“The two bandits, Synkie and Peter, were similar in age and size with the killed children. Most importantly, they were also twins, so the interviewers were not suspicious. The Imperial Guard believes that someone who works for the Bellang family received some money from the Holy Kingdom and handed over the information about the attendant candidates.”
“So you are saying that once the Holy Kingdom got information about the Bellang twins, they sent assassin who met the requirements to switch with them?”
“Yes. It seems to have been planned long before you got here.”
‘Money? They sold out two children who were only thirteen years old and got them killed for money?!’
I was devastated about what I had just heard.
Eunse had never told me about this side of QNW.
Was the whole novel like this? Or was it only this chaotic around the ‘second male lead?’
If it was the latter, I can understand why Eunse was always feeling sorry for the prince.
“They were thoroughly educated to be your attendants, so they wouldn’t have failed the exam. The Chief of Staff and Benjamin were not suspicious of them because they had seen them at the interview.”
Cardinal Boutier calmly added on.
“Ma’am, what happened to them? Were they executed?”
“They are still alive.”
Her gaze was kind of odd as she looked at me.
“It was all thanks to you taking care of them properly. You gave a Divine Oracle so that they could not commit suicide. Normally, assassins who get captured try to kill themselves to protect their masters.”
“Yes. They were captured by the Imperial Guard without being able to commit suicide and ended up having to reveal everything they knew.”
“Were they tortured?”
I bit down on my lips.
It wasn’t that I was forgiving those bastards for what they had done to me.
My loathing and disappointment in those murderers were not getting weaker just because we were close for the past week.
But there was a limit to what a Korean person living in the 21st century could accept as punishment.
It was understandable for criminals to go to prison.
It made sense that they would need to question them to find out the instigator.
But torturing people, especially children in their early teens, was something I could not easily accept.
“They probably would have done that if I was not here, but thankfully, I am kind of skilled.”
Her beige-colored eyes curled up.
“My Divine Oracle is very strong. It isn’t very hard for me to completely cleanse the minds of children who have lived their whole lives being brainwashed.”
That was a relief.
She looked at my expression before laughing out loud this time.
“You truly are a kind child as I’ve heard.”
“No ma’am, I do believe that they need to be punished. Even if they are minors, they have murdered three people and tried to kill me as well.”
“You are right. They will be charged with attempted murder on a member of the Imperial family because they tried to kill a prince of a foreign nation residing at the palace. Even if they keep their lives because of the Bellang couple or your benevolence, they will live the rest of their lives in prison.”
I nodded my head.
I barely managed to survive, but I felt ill thinking about the two children and the driver who lost their lives in an instant.
“Then can I ask you some questions now?”
“Excuse me? You have questions for me?”
“I don’t think that all of my questions have been answered yet. I just want some answers to things that have made me curious the past three days.”
“……I will answer any question to the best of my abilities, your Eminence.”
‘I guess I was unconscious for three days.’
That was the only thought in my mind as I looked directly into the Cardinal’s mysterious eyes.
She cautiously started to speak.
“The Holy Kingdom…… I know that you were not respected there.”
Mm, this was actually something that I knew about.
Eunse had mentioned Jesse Venetiaan’s unfortunate family life, and it was written in the latest issue of the < Biweekly Riester > as well.
Unlike the two princesses who were born from relationships between the Queen and the Prince Consort, Prince Jesse was a bastard born from the Queen’s affair with a priest.
“Everybody in the Empire knows that the person who pushed for you to be sent as a diplomatic hostage was the Holy Kingdom’s Prince Consort, Werner.”
The official husband probably saw the prince as a thorn in his eyes.
That bastard is probably the one who sent the assassins as well.
I calmly nodded my head. Cardinal Boutier slowly continued to speak.
“It is not very shocking that he sent assassins to kill you. He could ask the Empire to take responsibility if you died as a diplomatic hostage, so it was probably a good idea in the Prince Consort’s mind. The assassin siblings admitted to this as well.”
“They were planning on killing you and making it look like a suicide. They probably planned on framing you for the temple theft incident because you were recently questioned about it.”
I wondered why he needed to kill me when he already sent me off as a diplomatic hostage, but it was probably related to the fact that Prince Jesse was the son of a priest.
The priests had absolute power in the Holy Kingdom.
The royal descendants were all baptized at birth and groomed as priests and would rise to the position of bishops at the age of sixteen even if they were born with extremely weak Divine Power.
Whether they grew up to be swordsmen, mages, or whatever, anybody close to the throne would always carry the title of priests as well.
The only way for anybody who was not of royal blood to become a priest was to be born with strong Divine Power, but that did not seem to be common based on the history books I read.
There was only about one person per generation, a commoner without any royal blood, who would become a priest.
That was why it was not an exaggeration for people to call the story of how the Monarch of the Holy Kingdom fell in love with a priest who was originally a commoner and had a child with him to be ‘the romance of the century that shook the entire continent.’
The citizens of the Holy Kingdom supported the Queen’s first child, crown princess Elise’s rights to the throne, but showed quite the fierce love for Jesse, the son of a priest.
He was an extremely popular prince who was born with purple eyes, which were said to show that someone was a descendant of the Almighty God.
It might have been normal for Prince Consort Werner, the crown princess’s father, to feel concerned.
Oh, these were all things I learned and memorized while drawing someone else’s family tree from the information I read.
The only things Eunse had told me about this was that Prince Jesse was born from an extramarital relationship, his eyes were purple, and that ‘the atmosphere in his family was terrible.’
“But the Prince Consort must not have believed that you would have such strong Divine Power. The two children were no match for you.”
