Next day in Romero Palace…
“I, have, appeared! François Duhem has come to return a smile to your face, your Royal Highness.”
François bowed while making some extremely exaggerated movements. Cédric silently glared at the man.
He had some free time because he had finished all of his work that would have been due in the middle of September.
The rest should be fine to be dealt with when they are due.
The crown prince had the attendants in the reception room and the next door room all withdraw and sent the two troublemaking divine beasts out for a walk in the rear garden as well.
He was drinking some dandelion tea that was brought in during spring time and getting some rest when suddenly, the loudest person in the entire Empire appeared.
He was not suited to dealing with such a person in the early hours of the day.
Cédric spoke in an extremely annoyed tone.
“I don’t recall ever smiling in front of you.”
“Ah ah! I still remember when you were just nine years old, your Royal Highness. They are memories of my twenties. I was even more beautiful than now back then,”
“What do you want?”
A sharp low voice cut the Marquis off.
Despite both being Marquis, the difference between Duhem and Sérénité was clear.
The crown prince had that thought as he extended his hand toward the Sword of Wisdom that was leaning on the couch.
His godmother insisted that he never pull out his sword except in the training ground.
In that case, it should be fine if he just swings it while it is still in its scabbard.
The scabbard Élisabeth sent as a birthday present was light and thin, making it fun to swing around.
It was extremely heat resistant, so it did not burn very easily either.
“Did you come to speak nonsense?”
His orange eyes became darker.
He was planning to make the next person who mentions Prince Jesse while making ludicrous statements unable to open their mouth for a while.
François’s light pink eyes curled up.
“Her Majesty has given an Imperial Decree for me to restore the portal records of the portals destroyed during wartime. It was a decision made to prepare for many different things.”
“I simply came here to request your cooperation in the matter, your Royal Highness. I apologize for barging in like this without giving proper notice in advance.”
He elegantly bowed again. The crown prince’s murderous intent faded.
François’s personality was not one that he could handle well, but this man was thorough in taking care of things and was faithful to his duties.
Although people’s view of him in the Beau Monde was split quite drastically, nobody doubted his abilities.
Cédric put down his sword and motioned to him with his eyes. It was his way of telling the Marquis to sit down.
“Thank you very much, your Royal Highness.”
François nimbly moved and sat down on the couch.
Unnecessary talk stopped after that.
He brought up how many soldiers they would need to locate the disappeared portals as well as the grade of mages necessary.
David, who noticed that the flow of conversation was normal, brought some refreshments for the Marquis.
Everything seemed to be going smoothly for an audience that proceeded without being agreed to in advance. Around one hour passed.
“Now that I think about it, something quite delightful is happening in the Imperial Palace. Did you know about that, your Royal Highness?”
François brushed back a strand of hair that fell down as he spoke.
The crown prince looked at him with a stoic gaze.
David was helping the Marquis clean up his maps now that everything was done.
“I heard that there is quite the bet going on about when you will head down to Sérénité, your Royal Highness.”
The crown prince, who was lifting up his teacup, stiffened up.
The attendant felt goosebumps on his arm and looked at the Marquis.
He seemed to have no idea about what he had done and was yapping on excitedly.
“I saw a lot of attendants gathered together, so I was wondering what was going on. The Empress Palace and even the Charpentier Palace have bet gold! I thought that the people working in those two palaces were pretty calm. I was shocked, your Royal Highness.”
David peeked toward the crown prince. Thankfully, he showed no intention of taking off his glove.
The clueless François kept talking.
“Today is the day with the highest odds. Only one person has bet on today, your Royal Highness. As for me, I bet 2,000 Franc on you heading down tomorrow,”
The glass broke and there was a noise that sounded like an explosion. Cédric jumped up from his seat.
David held back a groan while looking at the couch that was unable to handle the impact and broke.
François gasped and looked up at the crown prince.
The air around the young man was getting hot.
