“What a beautiful day we are having. Isn’t it a great day for a walk?”
The Cardinal, Aurélie Boutier, leisurely asked. There was no response.
She did not come to the hill behind the Romero Palace to enjoy a picnic with her lovely godson.
But there was no reason not to enjoy it after coming all the way out here.
She looked toward the Imperial Prince, who was protecting her as he walked next to her.
The two of them were walking without any attendants with them.
Even the gardeners were away because they knew that this was the Imperial Prince’s usual walk time.
“This way, your Eminence.”
The young boy, who finally spoke after a long time, guided her to a secluded section of the vast hill.
The shrubs that were as tall as the Cardinal were all neatly trimmed here.
It seemed like a great place to hide something.
“Who else knows that it is here?”
“Her Majesty knows about it. I’ve also informed Capuson about it.”
“That’s amazing. I can’t believe only four people still know about it.”
“You will understand once you see it, your Eminence.”
The Cardinal’s beige-colored eyes sparkled with curiosity under her monocle.
She was already a middle-aged woman, but this would be her first time seeing a divine beast.
The Cardinals of the Holy Kingdom and bishops from the countryside had talked about the ones they had seen, but that was all.
It was because there were no divine items for the divine beasts to roam around and protect here in the Imperial Palace.
There were only four divine items throughout the Empire’s vast territory.
“Godmother-nim, please step back for a moment.”
Cédric asked in a low voice. The Cardinal took about two steps back without any questions.
The Imperial Prince confirmed that things were quiet before taking the black glove off his left hand.
He snapped his fingers and a radiant orange flame appeared at the tip of his fingers.
Aurélie Boutier quietly gasped.
This child’s ability was extremely beautiful, no matter how many times she saw it.
She knew that he didn’t feel the same way, but she believed that this was a blessing and not a curse.
She had believed that for a very long time.
Cédric swung his arm in a specific manner.
The flame that was the size of a flower fanned out like a giant leaf and descended to the ground.
The red flame touched the fresh spring grass and started glowing gold.
The Cardinal observed this with interest. This was not a regular reaction.
Instead of scorching the green grass black, the fire was creating yellow chunks resembling forsythias in the air.
The things that had been asleep reacted to the Imperial Prince’s aether and floated up.
One of the chunks made a noise that did not suit its majestic title of ‘divine beast.’
The Cardinal looked toward the Imperial Prince with confusion. Cédric quietly received her gaze.
The second chunk made a similar noise as well. The anxious Cardinal called the Imperial Prince by his childhood nickname.
“Godmother, they don’t bite.”
“No, not that……”
Aurélie Boutier watched the holy divine beasts descending in front of her with an anxious expression on her face.
The two chunks stopped glowing before they slowly changed to look like animals.
The light faded, and their appearance became clear.
Their four legs were black, but their bodies were russet.
Their tails that seemed to be the perfect length for their short frames were very chubby.
The tips of their noses and their ears were white as if they were dipped in sugar powder and their eyes were black as if two black beans were placed on their faces.
They looked extremely fluffy and cute.
She had not expected them to look like Dragons nor Griffins, but this was too unexpected.
The two stuffed animals, no, the two divine beasts, seemed happy to see Cédric, despite his waking them up from their slumber, and roamed around him in circles.
Dirt marks started appearing on the young man’s sleek black boots.
“I didn’t know…… I didn’t know they would be such lovely children.”
The Cardinal crouched down to get closer to the animals.
She had never seen animals like this, despite roaming the Empire from corner to corner with the Empress when they were younger.
She gasped in disbelief.
The little punks that suddenly appeared in the hill behind the Romero Palace and shocked the Imperial Prince, the animals that were scared of the Imperial Prince’s flame but still followed him around, these earth attribute divine beasts that were said to create flowers and vines as they pleased……
She never expected them to be such cute little creatures.
“Are you going to try taking them to the Sarnez Lord’s Castle tonight? That is what Élisabeth told me.”
The Cardinal raised her head as she asked. She noticed the Imperial Prince looked extremely tense.
There was a dark shadow on his handsome face.
“……One of them is missing.”
Her face that had finally looked calm again, changed once more.
The smallest of the three was not visible.
Cédric Riester raised his eyes that were shaking chaotically and observed the building in front of him.
The Juliette Palace looked as peaceful as always.
* * *
“So… it is saying that she really wants to meet with me?”
I asked to confirm. Benjamin nodded his head.
He was reading the letter from Lady Isabelle de Sarnez that I received while eating with the Cardinal.
I was so concerned about the letter that I was hiding in my room without even going to hear confessions.
“There is nothing that sticks out in the text, your highness. It asks how you are doing and that she wishes to chat in private with you when you are free. That is all.”
I lightly sighed.
That was what I read as well, but I had shown it to Benjamin just in case there was some secret code between the Riester nobility or something.
Maybe the words didn’t really mean what they said, but thankfully, that did not seem to be the case.
“I wonder why she wants to meet with me all of a sudden. None of the other nobles sent me anything like this.”
Ganael, who was standing next to Benjamin, shook his head with his eyes opened wide.
“Your highness, there are numerous unofficial letters that have been sent to you. However, her Majesty……”
Benjamin sternly cut him off. The young boy quickly realized his mistake and shut up.
I guess the Empress has been intercepting the letters I have been receiving from the nobles.
“I ask for your forgiveness, your highness.”
“Please forgive me, your highness.”
