“Is that all you have to say?”
“Yes it is, your Royal Highness.”
Christelle responded brightly to the Imperial Prince’s brusque question.
They seemed like two Ebay users who completed a deal for a used item. (TL: Raws had a Korean Ebay but changed so that it is easier for people to understand.)
‘This isn’t as romantic as I was thinking…… Oh well, the two main characters of a romfan probably know better than a #foreveralone like me.’
“Then I shall interrupt you no longer and make my leave, your Royal Highness.”
The Imperial Prince lightly motioned with his chin.
Christelle quickly bowed and walked away from the carriage.
I debated on going back with her before realizing that I needed to see the Imperial Prince too.
I confirmed that Christelle was moving away before walking closer to the carriage.
“I also have something to tell you, your Royal Highness.”
He silently raised one eyebrow. This punk really was skilled in body language.
I calmly continued speaking.
“I presume her Eminence, Cardinal Boutier, has told you about it, but I thought that I should still inform you myself.”
The Imperial Prince should know that I agreed to cooperate with him.
I didn’t know whether I would be able to provide any meaningful assistance, but I had said that I would help him win the Great Clearance of Demonic Beasts and earn the Sword of Wisdom from the Flaming Star.
However, I had never said anything to him.
I thought it would be good to use this chance to make my motivations and intentions clear.
I peeked toward the Imperial Prince’s attendant, David, who was sitting across from him.
“Will it be okay for David to be here? It is related to Sadie.”
“Cough, cough! Cough! Ugh!”
David started coughing vehemently.
He looked extremely anxious and took a handkerchief out of his pocket before covering his mouth and continuing to cough.
“David, are you okay? Should I call the Imperial doctor?”
I was concerned after hearing the middle-aged man gasping for breath.
He shook his head and barely managed to get some words out.
“I, cough! Am choking on spit, cough cough! Please don’t wo-, cough!”
“You don’t need to worry about David since he knows.”
The Imperial Prince spoke in a low voice.
It made sense that someone who has attended to the Imperial Prince for so long would know that he had an illegitimate child.
I nodded my head and looked left and right.
Everybody was busy getting ready to depart so there happened to be nobody near the Imperial Prince’s carriage right now.
My voice became even quieter.
“I am officially attending the Great Clearance of Demonic Beasts as a Confessional Priest but I hope that you will get the Sword of Wisdom, your Royal Highness. That divine item…… I know you will use it for Sadie.”
He immediately frowned.
The Imperial Prince seemed as if he wanted to say something but he couldn’t easily get any words out as if he was debating where to start.
I felt uncomfortable and asked a question.
“Am I wrong, your Royal Highness?”
“Theoretically, you are correct.”
He answered in a low voice after what felt like an eternity. ‘It’s either right or wrong. What the heck does he mean by theoretically correct?’
I clicked my tongue at his insincere response and said the most important thing.
“Then I will do whatever I can to help. I hope that your son is not in pain any longer, your Royal Highness.”
“What did you just…?”
I heard a coachman looking for me in the distance.
It really seemed to be time to go now.
I didn’t want the Imperial Prince to say that we were delayed because of me again so I bowed and started walking away.
I saw that David had his face in his handkerchief so I was a bit concerned that he wasn’t as okay as he said he was.
“Your highness, I see the Lord’s Castle over there!”
Ganael shouted in a bright voice.
Demy was trying to crawl up the window, so I grabbed him by his black belly to give him enough support to look outside.
Benjamin turned his head following Ganael’s finger as well.
“Isn’t it very different from the Imperial Palace, your highness? Marquis Duhem’s castle is respected for its extremely long history.”
Benjamin was nice and explained it to me.
This view made me gasp in admiration.
Marquis François Duhem’s Lord’s Castle boasted a noble and dignified appearance as the subtle fog wrapped around it like a cape.
I could see a large mountain peak that looked as sharp as an animal’s fang behind the brownish gray castle.
The way the peak was surrounded by clouds made it look like a majestic folding screen.
We finally arrived at the Duhem March after traveling for three days after leaving Lucas Village.
“The Imperial Capital is flat, but there are a lot of mountains to the East.”
