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Chapter 27: His Eminence Archbishop Shion

His Eminence Shion, Archbishop of Gittice…His name before he became a clergyman was Shion Luxaire. He is the youngest brother of His Highness Nigel.

Of course, I have met him many times.

…Come to think of it, he may be the one I’ve interacted with the most, other than Nadi.

Not only is he the younger brother of His Highness Nigel, but he is also the milk brother of my beloved lady-in-waiting, Lilia. As such, I had heard many stories about him and felt quite close to him even before I met him.

Because of the circumstances of our meeting and the events that followed, His Eminence Shion calls me his sister-in-law and adores me.

“If it’s His Eminence Archbishop Gittice, I’m sure you can get in touch with anyone you need to contact.”

“He’s a former prince and now is the Archbishop of Royal Capital. I don’t think there’s many people that he can’t contact.”

“Yes, yes. I’m sure Shion-sama can do it.”

I nodded at their words.

Although it was completely unexpected, if it was Shion-sama, he would be able to communicate with His Highness Nigel without anyone else knowing.

Because he is the one who makes the most of his position as Archbishop of the Royal Capital and spends about half of the week at the Royal Palace, no one would be surprised if he was at the Royal Palace at any time.

Not only that. He can also pay people off and talk with His Highness Nigel.

Shion-sama would never do anything that is not good for His Highness Nigel.

Even if one side of a scale is Lilia, whom His Eminence Shion cherishes most, if His Highness Nigels hangs on the other side, His Eminence Shion’s scale will tilt toward His Highness Nigel…No matter how painful the decision is.”

So I can rest easy.

…I can trust His Eminence Shion.

“Normally, it would be impossible to meet His Eminence Shion without an intermediary. You are indeed lucky to have the chance to meet such a figure in person.”

“…He’s not just coming to the orphanage, he’s coming to inspect the cathedral next door. He is the Archbishop of the Royal Capital, so he comes at least twice a year. It just so happens to be that time of year.”

All of the stalls for the Founding Festival seemed to be built the same.

Ragg seemed to be very familiar with them, stretching out the awning and strapping it up.

“Orphans are told to stay away from the cathedral, but I think it’s a good idea to get in and talk to him when moving from the carriage to the entrance.”

The stall designated for the orphanage are always in the same place—at that corner where the approach from the cathedral meets the main road.

“…No, I can’t let other people know I am here. So I can’t call out to him in a way that makes me stand out.”

I wiped up the platform with the rag I brought with me and checked the strength of its simple construction.

This one seems to be able to handle a lot of weight.

Ideally, it would be best for His Eminence Shion to find me, but waiting for a coincidence won’t help me reach my goal.

Five more days…nope, I have to be back in four days.

On the morning of the Founding Festival, I must be in the palace.

No way am I going back at the last minute!

I don’t have the ability to turn on the faucet and take a quick shower like I once did.

It always takes at least an hour just to get into the bath, wash my hair and body, and get ready to go to sleep. If I include the preparation, I can expect it to take more than two hours.

In the early spring when the night sky has not yet dawned…The Founding King and the Maiden of Destiny meet.

That passage in the founding myth is a description of the ceremony as it is. The ceremonies start early in the morning, so I have to be back at least the night before.

“It’s hard even for us to get through the eyes of the guards.”

“I don’t care if it’s someone else, but the Archbishop’s bodyguards…”

Ragg frowned.

“Are you skilled?”

“The bodyguard attached to a high priest is called a guardian or a guardian knight, but Archbishop-sama’s guardian is that Cepharis Remus”

Ragg doesn’t seem very good, I tilt my head, but I don’t feel like I can hide it.

“Is he famous?”

“…Miss, have you never heard of Cepharis Remus?”

“…I’m ashamed to say I’ve never heard of him before.”

Maybe he’s famous, but I don’t know.

“Ah, he’s the former First Knight of the Kings guard.”

“The First Knight?”

“Well…I mean, the strongest knight. The strongest knight in the Kings guard is the strongest knight in Dardinia.”

“So His Eminence Shion is protected by the strongest knight in Dardinia?”

“Originally. Cepharis Remus left the Kings Guard because he was defeated by Archbishop Sama’s brother.

“…the older brother.”

The one that immediately comes to mind is, of course, His Highness Nigel.

I was shocked. I didn’t expect to hear about His Highness Nigel here.

“Well, as I recall, he’s the Commander in Chief of the center right now, isn’t he?”

“…Oh, Al…no, His Highness the Second Prince?”

I was relieved and a little disappointed to find out that it wasn’t His Highness Nigel, but I put on a nonchalant face.

