My body moved first.
After running forward without thinking about what would happen afterward, my extremely unrefined ether spread out in all directions, releasing a blinding light.
I stood in front of Imperial Prince Cédric. Elise looked completely confused as we made eye contact.
However, the important thing was that her attack had stopped.
Her voice was slightly shaking.
The yellow sun that had risen above the training ground was slowly spinning in place.
The flames crackled, making it known that it would burn a target at any moment.
The scary visual and the heat made me gulp.
“I ask for your forgiveness. I was not trying to get in your way.”
I caught my breath as I spoke. It felt as if my mind was finally working again.
The Imperial Prince was currently being evaluated by Elise, a Cardinal, for his Holy Knight appointment.
I knew that I should not have barged in like that.
But wasn’t using a stigmata to test him too much?
The Imperial Prince was still a Novice and was strong enough even without using such methods of testing.
I didn’t know why the situation became so heated like this.
“Are you okay, your highness?”
I heard Christelle’s voice at that moment, it sounded too close to me.
I looked back in shock. My jaw dropped.
Christelle, Vice Captain Élisabeth, Benjamin, Ganael, and even the Imperial Prince’s attendant, David, were all inside my Holy Domain.
They all must have run here because they were breathing heavily as well.
Percy was seated on the Imperial Prince’s shoulder while shaking his feathers.
As for Christelle and the young Countess, they had their respective whip and sword in their hands, keeping the crown princess in check.
I then made eye contact with the Imperial Prince who was at the center of the circle.
He looked as if he came straight out of a book despite his sand-covered shirt being ripped in multiple places and his hair being a total mess.
His eyes were open slightly wider.
‘What is up with that shocked gaze?’
“I am okay.”
I answered before looking forward again. The crown princess’ face looked quite confused.
‘Shit, was that not something Prince Jesse would have done?’
This sense of danger was coming a bit too late. It would probably be even weirder if I suddenly walked away right now.
I calmly opened my mouth to speak.
“I learned that the stigmata is the most powerful power a Cardinal can utilize. To use it against his Royal Highness-”
I stopped there and peeked at the Imperial Prince.
It was because I thought that this bastard might have provoked her first.
The Imperial Prince scowled and lowered his sword.
His arm seemed to have given out and he had cold sweat on his forehead.
‘Mm, he does seem to be struggling.’
“……Is too much in my opinion. Please forgive his Royal Highness if he did anything to be discourteous toward you, your highness.”
I did my best to say something that sounded reasonable.
“His Royal Highness is usually not…… Actually he is always like this. But if you get to know him, he is a good pe-, good at his work.”
I could not shield his personality no matter how hard I tried.
I released some ether through my circle without making it obvious.
I could feel the Imperial Prince absorbing it as if he was gulping down water.
I knew it was cheating but I needed to prepare for the chance that the evaluation would continue.
He could not turn into ‘Sadie’ in front of Elise.
“……You have a friendship with the Imperial Prince? Them as well?”
Elise whispered after a while.
She was slowly lowering her left hand she had raised, almost as if she was orchestrating. As I was about to respond…
Cardinal Boutier’s voice sharply cut between us.
I watched as she elegantly walked over from the outskirts of the training ground.
The Cardinal had a gentle smile on her face but her beige-colored eyes showed less emotion than Demy’s thin whiskers.
All that was visible was extreme vigilance and a sharp gaze.
I almost cowered in fear at this vibe that was 180 degrees different from her usual kindness.
“You seem to have lost your composure. I’ve never heard of a Cardinal using their stigmata against a Novice Holy Knight.”
“Will you be able to continue the evaluation?”
Elise was silent at this elder’s question. I used this opening to look behind me.
David was looking at the Imperial Prince’s injury. Though, he didn’t seem to be seriously injured since nobody was freaking out…
“Should I open up a healing circle?”
“I would be extremely grateful if you would do that, your h-”
“Your highness, I will escort you to Juliette Palace.”
Vice Captain Élisabeth interjected while David and I were chatting.
I raised my head because this was not something she would normally do. I noticed that the Imperial Guards had gathered right in front of me.
They moved in perfect order to surround the edges of my Holy Domain.
