༺ Investigation (3) ༻
Rohan felt his heart racing.
Long-term dispatch. Empire. Festival.
Those three words were the cause.
For the past three years, he had been stuck in the Holy Kingdom, and he felt frustrated.
Although His Holiness had been nitpicking almost every day, he was at his limit because he was stuck in a village where there was nothing to do.
Rohan, who was naturally playful and had a strong wanderlust, jumped at the chance to go without hesitation when the opportunity came his way.
Although he felt bad when he left the twins who were looking very down… there was nothing he could do. He had to take care of something.
It was a festival, moreover it was a festival to celebrate the founding of the Empire!
It was the biggest and grandest festival on the continent, with all kinds of entertainment, alcohol and women.
As Rohan reminisced about the festival he went to eight years ago, a smile appeared on his face.
‘Anna was so pretty…’
He was reminded of their brief encounter at an outdoor bar at that time.
‘Is she married now?’
She probably was. She was so indescribably beautiful, and she was at a marriageable age.
However, Rohan was not disappointed. If there was a meeting, there was also an inevitable parting! He valued the future connections he would make more than his past relationships.
He was sure that this festival would bring him a fateful encounter.
Full of anticipation, Rohan arrived at the Empire. However, waiting for him was…
“Make some time tonight.”
Vera coldly declared.
“We’re going on a mission. There’s something we have to investigate, so clear your schedule from sunset. Also, do not drink. It will get in the way of work.”
“Th–then what do I do for fun?”
“Tsk, get yourself together. Did you come here to play?”
Vera frowned. The sound of his tongue clicking could be heard.
Rohan cowered, unable to find words to refute him. He nodded with a grim smile, but inside, he was seething with anger.
‘That’s right, I came here to play!’
I came to see the festival! I came here to drink! I came here to have fun with ladies!
He wanted to say a lot of things, but Rohan knew that the only thing he would get after saying that was a slap.
“Of–of course…! Maybe because I’m getting old, I keep forgetting some things!”
“You must be tired from your journey, you should rest first. You may greet the Saint later at dinner. Then, I’ll get going.”
With those words, Vera left Rohan.
Rohan glared at Vera as he walked out of the living room door, and then let out a defeated sigh.
He was an idiot for thinking that he could play around when that brazen fellow was nearby.
Rohan’s eyes became moist. His lips tightened with suppressed emotions. The middle-aged Rohan, who loved to have fun, was very sad at that moment.
Rohan had arrived.
In other words, Renee’s visit to the Empire was now officially known.
The pretext was ‘to bless the coming-of-age ceremony of the Second Prince.’
Naturally, since it was an official setting, she should not be as sloppy as before. Accordingly, there were people who came with Rohan for Renee’s preparations.
“Saint! It’s been a long time!”
“Oh my! You’re getting more and more beautiful each day!”
“Hela! It’s been a while!”
The three apprentice priests who had served Renee alongside Hela in the Holy Kingdom also came.
Renee smiled brightly at the voices she had not heard in months and spoke.
“It’s been a while, everyone. How have you been?”
It was an unexpected meeting. Renee had not expected them to come as the implications of her official visit hadn’t quite sunk in yet, and she felt herself stiffen as one of the servants spoke.
“It’s hard for Hela to dress you in a robe by herself! Of course, we have to come!”
It was a natural reaction to the prospect of wearing one.
She tried to smile, but it turned into a pitiful expression.
She couldn’t help but be overwhelmed at the thought of having to wear those clothes that took hours to wear. She had to wash, dry, dress, be adorned and tidied up.
Suddenly, living the way she pleased the last few months felt like a dream, and Renee felt depressed.
Renee met Rohan at dinner that same evening.
“Ohh, Saint! It’s been a while!”
Rohan said, and Renee answered with a smile.
“It’s been a while, Rohan. How have you been?”
“Oh, I’m the same as usual. You are getting prettier every day. Are there any guys trying to hit on you?”
In the middle of the conversation, Vera, who was listening to Rohan, stopped him with a growling voice.
Rohan’s shoulders flinched. He put his head down, laughing awkwardly, and made excuses.
“Ah, no… I just thought that was the case…”
Vera glared at Rohan fiercely, restraining the annoyance rising from inside him.
Who was flirting with her? If they dared aim for her heart without knowing a single thing about her, he wouldn’t let them be.
As that thought came to his mind, his whole body hardened, and the knife that Vera was holding got crushed.
Rohan’s face became pale as he saw that, and a big smile came over Marie’s face.
Renee tilted her head at the sudden change in the atmosphere around her, then she spoke.
“Ah, come to think of it, are we leaving starting tonight?”
