I informed Kaelus in advance before going to the Imperial Palace, so I think it will be done if I return and report to him.
I reached the front of the study. Considering the condition of Kaelus, the door of the study was wide open, and there was always a servant. The atmosphere of the mansion is generally quiet, so I could read even with the door open like this.
The servant sitting in the doorway winked at me. After nodding silently, the servant went inside, careful not to make a sound.
From my side, I heard a rambling voice from nowhere. It was not long before the servant reappeared.
“Come on in, Lady Hestia,”
As I entered the study, the servant politely stepped back and closed the door.
Only then could I see Kaelus sitting by the inside window. Long silver hair tied up properly. His much more neat appearance seemed to reveal his inner self gradually finding its place.
Kaelus, who put the book he was reading on the window sill, looked at me with purple eyes.
“You must have went there.”
I walked close and sat on the sofa. The tea set left by the servant was neatly placed on the table. But I was still bad at getting the tea, so I just had to stare at it.
Kaelus rose without a word and approached. Then, without complaining, he poured hot tea himself with his own hands.
I learned very, very basic things about the tea ceremony, but honestly, it was embarrassing to serve others. In order to be good at tea, you have to get close to it first, but it was hard to enjoy tea with the strong smell of grass because I was already accustomed to coffee.
Still, it is also a skill that must be learned in order to participate in social gatherings as an aristocrat in the future. I think I’ll have to set aside a day to learn.
A moment of silence. We both took our own cup and carefully savored the tea. The tea that Kaelus made for me was very good because it didn’t have a strong scent.
“…How is Diana?”
The long-awaited question. I answered plainly.
“Yes, she seemed fine.”
A mechanical answering voice. The feeling in it wasn’t very intense.
What else should I tell you? I’m sure Kaelus misses Diana very much. Isn’t love inherently something you resent and long for?
He hesitated as he spoke again.
“In the future that you saw… What will happen to Diana…?”
My heart aches suddenly. It was a love that had chosen a friend, was abandoned and didn’t live happily.
After his death, the main character couple weren’t as hot and sweet as they were in the past. The empire, which lost its capable talent, mourned his absence due to the crisis that was internal and external in the kingdom, and the saint who lost her healing power was no longer sacred. The number of nobles challenging the crown princess increased day by day, and the prince she could rely on slowly grew tired of the reality because it was difficult to put only love as a reason.
Unfortunately, Diana didn’t have the queen’s arsenal to lead the empire in the future. In fact, her qualities were nothing special except God’s healing power and a good heart. It would have been better if they had a child, but until I returned, there was no story of the birth of a royal child between Helios and Diana.
When I couldn’t answer quickly, Kaelus’ voice cracked a little.
“…I don’t think it’s very bright.”
After all, I decided not to hide it.
“To tell you the truth, yes.”
His eyes rested on the teacup. Seeing his slightly blurred eyes, he seems to be heartbroken.
I told the truth calmly.
“The crown princess will soon lose the power of healing.”
Looking at Kaelus raising his head in surprise, he smiled sadly.
“It’s the same for me. My foresight won’t last long either.”
“Do you know how that happens?”
I tilted my head slightly to his hasty question.
“I know why I am losing power, but I don’t know why her majesty is losing power.”
“Then why are you?”
His purple eyes met mine. I roughly confessed what I had guessed in an unconfident tone.
“Maybe… because I’m going to die…?”
I had collapsed while crying in the temple, so I guessed that I must have died. Think of it as a rofan novel. Usually, when the main characters return, didn’t they die just before that?
But because of my answer, Kaelus’ face hardened.
Ah. If I knew you’d be so surprised, I would just have said that I didn’t know. I feel sorry for some reason.
“I mean, I’m not sure, but it’s just dark after that. I can’t see anything. The last time I fell….”
“Dying, who? You? When is that?”
Oh, he’s so embarrassed. I’ll have to fix things properly. I was even more surprised by the pouring questions.
“It’ll be about… two years later. But you don’t have to worry. The crown princess, even though she has lost her power, was in good health until the end.”
Kaelus snapped his mouth shut. He looks handsome even with a frown.
“Unfortunately, my vision will not reach that far in my later life to see if I live longer than that. So I have to do everything I have to do before then. That’s all I can do, whether I live or die.”