“It’s okay. It’s not a big deal. It is not that weird either.”
I was not a long-term guest staying in this resort called the Imperial Palace.
Although I got to slack off and study all day, I was still a diplomatic hostage.
It was understandable that the Empress would not want the high-ranking individuals of the Empire to contact me for any reason.
I wasn’t upset.
In fact, I was extremely thankful to the Empress since I wanted to be as far away from the Beau Monde as possible.
“Then how did Lady Sarnez….. Ah, I did hear that she delivered the message through the Chief of Staff.”
“The fact that she delivered it through the Chief of Staff means that her Majesty approved of it. It is understandable since Duke Sarnez is a loyal vassal of her Majesty.”
It meant that the Empress was totally confident that someone from the Sarnez household would not send me a suspicious letter.
The fact that young lady Christelle de Sarnez and Imperial Prince Cédric would be engaged was something I knew about long before I transmigrated into this body.
I remembered it clearly because Eunse always said that, ‘I would have broken off the engagement a long time ago.’ over and over.
Nothing has been officially announced yet, but I’m sure that the discussions are happening under the surface.
The Empress’s relationship with the Duke has always been good, and she trusted the family a lot since she was willing to marry her son off to his daughter.
“Then I guess I can just ignore this.”
I pushed the letter to a corner of the table.
I don’t need to think about it if it isn’t anything important.
“If Lady Sarnez asks for an audience with me, Benjamin, could you please prevent it even if her Majesty won’t stop it? I hope that you can say that I am sick or something.”
“I don’t want to get involved with an amazing household like the Sarnez Duchy. I just want to live quietly, just as I mentioned to you on the first day.”
I smiled and Benjamin opened and closed his mouth without being able to say anything in disbelief.
I kept the ‘I’m sick’ card up my sleeve since nobody would believe me even if I used it, but I thought it was a pretty good excuse to not meet with Lady Sarnez.
Benjamin quickly noticed that I was done with this discussion topic and refilled my empty cup of lemongrass tea.
“Ganael, what is that book?”
“Ah, I brought a book with pictures and a map as you requested, your highness.”
The young boy smiled brightly and walked toward me.
His aqua blue hair resembled the spring sky outside the balcony.
“It looks really heavy. Thank you for bringing it here for me.”
“Hehe, it was nothing, your highness.”
I took the book and placed a large piece of clafoutis in the young boy’s hand.
I opened the book after seeing Ganael take a bite, and there was a large map on the first page.
“It’s a map of the divine items in the Empire.”
“Yes, I was curious. There was that theft at the temple last time as well.”
I quickly answered Benjamin’s curiosity-filled statement. Well, I was half speaking the truth.
I did want to know where the Temple of Vigilance, where the divine item was stolen from, was located.
But the reason I asked for this book today was because I wanted to see how far that kid Cédie would be traveling with the divine beasts.
He said that it was fine, but it would be weird not to be worried about such a young kid roaming around on his own late at night.
“The Sarnez territory is right next to the Imperial Capital.”
“Yes, sir, the Sarnez territory is right outside the Imperial Capital’s western border. The Lord’s Castle is a bit farther away, though.”
Benjamin explained it to me.
The Imperial Capital and the Sarnez territory were similar to Seoul and Bucheon.
I then looked at the beautiful picture above the word ‘Sarnez.’
“This must be the divine item being protected by the Sarnez Duchy.”
“That is correct. That is the ‘Blessing of the Blue Sea.’ ”
“How long would it take to get to the Sarnez territory on a horse?”
“If you start from the Imperial Palace…… You should be able to get there within two hours at maximum.”
I put my finger on the map and drew a straight line from the Imperial Capital to the Sarnez territory.
This thing called memory was quite interesting.
The only thing that I remembered from the cover art of < I quit my job and ended up as a noble young lady in another world > when I was writing everything down in my notebook on the first day was the appearances of the two main characters.
I couldn’t remember their clothes or accessories that well. That was the case, but……
I remembered something after seeing the blue jewel that was embroidered in blue threads on the page.
I recalled the Imperial Prince who was holding a large sapphire necklace in his left hand while his right hand was around Christelle’s waist.
Christelle was reaching toward the necklace in his hand as well.
There was no need to question it.
The fact that a jewel that was important enough to show up in the cover art was the divine item that the Duchy was protecting with its honor was not weird.
“It would be beautiful if it was turned into a necklace.”
I quietly mumbled.
“……Was that a bird just now?”
I blankly added on after hearing an unexpected noise.
The weird noise had come from the balcony that was left wide open to get some spring breeze.
I had all sorts of thoughts on my mind.
I wondered if I would see one of those large bugs that were said to exist in western countries since there was a mountain right behind us.
“Your highness, please take a look.”
Ganael, who was the first to go out onto the balcony, called me over in a somewhat excited voice.
Benjamin, who had been right behind Ganael, stopped in shock after seeing something.
I gulped and got up from my seat.
I guess it wasn’t something that would harm me since they didn’t tell me to stay here.
“What is it?”
I walked past Benjamin, who was standing as stiff as a board, and noticed some vines crawling up the balcony.
I felt as if I was watching some sort of nature documentary.
It was as if I was watching a timelapse video of vines growing.
Small palm-shaped leaves quickly started to grow as well.
And a little after that……
A small animal that climbed up the vines valiantly screeched as if it was announcing its arrival.
It was a red panda.
‘This crazy novel……’
EEEEEEEK! The red panda is here!