The moment Mary made the large white skeleton dragon…
“…What is it, your Royal Highness?”
The First Imperial Prince, who was at the First Palace, suddenly jumped up and headed toward the window.
“…What is it? Something is weird.”
“Excuse me? Is there an issue in the document, your Royal Highness?”
The Second Imperial Princess, who was in the Fifth Palace, looked down at her arm. Her arm was full of goosebumps. She too got up from her seat.
“What the hell? Is there a new candidate? No- this-”
“Hyung-nim? Why are you suddenly out of it?”
“…Was the Emperor planning on using his powers today?”
“Excuse me? Why would the Emperor use his powers when he is just in the Emperor Palace?”
The muscular man with disheveled hair in the Ninth Palace put down his glass.
“…I need to head outside.”
“Hyung-nim! We can’t head out of the palace right now anyway. Please stay here and don’t cause any issues.”
“No. I need to check this out.”
‘Yes. I definitely need to see what is going on.’
* * *
The administrator in charge of recruitment tried his best to understand what he was seeing right now.
The traces of glory for someone who survived dead mana.
Furthermore, the black threads coming out of her fingertips…
Finally, the dragon made of white bones that was flying above her.
The administrator barely managed to snap out of it, unlike his friend who was still in a daze. No, he didn’t manage to completely snap out of it either.
His heart was shaking.
‘…It’s different! It’s different!’
This woman in front of him was different.
Although the First Imperial Prince also used all of the bones to make a monster, it wasn’t as grand as this dragon.
‘Flying skeleton monsters are quite difficult to handle. Furthermore, she doesn’t seem to be struggling at all!’
The administrator subconsciously spoke with honorifics toward Mary, but he did not realize it.
Instead, he picked up a pen with his shaking hands.
“M, ma’am, may I ask your name?”
The administrator hesitated as he sort of recognized the name when his friend started to mumble.
‘Ah! The perished kingdom of Wishrop! Could it be?’
The administrator’s eyes headed toward Mary. The woman with purple eyes calmly spoke with a look of indifference on her face.
“I carry the blood of the royal family of Wishrop and do not have a middle name yet.”
– Human! Heni Wishrop, the name Heni is so pretty! Isn’t Mary’s name so pretty? I came up with it! I got it from Henituse!
Cale did not react at all to Raon’s comments.
‘The Hunters might know the name, Mary. Necromancer Mary is quite easy information for them to distinguish. Although nobody has really seen your appearance, it is probably better to use a fake name.’
Her name became Heni Wishrop at Raon’s suggestion and Mary’s acceptance.
“Umm, I truly apologize for this ma’am, but may I see something to verify your identity?”
The administrator seemed quite wary of angering Mary as he cautiously asked. Cale smiled underneath the hood as he watched the administrator’s demeanor.
‘Mary really did leave a strong first impression.’
– Human! Our Mary is so cool!
Cale agreed with Raon internally.
“Here is the crest of the Wishrop royal family.”
Mary pulled a ring out of a pocket in her robe and handed it over.
“It is fine if you verify it.”
The administrator had a handkerchief over both hands as he quickly received the ring respectfully.
‘If this crest is real-!’
Although it was not at the level of the Iska Empire’s Imperial family, this woman would have quite a bit of legitimacy as well.
There were many people until now from perished kingdoms and even ones that still existed who tried to register for this Imperial Crown Prince candidate test.
‘Most of them were half-assed or people with reckless dreams.’
However, this Heni Wishrop in front of him, even without her identity, her skills alone were enough to make him think about the most likely Imperial Crown Prince candidate, the First Imperial Prince.
‘No. She might even be stronger than his Royal Highness.’
The administrator felt himself getting calmer for some odd reason. Of course, it was not that the shaking had stopped.
“Verify it carefully.”
He handed the ring to his friend and his friend kept peeking at Mary as he got up. He headed toward the back and took out a book and a special device. The administrator quickly explained to Mary.
“Ma’am, it will probably take some time to verify as we do not remember the crest of Wishrop. We will just use a magic device to confirm that the crest was not manipulated. Please accept my sincerest apology.”
“It is fine.”
“Yes, ma’am, then in that case-”
The administrator asked her about her age, residence, and other basic information. Mary answered as she had discussed with Durst in advance.
“Okay, here is the last part, ma’am.”
The administrator looked toward the three robed individuals standing behind Mary.
“It is crucial that three helpers join you in this test. Will it be these three people?”
“Yes. They are my-”
Mary hesitated for a moment before responding.
“My faithful subordinates.”
The three of them removed their hoods.
The administrator gulped while looking at the three people who either had masks covering half of their faces from the nose up or a mask covering their full face.
He felt some overwhelming auras coming from them.
‘Something, they give off a different kind of atmosphere. The three of them all have the same hair color… Are they siblings?’
All three of them had thick brown hair and green eyes.
The person at the center stepped forward, bowed toward Mary, and addressed the administrator.
