I blinked and grinned at the servant who was squeezing the towel tightly.
The temple’s pure shade of white cleared my mind every time I walked through it. The temple itself had the same effect. The scenery outside the window represented abundance. Tall grasses and trees were littered all over the place, with rows of luscious looking fruit.
At the same time, the pure-white walls were a unique characteristic of the temple. No other buildings had its exterior painted white. Because the color acted as the pride of the temple and also as a representative symbol of the temple.
The reason it was white was because the hairs of those who possessed real divine power were usually turned white. It was different shade from the white hair you get when you get older.
“Of course, I am an exception.”
I had a rough idea of where Reneben had taken the young miss, so I immediately headed that way. As I walked, I straightened my hair using my reflection in the window.
My pink hair that was a complete mismatch with the temple.
Even if my hair was adorned with jewels, it was so beautiful that their shine seemed to pale in comparison. It was my hair color, but it didn’t feel like it was mine so any praise towards it felt like it was for another person.
I finally arrived in front of the room and came to a stop.
Knock, knock, knock.
I could have just opened the door and gone in, but there was something called politeness. After knocking, I turned the door handle.
As my hand was twisting the handle, I stepped into the room and saw the young miss screaming and going crazy like she had lost her mind.
Then I saw Reneben standing a step behind her, covering his mouth with a handkerchief, and observing her.
“You’re here,” Reneben greeted me.
Only then did the young miss heave and turn to me, her hair in a disheveled state. Her movement was so mechanical that I almost wanted to ask if she could hear squeaking in her head.
She had a dagger in one hand and a bottle of sleeping incense in the other.
Avoiding the young miss, Reneben walked up to me.
“Do you have a handkerchief?” I asked.
“I do,” Reneben replied. He took out different handkerchief than the one being used to block his mouth, then he handed it to me.
As I approached the woman with the freshly-scented handkerchief, she swung the dagger wildly.
Reneben started saying it was dangerous, but I stopped him. He opened his mouth as if to protest, but then he stood in place, as if he gave up.
“Young miss, can you help me with that incense?”
I tried to hand her the handkerchief in my hand, but it seems it was unnecessary.
She must have taken a drug for the sleeping incense beforehand because she looked unaffected.
Well, that aside…seeing as she had a dagger and sleeping incense, this wasn’t going to be an easy situation.
As I was wondering where these things even came from, Reneben, who had been with the young miss, filled in my doubts with an explanation.
“She pulled it out from her thighs.”
She was considered a criminal, but since part of the authority rested with me, I suppose the Imperial Knights weren’t able to do too much. Judging by the fact that they didn’t know she had something like this in her thighs.
As a matter of fact, her clothes were in good condition so the knights must have brought her here as soon as they caught her like they said.
This should mean that she hadn’t had much contact with anyone else.
“Did anything happen in the imperial palace while the criminal was being brought to the temple?”
“Apparently, she was brought straight to the temple before even going to the palace.”
Just as I expected. The fact that no one had contacted her yet, put me at a huge advantage.
She swung the dagger haphazardly, trembling while doing so and suddenly fell backwards.
“S-Spare me. Please…I won’t do anything.”
I squatted too, trying to make her less nervous. I was at eye level with the young miss, who had collapsed to the floor. When she locked eyes with me, she started gasping for breath.
“Please save my parents, just them! They don’t know anything. I…it was all me…”
“Young miss…you are Lady Jessie Portra of Baron Portra, are you not?”
The moment I mentioned her name, color drained from her face. She scrambled to her knees and slammed her forehead on the ground.
“Saintess, please have mercy…”
Her loud, desperate pleas stopped. Instead, she looked at me with tears and pleas in her eyes.
I felt like something bad was going to happen if I left things like this so to start with, I took away the bottle of sleeping incense.
I couldn’t help but frown at the strong scent it emitted. When poison or drugs like these got into my system, I could tell kind of drug or poison it was.
It was a strong sleeping sedative with a seductively strong and sweet scent. I closed the lid tightly, almost sealing it.
Reneben quickly opened the window to ventilate the room. And he only put his handkerchief down when the scent of the sleeping incense disappeared from the room.
“Young miss, can I call you Jessie?”
“Mm…I’ll call you Jessie.”
