Completed ― I Was Forced To Quit Being a Nun and Get Married Because of a Divine Oracle ~the Wise Prince Who I Am Actually Marrying Is Someone Who Dotes on Me Excessively~

Completed ― I Was Forced To Quit Being a Nun and Get Married Because of a Divine Oracle ~the Wise Prince Who I Am Actually Marrying Is Someone Who Dotes on Me Excessively~

Chapter 1: Fate Begins to Turn

There is a small country called Uranos Principality in the southwest of the continent.

In that obscure country, situated in a remote area surrounded by mountains, forests, and unclaimed land, there was a monastery. Though it may sound like a place rich with natural beauty, in reality, it was a monastery built in a desolate land with female-only disciples for ascetic practices. Well, that was how it used to be.

Now, the monastery’s roof and chapel are in ruins, the chairs are rotten, and the window glasses are either broken or dirty. There are no donations received because there are no houses nearby, and it is no different than being neglected, even though Uranos Principality is supposed to oversee it.

There was a girl there. A year ago, the old nun who used to guide and teach her passed away, and now the girl is running the monastery alone.

Eleni Galanis is a sixteen-year-old girl with golden hair and blue eyes inherited from her mother. Her face is too beautiful to be kept in the countryside, and her noble presence has not faded despite the poor black veil and tunic she wears as a nun. If asked, Eleni would respond, “Are you not thinking that I am one of the noble ladies?”

“Yes. My name is Eleni Uranos Galanis, the daughter of Uranos’ Duke. As you can tell from my surname, my mother was a princess from the neighboring country of Galanis. However, to atone for my mother’s suicide, I became a servant of God, and that is why I am here serving as a nun.”

Eleni doesn’t reveal anything further. Her mother’s dishonor by committing suicide, and the fact that she was sent to a convent as a form of punishment from her father due to her association with such dishonor, which is a taboo in religion on the continent. These things she has already lamented long ago.

Only she, living at a remote convent without anyone’s concern, would end her life that way. She had always been ready for it, knowing that there was no one to rely on in reality. She had forgotten the past that she used to long for, lost the future she was supposed to be enjoying, and was just living.

The strange fate of this young girl is about to take a turn.

Chapter 2: I left my childhood behind

The world is beautiful today, as well.

It’s been over half a year since I’ve interacted with anyone, so I suppose I am able to think so.

I used to live in Uranos Duke’s castle, a long time ago. Although I didn’t meet him often, my father was relatively kind, and my always-present mother, though somewhat ignorant of the world, was an elegant lady befitting of a duke’s wife.

My devout mother never failed to pray in the castle’s chapel. As a child, I found it boring but always followed her. After her prayer was finished, I asked her this question:

“Mother, why do you bother praying? Even if everyone prayed to stop the war that was about to start the other day, it still happened. Isn’t praying pointless?”

“Well, I will keep praying. Even if my prayers never come true and even if they are futile and senseless, I still believe they are not wasted.”

“I see. Haven’t you been deceived?”

“If that were the case, then wouldn’t everything have been pointless? That would be terribly sad. That is why we pray, so that we can have a hopeful world instead of a sad one.”

“I don’t really understand. If we don’t pray, it’s not like we become unhappy.”

“Yes, that’s right. How wonderful it would be if we didn’t have to pray in this world.”

Replied my mother, looking somewhere far away. Perhaps she was looking at her homeland beyond the mountains. She was probably worried about what had happened to Galanicia, which would have been involved in the war.

My mother always prayed and tried to protect me when my father’s heart started to drift away. That was the plan.

However, the day Galanicia fell into ruin, my mother threw herself off the castle wall and ended her life.

My mother’s heart was broken. The heart that had been held together by prayer, the heart that had been trying to protect her only daughter, was pushed into despair by the destruction of her homeland.

I know now that my mother repeatedly pleaded with my father to protect Galanicia, but he refused. At that time, I didn’t understand anything, but I learned later that my father had abandoned Galanicia to protect Uranos Principality. He used his queen’s homeland as a shield for his own country.

No matter how hard my mother tried, how many times she begged not to abandon her homeland, or how much she prayed for Galanicia, it didn’t matter.

Her prayers went unanswered. My father abandoned her.

Under my father’s command, I was sent to the remote monastery under the pretext of atoning for my mother’s dishonorable deeds of breaking a taboo. Since he had also neglected and abandoned me, he did not want anyone connected to Galanisia to be nearby. However, he could not kill me, so he sent me to a place out of sight. That’s where I am now.

In this desolate place, as a child, I cried and screamed. I lamented every day, asking why I had to be in such a place and begging for my mother’s return. The only person in the monastery was the strict Yorgia, a senior nun who raised me. Whenever I complained, I was punished, and I was even deprived of meals if I neglected prayers. At times, she even left me alone in a small hut in the forest used for practice.

But even so, Yorgia did not abandon me. She raised me as a nun, and even taught me academic skills.

As she approached death, she said to me, “You can live anywhere you want, whether you stay in this monastery or escape to a faraway land. Live as you please, for you have the ability to do so.”

I took care of Yorgia and buried her in the small graveyard of the monastery. Thanks to the passing travelers who helped, the burial could be carried out smoothly. I thought to myself that good things sometimes happen in life.

But from then on, nothing good happened. I barricaded myself in the deserted monastery until the food supplies ran out. When the stock became depleted, I would head to the village, get money from the church, and bring food back to the monastery to barricade myself again.

Surely, I would spend the rest of my life living in the monastery until I got old and died, just like Yorgia did.

No one came to bother me. There was no joy or sadness, just meaningless prayers to hold onto my life until the end.

The memories of my life as a princess were useless; they only served as a hindrance. I had disposed of my childhood memories.

I was just a nun in a remote area, and I would never live again as Eleni Uranos Galanis. That’s what I thought.

Styx Kingdom, the largest religious state on the continent.

The innermost part of the temple of the main god, Styx—the holy land, Arche of Apeiron.

The high priest who came out from there delivered a prophecy to the Styx King.

“Prince Athanasios Cypnimus, the most intelligent young man in the Styx Kingdom, shall marry the virtuous maiden Eleni Galanis, who resides in the Uranos Principality, as his wife.”

Upon receiving this prophecy, the devout Styx King immediately dispatched an envoy to Uranos Principality to search for Eleni Galanis, who was to become the wife of Prince Athanasios. Of course, the envoy came to Duke Uranos. And, of course, Duke Uranos had an idea. It was the name of the daughter he abandoned ten years ago.

As a mere principality, it was impossible to oppose the immense authority of the religious country, Styx Kingdom, which was the most powerful on the continent. However, looking at it from a different perspective, a member of the Uranos family, with an unattainable noble bloodline, would marry into the Styx royal family, creating a connection. If all went well, the future Styx King might have Uranos blood flowing through his veins.

There was no way to miss this opportunity. Duke Uranos detained the envoy and urgently called back Eleni from the remote monastery.

Chapter 3: What’s the story?

On a bright sunny morning, an unexpected visitor arrived at the monastery.

“Eleni-sama! I am Korya, sent by Duke Uranos for the first time to meet you.”

The young knight, who was shouting with a clear and distinct voice towards the door of the monastery, had a very serious expression, probably a splendid knight on a mission driven by a sense of duty. It reminded me of the handsome knights I used to see in the castle.

While I was pulling water from the well near the monastery, I called out to Korya from the side.

“That would be me, Eleni.”

“Oh, wow?! Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude!”

“No worries. Please wait a moment. I’m going to put down the buckets of water.”

I carried two water buckets and headed towards the back of the monastery, but Korya blocked my way.

“I’ll take that for you. Which way should I go?”

“No, I can’t let a knight like you do such a menial task.”

“What are you talking about? As a princess, Eleni-sama, I cannot let you do such trivial things.”

“I’m just a nun here.”

Ignoring Korya’s outstretched hand, I walked towards the back of the monastery.

It must have been about 10 years since I last met someone who treated me like a princess.

But I wonder what Korya’s business was. I can’t think of a reason why a knight would come all the way to this remote place on orders from my father, Duke Uranos. If he wanted to kill me, he wouldn’t bother to introduce himself, and if he treated me like a princess, did that mean he saw some value in me as a princess?

I didn’t want to think about it. Whatever the reason may be, interrupting my current peaceful life would not be a blessing to me. That’s all I could think of. After sluggishly pouring water from the bucket into the water bottle at the water source, I reluctantly went back to Korya. I was filled with a strong desire to postpone any bad news as much as possible.

Brushing off the hem of my tunic, I arrived in front of Korya, who was still standing in front of the monastery door.

“Could you tell me more about this?”

“Ah! Since this might take a while, let’s find a calm place to talk.”

“As you can see, the monastery is in ruins. It is, in fact, a women-only space, and there is no place to sit and calm down. My little cabin, which I use as a bedroom, would be better, but I can’t let gentlemen in.”

“Oh, I see! Sorry about that. I’ll tell you about it here!”

The restless Korya cleared his throat and spoke with a serious attitude.

“His Grace Uranos has ordered me to take his daughter, Eleni-sama, to the castle. Currently, envoys from the Styx Kingdom are staying there and they seem to be looking for Eleni-sama.”

“Envoys from the Styx Kingdom? Why me?”

I asked a very natural question. When was the last time I heard the name of the great Styx? It had been so long that it was an entirely different world for me. Why would they be looking for me then?

Korya answered me honestly.

“I heard the rumor that you’re going to be married to Prince Athanasios Cypnimus of the Styx Kingdom!”

——What? What are you talking about?

Under the blue sky, Korya the young knight rejoiced as if it were his own news.

“Eleni-sama is getting married into the Styx Kingdom! This is a happy event!”

“Hmm.”

Korya was perplexed by my lackluster response.

“What’s wrong? This is a great opportunity! The Styx Kingdom is the largest country on the continent, and is hailed as the most majestic and pure holy land with a sanctuary that is second to none. I’ve never been anywhere else besides here, but it’s nothing compared to the metropolis of the Uranos Principality.”

“What am I supposed to do once I get there?”

“What do you mean… um.”

Korya stumbled over his words. I pressed on.

“Why do I have to go?”

“Well, um, that…”

“Why would the Styx Kingdom even consider me as a wife to the Prince?”

“I-Is it because of an oracle?”

“An oracle?”

I was amazed.

So, the god who did not save my mother is now telling me what to do?

Korya, who could not possibly understand my true intentions, must have thought I was doubting the oracle. He probably thought I was questioning its validity.

Korya began to persuade me.

“But, Styx Kingdom is serious about this. They are searching for a woman who received a divine oracle, a maiden named Eleni Galanis from the Uranos Principality. I only heard about it up to that point, but His Grace, Duke Uranos, responded to their request. So…”

“Is that why I have to be handed over like a piece of property?”

My words silenced Korya.

I was abandoned by my father. He had abandoned my mother’s homeland, my mother, and me. And now, he’s trying to call me back for the most despicable reason – because a complete stranger, a prince from the Styx Kingdom, is searching for me. He has never shown any love or sympathy for his daughter. If he had any love in his heart, he should have come to see me a long time ago, apologized for his wrongs, mourned my mother’s death, and loved me as his daughter.

To my surprise, Duke Uranos chose to hand over his daughter like a tool. I couldn’t help feeling disappointed and angry.

But there was no point in taking my anger out on Korya, who was just running for errands. I knew that too well. So I suppressed my feelings and tried to calmly accept the proposal.

“I understand. Please wait a moment while I prepare. Do we have to walk to the castle?”

“Yes, I’m sorry. I wish I could have arranged a carriage, but the road is quite rough and I even had to turn back with my horse halfway through.”

“I see. Yes, it was a rough path.”

I remembered walking the very arduous path from the castle to the monastery when I was a child. Even if my legs gave out and I stumbled, I was forced to walk, and sometimes a servant had to carry me on their back, but it was still a terrible mountain road that made me nauseous even to think about.

Now I had to go back the other way. Even though it was different from back then, I didn’t feel excited about it.

I put my meager belongings in a bag and left the monastery with Korya, the young man waiting in front of the monastery’s door.

There was no sentimentality. There was nothing left to regret from my ten years spent in this monastery or from my childhood.

Chapter 4: Because there’s nothing left

Like a true gentleman and a knight, Korya escorted me.

As soon as we descended down the mountain trail, Korya bought a sturdy horse for us to ride. When I asked him why he didn’t buy two horses, including one for himself, he responded as follows:

“The road ahead is still rough. I will lead the horse while you ride it. Also, Eleni-sama, I don’t think you are used to riding horses. It’s not safe to let you handle the reins alone.”

I see, now that he explained it, it made sense. I haven’t ridden a horse before, and I don’t have the confidence to control the reins even if I was allowed to. Besides, if Korya were to pull the horse with me and our belongings instead, it would be easier to move forward since I am slow on foot.

“It’s been a while since I’ve ridden a horse like this. I was scolded a lot by my senior knights back then.”

“Is that so, Sir Korya?”

Please just call me Korya, Eleni-sama. There’s no need for formal language; I am just a knight, and you are a princess!”

“It seems that Korya likes romance.”

“Well, I am a knight after all!”

Korya blushed and laughed. He was a pure-hearted young man who admired the ideal of chivalry, and his presence was dazzling. It seemed that fate didn’t favor me, as even though there were good people like him in this country, I had never met them before. Or perhaps it was God’s will that a person like me, who lacked faith, should not meet a good young man like him.

The two of us and our horse hurried on our journey. It would take about a week from the monastery to the Duke Uranos’s castle, assuming nothing happened along the way.

During that time, Korya told me about the outside world, which I knew nothing about.

“Twenty years have passed since the Styx Kingdom established its absolute position by gaining recognition throughout the continent for its ownership of the Arche of Apeiron, the sanctuary where the main god Styx resides. However, wars continue to rage in various parts of the continent, and everywhere is exhausted from fighting. But the nobles won’t stop fighting. The Styx Kingdom has mediated many times, but its authority only gives rise to excuses from the worldly desires of the royal and noble families. It is believed that the Styx Kingdom will eventually use force to unify the continent, as they have grown tired of waiting.”

“I see… war is inevitable, isn’t it?”

“Most likely. While the Uranos Principality is currently far from war, there is no guarantee of peace. Therefore, we must establish connections with the powerful Styx Kingdom at all costs. That is what Duke Uranos desires.”

Gradually, Korya seemed to have realized what kind of person the Duke was, although he did not criticize him. It is not a good rumor anywhere in the world, in the past or in the present, for a parent to sell his or her daughter.

Or perhaps Korya had developed feelings for me. It’s not ideal, but it’s only for the duration of this journey. I decided not to hold back.

“I wonder what kind of person Prince Athanasios of the Styx Kingdom is.”

“According to rumors, he is a very intelligent person. He is the second prince of the current king of the Styx Kingdom, but that country does not operate under the dictatorship of a single king. Talented members of the royal family hold important positions and support the country from both secular and religious perspectives. That is why they can maintain such a strong and huge kingdom. It is safe to say that he will play a role in the future.”

“I understand that he is a very promising person, but it makes me feel like a mistake for someone like me to become his wife.”

“That is not true! Eleni-sama, please have more confidence!”

“How?”

“First of all, Eleni-sama is beautiful! Your elegance, grace, and above all, intelligence, make it clear that you are a princess. Your purity, which is not found in noble children, is truly the ideal princess!”

“Korya, do you really think so?”

“Yes!”

I remained calm. However, Korya seemed quite excited and was silent for a while, now feeling embarrassed.

“I’m sorry…”

“Don’t worry about it.”

Regardless of Korya’s foolishness, we continued our journey.

Chapter 5: To endure

The Duke of Uranos’s castle is located in the center of a rocky hill. It is said that the first Duke of Uranos, who came later, built the castle on the land where people used to offer prayers to the ancient gods.

Three hundred years have passed since then, and the town has expanded to some extent, taking on the appearance of an ancient capital. Due to the scarcity of flat land, people have to live in a small area, relying on each other. The old capital has been maintained through repeated renovations.

Led by Korya, I entered the Uranos castle smoothly. The castle where I used to live a long time ago hasn’t changed at all, but it’s not like it’s welcoming me. The knights who are regularly transferred to different locations are one thing, but the resident servants remember me. They still know my position as a disowned princess after my mother’s death. Their gaze contains a slight hint of contempt.

I regret coming here after all. Being showered with so many contemptuous glances is painful for me, who has lived in a remote area for a long time. Even though I knew it would happen, my heart naturally withers.

Korya dismounted me from the horse and entrusted my luggage to a servant, and saw me off to the castle gate.

“I was lucky to be able to protect Eleni-sama. It is the greatest honor for a knight.”

Korya, always serious, was pleased to have fulfilled his mission.

I thanked him.

“Thank you, Korya. If we meet again someday, I will fulfill my duties as a princess.”

“Your words are enough. Please do not push yourself too hard.”

As a knight, Korya had completed his job. I wondered how I could repay him.

Guided by the waiting servant, I walked through the castle, which was now a vague memory. I’m still in my nun’s clothes, but I’m not accused of any crime. It would be easier anyway if I were ordered to go to the Styx Kingdom at once.

I no longer had any expectations. I didn’t even want to call that man my father. My family was already gone.

On the upper floor of the castle, behind the respectfully open door, was the Duke of Uranos. He was sitting in his chair, leaning back with his elbows on the desk, and it was not a pleasant sight to behold. He was already over forty, overweight, and had a barrel-like belly.

“Eleni, it’s been a while.”

“Good day, Your Grace. I hope you are doing well.”

“Hmph, you’ve become quite stubborn.”

For some reason, Duke Uranos was in a bad mood. He probably didn’t even want to meet me. I silently criticized him, thinking that it would have been better to handle this through a letter or a messenger.

“As you may have heard, you have a marriage proposal from Prince Athanasios of the Styx Kingdom. There is no option to refuse. The preparations have been made, so leave immediately with the Styx Kingdom envoy.”

“Understood. I will do as you say.”

“Make sure you don’t make any mistakes. If you want, you can just stay in your room. You are just a decoration, used to deceive the public with the pretext of a divine oracle. I don’t know about the situation in the Styx Kingdom, but don’t get conceited.”

Despite the Duke’s insistence, I remained silent. Affirming would be annoying, and denying would be seen as talking back. The best thing to do was to let it go. My role was to behave like a gentle lady, and I had no desire or need to do anything else. Although I still regretted it in my heart, I had to come to terms with it.

Duke Uranos glanced at me and began to insult and make sarcastic remarks.

“You’ve become a gloomy girl. You’re nothing like your sister Paulina, her blood is different.”

I remained silent. Saying anything would only worsen the Duke’s mood and lead to further insults. I had to endure it, even if he spoke ill of my mother. I had to restrain myself, even if my fingertips were tense.

“Enough. Oh, Paulina wanted to see you. She’s never met you before, so she wants to see what kind of sister you are. Meet her later.”

“Understood.”

Although I couldn’t expect kindness or consideration from my half-sister, who was also the Duke’s daughter and whom I had never met, if I was told to meet her, I had to do it.

