I groaned and slowly opened my eyes.
It would have been great if I was on a soft bed, but such a convenient development did not occur.
I saw a man and a woman looking at me.
One had distinct blue-gray eyes while the other had deeply sunken orange eyes.
As soon as I jumped up in shock…
My head crashed into Christelle’s!
I rolled around in shock as Christelle groaned and rubbed her forehead.
‘Wow, that hurt so much. It feels like my head cracked in half. She has such a big head!’
Demy, who was lying next to me, and Percy both cried in shock.
They immediately started rubbing my forehead with a paw and a wing respectively.
I must have looked like I was in a lot of pain.
‘You guys are here too……’
“Are you trying to knock him unconscious again?”
Imperial Prince Cédric, who was standing and looking down at me, sarcastically commented to Christelle.
Our main character, who had quickly recovered from the shock, glared at him.
I pressed my ringing head on the ground before realizing in shock that her blue jacket was laid out under me.
They must have laid me down because I fainted from the portal.
“It should have woken him right up, your Royal Highness. Have you already finished scouting the area?”
“I couldn’t go far because of the fog.”
The two of them chirped back and forth.
I felt the pain in my head and the slight feeling of motion sickness slowly subsiding as I sat up.
Our surroundings were full of fog, as the Imperial Prince had mentioned.
We were still in a forest, but the sizes and types of trees were completely different from where we had been.
It was a completely unfamiliar area. I hugged Demy and Percy as I asked my question.
“We, did we teleport through a portal?”
“That seems to be the case, your highness. Sir Johann, Gerrit, and young lady Eva are here as well. The three of them went to scout in the other direction.”
Christelle quickly responded.
‘There’s six of us and two animals!’
I thought that I was teleported alone but now that I thought about it, there was no way that a portal would be that small.
It seemed as if everybody who was around me had been teleported as well.
I was a bit relieved to know that I was not alone.
“Why would a portal be in such a place……”
“It is a relic of the Warring Era.”
The Imperial Prince commented in a low voice. The young man and I made eye contact.
The book, < The History of the Warring Era using Code > that he gave me did not have any details about what kind of transportation methods were used during that time.
However, I had an idea based on what he said.
I slowly recalled something Vice Captain Élisabeth and Marquis Duhem had discussed in the garden of the Empress Palace.
Portals, military, support.
“Was it created for providing supplies or troops for reinforcement?”
“You do know.”
Then it made sense why this portal was on a path to the Imperial Capital instead of a busy area.
They needed to be able to quickly bring and relocate reinforcements when needed.
They needed to protect all paths from enemies.
“If there were portals all over the Empire like this…… Most of them must have been closed off because they were not useful in normal times.”
“It would only bring chaos. Just like what has happened just now.”
His voice was calm despite what he said. I couldn’t help but grind my teeth.
‘Why did a water deer have to be there of all places? Why did I have to get off the carriage? Why did that have to be a scheme by a demonic beast? Why did the Imperial Prince have to use magic and let his mana be absorbed by the portal underground? What is the probability that the portal was still working properly? Hmm?’
I did my best to suppress my desire to swear at the author.
It would be one thing if I did things according to the original novel and let things flowed as the author intended, but I felt wronged because these things continued to happen despite my actions being very different from what happened in the novel.
This was the case at the polo match last time and again now.
The fact that the main characters were involved in both incidents should mean that the author was involved in some way.
I brushed my face with both hands. I decided to focus on the things that happened for now.
It wasn’t like grumbling about the author would take us back to the Imperial Capital immediately.
“What happened to the injured water deer?”
“I knew you would ask about that, your highness.”
Christelle smiled at my question.
“It was completely healed. It jumped away and disappeared as soon as we got here. I don’t know if it will manage to survive out here.”
I could only blankly nod my head.
I was worried that the fawn would not be able to survive here without its family. It was at that moment.
“You woke up, your highness.”
I heard a gentle voice in the sky.
The fog on the ground was swept away by a gust of wind before Eva and Sir Johann, who had Gerrit in his arms, gently landed on the ground.
The young lady had a flushed face as she tapped her foot on the ground.
