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Opened minds

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Dear Michella,

            How are you? Your brother is doing just fine. Sorry if this letter is a little short but I did promise to write to you as much as I can. It has been the busiest two weeks of my life so far. Guess what? I’m staying at the castle! Living as the same place as the prince. I also met his friends or well they are knights too.

            There’s Zapp who is a bit of a hot head but isn’t heartless, Chain who is very quiet but still amazing and then there’s Ms. K.K. She’s a knight too but at the same rank as Sir Steven. For some reason she doesn’t like the warlock very much.

            Since I arrived I have started getting to know everyone in the castle and doing what I can to earn my keep here. Prince Klaus said it wasn’t needed but I don’t want to be some freeloader even if they brought me here to protect me.

            So how is the family? Is mother and father doing okay? I know I unsettled them with my choice to leave home but the thought of staying after that had happened scared me. I rather be far away and you guys safe then the alternative. Is the town also okay? Hopefully nothing else happened after I left. The prince actually told me that he would be sending some soldiers soon to at least defend everyone.

            I’m glad for the prince and his actions, he is doing everything for me and I barely did anything in return. He said that I was doing more than enough but I’m not convinced. Like Zapp said if I want to prove anything then I’ll let actions speak for me. For now, I’m doing basic training to defend myself at least. Maybe that’ll help me be by the prince’s side.

            I wish I had more to talk about but as I’m writing this, it’s late at night and I need to send this letter right away. So, don’t worry, your tortoise knight is doing just fine. I’ll write to you again when I have the time again though who knows when that’ll be. Send mother and father my love and I hope to see you again soon

                                                                                                                                                                    From, Leo

                                                                                                    P.S- Don’t be frightened by the snow owl, he’s pretty friendly. I know that for sure.


“Young prince, you mustn’t worry about master Leo.” Gilbert gently chided as he was serving the royal member tea and snacks. He can see the prince just mentally fretting he was watching through the window, overseeing the training field. Time passed fairly quickly for all of them, getting used to Leo being in the castle and oddly enough helping out when he could.

It was actually Chain’s idea to have Leo get basic training so in the event of an incident, he can at least defend himself. Steven agreed to it fully and K.K backed her up. The only person that had doubts was the prince.

He didn’t think that Leo couldn’t handle it, far from it. Even if the gods didn’t bless him with stature, he still had a good head on his shoulders and a wonderful heart. Something that part of him wanted to protect for a long as he could. Leo can handle it, that wasn’t the problem.

He just wasn’t sure if Zapp should be the one training him.

“I’m aware that I shouldn’t worry but I cannot stop myself from doing so.” Klaus had his hands folded on the tea table. “Leonardo has proven himself a lot already and I’m happy that everyone is warming up to him. I couldn’t help but feel that he is homesick. It’s my fault since I took him away in the first place.”

Gilbert shook his head. “You didn’t force the young man to do anything of the sort. Master Leo chose to come here. He is capable of making decisions even if it means having to sacrifice his own comfort to do so. Like a certain prince I know.”

Klaus breathed out a chuckle as he continued looking out the window. “You’re right. Leonardo is proving himself to be a commendable person in my eyes.”

A punch was heard and a small body dropped to the ground.

“Young prince….” Gilbert was smart enough to hold the prince down with one hand so he doesn’t just go up and run to the training field like a concerned mother. “You’re going to give yourself an ulcer. I’ll see to his wounds when it is over for today.”

“….Please do.” The prince choked out.


“You’re improving.” K.K smiled as she helped Gilbert with Leo’s wounds which was all bruises and a cut to the lip. “I know that Zapp isn’t the type of person to hold back but I have to say it’s effective.”

Leo groaned as ointment was being placed on his body. At least he can agree on that, Zapp isn’t one to coddle when it came to training someone. On the first day, which was his third day at the castle, he was dragged by the collar by the man because everyone agreed that he needed some form of training to at least defend himself.

And well, the first day of training left him lying face first on the ground with blood coming out of his nose. He needed another day at least to recover. After that, he was improving bit by bit. At this point, he was able to dodge attacks for a certain amount of time. Though his endurance needed work as well.

