60 Skyhaven City: Prince Andrew (2)

The young prince, unsurprisingly, was very confused about Seran's words. Andrew was well aware of his talent, and he didn't believe it was anywhere near as great as the demigod claimed. Even his seven younger brothers had higher standings than him, let alone the youngest brother who stood at a decent 11th in the line of succession. The 36th in line, above Andrew himself, was also one of his cousins, but he was far better off compared to young Andrew. As for the top five, the one holding the #1 position, the current Crown Prince, he wasn't yet 30, but he'd already achieved a fourth-grade job, as a Swordmaster. Andrew hadn't even surpassed his base job, so even the thought of being able to rival Crown Prince Lionel was so foreign that it might as well be in a different language. So it was understandable for him to take a minute to respond, "That's just not possible, I'm not capable of being anything like what you say. My talent is the weakest of the 37 princes, and that's why I'm the last in the standings. I've reached my limit already, that's all."

Seran smiled with that interested look in his eyes, "Limit? Only a base job and no more? Ridiculous. You should have already reached your fourth-grade advancement, but you haven't. That leads me to believe that something is inhibiting your growth."

Rexus understood the hidden implications in Seran's words and immediately stood in rage, "Are you insinuating that His Highness has been poisoned, or crippled!? With me beside him, such a thing is not possible!"

Seran glared at Rexus, releasing a powerful pressure that forced the enraged knight to sit back in his chair. "Sit down and shut up. I did not say he was poisoned, though it is a very likely possibility. And," he cut off Rexus again before he could shout, "The only people capable of doing so are people you can't do anything about anyway."

Andrew was a sharp lad for his age, and pieced Seran's words into a general picture, "The other princes?"

"Indeed. Rexus isn't able to do anything to them, as they are far above his position. Besides, I know how crafty the minds of royalty can be when it comes to succeeding the throne. I can only assume that one of the other princes, likely one of your older brothers specifically, discovered your talent and devised a plan to cripple your growth." Seran's mind found the most logical, though also the most devious. "If I could take a closer look at you, I could figure out the cause. Would you mind if I took a look at your wrist, Your Highness?"

Andrew, learning of his siblings cruel ideas to ruin him permanently, notably felt the sting of betrayal, and no fair bit of heartbreak as well. He slumped back in his chair, his natural royal aura dissolving rapidly, leaving him looking only weak and hopeless. He didn't even hear Seran's question, as he was still processing the pain of his own brothers betrayal of him. Compared to other royal family members, he was too pure, and knew nothing of the internal power struggles of a ruling family. Mass slaughter of family members was, while uncommon, only one of the ways a royal family member could claim the throne. Compared to family, the great power and influence of being the ruler was far more appealing than family.

While the poor prince was sinking into the depths of despair, Seran quickly grabbed Andrew's wrist, to which Rexus reached for his sword and received another burst of pressure, and examined the young teen's body and spirit with his mana. Five minutes of very close inspection passed before he released Andrew's wrist, tapping the prince on the forehead to bring him back down to earth. "While I can't determine who did it without seeing them personally, I can confidently say you were indeed crippled intentionally. You were given a combination of poison and sealing magic that would leave you not only crippled in talent, but physically weak and incapable of any growth. From the looks of it, it's been about five years, so about the time you were, say, six years old? Is that about the time that things changed for you?"

Rexus answered first, as Andrew was still rather lost in his mind, "I've been with His Highness since he was born. Nobody would know that without being very close to him, or being a part of the internal drama. You are neither of those, so I can only believe that you did indeed prove your words..." He sighed, "I am ashamed, I let His Highness be crippled in my presence. I am a disgrace to the Imperial Knights."

Seran shook his head, his purple eyes cool as water, "You couldn't have known, it's very well done and exceptionally concealed. Even if one of the Fate Readers, for example my friend Brannon, was to examine him, he wouldn't be able to tell and would assume the same as everyone else has. Only someone with my unique abilities, or a Divine-grade Herbalist or Alchemist, or a Grand Cleric could have discovered it. None of the latter 3 exist on this continent, and I am one of a kind, so, unless you traveled to the Central Continent and searched for one of those 3 people, you were doomed to die as the weakest prince. However, you have met me, and that is your good fortune. Just from this short interaction I have had with you has given me insight into your character. You are an honest, caring person, someone who accepts his faults and lives with them rather than deny their very existence or only make them worse. You would certainly be a unique Emperor, but such kind people rarely reach such positions when the world is full of corruption and cruelty."

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Once again, Rexus spoke, "He has always been kind. Amongst the 37 princes, His Highness has the highest standing with the people of the empire, because he is humble and kind. He often gives away anything of value he has to people in need. He even stripped his section of the Imperial Palace down to the bones and sold everything to give to others. He lives in a grungy wing of the palace now, and one wouldn't be able to tell he did by the way he behaves. He is a very kind prince, and... yes, with the struggles of the Imperial Family, he is too soft to do what he needs to..."

"Well, that's what I am going to fix now." He lightly smacked Andrew on the head, shocking him back to reality, before smiling and saying, "Now that I have your attention again," his expression became serious as he simply asked one question, "Would you like to be freed from your shackles, or will you remain as you are, a crippled prince?"

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