His lips were stuck together as if they were glued.
I looked carefully at his countenance. If I tell him that Diana recognized the pink diamond ring, would it be hopeful information to Kaelus?
I hesitated, but to get him out of the mire of despair, I’d rather give him a glimmer of hope.
“Well, Lord Kaelus,”
He looked at me with a blank face.
“Diana remembered the diamond ring I was wearing.”
A cracked voice. It’s like a burning throat.
He tried to smile.
“I’m just saying. If the marquis knows, maybe it’ll be of some help in the future.”
He turned his head around.
“I’m done with Diana anyway. There is no room for reconsideration.”
I shouldn’t have said that. It made my heart ache.
It’s unexpected. I wish I had the talent to take care of someone gently and comfort them.
I put down the tea cup and got up from my seat.
“Then I’ll be on my way.”
Kaelus was lost in thought. Whether he saw it or not, I bowed lightly and left the study with courtesy.
A few days after visiting Diana, I found the salon of Madame Harmonia.
You said you’d let me know when the party schedule is set, but you haven’t contacted me yet. Maybe Diana lied to me. Then she might have said something to Madame Harmonia, who she trusts more than I do.
“Marchioness Hestia. Welcome.”
As usual, Madame greeted me with a bright smile. I also responded gently.
“Thank you for your hospitality. How have you been?”
“Thanks to your concern. Hohohoh….”
I glanced through the salon. There were people sitting in limbo. I think I should ask for a room.
“Madam, can I talk to you inside?”
“Oh, go ahead. This way.”
Frankly, I don’t trust Harmonia completely.
When I think about who she would prefer between me and Diana, the answer is easy. When Diana shows signs of being wary of me, Harmonia will surely try to look into me for her.
I’m going to make a profit by giving what I’m going to give in moderation. A relationship based on humanity only leads to a false fantasy.
I came into an empty room. Madame Harmonia closed the door and immediately went to business.
“Did you hear from the crown princess recently?”
“I’ve been exchanging greetings a lot, but….”
Harmonia’s serene expression didn’t falter. I also nodded without a smile.
“You know that’s not what I’m asking. I wonder if you haven’t mentioned the next meeting because the meeting is the goddess of tea party with honored aristocrats.”
“It’s not just the marchioness, but it’s something many people are curious about. But unfortunately, she didn’t say much.”
As expected, it came out like this. For Diana, who doesn’t have many people to rely on in the palace, she would have asked Madame for advice.
However, this reality is well known to other experienced ladies besides me. Harmonia will not open her mouth* under this pressure.
*TN: she won’t give information
“The other day, when I saw her separately, she made a promise. I’ll be the first to know…”
“So she hasn’t decided on her next tea party yet.”
“Even now? Did she just say that to make me happy? I’m also a fool, so I can’t tell what I mean no matter how much sugar* I put on.”
*TN: sweet talk
I complained with a whimper. Madame smiled and shook her head.
“Her highness is a good woman, so it can’t be. If she promised the marchioness like that because she is a honest person, she would surely keep it.”
I purposely clouded my expression and murmured in an disbelieving tone.
“She’s so good… Why did she say that to me….”
“What do you mean?”
Harmonia opened her eyes wide and asked back.
You’ve been caught. I laughed loudly inside, but I drew a lonely smile on the outside.
“Actually, I was so excited when I went to see the princess that I wore the ring that the marquis gave me. It was a pink diamond, and it was something that he had given to the Holy Lady once.”
“Oh, my God…!”
She covered her lips in astonishment. A service-filled response that seems to comfort my feelings. But the real thing is now.
“Do you know how I realized this? None other than the crown princess herself told me. As soon as she saw the ring, she pretended to know about it.”
“When you live in the world, there are things you’d rather not know, but if she had cared for me a little bit, my marriage would have been happier….”
Harmonia looked at me sadly. I think I’ll have to push a little harder to instill Diana’s ambivalence in her.
“Just in case, madam, I hope her highness doesn’t still want to have my husband’s hand? Maybe, she shook me on purpose to make me falter…”
She freaked out at once.
“No, it’s not that! Marchioness, her highness, still retains a pure character.”