Cardinal Boutier’s eyes clouded over.
I gulped. This was something I could not understand either.
If they knew that Prince Jesse was a strong priest, they should have sent people who were stronger than him to quietly take care of him.
But the Prince Consort’s assassins became powerless at my aether explosion and could only obey my Divine Oracle.
“Unbelievable…… There’s no way you have so much Divine Power!”
‘Did you really steal a Divine item or something?!’
I recalled what those two punks had shouted to me. They seemed even more shocked than I had been at the amount of power I released.
This was very weird. Prince Jesse was born and raised in the Holy Kingdom’s palace.
If he was born with strong Divine Power, there was no way that the Prince Consort would not have known about it.
Does that mean it wasn’t innate and that he earned this Divine Power after leaving the Holy Kingdom?
When could he have done that? Furthermore, is something like that even possible?
I was starting to get a headache. I just decided to be honest.
“Your Eminence, even I do not know how that happened.”
“I didn’t know that my Divine Power was so strong. I just thought that I couldn’t die like that and prayed to the Almighty God.”
“And then aether so strong that it made the walls crumble burst out of your body? Your Holy Domain was also big enough to fill the entire room.”
Her head slowly tilted to the side.
Her face was stoic but seemed a bit cold.
“Did you steal the Divine item from the Temple of Vigilance?”
I immediately responded back.
I didn’t know how the conversation ended up there, but I was innocent so I had no reason to hesitate.
The Cardinal slowly closed her eyes.
[May the Almighty God forgive this child for his lie.]
A large gold circle appeared on the bedroom floor as soon as she said that.
This Holy Domain was extremely fancy and exquisite compared to the one I had released.
The circle spun once before quietly disappearing while I was blanking out at the intricate patterns on it.
I finally realized what she had done to me.
“I tried to use a holy circle for confessions to see if you were lying. I’m sorry.”
She had a bitter smile on her face.
“Those who confess and are forgiven receive a special aether reaction. It looks like you have no sins to receive forgiveness for since the Holy Domain is calm. You were telling the truth.”
‘Wow, there are people who use confessionals as lie detectors. Ma’am, is it really okay for the Cardinal to do this?’
I was amazed at the fact that sacraments could be used like this.
I also felt relieved that Prince Jesse had not stolen a Divine item without my knowledge.
“Time for me to get up now.”
She brushed off her clothes and got up while I was blanking out.
“I’m sure you have a lot of questions, but someone is calling for me.”
‘Wait, she is leaving just like this? This is the end?’
Her suddenly leaving like this was as shocking as seeing her as soon as I opened my eyes.
“Your Eminence, you’re leaving right now?”
“Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 11 am. I will leave the door to my office open. Feel free to come to ask any questions you may have.”
She sounded like a professor I had in college.
It was an extremely great offer for me since I planned on pulling out as much information as I could from the Cardinal.
I calmly nodded my head.
“Oh right, will you compliment Élisabeth when she comes? She was the first to notice that the twins were suspicious.”
The Cardinal said that as she was about to walk out the door.
“Élisabeth? Are you talking about Vice Commander Moutet?”
“Yes. She’s a modest child, so she won’t bring it up first.”
* * *
“I stayed with his royal highness, the Imperial Prince at Baron Bellang’s estate when I was younger. I was concerned about the fact that they grew up to be not identical since I remembered they were clearly identical when they were younger.”
“I’m sure it does happen, but I guess you could call it the intuition of the Vice Captain of the Royal Guard. That was why I urgently sent a messenger to the Baron through a portal to confirm if it was true. I also sought out his royal highness for his opinion on the matter. My intuition ended up being correct.”
‘Didn’t someone tell me that this girl was extremely modest?’
I took a sip of pumpkin tea while listening to Vice Captain Élisabeth talk about her part in this with an extremely proud look on her face.
I asked for this tea after seeing that Ganael’s face was completely swollen from crying so much because he was worried about me, but it was pretty good with a sweet scent.
“The Baron couple had not heard from their sons for a while but were waiting because they thought the children would have sent letters through carriage mail because portal mail is too expensive. They could have never imagined for something so horrible to have happened to their sons.”
Vice Captain Élisabeth scrunched her face as if she was feeling emotional.
I thought that she wouldn’t be that calm of a person from the first time we met, but she seems to be more expressive than I thought.
Was she acting tough that day because she came to investigate an incident at that time?
“I brought the Imperial Guard to Juliette Palace as soon as we got the Baron’s confirmation. I apologize for being unable to respond any faster, your highness.”
“Not at all. I should be thanking you. My life would have been in danger if you had not appeared at that time, Vice Captain Élisabeth.”
“I just did what needed to be done, your highness.”
Her grey eyes sparkled as she smiled.
“It is difficult to approach Juliette Palace because it is at the farthest corner of the Imperial Palace grounds. The minimal number of guards are assigned here because there are not many dangers. It will change from now on of course.”
I debated whether to ask about that damn ‘Temple Treasure Theft incident’ while she was telling me about the plans to increase the number of guards at Juliette Palace.
It wasn’t related to me now that the Cardinal stepped in and confirmed that I was not the thief.
I was honestly curious about what had happened, but I thought that there was no need to show any interest in it since it must not be an important incident as Eunse never brought it up.
“Ah, we will make sure that you have plenty of guards for your attendance at the Spring Ball as well.”
“Excuse me? The Spring Ball?”
I asked in a cold tone. All of the other thoughts in my head quickly left like the water during a low tide.
Vice Captain Élisabeth doesn’t sound modest, but she does sound cute.