Chapter 37: Starlit Night Alliance (Two)
"The next king? Last nwight, your followers exaggewated your status." The girl with the baby face pouted. She was dressed in clothes fit for a child, which had been prepared for Thales, and she was looking quite a funny and cute sight as she sat down on the carpet beside the fireplace and continued speaking in her lisp, "But we have wealized that wight now, you are not ewen a pwince."
'Of course not. In the entire kingdom, people who know that the king has a son can be counted with less than ten fingers,' Thales thought internally. 'Should I have told you that Gilbert deliberately said that because he got annoyed looking at that blondie showing off?' Thales rolled his eyes in his heart.
"I thought…" Thales took a deep breath, looked at the pair of red eyes in front of him and said, "we have already agreed in Vine Manor. Since my blood is delicious, if you forget about draining my blood dry in one go, I will regularly provide you with a small amount of blood. While enjoying my blood, you must serve me, and I will ensure that all of you have a safe place to stay in Constellation."
"But you do not possess the power," Serena said slowly but surely, "to pwotect us."
"Alright, it's true that I am only an illegitimate child; that is why, it's not me, but my father who will guarantee your safety…"
Serena stared right at him and broke him off suddenly. "But you are not your fwather—you are nod the king."
"That is why," Thales exasperatedly said, "I am really sorry, but you and your people are already at Mindis Hall, and we already know your secret. I guess the Covendier family would not welcome you back either…"
"Hawf a pint." The red-eyed loli said with an expressionless face.
"Your bwood. I want half a pwint of it daily." She looked somberly at Thales' eyes.
"Half a… pint, daily?" Thales narrowed his eyes and looked at the Eastern Peninsula's Archduchess. All this just for my blood?
'This boys' blood is unique,' Serena thought to herself. 'It was exactly this blood, full of life and energy, which had roused me from my deep, muddled sleep. Of course, to realize that someone was biting my neck the moment I woke up was not very pleasing.' Serena pouted her lips in annoyance and touched her neck.
'Thales, don't forget that yesterday, the mummified version of this "little girl" almost took your life,' Thales thought in disdain. Recalling that a mummy had sucked on his neck like a suction pump... Thales rotated his neck unnaturally as well with mixed feelings.
Both quietly stared at each other until one of them broke the silence.
"Are you kidding?! Half a pint daily? Why don't you just suck all my blood straightaway?" Thales stood on tiptoes (he would not be able to reach the table otherwise because he was too short) and smacked the table, staring back at her without showing any sign of weakness. But he still felt apprehensive when he occasionally thought of her mummified appearance.
"I ardently wish that I could devouwer evewy single dwop of bwood in your bwody." Serena's red eyes glared at him as she replied in a serious and eerie tone, "But to have you supply bwood to me long-term is a deal that is much more worthwhile."
"Aren't you a calculative person?" Thales replied sarcastically.
"A qwarter pint daily; I need to wecover as fwast as pwossible." Serena's gaze became cold and her tone was final.
"Do you think I'm a cockroach, that blood is replenished every time I level up?" Thales clenched his teeth tightly as he met her gaze squarely. "To give you blood daily—not a chance!"
"I do not undwerstand what you are talking about." The aloof loli efficiently ignored the crazed words the boy accidentally let spill out of his mouth. "Once evewy week, two pints."
"Once every half-year! A-tenth of a pint! And this is only for the sake of our amicable agreement," Thales said fiercely.
"Once evewy two weeks, one-and-a-half pints. Pwease use your actions to pwove your amity."
"At most, once a month! I need time to synthesize new blood after losing it okay!"
Serena slowly stood from the floor. Her red irises gazed towards Thales, making the latter shudder. "Brat, do nod chawenge my patience. My interest in your bwood is the only reason you are still standing here and bwething air."
Serena's eyes narrowed, and her unchanging facial expression suddenly became cold.
"If we decide to weave without caring for all the sacrifices we have to suffer, your pweople will not be able to stop us. Moreover—" Serena's eyes moved about mysteriously but she did not look away from Thales' gaze, making the boy's hair raise.
"This pwace conceals Constellation's secret heir. Do you think that the lords and nobwles would be interested in this?"
Thales felt himself shudder in fear. 'This damned old witch,' Thales criticized internally. However, experiences with field research from his past life made him aware that as the other party in a negotiation, he must not show any weakness.
"Sure thing." Thales tried his best to force a pleasant smile. "Your younger sister must miss you very much, too. Especially after you came to Constellation for a vacation, and even transformed into a cute and plump little girl.
"I won't be able to become the heir at the moment, nor will you be able to return to Night Kingdom. Since we are so compatible—"
Thales smiled even more delightfully. "Why don't you just marry me?"
The moment he said that, Serena's expression did not change. She did not move her gaze, and neither did she move her body.
