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    Archbishop Wesker massaged his throbbing head as he closed the letter. His headache was so severe, he almost felt as if his long-gone right eye was about to pop out again.

    The sudden orders from the Holy Emperor were not new, but still perplexing.

    ‘A saintess out of nowhere…’

    It wasn’t a request to verify a potential saintess candidate.

    Instead, it was an order to present an ordinary person as a dignified saintess in just a few days.

    ‘What does His Majesty really think of the Orthodox Church and the Holy Council?’

    However, it was a command from the Holy Emperor himself. There must be a reason behind His Majesty’s actions.

    Having decided this, Wesker began to quickly plan his course of action.

    ‘First, find a suitable rural church to issue a recommendation letter, hire a couple of witnesses who would testify to miracles performed by the saint, convene the bishops this afternoon for a quick decision, submit the paperwork to the Holy Council, and casually drop a hint to Cardinal Mayer…’

    It was a plan that blatantly disregarded doctrine and regulations, but Wesker and the Holy Emperor had always been in sync in such matters. Unlike Cardinal Benitus, who always insisted on principles, Wesker prioritized practicality.

    He remembered concocting similar schemes with the Holy Emperor during the early years of his reign. Recalling Cardinal Mayer’s frantic efforts to manage the aftermath always brought a wry smile to his face.

    Chuckle. Suppressing his laughter, Wesker was about to move on when he noticed a small girl standing quietly in a corner of the hallway.

    Saintess Sisle.

    With her long silver hair and white priestly robe, she looked like a pure and faultless creation of the Lord. The girl, glowing with an ethereal light, stood dazed, staring down the forbidden corridor.

    “Saintess Sisle.”

    At Wesker’s call, Sisle slowly turned around, clutching a small diary to her chest as always.

    “…Archbishop Wesker.”

    “Why are you here alone? What about Sister Ursula?”

    Wesker thought of the talkative sister who usually accompanied the saint and touched his forehead.

    Leaving the small blessing of the Lord alone in such a place was a serious negligence of duty.

    However, Sisle, with her innocent eyes, looked up at Wesker and asked an unexpected question.

    “I heard from Sister Ursula that a new saintess candidate has appeared.”

    “…….”

    “Will she become a saintess?”

    Her question wasn’t about the authenticity of the new candidate’s sainthood.

    She was asking if the Holy Emperor had approved her.

    Wesker was silent for a moment, but then slowly nodded.

    “Yes, Saintess Sisle. It seems that will be the case.”

    “Then, unlike me, will she have the opportunity to meet the first Holy Emperor?”

    Wesker recalled the instructions he had just received from the Holy Emperor.

    Make Seo Yi-seo an impeccable saintess in the public eye. Arrange for her inauguration before the Birth Festival, along with the bestowal of the [Scepter of the Holy Emperor].

    “…It appears so.”

    As soon as he answered, tears fell from Sisle’s clear gray eyes.

    Her face, always expressionless like a doll, made her sadness even more poignant to Wesker.

    “Why… Why are you crying?”

    Wesker, startled by her sudden tears, awkwardly bent over and put his arm around her shoulder.

    “Archbishop Wesker, I have served the citizens earnestly. I did my best for Delcross. But why does His Majesty still not recognize me?”

    “Saintess Sisle…”

    Wesker looked at the quietly weeping girl with a heavy heart.

    It wasn’t unreasonable for the young girl to think that way. When the Orthodox Church initially motioned to consecrate Sisle as a saintess, the Holy Emperor had categorically refused.

    If it hadn’t been for Sisle’s firm determination, her elevation to sainthood would never have occurred.

    Even though the Holy Emperor reluctantly allowed Sisle’s consecration, he never permitted the bestowal of the [Scepter of the Holy Emperor], a ritual that all saintess traditionally underwent.

    The young girl seemed to interpret this as a sign of not being fully recognized by her father.

    “Your Highness… Saintess. It’s not just you. His Majesty has forbidden the bestowal of the Scepter of the Holy Emperor to all members of the Holy Emperor’s family. Don’t you know?”

    Indeed. Even Masain, now Clanos, was prohibited.

    During the reign of the previous Holy Emperor, it was almost an annual event for the entire Holy Emperor’s family to visit Saint Bastian Church. The current decision was indeed inscrutable.

    But as always, Wesker assumed that the Holy Emperor had a valid reason for his actions. However, convincing this deeply saddened young girl was another matter.

    “Saintess Sisle. Don’t you know? You were the first child His Majesty embraced. I was there that day. I had never seen His Majesty so joyously smiling in my entire life.”

    “…….”

    “How could he not recognize someone like you? That’s impossible. One day, we will all understand His Majesty’s intentions.”

    Wesker comforted her, gently patting her shoulder.

    ***

    [Yi-seo’s POV]

    What do you think is the most important element in a romance fantasy novel?

    Yes, that’s right. The existence of a charming male lead.

    This novel also has a magnificent main male lead.

    He is the eldest son of the Northern Border Duke, a genius swordsman with a cold charm, Prince Orden Siegmund!

    He unravels the dark secrets of his family, fighting internal enemies, and at the same time, protects his domain from external threats. A truly capable man.

    But despite his seemingly indifferent and cold demeanor, he’s actually a pure-hearted person who still cherishes the memories of his first love.

    And soon, he will fall for the saintess female lead and transform into a man of immense obsession.

    Ah, I just wanted to save this world from peril, but now I have a male lead who’s obsessed with me and won’t let go. How troubling is that?

    “So, what does this Young Master Orden Siegmund look like? Are there any illustrations of him?”

    “Very handsome.”

