‘Our esteemed sir will lose a connection once again. How pitiful.”
‘I wonder what she meant by that.
Does it mean that the Imperial Prince will break up with Christelle? There’s no way.’
There was a tone of sympathy in the old woman’s voice.
I was even more concerned because she did not seem to be exaggerating.
I would probably have ignored her if I was someone from this world, thinking that she was a fraud.
However, anybody should be able to tell that this was a device set up to foreshadow future development.
Regardless of the status of this person, the nuance of the situation seemed that way.
Imperial Prince Cédric turned around without much reaction and got on his carriage.
I asked the coachman for his understanding as I held the carriage door…….
“What is it? Are you nervous? Don’t worry. The other bishops won’t touch you guys.”
I snapped out of my thoughts and picked up Demy, who was roaming around my feet.
Demy, who has been enjoying the ‘airplane rides’ that I have been giving him, really liked me lifting him up high.
He opened and closed his mouth as if he was satisfied once I gave him a few rides.
I put him down on my lap and watched Rhea and Perry playing hide and seek with Percy before falling back into my thoughts.
‘Are you okay, your Royal Highness? You don’t need to take her words to heart-’
‘Do I look like I am?’
The Imperial Prince, who had been looking out the window, turned to look at me.
His orange eyes showed no signs of disturbance.
He truly looked as if it did not affect him at all.
‘The Fleur-de-lis had prophesized my death.’
‘That old woman’s nonsense means nothing.’
“Fleur-de-lis.’ I quietly mumbled.
They were the Empress’s personal mage advisory team and the ones who accurately predicted the date of the Great Clearance of Demonic Beasts and the start of the June heatwave.
It was the respected and only responsibility of the Fleur-de-lis to predict both the small and large issues of the Empire.
It was an honorable position that could only be gained by being invited by the Empress and only high-ranking mages who specialized in foresight could be a part of it.
Of course, they weren’t 100 percent accurate and sometimes the opposite of what they said happens as well, but…
“They prophesized his death.”
I mumbled to myself as I petted Demy.
I didn’t know when they made that prophecy, but I thought that it might be related to the Imperial Prince turning into Sadie every so often.
Sir Geens had said that his ether status was close to foundational depletion.
“Is something troubling you, my little prince?”
I heard Cardinal Aurélie Boutier’s voice. I quickly raised my head.
The Cardinal, who had come over from Priest Office 1 which was right next to me, was standing there in a luxurious formal attire.
The attendants all withdrew to the next room after she gestured to them.
Her mitre was sparkling like a jewel as it received the light of the magic light.
Her face looked a bit skinnier, probably because she had been preparing for today’s Annual Prayer Meeting for over a month.
I immediately stood up.
“It isn’t a big deal, your Eminence. It’s just……”
The Cardinal’s beige-colored eyes followed me.
Teacher Au was so sharp that she was able to know how I was feeling despite being so busy.
I debated saying something else but chose to be honest.
I didn’t want to lie to her and there was nothing to gain by doing so either.
“It was when the four of us went to the Commerce Center, your Eminence.”
“Oh, you’re talking about when Cédric rented out the Commerce Center with a day’s notice and caused a ruckus throughout the Imperial Capital.”
‘It caused a ruckus?’ I smiled bitterly before continuing to speak.
“We met a fortune teller that day. She said something ominous but his Royal Highness did not seem fazed by it at all. He then said that the Fleur-de-lis prophesized his death before.”
She fixed my collar for me. I was not used to wearing formal attire as it had been a while.
I didn’t know that I would end up at the Annual Prayer Meeting as well, but at this point, it would be weirder if I didn’t get involved somehow with what the main characters were doing.
‘At least both of them should find new priest partners after today.’
“It happened when that child was very young. Maybe one years old?”
The response came without any warning. I quietly looked at her.
“His ether depletion has been quite severe since he was born. It was almost natural for such a prophecy like that to come out. Of course, it didn’t change the fact that we were hurt by it.”
‘So it did happen.’ I subconsciously looked down while thinking about it.
The Cardinal smiled gently and grabbed my cheeks.
“How kind of you. That is why he is trying to rely on you.”
– Knock knock.
The Cardinal’s attendant, Natalie, knocked on the open door at that moment. She silently bowed toward me as well.
“Your Eminence, it is time. All preparations have been completed.”
“Yes, it is really big.”
– Kiiiiiiiiiii, kiiiiiiiiii!
