Grandson of the Holy Emperor is a Necromancer - Chapter 51
Chapter 51: 032. Imperial Prince is Attending a Banquet -3 (Part One)
The banquet was held in the imperial palace’s gorgeous grand hall.
Long tables were placed in an ordered arrangement and all sorts of luxurious delicacies had been laid out on top.
The musicians were playing a mellow but pleasant music in the background.
The aristocrats and bureaucrats of the Theocratic Empire, as well as those invited from other nations, had gathered in one hallway to exchange idle banter and flatter each other.
“Oh! Oh my goodness, Lady Alice! To think that you’d grow up into such a beautiful lady. I can’t even fathom how much more beautiful you’ll become after reaching adulthood.”
“Thank you for your kind words, Lord Viscount.”
Alice’s eyes smiled elegantly as she looked at all the nobles who were approaching her to offer their greetings. While doing this, though, she was sighing deep inside.
-I shall not allow you to attend it! If it was a banquet to celebrate Harman or feudal lord Count Jenald Ripang, then fine! But a banquet held to honour the Seventh Imperial Prince?!
Archbishop Raphael chose not to attend. It wasn’t merely because of the Seventh Imperial Prince but he had to look after the First Imperial Prince Luan still suffering from poor health.
However, an archbishop like him not attending an official banquet would present various problems. There was also the Holy Emperor’s reputation to consider, so Alice decided to reveal her intentions to attend behind Raphael’s back.
‘Grandfather will surely bite my head off once he learns about it later, but still…’
Even then, ensuring that her grandfather’s reputation remained unaffected would be for the best, after all.
“You’re still as beautiful as always. If someone told me that you’re the incarnation of Goddess Gaia herself, I’d certainly believe it.”
Alice flinched upon hearing those words and shifted her gaze behind her.
It was Count Fomor Daia with his crimson hair and eyes, a man who used to serve the First Crown Princess Consort, Lady Yulisia.
An aristocrat who not only supported the First Imperial Prince, but also the same individual who suggested holding this very banquet to the Holy Emperor too.
“…So it’s Count Fomor. From what I heard, he seems to enjoy robust support from the citizens. Surely, it must be rather taxing to play to the whims of the lowborns. Tsk, tsk.”
“He’s also widely known for his friendship with Archbishop Raphael too.”
“However, he’s a loyal vassal who serves the First Imperial Prince. That is quite a pity, really. When will his highness’s health recover, I wonder?”
Alice could hear the various murmurings coming from the gathered nobles. Despite their voices being loud enough for everyone to hear, they didn’t try to hide the overflowing sneer in their tones.
It was at this moment that she began feeling an indescribable emotion. The whisperings of these nobles who were leeching off of the Imperial Family’s other princes were making her furrow her brows.
But more than that…
Count Fomor knelt down and kissed the back of Alice’s hand. Even though she was wearing a glove, for some reason chills ran down her skin.
“I fear that once you reach maturity, even I’ll fall for your grace, my lady. I’m worried that my dearly departed missus will grow jealous in the afterlife.”
Alice smiled awkwardly while staring at Count Fomor. “Thank you for your kind words.”
Why was this?
Why did she always find it hard to deal with this person?
It felt like her innards were twisting in knots.
He certainly was a good man, but for some unfathomable reason, she instinctively wanted to distance herself far away from him.
Even as cold sweat trickled down her body, Alice did her absolute best not to reflexively cover her mouth. However, she couldn’t hold Count Fomor’s gaze anymore, so she hurriedly turned her head away.
“G-goodness me… For a mere rural lord like myself to be invited to a grand occasion of this nature…!”
“W-what will I do if you become this tense, my lord? I’m m-m-merely a commoner, you know?”
A rather awkward atmosphere suddenly descended in the hall. The attention of the nobles shifted over to the two men who just entered. They were the protagonists of this banquet, feudal lord of the Ronia fiefdom Count Jenald Ripang, as well as the representative of the citizens living there, Gril.
Alice quickly bade goodbye to Count Fomor and went over to them as if she had finally discovered a shelter from the storm.
“Fuu-woo… Just where is Imperial Prince-nim, I wonder…?”
“I am not so sure of that myself. What am I even supposed to do here?”
They were chatting to one another like a pair of very close brothers, with nary a sign of distance between the two.
Was that the reason why?
Alice found it so much easier to speak to them.
Gril and Jenald turned their heads almost at the same time.
“Pleasure to make your acquaintance. I’m Alice Astoria, the granddaughter of Archbishop Raphael. I’m attending this banquet on his behalf.”
The word ‘archbishop’ caused both Count Jenald and Gril to jump back in sheer fright. The tones in their voices noticeably rose up as they began stuttering away. Because of their flustered and loud voices, the gazes of the surrounding people focused on them, but even then, Alice still believed that it’d be difficult to find someone easier to talk to than these two men.
But this sense of relief lasted only for a little while; one particular gaze caused a creeping chill to run down her spine.
