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ETL – Chapter 2

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“You know that the hunting competition is coming up very soon, right?”

“Of course.”

Because of the hunting competition, even the temple was undergoing preparations to have healing priests on stand-by, in case of emergencies.

“Nella told me that she needs your help at the reception afterwards…”

Nella was the nickname of the princess. Princess Ronella Nestro.

I thought carefully about what game she was trying to play but I couldn’t find an answer. I didn’t know what was going on but since it concerned the princess, it would be nothing ordinary.

“I know you do not normally attend parties, but I would like you to attend this reception at least.”

After saying that, the crown prince gave me a brief explanation.

But the conclusion was that the princess wanted me to attend the reception. I was curious as to why the princess was looking for me and if there was some other reason but if it was to use me, then I was quite willing to be used.

Wouldn’t that be more exciting?

Not knowing what I was thinking, the crown prince began to try and persuade me.

To think the great Crown prince would be making such a request to me because of the princess.

Since I had already decided to go, I gladly accepted his request.

As a bonus, I’d get tickets to the reception and the hunting competition that I never planned on going to.

“Since I am being invited, I will gratefully attend.”

“…”

“Why, is something the matter?”

When I answered without hesitation, the crown prince stared at me.

When I asked him why, he muttered in a low voice, “This is the first time.”

“What?”

“Of course, I did ask but I didn’t expect you to easily agree to attend the hunting competition and the reception as well.”

When he pointed out what surprised him, I finally understood.

I never appeared in high society, except for the one time I went to the emperor’s birthday celebration and stayed for just 10 minutes.

Perhaps it was only natural that the crown prince found it strange since I had always refused to participate yet I readily agreed.

“Well, it is the princess’s request after all.”

I made the most of my acting career and sank my body into the chair, as if asking if that was a problem, while curving my eyes even more.

The crown prince stared at me quietly, then he used his hand to signal that I could leave now.

His attitude showed he was dealing with someone with a lower status than himself, but I didn’t really care.

I calmly got up from my seat, said my goodbye then I turned around and left the drawing room.

The hunting competition, huh.

I didn’t think I would get the chance to meet the princess so quickly. I placed a finger under my lips and glanced at the door of the drawing room where the crown prince was still in.

“Lady Emilone?”

Hearing my name called, I immediately turned away and looked straight ahead. Standing there, was a man with deep red hair that seemed to be drawn with watercolors.

“Lord Helio, it has been a while.”

He was Helio Rastuyen, the Empire’s Sage. Despite his young age, at 28, he was recognized by the emperor and titled a sage.

And he was one of the delicate fishes in the princess’s fishery.

In the past, I would have passed him, thinking he was likely going to meet the princess again but today was different. I greet Helio instead.

“This is my first time seeing you in the Imperial Palace,” he said with slightly drooping eyes.

If eyes were everything in making a first impression, his eyes were gentle enough to give him a head start.

Whenever he turned his head slightly, it revealed a black dot under his ear that was quite an attractive feature as it contrasted with his snowy white skin. In addition to the fact that he had a ridiculously baby-ish face for a 28-year-old. He looked the same as those 18-year-olds who had just become adults.

“It’s nice to run into you like this. Are you going somewhere?” I asked with an innocent expression like I was really curious.

Helio blushed slightly and softly replied, “Um…actually, the princess called me.”

I knew it.

He practically never left his office unless the Emperor called for him, so there was only one reason why he would be wandering around at this hour.

“The princess? His Highness did say he was going to meet the princess as well; I wonder if something’s going on.”

When I said that, his expression which was full of anticipation collapsed.

Once he heard that the crown prince was going to meet the princess, Helio’s eyes began to tremble. His fiery red hair seemed out of place as his eyes darted around and his lips twitched.

“I thought…the princess only called me.”

Helio’s cute face and round eyes turned stormy in an instant. Then in a very doubtful tone, he asked to verify again.

“Is His Highness really looking for the princess?”

“From what I heard, yes.”

Helio’s head instantly dropped. Soon, he seemed to come to a decision, then he bid me farewell and quickly headed off somewhere.

