There was a ship floating in the distance out on the ocean. It was quite far, so the flag was not very visible.
However, they were sure that they heard a cannon exploding.
“Evacuate all civilians by the shore! Tell them to take only their valuables and run to the Count’s Estate!”
“Yes, young Countess-nim!”
The knight seemed familiar with such a situation.
Almost none of them were shocked to hear the word ‘pirates’. In fact, their formation and gazes became firmer.
Christelle watched the Margrave’s soldiers moving in perfect order before calling out to Élisabeth.
“Vice Captain Élisabeth, I will help out too.”
“I would be most grateful, young lady Sarnez.”
The young Countess’s grey eyes curled up as she smiled. Her tone was the same as usual.
She did not show any signs of urgency or anxiety, probably because she had faced pirates plenty of times before.
However, she did seem to be a bit calmer now.
“Please call Instructor Johann and the priest-nim as well. We may need their help.”
Christelle commented. Élisabeth quickly nodded her head.
“Deliver the young lady’s message as well. Gabriel, you go!”
“Yes, young Countess-nim!”
The knight who was designated as messenger quickly left toward the Count’s Estate on his horse.
Christelle watched him leave and started thinking.
Johann Geens was the instructor sent from the Vatican to train her and the Imperial Prince Cédric as Holy Knights.
The man seemed uninterested in everything. He even seemed to find eating annoying. Though, he was not the type of person who would sit back and do nothing while his student was fighting against pirates.
The Clergy level priest he came with was necessary for her to replenish her ether as well.
This priest’s ether was like junk food compared to Prince Jesse’s extremely pure ether, but……
It was better than nothing.
Christelle smiled as the ocean breeze blew across her face.
The prince was one of the two people who gave her the most sense of life in this world.
She didn’t know the reason behind it as it was such a subjective sensation that she couldn’t even explain it properly to herself, but……
Everything felt clear and fresh when the Imperial Prince and the prince were by her side.
The feeling of being alive was stronger than ever.
She did get similar feelings from Vice Captain Élisabeth and Cardinal Boutier as well, but she had never met anybody who gave her ‘special’ feelings like the two of them did.
Of course, the feelings each man gave her were completely different.
Her relationship with the Imperial Prince was one where they clashed against each other to relieve their anger and stress.
Using all of her strength when sparring against him gave her a release that was unique to Holy Knights and made her feel good.
She felt an instinctual repulsion against him, but he was perfect as a sparring partner.
Plopping down on the ground after fighting with him made the sense of life in her body become clear.
Prince Jesse was a bit peculiar. For example……
‘Please be careful of pirates.’
She had smiled in disbelief when he said that. He was an odd person.
He was nice to her but seemed to be keeping his distance. He was clearly a warm person who pretended to be cold.
He had never exchanged blows with her like the Imperial Prince had done, but his existence alone gave off an unbelievable amount of life force.
It was as if he was living in a 4K world when the rest of the world was still in HD.
Did it feel that way because of his immense amount of ether?
They heard another cannon explosion. A strand of water shot up from the shores not too far from them.
Nobody else was happy?smiling? but Christelle had a sparkling smile on her face.
Dwelling on something she could not understand was not Ham Ga-in’s style.
She stopped thinking about the two pretty boys and fixed the grip on her blue whip.
She planned on doing anything and everything she wanted to do, as long as it did not bring harm to the owner of this body.
And today’s goal was……
‘I just need a small souvenir.’
‘Souvenirs are great. I will get you one, your highness.’
“I woooooonder if a pirate shiiiiiip could be considered a sooooooouvenir.”
She extended her words and hummed to herself.
The bright sunlight of early summer was shining down on the landscape of white cliffs and blue water.
She had never used her abilities from such a distance before, but they were near the ocean.
It was worth trying.
‘I’m not curious at all. Who cares who Grand Duke Yvelines and Duke Yvelines are? I have no interest whatsoever. It doesn’t matter if nobody tells me.’
I was busy enough dealing with my own issues. I didn’t need to worry about someone else’s in-laws or second cousins or whatnot.
I decided to think only about the important things as I got off the carriage and stomped away.
Demy, who was on my shoulder, and the other two red pandas, who were in my arms, were squealing with each other.