“I’m glad it’s working.” He was also glad the castle had an infirmary that had both nurses and healing casters in case of severe injuries and illnesses. “At this rate, I’ll be of use to everyone.”

K.K clicked her tongue. “Young man, you’re already amazing just by being you. The point of this training is that if we won’t be able to get to you in time, you would be able to hold your own.” She then placed a gently hand on his head. “Eventually you will leave the castle and go into the capital. We’re just making sure you’re prepared for that.”

What was told about the city, it sounded surreal to Leo’s ears. Guess even the royal family wasn’t enough to make every city the safest, even their own.  “Honestly, I’m still amazed at the Royal family is able to keep the peace. I know less of the other two though.”

“Ah, yes. I guess we should tell you about the other two families. They might come here to visit for official business so it’s better than not knowing them when they do.” She then leaned back. “Feel better?”

“Sort of, yes.” Leo nodded. At least he wasn’t covered as a mummy this time.

“Good! Thank you, Gilbert, I’ll take it from here.” K.K. waved at the other.

“Of course, Madam. Master Leo.” With the first aid kit in hand, the butler left.

“….I don’t know I’ll ever get used to Mr. Gilbert calling me master.” Leo pouted a little.

K.K laughed at that.


“So you know about the Great war, yes?”

“Yep.” Leo nodded. “I mean I know the general stuff but the history books don’t have a lot details about it.” He felt a bit embarrassed that the older woman had to carry him since his legs were still sore.

K.K. nodded. “There’s a reason for that but that’s another topic for another day. Anyway, as the story goes, before the Great War, as far as the beginning of time, some would say, there were about 99 royal families. All of them knew each other and the world was at peace.”

“Whoa, that many?”

“Believe it, young man. Anyway, to this day, no one knows the cause of the war or the reason. Just that after whatever had happened, each royal family has died by fighting each other.”

“Eh, but they used to get along, right?” Leo asked looking over the woman’s shoulder.

K.K sighed sadly. “That’s the thing. One way or another, a royal family would meet the same fate. Either at the battlefield or in their own home. Men, women and even the children.” She made a disgusted face. “No one was spared. Luckily, The Von Reinherz family managed to avoid such a tragedy and in turn brought two more families back to their senses. Though…it was much too late. By the time the war ended, despite being the victors, the land was covered in so much blood.”

Leo gulped as the thought of a blood-soaked country made him sick. “How terrible.” He couldn’t imagine being in that point in time, having to fight your own family. It felt so wrong and twisted. He would never put such fate on anyone.

“It was. Luckily thanks to Klaus’s ancestor, the world went back to being in peace though with a lingering sense that it might happen again. At least that’s what the queen has told me.”  

Leo hummed. “What is the rest of the family like?” He asked softly.

That got K.K smiling. “Well I have known the family since I was just a young adolescent. The king, Adalric is a big but friendly guy. A down to earth kind of guy but still has his feet on the ground. The queen, Ruomhildi is a sweet and wonderful woman. Always loves her family and this country. Though in her youth, she was the top sword fighter in the country. Adlaric was so smitten with her, it was cute.”

‘I would imagine so.’ In Leo’s head, the queen sounded like the kind of woman he would look up to. He looked up to all heroes, not just male ones. Female heroes have kicked some butt and saved the day just as many times as men have.

“Now then, the eldest child.” K.K turned around the corner heading towards the library. “Fremont, he’s just like his father. A little childish at times though. The middle child,” She sighed. “Luther, he is a very serious kind of prince. Very strict as well. He’s not heartless but at the same time, it’ll take a lot to get him to like you.”

He didn’t even notice that they were in another room until K.K was nice enough to put him in a chair. “Oh, I see.”

“And finally, Ottilia. That young lady is just like her mother but dotes mostly on her baby brother.” K.K smiled as she was looking for a few books. “In fact, if there’s anyone that you want to be on your side, it’d be her.” She turned her head to the young man. “Just saying.”

Not sure what she meant by that but Leo nodded all the same. “Klaus has a very colorful family, huh.”

“They have their ups and downs but all in all, I have never seen such a near invincible family.” K.K came back and put a few books down. “Now then, I’ll explain to you about the other two royal families.”

Leo straightened himself up as K.K sat down and opened one of the books.

