‘……What is he talking about?’
“My mother has woken up-”
Vice Captain Élisabeth’s foot flew quicker than I could speak.
I watched live as the Vice Captain of the Imperial Guard’s leg… Was blocked by the Imperial Crown Prince’s scabbard.
Her sharp gaze was full of annoyance and frustration.
“Marquis-nim, I apologize for the mood being destroyed. As you already know, Cédric is a bit…… lacking.”
“That is okay.”
I quickly responded.
Christelle’s lips moved with discontent but she did not say anything in the end.
I cautiously observed the crown prince.
He stared at Vice Captain Élisabeth before glaring at the headdress in my hand while avoiding eye contact with me.
I was wondering when I had seen this look before and remembered that Sadie used to do this.
This bastard had a habit of not making eye contact when he didn’t like something.
“Crown prince-nim. Are you saying that her Majesty has regained her rationality?”
He answered, albeit unwillingly. A husky voice suddenly echoed in my mind.
‘According to my spies she is currently suffering from insanity.’
I remembered Empress Frédérique telling me that.
It was the day I asked her for a trade to rescue Sir Johann and Gerrit.
My mind started spinning.
This should mean that the crown prince is saying that Queen Christanne Venetiaan has recovered from her insanity.
I fell into silence.
The current situation will be maintained if she was the one who sent me off as a Diplomatic hostage.
However, if that was not the case and Werner or Elise sent the Prince out while the Queen was suffering from insanity… the situation might change.
Of course, that was not very likely, as they would need to pay a significant amount of money to get me back.
But if the recovered Christanne tries to get her son back even at an unreasonable cost……
Demy woke up and pushed down on my thigh to stand on his hind legs.
I did my best to smile and hugged him and the harp seal.
I felt completely relaxed having the two small but warm bodies hugging me.
I also felt a desperation to not lose all of this as I jerked my head up.
I looked at Rhea and Perry, who were stuck on Christelle as they dozed off, and then at Percy, who was twisting his body on the crown prince’s shoulder.
I then turned my head to see Ganael and the young Countess looking at me with concerned gazes.
Benjamin, David, and Chantal, who had been chatting down by the lake, were looking toward this direction as well.
I could see the Duke and his wife enjoying their walk in the distance.
A refreshing gust blew by. The grass repeatedly fell to the ground and stood back up.
Christelle called out to me in a low voice. Her water-colored eyes were shaking with the wind. I don’t know if I was imagining it, but they looked dangerous.
I then turned toward the crown prince. He did not ignore me this time. His flame-like gaze looked as if they might go out at any moment.
I quickly started speaking.
“I wish to stay here.”
I then realized what I just said.
I became anxious at my own comment and my eyes opened wide.
‘I should have considered Prince Jesse’s wishes as well.’
No, it was better for him to remain in the Empire as well.
It was a hundred, no, a thousand times safer to be here under the Empress’s protection than to return to a land where the Prince Consort was clearly alive.
The Holy Kingdom might be okay in the future once Elise becomes Queen and the Prince Consort has his hands and feet tied, but……
I had put my own emotions first just now. It was shocking.
“There are a lot of things I like in the Empire. The food is good… Demy and the kiddos are here… And everybody is nice to me. It is comfortable in Juliette Palace and Sérénité is beautiful so I am satisfied.”
I quickly rattled on.
However, the more I talked, the more I started thinking that these were not excuses.
The words Christelle said to me in that small closet echoed in my mind.
‘Anyway, us liking you is not a one-way thing, Marquis-nim. We are close because you like us as well.’
Well, I had no choice but to have positive feelings for the people here from the beginning.
It was a world that Eunseo had, for a year, loved so deeply and would continue to love.
As her older brother, it was obvious that I would hope for a happy ending to QNW.
Eunseo would be truly happy if the characters found happiness.
She was a kid who got her smile back thanks to QNW.
That was why I started with the thought that it would be okay if I took a step back and just watched.
“……I am happy that I have so many close friends now.”
The truth rolled off my tongue.
Demy seemed to respond to me before licking my cheek. I couldn’t help but chuckle.
I petted his back and looked toward Christelle.
She was smiling as brightly as a morning star.
“I am happy as well.”