It was obvious they were trying to separate me from the crown princess.
Cardinal Boutier must have given the young Countess an order.
“Then the evaluation-”
“I’m not sure either, your highness. But you should return because this place might become dangerous for you.”
Her grey eyes looked serious as she whispered to me.
I made eye contact with the two MCs one after the other.
Christelle nodded her head while the Imperial Prince did not show any signs of complaint. It was his way of telling me to go.
“Then…… I will head in first. I apologize for interrupting the evaluation.”
I spoke toward my teacher. She simply smiled gently toward me.
Cardinal Ari Schot was waving from the table we had run over from.
It was his way of telling me that it was fine to leave. I nodded my head and withdrew my Holy Domain.
I was worried about the MCs but it was true that I did not want to chat with Elise any longer.
I looked at her face last, which, for some reason, looked as empty as a sunset.
“It looks like it might rain, your highness.”
“It does seem that way. Thank you.”
I looked out the window of the second floor reception room before receiving the teacup from Ganael.
The dark clouds were frowning as if they might start crying at any moment.
It had already been two days since the first evaluation day when Elise tried to use her stigmata against the Imperial Prince.
According to the message from David, the Imperial Prince’s evaluation that day ended up fizzling out.
Today was the second evaluation; the day of Christelle’s sparring.
A humid day like this was extremely advantageous for a water attribute person like her.
However, I was stuck inside the palace again. Empress Frédérique ordered for my confinement again.
It wasn’t a shock.
The crown princess had activated her stigmata in the Imperial Palace training grounds for some reason and her attack had been toward the Imperial Prince. I was the one who stopped her.
I did get scared that a conflict would arise.
I was just relieved that I was still allowed to go to the crown princess’s farewell dinner in two days.
That had been my goal from the beginning.
I took a sip of the steaming peach tea before organizing my thoughts.
I would need to be able to speak without any hesitation if I wanted to explain Sir Johann Geens’s situation and a way to sneak his son out of the Empire.
“It’s great for Eva. She wanted to be their partner.”
I suddenly commented, which made the juice drinking Ganael smile.
Young lady Eva Blanquer was in charge of supporting Christelle with ether in my stead.
There were many other priests as well, but it was rare for any priest to have a close relationship with both people. I heard that Cardinal Boutier personally selected her.
It was difficult for Sand to get here because he was still in confinement.
I looked back outside and fell deep into my thoughts again.
‘Mother will be happy about it as well. She wanted you to be my partner when you were young.’
The meaning behind the crown princess’s words was clear.
It meant that their mother, Queen Christanne, had tried to get the prince and Elise to be priest and Holy Knight partners in the past.
It made sense if it was when they were young.
The Queen probably believed that her son, as someone who carried the blood of a priest, would eventually start releasing ether.
However, the prince had been ordinary until he received the honorary bishop title at sixteen.
Then there was the fact that I now learned.
The Queen did not dislike her son or stay away from him.
In fact, she wanted to connect the futures of her eldest child and her second child.
Thinking about the actions or gaze of the crown princess toward me, she too seemed to truly care about her younger brother.
That left only one conclusion.
‘The Prince Consort is the bastard who needs to die. The other Venetiaans are normal.’
It seemed quite obvious that the young second princess would have been close to her older brother as well.
‘The family was blasted by wind and rain because of one single person.’
I let out a quiet sigh before drinking the light pink tea. It was at that moment.
“Ah, she is here again.”
Ganael mumbled while looking out the window. I naturally looked in the same direction.
Foreign clothes that were similar to mine, muscular body, and bald head could be seen.
She was chatting with Pierre, an attendant of Juliette Palace.
“Isn’t that Maartje? I’m surprised she is here instead of by the crown princess’s side.”
“Yes, your highness. She has continued to come to Juliette Palace since entering the Palace.”
“Why didn’t I know about it?”
“It is because she is not here to see you but to deliver a present from the Holy Kingdom, your highness.”
Ganael motioned with his hand as if telling me to see for myself.
Now that I took a better look, it seemed as if Pierre and Maartje were in a tussle.
Maartje was trying to push an item to him while Pierre was declining with an awkward look on his face.
