Chapter 1 - Prologue
The high-ranking priest who had been handling business in the barracks looked at the knight thrown in front of him in surprise. The knight’s face was a mess. He looked like he had been beaten to a pulp.
The person who suddenly threw this knight at the priest was none other than the commander of the Knights of Berg. Even high-ranking officials from the Holy Land knew his name…
“Lord Alliot! This is…. What kind of disrespect is this?”
Alliot’s face was unusually subdued. Whatever the reason, it was clear that something very serious had happened.
“I have something to tell you. It concerns the Saintess.”
“…What? What about the Saintess…?”
The high-ranking priest stood up quickly.
The defeat of the demons was a success. Thanks to the two Stern’s ability to take down the enemy aggressively, it ended faster than expected. The noblewomen who were deeply frightened by the fact that they had been surrounded by demons and heavy snow, breathed a sigh of relief.
Moreover, the fact that the Grand Duke of Berg was in the barracks was even more exciting. He was the most powerful man in the empire after the emperor and barely appeared in society. Naturally, there was an overflow of nobles who wished to see his face once.
Of course he was married.
But all the people in the world knew that it was temporary. The wedding to Seria was misrepresented as the romance of a knight who jumped in to save Stern and instead became famous.
Eloise Hedon was sobbing.
She didn’t care that Seria Stern had insulted her. What mattered was her relationship with her knight that had come to light during this time.
The noble ladies, who were friends with her in the past, openly ignored or avoided her. Among them, a weak-minded and kind-hearted Young Lady modestly advised Eloise.
“Lady Eloise. It would be better to sort this out before your fiancé finds out.”
But what good would it do to sort it out? There were already other warlords and their knights in this place. They saw it all.
In addition, Seria Stern was also there. Although she has been slowly hiding from society for the past year, the original nickname for Seria Stern was a deranged viper or a mad colt.
Now that she was the Grand Duchess of Berg, Eloise would be a laughing stock and a miserable failure to get an invitation when she came up to the imperial social gathering in the spring. Before that, her fiancé would break up the marriage and she would be locked up in a country mansion for the rest of her life…
“Hmm? Why are you crying?”
Eloise quickly lifted her head.
Eloise was usually arrogant, but now her heart was weakening.
She grabbed Lina and vented her frustration.
“Seria Stern, she insulted me….”
Lina’s eyes sparkled.
Lina felt happy. She felt like Eloise Hedon had become her first friend.
“Seria was awful. She didn’t have to insult Young Lady that much!”
Eloise suddenly burst into tears at Lina’s words.
‘Honestly, though, it was your fault.’
But Lina only thought that to herself.
Lina needed a friend. She had already lost to the ladies of Haneton.
So Lina didn’t want to make the same mistake again. It seemed like the ladies here were reluctant to point out their mistakes openly.
‘This way, I will soon have a friend.’
Lina danced to her feet. It was a temporary barracks, but there were many isolated nobles, and the state of the barracks was built like a hunting ground with walking paths and everything in between.
Right now, the priests were out of their positions. This was because the land was almost contaminated by magi and had to be cleansed with the silver branches and holy objects. It was not very efficient, but it was quite effective for the places where this level of magic had left.
Thanks to that, Lina was free.
Lina ran into Lesche. He looked at her like she was a stone, and quickly passed her by, coldly averting his gaze.
Of course, Lina didn’t have any kind of friendship or connection with Lesche Berg. In fact, she was scared.
Just as Lina was about to pass by.
‘Huh? What just happened?’
Lina was puzzled as she continued to move. The moment she grazed Lesche, it looked as if an invisible spark had spattered.
She must be mistaken. No, even if she wasn’t mistaken, she didn’t dare turn around to check. At that moment…
A voice came from behind. Lina thought that Lesche’s voice was extremely good. She could understand why the ladies were praising him so much.
But, why was Kalis more visible when she was in Berg mansion? While thinking about it, Lina momentarily missed the right moment to turn around.
“What did you do to me?”
“Huh? I didn’t do anything.”
“Then what is this?”