I left with a gloomy feeling.

Chapter 6: Endure

I was led to one of the guest rooms in the castle and instructed to wait there until the envoy from the Styx Kingdom came to pick me up.

I didn’t ask when they would come to get me. I hoped it would be as soon as possible, but who knows. I waited anxiously, and suddenly the door to the room opened, catching me off guard.

“Ara, you must be Eleni. Hmph, nice to meet you. I’m Paulina. I’m your half-sister.”

A woman with the appearance of a noblewoman, accompanied by several maids, appeared. She wore a long lavender dress adorned with glamorous lace, and her golden hair was neatly tied up with gold and silver hairpins, earrings, and a necklace that shone brightly. I had never touched precious metals before, so I didn’t know their value, but they looked expensive. Unfortunately, despite her good looks, her skin was so rough and damaged that it couldn’t be hidden by makeup.

Paulina, my half-sister, stood confidently with her chest puffed out. She probably never had anything in her life that didn’t go her way. She was loved by the Duke, and that allowed her to indulge in luxury.

To be honest, I don’t feel envy or jealousy. I even thought that being confined to the monastery was the right choice rather than becoming someone who embodies such arrogance.

I put my hand on the medal on my chest and bowed. It wasn’t a noblewoman’s bow, but rather a bow of a nun.

“It’s nice to meet you for the first time, Paulina-sama.”

“Not calling me ‘sister’ shows your sarcasm.”

“I apologize, that was not my intention.”

“It’s fine. I don’t intend to think of you as my sister either.”

Paulina was quite confrontational. There was no point in arguing with her, so I didn’t resist.

Paulina looked me up and down, frowning.

“Anyway…you look so poor. A nun? Do something about that mourning-like outfit.”

“I would love to, but I don’t have any other clothes.”

“Well, that’s a pitiful story for a lady who is supposed to get married. Are you trying to disgrace Otoo-sama?”

Despite knowing this, Paulina chuckled.

She must know about my situation. At the very least, she shouldn’t think I’m living a more luxurious life than she is. So saying something like that can only be interpreted as a sarcastic jab.

I try to hold back. If I stay quiet, she’ll eventually leave. If I make a fuss, it’ll only make things worse if the Duke finds out.

However, Paulina shows no signs of stopping.

“Or perhaps, in the Styx Kingdom, that outfit would be more appreciated. It would be better to say that you serve the gods. Oh, how clever of you. I’m impressed.”

Paulina smirks and smiles with satisfaction. She knows I won’t say anything back. It must be quite satisfying to say whatever comes to mind. The maids behind her are also enjoying themselves, basking in their mistress’s good mood and looking down on me. I’m just a toy to them. To them, I’m a toy given to them to play with. How vulgar. The secular world is truly ridiculous. Humans are truly ugly.

Paulina’s joy reaches its climax.

“Anyway, you have no home to return to. As a noble, if you cannot fulfill your duties, then you should spend your life in a land that is not worthy of your status, without any enjoyment. After all, as a prince of the Styx Kingdom, he can surround himself with as many women as he wants, other than his wife… Oh dear, how pitiful. You will not even be called to the bedroom, yet he is forced to call someone his wife.”

Paulina’s laughter echoes loudly.

I snap.

Chapter 7: For the first time in my life, I grit my teeth

I don’t know any men. Even when I was in the castle, I only saw knights from afar and never really had a conversation with them. Even at the monastery, as a nun, men were hesitant to talk to me actively. In a remote monastery where I never had any interaction with men or women, I spent ten years with the old nun Yorgia.

Even I, who had lived a life where nothing and no one mattered, understood that Paulina’s words were too rude. I understood that Paulina was trying to trap me, make fun of me, and tease me.

But I couldn’t overlook this. Paulina went too far. Her words were so hurtful that they ignited a dim but intense anger in my heart, even though I thought nothing in life mattered.

I realized that the words that came out of my own mouth felt colder than I had imagined.

“Paulina-sama.”

“What?”

“You don’t have to insult me. Let’s not listen to it.”

“Insulting you? That’s rude.”

“But if it’s about disparaging Prince Athanasios, I cannot tolerate it.”

Paulina’s expression changed. Despite being a sheltered noblewoman, she knew the power of the Styx Kingdom and the recklessness of openly disregarding the prince’s high and noble status.

But above all, she seemed unaware that it was impossible for a wife to not defend her blameless husband.

Paulina’s eyes were clearly swimming with tears, but she couldn’t stop the words that had already been spoken.

“A-Ara, it’s quite admirable of you to defend a man you’ve never even met.”

“Even if we haven’t met, Prince Athanasios is the one who will become my husband. Therefore, I must protect my husband’s honor. And as a noble lady, isn’t it shameful for you to speak so lightly and obscenely about intimate matters between men and women? As the daughter of Duke Uranos, shouldn’t you be ashamed?”

One by one, my words seemed to cut into Paulina’s pride like a knife, quietly and steadily.

The maid behind her turned pale, while Paulina’s face turned red. She had reached the peak of her anger, being insulted by someone who was supposed to be a toy that wouldn’t argue back, and especially having her dignity as a noble child questioned.

Finally, Paulina slapped me across the face with an open hand. She screamed as spit flew everywhere.

“Shut up, you mistake of a daughter! Otoo-sama was deceived by your mother who tried to win him over, and made a mistake! Hmph, in the end, it seems like you were born in vain without being able to win anyone’s favor!”

Without covering my cheek, I stared straight at Paulina. Strangely, my heart was calm and I realized that the woman in front of me was someone who was trying to harm me, my mother, and my husband’s honor. Therefore, Paulina was my enemy.

I calmed my heart and spoke up for the first time in my life.

“Shall I prove to you that it was not in vain?”

The maids grabbed Paulina’s arms and tried to pull her back.

Paulina left with a parting shot, screaming.

“If you can, go ahead and try! You’re such an annoying and disgusting girl! Get the hell out of here!”

She had come to see me on her own accord.

I swallowed those words and bowed, turning my face away.

Chapter 8: Waiting for Tomorrow

The news of my arrival at the castle had reached the envoy of the Styx Kingdom on the same day.

In the evening, the envoy of the Styx Kingdom visited me and was led to a formal reception room for paying respects and conveying important matters. The envoy was a woman, a high priestess of the Styx Temple who oversaw the priestesses. The middle-aged woman with black hair, who introduced herself as Panagiotis, wore a white robe with a brocade decoration and a golden Styx emblem the size of her palm around her neck.

“Princess Eleni Galanis, please forgive our sudden visit. We should have prepared many gifts and come to welcome you with the honor of our Styx Kingdom, but it has become a confidential matter. However, it is to urgently invite you to the Styx Kingdom. Please forgive us.”

Panagiotis bowed her head to me with a dignified manner accustomed to such formal occasions. I was confused, but as I was treated as a princess, I should behave in a manner that would not be disrespectful to the person who had treated me as such.

“Your Excellency, Panagiotis, I apologize for not having prepared to welcome you who have come from afar. Let’s get to the point. It shouldn’t be a long conversation.”

“As you say. Well then, Princess Eleni, as you may have already heard, I will explain it to you in order. Our Styx Kingdom worships the main god of the Oceanids religion, Styx, and owns the sacred domain, the Arche of Apeiron. Therefore, the king has been conducting a sacred and important government by frequently receiving divine revelations from the main god Styx. However, recently, a certain divine revelation was prophesied.”

Panagiotis’ words confirm what I had heard from Korya, making it a reality.

“The divine revelation goes like this: ‘Prince Athanasios Cypnimus, the most intelligent young man in the Styx Kingdom, shall marry the virtuous maiden Eleni Galanis, who resides in the Uranos Principality, as his wife.'”

As a high priest, Panagiotis solemnly spoke the words of the divine revelation with a clear voice.

There is no mistaking it. Since it is a divine revelation, there is no doubt about its content, and there is only one thing I need to confirm at this point.

“Does that mean it is undoubtedly referring to me?”

“Yes. There is no other maiden in the Uranos Principality who bears the name Eleni and the Galanis surname due to her Galanis bloodline. Prince Athanasios has already made preparations for the marriage. The Styx Kingdom will welcome your visit with open arms.”

It seems that there is no way to escape. Indeed, there is no other Eleni in the Uranos Principality with a mother from Galanis. If the other party, Prince Athanasios, has not refused, I cannot decline. However, I do not want to return to the monastery, and I have no choice but to accept, especially since I cannot refuse in front of my father.

However, before I could give my answer, Panagiotis changed the subject.

“By the way, I heard that Princess Eleni is a nun. Which god do you serve?”

“Oh, that’s…”

As the high priestess, she must be interested. Moreover, as the fiancée of the prince who received the oracle, she would want to know what kind of person I am.

There was no point in lying, so I answered honestly.

“The Goddess Lethe, who presides over forgetfulness. That’s why the monastery is located in a remote area and has been forgotten by everyone until now.”

I said it half-jokingly, but it was the truth. The Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, was not widely worshiped and was given to hermits for training. They lived in seclusion, praying, meditating, and making efforts to forget everything in the secular world. This kind of faith was just right for me, and it was also convenient for Uranos, who wanted to erase me from people’s memories.

However, Panagiotis looked serious when she heard this. I wondered if I had said something unpleasant and asked her.

“Um, is something wrong?”

“Oh, no. It’s just been a while since I heard the name of the Goddess Lethe. I see.”

Panagiotis nodded meaningfully. I didn’t need to be interested in things that I couldn’t know even if I wanted to know.

“Normally, if a nun were to marry, a ceremony of renunciation would be required. However, the royal family of the Styx Kingdom all hold positions as priests and there are no precepts in the faith of the main god Styx that prevent believers from getting married. Of course, if you are to serve at the Styx temple, you must change your beliefs to those of the main god Styx.”

“I think that’s okay. The Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, is free to believe in.”

“Yes, I’m relieved to hear that. Well then, leave the rest to me. I’ll arrange a carriage to the Styx Kingdom first thing in the morning, so please prepare yourself.”

I nodded vigorously. I could leave the Uranos Principality at any time now. That alone made me happy. If I could forget the unpleasant memories and walk the new path that was presented to me, I would be more than happy.

I returned to the guest room and eagerly awaited tomorrow like a child.

TL: Not sure if it’s a typo but “Panagiotis” is a male’s name.

For now, I’ll just consider “Panagiotis” a female the because reference of Styx————(Styx was the ancient Greek goddess of the underworld River Styx and the eldest of the Oceanids.)

Chapter 9: The High Priestess Panagiotis

The Styx Kingdom is recognized as the strongest and most sacred nation on the continent. When it comes to the temple of the main god of the Oceanids religion, Styx, which the Styx Kingdom worships, its authority is unparalleled, sometimes even making the king bow his head. That is why the high priests and priestesses who serve Styx in the temple are strictly disciplined in self-control and self-reliance, and never forget their pride in the golden mark of Styx on their chests.

Panagiotis, one of the leading high priestesses, did not doubt the oracle, but she was uneasy. After all, it was an unprecedented oracle that the prince of the Styx Kingdom should marry a girl from a small country called the Uranos Principality. Naturally, the Styx Kingdom was in an uproar, and although they managed to calm down on the surface, they had to find that girl as soon as possible and confirm who she was. Otherwise, they would not be able to calm down the restless people.

Panagiotis, who was entrusted with the mission of bringing back the girl of the oracle, immediately ran to the Uranos Principality. Normally, this would have been an ostentatious visit, but because of the urgency of the matter, the members of the team were modest: Panagiotis, three apprentice priestesses as attendants, and a bodyguard. At that point, anxiety was already mounting.

However, it was all for the sake of the wise and beloved Prince Athanasios, who was revered by the people of the Styx Kingdom and showered with respect. Although he had no other choice but to accept the oracle, he did so without hesitation, fulfilling his duty as a prince and preserving the authority of the main god, Styx. He would never do anything that went against the interests of the country.

Panagiotis also held Athanasios in high regard, and even if his older brother became king, it was already decided that he would become a key figure in the future of the Styx Kingdom. He was a person of such value.

That’s why Panagiotis had strongly decided to assess Eleni Galanis.

However, when she came to the Uranos Principality and heard about Eleni Galanis from Duke Uranos, it was different from what she had imagined.

First of all, it was within the expected range that she was a princess. If a commoner or a villager was the prince’s partner, even if it was allowed by the gods, the people’s hearts would not accept it. Fortunately, she was a princess of the Uranos Principality. However, she never imagined that she would be a nun.

Eleni Galanis became a nun from a young age. At that point, Panagiotis had already guessed that Eleni had been forced to become a nun due to the situation in the Uranos Principality. As a politically motivated move, the princess was kept away from the Duke of Uranos, and there was already a suspicious odor surrounding the situation. Moreover, with the surname Galanis, which was related to the neighboring fallen country of Galanisia, it was unlikely that Eleni was receiving good treatment in the Uranos Principality.

In other words, Styx Kingdom and Panagiotis may have reached out to Eleni for help. If Eleni was indeed in an unfortunate situation, the oracle could be interpreted as follows:

“The great god Styx has commanded us to rescue the unfortunate oracle maiden Eleni. The generous Styx Kingdom accepts Prince Athanasios to marry the oracle maiden Eleni. As a result, Styx Kingdom will——.”

The rest of the story can be created in any way possible. In any case, it is not a bad story for Styx Kingdom. It is an excellent material to enhance their reputation both in the religious and secular worlds. Therefore, the oracle was designed to benefit Styx Kingdom.

Well, that’s about the plan. Panagiotis decided to meet Eleni, who was said to be staying at a remote monastery and would take a week to reach the Uranos Castle. While waiting for her, she visited the temples of Uranos Principality. Finally, one week later in the evening, Panagiotis was granted an audience with Eleni.

What kind of girl is she?——Panagiotis thought this as soon as she saw Eleni.

She was a beautiful maiden with a noble and above all, pure atmosphere, dressed like a princess and a nun. In Styx Kingdom, extravagance was not appreciated. Eleni, who did not lose her girlishness despite her simple nun’s attire and no makeup, left a good impression on Panagiotis.

This is a good encounter. Panagiotis, who had begun to trust the oracle completely, asked Eleni with enthusiasm.

“By the way, I heard that Princess Eleni is a nun. Which god do you serve?”

“Oh, that’s… The Goddess Lethe, who presides over forgetfulness. That’s why the monastery is located in a remote area and has been forgotten by everyone until now.,” Eleni answered casually.

She had no idea how much of an impact it had on Panagiotis.

Perhaps Panagiotis should have expected that Eleni was a nun, not a priestess. Although they both serve the gods, priestesses and nuns are different. Priestesses serve in the temple to hear the voice of the gods, while nuns incorporate foreign cultures and practice strict discipline and training for themselves and the gods. It is impossible to compare which one appears more devout to a religious state. Moreover, the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, is the daughter of the main god Styx and also the patron saint of hermit training.

There may be only one high-ranking young woman who serves as a nun to such an existence in the entire Styx Kingdom.

Panagiotis deeply sympathized with Eleni and at the same time felt impressed by her. She thought that this girl would never deceive the prince or behave like a typical intrusive queen. Panagiotis gave her a perfect score in her inner report card.

Chapter 10: Goodness

Moving to the Styx Kingdom.

In a room of the Styx Royal Castle, which is as big as a mountain and the tallest building on earth, looking up at the Arche of Apeiron, the sanctuary of Styx floating in the sky, a voice of reprimand echoed.

“You’re late. Do you behave like this even on the battlefield? Or is it because you know where you are?”

The young man sitting on the chair scolded the young general who stood still and blushed. The general, who wore a military uniform with several medals despite his youth, was scolded by the young man wearing a white-based high-collared shirt with gold decorations and a mantle with tassels. The young man’s cunning gaze and freezing beauty were enough to make the other person’s blood run cold, showing his position and authority more than his clothing.

“General Stavros, it seems that the Hemerapolis and Amphitrite war that you mediated is not over yet?”

“I’m sorry, Prince Athanasios. I have failed to fulfill my responsibility.”

“Indeed. It’s my fault for leaving you in charge.”

“I am truly sorry.”

Stavros, the general, is not incompetent. However, what is the point if he cannot produce results or fulfill his duties? Athanasios, the young man who was called by name, was seething with anger.

“The war between the two countries has been going on for too long and too widely. That’s why it was a perfect opportunity for peace negotiations. If the moment both countries showed a willingness to sit at the negotiating table, but failed to achieve results… the impact on the entire continent in the future would be immeasurable. I believed that you, sir, could seize practical benefits rather than the honor of the Styx Kingdom.”

Athanasios’ disappointment was more than enough to be conveyed to Stavros. Stavros was a relatively young general, who had risen to fame as a military genius. However, there is always someone above. As the governor in charge of diplomacy and politics for the Styx Kingdom, Athanasios, despite being only twenty years old, has shown absolute skill. He probably knows the movements of various countries on the continent. He took action based on that, but he didn’t anticipate Stavros’ mistake.

So, will Athanasios hold Stavros responsible? No, he won’t.

“You may step back. Prepare to leave for your next assignment. You will leave soon.”

“Understood… However, Your Highness, could you please give me a chance to redeem myself?”

“Yes, I will. Of course, you hold that position because you want it.”

“And you say?”

“I won’t let anyone say that the young general lacks ambition. The next battlefield is where you can fully demonstrate your talent, not the boring task of mediation. Go and grab as much glory as you can.”

Athanasios urged Stavros on with these words. The cold expression he had just a moment ago disappeared, and he now had a fierce and aggressive look on his face.

Stavros understood his intention and placed his hand on his chest, bowing deeply.

“Yes! I will definitely achieve remarkable results!”

Clearly, Stavros had jumped at the opportunity to redeem himself. He left Athanasios’ office with great momentum.

Ioel, Athanasios’ secretary, who was waiting in the next room, came in. Ioel, a young man who was not much younger than him, pushed up his glasses and looked at the door through which Stavros had just left.

“General Stavros should take politics a bit more seriously.”

“That’s true. However, we can’t just keep assigning him tasks he’s not suited for. Let’s consider this necessary expense for now.”

“Understood. Who should we appoint as the successor?”

“Let’s choose General Sophocles. That wise man will take care of things properly.”

“Understood. I’ll issue the summons right away.”

Ioel wrote down the matter in his notebook and turned on his heel.

Then, as if he had just remembered, Athanasios muttered, “By the way, what happened with that oracle? Did they find the girl named Eleni in the end?”

Ioel turned around. “Panagiotis, the high priestess herself, went to the Uranos Principality. Are you still concerned?”

“Of course. Even I don’t want to marry a woman I don’t like, even if it’s just a formality. It’s frustrating not to have the opportunity to choose, no matter what the oracle of Styx says.”

