Chapter 45 - Tania And The Secret Bag
The saintess stopped after speaking to that point and looked at Irene, only to see her with a face full of resolution. “No. I won’t resort to such a method,” Irene stated.
“But then Her Majesty won’t be interested in you.”
“I don’t need to be chosen by the empress because I’m…” Irene clenched her fists before continuing. “I’m going to ask His Majesty directly. I must go to the imperial palace and meet him!”
The saintess fell in thought as she observed Irene.
‘Let’s see… The original storyline might have changed a bit, but then the big events are happening as they should. According to my plot…’ A fleeting smile touched the saintess’s lips. ‘Soon, the phantom beast awakened by Estian’s presence will appear in the imperial palace.’
And, as she had written, it would attack ‘Cecile’.
‘That’s the moment of opportunity.’
* * *
Estian looked at Irene. He could also see Kane standing behind her with a troubled look. In truth, it would have been difficult for Kane to stop Irene; he had no reason to do so either. After all, as far as others were concerned, Irene could be practically considered as the one and only ‘childhood friend of the emperor’.
‘Friend, is it,’ he mused. They were nothing of the sort, but seeing as he could not explain their relationship to others, Estian simply allowed Irene to talk as she wished, and his silence naturally led to the public presumption that her words were authentic. Thanks to that, she was always well-received within the empire. Although Kane had occasionally asked whether to take action against her or not, he merely told him to leave her be.
“What is the matter? I received no word of you coming.” The emperor said.
“My! There’s no need for a particular reason to meet between Your Majesty and me.”
Normally he would have given some non-committal response and moved on, but for some reason today he was irked. Estian wondered as to why he felt like this, but then came to a realization upon looking at The Forest of Tetin in his hand— he was eager to see Cecile and did not want to be delayed in doing so. “In any case, we will talk later. I must go to the empress first.”
Irene gaped in surprise at his words. “Goodness gracious, Your Majesty. Were the rumors going around actually true? Wait. Rather, is that The Forest of Tetin in your hand? Heavens, Your Majesty! You actually brought it?!”
“How about you just move aside?”
Cecile must be dying to see me. Wonder what she’ll say when I bring The Forest of Tetin to her? In any case, there was no doubt that she would properly carry out the act of ‘villainess bewitches emperor’. What did I tell her to do again?
‘I told her she had to come running, for starters.’
After that, he vaguely recalled, she was to give him a deep kiss in public sight—imperial etiquette could go hang—and croon words of naked, passionate seduction. Even though he could predict Cecile entering his embrace only to grumble for him to ‘put a sock in that insufferable Aled’s mouth’, he could hardly suppress a good-humored whistle at the thought of her doing as he had asked. For all that, she would welcome him with open arms, after all.
‘What shall I ask of her?’ he wondered. Fetching The Forest of Tetin was Cecile’s first ‘request’ to him, even if it was because of Aled. Granted, Aled had awoken and caused this mess of a situation due to his instructions, but he was ultimately the one who worked the hardest, was he not? A favor for a favor. ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch.’
It was with happy thoughts on his mind of what to ask of Cecile that Estian made his way toward the empress’ palace… or at least, that was how it should have been. The moment he tried to take a step, Irene’s feet likewise moved; when he stuck out his right foot, Irene answered with her left, and when he stuck out his left foot, Irene countered with her right.
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