The day of the Spring Ball.
Thinking about it now is kind of late, but I have been too complacent.
The Imperial tailors barged into Juliette Palace at 9 am and put a ton of pins into perfectly good clothes to start their cutthroat fitting process.
I felt as if I was watching < Project Runway > happen in front of my eyes.
I wasn’t even going to the Ball…
“The phrase about a person’s face being wings is probably used for a situation like this.”
I could only awkwardly smile, as I couldn’t tell whether the attendant’s vocal cords made a typo or if he was complimenting me.
The other attendants who helped to dress me covered their mouths and chuckled as well.
Oh well, as long as someone here is happy……
“Prince Jesse, could you please stretch your arms out to your sides?”
I stretched my arms out at the request of the boss of the changing room, I mean, the Imperial tailor.
It was my first time wearing a bishop’s uniform.
Prince Jesse might have worn it before I transmigrated into his body, but this was the first time for me.
“All of the details are there and thankfully everything fits, despite us feeling a bit rushed to make it. And as our friend over here just said, you truly seem to make the clothes look even better, your highness.”
The boss pushed up her thin-framed glasses before opening up a thick book of formal Church of the Almighty God outfits to show me.
There weren’t many embroidered aspects of a bishop’s outfit, but it was quite splendid because everything was gold in color.
Basically, only the underclothes were white.
“If you look at the next page and the page after that, purple is reserved only for the Pope.”
I knew about this too.
“But since your highness already has amethysts, there is no greater symbol. It is amazing!”
It took me about three seconds to realize what she meant by that.
She meant that my eyes went well with the gold clothes because they were purple, which meant that they ‘received the blessing of the Almighty God.’
The boss then pretended to cry, saying that ‘it was so hard to procure gold satin of the highest quality during this season.’
She seemed extremely friendly, despite this being our first meeting.
– Knock knock.
That was why I responded to the knocking quicker than anybody else.
I might lose all of my energy even before going to receive confessions if I stay here listening to this person.
“Your highness, it is time for your departure.”
Benjamin was the one who came to save me.
The boss said that this was really the last thing and put a giant mitre on top of my head.
The mitre was the opposite of the clothes, with a white background and gold decorations.
“Although you are probably well-aware of this fact, please let me remind you that the priest’s formal attire comes with spells imbued in them. The clothes will not feel heavy and you will feel neither hot nor cold. They can also absorb the impact of the carriage traveling over a bumpy road. This mitre will also not fall off your head until you personally take it off.”
‘Wow, I didn’t know about that.’ I felt extremely relieved, as I didn’t know how I was supposed to wear such thick clothes in the middle of April.
“Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do about the discomfort from the clothes themselves. Please let it go and just pretend that you have become the best clothes hanger in the world.”
She sternly said that.
I felt a bit sad that although I started this morning as a person, I was pretty much an inanimate object from here on.
I had proclaimed that I would not attend the Spring Ball and would instead focus on my responsibilities as a Confessional Priest.
The Empress and the Cardinal accepted my request. That was why I thought that everything had gone well.
I thought that I could enjoy some peace on my own while the Imperial family and the nobles were having fun.
“I guess I thought too light of the situation.”
Ganael looked toward me with pity.
They washed me so much this morning that the scent of my shampoo was all around the shaking carriage.
Benjamin blamed himself saying that, ‘it is my fault for not informing you about it,’ but looking back on everything, it was normal for things to end up like this.
Although many nobles would arrive at the palace in the evening to match the start of the Ball, there were a ton of nobles who decided to show up early to enjoy the flowers at the Imperial Palace and confess to the prince of the Holy Kingdom.
The Empress had expected all this and sent the tailors to me this morning to make sure that I looked presentable.
‘People in power truly think differently from everybody else.
I was just busy debating what to have for lunch today……’
“We will arrive at the temple soon, your highness.”
“But I can’t see the temple today.”
I anxiously responded.
I would normally be able to see the temple doors at this distance, but there were so many carriages lined up that I could barely see the top of the building.
The gridlock was quite serious.
“There’s even a punk who parked horizontally……”
I could hear Ganael trying his best to hold back his laughter after hearing my mumbling.
The coachman helped me off the carriage and the knights guarding the temple saluted me one by one.
The heavy main entrance of the temple was opened. I quietly took a deep breath.
The hundred plus pairs of eyes inside the temple all turned toward me at the same time.
‘……Wouldn’t it have been better to go to the Ball? No, absolutely not. Snap out of it.’
I slowly raised my hand and gave myself a slap.
No matter how tired I was, it was better than being at the same place as Christelle and the Imperial Prince.
Suffering for a day would allow me to avoid both of them, so I couldn’t have such weak thoughts because it was a bit difficult.
“Are you okay, your highness? I will make it so that you can take a bath as soon as we return to the palace.”
“You worked hard, your highness. Please rest well when we get back.”
“Both of you worked hard too……”
Ganael and Benjamin pretty much dragged me out of the temple.
It was actually my mind that was extremely tired, not my body.
I had a migraine even though I spent more time listening than speaking and even took two breaks to eat.
It must be stress since I didn’t even use a lot of aether.
“Ganael, what time is it right now?”
“It is 8:35pm.”
The promised time to meet Lady Sarnez in the Strauder Palace, which was next to the temple, was 9pm.
I thought that I wouldn’t even meet her as a coincidence if I returned to my room around 8:30pm and I was relieved that things were going as planned.
“Next time, I really should just use being sick as an excuse.”
“Yes, your highness, that is probably for the best.”
Benjamin agreed with me. I chuckled and started walking toward the carriage.
My body was stiff because I had been tense all day, wearing these clothes I was not used to wearing.
