Chapter 1. The fiancé is back
There were two carriages headed to the temple, one for me and one for Aldor and Marquis Hutton.
Sir Hiltine rode in the same carriage as the Huttons. He watched Aldor without a single glitch, and Aldor looked at him with an uneasy look throughout.
It was the same even after arriving at the temple. He looked like a man with a crooked back.
“Aldor, can’t you get your act together?!”
When Marquis Hutton shouted with a harsh voice, Aldor looked at him with a white-washed face.
“It will be fine. You’ve done nothing wrong, so don’t worry about it.”
…does Marquis Hutton really know nothing?
I was starting to get a little confused by Marquis Hutton’s behavior, which was too confident.
I was standing in front of the carriage and looking at them when people came out of the temple. They were priests in unblemished white priest uniforms.
“What brings you here at this late hour, Marquis Hutton?”
A man with a gold rim on his robe stepped forward and asked.
It meant that he was a high priest. Lower priests had no rims and were engraved with purple, blue, and gold borders according to their rank.
“We are here for the sacred trial.”
On behalf of Marquis Hutton, I took a step forward and answered.
The high priest turned to me.
I put my hand on my chest and bowed lightly.
“My name is Leila Thebesa, who is an aide to the Emperor and is now the Emperor’s agent.”
“Oh my, excuse me, Sir Thebesa. I am Clima, a humble servant of God.”
“Nice to meet you, Priest Clima.”
After exchanging brief greetings, I explained the purpose of my visit here again.
“I’m sorry at this late hour, but I would be grateful if you could conduct the sacred trial to determine who is right because my words and Lord Aldor Hutton are different.”
Priest Clima asked me in disbelief.
As I nodded, the other priests, except for Priest Clima, began to chatter.
It was natural for them to react like that when they heard two decent nobles wanted the sacred trial, an interrogation usually conducted for heinous criminals.
“I don’t know what the cause is, but I think it would be better for the two of you to settle the matter through dialogue rather than undergo the sacred trial.”
“We wouldn’t have come here if we could resolve it through dialogue.”
I answered while looking at Aldor. Aldor, who made eye contact with me, blatantly avoided my gaze.
“Once again, I want to go on the sacred trial.”
Priest Clima sighed in regret and looked at Aldor.
“Is Lord Hutton on the same page?”
Instead of answering directly, Aldor looked at Marquis Hutton. His face was still as pale as a blank sheet of paper.
Marquis Hutton, who had been silent with a heavy face despite his son’s anxious gaze, nodded.
Aldor called Marquis Hutton in a shrill voice and tried to approach him, but Sir Hiltine blocked his way with a blue-edged sword. He stared at Aldor as if he would cut him off immediately if he took one more step.
Aldor’s face, which had already been white due to the harsh situation, became so white as he was frightened.
“This is the only way to prove your innocence! So take it calmly, Aldor!”
And when Marquis Hutton said that, Aldor shut his mouth.
Priest Clima sighed quietly and nodded.
“If that’s what you two wish, I understand. I will prepare it right away. Please wait in the waiting room for a moment.”
Priest Clima beckoned, then another high priest right behind him came forward and greeted us politely.
“Everyone, please come this way.”
We followed the high priest to the temple’s waiting room.
The temple of Hutton, which was one of the wealthiest cities, was large and splendid. All the way to the waiting room, fancy decorations were seen.
The waiting room was also splendid. After asking us to wait here for a while, the high priest left.
In the center of the waiting room, there was a soft and luxurious sofa for the nobles, but I didn’t sit there. I just stood in front of the door.
Marquis Hutton and Aldor would definitely be sitting there. Would it be crazy if we sat together? Even if my legs hurt a little, standing was a hundred times better.
As expected, Marquis Hutton and Aldor sat on the sofa. Sir Hiltine sat behind them and kept a close watch on Aldor.
I’m glad he’s here.
Thanks to him, I was able to feel some peace in my anxious mind.
“The sacred trial is ready.”
Though it was all meaningless in front of the sacred trial. But the preparation was done faster than I thought. Was it supposed to be this fast?
Priest Clima asked us to follow him and lead the way.
As I was about to follow him, Marquis Hutton came to my side and spoke in a voice low enough that only I could hear him.
“It’s not too late now.”
Marquis Hutton’s fierce gaze was fixed on me. Without blinking an eye, I met his gaze calmly.
“Why don’t we acknowledge that it was caused by a minor misunderstanding and bury it?”
“I don’t want to.”
When I refused like a knife, Marquis Hutton frowned.
“Because you’re a lady who doesn’t know anything about the world, you don’t know the fear of the sacred trial. You may not be able to stay sane after undergoing it.”
