The carriage was swaying back and forth on the rough mountain road. Berg’s body also trembled helplessly.
Ale turned his head slightly to his boss who seemed to have lost his soul. A soulless, empty voice flew toward Ale.
“Ale, My brother is going to kill me.”
“……I think so, too.”
“What should I do?”
“If you ask me that…….”
Berg let out a desperate sigh. Ale looked at his boss with a pitiful eye and clicked his tongue. He remembered the lord of Chihen, whom he encountered once a long time ago. A man with blue hair like Berg. He resembles Berg, but still distinctly different.
Just looking into his eyes reminded him of the severe snowstorm in the Duchy. His eyes were so cold that he got goosebumps just thinking about it. Despite being related by blood, the brothers had nothing in common except their blue hair.
“Still, it’s been four years since you’ve been here. Wouldn’t the head of the state welcome you…..”
“Nonsense. As you said, it’s been four years since I came here, I’m glad my head is still attached. Ha…….”
Ale shut up. Because he agreed with Berg. There was no comfort in this. He just looked at his boss with pitiful eyes.
Berg gripped his forehead in agony. Aside from his older brother’s reaction, he was also worried about whether the holy relic would be in the family’s treasure chest, and how to deal with the aftermath of stealing it.
Yeah, if they have it, I can just bring it. Even if I were to be excommunicated, I can just stay in the Holy Land.
The moment he made up his mind, Berg remembered his brother’s cold gaze and had to drop his shoulder.
So, the carriage quickly ran toward the Kingdom of Sadin.
“Greetings to the guardian of the torch. I’m Bishop Leia, who will oversee the purification ceremony for the Selcred festival.”
Bishop Leia lowered her head gently; her long gray hair fell gently.
Adelia smiled calmly and also bowed to her.
“Please take good care of me.”
Adelia’s appearance made Bishop Leia’s eyes lit up.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a guardian like this.
They usually choose a high-ranking aristocratic woman to be the guardian of the torch. Naturally, their pride pierced the sky. During Bishop Leia’s ten years of overseeing the purification, she had to face all kinds of arrogant young ladies. She foresaw that this time as well. She thought she would be the same as any other guardian because she was in the midst of her fame in the capital.
However, after facing Adelia, Bishop Leia’s vigilance slowly began to turn to favor.
“As you know, the purification ritual can be difficult. Please be prepared.”
“Of course, you don’t have to worry.”
A faint smile flashed across Bishop Leia’s mouth in Adelia’s determined gaze.
“Tomorrow, reserve priests from the academy will arrive to assist the guardian. When the children arrive, the purification ceremony will begin in earnest. You can rest comfortably after the face-to-face meeting with the saint today.”
Adelia did not panic. Things were going the way as Berg said.
“A face-to-face meeting with the saint. I’m looking forward to it. Can you tell me more about this face-to-face meeting?”
“There’s nothing complicated. She will just bless you and give you words of blessing.”
Blessings. Adelia’s mouth had a strange smile.
“Hmm. And unlike the previous ones, this Selcred festival will end with the Saint’s congratulatory speech.”
Bishop Leia’s face showed displeasure at saying so.
It seems Hestine’s presence is not very welcome.
That at least meant that Bishop Leia is not a person of the Duke of Valkyr. It’s a good omen.
Adelia spoke sadly, deceiving herself.
“By the way, I’m worried that the Pope’s absence is so long. I thought he’d at least come back before Selcred..”
When Adelia mentioned the Pope, Bishop Leia’s complexion noticeably dimmed.
“……he’ll be back soon. Although he will not be able to attend this Selcred, he will be able to attend next time.”
Bishop Leia was a person who could calmly hide her insecurities. Adelia answered with a small smile.
“I will pray that he can. May Vishna’s blessing be with you.”
“May Vishna’s blessing be with you.”
Bishop Leia led Adelia to the room of harmony. The room in which the founding of the holy kingdom was decided. Here, Adelia had to face Hestine.
“The Saint arrived half an hour ago and is waiting.”
At the words of the paladin guarding the front of the chamber of harmony, Bishop Leia calmly turned to Adelia and said:
“I’ll be with you, so you don’t have to be nervous.”
“That’s reassuring. Then please.”
The paladin opened the door. Adelia slowly stepped into her room. Adelia could see Hestine sitting rather tightly in a white dress.
Hestine, who was quietly looking at the tea cup, looked up at Adelia. For a moment, Hestine’s eyes shook. But soon Hestine regained his composure and welcomed Adelia with a smile.
“You’re here, Viscount Yurpheon.”