“But listen, madame. From beginning to end, whatever the crown princess had said to me, it sounded like she had a different motive.”
Harmonia was at a loss at my words.
“I understand your embarrassment. If her highness really said so, I will be very sorry.”
I quickly took out my handkerchief and pretended to wipe my tears.
“I’m afraid I must be a mess like this. I was just naively happy with my husband’s first gift…”
Madame tried to console me somehow.
“Well, marchioness. Please don’t be too disheartened. You are a woman of faith. But I’ll ask your highness about the tea party schedule because you’re worried.”
“Thank you, madam, but I can’t help feeling miserable.”
I forced the corners of my mouth up. Harmonia’s expression darkened a lot.
At this point, I asked again.
“Really… Her highness didn’t tell madame anything about the tea party…?”
“Yes, I’m telling you.”
An answer came out robotically. But whether that’s true or not doesn’t matter much to me now.
“Then please tell her highness to decide as soon as possible. The later we get in touch, the more likely the seeds of doubt will sprout once sown. The crown princess’ intentions with my husband.”
Was the word “wordplay” a bit strong? Harmonia shook her head with a pale countenance.
“Not at all…! If she knows that his wife is suffering so much, I’m sure her highness will respond quickly.”
“I hope it works out as madame said.”
Harmonia followed me out of the salon door and sent me off. I stepped into the carriage, expressing my appreciation for her kindness.
I smiled inwardly. Diana, there’s no place to run away.
I was sitting at my desk thinking about coming back from meeting Harmonia, and Clarice, the maid, came.
“Madam, Lord Kaelus is looking for you.”
When I asked, surprised, the maid smiled kindly.
“He seemed to want to have a friendly conversation.”
No way. When I looked at her with ridiculous eyes, the lady-in-waiting avoided eye contact with a whimper.
Leaving the maid behind, I headed to Kaelus’ bedroom. I spoke first through the wide open door.
“Oh, come on in.”
A plain voice with no pitch. This alone made it difficult to get a sense of what he called me for. I couldn’t get rid of the tension and moved on.
“I’ve heard from the lady-in-waiting, you were looking for me.”
Kaelus was sitting on the sofa. The sparsely braided silver hair created a soft atmosphere. But his expression was as casual as ever.
An envelope shook in his hand.
“I got a letter from Heli. The information you gave him stopped the crisis.”
You mean the provocation of the border through Diana. I felt much better when I found out what it was about.
I nodded and affirmed.
“Yes, I told her when I met her. I think we need to do something.”
Kaelus smoothed his chin with interest.
“Knowing the future is actually a great ability. Indeed, it has the power to control the fate of a country.”
I didn’t say anything back. No matter how great the power is, it is only meaningful to me if I use it to work for Kaelus.
“Would you like a cup of tea?”
“Yes, of course.”
There was no reason to refuse. I answered quickly and sat down rather modestly opposite of him.
Kaelus picked up a teacup from the tea tray that the servant had left behind. Just in case, when Kaelus was still alone, they did not leave the tea utensils in the room and always carried it with them.
The air was not too heavy. Kaelus immediately followed the tea scent as it was subtly made.
“I’ve logically considered knowing the future and changing it.”
What he said didn’t make sense. My expression must have been a little blank because he smirked.
“So to put it simply, if you change your foreseen future to the present, is it really a question of whether that future exists as the future? For example, if you stopped my death after seeing the future that I was going to die, will the future that follows be unchanged?”
So to speak, is it a concept similar to the time paradox that occurs in time travel? I guess Kaelus was thinking about this in his head. As expected, my favorite. A man full of intellectual charm.
His voice sounded quite pleasant.
“Logically speaking, the future you predicted has not yet happened, but it is scheduled to happen on the premise of the present condition. But if the present that presupposes the future has changed thanks to your wisdom, the future will be gone….”
“I’m at a loss. To be honest, it’s hard for me to sit back and listen to these troublesome theories. Kaelus, if you’re gonna talk about this, can you please let me go?”
“That means you have to have an accurate understanding of the way you see the future so that you can sort of resolve this logical contradiction. By any chance, does the future you see lead to a narrative of everything? Or is it just a fragmented scene?”