“And you’re still going to do it?”
“Yes. Because it is the only way to prove my innocence.”
It wasn’t that I wasn’t afraid to go on the sacred trial. Even now, I was so scared and frightened that the hand I was clenching in my sleeve was trembling. But, as I said to Marquis Hutton, this was the only way to prove my innocence.
So, let’s do it. Even if you lose your mind due to the aftereffects, just do it, Leila.
Marquis Hutton opened his mouth as if he had more to say, but he couldn’t because we had reached our destination.
Standing at the door painted with thorns, Priest Clima stepped forward, looking at Aldor, and said.
“I will ask you one last time. Are you sure you want to go on the sacred trial?”
Unlike me, who answered right away, Aldor hesitated.
Priest Clima asked him again and Aldor reluctantly answered.
“You can sign here.”
What Priest Clima brought out was a document stating that the temple would not take any responsibility in the event of a problem.
When Aldor and I signed the document, Priest Clima beckoned.
The door with thorn vines opened, revealing the sacred court, which I had only heard of.
Contrary to the frightful appearance, the courtroom itself was ordinary.
In a simple room with no special decorations, a wooden chair was placed there.
If there’s only one chair, does it mean that only one person can receive the sacred trial at a time?
I had a bad feeling about this.
“Let the trial begin with Lady Thebesa first.”
My hunch was right on the mark. At Marquis Hutton’s words, Aldor raised his head.
“I think that’s a good idea too. That woman was the first to propose the sacred trial after all.”
From Sir to Lady, and now to that woman.
It was funny. I wondered how far a title could be lowered.
“All right. Let’s do that.”
He’s trying to get away while I’m under the sacred trial and even go crazy, huh? As if I will let that happen.
“Instead, no matter what my results are, Lord Hutton also has to undergo the sacred trial.”
“…is that necessary?”
Marquis Hutton asked me in a subdued voice.
“The Lady’s innocence means that my son has been proven to have lied. There would be no need for two people to suffer.”
“Does that mean the Marquis also thinks I am innocent?”
Marquis Hutton was silent on my question. He didn’t even say no.
Looking at him now, I didn’t think he knew anything. I truly had no idea which one it was.
“As the Marquis said earlier, this may be the result of mutual misunderstanding.”
I looked at Aldor, not Marquis Hutton.
“That’s why I think it is necessary to make sure that not only me but also Lord Hutton is innocent. What do you think, Lord Hutton?”
Aldor didn’t answer, but I didn’t ask anymore because it wasn’t a question I was hoping for him to answer.
Instead, I looked at Priest Clima.
“So, please promise me, Priest Clima, that even if I’m proven innocent, Lord Hutton will also have the sacred trial.”
“You don’t have to worry about that, Sir Thebesa.”
Priest Clima smiled kindly and beckoned.
Then, from somewhere, the priests brought another wooden chair and placed it next to the existing wooden chair.
“Because the sacred trial will judge you two at the same time.”
Aldor’s eyes widened like an oil lamp, and his mouth was wide open.
[T/N: Oil lamp is a metaphor for eyes that have grown large in surprise or fear.]
Priest Clima glanced at Aldor and said to me.
“And so, you won’t have to worry, Sir Thebesa.”
“Then please take a seat.”
Unlike me, who sat right away on the chair, Aldor hesitated.
Sir Hiltine pushed Aldor’s back. Only then did Aldor sit down on the chair.
“I hope Marquis Hutton and the Knight could leave.”
Since the sacred trial was not open to anyone except for those concerned, Marquis Hutton and Sir Hiltine had to leave even if they didn’t want to.
Only me, Aldor, Priest Clima, and two other priests were left in the room.
“Please close your eyes.”
I closed my eyes and another priest put a cloth over my eyes. Soon I felt something prickly on my head.
It was a laurel wreath made of laurels and thorns.
I thought I had made up my mind, but when I was put on the laurel wreath, my heart raced like crazy. And my mouth was very dry.
You’ll be fine. It’s okay.
As I clenched my fists trying to control my pounding heart, I felt someone approaching and standing next to me.
“It will be fine.”
Soon, I heard a small whisper in my ear. It was Priest Clima.
“Don’t worry about anything, Sir Thebesa.”
What does he mean?
“Let the sacred trial begin!”
I wanted to ask, but I couldn’t because Priest Clima had announced that the sacred trial would begin.
It’s really starting now, huh?
I felt so nervous as I was clenching my cold sweaty hands.
“ARGHHHH! I WAS WRONGG!”
But then, out of nowhere, I heard Aldor’s desperate scream.