“I’ll make sure to enjoy this meal, your highness.”
“Great, me too.”
Sir Geens thanked me for the meal and I responded with a smile.
Things were proceeding very quickly.
I had shared a concern of mine after listening to Christelle’s concern yesterday.
It was more like a small thorn stuck underneath my fingernail than a concern but I decided that there was no harm in the MC knowing about it.
Imperial Prince Cédric was clearly wary of Sir Geens.
However, he had not given a proper response to my question about if something had happened.
That meant that he had no proof to back his suspicions.
However, it was difficult to pretend that I did not hear his warning.
The Imperial Prince was the male lead of QNW.
I didn’t want to be the cliché idiot who ignores the main character’s advice and ends up as the first sacrifice.
It was true that Sir Geens had saved my life but I needed to address it if there was something he might be hiding.
‘His Royal Highness told me to keep a distance from Sir Geens.’
‘His Royal Highness did?’
‘Yes. I feel uncomfortable after hearing that but to suddenly distance myself from Sir Geens…… I feel sorry and awkward to do that. He’s a nice person.’
‘That is true. I haven’t felt anything weird from the teacher either.’
Christelle responded. She and I quietly drifted off into our thoughts in the middle of the flower field.
‘What can I do to make it not awkward while drawing out his inner thoughts……’
‘Why don’t you share a meal, your highness?’
‘Should I set up a meal?’
Christelle and I said at the same time. We looked at each other and solemnly nodded our heads.
It was necessary to feed people if you want to get them to talk.
“The croque madame is amazing. It is the best sandwich I have ever had.”
“Laurence is the best. I’m glad that it is to your liking.”
I quickly pulled out of my thoughts and responded to Sir Geens’ comment.
The backyard of the Imperial Palace temple wasn’t as beautiful as the Juliette Palace garden.
However, it was perfect to have a private conversation as nobody came here and it was quiet.
Benjamin and Ganael were waiting inside the temple as I had asked them to do so in advance.
I could see the temple knights in the distance standing there to guard me.
“It’s a beautiful day.”
“Yes sir. It is pretty hot in July back at the Holy Kingdom but the Imperial Capital is bearable other than during the heatwave. Maybe it is because the air is dry.”
Sir Geens’ downward curling eyes curled up as he responded.
The way he held his fork and knife, the way he ate so neatly, he seemed like the epitome of an elegant noble Holy Knight.
A couple strands of his white hair fluttered in the wind.
I took a bite of the crunchy bread, melted cheese, hot ham and fried egg at once as I debated what to say.
“Sir Johann Geens.”
“Yes, your highness.”
“Umm…… May I ask how you got started as a mercenary?”
His eyes opened a bit wide.
His smile did not disappear but his face seemed both complicated and sorry.
“I guess I haven’t said much about my story at all. I made you prepare something like this for that……”
I calmed myself with a fragrant cup of camellia tea as I waited for Sir Geens to continue.
He wiped his mouth with a napkin and started to speak.
“I was a mercenary even before I awakened as a Holy Knight.”
I raised my head. He tilted his head as he continued to speak.
“I have been one since I was very young. Being a mercenary was the best paying job and it was also something I was good at. That was why I didn’t stop even after receiving my appointment.”
I wondered why he needed money so much but I thought it would be rude to ask.
I knew that I had to dig into his story but it was hard to do so.
The Empire had a lot of poor nobles as well.
Even the children of Viscount Bellang, the ones who were murdered by the twin assassins, had to ride a carriage instead of using a portal because they were poor.
I silently held onto my teacup.
“I have a son to look after.”
Sir Geens seemed to have read my mind. He and I made eye contact.
“He’s a child who needs to eat medicine every day. I had no choice in order to pay for his medicine.”
“It’s okay, your highness. It is not a terminal illness.”
He spoke as if to console me. I had no idea what kind of expression I had on my face for him to say that.
I tried to see my reflection in the tea but a camellia that was as red as blood covered my view.
Sir Geens’ tone was the same as usual.
“It just hurts and he is in pain if he doesn’t have the medicine.”
