I had an uncomfortable look on my face. All four of them turned to look at me.
“If it was up to me, I would want you to partner only with the Imperial Prince but I cannot break the agreement that the two punks have with each other. I also want to stop hearing about how little Sarnez girl keeps rejecting Archbishops left and right.”
The Empress’s cherry-colored eyes looked tired as she sipped her wine.
I instinctively realized that this was her way of giving me some time to think.
I needed to give a response before her glass was empty.
“I have no desire to take away the thing that the two of them want. So you decide.”
I barely managed to suppress my twitching lips at the Empress’ comment.
I did my best to look serious.
“I understand, your Majesty.”
I answered. Everything was as I expected until here.
What I mean is that today was already the eighth day of confinement.
Although I had spent the entire first day sleeping as if I was dead, I had been confined in Juliette Palace for a week.
There was not much a person could do when they are not even allowed to go out on a short walk.
After throwing a ball around with Ganael in the largest reception room that I had them empty out, watching the attendants bet on bowling, walking the hallways with Benjamin, and playing with the divine beasts…
The rest of the time was spent studying, organizing my thoughts, and coming up with new possibilities.
‘It was basically an extremely boring college dorm life.’
“Your highness, you don’t need to make your decision on a whim……”
“Christelle, give the little prince some time to think it over.”
I heard Christelle and Cardinal Boutier’s voices.
I silently looked toward one side of the table.
I only had a few cards up my sleeves but they were all guaranteed to be effective.
Of those cards, this was what I had thought out regarding the issue of being the official priest partner of the main characters.
First of all, both Imperial Prince Cédric and Christelle have me as their number one choice.
I was certain about this because it was revealed during the Annual Prayer Meeting.
I had been angry at the two of their one-sided decisions, but ended up agreeing to be their temporary partner and help them out.
I made it sound like a punishment at the time but thinking about it even a little bit made it obvious that I had taken a step forward.
The ‘ether support’ that was just visiting their lessons turned into being their partner for their daily lives.
And there was a simple reason I made such a decision.
It is because they are the MCs of QNW.
I worked hard the past few days moving around my bed, the terrace, dining room, and balcony while trying to understand their thought process.
I was trying to analyze the dispositions of the main characters to prepare for the future days as I did not know much about the novel.
The two of them showed no signs of letting me go despite my numerous excuses I gave to reject them.
Rather than seeing me as an unripe grape they could not eat and giving up, they acted even bolder as if they saw it as a challenge.
I also had to consider the fact that I was the second male lead in this world.
The author made it so that I ended up running into the main characters no matter how hard I flailed to avoid them.
If the author has no thoughts on excluding me from the main story yet and the two main characters desperately want my ether, the answer was obvious.
I would definitely end up as the priest partner for this couple whether I wanted to or not.
In that case, it would be better for me to use that to my advantage first.
Wouldn’t leading the situation to my advantage be more beneficial to my survival than letting the large current carry me there?
“Or maybe you are thinking about opening up your birthday present?”
The Empress suddenly asked. I raised my head and made eye contact with her.
‘I knew she would consider that as well.’
“No, your Majesty. I plan on saving that for the future.”
I recalled the moment at the end of May when I received an early birthday present from her.
‘Your Majesty, you bestowed upon me a chance to ask for anything I want during the celebration not too long ago.’
‘If you would allow it…… I wish to make that request right now.’
My mind had been hazy because of the heat but I still managed to successfully get what I wanted from the Empress and that item was currently stored in the safe in my room.
The birthday present was definitely one of the cards in my hand.
However, I didn’t need to reach for it since the Empress offered the condition of being their partner first.
That was kind of like my last line of defense after all.
Then I just needed to take care of one other issue.
“There will be a lot of concerned voices if I become their official partner, your Majesty. I am a prince of the Holy Kingdom and here as a diplomatic hostage.”
“Isn’t that why you were offered naturalization?”