He was sure he was mistaking it, but it felt as if the room was getting darker.
“……Your Royal Highness?”
“I will head out immediately.”
The other two, both who were from Houses of Marquis, blankly asked back. Cédric’s voice gloomily echoed in the room.
“Inform her Majesty. I should arrive there before evening.”
“Holy Almighty God. My emergency fund!”
François shouted like an actor. The crown prince’s orange eyes were burning up.
He knew that he had held back for a long time and he had been planning to silently endure from here as well.
However, he had no reason to hold back any longer.
Wasn’t it the duty of a member of the Imperial Family to do what the entire Imperial Palace wanted him to do?
“The person who bet on today is quite lucky.”
He nonchalantly commented before starting to walk. David received his master’s order and bowed.
His whole body was shaking, but he calmly closed his mouth and endured it.
The fact that close to 10,000 Franc was now his will be a secret until his death.
……This is really weird. Everybody oddly seemed to be avoiding my gaze.
“Did something happen after the feast yesterday?”
I couldn’t hold it in anymore and asked.
Christelle, Vice Captain Élisabeth, Ganael, and Benjamin, who were all sitting with me, flinched at the same time.
That made me certain. There was something that the four of them were not telling me.
I squinted and looked into their faces.
The salon they had prepared for the territory lord and guests to enjoy refreshments was luxurious and beautiful.
It was suitable for some photosynthesis after breakfast as a lot of light came in through the windows.
Demy and Percy were meaninglessly running around the hallway.
The region’s musicians, which Chantal had scheduled, were playing a slow aubade on one side of the large room.
The young Countess’s eyes were twitching so much as it happened. I looked toward her and asked.
“Please let me know if there is an issue I need to know about. It is fine.”
I then started cutting the large savarin that was served to me.
I didn’t plan to bring it up first, but it seemed quite suspicious.
I had spoken privately with the Haas Merchant guild leader, Emille, after dinner last night.
As expected, he asked for forgiveness for his sister, Joanne’s crimes, and asked if bail was possible.
He even said that he would invest significantly in the region if I wanted.
Each and every statement was cautious and respectful, making his appearance and personality quite proportionate.
I told him that I will think deeply on the matter.
I wasn’t very clear about the Empire’s laws and it was my first time being a territory lord, so it was difficult to make a decision without thinking about it.
I felt as if I should go back to the Imperial Palace and receive advice from the adults.
As the conversation was coming to a close…
‘Would you please rest here for about ten minutes before you come out, my lord? I will prepare a carriage and have them clear the road.’
Emille smiled and said that to me.
I was uncomfortable here in the merchant guild and wanted to leave right away, but the tea and desserts were delicious, making ten minutes acceptable.
He immediately left after I agreed.
There was an area with the merchant guild’s secretary right outside the reception room and you needed to go past another set of doors to get to the lobby.
I heard a clap outside the door.
I didn’t think much about it as I didn’t hear a groan following it and gobbled up a Far Breton.
Seeing the plum in the cake made me think of Demy. That was all, but…
“From the moment we got on the carriage…… All of your faces were red and your bodies were shaking. If the meal is not sitting well in your stomach, I can open up a healing circle and take a look. There is also a doctor always at the ready as well.”
“Marquis-nim, this is my personal opinion, but…”
Christelle changed the topic at my request. Her blue-gray eyes were sparkling like a knife.
“The letter that we wrote two days ago…… My goodness. I think that words have quite the impact.”
‘That was unexpected.’
“We chose provocative words so that he doesn’t look down on you, but he seems to have thought of you as a really strong person. You must have come off really mean.”
She was currently talking about the reply letter we sent to Emille.
I thoroughly recalled the events of last night.
“The merchant guild leader…… Was very friendly. I thought that he was just always like that.”
Benjamin let out a deep laugh. I was shocked because it was rare for him to laugh like this.
‘I guess I was too naive.’
“I never thought that he was showing such goodwill because of the letter. I guess I learned something new.”
