The transformation was simple. It did not hurt, nor did I feel any changes to my body.
As Christelle explained, it was more like a layer of mana settling over my body.
‘Is it very weird?’
‘No, your highness. Y, you look handsome!’
‘……I think it is best if you head over for now, your highness. You look fine on the outside.’
What kind of reaction is that?
I tried to check my transformed face in a mirror but Benjamin and Ganael stopped me, telling me not to look at it as I will receive some psychological damage.
I didn’t have the time to argue, so I quickly escaped through the side door of Juliette Palace but I couldn’t help but feel as if something was odd.
I looked down at my hands that were wearing white cloth gloves and tilted my head in confusion as I quickly walked through the garden.
I made sure my steps were paced and even, not wanting to look rushed or suspicious.
I turned past the flower bed and the guards flinched and looked away.
“Oh my, that scared me!”
Once I got around the maze-shaped shrubs, the royal servants, who were moving things, gasped after seeing me.
I didn’t recognize them so they were probably workers from Romero Palace.
‘Why are they all acting like this? It isn’t like I transformed into a demonic beast?’
I noticed that my voice was still the same. I realized my mistake but I had already greeted them.
I smiled as innocently as possible and the royal servants turned red.
‘I can’t figure them out at all.’
“H, hello sir.”
“It is an honor to meet such a respected individual.”
Those were the responses I heard back. They even bowed deeply to show me respect.
‘It must be because the attendants are children of nobles as well.’
“Then please excuse me.”
I bowed and started walking again. Thankfully, it looked as if they did not find out my identity.
‘Well, it would be weird if the royal servants of another palace found out it was me based on my voice alone.’
The staff of Juliette Palace were all inside because Benjamin made up some excuse about a group lesson.
The staff of Romero Palace were completely swamped because of the feast.
Aside from the two royal servants, I didn’t run into anybody else in the garden.
I cautiously approached the back door of Romero Palace.
There were no guards stationed on this side today at the Imperial Prince’s order.
No matter how I think about it, this really was a good plan.
The door opened once I grabbed the doorknob and pushed.
I entered quickly so that nobody would see me and checked Ganael’s pocket watch.
“Left hallway. Go straight.”
I mumbled and started moving.
Thanks to the hard work of David, the Imperial Prince’s confidant and the person in charge of the attendants at Romero Palace, there was nobody in the hallway by the back door.
My heart was beating wildly.
‘This is why people watch spy movies.’
“The door at the end of the hallway……”
Even someone who was terrible at directions like me could easily find it.
I walked quickly and reached my hand to feel my disguised body.
I heard that the attendant, Geoffrey, was similar in height to me. There were no big differences in the length of his sleeves or pants.
However, his physique was better than I expected so the fabric of the sleeves felt slightly tight.
‘He must work out.’
I stopped where the hallway turned.
I could smell a sweet and delicious scent flowing out of the room at the end.
I knocked five times and David confirmed it was me before opening the door.
Inside the door was a wide pantry.
“Your highn, eek.”
The middle-aged man gasped and stepped back. This time, I became flustered and blinked a few times.
I touched my cheeks and hair wondering if there was a serious issue with my face but there didn’t seem to be anything like that.
“Umm, am I not Geoffrey right now?”
“I ask for your forgiveness, your highness. This is all my fault. How could something, something like this happen.”
I couldn’t tell whether David was clicking his tongue or chewing on his tongue as he apologized.
I guess the hair that he thought was Geoffrey’s was someone else’s.
He quickly fixed his expression and consoled me, saying that it didn’t matter how I looked as long as I managed to get to the Empress.
It was extremely professional of him, but I was concerned because I felt like our plan had to be changed.
“Will there really be no issues?”
“Yes, your highness. It is awkward for me to say something like this but I think that this might even be better. Nobody in Romero Palace will try to talk to you first.”
“That’s good for me then. Who am I?”
“That…… It might be better if you don’t know, your highness. It will be difficult for you to immerse yourself if you knew.”
I wanted to get the information out of him but I could only nod my head as I didn’t have much time.
David pushed the dessert tray, which looked as if it just came up from the kitchen, toward me and pulled out a rough map.
