If the initials are C.R. then… There was only one person who popped into my mind.
Furthermore, that bastard was also the only person who could make such a fancy present suddenly appear in my room at this time of night.
I thought about the balcony door that was wide open when I came out of the restroom with the divine beasts.
That attitude of his that makes him to go in and out of another person’s bedroom as he pleases, was still the same.
“……I guess he does give birthday presents though.”
He could have easily asked his attendant, David, to deliver it, so I wasn’t sure why he did it personally.
The card didn’t have any congratulatory words on it but I folded it back up and stored it away.
Then I looked at the golden box that was sparkling so much that my eyes hurt.
“Demy, look at this. I could probably get enough money to feed us for the rest of our lives if I sold this box.”
Demy loudly screeched in agreement.
Rhea, Perry, and Percy had also gathered around the table, showing their curiosities toward the box as well.
I placed Percy on the table, since he couldn’t fly with his wet wings, and slowly opened the box lid.
The item inside was hard to look at because it was shi from the bright light of the bedroom.
My jaw dropped because it was not something I had expected at all.
“Wow. A cup? No. A bell? It’s a bell. How pretty.”
The crystal that was completely clear to the point that I could look through it, was an elaborately and splendidly crafted bell.
It was small enough for the whole thing, including the handle, to fit in my hand.
The light reflected through the crystal, lighting up the ceiling and the walls as I held it and turned it around.
There were jewels the size of my pinky fingernail all around the waist of the bell. They all seemed as expensive as diamonds or beryls.
The color combination made them look like prettier versions of the infinity stones.
“But it doesn’t have a clapper.”
I mumbled while shaking the bell.
I looked inside because I didn’t hear anything. It really didn’t have a clapper.
It’s only use seemed to be as an accessory.
‘Is it maybe a magic tool?’
I put my hand into the bell, in shock.
The Imperial Prince seemed to have hidden something deep inside of it. Only I would have been able to see it.
My fingertips touched what felt like paper. I quickly took it out and opened it.
‘Is it a manual?’
‘My beloved Losna.’
It was that note.
The suspicious note from Usil that Sadie had taken from me in the Imperial Palace had been returned.
It was hard to believe, even though it was in my hand. I read it multiple times and even flipped it over. It really was that problematic note.
Getting a present was one thing, but I couldn’t close my jaw. I had not expected to get the note back as well.
Why? Well, it was a good thing, but… He did say something like, ‘You will end up submitting first.’
‘What has gotten into him?’
“Is it because I gave him my word?”
Percy crawled into the empty box and curled up into a ball.
I recalled what I had said to the young boy using my Divine Oracle.
I had not been in contact with the Holy Kingdom and I would not contact them in the future. I gave my word in a Promise of Ether.
A priest giving their word was an act of borrowing the Authority of the Almighty God to prove their sincerity.
It was well known that a priest who didn’t stay true to their word would suffer losses.
He might have decided that it was okay to return the letter to me because I did that.
Figuring out where the note came from was probably a lot of work too.
It was hard to tell whether it got mixed with the birthday cards in the Empress Palace, if someone in Juliette Palace stealthily snuck it in, or if some noble hid the note in their card from the beginning.
Perhaps he decided to let it be and see what happens since it was only a note checking in on me.
Though, it was a bit unexpected that he had not told the Empress or Cardinal about it.
“……Does he really trust me?”
That was a relief. Trust was much more useful to my survival than suspicion.
Unlike Jung Eunseo’s perception of him, the Imperial Prince didn’t seem like that terrible of a person in my eyes.
Of course, I had not expected to share a secret with not only Christelle, but also with the Imperial Prince too.
– Kiiiiiiiiiii, kiiiiiiiiii.
“Yes, let’s sleep. Let’s sleep and then think about it later.”
I carried the divine beasts, who were slowly falling asleep, and left the table.
The note mentioned always keeping the little bell on me, so I left it on the bedside table and put the note in my pocket before lying down.
This way, I took care of both things.
I felt a bit restless the next day.
Benjamin and Ganael seemed a bit shocked at my unusual proclamation, but they quickly calmed down and did what they needed to do.
