It was neither the Angelique that Empress Frédérique had said to tease me nor the Lunaire that Cardinal Boutier had suggested.
It was better than the others since hearing it did not make me cringe or feel embarrassed.
I did feel bad for Benjamin and Ganael since they would have both lost money.
‘But what does it mean? Should I just think of the English word, serene?’
The Empress placed a luxurious cape on my shoulders before motioning to the Chief of Staff, Laura, with her chin.
Laura then sent a sharp gaze toward the entrance of the audience room.
I stood up and tried my best to understand the situation.
“Young lady Christelle de Sarnez now entering!”
I heard the heavy doors open again. My eyes opened wide as I looked behind me.
I could see Christelle’s pink hair and beautiful eyes sparkling in the distance.
Her cheerful and confident face made all of the Pair de Riester start chatting with excitement.
‘I’m not the only one getting awarded today?’
“You can head off to that side now.”
“Yes, your Majesty.”
I immediately responded to the order given by the Empress’ husky voice.
I tactfully stood at the level below crown prince Cédric, at the same step I was at when we greeted Elise.
Marquis François Duhem, who was nearby, motioned toward me with his eyes and hands.
It seemed as if he was saying, ‘congratulations on getting the same title as me’ followed by ‘I’m so handsome.’
I just brushed it off and looked up at the crown prince.
His sun-like gaze immediately glared down at me.
‘Did you receive the necklace, your Royal Highness?’
I moved my lips as clearly as possible to ask. The crown prince seemed to have understood immediately.
He then scowled.
“……That was a necklace?”
He seemed quite serious as he asked that. I couldn’t even say anything since he didn’t seem to be mocking me about it at all.
I clenched my teeth before waving my hand as if to say everything was okay and then looked forward.
‘As long as he received it.’
“Young lady Christelle de Sarnez. You have supported the Imperial Crown Prince of the Great Riester to successfully complete the Great Clearance of Demonic Beasts……”
Christelle, who had approached the front of the steps and knelt down, lowered her head while listening to the Empress repeat what she said to me.
I felt as if I could finally understand why her lips had twitched whenever I saw her the last few days.
Christelle seemed curious about something as well since she kept raising her eyes and turning her head as well. It made me feel embarrassed and laugh out loud at the fact that I could have looked like that as well.
She smiled as bright as a star when we made eye contact. I gently waved.
“For all of your merits, this Empress rightfully bestows upon you the title of Knight for the Empire and the promise of my eternal blessing.”
‘Hey, the MC is being knighted!’
My jaw dropped.
An honorable reward was being given to Christelle for everything she had done.
I would have taken a video if I had a phone, so it was disappointing that I could only remember this with my mind.
I was the first to start clapping once she received her title and started to stand.
I was sure that Eunseo would be really happy as well.
“You seem quite happy.”
“We are friends. Furthermore, young lady Sarnez does not lack anything to be a knight, your Royal Highness.”
‘Don’t you think so as well?’
That was the thought on my mind as I turned to look at the crown prince.
He then threw a passionate gaze toward Christelle. It made me feel so proud.
The now-knighted Christelle slid to a spot close to me.
Her rosy cheeks and sparkling blue-gray eyes gave off the lively charm that only a main character could give off.
I smiled and congratulated her.
“Congratulations, Dame Sarnez.”
“Wow. You are the first person to address me like that! Thank you very much. Congratulations to you as well, your highness.”
She quickly responded.
I got excited seeing that she could not hide her excitement and joy.
Christelle touched my cape, asked me if I knew that there was a coat of arms embroidered on it, and then commented about how all the tension disappearing made her hungry.
Duke and Duchess Sarnez, standing on the other side, were looking toward this direction with both pride and awkwardness.
‘I guess things are still awkward between her and her parents.’
“Young Countess Élisabeth Moutet now entering!”
Christelle and I turned our heads at the same time.
I now felt that the Empress, a fan of efficiency, had chosen this day to kill multiple birds with one stone.
I scoffed and watched as the ordination continued.
Unlike the two of us, Vice Captain Élisabeth seemed quite used to everything.
