I stupidly asked back.
The situation was so sudden and shocking that I forgot that I didn’t even greet Christelle properly.
I tried so hard to not go to the Spring Ball, but I ended up dipping my foot over there anyways. I consoled myself that it was okay since it was just a short visit, but what is this tragedy of being in the same place as the main character the very next day?
It was hard to accept.
“It is only temporary. We just requested that the Vatican send a Holy Knight to teach Christelle so I decided to teach her temporarily until they look over my request, accept it, and dispatch someone to the Sarnez Duchy.”
I sighed internally at Cardinal Boutier’s response.
Basically, this meant that the Cardinal and the Empress were accepting Christelle’s desire to become a Holy Knight in order to repay her debt to the Imperial family.
I guess they couldn’t let go of such a talented individual even if the engagement was terminated.
I wanted to complain and say that these were supposed to be one-on-one lessons, and that I wanted a refund, but this was the Cardinal and not some after-school learning center.
Someone as busy as her probably did not have time to train two students separately.
I had enough justification to say that I would go on spring break while she teaches Christelle.
I was at least relieved to hear that it was temporary.
The Cardinal was a priestess and not a Holy Knight so she should only be able to teach Christelle the basics and mainly theory.
“……I understand. Please take good care of me, young lady Sarnez.”
I spoke extremely stiffly on purpose. I called her by her family name and didn’t smile.
Since things were going to be like this despite my wishes, I decided that I would make sure to earn some negative points while we learned together.
“Yes, thank you very much for yesterday. My mother wishes to invite you for a meal when you are free.”
Unfortunately, Christelle responded as if she had not received any damage from my cold demeanor.
The ‘yesterday’ she was talking about was how I listened to Lady Sarnez’s confession on the balcony during the Spring Ball.
Lady Sarnez seems like a good person, but I wouldn’t be able to eat properly because of the pressure and fear at the knowledge of eating with the main character’s mother.
“Thank you for the offer, but I believe that that will be difficult.”
I mechanically responded back.
I was so relieved that I could not leave the Imperial Palace because I was a diplomatic hostage.
“Take a seat. I will get you some tea.”
The Cardinal smiled gently and guided Christelle and I to the couch.
She called her attendant, Natalie, while observing us with a warm gaze that made me even more frustrated.
I thought that that damn bastard of an Imperial Prince should be here instead of me……
“Is this your first time meeting each other?”
I debated on how to answer that question when Christelle started speaking first.
“No ma’am, I went to see Prince Jesse at the Imperial Temple Confessional. I asked him to accept my mother’s confession.”
“The Confessional? What a fitting location for a Holy Knight. It looks like your future will be bright.”
The Cardinal’s beige-colored eyes curled up.
Christelle and I just blinked our eyes as we had no idea what she meant by that.
“Every Temple Confessional has a set amount of aether flowing through it at all times. It is there to calm the penitents and inspire faith in them. There is also no better place for a Holy Knight to refill their aether in an emergency.”
Christelle’s eyes sparkled as she nodded her head.
She talked about how it now made sense as to why she felt a bit more relaxed as soon as she walked in there.
After hearing that, I couldn’t help but think about someone else I had met in the Confessional.
To be more specific, a certain young child.
‘……What are you doing here?’
‘I…… I am listening to confessions. I am a priest.’
‘Hmph, you’re doing things you weren’t even told to do.’
I felt as if one mystery had been resolved.
That punk Cédie must have urgently hidden in the Confessional the day we first met because he was lacking aether.
He was suffering from the fever, chills, and dizziness because of aether depletion, and had no choice but to go inside because he could not get proper help.
I started feeling uncomfortable after thinking about that child.
Imperial Prince Cédric really seemed to be trash, as Eunse mentioned.
Cédie claimed that he was neither a priest nor a Holy Knight, but if I had a son like him, I would have done whatever I could to partner him with a talented priest.
I would also never let a kid, who doesn’t even seem old enough for elementary school yet, roam around on his own at night.
Neglect, abandonment… this really seemed to be child abuse.
I felt stupid that I had not realized the severity of the environmental issues around that child earlier.
“……Here is the daisy tea for Prince Jesse.”
Natalie put a warm cup of tea in front of me. I finally snapped out of my thoughts.
I had no idea when she came in here, but the Cardinal’s attendant was elegantly serving us our drinks.
“Thank you, Natalie. Go get some rest.”
“Yes, your Eminence.”
I suddenly became curious after seeing how warmly the Cardinal was speaking to her attendant.
Actually, I had planned on asking about it before I knew Christelle was going to be here today.
The thing she had said when she had accepted me as her disciple……
‘There is a young child.’
‘A young child?’
‘Yes. I hope that you can help that child.’
I wanted to ask her if Cédie was the child she was talking about.
I wanted to ask if her response was regarding aether depletion when I asked if the child was sick.
My theory seemed pretty accurate if Cédie really was the Imperial Prince’s illegitimate child.
Cédie would be like a grandson to the Cardinal since she was the Imperial Prince’s godmother. It made sense that she would reach out to me since she was not the type of person who would sit back and let a child like that suffer.
The thing I was curious about though……
“A Holy Knight usually partners up with a priest. They become friends who can watch each others’ backs. The priest provides aether for the Holy Knight while the Holy Knight protects the priest to accept the will of the Almighty God.”
I wanted to know why that child still did not have a priest partner.
I wanted to know why she had not attached a priest to a kid who was born into the Imperial family of the Empire and could come and go as he pleases in the Imperial Palace.
Even if he was an illegitimate child that people didn’t know about, I felt that she should get a reliable religious figure to come, even if it wasn’t someone at the Archbishop level or higher.
“I see, that is an interesting relationship.”
Christelle responded to the Cardinal with an interested expression on her face.