I answered half-bakedly.
“Uh, like a narrative…?”
“Well, that doesn’t work out easily…”
I don’t know what’s easy and what’s not. I’m sorry, Kaelus. I wish I could have responded to your interest.
Kaelus’ fingers tapped Helios’ letter.
“But if you say that the foreseeable future fits in this way, you need to calculate how much the reality on which it is based will have to change to affect the foreseeable future.”
But surprisingly, this may be an important issue.
If I change the events before regression one by one after regression, can the events before regression that I pretend to be ‘predictive’ still occur in the present?
If so, it means that the time when my foresight will be revealed is likely to be much earlier than expected.
…that’s a problem.
“Let’s just think about the reality that you’ve changed so far. You removed the reality that I was dying, but my survival had nothing to do with border provocation. That’s why the future that you told Diana happened.”
“Well, that’s true….”
“Then the narrative of the future you see needs to be fine-tuned with current changes to make sense. What do you think? Does the narrative change?”
“Ummm… Not really….”
Damn it, I want to make things up here and there, but I don’t know whether to make it up or not!
Kaelus’ brow was deeply wrinkled.
“Well, then, even if I lived without dying, and the border crisis disappeared, the future you saw would not change at all. Do you mean that these realities are so small?”
Seriously, my intellectual level is too weak in this way. I hoped that it would work out.
“The world is supposed to go around without you.”
Suddenly, Kaelus was silent. I shut my mouth to read his expression.
After a short interval, his lips opened again.
“…Yes, that’s right. You’re right.”
The voice was somehow lonely.
“With or without me, the world is still going on. I wasn’t such a great person that my existence would change the future.”
The world after the ending. The existence of the second lead, who was in charge of one of the main pillars of the novel, is only as heavy as dust*. In fact, individuals may not be very important in this universe.
*TN: He’s unimportant as dust is heavy
But looking at it more microscopically, the story changed. At least in my world, Kaelus is the world.
“You don’t have to change the world to be great.”
There’s no need to change the world in a grand way. If his existence itself becomes meaningful to any one person, in fact, that alone is a man who has accomplished a great deal.
We looked at each other in silence for a moment. The expressionless lips of Kaelus opened.
“Then what is an amazing person?”
“Someone who can change one person, not the world.”
I said my thoughts calmly.
“Because that man is the little universe itself.”
Kaelus lowered his eyes slightly. Silver eyelashes hung long over the pupils. It’s pretty.
Anyway, philosophical or physical theoretical conversations are limited here. I rose quickly from his seat before he could speak any further.
“The tea that the marquis makes is really delicious. Thank you. I had a good drink.”
Kaelus was still quiet. I had no choice but to be polite to myself, and turned around and left.
I sighed deeply.
Should I read a book of philosophy to match the level of conversation with my favorite? It’s not easy to be a fanatic.
I asked Countess Erinnis to meet me to discuss Diana’s tea party. Soon an invitation came, and I visited her mansion on time.
“You really asked the crown princess. I couldn’t help but be moved by your good faith, Marchioness Hestia.”
The countess saved my face with elegant language.
“Don’t you think I should keep my promise? But I’m embarrassed to see you because I haven’t got a clear answer yet.”
“Oh, don’t mention it. Hohohoho.”
With a smile and a slight shake, the air became softer.
We have entered into full-fledged business.
“The date of her tea party will be decided soon. She didn’t give me a definite answer when I saw her in person, but I put pressure on her, so I’m sure I’ll get an answer soon.”
Countess Erinnis listened to me with a careful look. Encouraged by the attitude, I continued.
“Maybe most of the ladies who were excluded from the last meeting will be on the invitation list. If your highness moves reluctantly after I have made my point clear, she will try to have a meeting with everyone at once without difficulty.”
“Will the crown princess do well alone?”
As the countess tilted her head, I added cautiously.
“There must be helpers. Like Madame Harmonia.”
She wrinkled her brows. It seems that she is not happy to intervene in the event for the ladies at the Imperial Palace.
But don’t let me decide on her likes and dislikes. Only objective facts should be pointed out as much as possible.
“Madam’s skill is out of the ordinary. And she’s a trusted confidant of the crown princess. She taught her manners when she was a saint, so there’s no point in telling me.”