Ganael went to the Cardinal’s office to inform her of my decision while Benjamin got the Summer Palace staff to help him set up a picnic basket.
Percy must have gone somewhere this morning since I didn’t see him, but the red panda trio were ready to head out.
“Your highness, is there a reason you suddenly changed your mind?”
“I just thought that since I’m familiar with the two of them… It wasn’t respectful to completely ignore them.”
I just mumbled some random excuse that came to mind.
Ganael and Benjamin were usually very supportive of my hermit lifestyle but they were always super happy when I brought up going out.
Walking down to the first floor and through the open corridor seemed to calm me down.
The two main characters had their lesson at 11am. I should be able to make it right on time if I left right now.
“The Summer Palace’s training ground is to the right, Prince Jesse.”
An attendant at the Summer Palace guided us after hearing what was going on.
I nodded my head and followed her.
I was only doing this to help out poor Sand and objectively assess the situation.
It wasn’t fair to only listen to what Sand had to say.
Furthermore, Sir Johann Geens was a Holy Knight from the Vatican.
I was certain that I might be able to pick up on some useful information if I went today.
“I did receive a present, so I should go thank him.”
“That’s true your highness. That bell seemed like quite the treasure.”
Ganael energetically nodded his head as he responded.
The young boy and the middle-aged attendant seemed completely stunned after looking at the box that the Imperial Prince left.
They gasped about how it was enough to buy twenty houses with lakes in the Imperial Capital and praised the crystal bell, talking about how it seemed more precious than most other gifts. They even questioned whether or not it was an Imperial Treasure.
Benjamin must have been concerned that I would actually go out and sell it since he informed me very seriously that I cannot ever sell a present from an Imperial family member.
I laughed, since it had been a while since I had seen Benjamin look so serious.
“We are here. Right this way, your highness.”
The attendant informed us.
I snapped out of my thoughts and looked forward to see the wide outdoor training ground on the west side of the Summer Palace.
The cool northern breeze brushed past us as if to greet new guests before moving away.
The grass was cut short, as this place was used for physical activity. The trees around the training ground created a rectangular barrier around it.
There were large couches made of crocodile leather sitting in the shade, making it seem like a nice spot to watch the sparring.
“P, Prince Jesseeeeee!”
I heard a familiar man’s voice.
I turned my head to see priest Sand, who was standing in a corner of the training ground, bowing toward me.
Sir Geens, who was tying his hair up while standing next to Sand, seemed shocked but quickly moved to show his respects as well.
I greeted them back and turned my gaze slightly to the side to see the main character, who was smiling so bright that she seemed to be glowing, and a guy whose pretty face did all the work for him.
“You finally came to watch, your highness!”
Christelle waved her arm high in the air as she greeted me energetically.
A few strands of her pink hair that fell to the side of her ear and were fluttering.
The Imperial Prince simply looked at me stoically as usual.
I was about to bow as usual when…
“Wait, why is he here?”
I saw something on top of the Imperial Prince’s head that should not be there.
Ganael was the one who gasped. I quickly walked over and reached my hand toward him.
“I’m sorry, your Royal Highness. I’ll hold him.”
Percy, who had his eyes closed while on top of the Imperial Prince’s head, chirped. He seemed to be greeting me.
‘I know the view up high is nice, but you can’t do that to someone with such a high peerage.’
I clicked my tongue internally and quickly grabbed the little punk with both hands to bring him down.
Thankfully, there were no signs of annoyance in the Imperial Prince’s orange eyes.
“Then, please focus on your studies. Both of you.”
I did not care what I said as long as it changed the subject, so I just said whatever came to mind and smiled indifferently.
A sharp ice sword smashed against a black flame sword.
The Imperial Prince was physically much stronger, but Christelle made an ice platform behind her to support her body.
Instead of the expected embers, bright water drops dripped down on top of their boots.
The water and fire colored swords clashed intensely against each other, leaving only a small gap in between them.
Christelle could never defeat the Imperial Prince with a sword.
The fact that she still created such a weapon must mean that she was trying provoking him.
She somersaulted in the air just as the Imperial Prince slashed the Sword of Wisdom horizontally.
