I activated my circle as soon as I started talking. The golden circle made the room even brighter.
The young boy was quietly looking at the Holy Domain under his feet.
“How did you get in here?”
I checked on the punk’s condition as I asked. He looked much better than the other day.
He had some cold sweats on his forehead and his breathing was a bit short, but he didn’t look as if he would fall to the ground like last time.
“Did you come to steal aether again?”
The boy raised his head and made eye contact with me. He had a haughty gaze.
“I don’t remember stealing it.”
“Taking it without asking me is stealing it.”
The child snorted.
I kept my guard up but thought that he would be quite the troublemaker since his attitude was already so crappy.
“Did you do something wrong? Are you on the run?”
The young boy quietly observed me before sighing and walking over to sit down at the table.
His movements seemed so natural that it felt as if this was his room and not my room.
“Use your circle to release your aether.”
‘……Is he ordering me around?’
“Why should I?”
“Do you want to faint again?”
I was at a loss for words because I couldn’t believe how pompous this kid was being.
He sat down as if the seat was his and didn’t avoid my gaze even as I stared at him.
He seemed so calm, even though he was pretty much threatening me. I should probably respond strongly as well.
“You should answer my questions. Otherwise, I will tie you down with my Divine Oracle and call the attendants.”
“Your condition is not good right now. You should be respectful if you came here for aether.”
I sternly responded. The boy slightly frowned.
Eunse was generally a good kid, but she used to throw tantrums around when she was five or six years old, like most kids that age do, to make us give her what she wanted.
Children will only get worse if you give in to them during those times.
I tried ignoring her and calming her down, but the most effective method was to make her follow the rules.
‘If you want something, ask respectfully. Then I will hear you out. That is our rule.’
“I am allowed everywhere in the Imperial Palace.”
The boy finally opened his mouth.
That must be his answer for my, ‘how did you get in here?’ question from earlier.
It wasn’t a satisfactory answer, but I slowly released aether through my circle as if I was giving him a reward.
I didn’t know what to imagine to do it, but I tried controlling it by imagining myself slowly releasing a ball of yarn.
It must have been effective, as the boy’s scowl slowly released.
“I am not a criminal, nor am I on the run.”
I let out even more aether.
I imagined myself undoing the ball of yarn for about four rounds.
“Then I won’t be in harm’s way for helping you.”
“I guarantee it.”
‘Would you look at this punk.’
The little punk seriously answered my half-joking statement.
I naturally did not believe him.
Someone who had nothing to hide would not sneak into the Imperial Temple Confessional like that or barge into a prince’s room through the balcony.
But he didn’t seem like your typical thief or troublemaker since he seems to know the layout of the palace very well.
“I guess you’re a noble or a part of the royal family?”
The boy shut his mouth like a clam. His orange pupils gave off a stubborn light.
‘Ah, I remember not getting a response from Eunse even when my brother came home whenever she looked like this.’
I shook my head and chose a different question.
Imperial Prince Cédric was an only child and the only royals currently residing in the Imperial Palace were the Empress and the Imperial Prince, so this kid was probably not a part of that family.
Christelle, the main character of QNW, did not have a younger brother this age either.
At least I avoided two troublesome sources.
“Are you a priest as well?”
The boy immediately responded to my question. This was unexpected.
Only priests and Holy Knights were able to give and receive aether.
I was told that the power to control aether, Divine Power, was generally something only priests and Holy Knights had.
“Then you are saying that you are a Holy Knights……”
“Why are you reading a book about demonic beasts and divine beasts?”
The child sharply cut me off.
His gaze looked fierce as he looked through the books on the table. He sure gave off a lot of force for someone so tiny.
“I haven’t read it yet. Apparently demonic beasts appeared in the rear mountain and someone thought they might be divine beasts, so I became curious.”
I slowly approached the child and stood on the other side of the table.
I didn’t tell him about Agnes, the mountain keeper.
I may just be a priest by name, but I wasn’t such a blabbermouth that I would go around talking about a person’s confession.
“……I guess our conversation will go quicker than I expected.”
The boy quietly mumbled. He then said something shocking.
“I’m currently guiding the divine beasts who have entered the Imperial Palace to a divine item. That is the reason I needed your aether.”
‘Whenever divine beasts appear, a person with Divine Power leads them to a divine item.’
The statement I read in a book that I couldn’t even remember the title of quickly rushed through my brain.
It was the appearance of an unexpected connection. But before that…
“Divine beasts are real?”
“Those beasts that appeared in the rear mountain came down to the palace?”
“I’m sure they didn’t walk in through the main gate.”
I gulped. Mountain keeper Agnes and her carpenter friend Maxim were correct.
They really were divine beasts and not demonic beasts.
“I thought they were animals of legends. There wasn’t much I could find on the topic.”
“The prince of the Holy Kingdom is questioning the existence of divine beasts?”
The boy seemed to be sneering at me.
“That is a stereotype. Not everybody in the Holy Kingdom is a devoted believer.”
“The closest divine item is located in the Sarnez Duchy, so you will cooperate until I can lead the divine beasts there.”
The boy didn’t pay any attention to what I said and just said what he wanted to say.
‘Wait a minute, hold on.’
My mind was turning into a mess because too much data was entering at once.
I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and opened them back.
‘Let’s slowly organize these things one by one.’
I extended my hand and first curled my thumb in.
“……You are guiding those divine beasts?”
“Only those with Divine Power are able to tame divine beasts. You should know that as well.”
‘Makes sense, this punk has Divine Power.’
I nodded my head and curled my index finger in.
