The location that the Empress provided for the interview was larger than my room in Juliette Palace.
I followed the attendant from Empress Palace that led me to sit at a couch that was reserved for the higher ranking individual.
The way my body sank into the couch made me feel relaxed and made me think that they truly had the highest quality stuff here.
Lady Sarah Belliard sat across from me.
“You must be close with young lady Christelle de Sarnez, your highness.”
“No, not at all.”
She said something that could get me into a lot of trouble. I immediately denied it.
Just a moment ago…
Christelle, the Imperial Prince, Lady Belliard, and I had awkwardly greeted each other outside the Empress’s office.
Christelle thanked me for playing with her and left while the Imperial Prince ignored us as he walked into the Empress’s office like he owned the place.
I had been anxious about how that punk might get involved with things this time, but thankfully it seemed to have just been a coincidence.
Lady Belliard, the three attendants, and I entered the interview room as originally planned.
However, Lady Belliard seemed to have decided to take my answer and twist it as she pleases.
“Ah, so you do not know the young lady’s middle name yet.”
“I plan to continue on not knowing it.”
I quickly shut her down. I absolutely could not say that I already knew it or that I had heard it during our first meeting.
Lady Belliard laughed leisurely before saying something else.
“Anyway…… I didn’t expect to see the most handsome man on the continent, the most handsome man of the Empire, and the most handsome man of the Holy Kingdom in one place. I must be very lucky.”
‘What is this? She’s talking so quickly it sounds like she is rapping.’
Although she didn’t say any difficult words, it was hard for me to understand what she was trying to say.
She must have noticed my confusion as she quickly explained.
“His Royal Highness, The Prince Alexandre Nicole Riester, was called the most handsome man on the continent when he was alive. His Royal Highness, Imperial Prince Cédric, is, in all accounts, the most handsome man in the Empire.”
She was talking about how she saw Imperial Prince Cédric, the portrait of Prince Consort Alexandre, and me in the hallway.
‘It’s not like we’re F4……’ (TL: After chatting with some people, this is most likely a Boys Over Flowers reference, with F4 or Flower 4 referring to the four pretty boys) It was giving me the chills but I let it be.
The Imperial Prince looks almost the same as the deceased Prince Consort so it wasn’t weird to hear about how both of them were handsome.
Even Eunse, who frequently sang about how this punk was Crapdric, would blank out whenever she saw a picture of the Imperial Prince.
“Your highness, do you know why Her Majesty chose the Empress Palace for us to have this interview?”
Lady Belliard’s tone turned a bit sharp.
I sat up out of reflex.
The interview was taking place in a reception room close to where the Empress works.
‘Is this the first question?’
“It was probably to suppress your spirit, Lady Belliard. This is a place where you can continuously feel that Her Majesty is close by.”
Lady Belliard smiled at my response.
She seemed to like what I said.
I thought that she looked like the strict Editor-in-chief in that movie my brother liked.
I think it was called < The Devil Wears Prada > or something like that.
“That is quite the skilled analysis. However, there is one other reason as well, your highness. I heard that Juliette Palace started some renovations last month.”
“She probably did not want to show me the renovation site.”
The old woman’s green eyes were sparkling with intelligence as she spoke.
It was to be expected, but she looked much more energetic then when I had peeked at her through the gap in the Confessional door.
Her gently fluttering short white hair, her red satin dress, everything about her down to the wrinkles on her face had a way of giving her a charismatic look that was enough to suppress the person she was talking to.
“The renovations have finished. You seem to be slower at getting information than I had expected, Lady Belliard.”
That was what I said to her. I purposely left out the fact that it only finished two days ago.
Lady Belliard smiled while looking as if she had not expected to hear this.
The reason that a part of Juliette Palace needed renovations was because I destroyed the inside of my bedroom and the window while dealing with the twin assassins last month.
The Empress must have not shown any signs of it to Lady Belliard.
She was probably also wary of some people giving Lady Belliard eye witness accounts of what had happened.
That was why Lady Belliard was invited to the Empress Palace instead of Juliette Palace where I reside.