He then thoroughly described the path from the pantry to the dining room.
Honestly speaking, it was confusing but I thought that it should be okay because there were pictures.
“I would love to escort you myself but I must go to the wine cellar.”
“Please don’t worry. Thank you very much for helping me.”
I smiled brightly and David’s shoulders shook as if he saw something extremely ominous.
He then tightly grabbed my hands and commented.
“If things go well, please give his Royal Highness a good chance……”
“No, nevermind, your highness. Please excuse me as I head out first.”
He urgently bowed and walked out of the pantry.
Now that I was alone again, I looked at the map that David drew for me, then back at the watch.
The dessert was to go in at 8:30pm and it was currently 8:20pm.
‘I should be able to get there in ten minutes easily. This is a piece of cake, Yeseo.’
Christelle de Sarnez had this thought on her mind.
‘If you try to live you will die and if you try to die you will live.’
This was that damn Imperial Prince bastard’s home ground. Today’s feast was a secret that even her parents did not know about.
There was nobody here who could help her, so stalling her answer would just be revealing her weakness.
She also could not dare to pretend that she didn’t hear the question as this was the Empress asking her.
She had to lead the response, even if it felt as if she would vomit blood.
“That…… His Royal Highness’s…… Body……”
Christelle slightly twitched as she broke the silence.
Each word felt so heavy and burdensome despite not being something that would be recorded in history.
The Empress was smiling.
“You like the Imperial Prince’s body?”
“Yes, your Majesty. His limbs…… I am satisfied because they are all there.”
‘There are a lot of places to stab……’
Christelle did not say that part out loud.
All she knew about the Imperial Prince’s body was that it was big and thick.
She was busy pushing him to his limits when they were sparring and the two of them did not chat very often.
She didn’t feel a need to talk to him since she could figure out most of his emotions based on the flow of ether.
For reference, both of their ethers were similarly in pits of despair right now.
“How peculiar. Cédric, what about you?”
Cardinal Boutier, who had been quietly listening, passed the ball to the Imperial Prince.
Christelle almost cried in admiration.
‘Fuck, Dobby is free!’
“……Her aura is clear, your Eminence.”
The Imperial Prince said something completely bonkers at that moment.
Christelle’s jaw dropped as she looked to her side.
The pair of orange eyes were looking up in the air as if he was thinking about something.
“My ether becomes stable when I am near her.”
The Empress put her fork down as if she found this to be amusing.
On the other hand, Christelle squinted her eyes.
‘This terrible son is scamming his own mother.How can he say these things so easily? Did he write them on his plate or something?’
“The way she is generous to those under her is something I can learn from as well.”
Christelle felt as if her back was struck by lightning.
She opened her eyes wide and glared at the Imperial Prince.
‘I’ve never seen a fox like this in my life. He’s talking about Prince Jesse!’
“I didn’t know Christelle had such a side to her.”
The noble young lady barely managed to laugh at the Cardinal’s affectionate response.
‘Your beloved ‘son’ is filming < My Sassy Girl > on his own right now. I want to jump up in anger and break this walnut table in half!’
“When did the two of you first meet? Was it the Spring Ball?”
The Imperial Prince shamelessly responded. His pretty face did not show any shaking at all.
Christelle replayed a scene from a movie in her mind and made sarcastic remarks.
‘You must not give Mr. Jesse any alcohol at all. He is a sincere person. If you go to a tea shop, don’t drink coffee or black tea. Drink some sort of flower tea……’
“What about the little Sarnez girl?”
Christelle looked up.
The Empress brushed back her short silver hair and looked at her.
There was a smile on her face as if she found this to be extremely entertaining.
“It sounds like only the Imperial Prince has feelings for you. Do you not have anything else to add?”
‘Is it my turn again?’
Christelle bit the inside of her mouth and peeked down.
The watch on her leg said that it was currently 8:40pm. She became extremely nervous.
‘Why is Prince Jesse not here? Did he really get lost?’
She subconsciously gulped.
It was quiet outside so there didn’t seem to be any issue. That meant that the two of them had to work hard to buy some time.
Christelle solemnly took some deep breaths. ‘That bastard started it.’
