Chapter 98 - BFFs
Act 5: Who Are You?
‘What is life?’ These were the quiet musings of the saintess, as she stood under the clear blue sky. A cool and pleasing breeze blew past, causing a gentle rustling of the leaves in the surrounding trees. An involuntary shudder of rage ran through the saintess, as she raised the thick broom held in one hand and the middle finger of the other, and shouted at the sky, “Oh my God, this is why the sweeping never ends!”
Several weeks had passed since the saintess had been smuggled out of the imperial palace and returned to Irene’s mansion. Since then, she had remained trapped on the estate. It wasn’t that she was imprisoned, rather… she was too poor to leave! If her plans hadn’t fallen through, she would’ve severed all her ties with Irene by now, and would’ve been enjoying the luxuries of the imperial palace. That’s why she hadn’t hesitated to splurge and spend all her savings to host a drinking party for the mansion’s maids in a grand gesture before her departure.
Instead, she now found herself in her current penniless predicament. The maids that had expressed endless gratitude during the drinking party now resolutely refused to lend a single dime. Their shouts of “Thanks so much! You’re the best!” now became solemn admonishments of “Granny taught me never to breathe under the same sky with a person who asks for money.”
‘What heartless girls. How could they not lend a single coin?! And what’s with Irene too! Any attempt I make to leave, she gives me the evil eye and clings to me even more.’
The saintess’ troubles weren’t just limited to her finances; these days, Irene also watched her like a hawk. The only logical explanation for Irene’s apparent fixation with the saintess was that she’d replaced Estian as her object of obsession. Irene had even gone as far as to suggest the saintess should sleep by her side. The drastic change in her behavior was truly incomprehensible; it was as if the whole genre of the story had changed! It was becoming too much to bear. Why on earth was the obsession that should’ve been directed at Estian directed towards her? Something wasn’t right.
A few days before, Irene had devised a plan. Recalling Irene’s character trait of being weak to alcohol, armed with a plentiful supply of liquor, the saintess set out to get her lady drunk. As anticipated, even before the first bottle was emptied, Irene’s expression turned hazy and unfocused, and her tongue loosened. The saintess pounced on the opportunity to grill Irene, asking, “Milady, why in tarnation are you bothering me these days? I, I mean. Why are you being like this?”
“Thas ‘cauuse… you’re my friend…” Irene had slurred. The reason was so unexpected, the saintess almost shot out the mouthful of liquor through her nose from astonishment.
‘Friend? Friend my foot!’ While Irene was sprawled out on the table, the saintess brooded over what had led Irene to mistaken their relationship as a friendship. ‘Let’s see. There was that time we spent time backbiting together, talked about our childhood, shared our likes and dislikes, and…’
In hindsight, their past conversations did resemble those typically shared between bosom buddies… and that wasn’t the extent of it. They had spent so much time together, the topics they’d discussed had drifted to discussing their ideal type of man, and even to the more lascivious topic of the male’s lower half.
‘…Alright! I admit it. We’re friends!’ The saintess silently screamed. Even if she wanted to deny the facts, she had to begrudgingly admit that at this point they were indeed friends. ‘I guess I let my guard down after meeting a character of my very own creation for the first time.’
While the saintess was busy wallowing in regret, Irene had shifted to rest her head on the saintess’ knees. Looking up at her, Irene mumbled, “You’re kind of like a mom too. I think if my mom was alive, she would’ve been like you. Scolding me, chatting with me…”
“Who’re you calling mom! It’s giving me the creeps!” The saintess retorted. Despite her reproach, the saintess secretly wondered if her status as author influenced how Irene felt. As the creator of this world, it wasn’t inaccurate to call her the mother of all creations of this world. That could explain Irene’s sudden obsession… and if this speculation was accurate, then the saintess had no time to lose. She had to return to the imperial palace!
The saintess gripped the broomstick tightly and began to giggle with excitement as she recalled that day’s events. She was certain that if she could make her way to Estian, she was bound to attract his favor as the author. He might even fall for her at first sight! She grinned as she pictured Estian clutching at the hem of her dress, and begging her to remain at his side as empress. At that moment, a bird flying overhead chose to offload an unwanted surprise.
“Oh frigging! Are you serious! Effing, eff…” The saintess shrieked towards the bird’s receding figure, outraged by the bird dropping that had landed on her shoulder. Naturally, the bird paid no heed to the screeches and curses continuously hurled in its direction. Her raging at the bird continued long after it had departed, and eventually she plopped herself down after tiring herself out.
The courtyard where she’d been sweeping was a peaceful place. However, the saintess knew this peace wouldn’t last. The summoning of the phantom beast meant that the latter half of the novel would soon commence. ‘There’s not much time until the day Estian goes out of control. Was it the dukedom of Etia that he attacked next?’
Estian hadn’t earned the title of ‘worst tyrant’ for nothing. He had repeatedly shattered the peace and quiet of the empire with his sudden declarations of war. There were whispers among the people that he was a crazed lunatic who reveled in the barbaric slaughter on the battlefield, and that he purposely stirred up conflict to satiate his bloodthirst.
‘They’re not completely off the mark,’ the saintess thought. The Eugendiph blood that coursed through Estian did crave slaughter. Estian had barely managed to escape its control before and constantly struggled to keep it in check, but even his grip on rationality had a limit. Once the madness in the blood took hold, all that remained was a desire for carnage.
Since his enthronement, Estian had managed to satiate the frenzied bloodthirst by directing it towards the targets of his revenge. Those slashed down during his conquests were all sinners that deserved retribution, and the conquered countries served to strengthen the empire. ‘But even that’s about to reach the limit too.’ While his revenge would eventually come to an end, the bloodlust would never subside. If he turned his sword towards innocents, his mind would eventually collapse. The moment his mind is overtaken by the madness, he would instantly be consumed and transformed by Eugendiph’s blood, and what remained could never again return to human form. The only solution was for the saintess to become Cecile before it was too late! The saintess’ face shone with determination. ‘As if I’d let that happen! It’s the only way to save him.’
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