“I thought that you were just a warm person, but you know how to point your thorns as well, your highness.”
She openly gave her assessment of me.
It upset me, but living in a Confucian society for 29 years made it difficult to talk back to an elder.
I also didn’t want to fall for her provocation so I simply smiled and changed topics.
“I am only speaking the truth. I heard that you have a time limit so you should probably get the interview going, Lady Belliard.”
The Empress had only given Lady Belliard 30 minutes. It could be considered long or short depending on what you were doing.
“Then I will start with something that I believe most of our readers would be curious about.”
The Editor-in-chief of the < Biweekly Riester > opened her notebook and put on a small pair of spectacles.
I reaffirmed what I told myself earlier.
‘I don’t know anything that could make things complicated and I should also give only short responses to the things I do actually know.’
“What do you think about your nickname as the Scoundrel of the Holy Kingdom?”
“Lady Belliard, that is disrespectful to our esteemed highness.”
Benjamin, who was standing behind me, gently scolded her for her ruthless question.
I turned my head to tell him that I was okay.
It wasn’t like I didn’t expect something like this from someone who was in charge of the best selling publication in the Empire.
“I’m not sure. A scoundrel…”
I dragged out the end. This was actually something I was probably more curious about than she was.
It had been on my mind since the first day I transmigrated into this world.
What kind of life did the real ‘Prince Jesse’ live for him to be publicly known as a scoundrel?
I read about how he spread all sorts of gossip in the Holy Kingdom and stole the hearts of numerous noble women, but I had no way of knowing if any of it was true.
Eunse had never said anything about Prince Jesse’s past, and usually only talked about how sweet he was to Christelle and how devoted he was to her.
“I don’t have many thoughts about it.”
That was why this was my choice for a response. It wasn’t about me anyway.
“Hohoho, this is your chance to give any excuses or explanations.”
Lady Belliard chuckled in a low voice as she explained.
‘Excuses? I need to know what happened to make excuses.’
“Which incident are you specifically asking about?”
“Oh, you are asking me, your highness? Hmm, the first thing that comes to mind is the rumor about how you were two-timing two married women. I heard that one of them was in the last month of their pregnancy while the other was a newly wed priestess. I’ve been told that everybody in the Holy Kingdom knows about this.”
My jaw dropped. I could hear Ganael gasping behind me.
‘What should I be more shocked about right now? The fact that Prince Jesse was responsible for some crazy infidelity? The fact that it was with-not one-but two married women? Or maybe the fact that Jung Eunse liked a bastard like this? Hold on, does this world have the same background setting that was explained in the novel?’
Benjamin calmly called my name and put a hand on my shoulder before removing it.
I internally shook my head vigorously.
I had no way of confirming whether this was true or false.
‘Calm down, June Jesse. Proceed according to the guidelines you set for yourself.’
“……I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“You don’t know?”
‘Feign ignorance on all awkward or difficult questions.’
It wasn’t as if I was lying when I said that I don’t know.
She then wrote something in her notebook with a quill pen.
“Are you saying that it is slander?”
Lady Belliard lowered her head a bit and looked at me through her glasses.
I still had the chills from receiving her extremely effective attack of ‘Married women infidelity triangle’.
“The story of how Prince Consort Werner of the Holy Kingdom has done everything he could to disgrace your name is quite well-known even in the Empire, your highness. Do you perhaps see these scandals as part of the Prince Consort’s scheme?”
My eyes opened wide at that moment. My mind became extremely cool. I was as if I poured some mint chocolate in there.
There was some logic in her words.
Werner Venetiaan. The Prince Consort of the Venetiaan Holy Kingdom and Queen Christanne’s husband.
Not only did this guy crown princess Elise’s position in order to protect the child between the Queen and him, he sent the bastard child Jesse Venetiaan to the Empire as a Diplomatic hostage. He even tried to assassinate me.
Elise had the proper rights as the first born and as the legitimate daughter, but he was wary of Prince Jesse because he was so popular.
It made sense for that guy to spread all sorts of salacious rumors to dirty the prince’s name.