I couldn’t help but laugh despite the current situation after seeing her reaction.
“Did you have a nice trip?”
“Yes sir! Sir Geens lifted me up into the air. At first I was annoyed that he didn’t ask for my permission but it was so much fun!”
Her curly hair fluttered in the wind, looking like ramen noodles.
It seemed as if Eva enjoyed a fun walk in the air while Sir Johann did all the scouting.
Gerrit smiled at me as well. Sir Johann awkwardly smiled after sensing my gaze.
“There is a mountain in front of us but I do not see the Imperial Capital. It was hard to check for any nearby villages because of the severe fog and wind.”
Eva sounded shocked, as if she did not hear about this until now either.
Christelle frowned while the Imperial Prince looked toward the narrow path.
“I guess we need to wait here.”
“Yes, your Royal Highness. I’m sure Vice Commander Moutet will report to the Imperial Palace as soon as they take care of the demonic beasts.”
Sir Johann agreed with him. I nodded my head.
Although I had only seen one wolf demonic beast, there could be more of them. However, Vice Captain Élisabeth was a Grade 8 swordswoman.
There were also over twenty Imperial Guard members as well.
It should be easy for them to take care of the beasts and quickly bring a mage over from the Imperial Palace to deal with the situation.
“Then should we wait around for about three or four hours?”
I commented. It should take about that long for them to inform the Empress and return to the area.
Everybody other than the Imperial Prince nodded their heads and sat around.
I must have still looked pale as Christelle created a water drop the size of her palm.
“Thank you very much.”
I gulped down the water before looking up at the standing Imperial Prince.
Even the thick fog looked only like a gentle camera filter around him.
‘Yeah, three days from now is that guy’s succession confirmation ceremony…… I’m sure we will be able to go back by the end of the day.’
Silence filled the Empress’s office.
Aurélie Boutier let out a quiet sigh before taking a sip of her coffee.
Élisabeth wiped the demonic beast’s blood off her cheek with her sleeve as she blanked out.
Something like this happening three days before the Imperial Crown Prince succession confirmation ceremony was unacceptable.
However, the truth was that things like this always seemed to happen whenever Cédric, Prince Jesse, and young lady Christelle were together.
The fact that it had been quiet for the past half month and a few days was the weird part.
“Say that again.”
Frédérique Riester gave the order.
François Duhem gulped and looked at her.
His light pink eyes were solemnly sparkling.
“Your Majesty, the sovereign of my every breath, that will be difficult.”
“You’re going to hit me if I say it aga-, my goodness!”
The Empress jumped up and grabbed her sword. François quickly jumped toward the window.
He looked at his Empress with one leg out the window as if he was about to jump.
The people moving through the garden of the Empress Palace gasped and pretended not to see anything.
“Frédérique, only with the scabbard.”
Aurélie commented in an easygoing voice.
The Empress accepted her contractor’s advice and pointed her sword, still in its scabbard, toward her vassal.
“Do you think this makes any sense?”
“I feel wronged, your Majesty. It was not my fault that his Royal Highness was teleported through a portal!”
“I never said that it was your fault.”
Her cherry-colored eyes sparkled with annoyance.
“Why is it that you don’t know where that damn portal is headed?”
“Because the records were destroyed?”
The scabbard smacked the man’s back.
François curled up like a shrimp and cried out.
“Your Majesty, I wasn’t the one who burned those records! This is too much!”
“I handed all of the historical documents about portals from the Warring Era to you since you said that you were researching portals, you little punk. But now you are telling me that there are no records?”
“Former Empress Céline burned them all, your Majesty! Ugh! Keeping records would only increase the danger of them being revealed!”
The Empress stopped moving. The sun was already setting outside.
Dust fluttered from the beaten Marquis’s body. Her voice became cold.
“Your excuse is to blame my mother?”
“I swear it to the Almighty God, your Majesty. Her Majesty truly detested any traces of the Warring Era. There were not many historical documents even when I had first gotten them. The only things there were the locations of the portals and maybe their names.”
Frédérique clicked her tongue and withdrew her scabbard.
However, she must have still been angry as she let out a deep sigh before brushing back her hair.