“Even so, your aides tend to lose a lot of weight*.”
*TN: not literally but as in they don’t have much authority
“So wouldn’t it be nice if the countess took this opportunity to reveal her ties*? As an adult to whom the crown princess can rely.”
*TN: what side she’s on since she’s currently neutral
Perhaps she thought my answer was far more naive, she shut me up and stared at me.
“Marchioness Hestia, do you really think so?”
So I opened my eyes wide as if I knew nothing.
“There’s no reason why not?”
I met her eyes with a meaningful smile.
“Now, there are only two of us, tell us what you think. Don’t pretend you don’t know, marchioness.”
My lips flickered at this comment. I guess you noticed I was pretending to be naive on purpose.
“…The Countess is really hard to beat.”
I’d rather be an ally if she noticed my true feelings.
I raised my chin slightly.
“The way in which the crown princess has a relationship is simpler than you think. Her standard is always morality. The kind of noble character that a human being should have.”
As if to agree with my opinion, the countess nodded quietly.
Looking at the Countess’s reaction, I continued: “If you think I’m a little off the mark, I’ll only be courteous on the surface and never be honest. I’ll tell you what I think, but perhaps it’s very hard for ladies, including me and the countess, to gain your trust.”
“Why do you think so?” asked Countess Erinnis with a serious look.
I looked at her with a smile.
“It’s because of last year’s flood in the territory.”
The countess’ expression hardened at once.
Last year’s flood was one of the main events in the novel, not after. Saintess Diana was shocked by the cruel sight of the local people and sought mercy from the nobles who came to the temple. However, no matter how difficult the situation was, the nobles could not intervene in other people’s territorial affairs without the request of the lord himself. The affected lords were also reluctant to disclose their disastrous internal circumstances due to their pride.
After all, it was Helios and Kaelus who listened to Diana’s appeal. After forcibly securing damage reports from the lords with the power of the two, she ordered them to use their private property to help the people.
One step further from here, Helios went undercover with Diana. And they actually met and helped the people who were devastated by the flood. It was an opportunity to deepen the relationship between the two.
While the two of them were enjoying their date, what Kaelus did was take care of what he had to do instead of the crown prince who was away from the palace. It was the first contributor to the main character couple’s love play.
It made me emotional to think about it again, but I managed my expression thoroughly in front of Countess Erinnis.
“I know the crown princess was very disappointed with the nobles at that time.”
“But I have something to say. It is the right of the lord to take care of the people of the land. It’s something that no aristocrats outside the lord can have a say in. It’s because there’s going to be a useless conflict otherwise.”
The countess was very upset. I understood her plea, too.
“Yes, but the saintess is a commoner. There is no time to consider such subtle differences of face and position among the nobles. The only thing that matters to her is the circumstances of commoners like herself.”
To put it as “only” is actually an exaggeration. However, sometimes extreme vocabulary choices are necessary to achieve a goal.
And now that I’m allied with her, I think it’s a good idea to make her stand out at this tea party.
I whispered in a lower voice.
“But even if you’re a princess who’s built a wall to the aristocracy, it’s possible for me to create a little crack in the wall if you want.”
Then she rolled her eyes and leaned over.
Good for you. You’re interested.
“You know, I have a lot of stories that you might find uncomfortable. For example, my husband’s fervent adoration for her….”
I pulled up the tip of my lips.
“I’ll put you in a bit of a bind at the upcoming tea party. Then the countess will be tactful in interrupting and saving her highness. She probably won’t refuse.”
“Well, wouldn’t that put the marchioness at a loss?”
“I wouldn’t have offered you this if you couldn’t take care of me in return. Don’t worry about me, what do you think? Can you try?”
If you do well, you may get a position to influence the crown princess. I could feel Erinnis’ head turning fast.
At last, as if she had made up her mind, her eyes shone.
“…What do you want from the Marquis?”
Yes, that’s right. This is what society is.
Human relationships should basically have something to give and receive. I’m glad she knows the basics.
I replied with a refreshing smile.
“Please be my guardian at the tea party. Like a chaperone.”
“That’s not hard. Alright, Marchioness Hestia.”
We grinned at each other. It’s an alliance.