“Now the second royal family is the Estevez Family. They are famously known for their healing and illusionary magic but they can hold their ground in a fight.” K.K explained. “Now the one you should know about is Luciana, the royal member and doctor.  She may not look like much but she was fought as many as she helped and saved.”

“Wow.” Leo looked at a drawing of Estevez. She looked very much like a doctor and her smile was soft and soothing.

“She and Klaus had been friends since they were introduced as adolescents. There was even a marriage proposal between them at one point.” 

Leo made an idle noise of acknowledgement before he hit him.



“M-Marriage!?” He exclaimed. He then realized his mistake as he blushed and coughed into his fist. “B-But they were so young…” He made the excuse. He wasn’t sure why he reacted that way. While the royal doctor and Klaus would make a cute and practical couple, it caused a sharp ping inside of him.

K.K looked at him before laughing softly. “Now, now.” She gently ruffled his hair. “It was quite common for anyone in high status to marry one in the same position. Though it was Luciana who broke it off in the end.” She can remember that day clearly. “The poor woman was so worried that she might break Klausie’s heart since they were close. Luckily, the feeling was mutual. They are still good friends to this day.”

“Really.” Leo hummed. “I would like to meet her one day.”

Smiling, K.K flipped several pages. “Here we go, this is the royal crest for the Estevez family.” She pointed to the page. It was white gold with scrolls on top. There were two birds on each side along with the names of the royal doctor’s parents along with the year they were married. What really stood out was the Sliver engravement in the middle. A capital E for the family name.

“That’s such an amazing crest.” Leo commented. “Are all the family members doctors?”

“A third of them are, though mostly they are just magic casters.” K.K shrugged. “It’s a complicated answer considering the line between healing magic and the healing of medicine is blurred from time to time.”

“I see. And the third family?”

K.K giggled a bit. “Right, right. The third family. Also known as the Hummer family.” She took out another book and opened it. “Right, well at the time when the great war happened, their status was nothing more than an Earl but thanks to the Reinherz family, they are at the same level as the other two. Well that and the fact that their extended family perished along with the others at the time.”

Leo looked over at the book. “So, who’s that?”

“Ah, his name is Dog.” K.K smiled.


“Yeah, it was something of a joke that soon was taken seriously. Bless the parents’ hearts but they should have thought more about it before he was born.” K.K shook her head. “Anyway, that’s their eldest and only son, Dog. He’s very handsome and his personality is so sweet and cute.” She cooed.

Leo chuckled as he looked over the picture of the man. “He does seem very optimistic.”

“He is. Sadly though, a few years back, Dog was kidnapped and for months we couldn’t find him. Oddly enough, he returned safe and sound. He brought with him a demon known as Deldro. Through a mishap of a caster’s spell, they are linked to each other. We’re still trying to find that caster to this day.”

Leo wasn’t sure what to think of that one. Then again, anything abnormal would become the normal at some point. He wondered how much longer would it take to get used to his new life?

“Oh? What’s this?”

The two looked up and saw Steven as he opened the door.

“Ah Sir Steven, afternoon.”

“Afternoon to you too, lad.” Steven smiled. “And hello again, K.K. How’s the family?”

K.K glared at him before turning her head away in a huff.

“Now, now don’t mind me, I’m just getting a book for Klaus.” Steven explained before walking past the table where the two were sitting.

Leo watched the warlock go before turning back to K.K whose expression was soured a bit. “Um…K.K, I’ve been wondering; why do you not like Sir Steven? Isn’t he on the same side as us?”

K.K clicked her tongue before closing the book. She tried to think of a very family friendly version of a reason on why she despised that scarface but the more she reminisced it, the more her magic started to crackle and spark because of her heighted emotional state.

Seeing the lightening starting to grow and worrying about the state of library in the next minute, Leo raised his hand nervously. “I-It’s okay! You don’t have to answer!”

In another aisle of books, Steven sighed tiredly. Well compared to when they first met, it was an improvement.


“Aha~ Are you overworking again?”

They looked at their beloved with a sheepish smile. “I may have taken more work than I can handle. It seemed right at the time.”

“Yes, yes but I would like to be in bed with my dear before the moon is at its peak. You know it’ll still be there tomorrow.”