I said that and nodded my head.
That was certainly not what I would have ever written if it was up to me.
Furthermore, the bad rumors about me should still exist.
‘Marquis-nim, you are a warm and kind person unlike the rumors.’
I suddenly recalled what Emille said to me.
There was that……incident on the eve of the succession confirmation ceremony, but… one’s image is not something that suddenly becomes good in a moment.
I had nothing to say if Emille felt threatened by me.
“However, I did not hear anything about his character being bad.”
“I plan on looking into that.”
Christelle had a response to that as well. I wondered what she meant by that.
“I plan on spending some time alone with the merchant guild leader today. We are scheduled to have lunch.”
The MC lighthearted explained.
My hand holding the knife instantly weakened.
I got chills on my back as I looked at her.
The other three were quiet as if they already knew about it.
“He seemed quite interesting. I’m curious about the life he has lived, as well as what kind of thoughts normally go through his mind. There is also something I wish to discuss with him as well.”
I felt suffocated.
This was what I had been concerned about; the development that I trusted would not become reality.
I was so flustered that I couldn’t figure out what to say. It was hard for me to control my facial expression as well.
‘Should I have brought crown prince Cédric here no matter what it took? Even if it caused all sorts of issues for him?’
I couldn’t just slap myself.
I moved without urgency to grab a glass and slowly drank some ice water.
My mind cleared up after my body filled with the cold liquid.
Eunseo’s voice echoed in my ears at that moment.
The wrath that my younger sister had showed that one weekday evening while lying down on the couch with her phone in her hand…
‘Ah! Just go for it! Do you want to have it taken away?’
I felt as if my eyes were getting clear. I immediately put the cup down and made eye contact with Christelle.
If the crown prince could not be here, I needed to do something… Before the development twisted to a point things could not be fixed.
“Please stay with me.”
I sternly responded. The table became completely silent, as if someone had poured cold water over them.
I felt my ears getting completely red as I continued to speak.
“Her Majesty ordered us to test out holy stones. Nothing has succeeded to date, so I need your continuous cooperation, Dame Sarnez. And……”
I was blushing the more I talked.
To suddenly do something I had been striking against since transmigrating into the novel… it was so hard trying to do something I had never experienced nor had any skill with.
I still needed to grab Christelle.
I could use the little bits of information I had only if the novel flowed as close to the original as possible.
That way, I could at least pretend to prepare for the future.
“I am your priest partner, Dame Sarnez.”
“Marquis-nim, I’m sorry but I have a desperate reason for it as well.”
The MC immediately rejected me. That was more shocking than I expected.
I sat there without being able to say anything and she consoled me with a pitying gaze.
“If things work out in my meeting with the merchant guild leader, I’m certain that you will be happy about it as well, Marquis-nim. I promise.”
‘If things work out……’
I kept thinking about those extremely positive choice of words while in despair.
After that, I had no idea how I finished that dessert session.
I think I nodded my head and I feel like I responded to things people said after that, but I wasn’t sure about anything.
– Kiiiiiiiiiii, kiiiiiiiiii!
“Big bro is okay. My mind is just a bit chaotic.”
I sat by the wide window and petted Percy and Demy.
The two of them were affectionately digging into my arms.
I was seated on a large and comfortable cushion, but my body did not feel at ease, potentially because my mind was unsettled.
Christelle seemed to be quite concerned about me but still went to lunch with Emille.
And… She had yet to return to the Lord’s Castle despite it being past four.
Benjamin and Ganael must have been concerned that I felt as if I was cast aside by my friend, as they took turns checking in on me.
Even Lady Isabelle came and apologized, despite having no reason to do so.
I smiled and told her that I was fine.
I was not at the age to be sad because my friend didn’t want to play with me.
The only issue was that she was on a date.
I debated secretly following behind them and messing things up, but that was not acceptable in any world.