Adelia paused for a moment at her soft voice. Somehow she felt a sense of alienation from Hestine. Adelia raised the corner of her mouth looking at Hestine, whose atmosphere changed.
“It’s been a long time, Saint. How have you been?”
“Of course. I was able to relax because everyone was worried about my health.”
“That’s a relief. I’ve been worried about the recent rumors about your poor health.”
Hestine’s long eyelashes half covered her transparent eyes. An awkward silence ensued. Bishop Leia quietly opened her mouth after watching the silence created by the two.
“Both of you are busy, so let’s hurry up and finish this meeting.”
Bishop Leia began a brief explanation of Selcred. Adelia and Hestine listened to her explanation in silence.
“…and this time, unusually, the saint will deliver a congratulatory speech at the end.”
“I’ll do my best, Bishop Leia.”
“Thank you for your active participation. Finally, will you bless the guardian of the torch?”
At Bishop Leia’s words, Hestine’s gaze shifted to Adelia. Hestine stared at Adelia in silence. She soon asked Bishop Leia.
“Bishop, can you step aside for a moment while I bless her?”
Bishop Leia expressed her surprise at the sudden request.
“It’s not difficult, but can I ask why?”
“…it’s a little hard to concentrate.”
It was a ridiculous excuse. She has already accomplished a tremendous miracle at the scene of a chaotic disaster. But to say that you need to concentrate on giving a blessing to only one person. Bishop Leia frowned at the clumsy lie, but did not refuse. Because Hestine was a saint, and she was a bishop.
“All right, then I’ll give you a moment.”
Bishop Leia rose from her seat and left the room of harmony.
The door closed, and now only Adelia and Hestine were left in the room of harmony. Hestine hesitated for a moment and opened her mouth cautiously.
“I, I have to give you my blessing, so your hands….”
Adelia looked at Hestine and reached out slowly. Soon afterwards, the hands of the two women overlapped.
What are you thinking?
A suspicious stare swept through Hestine’s face.
She was always very reluctant to be in the same space with Adelia but she kicked Bishop Leia out and made a situation where she was alone with her. She must be planning something.
Adelia closed her eyes, feeling the divine power entering her whole body from her hand.
“I actually wanted to tell you something, so I asked Bishop Leia to leave.”
Adelia opened her eyes at the sudden voice.
“What do you want to say?”
“Do you still hate me?”
Hestine answered Adelia’s question with another question. A shallow valley formed between Adelia’s straight brow.
“Are you asking me if I hate you?”
Hestine nodded slowly.
“I can’t say I like you, even if it’s an empty word. But I don’t hate you.”
I know she’s just a puppet of the Duke of Valkyr anyway.
Adelia didn’t say anything afterwards. Perhaps Hestine is vaguely aware of it too. Her actions don’t contain her will.
“Then… Why did you bother me?”
“I hated you back then. To be more precise, I was jealous.”
“…so, you’re not jealous now?”
Adelia looked up at the ceiling. The light that came through the colored glass was dazzling.
“Yeah, because I realized that being jealous is useless.”
I didn’t have to apologize. I’ve already apologized dozens of times and I’ve been rejected.
“…I want to apologize.”
Adelia’s eyes grew bigger at the last unexpected word.
“I didn’t listen to Adelia. You apologized to me from the bottom of your heart, but I didn’t listen. Because I was so scared…. Everyone said that Adelia’s apology was a lie. And I believed that..”
Hestine wept and apologized sadly. Adelia was unhappy with her tears. It was not a very welcome situation to receive such an apology. But she couldn’t blame her.
This is what my apology must have looked like to Hestine.
There was a complex emotion in Adelia’s eyes. Adelia sighed and pulled out the hand held by Hestine. Hestine’s desperate gaze followed Adelia’s distant hand.
“I haven’t lived for a long time, but I realized one thing in my life.”
Adelia’s calm voice tapped Hestine’s ear.
“Apologizing is not always the answer. In particular, apologizing and shedding tears can put pressure on the other person.”
Hestine held back her tears with all her might. Adelia tried to hold back her laughter at the pathetic sight of her trying to be considerate somehow. She was grateful to her. It was an awkward feeling, but she didn’t hate it.
“Thank you for apologizing, though. And accepting my apology.”
“But as long as you are the daughter of the Duke of Valkyr, our relationship will not develop.”
Hestine’s face was stained with embarrassment and perplexity. Adelia rose from her seat with an expressionless face.
“I’ll get up first. Saint, please come out after pulling yourself together. It could lead to misunderstanding.”
Hestine did not answer. Adelia sighed and turned away.