The sky was now as dark as the deep sea.
A large full moon was showing its face from the east.
“Percy, your abilities are so good. You are the best divine item.”
– Flap, flap!
The ark flapped its wing as if it was happy about my compliment.
The flapping made dozens of meters pass with a swish! In an instant, we had moved very far.
I couldn’t help but laugh because this was entertaining.
It was a completely different feeling from the weightlessness you feel from a drop tower.
I felt the cool breeze and looked down.
We had flown past the tall and black mountain and the following area that looked green even in the dark. The Imperial Palace was under our feet now.
It was completely unbelievable.
‘I can’t believe we were so close to here.’
“It must be your first time seeing the Imperial Palace from the sky, your Royal Highness.”
Imperial Prince Cédric did not respond but he did not seem uncomfortable either.
His black hair gently fluttered in the wind.
Thanks to the Ark’s divine power, he was dangling on me with extremely little air resistance. It almost felt as if he was half flying as well.
Thanks to that, the Imperial Prince’s body, which was connected to me by the vines, felt like a small dumbbell.
It would be hard to fly like this for an extended period of time, but it was okay because it was a short trip.
“Over there! Divine lamps are flying over, your Royal Highness.”
My voice became louder with excitement. I’m sure I just imagined it, but it felt as if the Imperial Prince bastard let out a sigh.
The orange lights got closer and roamed around us as if to say hello before slowly disappearing past the rear mountain.
I blankly watched before realizing something peculiar.
“There are things written on the lamps. Did you know about that, your Royal Highness?”
The Imperial Prince completely ignored me.
I didn’t care about his response and carefully grabbed one of the lamps.
I could see that someone had written on the outside of the lamp with uneven writing.
“It says that they hope you are always healthy, your Royal Highness. They also want to congratulate you on becoming the Imperial Crown Prince. But they don’t really know what that is because they are young.”
I started smiling. It sounded as if a child had written that one.
I looked down at the Imperial Prince but his sunset-like eyes did not show much joy.
I released the lamp in my hand and gently grabbed the next one.
This one had quite mature handwriting.
“Apparently you taking the Sword of Wisdom out during the Great Clearance of Demonic Beasts left quite the impression on this person. This person must have been seated in a great spot. I didn’t get to see that.”
I quietly mumbled. The Imperial Prince raised his chin to send me a gaze that seemed to be saying that I was stupid.
‘What do you want, you punk? Do you know how tired I was after saving you and Christelle that day?’
“The next one,”
The wind brushing against my forehead felt nice.
I left Percy, the best driver ever, on auto mode before reading the divine lamp.
‘After seeing his Royal Highness one time from afar, I stopped selling wine and have turned to beekeeping. How can I not when there is honey falling from my eyes? What the hell? Pass.’
“I am a twenty year old noblewoman and all of my peers have put their lives in his Royal Highness’s hands.’
“……Let’s control ourselves.”
I shoved the divine lamp away.
Maybe it was because people wrote these messages thinking that they would never see them again, but they were quite the spectacle as I read them.
‘Who doesn’t know that the male lead is a handsome guy?’
“Was there something offensive?”
“It would be entertaining if that was the case, your Royal Highness.”
I retorted back. The Imperial Prince snorted as if he agreed.
The Ark flapped its wing once and our two bodies popped past the group of divine lamps.
It felt as if I had made my way through sparkling balloons.
The last lamp I saw had a neatly written sentence.
‘I truly wish you a happy birthday.’
‘……What should I give him as a birthday present?’
I had not thought about it in the forest or Aightz Village because all of my attention was on getting back to the Imperial Palace.
I had received a gift from him on my birthday, and I couldn’t ignore it because we were now friends. I peeked toward the Imperial Prince.
At that moment…
Percy suddenly dived down. My back was full of cold sweat after this thrilling fall.
‘Excuse me, conductor, is there turbulence?’
I made a gasping noise. I could now see the streets of the Imperial Capital on the ground.
It was not comparable to the view of Seoul at night, but torches and magic lights were on everywhere, making it bright and beautiful.
I blankly watched the view beyond the lamps that floated up every so often. ‘It’s so coo……’
My voice sank.
“What is it?”
“Are those all people?”
I felt my chest tighten as I asked the Imperial Prince.
The dark area looked like the road but it was actually just the streets that were full of people.
Thousands of handkerchiefs and bouquets were being waved around, making me dizzy for a different reason from earlier.