Benjamin and Ganael grabbed some bags and followed behind me.
“It’s been two years since we’ve been to this remote palace. It should be a nice retreat.”
Empress Frédérique, who was walking in front of me, must have enjoyed making fun of me as her smile had not left her face since earlier.
At least Cardinal Boutier was next to me saying things like, ‘she’s acting like a child,’ and ‘this is so embarrassing.’
She was truly the last conscience of the Empire.
“It is our family’s honor to be in your presence, Prince Jesse.”
“Nice to meet you as well.”
The Chief of Staff of the Grand Duke’s Estate greeted the Empress and the Cardinal and then respectfully greeted me as well.
Once we arrived at Grand Duke Yvelines’ home after the two hour carriage ride, the attendants and servants all came out to stand in a single file line.
The Grand Duke’s Estate was large enough to fit the name of the Summer Palace, but there weren’t as many staff members as I had expected.
They must limit the number of staff because this was the Empress’s remote palace with strict guidelines for who could enter.
“I heard about your great deeds at the Great Clearance of Demonic Beasts, your highness. I’m sure that you will receive the Almighty God’s infinite blessings.”
“I didn’t do much at all.”
I lightly smiled and looked around.
This Summer Palace was a memorable mansion with orange walls and a dark blue roof.
There were splendid gold decorations here and there and the walls had exquisite sculptures and magic lights made of silver.
The main entrance to the Summer Palace had two large staircases on either side, which made itlook as if the building was curling its arms to welcome its guests.
There was a steep slope of grass and a fountain full of all sorts of jewels in the front of the building.
The fountain seemed to shoot up at least 200m tall. It was wide enough for some small boats.
“What a beautiful place.”
“Thank you very much.”
The Chief of Staff bowed as I gasped in admiration.
Unlike the Imperial Palace, where the Imperial family’s dignity and authority could be felt, this remote palace truly seemed to be designed for relaxation.
It was smaller than the Imperial Palace but bolder in color.
I heard that it gets very cold here in the winter, but the cool breeze felt nice right now.
I felt a bit awkward for intruding in the Empress and the Cardinal’s retreat, but coming here made it easy to handle that awkwardness.
“Duke, ahem. His Royal Highness, Duke Yvelines, usually reads on the grass over there.”
“Yes, your highness. I heard that you like to read, so…… I thought that I would recommend a fitting place.”
The Chief of Staff bit down on his lips.
Seeing him holding back his laughter while talking about Duke Yvelines must have meant that the ‘Imperial Decree’ had already been delivered.
I couldn’t help but sigh.
‘She gave such a childish order to make fun of a single prince……’
“Thank you very much. Would you please show me my room first?”
“Yes, of course, your highness.”
The Chief of Staff motioned to the attendants of the remote palace with his eyes.
The Empress and Cardinal must have already gone to their rooms as I did not see them anymore.
I started walking up the sleek granite steps with the others.
‘But why is the Duke referred to as his royal highness? I guess it is because he is the Grand Duke’s child and part of the Imperial Family. No, I’m not curious at all.’
“Wow, this is the best. It would be great to live here.”
“I agree, your highness. It’s my first time in Yvelines but it is so wonderful.”
Ganael, the three red pandas, and I were all lying down on a mat, rolling around.
Benjamin was smiling while pouring some cold honeybush tea for me.
The bright sunlight, cool grass, refreshing shade of the tree… People close to me and these cute divine beasts…
Everything was perfect after coming to the Summer Palace.
It would be great if I could just maintain my life like this before going home.
The Empress left to hunt something for dinner and the Cardinal naturally went with her.
They said that Duke Yvelines should be back in a few days after taking care of the pirates.
I was on my own in this wonderful remote palace.
“But why are outsiders not allowed to enter Yvelines? Is there a reason for that?”
I asked a question that popped into my mind.
Ganael’s gold eyes were filled with a complicated gaze.
“That, your highness. Mm……”
“Yvelines was originally private land belonging to the Imperial family. It has not been very long since it was given the Yvelines name and separated from the Imperial family land. It was an area specially given to the Grand Duke, so only close family and guests are able to enter.”