    “That’s it? What about his skin? His hair and eye color? Is he ruggedly handsome, or a more delicate beauty? Does he have the wild charm of a wounded beast, or the elegance of a flower blooming on a cliff?”

    “…Is that really important?”

    “Of course, it is! In a proper romance fantasy, you should be ready to spend pages praising the male lead’s appearance!”

    * * *

    Recently, Orden’s feelings were complicated.

    He was busy tracking down suspicious forces hiding in the Siegmund territory, but the cold words Amelia had thrown at him a few days ago kept swirling in his head, disturbing his thoughts.

    —Was I ever of any significance to you? Until the day His Majesty rescued me, I was as good as nonexistent in the duke’s family.

    No, it’s not like that, Amelia.

    I’ve always…

    “What are you thinking about, sir Orden?”

    Startled by the voice calling him, Orden looked up to find Herman, his face full of dissatisfaction, thrusting a stack of documents at him.

    Herman, virtually Orden’s right-hand man, was a cheeky subordinate, not exactly known for his loyalty.

    “Isn’t it a bit urgent for you to be daydreaming? Once the Birthday Celebration is over, you won’t have the chance to move around the capital without the head of the family knowing.”

    Orden wiped his face with his hand before taking the documents.

    “We’ve got a rough idea anyway. There should be some progress in the investigation.”

    “A rough idea? Are you referring to your speculation that Scarcepino is the link connecting Lord Siegmund and the Milo Trading Company?”

    “It’s not speculation. It’s a conclusion I’ve reached through our investigation.”

    Herman looked incredulous.

    “Your own investigation? Surely, you’re not referring to the recent incident where you harassed an innocent lady, are you?”

    “What innocence. She was utterly despicable.”

    Orden scoffed.

    Isabella Scarcepino.

    A prominent figure in social circles, she was indeed skilled at feigning ignorance.

    Despite knowing she had been frequenting the Milo Trading Company with young Count Riccardo, she pretended to have no memory of it, shaking in fear.

    Orden then tossed a small medal he had been fiddling with onto the desk.

    A crude medal with a spider engraved on it.

    Recently found in various parts of the territory, Orden was secretly investigating it without the knowledge of the head of the family.

    The strange occurrences in the Siegmund territory had deep connections with the Milo Trading Company, which had started dealings with the head of the family years ago. Orden had been suspecting Asein or Scarcepino as the backers of the Milo Trading Company.

    During this investigation, he received a letter from young Count Riccardo, enclosed with the spider medal. It was a veiled threat asking him to attend the celebration with his sister as a partner, with an agreement to keep silent about this matter.

    After witnessing Isabella feigning ignorance at the Salon de Merci, he was convinced that the Scarcepinos were deeply involved in the events occurring in the Siegmund territory.

    “This spider symbol seems indeed to be a mark of the dark cult. I got this information from an exorcist I know personally. Recently, the ‘Cult of Repentance’ has been frequently appearing across the northern and eastern regions.”

    Herman glanced at the medal and added with a hint of concern,

    “Sir Orden, if this situation is indeed related to the remnants of the dark cult, it’s too much for us to handle alone. Wouldn’t it be better to seek the help of inquisitors or exorcists?”

    Orden let out a bitter laugh.

    “Herman, these are matters orchestrated by the head of the Siegmund family. If the heresy tribunal gets wind of this, do you think our family would remain unscathed?”

    “But considering it’s an internal whistleblowing, wouldn’t they take that into account? If the Siegmund family falls, the defensive wall guarding the border would collapse. The authorities in the capital wouldn’t want that.”

    “No, we’d be lucky just to escape with our lives. The heresy tribunal doesn’t consider the repercussions; they only focus on eradicating heresy. Whether our family is destroyed by devil worshippers or smashed by inquisitors, the outcome will be the same.”

    …Sigh. I spoke out of frustration due to the dire situation.”

    Herman sighed.

    “We should have contacted Prince Logan when the Lilium Squad was passing by our territory. He seemed to have noticed something.”

    At that time, returning from a sea monster hunt, Prince Logan had requested a formal investigation of the territory, which the head of the family promptly refused.

    “The head of the family was uncomfortable even with the squad staying briefly in our territory. Keeping an eye on Prince Logan, it would have been impossible to meet him without the head’s knowledge.”

    “That’s true.”

    Besides, Lilium was a detachment of the Saint Bastian Knights, known for being tightly controlled by the Orthodox Church, hardly better than the heresy tribunal.

    Well, since there’s been no significant reaction so far, it seems Prince Logan didn’t find any crucial evidence.

    “If only there were another force not under the church or tribunal, with some flexibility…”

    As Orden sighed and mumbled, Herman suddenly brightened up, as if he remembered something.

    “Oh, speaking of which, I heard the administration recently established a special division for handling magical beasts. Did you know about it?”

    “A division for magical beasts?”

    “Yes. It’s led by the Third Prince and operates independently of the church, investigating malign entities. It’s a new division, so it hasn’t made any significant achievements yet.”

    “Prince Morres…”

    Suddenly, the image of a young boy who had stood beside Amelia that day flashed through Orden’s mind. The boy with fierce eyes and an annoyingly smug smile, who had seemed unusually skilled.

    Orden frowned.

    Hadn’t their first interaction been rather unfavorable? Would the prince really agree to help if requested?

    But with no time and limited options, involving the magical beast division seemed the only feasible course of action. After much deliberation, Orden, accompanied by Herman, decided to visit the administrative annex.

    To his surprise, the prince listened quietly to Orden’s explanation. When he finished speaking, the prince curled one side of his lips into a mischievous, almost sinister smile.

    “Just with words?”

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