Most of the papers Theodore handed over were appeals from the common people, which I didn't mind reviewing.
I sat at the desk next to Theodore and frantically read through these papers.
Obviously, the amount of paperwork began to decrease much faster with the two of us working together.
But that peace only lasted for a little while.
My body was gradually getting stiff. It was only natural as I had been looking at documents in the same position for an hour or two.
Eventually, I put the papers on the desk and did a simple neck stretch.
As I was stretching my neck, I heard a familiar voice from outside the office.
“Are they in the emperor’s office?”
I was startled.
Just as I was wondering if I had heard it wrong, I heard that raspy voice again.
“I’ll go in on my own, so you can go back.”
I wasn't the only one who heard that voice, Theodore was also staring at the door while pausing his work on the papers in front of him.
Soon the door opened.
“Rozen! Your Majesty!”
As expected, the voice belonged to one of the main characters, Vivian.
She was wearing a bright yellow dress with her wavy hair undone. Anyone looking at her would think it was a very stylish look.
Vivian naturally untied the ribbon on her bonnet, regardless of whether we looked embarrassed or not.
“Why are the two of you meeting without me?”
She took off her shoes, tossing the bonnet roughly on the table.
As if the sofa were a bed, Vivian laid flat on it.
“I was shopping and heard that the Duke of Estella's carriage had entered the Imperial Palace.”
She acted as if it were her own home, with absolutely no hesitation.
This was disrespectful conduct, but no one pointed this out to Vivian.
It was precisely because it was Vivian.
“Hmm, I wasn’t aware that Vivian liked me so much, were you, Rosenta?”
“I don’t! I'm not here to meet Your Majesty, but to see our Rozen!”
It was our first reunion after a month of not seeing one another.
Still, it didn't feel awkward at all.
Like it was with Theodore and I, Vivian and Theodore were so accustomed to each other that it was as thought they had seen each other just yesterday.
They treated each other like enemies, but the corners of their lips were always raised when facing each other.
It was a sight I had missed.
I took this scene in for a bit, then slowly opened my mouth to speak to Vivian.
“Vivian, let’s have dinner together.”
Vivian blushed and nodded vigorously.
I also smiled and waved a piece of paper.
“Just let us finish what we were doing first.”
Vivian crossed her arms in disapproval, but for now, the priority was to finish all the paperwork as quickly as possible.
I went through the papers again.
As I was concentrating on my work, there was a relaxed silence in the royal office.
Theodore and I were still busy processing the mountain of paperwork.
An hour passed like that.
Exhausted from boredom, Vivian began humming a song.
Ignoring the loud humming, I pushed aside the document I was reading.
Then, I took out a new set of documents and turned the first page.
I halted my breath.
It was a very light moan. However, Vivian, who heard the sound, urgently asked in a surprised voice.
“Rozen? What’s the matter? What's going on?”
Hearing that, Theodore also looked at me.
I quickly changed my expression. I shook my head at them, raising the corners of my mouth gently.
I pretended to resume reading the document as if it had been just a normal sigh.
I could feel their eyes still looking at me, but I didn't respond.
They finally withdrew their gazes.
Again, I heard the flipping of papers next to me, and Vivian's humming from the sofa.
In a way, I was fortunate to be able to help Theodore today.
Or was it actually bad luck?
I kept staring at the same documents no matter how I concentrated.
I bit my lower lip and let it go.
The documents I found were signal flares that signaled the start of the prologue.
The prologue briefly explained the growth settings and events that occurred leading up to the Saintess’ arrival.
In the story, Vivian was obsessed with Theodore and grew into a villain who stalked him.
Under that influence, Theodore becomes hypersensitive. In short, it is due to this that he becomes a tyrant.
After the death of the emperor, Theodore completely changes.
He locks himself away and starts living a secluded life. Then, his temperament changes violently.
At the same time, an anomalous incident occurs in the empire.
Of course, the main character, Theodore, finds out about this when it’s too late. That's when things get out of hand.
All of this is just a plot device to prepare the frustrates male protagonist to meet the Saintess.
Of course, the Saintess was the heroine of 'If a Saintess Falls from the Sky'.
When I think about it more closely… … .
‘Is everything already twisted?’
Theodore, far from being hypersensitive, still had the same smirk that he did when he was a boy who greeted me while hiding in the branches of a tree.
The same could be said for Vivian.
Had I been muttering too loudly? The sound of paper scraping from next to me stopped.
Theodore called me.
As I processed things in my head, I felt more at ease. That's not to say that I had come to a conclusion yet.
I shrugged my shoulders sheepishly and answered calmly.
“I have some paperwork that’s been taking a while.”
“Taking a while?”
Theodore reached out to take the documents so that he could read them.
But I tightened my grip on the papers so that he couldn't.
I shook my head firmly.
“I’ll look over them a bit more and let you know when I’m sure they’re accurate.”
Hearing my response, Theodore continued looking at me.
He turned his head slightly to the side, stared at me with a serious look, and called for Vivian.
“Doesn’t something seem strange with Rosenta?”
At those words, Vivian opened her eyes and looked at me. I could feel a hotter gaze from them than before.
The two proceeded to look at me with their arms crossed.
Then he made me stand in front of him and started talking about me.
“Hmm…It seems so. He’s as handsome as usual. But something really is strange.”
“Yes. It's strange. He feels the same as usual…what could it be?”
“He is indeed handsome. Well, our Rozen has always been handsome. Maybe it's because he's wearing the luxurious shirt I gave him as a gift. It shines more brightly than usual.”
“What the hell are you talking about? It’s because he seems so out of sync.”
Theodore took his eyes off me.
I looked at Vivian with a fake smile, as if I was full of energy.
But she was still staring at me.
