‘Help a young child?’
I kind of blanked out since I was thinking of something big like hidden hostility in the courts, a fight for power, or purifying the church.
“How…… How do you want me to help the child?”
Of course, I was happy since helping a kid out would be much easier than any of those things.
I actually have a lot of confidence when it comes to kid-related things.
My brother and I basically raised little Eunse since she was nine years younger than me.
I can say with certainty that my brother and I, although we are both not married, have done everything most parents would do with their kids.
“You must be thirsty. Would you like something to drink?”
But Cardinal Boutier suddenly changed topics.
I focused on her expression since I found it to be odd, but as someone in a high position like a Cardinal, she had a great poker face.
She looked at me and smiled before calling an attendant to ask for drinks.
“Here is your coffee, your Eminence, and ginger tea for you, Prince Jesse.”
“Thank you very much.”
The attendant soon brought a steaming tea kettle, tea cup, and a coffee cup.
It made sense that Benjamin was surprised on the first day since even the Cardinal drank coffee.
He must have told the attendant while waiting outside, as she brought me a drink without any caffeine even though I didn’t say anything.
I only had ginger tea with ginger extract at home, but this one tasted like it was made differently.
The piece of lemon in there made it taste even more refreshing.
The attendant then left the room.
I debated whether I should bring up that ‘young child’ again.
“I cannot tell you anything else right now. I’m sorry.”
The Cardinal took a sip of coffee before breaking the silence.
I guess she didn’t plan on just avoiding the topic.
“Please just remember for now that there is a young child who needs your help. It is not something that will bring you harm. I promise.”
“Is the child sick?”
“Something like that.”
“Are you not able to tell me the name or age of the child either?”
“Yeah. If you are able to stabilize your power more and we are able to completely trust each other… Then I will introduce the child to you.”
She said that kind of quietly. I had no choice but to nod my head. Well, it wasn’t a bad deal for me.
I would get personal tutoring from the Cardinal which will make my Divine Power stronger, raising my chances of being able to protect myself.
The only thing I needed to do was to help out a young child, which shouldn’t be problematic since she promised it wouldn’t bring me harm.
The fact that the Empress might be less wary of me since I was forming a sort of master-student relationship with the Cardinal was a bonus.
‘Ah, right. The Empress. I still have that to discuss.’
“Excuse me, your Eminence.”
“What is it?”
“Her Majesty said that I could make any request…… or so I remember hearing.”
“That’s right, I did say that. Did you need something?”
‘I originally didn’t need anything, but something came up a few days ago.’
“I heard that I may end up participating in the Spring Ball. If possible, I hope that I don’t have to attend it.”
“That is unexpected.”
Her eyes opened a bit wider before she laughed.
Everybody in the Empire seemed to know my nickname, the ‘Scoundrel of the Holy Kingdom,’ that they all, regardless of their status, thought that I was extremely social.
They all get shocked when I say that I am not going to do something and their eyes open as wide as a rabbit’s eyes when I say that I just want to read books in my room.
“Do you have other plans for that day?”
“Mm, I plan on performing the task I was sent here to do.”
‘The main character of this novel, young lady Christelle de Sarnez, will definitely be at the Spring Ball, so I don’t want to run into her. I’ll end up dying if I do. I would rather stay alive.’
Sadly, I couldn’t say all of that to her.
“I came as a Confessional Priest so I plan on listening to the confessions of people at the palace.”
The Cardinal’s beige-colored eyes sparkled at my response.
She seemed to be amused.
* * *
“I presume they will all line up starting from the early morning. I think we will need to issue numbers to people.”
Vice Captain Élisabeth stopped moving her knife and put on a serious expression.
I jumped in shock while feeding Ganael, who was standing next to me, a piece of sirloin.
“Do you really think so many people will show up?”
“Confessing to a regular Bishop level priest is something the commoners will get to do maybe once in their lives. Most temples mainly have Clergy level priests since the Bishops are busy with their political conflict against each other. Some people will even start camping tonight once they hear that Prince Jesse will personally hear their confessions.”
She finished speaking and used elegant movements to slice her meat.
Her short, dark green hair gently shook back and forth.
“Then it will probably increase the workload for the imperial guards. I’m sorry.”
“No, not at all, your highness. We get paid well for our job and most importantly, Her Eminence the Cardinal is personally supporting your decision.”
Vice Captain Élisabeth smiled brightly.
This lunch meeting was urgently scheduled so that we can discuss the confessions that would start tomorrow.
She added on, saying that, ‘there will be a lot of punks from the Imperial Guards who go to confess as well.’
I quietly smiled and started to eat my third plate of steak.
As one of the important characters of ‘QNW,’ Cardinal Aurélie Boutier’s influence in the Riester Empire was amazing.
The fact that she was the Empire’s only Cardinal was a big part of it, but the most influential reason was her title as the ‘Empress’s Religious Partner.’
The ‘partner’ discussed here is not as spouses but as friends.
The Riester Imperial family, especially those who are close to the throne, must have a ‘Political Partner’ or a ‘Religious Partner.’ The Political Partners are solidified through marriage while the Religious Partners, what did they call it, are through some kind of contract.
Based on the information I skimmed through, the former was like an arranged marriage for political gain while the latter was more of finding your soul’s other half.
As people who ‘share souls,’ the Cardinal knows what the Empress knows, and the Empress does not know anything the Cardinal does not know.
