At my words, Reneben slowly stopped walking and looked into my eyes.
“What you just did is against the conduct of a ‘saint.’”
The conduct of a saint, as he describes it, is to exist in harmony with the empire, the most powerful nation on the continent.
Your guidance should always be benevolent. Your advice can be sharp, and your warning must be gentle, offering an embrace within your words.
You must not yell frivolously or crudely threaten others as God’s blessing is one who sits at the highest position but knows how to humble oneself.
When I first arrived in this world, Reneben taught me a lot. He told me that previous saints behaved this way and directed me to also behave like that.
“Because I got angry, yelled, and couldn’t control my anger, I might have a hostile relationship with the emperor, Sun of the Empire. Is this my fault?”
All this time, I have not crossed the line and controlled myself.
I have been speaking in a calm tone, telling the nobles, ‘don’t do this, don’t do that’; pleading with them that ‘this isn’t right, do it this way’. I gave them so many chances. But I had never crossed the line like I did today.
And this was the first time that the nobles watching did not refute my words even once.
Because my words could be interpreted to say that the temple, which had been quiet till now, had begun to move in order to remove the current emperor from the throne and enthrone a new emperor who could be controlled by the temple.
“I don’t think I have the authority to decide right or wrong.”
“Reneben, I don’t have the talent to charm people with just a few words like previous saints. I don’t have the power to save the children of the slums with just a few gestures.”
“But I can bring rain to the ongoing drought and bring abundance and blessings.”
I grabbed Reneben’s shoulder.
It wasn’t just the demons. This was also why the nobles were trying to hold on to me at all costs.
“So I will do things my way.”
The previous saints were born and raised in the empire, and while growing, they laid a lot of groundwork and prepared accordingly.
However, there was no way that I, who had only recently arrived in this world, would be able to imitate what they did.
“I can’t stand it anymore. I will not stand down any longer.”
I wet my lips under the strange silence and continued speaking, with my eyes showing the seriousness of my intentions.
“If we cannot hold hands from below and go up together, I will pull you down from above.”
The emperor stood at the top of the hierarchy, and everyone trembled with fear at his presence. Depending on his mood, dozens of lives could be laid to waste.
How many people could say anything to an emperor like that? I can assure you, there aren’t many of them.
And I was one of the very few.
Hence, I had to speak for others.
“Isn’t it natural for me to carry the heavy burden of the world?”
Each of these small yet significant things were weight that I had to bear.
To myself, I said I wanted to quit being a saintess or that I didn’t want to, but I knew fully well that because I carried the burden of the world, a corresponding price must be paid.
“Only someone like me can say that.”
Reneben raised his head, which had been lowered, and smiled so brightly that it could not be hidden even in the moonlight.
“…This is why I like Your Holiness.”
“Reneben, I think it would be harder to find someone who hates me.”
I tried to lighten the mood and broke into a smile.
* * *
Once I returned to the temple, I emptied my mind and fell into a deep sleep. It wasn’t until noon the next day that I finally began to twitch out of bed.
I walked up to the windows and pulled back the curtains, allowing bright sunlight to pour into the room.
Unlike the first day of the Goddess Festival, the temple’s surroundings were quiet today.
Yesterday was just noisy because it was the first day.
The temple was usually immortalized as sacred, so everyone tried to keep it quiet. On the other hand, if you went slightly further from the temple, it was bustling with festivities.
“I’m free when should be the busiest.”
Most of my itinerary during Goddess Festival was to stay inside the imperial castle, but after what happened yesterday, I couldn’t just go there.
Dressed in immaculate white pajamas and a green shawl, I stepped out of the bedroom, looked around, and scanned the quiet hallway.
On the way back to the temple yesterday evening, I told Reneben that even though I wouldn’t be there, he should proceed with business as usual during the goddess festival, and he seems to have kept his word.
I fended off the occasional panicked servants who tried to chase after me and headed to the library.
“Ah, I’m sleepy…”
I opened the door to the magnificent library and walked in, rubbing my eyes which were slightly heavy even though I had slept for so long.
I dragged the slippers that had been on my feet since I left the bedroom, and headed towards the bookshelf with the book I was looking for.
