Chapter 148 – How about a cup of warm tea? (4)
“How is it?”
“It’s delicious. It tastes as good as it looks.”
Collin ate the yakgwa without a pause. It must’ve suited his tastes.
Hostility towards the East had recently spread throughout the empire, but he did not seem to care at all.
“You should try this too. It’s Taekri tea from Chang.”
Collin’s expression hardened as he watched me pour a tea.
“It’s an honor, but I refuse.”
“Try it. It’s a little bitter, but it has a very nice aroma.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t really like tea.”
He still couldn’t drink tea just like before.
He also disliked the tea that everyone in the Asteric Empire loved.
Knowing this, I stopped suggesting it to him and called for a maid. The maid brought in a drink that I had prepared in advance.
“Then try this.”
When I handed him a strawberry juice, a bright smile appeared on Collin’s face.
Collin gulped down the strawberry juice. He really loves sweet fruit juice.
He looked like the type of person who would only drink black coffee, so this was an unexpected fact.
Still, this is way better than being an alcohol lover like in the original novel.
Collin’s tastes were very unusual.
The nobles of the Asteric Empire enjoyed eating meat and did not like fruits and vegetables that much.
Men loved meat in particular. They also said that eating meat boosts their energy, so sweet fruits were only a favorite food among women and children.
This was also due to the lack of knowledge regarding food and nutrients.
Up until now, many people believed that their health depended on their status.
Even some of the nobles who graduated from the academy were proud to say such things.
“Sir Collin must really love fruits.”
“Yes, I was poor when I was a kid, so I couldn’t eat fruits even if I wanted to. I was originally going to become a merchant after graduating from the academy. If I sell food supplies, I will be able to eat whatever I want.”
I was aware that Collin’s family wasn’t rich, but I didn’t know they were that poor.
It was a story that someone would want to hide, but Collin spoke about it without a change in his expression.
He was confident in himself and has high self-esteem.
That’s why he can talk about the difficult times without hesitation.
“Then why did you become my father’s assistant and not a merchant?”
“His Majesty came to recruit me in person.”
“Yes, he asked me to become his assistant.”
Tenstheon personally offered him the position of his assistant, but he refused because he wanted to become a merchant.
He spoke lightly of the matter, but he must have been serious about becoming a merchant.
“So what did you say?”
“I said I wanted to be a merchant and eat fruits endlessly.”
“You’re very honest.”
He was more bold than honest.
Tenstheon controlled the empire the moment he ascended the throne. Yet, a commoner dared to refuse the emperor’s proposal.
“Didn’t His Majesty get mad at you?”
“He didn’t. Rather, he told me I could eat whatever I want if I became his assistant. He said he would let me drink fruit juice anytime.”
“That’s why you accepted the assistant position?”
“Yes, there’s no reason to refuse it.”
I see. It was an unimaginable reason.
It was a relationship born from fruits.
“He said he wanted to create an empire where no one would starve to death. When I heard that, I thought he was a good man to devote my whole life to.”
Collin spoke seriously.
Even though he always grumbled complaints, I knew he respected and admired Tenstheon more than anyone else.
“This strawberry juice is especially delicious.”
“It’s a strawberry His Highness raised himself.”
“He raised it with magic, didn’t he?”
“Yes, he’s a genius.”
Blake mastered the plant-growing spell and is now learning other spells.
It was a more difficult spell, but his learning speed was much faster than when he was learning the previous spell.
“His Highness used to refuse to learn magic. He has changed a lot.”
“Yes, the head mage once came here to become His Highness’s magic instructor, but he was refused.”
Studies about the power of light have disappeared, but other styles of magic are still being actively studied.
Each mana has different characteristics. It would have been possible to learn from another mage if it was only the foundation.
But Blake didn’t want to.
“Why didn’t he do that? He’s so talented.”
Everyone said that Blake was a genius in swordsmanship, but in my opinion, he also had a talent for magic.
“Maybe because it’s the power he got from sacrificing Your Highness, so he wasn’t happy?”
If that’s the case, then that was stupid. He used to live in pain and now that the curse was lifted, he should’ve tried to enjoy his life.