“The content seems to be flowing weirdly because the crown prince isn’t here.”
“Apparently the male lead is very important. It’s hard for the second male lead to do anything.”
I quietly mumbled. I couldn’t help but sigh. The invitation in my hand weakly fluttered.
‘The world’s greatest show! VIP invitation to the Haas Auction house. First week of September: The week of the divine item’
It was something I had received from Emille yesterday
The extremely considerate guy gave me three of these precious invitations so that Benjamin and Ganael could go as well.
Today was the first day of the auction, but I would rather not go if I need to watch Christelle flirting with Emille instead of the crown prince.
Percy also pecked at the window with discontent. I chuckled and covered his beak.
“No, you’re going to get hurt.”
– Piruuuuu, pipi!
“It’d be weirder if I stopped them when they like each other.”
– Pipipi! Pipipi!
“You know, this might be one of the trials the official couple has to face.”
I petted the little bird’s forehead as I whispered. Percy became extremely excited and started jumping up and down.
I finally felt as if his condition was weird. I seriously looked at him wondering if he was sick or something when…
Demy tackled me in the stomach. I urgently curled forward.
I teared up as the view outside the window was right in front of me now.
I gasped while clutching my stomach and looked out.
‘Why are they acting like this all of a sudd-’
I sounded so foolish. It could not be helped because I thought I was seeing things at first.
The red panda and chimney bird pushed at my thigh and pecked at the back of my hand, as if to say something like, ‘you finally realized it.’
It was a carriage with the Imperial family’s crest on it. Actually, there were five carriages.
“Wait, there wasn’t even a message.”
I commented, as if to make excuses.
‘What business would the Imperial family have, holy moly.’
One of the carriage doors opened and a handsome young man with pitch black hair appeared.
My jaw dropped and a shock went down my spine.
The luxurious uniform and red shoulder strap clearly identified him.
I could clearly recognize him from the top of this tall spire.
I instantly got up and ran down the hallway almost as if I was rolling. I couldn’t help but chuckle.
I had no idea what had happened.
‘But at least there’s something that will prevent everything from failing!’
“Demy, Percy! Hurry!”
The divine beast and divine item chased after me at full speed.
Dududu, b,b, bang! All sorts of noises filled the Lord’s Castle.
I had not run so intensely like this since transmigrating into this world.
The passing attendants and servants quickly bowed.
I answered them with hand gestures and gazes before jumping down the stairs two or three at a time.
My palm scraped on a ledge and was hurting, but it didn’t matter.
I finally arrived at the lobby to see that it was rowdy.
I caught my breath and quickly walked toward the wide open doors.
“Marquis-nim, why are you rushing so……!”
Chantal, who finally noticed me, seemed confused.
I left my jacket by the window, my hair was a mess from running, and some of my shirt buttons and my cuff links were undone as well.
Chantal helped me look proper again as I walked forward.
A shocked Benjamin and Ganael were among the crowd as well.
They seemed to have been doing other things before rushing out. Everybody opened up a path for me.
I headed toward the face I was happy to see.
The sculpture-like young man who climbed up the white stairs looked at me.
His expression seemed to be asking what was wrong with me.
My mind instantly relaxed after seeing this oh so familiar sight. My face muscles relaxed as well.
“Welcome, your Royal Highness.”
I smiled brightly. His pupils started shaking, as if this was unexpected. Them traveling separately really did give me anxiety.
Christelle de Sarnez and Cédric Riester needed to be together no matter what, until the ending.
“Why don’t we just move together in the future so that you don’t have to show up late like this ever again?”
That was why I said it. This time, the crown prince’s eyes clearly opened wide.
I coughed a couple times before taking a deep breath.
My breathing was still heavy from running but there was a fact I wanted to slam into his mind.
“We are partners.”
I thought that this was a great excuse. The crown prince slightly tilted his head.
Then he smiled so slightly that it would not be visible at all from a distance.
It was the first time I ever saw him smile.