“It is normal for you to be curious, your highness. Even I would find someone like me hard to trust.”
He then stopped speaking.
His tone was the same as when he praised Christelle for her reflexes getting better.
His face looked as tired as usual as he put some whipped cream on the croissant.
I still could not verify whether he was lying or not because of the difference in his and my Divine Power.
“Is there anything else you would like to know, your highness?”
Sir Geens was the first to speak again.
My resolve was getting weaker but going at this weakly would only turn me into a pushover.
I needed to get proper answers since I created such a meeting place for it.
I carefully started to speak.
“Sir Geens, you said that you were hired by the crown princess to protect me. You also gave me a letter from her.”
That letter was most likely not something Sir Geens made up.
I had considered multiple scenarios when he revealed his identity to me.
One of them was that Sir Geens had written the letter himself and claimed it was from the crown princess to get my guard down before stabbing me in the back in the future.
However, what Sadie said made it difficult to believe this was the case.
‘I’ve seen this handwriting before.’
The young boy had said that the handwriting seemed familiar that night when he took the note away from my hand.
The crown princess had personally been involved in the negotiation to have Prince Jesse become a diplomatic hostage.
It wouldn’t be weird for the Imperial Prince to be familiar with her handwriting if he saw the negotiation documents between the Empire and the Holy Kingdom.
It was highly likely that the note really was from the crown princess.
“Did you lie about a portion of the commission?”
I asked. Sir Geens placed the croissant down on the plate.
“Did the crown princess order you to kill me after delivering the letter?”
“No, your highness.”
The response was firm. I took a sip of tea as I organized my thoughts.
I wondered if the crown princess wanted to have me put my guard down before assassinating me but there were a lot of issues when thinking it over.
There was no need to send a letter to remind me of her presence if she really wanted to kill me.
It would be more effective to strike without warning like when the Prince Consort sent those young assassins.
In that case…
“Is there another commission that you have not told me about?”
“Like what for example, your highness?”
“I am asking if you also received money from Prince Consort Werner.”
My voice was calmer than I expected. I made eye contact with him.
Sir Geens was the first to close his eyes.
[Let me make a Promise of Ether.]
“Excuse me? Wait-”
His voice changed to a Divine Oracle. I became anxious and raised my voice.
Holy Knights were not capable of making a Promise of Ether.
No, to be more accurate, no Holy Knight would want to take on such a danger.
A priest who breaks a Promise of Ether receives divine punishment of loss. The range of what that loss could be was vast.
There were times when a priest would lose a family member or a lover but some people would lose small amounts of money or even minor memories.
However, a Holy Knight could only lose one thing.
A Holy Knight who breaks a Promise of Ether would have their power sealed.
That was the reason that Promises of Ether were basically nonexistent between Holy Knights.
[I have never received any money from his Royal Highness, the Prince Consort. He is not my client.]
Sir Geens’ easygoing voice echoed through the temple yard.
He was swearing to me with all of his ether on the line.
The cool breeze fluttered my hair once before moving away.
[The only thing her highness the crown princess commissioned me for was to deliver her message and to protect you, your highness. I promise.]
There was no circle lighting up the area underneath his feet because he was Holy Knight and not a priest.
Instead, the silver and white ether that shot out of his heart wet his white hair and poured down to the ground.
He would lose his powers forever for swearing a lie while borrowing the Authority of the Almighty God should the Promise of Ether be broken.
He would be stripped of his honor and title as a Holy Knight and live the rest of his life with people pointing their fingers at him.
The man’s ether finally disappeared. He slowly opened his eyes.
“Your highness, are you okay?”
“……I can’t believe I heard a Holy Knight’s Divine Oracle.”
My voice was a bit strained. He gently laughed.
According to the holy text, there were only two reasons a Holy Knight could make a Divine Oracle.
One was to make a Promise of Ether like right now while the other time was when a Cardinal level Hannah revealed their stigmata.
The former was something that any sane Holy Knight would never do.
There were only six Cardinal level Holy Knights in the continent so most people would never heard the latter either.
“You’ll be able to see a stigmata soon as well, your highness.”
