Cédric flinched. His orange eyes that looked as if they were on fire turned toward the direction of the Imperial Palace.
It was only for an instant, but the presence was too clear for him to question his senses.
It was the explosion of a certain ether that was clear and powerful.
There did not seem to be any signs of overload as the flow did not continue after the initial burst. However……
Christelle’s words brought him out of his thoughts. The Imperial Prince only moved his eyes to look at her.
Those blue-gray eyes of hers were slightly shaking with anxiety.
“Was I mistaken, your Royal Highness?”
The stands burst into cheers the same time he responded.
Marquis Duhem’s polo team managed to score again.
The two of their gazes sunk down amidst the calm whistling and clapping.
It might not be anything bad.
For example, they might have run into a wild animal while traveling through the forest and the Holy Knight needed some ether……
They heard Élisabeth’s shocked voice at that moment. The two of them turned their heads to look at the young Countess.
They followed her gaze to see Sir Michel Moutet.
The Imperial Prince stood up without any delay, making the others in his group stand up as well.
The middle-aged man was quickly approaching them without even any escorts.
As he got closer, they could see that he looked like a mess.
The collar of his jacket was quite wrinkled as if he had rushed out of the Count’s Estate.
His dark grey hair was disheveled and his neck was full of sweat.
It meant that whatever he needed to do was not something he could have a messenger deliver.
“Your Royal Highness.”
“I received a message from Margrave Moutet.”
He was talking about his wife. The Imperial Prince had an ominous feeling.
“She received a statement from the leader of the pirates Élisabeth and young lady Christelle captured while interrogating them. That person apparently fought against a young Holy Knight last year while in the Holy Kingdom. His opponent’s eyes were the color of jade and he controlled the wind.”
“She was told that they could not defeat him even with almost one hundred pirates so she mocked them saying that there was no way that mere pirates could take on an Archbishop when……”
Sir Michel soon continued to speak. Élisabeth tightly squeezed her father’s hand.
“They responded that it wasn’t that kind of issue. The sky split and the wind and waves became so strong that their ship was broken into pieces once the white-haired Holy Knight said an incantation.”
Christelle gasped. The Imperial Prince had a rare look of perplexion as well.
“She confirmed the story with other pirates who were captured in the forest. Your Royal Highness, Sir Johann Geens is not an Archbishop……”
The middle-aged man sounded scared. He quietly whispered.
“He is a Cardinal who can use stigmata.”
Christelle and the Imperial Prince’s shadows burst onto the field.
The horses became shocked and screeched but the two of them did not care.
A black glove violently grabbed François Duhem’s collar.
Johann Geens had tricked them about his rank. That was enough reason to move.
“I really thought I was going to d……”
I mumbled in a hoarse voice. I was still coughing every so often.
Of course, my life was not guaranteed as Sir Geens was still alive.
However, he has been blasted away and unable to stand back up.
At least I overcame this crisis. That’s what I thought as I slowly stood up.
I then inspected the magnificent golden circle. The size and pattern were completely different from the Holy Domain.
The second circle had much fancier and more geometric patterns.
In addition, it was at least two times the size of the largest Holy Land recorded in history.
‘I don’t know what happened, but……
I couldn’t help but talk to myself.
Thanks to its size, Benjamin and Ganael inside the carriage as well as the Imperial Guard members and the coachman who fainted nearby were all within my circle.
I couldn’t fight against Sir Geens but I could at least protect them.
‘I didn’t expect to reach the Archbishop level in a place like this.’
I became shocked and looked down at the warm body on my palm.
The chimney bird was slightly moving his right wing. He was still alive. I choked up for a moment.
I placed my forehead against his head and whispered.
“I’ll give you some ether. Take it in.”
Percy sounded as if he could die at any moment.
Unfortunately, the little guy still did not absorb my ether.
I gulped while looking at Sir Geens staggering as he got up outside the circle.
I felt as if my legs were about to give out.
I wanted to get on one of the horses and run away.
However, I could not do so nor should I do so.
