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Chapter 6: The Truth Comes Out
“Head Priest, what are you…!”
“The blood is- Lady Julieta…!”
A crime scene suddenly unfolded at the banquet where all nobles gathered.
Not minding the shrieks that enveloped his surroundings, Malacia once done with his measure, took out a hemostatic cloth and pressed it on the wound. Patting Julieta on the head while she bit her lip, he softly said: “You did well.”
Unlike the Crown Prince and Nasha who were having trouble keeping up with the chain of events; Morino had already figured out my intentions.
That’s right, this step had precedents. Even in the past, there had been Sacrificial Priestesses examined to have a strong Mana but a weak constitution. When they were shut in a room in the royal castle, their poor physical shape led to the deterioration of their health. What I consider now is that it may have been some type of allergy. To recuperate somewhere with a better climate, the Priestesses would slash the skin between their heel and calf…severing the so-called Achilles’ tendon. This would let them leave the castle.
If the Achilles’ tendon was cut; while one could still walk, they would not be able to walk or run anymore. In other words, they couldn’t escape. Even if they used a horse or a carriage, in the event of trying to hide from their pursues, it wouldn’t go that smoothly.
For a woman, there were ways to be effective with only one health leg. Sex slaves in the past too were meted the same treatment.
“…I will permit you to receive treatment outside the royal castle. It will be packed with bodyguards instead of royal knights. I hope you will not mind.”
“Ah, that goes unsaid. I also request the same.”
“Huh, what does this mean…? I heard that as the Sacrificial Priestess, Nasha was shut in the castle?”
At Melia’s naive question, Lutora panicked and placed a finger on his lips, indicating for her to remain silent. But unfortunately, she did not stop.
“Isn’t this favoritism? If that person becomes the Sacrificial Priestess, she too should be placed in house arrest just like Nasha!”
With a strong sense of justice, she mustn’t be able to forgive Julieta, who harassed her sister. She spoke as if she were the only right one, however, she was sharply admonished by the new Prime Minister, Morino.
“That won’t do, Melia. There is no need to restrict Lady Julieta. All the more because she requested to recuperate.”
“What is with that…I don’t understand.”
“Melia, I beg of you, please remain quiet…!”
Although she shut her mouth when Lutora begged her, Melia seemed discontent, looking at her puffed cheeks. It was a childish action, a result of being under the impression that she was an ‘Outsider’. Well, it was to be seen how long she could keep up that expression.
“I repeat, I invoke the rights of the family of Sacrificial Priestess Julieta. Also, I transfer the duties of Julieta; who served as a Dragon Priestess for ten years; to the younger sister of the Crown Princess Nasha, Melia.”
“Rights of the family…?”
Seeing Melia in shock and Nasha repeat the words in wonder, Morino’s face changed colors.
Hahaha, this was bad. Making the Prime Minister, of all men, show such a shaken expression. Having said that, even I died at the age of twenty in my past life. Well, but in this life, although I may look young, I was already forty-two. Thanks to long years of serving as a scheming Prime Minister, I prided myself in not making my feelings evident on my face.
“My, did Miss Nasha not know of this?”
I shrugged my shoulders, pretending as if I were truly surprised. As I was about to open my mouth to explain the rights of the family to her, Morino replied to me as if he were shouting.
“Of course I recognize the rights of the family! As for handing over the Dragon Priestess’ role, if Miss Melia agrees, I shall approve of it in the name of the Prime Minister!”
…You dug a pit for yourself in a hurry, Prime Minister Morino.
The rights of the family were a secret of the Sacrificial Priestesses, kept hidden from Nasha. The secret was explained clearly when the heroine entered the Morino Route. Simply put, it was a matter of money. The heroine, Nasha, was kidnapped from Cofone village. Her younger sister Melia too thought that she was forcefully taken away by Temple Knights under the orders of the Head Priest on being chosen as the Holy Maiden. But that was a misjudgment. She was sold. By her parents.
It wasn’t just a single girl who possessed holy powers. Frankly speaking, one in every ten women in Palcemith who were around nineteen years of age possessed holy powers. This was because the citizens were raised receiving blessings of the spirits gathered around the Ancient Dragon Kharis. In reality, even Julieta; who had been ordered by the Crown Prince to become the Sacrificial Priestess, possessed those qualifications.
When the time to select the Sacrificial Priestess approached, the Shrine and the Royal Castle would begin gathering information about women who met the requirements. Amongst them, they would search for Sacrificial Maidens in families with financial burdens. In Nasha’s case, her parent’s needed money to treat her younger brother who had a weak constitution with surgery using magic. To pay for it, her parents decided to forsake Nasha.
