Only after being turned down twice by the Emperor was the Prince of Lafort, Nicholas, allowed to meet with the saintess.
At first, Nicholas believed that the reason the Emperor treated him unfairly was to insist on his authority. But when he looked closely, he found out that the saintess that appeared in Dandelion was not the kind to meet just anyone, as such, she was very exclusive in her appearances.
“How old did you say she was?”
“She’s turning 21 this year.”
“So, she’s a kid.”
“She’s from the Kingdom of Hautean and quite notorious.”
“Her notoriety is quite cute to a degree, but she has made a few scandals. Not only has she brought a slave into her bedroom, she even messed around wherever she liked, she’s like a woman of the street. There was also a rumor where she slapped a fake saintess in front of the King, of which she then proceeded to grab and shake her hair around.”
“Is that supposed to be anything special?”
“I’m mentioning this because Hautean is an old-fashioned country.”
When Nicholas heard his subordinate’s explanation, he burst into laughter.
“Well, well… I was worried about how to coax someone faithful and virtuous enough to be chosen by God, but it seemed like I made a mistake.”
“Are you going to buy her off?
“Her mother is the Thousand Gold Isadora, will she even weaken with just mere money? No, I’m going to suggest something that she can’t even get with money.”
Nicholas came to the Empire scared to deal with the sly Emperor. However, things seemed to have worked out easier than he thought.
“I will first have to tell her how much fun the slaves in the East play, how good they are at night, and of the many various pleasures they know.”
Nicholas smirked and rubbed his hands.
“Choose young and handsome guys and put them all into priest’s clothes.”
Lara decided to do Acerus a favor.
For temple work, as long as she gave her orders, the passionate priests would take care of it on their own. And because of that, she thought it was now more urgent to get her hands on the East.
Lara was smart, but she did not know in detail about the political situation of each country. So before she met Nicholas, she received all sorts of advice from Acerus and Isadora about the Eastern Union.
A few days later, a luxurious invitation arrived from Nicholas.
“He comes to meet the saintess but he’s holding a banquet…”
It was a banquet to catch Lara.
Nicholas was bold, he publicly held a banquet even though he knew that the Emperor was watching him. It was said that he was famous for his wide network of contacts. Despite being the Prince of Lafort, he seemed to know enough people to host a banquet in Tarragon.
But war was looming at the border, and Lara heard of the resulting tension circulating in the border area. Despite this, Nicholas acted leisurely as if he was not afraid at all.
Lara thought Nicholas would naturally do a background check of her. Her infamy, which had been accumulated little by little since she was in Hautean, had been a hot topic that anyone in power had heard of at least once.
Then, how will Nicholas try to appease me?
Since the Emperor revealed that the Barbarians were the subordinates of the saintess, Nicholas would want to make sure of the accuracy of the statement. After confirming the facts, the Barbarians might be expelled far away, or this time, they might drive a wedge between the saintess and the Empire.
‘It’s not with money and power. He’ll think I’m a little girl so he won’t try to persuade or threaten me. Then, what’s left is…’
Lara stood in the middle of the drawing-room and was agonizing over the invitation, she called Konny loudly.
“Call Eunice and Ximena for me.”
Konny ran outside excitedly, she said she was bored because Lara had only been wearing boring clothes these days. After sending off the errand runner, Konny opened the closet door wide and fell into a happy dilemma.
Eunice and Ximena did not keep Lara waiting long. As soon as they met the errand runner Konny sent, they got onto the carriage without asking any questions. They arrived at the temple before afternoon.
“What? Banquet? What banquet?”
Eunice suddenly asked. Lara handed Eunice the invitation from Nicholas and folded her arms.
“I think he’s trying to seduce me.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The immature young lady who tried to enjoy life a little as soon as she became an adult but suddenly became a saintess and felt disgusted with the constrained life.”
After hearing Lara’s explanation, Eunice distorted her face strangely, so did Ximena.
“What the hell does that mean? Is that you?”
“That is the kind of person Prince Nicholas would imagine the saintess as.”
“Well… He’s not completely wrong.”
When Ximena smiled, Eunice glanced at her and asked Lara.
“So you want us to come with you?”