The confessions of the nobles were not that different from the confessions of the laborers at the Imperial Palace.
The only differences were that the penitents were wearing fancier clothes and used more stylish words.
Other than having people staring right into my eyes and the fact that they seemed to be confessing about the same things……
The flow itself was pretty similar.
“There was someone near the end who asked me to help them come up with a name.”
The two of their eyes opened wide.
“He wanted me to give a middle name for his daughter. He didn’t have anything to confess but said that he came today just so he could have me give his daughter a middle name.”
Ganael shook his head side to side. Benjamin just sighed.
Apparently the four years old girl, ‘Sophie’ really liked kicking balls around, so I gifted her the middle name of ‘Zinedine’ so that she can grow up to be great at it.
I thought it was a great choice since the people of the Empire use French names.
“I will escort you to Juliette Palace, your highness.”
The Imperial coachman approached and opened the carriage door for me. I nodded my head and stepped onto the step…
No, I was about to do so.
I pointed at something. I wondered if I was seeing things because I was so tired.
It was because something was happening across the street that seemed unbelievable.
Benjamin’s eyes opened wide after his gaze followed my finger.
Ganael seemed shocked as well.
“……The esteemed Divine beast?”
The young boy blankly mumbled those words.
There were thick vines growing up from the ground toward the left-most balcony of Strauder Palace.
They looked as thick as the waist of adult men.
I could hear the noise of the vines growing through the grass and shrubs from across the street.
‘Okay, this isn’t a hallucination. It is real.’
I got onto the carriage without any hesitation.
There were red torches and magic lights around Strauder Palace since the Ball was taking place, but I could pretend that I didn’t see anything since the area around the temple was dark.
It was not my business whether that red panda couldn’t leave the Imperial Palace or if this was a new divine beast that appeared.
“Shall we go?”
“Yes, yes, your highness.”
Everybody quickly started moving after hearing my cold voice.
Ganael and Benjamin sat down and the coachman quickly moved over to close the carriage door.
It was at that moment.
We all heard the pained cry of the red panda. I clenched my eyes shut.
I spent all day suffering while listening to the confessions of the nobles. I worked my butt off all day and barely got out so that I could avoid going to that palace.
If the author had even the smallest amount of conscience, they can’t do this to me right now.
It wasn’t my business whether the little punk had been starving or was in pain.
The Imperial family and the nobles inside will take care of it.
They won’t kill it since it is a divine beast and would probably put it in a cage and treat it as a spectacle for a bit before sending it off to a nice place.
– Screech, screech, screeeech……
I jumped up from my seat.
If this was a webnovel with me as the main character, I would probably comment right away that, ‘the pace is extremely slow. I’m outta here.’
Unfortunately, the real me was getting off the carriage. ‘Damn it.’
“Yes, it is your big bro. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”
The vines had reached out and were wrapped around the ledge of the balcony now.
I used the thick vines as steps and easily got to the incident site.
I only came here because this was the left-most balcony of Strauder Palace. I would have clenched my teeth and left if it was the right-most balcony that Lady Sarnez mentioned.
“Will his highness be okay?”
“Divine beasts are not regular animals. They cannot be tamed by anyone without aether. You all just quietly go inform her Eminence about this. Hurry.”
Benjamin was having a serious conversation with the guards of Strauder Palace down below.
The soldiers seemed anxious as there was no manual for ‘when a divine beast shows up in the garden.’
They would never have let me climb up if I didn’t tell them that a priest’s formal attire can absorb the impact of a moving carriage.
“Big bro has no food right now. Will you still come with me?”
I reached my land through the railing.
Thankfully, this red panda was the one I had looked after before.
I remembered it because one of the stripes on his chubby tail was white.
The red panda looked at me and tilted its head in confusion.
I could hear beautiful music and the muffled noise of people talking through the half-open balcony door.
“Good. Come this way. Let’s just spend the night together with this big bro.”
I planned on going to look for Cardinal Boutier with this guy first thing in the morning when I wake up.
Then she would take care of everything.
I reached my arm out and released my Holy Domain.
The red panda felt the flow of golden aether and twitched its whiskers before rubbing the tip of its round nose on my palm.
I finally laughed in relief. It should be good now.
I suddenly saw the tip of black dress shoes through my peripheral vision while my focus was still on the red panda.
I slowly raised my head.
I made eye contact with an unfamiliar man.
But I had no choice but to recognize him.
“What are you doing over here?”
His low voice that sounded familiar oddly made me recall a conversation I once had with Eunse.
It sounded extremely fresh, as if I was hearing it through headphones.
‘Jung Eunse, why do you always talk about the male lead when you hate him so much? Are you sure you don’t actually like him?’
‘I don’t…… It’s because of his damn face! Face, face, face!’
My sister’s face at that time resembled Ms. Na Moon-hee shouting ‘pumpkin sweet potato!’ (Reference to a Korean drama. Here’s the youtube video of the scene and the ‘look’ is around the 1 minute mark https://youtu.be/vgyvy-Jhxjw)
Eunse always talked highly of QNW’s male lead but always maintained a cynical attitude toward him.
He had the face of a god who belongs in the Louvre, but his personality is shit.
I could experience what she was talking about face to face right now.
The man slightly frowned after looking back and forth at the red panda and me.
“……I guess the divine beast woke up.”
The way his face seemed to blend classical and modern beauty so flawlessly made it seem as if he belonged in the Orsay rather than the Louvre.
His hair that was as black as the abyss and his eyes that looked as if garnets had been placed in there was overpowering the area.
This was the second person I had to avoid at all costs.
The male lead of < I quit my job and ended up as a noble young lady in another world >. This was Cédric Riester.