'Has my internal time clock not caught up yet?' She thought to herself as she once more started awake, struggling to keep her eyes open. Usually, she was fine staying up until 3 or even 4am in the morning on weekends. But tonight, she couldn't last much longer than just past midnight.
Christian only noticed Robin's plight when he saw her almost fall to the floor as she actually fell asleep standing up. He chuckled, good-naturedly, and made his way over to Robin, grabbing his shoulders before Robin actually did fall over.
'Hmm? This young man...' Christian was surprised. 'He is actually much lighter than I imagined!' Typical Christian: he didn't notice a thing, even with the close proximity. Of course, the fact that Jasmine was watching him, mentally wishing for him to remain completely dense on that matter, didn't aid Christian's mental capacities in the slightest.
"Sorry, everyone." The Prince apologized. "It has been a long day, and those of us who are a part of the delegate are in need of proper rest beforehand. Please excuse us from the rest of the party." Robin, who woke up a bit at that point, also nodded in agreement with Christian's words, allowing him to escort her out, alongside Jasmine-who was leading Robin by her other arm.
Although Prince Christian asked them to continue without them, since the mvp of the party had retired, it wasn't long before the other nobles began to withdraw. King Zephron, knowing this would happen, allowed it. Soon enough, everyone had gone home, leaving the ballroom empty once more.
That night, a dark figure eyed the patrolling guards atop the castle walls from the shadow of a rooftop chimney. It was not the first time that he had taken a request. But it was indeed the first time he had taken a request that needed him to infiltrate the castle. Moreover, this was just one out of many such requests about the same target.
Surely, there were probably several other people like him who would be aiming for the same target, trying to record the hero's real face under his mask. His hand clenched around the magic eye he had bought for this very occasion. His wallet was still feeling the sting after he forked over so much money. He had to ensure that his mission was completed tonight.
He waited until the patrolmen had passed this section of the wall, then quickly sent out a grappling rope, that latched onto a nearby tower, and swung over the wall, disappearing into the shadows of the tower, again.
Unknown to the dark figure, his entrance had already been marked down.
"General, the mana-sphere has detected yet another intruder within the castle walls, should we engage?"
"It's probably just another fool investigator being too nosy for his own good. Hmmph! Activate the castle defense mechanism. These nosy brigands need to learn that this castle is not something one can just waltz into." the elderly general replied, grumpily.
Although such breaches could be solved by the regular crew members, the king had given out orders to triple the personnel in charge of defense. That meant that this old man had to bear the harsh burden of a sleepless night, which he hadn't encountered for years.
"Making me lose sleep over this, don't blame me if you die." the general muttered, a gleeful look entering his eye, as he stared at the central control for the magic eyes.
"Let's see if you're worth my time…" he grinned knowingly.
The shadowy figure neared his target's window. There were far more guards in that area. He carefully aimed for a balcony right over Robin's balcony. Then he sent his grappling rope out with a strong, near-invisible wire attached to it. That way, even should the guards be alerted, they wouldn't be able to find it.
It attached fine, and held up under his hard tugging. But, when he swung up towards the balcony, all of a sudden, the rope detached mid-flight. He landed unceremoniously in the center of the group of guards, and was immediately arrested, his magic ball confiscated.
Back at the central control, the general snorted. "As I thought. It was only a rookie."
"Another one has shown up, General." The young man once more warned.
"Have squad two go take over for squad three until squad one returns from the jail. Sheesh! Let me at least get a nap in." he scolded the intruders, offhandedly.
Robin didn't remember how she returned to her rooms, but when she opened her eyes, light was streaming in through the window. The night was over.
'It's the seventh day, since I arrived here.' Robin observed, as she stared blankly at the curtain. 'That means today is Thursday-that's right! We're leaving today!' Robin sat up, concerned that she might have overslept, as she hopped out of bed.
"Eh? Where's my mask?" Robin placed a hand to her face, and realized it wasn't there. After looking around frantically for a moment, she noticed that it was resting on the nightstand next to the bed, and sighed in relief. Then she checked the thread in front of the door. It had not been moved or broken.
This was Robin's way of knowing if her rooms had been intruded upon-unless the offender was a ghost that could walk through walls, of course. Even if Robin had returned dead-drunk last night, she would still have set up the thread by muscle memory. In fact, that was probably exactly what happened last night, because Robin had no idea what happened after leaving the ballroom, as she had most likely sleepwalked back to her rooms.
As things were, Robin had slept in her ballroom clothes. Looking down at the wrinkled brocade, she sighed. Then she moved to the bathroom, with her magic bag.
After taking a shower and changing into more travel-worthy attire, Robin once more placed her mask upon her head and made her way down to the dining room. This time, she entered through the main dining room entrance.
"Hero Robin has arrived!" the royal announcer called.
Robin smiled politely, all while thinking, "I will never get used to that."
Breakfast was more extravagant than usual, with several dishes from Robin's cheat book for easy breakfast foods. There were crepes, pancakes, hash browns with easy hollandaise sauce, grilled sausages, eggs in a basket, egg sandwiches, etc. Everyone was very busy eating these new delicacies.
Robin nodded a greeting, and took her seat. The table was filled with food. But Robin zeroed in on the egg sandwiches-which she added hollandaise sauce to, berry cream crepes, and the german pancakes-which were more like an apple flan than a pancake.
It would be a long ride, so she skipped the carbs in favor of sweets and protein. Otherwise, she might get a headache. Besides, she had all she needed to make these things on the way there, so there was no need to act like it was her last good meal.
After that was the public farewell ceremony. Robin, Christian, Keith, Jasmine, Ponzu, and Gerard knelt before the king for his blessing. After the ceremonial blessing, King Zephron produced the gift of a storage bracer filled with supplies, and a pouch filled with gold coins, which was passed to Jasmine for safe keeping.
Because it was a public gift, it was near impossible to refuse.
Robin merely shrugged. Who knew when extra supplies would be necessary? Therefore, she accepted the bracer, after dripping her blood on it to bind it.
The carriage they rode was also enchanted with space magic, enough to have 2 rooms within. Robin, Christian, and Keith were in one room, while Jasmine and Gerard were in another. Ponzu rode out front with the driver.
After they set off from the city, Robin found herself staring at the bracer.
"Are you excited now that you've got your hands on an impressive storage device?" Prince Christian asked, chuckling.
"Hmmm? No, i was wondering why storage devices need blood…" Robin replied seriously.
"Eh? That's easy! It's a safety measure against others stealing your things." Christian replied.
"But couldn't someone just collect a vial of your blood and open it that way?" Robin asked.
Christian scratched his head. "But it doesn't work like that." He stated.
"Then why the need for blood at all?" Robin asked.
"Umm, I dunno. I never delved that far into space-time magic, because it's not my attribute." Christian admitted. "Perhaps Jazmine would know...on second thought, let's consult a scholar later on." Christian's face turned a bit green as he looked away.
"Why? If Jasmine knows, then isn't it more convenient that way?" Robin asked.
"It isn't that, it's just…" he looked away again.
"Once it begins, it will never end." Christian muttered.
"What?" Robin asked.
"Oh? Did someone say my name?" Jasmine asked, peeking her head through the door.
"Nope! No one said anything!" Christian denied, waving his hands. Jasmine frowned, glaring at Christian. "What do you mean? I clearly heard my name from in here." she smiled foxily, "Unless you are trying to hide something from me?"
Robin rolled her eyes, and hummed a tune as she watched the scenery slowly pass by out the window.
Finally, they were on their way!