François remained by the window just in case.
Aurélie placed her cup of coffee on the table.
“Then there is only one method. François, you go there and analyze the portal’s magic formation.”
“……Yes, your Eminence. Even if the portal is underground, channeling mana into it should make the magic formation clearly visible. The work will go even faster if I take a mage to support me.”
François fixed his hair as he commented.
Élisabeth fearfully confessed at that moment.
“Your Majesty, Your Eminence. There is something I must inform you about that.”
“Relax and tell us, Élisabeth.”
The Cardinal warmly commented. The young Countess peeked toward the holy sword, the Durandal, in the Empress’s hand.
“I reported that the portal was destroyed by my sword aura, your Eminence.”
They already knew about that from her report earlier.
Élisabeth had led the Imperial Guard to take down around ten middle-grade demonic beasts in the forest.
Her fighting, with the grace of a Grade 8 swordswoman, made it so that there were no casualties.
Even if she destroyed the problematic portal during the battle, if it was just a small crack…
“The whole ground cracked, your Eminence.”
Aurélie’s voice cracked as well.
“In the place where the portal was…… There is a crack about two spans width.”
Élisabeth barely managed to finish her sentence. Total silence filled the office.
The Empress looked at the young Countess with a dark gaze. The young woman’s palm started to get sweaty.
Although she was a laywoman when it came to magic, she knew that a portal that was damaged that much would not react despite being infused with mana.
“That can happen when a swordswoman uses her strength.”
Both the young Countess and the Marquis raised their heads at the same time after hearing the Empress’s comment.
A dramatic look of despair filled François’s face.
“Your Majesty, why is it that you only persecute me? Is this a form of merciless love?”
“You go and dig, François.”
Frédérique motioned with her chin before plopping down on the couch.
Durandal was placed close enough so that she could grab it at any moment.
The Marquis’ eyes opened wide.
“That Imperial Decree-”
“What else can you do when the magic formation will not respond? Take some soldiers and dig for a bit. Then you can draw the magic formation of the portal yourself and analyze it. The Duke’s House of Sarnez and Blanquer will cooperate with you. You should be able to figure out where my son disappeared.”
The Empress commented in a tired voice. The last comment made François’s face light up quite a bit.
“If your Majesty trusts me and desires me!”
The Marquis got down from the window sill with elegant movements before bowing deeply.
The Empress sighed and pulled off her cravat once he and Élisabeth left.
Aurélie gently consoled her.
“Don’t worry too much. The children will be fine.”
“I’m sure those punks will be fine. The problem is the succession confirmation ceremony.”
Her voice was brusque, unlike her true feelings. The Cardinal gently laughed.
Nobody came to find us despite the sun setting in the west and the fog disappearing.
Today did not seem to be our day. However, we should be able to return to the Imperial Palace tomorrow.
The Empress will send soldiers out in all directions.
I thought positively as I gently cut the potato that Demy grew with the Imperial Prince’s dagger.
It was to prepare dinner. I also gathered the fruit we would eat for dessert to one side.
‘They will rot quickly if they get wet so I’ll only wash a couple and save the rest for tomorrow morning…….’
I flinched and looked to the side. There was a dead wild boar!
I clutched my shocked heart and scowled, making the Imperial Prince look at me with discontent.
‘What, you crazy bastard. What do you want from me?! Why did you catch a pig and throw it here?’
– Scrreech, screech, screeeeech.
Demy cried while grabbing onto my leg. I became flustered.
This was what he usually did when he wanted me to praise him but I already thanked him and told him he was a good boy quite a bit just now.
‘Is he lacking ether?’
“I’m! A Naturalist!” (TL: Korean TV show)
Christelle shouted a phrase I had heard quite a bit in the past and quickly walked over.
She had a deer that was as tall as her on her back.
She let the baby water deer go but she had no mercy for an adult deer.
“The forest is going to be empty if we spend another day out here……”
I gasped and mumbled in astonishment.
Sir Johann, who was grinding his sword in preparation to butcher the meat, smiled with joy.
Christelle always with these Korean references since she doesn’t think anybody else will get it.