“Yes. This can’t be compared to the temple at the Imperial Palace at all. If that is a playground at an apartment, this is Lotte World.”
Demy, who was in my arms, wagged his front paws to share his shock.
I made sure to respond to each of his screeches.
Rhea and Perry were moving back and forth while Percy must have gone somewhere again as I couldn’t see him.
I was sure that this was an amazing sight for him as well.
I tilted my head up to look at the high ceiling.
The mural that personified the sun, moon, water, fire, wind, and earth looked as if it was alive and moving.
I couldn’t help but gasp in admiration.
“Rhea, look over there. They even prepared a cushion for the nap you love so much.”
The Central Temple of the Empire was located in the Imperial Capital’s central area and its largest street in the Legault district.
It was close to the Commerce Center and the Opera Theatre with the < Phantom of the Pas de Trois >.
I thought that the temple at the Imperial Palace was pretty large since it could fit hundreds of people, but now I could tell that that temple only had the minimum necessities.
I gasped while looking at the close to 2,000 bishops already filling the dimly lit Central Temple.
And this was with them sitting pretty far from each other.
They could probably fit twice as many people if they sat shoulder to shoulder.
The divine beasts and I entering the temple caused people to start whispering.
“Perry, come over here. It’s dangerous over there because of the candle.”
Perry, who was curious about the holy fire lighting up the platform, whimpered before walking back.
There was a simple reason that I was invited here despite not being part of Riester.
The bishops, who were curious about the divine beasts residing in the Imperial Palace, had sent quite a lot of messages to the Cardinal since about two months ago.
The contents could be shortened to three lines.
‘Please bring the esteemed divine beasts with you, your Eminence. I’m turning sixty this year. I’m going to die if Demy is not there.’
That is how I ended up participating in this as the children’s guardian.
“You can sit over there, your highness.”
“Thank you very much.”
I arrived at the back side of the platform and an attendant wearing a while veil guided me to my seat.
Anybody who was not a religious figure had to wear a veil like that when a ritual was taking place in the temple.
I ignored the people staring at me and headed toward my seat.
“Welcome, your highness.”
“……Young lady Sarnez?”
Someone was there already.
I didn’t notice it was her because it was dark in the temple and her face was covered by a long veil.
I looked at the man seated next to Christelle but with one seat empty in between them.
It was hard to read his face because he was also wearing a white mesh.
They must have to cover their faces like the regular believers because they had not officially been anointed as Holy Knights.
‘They look like newlyweds. It’s nice to see.’
“Your Royal Highness.”
I greeted him. I could feel his firm gaze from behind the mesh.
I sat down at the empty seat in between them and both of them let out deep sighs.
“We will now commence the 1048th Annual Prayer Meeting of the Bishops in the Riester Empire.”
Someone’s voice boomed through the temple.
The thousands of candles gently lighting up the temple gave off a solemn and mysterious feel.
Cardinal Boutier, who was standing at the center of the platform, started to speak.
[I pray to the great Almighty God of the continent.]
The inside lit up brightly once her Holy Domain was released. I felt as if my eyes would burst out.
– Squeeeeee! Kiiiiiiiuuu!
No. This was not a Holy Domain.
“Holy Land…… Holy Ground.”
My mind was almost blank as I mumbled that.
A Holy Domain was the lowest level of ether circle that any proper priest would be able to release.
Of course, the deacon level, the lowest level in the hierarchy of the Church of the Almighty God, generally couldn’t release Holy Domains because they were still in training.
However, it was necessary to release a Holy Domain in order to become a priest.
The Holy Domain became even bigger once someone reached the Bishop level.
A priest who received the Almighty God’s blessing to reach the Archbishop level would be able to release the second level of ether circles.
That was the Holy Land, which was at a completely different level of refinement than a Holy Domain.
A Holy Domain could be at max 30 meters wide while a Holy Land could reach 100 meters.
My first goal was to refine a Holy Land as well.
And the third circle, the Holy Ground, was something that only a Cardinal level priest could call forth by borrowing the Authority of the Almighty God.
The widest area recorded in the Holy Text for a Holy Ground was 500 meters.
“Take a look at this, your highness. The designs on the circle are moving.”
Christelle whispered to me. Her finger that was pointing toward the ground was dyed gold.
I nodded my head and observed Cardinal Boutier’s magnificent Holy Ground.
The endless golden lines seemed to dance in all directions as they stretched out like the tip of a paintbrush drawing on a paper.
Some parts even shot up like dolphins shooting out of the water and scattered light throughout the hall.
