“Certainly…… It does seem effective.”
I commented. Sir Johann smiled picturesquely and sat down on the couch on the other side.
The less than twenty villagers of this village let us borrow an empty house.
It was dusty and small but it had all of the necessary furniture.
We also drew some water from a nearby well to clean ourselves off.
We had been wondering what to do about our ripped and dirty clothes but the elders took care of that as well.
The clothes we are wearing right now were left by the youngsters who departed the village a long time ago.
Eva and Gerrit, who looked like simple commoners now, were playing with the animals in the yard.
“Commoners are similar no matter where you go. If we revealed our identities, half of them would not believe us while the other half would be scared of us.”
Sir Johann looked completely normal despite having pulled off such a great act.
‘What kind of past has he lived?’
“It is especially true about places like this with only elders left. It becomes difficult to gain their active cooperation. Country people have a hard time even swallowing their food when people with high positions come through. They are very wary.”
Plop. Christelle was drying her wet hair with a towel as she plopped down next to me.
Both her and my clothes smelled like an old wardrobe.
Christelle still seemed discontent about this ‘lovers on the run’ setting, but Sir Johann didn’t pay much attention to her as he continued his explanation.
“However, their reaction changes if you tell them you need their help. They will be extremely helpful in such situations.”
I drank some water from an old teacup and nodded my head. It really was true.
One grandpa looked at Christelle and encouraged her earlier, saying ‘I see, good job. You have to have a fire-like love when you can.’
He even gave Eva and I some hard bread. We must have seemed extremely pitiful.
“< Reason, Sensibility, and Holiness > is a masterpiece that pierces through such human psychology.”
I blinked my eyes.
‘That was unexpected.’
“Yes, one of the three main characters is a commoner, but even then, it is a small and weak kingdom created by minorities. It is great content for the regular citizens to immerse themselves in the story.”
‘It has that kind of setting?’
I thought that it was peculiar that English names such as Catherine or Jane appeared in ReSeHo, but I guess that it is the language of minorities in this world.
I was wowed at this new-found knowledge and Benjamin’s writing sense. It was at that moment.
“Is there no other shirt?”
I heard a discontent low voice before a bestial man walked over from the bathroom.
His great physique looked even bigger than usual because we were in a small place.
Imperial Prince Cédric had a towel around his neck and was holding a shirt in his hand as he stood in front of us with water dripping from his hair.
My jaws dropped in shock.
‘Why did you come out without a shirt?’
“Umm…… Is that really a human’s body?”
“Your highness, you just said your thoughts out loud.”
Christelle pointed out for me. The Imperial Prince squinted his orange-colored eyes.
Only then did I close my mouth and shake my head.
The thought that maybe QNW was not for all audiences and was actually rated for those fifteen and older filled my mind.
I didn’t care if I got called an old fart for having such thoughts.
‘It’s too indecent for a novel that has illustrations! How can they let elementary students see something like this?!’
“You should not see this, young lady Sarnez.”
I calmly covered Christelle’s eyes.
‘Or maybe not? Is it better to let her see?’
“I’ve already seen it all, your highness.”
“Even he doesn’t use a bra so why do I-”
“Please get dressed, your Royal Highness.”
I immediately scolded the Imperial Prince after hearing the main character’s mumbling closing in on dangerous territory.
However, the male lead did not back down.
“The chest is not wide enough.”
‘The elders gave you the largest clothes in the village! How can that be small? Just use a firm hand to force the button through!’
Sir Johann, who had been watching us, quietly laughed.
It seemed as if I was the only one being serious right now. At that moment…
“Why is your top off?! Is it hot?”
The first old woman we met, granny Marlene, opened the door without even knocking and walked in.
Grandpa Remy, who had given us bread, was with her.
The Imperial Prince frowned while Christelle and I stood up.
Sir Johann stood up as well. Granny Marlene handed us a large basket.
“Here’s some bread and cheese I gathered from around the village. There’s some ham as well. This is milk I milked from our cows this morning. Feed the puppies first.”
“Thank you very much, ma’am.”
I smiled brightly and thanked her.
Granny looked at me and clicked her tongue before sitting down next to Sir Johann.
Grandpa Remy sat down as well.
I noticed the Imperial Prince slipping his arms through the shirt and walking over. I immediately offered him a seat next to me.
