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The boy was shaking.

Amelia wasn’t sure if he was aware of it, but it was very noticeable. She saw the prince glance over and a look of surprise crossed Jacob’s face.

What had this demon become in Hammel’s mind? She couldn’t imagine it.

The face of her brother appeared in her mind. No, she had to retract her last thought – she could very easily imagine it. It was just better not to imagine it.

“There’s a town called Edul about five days away from here,” Gram continued. “Based on the tunnels and the increase of demonic activity, we have reason to believe that there will possibly be an attack in the upcoming weeks.”

Then, Jacob stood up from his seat. “The town has a population of at least eight hundred people. Considerably bigger than Grandule. The monster might be getting stronger, or at the very least, more arrogant.”

“Hmm…” The prince ran his fingers through his hair and then closed his eyes tightly. “It is our moral duty to save those people.”

She knew what he would say next. She dreaded the words that would come out of his mouth, but she had no way to overturn them.

“Seems like we’ll have to send over a team soon.”

SCRRRRRT! – the sound of a chair scraping against the wooden floor as it was being pushed out.

Amelia didn’t need to look to know who it was.

“Sir, I would like to go.”

Who else would it be but Hammel?

Over the past few months, Amelia had secretly observed Hammel. She attended almost all of his morning practices and she watched him leave and then return every night.

The difference was astounding. His blonde hair had grown longer and more unkempt. He had also grown at least another few inches. His eyes were still a clear blue, but there was something hiding behind them.

And the way he fought...she felt like she could see Cadabyr standing behind him every time he twisted his body to dodge the prince’s sword strokes. And when he attacked back, it was like the prince was fighting himself.

Hammel had been surprised earlier when she had told him that he had been here for six months. The truth was that she was surprised too, but for a different reason.

The boy was learning at an alarmingly quick rate.

“I had a feeling you would be the first to volunteer,” the prince said as he opened his eyes. “Alright, this will be your first official mission then.”

Hammel looked surprised at how easily his request had been approved, but Amelia could only clench her hands.

Of course he would let him go. She could hear the prince talking to her in her mind.

What better way to improve than in the face of revenge?” he would say.

If that was the case, then…

“I would like to go as well, Prince Sebastian.”

Amelia felt her whole body lurch as she stood up from her chair, but she knew she had to do it.

All eyes were on her, especially Sebastian’s. His mouth was half-open and she had to resist the urge to laugh; she hadn’t seen him look so defenseless in a long time.

“Well, this is interesting,” Talia muttered.

“Um, are you sure, Amelia?” Hammel turned to her.

“I’ll be fine,” she assured him. “I can’t fight, but if someone gets hurt, you’ll need me.”

She looked back at the prince and found that he had fixed his appearance.

“Okay, Amelia and Hammel,” the prince said with a straight face.

For a moment, she saw him falter, but she knew she was the only one who saw it because she’d always been around him. He could easily ask her to stay, but his desire to be an impartial and dignified prince made that impossible.

Despite being constrained to this Utopia, he was a noble through and through.

“We need one…no, two more to go then,” the prince decided. “We need Talia here, so…”

“I’ll go,” Gram volunteered.

“Haha, this is starting to sound fun!” Jacob grabbed a slice of melon and took a big bite out of it. “I have to go.”

The prince slowly looked at each of them. When his gaze moved to her, she could see Sebastian's loneliness and anger. He lingered on her for a moment longer than the others, but then swept his gaze away.

Sebastian was gone and the prince sat back in his place with his cool, unflickering face.

“Okay, it’s decided then. You leave tomorrow morning.”

Guilt and anxiety pounded against her chest, but Amelia also felt a strange peace.

She would save Harrison this time.

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Mattening

Bio: I love strawberry ice cream.

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