To me, when I think of His Eminence Shion’s brother, it’s inevitable that His Highness Nigel is the first thing that comes to mind.

“Yes. His Highness Second Prince Alfred Wilhelm. Probably the most powerful knight in Dardinia right now.”

“In terms of overall strength, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince is probably the best.”

“Indeed.”

A thumping heartbeat reverberated throughout my body at the unexpected surprise.

“…So, what’s the total strength?”

“If it’s just pure sword skills, His Highness the Second Prince might be stronger than him, but after all, His Highness the Crown Prince is so smart.”

“Oh, is that so?”

“Ah. After all, the Crown Prince is ‘Vera’.”

For some reason, Ragg has a smug expression on his chest.

Why do you look like that~?

That’s what I should be saying! The dilemma of wanting to say that but not being able to say it is frustrating.

“…Well, that’s okay. Di you say His Eminence the Archbishop would be here tomorrow or the day after?”

“Oh.”

“If possible, the day after tomorrow would be nice, but, well, there’s no way around it…Ragg.”

“What?”

Ragg noticed something lurking in the sound of my voice, and he straightened his posture slightly with a straight face.

“I was going to make the goods in the kitchen, but things have changed. I’d like to be a vendor here.”

“Huh?”

“The Miss?”

“Yes.”

I clenched my fists tightly and declared.

“Sell, sell, sell.”

“Why is that?”

“In order for me to leave, I need to speak with His Eminence Shion. And in secret.”

“You said that.”

“Yes, that’s right. The most ideal way to do that is to have His Eminence call on me. Of course, it would normally be difficult to do so…but His Eminence has a sweet tooth.”

“Yeah. I hear that a lot.”

Apparently, His Eminence’s love for sweets was well known among those involved with the cathedral.

“Then, if the sweets we’re going to start selling today sell like hotcakes, wouldn’t His Eminence Shion, when he’s here, be wanting to have the sweets we made with tea? And it’s a treat he’s never had before.”

“I think we’ll get it out.”

Rufa nodded easily.

“We already know what we’re going to put out, but, well, we’ll probably put it out.”

Ragg agreed.

“The bishop of our cathedral is an especially profane person. He wouldn’t miss out on a new pastry.”

“Archbishop-sama is notorious for not taking bribes, only sweets.”

That’s because, in His Eminence Shion’s mind, sweets are not recognized as bribes.

“In other words, my strategy has a good enough chance of succeeding.”

“…Right.”

Ragg’s expression faded slightly.

“What’s wrong?”

“No, I thought you already had a place to go to, Miss.”

“Yes”

I nod firmly.

“I’m going home to my husband.”

“…I thought you were lost?”

“It’s not that I was wondering where to go back. I just didn’t know how to get back.”

There is only one place for me to return to. My family is only one.

“I don’t have the option of leaving my husband alone.”

It may sound arrogant when I say this, but His Highness Nigel is the king because of me. I can’t leave him alone.

One day…the time may come where we will be separated…

Yes. Death may divide us and the time may come.

But not right now.

“I’m sorry…Miss is a very good aristocrat.”

“Thank you. I’m flattered to hear you say that, but I’m very high maintenance.”

“What?”

“I’ve been growing up in a greenhouse since I was a little girl… I can go outside for a little while, but probably not for long.”

‘Look,’ I said, flipping up the sleeve of my blouse.

“What’s that?”

There are red marks all over my pale wrists.

“The blouse is stiff so my skin is rough.”

“What?”

“The cloth was so stiff that it roughened my skin.”

“Huh? But Fee is usually wearing that blouse, right?”

“Yeah…Maybe Fee is normal. I’m just weak.”

I didn’t expect it to be like this either.

This is a country where there are no synthetic fibers. I didn’t know what the stinging was at first because the clothes were made of raw, uncut fabric with no dyes or anything else.

It wasn’t wool, and there was nothing strange mixed in the material.

But I found out this morning when I got dressed.

Where my wrists and the hem of my skirt touch, and also the neckline…they’re all in direct contact with it.

It’s not synthetic fibers, but maybe it’s something like a synthetic rash.

“Even the sleeping cot I borrow from the orphanage is too hard for me, and my back hurts in the morning.”

I’m pretty much blown away by it all.

“Miss, just how much have you been spoiled?”

“…I don’t know, but it’s awful.”

I know they’re taking good care of me, but I’m not sure because I have never compared it to anyone else.

“…That’s why. I want you to know that I’m probably only going to be here for another three more days at the most.”

It’s depends on His Eminence Shion, though.

“Until the day before the Founding Festival?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay.”

“I understand.”

Ragg and Rufa nodded.

“That’s why I’ll make a lot, and sell, and sell, and sell.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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