The morning was quiet at Romero Palace.
……It wasn’t truly quiet, but it was considered quiet because there was nobody responding.
Cédric drank his coffee as he nonchalantly flipped the page of the document.
He did not pay any attention to what the two divine beasts that remained in the Imperial Palace were doing.
It was a bit annoying that they played around him while he was working and stayed in his bedroom at night, but there was a saying that the actions of divine beasts were basically a part of the Almighty God’s greater plan.
As a result, he just silently sat alone at his desk in his large office.
This was about the time David or other attendants brought over some snacks.
Perry flapped his black ears and climbed on top of the desk.
The Imperial Crown Prince slightly scowled.
He ignored Perry and extended his hand toward the next document when the divine beast nimbly moved and bonk! He placed both paws on top of the pile of papers.
This was clearly meant to hinder his work.
“……You are annoying me.”
Rhea, who gathered courage after seeing Perry’s actions, climbed up the leg of the table and stood next to her comrade.
The biggest coward of the three divine beasts was staring right at him for once.
Cédric quietly sighed. It seemed as if they wanted him to hand over a toy again.
He pulled off his glove and flicked his fingers, making a long snake-like flame appear.
The flame snake moved as if it was alive.
However, the divine beasts showed no interest in it.
He had provided them with a new toy but their reactions were not up to par.
The crown prince scowled deeply this time.
The burning snake instantly sparked and disappeared.
“What do you want?”
He put his glove back on and asked. Perry approached him as if his desires were finally heard.
The crown prince couldn’t tell whether he was over-projecting human traits onto the divine beast or if the divine beast was doing a very good job imitating humans.
Perry created an orange begonia at the tip of his nose.
“You wanted to show me a trick?”
The divine beast cried sadly and rolled around.
He had his front paws covering his face as he curled up into a ball on the corner of the desk.
Rhea opened and closed her mouth before creating a blue-gray cornflower on the tip of her nose. He was familiar with this color.
Rhea jumped up and down and acted cute.
The depressed Perry sat up as well.
The divine beast that had made the begonia whither created a purple tulip on his forehead this time.
He charged toward Rhea. The two of them turned into one bundle and rolled around the desk.
The documents were thrown around and the mix of purple and water-colored petals were visible in front of him.
Cédric seemed as stiff as a statue as he looked down at the two divine beasts.
An orange begonia left alone and the other two playing well together. It was a blatant metaphor.
– Knock knock.
Someone knocked on the door at that moment. The crown prince tried his best to focus his senses on the holy stone at his heart.
He could not be provoked by these tiny divine beasts.
David soon entered and showed his respect.
“Your Royal Highness. We have urgent news from Sérénité.”
The crown prince’s pupils were shaking. the attendant calmly continued to speak.
“Last night by the Lord’s Castle, Marquis Jesse and the Duke’s House of Sarnez’s carriages were attacked by about forty bandits.”
Both of them knew that Élisabeth would easily take care of that number of enemies.
This news was not much.
“All of them were arrested and sent to the prison in the Lord’s Castle and there were no casualties.”
“I didn’t know the Marquis enjoyed irony.”
Cédric responded back.
This was the type of play on words frequently used by the Riester upper class. He was entertained that the prince was swept up in chaos in his territory of Sérénité, which meant peace and calmness.
David calmly smiled and responded.
“You only realize the value of comfort after facing chaos in both body and mind. You came up with a great name, your Royal Highness.”
“The carriage is always ready, your Royal Highness.”
The attendant bowed respectfully and walked out.
The divine beasts that were now on his knees started pushing against the crown prince’s washboard abs as if they were trying to choke something.
The veins on the back of the young man’s hands became visible.
His disrespectful instructor as well as everybody else were telling him to make the first move.
Cédric Riester was a member of the noble Imperial family.
He had never felt the need to do that since his birth.
“How could such a thing••••••.”
Everybody working at the Sérénité Lord’s Castle had been hired by the Imperial family.
I would be the one to pay them starting next month, but it meant that they had been working for the Empress until recently.
It was not weird that the news of the atrocious attack had the entire Castle riled up with the attendants and royal servants staying up all night.
In fact, it felt as if our group had slept the best.
I stopped eating breakfast in the room next to my bedroom and raised my head.
