Arc 2: Prologue
Across the forest of the Kingdom of Berg—the most prosperous country on the continent—lay a small kingdom.
Derived from the Berg religion, the small kingdom of St. Julia was founded by the devout believers of Virgin Julia.
Amidst the lush greenery, in a remote countryside, there existed a relief center.
“Sister, the tea is ready.”
“Wow! Thank you, Father.”
In the autumn garden, basking under the gentle sunshine filtering through the trees as she tended to the lilies, was a girl named Mia. At the call of the priest—the owner of the facility, she lifted her head.
She, along with the other “sisters”, began to surround an iron table in a corner of the garden. Mia grinned at the delicate, steaming teapot.
“What kind of tea are we having today, Father!?”
“It’s a vanilla-scented, spice tea, infused with white lilies. Very fragrant, isn’t it?”
“It’s true! It smells so good!”
“…Please use the word ‘fragrant’, instead, for you are all the beloved maidens of Our Lady.”
The relief center was mostly inhabited by girls who suffered from destitution and violence. Due to their origins, their language tended to be messy.
However, when the priest gently squinted his gray eyes and admonished her, Mia and the others blushed, as she clumsily rephrased.
“It’s… very fragrant.”
Almost instantly, the priest’s smile deepened.
A slender figure, and a good-looking face.
His eyes—peeking from his silver-rimmed glasses—were an intelligent gray; while his hair—which bore the same color as his eyes, could be seen as silver depending on the lighting.
Mia and the others stared at him in enchantment.
Due to his lofty brilliance, and the monastic robe he donned, bearing the saint’s crest—the beautiful priest was nicknamed as the ‘Apostle of the Lily.’
Most of the girls who gathered there were either sold, or abused and escaped from their parents.
Inevitably, they developed an intense fear and disdain towards adult men—but that priest was an exception.
After all, not only did he help the girls without expecting anything in return, he gave them shelter, and even educated them every day.
Many relief centers took women in under the pretext of protecting them, only to sexually exploit them, but the Apostle of the Lily was different.
For example, whenever they’d sit around a table, he’d always have multiple girls present. In order to prevent bullying, he’d pair them up, and the older girls would educate the younger ones.
Secretly, Mia exchanged glances with her own “older sister”, and whispered. “…Today, Father is wonderful as well.” Taking delight in the day where she could have such a small exchange.
…Aah, I’m truly glad that the priest took me in. Apparently, angels do exist in this world.
On the day he took her in, Mia, who was cynical, asked him a rude question.
“—Why’d you do this? Is it to have sex with me?”
However, instead of getting angry, he answered kindly.
“You must’ve been living in fear. But be rest assured. I promise to not lay a finger on you, and that I’ll absolutely protect you—and the same goes for everyone else. For me, seeing you in a safe haven, smiling happily, as you interact with your sisters—will be more than enough.”
At that moment—
—No way, does a saint truly exist?
Nevertheless, as she continued to experience the priest’s sincerity, her suspicion gradually faded away.
…If I remember correctly, amongst the Twelve Apostles, the Apostle of the Lily symbolizes ‘purity’ and ‘devotion’—
—That’s just the perfect way to describe Father!
Previously, she was told that the priest was originally blond, but the color faded to gray as a side effect of the stress he suffered during his time at the monastery.
The amount of poverty and the violence that plagued the world must’ve afflicted him…
…But wait, blond hair? Does that mean that Father is inherently an aristocrat?
At the question that suddenly arose, Mia tilted her head, but Anna—who sat across from her, began to speak.
“Come to think of it, Father. I once came across someone called the Angel of Rose.”
Anna was a girl with blazing red hair who had just come to the relief center yesterday. Due to her parent’s debts, she almost became a slave. Luckily, she managed to free herself from such a fate. Having nowhere else to go, she relied on the rumors and came all the way from the neighboring Kingdom of Berg to this relief center.
The red-haired girl leaned forward, reveling in the priest’s attention.
“My parents sold me to the pirates. On the ship, I cried the whole time. But then, after arriving at a certain port, I was saved by the Angel of Rose.”
“By the Angel of Rose, do you mean a benevolent woman, full of virtue?”
As if interested, the priest’s eyes beamed.
Anna nodded, and began to speak about how wonderful she was.
“She’s a bit younger than me, but she’s a real beauty.”
“Ooh, a beauty…”
“That’s right! Not only is she an aristocrat blessed with an angelic face, she didn’t hesitate to use her magical power to free us. In fact, she even protected me from the pirates! I remember crying like an idiot as I took her hand…”
“…Cry, as you took her hand. Well, I can see why.”
Instead of scolding Anna, who was full of excitement, the priest gave sincere feedback.
After telling him that the Angel of Rose had released all the women, and even prepared travel expenses for those in need, Anna cooed.
“So, a while after that, I was still staying in Berg to save up, and heard that she was invited to the royal palace. Famous princes, princesses—and even foreign ones are crazy about her! It’s like a fairy tale!”
“I agree, it sounds like a fairy tale, or an opera…”
“Isn’t it—!? Right now, the rumors about her are the craze in the royal capital of Berg. I agree with them, though. With her blond hair and a pair of amethyst eyes, she truly looks like a rose… Oh, by the way, her name is Rosa.”
The priest, who’d been politely pouring a cup of tea, muttered briefly as his movement came to a pause.
Noticing that he had suddenly fallen silent, Mia tilted her head.
“Uhm, is something the matter, Father?”
After the dazed priest was called by his name, he seemed to regain his senses.
“…No, it’s nothing.”
Faintly shaking his head, he refilled the teacup.