I always sat between the two of them, but I definitely wanted to do that today.
I felt this mysterious sense of responsibility to maintain QNW’s age rating.
Grandpa Remy started speaking first.
“I went all around the village but it doesn’t seem like we have a map.”
“There is nobody who knows how to read and everybody has lived here their whole lives without ever leaving . None of us had any reason to have a map.”
There was a short moment of silence at Grandpa Remy’s comment. Sir Johann broke the silence.
“What about a carriage-”
“We don’t have any. Someone’s son took it about twenty years ago saying he was going to start some business and never returned.”
‘Damn it, that terrible bastard.’
I didn’t give up and asked.
“Sir, do you happen to know where this is?”
“Aightz. That is the name of our village.”
“What a wonderful name. Then do you happen to know where it is located? Whether it is far or close from the Imperial Capital… Or maybe which direction the village is from the Imperial Capital.”
“That…… We’ve never been to the Imperial Capital. But we should be in the north. The youngsters all mentioned heading south.”
‘So this is north of the Imperial Capital.’
Grandpa Remy laughed out loud.
I smiled back and asked the next question.
“Sir, have you heard of the territory lord’s name by chance?”
“The territory lord?”
Granny Marlene, who took an apple out of the basket and was cutting it, asked back.
The two elders looked at each other and frowned.
“A territory lord…… Do we even have one?”
“I’m sure we do, Marlene. We pay taxes.”
“Really? It’s not like I’ve ever seen the territory lord!”
Granny Marlene shouted back before focusing on the apple again. Aightz village, located to the north of the Imperial Capital.
However, not knowing the territory lord’s name made it impossible to know whose land this was nor how far we were from the Imperial Capital.
Christelle broke the silence this time.
“Ma’am, when you pay your taxes… Who collects it? Umm, a village head…… What I mean is, is there a village representative?”
“A representative? We do have a representative!”
Granny Marlene’s face lit up as she swung the fruit knife around.
Sir Johann used gentle movements to take the fruit and knife from her hands.
“Now that I think about it, we do. The Imperial Capital should not be very far from us. The child of the most educated family in Aightz works at the Imperial Capital.”
We finally got some positive news! Christelle and I leaned toward granny Marlene as we listened.
“That child knows how to read and write. They even meet some important people there. That child goes back and forth every month and works as the village representative. That kid is so thoughtful and commendable.”
“Where is that person right now?”
The Imperial Prince asked sharply while speaking informally to them. I jabbed my elbow into his side.
Then my arm was immediately flung back. My arm was throbbing.
‘Are you made of metal or something?!’
“……Ma’am, where is that person?”
He must have understood my sharp gaze, as the Imperial Prince asked again respectfully with a disgruntled look on his face.
The two elders warily looked at him.
Even them, who did not know anything about us, seemed to think that the Imperial Prince was an important person.
“Umm, usually at the middle of each month. But there is no set day.”
“Remy, that’s not right! It should be soon!”
Granny Marlene, who had nothing in her hands now, just waved her arms instead.
“What was it, oh, they said that his Royal Highness, the Imperial Prince was about to rise to a high position. They mentioned being busy until the end of the month because of that, so they were going to come earlier.”
“Did they say that…… Ohh, ohh! Now I remember. That child will find a way to help you!”
Grandpa Remy nodded his head. My eyes opened wide. The Imperial Crown Prince succession confirmation ceremony was in two days.
If the village representative was coming before that, we should be able to see them today or tomorrow at the latest.
I turned to my left to look at the Imperial Prince and saw that his gaze was calm.
“What would you like to do?”
I asked. However, there was only one choice.
There were no carriages or even horses in the village and we had no idea how far we would need to travel south to reach the Imperial Capital.
Waiting for the village representative was the most rational choice if we wanted to inform the Imperial Palace and the Lord’s Castle about our situation.
We were also likely to run into the Imperial Guard members, who would be searching around the portal, if we stayed here.
‘Although it would be difficult to make tomorrow’s run-through……’
“It looks like the handsome young man plans on staying here.”
Granny Marlene commented.
I was amazed that she could immediately understand his stoic gaze since it took me quite a long time to analyze this bastard’s stoic gaze.
This must be what they call years of experience.