“Do you want us to stop you from falling into his plan or help you pretend to fall into his plan?”
“The latter, obviously.”
Lara smiled and made a gesture. The door rattled and Konny came in, pushing a wheeled hanger. There were three heavy dresses hanging on it, all in black and red.
Lara arrived at the banquet hall organized by Nicholas with her friends. Even though it was early in the evening, colorful magical lighting lit the building splendidly.
When the carriage Lara rode in arrived in front of the building, well-dressed attendants rushed to open the door and bowed deeply.
Eunice whistled. Everything was exotic. Lafort’s music, Mortan’s food and liquor, and Sias’ beautiful slaves were dizzyingly harmonized. It felt as if a different world had unfolded only inside this building. It was such a special banquet that even Ximena and Eunice, who had been to and from Hautean’s night ball, were amazed.
“I think I should give some high praise to him.”
“You said it hadn’t been long since he came to Dandelion. Being able to prepare such a banquet within that duration proves that Prince Nicholas is a man of great ability.”
Eunice whispered to Lara. Ximena also stuck close to the two and muttered so quietly that the attendant could not hear them.
“Don’t be so old-fashioned. If you fall into his plan too easily, he will get suspicious. Look down on him in moderation and be surprised in moderation… You’d better be interested in something very unexpected.”
“Oh! Saintess, here you are.”
Nicholas appeared then. He was a man with a stubby height, round body shape, indulgent smile, and a soft voice. Overshadowing his middle age, he had shiny skin, a clean face with no beard, his eyebrows and hair were neatly arranged, and not a single strand of hair was scattered.
“I prepared this banquet with the hope that the saintess will visit Lafort someday. Of course, I have also prepared the culture of Lafort’s long-time ally, Sias and Mortan as a preview.”
Nicholas’ attitude was very polite. He was not uncomfortable at all in showing a submissive attitude to Lara. Although Lafort was a small country, as a Prince, he did not have to grovel before the saintess, who was a commoner.
“Thank you for your hospitality, Prince Nicholas.”
When Lara responded to his greeting, Nicholas smiled and grabbed her fingertips.
“When I get back to Lafort, I will have to brag for three months that I escorted the saintess.”
“Do you mean my story is circulating in Lafort too?”
“Of course. If the border had not been blocked, by now the pilgrims’ procession to Dandelion would have continued for a long time.”
Lara smiled faintly. She was told that he was a formidable man. His speech skills were indeed great. While praising the saintess, he could even point out the tension flowing on the border at the same time.
“I didn’t know what you’d like, so I just prepared a lot. This banquet is for the saintess and your beautiful friends. So I hope you enjoy it freely.”
“Keep this a secret from His Imperial Majesty.”
Nicholas winked. He had a gentle and pleasant attitude. Lara smiled at him and looked at the people who filled the banquet hall. Most of them were nobles of the Eastern Union who visited Dandelion as part of the delegations.
“Oh my God…”
The guests could not hide their surprised eyes when they saw Lara and her friends. The saintess, wholly different from what they thought, was walking across the hall.
They imagined an elegant and neat beauty, but instead, a fancy and provocative woman appeared. What’s more, Lara did not care about the overflowing food and drink in the banquet hall, but intently stared at the slaves who played instruments in white priest robes.
They were young and beautiful slaves. Fair skin, beautiful features like a drawing, shiny hairs, and delicate fingers moving seductively. The slaves glanced at Lara and then quickly turned away from her. They pretended to read their music sheets and then glanced at her again through the glass.
The sound of stringed instruments filled the banquet hall, and the sound from those thin strings attracted the heart of those listening. The slaves’ performance was excellent and their appearance was the best.
In particular, a red-haired young man was especially noticeable. He continually played with his amazing skills in the center of the stage. White skin, thick red lips, thick double eyelids, softly droopy eyes, and red energy hovered him strangely. Every time he smiled, a mole on the bridge of his nose flinched.
Seeing him, Eunice gulped the air in a hurry, and Ximena approached Lara closely and linked her arm with her right arm. Then, she brought her face close so that her lips touched her earlobes and whispered.
“Our saintess must be happy about this.”
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