The MC made that proclamation before laying down next to me.
Her pink hair and the young Countess’s olive-colored hair mixed together.
I laughed out loud at that and then looked up to see that Benjamin had returned and was looking at me with a benign smile.
“Marquis-nim, but what about the new divine beast-nim’s name?”
Ganael energetically sliced the campagne as he asked.
I quietly looked down at the calm harp seal in my arm. His round black eyes sparkled.
It put me in an awkward position.
“I think it would be okay for him to stay with us since we have Percy, a divine item, with us, but he was forcibly caught from the wild. We should probably let him go in the coast……”
I was speaking seriously when Christelle suddenly said that.
I gasped and looked down at her.
‘Is it ha-see because it’s short for harp seal?’
“Is that weird? Then parcel?” (TL: Korean short for harp seal is ha-mool, which can also be a load of goods.)
Going from Ha-see to parcel was too much. Vice Captain Élisabeth and Ganael started whispering to each other.
There must have been a look of total disappointment on my face as Christelle’s face stiffened.
She seemed to be trying her best.
‘How can a Korean main character say Tsukidashi?’ (TL: Referring to the hate between Korea and Japan most likely)
“Seaweed. Tot (Deertail). Tot is cute. Hi little Tot!”
I couldn’t take it anymore and rushed to come up with a name.
David didn’t even ask what it meant and immediately said, ‘that sounds wonderful. We will go with Tithé.’
I got the inspiration from the sea nymph Tethys, but the connotation did not seem too bad.
Demy, Rhea, and Perry also came from Greek mythology so it was uniform and the same number of characters. (TL: All two characters in Korean)
“Tithé is so pretty. It is similar to Tot.”
Christelle said that with a straight face. I couldn’t help but laugh in disbelief.
Thankfully, the harp seal seemed to be squirming with satisfaction.
‘Can he live in freshwater too because he is a divine beast?’
My right cheek felt prickly since earlier. I turned my head and almost immediately made eye contact with the crown prince.
His orange-colored eyes were glowing peacefully, unlike earlier. I smiled.
“Is there somewhere in the Imperial Palace we could put some seawater? A lake is fine too, your Royal Highness. I just don’t know if Tithé will agree to come with us.”
“Not hard to make if not already there.”
He gave a short comment before lying down on the mat. I was shocked because this was an unexpected action.
I tried to make him talk some more but the crown prince closed his eyes as we watched.
His ink-colored hair that was hiding in my shadow uniformly moved.
Percy sat down on his chest. Christelle looked at them and mumbled.
“So unbelievable. That is an illness too for sure.”
I felt as if I understood what she meant.
I fidgeted with Julite’s headdress in my hand before hugging the divine beasts.
I felt as if everything would be okay.
I had friends with extremely big hearts, sweet cookies, a beautiful view…
A MC who said she would go anywhere with me and a bastard who said he wouldn’t let me go to the Holy Kingdom.
The Lord’s Castle was extremely peaceful for four days after that.
There were trivial incidents but nothing bad so I decided to just say it was peaceful.
‘Marquis-nim, did you know that there is a flag hanging on the top of the Lord’s Castle?’
After Christelle asked that question, everybody got on a carriage and headed out to enjoy the sunset from the Lord’s Castle.
The coat of arms of Sérénité bestowed by the Imperial family had multiple things, including a lake and a tulip.
Apparently they put the flag up so high to show that the territory lord was residing in the castle. The combination of the flag with the white walls and the sharp purple roof was marvelous.
It was embarrassing to think of this as my real estate but it was cool when I just decided to consider it my windows background.
‘Hello. I am the new territory lord.’
‘O, oh my!’
I even went around visiting the territory according to the schedule Chantal made for me.
It didn’t sit well to only visit a few of the wealthiest families so I took an impromptu action and visited another house.
The reactions were intense at first because the crown prince was with us as well.
Everybody ran out barefeet, bowed on the ground, and some even cried.
I was starting to feel sorry thinking that I shouldn’t have done it, when……
‘M, Marquis-nim. Please excuse me for asking, but could you please… Our child……’
‘Of course. It would be my honor.’
It was quite worthwhile to bless a baby who was less than a week old.
