William was currently walking hand in hand with Brianna inside the palace. The little Loli was looking everywhere with an undisguised curiosity that would make anyone label her as a country bumpkin, but she didn't care because no one was around.
The Half-Elf discovered that Brianna had an uncanny ability to change her expressions in less than a second the moment she sensed someone aside from those close to her. One moment she looked like an ignorant bumpkin, the next she looked like a dignified princess.
William was quite impressed by the loli's ability that he gave her two thumbs up in his heart.
As they were about to reach the main hall where the King was waiting, they saw a young boy blocking their path. He tried to act calm on the surface, but his body language was saying otherwise.
It was as if he wanted to run towards them, but his years of being trained as a member of the Royal Family prevented him from doing something unbecoming of a Prince.
Brianna clung to William's arm as the two neared the Youngest Prince of the Hellan Kingdom, Prince Ernest. She had a smile on her face while looking at Prince Ernest. William, on the other hand, just played along with the adorable loli because he, too, was interested in how the Young Prince would react.
"Sir William, I am here to congratulate you for a job well done in preventing the Northern Tribes from turning hostile on us," Prince Ernest said as soon as William stopped a few meters in front of him. "My Father is waiting at the great hall. Please, see him as soon as possible. I will look after Lady Briana, while you make your report to my Father."
Brianna looked up at William with longing, "Darling, don't take too long. I'm scared."
"Don't worry, Honey," William replied as he patted Brianna's head. "I won't be gone for long."
It was then when Prince Ernest stepped forward and pried Brianna's hands off William's arm. He then pulled her away from the Half-Elf. The Young Prince hid the loli behind his back before glaring at William.
"Sir William, I know that the two of you are just acting, but let me say this here and now," Prince Ernest stated. "Big Sister Brianna is going to be my fiance. I would appreciate it if you wouldn't make any further moves towards her."
William looked at the little shrimp with amusement. Prince Ernest had a serious expression on his face, while the mischievous loli behind him was covering her lips as her body trembled. Clearly, she was doing her best not to laugh out loud.
"Your Highness, I won Brianna's hand in a fair duel," William said in a righteous manner. "Her father has also given me his consent. What I do with her is none of your business."
"Sir William, your attempt to make me jealous is working. I would greatly appreciate it if we stopped this farce, right here, right now."
"Che~ you're no fun."
William crossed his arms over his chest with a smile. Although he wanted to tease the Young Prince a little more, he knew that now was not the time to do it.
"Big Sister, please stop teasing me as well," Prince Ernest looked at the adorable girl behind him and pouted. "Do you really enjoy seeing me suffer? Is it fun to bully me?"
"Awww! Little Ernie, you've grown taller since the last time I saw you," Brianna gave Prince Ernest a hug before patting his head. "Just a few more years and you'll be taller than me. When that happens, I'm afraid that the one to be bullied would be me."
"I will never bully you, Big Sister."
"You'd better not, or I'll run to Darling's~ side."
Prince Ernest nodded his head seriously which made William grin.
'Looks like Prince Ernest will be a hen-pecked prince in the future,' William mused. "Okay. I'll meet with the King first. Prince Ernest, please, entertain our Northern Princess."
Prince Ernest smiled and pulled on Brianna's hand, "Big Sister, let's go to the garden. The flowers are in full bloom and you will definitely love them."
Brianna waved her hand at William before allowing herself to be pulled away by a jealous Prince Ernest. The red-headed boy waved back at her before walking towards the Great Hall where the King was waiting for him.
"And that is how our Northern Expedition ended, your Majesty," William finished his report and bowed towards King Noah.
Noah nodded his head. "I received Sir Jerkins report yesterday, but I still wanted to hear your own version of the story. You did well and the merits you earned for our Kingdom deserves a reward."
The King of the Hellan Kingdom secretly praised himself for sending the Half-Elf with his Foreign Ambassador to the Northern Regions. If it was only Sir Jerkins that had gone then the Northern Tribes would have successfully allied with the Two Dynasties and pincered the Hellan Kingdom from three sides.
Because of this, he decided to give William a reward. As for what that reward was, he couldn't think of anything that the boy might like. This was why he decided to wait for William's visit to the palace and personally ask him the reward he wanted the most.
William pondered for a bit. But right now, nothing came to mind, so he decided to put his reward on hold.
"Your Majesty, I can't think of anything right now," William said. "For the time being, can you put my reward on hold?"
"Understood." Noah smiled. "When you finally know what you really want, come and find me. No matter how many years it takes, this promise of mine will still hold true."
"Thank you, your Majesty." William bowed.
After that brief exchange, William decided to discuss Brianna's matter with King Noah. He said that although Great Chief Evander and his family might not be able to retain their position after four years, the possibility still existed.
Because of that, William insisted that Brianna be properly betrothed to Prince Ernest as his Official Fiance. Surprisingly, King Noah didn't agree or disagree with William's suggestions. The only thing he promised was that he would see to it that the "Northern Princess" would be properly cared for in the palace.
William sighed in his heart, but he knew that he couldn't be too pushy. He was about to ask for his leave when the King made a gesture for him to come closer.
"Sir William, there is something that I would like to entrust to you for the time being," King Noah said with a serious expression.
The King then took out a sheathed dagger from his storage ring and handed it over to William.
"Hold on to this dagger for safekeeping," King Noah ordered. "In any situation, you are not allowed to divulge to anyone, not even your family, that I gave you this dagger. Also, you will not hand this dagger over to anyone, regardless of who they are or whatever position they have. Do I make myself clear?"
"As you command, Your Majesty," William replied as he took the sheathed dagger from the King's hand.
After taking hold of the dagger, he immediately used his appraisal skill to get more information about the dagger that was entrusted to him.
'Um? How come I can't read anything?' William thought. 'I'll ask the system later. It would be disrespectful to investigate further in front of the King.'
William stored the dagger in his storage ring and took a step back. King Noah looked at him seriously before waving his hand.
"You may go." King Noah smiled. "Please, do your best, and continue to protect our kingdom to the best of your abilities, Sir William."
"The Hellan Kingdom is my homeland," William replied. "I will do my best to meet your expectations, Your Majesty."
After concluding his visit, William left the Great Hall and went to find Briana in the garden. He explained that the little Loli would be staying at the palace and be treated like a VIP guest. William also warned Prince Ernest that he should take care of Brianna or else he would take her away.
Prince Ernest made a solemn promise that made William and Brianna pat his shoulders in admiration. After bidding goodbye to the Young Prince and the adorable Loli, William headed towards the stables where the flying carriage was waiting for him.
He was only a hundred meters away from the stables when the system suddenly gave him an emergency report.
'What?!' William almost jumped off his feet at the sudden turn of events.
He had only left the Royal Academy for two hours and, in that short amount of time, the corruption of Wendy's Sea of Consciousness had already advanced to such a degree. William couldn't believe it, and he found this a very hard thing to stomach.
'Tell me all the details,' William ordered. 'Make sure to not leave anything out.'
'She went to find me?' William thought. 'Continue the explanation.'
William clenched his fist so hard that his nails dug into his palm. 'How is she now?'
William ran towards the stable in order to return to the Royal Academy as soon as possible. He wanted to be beside Wendy right now, and personally check her current condition. The Half-Elf knew that he was making a gamble with Wendy's life on the line and hated himself for it.
If possible, he really wanted to kill the Mastermind behind this whole incident and prevent the girl, who loved him so much, from suffering any harm.