I couldn’t quickly come up with a response.
My mind was busy going through all the clues that Eunse had told me in the past.
Unfortunately, the combination of the words ‘Holy Knight’ and ‘Christelle’ could not be found no matter how much I thought about it.
I talked about Holy Knights earlier because I wanted to mention how Christelle’s ability was not something bad, but I didn’t expect things to really go like this.
I was certain that the beginning of ‘QNW’ did not go like this even though I had never read it.
Breaking off of the engagement and declaring a change in profession… The plot twist became bigger with the disappearance of the Blessing of the Blue Sea.
It made me wonder what power granted Lady Sarnez her wish in the original story.
It would most likely be the divine item that was said to have been stolen from the Temple of Vigilance.
If it was still there, Lady Sarnez might have been able to save her daughter while keeping the Blessing of the Blue Sea as a wedding gift.
Christelle would also not have gotten the power of water.
Then that left just one question. Who stole the divine item from the temple, and why?
The moment I started talking…
– Knock, knock, knockknock
I heard a somewhat familiar beat as someone knocked. It was the same beat used when cheering, ‘Dae, Han, Minguk!’ (TL: If you want to hear the beat, go to about the 15 second mark in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-1kW_whTIw)
Imperial Prince Cédric was the first to respond.
He seemed to know who was knocking as he snorted a sigh before drawing another line in the air with his gloved hand.
I heard the door unlocking. This ability seemed just as amazing the second time.
The balcony door slowly opened, and a familiar person walked out with a smile on her face.
Lady Sarnez and I immediately got up.
“Oh? It is a gathering of people I like.”
Cardinal Aurélie Boutier slowly addressed us.
She was wearing the Cardinal’s formal attire. Both her clothes and her mitre were much fancier than mine.
Her clothes had a lot more layers and the embroidery had a lot more detail.
She gently waved her hand and the attendants behind her quickly withdrew.
“Hello, your Eminence.”
“It is my pleasure to be in your presence, your noble Eminence, Madam Cardinal.”
I, Lady Sarnez, and the Imperial Prince all greeted her in that order.
The Cardinal responded and said that she was happy to see us, before her beige-colored eyes turned to look at Demy, who was on my shoulder.
“I’m relieved that you tamed him well. I heard about what was going on.”
Demy quietly squealed, as if he was responding to her.
I then remembered that Benjamin ordered the guards to ‘inform her Eminence about the situation.’
I was about to tell her that I would probably have to send the little guy off in the morning when the Cardinal spoke first.
“Our little prince did a very good job with the confession. You also didn’t forget the things I taught you.”
She was looking at me like a proud teacher. My thoughts paused for a moment before resuming.
“……Did you hear all of that, your Eminence?”
“The soldiers told me it was urgent, so I even left Frédérique behind to show up when I noticed that the balcony door was locked. I ended up hearing it while waiting inside.”
She then said that she was sorry, though I saw no semblance of regret on her face.
It looked like she purposely eavesdropped, but it was hard to suspect her because of the innocent look on her face.
She slowly walked over to us and reached her hand out to Lady Sarnez.
“You’re going to get dehydrated if you cry so much, Isabelle. Should we go drink some tea?”
Her voice was as warm as a mother’s lullaby.
Lady Sarnez’s face scrunched upon hearing the Cardinal’s suggestion.
It reminded me of Eunse when she was young.
She would act strong and get up without crying after falling down and scraping her knee, but when I walk over to her and ask ‘are you okay?’ she would burst into tears.
Lady Sarnez pressed her face against the Cardinal’s shoulder.
I could understand how upset she had been with such a heavy burden on her heart.
The Cardinal patted Lady Sarnez’s head, and led her inside while the Imperial Prince and I quietly stood there.
She was headed toward where her partner, the Empress, and Lady Sarnez’s partner, the Duke, were waiting for them.
“Oh right, Cédric.”
The Cardinal stopped to look back as she was heading out the door. The Imperial Prince waited for her to speak.
“I heard that young lady Sarnez’s carriage has arrived. Shouldn’t you go out there?”
“We probably have to cancel the engagement announcement that was planned, but you are that child’s partner today.”
She didn’t even wait for the Imperial Prince’s response as she smiled and started walking again.
She really was kind of a do-whatever-I-want type of person, but she had an odd way of making it hard to go against her.
This must be what they call charisma or something.
The Imperial Prince did not respond.
He was almost glaring at the Cardinal as she walked away but his thoughts seemed to be elsewhere.
The fatigue and chaos I had momentarily forgotten about instantly flooded back after seeing the serious expression on his face.
“Goodbye then, your royal highness.”
I also gave a short farewell before slowly grabbing Demy, who was tickling my neck with his movements.
It was time to head back.
“Did you mean what you said earlier?”
A suave low voice spoke to me from behind. I turned around to see the Imperial Prince looking down at me.
I guess he’s just a punk who likes to keep things short and say whatever he wants without going into much detail.
“What are you talking about, your royal highness?”
His orange eyes glared at me.
“……The part about how it is not a curse,”
“Young lady Christelle de Sarnez is now entering the hall!”
A loud voice echoed out from the hall and drowned the Imperial Prince’s voice.
The loud hall instantly fell quiet as if doused in cold water.
The endless music abruptly ended as well. I got the chills for a moment.
The main character’s Beau Monde debut was unique, starting immediately with her entrance.
I couldn’t hold back my curiosity and walked toward the balcony door.
Although I wanted to avoid the two main characters, I also wanted to see the character Eunse loved so much when she was under bright lights.
I needed to get a good impression of her in order to tell Eunse about how Christelle was in person.
“Are you interested?”
“Nope, I am just going to look, your royal highness.”
I peeked my head out the door.