But for some reason, a shudder wracked Thales' body at that moment, and he felt a chill that seeped right into his bones.
Both parties stared at each other for more than ten seconds.
Amidst the silence, Serena slowly and softly uttered a sentence.
"It seems that you weally intend for our relations to turn sour." As she spoke, Serena suddenly cracked a smile, revealing her tiny fangs.
Thales was shocked.
His right hand—hidden behind his body—trembled. JC's dagger was already ready in his hand and could be used to strike at any time.
"Wewy well, then." Serena curled up the corners of her lips mysteriously and licked her fangs.
'From this angle and with this distance, I can continue talking by beating around the bush with her for more than ten seconds.'
Thales lowered his head, furrowed his brows, and swallowed hard.
If Yodel had not bumped into Chris, he would have been able to rush here. The guards, Jines, and Gilbert were also at the corridor. But Istrone and Rolana… Damn it!
Since they reached the worst possible outcome, Thales had no choice but to accept it.
He bent his calves slightly and spread his feet apart. He prepared to raise his left arm high and held the dagger steadily with his right hand. He was obviously about to pull off a standard 'Iron Body' style.
'Northland Military Sword Style... although I only practiced it for two hours, I hope that you are well worth the effort.' Thales laughed wryly in his heart.
For the first time, Serena suddenly flashed an unsettling smile. Her young voice rang in the air. It sounded especially scary to Thales' ears.
"Then, I have no choice but to compwomise. I will follow what you said. Once a month it is, then. As for the number wof pints, Thales, it is up to you to decide."
'Use my left arm as a shield and block her first attack. Based on yesterday's experience with the mummy, I don't know if she will… eh?'
Thales then processed what Serena was saying. 'What? Compromise?' Thales' mouth widened in shock to the point that it was big enough to fit two of Serena's fists. 'I was about to deal with her 'gently', but the enemy… surrendered? Why aren't things going according to the script?'
Something scarier happened after that. Two faint dimples appeared on Serena's adorable face. The little loli smiled bashfully. "My dear Thales, since I have compwomised, shouldn't you do something to show your sincerity too?"
Thales frowned and looked at her with suspicion. He found that he could not react to the expressionless, silent, and emotionless girl suddenly transforming into a loli with a bright smile—akin to a blooming flower.
He could only answer with a hoarse voice by going with the flow, "What…*cough cough*… show you… how?"
The little girl's smile became even brighter.
At that moment, Thales suddenly thought that those strange red eyes were actually quite beautiful.
"The young and capable Prince Thales." She smiled amicably. "Let's form an awiance. I will assist you in gettin' through this cwisis… so that you will be cwowned successfuwy.
"And you will suppwort me…" Serena's pupils shone with a strange bright light. "In seizing back my throne."
Thales was stunned. 'Seizing back… her throne? The Eastern Peninsula's… Night Kingdom?'
The cute girl blinked.
"Erm, this goal is too far away." Thales scratched his head. His dagger had long since been tucked back into his pocket. He spoke with some slight awkwardness and hesitance, "If I really become king one day, then, uh, based on the situation…"
Before he even finished speaking, the loli's eyes sparkled brilliantly and she slowly inched towards him. Thales stared in befuddlement as the strange girl extended both hands and softly held his right hand. "I know that Thales reawy needs me!"
Before Thales could pull his hand back, he saw the pair of red eyes watching him with a teary gaze.
Blinking her unusually coquettish eyes, she pouted her lips and shook her arm slightly, just like how a normal, playful, little girl would. As he stared into her gaze, a shudder swept through Thales' entire body.
His mind felt dizzy for some reason...
"For the sake of not revwealing your identitwy, you cannot simply let us go." Serena bit her bottom lip and curled her lips into a smile that would have enamored other people. "And because of my value and my swensitive identity, you can't get rid of me easily, either….
"This is why we have no choice but to form a mutuawy beneficial awiance." The girl used the soft skin on her arms to gently rub the back of his hand. Her eyes shone with an odd but submissive light. "Instead of being fworced by the situation and being dwagged awong by the fwow, just like what happened to us in the manor, isn't becoming allies and hwelping each other something wewy common? This way, both of us will feel more unrestrained…"
Thales pulled his arm back with a disgusted expression. However, the odd sensation behind his hand lingered.
"If this reduces the animosity between us…" Thales heaved a sigh. "We can work together, temporarily. However, for now, we can only provide you shelter. As you can see, I am in a very awkward situation too. Before my status is acknowledged, I am unable to help you regain your throne."
"Okay, okay." Serena's expression suddenly turned cheerful, like a normal girl who just found her doll. She bit her bottom lip and nodded continuously with a delightful smile. "I undwerstand, I undwerstand! I knew that Thales tweats me the best!" Because of her smile, the girl's eyes turned into the shape of crescent moons, and she held onto Thales' arm again.
