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    Leonard’s immediate approach to the prince was a calculated move to a certain extent.

    Prince Morres was known to be a mess of a person, so he expected it would be somewhat easy to get close to him. Moreover, the prince was currently Princess Amelia’s partner, so naturally, a connection with the princess would be established while conversing with him.

    However, mentioning the Dark Cult right away was an impulsive decision.

    That was because when he approached, the prince happened to be glaring at the direction of the state church priests with a sullen expression.

    ‘He really does have a negative sentiment towards the state church!’

    That was what Romaine had told him before coming here.

    -He is someone who effectively conceals his identity and will one day bare his sharpest fangs towards the empire.

    His prediction was correct.

    Having made that conclusion, Leonard unknowingly let his guard down. It was probably a reaction to the tension he had been feeling since entering the palace.

    “Bethel.”

    Of course, after initiating the greeting, he inwardly went “oops.”

    “……”

    But then, Prince Morres, who heard his greeting, was staring at him blankly without showing much surprise!

    It was evident that he had anticipated a Dark Cult associate approaching him at any time and had prepared in advance.

    ‘He’s supposed to be concealing his identity, but that might really be the case…’

    On the other hand, what was going through Seongjin’s mind was slightly different from Leonard’s expectations.

    ‘What’s with this guy? And what’s Bethel…?’

    After the Holy Emperor had completely driven out the Dark Cult from Delcross, the state church had put in all efforts to erase any traces of heresy left in the scriptures or records.

    As a result, unless one was elderly or had considerable knowledge of theology, not many people properly knew about the watchwords of this underground cult.

    Naturally, it was impossible for Seongjin, who had no connection to theology, to know about it.

    Seongjin was momentarily puzzled, but looking at the guy’s face, he seemed to think that Seongjin must have understood his greeting.

    “Hmm…”

    What could it be? Seeing that confident face, why do I feel the urge to mess with him?

    Suddenly, I want to pretend to know something.

    [He said “Bethel.” It might be some kind of secret code or something.]

    As if sensing Seongjin’s intention as he slightly raised the corner of his mouth, the Demon King reminded him again.

    “Bethel.”

    Seongjin replied to him in the same way, managing his expression. It seemed like a rarely used word, so hopefully the response wouldn’t be different like a password or something.

    And that was the correct answer. A noticeable look of relief flashed across the man’s face.

    “But who are you?”

    If he was invited to the birthday banquet, he must be a high-ranking figure. He might be quite famous. The possibility of him being acquainted with Morres couldn’t be ruled out either.

    Well, he was already notorious for being a mess, wasn’t he? Even if he committed a slight rudeness, wouldn’t it be overlooked as expected of him?

    Then, as if he had completely let his guard down, the guy laughed heartily while holding his forehead.

    “Ah, my goodness. Look at me! I was so distracted by something else that I failed to pay my respects!”

    Fortunately, it seemed they weren’t acquainted with each other.

    The guy smoothly swept his hair back with a stylish gesture and extended his hand towards Seongjin.

    “I’m Leonard from Rohan. You probably already know, though.”

    “……”

    Of course, Seongjin was familiar with the names of the royal families of major countries. He had even roughly learned from an etiquette teacher in preparation for the birthday banquet.

    However…

    “We’ve seen each other at the birthday banquet every year, but this might be the first time we’re exchanging greetings like this. You’ve changed so much compared to last year’s birthday banquet that I almost didn’t recognize you for a moment.”

    What the heck? What’s with this swallow-like guy?

    The more he spoke, the more annoying he seemed to become.

    “I’m Morres. You probably already know, though.”

    Seongjin shook hands with him and continued.

    “So, what’s the matter? It’s a bit sudden.”

    “It’s nothing major. As you may have guessed, I have some connection with them, so I thought I would just relay some news. Are you aware of it? The forgotten old brothers are eagerly awaiting your command.”

    Seongjin twitched the corner of his mouth.

    Hmm. The strange greeting aside, the guy’s cautious attitude was also suspicious. Somehow, there was a strong scent of something shady.

    ‘Last time, I pretended to know something and ended up ruining the Heresy Tribunal…’

    But what should I do? Now I really want to pretend to know!

    Seongjin exaggeratedly looked around and lowered his voice.

