After Ariel left the mine, the mine was stabilized again and the estate regained peace. Although they signed a few poisonous treaties with Lloyd’s Merchant.
The day the Crown Prince’s large army decided to leave. Both the lord and residents came out and waved flags to see them off.
“I’m worried that His Imperial Majesty’s health is getting worse day by day.”
Shane, who rode beside Kyle, let out a small sigh.
Even at his words, Kyle rode the horse silently with an expressionless face.
“If the story that His Imperial Majesty the Emperor is ill spreads, the public will be devastated.”
Shane continued his words, looking at Kyle anxiously.
“Moreover, with Her Imperial Majesty dethroned, I’m not alone in worrying about the successor. Because Your Highness is still single. So, how about having a national marriage with the Saintess?”
“Is that why such rumors are spreading all over the country?”
Kyle replied, glancing lightly at Shane.
Then Shane scratched his head as if he had been caught.
“It’s also true that you often visit the Saintess these days, and Your Highness’ expression looks very comfortable when you’re with the Saintess.”
Shane went on in a light tone.
“She won’t like these rumors.”
“But it was the Saintess who flirted with Her Highness first. Did you forget that?”
Shane let out a smirk.
“The rumor that the Saintess favors Your Highness was once a big issue in the society.”
At the time, he just dismissed it as an annoying rumor.
There are always noble ladies who have unrequited love for the Crown Prince, and even if she is a saintess, it’s not helpful since she’s an incompetent saintess with neither power nor influence.
However, the status of Saintess Ariel now was incomparable to that of her before.
After being talked about by the citizens for saving a dying boy, she raised her name by overthrowing the wicked Empress’ rebellion with the Crown Prince.
Besides, hadn’t she recently blocked even the huge gate of the Demon Realm?
She was the most famous and beloved person in the Empire.
“Didn’t His Highness calculate that last time, too?”
Shane said, as they came out of the cave, he remembered how Kyle had honored Ariel’s name among the soldiers.
However, Kyle answered with her cool eyes.
“It’s enough to cut off the enemies’ heads, calculation is a headache.”
When he saw Ariel again from the collapsed mine.
And when he saw the undead monster behind her, baring their fangs.
For the first time he felt like something was breaking off. His sword pierced the air and cut the monster’s stomach, yet the cold sensation lingered in his mind for a long time.
Ariel almost died.
If she died…
A cold glint passed through his red eyes.
“We won’t be in a hurry. There is no need to rush.”
He heard Shane’s calm voice from the side.
“The political situation is unstable due to a series of incidents. If you use her connection and marriage with the Saintess, it will surely be of great help in stabilizing the situation and strengthening Your Highness’s position.”
Kyle didn’t answer. His red eyes were directed toward the far ahead landscape.
“Is my position at stake enough to the point it needs to be strengthened by a marriage?”
It was the first time he had ever seen Kyle like this.
“That’s not true, but…”
In the meantime, the only thing Kyle was interested in was swordsmanship, and the only path he had to walk, such as royal studies or politics.
Until now, Kyle was the perfect emperor’s heir. He wasn’t cowardly, but he put people and situations in the right places and made good use of them.
He had never given anyone personal affection, and he didn’t care about women, saying that they were a nuisance.
But now Kyle is like…
“Do you want to win the Saintess’ true heart?”
A fishy smile crossed Kyle’s lips at Shane’s words.
“Do you love… her?”
After a while, he opened his heavy lips.
As it exists in a dictionary, it was a word far from him.
Yet at this moment, somehow it felt familiar, as if it really existed.
“No. Don’t answer me.”
At one point, Shane dropped his question.
He shook his head when Kyle shook his head.
“I would be afraid if Your Highness said you loved someone.”
At that, Kyle furrowed his eyebrows, wondering if it meant something.
“Originally, I was afraid of knowing it late… If I heard that Your Highness loves someone… Uh…”
Shane shook his shoulders in fear.
Kyle said, a smirk appeared on his lips.
“You talk a lot of nonsense today. It seems that your mind is free.”
He gripped the horse’s reins and continued.