It was marvelous and entertaining that I couldn’t help but laugh.
I learned that Holy Land and Holy Ground were not to be revealed except in special situations, and there truly was a reason for that.
Even the Cardinal’s Religious Partner, the Empress, probably detected the flow of ether from the Imperial Palace since it required so much ether.
“It is disappointing that it is so beautiful but I can’t feel the ether itself.”
“Is that so?”
“The Celestial covenant is a contract to share one’s soul with a single person. It is hard for his Royal Highness or I to sense it if it is not a healing circle.”
Christelle explained. It seemed to be different for Holy Knights who were sensitive to the flow of ether.
[Thanks to the Almighty God’s endless love and overabundance of grace, two Holy Knights have finally appeared in the history of the Riester Empire.]
The Cardinal, who was standing in front of us, continued her prayer. I finally peeked toward the rest of the seats.
All of the bishops had their eyes closed and their mouths were moving in prayer.
“Should we pray as well?”
“I don’t think I need to pray, your highness. That fortune teller granny told me something last time.”
Christelle whispered in a mischievous voice. I leaned my body toward her in reflex.
“She said I had such a great facial feature. She also said that my aura was so clear. She said something about how I was so close to the center of the world.”
I quickly covered my mouth with my sleeve.
I had been quite tense thinking about that old lady until moments ago, but I couldn’t help but chuckle after hearing Christelle’s comments.
It was definitely something I had heard many times before.
She smiled as beautifully as the stars underneath the veil. It was as if she was telling me not to worry for no reason.
“But she was so funny. It is one thing to be the center of the world, what is just being close to it?”
I silently shrugged my shoulders.
Demy, who was on my lap, pushed down on Christelle’s leg.
‘He must think that she bothered me.’
The Imperial Prince commented.
I let out a fake cough and looked toward him and almost burst out in laughter again.
“Why are all the children with you, your Royal Highness?”
“I want to ask the same thing.”
Rhea, who had been indifferent to the cushion, had her tail wrapped around the Imperial Prince’s ankle.
Perry had taken over a part of his chair and was already sleeping.
Percy was on his shoulder pecking at his epaulet.
“It looks like the Town Musicians of Bremen.”
Christelle mumbled. I bit down on my lips not to say anything.
[ Here is the first question, esteemed Chairman!]
The person spoke loudly. I woke up in shock and boom!
“Ugh! I’m sorry, your Royal Highness.”
The side of my head hit the Imperial Prince’s shoulder as I nodded off.
He seemed to have been hit by my mitre but he didn’t openly grumble.
I suddenly sat up, and Christelle’s forehead hit my shoulder since her head was tilted toward me.
My shoulder blade felt as if it would break. It was fitting for the main character’s head that was strong enough to make a demonic beast blank out with a headbutt.
Christelle wiped her drool with the veil in front of her and sat up straight.
Percy had squished himself into her jacket pocket at some point.
I petted the red pandas that were curled up together in my arms and asked the Imperial Prince.
“Is the prayer finished now?”
“The sermon and confession of faith is over as well.”
He answered cynically. ‘Yes, yes, you worked so hard listening to all of that on your own while we were sleeping.’
I blinked my eyes. An unfamiliar Archbishop was standing in front of the platform now.
He seemed to be Chairman of the Riester Bishops.
The Chairman called out loudly to the Cardinal, who stood at the center of the platform and responded without any hesitation.
[ I had a meeting with her Majesty, Empress Frédérique, regarding the Imperial Affairs this morning. The plan is to have a dinner meeting with the bishops of the Archdiocese of the Imperial Capital after the Annual Prayer Meeting is over.]
I had no idea what was going on.
Everybody had their Holy Domains open and were delivering Divine Oracles.
‘Why are they suddenly going through the schedule? Are they asking about the secular Imperial affairs with the Cardinal standing there?’
The Chairman called out for someone. The person named Tourcoing jumped up and started speaking.
[Your Eminence, what do you think about the unified suggestion from the twenty Archdioceses regarding pulling forward his Royal Highness, Imperial Prince Cédric and young lady Christelle de Sarnez’s appointment as Holy Knights to next month?]
‘He’s speaking so militantly……
Wait, next month? Today is the 30th.’
Jesse always talking about them looking like newlyweds or whatnot but whenever he has a chance, he thinks Christelle’s smile is as beautiful as the stars, eyes as pretty as whatnot etc. He secretly has a big crush on Christelle, doesn’t he?