Chantal, the head attendant of the Lord’s Castle, was standing there anxiously. There were dark circles under her eyes.
“It’s okay, Chantal. Nobody got hurt.”
“Your highness, for such an esteemed individual as yourself to be faced with such an incident as soon as you arrived at the territory means that we were not thorough enough.”
She blamed herself in response.
Chantal, who was in her late fifties, was from a Viscount’s House that had been serving the Imperial family since her great grandmother’s generation.
Anyway, she had been sharp and strict when she first greeted me, but her expression had changed to the current look on her face ever since she saw the row of bandits being dragged in behind me.
“Chantal-nim, the Marquis-nim truly does not mind it. He is just concerned that there may be others who were harmed in the past.”
Benjamin consoled her. I smiled.
“Please let the others know that they don’t need to worry about me either. To be honest with you, I am the one who dragged them here.”
I then took a bite of the fruit salad with honey.
The mixture of sweet strawberries and blueberries with Comté cheese made it refreshing and savory.
Chantal seemed a bit unsettled but relaxed a bit after seeing that I had finished four plates of buckwheat crêpe.
I was glad to see that there were times when eating well came in handy.
– Knock knock.
I swallowed the food in my mouth and responded.
Vice Captain Élisabeth and Ganael appeared through the door.
“Did you sleep well, Marquis-nim?”
“Good morning, Vice Captain-nim. Has there been any progress?”
I wiped my mouth with a napkin and asked; she responded reliably.
“Yes sir. There have only been a small number of knights and Imperial soldiers guarding the Lord’s Castle but I have made a report to her Majesty and there will be additional troops arriving soon.”
I nodded my head.
Although I had received the title of Marquis, I was in an awkward position of being between an honorary position and an official position.
I was the priest partner of a member of the Imperial family, but I was a diplomatic hostage of a hostile kingdom as well. My position was the result of a fierce compromise from Empress Frédérique.
Unlike other nobles, I could not bestow the title of knight to anybody and could not have my own troops.
However, I do receive the territory’s tax money as a Marquis and my position was certified so I could do the basic things needed to rule over a territory.
Anyway… It didn’t matter to us, but it would be bad if the people near the Lord’s Castle faced similar dangers.
It was good that more soldiers would soon arrive.
“Furthermore, the Imperial Guard interrogated the bandits in the middle of the night, but the bandits are all on their first offenses.”
This was unexpected. Ganael’s gold eyes opened wide as well.
“It is true that their usual actions are disgusting. According to the Imperial Guard members who asked around the nearby villages, they frequently cause a ruckus in stores and don’t pay their tabs. However, apparently they have never waved around weapons or stolen anything.”
“So you are saying that they ran into us as soon as they decided to pull off a big heist as a group.”
“Yes, your highness.”
I scoffed and Vice Captain Élisabeth smirked as well.
At this point, it seemed like they were the unlucky ones and not us.
Of course, they deserved punishment for doing something so heinous, but…
“Also…… Their leader has revealed that she is the first child of the House of Haas.”
This was shocking news. I bit my tongue wondering if I heard incorrectly.
Ganael and Chantal gasped while Benjamin groaned.
Vice Captain Élisabeth had an awkward look on her face as she spoke.
“To be more specific, she introduced herself as Joanne de Haas. She is confident that her younger brother, Emille, will pay her bail.”
‘Do you know who I am? Huh? Do you know who my younger brother is?!’
I recalled the things she had shouted.
I had heard that the Haas merchant guild leader held quite the weight in this area and also that his sister was famous for being trash, but I never expected it to be this much.
I quickly organized my mind. The important thing right now…
“What did Duke Sarnez say?”
“He said that he sent an errand boy to the Haas Merchant Guild as soon as the sun came up. He said that he proclaimed his strong disapproval of the situation, so his meeting with the merchant guild leader might be canceled.”
Vice Captain Élisabeth responded. It was obvious why this was the case.
They wouldn’t null the sister city proclamation, however, it was understandable that the Duke felt disrespected as something terrible happened while he was escorting me to the city.
I looked at Demy and Percy, who were laying down next to me, before asking.
“Did she say anything about the motive for the crime?”
“That is the problem, your highness. The subordinates are saying that Haas ordered them to do it but all she is saying is that she will get out on bail.”