    “As you can see, given the circumstances, I hope you understand my reluctance to speak.”

    He mentioned brothers. It was probably implying the existence of a force lurking in the shadows, though the scale was unknown.

    Perhaps they were somehow involved with the Gray Plague.

    “Although I am eager to meet the brothers, I am currently in a position where it is difficult for me to leave the palace alone. Given the timing.”

    “That’s understandable. I get it.”

    As Leonard nodded, Seongjin spoke softly.

    “So, what do you think? The fact that you’re relaying their news to me means you must have a way to resolve this, right? Can I have some expectations?”

    “……”

    Leonard stared intently at Seongjin for a moment. Then, he cautiously made a suggestion.

    “Then, how about meeting a friend of mine? I believe he would be of great help to you.”

    “Friend?”

    “Yes. It is that friend who has a direct connection with your brothers. It may be difficult, but I will try to arrange a meeting with him.”

    “Oh! Really?”

    “Of course, for security reasons, it will be a secret meeting held outside the palace…”

    “The location doesn’t matter! I would be really grateful if you could do that for me.”

    Then, Seongjin and Leonard looked at each other and smiled.

    Perfect! This is too easy!

    ‘Casually establishing a relationship with a suspicious organization like this, what a shallow guy!’

    ‘Did you see that, Romaine? I’ve properly created a point of contact with the prince! Expect the same with the princess!’

    Hahaha.

    The two people, each with different thoughts, simultaneously burst into satisfied laughter.

    Meanwhile, Amelia, who was returning after paying her respects to the empress and queens, stopped in her tracks, surprised by the unexpected sight awaiting her.

    ‘Leonard…!’

    That mortal enemy, whom she couldn’t forget even in her dreams, was smiling in front of her brother with an innocent face!

    Amelia bit her lip firmly.

    She was well aware that she would encounter Leonard at the birthday banquet. That’s why she had been preparing herself all this time.

    However, now that she was actually facing him, her preparation seemed futile as her hands and feet turned cold and her whole body trembled in an instant.

    It was a fear deeply etched into her subconscious over a long period of time.

    -Open your eyes wide and take a good look, Amelia. Your poor lady-in-waiting is enduring this pain in your stead.

    Skinning Mirabel, slicing her flesh, and shoving each piece in front of her eyes.

    -Hmm? Why aren’t you crying anymore? Tell me. What more do I need to show you to make you cry?

    Tilting his head with a genuinely curious look on his dissatisfied face.

    -If you’re so precious to them, what will you do? I have no choice but to send you to them. However, I will never let you go unharmed.

    Without hesitation, stabbing a dagger into her chest right before Morres’ eyes.

    ‘What have I…’

    Her body began to tremble like a leaf.

    ‘What have I done…’

    Right at that moment, Morres, noticing her presence, turned to look at Amelia.

    His bright gray eyes held only her reflection.

    “Sister?”

    ‘Morres!’

    Slowly, her mind started to clear.

    Didn’t that child once tell her?

    -Imagine him groveling before you with a nosebleed. I guarantee you won’t have a moment to feel depressed.

    He had guided her when she had lost all purpose in life.

    -True revenge, sister, is not a process you endure just to see the results.

    That carefree voice, without a fear in the world.

    -Worried about his retaliation? What’s there to worry about? Our father is the most powerful backing in the country.

    Yes, you’re right. Morres.

    I sincerely, with all my heart, without a shred of doubt, for you and our entire family, fervently desire to take revenge on that man.

    As she repeated those words, peace soon found its way into her heart, as if by magic.

    Click, click.

    Amelia slowly approached the two.

    Towards the person she loved more than anyone and wished to protect no matter what.

    And towards the person she hated more than anyone, desiring his destruction from the depths of her heart.

    As she regained her composure, things she hadn’t noticed before came into her view.

    The true nature of that greasy-looking young man, frantically rolling his eyes, trying to strike up a conversation with her somehow.

    ‘…Was he always like this?’

    In the eyes of the queen who had long been immersed in the muddy social circles of Rohan, Leonard was nothing more than an immature novice.

    ‘To think I was so easily deceived by someone like him…’

    Anger surged within her.

    Not at Leonard, but at herself for being so foolishly stupid.

    “Excuse me…”

    But just as Leonard was about to open his mouth to speak to her.

