I really hoped that I would not need to explain something like this to Benjamin and Ganael.
It wasn’t because I didn’t trust the two of them; I didn’t want there to be a big enough incident that I would need to get their advice.
I wanted to live as quietly as possible. I just wanted to be here as a diplomatic hostage and a religious figure.
But my limits on my own seemed quite visible now.
I was swept up in Christelle’s narrative, without being able to resist in any way, as soon as she appeared.
It was as if I was a small gear inside a watch that was being forced to move by the larger gear that was the main character’s story.
That was why I asked for this meeting today. I wanted to extend my hand out to my ‘confidants.’
“Lady Sarnez probably cannot confess to Her Eminence, the Cardinal, because of the marriage issue.”
Benjamin elegantly moved his knife as he said that.
I raised my head as I put a piece of veal from my blanquette de veau in my mouth.
Benjamin, Ganael, and I were sitting at a table enjoying a meal.
I was stubborn and said that you need to share a meal in order to discuss serious matters.
I had no choice, since I already used up the penance of ‘eating three meals with the prince’ I gave to Benjamin.
“Are you talking about the marriage between Imperial Prince Cédric and young lady Christelle?”
“Ah, you know about it, your highness. It is a rumor that is not that well-known yet.”
Ganael looked surprised after I said that. I just smiled while holding my spoon.
I really wanted to say that he would know a lot of things if he had a young sister who read the romantic fantasy novel too.
Benjamin nodded his head and exchanged his plate of completely sliced Chateaubriand with mine.
‘There is a middle-aged angel among us……’
“There were talks at one point about how the ‘Blessing of the Blue Sea,’ the divine item being guarded by the Sarnez Duchy, would be the wedding gift. Her Eminence, Cardinal Boutier, should know about that because she is his royal highness’s godmother.”
‘Oh, it was the wedding gift. That was why the divine item was on QNW’s cover art.’
My fork was moving back and forth but would stop in shock every so often from what Benjamin or Ganael said.
I think it was a smart decision to reveal what happened in the Confessional to the two of them.
I already had one of my questions answered.
“I guess the marriage discussions might go bad if she confessed to her Eminence about using the wedding gift for personal reasons.”
“Yes, your highness. Especially because her Eminence and her Majesty are of one mind and one will.”
Ganael responded to me.
The Empress’s ‘Political Partner,’ Prince Consort Alexandre, left this world when the Imperial Prince was young.
The only person the Empress could discuss her son’s marriage with and share the seat of the parents at the wedding would be her ‘Religious Partner,’ Cardinal Boutier.
“People might even say that she is using the fact that they would be her future in-laws to cover her grave sin of using a divine item.”
Benjamin added on in a quiet voice.
I finally understood what Christelle meant when she said that Lady Sarnez meeting the Cardinal would be seen as a ‘political action.’
It meant that she wanted to confess with pure intentions and wanted to avoid being seen as trying to take advantage of her future in-law.
“There is an Archbishop and many other Bishops at the Imperial Capital, so why would she want to meet with me……”
‘Was she saying that she felt most comfortable confessing to a foreigner who had nothing to do with the Empire?’
“Your highness, you are a royal priest. With her sins being so grave, she probably wishes to confess to the most noble person.”
Ganael seemed to be puffing up his chest as he said that. His golden eyes seemed oddly proud.
I awkwardly changed the topic as I did not bring this up to hear such praise.
“Then informing her Eminence about this event…… I shouldn’t have to, right?”
Benjamin’s fork stopped moving and he looked toward me.
I sent him a gaze that was asking him to please say yes.
I would be thirty soon, but I was naturally seeking permission since there was a reliable elder by my side.
I had no plans on even dipping a single toe into the mess that the two main characters were involved in.
“I personally believe that you do not need to step in, your highness.”
I sighed in relief.
“This is an issue between the Imperial family and the Duke’s household in the end. They will not be able to hide the issue of the wedding gift being gone forever. It will only be a matter of time before her Majesty and her Eminence find out the truth. I’m sure that the elders of both households will take care of things properly.”