For the Styx Kingdom, and for Athanasios, the sudden news that he would have to choose a wife through an oracle was unexpected. Athanasios had not even considered marriage yet and would have preferred to postpone it if possible. However, if he delayed too long, it could become a complicated matter. Therefore, he was trying to secure Eleni’s safety by dispatching the high priestess as soon as possible. For example, a noble from another country who heard about the oracle might try to make a move on Eleni first, or force an adoption and use her as a hostage to demand something from the Styx Kingdom. If that happened, it could become a spark for war, so they were in a hurry to establish a security system around Eleni.

“To begin with, I believe in the oracle of Styx, but I don’t necessarily trust the priests or priestesses. I want to make them change their arrogant attitude, but this oracle might only make them more conceited. That’s why I don’t want it to succeed.”

“But I also feel sorry for Eleni, the girl who is being pushed around like this.”

“…You’re right. It’s not just about me.”

Athanasios closed his mouth, which had been spitting out flames, and felt ashamed of his selfishness.

Getting angry at being manipulated by the oracle won’t solve anything.

“At least we should prepare a welcome.”

“Then, we’ll make arrangements as well. Leave it to me.”

“Oh, please. I can’t think of anything that would please a woman, so please do something about it.”

Athanasios left everything to Ioel and returned to his political affairs. He didn’t have high expectations or anxieties about Eleni, but he didn’t have the idea of being rude to her either. This young man’s kindness is what makes him not like a typical royal.

Chapter 11: I’m going to get depressed

Inside the carriage bound for the Styx Kingdom, I asked Panagiota a few questions.

“What kind of person is Prince Athanasios? I’ve lived in a remote area for so long that I haven’t even heard any rumors about him.”

Panagiota nodded as if to say that was to be expected.

“It’s understandable that you’re worried. However, Prince Athanasios is a truly splendid person. Despite being only twenty years old, he has gained fame as a regent who handles the country’s political and diplomatic affairs. His beauty has been praised by everyone since he was young, and he has a noble and fair personality, although he tends to be a bit harsh.”

“Well… he really is a wonderful person, isn’t he?”

It’s just that I feel sorry that someone like me has to marry him, even if it’s because of the oracle.

Prince Athanasios probably won’t like me no matter what he says. He may treat me as his formal wife, but I don’t think I’ll receive his favor. As a prince, he can choose any woman he wants, and he must have high standards and expectations.

With a shabby appearance and a social status no higher than that of a princess at best, and being someone who had hardly interacted with people, anyone would be unsure of how to treat such a person.

Thinking that way, I too began to feel down.

“Does the Prince believe in the oracle?”

I wanted to say that I didn’t believe in it, but I held back. I couldn’t doubt the prophecy of the gods in front of the high priest.

However, it would be okay to ask what Athanasios Prince thinks.

Panagiota answered without hesitation.

“Of course, the Prince… well.”

“What is it?”

“This is just between us, but… we at Styx Temple are in conflict with the Prince.”

I let out a surprised voice. While I was wondering what she was talking about, Panagiota continued.

“The Prince holds an important position in the Styx Kingdom. He dislikes interfering with the politics commanded by the oracle of Styx Temple. Of course, we understand that, but the words of the main god Styx are absolute. We cannot fail to convey them. We may seem calm on the surface, but we inevitably have conflicts.”

“I see.”

I suddenly became anxious. If Panagiota’s words were true, Prince Athanasios did not like the prophecy. He was probably angry that even his marriage partner had been decided for him. He might think of me as a woman forced into marriage because of the prophecy and distance himself from me.

The future seemed very uncertain. It was painful even though I knew it.

I didn’t want to go to the Styx Kingdom if that’s the case, but the carriage mercilessly headed towards it.

Chapter 12: Extreme confusion

When I heard that all the buildings that stretched like mountains were the Styx Royal Capital, I was truly amazed.

Looking up at the Styx Temple floating in the sky and the Arche of Apeiron, I was stunned by the grandeur of the white marble castle and overwhelmed by the orderly streets of the capital that seemed to go on forever as I rode in a carriage. My expectation that a religious state with sacred temples would be boring was completely wrong.

“The capital welcomes pilgrims and merchants from all countries. We provide them with a comfortable living environment and entertainment, and we also encourage them to renew their faith in the main god, Styx.”

In other words, the largest city on the continent is a very enjoyable place.

Despite being overwhelmed by the splendor, I was taken straight to the Styx Royal Castle. I was guided through the castle in my nun’s habit, and every person I passed by looked at me with curiosity. Nuns don’t usually go out, so I must have been a rare sight.

Eventually, I entered a spacious room and was told it was the reception room, which surprised me once again. The room was as big as the grand hall in Duke Uranos’s castle, with a ceiling painting of the main god Styx, windows that seemed to take up the entire wall, and a few sofas that could seat several people. The tea cups on the gold ivy-covered table were made of transparent white porcelain. I couldn’t count how many times I had been overwhelmed by the fact that this might still be considered modest, as it was the country’s most powerful nation on the continent.

As soon as I was led into the reception room, there was a knock on the door. For a moment, I hesitated whether to answer, but I gathered my courage.

“Please come in.”

In response to my voice, the door opened.

The man who entered had navy blue hair and bright brown eyes. He was wearing a white high-collared shirt and a mantle with gold decorations and tassels. Above all, he was breathtakingly beautiful. I couldn’t take my eyes off him until he sat elegantly on the sofa in front of me, looking down with a cold impression.

He was none other than Athanasios Cypnimus, the prince of the Styx Kingdom. There was no mistake, he was the man who would become my husband.

I managed to come up with the idea that I should greet him and opened my mouth.

“Nice to meet you, Your Highness. My name is Eleni Galanis.”

I managed to say it without stumbling. I looked up at Prince Athanasios.

The prince maintained his majestic posture and said succinctly, “I’m Athanasios. Eleni.”

“Yes.”

“Let’s take a bath. Cleanse yourself first.”

Despite having just sat down, Prince Athanasios stood up.

——Wait, what? A bath?

“Yes?”

I was utterly confused.

“Didn’t you hear me? As a married couple, we should take a bath together. Let’s go.”

Prince Athanasios grabbed my hand and pulled me along.

This was turning out to be quite an unexpected situation.

Chapter 13: There was no time to be ashamed

I didn’t have time to feel embarrassed.

In the changing room in front of the large bath, I was surrounded by Prince Athanasios and the maids, stripped of all my clothes and left with only a tunic for bathing. By the way, Prince Athanasios had only his underwear on, and although he didn’t seem to have trained much, he had a well-proportioned and slender body.

In the Uranos Principality, there was no custom of taking baths. I had never exposed my skin to the eyes of others, and I was living in a remote monastery. I couldn’t afford to be embarrassed anymore.

“Ugh, why is this happening?”

I let out a sigh of weakness. Prince Athanasios didn’t miss it.

“What’s the matter? We’re going to the temple now. Taking a bath is a matter of course.”

“I-I see.”

“That’s right. Since you’re not used to it, I’ll help you.”

“W-Would the prince himself do that? That’s too much.”

“What are you talking about? Would I let anyone else see my wife naked?”

Prince Athanasios said it with dignity.

It seemed that in Prince Athanasios’ mind, I was already his wife.

Feeling both happy and embarrassed, I was led to the large bathhouse. It was located in a high position in the royal castle, with an unobstructed view of the sky above. Steam rose and mixed with the clouds. The bathtub was as big as a room, with rows of hot water.

First, I dipped my feet into the small bathtub for cleaning, located near the entrance. I was impressed by the mechanism that constantly circulated fresh hot water, keeping it warm and clean. I sat on the edge and Athanasios knelt on the floor behind me.

“Stay still while I wash your hair.”

I nodded silently. However, my hair had grown quite long. It was as long as my waist, and it creaked every time Athanasios touched it. I had neglected it and hadn’t eaten enough nutritious food.

“Eleni, have you ever taken care of your hair before?”

“I’m sorry, such luxury was not allowed.”

“Is it a luxury for a woman to take care of her hair? Oh, I see, you were a nun.”

“Yes, I am a nun serving the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe.”

The monastery usually emphasizes simplicity and frugality, but the one serving the Goddess Lethe takes it to the extreme. They live on a limited amount of food, clothing, and shelter, and devote themselves to their training, avoiding contact with others as much as possible. It was impossible for me to grow properly in such an environment during my formative years.

My hair was messy, my skin was not rough but pale, and I had no feminine curves. Even if a man touched me, it wouldn’t be enjoyable. It wasn’t enjoyable for me either. But there was nothing I could do about it.

“What a waste of your beautiful golden hair. Take care of it properly from now on.”

“Yes…I understand.”

“How old are you?”

“I am sixteen.”

“Sixteen? With this?”

“Yes.”

“I thought you were twelve or thirteen…Are you eating properly? Oh, right, I see… You should eat as much as you want from now on.”

“Thank you very much.”

As we chatted, my hair was lathered with foam and the scent of flowers wafted down. Prince Athanasios’s fingertips were massaging my scalp, and the warm water made me feel good. At least, I wasn’t so nervous that my body was stiff. My heart was another matter.

“Eleni, is there any itchy spot?”

“No, there isn’t. It feels really good.”

“I see. Can you wash your body yourself? I’ll wash your back for you.”

“You don’t have to go that far.”

“Do you not want me to? I want to do it.”

“W-Well, in that case, can I ask you to wash my back?”

“Sure, I understand. You’re so skinny that I’m worried you won’t be able to wash yourself properly, especially your back.”

It was my first time being touched by a man even with my tunic on during a bath. However, Prince Athanasios moved the sponge with very gentle hands. I desperately rubbed my body with the soap foam, which was as fluffy as meringue, using the sponge. I wasn’t used to it since I usually just wiped myself with a cloth soaked in water, so I followed Prince Athanasios’s lead and washed to remove the dirt.

However, he said.

“You’re taking too long. Just turn this way.”

“Huh?”

“It’s okay. You probably didn’t touch the foam anyway.”

Prince Athanasios, who had lost his patience, skillfully spun me around without asking and washed me all over as if polishing my body. He didn’t touch the important parts, so I managed to protect them somehow.

After being thoroughly washed by Prince Athanasios and having my hair lightly tied up, I was thrown into a huge bathtub and soaked in hot water. While struggling to produce large bubbles in the tunic for bathing, Prince Athanasios was a little far away.

“I’ll wash up too, so wait. If it gets too hot, get out.”

“Yes.”

As instructed, I finally took a breath and looked up at the sky.

Outside, only the Styx Temple, which was even higher up, could be seen in the distance. It was as if I was in the sky. The steam rose high, and the occasional breeze that came in was cool. It was completely beyond my memory that I was just on the other side of this clear blue sky a few days ago.

The soap had a sweet smell, like the nectar of flowers, and it wafted from my hair. I had never smelled anything like it before. It reminded me of when my mother used to wear perfume, but that was a distant memory that I was trying to forget. I wanted to forget everything. The Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, no matter how much I prayed, wouldn’t let me forget completely.

Oh, how ugly the world is. I hate the mundane world. I didn’t want to interact with anyone.

However, this moment feels like heaven. Athanasios, the prince, is taking care of me, treating me gently and bathing me, even though he’s a bit forceful. Isn’t that enough? I could just live here and repay his kindness with my role as Athanasios’ wife. It doesn’t matter if I’m not his real wife. Athanasios won’t treat me roughly, so I can relax.

Okay, let’s do that. Then, I might be able to do it too. Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, I never really had faith in you, but I’ll make everything disappear cleanly here. Please forgive me.

As I was thinking about such things, Prince Athanasios came to my side. He was soaking in the bathtub, and his beautiful profile was very close to my face.

“How are you feeling? Is it not too hot?”

“No, it’s just right.”

“The main god Styx likes cleanliness, and it is recommended for believers to take a bath every day. Anyway, be sure to take a bath when you go to the temple.”

“Yes, I understand. Um, Prince Athanasios…”

“Just call me Thanasios. No need for ‘Prince’.”

“Then… Thanasios-sama…”

I let out a little bit of my overflowing anxiety.

“You didn’t want to marry someone like me, did you?”

I knew it was pointless to ask. Anyone would hate the idea of marrying someone they didn’t like. Even among the nobility, arranged marriages were made with someone of similar status and common understanding. But in my case, I was a princess who had become a nun, and he was a prince of a great nation. Naturally, there was no way Thanasios would have any desire to marry me.

Still, I couldn’t suppress my anxiety. I couldn’t help but speak out. Maybe I wanted to be denied, to hear that it was true. Maybe I was waiting for those words because it would be easier to hear them.

However, Thanasios didn’t use those words.

“Do you agree to suddenly become a couple with a complete stranger you didn’t even know the name or face of until yesterday?”

“No.”

“That’s right. First, nothing can start without knowing each other. Whether it’s hating you or falling in love with you, everything starts from there.”

I looked at Thanasios. His beautiful profile, bright brown eyes looking up at the sky, didn’t seem to be unhappy now.

Whether he hated me or not, just hearing him say that made me feel relieved.

Thanasios suddenly turned to me and gave me some instructions.

“And make sure you eat plenty of meat. Your complexion is too pale.”

“Y-Yes.”

“Take care of your hair and skin every day, and get plenty of rest. As for marriage or a wife, let’s think about that later. I don’t want to be accused of having a thing for young girls.”

In other words, Thanasios said this.

“Make sure you grow up to be a proper lady, okay?”

From Thanasios’s perspective, it seemed that I had not grown up to be a proper sixteen-year-old lady.

I could only answer with a faint “yes” in response.

Chapter 14: The oracle is in line

‘Regardless of her facial features, she looked poor.’

That was Athanasios’ first impression of Eleni. Her face was so beautiful that it made him feel pity for her. Athanasios felt dizzy at the ridiculous reality that such a girl was suddenly presented to him as a divine oracle without any explanation.

“It’s too pitiful…”

Athanasios muttered to himself. He refrained from saying it out loud due to his pride and common sense as a member of the royal family.

It was said that Eleni, despite being a princess of the Uranos Principality, was forced to become a nun at the age of six after her mother committed suicide. She had lived in poverty for ten years in a remote monastery, and was then summoned to the Styx Kingdom because of the divine oracle.

Athanasios even wondered if Eleni’s father, the Uranos Prince, was a heartless monster with a human face. It was not just about abuse; despite being of marriageable age, her body was small and there was no extra fat on her body, hidden under the nun’s tunic. Looking at her neck and wrists, there was only the bare minimum of flesh, consisting of bones and skin, just enough to look presentable. This made it seem as if she had been abducted like a slave.

Upon seeing Eleni and hearing her life story, Athanasios felt a fire ignite within him. Before thinking about her as a potential wife, he realized that she needed to be properly taken care of and raised. He needed to create a reason to take care of her, even if it was just in name only, by getting engaged and taking care of her.

Once he made up his mind, Athanasios acted quickly. He made an excuse to go to the Styx Temple for the engagement ceremony and decided to give Eleni a bath. The formal wedding ceremony was still far off, as it would be a national event, so they needed to complete the engagement ceremony on paper and in their vows.

Athanasios quickly undressed Eleni and put on a tunic for her to wear in the bath. As he saw her body, he felt sorry for her. Her body was so thin that it seemed like her bones would break if he touched her back, and her stomach felt like he was touching her organs. Trying to hide his guilt, Athanasios took her to the large bathhouse. He washed her long, golden hair with plenty of shampoo, trying to untangle it gently. Although it was not something a prince of a great nation should do, Athanasios remembered taking care of his large dog in the past, washing it with the caretaker in the bathhouse. He felt like he was doing the same thing, washing a human body, especially that of a lady, without feeling any sense of discomfort.

Although Eleni was not used to bathing, Athanasios had her wash her body, but he had trouble doing it, so he lent her a hand. He would never do anything inappropriate, but he did it for Eleni’s sake. Athanasios was careful not to touch any part of her body that he shouldn’t, and managed to finish washing her body somehow.

Only then did Eleni’s face turn red. Perhaps she was a little less nervous now. Athanasios quickly got back to her side, worried. He got into the bathtub and washed his body quickly. If he left Eleni alone for too long, she might get dizzy and faint.

Athanasios couldn’t help but feel uneasy. He returned to Eleni’s side quickly. He got into the bathtub and sat next to her, admiring her. She had a beauty that would shine if polished, with her golden hair and blue eyes. She was much more beautiful than anyone else. It was foolish to think that she had been neglected until now, despite having such potential. He didn’t mean to be conceited, but it was fair to say that Eleni had been rescued.

Now, what should he do for Eleni?

First, he would arrange her engagement, and make sure she had plenty of food, sleep, and a proper upbringing as a sixteen-year-old girl. After that, they could discuss what to do next, as they were following the divine oracle.

Chapter 15: Climbing the Stairs

I got out of the bath and was surrounded by maids who dried my whole body with a towel in no time, from the tips of my toes to the top of my head. I put on new underwear, a cotton blouse and culottes, a thin silk wrap skirt, and a white linen robe with gold decorations that had been prepared for me without my noticing. However, everything was for adult women and too big for me. The maids hurriedly brought a belt and solved the problem of the waist size and the length of the wrap skirt.

Thanasios, who had already finished changing, looked at me and said, “Listen, Eleni. Today, we will declare our engagement before the main god Styx and become legally married on paper. The wedding ceremony will be held at a later date, which will be the official day we become husband and wife.”

“Then, I will report my oath to the main god Styx at the Lethe Temple before that day.”

“Yes, do that. I think you understand, but you are my wife and the prince’s consort. You must behave in a way that is not unworthy of that status.”

I had no choice but to nod. I had to be careful with my actions so as not to incur Thanasios’s anger.

I was getting nervous. Heading towards the engagement only amplified my anxiety.

Then, Thanasios reached out his hand in front of me.

“Let’s go. Don’t hesitate, or rather, let’s hold hands like a married couple.”

“…Y-Yes.”

I took Thanasios’ hand. It was a beautiful hand, but I noticed a pen mark on his index finger and palm. It was proof that he had been working hard on political affairs. Come to think of it, the hand of the old nun Yorgia, who raised me, also had a pen mark. She used to say that she made many copies and collected books to read in the monastery.

Thanasios’ left hand and my right hand were held together, and our still slightly warm hands were sticking together, making me feel embarrassed. Thanasios was treating me as his wife much more than I had expected. Perhaps, men are supposed to treat their wives kindly, but the husbands(men) I had seen so far didn’t do that.

Thinking about it, I realized that I didn’t know much about marriage. The couples I had seen so far seemed to be anything but normal, so it was even more so.

As I pondered, I found myself on the covered walkway between the royal castle and the Styx Temple. A wide stone staircase floated in the sky, with clouds visible directly below. We were already at a very high place, and the stairs continued all the way to the back of the Styx Temple and the Arche of Apeiron, a sanctuary floating in the sky. How many tens or hundreds of steps were there?

As I stood there in amazement, wondering if we were going to climb all the way up on foot, Thanasios seemed to read my mind and said, “You’ll see that the stairs don’t go up that much.”

“What do you mean?”

“This.”

Thanasios took out the golden Styx emblem from his pocket.

“This is a sacred object that only the Styx royal family, high priest, and priestess can possess, which allows us to shortcut the stairs.”

“Oh, Panagiota, the high priestess, also had it around her neck.”