“I don’t know how he truly feels. It was just a guess, so don’t worry too much.”
Collin comforted me and put another yakgwa in his mouth.
“When Your Highness is in charge, the atmosphere is not heavy. I love the warm atmosphere, it removes all the tension.”
“Warm tea will make you feel more comfortable.”
“I can’t betray strawberries.”
He answered cleverly and drank the strawberry juice.
I couldn’t help but smile while watching him. Whenever I’m with Collin, I would feel at ease as if I was meeting a long-time friend.
“Yes, Your Highness?”
“I heard that groundless rumors are spreading around Chang these days.”
Collin seemed a little surprised with what I said, but his usual expression immediately returned.
“There will always be worries about new things.”
“They said that I’m a demon sent from Chang, that I seduced His Majesty and His Highness while endangering the empire.”
I heard all the rumors about Chang from Chelsea.
The rumor, which suddenly started a few months ago, was rapidly spreading throughout society.
But I had no idea at all.
It was probably Father and Blake’s doing. They must’ve feared that I’d be upset if I knew.
Collin failed to maintain a poker face this time.
“Your Highness, that rumor will soon disappear…”
He tried to reassure me, but I only asked him a straightforward question.
“Is this the work of the church?”
“Why do you think so?”
“They’re the most possible cause that I can assume.”
There were two types of rumors.
A rumor based on facts and a rumor that someone had maliciously created with ulterior motives.
In the latter case, most rumors were related to their interests.
In Korea, people would hire people to spread nasty rumors about their rivals.
Someone might have been frustrated with me becoming the crown princess, or they might have spread rumors because they didn’t want their status to decline because of me.
This time, however, they aimed for both Chang and me.
It stimulated the people’s fears and the speed of the rumor’s spreading was strangely fast.
It was said that such rumors were not only within the capital city but throughout the whole empire.
It did not spread from one person’s mouth to another, instead, someone was intentionally spreading it.
With how fast it reached other places, it must’ve been the work of many people.
Right now, the church is the only one that can spread these rumors. They also had a reason to terrorize the people of the empire.
The church maintained its power through the people’s fears of the curse, the door of darkness, and the trial.
However, the three have simultaneously collapsed in recent years.
That’s why they would need a new target to instill fear.
Chang, a mysterious empire, and me, who came back the same time the door of darkness disappeared, must have been an appetizing prey.
“As expected of Your Highness.”
“Who’s leading it? Is it Howard Kensway, the previous high priest candidate?”
“How did you know that?”
“He took the heaviest blow so he must’ve been anxious.”
Howard Kensway was nominated as the next high priest, however, Marron was ordained instead of him.
I heard that the Kensway family was no longer as influential as it used to be.
“As expected, I can’t hide anything from you, but don’t worry too much. His Majesty will deal with it soon.”
“I don’t care. It’s a lie anyway. What I’m worried about is that they may not stop at the rumors and may try to do something else.”
The Kensway family used to be the most influential family on the church’s side.
However, after I recalled my memories from a thousand years ago, I changed my mind a little.
A thousand years ago, Phillip was selfish and lonely. He didn’t trust anyone but himself.
There was only one loyal subject that Phillip trusted. His name was Logan Kensway.
The Kensway family was then revered by the people as a historical priest family that served the goddess of light since the time of the Zelcan Empire, but that was all a lie.
Logan Kensway was a commoner merchant and his surname was given by Phillip.
I remembered back when I was Laontel.
Back then, Logan Kensway was a commoner that had nothing to do with the church, but after I died, he suddenly became a priest.
Why did Phillip appointed Logan Kensway and gave him the power to rule the church for a thousand years?
Phillip pretended to be chosen by the goddess, but in fact, he took Ser’s power and sealed her at the door of darkness.
The curse of the goddess was also created by himself.
To hide this fact, it would be natural to plant his most trusted servant as the high priest.
Of course, the Kensway family’s strength so far may purely be because of their abilities and had nothing to do with Phillip.
Nevertheless, I had an ominous feeling.
If it’s just a rumor, it would gradually disappear as soon as the rumors are confirmed to be false…but what if they do something else?
My heart pounded with uneasiness.
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