I immediately released my Holy Domain.
[May the Almighty God forgive Joanne de Haas’s lies.]
“That’s different from what we discussed!”
Joanne frowned at the bright light and complained.
However, the circle did not react in any way before becoming quiet.
The fact that no ether reacted during a confession meant that she was telling me the truth.
Demy and Percy stirred.
‘Then this…… What the heck does this mean?’
“When you say noble young lady, are you perhaps talking about Dame Christelle de Sarnez?”
I deactivated my Holy Domain and asked. There was no way.
Sérénité was a small territory, but I heard that a lot of people from the Imperial Capital came here because it had the free city of Haas, which was famous on the west coast.
There was no way that noble young lady was just for Christelle alone.
‘But why do I have such an ominous feeling?’
“I forgot her name. Pink hair, blue eyes… Apparently she is as pretty as a fairy and sparkles like a star. Emille’s just gone crazy. He hasn’t even seen her in person before.”
Joanne grumbled on the other side of the bars.
I felt as if my blood was cooling but maintained my stoic expression.
Christelle had been famous in the Empire since the Great Clearance of Demonic Beasts, no, the Spring Ball.
Her unique bouncy charm and abilities got her a lot of fans as well.
I was sure that there were a lot of boys dreaming of a romance with her.
Vice Captain Élisabeth, Ganael, and Benjamin looked uncomfortable while standing next to me but I was fine.
The male lead of < I quit my job and ended up as a noble young lady in another world > was clear.
“I can’t understand you at all though. What good would it be to dirty your younger brother’s honor and make sure that this marriage does not take place? Are you thinking that some of the wealth will be transferred to you if the merchant guild leader dies single?”
I calmly brought the discussion back to the original topic. That was that and this was this.
I was currently interrogating the leader of the bandits who attacked a Duke’s carriage and the territory in my role as the lord of Sérénité.
That made Joanne respond a bit annoyed.
“Because it is annoying! That bastard is trying to sell off the merchant guild because he’s gone blind thinking about a rise in status. I’ll be fine even if I don’t have much money.”
“Rise in status?”
“Yes, he still has a longing for nobility even after so long has passed since we lost the Baron title. What the hell would he know when he has been a commoner since birth?!”
Joanne sat up.
She did not seem to be daunted by the fact that I was royalty and that everybody with me were nobles.
She raised her voice again just as I was about to say something.
She seemed truly angry.
“It’s embarrassing the more I think about it! If it was wrongfully taken away, he should think about getting it back. Instead, he wants to hand over the thing that grandmother and mother worked their butts off to achieve to go be the husband of a noble family? Isn’t he a crazy bastard?”
“Please calm down.”
Her voice echoed in the small cell as well as the hallway.
Joanne truly seemed to be someone who only lived for today.
“Emille told me to snap to my senses, but in my opinion, he is the one who needs to do so. Motherfucker’s got no pride at all.”
She grumbled before taking the cloth off her head and scratching it.
Her uneven hair looked as if rats had bitten away at it. There seemed to be a story behind it, but there was something else that caught my attention.
The young Countess smartly asked about it.
“Are you saying that Baron Haas was wrongfully stripped of his title?”
The trash gave us the snake eyes. Benjamin, who had been quietly listening, stepped in.
“The baron was a spy who sent information about the late Emperor Romero to the Holy Kingdom. He personally admitted to his crimes.”
“Hey mister, I’m telling you that it was all slander! Some other dude pushed the blame on my great grandfather.”
“Please lower your voice.”
I commented. Ganael was stuck right next to Vice Captain Élisabeth with his lips pursed.
The young boy had grown up prim and proper and was not used to something like this.
I patted Ganael and the animals before looking at Joanne.
“Do you have any proof that the baron was framed?”
“……No, none at all. That is why I am so resentful.”
Joanne looked away and mumbled. The tense atmosphere was instantly calmed.
The Vice Captain of the Imperial Guard and Benjamin let out deep breaths as if that was what they expected and I felt a bit disheartened as well.
‘I guess if there was such evidence, the House of the Baron would have been restored a long time ago.’
“In the end, you tried to harm innocent people because of your negative feelings toward your younger brother. I understand.”
Joanne swore at my summary and laid down.
‘Why did I have to get caught by the territory lord of all people?’
