Chapter 14: Who to Trust?

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Julián strode into the room while taking out the news report from his pocket. His parents were in the sitting room having tea and talking when he interrupted them. The room was brightly lit by the sun streaming through the windows. The warmth should have relaxed the room, but the tension between the three occupants could be sliced through with the sword that was still at Julián's hip. They sat in the uncomfortable quiet as they looked at the report the crown prince held.

After a few eternal seconds of silence, the king spoke.

"What is this about, Son?"

"You know what this is about, Father," the prince's tone was dangerously cold, and his lips were pressed in a thin line. "We were all at the Musical, and we all know what happened. You are right to have told the citizens of the situation, they deserve to know about the possibility of an attack. But either you completely lied to the press, or this newspaper is twisting the truth."

"Let me see it."

"You already know what it says," he responded, still staring at his father.

"I do, but I want to check it first."

The king's eyes scanned over the piece of paper, darkening with every word he read.

"Son, you are well aware that people like to exaggerate," The king started.

Julián raised an eyebrow. "Perhaps one of those people is you?"

"I indeed talked about this issue yesterday with my council," His father continued, ignoring the prince's interruption.

"So you admit it?" He interrupted once more.

Again, King Riordan continued without paying mind to Julián. "I mentioned the possibility of a future attack and that we should defend the honor of our kingdom. But I never said anything about Literaya explicitly."

"Is that so?"

"Son, our kingdoms have had this rivalry for so long that the people must have assumed Literaya was behind it."

Julián sighed. "Thank you for the explanation, Father. I should not have judged you the moment I saw the news."

"You were right to be suspicious. Seeing what they wrote, I would be worried if you couldn't detect when something was amiss," his father said.

Julián, feeling better knowing the truth, grew tired from his journey. He left the room, fetched his bag from the cart, and headed back to his room to freshen up and change.

"Home sweet home," he sighed as he set his bag on one of the chairs.

It was large but not as lavish as one would expect from the crown prince, but that was just how Julián was. He preferred to keep things simple, even if he did live a privileged life. His room had a bookshelf filled with his favorites on one side of his bed, which had navy blue covers with small embroidered details on the border. The wood of the head and footrests was made out of redwood and was intricately carved with the crest of the royal family of Attrais in the middle. On the other side of the room, there was a large window with a view of the courtyard and part of the gardens. A door close to the bookshelf led to the bathroom, which Julián entered.

He took a shower with warm water, relaxing his muscles from the tension that had developed during the long ride to the castle. The prince dressed again in a more formal outfit which was more appropriate for the castle. Once he was ready, he unpacked the papers with his copy of their research, notes, and plans and set them on his desk. He reviewed what they knew before putting them with Lacy's code.

A couple of days later, Julián was practicing his magic with Jather while they discussed the bond. From the moment they separated, he had felt a force pointing him towards Veronika. Even if she was far away, he could tell that his friend was ok.

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