“I know.”

“Do you?” Their beloved teased as he lends out a hand for them. “Come now. Let’s relax and sleep for the night.”

They smiled as they took his hand. “Yes.”



The prince was startled and turned around to see his dear friend. “O-Oh, Steven. I didn’t notice you were here.”

Steven looked at his friend with worry. “Is everything alright? You looked like you were sleeping with your eyes open.”

“I was?” He wasn’t sure what happened. He was writing a letter before. Though as he looked down, he can see that his inked quill left a tiny trail after the last word he wrote. He sighed. “Can you get me another sheet of paper please?”

“Uh, sure.” Steven placed down the book he got for the prince as he got some more paper. “You’re writing a letter?”

The prince nodded. “Yes, to my family. They don’t know yet about Leonardo yet and I cannot delay that any longer.”

“True but it’s not like they’ll be mad at you for it. Maybe Luther but that’s just because of who he is. Other than that, it’s not the end of the world. They know you; they’ll probably side with you on whatever you feel and think on any matter.” Steven reassured him.

The comfort eased his body but he was worried. “I suppose.” He then turned to the warlock. “Did you get the book that I requested?”

“I did.”

Klaus saw the book and reached out to get it, only to be stop by a gentle hand over his. He blinked and looked up to see his friend smiling at him.

“But first, I think you should rest.” Steven suggested.

“A-Ah, wait a moment, I’m perfectly alright---” Klaus stopped short as he felt Steven’s forehead on his. Suddenly it was as if they were children again.


Years ago

“Are you okay, prince Klaus? You don’t seem to be yourself.”

Despite swaying a bit on his feet, Klaus managed to weakly nod. “M’okay.” He murmured.

Steven sighed as he walked up to him. “Come here.”

Young Klaus looked up and found his face very close to his friend. They stared at each other for a minute before the older kid sighed and closed his eyes.


“I knew it, you’re running a small fever.” Steven pulled back a bit. “You haven’t been sleeping well this past few days, have you?”

Klaus blinked before his eyes softened. “No…I haven’t.”

“At least you’re owning up to it.” Steven half joked. Despite being four years older than Klaus, they were as equal now as they were as children. “Look, I know there is probably a million things that you think you need to do at this very moment but nothing is worth sacrificing your wellbeing. I’m your friend but as your royal adviser, I’d advise you to go to bed early tonight.”

Despite looking a bit angry at himself since Steven was right on all accounts, he nodded. “I will take your advice and retire early.” He got out of his chair.

“I’ll have Gilbert give you something to eat later at least but for now, sleep young man!” He pointed to the door with a mock-stern look on his face.

Klaus couldn’t help but chuckle at that. “I will. Have a good evening, Steven.”

The warlock waved as the double doors closed. He then looked at the book that was on the table. “Your dedication is admirable. But my dear friend, there are some things that will take time.”


It was nighttime, the lights around the castle were on and the activity was slowing down. In the trees, a figure whistled a tune. A song that has been long forgotten.



Klaus was having a bit of a fitful sleep. He wasn’t tossing and turning but he was panting a bit and his face was a bit sweaty. So, when he felt a cool hand on his forehead, he was startled out of his sleep. The light was on, though dimmed, as he saw another in his room.

 “I-I’m so sorry. Did I wake you?”

Klaus heaved out a few deep breaths before he relaxed. “Leonardo…” He closed his eyes. “No, it’s quite alright. I think…the fever is robbing me of what little sleep I had left.”

“Yeah, Sir Steven told me about it when you weren’t at the second dining room at dinner.” Leo nodded. “So, I took it upon myself to do whatever I can to help!”

The prince blinked before he chuckled weakly. “I appreciate the assistance but I’ll be fine after some rest.”

Leo pouted before sighing. “Then I guess I’ll give this chicken noodle soup somewhere else if that’s how you feel.”

“….you brought soup?” Klaus slowly sat up on his bed.

“Yep!” Leo nodded. “You should eat something anyway. Can’t get better on an empty stomach, is what Michella would say.”

Klaus chuckled. “Wise words.”

When the tray of soup, Klaus took a spoon and dipped into the bowl.