“Today, I’m the only one who has it, so let’s hold hands and go.”

And so, Thanasios took my hand and we began to climb the stairs step by step.

Or so I thought.

“Huh? What’s that?”

When I stepped onto the third step, my right foot didn’t touch the step.

I landed on the cobblestone with my right foot. As Thanasios led me forward, I looked up and saw a completely different view from before.

A lawn spread out before me, as far as the eye could see. However, the ground was spherical, and people were walking on the grass ceiling that should have been the sky. Between where I stood and the grass ceiling, there was a small sun-like object emitting white light, surrounded by several streams of water.

It was a fantastic and mysterious sight. Once again, I was taken aback and stared up in awe.

Thanasios laughed.

“It’s normal to react like that the first time you come here. I was the same way.”

“This way,” Thanasios said, taking my hand and leading me towards a stone building that was visible ahead.

There were several pillars and a waterway surrounding them, and in the back, I could see an altar. It was simple, with only marble lying horizontally and a single gold-trimmed mat and cup on top. The main god, Styx, does not like decorations. The goddess of the great river gives oaths and the water of immortality, and sends human souls to the underworld. Because it is closely related to the fear of death, various interpretations have been made.

“The main god, Styx, is not supposed to be concerned with human affairs. However, her three thousand sisters and eight children govern everything related to humans. That’s why Styx, who rules over them, is considered the main god.”

“Yes, I’ve heard that story before. The Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, is extreme, but the Oceanids religion tends to be more austere and frugal, closer to the main god Styx.”

“Well, overdoing it is not good, but…”

Thanasios seemed to want to say something, but he cleared his throat and changed the subject.

“What I mean is, you don’t have to go through complicated rituals with the main god Styx. You just need to declare that you’re married in front of the altar. That’s all.”

“Simple and straightforward. I think that’s good.”

“I agree. It’s great that our preferences match.”

Thanasios looked happy, and so did I. We found a small common ground between us, and that’s something to be happy about.

There was nothing to stop us from reaching the altar. The priestesses standing between the pillars bowed their heads, and the elderly female high priest was standing next to the altar.

Thanasios called out to the high priest.

“I have come to make the oath of engagement. Let’s get it done quickly.”

“Very well. Please proceed.”

“Yes.”

Thanasios took a deep breath and spoke the words of the oath clearly towards the altar.

“As per the oracle of the god Styx, I take Eleni as my wife. That’s all.”

Thanasios sent a glance towards me. He must be telling me to do the same. I repeated Thanasios’ words exactly as he said them.

“As per the oracle of the god Styx, I take Thanasios as my husband.”

Nothing happened, and the white sun at the zenith continued to shine. The streams of water flowed as usual.

That’s it. Thanasios turned on his heel next to me. I tried to follow him.

At that moment, I suddenly felt dizzy and lost consciousness.

Chapter 16: The Hands of Prayer

By the side of a big river.

Something was strange. Anemones and daffodils were blooming together. There were also roses. The lawn was receiving the morning sunlight and the trees were dyed red with dew.

As I was bewildered by the scenery that ignored the season in my field of vision, someone called out to me.

“Sorry, I called you out a bit forcefully.”

When I turned around, there was a woman with long silver hair. She was wearing a loose robe like the ancient people and had a mysterious atmosphere.

The woman smiled brightly.

“Eleni, congratulations on your marriage first. Well, I told you to do it.”

“You did?”

“Yes, it’s me, Styx. I am one of the gods you worship.”

Styx puffed out her chest with a childish air, but she looked like an adult woman. And above all, if her self-introduction was true, she would be the main god of the Oceanids religion.

In such a strange scenery, if a person suddenly appeared, it would be better to believe them. Even I, who had no faith, couldn’t help but accept that the woman in front of me was the main god Styx.

Perhaps sensing my confusion, Styx continued speaking.

“Ahem. I called you here because I have an important matter to discuss. Eleni, you’re going to become one of us, right? You converted to our faith from Lethe.”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

“So, here’s the thing. I want you to become my priestess.”

Styx closed one eye and winked at me mischievously. She was a playful goddess. Seeing me stunned, Styx quickly added an explanation.

“Oh, don’t worry. I’ll make sure to give you divine guidance at the temple. You might wonder why I’m asking you, but there’s a reason for it.”

“I see. May I ask what that reason is?”

“I give the most blessings to Athanasios. He’s handsome, virtuous, kind, and has no flaws as a prince. He’s also deeply faithful. I’m not interested in human countries, but I’ll support him with all my might as long as he’s there.”

Styx’s free-spiritedness stood out more than her authority as a main god, but that’s what being a goddess is all about. They become obsessed with a single human and create a hero like the protagonist of an epic tale. Their capriciousness is what makes them gods, and even in times of war and chaos, they fulfill their role of guiding humans. Well, the goddess I served, Lethe, didn’t do that kind of thing, but let’s leave that aside.

“So, my dear. If you, a pure and devout priestess, become Athanasios’ wife, his foundation will be solid! Isn’t it a good idea?”

There are many things to consider, but I agree with that.

“Certainly, if it’s for Thanasios-sama’s sake, I would like to receive the blessing of the main god Styx.”

“That’s right. It’s also to make you more accepted in this country, and above all, he will love you properly. I guarantee it.”

In the first place, I received a divine oracle about it, and Styx is in a good mood with a smile. Apparently, Styx is blessing me and Thanasios being together.

That’s good. That’s fine.

But the truth is, I don’t really believe in gods. No, I hate the heart of believing in and praying to gods.

So I had to ask.

“Main god Styx. I have something I want to ask you.”

“Why didn’t I listen to my mother’s prayers?”

As if reading my mind, Styx was one step ahead.

Her gaze darkened. The innocence from earlier disappeared, and her voice became calm.

“Countless prayers, wishes, and faith may seek something. However, the gods are not all-knowing and all-powerful enough to answer them all. Your father’s god and your mother’s god fought, and your mother’s god lost. That alone greatly influenced your life and caused you suffering.”

Styx said calmly. As expected, she was a god. She knew many things, including about my parents. Things that I couldn’t know—and things that others wouldn’t understand. With her power, Styx knew.

I believed Styx’s words.

“So… does that mean my mother was indirectly killed by my father?”

“That’s right. Now, Eleni, I have a question for you. Do you want revenge? If you do, I will give you my protection. As my priestess, I favor you.”

There was no need to hesitate or doubt. I didn’t even need to hold back.

I answered immediately.

“Please. I don’t mind the suffering I’ve endured, but I cannot forgive the despair and death that my mother, as a wife, was given by my father.”

For my mother. My father killed my mother, who was praying but her prayers went unanswered. Even if it was the result of a dispute between the gods they each believed in, my father drove my mother to her death.

I cannot forgive him. Why did he kill his wife, whom he should have protected? Why did he let my mother die? Why is he still alive and well?

These feelings overflow from the depths of my heart. The feelings and memories that I have tried so hard to forget until now come gushing back. Isn’t it natural for a person who is offered a means of revenge to accept it without hesitation? Even the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, could not make me forget my feelings and memories.

If revenge is possible, then I will become a priestess of Styx or anything else. Styx nodded generously and agreed to my determination.

“Understood. I can’t be too gentle, but I will bless you and punish your enemies!”

I closed my eyes, overlapped my fingers, and offered my prayer hands to Styx.

Wrapped in a sense of exhilaration, I lost consciousness again.

Chapter 17: It’s Different

The next day, I woke up in an unfamiliar, soft bed and still felt like I was dreaming even after waking up.

The maid who discovered me waking up rushed out of the room. After a while, doctors and maids came in large numbers.

“Are you okay? How are you feeling?”

“Shall I bring you breakfast? Would you like something to drink? I’ll bring it right away!”

“We’ll call Athanasios-sama, please wait a moment!”

Everyone was in a hurry. I quietly received a medical examination and drank the orange juice handed to me by the maid.

However, there was no one who directed hostility or ill feelings towards me. As expected of the people who work in the royal castle of Styx Kingdom. It seems that the people who work under a kind ruler are also kind. It’s a big difference from the Uranos Principality.

Anyway, Thanasios arrived. He came quickly with a stern expression. The doctors and maids immediately gave way because he was too intimidating.

Thanasios sat on the chair next to my bed and let out a big sigh.

“I’m glad… I was worried.”

Saying that, Thanasios placed his hand on my right cheek. I wish my cheeks were plump and soft to the touch, but unfortunately, they were thin. Still, as Thanasios’s fingers touched my cheek, my cheeks blushed as if feeling the heat from his fingertips.

“I knew it would be okay because of the oracle of the main god Styx, but I was still worried.”

“I’m sorry for causing you concern.”

“Not at all. Anyway…”

I put down the orange juice as instructed, and the maid promptly took it.

“The oracle was about you.”

“Me?”

“Yes, Ioel.”

“Uh-huh.”

Ioel, the young man with glasses who was standing behind Thanasios, answered.

“The oracle goes like this: The main god Styx promises to make Eleni Athanasia Cypnimus, the wife of the wise prince Athanasios Cypnimus, the chief priestess of the main god Styx and bestow blessings upon her.”

It seemed that everyone in the room except for me knew about the oracle. I was surprised and shocked to learn that I was being treated as Thanasios’ wife, with a formal name change, more than the idea of divine protection. I felt embarrassed and happy at the same time, realizing that I had truly become Thanasios’ wife.

However, Thanasios seemed to take it as a serious matter.

“Ioel, please ask everyone to leave the room. I want to talk to Eleni.”

Ioel quickly followed his instructions. Everyone except for Thanasios and me left the room without any objections, and the door closed. Thanasios then spoke to me again.

“Well, Eleni. There may be some difficult things to talk about.”

“I have something to tell you, Thanasios-sama.”

I leaned forward a bit, eager to speak my mind.

I didn’t want to keep any secrets from Thanasios. I didn’t want to deceive this kind and loving husband who called me his wife.

I told Thanasios everything about my conversation with Styx, including the surreal dream-like location.

Thanasios listened attentively, not missing a single word.

“You promised revenge to the main god Styx?”

Thanasios was more surprised by this than my story of becoming a priestess of the main god Styx and receiving the most blessings.

In reality, the main god Styx is not a goddess who gives anything. She doesn’t even make deals with humans because she is the greatest god. Prayers should be offered to her, oracles should be fulfilled, and faith should be revered. Therefore, it was almost unthinkable that I would become a priestess and in return, give revenge and divine punishment to the Duke of Uranos.

I think it’s because the main god Styx is particularly fond of Thanasios and I’m being spoiled by her favor, but it’s still a miraculous event. After all, she could have just given me an oracle to become a priestess, but she went out of her way to give me blessings as well. Perhaps it’s the whim of a goddess, or maybe it’s the sincerity of the main god Styx.

I took advantage of that sincerity.

“Just revenge for my mother’s killer… that’s all.”

I couldn’t make a wish for the greater good.

I couldn’t come up with a wish that would be worthy of Thanasios’ kind wife. I ended up having a disrespectful desire towards the main god Styx, stemming from my disbelief in God, my aversion to prayer, and my intense anger towards my father who abandoned my mother.

I don’t want to think that it’s natural. I became scared that I might have done something that would shame Thanasios.

I made an excuse.

“But I don’t want Thanasios-sama to do that for me. I absolutely don’t want to make Thanasios-sama dirty his hands for such a worthless person. Such a thing should not happen for the sake of such a trivial human being!”

No, it’s not that. Even if I’m ugly, I don’t want Thanasios to be involved in it.

I can’t deny my desire for revenge, but that doesn’t mean I want to involve Thanasios in it.

I wanted to convey my feelings somehow, but I couldn’t find the right words. I was moved to tears by my own powerlessness.

When I finally couldn’t speak anymore and tears overflowed from my eyes.

Thanasios hugged me tightly, pressing my face against his chest and gently patting my back.

“Don’t worry. If the main god Styx promised it, we can achieve revenge without doing anything. You don’t have to worry about it. That’s just how it is. Be more shameless.”

I was hugged tightly and couldn’t come up with a clever response. Maybe Thanasios was rubbing his cheek against my hair. Although he had made it look nice, I didn’t want him to touch my messy hair, but I couldn’t stop him.

“Anyway, you’re amazing. Did you catch the attention of the main god Styx?”

“Yes, I…”

“Is it because you were a nun? The main god Styx is no exception and probably likes pure and devout humans. Then you fit that description perfectly, more like a saint than a priestess.”

Thanasios said cheerfully above my head, trying to encourage me.

It was painfully clear that he was trying to cheer me up. I felt sorry that someone like Thanasios was worrying about me.

I really can’t face Thanasios. I kept my head down and spoke in a strained voice.

“But, am I not ugly? If that’s the case, you don’t have to hesitate to distance yourself from me.”

I felt terribly miserable. Yet, Thanasios began to speak while placing his face above mine.

“Eleni, let me tell you a legend. The saint I just mentioned is a woman who created the divine realm Arche of Apeiron a long time ago——.”

Chapter 18: A Fist

“Once upon a time, a woman challenged the main god Styx to a battle.”

“Huh?”

“The result was a draw.”

“What?”

“Since then, the main god Styx disappeared from the earth and only appeared in the prepared divine realm Arche of Apeiron to give oracles.”

It’s a story I’ve heard a little bit about. After the establishment of the Styx Kingdom 1,400 years ago, the temples that worshiped the gods in various places stopped giving oracles, at least in terms of prophecy, becoming a formal existence. This was largely due to the existence of the divine realm Arche of Apeiron, and people began to respect the Styx Kingdom, which owned the divine realm and received the main god Styx’s oracles. That’s the story, I think, of the previous stage.

Nevertheless, it’s an incredible story that a woman challenged the main god Styx to a battle and even drew with her.

“That woman was Dimitra, the first queen of the Styx Kingdom, and the reason she challenged the main god Styx was because she realized something.”

“What did she realize?”

“That praying to the gods was useless.”

Thanasios speaks with a tone of “oh well.”

“Queen Dimitra was persecuted in her homeland as an illegitimate child due to the prophecy of the priestesses, and wherever she went, she appealed to the gods to restore her honor. However, the gods claimed that it was the prophecy of the main god, Styx, and that they could not overturn it. Therefore, she challenged the main god Styx to a battle, to revoke the prophecy and to stop the trivial gods from being prayed to… that was her goal.”

It was probably very progressive for that era and led to the end of the time when the gods were close to people. Despite various motives, Dimitra was a strong woman who could complain to the gods who did not save her. However, I am very different from her, as I do not want to believe in gods and hate prayers.

“To be honest, it’s not entirely Styx’s fault.”

“Yes, that’s true.”

“Nevertheless, it was decided that the proliferation of oracles that confused humans was not good, and since then, only the oracles of the main god Styx, which were promised with Queen Dimitra, have been respected. After that, countries other than the Styx Kingdom were no longer able to conduct politics in the name of the gods. And the Styx Kingdom expanded its authority throughout the continent and finally gained recognition from all countries just twenty years ago.”

While holding me in his arms, Thanasios spoke softly about a difficult topic. He must have been trying to find a way to make me understand. In truth, there are many complicated stories and confusing details in the legends, but Thanasios cut through all of that and made it easy to understand.

“You have a lot in common with Queen Dimitra, and above all, your character is noble. Humans lie, but you didn’t. You didn’t try to deceive me. You told me everything, even things you didn’t have to.”

When he praised me so straightforwardly, I felt embarrassed. I wanted to be humble and say that I just told him everything, but I thought it might be disrespectful to Thanasios, so I held back my words.

“Perhaps, before becoming an enemy of the main god Styx as the second coming of Queen Dimitra, she tried to win you over. Hahaha, just kidding. I don’t think you would challenge a god with just your fists.”

“Challenge a god with just my fists…?”

“That’s what the legend says.”

It was a scary story. I don’t have that much in common with Queen Dimitra, and I can’t challenge a god with just my fists. I was a little dissatisfied with that part too.

At that time, I didn’t really feel it, but it seemed like that was the kind of story that would be told among people other than us. I still didn’t know.

——Meanwhile, at that time…

Chapter 19: The Great Escape of the Knights

In the Uranos Principality, they were busy preparing to send Princess Paulina to a neighboring country’s grand ball.

The ball, where nobles from surrounding countries gather, lasts for three days and three nights, and even high-ranking nobles who are not usually seen make their children’s debut here. Naturally, Duke Uranos, who dotes on Paulina, was looking for a good match for her, and Paulina has completely forgotten about Eleni, seeking an opportunity to bask in the spotlight of the glamorous social scene. If there is a need, a message will come from the Styx Kingdom. After all, Eleni is just a formal wife, and there won’t be a flashy wedding, so he thinks.

The knights were clearly losing their motivation amidst the excitement of the Uranos Principality’s upper echelons.

Korya was one of them. He sat in front of the stable with his colleagues, idly polishing his saddle. It was supposed to be the job of a squire, but they had been on leave since three days ago. The Knight Commander instructed them not to show the upper echelons of the castle how excited they were, as it would be bad for their education.

“Something… feels boring.”

“Yeah, it seems like we won’t have any role to play in the neighboring country, and the territory will be guarded as usual.”

“But not Paulina-sama. Her makeup is too flashy, and her sense of style is too rustic. Is that what nobles like? I don’t understand.”

“Yeah, you’re right.”

Korya couldn’t help but sigh. He didn’t care about Paulina, but he was concerned about Eleni.

In the end, Eleni was not welcomed by anyone and was quickly sent to the Styx Kingdom. It was cold-hearted of the Duke Uranos to give away his daughter to another country as if he was getting rid of a nuisance. As a parent, was that really okay? Korya was also dissatisfied with his lord.

As a knight, he would rather pledge his loyalty to the princess than to a lord who didn’t understand. It wasn’t just Korya’s selfishness; in fact, the Duke did not favor the knights and had little understanding of military affairs. Even when they abandoned the neighboring country of Galanisia ten years ago, despite the knights’ strong fighting spirit, the Duke feared the spread of the conflict and retreated to his own country. Korya couldn’t bring himself to risk his life for such a lord. Even Korya, who didn’t know about that time, had completely lost his loyalty to the Duke after meeting Eleni.

‘This can’t go on like this.’ Korya, who originally had no particular attachment to this country, has lost any desire to stay here. Even if he’s not a knight, he’s starting to consider making a living in another country. What about the Styx Kingdom that Eleni is heading to? He thinks he wants to be near Princess Eleni, who should be protected at all costs.

Suddenly, an urgent report came in.

One of the knights came running. Korya and his colleagues stood up, wondering what was going on. The knight who came running, panting heavily, shouted.

“I can’t take it anymore! I quit! What’s the point of bringing around a bunch of good-looking knights just to look good as a princess’s escort? It’s ridiculous!”

“Hey, hey, what’s wrong? Start from the beginning and explain.”

“It’s Paulina-sama! She wants to have a good-looking knight as her escort to look like a proper princess, so she ordered me to bring around ten good-looking knights! What are you going to do with that many men?! The nobles will just laugh at us. They’re already spreading rumors that our knights take turns every night in her bed!”