“Sir, we were informed that it was not essential to reveal the identities of the helpers.”
“That is correct.”
The First Imperial Prince had revealed that two of his helpers were a Dragon and the first young lady of the House of Huayans, but he had hidden the identity of the third.
Similarly, the public reveal of helpers was up to the individual.
This was a part of the test as well.
They could reveal their hand to make it so that nobody dared to challenge them, or… Hide their cards to keep an ace up their sleeve that could potentially turn a situation around.
“I choose not to reveal their identities.”
“As you wish, your highness.”
The man standing in front of Mary responded with respect. He truly looked like someone who was serving the only heir to a perished kingdom.
He had that much elegance while giving off a mysterious sense of pressure.
– Human, it is funny seeing you acting like that!
Of course, it was just Cale, who was so good at acting like a loyal confidant.
– How entertaining.
Cale also ignored Eruhaben’s comment as well.
He peeked to the side. Choi Han slightly nodded his head.
Eruhaben, Choi Han and Cale…
They were Mary’s three helpers and Raon was following them while invisible as a source of communication.
“Your candidate registration has finished.”
“It was simple.”
“We confirmed the most important thing.”
The administrator answered much calmer than before and asked cautiously.
“What is it, sir?”
Cale stepped in on Mary’s behalf as the loyal vassal that he is and the administrator peeked up at the sky as he answered.
“Umm, when will you be releasing the bones-”
Mary let out a short gasp and moved her hand. She moved it just a tiny bit.
The dragon made of white bones spread its wings and shot up into the air.
The administrator’s friend flinched in shock, but could not help but look at the skeleton dragon in a daze.
The white skeleton dragon that shot up as if it was going to pierce the sky stopped at some point and spread its wings.
Probably everybody in the area saw what happened.
This naturally included the people in the Imperial Palace.
“These are good bones.”
Mary calmly evaluated them and waved her hand.
The white dragon’s body that was floating in the air, the skeletons that made it, instantly broke apart.
They then descended to the ground.
There were quite a lot of bones such that it looked as if hail or a magic attack was about to descend.
The bones quickly fell toward the ground around the entrance of the Imperial Palace.
The administrator saw the bones stop immediately as Mary reached her hand out.
Mary waved her hand one more time as if she was conducting an orchestra and the bones almost danced around and gently landed back to their original location as if they were never charging down like an attack.
– …Wow… Human, Mary is so cool!
‘She has quite the showmanship.’
Cale was looking at Mary as if this was unexpected when Raon spoke again.
– Human! Mary must have taken a lot of notes on how you do things!
‘…I don’t think so.’
Cale was feeling iffy about the situation and it only became worse when Mary looked at him and smiled.
Both administrators got up and bowed respectfully.
“Welcome to the Imperial Palace, candidate-nim.”
The entrance to the Imperial Palace opened and allowed Mary, Cale, and the others to enter.
* * *
“Nice to meet you. My name is Vincent and I am from the Imperial Knights Brigade. I have been assigned to guide you.”
The administrators escorted Cale’s group to the knight standing by the entrance and the knight immediately moved toward where they would be staying.
“Nice to meet you, Sir Vincent.”
– Human, why are you suddenly acting so friendly?
Cale ignored Raon’s comment and spoke to Sir Vincent in a friendly manner.
“Sir Vincent, where in the Imperial Palace will we be staying?”
“There is an area to the north of the Imperial Palace where numerous small villa-like palaces are gathered together.”
It was a place with multiple palaces that were extremely small compared to the Imperial Crown Prince Palace or the Emperor’s Palace.
That was where the candidates and their helpers were to reside.
“There are attendants and maids in charge of each palace so there should be no issues while you reside there. You can ask the Chief of Staff at each palace if you have any questions.”
The knight responded quite thoroughly despite his tone being gruff. However, he couldn’t help but constantly peek toward Mary.
He was one of the people who had seen Mary’s dragon.
He then made eye contact with one of her subordinates. It was the person who was speaking in a friendly tone to him.
The knight quickly snapped out of it and continued to speak.
“You will be staying at Palace Nineteen.”
“We must be the nineteenth candidate then.”
“…That’s right, sir.”
‘Hmm. There are more candidates than I expected.’
They were picking out the powerless fakes at the Imperial Palace entrance.
‘And I heard that the way to become a necromancer was only passed down through the Imperial family.’
According to the information Cale got from Durst, the number of Imperial family members, including the collateral line, participating as a candidate numbered eight.
That meant that the other 11, including Mary, were outsiders.
Each of those 11 people had become necromancers in their own way.
‘…Well, it makes sense to have this kind of number since it only happens once every few decades and not every three or five years.’
This might even be less than the last test.
‘Oh esteemed purifier, the ages of the candidates are quite varied. Furthermore-’
Durst had added on.
‘Furthermore, anybody who truly wants to take the test are people who are ready to put their lives on the line.’