“I believe so.”
I answered. Two Cardinals would arrive at the Empire in two weeks.
I would be able to see a precious sight if there is a Holy Knight among them.
“Then does this mean that I pass?”
“How could you not? You even made a Promise of Ether……”
I took a big bite of scrambled egg with truffle oil. My mind was chaotic.
A person who has a son to look after made a vow to me while putting his stable job and the blessing of the Almighty God on the line.
I had no choice but to trust Sir Geens now. ‘Why the heck did Sadie say something like that?’
“However, please be cautious of the Prince Consort. Well, I’m sure you are more aware of that than I am, your highness……”
Sir Geens smiled bitterly.
“He is a scary person. He uses any and all means necessary.”
At the same time, the Venetiaan Holy Kingdom’s palace was quite rowdy.
The ever so precious second princess had not been eating for two days.
“Your highness, please take just one bit for this old handmaid’s sake.”
“I don’t want to. Big brother is not here……”
The child, who was seated alone at a large table, shook her head.
Her large light green eyes were tearing up. She had a pig sculpture in her hand.
The attendants were anxious as they roamed around the princess.
Cornelisse had grown up like a plant inside a greenhouse and was only seven years old.
It would be extremely bad for her health if she continued to reject food like this.
The princess’s chief attendant held back a sigh.
She didn’t want to say anything vicious to this princess she had raised like his own daughter.
However, that would be better than letting her starve again.
The Prince Consort did not even come to see the princess today because he was busy attending some royal priest’s party.
That was why she was certain that even her highness, the crown princess, would support her decision.
“Then would you like to go see her Majesty? Should I request her to have dinner together with you?”
“Don’t do that. Royal Mother is ill, if I go……”
The child’s small face scowled.
Queen Christanne’s insanity had gotten so serious lately that she did not even recognize the daughters she loved so much.
To be more specific, she was in pain because she saw the Prince Consort in her daughters’ faces.
Cornelisse was young but she knew that her mother found it difficult to look at her.
She wanted to throw a tantrum about how she didn’t want to eat alone and that her brother had broken his promise but she had to hold back.
Her older sister was very busy today. That was why she would be alone until late at night.
“Then just one bite……”
“Great decision, your highness.”
The attendants quickly started to move the utensils and ripped some bread so that the princess wouldn’t need to use her cute little hands.
The child could not eat quickly even though she should be hungry after only having water and juice since yesterday.
They couldn’t tell whether it was because she was sad or because her stomach had shrunk from not eating. It was probably a mix of both.
“Why has big brother not come back even though it has been over 100 days?”
“His highness will definitely come back if you eat well and sleep well, your highness. He never breaks his promise with you.”
“But…… It is close to 120 days now. I’m very good at counting.”
The skillful attendants praised her saying that she was amazing.
It had been four months since Prince Jesse left.
The princess, who had found math to be difficult until last year, could now accurately count the days on her own.
He would be extremely happy about this and lift his younger sister high into the air if he saw her.
However, the cruel person had not returned to the Holy Kingdom even after the 100 nights he had promised her.
He couldn’t because he had become the diplomatic hostage of the Empire.
“Can’t I go?”
The attendants asked in shock at the princess’s question.
“Can’t I go to the Empire since big brother cannot come here?”
“There’s no need to do that.”
A low voice echoed through the dining room at that moment.
The attendants surrounding the princess all turned around and bowed toward the visitor.
They didn’t even need to check who it was nor why that person was here.
The person’s dark blonde hair reached the floor and her blue eyes sparkled.
Cornelisse quickly jumped off her chair and into Elise’s arms.
She was happy to see her older sister who had come many hours earlier despite telling her that she would be late.
The crown princess’s face had a rare moment of joy as she tightly hugged her younger sister.
She must have run here because her breathing was heavy and there was some sweat on her forehead.
“I am in charge of the Imperial Prince’s examination. So I will personally go.”
Her youngest sister tilted her head. Elise grabbed the child’s cheeks and whispered with delight.
“I’m going to the Empire and will meet Jesse.”
Holy moly, the big sister is coming.