Ignoring the crudeness of his words, it’s true that such rumors would likely spread. The snobbish nobles love to spread baseless rumors. And Paulina is furious that such rumors have been started because of them. Anyone could have guessed that much.

Korya and his fellow knights were at a loss.

“I’m quitting too. I’ll go tell the Knight Commander. What about you, Korya?”

Asked immediately, Korya thought of Eleni’s face. He could not be a knight here, and he would only be further away from the princess he was supposed to protect.

Korya made up his mind.

“I’m going too. I can’t keep up with this country anymore.”

“Okay. Let’s invite the others too. But where should we go?”

“That’s the thing. How about the Styx Kingdom? We can pledge our loyalty to Princess Eleni.”

The two knights immediately agreed to Korya’s proposal. The poor princess abandoned by the Duke of Uranos, and the rumors had already spread throughout the knight order.

“I see. Let’s do that. Then we won’t be called traitors.”

And so, a dishonorable mass exodus of the knight order from the Uranos Principality would take place a few days later. Their destination was the Styx Kingdom, with over two hundred knights in tow.

Chapter 20: Sweet Things

Unaware of the events in the Uranos Principality, Eleni was having her hair washed by Thanasios in the bathhouse.

“Well, your hair is starting to shine a little. Take it easy and get all the nutrients you need.”

“Yes, thank you.”

“If you want something to eat, don’t hesitate to tell the maids. Although you’re currently on a doctor’s prescribed diet, no one will complain if you eat something sweet or to your liking.”

“Something sweet.”

I thought for a moment. Even the orange juice I had the other day was very sweet for me. I rarely ate fruit, and even when I did, it was just a few berries mixed in with wild grass. Normally, I only ate coarse bread made from rough wheat flour and buckwheat flour, leafy vegetables grown on poor soil.

So, even when he said something sweet, I didn’t really know what he meant. Thanasios must have sensed my hesitation as he rinsed my hair and said:

“Oh, right… You’ve hardly eaten anything sweet before.”

“Embarrassingly, I don’t have any memories of eating sweet things when I was young.”

“No, don’t worry about it. I’ll make as many sweets as you want. So, what do you like?”

“That’s.”

I was getting more and more embarrassed.

I couldn’t answer either one of his questions about sweets or my preferences. The things I had eaten so far were all so poor that I was hesitant to tell Thanasios about them. In the royal castle, they might even call it garbage. Looking at the luxurious meals of the past few days—all of which were gentle on my stomach under the supervision of a physician—I wondered what I had been eating all this time and felt a sense of shame.

As a young woman, I wish I could have shown off a little more, but it was beyond my capabilities. I felt dejected and downcast.

Still, Thanasios bathed me every day, shampooed and conditioned my hair until it was shiny, and my skin had become a little smoother. I was happy about that and would poke at my skin after getting out of the bath. Even the little bit of plump flesh I had was born that way, and Thanasios praised me for it.

“Okay, little by little. Every day, I’ll give you something that you might like. The chefs will also show off their skills, trying to make the princess’s favorite dishes.”

It was a relief to hear him say that. It’s not a bad thing to express your preferences, but I was worried that he might think it’s shameful to eat everything on your plate. However, I felt that Thanasios could solve all of my worries.

I realized that I shouldn’t just think about myself and asked Thanasios about his food preferences.

“What is your favorite food, Thanasios-sama?”

“Well, I usually like fish. Egg dishes are also good, and I can make them myself.”

“Is that so?”

“Surprised? My father, the king, strictly ordered me to increase my skills in doing things alone, just in case something happens. Well, I’m not that good at cooking, though.”

That was probably just modesty. Thanasios could do anything, I was sure of it.

As I looked at him with admiration, Thanasios suddenly smiled mischievously.

“I have a good idea. After we take a bath, I’ll make something nice for you. Look forward to it.”

And so, I was spun around again and scrubbed all over my body with a lot of foam and a sponge. Even though I said I could do it myself, I was rejected because I didn’t have enough strength.

I wonder what Thanasios came up with. I’m excited and looking forward to it. I was incredibly happy.

Chapter 21: Happy Pancakes

Oh, great god Styx, can I really indulge like this?

I was so confused that I asked the great god Styx in my mind, while looking down at the glass table in front of me, with a never-before-seen round pancake, plenty of colorful berries, a chunk of butter, and overflowing honey sauce, swallowing my saliva.

I heard a voice from somewhere.

“It’s okay! Go ahead and eat it!”

This must be the oracle of the great god Styx. Or maybe it was just my inner voice, but I won’t say it out loud. Anyway, I stabbed the pancake in front of me with a knife and fork.

I cut it with all my might. The honey sauce dripped, the pancake was torn apart and fluffy, and the butter melted gently. The aroma tickled my nose, urging me to eat it already.

Beside me, Thanasios, who served as the chef, stood with his arms crossed, waiting anxiously. He was telling me with his attitude to eat it quickly and give my feedback. However, Thanasios patiently waited for me to speak up. He didn’t rush or urge me.

Finally, I picked up a piece of pancake, loaded it with plenty of berries, butter, and honey, and put it in my mouth with a fork.

At that moment, I felt like I could believe in the goodwill of the world.

This is what a good deed sounds like. It’s not about self-satisfaction or forcing something on someone. It’s the refreshing sweetness and sourness that bursts in your mouth, the grainy texture of berry seeds, the richness of melting butter, and the overwhelming sweetness of honey that comes like a raging wave.

All of these were brought together in the light and fluffy pancakes, mixed together, and delivered to my stomach.

It was the taste of happiness. Undoubtedly, this was food that condensed the happiness of life.

The taste that gave a standing ovation to my life continued. No, happiness isn’t something you can keep experiencing like this. Wait a minute, I tasted the bittersweetness of the iced tea in my mouth.

Finally, Thanasios spoke.

“It was delicious, wasn’t it?”

“Yes!”

“I see. Well, I’m glad. Take your time eating, I’m just sitting here watching.”

Saying that, Thanasios pulled a chair next to me and sat down.

I had an idea. It would be a waste to eat such delicious food alone. I wanted to share it and make Thanasios happy too.

“Thanasios-sama, would you like to try a bite too?”

Normally, I would never have dared to say such disrespectful things. But the power of the pancakes was tremendous, and I couldn’t help but offer Thanasios a bite.

Thanasios chuckled and opened his mouth.

“Mmm.”

“Y-Yes.”

I pierced the pancake with a fork, loaded it with plenty of berry, butter, and honey sauce, and brought it to Thanasios’ mouth.

The pancake went into Thanasios’ well-shaped lips and he happily chewed on it. Just by looking at his face, I could tell that Thanasios was also happy.

The pancake of happiness. Thanasios’ gift surely contained the blessings of his kind heart.

Chapter 22: Kailus Palace

After filling her stomach with pancakes, Eleni was carried to her bedroom by Thanasios. Wrapped in soft blankets and comforters by the maids, she took a nap. As soon as she got into bed, she fell asleep and started to breathe peacefully. Thanasios looked at her sleeping face and gently stroked her head with a satisfied expression. She was so cute. If he gave her a bath every day and fed her nutritious meals, she would become more beautiful and healthy day by day. It felt more like taking care of a skinny, newly adopted large dog than serving his beloved wife. Thanasios couldn’t help but wish for her to sleep a lot and grow a lot.

Thanasios and the maids left the bedroom quietly. He instructed them to prepare some drinks for when she woke up and took Ioel, who had been waiting outside the room, with him to his office.

On the way, a middle-aged man came and respectfully bowed his head in front of Thanasios.

It was Nikita, a man dressed in black that didn’t suit the white marble royal castle. His navy blue hair was hidden under a black turban, and his rare golden eyes shone mysteriously. He was a member of the royal family, but he was suspicious. It was no wonder, as Nikita never showed himself in public and preferred to work behind the scenes. He was in charge of all activities related to information gathering, espionage, and assassination in the Styx Kingdom.

Thanasios’ face lost all emotion.

“What’s the situation?”

As they walked side by side, Nikita answered smoothly.

“The warlike nobles of Hemerapolis and Amphitrite are focused on the ball held at the Kailus Palace in the north. If it’s the annual festival, the nobles who care more about their reputation than anything else cannot not hold it. There are already spies lurking around the major nobles, and only those who are close to me can open the salon.”

The great war between Hemerapolis and Amphitrite in the northern continent has been in a state of conflict and ceasefire for the past few years. Even they cannot turn away from the ball at the Kailus Palace, where nobles from surrounding countries gather. During that time, they stop fighting and enjoy socializing like nobles, chatting and dancing in gorgeous costumes. It strengthens the bond between nobles, forms blood ties, and allows new generations to enter.

For Styx Kingdom, this grand event has only ceremonial significance and is not really a well-liked event. However, it is a convenient time to conduct peace negotiations led by Styx Kingdom. They must make the peace negotiations that General Stavros failed at recently a success no matter what.

Therefore, Nikita’s cooperation was essential, as he was knowledgeable about worldly affairs and had a firm grasp on the nobility. Of course, Nikita was a man who claimed to be a loyal subject of Thanasios and would lend his strength without being asked.

“Thank you. So, let’s talk about what we’re going to do.”

“We can’t keep killing people every week. Last week, one person died in an “accident” and two for reasons we can’t disclose. It was unexpected, but it worked out well. Even if we do nothing, there will be casualties during the ball.”

“Who should we make disappear? Even if a prominent member of the war faction is gone, I don’t think their morale will be affected. If we’re going to do it…”

“There’s an actor who the Hemerapolis princess is very fond of. They plan to have him attend the ball.”

“Oh?”

“As a patron, it’s a noble intention to help promote the actor. However, that actor is a spy under the control of the Amphitrite Count, and they plan to make it look like a murder-suicide and assassinate the princess.”

“I see. Are we going to prevent it?”

“Well, it would be good for peace negotiations. We’ll leave the suppression of the Amphitrite war faction to General Sophocles, and he’ll have to do something about the Hemerapolis side.”

“Understood. I’ll tell General Sophocles not to overdo it.”

“Surprisingly, that wise man also has a tendency towards violence. But if we don’t do that, peace will not come.”

Thanasios nodded. Nobles are hard to understand. Even if you show them the head of their beheaded son, they will come shouting with the pride of their family and the power of their supporters. Even if you show them the body of their daughter who was killed by thugs, they will stubbornly bring out money and force and threaten with a transparent show of power.

In the end, if they don’t understand, killing each other is the best option. It is only the nobles in the secular world who approve of primitive, barbaric, and uncivilized behavior. Even ordinary citizens, farmers, and rogues have come to follow reason and power and try to find a compromise with each other, but it seems that the nobles are going against the times.

This will not make the world a better place. If the nobles are responsible for violence dominating the earth and the values of cherishing peace are being invaded——

Nikita stopped walking. Thanasios noticed and looked at Nikita’s face.

At that moment, Nikita’s index finger was placed on Thanasios’ forehead.

“If you make such a stern face, you’ll be hated by the cute young lady.”

“Did you see Eleni?”

“Oh, were you hiding her? Or did you want to hide her?”

“Don’t show yourself to Eleni, she’ll be frightened if she sees you.”

“That’s harsh.”

“I’ll introduce you properly eventually. But not now, she’s not used to the new environment yet.”

“…It’s not like she’s a puppy or something.”

Thanasios couldn’t agree more, but he decided to keep quiet.

Nikita chuckled at Thanasios’s sullen expression.

“However, what does our wise prince want to do with the Oracle Maiden as his wife?”

“Don’t ask me now when you already know. We already have things to do.”

Thanasios stared out of the huge single window behind Nikita, ignoring his pointing finger.

The continent of Oceanids must bring true peace under the name of this holy nation.

“If you go against the will of our main god, Styx, we will judge you with an iron fist. To make that excuse, I’ll have you work, Nikita.”

Thanasios knew it.

They were just using the will of the main god Styx for their own convenience. It was disrespectful and even blasphemous.

In comparison, Eleni truly appeared as the Oracle Maiden chosen by the main god Styx. Thanasios hoped that the main god Styx would never punish Eleni and that his own sins would not affect her.

After Nikita left, Thanasios suppressed his swirling emotions and walked towards his office.

Chapter 23: This Incomprehensible Story

When the group of former Uranos Principality knights, including Korya, had progressed about a third of the way to the Styx Kingdom, discussions began in the Styx Kingdom royal palace on how to handle the arrival of over two hundred knights from Uranos Principality.

The knights had already sent messengers ahead, and the Styx Kingdom was aware of their situation, but they needed to confirm the truth of their claims and whether the knights were in their right minds. The situation of the knights fleeing Uranos Principality seemed foolish and unbelievable, and the Styx Kingdom needed to ensure the safety of its citizens. For now, the former Uranos Principality knights were allowed to stay in the Styx Kingdom, but they were advised to come to the capital slowly to avoid causing any unrest.

Thanasios heard about this in the evening, less than a week after Eleni arrived in the Styx Kingdom.

“…It might be better not to burden Eleni with such confusing news while she’s still adjusting to her new environment.”

“Yes, perhaps we should wait until we have more details before deciding whether to consult with Eleni-sama.”

With Ioel’s agreement, Eleni still didn’t know anything about the knights who had fled from the Uranos Principality. She wasn’t even involved.

However, that turned out to be a good thing.

The ball at the Kailus Palace is tomorrow. Princess Paulina has already left the Uranos Principality and has finally arrived at the Kailus Palace. The Uranos Prince hastily gathered soldiers from all over the country to serve as escorts for Princess Paulina after his knights suddenly fled, managing to maintain appearances.

Eleni knew nothing about the events in the Uranos Principality or the ball at the Kailus Palace. She wasn’t close enough to Thanasios to ask for favors, nor did she have a position established in the Styx Kingdom.

Only those around Eleni knew about her, as she was only known as the maiden who became the prince’s wife through a divine oracle, without anyone directly knowing her. However, the quick-eared ruling nobles didn’t see it that way.

They would say something like this.

“Why doesn’t Princess Eleni reach out to her homeland, the Uranos Principality? Even Prince Athanasios hasn’t done anything. Does this mean something? Shouldn’t we avoid getting involved with the Uranos Principality?”

In other words, the current situation would have a negative impact on Paulina at the ball held at the Kailus Palace.

If Paulina had been smart, she would have guessed these things and resented Eleni, but unfortunately, she is not that smart and has no connections or information. The Duke of Uranos is also similar. He is only focused on the ball at the Kailus Palace and has completely forgotten about Eleni.

And so, the ball at the Kailus Palace begins. At that very moment, Eleni, who is in the Styx Kingdom’s royal castle, is once again stunned.

Chapter 24: Moving the Knife and Fork

Since arriving at the Styx Kingdom, Eleni had only gone to the temple once and spent the rest of her time shuttling between her assigned bedroom and the large bathhouse.

She was still not used to the new environment and her body lacked proper nutrition, making it difficult for her to move around. Besides, having spent a quiet life in a remote monastery, Eleni didn’t mind staying indoors and being still.

Moreover, she couldn’t possibly be bored in a bedroom larger than the one she had spent ten years in, with Thanasios and the maids taking good care of her. Thanasios prioritized taking care of Eleni’s meals and baths over his political duties, and Eleni was very satisfied with the current situation. She couldn’t count how many times she had been moved and how happy she was.

In the morning, Thanasios would come to the bedroom and have breakfast with her. Until lunchtime, she would read books, chat with the maids, and have lunch with Thanasios. After lunch, she would take a bath with Thanasios and take a nap. She would receive a medical examination, listen to instructions on diet and exercise, and report to Thanasios during dinner. Since the lifestyle in the monastery was early to bed and early to rise, Eleni would fall asleep soon after dinner and sleep soundly in bed, watched over by Thanasios.

After living like that for three or four days, Eleni’s cheeks began to turn pink. Although she was still not completely healthy, the doctor suggested that she was starting to get used to the environment and could possibly move on. When Eleni reported this to Thanasios during dinner, he said:

“Well, then it’s time to give you a room.”

“A room? Do you mean a different room than the one I have now?”

“That’s just a bedroom. For now, we’ll renovate the rooms on both sides and put in a dressing room, lounge, and study. The most important thing is the dressing room. You’ll need a lot of clothes from now on. Will one closet be enough? Probably not. Should we move to another floor?”

Even though Thanasios was throwing unfamiliar words at her in rapid succession, Eleni didn’t understand any of it. When he said that the room, which was large enough to fit the entire monastery, was just a bedroom, Eleni was stunned by the difference in perception.

“Oh, I almost forgot. I’m calling the tailor tomorrow morning to make clothes for you. You’ll take a bath first thing in the morning.”

“Y-Yes.”

“For now, we’ll have them make the minimum necessary clothes. I’d like to make clothes that suit your taste, but for now, you’ll have to be patient.”

Thanasios, who was becoming enthusiastic, noticed Eleni’s stunned look.

Eleni didn’t say anything. She should have been used to it by now, but there were various misunderstandings between Thanasios and Eleni. Even an ordinary citizen would be surprised by Eleni’s selflessness and ignorance, despite being a princess and a former nun. And for Thanasios, a prince of a great nation, Eleni’s indifference to such worldly matters was akin to that of an innocent child.

Even when Thanasios tried to provide Eleni with what she needed at the royal palace, she would tilt her head and wonder why someone like her was being treated so well, and would apologize for being unworthy of such consideration.

Gradually, Thanasios began to understand the situation. He realized that he needed to treat Eleni as an individual, rather than just a lady or a large dog.

“…Eleni, it seems like you’re trying to say that you don’t need to put up with this.”

“I’m sorry. I’m not very familiar with clothing, and I only had that tunic, so I think the clothes I received just now are enough.”

“That outfit was just hastily gathered old clothes…no, yeah, my bad. I mean, I should make what you need when you need it. But, it’s just a matter of making clothes that you might need right away. You can’t go to ceremonies or parties in your everyday clothes, can you?”

Eleni nodded in agreement. When Eleni had to attend a ceremony or party, Thanasios would surely be there. In order not to embarrass Thanasios who was standing next to her, she needed to dress up as well. Eleni understood that much.

However, Eleni looked at her thin wrists and fingers and thought to herself.

“I need to gain weight to look good in clothes.”

“Oh, well, eat a lot and you’ll grow.”

“Yes, I’ll grow.”

As it is now, she looked like a withered tree wearing clothes. Eleni tried her best to eat the basil sauce chicken sauté that was served as the main dish.

She still couldn’t finish a meal for an adult woman, but she moved her knife and fork for Thanasios. She stopped in the middle because she was too full and was about to cry, and Thanasios stopped her, which was part of the routine.

Chapter 25: Rebellion and execution

Kailus Palace.

