Mai took a few seconds to take in what Cornelia said before she realized just what Cornelia was doing- fire. The second 'treasure' that Jaquine needed to find was fire.
"Why?" Jaquine's voice was as tiny as a mosquito as she looked up at Cornelia through her eyelashes.
"Stupid," Cornelia scoffed before she found a piece of flint around the size of her thumb. "Perfect."
Jaquine turned to Mai, tears filling up her eyes. Mai inwardly sighed before she looked back at Cornelia. Feeling pity for the girl and knowing that there was no way Cornelia would explain, Mai began to reason her way through Cornelia's actions.
"There's no time limit." Mai looked at Jaquine and noticed that she still hadn't understood. Mai decided that she needed to explain it even further. "The scavenger hunt that the Cardon faction had you do for your initiation has no time limit. Meaning, you can hand them the things anytime."
Jaquine's mouth was like an 'o' as her expression conveyed just how surprised she was.
Mai nodded, pleased that Jaquine was finally able to understand. She continued, "The Cardon faction purposefully made you feel as if you had to get it to them as fast as possible, but in fact, there is no time limit. Which means-"
"You can hand in the items the day before the Emperor's son comes," Cornelia cut into their conversation, handing Jaquine the piece of flint that she had found. "That's all you have to do." Cornelia leveled a glare in Jaquine's direction. "So don't screw it up."
Jaquine nodded her head furiously, her cheeks pink in because of her exertion.
Satisfied, Cornelia turned around and left the square, leading the way to the Vestigal Castle.
"W-what about the third thing? 'A golden globe, light in weight but heavy in meaning'?" It was the first time Jaquine had called out on her own initiative, but her voice was still as small as a mosquito.
Cornelia didn't even bother turning around. Instead, she stopped where she was and scoffed. "I still don't trust you. Figure that out on your own." Continuing, Cornelia was soon out of both Jacquine's and Mai's sight.
Mai sighed and rubbed the space between her eyes. "Don't be too afraid of Cornelia, Jacquine. She's the type to be harsh and cruel on the outside, but kind and gentle inwardly."
Jacquine looked up, her eyes twinkling with surprise and relief. "Really?"
"No." Mai chuckled when she saw the stricken expression on Jacquine's face. "But she knew that the Cardon faction most likely would have started pressuring your about the scavenger items. That's why she gave you the first two at the start."
Understandings flashed through Jacquine's eyes, and she quickly stuffed the piece of flint into her robe's pockets. The mat, however, was too large and bulky to be placed within the thin fabric of the robe.
Mai nodded, pleased. There's still hope for Jacquine yet. Gesturing towards the little girl, Mai led the way towards the castle, the rising light of the sun signaling the soon-to-be start of the day.
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