“What is it, your highness?”
I heard Christelle’s clear voice in my ear. I quickly looked away and checked on her.
Her blue-gray eyes, which were as clear as usual, were looking right at me.
“Are you okay, young lady Sarnez?”
“Excuse me? Of course I’m o……”
She could not finish her sentence.
The brightness was slowly disappearing from her eyes.
I got chills from my back all the way down to my heels.
She turned away from me and looked forward, as if she was a puppet on strings.
It was as if there was somebody past the two apple trees.
However, I couldn’t even see a small bird, let alone a person, no matter how wide I opened my eyes and searched.
“Young lady Sarnez?”
There was no response. I gulped.
There were two people in this foggy valley whose eyes were no longer focused while the screams and shouts of people echoed from the other side of the mountain.
That damn noise. I clenched my teeth. There were only four apples left on the tree now.
I was certain that this invisible apple thief was responsible for turning the two of them like this despite not having any evidence.
The medium was probably this fog.
“Father. It was all my fault.”
Imperial Prince Cédric started walking while saying that.
I quickly took one step in front of him.
I didn’t have any hands left because I was covering Demy and my faces, but I had to prevent him from leaving the Holy Domain even if I had to kick him to do so.
“Can you hear me, your Royal Highness?”
“You should not have sacrificed yourself for me. It should have been me-”
“Please stop saying weird things.”
I cut him off. His pale face and sunken eyes made me frown.
I felt uncomfortable thinking about why this punk was having such a radical thought since he should have been very young when the Prince Consort left this world.
‘He hasn’t spent all this time thinking like this, has he?’
“Sis, why are you here?”
I heard a shaking voice at that moment.
I had an extremely ominous feeling as I turned toward Christelle.
“Sis, why are you here? You should be living happily after getting married like that. What are you doing here?!”
Her voice was full of sadness and affection. I felt as if I could not breathe.
Both of them seemed to be seeing family members who have departed this world.
I could not leave them like this since I didn’t know how much stronger the illusions and their emotions might get.
I needed to at least temporarily wake them up-
“Go. Go to brother-in-law because it is dangerous here! Hurry!”
“You can’t leave, young lady Sarnez!”
I quickly extended my leg to stop her.
My leg was shaking because the two main characters were standing pretty far from each other.
[Both of you snap out of it!]
I immediately released a Divine Oracle.
Bright lights shot out from the Holy Domain that had been subtly releasing golden light to cover the two of their bodies.
Divine Oracle is only effective against living creatures inside the circle, which was why I had no reason to shout when we were fighting the demonic beasts.
I could not allow demonic beasts to get within 15m of me when I had no physical talents whatsoever.
The holy light soon let the two of them go.
I could see Christelle’s large eyes blinking as the rays of light slowly disappeared.
I sighed in relief.
“Huh? Just now, just now, my older sister……”
“Are you back to your senses? Please quickly cover your mouth and nose. What about you, your Royal Highness?”
Christelle quickly pulled a handkerchief out of her pocket.
Her eyes were red, but she must have realized what was going on as she did not say anything. As for the Imperial Prince…
His orange eyes were burning up when our eyes met.
He looked as if he would burn anything he set his eyes on.
I couldn’t help but feel an instinctual fear crawl down my spine despite knowing that his wrath was not directed at me.
His conscience seemed to have returned but I wasn’t sure whether or not he was in a completely rational state.
The ether in my body fluctuated anxiously.
‘Wait, is this really mine?’
“……How dare you.”
“Please calm down, your Royal Highness. You need to get a cloth before you see another illu-”
“A damn demonic beast dares to bring my father.”
The young man’s voice sank low. It was as if it would pierce through the ground.
The tips of his black hair were shaking like a bad omen. He was taking the black glove off his left hand.
My fingertips were numb with an unexplainable sense of anxiousness.
“You cannot attack it right now, your Royal Highness. The monster is still hiding so it will be dangerous if you leave the Holy Domain. You will quickly see another illusion because of the fog. The young lady has some magic tools that can cause explosions, so we should-”
“I will not forgive it.”
