Although there was a little incident, it gave us plenty of time to get the atmosphere more relaxed. I got myself to focus, took a deep breath, interlocked my fingers, and placed them over my knees.
“Jessie. Starting now, I need you to tell me what happened.”
Honestly, I didn’t fully trust her yet but at the very least, the young miss sitting in front of me didn’t seem to have the guts to do such a thing.
At my words, Jessie straightened up, and her body moved like a robot again.
“But I will not tolerate any lies, Jessie Portra.”
I wanted her to speak with comfortably, but I guess that was still impossible. If she showed even half of the emotion from that hug earlier, then conversation would be easier.
“I already know this, but I will still ask. Are you the one who dropped the chandelier, Jessie?”
“…I, I’m sorry. I really didn’t want to.”
“I will not accept an apology. If you really want to help to me, give me a proper answer instead of apologizing.”
After taking a deep breath, she obediently confessed. She nodded and clutched her head while sniffing.
“Did you try to harm me of your own volition?” I continued.
“…No! Absolutely not. I swear to God, I would never do that! But…but that man has my parents.”
I was surprised to hear that Jessie’s parents were being held hostage, but the mention of a man reminded me of someone.
Was he behind this as I thought…?
“Can you tell me in more detail?”
“Of course. Just ask me anything!” Jessie started talking, “This happened some time before the party… now the Portra Baron Estate is practically ruined. Even though we seem like this, my father’s brother is Marquis Cheron…but because the Marquis deceived my father and took our mine which was our only source of funds…”
“Just when we thought it was all over for us, a man appeared and gave me an artifact. He said I could fail but the chandelier must be dropped, otherwise my parents would be…in danger.”
“In…in exchange, I got money but…”
But because of that money, she was caught and ended up sitting in front of me like this.
A dying Baron Estate suddenly in possession of a large amount of money would look suspicious to anyone.
After hearing her rough explanation, I could infer what happened.
(Emilone)“To harm me means to go against God…is this the heretical faction then?”
(Reneben)“There is a high chance that it’s them.”
(Emilone)“Hmm…I see. And it seems the culprit is a man.”
(Reneben)“We can’t be sure that the other party is a man. The man who threatened young miss could have also been commissioned by someone else.”
Reneben had a point. It was difficult to conclude that the real culprit was a man.
“But just in case…Lady Portra, can you describe the man you saw?”
I looked at Reneben with satisfaction, as he was always working hard.
Reneben took out a pen and notebook and started writing down the description. When he noticed the satisfaction on my face, his expression stiffened. His face had a look that said, ‘what is it?’, then he shook his head.
For now, Reneben took over handling Jessie.
I listened to them talk for a while but when a few minutes turned into a few hours, I got tired and stopped them.
“Jessie, I will let the servants know but from now on, you will be staying in the temple. Of course, I am not going to say make yourself at home. The people in the temple will be watching your every move. You will have to be alert and watch your step.”
I decided to take Jessie in but I didn’t fully trust her so I needed to keep her by my side and watch her a little more.
“Um…Um, Your Holiness.”
“Please call me Emilone. Even the people in the temple call me that.”
Jessie’s shoulders shook and she spoke, sounding a little happy, “Thank you for giving me a chance. I will only follow you, Lady Emilone. And about my parents living comfortably…”
“The temple will support your family from now on, Jessie. As you may know, once you join the temple, you cannot leave. Since that is the case, the temple is obligated to support the families of priests and other staff in the temple.”
She looked like she was about to cry again. Thankfully, no tears fell.
“Lady Emilone, please don’t speak so formally to me. I don’t deserve it. Please speak comfortably to me, like a servant serving you.”
Now that I think about it, the young miss was 2 years younger than me. Same age as Reneben. I was 24 and she were 22. It was only a 2-year age difference, yet she looked so young.
I guess it was more appropriate since I was higher in status and age. She wanted it herself and there was no reason to refuse so I stopped speaking formally.
“Okay, Jessie. I hope that you do your best for me from now.”
I think this is the first time I’ve dropped the formalities like this with anyone in this world.
As I pondered over it, I called over a servant and asked them to guide her. The servant’s face fell when they saw Jessie, who put me in danger.
It was cute to see but Jessie looked dispirited, and feeling pity for her, I told the servant to be careful.
After the servant left with Jessie, Reneben and I were alone. Then I heard him calling my name.