‘I, I just thought it would be the level of the crowd at the Great Clearance of Demonic Beasts. This……’
“The fact that it is the night before the succession confirmation ceremony made more people show up than usual.”
The Imperial Prince nonchalantly commented, as if he was talking about having egg cocotte for breakfast.
I could feel Percy slowly heading down. I scowled and took some deep breaths.
I could not withdraw at this point and my determination to deliver the Imperial Prince remained firm.
My insides churned- not because of the flight -but because of nervousness.
I could slowly start to hear the loud cheering of the crowd.
‘This is driving me crazy. I’m going to deliver this bastard and then quickly return to Juliette Palace.’
That thought filled my mind.
– Clack, clack!
Élisabeth used the spurs to push the horse forward. She could see the lights of the village in front of her.
She started smiling. She was certain that she would be able to find her friends this time.
Although she had only lived for twenty-four years, a person like her, who had traveled around the entire Empire taking care of demonic beasts and training in the way of the sword, had a special kind of intuition.
The young Countess led the Imperial Guard and moved past the dark village entrance.
This was Aightz, the closest village to the destination of that motherfucking wartime portal.
The steed urgently stopped and raised its front legs.
Élisabeth and her subordinates all turned toward one spot.
They could smell the thick fragrance of roasted pig.
The yard of a small house by the village entrance was full of familiar faces.
She believed that she would find them here, but it was shocking because it had happened so quickly.
Her grey eyes filled with both chaos and joy.
“……Young lady Christelle?”
“Vice Captain Élisabeth!”
“It’s Vice Captain Élisabeth!”
Christelle, who had both cheeks full of lettuce and meat, as well as Eva, jumped up and ran toward her.
Her high cheeks were full of joy. Élisabeth smiled brightly and alighted from the horse.
The three of them became one giant bundle as they hugged each other.
The Imperial Guard members, who had worked so hard for the past few days, clapped from the back.
Élisabeth chuckled because she found this to be funny.
‘This is nothing.’
“Vice Captain Élisabeth, you worked so hard. I knew that you would be able to find us.”
Christelle chewed on the meat as she commented with awe.
“Yes, Mister François did good. All of you did great sleeping outdoors despite it not being on the schedule.”
Eva chuckled at the young Countess’s response.
The young Duchess and Christelle were both wearing simple commoner clothes.
She was checking to make sure that they were not injured when she heard a happy voice.
“Welcome, Vice Commander Moutet. You are a bit late.”
She raised her head to see the corners of the person’s mint-colored eyes curl slightly. She could see little Geens hiding behind him as well.
Élisabeth responded to the duo with a question.
“What do you mean by that, Sir Geens?”
“The two highnesses have already headed toward Claire Plaza. They received the help of a divine item.”
“When you say divine item……”
The young Countess’s eyes opened wide. Eva, who was still in her arms, mumbled to her.
“It is the Ark of the Wind Deity. Percy!”
She recalled the light purple divine item, the one that they had seen in the Bell Tower of Yvelines and the one who had protected Prince Jesse from Sir Geens.
She remembered that it had accompanied Prince Jesse while in the shape of a chimney bird. It must have helped him out again.
Élisabeth chuckled. A sense of shock and relief released from the end of her pit of her stomach.
“We plan on leaving early in the morning. Please get some rest and then we can go together. All of you must be so tired.”
Christelle rubbed Élisabeth’s back as she commented.
Since tomorrow was the Imperial Crown Prince’s succession confirmation ceremony, even an all-nighter would not be enough if they went to look for something else to do.
However, Élisabeth just nodded her head.
It felt as if she had met her friends again after years of absence. The tension in her body had released and she just wanted to lay down.
Her fiance would soon be able to meet Prince Jesse as well since everything was now resolved.
She looked at the subordinates who followed her here and flicked her chin.
Those thoughtless bastards just cheered.
“Of course, drinking is not allowed. Also, don’t forget to rotate guard duty.”
Their shoulders slumped at her stern orders. Christelle smiled brightly and waved toward the yard.
“Seniors,we have new guests! Please don’t worry, they are not scary at all. Could you please just get some more meat?”
“They are our friends!”
Eva pulled Gerrit with her as she said that.
A woman, who had been completely stiff like the group of unfamiliar elderly villagers, bowed toward Élisabeth at that moment.
Élisabeth took a closer look and recognized that the woman holding the tongs for the meat was the Imperial Palace’s mountain keeper, Agnes.
Élisabeth let out a scoff of disbelief.
‘How the heck did everybody end up gathering here?’
“Vice Commander Moutet. There is something I need to tell you.”
