Chapter 99 - BFFs
Hiding the leaf pile beneath a flowerpot, the saintess hurried back to the mansion. To her surprise, it was abuzz with activity. Flagging down one of the maids, she asked, “Huh? What’s going on?”
“Didn’t you know? The miss is attending an event today.”
“I didn’t know!” The saintess hurried to Irene’s room. Hadn’t Irene declared them as friends? She even called her mom! How could she leave her out? Swinging open the door, she found Irene surrounded by maids and being dressed for her outing. “Milady! Why didn’t you tell me you had plans today!”
“Didn’t you say you wouldn’t tag along to anything unfun?” Irene responded calmly, as she picked up a book from the table. She was baffled by the saintess’ accusatory tone.
“What’s the occasion today?”
“Women’s Researcher Day Seminar.”
“I see. Have a wonderful time,” the saintess replied in a flat, uninterested tone, and promptly bowed.
“You really are free-spirited.”
“Who’d voluntarily attend an event like that? The name alone is enough to put me to sleep. I’d much rather enjoy a good nap at home. Why are you even bothering to…” The saintess trailed off before finishing her question; she recalled another of Irene’s character settings was that her father was a medical professor, and she was an accomplished woman of the academy herself. It was hard to believe given her usual behaviors, but Irene was quite famous for her intelligence in the academy, or so the story goes.
The saintess’ gaze fell to the invitation lying on the table. Judging by the names and occupations of the organizers, lecturers and attendees listed, it wasn’t a light affair. ‘Could this be a bigger event than I thought?’ Not wanting to miss an opportunity, the saintess asked, “Milady. Do you know if Her Majesty will be in attendance as well?”
* * *
“There’s no way the empress would attend an event like this,” Yuliana murmured happily to herself, as she looked around the venue. Since her arrival, she was bombarded with greetings and salutations from men and women alike, and was soon the center of a small crowd.
“Princess Yuliana, yes? I immediately recognized you from afar. You truly live up to your fame!” An attendee warmly greeted her with a slight bow; she wore an ecstatic look, and her eyes glowed with admiration and praise.
“P-princess Yuliana! It is an honor to meet!” Another man giddily called out. Men were gathering around Yuliana for the opportunity to have a word with her, or greet her with a kiss on the back of her hand. The crowd was so sizable, it wouldn’t be surprising if someone should start handing out tickets and organizing a line.
‘Yes, this is more like it.’ Yuliana smirked to herself. She had kept a low profile since that humiliating tea party at the empress’ palace. Time was needed to confirm if her powers were malfunctioning, but the attitudes of today’s swarm of admirers had put her at ease. ‘This will be today’s big stage,’ she thought, gazing up at the large banner that hung above her head: Women’s Researcher Day Seminar. It was time to continue enacting her plan.
“Are you not tired, Princess Yuliana? You have attended so many events upon your arrival in the empire, and I worry for your health,” a male attendee asked with a concerned expression.
“My tiredness is of no large concern. As an envoy, I intend on meeting many people of the empire and working hard to aid the development of Aswan,” Yuliana politely responded, with a nod of appreciation at his expressed concern.
“Oh my! It really shows how Princess Yuliana truly thinks deeply for her country.”
“Yes indeed. The last royalty that visited only signed their name in the guestbook by the entrance before disappearing. What a contrast!”
Her response elicited admiring exclamations from the crowd. Those in the vicinity all looked deeply moved at her words. Royalty who traveled to the empire as envoys rarely bothered with academic events, choosing to occupy their attention with more pleasurable activities. Yet here was Princess Yuliana personally attending and expressing a deep interest in the event for the sake of her country. Was she not the epitome of an exemplary princess?
‘Good, it’s going well,’ Yuliana inwardly cried for joy. She had carefully selected this event from the many options available to emphasize her deep interest in academics. She’d also learned that the empress had never attended such events since her coronation, and was sure that she would receive a warm welcome for gracing them with her presence. The favorable impression from today, amplified by the power of the Archwitch, would fuel the spread of her fame. ‘…And the voices advocating for me as empress will grow louder.’
“Please come this way, Princess Yuliana.”
Yuliana thanked everyone and excused herself, before turning to follow the organizer as she was escorted to her seat.
Having confirmed that her powers were fine, it was time to take the next step towards her goal. Hidden beneath the cover of her sleeves, she had balled her hand into a fist. After foolishly being dealt a blow at the tea party, the princess had vowed to herself that she would take down the empress. This was the perfect stage to enact her revenge.
After a few minutes of mindless chatter with the attendees, during a natural lull in conversation, Yuliana made to conspicuously scan the room. Her apparent searching gaze led the attendee seated next to her to ask, “Princess Yuliana, is there someone you’re looking for?”
“Oh, I was simply wondering when Her Majesty would be arriving. I am sure she will attend such a good and meaningful event,” Yuliana promptly answered, gleeful that the bait had been taken. Needless to say, she spoke purposely, knowing full well that the empress would never appear.
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