Clementine stopped smiling. “What?”
“We are going to fake my death tonight.” Jonathan knew it was not a normal thing to propose, but he was serious. “I’m leaving the palace, no, the capital, today.”
He ignored the stunned state of his assassin turned accomplice and stood up from the couch. “I need some supplies. Jewelry and money.” He was already searching through the cabinets in the room. A few utensils made of precious metals and embedded with gems were put into his pocket—it would be weird if an entire set were to disappear.
“How…can we fake your death?” Clementine was coming back to her senses. She was the type who always moved onwards and did not think of the past. Her only choice now was a narrow road with death on either side if she failed.
Clementine straightened her back and sat properly. “Starting a fire here will be hard to explain, but I can come up with something for why we needed lit candles. I can give you directions through the servants’ passages. If you want my things, then I’ll have to ask for my jewelry box.”
“I’ll let you ask.”
“Hello! Maid over there. Yes.” Clementine was peeking her head out of the door. “Can I have my jewelry box and my spare clothes? I need to ask my fiance his opinion on what I should wear to the ball.”
Jonathan held to his promise, but he was also holding a knife to Clementine’s back.
Clementine closed the door. She huffed, clearly wanting to say something about the threat, and yet she knew exactly why such precautions were being taken against her.
Jonathan and Clementine spent some time discussing more details of the plan. The way out of the palace was complicated. Jonathan wrote it down on his copy of the palace maps.
It didn’t take long for the maid to return from the carriage. Jonathan rooted through Clementine’s jewelry and took several pieces. Bracelets, rings, and earrings did not take up much room. “Are you sure they’ll believe you?”
“What, insulting my acting again, dear fiance?”
Jonathan stayed silent.
Clementine pulled the sleeve of her dress up, exposing the marks of a whip on her forearm. “I’ll happily give myself a burn mark when it’s time.”
“You don’t have to go that far.” Jonathan was already frowning, so he hoped his distaste at the suggestion didn’t show too much. He was threatening her into being his accomplice. Clementine knowing that he actually didn’t enjoy causing harm, especially violence for the sake of violence, would be counterproductive to his plan.
“I’ll be fine. It’s not a punishment. Getting proper medical treatment will be easy.” Clementine smiled and batted her eyelashes coyly. She was clearly playing herself up again, a false bravado to hide her fear. “I am the poor fiance of a prince who burned to death.”
“I’m sure you’ll milk that for all it’s worth politically,” Jonathan replied bluntly. He had no doubt that his new accomplice would survive this situation if she did everything right. He wasn’t sure if he would simply die in a dark alleyway tomorrow after venturing off into an unknown world.
Clementine opened the bag of clothes. She pulled out a long cloak and handed it over.
“Thank you.” Jonathan fumbled a bit with the clasp, but he managed to get the metal pieces to click together. He started walking to the door of the parlor.
“Goodbye, Roscoe.” Clementine was staring at the candle she lit on the table. She planned to start the incident in an hour and a half to give her ex-fiance time to run away.
Jonathan disliked the name, but he couldn’t object. “Goodbye, Clementine.”
He closed the door of the parlor behind him and headed down the corridor. He felt as if the wood creaked beneath his feet on every step.
The closest entrance to a servant passageway was the door at the end of the hall. The passageway was well maintained, but silent. Jonathan stepped inside and started moving quickly. He kept a hand on the right wall to check for turns.
Most of the rooms he passed were quiet. Some servants talked as they cleaned, trading gossip.
It was only once he entered another wing of the palace that he heard a conversation between two people that had a different topic.
“You’re doing this again?” A young man asked. He carried disappointment in his tone—the feeling leached into his words.
“I do what I need to for you and Liam,” a woman’s voice responded. She was Consort Lorelei.
The counter was very softly spoken, but the words were steel-like, “And do you think the emperor will do nothing?”
Lorelei scoffed. “I have done this many times. As long as the emperor has his precious first son, then no. He doesn’t care about any of us. He won’t care about another mysterious death. There will be a customary investigation for the peace of mind of the court and public. They will find nothing.” She sighed. “I wish Deimena hadn’t left before I had the chance to ruin her. Her and her mother are too influential now to just be poisoned, and definitely not separately. It would have to be together. Now that I think of it, Adoncia would also be necessary. She would raise a fuss with the other diplomats.”
The young man stayed silent. It was hard to tell what he was thinking.
The door opened. There was a clatter of muddy boots.
“Oliver! You’re back!” Liam cheered.
Jonathan hadn’t met Oliver. It seemed that the second prince had just returned back to the capital city. And Jonathan never would talk to Oliver, he supposed.
He moved on, slipping through the passages that were tucked into the palace. The castle walls were made of massive stones, but he did not spend time admiring them. Instead he hid himself in the back of a cart and waited. This short maneuver allowed him to avoid sneaking through the gardens.
Jonathan unearthed himself from the barrels and stepped out. He had made it outside the walls, into the city proper.
He stood there, in the midst of a city that he knew nothing about. It was strange. There was no sense of adventure welling up in him, as if he was some traveling hero solving problems of the common folk or amassing wealth.
He was simply Jonathan Deere, under the identity of the dead prince Roscoe Lyon.
Be thankful to my editors, mango_to_sleep and watchild/av who are to blame for me writing this. All my friends are awful enablers who just want food.
Hope you enjoyed this bonus chapter.