Benjamin was so nice, telling me exactly what I wanted to hear.
Ganael’s eyes suddenly lit up, as if he suddenly remembered something.
“Now that I think about it, I remember hearing that his royal highness has not been feeling well since about three or four days ago. According to the attendants at the Romero Palace, they said that he might not be able to attend the Spring Ball. Maybe he has already heard about the issue with the ‘Blessing of the Blue Sea?’”
“That is possible.”
It seemed quite likely since Benjamin agreed with him.
There was no need for me to step in and show that I know about this if the involved parties were already aware of the situation.
That was one burden off my chest.
“But young lady Christelle is quite bold. She infiltrated the Imperial Temple to personally speak to you. She seems completely different from the young lady she used to be prior to going unconscious.”
Ganael gave a major spoiler about the novel without even knowing about it.
I covered my mouth with a napkin in order to hide the fact that the corners of my lips were shaking.
‘That’s because a different person is possessing that body.’
Benjamin, who had been listening quietly, added on to support Ganael’s statement.
“Young lady Christelle of three years ago used to be famous for being an introvert. She never stepped out of the Lord’s Castle and Duke Sarnez was quite worried because she had a lot of trouble expressing herself. That was the reason she did not make her Beau Monde debut as soon as she had her coming-of-age ceremony.”
I had never heard this before.
Eunse had only talked about Christelle, the girl whose body was possessed by someone who quit their job, not the ‘real’ Christelle.
It seemed as if there was quite the personality difference between the two Christelles.
I took a big bite out of the Dame blanche that showed up as dessert and started to think.
I recalled Christelle’s showmanship to demonstrate her ability once I declined to have a conversation, as well as how she, despite showing some sloppiness, managed to blurt out everything she wanted to say.
She looked like the main character at first glance……
‘There is a story about the divine item that disappeared from the Temple of Vigilance as well.’
‘What did you say?’
‘Ah, right. There was that thing.’
“She mentioned another divine item as well.”
Both pairs of eyes immediately turned toward me.
“She said there was something to tell me regarding the divine item that disappeared from the ‘Temple of Vigilance’ as well.”
The mood instantly changed.
Ganael frowned while Benjamin looked uncomfortable.
My heart sank as I had never seen these expressions on their faces before.
“I don’t know what Lady Sarnez might be thinking about. Her Eminence personally claimed your innocence, so what else would she have to add onto that?”
“It hasn’t even been that long since his highness got out of that difficult situation. How dare she bring that up……”
Both of them grumbled in annoyance.
Basically, it sounded as if they were upset that she was using that incident as bait to meet with me.
I had not expected this kind of reaction from them.
“I was thinking that Lady Sarnez might have some clues about the culprit or something. I also thought that maybe she would confess that she stole that divine item as well.”
Benjamin picked up a cup after hearing that.
Ganael sounded as if he was groaning as he poured a soft drink for him.
The two of them looked as if their mouths were stuffed with sweet potatoes even though I had not thought much of the situation.
“If it is the former, they should be going to the Imperial Guard or the Empire’s soldiers.”
“If it is the latter, there is no need for you to hear her out, your highness. She will receive divine punishment.”
The two of them almost sounded as if they were scolding me.
I stopped talking and moved my hand toward the second dessert.
This situation felt familiar for some reason, and I remembered how my brother and Eunse would team up to scold me like this from time to time.
“So, what is your plan two days from now, your highness? Will you go to meet Lady Sarnez?”
I was cutting my warm Charlotte with a dessert knife when Ganael directly asked me.
I shook my head.
“I would have to go to the Spring Ball to meet Lady Sarnez, and I have no intentions whatsoever of doing that. I am a bit curious about what she had to say regarding the divine item that was stolen from the temple, but it is none of my business.”
I did not like the phrase, ‘if you can’t avoid it, enjoy it.’