“Yes, your highness. There is a large mountain range in the direction of the border. Other than the southeastern tip with the river, most of the eastern part of the Empire has similar terrain.”
Benjamin sounded like an experienced travel guide while explaining it to me like that.
He looked happy whenever he taught me something, so I always asked him whenever I was curious about things.
“The Sword of Wisdom should be stabbed right around there. I guess we can’t see it from here because it is too far away.”
He pointed toward the plains in front of the Lord’s Castle.
Plants resembling reeds were fluttering in beat to the wind.
I nodded my head and enjoyed the view of the Lord’s Castle as we got closer.
I couldn’t help but think that it would have been better if Eunse and my brother were here to see it as well.
“You can rest in the Lord’s Castle until tomorrow, your highness. Marquis Duhem is hosting a welcome dinner tonight, but it shouldn’t be too big because his Royal Highness does not like things like that. The Great Clearance of Demonic Beasts will start in the morning the day after tomorrow.”
Ganael filled me in on the schedule.
“Since his Royal Highness was brought up…”
I frowned slightly as I continued speaking.
“Hasn’t he been a bit weird the last few days?”
The two of them tilted their heads after hearing my question.
‘Wait, there’s no way that I was the only one to feel it.’
“He’s normally like this as well but he seemed overly cold since about three days ago. He nagged at the owners of every inn we stayed at and he is swinging his sword in the yard every night.”
“I’m not sure……”
Their reactions weren’t very confident.
“I can understand why His Royal Highness would look over the records of other village inns or threaten the owners after what he experienced in Lucas Village.”
Benjamin calmly responded. I agreed with that aspect.
The Claudine Green incident would be something unacceptable for a future Emperor. He was probably worried that similar crimes would be happening elsewhere.
However, the Imperial Prince’s words and actions did seem much colder.
‘Is the food not to his liking?’
Ganael cautiously answered.
“His Royal Highness has always been that way, your highness.”
“Now that you mention it, I believe he has been much more relaxed since around the time you entered the Imperial Palace, your highness.”
‘This is him being more relaxed?’
Benjamin added on after seeing my expression.
“There were not many people who could even make simple conversation with His Royal Highness. Her Majesty, Her Eminence, Vice Captain Élisabeth and Mister David were probably the only ones. Even Marquis Duhem would calm down in front of His Royal Highness.”
“The < Biweekly Riester > even gave His Royal Highness a nickname. I think it was the Ice Prince or something……”
It made me cringe.
I presumed it was the work of Lady Belliard since she liked to come up with weird nicknames.
“Oh, what perfect timing. I see Marquis Duhem over there.”
Benjamin was pointing somewhere. I looked out the window again.
There was a man whose light pink eyes were sparkling like cherry blossoms as he elegantly waved his arm to greet us.
‘This guy never changes.’
“I would like to welcome His Royal Highness and all of you once again for coming to my castle! Thank you very much!”
“Three cheers for his Royal Highness!”
Marquis François Duhem shouted refreshingly. He picked up his wine glass as thunderous clapping and cheering burst out.
The Marquis, who was a master of recreation, was able to keep everyone happy and rowdy even with the silent Imperial Prince at the center.
‘I’ve never seen someone like this before.’
There were not many people at the welcome dinner, as Ganael had mentioned.
There seemed to be about 50 people including all of us in the Imperial Prince’s envoy, the people from the House of Duhem, and their confidants.
I was sitting at the end of the long VIP table in front of the banquet hall, utilizing my corner seat to overeat.
Vice Captain Élisabeth was sitting to my left.
Marquis Duhem and Christelle were seated at the far right side of the VIP table and were already mixing drinks.
‘They’re mixing wine into beer……’
“Basically, it is similar to searching for treasure on the mountain.”
“Vice Captain Élisabeth, demonic beasts are not treasure.”
“However, your score goes up every time you catch one, and you win if you have the highest score. They are pretty much treasures.”
The Vice Captain of the Imperial Guard smiled brightly and sipped on her sherry.
Vice Captain Élisabeth, who was finally able to get off work once we arrived at the March, was drinking while looking as refreshed as she had looked the day after the Spring Ball.