She always gave her best in a fight no matter the opponent.
Even if it was just a little twenty-four year old kid.
“I like that his Royal Highness is kind hearted. He smiles well and is nice to children and animals.”
The spoon that was broken in half by the Imperial Prince weakly fell to the table.
Christelle felt as if the side of her face was on fire but she did not pay it any attention and continued to speak.
“There is nothing he wants from me politically and he is extremely respectful. Ah, the color of his eyes are very pretty too.”
The Cardinal looked shocked.
“That is unexpected.”
“Isn’t it, your Eminence? I thought about it and I think marriage will be fine too. It would be like having an exclusive and secretive cohabitation with a friend.”
‘Big sis has won, you little kid.’
Christelle smiled like the Joker and looked at the Imperial Prince.
Sparks that one would normally see while welding were visible in the corners of the young man’s eyes.
The tablecloth in front of Christelle started to burn black at the edge.
There was a cracking sound as the Imperial Prince’s wine froze.
The Cardinal had an awkward look on her face as she opened her mouth to speak.
“Friend? Just moments ago you definitely said……”
It was at that moment.
– Knock knock.
The Empress responded to the knock as if she had been waiting.
The door soon opened and a familiar handsome man pushed the dessert trolley into the dining room.
He was breathing heavily as he apologized.
“I’m truly sorry for being late.”
The Cardinal pushed up her monocle as she asked. Christelle and the Imperial Prince were both stunned.
‘Wait, how the heck did you turn into François Duhem?’
“Excuse me, what did you just say your Eminence?’
I stupidly asked back. I was so shocked that my mind was not working properly.
‘Who did you say I am?’
“This attendant looks exactly the same as François.”
Cardinal Boutier gently commented. I looked at her and did my best to catch my breath.
The only person that my teacher would call François would be Marquis Duhem.
‘So you are saying that this is the reason nobody helped me and looked at me like I was a crazy bastard when I went around and around the same place three times? This was the reason that the Imperial Guard members just left me alone even though I passed by with a trolley with clothes that don’t fit me properly? What kind of life is the Marquis living?’
Empress Frédérique laughed out loud and broke the awkward silence. I flinched.
I was shocked and scared because I had never heard her laugh out loud before.
I naturally recalled Benjamin’s advice.
‘Jump out the window if she puts her hand on her scabbard. He said that was the safe decision.’
“I haven’t had any fun lately because I’ve been so busy. I got to see something entertaining.”
“Your acting was good, Aurélie.”
“Who do you think that I am?”
The Cardinal gently smiled and responded to the Empress.
The two adults silently sipped their red wine.
I turned my gaze to look at our two main characters.
‘Did you guys mess up?’
Christelle read my gaze and shook her head with innocent eyes.
“The reason I came here today was because I thought highly of your ability to set all of this up.”
The Empress emptied her wineglass before commenting.
Although she was looking straight forward, it did not look as if she was looking at her son, Imperial Prince Cédric, who was seated there.
I remained silent and listened carefully to the ruler’s words.
“You sure are popular. Not only did you get my son on your side, you dragged in the little kids of the Moutet Count’s Estate and the Sarnez Duke’s Estate. As for the Blanquer Duke’s Estate, you used a message to sell your plan. We don’t even need to bring up the priest from the Vatican under confinement.”
“Using this feast was quite smart. I have no choice but to be proud of you for being able to put so much into action while imprisoned in a small cold palace.”
She slowly turned her head.
This was the first time I made eye contact with the Empress since coming into the dining room.
Her sharp cherry-colored eyes pierced right through me. I instantly got chills all over my body.
“The mistake you made was thinking that there was something happening in the Imperial Palace that I did not know about. But it does not matter.”
I felt a new kind of fear despite this not being the first time I chatted with her.
This was clearly the pressure from a sword master. My lips dried out.
I barely managed to stop myself from instinctually taking a step back.
The Empress loosened her cravat and spoke in a low voice.
“I will listen to what you have to say. So get rid of that stupid disguise, Jesse Venetiaan.”
It was an Imperial order. I did everything I could to make sure my hand did not shake as I pulled off the eye patch.
That’s one way to get out of it.