Vice Captain Élisabeth’s eyes opened wide at my reaction.
“You don’t know about the Spring Ball, your highness? I guess you haven’t heard about it yet since the details came out yesterday.”
She mumbled about how Ganael seemed out of it as well.
“The Spring Ball at the Riester Imperial Palace is the Empire’s greatest Beau Monde affair in the first half of the year. Many young ladies and young masters make their debuts at this ball. There were some talks about postponing it because of this assassination attempt, however… Something big happened while you were unconscious and it will proceed as planned.”
Vice Captain Élisabeth stopped talking for a moment and took a sip of pumpkin tea.
The silence gave me an ominous feeling.
“Duke Sarnez’s only daughter, young lady Christelle de Sarnez, has finally gotten up from her sickbed.”
I could not control my expression. I tried my best to look uninterested and shoved my face into the teacup.
Christelle de Sarnez. The main character of < I quit my job and ended up as a noble young lady in another world >.
A person I must avoid at all costs.
My heart was beating wildly for negative reasons.
“Do you know the story of young lady Sarnez, your highness?”
“No, not at all.”
‘My voice was okay just now, right?’
“It wouldn’t be a bad thing to know about it. There is nobody in the Riester Empire, especially in the Beau Monde, who does not know about it. I’ve heard that you have a lot of interest in that area as well, your highness.”
I quietly started eating a gougère in front of me.
I felt as if I needed something to eat to calm myself down.
“After her coming-of-age ceremony three years ago, the young lady fell into a mysterious long slumber. She regained her consciousness every so often during the first year, however, she has been sleeping without moving at all for the past two years, as if she was a doll.”
“……That sounds so terrible.”
“Doesn’t it? Her Majesty even sent the Imperial doctor to stay with Duke Sarnez for a long time to see if anything could be done. Duke Sarnez is one of Her Majesty’s few loyal retainers. Of course, he is still just as loyal.”
Information about QNW’s original setting that Eunse never told me about was coming at me like a tidal wave.
This was a story I couldn’t find while going through one year’s worth of < Biweekly Riester >.
“But young lady Sarnez opened her eyes three days ago. It was the same night that you fainted, your highness.”
I got the chills after hearing about this scary coincidence.
‘Did I cause some kind of accident? Did she wake up because of me? No, it should not be related to me at all. It’s finally time for the MC to start her journey.’
I quietly shook my head while thinking about the things Eunse said to herself every so often.
‘Don’t be overly self-conscious and regain your healthy life.’
“According to the rumors, the young lady is apparently extremely healthy, to the point that they cannot believe that she had been sleeping for three years. She also keeps asking for spicy food. I guess your taste buds change if you are sick for a long time.”
I became certain after hearing about her wanting spicy food.
A Korean office worker is possessing the body of this woman who finally awakened after three years.
“Anyway… She has only been out of bed for four days, but there are quite a lot of people who are predicting that the young lady will make her Beau Monde debut at the Spring Ball. Her Majesty seems to be planning on making the ball as large as possible to celebrate the joyous occasion of her waking up.”
Vice Captain Élisabeth was the young matriarch of the influential Moutet County, so she would not be one to create or spread rumors.
Most of what she just said must be true.
“That’s really great.”
“Isn’t it? But the other young masters and young ladies who had planned on debuting at the ball might feel differently. They are all busy calling the tailors at the capital, trying to change their attires for the ball.”
I tilted my head in confusion as I did not understand what that meant.
Vice Captain Élisabeth chuckled.
“They are preparing extremely fancy outfits because they are worried that they would be buried by young lady Sarnez and gather no attention.”
‘It’s not like they could do anything to get more attention than the main character.’
I was shocked to unexpectedly hear about Christelle, but I was able to quickly regain my composure by eating delicious food.
She’s someone I would have nothing to do with, anyway. I decided to make that happen.
“Of course, there is someone else they should really be wary of.”