“I’ll throw you a job as soon as we get back to the palace, know that.”
At that, Shane clasped his head.
Without hesitation, Kyle urged his words.
Shane’s whining voice echoed behind him.
“Shouldn’t you give me time to heal after the trip!”
As I wandered around the temple buildings, I encountered several priests. They were happy to see me, whom they hadn’t seen in a while, and bowed down to greet me.
The place I was going now was the hall of the statues enshrining the icons of the Nine Gods in the main building.
It was a place I had never been to before, but when the oracle disappeared, I couldn’t stay still because I thought of the Gods.
Does this mean I have to be good when they’re around?
I was moving my steps with a nervous heart, but I heard a loud voice everywhere.
“Can’t you do it right?!”
I frowned and walked towards the sound.
“You son of a bitch. Because of you, the statue was damaged. I told you to fix it, who told you to scratch it! Huh?!”
A man standing in front of the statue of Mond was cursing at a low-ranking priest with his arms crossed at an angle.
The man was bald, but his head glistened in the light from the glass ceiling above.
“I-I apologize. It’s my first time.”
“Anyway, these days, you can’t work properly and just eat…”
The lower priest sweated profusely and apologized, yet the bald man didn’t care and kept screaming.
“Tsk, tsk. The same goes for that bright yellow haired guy. I can’t believe he’s acting like that just because he’s in a high position. I bet it won’t last long.”
Looking at it now, I remembered a voice I had heard yesterday.
[I haven’t heard anything. High Priest, and the Saintess.]
Someone who had a conversation with Reihausd after hiding and listening to the conversation between me and Reihausd… It was Chief Priest Heinz.
“That’s why, you have to do it right. Huh? Understand?”
“Then why don’t you go up and try it yourself?”
I opened my mouth in a relaxed tone behind him.
Heinz glanced back angrily.
“Towards the Chief Priest’s words, who dares to… S-Saintess!”
Heinz’s eyes widened as if they would fall out.
The low-ranking priest who was repairing the statue also hurriedly came down in surprise and bowed his head respectfully in front of me.
“The blessing of the Nine Goods towards the Saintess.”
I ordered Heinz with cold eyes.
“If it seems that easy, do it yourself.”
At my words, his face went pale and he shook his head.
“I was just afraid that time would be delayed and there would be a strain on the temple’s dignity… It was only a little bit of faith. If there is any misunderstanding…”
“I think you said it was a misunderstanding yesterday.”
Heinz’s shoulders trembled. It seemed that Reihausd had been threatening him quite a bit.
“For now, priest, please leave. Your whole body is wet with sweat, so what if there is an accident?”
I turned my eyes to the lower priest again and spoke softly.
He seemed to be looking at Heinz and me consecutively.
“It’s the order of the Saintess.”
And when I added another gentle word, he bowed his head deeply and left.
I turned my gaze back to Heinz.
“A person who claims to serve the Gods hides and eavesdrops on the others’ conversation, and not only is it enough to verbally abuse the young priest, you swear at the High Priest behind his back…”
At my words, he jumped up.
“It’s unreasonable for me to swear at the High Priest behind his back.”
Perhaps that is the point that scares him the most.
“Is that so?”
I smiled and continued.
“Then I will give you a choice. Either you go up here now, or I tell him that Sir Heinz just went around cursing at the High Priest.”
I pointed him to the ladder the lower priest had climbed.
“S-Saintess. I’m old and weak…”
“You say you’re an expert of the temple’s dignity. I expect the Chief Priest to show sincere devotion.”
At my words, his expression grew darker.
Eventually, he shivered and climbed the ladder.
I looked up at him from below and said brightly.
“Then, I’ll come back in a little while. Just to see if you’re doing well.”
Heinz’s face was teary-eyed, yet without any care, I turned around and went out calmly.
Of course, I had no intention of coming back.
I tried to do something called ‘prayer’ quietly, but the atmosphere wasn’t good. Instead, I thought of getting a small statue like the one Camilla had.
this chapter is sponsored by NoodLuver (24/30)