She said that she had not attended the Great Clearance of Demonic Beasts ever since she enlisted into the Imperial Guard, but she knew about the rules and methods, as is fitting of a noble of the Empire.
“You should have seen the large mountain range on your way here. There is a large cave at the lowest peak that we call the Duhem Dungeon.”
‘Dungeon…… This world really has everything.’
I chewed on a soft piece of roast duck as I waited for her to continue.
The duck was juicy and the bigarade sauce was so good.
“The demonic beasts in the dungeon come out to attack the Lord’s Castle and the nearby city every year around this time. Barriers are useless because different kinds of demonic beasts come out every year. Some of those bastards definitely manage to escape the castle. That is the reason the competition starts at the mountain but ends on the plains of the Lord’s Castle.”
I knew about that as well.
There were demonic beasts that managed to escape to get to the Sword of Wisdom from the Flaming Star even with numerous nobles and the Imperial family attacking them.
Their instincts were making them feel repulsed by the divine item and guide them to attack it.
“The person who defeats the most demonic beasts is at an advantage, but they generally give extra points to the person who catches the largest and fiercest demonic beast. It is quality over quantity.”
I responded to her and peeked to the Imperial Prince who was seated to Vice Captain Élisabeth’s left.
There were no signs whatsoever of a smile on that pretty face.
The punk who was usually only generally moody seemed super moody after having come to the south.
“Do you think that His Royal Highness can win?”
Vice Captain Élisabeth responded immediately.
“It pains me to admit this but Her Majesty is probably the only person who could defeat His Royal Highness in physical strength.”
“His condition doesn’t seem good lately.”
“His Royal Highness’s condition?”
Her grey eyes opened wide and she turned to her left.
The Imperial Prince felt our gaze and looked back at us.
His still sharp gaze made me think that he was nervous from the pressure to win.
I couldn’t come up with any other reason as to why he had been so sensitive the last few days.
I easily ignored the orange gaze and took a sip of orange juice.
‘Look at the little punk acting his age.’
“……He thinks that I am my son.”
“Ack! You finally found out?! Hahahaha!”
Élisabeth screamed and laughed at the same time.
She laughed so loud that her voice echoed in the noble reception room before stuffing her face in the couch cushion that David urgently handed her.
Marquis Duhem might come over wanting to know what was so funny if she was too loud.
Élisabeth looked almost as if she was going to cry as she smacked David’s arm.
The attendant was able to endure her smacks thanks to the toughness he had developed over the years.
“Mister David, how did you manage to keep that to yourself? How could you not share such entertaining news?”
“I can honestly say that it was the hardest hurdle of my life, young Countess-nim.”
“Ah! What should I do?! Prince Jesse!”
Cédric called her by her middle name with his voice boiling with rage.
It was his way of telling her to control herself, but Élisabeth could not do so and buried her face in the cushion again.
She had almost fainted from laughing when Prince Jesse had told her about the misunderstanding, but finding out that the person in question finally heard about it made her want to burst and die from laughter.
This… this was truly too much. Tears finally started dripping out.
“I, sob, I told you before. I would rather confess the truth than get this kind of misunderstanding.”
“……Why does he not think that we are the same person?”
“What the heck are you saying?! Are you saying you want him to find out the truth?!”
Élisabeth was now pointing as she laughed.
The Imperial Prince looked down at his close friend with a complicated gaze.
His mind had been quite chaotic for the past three days.
He didn’t know whether he should be angry at Élisabeth who had hidden such a misunderstanding from him or be heartless to the prince who dared to believe that he had an illegitimate child.
However, he was the one who had not paid any attention to Élisabeth’s hint. He was also the one who had taken advantage of the prince’s goodwill.
How could it end up being such an unfortunate and dishonest situation?
This was no different from when he turned into a child.
“Ahem, ahem. But isn’t it understandable? There are many symptoms of ether depletion but what you have is unique. It’s not even mentioned in books.”
Élisabeth let out some fake coughs before continuing to speak.
“Furthermore, it’s a secret that you use ether. It’s understandable why he would think you are different people.”
“In the end, you are saying it is my fault.”
“Ehehe, hehe. Sob.”
The young Countess started crying in laughter into the cushion again. The Imperial Prince let out a quiet sigh.