Vice Captain Élisabeth swiped her olive-colored hair behind her ear and smiled.
“I’m talking about you, Prince Jesse.”
I flinched and dropped the fifth gougère I was about to eat. ‘Why is my name coming up?’
“Your highness, you got caught up in an assassination attempt one week after coming to the palace and was able to survive thanks to your own abilities. The nobles and even the commoners on the streets are all talking about you.”
“You must be joking, right, Vice Captain Moutet?”
“Absolutely not. Whether it is who you will bring as a partner to the Ball, what you will be wearing, or even what kind of dancing you will do… They are supposedly curious about everything.”
I clenched my eyes shut before opening them back. Another of the cheesy bread went down my throat.
‘What good will it do for me to get so much attention?’
“Umm, I will not be attending the ball. I can barely take a walk in the garden with Her Majesty’s permission.”
“There were talks that Her Majesty will send you an official invitation, your highness.”
‘Wait…… Why would she do that?!’
“It is just my hypothesis, but the Imperial family received some scorn because of this assassination attempt. I believe she wants to restore some of the prestige of the Imperial family by publicly showing that you are healthy and well.”
I felt as if things were getting blurry. The palace ball where the main character is making her Beau Monde debut?
I’ve never read a romantic fantasy, but my intuitions were telling me something.
This was an event I must avoid at all costs.
In fact, this ball might be more dangerous to me than the twin’s assassination attempt.
I could stop some attacks by opening my circle now, but I would not be able to get away if I get swept up in the main character’s story.
“I believe I will be busy that day.”
“Excuse me? I haven’t even mentioned the day of the ball, though?”
“I came to the Empire to fulfill the role of a Confessional Priest. I will have to listen to the confessions of the esteemed individuals at the palace.”
I said whatever came to mind, but even I thought it was a decent excuse.
I may be a diplomatic hostage, but my official title was ‘Confessional Priest’ so I just had to do my job well.
The position of ‘second male lead’ was none of my business.
“But everybody will be at the ballroom that day……”
“I may not know much, but I do know that the number of people who will not be able to attend the ball will be much greater than the number attending the ball.”
I recalled how Ganael had asked me to hear his confession the first day I ended up here.
I also remembered the faces of the gardeners, attendants, and kitchen staff who always greeted me with bright smiles.
“I will remain as a priest for those people.”
I smiled brightly. It sounded like a perfect excuse even after thinking it over once.
“Your Majesty, Her Eminence, Cardinal Aurélie Boutier has arrived.”
“Tell her to come in.”
The Empress of the Empire, Frédérique Riester, sat up straight instead of leaning back on the couch.
The Cardinal would nag her about how her posture was terrible or how she should think about her age if she kept sitting like this.
She was fixing her wrinkled cravat when the Cardinal appeared.
She was wearing a full ceremonial robe with a mitre on her head unlike how she had been dressed when she had gone to check on Prince Jesse.
“Cardinal Aurélie Boutier greets the sun that has descended to the surface.”
“Laura, give us a minute.”
“Yes, your Majesty.”
The Chief of Staff quietly responded and headed out of the room.
Only the Empress and the Cardinal were left in the large office.
Aurélie sat down on the couch across from the Empress as if it was normal and took a whiff of the coffee that was prepared for her.
“Why were you so late?”
“I came as soon as you called. You know that Juliette Palace is far from the Empress Palace.
The Cardinal responded to Frédérique’s grumbling question with a gentle smile.
Aurélie Boutier had left Prince Jesse’s room immediately after hearing her contractor’s voice calling for her in her head.
The shocked look in the young man’s purple eyes was still clear in her mind.
“So, how is the situation?”
“Prince Jesse is very healthy. He’s not hurt, and the mental shock should heal soon.”
“You know I am not asking about that.”
The Empress’s cherry-colored eyes looked angry.
Aurélie quietly sighed at her childhood friend’s hot temperament.
