Well then, day after day I stay by High Highness Klanven’s side to do my duty. But there’s a truth that I can’t forget. That Klanven’s work is not just related to the grand festival a month from now.
Normally, people that take the post of ‘priest’ reside in temples and shoulder various tasks like baptizing the believers or healing injured people carried in with light magic. ‘Our doors are open for men and women of all ages and social statuses’…… That’s more or less the catchphrase of temples. But this time I’ve been taught that in reality it’s not organized that fairly, it’s a structure influenced by various rights and discrimination. But leaving that aside, Klanven’s business today is one of his 『regular business』. Naturally, once again it’s not in the royal court but at the grand temple.
Coming to the grand temple from the royal palace, following His Highness Klanven are me, his helper, and his guard, ‘Edilka Vince’. Klanven stands in front of the goddess idol in the worship place as me and that man watch from the altar wing.
Perhaps they’ve learnt from the recent incident, there are several temple knights standing along the wall in defense. The atmosphere is just a bit strict on security; wrapped up in that atmosphere, Klanven stands still for a while in his usual calm way, holding the holy book in one hand.
From the large skylight with beautiful multi-colored stained glass inserted into it, sunlight falls onto Klanven’s long silver hair, making it sparkle. He moves his eyes, shining silver just like his hair, to the bulky holy book in his hand. His voice is not really loud but still clearly resounding, and he speaks of the agreement the Goddess once made with the first Son of Man. The old language is different from magical language too, it’s also said to be the language of the country in the heavens where the Goddess lives. Even just one word of it has an invisible power. It makes your five senses spontaneously alert.
At the divine sight of His Highness Klanven, loudly reading the holy book in front of the goddess idol, all the believers….. Men and women of all ages are spellbound, charmed and listening to his words in ecstacy. Even though I know his real mischievous self, I can’t help but be charmed like all the other believers.
Whatever he’s like on the inside, Klanven’s appearance is like first-class goods. And more importantly than anything else, it’s probably because His Highness Klanven resembles the princess. Hm? No, no, is it the opposite? Would it be more accurate in this case to say that the princess resembles Klanven? Well, either way, just the fact that he has features resembling the Princess’s means that I’d think relatively highly of him. But unfortunately, his true personality is like that. You can’t swallow that personality down whether you boil it or bake it or fry it or instantly throw it on the fire. Taking that into consideration, the face and the personality cancel each other out into zero – or perhaps into a negative number.
But even so, the sight of His Highness Klanven in his pure white priest clothes is incredibly splendid. That reminds me, at my wedding with this man beside me, the princess looked dazzlingly beautiful too. There’s something about the sight of Klanven now that leads to the sight of the princess then. I’ll say it can’t be helped that I ended up getting charmed too.
I look up at the small voice I hear from beside me, only to see those sunrise-colored eyes looking not so pleased, gazing down at me. Even at this grand temple, ‘Edilka Vince’ is the center of attention just like Klanven, not speaking more than the absolute minimum necessary. So what happened now?
I reply, just soft enough that it won’t bother Klanven’s recitation, tilting my head to the side. He silently returns his gaze to Klanven. But, his right hand.
I instinctively stay silent when he grabs my left hand. What is this? What does he mean? I’m the wife of ‘Agedilus Von Lancent’, I’m not meant to socialize any more than colleagues do with ‘Edilka Vince’. What does he mean to do if someone sees this?
But even if I say that, he’s just looking at Klanven with a feigned face so I can’t expect him to reply to me. Even though everyone’s gazes here are focused on Klanven reciting the holy book, this is still incredibly bad. Even if I try to complain that with my gaze, even if I try to pull my hand back, he just grabs my hand tighter with a nonchalant air.
「Sir Edilka, um…」
「It’s your fault.」
He says that, turning a deaf ear to my protests, tightening his grip on my hand even more. What’s 『it’s your fault』 supposed to mean? If I talk too much, it’ll bother the recitation so I can’t protest more forcefully than this. All I can do is stay obediently quiet.
Feeling extremely embarrassed, I turn my gaze away from him, looking down. When I somehow grip his hand tightly back, his hand loosens its grip.
……Is this, perhaps…
「Are you… jealous?」
I look up at him and ask that with a small voice, but he doesn’t respond. But the fact that his ears are just slightly red is more of an answer than anything else.
——He really is a hopeless man.