“Her Eminence the Cardinal is in the Imperial Palace as well. Why are you the one to do it?”
“Her Eminence is unable to leave Her Majesty’s side.”
The boy quickly responded.
The Empress and the Cardinal are said to have signed a contract to be ‘Religious Partners.’
I recalled Benjamin’s explanation about how the Cardinal was able to stay in the Imperial Palace because she was the Empress’s partner.
‘I guess people who become two halves of a soul are unable to physically be far apart.’
“Third. When you say the Sarnez duchy, are you talking about young lady Christelle de Sarnez’s hometown?”
The child just slightly nodded his chin as if it was annoying to respond.
I felt a sense of danger from that small movement.
I subconsciously looked up because a name that I should never get involved with was being brought up.
Was this the author messing with me?
Was it a sign that I could not avoid the MC and the original plot of the story, no matter what I did?
There was no need to be anxious. There were plenty of holes to escape through still remaining.
“Can’t you just raise the divine beasts here at the palace instead of guiding them there?”
‘He said they follow him well. There are many web novels these days with animals.’
I truly believed that guiding this story in that direction would not be a bad idea.
I would do anything to avoid running into Christelle.
“……I now understand the reason the Holy Kingdom threw you away.”
This little punk was mocking me with both his eyes and mouth.
“No, I just don’t want to get involved with Duke Sarnez. I just want to live quietly.”
The young boy sighed as if he could not believe what he had just heard.
I went over everything I had done until now.
I admit that I broadened the playing field by saying I would take confessions, but I would have been forced to attend the ball if I didn’t create that escape route.
I didn’t want to show my face at a place where the main couple was highly likely to attend.
The number of love calls I would get from the Riester Beau Monde would decrease if I focused on my job as a priest.
“I will be the one leading them there so you don’t need to worry about the Duchy.”
The boy nonchalantly commented. I snapped out of my thoughts and looked down at the child.
“All you need to do is supply me with aether.”
“……That’s good for me, but… Will you really be okay? Are you doing it by yourself?”
“I do not need any help since the divine beasts and I are compatible.”
‘Compatible? Is compatibility a thing with aether?’
The things I needed to study in this foreign world seemed to never end.
‘Damn it, I’m never going to joke about leaving Korea to go live in another country ever again.’
“But let me know if you need anything else. Your condition seems to get really bad when you have aether depletion. Does it take that much aether to guide the divine beasts?”
I slowly put my hand on the boy’s forehead that was no longer sweating. He didn’t have a fever.
He was a bit pale, but the little kid seemed to have calmed down after receiving my aether.
I was uncomfortable thinking about such a young child going through the Imperial Palace and the Imperial Capital on his own to reach the Sarnez Duchy.
“Am I really not allowed to talk about your situation to anybody?”
“I remember telling you to keep your mouth shut.”
“I feel like it would be okay to inform her Eminence, the Cardinal. She might be able to help you in some way if she knows what you are doing.”
The child silently reached out and opened the lid of a wooden box on the table.
He must be doing this to avoid the question.
The box was full of the sage tea leaves that Imperial Prince Cédric sent me as a gift a few days ago.
“You haven’t even touched it.”
“I heard it’s precious. I plan on sharing it little by little with the people of the palace.”
The boy frowned after hearing me say that I couldn’t drink it all on my own.
“Should I pack some for you too?”
The child’s orange pupils seemed disgruntled.
I thought that he might be thirsty and brought a pitcher of water over and poured it into an empty cup.
“Are you eating properly? You need to eat well to grow taller later like this big bro.”
I couldn’t tell whether he was ignoring me or just not responding.
I grabbed a handful of daryols from a glass bowl next to the box and wrapped them in a clean handkerchief.
“Eat these when your blood sugar is low.”
Ganael had them wrapped and put them in this bowl for me to enjoy whenever I wanted.
The child had an odd expression on his face after receiving the bundle from me.
Golden pebble-like things suddenly started floating around the boy like fireflies.
I became anxious and quickly canceled my Holy Domain. My heart sank thinking that I might have harmed him.
“It’s time for me to go.”
But he didn’t seem impacted at all.
He silently moved and opened the balcony door before jumping onto the ledge.
He was so stealthy that I wouldn’t have noticed if I didn’t see him with my own eyes.
I quickly moved toward the balcony as well.
“You should at least tell me your name if we’re going to see each other again.”
The young boy turned his head and stared at me.
His face looked different looking up at him like this instead of down.
His black hair reflected in the moonlight was extremely calm as it blended with the stars around it while his orange pupils were as bright as suns in the night.
We stared at each other like that for a while.
The boy answered before throwing his body into the darkness.
“What is all this?”
The next morning, I was dragged to the front of Juliette Palace and greeted by the loud chatter of the attendants.
There was a large wagon that was full of something.
“These are gifts from his highness, Imperial Prince Cédric. He is gifting each of the attendants at Juliette Palace one box of these precious tea leaves for our hard work.”
Benjamin smiled brightly as he explained.
The box in Ganael’s hand seemed about one-tenth the size of the box I received.
He opened the lid and I could smell a refreshing yet sharp mint-like fragrance.
It must be sage tea again.
“I guess the sun rose in the west today.”
Ganael laughed out loud at my mumbling.
I was thinking about how they say that people who do things they don’t usually do are about to die, but the Imperial Prince is the male lead, so that shouldn’t be an issue.
So, I just headed back to my bed.
But it was nice to see all of them gathered together, chatting happily, and smiling.
Man, this kid is so rude to him and Jesse’s still all like, take some food. He’s just too nice.