Red flames created an arc as they burst toward Christelle. It was a dangerous situation because she was in midair.
At that moment…
– Crack, crack, crack!
Stepping stones made of ice appeared in the air.
Christelle quickly landed on the ice and then, tap, tap.
She moved back one step at a time.
The Imperial Prince’s flame instantly appeared by her foot and melted the ice.
Christelle swung the whip in her right hand.
A wave taller than the Imperial Prince appeared on top of the green grass.
A rich imagination was necessary for these people who could handle these formless powers of water, fire, air, and earth.
I heard that the Holy Knights’ weapons helped them with this “imaging”.
Christelle’s whip was a highest-grade magic tool purchased at the Legault Christelle, so it was sturdy, light, and, to a certain degree, moved according to its master’s will.
She couldn’t put her ether into it, but it was the best support for her.
“Ahh, I don’t think his Royal Highness will be able to dodge that!”
Ganael was stomping his feet with anxiety.
I was unable to take my eyes off the Imperial Prince as I mumbled.
“He’s just not dodging it.”
I could see joy flash past his sunset colored eyes. He wasn’t smiling, but I could tell.
The Imperial Prince was calm despite the waves coming at him in all directions.
The moment a drop of water touched the tip of his pitch black hair…
There was an intense explosion and clouds of steam filled my view.
It was an unbelievable ether explosion. Sand covered his mouth with both hands.
Before we could figure out what happened…
The Imperial Prince cut through the fog and charged toward Christelle. My eyes opened wide.
He had pulled out the maximum amount of flame at that moment to instantly evaporate the wave.
It should have been a difficult method for normal fire-attribute Holy Knights to attempt.
It was not advantageous because the humidity in the area went up too much. However, he was the versatile male lead.
Christelle, who had created an ice wall between the Imperial Prince and herself, let out a quiet breath.
The Imperial Prince was a scary swordsman even if he couldn’t channel his flames at this moment.
His Sword of Wisdom stabbed into the ice and created a deep and long crack.
The ice then crackled as it wrapped around the body of the sword. Christelle immediately pushed out her right hand.
A sharp ice spike pierced through the ice wall and toward the Imperial Prince’s abdomen…
“Ha, because of this again.”
Christelle’s mumbling stopped there.
A sharp dagger was floating in the air pointed at the back of her neck.
This was the work of the Imperial Prince who could control metal. We all gasped on the couch.
We were so focused on the two of them going against each other that none of us noticed the dagger moving.
“…I lost, your Royal Highness.”
“Both of you did great. Please go get some ether first.”
Sir Geens, who had been watching the two of them with his arms crossed, calmly announced once Christelle admitted defeat.
The Imperial Prince and Christelle walked toward us as soon as Sir Geens finished speaking.
I was standing up with Ganael and Benjamin, clapping.
It was an interesting spar.
Christelle’s growth seemed amazing and the two of them seemed much more in sync with each other than during the Great Clearance of Demonic Beasts.
‘They might really end up dating at this rate.’
“I enjoyed it very much. Both of you were so cool.”
Christelle smiled brightly at my comment.
The Imperial Prince grabbed the water bottle in front of me and drank it. ‘That’s Demy’s……’
“T, then I will provide you with ether to his Royal Highness first.”
Sand, who had been warily looking at us, spoke in an extremely quiet voice.
I responded since I felt pity for him.
“Priest-nim, wouldn’t it be easier to give it to them at the same time?”
Sand looked as if I had said something that would kill him and his large body squirmed.
“I might die if I do that……”
“Excuse me? Based on how much they just used, both of them should recover quickly.”
Sand seemed extremely anxious after hearing my response.
“Quickly? Is the ‘quickly’ you are talking about perhaps one hour, your highness?”
“No, it usually only took about five minutes……”
My words trailed off. I felt as if this conversation was going in circles.
The Imperial Prince, who was stoically looking at Sand and me, opened his mouth.
“Then you can show him an example.”
“As expected of the esteemed Duke, your Royal Highness. That is truly the Imperial way.”
Christelle quickly added on.
‘They’re so in tune with each other. How much should I give them as a wedding gift?’
Jesse thinking Cestelle is a great couple…pffft