‘So damn unlucky.’
Phrases like that continued.
The way she seemed fine lying down on the cold stone floor made it seem as if this was not her first time being imprisoned.
I held back a sigh. The family of the most powerful merchant guild in the territory was a mess.
I suddenly recalled Empress Frédérique’s laugh-filled voice.
‘Many interesting things tend to happen in territories with free cities.’
‘I don’t know if I would call this interesting, your Majesty……’
‘I heard that a merchant guild leader in that land is quite the odd bastard.’
I stopped walking and flinched.
Eunseo was basically half crazy for Prince Jesse and crazy about Imperial Crown Prince Cédric in a completely different manner.
She did not talk much about other male characters in the story.
However, I could not let my guard down if this was someone that the mother of the male lead knew about.
“Damn, you scared me. You still haven’t left?”
Joanne flinched and opened her eyes when I called out to her. She seemed to have fallen asleep in that short period of time.
‘Must be nice, having no worries.’
“What is it? Hurry up if you have something to say. I’m sleepy. Are you going to get me some booze to cure my hangover or something?”
Vice Captain Élisabeth smirked at her continuous provocations.
I could tell that the young Countess was slowly reaching her limit.
I immediately asked my question because it felt as if she would pull out her sword if this conversation did not end soon.
“The Haas merchant guild leader, is he handsome?”
Joanne, as well as Ganael, who had been quiet this whole time, called out to me in shock.
I, too, knew that this was an extremely weird and a completely unexpected question.
However, Eunseo had emphasized something over and over to me.
In today’s webnovels, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the importance level of a character was based on their appearance. You always had to pay attention to the handsome bastards.
Even young Duke Blanquer, who was decently good looking, had played a big role in connecting Eva with the MCs.
“What the hell?”
“I will add some booze to cure your hangover if you answer me honestly.”
Joanne spoke sternly.
“It’s like he didn’t fully form or something. He just looks so greasy. I’m much better. His limbs are fine but his face is…”
“Thank you for your cooperation.”
I immediately responded.
I could feel the young Countess looking at me with a strange gaze, but I was completely relieved.
Lunch was with Christelle and my friends.
The Duke and his wife were originally supposed to dine with us as well, but…
‘……We shall excuse ourselves, Marquis-nim.’
‘Please enjoy your time together.’
The Duke and his wife came to me and said that before walking away.
I felt it was wrong to always eat separately from my guests, but if I think about the profound look that Isabelle sent me before the door closed……
It seemed as if it was because Christelle and her father were still in conflict regarding her marriage.
The reason they gave me must have been an excuse because they didn’t want to ruin the mood for the meal.
I nodded my head and stabbed some roe deer terrine and cornichon.
“That is why I want to go to the Haas auction house, but I don’t know how that will go.”
I heard Christelle’s voice at that moment. I immediately looked up.
She was chatting with Vice Captain Élisabeth on the other side of the table.
Benjamin and Ganael, seated on either side of them, seemed to know the flow of conversation as well.
“That is disappointing. It is rare to find something you want so desperately, Dame Christelle.”
“Yes, it really looked decent. It is used and a scratch product but it is still vintage……” (TL: Scratch product = dinged up/returned item)
Christelle looked disappointed and said things that only I would understand.
I couldn’t help but be shocked because it was rare to see such an expression on her face.
The young Countess was able to understand based on the context and rubbed her close friend’s back. I quietly asked Ganael a question.
“Dame Sarnez is not allowed to participate in the auction?”
“Your highness, that……”
“Unless the Marquis-nim says that you will attend, Duke Sarnez will not show any positive attitude toward the Haas Merchant guild, your highness.”
Benjamin quietly explained. It took a bit for me to understand.
“Because I am the territory lord?”
“Yes, your highness.”
The middle-aged smiled and started slicing his dusky thrush pâté. I blinked my eyes.
Basically, the reason the Duke placed my decisions as top priority was because I was the representative of this place.
I was not used to this.
Up until now, I basically stayed in Juliette Palace without much responsibility and had to follow the Imperial orders for everything. Everything was different here.
The punishment for Joanne’s gang was also my decision in the end.
I had quite a lot of documents to stamp after the meal as well.
However, I now had to decide when and how to show grace to the merchant guild leader too.
I looked toward a plate at the corner of the table.