As I watched him disappear, I mumbled to myself.

Hmm…this is so…

“Entertaining.”

He was swayed so easily by my simple interjection and the story flowed just as I wanted.

I broke into a hum as I cheerfully walked towards my carriage.

~

The moment I arrived at the temple, a high priest rushed over to me. Sure enough, he was also one of the men who couldn’t escape from the princess’s hands.

It felt like the princess’s fishes were everywhere, no matter where I go.

While inwardly applauding the princess’s greatness in being able to manage these 10 or so men, I looked at him in a manner that asked what was wrong.

“I came once I heard you’ve returned, Lady Emilone. I’m sorry and I know this might be rude but I would like to ask for permission to go out for a while.”

“What?”

Permission to go out? I stared at Reneben, wondering what he was talking about.

This man, with his pure-white hair, was the one who knelt down without hesitation, despite his high status, and called me God’s blessing when I first came to this world.

I took off my thick shawl and casually handed it over to the servant who was waiting.

Reneben’s eyelashes trembled restlessly. He was uncharacteristically anxious, and his eyes were slightly lowered.

‘What’s going on?’

Pretending not to notice, I gracefully reached out and straightened his tousled robe. Then I hardened my face so that it wouldn’t show that I was curious about what was happening.

“Come back by dinner time so we can eat together.”

Although it was more like a duty, Reneben and I always had dinner together, so I used that as a way to set a time. After straightening his slanted brooch, I lifted my hand and patted him on the shoulder.

He was as tall as the crown prince, so I had to raise my head for a while, but Reneben just stared at me with an odd look on his face.

It was similar to the expression that the crown prince had when he saw me earlier, but unlike the crown prince, Reneben didn’t say anything else but thanked me for giving permission.

Reneben quickly left the temple but instead of seeing him off, I covered my mouth and chuckled.

Who knew it was so obvious.

Now that I was conscious of it, it felt like I had entered a novel and was watching it from the front seat.

“That aside, he said the princess wants me to attend the reception of the hunting competition, right?”

I threw my clothes onto the wide bed as I entered my room and changed into a comfortable frilly dress. The cool and light material clung to my body.

I tapped my hair which had been bound in ornaments all day and abused by the wind, then I shook it all out.

My pink hair—which I couldn’t get used to, no matter how many times I saw it—fluttered in the air.

As I stared at my reflection in the clear glass, I absentmindedly stroked my hair. Sometimes, when I saw this unfamiliar pink hair, I began to miss my black hair.

But that was usually when I just woke up and looked in the mirror.

As I mulled over tying up this hair which had grown even longer these past 6 months, I began to think.

“I wonder what our dear princess is planning.”

There must be a reason why she was calling all her men and even dragging me to participate in this hunting competition.

I sat on the bed and let my imagination unfold like I was actually writing a serious novel.

As I was imagining what might or might not happen during the hunting competition, a sound suddenly rang through my head, and I wrinkled my nose.

I knew this feeling all too well.

Since become a saintess, I rarely experienced any pain, and my body was always in the best condition. Hence, there was only one situation that would give me such a headache.

I sank into the bed and gathered the blanket in my arms.

People often say an ‘Oracle’ is told about the future from God.

A voice of unknown bearings spoke to me in my head, almost like it was imprinted inside, but that was the oracle.

I lowered my eyes and memorized the words I heard.

God’s words were always vague and difficult but not to the point of being incomprehensible or impossible to interpret.

The voice in my head today sounded like a child with a lisp. God always conveyed his voice differently; it could be the voice of an old man or that of a lively young girl.

“Haa,” I quietly listened to the voice then I opened my eyes. And I just had to sigh.

The job of a Saintess was comfortable, and at times, boring but…

“A demon in the hunting competition.”

Just like this, there were times when I was given more work than the emperor.

After receiving an oracle about a demon appearing during the hunting competition, my head began to hurt.

And at the same time, I felt this was a very interesting development.

To explain what a demon was, it was like a pest that caused suffering for all humans. It was similar to low-intelligence animals like wolves, hyenas, or tigers, in terms of existence.

Of course, a demon was much stronger.

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