deep shiver wracked my body, and it wasn’t long before a cold sweat trickled down my back.

“Frek me….”

Commencing World War Z simulation.

“World War what?”

In reply, the zombies launched themselves at me.

It didn’t take a genius to figure out what World War Z was all about. After all, I’d told the A.I. that was I was going to war. There was also the possibility that it was aware of my penchant for playing first person shooters that featured the undead.

The two Punishers I gripped firmly in each hand auto-chambered the first rounds.

The wetware link between them and Mirai had been established long ago, and the targeting feedback was active.

I didn’t have a good reason for delaying and not jumping into the fight, so with a short yell, I leapt onto the platform ahead of me.

Aiming the Punishers at the oncoming onslaught of holo-graphic undead, I pictured myself as the heroine of the piece.

“Fine—bring it on!”

Thus, World War Z took place in the massive underground hangar.

- # -

An hour later, I staggered back to the suite.

My clothes were torn and ragged.

The tank top hung onto a shoulder by the threads of a strap.

My sports bra was fit for the recycling bin.

The tracksuit trousers had been ripped off my lower body. Thankfully, I was wearing running shorts underneath.

And I’d lost my cross-trainers.

Thus, I walked barefoot into the living room, then dropped myself unceremoniously onto the long sofa seat.

Lying prone along the sofa’s length, I buried my face into a cushion.

“…me and my big mouth….”

World War Z did not go as planned.

The holo-graphic zombies were complemented by effect-fields that simulated their physical bodies.

They had swarmed me, grabbed me, and almost left me naked.

Yes, the damn things had tried to tear off my clothes, and in a raging fury, I had blown them apart with the Punishers.

After unleashing Hell on the holo-graphic undead, the training room was out of action, littered with the debris of the obstacle course and the remains of more than a hundred metal balls.

Exhaustion settled into my bones.

“…Arnval’s going to be pissed….”

I started to chuckle as I imagined the look on his face when he walked into the training room.

But then I was puzzled by something I’d only realized now.

Rolling onto my back on the long sofa, I stared up at the living area’s white ceiling.

If the Sanreal’s could simulate zombie hordes using holo-graphics and effect fields, then why did they use Simulacra when they hijacked my gaming session of Zombie Apocalypse?

Why use hundreds of Simulacra during the match between myself and the Gun Queen of Ar Telica?

Then I frowned as I remembered Clarisol declaring the Simulacra used in the replica of Ar Telica did not belong to House Novis.

So that environment was really set up by the Imperial Family.

Throwing an arm over my face, I closed my eyes, and sighed deeply as I willed myself to relax.

Tomorrow was a big day, and I was spent.

Maybe I’d take a nap.

Afterwards, I’d wash off the day’s grime with a shower, and then look forward to dinner time….

- # -

“Wake up.”

A man’s voice jolted me out of sleep, and I felt my body rock.

“Sleeping Beauty, nap time’s over. Wake up.”

Was that Arnval’s voice? Probably.

Cracking an eyelid open, I peered blearily up at two people standing beside me but they looked indistinct.

“You see? I told you that would wake her up. All she needs is a good shove.”

Blinking the sleep away from my eyes, I struggled to recall where I was.

A woman’s voice reproached him. She was audibly disappointed in him. “You’ve been shoving her for long enough. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t treat her that way.”

Is this the bedroom? Doesn’t feel like a bed? Wait—am I in the living room?

“Fatina, haven’t you realized by now that this is no lady?”

“Oh? Then what is she?”

“A tomboy. And tomboys are accustomed to playing rough. They wouldn’t have it any other way. I mean, just look at the way she sleeps. What a mess.”

“She is a girl, and you shoving her with your foot is entirely inappropriate.”

“Inappropriate? Have you seen what this walking calamity with breasts did to the training room downstairs?”

The woman paused before replying, “I am aware that she went…a little far.”

“A little far? Seriously? When I saw the place I didn’t know whether to laugh or run for the hills!”

“If you didn’t want her taking her training seriously, then you should have denied her access to the facilities!”

“I didn’t think she was going to wreck the place!”

“The Overseer didn’t think it was going to be a problem, did it?”

“That A.I. needs its logic circuits checked. It’s clearly got its wires crossed!”

“Arnval, A.I.’s don’t have wires.”

“You know what I’m talking about.”

“Yes, yes. I understand what you mean….”

By now my eyes had cleared up but my memory was fuzzy on events before I fell asleep.

I’m on the sofa in the living room? What the Hell am I doing here? Oh, that’s right—I said I was going to take a nap. And I remember Fatina walking in with the dinner cart, but I have no idea what happened after that….

Slowly pushing myself up on my elbows, I stared at Arnval and Fatina standing beside the sofa. “What’s the big deal? Did my dinner grow cold? Can’t I reheat it?”

Arnval snorted in disbelief. “Your dinner? You want to eat your dinner for breakfast?”

My face contorted in confusion. “Breakfast? What are you talking about?”

“Fatina delivered your dinner hours ago.”

Standing next to him, Fatina gave Arnval an annoyed look, before speaking to me. “Isabel, it’s morning. When I delivered your dinner last night, you were on the sofa. You told me to just leave it there. Don’t you remember?”

My confusion waxed and waned before I slowly nodded. “Oh yeah. I said I was going to take a shower first….”

Arnval and Fatina gave me different looks.

He looked annoyed. She looked disappointed.

An anxious twinge in my chest made me swallow nervously. “I must have fallen asleep….”

Arnval nodded. “That’s right, Sleeping Beauty. And now it’s time to get up. Your match with Hexaria is in two hours.”

