In my mind, the way the Princess was crying right now superimposed on the image of her smiling with the Marquis’s son a while ago.
In any case, the princess explained that someone was following her and that strange things were happening to her. Unusual phenomena such as objects going missing or waking up somewhere different than where she slept.
She might be lying but she could also be telling the truth. I took it as half-true and half-false; in the end, all situations had to be considered.
“My room is always closely monitored. And my father is also on the lookout…I don’t know how it became like this…”
“Princess, please calm down.”
Reneben was taken aback and began to comfort her.
I couldn’t just overlook what Ronella was telling me amidst sobs, but that was because of the demon. Just when I receive an oracle that a demon would appear, the princess tells me that strange things are happening
I heaved a long sigh because I felt suspicious, but I also felt she might be a real victim.
Now I knew why she came here. I was none other than…
“Please, Saintess…I need a favor.”
…to ask for help.
I was still not sure if she really needed help or had some other plans. Either way, I should be able to find out what the princess is up to if I stay by her side.
She probably wanted an ordinary priest, but I feigned ignorance and said to the princess, “I will help you.”
I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. I’d finished handling all the important stuff so there shouldn’t be any issue.
Besides, demons could only be killed by people with diving power, and this was a chance to watch the princess operate with the people around her from a VIP seat.
“Huh…? You will, Saintess…? I-I am thankful but…what…,” Ronella stumbled over her words.
She looked at me in surprise and Reneben’s gaze also turned to me.
“I don’t mind lending a hand for a few days,” I continued saying.
At those words, Ronella’s face instantly brightened. She shed a few tears, seemingly relieved, and thanked me.
Soon, Reneben left first to deal with work, and I saw the princess off to the door. After which, I walked up to the terrace railing and looked down.
I was just in time to see the smile on Ronella’s face as she got into the carriage. It was a peculiar smile that seemed to indicate victory and I wouldn’t have seen it without my excellent eyesight.
* * *
The favor the princess needed, was for me to protect her.
On the morning of the hunting competition, I changed into my clothes with the help of the maid and arrived at the hunting ground much earlier than I had planned.
It had only been a week since I started following the princess around, but the hunting competition was already here. Today was also the day that the demon appeared.
As the weather was getting colder, a wooly shawl was draped over my shoulders, and I was enclosed in a pure white dress befitting of a Saint.
“Will today be my last day escorting the princess?”
It was called escorting the princess but all I did was simply watch her and follow her. There was no need for me to escort the princess personally, but considering what had happened over the last week, I am so glad I didn’t refuse.
I saw quite a few interesting scenes, like two men fighting over the princess, or the crown prince stewing in anger while the princess took a walk with another man.
And apart from that, I couldn’t find the strange gaze that the princess talked about. Although, the princess did say it was because of my presence…
Since I arrived at the hunting grounds much earlier than the nobles, I scouted the area with the paladins but we found nothing strange.
When the nobles started trickling in, I decided to stop scouting and began walking over to my tent.
Because I really hated loud noises and being bothered.
But just before I entered my tent, the main characters of the hunting competition arrived, making me stop in place.
A carriage with the imperial seal came to a heavy stop and all the nobles turned to offer their salutations.
It was just as I expected.
The host and heroine of this hunting competition came down from the carriage.
The crown prince got off first and held out his hand to the princess. Princess Ronella blushed shyly and hesitated. But soon, she lowered her eyes slightly and took the prince’s hand.
The young noble misses lamented at this sight.
There was an unexpected character in the carriage that followed right behind them. It was none other than Duke Cassian.
Duke Cassian was the childhood friend of Princess Ronella, and sure enough, he was also one of the fishes in her fishery.
I didn’t know he was going to be participating in this event.
Same went for Sage Helio who arrived at the hunting ground not long after.
This meant there were four fishes in this location alone.
The Crown Prince, the Duke, the Sage, and Reneben, who was standing beside me.
All of their eyes were fastened on Princess Ronella.
She smiled brightly and said something to the Crown Prince, and the Crown Prince, who was said to have icy blood, smiled tenderly and wrapped his arms around Ronella’s waist affectionately.
It looked as if he was showing off to other men, and sure enough, Reneben’s breathing became rougher which sounded annoying.