It also made sense why Eunse would feel so much pity for Prince Jesse.
He had to deal with so much contempt and so many salacious rumors without ever doing anything wrong. He ended up falling in love with Christelle but could not get her heart. In the end, he died for her.
“……His Royal Highness truly cares about the future of the Holy Kingdom. How could I know the thoughts deep inside his heart?”
I opened my mouth after a long time.
My voice naturally went lower at the disturbing situation, but Lady Belliard seemed to think that it was because I was telling the truth.
“The future of the Holy Kingdom…… It sounds like you are saying that the Prince Consort dragged you down for crown princess Elise, your highness.”
“His highness has already responded. Please move onto the next question.”
Ganael responded on my behalf. I smiled gently and looked up at the young boy.
Ganael looked a bit angry but did his best to control his expression after sensing my gaze.
‘He’s such a good kid.’
“Then may I ask something a bit sensitive?”
Lady Belliard placed her glasses on the table as she asked.
I managed to get a peek into her notebook which was full of writing now.
“The questions until now have been quite sensitive as well.”
She laughed out loud at my comment. I smiled without backing down.
This was a fight in which I will win at the end.
This conversation would seem difficult for anybody who was listening, but I had received some new information because of the questions and answers just now.
I was too anxious at first to remember that she was known as the ‘Holy Kingdom Expert’.
I would be able to pull out a lot of information from Sarah Belliard if I use this interview properly.
I had nothing to lose since I was ignorant of the workings of this world.
“It is a political question this time.”
“It sounds interesting.”
“Your highness, the reason that you came here as a Diplomatic hostage is because the Holy Kingdom went against the Armistice and invaded our Northern border.
“There is a rumor that the conflict was from Crown princess Elise acting on her own.”
Cédric came out of the Empress’s office and stopped walking.
He turned his head and looked down the hallway.
He could clearly feel the flow of ether that was as wide as the southern fields and as gentle as the spring breeze.
He had experienced the ether of Cardinal Aurélie Boutier and many other priests, but there was only one personwho’s ether gave off this kind of sensation.
“……I guess the prince’s schedule has not finished.”
“That is correct, your Royal Highness.”
His attendant David responded.
The Imperial Prince quietly looked down at his left hand and clenched and unclenched his fist a few times.
His body condition was not bad today.
No, his condition had always been decent since Prince Jesse had entered the palace.
He only turned into a little kid when he used too much power.
However, it was wise to completely fill the canteenif there was a well nearby.
It was wise to do that even if there was a small crack in that canteen.
“Let’s rest for a bit before we go.”
“The room next to the reception room is empty. It is the room Prince Jesse used to prepare this morning.”
The sharp David offered him the best suggestion.
The Imperial Prince nodded his head and started walking.
Although it wasn’t as good as directly receiving the prince’s ether, just being around the guy calmed the fires inside his body.
The junky ether in the Temple Confessional could not compare to it at all.
The Imperial Prince and his attendant quickly arrived at the room next to the reception room.
David was thinking about making coffee for the Imperial Prince as he gently opened the door.
However, someone was already inside.
“……Young lady Sarnez.”
“Your loyal subject greets our Royal Highness again.”
Christelle de Sarnez, who had her desirable pink hair in a high bun, got up and elegantly greeted the Imperial Prince.
The Imperial Prince instantly felt frustration building up inside him.
He knew that she had visited the Empress Palace as a guest today but had not expected her to still be here.
He had the petty thought of wanting to leave the room.
“Yes, your Royal Highness. What would you like, young lady Sarnez?”
“Ah, could I please have an iced coffee that is not too strong? Thank you very much.”
Her water attribute always got on the Imperial Prince’s nerves.
His senses would be on alert and an instinctual displeasure overwhelmed him whenever they were in the same place, especially if it was indoors.
Although he didn’t know for sure, she should also be feeling a similar displeasure at his fire attribute ether.
“The view from this room is great.”
Christelle boldly tried to start a conversation while looking at David leave.
The two of them made eye contact.
Her eyes were as cold as ice.
They truly were as incompatible as he had thought.