Reneben was sitting straight, not looking in my direction. His posture was in contrast with mine since I was sprawled comfortably over the chair.
That surprised me! I was taken aback when he suddenly yelled. When I unconsciously shrunk back, Reneben was more surprised than me and started stammering.
“No, I didn’t mean to…I’m sorry…that…”
He was back to his usual self. He always tried to hide it, but sometimes, I got to see his silly side and it was cute.
Just when I started wondering what he wanted to say since he was beating around the bush, Reneben made a request that wasn’t too difficult.
“I don’t mind if you speak comfortably to me too,” he spoke with a determined face.
“I’m fine even if you speak informally to me…”
Even though he was a very charismatic high priest in the temple, he was so docile with me.
I stored his cute expression in my head. While I thought of teasing him a little, I didn’t because I felt like he’d cry if I did too much.
“I was just calling.”
As I called him plainly without any honorifics, Reneben furtively avoided my gaze.
* * *
The next morning, Jessie came to see me, wearing the temple’s handmaid uniform. Her reason for coming was to bring a letter with a fancy ducal emblem on it.
A woman was standing behind Jessie. A woman with jet-black hair.
I was so surprised to see the woman that I choked on the tea I was drinking in the greenhouse garden.
“Please call me Ronella! I apologize for the sudden visit. I sent a letter ahead, but it seems I arrived sooner.”
I took the letter that Jessie was holding.
“The maid said you would be here, so I came even though it might be rude… I hope I’m not bothering you too much.”
Letting her know my location wasn’t really a problem but… at least, judging by the letter she sent, the princess’s level of disregard for me seemed to have gone down a little.
Last time, she just visited without informing me beforehand.
I thought Jessie came together with the princess but seeing her still lingering by the door, I guess that wasn’t the case.
“It seems I forgot to contact you first, Princess.”
“You have been busy these days, so I understand. We have been in touch all this time, then you didn’t contact me, so I felt sad.”
“Oh no, I’ll keep in touch then, even if there is nothing at hand.”
“Please do! No matter what, I am always happy to hear from you, Saintess. My parents will be delighted too,” her clear voice rang out.
She must be assessing me in that small head of hers. We smiled at each other, both of us hiding secrets.
I took in the excitement on the princess’ face and offered her the seat in front of me. I initially prepared the seat for Jessie but who would have thought the princess would be here.
My eyes slowly swept over the princess. She looked happy and seemed like she wanted to catch up about a lot of things, so she chattered away for a while.
I figured I should play along so I interjected from time to time.
“I’m so glad that I can finally see you in person, Saintess.”
As those words fell, the princess looked into my eyes.
I looked back at Ronella and blinked. She brought the teacup to her lips and tilted her head slightly.
“Your Holiness doesn’t keep anyone by your side but you call me…”
Her black hair cascaded over her shoulders. Hey green eyes shone dangerously, but I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
“Does this mean I’m a little special to you?”
This picture seemed wrong. I studied closely, observing her eyes, tone and even her facial expression.
Was she trying to lay the groundwork to put me in her grasp?
“Um, Lady Emilone?”
“Are you listening?”
My eyes met with Ronella’s again. The dangerous atmosphere just now disappeared like it was never there.
“Of course, Princess. I’m sorry, but I need to step away for a moment.”
It was quite interesting to listen to the Princess, but I felt like I had to wake up. Otherwise, I might really fall for her charms.
I told the princess I had something brief to attend to and asked for her understanding. The princess waved at me, telling me to go ahead.
In the restroom, I doused my face in water. I felt refreshed and awake afterwards, so I headed back to the greenhouse.
“I’m getting fed up.”
It was the princess’ voice.
But unlike her usual energetic voice, her mellow and slightly deeper voice echoed through the greenhouse.
I hid my presence and went inside. Shards of the broken vase was littered across the floor.
“I don’t like any of this.”
She picked up one of the broken shards and glided the sharp edge over her delicate hand.
“The saintess aside…lately, the crown prince and the duke aren’t responding very well either—.”
She combed her fingers through her hair, using the hand that was scraped with the glass shard. Her hair gently slipped through her fingers.
 Can someone help me with a name other than “Anti-God Faction” because I translated the name as literally as possible. Should I call it the Unholy Alliance, or the Godless Faction? The name of the faction stands for ‘opposing god’.