Located in the northeast of the continent, it is a luxurious palace that boasts the Kailus Kingdom. After being used as a glamorous round table on the international stage only once several hundred years ago, it became a place of longing for the nobles of the continent. If you are a noble of the Kailus Kingdom, you can rent the Kailus Palace and have a wedding ceremony. The ladies of various countries who dream of it are watching and waiting, and for the Kailus Kingdom, which has no particularly noteworthy industry other than its vast land, the reputation of the nobles is its lifeline. Just having a noble lineage in the Kailus Kingdom is enough to become a status symbol, and it can gather nobles who come to the dreamland for matchmaking or vacation and make them spend money.

During the annual ball, Uranos Principality’s Princess Paulina was chatting happily with small country princes and middle-class nobles.

In the east of the Kailus Kingdom, in a land called Eraa, the Eraa Duke family was massacred.

It was the beginning of a rebellion. All of Kailus Kingdom’s soldiers, farmers, serfs, and citizens bared their fangs against the nobles.

“Don’t think you can keep acting high and mighty just because you’re a noble forever. This is the perfect opportunity. Now that nobles from all over the continent are gathering at Kailus Palace, if we can take care of them all at once, the world ruled by the nobles will come to an end!”

“Increase our numbers. Call out to others. Take up arms. Kill all the nobles, just like our ancestors were killed, and display them in the square for burning!”

“Capture them and make them apologize to the starving children who died. I’ll tell you how many children died for your necklaces and dresses!”

The rebellious people aimed for the Kailus Palace. Their numbers swelled rapidly, and they quickly spread to the cities and villages around the Kailus Palace, echoing the main force of over 10,000 in the east.

It was too fast. The rebellion was of such a scale that ordinary people could not possibly plan or execute it in just one day.

That’s why the nobles were slow to react. It was unfortunate that they were isolated from the social scene and mundane affairs in the Kailus Palace. No one could have imagined that the peasants armed with farming tools and weapons would attack them. Among all the continents, only those who helped the rebellion could have predicted it. For example, Nikita of the Styx Kingdom had already taken measures. Although the scale of the rebellion was unexpected, they quickly spread information to capable and profitable nobles, recommending evacuation and absence from the Kailus Palace.

However, there were still many kings and nobles in the Kailus Palace who knew nothing and were dancing the night away.

In the grand halls of the Kailus Palace, hundreds of nobles and royalty from all over the continent had gathered. Six dance halls with different melodies were connected, and people were enjoying the ball, coming and going. From the Baron family’s young lady to the prince of a certain country, anyone who was a noble was talking, dancing, and trying to form a relationship. Men and women of all ages were running around, trying to find potential future partners, business partners, or targets for their conspiracies.

Paulina, dressed in amethyst and silk, was also one of them. As a young woman who had the qualifications to come to the Kailus Palace, no one left her alone.

“Well, Count, are you here alone?”

“Hahaha, this is my second time attending this ball. Last year, I came with the fiancée my parents had arranged for me, but I wanted to marry a woman I had chosen myself after seeing people from various countries here.”

“Oh my, that’s very impressive! What kind of person do you like? Is it that person over there?”

“No, no, there’s no man who would say such a thing in front of you. How about a dance to find out?”

“Sure thing! But I already have a prior engagement, so just one dance.”

“No problem at all. Then, may I have this dance?”

Using all sorts of tactics, the men approached Paulina with the intention of “if we’re going to aim for someone, it’s better to go for a high-ranking noble’s daughter, but it would be embarrassing to aim too high and fail, so let’s just spit on a girl like this as a backup plan.” However, the excited Paulina believed that it was her unique feminine charm that was attracting the men. She strutted across the dance hall, chest puffed out and waving her arms like a top actress in her prime.

After one or two songs, the faces of her dance partners changed one after another, and Paulina finally took a break and asked a server to bring her a glass.

“Hey, give me some water. Or better yet, some cold wine. Hurry up!”

“Right away, ma’am.”

The well-trained server promptly handed Paulina a glass of cold white wine.

“It’s a low-alcohol wine. Just right for quenching your thirst.”

“Oh, really? I’ll have some.”

Paulina took a sip of the wine and drank it all at once, feeling the coolness in her throat.

“It’s delicious! What is this? Is there more?”

“Yes, of course. I’ll bring it to you. Please wait on that sofa over there.”

In a good mood, Paulina followed the instructions and sat on the sofa. The ball was now in the middle, and people who were tired from dancing in the beginning could be seen sitting and relaxing on the sofas along the walls. The music played by the orchestra in the hall had also become more relaxed. Although it was difficult to look around the entire room due to the density of people, Paulina believed that “everyone is considerate because it’s a break now, and if I walk alone, no one will leave me alone,” so she didn’t care what would happen.

Since birth, Paulina had been able to get her way with most of her whims from her father, the Duke of Uranos. The only things that didn’t come true were things that she knew were unreasonable, such as catching several knights who were her father’s guards and making them play princess with her, or inviting the latest haute couture and tailors that were hard to come by in the Uranos Principality. Overall, her life had been enjoyable and successful. She believed that it would continue to be so, and that she would be noticed by a wonderful young Duke here and be proposed to after a great romance. Paulina truly believed this.

Full of confidence, everything going smoothly, and the wine tasting delicious, she finally began to exercise some self-control, thinking that she should stop at the third glass before she tripped. She returned the glass to the server and was about to stand up from the sofa when a young nobleman came to her first.

“If you don’t mind, would you like to chat?”

Paulina had a big smile on her face.

“Yes, I’d love to. Please, have a seat.”

“Thank you. I am from the Marquis Spiro family.”

Paulina silently cheered inside her head. A young nobleman from the Marquis family, and not bad-looking either. He was tall, with brown hair that was common but still decent.

Paulina offered the seat next to her, and the young nobleman from the Marquis Spiro family sat down. Almost at the same time, the music played by the orchestra stopped.

As the ball was already halfway through, the music changed from dance music to listening music. The nobles, including Paulina, sat deeply on the sofas and chairs, waiting for the entertainment to begin.

Clang, clang.

Only those near the window could hear the sound. Someone had thrown a stone from outside the window. Could such a thing happen inside the palace? Maybe a bird had hit the window, so everyone ignored the sound.

Next, there was a distant sound like an earthquake, and dust fell from the ceiling.

As they arrived, some of the nobles sensed something was wrong. It was the former soldiers and perceptive young people who intuitively felt it. Several people crowded around the door, trying to get the servants to open it and leave the dance hall.

However, it wouldn’t budge. All six dance hall doors were closed.

But most of the aristocrats still hadn’t noticed anything unusual. Therefore, there was no confusion. They only thought it was time for a break since the music had stopped.

Then, a few minutes later, one of the dance hall doors opened.

The nobles are about to step out for some fresh air.

Suddenly, countless sharp wooden stakes mercilessly pierced through them. The body of the young nobleman at the front was cut in half. While the people inside the dance hall were still trying to comprehend the situation, the wooden stakes were repeatedly thrust, riddling the people near the door with holes.

Screams echoed.

Finally, tension spread throughout the dance hall. But it was too late. The angry mob, wielding wooden stakes like spears and shovels like swords, rushed in, with only one thing on their minds: to kill the well-dressed aristocrats in front of them.

They couldn’t allow those who imposed heavy taxes on them, took their lives easily if they resisted, and abused them like insects to go unpunished. Daughters whose fathers were killed and sons whose mothers were violated sought revenge against the nobles.

The bitterness of our fathers will be avenged on this day by exterminating the nobles.

Unfortunately, at this point, none of the royal nobles recognized whether the people were seeking revenge against them or not. They could only think that they had been harmed or killed by the intruding mob.

However, there was a calm group of people who were not involved in the massacre at the dance hall, but instead approached Paulina and the young man from the Marquis Spiro family, who were sitting on the sofa, unable to move due to the situation resembling a hellish cauldron. They grabbed their arms and led them out of the dance hall. They took out not only Paulina and her companions, but also the still-breathing royal nobles, one by one, and carried them outside. Those who resisted had their limbs broken and were carried away like animals about to be slaughtered.

An hour later, the royal nobles were lined up on the walls of Kailus Palace, and the executions began. They were forced to say their names and titles one by one. In response, the king and the princes and princesses were beheaded with a shovel, the Dukes and Marquises were thrown upside down from the wall, and the Counts and lower nobles were killed by having a stake driven into their hearts. The servants were naturally spared, as many of them had been forcibly abducted and forced to serve.

By the time it was Paulina’s turn, it was already late at night. However, the city walls were surrounded by people holding torch lights. On the brightly lit city walls, Paulina lied.

“No, it’s not true! I just came here because I wanted to become a noble! Please, let me go! Someone, please! I don’t want to die, stop it!”

A hand reached out from behind and roughly grabbed Paulina’s hair.

“You’re not a noble, yet you were wearing an amethyst necklace and a silk dress, sitting on a sofa drunk in the dance hall? That’s quite something. This one is a lying noble. Felony, felony! Off with his head!”

The people cheered with joy. They demanded execution, excited and unable to sleep even though it was night.

It was no wonder. Right now, in front of them, the head of a lying noblewoman was being cut off. It fell from the city walls to the ground below. The people surrounded it and kicked it. There were plenty of such things rolling around under the city walls. It was no longer possible to tell whose flesh it was.

Cruelty begets cruelty, and the revenge festival continued for three days and three nights.

TL: Lol

Chapter 26: Without letting you know what’s going on in this vapid, ugly world

The first report of the tragedy at the Kailus Palace reached Thanasios’ office in the Styx Kingdom’s royal castle within three days. Almost simultaneously, it was reported that all the nobles of the Kailus Kingdom had been massacred, and the country’s functions had completely paralyzed.

Nikita, who came to report, explained the situation concisely to Thanasios, who frowned.

“So, the angry people rushed in and killed all the foolish noble lords. That’s what happened.”

Nikita seemed somewhat pleased.

“Rest assured my lord. The nobles who still want to hear the story of Hemerapolis and Amphitrite have been spared. General Sophocles still has work to do. The rebellion this time expanded faster than expected, and we couldn’t control it, but the damage to us is minimal. We will send troops along the border to monitor and negotiate with the rebels.”

Nikita didn’t hide his joy. This man is someone who can fully enjoy the misfortune of others that benefits them. Despite being a member of the royal family of the Styx Kingdom, he was expelled from the church for incurring the wrath of the king, but he doesn’t seem to have any intention of changing.

Thanasios had been using Nikita for a long time because he found him useful. Nikita also recognized Thanasios as a lord worthy of serving. Although they had a lord-vassal relationship, they were close enough to be comfortable with each other.

Therefore, Thanasios let out a deep sigh.

“Is something wrong?”

“No…”

“If you’re not feeling well…”

“That’s not it. It’s just…”

There was no point in trying to hide it. Thanasios confirmed that only he and Nikita were in the office and then repeatedly tapped his desk with his palm.

“They’re all idiots! They squeezed taxes from the people to the point of killing them, and the nobles who piled up luxury upon luxury deserve to be killed! And yet they’re having a peaceful ball? There were plenty of signs, even you, who were far away in this country, could have known! How much damage do they think this will cause to every country and every people?!”

Yes, it’s too foolish. The ruling class, such as the nobles who govern in a way that incites rebellion among the people, are no longer tolerable as rulers. Their actions have gone too far, to the point of inciting a revolution of tyranny, and there is no excuse for overlooking such behavior. From the perspective of the great nation of Styx Kingdom, where the so-called aristocracy no longer exists, it’s frustrating to think about how long they will continue with their outdated system of governance, which is why the war never ends.

Nikita nodded in agreement.

“Indeed. But you see, my wise prince of the sacred Styx Kingdom, the world is ugly.”

Thanasios was slightly annoyed by his words. Even though he knew Nikita wouldn’t say such things to the prince, he couldn’t help but feel that way.

“That ugliness has been accumulating day by day, year after year, like the rings of a tree. No matter how much we try to cut it down, the grievances and mistakes of our ancestors never run out, and no one living today can fix it. That’s why everyone has been turning a blind eye to the seeds of this rebellion. As a result, it has become an incredibly shocking event.”

Nikita’s words were empty. For him, it was not a shocking event, but just one of the events to be dealt with calmly. This man would probably say that Thanasios’ unchanged daily life was more important than the world turning upside down. Thanasios continued the conversation, knowing that there was no point in responding to such a man’s words.

“I understand. The problem is what the Styx Kingdom will do here. Of course, we will suppress the rebellion. However, we will try to do it as peacefully as possible, without making the people our enemies, and give them a new country created by the people in the former Kailus Kingdom.”

“That’s good. It’s really good, and it’s in line with the will of the main god Styx. In fact, there is no other solution than thorough massacre of the people by force. Such a method is too barbaric.”

“The Styx Kingdom will support the creation of a new country. We will carefully select the people to reach a compromise. Nikita, I need as much information as possible. Sharing is crucial. Place contact personnel in each department and provide necessary information without hesitation.”

“Understood. We’ll get right on it.”

Nikita accepted Thanasios’ decision humbly, bowing his head.

There are still many things to do. If we are to dispatch troops, we must prepare as soon as possible, and we may also need to seek assistance from countries other than the Kailus Kingdom. The Styx Kingdom must lead the continent, and to do so, we must move more quickly and accurately than anyone else. For the time being, Thanasios has the task of appropriately placing personnel. As a first step, he gave instructions to Nikita, and from there, we will proceed as usual.

Meanwhile, Nikita had a wicked smile on his face. Thanasios somehow understood the meaning behind it and felt self-loathing.

“Just one piece of advice. It might be a good idea to leave the rebel army alone for a while.”

“I know. I was just about to add that.”

“Oh, excuse me.”

“Confidentially, make contact with the upper echelons of the rebel army. Give them a month’s grace. Then, crush the extremist faction of the rebel army and show the bait only to those who are interested in nation-building.”

This is good. The crazies among the people who have become rebels and only want to kill the nobility are not necessary for the nation-building that lies ahead. We should eliminate them and join hands with those who have the motivation to envision the future ten or twenty years from now.

However, stopping the crazies is not an easy task. If possible, they should self-destruct, or their power should be reduced as much as possible before striking. The crazies are attacking neighboring countries of the Kailus Kingdom, giving the nobles and aristocrats an exquisite time to fight each other. However, if they wait too long, there will be no point in providing relief, so they cannot leave it alone for too long.

Thanasios and Nikita both had this idea in mind. Nikita, who agreed with Thanasios’ orders, was in a very good mood.

“Well then, let’s do it that way. Let’s look forward to how many countries will disappear from the map in a month.”

Even his footsteps sounded cheerful, in line with Nikita’s good mood. After Nikita left the office, Thanasios finally leaned back on the backrest of his chair and imagined the map in his head.

The neighboring countries of the Kailus Kingdom are the Hyperion Empire, the Minava Kingdom, and the Uranos Principality.

Will they also perish? The probability is over 80%. It doesn’t require much effort to strike a headless body.

Oh, that’s right. The Uranos Principality… Eleni’s revenge will be carried out. I see. Then the Uranos Principality will perish along with the Uranos Prince. The rescue didn’t arrive in time, so let’s just leave it at that.

“As for the Uranos Principality… let’s cut off all communication.”

Thanasios called his secretary, Ioel, and ordered him to postpone all communication from the Duke of Uranos.

More importantly, they had to decide what to do with the former Uranos Principality knights. Since they couldn’t send them back now, they would have to keep them detained in the Styx Kingdom. If that was decided, there were a few things Thanasios wanted to discuss with Eleni.

Thanasios thought of his wife Eleni, who was probably taking a nap in bed right now. How could he bring up the topic in a way that would make her happy? How could he keep Eleni from knowing about the ugly events of this wretched world? Thanasios gathered his thoughts while drinking a cup of coffee.

Chapter 27: The Main God Styx Invitation

In the morning, I woke up and rolled out of my soft bed. I received a warm wet towel and wiped my face. Meanwhile, the maids came in and prepared breakfast for me and Thanasios. We sat around a circular table with a diameter slightly smaller than my height. Today’s menu included three types of vegetable potage, barley cheese risotto, and for Thanasios, pan-fried white fish with lemon butter sauce. Surprisingly, Thanasios ate a lot—or maybe I just ate too little. But watching him devour twice the amount of food in front of me, I couldn’t help but be impressed that adult men really do eat a lot.

I put on a loose tunic nightgown that covered my head like a sheet and a large cardigan and sat down on a chair just as Thanasios arrived.

“Good morning, Eleni.”

“Good morning, Thanasios-sama.”

“You’re not as scared as before.”

“Huh?”

“Before, you looked at my clothes and wondered if you had to have breakfast in formal attire too.”

“Oh, that…yes, I did think that.”

Thanasios is teasing me. After all, Thanasios is always wearing his usual high-collared white shirt with gold decorations and a mantle with tassels. He wakes up much earlier than me, finishes his political duties, and comes to my room for breakfast. So, I was worried that I had to wake up early and choose a dress.

However, Thanasios just smiled and told me to wear whatever I like and spend my time as I please. He said he would give me instructions when necessary.

“I used to wake up at sunrise, but since I came here, the bed is so comfortable that I oversleep.”

“I see. That’s a good thing.”

“Is it a good thing?”

“Yes. Humans can’t sleep well without feeling safe. If you can sleep well without worries, that’s more than enough. Actually, if you oversleep more, I can watch you sleep, but it’s not easy to do that.”

“Um, I don’t think it’s appropriate for others to see me sleeping.”

“What are you talking about? As your husband, who else has the right to see you sleeping?”

I couldn’t help but blush. When Thanasios was referred to as my husband, I still felt embarrassed and my ears turned red. It took me a while to calm down.

I tried to distract myself by focusing on the chewy texture of the barley risotto. However, Thanasios was being mean.

“Do you hate it? Or are you secretly inviting me to come and watch?”

“No! No, please don’t watch.”

“Okay, okay. If you don’t want me to watch, I won’t. You can relax.”

Thanasios’ handsome face looked really cheerful, even when he was handling a piece of the moules with his fork. I wondered if teasing me was really that funny to him, or if Thanasios was also hiding his shyness.

Eventually, after breakfast was over, a glass teacup filled with herbal tea was placed in front of me, and a cup of coffee was placed in front of Thanasios. I had never tasted coffee before. I avoided it because it smelled burnt and bitter, but Thanasios drank it as if it were the most natural thing in the world. I asked hesitantly.

“Is coffee, um, a delicious drink?”

“It’s not so much delicious as it is a stimulating indulgence. It’s perfect for waking up, but oh, it’s still too early for you. You need to grow more first.”

“Y-Yes.”

“Well, let’s see…first, you need to be able to eat sugar like a normal person.”

Thanasios strictly forbade me from drinking coffee.

Yes, even now, I can’t consume a lot of sugar at once. Perhaps because I haven’t been consuming it much until now, my body can’t handle it right away. I later found out that the pancakes Thanasios made for me were made with honey diluted with water. I’m still restricted by the doctor because consuming a lot of sugar at once can have serious effects on my body.

Because of this, it’s not easy to become like a normal person right away. Thanasios is always there for me, but I feel guilty about it and I just want to become a full-fledged person as soon as possible.

However, Thanasios always speaks kindly to me when I feel that way.