I had received a handwritten letter from the merchant guild leader right around when the meal had started, but I had yet to open it.
Benjamin presumed that it would contain an apology and an invitation.
“If I don’t step in…… Will the residents of the territory start ostracizing the merchant guild?”
I was anxious as I whispered. Chantal, who was attending to us, responded.
“It is similar, your highness. We have all heard the rumors of how you are cherished by her Eminence, so we have no way of knowing when the Imperial Capital may strike down. The amount of deals that the Haas merchant guild has will naturally shrink.”
I hurriedly picked up the envelope.
The only political experience I had was voting, but even I knew that something like that happening to the merchant guild would lead to people becoming unemployed.
Chantal placed three plates of Salmon en Papillote in an experienced manner.
The weak expression on her face from this morning was gone and she seemed to have returned as the calm and collected head attendant.
“……He says he is sorry. He wishes to serve us breakfast tomorrow.”
I shortened the message from Emille de Haas quite a bit.
The paper smelled nice and the handwriting was extremely beautiful as well.
The merchant guild leader apologized to the Duke’s family and I through three pages. At the end of the letter, he said that he wanted to invite us to a meal.
There was nothing about asking to let Joanne go or making excuses for her.
‘Has he written apologies like this before?’
“Your highness, if it is okay with you, may I take a look?”
Vice Captain Élisabeth cautiously asked.
‘Oh right, she is a young Countess who has been educated as the heir to the Margrave!’
“Of course. Please give me some advice.”
I responded. Chantal handed the Vice Captain the letter.
Christelle leaned in to read together.
“He’s coming in very humbly.”
“Yes, because his older sister’s crime is quite severe. Even if he knows that the Marquis-nim will forgive him in the end, he cannot let it show.”
Vice Captain Élisabeth sharply analyzed.
She quietly read for a bit before looking up at me.
“I would recommend not going to breakfast, your highness.”
“I guessed as much. But why is that?”
I asked back and the young Countess’s grey eyes curled up magnificently.
“Push it back to dinner, your highness. He might think you are a pushover if you just agree to everything. Plus, dinner is more expensive.”
Time quickly passed.
Time passed quickly when I was playing in the Imperial Palace as well, but working made it go by even faster.
I received everybody’s help to respond like a snobby and high-maintenance royal and was extremely busy after the plans to have dinner with the merchant guild leader was settled.
I probably would have made three times as many mistakes if Benjamin, Ganael, and Chantal were not here.
But stamping some marriage licenses did feel quite good.
And then the next day’s dinner time came around. Demy and Percy were to remain in the Lord’s Castle.
“We are here, Marquis-nim.”
The coachmen opened the door in front of a large merchant guild building.
I walked off the carriage side by side with Christelle.
Haas took about forty minutes by carriage from the Lord’s Castle.
The sun had set so I could not see the horizon, but I could hear the waves and seagulls in the distance.
I could also smell the salty fragrance of the sea and the strong breeze.
This commerce city by the ocean was completely different from Yvelines, which was by the North Sea.
Magic lights lit up the street like lamps.
I excitedly looked around.
“Mm, shall we hurry inside?”
I then smiled bitterly.
Seeing all of the residents of the territory who were passing by stop and bow made me feel apologetic and awkward.
Christelle smiled as if she understood and nodded her head. It was at that moment.
“I greet the moon of the Holy Kingdom, the Marquis of Sérénité.”
The voice echoed as if we were in a cave. We both turned toward the voice.
A man who covered about half of his short hair with a luxurious cloth was walking down the steps of the merchant guild.
He was taller than me and his shoulders were wide.
His light brown skin and his lemon-colored eyes fit together well like coffee and cake.
He was a handsome man whose features were sharp even from a distance.
Even his clothes looked as if he had taken the Riester nobles and mixed them with the clothes of Greek gods.
My jaw dropped in shock but I was confused.
‘Why is such a handsome person here,’
“My name is Emille de Haas.”
‘……What did he just say?’
“Madam, It is an honor to meet you.”
He bowed toward me before moving extremely fluidly to kiss the back of Christelle’s hand.
A thunderbolt-like sense of crisis pierced right through me.
‘Ah, I was scammed! Someone get the crown prince right away!’
Looks like we got ourselves a pretty boy!