Briefly, he smiled reassuringly at Mia—but in the next moment, he shifted his gaze towards the mountain—at the direction of the Kingdom of Berg.
“It just makes me feel somewhat nostalgic.”
As he said that, a breeze blew behind him, rustling the pure white lilies.
The morning activity of the diligent people of the Berg royal castle started before the rooster crowed.
Light the fire, open the drapes, and let the clear, morning, air enter.
By the time the sky began to whiten, the hustling and bustling of the servants echoed from all directions.
In the bedroom, where the curtains were still down, a certain person woke up—her gaze wandering vacantly, as her blanket fell to her knees.
Burying her chin in her arms, she held her knees, and listened in to her surroundings—
—it had become her habit ever since she married into this country.
…Is there an enemy behind the door?
Malicious rumors, mockery, scorns—…
The attendants, unaware that their mistress had awoken, proceeded with their idle chatter in the next room.
…Even though her attendants should be a bunch of males, instead of females—and tight-lipped ones, at that. Perhaps, they let loose because they believed their grouchy mistress was still asleep.
Nevertheless, eavesdropping on them may lead to her own safety, so she didn’t reprimand them.
Then, they spoke of the dignity of the prince, the competence of the foreign healer,
The growth of the princess, who had recently grown closer with her siblings,
Some tidbits about political negotiations, rumors of the city—
—and at last, the joy of the queen’s recovery.
The topic immediately shifted.
As she picked them up, the corner of her shapely lips rose.
“…It’s treated like an afterthought.”
Even her soliloquy was in the language of Berg, instead of her mother tongue.
As she stared absentmindedly towards the door, the voices of the attendants became more enthusiastic.
“—So, I finally saw the Angel of Rose yesterday!”
Hearing the overly-ecstatic voice, she twitched and raised an eyebrow.
…The Angel of Rose.
Rosa Von Langheim.
When she was still bedridden, that girl was invited to the detached palace as a conversation partner for the princess.
An intelligent and devoted lady, who brought about the Miracle of Apt.
“She was truly fetching! I saw her when she came to the library—even the way she flipped the page was picturesque!”
“But didn’t she collapse the other day? If I remember correctly, despite having only recovered from her illness, she overexerted herself to learn healing magic…”
“Yes, you’re right!”
The youthful sounding attendant exclaimed.
Despite having depleted her magic during the Miracle of Apt, Rosa seemed to have immersed herself in the mythology of Apt after she had regained consciousness.
However, due to recovering from illness, she’d often stagger and lose consciousness in the process.
Even so, she’d dismiss the concerns of those around her, opting to focus on learning healing magic. Perhaps, it was a form of self-inflicted punishment—
“—If there’s at least one healer who could use healing arts, Kamil’s tragedy would’ve been prevented!”
The attendant, who spoke passionately, suddenly said, “Oh!” As he recalled a certain scene from the library.
“Both His Highnesses seem to be obsessed with her?! They’d stick to Lady Rosa and make sure that she doesn’t do anything reckless. When she tried to reach for something from the tall bookshelf, Prince Leon supported her from behind, and Prince Chris from the left. Last but not least, was the Healer, who’d back them up all at once from the other side of the bookshelf.”
“…Amazing. Surprisingly, Lady Rosa seems to be a player?”
“No, not really? According to the maid of the royal palace, despite her beauty, she has no interest in men.”
Any ridicule would immediately be denied.
Then, the gossip-loving attendant clarified even further;
According to Leon and the healer, even though she’d often receive small tributes from the knights of the detached palace, she’d pass all of them to her younger brother, Bernardo.
She didn’t show the slightest interest in gossip, and instead devoted herself to reading complex medical books and the Bible.
Regardless, she wasn’t anti-social, and would participate in small talk with the maids—often with glittering eyes. Moreover, if there was someone who suffered from poor academics, she’d teach them how to write; and if there was a person who suffered from poverty, she’d easily give them expensive books, and so on.
“…No way, it’s as if she’s an angel!”
“Hence the nickname, Angel of Rose. Apparently, the nickname—born from the era of Langheim—is a real deal.”
“…I can’t believe it.”
At the zealous discussion, she sardonically muttered so, shrugging.
“…What a coincidence, I also found it difficult to believe.”
However, when she heard the attendant’s next words, her expression disappeared quickly.
“—But if it’s true, what a virtuous child, unlike Her Majesty the Queen.”
“Hey, what if she hears you!?”
The other tried to reprimand him, but it probably never occurred to him that the master of the bedroom had woken up.
Seemingly not particularly remorseful, the attendants proceeded with their morning preparations, and respectfully opened the bedroom door.
“Good morning, Your Majesty Queen Dorothea.”
The master of the room—Dorothea, ruffled her hair, acting as if she had just woken up.
With a nimble movement, the attendants opened the window, and sunlight poured in, illuminating her enchanting blonde hair.
Her slender limbs, encased in a silk nightgown, drew a bewitching arch; while her rocking, wavy blonde hair and bright green eyes were tinged with a suffocating charm.
Thanks to the Miracle of Apt, she regained her beauty a month ago.
Dorothea stared frigidly at her own reflection, before turning to her attendants.
A mellifluous voice, as crisp as honey.
Unbridled, capricious, yet dignified—akin to that of a cat.
“I’d like to hold a tea party. It’s been a while, therefore, I intend to invite my daughter and her friend, so please prepare an invitation.”
Dorothea—like a beast sizing up her prey, softly narrowed her eyes at the windows that expanded behind the attendants, to the direction of Princess Christine’s palace.
Queen, make way for the new queen!
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