“Eleni, after you take a bath, would you like to go for a walk? We can’t go out into the city, and the Royal Castle isn’t that fun either, so let’s go to the Arche of Apeiron sanctuary for a change of pace. The weather is always good there, and it’s safe above all else.”

Isn’t that proposal an act of not fearing divine punishment? I don’t think the deepest part of the Styx Temple is a place to take a casual stroll.

However, a voice echoed in my head.

“Sure, come on! I welcome you!”

I knew it was a divine oracle from the main god of Styx.

“A divine oracle.”

“What?”

“Oh, nothing. I understand. I’ll go.”

With an invitation from the main god of the divine realm Arche of Apeiron, there was no choice but to go.

I decided to take a bath before going out. By the way, Thanasios still won’t let me take a bath by myself, so I had to wash myself vigorously since morning.

Chapter 28: Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe

On a warm and sunny day, I was lying alone on the grass. Thanasios had some business to attend to with the high priests, so I was the only one rolling around on the blue grass around the temple. Panagiota, a familiar high priestess, advised me that as a priestess, it would be good to occasionally approach the temple, and it was fine to go inside with Thanasios.

Perhaps because the grass was closer to the sun than the ground, it was warm and comfortable. The sunlight was not too strong, just right. It was perfect for sunbathing, and I was starting to feel sleepy after taking a bath.

I dozed off. Just a little, my consciousness drifted away.

Somehow, I had felt this sensation before.

When I opened my eyes, (sea)anemones and daffodils were blooming together by a large river. The grass was receiving the morning sunlight and the trees were dyed red. This place, where the sense of season was ignored and the distinction between day and night was vague, was familiar to me.

This was the same as when I was called by the main god, Styx. I looked around, startled.

Then, behind me, stood a woman with a deep hood. She was petite, about the same height as me. Her hood and robe were deep blue, and her face was not clearly visible.

The woman timidly spoke to me.

“Eleni. You don’t remember me…do you? But I know who you are.”

“Yes? Have we met before?”

“Oh, yes, that’s right. We haven’t met in person. I’m sorry, I jumped to conclusions… ahem.”

The petite woman coughed and spoke with a slightly clearer voice.

“I’m Lethe, the Goddess of Forgetfulness, who you serve, or at least used to serve.”

She introduced herself lazily.

Lethe, the Goddess of Forgetfulness. I had forgotten that she was the goddess I served as a nun. Come to think of it, I had forgotten to even greet her. My forgetfulness in general was proof that she was the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe.

I quickly knelt down. Lethe let out a sigh and dropped her shoulders.

“It’s okay. I’ve heard about you from Styx-Okaasama, and besides, you’re one of my few followers… well, it seems like you didn’t have much faith in me.”

“I’m sorry for my disrespectful behavior.”

“It’s fine. I know there were circumstances. Besides, all of my followers are selfish, so I’m used to it.”

Lethe seemed more resigned than sulky. It was true that those who believed in the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, and devoted themselves to their training, were generally living an austere life and only thinking about themselves. I used to be like that too. I was so focused on surviving day by day that I didn’t care about faith, and I even hated it.

“I was scolded by Styx-Okaasama. She said that you neglected such a poor girl without giving her any blessings, and that’s why there are no new followers and you’re being forgotten.”

Muttering to herself, Lethe complained. Both the followers and the goddess were forgetful. It seemed like they were a perfect match.

However, I was still serving the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, and I couldn’t ignore her. I apologized for my rudeness.

“Excuse me, Goddess Lethe. I’m sorry if I offended you. I’ve only been thinking about myself until now. I can only offer the bare minimum of offerings to you, and my faith has been lost in anger and despair.”

Then, Lethe shook her head.

“It’s okay. This time, I came to celebrate the honor of my follower becoming the head priestess of Styx-Okaasama. And… I’ve been forgetting to give blessings to humans lately.”

I thought to myself that she had forgotten after all, but I didn’t say it out loud. I had also forgotten about Lethe’s existence. Thanasios had taken care of me so much at the royal castle that I could only think about getting used to life there. It’s just an excuse, but Lethe seems to be aware of my recent situation through the main god Styx, so I felt relieved.

Suddenly, Lethe reached out her hand above my head. As if in revelation, her voice came down from above.

“Eleni, with my blessing, I will make you forget your unpleasant memories. You will be loved by that splendid prince and live a happy life from now on. Don’t worry, your revenge will be successful. You will eradicate the one who caused your unhappiness, even if it means involving the whole world. That’s the only thing you need to remember.”

My head was gently stroked.

Driven by impulse, I tried to remember something. I could remember my mother’s face. My father’s face?… Did I have such a thing?

A cold woman’s voice. Revenge will be achieved. The fly that brought unhappiness upon you will pay for it in the flames of hell. Forget about that unhappiness and live a happy life.

Upon hearing those words, my chest felt lighter. It felt like someone had lifted the burden I was carrying.

I woke up in the divine realm of Arche of Apeiron, where a refreshing breeze blew, and it seemed like I had even forgotten that I had forgotten something.

Chapter 29: Eleni Still Doesn’t Know

Since the tragedy at the Kailus Palace, the situation had become unpredictable, and the flames of rebellion spread rapidly.

The Hyperion Empire’s emperor was assassinated. The surviving members of the imperial family, including the crown prince, were surrounded by the rebellious people of the Kailus Kingdom as they tried to flee to the neighboring Minava Kingdom. They were all killed, and their bodies were thrown into a river on the border with Minava Kingdom. The Minava Kingdom army, who witnessed this, immediately began to capture the nobles of the Minava Kingdom in response to the rebellion. However, since more than half of the nobles were missing in the Kailus Palace, all the nobles in the country were captured within two days and were waiting for execution.

Meanwhile, in Eleni’s hometown, the Uranos Principality, the news of the death of his beloved daughter, Princess Paulina, drove the Duke of Uranos to madness. After that, all the important officials fled, and the Uranos Principality, which had no knights left, collapsed overnight. The castle was burned down, and the people became free, and everyone fled from the Uranos Principality.

The rebellion started by the people of the Kailus Kingdom seemed to spread endlessly, as if it would destroy everything from the old era, hating the kingdom’s nobility. Fearing that the wave would reach the Styx Kingdom at the center of the continent, Athanasios and other leaders of the Styx Kingdom worked to calm the people’s hearts.

However, the people of the Kailus Kingdom joined forces with the Styx Kingdom. They raised the banner of creating a new ideal country without royal nobles and received the first promise of recognition and support as a nation from the Styx Kingdom.

This became the turning point. The people of the Hyperion Empire and the Minava Kingdom, influenced by the Kailus Kingdom, also wanted the same thing. Unwanted extremists were suppressed by the army sent from the Styx Kingdom. The four countries, including the already destroyed old Uranos Principality, formed a community and became a huge emerging country called the Cosmo Federation, bringing a new wind to the continent.

As planned by Prince Athanasios and Nikita, all of these events led to the establishment of a new international system under the leadership of the Styx Kingdom. After all, there were no detestable nobles in the Styx Kingdom. The royal family were all clergy, and the Oceanids believers from all over the continent trusted them. Moreover, the Styx Kingdom rarely imposed taxes on the people, and the country’s administration was sustained by voluntary contributions, various industrial profits, and land rents, making it a rare system. There was no reason for either the nobles or the common people to hate them.

Now, Hemerapolis and Amphitrite, under the mediation of the Styx Kingdom, ended the war. Both countries gradually transitioned from being ruled by royal nobles to the new system, which also required the backing of the Styx Kingdom. They imposed restrictions, swearing to the sacred main god Styx that they would not engage in foolish politics like the old system of royal nobles, in order to gain the support of the people. However, since there were still surviving royal nobles in both countries, there were also voices calling for mercy towards them, and gradually, changes were accepted. Other countries were also forced to change in a similar trend.

Eleni still doesn’t know any of this. Her husband, Prince Athanasios, had restricted the information.

Chapter 30: alamarachia Tiganita

Thanasios seemed to be troubled about something, and I could sense it.

He tried to say something to me, but hesitated and stumbled over his words. He has done this three times since this morning. Even though I am not very perceptive, I can tell something is bothering him.

However, if someone as intelligent as Thanasios finds it difficult to speak, I cannot force him to tell me. He has been thinking about many things, and it must be something that he is struggling with. I am not a child, and I can wait. I do not want to cause any trouble for Thanasios. Although I want him to tell me, I will endure it.

Finally, I arrived at the corridor of the palace, which I have become accustomed to, guided by the maids. Thanasios suggested that I should check out the three rooms that were prepared for me. Apparently, in the vast and towering Styx Kingdom palace, there are plenty of rooms available, so I can use them without hesitation. I was excited to have my own room for the first time.

Wearing a new, oversized white tunic that I had tailored, I walked with a restrained heart, step by step. The hallway floor, like a mirror, was smooth and made of blue stones, and the white marble columns with decorations placed at regular intervals were much thicker than my torso and continued beyond the horizon. The royal castle was still undergoing expansion, and it seemed to have a strange mechanism where the area expanded as you approached the innermost sanctuary, Arche of Apeiron, in the temple of the main god, Styx, which was located on a small hill.

Suddenly, I wondered what I should do. What exactly should I be doing?

Of course, the top priority now is to grow. To become healthy enough not to worry Thanasios. Eat a lot, sleep a lot, take a bath and make Thanasios happy. I have to take my time with this, so I need to have a secondary goal or something I need to do.

I should ask Thanasios about it. I made up my mind and entered the new room through the door opened by the maid.

However, there was already someone there.

“Oh, Young Lady, how lovely to see you.”

In the middle of the room that was supposed to be my study, there stood a man dressed in a black turban and outfit. He had blue hair and golden eyes, a person I had never seen before.

However, since he was in such a splendid attire in the royal castle, he must be someone I should greet. I bowed my head and introduced myself.

“Nice to meet you. I am Eleni. I apologize for being rude, but may I know who you are?”

“I apologize for not introducing myself earlier. I am Nikita. Although I am at the bottom of the royal family, I serve as a subordinate to your husband, Prince Athanasios.”

Nikita, a strange man who looked at me with narrowed eyes, mentioned Athanasios’ name. He continued to speak.

“Princess Eleni, I apologize for this rude encounter. However, there is something I must tell you, and I came here secretly without Prince Athanasios’ knowledge.”

When I heard the words “secretly without Athanasios’ knowledge,” I became wary.

Athanasios is protecting me. If someone stole his attention away, I would have to run away from the man in front of me.

As I took a step back, Nikita took a step forward. I began to feel scared.

“There’s not much you can do. Besides, doing something behind Thanasios-sama’s back…”

I tried to bluff as best as I could. I thought I had to run away.

Nikita clapped his hands.

“Oh no! That’s not what I meant! I swear to the main god Styx, it’s nothing suspicious. Can I have your ear for a moment?”

“S-Sure.”

Nikita forcefully came around to my side and said this.

“Would you like to go buy Athanasios Prince’s favorite food, Calamarachia Tiganita?”

“Huh?”

Calamarachia Tiganita. It was a word I had never heard before.

Chapter 31: Stepping into the Dining Room

In the clear sky, many pieces of laundry are dancing in the wind.

The castle town of the royal city stretches straight north from the main street, and from there, it becomes a slope leading to various alleys. In addition to the main temple of the god Styx, there are also temples of various other gods scattered throughout the city, and there are many public baths, all of which demand cleanliness. Towels used there are washed every day and flutter in the wind. There are also many inns and hotels that welcome pilgrims, and every day is a festival to welcome people from all over the continent.

The city of Arachnosarumus, the capital of the Styx Kingdom, was the largest city in the world, filled with sunshine and vitality from corner to corner, and people never stopped coming.

I can’t go out alone in such a place. It’s impossible. I’ll definitely get lost and won’t be able to return to the castle.

But today, I have a helper. Or rather, the mastermind who lured me out of the castle, Nikita.

“It’s this way.”

We easily passed through the castle’s main gate and walked through the back alleys side by side. I’m not sure if this was a good idea, and doubts swirl in my mind, but I can’t go back now. The castle is getting farther away.

“Hehehe, it’s been a while since I walked outside with a woman.”

“Well, I’m not sure if you can call me a woman.”

“Don’t be so modest. Oh, since I brought you out here, shall we chat along the way?”

I was still wary of Nikita. Even though I had come this far, I still didn’t trust him completely.

Nevertheless, I had followed Nikita of my own free will. The first reason was that I was curious about Calamarachia Tiganita, which was Thanasios’ favorite food, but perhaps I was just bored. It was not a good thing. I might be causing trouble for Thanasios, but here I was, running away from the royal castle.

There were still many doubts and anxieties. However, as I listened to Nikita’s story, his way of speaking seemed to enjoy reminiscing about the past.

“His Royal Highness Prince Athanasios is called Thanasios-sama by those close to him… Well, he was very mischievous as a child. It was natural for him to sneak out of the royal castle, and the soldiers would run around the capital to catch him. However, during various lessons, he would perfectly answer all the questions and overwhelm the adults, so he was feared as a child prodigy favored by the main god Styx. He is still feared to this day.”

It seems that Thanasios was very mischievous as a child.

The fact that the prince, who possessed both beauty and intelligence, had such a childhood was a fresh story for me.

“On the other hand, I am a bit incompetent and have a sulky personality, so even the king had a bad impression of me. There were times when I spent more time in the gambling halls than in the royal castle.”

“G-Gambling halls?”

“Yes, I enjoy gambling. That’s why I am still a follower of the god of wisdom and gambling, Hermes.”

Nikita smiled meaningfully. Although I understood that a gambling hall was a place for gambling, I couldn’t imagine anything beyond that. Moreover, I didn’t understand why Nikita, a member of the royal family, believed in Hermes instead of the main god, Styx.——Later, I learned that Nikita had been expelled from the priesthood of the Styx Temple, but even then, I still didn’t fully understand.

Nikita, who was beautiful and somewhat similar to Thanasios, had a slightly shadowy laugh and felt more unfathomable than anyone I had ever met. Even if I listened to his story and his background, I would never fully understand Nikita. However, it was not impossible to talk to him, and little by little, I found Nikita’s story interesting.

“Anyway, Thanasios-sama would come to me at the gambling hall and win the bets with his natural talent and good luck, so I was stripped of my clothes.”

“Well.”

“He also won my future life and my loyalty in a bet. Since then, I have been in the service of our wise prince.”

To be honest, I didn’t understand half of what Nikita was saying. It was all about a world I knew nothing about. Until recently, the castle and the monastery were my entire world, and I couldn’t even imagine what a town or a gambling den was like. Nevertheless, I was intrigued and tried my best to understand.

As we walked down an alley, a tantalizing aroma wafted towards us. I could smell a salty scent and an exciting spice that I had never experienced before. Unconsciously, my mouth began to water.

What could it be? What kind of dish was it? People passing by were entering a shop that had barrels and chairs lined up in the alley. They were enjoying crispy fried food, a white sauce that I had never seen before, and a slightly alcoholic drink on top of the barrel for lunch.

My eyes were fixed on the scene. Nikita pointed to the shop like a tour guide.

“That’s why I used to be asked to buy Calamarachia Tiganita at that tavern over there. I still occasionally bring it as a souvenir. Remember that it’s your husband’s favorite.”

Taberna, the dining hall. I’ve heard the name before. It’s a shop that serves cooked food.

To be honest, I’ve never been to such a shop before. I wanted to go, just a little bit, my heart was racing. After all, it smells so good. But I don’t have any money, how can I order anything?

Overcoming various conflicts, I finally mustered up the courage to ask Nikita.

“Um, Nikita-sama, there’s something I’d like to ask you.”

“What is it?”

“Embarrassingly, I’ve never been to Taberna before. I can buy things, but I’ve never eaten there or gone on a food run… If you could teach me how to order, it would be very helpful… Yes.”

Even if I can’t buy anything today because I don’t have any money, I can buy something next time.

I looked up at Nikita with such a desperate feeling.

Then, with a very gentle expression, Nikita took out some coins from his pocket and placed them in the palm of my hand.

“These are obolus coins used in the Styx Kingdom. They are used more frequently than drachma coins in the castle town, so I’ll give you about ten for now.”

“Thank you so much!”

“Well then, let’s go inside.”

Nikita invited me, and for the first time in my life, I stepped into the dining hall, Taberna.

There, an unexpected person was devouring meat.

“E… Eleni-sama?!”

“Korya? What are you doing here?”

Chapter 32: Guiropita

It was a completely unexpected reunion.

At the counter of the dining tavern, Korya, the young knight I met a few weeks ago in the Uranos Principality, was enthusiastically biting into thinly sliced meat wrapped in a thin bread with chunks of vegetables. He looked at me and put the plate down. I was a little jealous of him enjoying such delicious food.

As Korya and I were both at a loss for what to do with this sudden reunion, Nikita reached out to us.

“Do you know each other, Princess Eleni?”

“Um, yes.”

I nodded, and Korya nodded even more.

As someone who married Thanasios, the prince of the Styx Kingdom, I had no idea why a knight who should be in the Uranos Principality was having lunch at a tavern in a back alley of the Styx Kingdom. What a coincidence.

Anyway, Nikita calmed both Korya and me down and pulled a chair next to Korya for me to sit on. Nikita also sat down, and we prepared to listen to the story.

Korya seemed hesitant to say something to me. I wondered if there was something difficult for him to say to me, like Thanasios. So Nikita intervened and asked about Korya’s identity.

“I see, one of the former Uranos Principality Knights.”

I had my doubts about the word “former,” but I didn’t say anything. I thought it would be better to listen to everything before interrupting and asking questions.

“I have something to discuss with you. Follow me.”

“Okay.”

Saying that, Nikita took Korya out of the dining taverna.

Left alone, I looked at the thin bread wrapped with meat and vegetables that Korya had been eating. The meat with a crispy brown crust still had an appetizing aroma, and the green and yellow diced vegetables looked delicious. It was the first time I had seen such a roughly made dish that you could hold and eat with your hands. The Uranos Principality was not known for its meat-eating culture, and as a nun, I didn’t eat meat. But looking at the dish in front of me, I couldn’t help but want to take a bite.

I tentatively reached out my hand to the protruding meat, but before my finger could touch it, I heard Korya’s loud voice from outside.

“Is that true?!”

Soon, Nikita and Korya returned, talking.

“There’s no point in lying. It’s the decision of our wise prince. Although it’s still confidential, we will definitely hire you. For the sake of Princess Eleni.”

Nikita returned to his seat calmly, but Korya couldn’t contain his excitement and joy, standing up.

“I can’t stay any longer! Eleni-sama, I have to inform my comrades immediately. Excuse me for today!”

“K-Korya, wait. What about this dish?”

“Oh… well, if you don’t mind, please have it!”

After hesitating for a moment, Korya pushed the dish towards me and rushed out of the restaurant.

Nikita and I were left behind, looking at each other and then at the plate with the remaining half of the dish.

“This is guiropita. Since he said we could have it, let’s take it home. Oh, and don’t forget the Calamarachia Tiganita.”

