“You’re going to go into the Sarnez Lord’s Castle today, right?”
The young boy silently nodded his head at my question.
Cédie, who barged into my room silently as he had done the first time, was glaring at the red panda roaming around the top of the oak cabinet.
I slowly released my aether to the young boy using my circle as I asked more questions.
“Won’t it be bad if you get caught? What should I think if you don’t come again starting tomorrow?”
That made Cédie finally look toward me.
His orange-colored eyes were shining confidently.
“I will have no reason to see you again starting tomorrow if the divine beasts detect the divine item at the Lord’s Castle.”
“And I’m asking if that will be easy.”
I nagged him a little.
This kid didn’t seem to fear getting caught by Duke Sarnez’s soldiers or attacked and killed while getting close to the Lord’s Castle.
To be more specific, he was acting as if he knew that something like that would not happen.
“Her Majesty said that she would request a priest to come. Vice Captain Élisabeth told me about it. Can’t you just ask that person to do it?”
“……That’s how the Vice Captain of the Royal Guard explained it to you?”
The young boy scrunched his eyes. I chose my words carefully, as it felt as if I was being interrogated.
“I asked if that was the plan and she said yes.”
I looked toward the red panda on top of the cabinet instead of saying anything else, since the young boy did not say anything and seemed just as stubborn to proceed with his plan.
I offered it a piece of a peeled grapefruit, and the little guy’s nose twitched before it slowly came down to the carpet.
The tail of the red panda looked as fluffy as a corn dog as it approached me.
The red panda sniffed the grapefruit before putting the whole thing in its mouth and started chewing.
It seemed to like the slightly sour taste.
I couldn’t help but laugh as it made a cockscomb the size of a finger grow underneath its paws.
“……What the hell did you do to it?”
Cédie asked me that question while I was laughing at the red panda.
I did not understand what he meant and could only make eye contact with him.
His eyes that were visible underneath his thick charcoal-black eyebrows seemed a bit anxious.
“Divine beasts do not eat food. They should be satisfied with aether.”
‘Ah…… Is that so?’
“I don’t know. I offered it some and it ate it.”
I answered honestly.
I looked back down at the little divine beast and it was just focused on the grapefruit without being interested in our conversation at all.
“I’m sure not all divine beasts are the same. This guy seems to like eating.”
“Maybe that is why it was awake in the middle of the day while the others were sleeping?”
What other reason could there be aside from hunger when it was the only one to wake up despite being sealed by aether the same way as the others?
Furthermore, I heard that this guy was the smallest of the three divine beasts.
It was possible that it ate less aether because it was pushed aside by the other two punks.
The red panda, after having finished the slice of grapefruit, put its head in my palm and twitched its whiskers.
It was obvious it was asking for more.
“Cédie, do you want some too?”
The young boy just ignored me.
This wasn’t my first rodeo with this guy’s terrible personality, so I just gave a few more slices of grapefruit to the red panda.
It took about ten minutes or so for Cédie to fill up on my aether and the red panda to fill its tummy with fruit.
“What will you do if these guys can’t detect the divine item even when you get near the Lord’s Castle?”
“Then I will need to hear the Duke’s explanation.”
He seemed prepared for a situation where the divine item, the Blessing of the Blue Sea, would not be in the Sarnez Duchy.
The kid’s gaze was stern.
Cédie gave off an authoritative feel that was rare to see in other children his age.
His demeanor and tone that seemed right out of a novel made it feel as if he might be a precious young master of an important family.
“It’s time to go.”
Golden pebbles, that were smaller than the size of my pinky fingernail, started floating up from the young boy’s body.
These aether orbs floating around looked magical no matter how many times I saw them.
Cédie always got up once they appeared, as if he was pulling the charger out of a fully charged cell phone.
“I hope that things go well and that we have no reason to see each other anymore.”
I said that while following behind the kid heading for the balcony.
It would be good if a little kid like this had no reason to wander around so late at night.
Cédie put on a large robe and easily jumped on top of the ledge.
The red panda that was fluttering its ears seemed to have noticed that it was time to go as well as it slowly moved toward us.
“……You’re not going to attend the Spring Ball?”
“Yeah, I’ll be busy receiving confessions. But her Majesty still sent me an invitation.”
I smiled and gently rubbed the area between the red panda’s ears.
Cédie looked down at me for a bit before reaching his left arm into the air.
‘Does that mean this little kid will be at the Spring Ball too?’
He snapped his fingers and it caused a small flame.
The thoughts on my mind instantly evaporated from shock.
I raised my head and looked at the tip of the young boy’s hand.
A fist-sized flame that was the same orange color as the boy’s eyes was crackling between his thumb and his index finger.
This was my first time getting to see Cédie’s ability.
It also might be my last time.
I was at a loss for words, staring at this beautiful flame that was lighting up the darkness, and just stood there.
The red panda was the first to respond to the flame.
It stood up on its hind legs before grabbing onto the ledge with its two front paws.
A pretty thick tree branch was created from the tips of its paws despite not receiving any orders from Cédie.
‘I guess this is what it meant when he said that his attribute was compatible with the divine beasts.’
“Is the fire attribute stronger than the earth attribute?”
“As you can see.”
The boy seemed a bit amused, even though it was very faint.
I couldn’t tell whether he was happy at the fact that he was stronger than the red panda or if he just enjoyed using his ability.
Cédie jumped off the balcony before I could say anything else.
The light-red flame and the aether particles I was accustomed to by now cut through the night sky and disappeared.
I quickly looked down to see that the red panda had already gone down as well.
The new leaf that was created through aether was shaking.
“What a fancy goodbye.”
I mumbled to myself.
