The work table had somehow returned to its rightful place as the room’s centerpiece without being noticed. From it, a clash between lubricant oil and lavender incense took place. On it, a black cat purred lazily while sneezing into the sketches underneath. Above it, two rare creatures never shared the same habitat locked eyes.
And next to it, the councilor who used to have no woman, pet, or even a horse came to a sudden, euphoric realization that he could live without two of the above.
Two short, unbraided pigtails flowed down Katherine’s shoulder plates as she lifted her polished velvet ember steel helm. In the same motion, she also let go of her shield and propped it against one leg of the table. All the while, he noticed her eyes never strayed from the woman across the table.
She was being cautious, as she should, but not overly cautious that she had to keep a few steel plates between them.
Judging from the stalemate, Leo guessed that nothing too damning was overheard by the knight. Whether he was right or wrong no longer mattered because the first thing came out of the witch’s mouth after a long pause was:
“We are actually talking about how to dispose of you.”
This prompted him to throw an incredulous look at the witch.
“And why would you do that?” the knight asked.
“What a stupid question to ask! Of course, we don’t welcome royal dogs around these parts. Keep your nose out of trouble or you will be pushing up daisies before long!”
The knight chuckled, musing to herself: “Heh, is that so?”
Leisurely, she pulled up a chair and sat down. She rested her sword on the table and slowly pushed it forward. Coupled with those defiant eyes and that confident smirk, it was nothing short of a challenge.
She then turned to the inventor and asked, “I like the way she talks, who is this girl?”
“Believe it or not…she’s Alex’s daughter.”
“She is who?” the knight gasped.
“I am who?” the witch frowned.
“Count Alexander D’Amore’s own daughter.”
The knight gasped again. Her eyes widened in shock.
“He has a daughter this old!?” she uttered.
“Well…It’s Alex we are talking about. He might as well father his own sister while still in his mother’s belly.”
It was the witch’s turn to throw an incredulous look at the inventor but she kept her mouth shut and waited for his cue. While she was unsure what exactly was going on, she was sure to have realized something was up.
The knight, similarly, became quiet and thoughtful.
Unlike with the witch, Leo lacked the experience with the current Katherine to tell if she had begun to suspect him or not.
“I can…actually see that happening,” the knight admitted, nodding to herself.
“As you can probably tell, she’s not too awfully fond of the nobility because of him. Regardless, her mother just passed away and she’s also looking for Alex now. So, you can say we have the same objective,” the inventor explained.
“Oh, I see now,” the witch sneered and followed up in a mocking tone, “Not just a royal dog but a royal dog in heat.”
“What in the name of Tenrid are you talking about?”
“There are only two kinds of people who would look for the count. Those whose wives were screwed by him and those who want to be screwed themselves. Too bad, he’s not into muscle heads. There is, really, no appreciable difference between sleeping with you and sleeping with another man.”
At long last, Katherine lost her cool and at once rose from her seat.
“You D’Amore are all insufferable!” she shouted, slamming her gauntlet on the table.
A visible dent appeared on the surface where her fist landed. The cat was startled and it leaped into the witch’s arms. The hit also disheveled the stack of paper and spilled incense on the table. It was surprising the table did not just split in half after that.
“Even the witch has more tact than you!” she said as she put on her velvet helm and picked up her weapons.
The inventor did not say anything while the witch tried her best to suppress a chuckle. He just watched quietly as the knight turned on her heels and stomped out. After that, he locked both doors and rejoined the witch at the furthest corner by the fireplace where they could have a private conversation.
The witch was quick on the uptake. She had already guessed the situation from the breadcrumbs he left in their previous interaction.
“I get the gist of it now. She…no, her mistress, Princess Lilia Silverflow wants to be screwed, or I should say, might have already been screwed by the count, and now you’re being coerced into finding him and the dog outside is keeping an eye on you. Am I mistaken?”
“I wouldn’t say coerced, I would say…negotiated. The rest sounds plausible,” the inventor clarified.
“Ho? I want half of whatever she offered you.”
“Her council votes and the procurement of Midnight Virgin’s extract—”
“Bastard! You knew I don’t need any of that!” she growled.
“—I haven’t finished…and four hundred pris in the form of a handkerchief drenched in her bodily fluids.”
The witch opened her mouth as though wanting to say something but slowly closed it without saying anything. She moved without a sound. Her long, frilly gown tickled his feet. Her nose was right under his. Her lips curled into a mischievous smile and her eyes were closed when she whispered softly:
“Tell me all about it, all about it…”