“……In honor of these accomplishments, This Empress bestows upon you the glorious Grade 3 Imperial Medal of Honor .”
All of the help the young Countess had given me for these past months jumped through my mind.
She looked extremely mature and remained calm when the Empress personally placed the Medal of Honor on her.
The Vice Captain of the Imperial Guard truly was different.
Christelle and I cheered loudly in place of the silent crown prince.
Once the ordination was over, Vice Captain Élisabeth greeted us with her eyes before walking over to stand next to Captain Hervé Duhem.
Captain Duhem looked quite satisfied as he patted his subordinate’s shoulder.
Four or five people received medal of honors or titles after that.
While that was going on, Christelle and I whispered to each other about where we were staying on our way to Sérénité and how we had packed.
I could feel the crown prince’s burning gaze on my back.
‘I know she is going to be your wife so calm down……’
“Sérénité. The name is so pretty. I’m sure it means something good.”
“Thank you very much. I agree with you.”
‘No ruler is going to give a bad name to the land where her people live… Wait a minute. I thought that the Empress was not going to decide the name of my territory?’
“It suits you well, your highness. You’re pretty.”
“T, thank you very much.”
I completely forgot what I was thinking about after Christelle hit me with that hook.
As I was answering in that half-baked voice…
“It’s done. You may all leave. I’m going to get tired if I see your faces any longer.”
The Empress made that comment before escorting the Cardinal out.
Marquis Duhem and some of the others laughed and showed their respects as they knew that she was half-joking.
Everything must have ended. As we were bowing toward her as well…
“Oh, by the way, my son and Dame Sarnez have taken Marquis Sérénité as their priest partner.”
Frédérique Riester threw a bomb.
“Now that you know, you may leave.”
My jaw dropped. The audience became rowdy for a moment.
As soon as I got my title of Marquis and it became certain that I had my feet within the Empire, the Empress stepped in and put an end to the rumors that had been going around.
Now that the strict Empress has said so herself, nobody would be able to say anything about our partnership now.
Marquis Duhem whistled.
Christelle smiled brightly and gently jabbed my side with her arm.
“Your highness, we’re official now!”
‘……Yes, but I think that is a bad choice of words.’
The high braziers on both sides of the carpet crackled at that moment.
Some of the Pair de Riester gasped and moved back.
I quickly looked toward the crown prince but I could not confirm his intentions because he was already walking away with the Empress and the Cardinal.
Christelle snorted and quietly mumbled.
“Trying to keep in line.”
‘Wow, did he just scare a bunch of random people to keep me in line?’
The Empress Palace was completely full of people after the ceremony.
Percy and Demy were dangling on my arms.
Demy was understandable, but I didn’t know why Percy was overworking his beak like this when he has wings.
“Your highness, I really want to go with you.”
“That’s okay. You need to be with Gerrit for a while. Furthermore, you are now a knight of her Majesty, Sir Johann.”
Sir Johann’s eyes sadly curled down as he came out to the imperial carriage to see us off.
There were a total of five carriages heading out to my March, Sérénité.
Three of them were for me from the Imperial family while the other two belonged to the Duke’s House of Sarnez.
Vice Captain Élisabeth was planning to take a small number of Imperial Guard members and come with us, as per the Imperial Order.
Sir Johann had been saying for a while that he was going to go with me, but I refused him.
I wanted little Gerrit to get some rest in the Imperial Capital and get situated. I also didn’t want him to be away from his dad.
“……I will obey if that is your wish, your highness.”
Sir Johann gently commented, bowed, and walked away.
Vice Captain Élisabeth smiled toward me while sitting on a horse.
The Sarnez parents greeted me earlier and got on one of their carriages. Benjamin and Ganael were also waiting inside for me so we were going to head out as soon as I was ready.
I did my best to ignore Marquis Duhem, who was sending hand kisses from a distance, and turned around.
‘How can he be in full celeb mode all day?’
“Then I guess it is time to head out.”
I heard a clear voice as soon as I said that and the carriage door closed.
Christelle had rushed over.
“If it is okay with you, may I ride with you?”
She sounded serious, unlike her usual self.