    Morres, who had been looking back and forth between Amelia and Leonard, turned his back on him and extended his hand towards Amelia.

    “The music has changed, sister. You promised to dance the first song with me, right?”

    The way he completely blocked Leonard with his body, wasn’t his intention to preemptively cut off Leonard’s clinginess so clear?

    Amelia blinked her eyes.

    This child, who seemed carefree about everything, occasionally displayed exceptional sharpness in strange places.

    “Yes, let’s do that. Morres.”

    Anyway, that man had no choice but to seek her out, so even if she blew him off once, it wouldn’t greatly impact her future revenge.

    After giving a radiant smile to Leonard, who was blankly staring at her, Amelia firmly grasped her brother’s hand and headed towards the center of the banquet hall.

    Soon, the two most dazzling individuals in the banquet hall began to dance, attracting the attention of the entire gathering.

    Mesmerized, people couldn’t take their eyes off the beautiful siblings moving like flowing water to the elegant melody.

    And there was another couple that became the talk of the town in a different sense.

    The sight of the young saint clinging to the arm of the strapping young man, tapping her small feet to the steps, was also too adorable for words.

    However, unlike her outwardly stoic appearance like a doll, the little saintess’s small mind was filled with complex thoughts.

    “Is something troubling you?”

    Orden softly asked the saint, who had been unable to focus at all.

    Sisle let out a deep sigh and answered in a small voice.

    “Yes, actually, I received some advice from Brother Morres. He suggested that instead of spending time on simple volunteer work, I should try working with the knightly order like Brother Logan. I thought it was a reasonable opinion and decided to follow it, but…”

    The knightly order? What kind of out-of-the-blue suggestion was that for the saintess?

    Completely unaware of the circumstances, Orden was just dumbfounded, blinking his eyes.

    Sisle whispered softly into Orden’s ear.

    “This is a secret, Young Master Siegmund. To be honest, I’m quite scared of swords.”

    “Swords… you say?”

    “Yes, swords are ultimately weapons that cut people. If you get slashed in a vital spot by a sword imbued with aura, wouldn’t any average person die on the spot?”

    Perhaps the influence of the Delcross Chronicles she had seen in her dreams wasn’t insignificant either. After all, it was the Holy Emperor’s beloved sword, the Nutcracker, that had taken her life with a single stroke at the end of Volume 2.

    “Of course, I don’t mean to disparage the members of the Holy Knights who serve the gods. But the thought of holding a sword with my own hands somehow makes me so scared.”

    Orden couldn’t understand her concern at all.

    Why did she think she had to wield a sword herself while working with the knightly order?

    She must have been mistaken about something. Despite appearing mature for her age, a child was still a child after all.

    Orden pondered deeply and answered.

    “If using a sword is the problem, there are ways to resolve it. Aren’t there some Holy Knights who are trained to avoid killing enemies with a single stroke as much as possible?”

    “What? Where is that?”

    As Sisle’s eyes widened, Orden couldn’t help but chuckle at her innocence.

    “It’s none other than the Order of Saint Marcias.”

    The Order of Saint Marcias, the arm of the Heresy Tribunal.

    Unlike other paladins who practiced standard imperial swordsmanship, they mainly used blunt weapons such as maces and flails. They called themselves the “Hammer of the Gods,” but that “hammer” was more than just a figure of speech.

    -Every sinner has a chance for redemption, so we shall give them an opportunity to repent!

    The inquisitors of the Order of Saint Marcias would claim as they swung their hammers.

    Of course, in reality, their goal was to keep the demon worshippers alive as much as possible and drag them to the Heresy Tribunal for torture.

    Well, there was no need for him to tell the young saintess that much.

    “The Order of Saint Marcias…”

    Sisle’s eyes shone with a solemn determination, as if she had made a decision.

    Orden tilted his head for a moment but soon dismissed it, thinking nothing of it. Little did he know what thoughts were going through the little saint’s mind.

    ‘Right. First, I’ll hit them with a hammer without killing them, and then I can heal them later!’

    Perhaps it would have been better to inquire further about the details at this point.

    Who could have imagined that thanks to his words today, in the distant future, a terrifying holy warrior would be born, wielding a flail with ominous spikes, literally smashing people half to death!

    [TL/N: I’m dying 😭]

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