Benjamin was able to resolve some of my curiosity without revealing the identities of Grand Duke Yvelines or the Duke.
It made him seem amazing. I nodded my head and sat up.
I then grabbed a peach in one hand and opened my notebook with a quill pen in the other.
“Well, I’m not interested in the Grand Duke or the Duke.”
““That’s very random, your highness.”
Ganael sounded confused at what I just said.
I quietly reached the peach out and Demy quickly came over, grabbed my sleeve, and started biting on it.
The other two didn’t seem interested in it.
I maintained that position before writing some ‘truly important things’ in it.
∙ Sadie and the suspicious letter
That was the most concerning right now.
I had found a mysterious ddakji last night among the birthday cards given to Prince Jesse.
It was a note from a Usil to a Losna, but it was clearly someone from the Holy Kingdom asking about how I was doing.
That punk Sadie snatched it away, but it was short enough that I memorized what was on it.
The thing I was curious about though……
∙ Sadie and the suspicious letter
– Who is Usil?
– Is Losna my middle name?
– What did that punk Sadie do with the letter?
Those were it.
I quietly mumbled to myself.
Based on the contents of the note alone, there seemed to be someone in the Holy Kingdom concerned about Prince Jesse, unlike what I originally assumed.
The tone did not make it sound like a lover, so it was most likely a family member or friend.
I had no way of knowing who it was if it was a friend, but I had some people in mind if it was a family member.
– Who is Usil: A friend I don’t know, Queen Christanne, crown princess Elise.
I bit the end of the quill pen for a moment before letting it go.
‘Would the Queen have a reason to send such a secretive note?’
She was in a position to send an official letter to her son whenever she wanted and didn’t seem to have a reason to hide it.
But the crown princess……
‘They say that the crown princess does not agree with what the Prince Consort is trying to do.’
‘You are saying some dangerous things.’
I recalled the interview I had last month with Lady Sarah Belliard, the Managing Editor of the < Biweekly Riester >.
I was sure that was what Lady Belliard had said.
The clash between the Empire and the Holy Kingdom at the border was crown princess Elise’s doing. The crown princess and Prince Consort Werner had opposing opinions.
He frowned once he thought that far.
‘What if it was the crown princess who was stealthily sending me a message while avoiding the Prince Consort’s eyes? What if the sibling relationship between them wasn’t bad?’
It was a plausible hypothesis but it would be dangerous to confirm it as true.
What Lady Belliard told me was just a rumor and the author of the note could have been someone I don’t even know exists.
It was not enough to say that the crown princess was on my side or that I had allies in the Holy Kingdom.
I was careful to make sure Demy did not eat the peach seed before looking down at the next sentence.
I could see that Ganael had fallen asleep.
– Is Losna my middle name?
I heard a familiar young boy’s voice at that moment.
‘Losna must be your middle name.’
‘I guess so.’
I grumbled internally.
There was no way for me to prove or disprove that without Prince Jesse’s family or best friend coming to confirm it.
Eunseo didn’t mention the middle names of the QNW characters either, and even if she did, I probably wouldn’t have remembered.
The conversation I do remember is…
‘The Grand Duke of the North. If there are many male lead candidates in a Romfan, you always have to choose the Grand Duke of the North.’
‘Not the West?’
‘There isn’t something like that in the west, big bro. There is an Imperial Crown Prince, the King, the Grand Duke of the North, and the Magic Tower Master. Don’t ask anything, don’t question anything, just go for the Grand Duke of the North.’
‘Why? Isn’t the north dangerous because of a lot of invasions? What if I die during my wedding day?’
‘Stop watching Game of Thrones.’
……That was the conversation. This was a ‘Romfan’ world in the territory of a ‘Grand Duke’ of the ‘North’!
I quickly sat up straight again.
Benjamin, who had been putting a Meringue in my mouth, flinched.
I wasn’t that curious about it, but my right hand started moving as if it was possessed by Jung Eunseo’s mouth.
∙ Traits of the Grand Duke of the North
– Man of few words
– Usually wears fur (might not in the summer)
– Warm to his lover?
“……I have absolutely no idea.”
I quietly mumbled.
There are so many possible people. If it is just like this, even the Imperial Prince could be the Duke of the North.
Oh poor Jesse.