The Affair

The official line, of course, had been that Adrian Damroc had been killed when he'd been outed as a magic-user. There was always a second line. This one being that Adrian—as powerful a maggot as he supposedly was—was imprisoned and tortured rather than executed on arrival. Instead of killing him, the Monarchy, the young prince and his father, had offered him a job.

Tracking magic-users.

Everybody had a price. Infant Lorden was Adrian’s. So, they’d found Aunt. Not a safety, but a security for a while, and Adrian was meant to keep a long eye on the boy from the castle.

That was, until the maggots tracked him right back to the castle and blew his bloody brains out before he spilt any more Underground secrets.

Percy stared at the tablet in her hands. Even her grandfather didn't know about Adrian's survival. But this…this piece of technology described everything (and in far more detail that Percy would've cared to read). Down here, in the castle dungeons this entire time. She wondered if the king himself was aware of the illicit parentage of his stepdaughter.

Or of how many double agents lurked in his close advisor CTOs.

Percy eyed the pile of tablets, stacked up as if they had nothing but banalities in their cores. How could the Monarchy stash away something so valuable? Had they really been so cold to the presence of Adrian in the end?

Or maybe they were too ashamed. The King had looked at Elenia with something… Before the princess had shown any signs of her abilities, before Percy had ever got involved in the war between maggot and non-magic, Percy had just thought it was distaste for his heir being technically illegitimate. Though, they’d lifted those laws years ago. An heir was an heir, regardless of who the father was.

“Well—in this case that’s saying something rather different,” Percy muttered to herself.

Still, she narrowed her eyes. They hadn’t been plonked in a pile like the rest of the debris had. Here, amidst all the true rubbish and broken things, was another broken thing: a relationship, a life, and a past. Hidden in plain sight, in trickery so no one knew.

What's more, the shape beyond the tablets was starting to come into focus as her eyes adjusted to the low-lighting. A coffin.

Percy swallowed. Oh tech. Oh bloody tech.

Of all the things...

She could hardly take the tablet—or show it to any of the maggots—but she didn't want—hadn't the right to leave what she had learnt down here where it had been buried. With the body of their comrade/lover.

The click of a blaster echoed in Percy's ear.

"Not one move."

The End

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