I had to protect the people here until the main characters arrive, or at least until someone who could suppress Sir Geens arrives.
I clenched my teeth.
‘I need to do what I can even if I am scared.’
“Yes, your highness.”
He responded from a distance.
I did my best to make sure my voice was not shaking and that I did not avoid his gaze.
“I will help you find a way to save your son. I’m sure his Royal Highness can help us.”
“I already told you, your highness.”
He weakly smiled.
I could see through his dirtied white hair that his face was drenched in sweat.
“The Prince Consort uses any and all means necessary. You should know that better than I do, your highness.”
I was at a loss for words as I looked at him.
I didn’t know about Prince Jesse’s past but I did know about the things that happened recently.
Prince Consort Werner was willing to sacrifice innocent thirteen year old children to send assassins to kill off his stepson who was already in a foreign country.
Furthermore, he even took Sir Geens’ sick son as hostage and imprisoned him without even providing the medicine he needed.
It was all to torture Sir Geens. It was to torture him to the point that he could kill me without any hesitation.
I wanted to tell him that there had to be some sort of way to work around what people did and that he would be able to meet his son again.
However, it would probably just sound like me trying to deceive him.
“I am now an Archbishop. I can defend against your attacks.”
That was why I calmly changed tactics. There was no change in his expression at all.
“And you will reach depletion if you keep using ether like this. Then you will meet your end here. For now…”
The Holy Knight moved both arms weirdly at that moment. I stopped talking and looked at him.
‘What is he doing?’
“Your highness, do you remember what I said not too long ago? I said that you would be able to experience stigmata soon too.”
The man commented. His arms were moving as if they were notching an arrow on an invisible bow.
It was completely different from how he pulled the opaque sword out of thin air earlier.
His mint-colored eyes were clearly aiming for me. I hugged Percy out of reflex.
A cold breeze that did not fit July shook the trees around us.
The air in the forest started to stir with uneasiness. It was just not my imagination.
“Sir Johann Geens.”
“I wasn’t talking about me at that time, but…”
It was hard to breathe. It felt as if a phantasmagoria was brushing past my eyes.
The things that the man had told me until now splashed down like a waterfall.
‘It is an esprit. This demonic beast is commonly seen in the rural villages in the mountains of the Holy Kingdom as well.’
‘It was my first time seeing an Esprit since I was very young.’
‘It remains in your body for six months…… Of course, it is something only the commoners in the countryside know about.’
‘I was a mercenary even before I awakened as a Holy Knight. I have been one since I was very young.’
‘No way, right?’
My eyes slowly opened wide.
The strong gusts of wind that came from Sir Geens made my hair and clothes flutter wildly.
The sky was quickly getting dark.
Large, thick grey clouds swirled above my head. It seemed like the precursor to a storm.
‘Of course, you can rise immediately to the Cardinal level if you open up the stigmata. As long as you are not of commoner birth that is.’
I could hear tree branches breaking all around the forest.
My whole body became drenched in cold sweat. I took a step back out of instinct.
‘Johann’ was neither a noble nor an Archbishop. And because he was a commoner, he could not be accepted as a……
My words seemed to be the signal that stopped time. The man’s lips slowly moved.
The noisy wind seemed to stop for a moment. His voice echoed throughout the area.
Thunder roared. A sharp air current formed into an arrow exploded out of the tip of his hand.
It was a long and majestic weapon, making it feel as if the Almighty God had personally shot it.
Everything suddenly returned to normal speed. An intense and violent gust of wind rushed toward me.
– Crack, baaaaang!
My Holy Land released a terrible noise as it broke.
The arrow that was covered in a pure white light attacked me from the front.
My instincts were informing me about my situation. I could not dodge this. I would die here.
It was at that moment.
A bright light flashed from my palm. It was so bright that it felt as if it was stabbing my eyes. After that…
– Clang, clang, chhh!
A pair of large gold wings appeared in front of me.
Then the world turned white.
I rolled on the ground like a fallen leaf.
The fact that my whole body hurt must mean that I was still alive.