That intense focus was so absurd and cute that I burst into laughter.
“Puha. What are you two doing?”
In an instant, their conversation stopped.
Both Vivian, sitting on the sofa, and Theodore standing next to me, stared at me.
Theodore slowly reached out and touched the space between my eyebrows.
“It finally relaxed.”
“You've been making a serious face and have been furrowing here since a while ago.”
Theodore created a deep furrow between his eyebrows as if imitating my expression from before.
“You look much better now.”
It wasn't just my eyebrows that Theodore relaxed. It felt like my overall vision brightened in an instant.
Yes. The story has already changed.
Intentionally or not, my intervention in this story has introduced an error in the plot.
And isn't the core of that error standing before my very eyes?
Vivian and Theodore.
Their relationship changed.
The two did not grow up to be adults with the terrible personalities described in the novel.
Theodore did not feel lonely and empty after the death of the emperor. The day of the funeral wasn’t even as severe as it could be.
Because we were by his side.
I didn't have to feel guilty about distorting the story in the book.
The original story, the plot, or anything having to do with either didn’t matter to me anymore.
This is now my reality and the world I live in. These were the people that I wanted to protect.
“Please look at this.”
I held out a document over Theodore's desk.
It was just a very thin sheet of paper and Theodore read it quickly.
As looked it over, I provided an additional explanation.
“I don't know exactly where in SouthTerrian this is, but this is an appeal from a city called Cheritira, some distance away from Terrian.”
Theodore must have realized something too.
In fact, Theodore's eyes were gradually distorting as he read the papers again.
Theodore quickly took a map and spread it out on the desk. And he pointed to a location with his fingertips.
I asked Theodore, who was pondering something.
“Isn’t there something strange about this?”
Only then did Theodore raise his head with a deeply furrowed brow, as if he fully understood what I was saying.
“It is very strange.”
The contents of the appeal were as follows.
The appellant was a permanent resident living in Cheritira, but he’d been unable to live in peace because a sandstorm had been blowing for close to a week.
Looking at this alone, you might think that Cheritira was located wihtin a desert, but Cherity was, in fact, not a desert city.
“Although Cheritira is a city located somewhat near the desert, there’s definitely some distance from it. I have never heard of anything like this even when my father was alive.”
Of course, there was no way this could have happened while the previous emperor was alive.
That is because this was a catastrophe that happened only once every 200 years in Terrian.
The south of Terrian, Southern Terrian is a desert territory ruled by the 'Grey' duchy.
There, a huge sandstorm occurs once every 200 years, and this year was the time it was due again.
Because it only occurs once every 200 years, very few people remember it. Memory tends to deteriorate over time.
This is why it was necessary for me to come forward and explain this phenomenon.
“I’ve read about this in a book before. About the huge sandstorms that spawn in Southern Therian once every 200 years. The book said it was a sandstorm big enough to swallow everything.”
“Yes, to the extent that it reaches the center of the empire.”
As soon as he heard me, Theodore nervously pushed back his bangs.
It must be resolved quickly so that neither Theodore's reputation, nor that of the empire, would be damaged.
But this wasn’t something that could be easily solved because it was a very complicated process.
The dukes of the Helios Empire were not great nobles in name only.
They had an obligation to protect the empire from frozen wastelands, deserts, and jungles.
It was an agreement that had been handed down since the empire was created. In exchange, the emperor gave the dukes autonomy over their regions.
That's why even members of the imperial family couldn't enter the dukedoms at will.
“In terms of how long it took for the appeal to be delivered to the imperial palace, it must have been quite a while. If we send an official letter now and wait for the duchy’s reply…”
“It will be very late.”
In fact, what I discovered now was discovered much faster than in the original story.
However, if we wait until we receive cooperation from the duke, the story will proceed without much difference from the original story.
I had to find another way to shorten the response time.
“Does a way to come to mind?”
Theodore and I kept our mouths shut. No matter how much I thought about it, I couldn't find an answer.
Then, as if Vivian was determined to break the silence, she loudly shouted.
“Excuse me! Everyone! May I say a word as well?”
Vivian raised one hand.
She even smiled and laughed as though the situation was great fun.
“I've been listening to this story the entire time. I feel like I have a way to get into Terrian.”
Vivian was full of confidence. She straightened her shoulders and even lifted her chin.
I couldn't believe it so I just blinked my eyes.
Theodore slammed his hands on his desk and stood up.
Then he asked out loud.
“Do you really have a way!”
Vivian pressed her small hand to her heart as if she was startled by the loud sound of Theodore banging on the desk.
Glancing at Theodore, she dutifully answered him.
“I do indeed have a way. Do you know how many invitations pour into the Marigold family every day, right?”
Marquis Marigold. It was well known that all sorts of invitations poured into the family of this enormous tycoon.
Some managed to reach the family itself, but it was not easy to reach Vivian specifically, who was called the flower of the social world.
The unmarried Vivian, who was loved by Marigold, had not been engaged even though she had reached adulthood.
It was only natural that every family with an unmarried man would target her.
“Recently, an invitation came from the Gray duchy. Of course, I will also be able to bring a companion to escort me.”
Ah! This was it.
Fearing that Theodore would agree to escort her, I quickly jumped ahead.
“Your Majesty, I will accompany Vivian there.”
Vivian exclaimed, “Really? I absolutely love this idea!”
Theodore turned to me.
He furrowed his eyebrows slightly and looked at me as if to ask 'Why are you trying to go there?'
It was an expected reaction.
So, I grinned, pointed at his desk, and said “Shouldn't you be doing your job, Your Majesty? Do you really not trust me?”
“That’s not it…”
“Then, I'll spend some time with Vivian, and Your Majesty will finish taking care of the rest of the work here in the imperial palace.”
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