The Empress took another drink after answering with a question. She already had less than a third of the cup of wine left.
She was the type who did not like to repeat herself.
That was why I didn’t beat around the bush either. ‘I thought about that quite a bit while losing sleep.’
“Naturalization will be difficult, your Majesty. That is why, please give me a title of nobility.”
The one to ask the question was not the Empress but the Cardinal.
Her beige-colored eyes were wide open as she looked at me. I continued to speak without any hesitation.
“I heard that there was quite a lot of precedent until the Warring Era. My attendant, young master Ganael Callamard, said that his family was the first. The first patriarch of the family, Viscount Emmanuel Callamard, was a Venetiaan noble priest but had a good relationship with the Imperial family and received a Riester style name and title of nobility. He had given up on his Holy Kingdom nationality and moved the family to the Empire just before his death.”
I only found out about this thanks to Ganael.
The young boy found out that I could not sleep because of the naturalization issue and shared the story of his family saying that there might be an alternative.
That allowed something that had been puzzling me for a long time to be resolved.
‘Viscount Callamard’s household that had once given birth to a martyr, as well as my, Count Girardin’s household, were hoping that someone from our family would be assigned to attend to you, your highness.’
It was something Benjamin had said to me about a week after I transmigrated into this world.
During the Warring Era, Viscount Callamard refused to murder an unarmed priest of the Holy Kingdom and was executed by the late Emperor Romero and revered as a martyr.
I had no idea that Ganael’s deep faith and that background were connected.
Anyway, I wasn’t planning on wasting the precious card that the child gave to me.
“Naturalization is a difficult issue for me to decide on my own. Even if I discuss it with the crown princess, it may lead to friction between the two nations if the Queen of the Holy Kingdom finds it to be an issue. However, if I have a title of nobility in the Empire, I would be able to maintain my Holy Kingdom nationality while swearing my loyalty to you at the same time, your Majesty. There should also not be any major backlash from the aristocracy or the religious community.
It probably sounded like a Korean person in the 21st century wanting dual citizenship, and that was basically it.
No matter how hard I thought about it, I could not throw away this great offer of naturalization.
However, it would be bad to become naturalized and mess with the prince’s family relationship.
In that case, what choice did I have other than two-timing? ‘What wouldn’t I be willing to do to survive?’
“It sounds like you want a title of nobility in the Empire to gain my protection while saving Johann Geens and just helping out the Imperial Prince and the young lady on the side.”
The Empress instantly saw through me.
Being guaranteed my safety as a noble of the Empire and receiving the Empress’s protection was completely different from my safety as an ether support or temporary partner.
With the former, the Prince Consort would not be able to mess with me as he has been doing until now.
Even if I was not a citizen of the Empire, I would at least have one foot in the Empire’s side.
“Some people might think you are forming a celestial covenant with my son or something.”
“No, will you be asking for Charpentier Palace if a celestial covenant is requested?”
She looked at me as she finished the wine in her cup.
Her red eyes were sparkling brightly. The way she was scoping me out was quite sharp.
“It is now your turn to decide, your Majesty.”
I answered without faltering. The Empress laughed out loud.
‘I’m sure I look daring to her.’
The Empress put down her glass and called for her contractor.
The Cardinal quietly looked at her instead of responding.
There was a few minutes of silence. They seemed to be communicating through their souls again.
This was quite magical. The Empress finally started to speak after a while.
“……Tsk. You want me to take a commoner as the Imperial Prince’s instructor.”
“I know you don’t mean that, your Majesty.”
I responded immediately. She turned away from the Cardinal to look at me.
“I read an article about the Ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Imperial Capital’s Garrison Officer Candidate School in the Fall. Are you not creating the school in order to make sure that the commoners who are talented in sword art and magic do not let their talents rot? Your Majesty is not someone who cares about someone’s origins as much as other members of the Imperial family.”
The corners of the Empress’s eyes slightly curled up.
I did not have a close relationship with the Empress but even I could tell that she was happy.