She kept holding the dagger tightly as if she was going to die at any moment, while endless tears streamed down her face.
It was such a pitiful sight that I wanted her to at least sit on the sofa for some comfort. But I couldn’t do anything because she looked like something terrible would happen the moment she touched my hand.
I squatted back down, placed my arms on my knees and propped my chin on my hand.
“Young miss,” I called to the pitiful scapegoat.
She was just a victim who was used by someone else…I could understand why she was afraid of me especially if you think about what happened when she first entered the temple.
I opened my mouth, hoping she wasn’t going to be traumatized, “I can help you.”
“Because I know you are not the culprit.”
It would be like killing two birds with one stone. I could figure out who the real culprit was, while helping the young miss clear her name.
The young miss’s head quickly sprang up to face me. Her eyes were filled with fright and terror, begging me to save her.
I felt bad because she was desperate but seeing that made me remember a baby chick head bobbing up and down.
I pushed aside that thought and brought down my arm which was supporting my chin.
Then I stretched out a hand to her, “Will you help me?”
At the very least, she could tell me who ordered her to do this, or how she received such a request.
“Are…Are you really going to help me?”
Finally, she spoke in a clear voice that I didn’t have to strain to listen. There was a strand of hope in her soft voice which reminded me of spring.
“Jessie, one thing about me…”
“I will protect anything that is in my grasp.”
I felt bad for Jessie but as I watched her totter over to me and hug me while crying, I kept thinking of a baby chick.
I was going to hug her back but stopped when I saw Reneben, who looked frustrated.
I took the dagger away from her first then I instructed Reneben to take her to sit down. I was considering making her change out of her bloody clothes but decided that it could wait.
Jessie’s tears never stopped falling, to the point that I started wondering where all the tears were coming from. After crying for a long time, she started sniffing and blowing her nose with the handkerchief, so I figured she was finally calming down.
The young miss and I were sitting comfortably on the sofas opposite each other. I thought Reneben might be uncomfortable being the only one standing so I patted the spot next to me and told him to sit down.
“T-Then excuse me.”
Reneben nervously sat down beside me.
While taking in Reneben’s reaction, I picked up the transparent candy jar.
“Please try some.”
I offered the lady some candy to help calm her down. It was my favorite candy with an indescribable herbal scent. I really liked this candy, so I always keep a jar of it around.
I handed Jessie a round green candy but even after taking it, she didn’t look like she was going to eat it. Unlike her, I threw a piece of candy in my mouth.
A refreshing but slightly sweet taste spread throughout my mouth. It made me feel like my whole body was refreshed.
Seeing this, Reneben shook his head and said, “Lady Emilone, you are probably the only one in the temple who eats this candy.”
“I always say this but what does it taste like?” Reneben asked with lowered eyes.
At that question, I offered him one to try and he couldn’t refuse.
Reneben took the candy and mumbled with a pale complexion, “But Lady Emilone, this smell…the smell is…ugh…you know…honestly, I think medicinal herbs taste better than this…”
At that, I held out the glass jar again and said he did not have to eat it. Reneben did not put back the candy though.
Jessie, on the other hand, had a determined look on her tear-stained face. She opened her mouth and plopped the candy in.
When Reneben saw that, he also put the candy in his mouth and immediately frowned.
“You guys don’t have to eat it if you don’t want to. I have water.”
Even though he was bigger than me, I rubbed Reneben’s back like a child and handed him a glass of water.
“Don’t overdo it. Alright, you can spit it out.”
I patted his back a few times and gave him the handkerchief he used to cover his mouth earlier. He refused at first but eventually spat it out at my continued urging. He patted his lips with his sleeves then gently closed his eyes and apologized.
“I’m sorry for making you see that. I have only smelled it but never eaten it before so I thought it would be okay but…”
Was it that bad?
The candy had a strong enough smell that it filled the entire room once the lid was opened.
While I was warning Reneben not to eat it again, I heard a choking sound from the side. Reneben and I quickly turned our heads.
“…Jessie, you’re not supposed to swallow that. Have you never had candy?”
Reneben quickly walked over and took the candy from Jessie’s mouth.
“I’m…sorry. The smell is so overpowering. I was trying to bite it and mistakenly swallowed,” Jessie said softly.
Reneben studied me then he sat down next to me again.