My instincts told me that this was related to her parents.
I nodded my head and the coachman opened the door.
Christelle was cheerfully getting on when…
This time, Rhea and Perry ran out of the carriage. The coachman got shocked and groaned.
‘What are these troublemakers up to now?!’
“Your highness, the divine beasts are heading toward his Royal Highness.”
I poked my head out the window to look.
As Ganael mentioned, the two red pandas were climbing the stairs toward the crown prince.
The man, who was standing like a statue in front of the Empress Palace, pulled off his glove and flicked his fingers once the divine beasts started roaming around his feet.
The two flame balls we saw in Yvelines appeared again.
The two beasts rolled on their backs, stuck out their tongues, and looked happy. I sighed and shook my head.
“Let’s just go.”
“Excuse me? But…”
“It looks like they wanted to stay behind and console his Royal Highness since he can’t go. Those kids are close with his Royal Highness.”
I responded to my young attendant. The coachman realized the situation, bowed, and closed the door.
The carriage slowly started moving.
The last I saw of the crown prince was him looking extremely disgruntled, as if he would light the whole carriage on fire.
‘He must be feeling like I am stealing Christelle from him.’
Of course, I had no desire at all to do that.
‘So who told you to be busy……’
I thought that he should be okay for a while since I filled the holy stone with ether.
The schedule this time was better than our schedule during the Great Clearance of Demonic Beasts.
We did not need to use the portal at the Legault Central Commerce Center followed by another four days of travel by carriage.
My territory, Sérénité, took only two days from the southern part of the Imperial Capital.
‘It’s a bit embarrassing to call it my territory.’
“Your highness, what did you think of the advertisement for his Royal Highness’s birthday that you saw in the waiting room earlier? I sponsored a part of it too!”
Ganael asked once we got out of the Legault portal and climbed onto a carriage.
I could not say anything since I had nothing to say to this child who had spent money on it.
The artistic portrait of the crown prince using pointillism was large and cool, but it was quite lacking compared to the real thing.
I petted Demy and Percy as I broke the silence.
“Uhh…… It was quite the dedication. I was surprised that it was there despite his birthday already passing.”
“Isn’t it normal for birthday advertisements to be up for a month?”
“That’s right, you are quite knowledgeable about it, Dame Sarnez. This year’s congratulatory phrase was chosen by vote……”
Ganael’s eyes sparkled as he rambled on at Christelle’s question.
The conversation seemed to be flowing in Eunseo’s style.
I quietly smiled, took off the motion sickness medicine at the bottom of my ear, and opened the basket with Benjamin.
The number one item on our packing list was delicious food.
Christelle let out a deep sigh as everybody picked out snacks and drinks they wanted.
“I should be happy at the thought of making fun of his Royal Highness after seeing that ad, but…… To be honest with you, I am not feeling up to it.”
She finally seemed to be mentioning the reason why she got on the carriage with us.
I placed a fork and napkin in her hand as I commented.
“Feel free to say what is on your mind. Benjamin and Ganael are great listeners.”
“Yes, your highness, I wanted to talk to the three of you about it first. I plan on telling Vice Captain Élisabeth when we get to the inn later as well.”
She had a bitter smile on her face. She then immediately said what was on her mind.
“My parents want me to get married.”
I was so shocked that I dropped the religieuse in my hand onto Demy’s belly.
The red panda immediately complained after being hit by the snowball cookie.
I urgently turned my head but Benjamin and Ganael did not seem disturbed at all.
In fact, they seemed as if they agreed that it was time.
‘No. Absolutely not.’
“Why all of a sudden……”
“My engagement with his Royal Highness is gone and it does not seem like there is any chance of it happening again, so they think that it is time that I slowly start becoming the young Duchess as I am an only child.”
It felt like I was suddenly hit by lightning.
The cute little puits d’amour, ‘wells of love’, crumbled under Christelle’s fork.
My mind was spinning trying to figure out the situation.
I wiped Demy’s stomach with shaking hands.
‘It looks like number two on our packing list was…… Coincidental traveling with the main character as she runs from love.’
Or maybe she’s running to love toward you…