It was foolish of her parents to not explain that she was to become the Sacrificial Maiden. Instead, they requested the Temple Knights to pretend as if they wanted to abduct her. They kept up the pretense of gentle and loving parents until the very end and threw their daughter under the bus without worry about their survival. Quite the sickening treatment.
In the Crown Prince’s entourage, the only one to know this truth was Morino; who carefully read the information he obtained about the Sacrificial Priestess upon looking up the people around the Head Priest, only to find a huge sum transferred out of the Royal treasury.
He did not wish for Nasha to know of this and interrupted my words. So that she wouldn’t be hurt. It was his first love, yet he would not admit his feelings for all of eternity. All for her sake.
All while not realizing that it was a decoy.
“Hey, Lutora. What does the Dragon Maiden do? Do I have to live in the Shrine?”
Melia tugged at Lutora’s clothes, speaking in a low voice to not anger him this time. But nothing escaped the ears of me nearby. No doubt Julieta could hear it too, but sensing my intentions, my daughter let it slide.
“The Dragon Priestess administers the festival. She manages the ritual and listens to the peoples’ worries. But in reality, she is simply a figurehead. That noble lady has served for nearly ten years. Her official duties were next to none.”
…Couldn’t Lutora sugarcoat it a bit more? Lutora was more or less talented at spying and was a knight conferred with decorations. The conversation could be heard by all around, to be more precise, Jolga could hear it. Wasn’t he too relaxed?
Although Jolga did not raise his voice, veins were visible on his broad forehead. I pitied him a little.
“But it raises your standing.”
“Ah, it isn’t a bad thing to match statuses with Sigurd being a noble.”
Melia’s eyes wavered with indecision. Sigurd, the descendant of Sage Asbal, and the commoner from a remote region, Melia. While she could be kept as a mistress, there was no way her status would let her be his wife. Nasha was lucky. The moment she became the Sacrificial Maiden, her status; at least on paper; was the same as the King. But she was nothing. She couldn’t possibly marry her beloved Sigurd. With such worries, I knew of Melia’s answer from the beginning.
“If that is so…I shall assume the role of the Dragon Priestess.”
“It is alright, Nasha. I might lose my freedom for some time. But isn’t as if I’ll remain unmarried forever, is it?”
In reality, Julieta was the Crown Prince’s fiancee as the Dragon Priestess, Melia muttered. Prime Minister Morino nodded in agreement.
“The current generation’s Dragon Priestess has the duty of offering the Sacrificial Priestess to His Grace Kharis. It was only a single task, but the noble peerage offered would not be lost even after the Dragon Priestess’ role was done.”
“Then, it is only half a year more. That long is fine”
“I accept it. In the name of Prime Minister Morino, I acknowledge Miss Melia’s consent…Head Priest.”
“As you will.”
Malacia politely waited upon Julieta who held my knees. After giving her treatment, he took her left hand and removed her evening gloves1. He then took off the silver ring on her middle finger. Inlaid with a gem that sparkled with the colors of the rainbow, it was a symbol of the Dragon Priestess. Said to have been made with the same mechanism as the doors leading to the underground lake the Ancient Dragon Kharis was sealed in; the ring could only be taken away by the current Head Priest.
“On behalf of the citizens, I thank you for your long service from the bottom of my heart. Please rest to your heart’s content till the day you fulfill your duties as the Sacrificial Priestess.”
Julita spoke, a little coy. Her father was no longer the Prime Minister, a future as the Sacrificial Priestess awaited her, and even her remaining position was stolen. Yet Julieta’s voice oozed of joy. Quite a few Nobles must have felt a sense of dissonance. …Julieta truly was an excellent child.
“Melia Laturi. Come here.”
On urging, Melia took a step ahead, her canary dress swaying.
Malacia’s hands gently approached her.
“From this moment onwards, you are the glorious Dragon Priestess of the Shrine. You shall dedicate your body to the service of His Grace Kharis and listen to the people’s worries, till the day your duty ends.”
Those words invoked an oath.
One could not break a vow uttered in the name of the Ancient Dragon Kharis.
Malacia placed the ring on the middle finger of Melia’s exposed hand.
At that moment.
Melia opened her eyes wide.
After raising a strange cry, she retched. Rolling on the floor soiled with vomit, Melia fainted.
A/N: The ML has already made his appearance!
Hasr11: Big oof~ My uni is starting in July…RIP my semester
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