Count Fomor was standing right behind her.
‘It feels like he’s running his eyes all over me.’
There was this stinging sensation that especially lingered around her neck.
Unable to endure it any longer, Alice was about to cover up her mouth. But then…
“Under the divine protection of the virtuous empire, His Highness Imperial Prince Allen Olfolse and his escorting knight, Sir Harman, are making their grand entrances!”
The grand chamberlain’s loud, clear voice reverberated throughout the venue.
After hearing that, Count Fomor formed a rueful expression and excused himself from Alice. “It seems that the Seventh Imperial Prince has arrived. I need to give him my regards, so…”
“I understand, you don’t need to worry about me,” Alice responded.
“Well, in that case…”
While watching the count get further away from her, she couldn’t help but let out a sigh of relief.
(TL: back to 1st person POV.)
The grand doors opened up before me.
I stepped into the banquet hall.
The gazes of the attending aristocrats landed on me all at once.
And that was about it.
They retracted their gazes and resumed their interrupted chatter from earlier. Not even one of them bothered to greet me
This was quite understandable, seeing that I was a banished imperial prince and all that.
Sucking up to a prince who didn’t have a mothball’s chance in hell to inherit the emperor’s throne would only end with you getting on the bad books of the other imperial princes, anyhow.
The thing was, though, I didn’t really completely escape from the attention of the aristocrats yet.
“Imperial Prince-nim, let us go in.”
Actually, the one who attracted the gazes instead of me was Charlotte attending the banquet with me. Because of her platinum hair and red eyes, plus in that crimson long dress of hers, she really did stand out a lot.
Her gloved hand ever so slightly raised the corner of her dress. Her neatly tied hair lowered a little in my direction. She then gracefully offered her other hand to me.
Numerous esteemed daughters and ladies of the established noble houses were present in the banquet hall. And not to forget, there were several Paladins standing tall by the edges of the venue too.
However, Charlotte was far more graceful and charming than any one of them. From her sharp eyes and to the offered hand, one could pick up on the vibe of the resolute strength exhibited only by an escorting knight.
Was that the reason?
Men all had a dreamy expression floating around their faces, while the ladies carried entranced ones. As expected, this girl naturally had the undeniable appeal that bewitched other people.
“Hey, Charlotte. Maybe you’re secretly from an actual noble family?” I asked her before reaching out to take her hand.
She simply replied with a gentle, soft smile.
We then started walking forward with Harman following us from behind.
Eventually, we got to a corner of the banquet hall. Charlotte stood next to me and demurely kept her hands in front of her, clearly on standby for my sake. Meanwhile, Harman was just standing there, stiff in his uniform. There was nothing I could do about all the attention still pouring in our direction mainly because of her, unfortunately.
“Could she be an esteemed daughter of a noble household?”
“I just can’t seem to place her. Could she be from another country’s noble family instead?”
“The meaning of her standing beside his highness… this surely indicates that she’s no ordinary child, at the very least, right?”
“I inquired the chamberlain earlier, and he told me that she’s simply a maidservant accompanying the Seventh Imperial Prince.”
“A maid? No, that can’t be. She exudes such an extraordinary air, so she must be hiding her real identity.”
All sorts of discussions and guesses were being exchanged in the peanut gallery. These estimations were all about Charlotte rather than me.
I too couldn’t help but continuously glance at her.
What an earnest girl she was.
Apparently, she mastered etiquette in the last few days after deciding that she didn’t want to publicly embarrass me.
I couldn’t quite understand her dedication, though. Just what was her motivation to go this far for me like this?
“It’s been a while, your highness the Seventh Imperial Prince. And also, Sir Harman.”
A man offered his greetings and walked over to our location. He was a handsome dude with red hair. He acknowledged Harman with a simple little nod and glanced at Charlotte for a moment, before fixing his gaze on me.
Just as I was starting to frown slightly, Harman whispered in my ear, “This is Count Fomor, your highness.”
I did see his name on the list that Harman compiled for me. This count was the one who supported both the First Imperial Prince as well as the Seventh Imperial Prince, which was me.
Was it because of this reason that he openly greeted me here?
“Are the delicacies to your liking, your highness?”
Count Fomor addressed me with noticeably friendlier-sounding words compared to other nobles.
From what I’ve heard, this guy was famous for his pretty high evaluation from the general populace. Apparently, not only was he a kind man, he didn’t have one corrupt bone in his body, either.
Maybe that was the reason why the Holy Emperor, Kelt Olfolse, was keeping a favourable eye on him. From what I heard, of course.
“It has indeed been a while. Also, my apologies for my lack of decorum, as I’ve lost my memories…” I spat out some awkward-sounding words and extended my hand.
“Please do not mind it, your highness. Rather than that, I was not present by your side when you had to suffer a great insult to your personage. I beg of you to forgive this retainer’s shortcomings, your highness”
Count Fomor bowed and took my hand.
While staring at the guy, I activated my ‘Mind’s Eye’.
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