“Yes. Stay here and eat three square meals and take care of the puppies with your lady until our representative gets here.”
“It’d be great if you could chop some firewood for us from time to time too. Even better if you just decide to stay here for good.”
“Aigoo, listen to this shameless guy! Time to get up!”
Grandpa Remy’s arm was pushed back at granny Marlene’s rough gestures.
Sir Johann placed apples on the plate once the two elders swept through the living room like a storm and left the house.
There were four cute adult rabbits and four baby rabbits.
“…… I understand. You may go.”
“Yes, your Majesty. Your Eminence.”
A man, who seemed to be between a boy and a young man in age, covered his face with his elegant robe and left the Empress’s office.
Aurélie watched his back until the door closed.
Her beige-colored eyes seemed full of chaos but she was more happy than confused.
“That was unexpected.”
The Cardinal and the Empress exchanged their thoughts.
“It doesn’t seem like a lie and the Fleur-de-lis has no reason to trick us.”
“Aurélie, what is so funny?”
“You don’t think it’s funny? We don’t know the children’s whereabouts but he said that the succession confirmation ceremony will conclude without any issues and it will be full of cheering citizens and the blessing of the Almighty God.”
The Cardinal responded.
The prophet who just left the office was the same person who became the youngest captain of the Empress’s personal mage advisory team, the Fleur-de-lis, at the age of twenty.
He had answered positively without any hesitation after being asked if the succession confirmation ceremony on the Imperial Prince’s birthday would end well.
He knew about the Empress’s hot temper and did not care about the reason she would ask such a question.
Frédérique took off her jacket and threw it on the couch. Aurélie calmly asked.
“Did you get a message from Yvelines?”
“Yeah. They’re not there either. Those punks would have contacted us first if they were there.”
The Empress grumbled back.
François Duhem was working hard without rest despite the bad weather but she had received a report that the results of the portal analysis would not be available until tomorrow night.
By that point, it would already be the eve of the succession confirmation ceremony.
“Why does it take so long to read a damn portal?”
“We are not mages. It is because the coordinates used during the Warring Era are different from modern methods.”
The Cardinal seemed to be trying to console her. She could feel the Empress’s nervousness through their connected souls.
It was not because she was worried that something would happen to her son, a Grade 8 swordsman and Grade 7 mage, who would also soon be appointed as a Holy Knight.
She hoped for Cédric to have the perfect ceremony to become the Imperial Crown Prince.
She wanted to make sure that nobody would dare to slander him in the future even when she was gone.
She wanted to make sure that his elegance and dignity would not be questioned even if his ‘weakness’ was revealed to the world some day.
“Look at me.”
Her cherry-colored eyes drifted toward her contractor. The corners of Aurélie’s eyes slowly curled up.
“That child is not alone. You know that.”
“They will definitely be back since there is a prophecy ensuring it.”
The Cardinal’s hand covered the back of the Empress’s hand. Their thumbs intertwined as if she had been waiting for this.
“And he will safely complete the succession confirmation ceremony that is being held just for him.”
The last whisper was close to a Divine Oracle.
Frédérique was silent before letting out a short scoff.
– Boom! – Crack!
– Cock-a-doodle-do! Bock bock!
Weird morning noises woke me up. I slowly got up from the old single bed.
After arriving in Aightz Village yesterday, we were able to eat a full meal thanks to the hospitality of the villagers before we fell asleep.
The youth who is the village representative didn’t show up until last night so they should be here today.
‘Maybe they are already here?’
“Where did the kids go?”
I sleepily looked around.
The Imperial Prince, who had the bed next to mine, as well as Demy and Percy, who were curled up in the bed with me, were all gone.
Maybe it was uncomfortable so they went to the living room.
‘But it’s probably similar there too.’
– Scree, screech, boom!
I was able to open the window after a bit of a struggle. Fresh air instantly filled my lungs.
I was careful with the door so that the hinge wouldn’t fall off before looking down at the yard.
There seemed to be quite a show.
Christelle, who was seated in a corner, was eating popcorn with the villagers. And on the other side…
– Boom, crack!
A handsome black-haired man, who had undone three of his shirt buttons, was chopping firewood.
I gasped like the clucking chickens and moved away from the window.
‘Hey! This is not rated 15+!’