It’s absolutely ridiculous for me to put personal feelings in this job, just what is he worried about? But then again, that makes me happy, so it’s not my place to say anything to him either. Ever since I was appointed as His Highness Klanven’s helper, even these small moments where we can peacefully stay beside each other have become so precious, so perhaps it makes me far too happy.
Then, Klanven’s recitation ends. He closes the holy book with a ‘thud’, making his way towards us.
「Hey, I’ve kept you waiting, haven’t I?」
Klanven says that in a gentle tone, smiling. With a face full of feigned ignorance, that man has taken his hand from me and quietly bows to him. Following him, I too lift up the hem of my one-piece maidservant uniform, bowing. Watching us with a smile, Klanven lightly strikes that man’s shoulder.
「Looks like the temple knights wanna talk about the defenses from now on. Would you go and speak to them?」
「Filmina, would you come together with me?」
When I nod in reply, His Highness Klanven takes my hand, still gently smiling. He draws me in closer, just like how one would be with a lover, keeping his other hand on my waist. I can’t refuse or resist at his incredibly swift movements, stuck in Klaven’s arms just like that.
It seems the people around have been sneakily peeking at us as they suddenly start to murmur. At the same time, that man’s well arranged eyebrows twitch with a start. I’m not sure if he realizes my state or not, as I’m internally screaming, but for now he says nothing more and does nothing more too, quickly walking to the temple knights.
His golden hair, tied in a ponytail at the nape of his neck, shakes just like a tail. Watching his retreating figure, I once again look at Klanven to see his amber eyes are surprisingly close to me.
「Your… Your Highness……?」
At my words, that beautiful face which so resembles the princess’s, deepens his smile further. Then he says nothing more, leaving the worship place of this grand temple, walking to the waiting room, his hand still around my waist.
Every time we take a step further, I’m pieced by the gazes of the priests, worshippers that have come here to pray, and the temple knights. My body is stiff with tension and I can’t awkwardly protest either; all I can do is surrender myself to Klanven.
Now that it’s come to this, the question ‘is His Highness Klanven actually aware of his own position and influence?’ greatly comes to my mind. The very strong feeling that we’re disturbing the public morals of the temple, it isn’t just my imagination, is it? But there are no priests or temple knights that try to challenge him. Everyone just bows their head right as they see Klanven’s face. Having so much power is scary.
「So I’m going to change clothes now, would you wait here a bit? Can’t have you randomly wander off with a stranger.」
——We’ve finally reached the door of the waiting room, and right as I think he’ll let me go, this is how he speaks to me. This man is technically a stranger, but just by mental age, I’m considerably older than him. But it’s no use. I already can’t find the words to say, so I nod and stop, watching Klanven disappear into the waiting room.
The door closes with a ‘thud’, I hear the sound of it being locked from the inside. Even though it took just a short period of time to get here, I’m now completely exhausted. Stifling a sigh, I lean on the wall beside the door. Since there’s no one looking, I take the chance to slowly slip down and sit.
Now that I say that out loud, I feel much more pain. My right ankle is swollen and hot. Throbbing with pain, that’s the place I twisted when I carelessly fell in my room last night. I didn’t think much of it then, but that was naive. I managed to bear it with sheer willpower until now, since that man and Klanven’s eyes were on me, but the pain is steadily increasing. It’s not so bad that I can’t walk, but it’s probably not a good plan to just ignore it. I’ve managed it until now, but I don’t have much confidence in how much longer I can handle it.
Feeling somewhat pathetic, I look up at the ceiling for no particular reason. Light flows in from the stained glass inserted in the high ceiling; the light changes to various colors, just as if it were trapped inside a kaleidoscope, an optical illusion. Sparkling, sparkling. It’s so dazzling. I suddenly remember mine and that man’s wedding ceremony. Then too, the sky was full of light like this. Except I was wearing a wedding dress then, and now I’m wearing maidservant clothes. What a difference.
「……Really, you have no idea what’s going to happen in life.」
「Isn’t it a bit too early for a still-young lady such as yourself to be saying that?」
I reflexively gasp at the sudden voice interrupting. I move my eyes from the ceiling to the source of that voice. There stands an elderly man, clad in pure white priest clothes. His beautiful white hair has been smoothed down with oil, an intellectual light in his deep maroon eyes. Even though he’s shorter than me, he stands dignified with his back straight, strangely looking taller. Deep wrinkles are etched into his meekly smiling face, but he has a youthfulness that doesn’t make you feel like he’s ‘old’.
I know this elderly man. There’s no way I wouldn’t know him. Because I’ve seen him countless times at all the grand festivals until now, standing and smiling at the balcony.