She swallowed the sigh that was about to come out along with a gulp of cold water. Something was giving me a headache from the first day of visiting my territory.
However, I could not imprison them and then ignore them now that I was the territory lord.
I looked up and made eye contact with Vice Captain Élisabeth’s grey eyes.
“I will meet with her.”
Chantal quickly left the room saying that she will take care of the unsettled atmosphere in the Lord’s Castle.
Vice Captain Élisabeth and the Imperial Guards led the way for me.
I held Demy in my arms while Benjamin and Ganael followed behind me.
Percy was on my head.
I couldn’t help but chuckle at the unbelievable situation of visiting the prison on the first day in my territory.
‘How did it end up like this? Is it because the MC is with me?’
“Has Dame Sarnez woken up?”
“Yes, your highness. I was told that she is currently eating breakfast.”
Benjamin immediately informed me. The Duke’s family were staying in a guestroom in the Lord’s Castle.
I nodded my head and observed the unfamiliar hallway.
The inside of the castle walls that were made of white stone were full of so much luxurious tapestries that my jaw dropped.
These fabrics did not just have simple patterns; they showed people and backgrounds with most of them describing the achievements of the late Empress Céline who ended the Warring Era.
Thick pieces of wood created a magnificent arch as they supported the ceiling.
The tables and silver trays visible around the area were all sparkling.
I smiled bitterly as the hard work the people of the Lord’s Castle had put in to greet me was extremely visible.
‘I hope things work out well.’
“This way, your highness.”
Vice Captain Élisabeth motioned to me. It was amazing that she had already memorized the layout despite this being her first time here.
I couldn’t believe that we had already walked through three spires. ‘How is that possible when there was only one path?’
– Click, click.
– Step, step……
The carpet ended once we walked past the stairs heading down.
Our footsteps were echoing and the torch was the only light in here.
I really felt as if I was in a prison once the Imperial Guard members opened a large iron gate.
I could smell water and mold.
Percy flew down from my head and shoved himself into my jacket pocket.
I rubbed him with my fingertips as I walked.
“Get up. Joanne de Haas. The Lord of Sérénité wishes to speak to you.”
“Ah, my head is ringing so bad……”
Vice Captain Élisabeth spoke coldly after kicking an iron bar of a cage.
Joanne’s grumbling echoed through the hallway.
I stood up straight and walked up to her.
The light brown skinned woman with a luxurious cloth over her head looked at me and flinched.
She still smelled like alcohol.
“What the hell? Your eyes really are purple.”
“Show your respects. There is no way you don’t know who this is, right?”
I greeted her first.
Joanne, who was somewhat sprawled out on the floor, squinted as if she saw something uncommon before slowly laying down completely.
However, she did not stop her grumbling.
“Not only do I get stabbed in the back by my fellow citizens of the Empire, I am now a criminal imprisoned by the prince of a hostile kingdom……”
“Why did you do it?”
I immediately asked.
We didn’t have a relationship for me to ask how she was doing and I didn’t think Joanne would want something like that either.
She jerked her head up.
“Why should I respond? If you’re angry, don’t ask and just kill me. Isn’t that how you guys always act?”
“You did commit a grave sin but I don’t think it is one deserving of death. I think reformation is definitely possible.”
“Reformation my ass. Ptui.”
She spit on the stone floor. I awkwardly tilted my head.
“Should I use the Divine Oracle?”
“What I did yesterday. I can open my circle and force you to tell me everything. I am only asking you because I want to respect your free will.”
Joanne scowled in response. She must have found this all to be unbelievable as she dropped her jaw, closed it back, and even sighed.
I just waited.
Now that I accurately shared with her my thoughts, there was no need to convince her anymore.
We were meeting as the lord of a territory and a criminal, not to be friends.
“……I think it has been about five minutes. I am going to open my Holy Domain now.”
“Okay, I’ll tell you! Fuck!”
She shouted with anger. Ganael frowned.
Joanne scratched the back of her head and rubbed her cheeks before saying something shocking.
“My damn brother said that he was going to win over some noble young lady coming from the Imperial Capital and marry her. I caused all of this to make that not work out. Are you happy now?”
Rhea and Perry gotta resort to charades.