16 XV. The Extraction

If anything good about William was that he was a good tracker. He learned from a friend at the academy and then, he became the best tracker that anyone could ask for. Except William was an anti-social person and he did not mingle with society that much.

But right now, he was excellent in his work.

"They went to the northwest of the forest. I think they were trying to get to Norkins, perhaps to sell the princess into the slavery," Will said before they were moving on their foot. They have to be quick before the bandits can get to them. And Magnus was ready to kick the bandits' hides for stealing his betrothed.

Even when he did not have any special feelings for the princess like he had for Casey.

Casey. His heart gave an ache before Magnus was shaking his head. Focus, he reminded himself before he was looking around the forest. William has instructed them to go around the hiding camp as they would take on them by surprise.

"It's the best course of action and you know it," Will said to James before he was rolling his eyes.

"Fine, let's just be done with it. I want to get my beauty sleep,"

"Aren't you a beauty?" Will said before James scowled at him. Magnus cut them off and they were getting into their position to attack. William will be on the tree for he will be the higher eyes if anyone was not looking over their back.

Besides, William was good with bow and arrows. That will be his advantage.

James was good with two swords and Magnus only can manage one sword and a dagger at a time. As they were going in for their designated place, James and Magnus attacked the camp.

"We're under attack. Grab a weapon," one of the bandits said before James was slashing throats and laughing all the same. Magnus winced when so many bandits were hitting the ground. Then, Magnus did his thing.

Back in his time, Magnus was not a swordsman or he could wield anything at all. It was uncanny to see that his body was moving like a snake and attacked the bandits all the same. Huh, I guess I am a master of the sword now, he thought before he was making his way toward the lump on the ground that was far away from the fight.

"Princess!"

"Hmm," was the only answer that Magnus got before he was moving across the ground to take down the bandits. Arrows were stuck in the bandits as Magnus was crossing the grounds. He knew that Will was a good archer but never this good. Damnation, I should not be on his bad side ever, he mused before he was going to the princess and helped her.

Magnus cut the ropes before she was gripping the sack that was covering her head and Magnus was blinking a few times as the dawn light was fast approaching them. Then, he could not breathe for he was staring into the stormy eyes of the scurry maid that he loved, Casey.

Casey, the runaway and captured princess of Caga, Her Royal Highness Christy Donavan, princess of the realm.

*****

Casey knew it will be her betrothed to come and save her. but she would never get used to the emotions that were playing in Magnus' eyes as they were looking at each other for the longest time in her life.

Betrayal, hunger, hurt, and anger were inside his eyes before Magnus blinked them away and helped her to get to her feet.

"Princess," he said stiffly for Casey was no longer the maid that worked at his manor, but the princess of the realm that betrothed to Lord Magnus Flemington.

And he was Lord Magnus Flemington right now.

"Well, I must say that I don't have that fun in many years…" James drawled his statement as Casey was looking at him. He blinked his eyes before William was bowing at her.

"Your Majesty," Will said as Casey curtsied to him.

"Thank you for coming to save me, my lords," she said as Magnus was still quiet from the shock or surprise, Casey did not know.

"Unfortunately, we don't get all the bandits that were responsible for your capture, Your Majesty. One of them escaped," Will said before James was patting his shoulder.

"Don't brood, brother. I'm sure we will get him another day," he said in which Will just mumbled at him. James laughed before Magnus was clearing his throat and asked all four of them to get going to the estate to recover from the madness of the attack.

"Yes, that would be a good idea after all. I need to get out of this mess and riding habits. I shall have grandma to make another one, in black as well," James said as Will was scowling at him.

"But you have like 5 more of them,"

"Aye, but not too much for a gentleman to have another black riding habits, wouldn't you say?" James said before Casey followed them and Magnus was tailing them from behind.

*****

They rode back through the Fik Forest using Will's amazing tracking skills. They have arrived at The Flemington Manor half the time that Magnus would have gone from the manor into the forest. After all, the ride home was much shorter than the journey to your destination.

Casey made her statement that she will be riding with James on the way back. Not that Magnus was complaining but his brother just arched his eyebrow at Magnus. He just shrugged before they were riding home.

"Well, home sweet home," James said before Magnus was looking at the manor. But not my home, not ever, he thought before he saw someone was standing by the door as she was drawing her shawl around her shoulder.

"Shit," James cursed under his breath before Will smirked. It was the first time that Magnus saw anything else on Will's face, let alone a smirk.

"Well, it was all good and done for. We're doomed, Will," James said before they were in the courtyard and the grooms were taking the reins of their stallions. James helped Casey down from the horse as their grandmother was coming at them.

"You bloody fools," the old dowager said before she did something that was not expected from her.

She hugged them before she was kissing their cheeks, Magnus was the receiver of the most kisses.

"Oh, I thought I have lost you again. I don't think that my heart would stop beating now," the old woman said before Magnus assured her that they were fine. Then, the old dowager was looking at James and William.

"James and William Flemington. I just sent you to the academy and here you are, parading through the forest,"

They winced as the old dowager was looking at them before sighing.

"But you help you brother and that's all that matters. You are safe and I will explain to your headmaster about your absence later," the dowager said before James and Will exchange glances.

Apparently, that was not something that was expected from the dowager countess as well.

"And you," she said as she was looking at Casey with her red riding habits and unkempt hair. God knows how long she was held captive and she was still holding her chin high.

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Unlike the maid that she used to be but a princess of the realm, her birthright.

"Yes?" she asked his grandma before the old dowager was narrowing her eyes at her. and then, she stepped in.

And hugged Casey with all her strength.

"Oh thank the Lord that you are safe. I don't wish you for anything to happen," their grandmother said as Casey was blinking her eyes at her before she turned to look at Magnus. She was as confused as he was.

Apparently, the old dowager knows who the real Casey was. Perhaps that's why she warned Magnus not to dally with her.

Too late for that, grandma.

"Come now. Come. You must be freezing out in the woods with those horrible men. Ugh, I cannot think of anything else. Come, child. Let's get you something warm," the old dowager said as Magnus was staring at his brothers and they did the same. Apparently, no one was the wiser.

*****

Magnus was soaking inside the copper bathtub in his bathing chamber as he was looking at the ceiling. So, was everything that he felt for her was a lie? Did Casey—sorry it was Christy now—feel anything to him? Was he dumb enough to think that she was playing with his feelings? He sighed before he was closing his eyes as he was washing his skin with a rag that lathered with lemon soap.

I guess I just have to face the music then and confronted her about her feelings and mine, Magnus thought before he submerged into the water, trying to forget the events of the past few days.

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