Thales raised his brow. He was not used to her being like this. Out of reflex, he wanted to pull his arm back, but the girl held onto him with a tight grip.
Serena's expression changed again. Her smile turned into a hesitant and hurt look.
"It's just that…" The girl pursed her lips like she was being wronged and poked Thales' arm.
"'Just that' what?" Thales quirked his brow again, feeling as if he could not handle this anymore.
"It's just that it's a bit…" Serena shook Thales' arms and spoke with a pitiful expression, "One-tenth of a pwint per month is a bit too little; I will starve to death…"
Thales' face turned black. "Why don't you go and suck someone else's blood?"
"Becwause I feel that Thales' blood is the most spwecial one." The girl looked like she was about to cry. Blinking her eyes as she spoke, "We are good allies, aren't we..?"
Thales furrowed his brows. His head was beginning to ache.
In the end, the agreement of blood provision was set at one-eighth of a pint per month. Thales had calculated this with his fingers for a while—it was not a lot.
However, he still felt that he was on the losing end of the deal.
"Obtwaining the hwelp of two supweme class elites, and a supwa class ewite, through this," Serena suddenly reverted into an expressionless loli and spoke with a piercing gaze, "Your jwourney towards becoming the heir will only becwome smoother."
'True.' Thales thought gloomily, 'With the support of a strong nation in the Western Peninsula, your journey towards seizing back your throne would surely become smoother, too.'
"And, for the sake of my pwomise to Thales, I will work hard to hwelp you become the heir and ascend the thwone!"
'Promise?' Thales' face twitched. 'I obviously didn't agree to that just now. Why is she making assumptions? But, eh, what's up with that face? Why did it suddenly become cold again?'
As he watched the loli sashay out of the room, Thales suddenly realized that his body was drenched in cold sweat—he constantly felt that something was not quite right.
"Oh yeah, I have a question." As she was just about to leave, the loli turned and spoke with her usual, expressionless face, "What is the secwet of your bwood? How could such a small amount awaken me?"
"What you took yesterday was obviously not 'a small amount' of blood!" The baffled boy grumbled in annoyance. "To answer this question, please refer to books, reference materials, or other forms of relevant documents and literature. You can ask my parents directly if you want to!"
Surprisingly, Serena nodded her head seriously. "If the chance awises, I will." She raised her gaze. "Your bwood and my stwength, your thwone and my thwone, our alliance is actually wewy beneficial for us."
In the next moment, much to his surprise, Thales saw Serena swaying her young body while taking a step back.
"For this, I apowogize for my and my fowowers' impwertinence. I earnestwy hope for your towerance and forgiveness." Serena bowed again, her plump little hand held her imaginary skirt. She spoke softly with her childish voice, "future Pwince Thales Jadestar."
Thales was stunned. 'Thales Jadestar.' This was the first time somebody called him by this name.
It was just as Serena said. As of then, he was not even a prince.
'The transition from child beggar to a prince. As expected, I'm still not used to it,' Thales thought with distress.
'This witch.' Thales, who was drenched in cold sweat, kept reminding himself. 'And she was completely expressionless just now, too. Should I be saying, 'As expected of the ex-Archduchess?''
Having thought that, Thales heaved a deep sigh, feeling a little defeated from the day's negotiations. He earnestly extended his hand and helped the loli up. Although the two children's actions looked funny, their expressions had turned extremely serious.
"Your Highness Serena Corleone, I accept your friendship." Thales extended his right hand in front of Serena with a serious gaze. "Starting from now, we are allies."
Serena watched him with sparkling red eyes. After a moment, she also extended her plump little hand and placed it in his palm. "Of course. Constellation and Night. May our coopewation be a pweasant one."
The two little hands held and shook each other lightly.
"And also, in the future, ask your followers to stay away from my guards. The hatred between them is one that cannot be resolved!"
Thales looked at the little girl in front of her—who only reached his shoulders—and spoke meaningfully, "Next time, there's no harm in you talking to me regarding the issue of your restoration. There's no need to waste time and effort testing my attitude towards this matter. Istrone's acting skills were too horrible. When it comes to this, we need to be straightforward and trust one another."
"Trust?" Serena's red pupils constricted a little and she nodded. "Of course, future Pwince Thales. If you inhewit the thwone, and we both estabwish a Starlit Night alliance, our relationship will become a special one..."
Serena flashed a strange smile. "For the sake of both our countries' futures, we might even estabwish a marriage contwact—of course we need to trust one another!"
The dejected Thales felt his face twitch. He was stunned so speechless that he felt like puking. 'Can someone please come and take this lisp-afflicted person away?!'