He closed his left hand into the shape of a flower bud.
‘I saw something like this before.’
I heard him snap his fingers. Christelle retched and plopped down on the ground.
The Imperial Prince and I made eye contact for a while.
Then there was a fire.
The red flame that burst out of the man’s hand was furiously engulfing everything outside my Holy Domain.
The fog, valley, trees, moss, grass, forest, and ground… everything was quickly becoming dyed red like blood.
He seemed to be doing as he pleased, it was as if he was a child while being as ruthless as a tyrant.
My head felt hot just watching him do this. I was sort of blanking out because of the intense heat.
The demonic beast that had been hiding itself screeched in pain.
– Boom, booooom!
I could hear something large falling down.
Someone’s ether was pulsating violently. But that was not the end.
– Grrrrrrrrrrrr! Grrrrrr!
I jerked my head up. From the top, side, and foot of the mountain……
There were demonic beasts writhing in the throes of death.
Some of them seemed to be coming from quite far away, while others sounded quite close.
The mountain peak, which was somewhat visible in the distance, was burning up as if a signal fire had been lit.
The Imperial Prince’s wrath seemed to have completely dominated the Marquis’ mountain range.
The dry air was burning my throat. I was full of both shock and confusion.
‘Why did he hide this kind of power until now……’
– Scrreech, screech, screeeech……
“Demy, are you okay?”
I calmed the red panda that was burrowing into my chest and shoved the handkerchief into my pocket.
My heart sank looking at the shaking Demy while I was unable to figure out what to do.
‘He shouldn’t be seeing an illusion since the fog was burned away.
Is he maybe scared of the fire…… Wait a minute.
A red warning light flashed in my mind a little bit late. I immediately turned my head.
“Your Royal Highness, please stop. It is dangerous if you use so much ether like this-”
I heard a plop as a small body fell toward me. I grabbed the young boy out of reflex.
At the same time…
The fires of his wrath that had been brutally gobbling up the mountain range scattered as if it had just been a mirage.
I couldn’t believe it even after having seen it with my own eyes.
Billions of sparks rode the spring breeze and slowly disappeared in the sunlight.
The small sparks filled my view. It seemed as if nothing big happened and it was all just a moment of capriciousness.
All that was left in front of me was……
“It really makes no sense, even after seeing it again.”
The lush mountain. Christelle seemed a bit out of it as she mumbled to herself.
I didn’t let go of the heated body that was leaning against my leg as I looked around.
The fire ether that had only delivered its judgment onto the demonic beasts on this vast mountain disappeared after only roasting the gravel and rocks.
I could not understand what I just saw.
The power was tremendous, but the control he had over it was even more shocking.
I could not close my open jaw.
Demy quickly jumped out of my arms and stuck to Christelle’s leg.
I finally looked down at the child who was burning up.
I couldn’t breathe. My tongue felt so stiff that I could not say anything.
The fainted kid should not open his eyes but I knew the color of this punk’s eyes.
His black hair and his stubbornly closed lips were familiar.
I carefully lowered him down. The large clothes wrapped around the young boy fluttered.
His forehead was completely wet with dry sweat like I had seen before.
I quietly called out the Imperial Prince’s name.
“My lord, the fire is disappearing!”
“My goodness, oh Almighty God…….”
“The Almighty God is protecting the Empire!”
“My goodness, it is a miracle! My goodness!”
The thousand of people in the stands were crying and shouting loudly.
Both nobles and commoners were cheering and throwing things into the air.
Applause, whistles, praise and prayers, along with hugs and comfort filled the plains.
François Duhem was looking toward the dungeon with a look of devastation.
The unbelievable event that had just happened was clearly the Imperial Prince’s power.
He was certain about it because nobody else in the Empire had ever used fire attribute ether before.
No, the Imperial Prince was the only person in the entire Empire who was born with the qualifications to be a Holy Knight.
The fact that he publicly displayed his abilities was a joyous occasion and an emotional event.
His chest felt suffocated. The Marquis raised a fist and patted above his ribs.
The precious young man should have turned into a child now.