I looked at the daisies floating in my teacup as I continued to think.
‘Did Cédie not want a priest?’
That was something to consider as well.
I was sure that it was child abuse until a moment ago, but all I could do was tell him to be careful if he was acting as he pleased.
There was not much that the adults could do for him if he was sneaking out of his place to roam around at night and refusing to get a priest.
But at least it seemed that the father and son did chat with each other as he seems to have shared with the Imperial Prince that I like food.
‘I will have no reason to see you again starting tomorrow if the divine beasts detect the divine item in the Lord’s Castle.’
The child’s clear voice echoed in my head. I really had not seen him since then.
I did get reunited with Demy, but I’m sure that Cédie led the other two little creatures properly.
There is no need for me to worry about the little punk since Vice Captain Élisabeth seems to know about the situation as well……
I suddenly heard the Cardinal’s voice. I jerked my head up in shock.
“I’m surprised that you are having idle thoughts with two ladies in front of you.”
She mischievously curled her eyes up. Both of their cups were about half empty.
“My apologies, your Eminence. I guess last night was very tiring. I blanked out for a moment.”
I wet my lips with cold water and said whatever came to my mind. I should have been more careful not to think about other things while next to the main character.
Christelle looked toward me and silently chuckled.
“I was asking if you had a partner, your highness.”
“Yes, a Holy Knight partner.”
“I do not have one.”
Her eyes opened wide at my response. Her pink hair, that was tied in a high ponytail, was shaking.
“I am new to this, but even I can feel that your aether is amazing, your highness. I can’t believe that you still don’t have a partner……”
“Are Holy Knights more reserved?”
She quietly whispered.
The Cardinal and I made eye contact. It was because my aether was not innate.
The Holy Knights of the Holy Kingdom just did not want to partner with the Prince Jesse of the past who had nothing to offer.
I was just a ‘Bishop in name’ until I came here, and both the Prince Consort of the Holy Kingdom and the Empire’s Empress believed that was the case as well.
The former even sent weak assassins to kill me.
But my aether level exploded exponentially at some point, and the Prince Consort’s attempts ended up in failure.
I had no idea about the source of this sudden power at first, but I have a hypothesis about it now.
“First of all, I am a foreigner who is unable to exit the palace as I please. The Holy Knight who partners with me will be inconvenienced in many ways.”
I came up with an excuse that sounded plausible in my current situation.
Christelle nodded her head with a serious expression on her face.
I didn’t know whether my intentions of letting her know my situation got through to her or not. She is the precious daughter of a hot shot Duke, while I am a diplomatic hostage whom the Holy Kingdom has no problem sending off. She would be happier with a different priest.
“But this is no longer the Warring Era so there is no need for aether to always be full and for priests and their Holy Knights to always be around each other.”
She responded to me very quickly. It sounded as if my statement went in one ear and out the other……
“There are always fewer Holy Knights than priests. It is not weird for a priest to not have a partner.”
Cardinal Boutier smoothly interjected into our conversation.
“Our little prince is definitely a talented Bishop, but it might be difficult for him to be a priest for a Holy Knight as he is dedicated to his task of taking Confessions.”
‘This…… Is she helping me? She’s definitely trying to help me, right?’
“Then should we invite a mage for the next lesson to learn the differences between a Holy Knight and a mage?”
Christelle was about to say something when the Cardinal announced the end of the lesson.
I got up with a confused expression on my face, unable to figure out what had just happened.
Only thirty minutes had passed when I looked up at the clock.
“Thank you very much, your Eminence. I will see you in two days.”
‘Well…… I guess the orientation is always short.’
That was what I decided to think before respectfully saying farewell to the Cardinal, giving a brief goodbye to Christelle, and quickly leaving her office.
I rushed, because although it was not very likely, I didn’t want to think about her potentially asking to walk together.
Thankfully, the Cardinal did not ask to have lunch today.
I don’t know whether I was being overly sensitive, but my back felt itchy until the moment the door closed.
“I would head over to Juliette Palace immediately and tell him if I were you.”
The Vice Captain of the Imperial Guard, who was sitting down in a corner of the indoor training ground, shouted in a loud voice.
The Imperial Prince who was drawing something with the tip of his sword suddenly stopped moving.
“Really…… I won’t tell him the truth, but…… I would rather tell the truth and get his help than have such a misunderstanding. That would be a hundred times better.”
Élisabeth seemed quite weird today.
She was laughing instead of getting angry, despite the Imperial Prince’s fire charring her sleeves black and the Imperial Prince breaking her training sword once again.
She had been weird since the moment she got to the training ground.
She would snicker to herself like a crazy person and go, ‘ah, how can he have such a thought? Is he a genius?’ At times, she seemed as if she would cry as well.
Her expressions quickly changed back and forth from amazement to dying from laughter.
Cédric slightly frowned.
“I told you that I have no need for help from the prince.”
Élisabeth plopped down on the ground.
The Imperial Prince wondered if he needed to call the Imperial doctor.
It was concerning that his one friend was already suffering from the heat.
His attendant, David Capuson, happened to walk in through the door at that moment.
Cédric lowered his sword and greeted him.
“Your Royal Highness.”
“I’m glad you are here.”
“This is a message from her Eminence, Cardinal Boutier.”
Capuson continued to speak with a serious expression on his face.
“’The wave entering the cold palace. 11 a.m. two days later in the outdoor training ground.’ That is the message.”
The Imperial Prince did not say anything. Élisabeth was the first to react.
“Can I come watch?”
Cédric just ignored her.
He picked up his sword and headed toward the center of the training ground.
Capuson watched the Imperial Prince’s back for a moment before giving a short nod to Élisabeth and heading out.
The attendant just hoped that his master would make a wise decision.