These people had joined the test for the position of Emperor even in the face of death.
Cale could understand the atmosphere of this test based on Durst’s explanation.
That might have been the reason that…
“…It is over here. This is called the Garden of the Stars.”
There were approximately thirty small but extremely beautiful and luxurious-looking palaces surrounding a large and splendid garden at the center.
“This is unexpected.”
Eruhaben mumbled in a low voice while Choi Han moved to stand behind Mary. Cale stood next to Mary as if to assist her.
“Your highness. It looks like quite a lot of people want to greet you.”
Mary looked at how one corner of Cale’s lips had twisted up before taking a step forward.
Her eyes observed some of the people who had come out of the different palaces.
‘They’re the same.’
The man with a bottle in his hand…
The woman leaning against a pillar peeking at Mary…
The woman seated in the garden and drinking tea while looking in their direction…
‘They’re the same as me.’
They all had black lines on their faces and bodies just like Mary.
Their ages, hair colors, and eye colors were all different, but they all had that in common.
Wariness, curiosity, a desire to scope out the competition… Mary looked at the people sending different gazes at her, stopped talking, and closed her mouth.
She then barely managed to say one thing.
“…They’re the same.”
‘There are a lot of people here who are the same as me.’
Mary turned her head after hearing a calm voice. Cale nodded his head with a stoic gaze and continued to speak.
“It seems to be exactly as you said, your highness.”
“That is correct.”
“They’re the same.”
Eruhaben and Choi Han answered one after the other as well.
– Mary! Are you okay?
Raon asked in a gentle tone.
Mary realized something else that was the same about them.
‘All of their gazes are the same.’
Cale, Choi Han, and Eruhaben… Although the three of their gazes were different, all of their gazes were cheering her on and showed full faith in her abilities.
She couldn’t see the invisible Raon, but hearing his voice was enough for her to feel that Raon felt the same way.
“It is the same here as well.”
Her friends looked at her in confusion, but Mary just smiled and took another step toward the Garden of the Stars.
“Ah, please let me escort you.”
The knight headed toward Palace Nineteen.
Mary followed behind him while Cale followed next to her and stealthily observed the area.
– Human! There are many people in addition to the candidates who are looking at us!
As Raon mentioned, there were quite a lot of candidates and their subordinates observing Mary.
Some were in the garden while others were inside the palaces, peeking out the windows.
Cale didn’t know whether they were like this simply because of the appearance of the nineteenth competitor or because of the white dragon that shot up into the air at the entrance of the Imperial Palace.
However, he at least recorded the appearances of the people he could see.
He could compare their appearances with the information Durst gave him later.
‘…The Second Imperial Princess.’
The Second Imperial Princess, who was second after the First Imperial Prince as the candidates most likely to win, brushed her arm as she openly stared at Mary.
Cale then noticed Choi Han and Eruhaben looking toward a direction and heard footsteps.
“Your Royal Highness!”
‘The First Imperial Prince?’
Cale could see someone quickly walking over with an attendant at his side.
First Imperial Prince Sanders.
Age 25 this year. He was evaluated to be very skilled in his necromancer abilities while also skilled in sword art-
‘The person who brought a Dragon as his helper.’
The corners of Cale’s lips curled up a bit.
‘It’s for a different reason, but this guy is your typical prince too.’
If Alberu Crossman was the typical kind prince, then Sanders, potentially because of his healthy physique or his stiff face, gave the vibe of a typical prince overflowing with intimidation.
First Imperial Prince Sanders stopped walking.
He stopped in front of Mary.
He and Mary were only about ten steps away from each other.
A mysterious tension surrounded the Garden of the Stars. The fact that everybody’s gazes were focused on this place could be felt even without looking.
The air was so heavy that it was incomparable to when Mary had arrived. This was all because of the First Imperial Prince.
Choi Han estimated his distance to Sanders and put his hand on his scabbard when an emotionless Sanders glared at Mary with a piercing gaze and started to speak.
“What is it that you made earlier? Answer my question.”
Choi Han observed the First Imperial Prince, who was speaking informally to Mary and asked his question as if it was a demand, and then at Mary, before turning to Cale thinking that he needed to step in.
He saw that the corners of Cale’s lips twisted up even more, as if he found this to be amusing.
Mary responded to First Imperial Prince Sanders at the same time.
“I don’t want to answer you, First Imperial Prince.”
Cale heard the ancient Dragon gasp as if to hold back his laughter and Raon’s bright voice at the same time.
– Human! Good Mary even tells people that she doesn’t want to answer them!
Cale recalled what he had said to Mary before they came to the Imperial Palace.
‘Mary. If you ever don’t know what you should do, just do what the other side is doing.’
‘Do I just need to keep doing that?’
‘Yeah. I’ll take care of the rest.’
‘I understand, young master-nim.’
Cale had felt this many times before, but Mary was quite good at understanding him.
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