I did meet the main character one time, but I planned on continuing to try to avoid her.
I would not have given up on the second male lead position from the beginning if my resolve was going to be shaken from such a short interaction.
I cannot show my face at the event where the main character will be the center of attention.
Benjamin nodded his head with satisfaction at my stern demeanor.
Ganael said that I made a great choice and that he would give me some more meat now that I’ve had my dessert.
It was a very filling meal.
“I feel like I’m dying. I want to go home……”
Élisabeth groaned as she plopped down on the couch.
She had not understood why the veterans on the Imperial Guard were always saying things like, ‘The Spring Ball is hell the Almighty God has sent down to the continent,’ or ‘why do you like the spring so much, you stupid nobles,’ even when she rose to the Vice Captain of the Imperial Guard position last summer.
But now that the Spring Ball was a day away, her skin and bones were feeling the pain and anguish.
The thought of having to go through this crap again next year was horrifying. There was just too, too, too much for her to do.
“Cédie, you should have stopped me when I said that I was going to join the Imperial Guard……”
“I’m pretty sure it has only been two hours since you got to the palace.”
The Imperial Prince coldly responded. Élisabeth jerked her head off of the cushion.
Hergrey eyes that were full of fatigue looked extremely angry.
“Do you know how it feels to be a public servant who goes to work every day? Do you know how a knight who has to work a national event feels……?”
“Feel free to leave if you have gotten enough rest.”
“I just got here.”
She grumbled as she sat up.
Cédric, who was seated on the other side, still looked a bit pale.
The Imperial Prince who would have to stand in front of the Empire’s top echelon nobles tomorrow, was struggling from a lack of aether for the past few days. It was obvious why the attendants were anxious.
“Will you be able to go to the ball?”
The Imperial Prince gave a short response.
She had known him since they were quite young; Cédric never talked about being in pain or things being difficult to her.
‘He probably acts the same way in front of her Majesty and her Eminence.’
Élisabeth wanted to talk about something else after having that thought.
That was her main reason for coming here anyway.
“Did you get a response from the Duchy?”
Cédric slightly pointed with his chin instead of responding.
She turned to see an envelope on top of the table.
“What did they say?”
Élisabeth didn’t want to even look at words anymore.
She had gone through so many documents this past week that she asked the Imperial Prince for a short TL:DR version.
“They said that the divine item was fine.”
It seemed extremely short, but it was easy to understand the viewpoint of Duke Sarnez through it.
“But that’s a lie.”
Cédric nodded his head.
He recalled what happened five days ago when he led the divine beasts to just outside the Lord’s Castle.
The way the small animals could not detect anything and just roamed around his feet and rolled in the grass made him want to scoff.
The Duke was lying.
There was no treasure with aether in that territory.
“I’m sure we can find out once we see his face.”
His deep and low voice sounded even lower than usual.
Duke Sarnez, his wife, and their only daughter will participate in the Spring Ball.
They would be able to find out the truth after asking the three of them in person tomorrow.
They wouldn’t dare to lie at an event where the Cardinal and the Empress were present.
Cédric was thinking that this was the last chance for them.
– Knock knock.
The door opened and an attendant walked in after the Imperial Prince gave permission.
It was David Capuson.
“Your highness, Prince Jesse has sent you some dandelion tea.”
This sentence mentioned both an unexpected name and an unexpected item.
Élisabeth tilted her head in confusion.
“From Prince Jesse? Why did he suddenly send some tea?”
“……He must have found out somehow that you are not feeling well, your highness.”
“I apologize for our inability to keep the staff quiet. Please forgive us.”
That prince must not have forgotten that the Romero Palace had sent some sage tea in the past.
It wasn’t that shocking after considering the prince’s personality.
Although Cédric’s mind seemed to be scattered because of these dandelion tea leaves, he didn’t feel bad.
“Shall I boil some water?”
Cédric gave his silent approval after Capuson cautiously asked.
The Vice Captain of the Imperial Guard just quietly chuckled.