Chapter 51 - Curious Talk
The envoy had brought a relic—it was discovered in an unknown underground ruin and was extraordinary at a glance—as an offering to Estian, which happened to be the egg of a phantom beast. The egg would awaken in response to Estian’s presence and bring about disturbance to the imperial palace.
‘That’s the day I have to enter the palace.’ The saintess clenched her fist at the thought. Soon, very soon, as she had first written, this world would return to its intended path.
But as she stood there with grim determination in her heart, the saintess heard the sound of the coach setting off behind her. She whirled around to yell after it.
“Hold up! I haven’t gotten on yet!”
Act 3: The Strongest of All
“So what’s Aled doing now, again?” Estian asked.
“Busy with renovations, apparently?”
“Says there are traces of another spirit having lived inside the gem so there’s no need to build a new house, but the style isn’t to its liking. That’s why Aled’s getting an additional loan, which I was told to handle; says it’s the least I can do. Since then it’s cooped itself up in there for several days now.”
At Cecile’s answer, Estian looked at the jewel in his hand. It was of a rather large size and while it did appear somewhat crude in terms of craftsmanship—it seemed to have been made long ago—one could tell the effort put into its creation.
Currently, the jewel was shining brilliantly as if there was light inside. Of course, the source of that light was Aled, bustling about in there.
Estian felt dispirited for some reason as he gazed at the jewel. He had anticipated Cecile to welcome him eagerly, rejoicing in being saved at last when he brought The Forest of Tetin, but no. Upon his return, what he got was Cecile telling him, “Oh, I found a jewel for Aled to go in! So I think you can just go return that!”
Putting aside the lack of a passionate welcome, something else was grating on Estian’s nerves, and that was the woman who had so naturally opened her mouth to accept the strawberry from Cecile, which was something even he had yet to be fed by hand.
He was told that Tania was the owner of the jewel Aled went in and that she was Cecile’s newly elected lady-in-waiting, but for some reason, he felt ill-disposed towards her… And how could he not feel that way when Cecile put him on the back burner after days of his absence and continued to chat with her lady-in-waiting?
“Then Tania, you’ll be coming again tomorrow, won’t you?”
“But of course, Your Majesty. Tomorrow I’ll bring an even better selection, naturally, and…”
After speaking up to that point, Tania had whispered something into Cecile’s ears and the latter’s face reddened, turning ecstatic as she took hold of the former’s hands.
“Really? You really have it?”
“Absolutely, Your Majesty. I will definitely bring it tomorrow.”
“You’re the best, Tania!”
Estian could still remember, clear as day, how that lady-in-waiting called Tania had shot him a glance as she smiled like the happiest person alive in Cecile’s embrace… and how her lips were curled in a victor’s smile for some reason. Even after that, the two left Estian by the side for a long while as they held a mysterious conversation by themselves.
Strangely enough, Estian caught many names of men from their chattering— Jade, Max, Hugo, Cillian, and so on—and he was most displeased to see Cecile’s face brighten each time those names were mentioned.
Aside from that, he also overheard them going on about regret novels, obsession novels, angst novels, possession novels, and parenting novels, but he could not tell as to what it all meant. It was only after Tania left that Estian asked Cecile about it. “What did that court woman bring for you to make that kind of expression?”
“W-what about my expression? It’s just the same as usual!”
What about it? Her face had looked like the very definition of ‘being in love’. Sparkling eyes blushed cheeks, and lips gently turned up for no reason… How could she claim to be the same as usual with such a look on her face that evoked an inexplicable urge in him to hug her tight?
Just what did that lady-in-waiting promise for her to make such an expression he had never seen before?
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