“Not bad. The way you want to win every discussion reminds me of my husband.”
‘Is that a compliment? It should be a compliment, right?’
“I will accept your condition. We will proceed with the plan. Do not forget that the crown princess will be entering the Imperial Palace in two days.”
Frédérique Riester proclaimed to the group. My jaw dropped.
I failed at maintaining my poker face and smiled brightly.
“Thank you very much, your Majesty. I will not let you down.”
“Okay. It looks like someone else is disappointed.”
The Empress wiped her mouth with a napkin and got up while I was confused at her comment.
We all stood up as well.
“Little Sarnez girl, you make sure to show your face at the Lord’s Castle from time to time. Your father is quite concerned about you.”
“……Yes, your Majesty.”
Christelle’s voice was heavy.
I tried to look at her to see if she was okay but I was busy bowing to the Empress who left the room immediately.
The Cardinal tightly held my hands before following the Empress.
“You placed the first button well.”
“It is all thanks to your help convincing her Majesty, your Eminence.”
“You studied hard too, my little prince.”
She then whispered to me.
“But it will be difficult for me to help you console the children.”
I blinked wondering what she meant by that. The Cardinal smiled warmly before heading out the door.
“Congratulations on becoming an Archbishop, my great little disciple.”
“Thank you very much.”
I answered in bewilderment before looking back at the table. I made eye contact with both of them almost immediately.
‘……Why do both of you have such grim looks on your faces?’
It was easy to return to Juliette Palace because Cardinal Boutier left me in the Imperial Guard’s care as she left.
None of the things that Benjamin and Ganael worried about happened.
The Empress did not get angry, swing her sword, or deny all of my requests.
In fact, everything went smoothly. It was worth reading through all sorts of books to prepare.
Or at least I thought, but…
“What is going on?”
I mumbled while heading out to the balcony.
Demy was squeaking while roaming around my ankles. He wanted me to pick him up.
I picked him up and sat in front of the table.
“Demy, Christelle and the Imperial Prince are acting weird.”
“They looked really upset. Christelle even broke two wine glasses.”
“The Imperial Prince swiftly ran off to his room.”
Demy flailed in my arms before pushing against my chest and standing up.
I supported his warm back.
The red panda then used both front paws to push my cheeks.
“Noe, I diwn’t do anwething.”
‘I really didn’t do anything.’
I knew that the divine beast that wasn’t there to see what happened was not blaming me, but I felt wronged for some reason.
I just did my best to save Sir Geens and his son and responded according to plan as the Empress offered a condition that I had expected.
I even set up a seatbelt for me in the process. But the two of their reactions were extremely cold.
‘Didn’t they want to partner with me?’
“Do you think that they suddenly changed their minds?”
Demy opened his mouth and quietly squeaked. I smiled because his pink tongue was so cute.
I peeked at the books and magazines scattered on top of the table.
One of them especially caught my attention. < The History of the Warring Era using code. >
“Or maybe they got an upset stomach while eating because it was such an uncomfortable setting?”
It was a book that David left for me yesterday.
Thanks to that, I was able to learn that the bastard bothering me with sunlight from Romero Palace was the Imperial Prince and that the QNW world also had Morse Code.
Although it was called ‘Code of the Warring Era’……
I thought for a moment before rummaging through my pajamas and taking out the crystal bell.
I then confirmed on the page with the code and slowly reflected the bell under the bright full moon.
‘I’m using something that I didn’t even learn about in the army. I’ll just ask once and go to sleep.’
‘You mad, bro?’
There were no reactions from the Romero Palace window.
“……I guess he is sleeping.”
I put the bell away and got up. The sleepy Demy dangled on my shoulder.
Moonlight flashed from the other side at that moment. I flinched and turned my head.
The light was extremely short and concise. It was so short I even wondered if I saw it correctly.
I quickly looked through the page I had just opened.
‘……Huh? Did I just see wrong?’
He mad, bro.