Anyway, I hope he doesn’t get too agitated and lose sight of our original purpose.
Honestly, I was busy here watching them, so I was in no position to judge.
After the Crown Prince took his seat, the atmosphere finally relaxed again.
The moment Ronella, who was holding the prince’s hand, sighted me, she gave a big smile and scurried over to me.
“Lady Emilone! You’re here.”
Many of the nobles seemed confused by the sudden appearance of the Saintess. They wanted to come closer but because Ronella, who was consider a powerful individual, was next to me, they just watched from afar.
They didn’t come close as if they were avoiding Ronella, and that was to my advantage.
I smiled as gently as possible while responding to the conversation. Ronella prattled on like a child who was excited about what happened the night before. She was currently taking advantage of the attention on me.
Ronella liked to stand out. So, it became like this.
People were discussing me and the princess. I didn’t engage much with the social circles, so I had become increasingly mysterious. The fact that I was talking to the princess of all people, caused the whisperings to become even louder.
Since become a saintess, my hearing had improved so I could hear what they were saying. They were lamenting that Ronella, who had a strong backing, had added one more connection to her repertoire and a few of them were clicking their tongue regretfully.
As I listened to the princess’s one-sided conversation, I thought it would be nice if the hunting competition started pretty soon.
It would be perfect if the demon appeared and was quickly dealt with…while I was thinking such random thoughts, someone appeared, breaking me out of my reverie.
Even the nobles just watched us without approaching but a man with pink hair that was just like mine, caught my eye.
It was Duke Ernesis Cassian who had disappeared for a while after getting off the carriage.
He walked up to us, calling his childhood friend’s nickname and when he met my eyes, he gave a deep bow that seemed like a greeting meant for the emperor.
Of course, after that, he looked at Ronella alone and treated me like I was invisible, but I actually preferred that. A man in love should only look at one woman; what good did it do if his eyes were wandering?
I looked at the Duke with satisfaction then I looked away.
(Ronella)“Ah! I knew you’d be like this so I came prepared. I sewed your favorite purple embroidery on it; do you like it?”
It was rumored that if a lover or familiar member gifted a knight an embroidered handkerchief before they went off to war or to hunt, the God of Victory would be by their side.
At some point, that became a custom and turned into some kind of event, this being a good example. But a closer look showed that the Crown Prince also had a yellow handkerchief on his sword and it looked like something that Ronella gave to him.
The Duke held out his hand, and seeing that, Ronella smiled and tied the handkerchief on his wrist.
“You always ask me to tie it on your wrist, Ernesis.”
“…because it won’t fall from there.”
The two’s affectionate conversation grew sweeter the more I listened to it.
As I was watching this from a step away, Ronella’s acute senses seemed to catch my content gaze and her head swiftly turned to me. Then she just smiled softly like it was nothing.
It was a good thing I knew some acting otherwise I would have been caught very quickly. Although I was actress for quite some time, I sometimes felt nervous facing the princess who had swindled people her whole life.
Of course, seeing the two of them having such a sweet conversation, the crown prince came up to us. As for the Sage, with his timid personality, he couldn’t even butt in.
“Duke Cassian, the preparations are done; it’s time to head out.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
The tension between the two could be seen in their eyes.
At this display of love rivalry, I maintained my lack of expression while fighting back the increasing urge to laugh.
“Your Highness, please stay safe; I will pray for your victory. Ernesis, don’t push yourself too hard either.”
Wanting to emulate Ronella who said goodbye to the both of them in an appropriate manner, I nodded my head slightly.
My facial muscles trembled as I desperately tried to hold back a fulfilled smile. I don’t know how I looked in their eyes, but I tried to sound as calm as possible.
(Emilone)“I wish you both a safe return. We shall be waiting here.”
The eyes of the Crown Prince and the Duke turned to me.
(Crown Prince)“…We shall return.”
(Cassian)“Your blessing is gratefully received.”
The Crown Prince looked at me and broke the silence and the Duke immediately followed.
Not sure why they both had such odd expression when I said a simple farewell, but soon, they got on their horses and as I saw them off, I sighed to myself.
**There was a little section at the end that has been moved to the next chapter because it didn’t make sense to leave it here.