“Two hours? Huh!” I sat up in a hurry and frowned at him. “Two hours! Are you telling me I slept for a whole day?”

“You didn’t,” he replied testily. “Not even close.”

“Then—?”

“The ship sailed east overnight and we’re now in Ar Telica’s time zone.”

I swallowed quickly. “And now it’s morning….”

“Correct.”

“Wasn’t my match with Tabitha scheduled for the afternoon?”

Not anymore.”

“Huh?” Again, I frowned. “Why not?”

Arnval held a hand up. “Three reasons.” He ticked off points on his fingers. “One. You pissed off Lord Sanreal so he sailed the ship east, despite the risk of giving ourselves away to another Citadel. Two. He contacted House Cardinal and requested the match be rescheduled to this morning. And three. Team Novis has a press conference this afternoon and depending on the outcome of the match, you’re either going to be there or you’re not.”

Aghast, I swung my legs off the sofa and shot to my feet. “Sanreal rescheduled my duel? Why?”

At that moment the only strap holding up my tank top snapped.

Luckily, although my sports bra had a few tears here and there, it was mostly intact and kept my appearance modest. But for some reason, as the tank top fell to my waist, I hurriedly crossed my arms protectively over my breasts.

The reason? Arnval’s gaze that immediately locked onto my chest.

“Letch!” I snarled at him.

“Says the exhibitionist!” he snarled back.

“Stop it! Both of you!” Fatina yelled. “Now, if you can’t have a conversation like adults, I suggest we take a time-out.”

I sucked in air noisily through my nose, and glared sullenly at Arnval.

He slipped his hands into his trench coat pockets, and glared back but at least he wasn’t ogling my chest.

By the way, yes, he was wearing a trench coat, though this one was dark brown in color, rather than the usual black I was accustomed to seeing him wear.

Fatina palmed her forehead for a long moment before speaking again. “All right. Where were we?”

I swallowed past my annoyed feelings clogging up my throat. “Why did Sanreal reschedule my duel with Tabitha?”

Fatina looked over at Arnval. “Well? Tell her.”

The big baby was still sulking when he replied, “That’s because he wants this over with sooner rather than later.”

My heated feelings were kicked aside first by shock, then confusion. “What? Why?”

“Because he doesn’t want you sinking the ship—why else?”

I jerked back a little, then looked for the lie by searching his face and aura.

Shit. I think he’s serious.

Arnval slipped his left hand out of a trench coat pocket, then glanced at a wristwatch he wore on his wrist. “The clock is ticking. You’ve got ninety-eight minutes to get ready.”

My eyes widened in protest. “No way! You said I had two hours!”

“Your match is in two hours. You need to be ready long before then.”

I clenched my teeth together in mounting frustration that was beginning to edge toward despair. “This isn’t fair.”

“Not fair?” Arnval gave me an incredulous look.

“It was just one room….”

“Well, I’m glad you stopped at just one room,” he retorted.

I closed my mouth and decided silence was the better part of valor.

Yes, I know I’m bastardizing the phrase, but I truly believed that keeping quiet was the best choice.

Arnval exhaled heavily. “Either way, don’t complain to me. Take it up with Sanreal.”

I was ready to take it up with Arnval’s gut but held myself back.

However, keeping quiet was never my forte.

Actually, ever since becoming Mirai, I’ve had trouble containing my fireball emotions.

I should have been a redhead, not a brunette.

Forgetting to cover my breasts, I lowered my arms and balled my hands into trembling fists. “Fine—then I’ll go take a shower!”

“That won’t be necessary.” Arnval glanced pointedly at the curtained windows overlooking the southern grounds of the Estate. “Your Sarcophagus has been summoned. It’s waiting for you out in the garden. Once you’re inside of it, the Sarcophagus will take care of you. It’ll service your body and equip you for the match with Hexaria. At least, that’s what I’ve been told.”

I shook my head slowly. “I—I don’t get it.”

“What don’t you get?”

“Everything!” I yelled loudly.

Arnval’s expression hardened and I sensed clear anger behind his eyes when he abruptly closed the distance between us down to a few millimeters. “The only thing you need to understand is to do what you’re told. Am I making myself clear?”

My initial surprise at the strength of his feelings was burned aside as I grew incensed at the way he was treating me.

I was moments away from sending my knee into Arnval’s groin, and ending his bloodline here and now, when I noticed Fatina’s expression change suddenly.

Standing behind Arnval’s left shoulder, she shook her head quickly at me and her lips mouthed something that I couldn’t read.

But it was the frightened look she gave me that made me reconsider.

And so I unclenched my hands, and then relaxed my midriff and leg muscles.

Arnval’s future progeny had been spared. They would never know how close they came to never being born. However, while I’d decided to back down, I gave him no reply and met his eyes with an uncompromising glare.

The tense silence between us lasted for a long while.

Arnval eventually exhaled loudly, then straightened away from me.

“Tick tock, ma chérie. Your date with destiny awaits.”

Then he turned on his heels and left the suite.

The golden glow of his aura had been tainted with red tendrils.

I took that to mean that it wasn’t an act.

Arnval…was truly angry with me.



Once again, very sorry for being out of the scene for so long.
But I wanted to reassure you that the book is progressing, and at this stage, in order to put EVERYTHING we want into it, and avoid a cliffhanger, we'll be releasing it in May.

For those of you who are new to the series and would like to read or purchase Books 1 and 2, the links are provided below:

Book One - Awakening the Princess

Book Two - The Measure of a Princess



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