Finally, Lina turned around and her eyes widened instantly. Because there was a trickle of blood falling from Lesche’s arm, where Lina had just grazed.
“What? I… I don’t know. I didn’t do that…”
That was when she heard a strong voice
“Your Highness! Your Highness? What’s wrong with your arm?”
“I don’t know.”
Alliot looked at Lesche’s arm with a surprised expression, then alternated between him and Lina.
‘Why are you looking at me like that?’
Lina was perplexed. She could only be perplexed. She couldn’t put her fingers on it, but Alliot’s gaze was strange.
Of course, it wasn’t as hostile as the ladies from Haneton. Nor did it contain a stern reprimand like High Priest Amos’s. Still, it wasn’t as heartless and cold as Lesche Berg’s, but….
It was then.
Lina turned around and flinched. It was because a high-ranking priest directly under Amos was approaching. His expression was gloomy, and Lina knew instinctively that something was wrong.
“High Priest Amos has something important to tell you.”
Lina’s eyes widened as she entered the barracks.
Because the knight that she sent to ‘help’ Abigail, Seria’s knight, at the defeat battle earlier, was lying limp on the ground.
The knight was tied up with a rope, and the other priests in the barracks were simply pretending not to see her.
There was only one question.
How did they find out? There was no one around them when they talked…
Then, High Priest Amos walking in the barracks came into Lina’s view. Lina knew the moment she met his eyes. That he was beyond angry.
Lina hesitated to look at him.
However, unlike usual, Amos spoke with a smile.
“Yes, High Priest.”
“Did you send this knight to Abigail Orrien?”
“…Yes. May I ask why?”
Lina said in a fading voice.
“Well, High Priest, you said that unlike me, Seria will keep her position no matter what happens. But I don’t think it’s true….”
“So did you order the knight to hurt Abigail Orrien?”
“I didn’t order him! I just asked him for a favor.”
“Did you try to hurt Abigail to get Seria Stern out of her position?”
“As I said before, I want to show you that Seria would do the same thing as I did if an urgent situation arises.”
Amos laughed in bewilderment. The priests standing on either side of him closed their eyes tightly and stepped away as quietly as they could.
It was a loud cry.
“What the hell….! In what spirit did you do that? Now, for such a trivial reason, you tried to hurt a knight? And she’s Stern’s knight! Stern’s knight!”
“Do you have any excuse left!”
Amos was extremely mad. He even staggered a bit.
“I’ve promised the Great Temple to keep you safe and sound, but I can’t do it anymore.”
“……What? What do you mean ……?”
Lina’s eyes widened with anxiety.
“I promised that I would take you to the imperial palace one month after the battle. I’ll cancel that promise now. No matter what I think about it, this is for the best.”
“Why did you fool Stern’s knight while you’re trying to avoid something you don’t like!”
“I heard that knight was a death sentence anyway!”
“Saintess! Don’t insult Stern’s knight!”
High Priest Amos trembled. Lina had insulted Stern’s knight, and even Stern herself.
Stern’s knights were the ones who guarded Stern and spoke for Stern at the same time. They were not just mere escorts. Even if it was understandable for someone who didn’t know anything to say something like that, it was definitely not something that should come out of the mouth of a saint who was anointed by God.
Lina finally said, her hands trembling.
“Now… I’ll go to Seria right now and apologize to her. I’ll do it right away!”
As soon as her words were finished, Amos stopped Lina from running around.
“Saintess. Please stop.”
The wrinkles on Amos’s forehead were deeper than usual.
“I am the one who was assigned from the Holy Land to protect Saintess’s safety, but I am also the Priest who guards Stern. As of today, Saintess will not be able to see Stern.”
“Bring him. I’ll punish him in front of Stern.”
“Yes, High Priest.”
The tied up knight was dragged away by the hands of the other knights. Lina shuddered.
“How long do I have to stay before…”
Amos did not answer. Lina remained persistent in his silence, but Amos did not give a definite answer. What could be more ominous than the silence of the High Priest? The blood slowly drained from Lina’s face. Her eyes clouded over as if she was about to cry out.
Lina ran straight out of the barracks.