I used my muffin-smeared hand to touch where my wound was, and instantly regretted it. As I was wiping my face with my prepared handkerchief, someone interrupted my snack time with impeccable timing.
The uninvited guest was a young servant of the temple named Melon. The pronunciation was the similar to the melon in Korea, so I easily remembered his name. There were a few hundred people at the temple and since I was their representative, I memorized all their names.
I took the documents that the young servant brought and offered them one of the cakes that was next to my muffin.
“Do you want to try some?”
The child had mint-colored hair which really suited his name. He shook his head hesitantly but eventually accepted the cake.
I flipped through the documents before putting them down. It was quite difficult to learn the culture and economics of a new world. Still, I worked hard and did my best to learn it as quickly as I could.
I picked up a fork and put another piece of the muffin in my mouth.
I might gain weight at this rate but considering how much energy I spent on that demon yesterday, what is one day’s worth of sugar intake…
Honestly, delicious food was far more valuable to me than beautiful jewelry.
Although, in a life-or-death situation, those jewels could save you…or more like, feed you. I think I could live comfortably for a few years if I took out the jewels on those dresses in my room that I never wear. Those pricey jewels were only valuable because they were expensive.
But right now, my happiness was the food in front of me. It was amazing what a hungry stomach could do. Even after eating a muffin, and two cakes, I was still chowing down a box of macarons.
I still remember how the maids looked when they were begging me to stop eating because I might not be able to eat at the party this evening. They started talking about how other noble ladies had been starving themselves since yesterday but when I put a macaroon in my mouth, they finally went silent.
Getting ready, huh…. I think there should be enough time if I start an hour before it is time to leave.
But that was me being complacent.
Before the party, I was going to read a romance novel that was popular these day , while eating snacks, but I had to get up before I even read half the book.
The maids grumbled that we couldn’t waste any more time and, in the end, I was forced to take another bath.
I had only ever attended two parties: the emperor’s birthday and the Founding Day celebration. Because of this, I did not know much about aristocratic parties… but it seemed so inefficient to spend so much time preparing beforehand.
“This is so troublesome…”
“We haven’t finished because you insisted on washing yourself, Saintess. My goodness, I’m not thinking straight! I forgot to wash your nails. Terilla, come here and clean the Saintess’s nails.”
The general manager of the temple, who was at least 30 years older than me, said to me.
At first, she couldn’t talk to me, let alone make eye contact, but now she knew how to persuade me.
Was my first impression that scary?
I closed my eyes, letting them massage and adorn my body as they wished.
After they finished, my hair sparkled excessively, like it was sprinkled with pearls. And my nails were painted red, the same color as my eyes. The funny thing was that someone’s managed to do a work of art on these tiny nails.
Even my white priest robe was flashy. When I firmly refused to wear it, the girls waved a white flag.
(Emilone)“I don’t think I will ever wear this.”
My usual outfit was good enough. Why do I have to dress up so much just to meet the emperor and the nobles?
(Emilone) “I want to wear something else.”
“Ehem,” The head maid cleared her throat, “Your…your other clothes will be the same…for now, wear this one.”
Even though she was more than twice my age, I couldn’t concede. To go out wearing something like this…
The dress looked nothing like a priest’s robe with all the luxurious patterns engraved on it and I absolutely didn’t want to.
It took 2 hours to bathe, one and a half hours to doll me up, and one hour to get dressed. Before I knew it, it was already evening.
When I heard lunchtime had long passed and it was almost time for the party, I almost doubted my ears. In another sense, I even doubted if this party was really for me.
I checked my reflection in the mirror. At first, I didn’t look that different from usual, but there was definitely a big difference…
My hair shimmered like pearls and my red lips looked more vibrant than usual. My white priest robe unfurled beautifully when I turned, making me want to be careful with every move I make.
Reneben seemed to have also dolled up for the party since he looked more handsome, and I gave him a thumbs up.
Since the princess was also coming, he had to dress to impress compared to his usual outfit. Among the men, I cared for Reneben the most, so I smiled with satisfaction after scanning his appearance.
Even though I stared at him for a while, Reneben did not avert his gaze which made me curious, so I took a step forward.
Only then, did he seem to come to his senses and distractedly held out his hand.
“I, I will escort you.”
I grabbed Reneben’s escorting hand then I climbed onto the carriage.
As usual, Reneben went on horseback, leaving me alone in the carriage.
I had nothing to do on the way to the Imperial Palace, so I tried to recall as much party etiquette as possible while going through simulations in my head.
After a while, I took out the novel (His Majesty’s Secret Affair at the Masquerade Ball) that I prepared in advance and read it.
* * *
Cars are definitely better than carriages, no questions asked.
No matter how good a carriage is, a long ride was stressful because of the rattling and varying speeds.
I stood in front of the Imperial Palace and presented my invitation. The knights then opened the door to the banquet hall.
Reneben seemed familiar with this, but I was not. The knight loudly announced Reneben’s name and mine, indicating our entry into the hall.
Maybe I was a little late but, there were already a lot of people in the hall which made me stiffen a little.
It didn’t seem like the princess was here either….
A cold silence fell over the room as I entered the hall. I really hate stuff like this.
As I was squeezing the edges of my dress, I noticed a curtain moving. Confused, I studied it carefully and noticed a couple hiding there. The man was kissing the woman while the woman was pressed against the man with her arms around his waist.
The princess wasn’t here but I didn’t expect to see a secret rendezvous like this. They were both aristocrats and I didn’t know either of them but suddenly, the party seemed more interesting.
Come to think of it, word on the street is that noble parties are filled with alcohol and pleasure once the clock strikes midnight. I have to see that for myself.
Not knowing what I was thinking, Reneben smiled innocently and said to me, “If you need anything, just let me know.”
I guess it was still early because people were huddled in circles of acquaintances.
Between the nobles decorated with rich fur on their shoulders, and the nobles armed with extravagant and luxurious articles, I identified the groups that were either hostile or friendly to each other.
My eyes swept through the hall, noticing the attention on me. I would very much like them to stop looking at me.
“I’d like to find somewhere to sit first.”
I asked Reneben if I could sit on the sofa in the corner, and he was more than happy to guide me there.
The couch was so soft that I practically sank in but I didn’t feel comfortable. The only comfortable part was that my weight was no longer on my legs.
I straightened my back stiffly like a crane and put my hands together on my lap. I wanted to lean back comfortably but that was not possible right now.
“High-ranking nobles usually arrive just before the hall is full. We were supposed to arrive last, but I didn’t expect to arrive earlier because to the newly paved road.”
“That explains it. I felt like we arrived at the palace faster than usual…”
So the main character appearing at the end was actually an established formula?
“What is it?”
I was grumbling inside that I could have rested for at least one more hour.
I observed the room, hoping to see something even slightly interesting but everybody was just talking stiffly and politely.
“I think we came too early. His Majesty has not arrived yet and neither had the princess or the Duke…”
As soon as the words left my mouth, the knight who announced us earlier, announced another guest and opened the door wide.
At that, Reneben’s face changed visibly but on the contrary, my expression relaxed.
In the doorway, stood the princess with her long black hair, a luxurious dress adorning her child-like figure, and her face free of makeup.