And the only person he could rely on right now was a royal priest from the Holy Kingdom, who was here as a Diplomatic hostage.
Even if the Imperial Prince and Cardinal trust him… even if he too, had chosen to accept the prince……
The Marquis couldn’t help but be anxious as a vassal now that the situation had turned like this.
“Maybe I should go back up-”
“Hey mister. Don’t meddle with it and just sit down. You’re making my head hurt.”
He heard a distinct voice. He quickly turned around.
Élisabeth, who was leaning against an outdoor bed, was looking up at him with a splint on her arm.
“……How is your arm?’
“It doesn’t hurt.”
“Can’t you speak with some sincerity since young master Callamard is listening as well?”
Élisabeth’s spirit finally seemed to be subdued as she looked to the side.
Ganael, who had not left her side from the moment she descended the mountain, still had tear marks on his face.
She did not feel good thinking that she made him worry for no reason.
‘It’s not even a big injury.’
“……The healing priest put the bones back in their proper places and said that I should heal quickly since I am healthy. The painkiller Prince Jesse gave me was quite effective too. You packed that for him, right?”
“Excuse me? Yes, yes I did.”
Ganael’s honey-colored eyes curled up. She was relieved that he was the type who could easily smile even when he had been crying.
The young Countess continued speaking without any hesitation.
“Whatever is happening up there right now, all of it was done because his Royal Highness trusts Prince Jesse. That is why you should just calm down and watch, old man. This is the best seat, isn’t it?’
“We need to watch him pull out the Sword of Wisdom. I’m going to grab Benjamin-nim to take your seat if you leave.”
“Y, you wouldn’t dare!”
The Marquis quickly sat his butt down on the chair. Élisabeth let out a quiet sigh.
‘Is it really okay for someone like this to hold a Marquis position?’
“There’s a signal up there in the sky. Please go rescue them.”
I felt completely embarrassed.
That was the conclusion I came to after careful deliberation.
I wanted to die from embarrassment.
“Wow, I guess some people’s bodies shrink from ether depletion.”
“It does seem that way……”
“He’s a total angel when he’s asleep. He’s so pretty.”
Christelle saw the sleeping Sad…… Imperial P…… Anyway, she poked the little kid’s cheeks.
I had laid the child down on top of the Holy Domain and was holding one of his elbows.
The punk had used so much ether that even physical contact was not filling his ether quickly.
‘Damn it, I need this punk to return to his normal size. I need to do that whether he continues with the competition or descends the mountain.’
I did my best to think as rationally as possible despite the situation making me want to go crazy.
“Did you know about this, your highness? Did you know that his Royal Highness uses ether?”
“……I think this is my first time seeing it.”
It wasn’t a lie. I had only seen him use it in his young body before.
Holy shit, is this < Detective Conan > or something……
“Then I guess I was really the only outsider who knew about this. I was wondering why he had so many conditions for using ether, but it must be because he turns into a child like this.”
‘Why didn’t you let me in on the secret too?’
I kept that nonsensical grudge in my heart and maintained a calm look on my face.
The Imperial Prince’s secret that Christelle was talking about was ether.
The situation would have been a million times better if I knew that and Christelle knew the secret that I knew.
I was so sad that my throat felt stuffy.
“I guess he had no choice but to hide it. This child looks almost identical to his adult self. Anybody would be able to tell that this is his Royal Highness. It would have been a big weakness given his position.”
I felt my ears getting hot from shame.
‘Isn’t it normal to think that two similarly looking people are family? Am I in the wrong?’
“People who don’t know the situation…… Might analyze it differently, don’t you think?”
“Mm. Maybe if their personality or their words and actions were different, but I don’t think that his Royal Highness would put on an act like that.”
‘Please stop stabbing the dagger deeper. I’m going to die.’
– Kiiiiiiiiiii, kiiiiiiiiii.
Demy was roaming around us, trying to talk to the sleeping child.
‘Now that I think about it, Demy should have known about it as well.’
‘How can I look him in the face when he wakes up? Should I just bite my tongue and kill myself? Would I be able to return home if I did that?’