‘I’m alive? Again? How?’
“Wow, it might be easier just to d-.”
I could not finish my sentence. I hesitated after seeing what was going on in front of me.
I didn’t care about the button falling off my ripped shirt as I quickly stood up and looked around.
This was not the forest on the outskirts of the Imperial Capital where I had been fighting against Sir Geens.
“……Why is everything white?”
My mind blanked out for a moment. Everything was white and I was standing alone in this empty space.
It was so white to the point I could not tell where the ceiling and walls were located.
I started to think that all my senses were just a part of my imagination and that I had actually died.
‘Did I die in the middle of the story and escape the QNW world? Then what about Percy who was with me?’
I heard a familiar chirp eagerly respond to my shout before a small pale purple ball of light appeared from the ground.
The round fluff soon turned into a chimney bird.
I quickly knelt down in front of him. Percy was fine, unlike a few moments ago.
The way he flapped his wings and blinked his black eyes made him look completely healthy.
I was so shocked that I missed a beat before I spoke.
“You…… What happened? Are you not in pain anymore? Are you okay?”
“I don’t know what you mean. Did you die too?”
Percy tilted his body before jumping around.
He seemed to have something that he wanted to say but was frustrated because we could not communicate.
The little punk soon turned into a light purple ball of light again.
The ball of light silently started to grow. I blanked out as I watched Percy’s transformation.
‘Is this Percy’s ability?’
– You don’t know where this is.
Flinch. A beautiful voice that I was now too familiar with greeted me.
I was certain that it was Imperial Prince Cédric’s voice.
‘It’s the Imperial Prince’s voice, but……’
“Young lady Sarnez?”
The person who appeared once the light faded was Christelle. I opened and closed my mouth without being able to say anything.
The face was Christelle’s but the voice was the Imperial Prince’s.
‘What kind of grotesque mutant-’
Christelle scowled and clicked her tongue.
The way she grabbed her neck and let out some coughs made it seem as if she was not satisfied with this situation either.
She sighed and a bright lilac-colored light wrapped around her body again.
The ball of light then started to get larger. I waited for this second transformation to finish, wondering what might happen.
‘It’s so difficult to get an explanation.’
– Your highness! Are you o-
“No. This isn’t right. Quickly change it.”
I urgently waved my hand.
I was scared that this scary combination of the Imperial Prince’s face and Christelle’s voice would appear in my dreams.
The young man’s pretty face scrunched before he disappeared into the light again.
Percy’s next target was an unexpected person.
– Pipipi, piruru
I couldn’t help but laugh despite it not fitting the situation.
It was because Percy’s chirping noises came out as soon as Benjamin opened his mouth.
It seemed like he wanted to borrow the appearance of people that he had met until now to explain the situation. However,he didn’t seem to have a good understanding of everybody’s voices and actions yet.
He must have been frustrated with the situation as well, as Benjamin let out a deep sigh. His blue eyes sparkled with desperation.
He looked as if he was ready to really show me something this time.
My jaw dropped once I saw who appeared. I quickly covered my mouth with both hands.
I was certain that I would gasp loudly or point if I did not do that.
– Nice to meet you, Prince Jesse. I didn’t expect to meet you like this.
His blue eyes curled beautifully.
With black hair that reached down to his waist and the formal attire of an archmage, this was someone I had definitely seen in a picture before.
There was a jolt in my brain as soon as I recognized this person.
I finally realized Percy’s true identity. This bird was not a divine beast!
“I greet the honorable Prince Consort Alexandre.”
– I am simply borrowing the appearance of my friend. I am not actually him.
I quickly bowed but he leaned his neck toward me and answered.
– But I think it would be better to refer to me as Nikky than Percy while we are here. I cannot give you any advice while looking like a bird.
The face that was so similar to the Imperial Prince’s gently smiled at me. His voice was a bit lower and warmer than the Imperial Prince’s.
– Isn’t Ark of the Wind Deity too long for you to constantly call me that?
I nodded my head.
‘Then this must be inside the ‘ark’. How cool.’