“…Yes, we’re not going as far inside as the first time. It would be better if we start searching carefully from the outskirts.”
Renee felt the tension rise inside her.
It wasn’t for any other reason. It was because they were going to the place where Vera was born and raised, and Vera would have to face the past that he wanted to hide.
Renee knew well enough that Vera was not happy with this situation. Right now, there was a faint tremor in Vera’s voice, so she couldn’t help but notice.
She couldn’t let him go by himself.
In addition to the fact that she couldn’t just leave Vera alone in danger, there was something she had to prove to Vera by going there herself. She wanted to prove to Vera that she would not hate him, no matter who he was.
Renee’s thoughts continued for a long time, and before she knew it, Vera, who had a new knife, sliced the meat and continued talking.
“”Regarding that, there is a little something we have to prepare before we go.”
“Do you remember that you have to enter the Imperial Palace the day after tomorrow?”
“If we go without any measures, there’s a risk that you might be discovered in the future. Since we will no longer be able to hide your identity and move, starting tonight, you will have to go out in a disguise.”
Renee felt her heart pound at the thought that they would be doing this in earnest. She quickly sorted her feelings and continued talking.
“Ah, how should we do it?”
“I have a concoction prepared. It will essentially change your hair or eye color, and you will be wearing a perception-blocking robe. You don’t need eye drops, do you?”
He was prepared. As Renee thought about Vera, who had been preparing to leave by himself, without knowing anything, she felt uneasy and slightly smiled before speaking to him.
“You’ve worked hard.”
“It’s nothing. By the way, is there a color you prefer? Although we did not prepare bright colors for stealth purposes, I will provide you with a concoction that matches the color you want as much as possible.”
In fact, it didn’t matter what color he gave to Renee since she couldn’t see, but Vera didn’t mind. Moreover, he respected Renee’s opinion. With the thought that he wanted to discuss this together, Renee pondered about it for a while.
What color did she want? It didn’t really matter whatever he handed to her, but…
“…Then, give me the same color as you, Vera.”
Renee mustered up a little courage and said that, blushing. Then, Vera’s body tensed. His knife was crushed once again.
“…I won’t be changing my hair color, so I’ll give you black to match my hair.”
Vera stared at his plate, feeling his composure shake at her words.
A strange atmosphere began to form between the two. A bigger smile came over Marie as she watched them, and Rohan started retching like he just saw something he should not have seen.
Later that night. In the back alley of 12th Street that was connected to the slums, Rohan grimaced at the strange atmosphere as he looked at Vera and Renee.
Renee was fiddling with her black-dyed hair and spoke.
“H–how is it? Does it suit me…?”
“…You look beautiful, as always.”
Vera answered with a firm expression.
Rohan became more grim.
‘What the hell was that?’
Well, yes. He understood the relationship between those two. How could he not? They’ve had that kind of atmosphere since they were in the Holy Kingdom.
But even so, the scowl on Rohan’s face was because of his growing frustration.
‘I heard they weren’t dating?’
Then why? Why aren’t you dating when you’re acting like that? Even being near each other gives me goosebumps. I feel so nauseous, I don’t want to get any closer.
For Rohan, who had an old-fashioned view that love starts with physical attraction, the sight was too painful to watch.
Of course, his head was turned away from the two, and only his squinting eyes were peeking at them.
Meanwhile, Rohan chuckled at the scene that followed.
What’s that? Interlocked fingers?
Renee’s hand crept slowly and overlapped with Vera’s hand, then their thumbs hung tightly together.
Rohan barely held back the curse that was about to burst from his mouth.
It was certainly youth. Yes, that could be the kind of thing that young people in love do.
Rohan hated Vera, who did not let him play around, nor drink, nor see women, and was the only one having such a sweet time.
He felt sick to his stomach.
He felt like his stomach was being repeatedly twisted.
His complexion darkened. While two conflicting emotions were mixing together in the same space…
His hair was deep blue and his eyes were black, very different from his usual self. However, his bright smile was the same as usual.
Albrecht approached the three people and scanned their faces for a moment before greeting Rohan.
“Nice to meet you, Apostle of Guidance. I’m the Second Prince, Albrecht van Freich.”
His black eyes folded into half-moon shapes. His white teeth reflected the moonlight.
He was his usual bright self.
In response, Rohan answered with an apathetic face while picking his ears.
“Ah, yeah okay…”
It was an expected reaction from Rohan, who was not interested in guys.
He did not even use honorifics, since he was an Apostle and there was no need. Albrecht stiffened at his response.
Count Baishur, who was watching everything from a distance, sighed deeply.
He became concerned.
‘…Is everything going to be alright?’
In more ways than one, he expected that it would be a difficult night.
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