“I hope you like it. I made it myself.”

Just before he took a bite, the prince paused. “You made this?”

“Yep, my own recipe.” Leo looked very confident despite his usual modesty.

“Mm.” Klaus took a bite and once again paused.

“How is it?” Leo asked. “I made this soup lots of times when Michella was sick. Our parents were busy in the shop so I decided to try and cook some soup. Ah well, the first few tries didn’t pan out well but once I got the hang of it….” Leo trailed off as he got a good look at the prince.

He was crying. With the spoon still in his mouth, Klaus was crying.

Naturally, Leo panicked.

 “O-Oh my stars, are you okay?” Leo started flailing his hands around. “Is the soup? Do you hate the soup!? Oh no, I tried cooking in that huge kitchen and it was hard to find everything to make it! Ah, maybe I can get someone to--!”



Klaus took the spoon out and sniffled. “This soup…is absolutely delicious.” He wasn’t sure why but not only is the soup really tasty but he can tell how much thought was put into that soup. It was like…magic, almost.

Leo looked at the prince before he sheepishly smiled. “I’m glad.” His heart skipped a beat hearing that. He was glad he was able to help the prince at least.

The two spent more time together before Leo took the tray and bid Klaus goodnight.


A couple of petals were later found in the empty bowl but Leo didn’t notice.


When Klaus got over his fever, he decided to bring Leo to the city. He asked Steven and Zapp to accompany them which got a groan from Zapp but no arguments there.

“Those spare clothes won’t last for long, you know.” Steven had to say when Leo was hesitant to leave the castle. “And you should get used to traveling to the city. Klaus meets with an official who oversees it sometimes and he might ask you if you can join him.”

“Me?” Leo was getting his money that he saved from allowances, though it wasn’t much. “I’m not sure if I’m fit to be at the pri—Klaus’s side on those occasions.” It was a slow process but he was starting to call the prince by his name.

Steven waved it off. “That’s for Klaus to decide. And the family when they come back.” Though after reading the letter that Klaus wrote to send to them, he was pretty sure the odds were in the lad’s favor. “Now then, since you’re new to the city, I would advise you to stick with us. Not only are we shopping for you, we’re also going to visit a friend of ours.”

“A friend?”

“We have a handful of them in the city but there’s a reason why we’re going to this particular friend.” Steven explained before there was knock on the door.

“Oi, let’s go already. I’m getting tired of entertaining the chief.” Zapp complained.

The warlock rolled his eyes. “Fine, fine. It won’t take a second longer.” When the door closed, he turned back to Leo. “Lad.”


Steven looked as though he wanted to ask the young man something. In the end, he shook his head. “Nevermind, it can wait.” He then ruffled the young man’s hair. “Let’s get going.”

Though he pouted and smoothed his hair out, he smiled and followed the older man.


K.K, Chain, and Gilbert saw them off as the group left the castle. They were riding the royal carriage again. Zapp was sitting outside with the driver. When Leo asked why that is, Steven simply said that Zapp didn’t do cramped places.

“So, what’s the city like?” Leo asked; sitting next to Steven and across from Klaus.

Klaus smiled. “It’s a very diverse area. It’s multicultural and most of the people are travelers from one point to another.”

“However, because of that, there are small rebel groups that pop up from time to time. And, the other things such as robberies, arson, and fights. It’s the kind of city that one has to be careful. Never be an easy target.”

“Worry not, we’ll keep you safe once we get there.” Klaus promised.

Leo couldn’t help but snort. “Shouldn’t that safety be for someone like you?” He half joked. “You are the prince, after all.”

Klaus fell silent at that; looking a little uncomfortable.

Steven saw that and turned to Leo with a smile. “Actually---”

“Hey!” Zapp was knocking on the carriage. “We’re at the city limits!”

“Oh splendid.” Steven’s smile was one of relief as he pulled back the curtain. “Go and take a look at the city.”

Leo looked out the window and was very surprised. “Whoa….”

“Welcome to Hellsalem’s lot, lad.”


Around the same time, someone was walking through the crowds of the city. They stood out and yet blended in quite nicely. They flipped a coin in their hand as they walked through the streets of the city. They grinned as they turned their head.

“Found you~”