“His aether exploded that much, but it only took three days for the flow of his aether to calm back down. The total amount of aether he has is difficult for even me to fathom.”
“What kind of……”
The Empress seemed shocked to hear that the level was beyond what the Cardinal could fathom.
The Cardinal slowly continued to speak.
“It makes sense why the nearby attendants are having good dreams. It would be weird for them to be upset having that much aether roaming around them. Cédie’s condition getting better recently probably has to do with that child as well.”
“…It is really difficult to follow what you are saying.”
“I think you might be swinging your sword too much lately. Read some books too.”
It was a simple joke, but the Empress did not snort as usual.
The topic was too heavy and serious right now to do that.
“His aether is at a level that you can’t fathom? Are you trying to say that he could be the Pope in the future or something?”
Aurélie responded as if she was singing.
“All I know is that the total amount of aether on his plate is huge. His current Divine Power is at the Bishop level.”
“Either way, the information about his just being a bishop for show was a lie.”
“It was. He was able to easily take down a Clergy level priest and a Holy Knight on his own.”
They both stopped talking for a moment.
The Empress brushed back her silver hair that she recently had cut short, saying it was annoying.
“Then did the prince really steal the ‘Paten of Wishes’?”
She looked toward the documents on the table in front of the couch.
It was the report the Empire’s troops had organized regarding the information they heard from the border.
The ‘Temple of Vigilance’ was the largest temple on the continent, located on the border of the Riester Empire and the Venetiaan Holy Kingdom.
One of the few Divine items on the continent was being stored at the temple, which is the residence of the Pope, and there was a legend that if someone made a wish with their blood, the Almighty God would grant that wish.
That was the reason it got the name, the ‘Paten of Wishes.’
Prince Jesse was being suspected of touching the paten when he stopped at the temple on his way to the Empire.
It was unlikely and almost impossible based on the amount of time he took, and nothing was found in the prince’s belongings.
The soldiers in the area said that the prince’s group was the only one to pass through the Empire’s thoroughly guarded inspection site that day but he had no reason to commit such a crime.
Even if the Divine item never shows up, the prince will become free of these ambiguous suspicions in the future.
“I still don’t really know. I am not sure that ‘stolen’ is the right word for it.”
“Adam, answer my question.”
The Empress used the Cardinal’s middle name to scold her for avoiding the question.
However, it wasn’t that the Empress truly did not understand the Cardinal’s current demeanor.
The Paten of Wishes was fine.
It was still in place at the temple, giving off a holy light and showing off its beautiful exterior.
It made sense since the paten was a Divine item that only the Pope could handle.
Forget moving the paten, anybody who was not chosen to be the Pope wouldn’t even be able to move it the length of a fingernail; the Pope position was currently vacant.
The problem was… The contents of the paten were not fine.
“Even if the paten is fine, we cannot look past the fact that all of the Holy Water is gone.”
“I know, Yves.”
The Cardinal quietly responded.
The Holy Water that had been in the paten had disappeared without leaving a single drop.
According to the legends, the Holy Water was not something people had put in there; it was something from the Almighty God that had been in the paten from the beginning.
It meant that the paten and Holy Water had been one entity for a very long time.
The exhaustion of the Holy Water was pretty much the destruction of the paten.
“I will ask again. Did the prince absorb the Holy Water to get such powers?”
“That child is innocent. I personally confirmed it.”
Aurélie’s calm gaze met the Empress’s fiery gaze.
Frédérique knew what the Cardinal meant when she said that she ‘personally confirmed it.’
“The last record we have of a person touching the Holy Water is 600 years ago. That noble drank the Holy Water hoping to get the powers of the Pope but his whole body burnt down.”
“The Almighty God is merciful.”
The Empress grumbled back in a sarcastic tone. She was a believer, but it had been a long time since she stopped loving the Almighty God.
Frédérique Riester had a feeling that this incident might never be resolved.
Here we go! The original MC of the novel makes her entrance!