There was a pile of romance books right next to it. I wanted to finish dealing with this quickly and read those books.
“Imperial law… Where is the book about imperial law…”
What I was looking for right now, was the very book containing the laws of the empire. It was to study, since I had been putting it off because I was busy adjusting to this place.
I soon found the book I wanted and pulled it out.
I blankly stared at the heavy book, which was so thick that I could barely hold it with two hands. Realizing that it would take me a while to find what I wanted in this back, I chuckled.
“When will I get through all of this?”
I mumbled under my breath and walked out of the library.
I closed the door, leaned back against the closed frame, and flipped through a few pages of the book. I heaved a sigh of relief once I saw that unfamiliar terms were clearly explained.
“Time to go to my room and read.”
Wanting to stretch out on the bed and read with just my eyes moving, I slowly started going back the way that I came.
I passed through a hallway lined with soft carpets, then a hallway lined with marble and went up the stairs.
While holding the book in my hand, I flipped through a few more thin sheets of paper, taking in the contents.
“We must make it so that they can’t deal with commoners forcefully just because they are nobles…”
I tried to think of the best way to solve this problem, and it wasn’t that difficult.
“To do that, we’ll have to overthrow the imperial law completely…”
As I flipped through a few more pages, I saw the fundamental laws of the empire and the other laws were written in letters the size of an ant.
As I expected, nowhere was it said that a noble would be punished if they harmed a commoner.
I massaged my throbbing head.
I trudged up the stairs, carefully looking through the book to see where we could start working to change things. Then, suddenly, I took an awkward step and lost my balance, causing my body to tilt back heavily.
Normally, I wouldn’t have stumbled much, but the heavy book in my hand made things different.
I instinctively closed my eyes and seriously thought about how long it would take to heal from a fall this high. Right at that moment…
My eyes widened as someone wrapped their arms around my waist. At the same time, a low, deep voice tickled my ear next to me.
“That could be dangerous.”
Rich, deep-set eyes and soft brown hair… I was even more surprised when I turned my head and our cheeks touched.
I furrowed my brows in bewilderment.
The book, which boasted a heavy weight, lost its balance like me and fell. It made thunderous noises on the marble floor and fell all the way to the bottom without a single stop.
As I stared at the wretched state of the fallen book, a deep, yet faint voice rang out.
“Are you alright?”
Thanks to that, I came out of my brief daze and swiftly withdrew my body that was leaning on the man. I grabbed the railing and leaned my upper body forward.
But unfortunately, the slippers on my feet fell off and rolled down the stairs.
I heard him utter and looked back at the man who lamented even faster than me.
Brown hair and red eyes. For a moment, my shoulders stiffened as I met those burning red eyes that were the same color as mine.
“…Thank you for your help…Your Highness, Alois.”
It was none other than the prince from yesterday’s party.
I couldn’t take my eyes off his bright-red eyes until he broke into a soft smile. This feeling of being mesmerized was very familiar to me.
Prince Alois gave me the same feeling I got when I looked at Princess Ronella.
“It’s nice to see you again. It seems the the knight in front of the temple easily let me in because I made an appointment with Your Holiness yesterday.”
“…You did tell me in advance, but I didn’t expect you to come like this, so I am rather stunned.”
I had told the paladins in advance to let him through.
“Are there no attendants following you?”
I let him know that I was somewhat taken aback, but he gave a wry smile and brushed the back of my neck with his other hand.
“Attendants, well… I’m not sure if you know, but I’m a little unwelcome in my kingdom…”
This reunion with the prince was too fast. In other words, I didn’t have enough time to investigate the prince.
Thanks to that, I don’t know what country he was from and whether he was unwelcome or anything.
“If I told them I was coming to the temple, my Royal Mother would certainly hear of it, so I came without sending word…I have been rude to Your Holiness. I apologize.”
I took a close look at his beautiful appearance, with a face worthy of being called prettier than any other flower, and I wrinkled my nose so slightly that it wasn’t noticeable.
If he thought small lies were acceptable to me, then he was mistaken.
Although the difference was subtle, I could tell that the prince was lying.
I gently lowered my eyes and decided to play along with him for now.