That was how the cute red panda and the boy who was not as cute as the red panda, but still as handsome as a child actor, left Juliette Palace.
Four days later.
I headed out of the Empress Palace with Ganael escorting me to find Benjamin waiting for me.
“Your highness. Lady Isabelle de Sarnez officially requested an Audience with you while you were away.”
I stopped in the middle of climbing onto the carriage.
I had lessons with Cardinal Aurélie Boutier as usual this morning.
She, who ran me ragged while claiming that ‘learning through experience is better than through theory,’ must have felt pity for me as she treated me to a luxurious feast after the lesson.
Lady Sarnez must have requested an Audience while I was dealing with that carrot and the stick from the Cardinal.
“What did you tell her?”
“She said that she would like to speak with you this afternoon, so I responded that it was difficult because your schedule was full. I was unable to say that you were ill because there are many people who knew that you came to the Empress Palace. I’m sorry.”
“That is okay. That was a wise choice.”
I waved my hand.
He must have come up with a better excuse since anybody would be able to tell that saying that the prince who looked fine on his way to learn from the Cardinal suddenly got sick was a lie.
“It would not have been weird to reject her without a reason, your highness. How rude of her to request an Audience with you the day she asks.”
“Just let it go, Ganael.”
‘I don’t plan on meeting with her anyway.’ I kept that part to myself as I smiled.
I did find it a bit odd since I thought that her letter that mentioned meeting with me was just a greeting.
“We will head to the temple now, your highness.”
The carriage coachman bowed and informed me of our destination before he closed the carriage door.
I nodded my head and looked out the window.
The afternoon sun was quite bright.
The vast Empress Palace was extremely beautiful, with the flowers and trees filling up the area.
I could tell that everybody was busy preparing for the Spring Ball that would happen in two days.
Everybody I saw on my way to the temple seemed very busy.
Some people who were carrying furniture wrapped in white cloth put it down and bowed once they saw our carriage.
As I silently responded to them…
“Do you think it won’t come anymore?”
I turned toward Ganael who sounded a bit upset.
His honey-colored eyes were sulking.
“The esteemed Divine beast.”
“Mm, probably. Nothing has happened for a few days.”
I responded to him.
Cédie and the red panda had not shown up since they left my room a few days ago.
I thought that they must have safely arrived at the ‘Blessing of the Blue Sea.’
“It’s a good thing. It is good for divine beasts to be around a divine item.”
Benjamin and Ganael nodded at the same time.
I chuckled as I remembered how disappointed both of them had been after I told them that the divine beast had left the palace in the middle of the night.
“I heard that people who help and look after divine beasts receive good luck and the power to cast out curses. I’m sure you will receive such blessings as well, your highness.”
“Haha, just hearing that already makes me happy.”
The corners of my mouth curled up even more after hearing Benjamin’s comment.
‘I wonder if I will be able to safely go back home if I receive good luck.’ I couldn’t help but have such a thought.
“The gerberas have already bloomed. The gardeners must have worked really hard.”
Benjamin pointed out the window.
I looked around confused since I didn’t really know flower names, and he was nice enough to point them out for me.
I could see the orange flowers that resembled flames.
‘……That little punk should be fine, right?’
“We’ve arrived at the temple, your highness.”
Ganael’s voice snapped me out of my thoughts.
The carriage stopped and the coachman quickly opened the door.
“Then we will wait in the priest’s office, your highness.”
“Good luck, your highness!”
Ganael smiled brightly while handing me a picnic basket.
He recovered very quickly after sulking that the divine beast hadn’t come back.
I waved to the two of them and opened the door to the Confessional before walking in.
I put the plaque saying ‘now taking confessions’ and then sat down on the comfy chair. Everything was silent now.
It made me think that this was my new job.
This was my transmigrated life of a wise diplomatic hostage who has arrogantly chosen to cast aside the role of the second male lead.
“They still haven’t fixed it.”
I scoffed while looking at the rope to my left that still had the end cut off and the wooden window that still had a hole.
It was understandable that they didn’t have any time to fix up the temple since the Spring Ball was almost here.
I heard an eerie noise at that moment.
It was not the sound of the main door or the priest’s office door opening.
I could hear someone walking over from the back side of the temple. My instincts made me hold my breath.
– Tap, tap, tap……
I could hear steps that were moving not too fast and not too slow.
I frowned while hearing the person walking over from the back of the temple without any hesitation in their step.
‘Who would walk in here through the back door?’
The faces of Benjamin, Ganael, Vice Captain Élisabeth, the Cardinal, and the guards guarding the entrance all floated through my mind.
But it didn’t seem to be any of them.
I got the chills. The footsteps had stopped right in front of the Confessional I was inside.
The moment I stopped hesitating and released my circle…
I became completely flustered.
The door to the other side opened and I saw a shadow walk into the seat of the penitent.
I felt extremely embarrassed.
“Welcome, beloved believer. When was your last confession?”
That was why I went on the offensive and started talking first.
I was trying to make it seem as if I released my Holy Domain, not because I was scared, but for the confession.
“I am not here to confess.”
A woman’s clear voice echoed through the Confessional. I felt my heart thump for some reason.
It was an extremely charming voice that everybody would admit sounded good.
“I heard that my mother’s request for an Audience had been rejected. I came here to personally ask you to please change your mind.”
I could see the woman taking the robe off of her head.
The entire world seemed to be moving in slow motion.
I finally detested the Imperial Palace’s carpenters who had not fixed this place up.
The side of her face was visible through the hole in the wooden window.
Her beautiful and wavy pink hair… Her blue-gray eyes that were sparkling brightly…
It was Christelle de Sarnez.