10| Love Can Win Everything

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BLAIR

Prince Kaiden walks up beside me, "Your brother appears to be quite spirited and skilled with that hand catapult" he remarks.

I nod, smiling. "Yes, Prince. He's certainly adept with it; he just hasn't quite mastered the art of choosing the right place on where to use it."

Prince Kaiden flashes a reassuring smile and extends the bucket I had left behind. "I had them clean up these berries and attend to that lamb," he informs.

Surprised and overwhelmed, I gaze at him in disbelief. Did he really go out of his way for this? Accepting the basket, I examine the glistening berries.

"Thank you, Prince Kaiden. Despite not wanting to keep these to myself after all of that, your thoughtful efforts truly touch my heart." I express my gratitude.

"It's my pleasure" he nods as we both tread towards the palace in solitude, "Please let me know if the load becomes burdensome; I can carry it for you."

Shaking my head, I respond, "It's surprisingly light. In the village we came from, I used to heft heavy sacks of mud."

"Mud?" His eyebrows arch with curiosity. "Why carry sacks of mud?"

"I'm a potter and a clay sculptor. Crafting statues and utensils from the earth was how I earned my livelihood back there, we required some special kind of mud" I explain.

"That is truly remarkable," he genuinely acknowledges. "Does your father share the same artistic pursuit?"

Why did he have to bring him up? I was enjoying our small walk.

Reluctantly, I reply, "He rarely graces our home and is preoccupied with his own pursuits. So no, this is not generational."

Silence accompanies us on our journey. Observing Prince Kaiden lost in his thoughts, a soft smile graces my lips without clear reason. Glancing at the small package in his hand, my curiosity is piqued.

Suddenly, he catches my gaze, and I divert my eyes, pretending I wasn't studying him at all.

"Let me know if I'm being too forward, Lady Blair, but I wanted to inquire about the dress you wore yesterday morning, at the time of the announcement," he mentions.

What could the prince want to discuss about that? Is he about to criticize my appearance from that day?

"Please, go ahead," I welcome some more embarrassment.

"Who provided you with that dress? I believe it was intentionally done by someone to ruin your day, and that person should be confronted," he asserts firmly.

It's touching that he's delving into such matters on my behalf. It's a consideration I hadn't even given.

"I asked my attendant, Grace, about it. She mentioned not knowing who placed that dress in my room in the middle of the night. She was in the process of fetching me another dress when the green one mysteriously appeared in my room," I explain.

He nods, "I... I think I heard a sound from your room and saw that person taking that dress into your room, but by the time I reached, he was already gone. That's why I came there," he explains, attempting to portray his presence as innocuous, perhaps fearing I might find it intrusive.

But who would attempt to degrade me in front of everyone? I ponder.

"I don't know, Prince. Just yesterday night too, after the engagement ball party, a stranger entered my room and... helped me with the strings of the dress by cutting them with a knife. He left me with a small cut on my waist and disappeared without a trace. Initially, I thought it was Grace, but I was mistaken."

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