I couldn’t tell what the item was because it was wrapped in silk.
“She keeps stubbornly trying to hand it to us despite us letting her know that it needs to be inspected by the Imperial Palace first. She claims that it is not something harmful but that you need to be the first to see it, your highness.”
“That must have put you guys in a difficult position.”
“Yes, your highness. It was quite the headache for Lord Benjamin. He couldn’t be too firm with her because she is the crown princess’s coachman.”
Maartje eventually retreated after seeing Pierre not willing to give in.
She looked at the sky once before scowling and massaging one shoulder for a long time.
‘Is her body in pain because of the weather?’
“You are not planning on receiving it, are you, your highness?”
Ganael quickly asked.
I turned my head to see the young boy looking at me with a concerned gaze. I chuckled.
“Of course I can’t take it. Who knows what might be in there? I’m not such an easy man.”
Demy wagged his tail and approached me at that moment.
I picked him up with one arm before looking out in the distance.
‘I wonder if Christelle’s evaluation is going well.’
A long and sharp gold spear, the Vicious Manifestation of the Headwind, cut through the air of the interior training ground.
It would be too late to dodge this after seeing it. However, Christelle’s ether was quite fast.
She immediately reached her hand out.
A thick and large water wall shot up from the empty ground.
The moment the spear pierced through the spray of water…
All of the water instantly froze.
The water that had been spreading in the shape of a crown immediately started tightly binding the Vicious Manifestation.
The weapon resisted; almost as if it had a conscience and was trying to get out of the ice.
Christelle put her left hand on the ice wall while looking at the shaking spear.
– Crack, craaaack……
New water filled the areas that cracked under the strength of the Vicious Manifestation and immediately froze to continue binding the divine item.
Christelle whipped her whip at the same time. She was trying to properly contest the crown princess who was across from her.
The ice wall cracked like a window before water could even form at the end of her whip.
It was because of the crown princess’s flame.
Christelle immediately pulled the whip back and prepared for her next attack.
She recalled what Prince Jesse had said at the Summer Palace.
‘For example, when you did the flip in the air to land on the ice staircase… If you sent that flying to the other side instead of making it disappear……’
She could attempt a new attack if she did not waste the cracking ice.
She wound up her arm before slashing her whip horizontally.
This was the result of copying one of the Imperial Prince’s sword art styles.
Ice pieces that sparkled like a sword head toward the crown pr-
Ice pieces stabbed into the walls of the newly fixed training ground walls like daggers.
There was nobody on the other side. She did not feel any spirit or ether overpowering.
Christelle looked to the side in shock.
Elise, who had already handed her spear to her attendant, was wiping her hand with a handkerchief.
She was flabbergasted.
“You have outstanding talent. I have seen enough of your abilities.”
The crown princess responded with a stoic expression and voice.
Cardinal Schot and Eva were clapping for Christelle at a table a bit away from them.
They had only been sparring for about ten minutes but the evaluation was already over.
Cardinal Boutier was off to the side inspecting the Imperial Prince’s flow of ether.
Christelle slightly bit down on her lip.
It wasn’t a bad thing for it to end so easily, but she was frustrated that the crown princess did not show the same liveliness she showed two days ago.
It was even worse because she thought that she knew the reason behind it.
She approached the crown princess and started to speak, making the crown princess look down toward her.
There was quite the difference in height. She seemed even taller than Prince Jesse.
Christelle started speaking with a firm gaze.
“Please pray for your younger brother’s happiness.”
The crown princess’s blue eyes shook as if they would break. The noble young lady continued to speak.
“I apologize for saying such a rude comment unexpectedly. However, I did not think that you were the type who liked to beat around the bush.”
She then took a deep breath.
Her departed older sister’s figure filled her mind but she managed to keep herself steady.
Honestly speaking, she felt a bit pitiful that there was someone else in addition to her who had to feel such a frustrating emotion with no possible answer to soothe her.
However, someone had to say this for the benefit of both the older sister and the younger brother.
“It is good if we can be together with our siblings forever, but there are times when such a thing is not possible. There are people who seek out a new family. They seek them out somewhere more peaceful and relaxing than their home.”
Christelle be talking like she marrying Jesse.