Thankfully, nobody seemed to be interested in me at all.
The luxuriously dressed nobles were all focused on one spot while holding either transparent wine glasses or their partner’s hand.
They were all looking at the grand staircase descending from the second floor to the center of the hall.
There was a beauty walking down the red carpeted stairs without an escort.
Her pink hair that was tied up was waving while her blue-gray eyes were shining like jade marbles as they reflected the light of the chandelier.
Her white jacket,which had beautiful embroidery done in blue threads, slightly shook as she moved.
Her silver boots and dark blue formal attire underneath sharply contrasted the jacket.
Her expression showed a hint of anxiety hidden behind confidence. It made her look like a company employee who was about to give a presentation she was proud of.
Actually, she sort of looked like an employee who had written their letter of resignation.
She was different.
She was completely different from the Christelle on the ‘QNW’ cover art; the girl who had her long hair down and was wearing a fancy pastel-colored dress.
This Christelle looked more like a young knight.
– Click, click, click.
Her boots clacked as she walked through the marble floor.
The crowd of nobles parted to the side in order to open up a path for her as if she was some kind of prophet.
Christelle’s destination, which she arrived at without any hesitation, was in front of the Empress and the Cardinal.
The Sarnez couple was standing next to them.
“Hold on, Demy. I’ll play with you in the carriage later.”
The mumblings from the nobles grew louder, but I couldn’t see anything because Demy was dangling his tail in front of my eyes.
Christelle must have done something.
Imperial Prince Cédric walked past me and out of the balcony.
He used the fact that he was taller than most people to accurately find the shortest route to his mother and godmother.
While he did that, I took off my mitre and placed Demy inside.
He seemed satisfied as he created a small Azalea at the tip of his ear.
The nobles blocking my view gasped in amazement.
I stuck my neck out to see what was going on.
Christelle was kneeling on one knee in front of the Empress and the Cardinal as if she was giving a vow of loyalty while Imperial Prince was offering her his hand and saying something.
I couldn’t hear what he was saying because they were too far away but the mood didn’t seem bad.
Christelle grabbed the Imperial Prince’s hand and stood up as the waltz music restarted.
The nobles clapped and cheered.
They seemed to have been wowed by something, as some of them were crying and calling out to the Almighty God.
“What a cool looking pair.”
The nobles around me were commenting in awe. Imperial Prince Cédric and Christelle were dancing.
Anybody would have been able to tell that she was not familiar with this but the Imperial Prince must be good at leading as there were no major mistakes.
His black uniform, which was decorated with golden threads on the sleeves, matched quite well with Christelle’s outfit.
“I guess they really do get connected.”
I patted Demy’s nose as he tilted his head in confusion. I felt a bit relieved.
I no idea what Christelle said while kneeling nor what the Imperial Prince said to her, but……
The important thing was that there was no greater green light than the two main characters holding hands and dancing together on their first meeting.
“This is great. Let’s go for real now.”
I raised my head after saying that…just for Christelle and I to make eye contact.
‘No, I must not have seen correctly. She is far away and there are a lot of people here. She could have been looking at another noble and we coincidentally brushed glances as she did that.’
I told myself that and took a step back.
Christelle and the Imperial Prince made another one and a half turns before the Imperial Prince looked right at me this time.
I flinched and closed the balcony door after walking inside.
The last thing I saw through the gap in the door was Christelle looking directly at me after the pair made another half turn.
“Why is this playing out like a horror movie……?”
I had the chills.
I felt as if the author turned the handle until it fell off, then flew over and stabbed me in the chest.
“Your highness, that was too much. What do we do……? Benjamin-nim, you worked really hard as well.”
“It’s fine, you worked hard too.”
The person who greeted me when I tiredly walked onto the carriage was Ganael, who seemed even more tired than me.
Benjamin, who had been waiting for me in the garden the whole time, seemed quite tired as well.
Ganael took out some lemon balm tea, a few éclairs, and a basket of snacks.
– Knock knock.
Someone knocked on the carriage door as I was peeling a hard-boiled egg for Demy.
Ganael answered and the door opened. The person standing outside was not the coachman.
Her eyes were redder than when I had seen her on the balcony, but she looked much better as she stood there alone.
Benjamin and Ganael showed her as much respect as they could while remaining seated.
I offered her a seat in shock, but she just quietly chuckled and shook her head.
“I just came because there was something I was unable to tell you regarding the divine item that disappeared from the Temple of Vigilance.”
She then cautiously looked at Benjamin and Ganael.
She was quietly asking if it was okay for the two of them to hear.
“I will hear it together with them. Please tell me.”
Christelle did tell me at the Confessional that she would talk about this, but I thought that she had told me everything during her confession.
I was confused, but waited for her to speak.
“I am unsure of the validity… it was something my husband and I heard while researching rumors about the divine item. We heard it from our connection in the Holy Kingdom…… the high-ranking priests of the Holy Kingdom seem to believe that the divine item had ‘fulfilled its duty’ rather than ‘disappeared’.”
“When you say it fulfilled its duty……”
“Someone might have made a wish there and caused the divine item to be permanently damaged rather than gone.”
She fixed her shawl. It looked as if she hastily put it on to come here.
“I heard that while her Eminence, Cardinal Boutier, has cleared your name as the representative of the Empire, the priests of the Holy Kingdom believe you are innocent for that reason. Because of that……”
My extremely tired brain started to move again.
Maybe the Blessing of the Blue Sea had disappeared after fulfilling someone’s wish instead of being stolen.
Thanks to that, the backstory and setting of the novel has been completely twisted.
“I wished to tell you because I thought that it would be good for you to know as well, your highness.”
She finished speaking in a quiet voice.
I saw a brightly shining thread of potential from within the hundreds of thin and weak threads surrounding it.