The Cardinal’s opinion was involved in anything the Empress did, and the Empress pretty much gives consent for what the Cardinal does.
Basically, the reason I get to be a Confessional Priest is because of the Cardinal’s support and the Empress’s approval.
I was full of energy to do my job since I officially got permission not to attend the ball.
“The reason Her Eminence the Cardinal is supporting you is probably because she has been a Confessional Priestess as well.”
“Is that so?”
I responded to Vice Captain Élisabeth as I sliced another piece of meat and put it in Ganael’s mouth.
Benjamin was frowning at me, but I just ignored him.
Seeing him eating so well reminded me of Eunse for a moment.
“Yes, sir. Most of the Imperial Palace’s priests sit around doing nothing. They are assigned here to help the religious life of the Imperial Family, but only a few members of the Imperial Family reside in the Imperial Palace and even less want to share their inner thoughts with an unfamiliar priest. But her Eminence entered as a Confessional Priestess when she was younger and went to the temple every single day to wait for anybody who wished to confess.”
“Even on the days nobody showed up?”
“That is correct. That was how she met her Majesty and developed their friendship.”
“What an amazing story.”
She could have had a cushy job doing nothing, but she chose to sincerely do her job and it led to her becoming lifelong partners with the future Empress. This kind of thing could only happen in a novel.
Well, I guess this is a novel.
“It probably reminded her of that time. She may have recalled her younger days while looking at you, your highness.”
“I guess that is possible.”
“Furthermore, you said that you would take confessions regardless of a person’s status.”
“Yes, Her Eminence seemed interested in people’s reactions and the results as well.”
“Your highness, it is not proper etiquette to feed your attendant food.”
Benjamin couldn’t hold back anymore and cut into our conversation. I stopped moving the fork in my hand.
I was still able to say something, though.
“Mr. Benjamin, you said that you have lunch at 3 pm. It’s not right to starve a growing boy until 3 pm.”
“Attendants are used to this way of life. Your actions can negatively influence Ganael’s body and mind in the long run, your highness.”
“Okay then, I promise this is the last bite.”
I smiled brightly and moved the fork again.
Ganael peeked warily at Benjamin but still took the last bite of food from me.
Vice Captain Élisabeth laughed out loud as she watched.
“You have a good master, Ganael.”
“Please don’t make fun of me, Vice Commander Moutet.”
Ganael’s face turned red, and he quietly mumbled back to Vice Captain Élisabeth.
‘Do the two of them know each other?’
“Then should we open the Confessional starting from the morning?”
Her clear voice made me forget about the random thoughts in my head.
I explained my plan to Vice Captain Élisabeth.
“Yes, let’s do it from 10 am to 11:30 am, 3 pm to 4 pm, and 8 pm to 9 pm. I can’t stay in the temple all day, so I plan on splitting it into three segments a day.”
“I think that you will be too tired, your highness. You also need to consider the travel time to the temple and back. How about reducing it to twice a day?”
“Mm, I’ll think about it.”
This was something that Benjamin already brought up to me.
I would rather do it just twice a day as well, but I hesitated to do as I pleased because I learned that many people will be waiting for me.
I can’t do the morning sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays since I will be learning from the Cardinal anyway.
Chatting with people I don’t know was one of the things I had the least amount of confidence in, but I felt pretty good about just ‘listening to people.’
“We will do as you wish for now, your highness, but please do change the times or number of sessions a day if you feel that it is too much in the future.”
Benjamin gave a great solution.
Vice Captain Élisabeth agreed with him as she picked up her wine glass.
The grape juice that was in there instead of wine swirled around as she picked it up.
What greeted me the next morning was a long line that was about 100 meters long from the temple entrance.
Vice Captain Élisabeth had not been joking.
People in line were holding small pieces of paper and raising their voices with excited expressions on their faces.
‘Are those really numbers?’
“It’s his highness, Prince Jesse is here!”
“What? Where? I can’t see!”
“Please don’t push!”
“We greet his highness, the First Prince of the Holy Kingdom!”
“Hello everyone, I didn’t expect so many of you.”
I awkwardly greeted them and the people who had gathered here from all corners of the palace either covered their mouths with their hands or bowed to me over and over without knowing what to do.
It made me feel embarrassed and awkward.
I walked over to some of the older individuals with their hands reached out while wondering whether I should shake their hands, but the Imperial Guards quickly came over and stopped me.
I guess they saw signs of the line turning chaotic as some of them used their arms to push the people back.
“Your highness, please follow me.”
“Ah, yes, ma’am.”
Vice Captain Élisabeth, who came in the carriage with me, guided me in a reliable voice.
Benjamin, Ganael, and I quickly followed behind her.
Knights wearing armor opened the heavy doors, revealing the inside of the temple to me.
The chatters of the people behind me were no longer on my mind.
This was my first time at a temple since ending up in this world of < I quit my job and ended up as a noble young lady in another world >.
I quickly looked around as everything looked so amazing.
I feel like I have seen a similar place before, but that’s probably because the author is someone from Earth as well.
The outside looked like a temple from Greek mythologies while the inside looked like a large Cathedral.
The main differences were that the ceiling was flat and that there were lattice patterns on the windows making the inside of the temple look quite magical instead of the stained glass you would normally find at a Cathedral.
“The Confessional is over here.”
Vice Captain Élisabeth pointed toward the inner corner of the temple.
I clenched my fists and started walking.
I really like how Jesse brings up the author from time to time. It adds an extra dimension for me. Don’t you agree?