The Holy Knight, who had not left her side, commented in an easygoing voice.
Élisabeth patted the horse’s neck as she looked at him.
Sir Geens showed her some transparent pebbles.
“These are holy stones. Young lady Blanquer and my son found these around here.”
Élisabeth slightly frowned.
The holy stones she had learned about were items that appeared in history books. They had also never been discovered in the Empire before.
She looked at him to see if there was some other meaning to his words and the response she got was simple.
“Yes, it is exactly as you are thinking.”
‘All headstones in Riester will have the person’s middle name.’
Romero Claire Riester Palace.
That was the former Empress, Céline Riester’s father, the tragic lover killer, and the Warlord who had placed his statue in the central plaza.
Sarah Belliard sat alone in her carriage, writing down her thoughts in her notebook as they came up.
Of course, she was invited to tomorrow’s succession confirmation ceremony as well, but there was a reason she had personally come to Claire Plaza instead of sending another reporter from the < Biweekly Riester >.
– Knock knock.
An attendant of the Baronet’s House of Belliard knocked on the carriage door.
The door immediately opened once Sarah knocked back.
The noise of the 20,000 people in the plaza burst into the carriage.
She looked at her attendant through her glasses.
“Yes, Lady Belliard! The Imperial family’s carriage procession is quiet as well. It doesn’t seem like his Royal Highness will be here this year!”
The attendant responded almost in a shout. She waved her hand instead of responding. The door soon closed.
“……Is it an issue with his health?”
The old woman mumbled to herself.
The fact that the Imperial Prince did not participate in the morning’s practice run had slowly spread outside the Imperial Palace and most of the Pair de Riester were already aware of it.
It was easy to form a hypothesis once she added the background knowledge she already had.
He had been quite sick since he was young.
There was a time when he fell into the ‘Imperial Prince’s Night’ and could only stay awake for a few hours a day.
His condition supposedly got a lot better since the Prince Consort passed away, but Sarah’s intuition as a journalist was telling her that that was not true.
Maybe the Imperial Prince still suffered from the curse-
‘This might sound arrogant, but I hope that you do not consider it to be a curse.’
She suddenly recalled the words of a certain Prince. Her lips twisted up to a bitter smile.
It was at that moment.
Sarah flinched and turned her head. The cheering was so loud that it hurt her ears.
The plaza, which currently held a mix of nobles and commoners, felt so full with energy it was as if it would float away.
She pushed the carriage door open out of reflex. Everybody was looking up at the sky.
The thousands of hats that the spectators threw into the air covered her view.
“Riester! Riester! Riester!”
It was the wing of the Almighty God.
– Flap, flap!
Two figures appeared through the light of the full moon.
The blonde hair that sparkled with the moonlight and the clear purple eyes that felt as if they were from out of this world.
Prince Jesse Venetiaan, who had a large light purple wing on his back, was descending down to Claire Plaza while guiding the Imperial Prince with a luxurious vine.
Sarah recognized the flowers on the vine even from a distance. They were tulips.
“Imperial Prince! Imperial Prince! Imperial Prince!”
“Blessing! Blessing! Blessing!”
There was an aura of madness in the crowd’s cheering.
The prince was smiling gently despite looking pale but this experienced reporter knew that it was just a mask covering how awkward he was feeling.
His amethyst-like eyes looked around as if to find a spot to land before he headed toward a location while leading the sculpture-like handsome Imperial Prince.
Sarah pulled off her glasses and chucked them to the side.
“Hooray for his Royal Highness! Hooray!”
The Prince had delivered the Imperial Prince to the statue of the late Emperor Romero, a spot surrounded by Imperial Guard members.
The tulip vines slowly released before decorating the Imperial Prince’s ankles.
His ebony-like hair and flame-like eyes gave off a magnificent glow as he landed next to his great-grandfather.
Sarah’s body shook from a thunderbolt-like tingling.
The Prince then flapped his wing and moved away from the Imperial Prince. It felt as if he was saying something to the Imperial Prince.
The Imperial Prince looked at him as if he wanted to shoot him down to the ground but did not actually do that.
The Prince smiled brightly toward him before instantly flying up into the night sky.
The crowd started cheering his name now.
“Jesse! Jesse! Jesse!”
Sarah Belliard’s hands were shaking as she urgently grabbed her notebook.
She then frantically started writing, not caring that the quill pen might break. A benevolent gaze and a single wing……
‘The Fallen Angel in the crowd.’
Ah yes, Jesse the angel.