Oh, and Vice Captain Élisabeth seemed to really love babies.
The news about us going around the territory quickly spread and on the second day, there were a large number of residents who actively came out to see us.
‘Territory lord-nim, this is a partridge caught this morning. It is fresh so the quality should be good.’
It was awkward for me to just receive food from people so Benjamin and Ganael magnificently took care of it.
I just accepted the heart behind the gifts.
I then decided to informally baptize the little kids in the neighborhood and took a look at the conditions of the livestocks.
I was still quite lacking as a healing priest but the only large city in the territory was Haas, limiting the number of doctors and vets.
I wanted to be able to help even if it was just a little bit.
‘……Have them send it here.’
‘As you wish, your Royal Highness.’
The crown prince made David work from time to time.
I guess his title was one that necessitated him to work even while out here with us.
“We are already heading back tomorrow. I am a bit disappointed.”
Christelle stretched as she said that. Ganael nodded his head.
Today was already our last day at Sérénité.
Our final destination was the underground prison of the Lord’s Castle.
“It is not that I do not want to go back to the Imperial Capital, but it feels like my break is over.”
“It does seem that way.”
Benjamin agreed with the young Countess. I felt like I understood it as well.
It was an unfamiliar place and I had a lot of fatigue built up but going on a trip as a group made it disappointing that it was time to leave.
“Get up! Joanne de Haas. His Royal Highness and the Marquis-nim wish to speak to you.”
Vice Captain Élisabeth sharply commented while standing outside the cell.
At least she didn’t kick the bars like last time.
Joanne, who was lying on her arms on the ground, quickly sat up and looked at us.
“Hello, Miss Haas.”
“Ugggh, what is it? Ah, hold on. I have to give my greeting first.”
She noticed the crown prince and quickly bowed on the ground.
I let out a fake cough and said the words I had prepared.
“I have thought about your punishment. I even sought out his Royal Highness’s opinion, but apparently the highest level of punishment for a commoner who gets caught trying to rob a noble is execution. That is the case when the victim is a Pair de Riester or if there are casualties.”
Joanne gulped. I continued to speak.
“However, nobody was hurt from your actions. I…… Don’t have any real authority, so I can’t really be called a Pair de Riester. I do get treated legally like a member of the Imperial family, but if we put it that way, it would be difficult for you to avoid the death penalty.”
“Ah…… Okay, I get it! Please!”
She jerked her head up. Her clenched, paint-covered fists were shaking.
“I’m not a kid. I knew what I was doing from the moment I decided to do it. I had no thoughts of harming you, but…… It is true that I did a dirty deed. I admit it. So just tell me the conclusion!”
“I would like you to draw for me.”
The cell became silent for a moment. Her lemon-colored eyes were shaking relentlessly. I explained it to her.
“I took a look around the territory and noticed that it was rare for people on the coast to come inland. There are quite a lot of inns here but most of the visitors only stay in Haas. It is probably because there is nothing to promote here. On the other hand, visitors suffer because there are no empty rooms in Haas.”
“What, what do you……”
“I need a worker who will clothe the outer walls of buildings, stone walls, and fences inland. It would draw a lot of attention if there are splendid works of art all around. It would naturally increase the foot traffic here. Since it is the famous Haade O. Jansen’s work, the news will spread quite quickly.”
Christelle looked up at me from the side. She then made very clear shapes with her mouth.
‘I’m all for this!’
I smiled and looked forward again. Joanne scowled as if she heard a bunch of bullshit.
“Marquis-nim…… Are you a pushover?”
“I’ve already heard that.”
“Are you out of your mind? The other territory lord’s don’t do things like this. They would have whipped me a long time ago or thrown me into the coal mines. I’m a bandit!”
“I do not enjoy hitting. You also seem more suited for artistic labor than mining.”
I looked up at the crown prince and asked.
“Once she is finished with the Sérénité Environmental Beautification Project, how about we send her off to work in Lucas Village where we stayed, your Royal Highness? I think sending her to Aightz Village after that sounds good too.”
He squinted his garnet-like eyes. He quietly scoffed.
“I guess you plan on putting her to work for quite a while.”
‘I’ve been found out.’
Liz is the only one who can call Cedric a dumbass and get away with it…