Nikita called the waiter and ordered the Calamarachia Tiganita to go, instructing me to give the waiter an obolus coin for each dish. It seemed that they had to pay for each dish in advance.

If that’s the case, then this half-eaten guiropita is already paid for, so it’s okay. I reached out and picked up the guiropita, taking a light bite. It was a thin bread with meat. I wonder what kind of meat it was. Maybe beef.

As soon as the meat touched my tongue, I felt a flavor I had never tasted before. It was the overflowing juice from the grilled meat, mixed with plenty of salt, pepper, and spices—something I had never experienced before with vegetables. I shouted to Nikita, “This meat is delicious!”

It was revolutionary. My body was now craving it. I wanted to eat more and more, and my stomach began to move.

Nikita brought a paper napkin to wipe my mouth. I felt a little embarrassed as the juice was dripping.

“That’s good. It’s a taste that you won’t find in the royal castle. Please enjoy it.”

“Yes!”

Until Nikita’s ordered Calamarachia Tiganita arrived, I chewed and savored the meat with all my might. It was delicious. This food was a strong temptation, different from sweet things.

I’m sorry, Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe. Maybe I’m really abandoning my faith and just want to enjoy delicious food.

Despite being disrespectful, I thought deeply about it. It’s not bad to have a taste that overturns faith, right?

Chapter 33: Thank you

Because the meat was so delicious, on the way back to the royal castle, I let out a few small burps to release the air from my stomach so that Nikita wouldn’t notice. Suddenly, such a delicious food was a bit hard on my stomach. I blamed Korya’s big mouthfuls of guiropita for making me so hungry.

Anyway, I have a package of Calamarachia Tiganita in my hand. Wrapped in wax paper and then newspaper, it contains Thanasios’ favorite food. To keep it from getting cold, I walked a little faster and urged Nikita to hurry.

“Let’s hurry back. Thanasios-sama is waiting.”

“Yes, of course. Was the guiropita delicious?”

“…Very.”

I feel like I was implicitly pointed out that I took too long because I was nibbling on guiropita at the dining tavern. I think so too, but I won’t comment on that since I know I’m being teased.

Nikita stood out like a sore thumb in this capital city, where white and blue were the predominant colors, due to the fact that he was wearing all black. He looked like a suspicious character and was stopped twice by the patrolling guards. Both times, they were surprised to see the golden Styx emblem, which was the proof of Nikita’s identity as a member of the royal family. Nikita was grinning mischievously, so I think he did it on purpose. After passing through the main gate of the royal castle, Nikita led me to Thanasios’ office for the first time.

For a moment, I thought I had wandered into a temple somewhere, as the room was grand and spacious. The desk at the back was made of pure white marble, and all the bookshelves were also white. The reception sofa was adorned with intricate goldwork and white leather, and the table was much larger than me, with a rectangular shape and elegant metalwork legs plated in gold. The ceiling of the room was at least two stories high, with a glass half-circle container filled with glowing stones and water, which illuminated the entire room like sunlight.

Thanasios was surprised to see me and Nikita suddenly appear, and before he could scold me, I placed a package on his desk.

“Nikita-sama asked me to bring Thanasios-sama’s favorite dish, Calamarachia Tiganita.”

“Please open it,” I suggested to Thanasios. Without saying a word, he opened the package.

Then, the smell of fried food and olive oil reached my nose, followed by a scent I had never smelled before. Later, I learned that it was a small dish of fried squid called Calamarachia Tiganita. It was something that could never be seen in the Uranos Principality without the sea.

In other words, Calamarachia Tiganita was a small fried squid dish. In the Styx Kingdom, it was a main dish and sometimes enjoyed as a snack, eaten in bite-sized pieces. It had a crispy wheat-colored coating with white yogurt sauce called ‘Zaziki’ on top. It had a different kind of appetite-stimulating aroma than meat, more like a tantalizing scent. As someone who was not used to seafood, I felt it had a slightly strong taste.

Thanasios looked up from the package.

“Eleni, wait a moment. Nikita.”

Thanasios glared at Nikita, but Nikita remained completely unfazed. On the contrary, he took the initiative.

“What? I don’t think it’s fair that Prince Athanasios, who has been able to escape from the royal castle as much as he wants, is blaming Princess Eleni, who has only left the castle for the first time today.”

“…How dare you say such a thing.”

Sparks flew between the two. However, Thanasios didn’t intend to waste any more time and turned towards me.

“Eleni!”

“Yes?”

“Stop following suspicious people like that. They might be kidnappers.”

“Eh? Are Thanasios-sama’s subordinates kidnappers?”

“No! That’s not what I meant. Nikita just likes to tease people.”

“But Thanasios-sama has been teasing me a lot lately.”

I retaliated a little. Since Thanasios has been teasing me a lot lately, even if I do this, the god Styx won’t punish me.

Thanasios groaned. He looked up at the ceiling for a while, then seemed to give up and said:

“Okay, I guess I should say this to you. Eleni, thank you for going out of your way to buy Calamarachia Tiganita for me.”

I suddenly realized that my face was unconsciously smiling.

After all, this might be the first time Thanasios has ever said thank you to me.

I felt overwhelmed with emotion, thinking that I had done something for Thanasios. And I secretly felt relieved that I didn’t get scolded. It was a good thing.

Nikita watched my reaction and stifled a laugh.

“That’s great, Princess Eleni.”

“Yes!”

“By the way, Nikita, you can go back to work now. Your subordinates have been desperately looking for you.”

“Hahaha, excuse me then. Princess Eleni, let’s meet again.”

Nikita bowed dramatically and quickly left. He was probably concerned about me and Thanasios. And since he gave me money that is hard to come by in the royal castle, I should properly thank him when I see him next time.

Thanasios regained his composure and called for his secretary, Ioel, to procure forks. He asked if I needed one too, but I declined since I didn’t have the confidence to eat seafood and was already full. In fact, my stomach was starting to feel upset. Maybe it was because I ate something unfamiliar. The guiropita was revolutionary delicious, but I regretted it a little.

After receiving the golden fork, Thanasios finally took a bite of the Calamarachia Tiganita.

The sound of chewing could be heard faintly. Thanasios drank a sip of the cold water brought by Ioel and ate elegantly. Was it just my imagination or did his expression seem to relax a bit? But it would be inappropriate to pry too much. I should ask him something else.

“Is it delicious?”

“…Yeah, it’s delicious. The taste hasn’t changed since the old days.”

“I’m glad. If you tell me, I can always go to the dining tavern to buy it for you.”

“You don’t have to go out of your way.”

“I also want to do something for Thanasios-sama.”

It was the first and one of the few things I could do for Thanasios. It might be like running errands for a child, but everything starts with the first step. Besides, I didn’t want to worry Thanasios, so this was enough for now.

Thanasios looked a little troubled, then smiled.

“Let’s go buy it together next time. It’s annoying that Nikita beat me to it, but oh well.”

There was a few seconds of silence.

Going to buy it together. It took me some time to understand that.

Today, I went shopping with Nikita. But that was because he invited me and acted as my guide.

Next time, should I go with Thanasios?

Thanasios seemed to have noticed my confusion and added some words.

“Eleni, do you understand what I mean? I’m not telling you not to go, but I want to go with you. In other words, I want to go out with you as a couple. Oh, the more I think about it, the more I regret that Nikita beat me to it! I’m getting angry that he went out with you before me.”

As he said that, Thanasios stuffed fried food into his mouth.

After a few seconds, I thought about it and came up with this question.

“I’ve heard of it.”

“What?”

“That…in the secular world, yes.”

Yes, that is to say, it’s called a date.

I have that much knowledge too.

A date is when a couple in love go out together.

I never dreamed that the day would come when I could do that myself.

However, Thanasios gently pointed out.

“…I guess going to the Arche of Apeiron sanctuary wasn’t a date.”

“Is! Is that a date?!”

“Well, no, that’s different. It’s technically inside the royal castle, so yeah it’s okay, it’s different.”

That’s what it was.

I couldn’t help but smile with excitement.

Chapter 34: True Value

If something exists in people’s memories, it serves as proof of its existence.

Conversely, if something is not in people’s memories, it means it never existed.

The great Styx Kingdom has had a solid proof of existence since ancient times. However, who remembers the small countries that rise and fall throughout the continent? Especially in the midst of chaos, where everything is lost, and the people who lived there are scattered, the memory of a fallen country is forgotten by everyone. It becomes as if it never existed.

Who remembers Eleni’s hometown?

Will it eventually become like that?

Eleni, the wife of Prince Athanasios, is a holy priestess sent by the divine oracle of the main god, Styx, and is not of earthly birth.

After all, no one remembers the name of her hometown. She, too, is slowly losing her memories of her father, half-sister, hometown, and childhood, even though she remembers her mother. With the blessing of the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, they will slowly but surely be forgotten by Eleni and the people’s memories.

To forget what exists and make it nonexistent, that is the true value of the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, and a purification for the new world.

“Hey, Lethe-chan, you never take things seriously, so people forget about your existence, and your followers are so half-hearted. Why don’t you give more oracles and blessings?”

“But the content of the oracle is so formal and I don’t know what to say…”

“Well then, how about letting Eleni have a temple? While she serves as my priestess, Eleni can be the high priestess of your temple too! It’s a win-win situation for Athanasios, and I’ll support you with all my might!”

“Wait, hold on, if that’s the case, I’ll do it… After all, Okaa-sama is still around! And I have a closer relationship with Eleni!”

“Yeah? Then go ahead and do it first! I’ll give an oracle when you’re done.”

Chapter 35: Stomach ache

My stomach hurts.

Since I woke up this morning, my stomach has been hurting badly. When I told the maid who came to check on me, it caused a big commotion.

“This is terrible! We need to call a doctor! We’ll prepare something warm and gentle for your stomach, and contact the kitchen! And we need to inform Athanasios-sama too.”

“You don’t have to tell Thanasios-sama…he’ll worry.”

“But he’s already worried about you! We can’t keep this from him!”

From what I heard from various sources, the maids assigned to me were particularly excellent and caring, even among the maids in this royal castle. Their actions were prompt and appropriate. I was immediately made to lie face down, wrapped in a blanket and holding a soft hot water bottle against my lower back. The doctor was also on standby and arrived within a few minutes.

“When it comes to stomach pain, is there anything that comes to mind? There aren’t many things that could be causing it, such as food or stress.”

“…Food, ah, it might be that. The guiropita meat I ate yesterday.”

“That’s probably it. I’ll give you some medicine right away, please take it as soon as possible.”

The doctor’s tone seemed to contain a hint of exasperation. I understood what he meant. But I didn’t expect Thanasios to rush in and hear those words right in front of him.

“You’ve been used to eating simple meals and even since coming to the royal castle, you’ve been eating only stomach-friendly foods. And now, suddenly, you ate guiropita, which can be considered the representative of commoner’s fast food. And not just one bite, right? Of course, your stomach will be upset.”

It was completely true, and I felt embarrassed and sorry, burying my face in the pillow. I was the one who did something stupid. Because of that, I caused a lot of worry and trouble to everyone, and I couldn’t face Thanasios.

For my foolish act of getting carried away by the deliciousness and hurting my stomach, Thanasios would surely be angry. No, he was bound to come. Oh, main god Styx, please calm him down so that he won’t be angry over such a trivial matter. Please.

I braced myself. I waited, and then unexpected words came.

“You ate meat? You?”

There was no anger in his voice, only surprise and disbelief. I lifted my face a little and glanced at Thanasios. He was also looking surprised beside my bed.

“You ate it… Was it delicious?”

“Y-Yes, it was. But now my stomach hurts, and I regret it.”

“Yeah, of course.”

“Eleni-sama, I’ll also give you a laxative, so please be careful and make it to the bathroom in time.”

“Please don’t say that right now.”

The doctor’s advice was terrible and didn’t read the atmosphere. I was going to take the laxative now, and as a maiden, I didn’t want Thanasios to know about it. I was greatly disappointed.

However, Thanasios shook his shoulders and held back his laughter.

“Thanasios-sama, is that really so amusing?”

“No, it’s just childish, hehe.”

As if to cover up his laughter, Thanasios lightly stroked my head.

“Well, take care of your stomach and get some rest.”

“Please don’t say that…”

I turned my face away from Thanasios with a puff. I really didn’t want him to say anything.

After taking the stomach medicine and laxative and being laughed at by Thanasios, I was in a tough spot. From now on, I’ll try to avoid eating meat. Yes, that’s what I’ll do.

❂❂❂

As Thanasios left Eleni’s room, still chuckling to himself, Ioel, his secretary, rushed over to him in a hurry. Thanasios stopped in his tracks and instantly tightened his face. Something must have happened. He switched his mindset and allowed Ioel to speak.

“Your Highness, the High Priest of the Styx Temple has reported a new oracle.”

“What is the content?”

“Here it is.”

Secretary Ioel quickly handed over a piece of parchment. Thanasios received it and read the clear and firm words mixed with ink and glue.

“The most intelligent young man in the Styx Kingdom, Prince Athanasios Cypnimus. Your wife, Eleni Athanasia Sipunimo, will receive the protection of the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, and erase the name of Uranos from the memory of this continent. Give new names and new lives to the old people of Uranos, and let them become the people of Styx.

Ioel looked at Thanasios with pleading eyes, wondering what it meant.

Certainly, an ordinary person would not be able to understand the meaning of this. Erasing the name of the Uranos Principality from the continent, and Eleni doing it. Thanasios was to assist in accepting the people of the doomed Uranos Principality and settling them in the Styx Kingdom. That was the oracle.

But Thanasios could read the intention of the main god, Styx.

“I see. If that is the divine will.”

Thanasios remained extremely calm. He nodded once and instructed his secretary, Ioel, to inform the Styx Temple of the receipt.

Ioel, who bowed respectfully, left to convey the message to the Styx Temple. Thanasios looked up at the endless blue sky from the decorative window that occupied more than half of the corridor wall in the royal castle.

The oracle of the main god, Styx, had already been given. It was based on the will of the incomprehensible god, but it was all out of mercy for one person.

The main god, Styx, wants to——.

“For Eleni’s revenge, that’s what it is.”

Thanasios was sure of it.

For the sake of that one person, he would conspire with the will of the main god, Styx. He valued Eleni more than the righteous history that should be engraved in the world.

Chapter 36: Reconstruction of the Temple

The day after my stomach had healed, I received a summons from Thanasios to his office. Come to think of it, this was the first time I had been summoned. Whenever there was something, Thanasios always came to my room, so I wondered if there was some formal notice or order. I was nervous, but I couldn’t take too much time getting ready, so I hurried to Thanasios’ office.

And what I was told was surprising.

“The reconstruction of the Temple of Lethe, is it?”

I couldn’t quite swallow those words. I had heard that the temple of Lethe, the goddess of forgetfulness whom I served, was one of the few in the entire continent. However, I thought that there must be one in the Styx Kingdom, where the faith in the gods, especially the main god Styx, was strong. What does ‘reconstruction’ mean?

Thanasios nodded with a hint of implication.

“Previously, I told you that you had to report to the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, whom you served as a nun, because you were going to become the chief priestess of the main god, Styx. So, I searched for the Temple of Lethe in the capital… but it wasn’t there.”

“It wasn’t there?”

“Perhaps it was forgotten because there were few faithful visitors. I finally found a trace of it on a map from several hundred years ago in the library, but now it has become a public bathhouse for local residents, and there was no trace of it.”

I was speechless. My mouth was wide open.

Even the temple, the center of faith, had been forgotten. Isn’t that too much, Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe?

But Thanasios doesn’t stop there.

“So, we will renovate an available property in the center of the capital and build the Temple of Lethe in a hurry. However, the goddess of the festival, the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, has lost all descriptions of offerings and rituals in all literature, and the priests in the capital have no idea about the details. That’s why I want you, a follower of the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, to help rebuild the temple.”

No one would have thought that it had been forgotten to such an extent, but perhaps even the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, had not thought of it. Anyway, I am a nun serving the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, and I recently received an oracle that I would receive her blessing. At this point, there is no choice but to do something. Rather, I will gladly repay the favor.

I decided to accept Thanasios’ proposal.

“Understood. For the sake of the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, I will do everything I can.”

“You don’t have to be so tense. Building the Temple of Lethe has another purpose.”

“Another purpose?”

“Yes. We will incorporate the former Uranos Principality knights into the newly created Lethe Temple Knights. This way, they will be given a status to live in the Styx Kingdom and will also receive salaries.”

I tilted my head. Once again, incomprehensible words. What does it mean to attach the old to the Uranos Principality, to be incorporated into the Temple Knights, and to live in the Styx Kingdom? What events led to this, and what does it all mean? I have too little information to even imagine. All I know is that Korya, the young man I happened to meet again at the tavern in the castle town, and probably his fellow knights, are there.

Would it be wrong to ask Thanasios for an explanation? I timidly asked Thanasios.

“Um, Thanasios-sama. Why is Korya… I mean, from what I heard, the knights who should be in the Uranos Principality are in the Styx Kingdom? What is happening?”

I didn’t think it was wrong to ask, but I didn’t know if I was allowed to bother Thanasios with my questions.

What should I know and how should I act? As someone who doesn’t interact with people and is ignorant of the world, I don’t understand anything. I only know that I can’t distinguish between what I should know and what I don’t need to know. Therefore, I think I should leave it to Thanasios, who is intelligent and discerning, to handle that aspect.

But…

Thanasios also caught my confusion.

Thanasios said earnestly, “Eleni, I swear to the main god Styx that I will not lie to you.”

Oh, I didn’t want to make him say that.

I regretted it. It seemed like I didn’t trust Thanasios. Thanasios would never lie to me, and even if he did, I wouldn’t be able to tell, and even if I did, I should ignore it.

It is not allowed to tarnish the name of the wise prince of the Styx Kingdom. So I regretted it and kept my mouth shut.

“I will tell you what needs to be told. However, there is little information to give at the moment. For certain reasons, knights have fled from the Uranos Principality, and the Styx Kingdom has accepted them. Therefore, I want to borrow your power.”

If that’s all I need, the information is enough, and I accept it.

Recognizing Thanasios’ sincerity, I expressed my gratitude.

“Thank you very much, Thanasios-sama. On behalf of the knights, I would like to thank you as well.”

“Don’t worry about it. Oh, and if you’re interested, I’d like to appoint you to a key position at the Temple of Lethe. You can think of it as my proxy, and it will make things easier.”

“Well then, I’ll do my best, even though I’m just a lowly nun. Will I be able to handle it?”

“Nobody else knows more about the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe than you do in this country. Well, that may not be saying much.”

I couldn’t help but agree with that. I was just a simple nun, and my faith was not very strong.

However, the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe is generous.

A voice echoed in my head.

“It’s fine, but… oh, Eleni, I agree with everything you just said. Also, I’m appointing you as the chief priestess and priestess of the Temple of Lethe, so please take care of it. Don’t worry, there’s also an oracle from Styx-Okaasama confirming it.”

Snap! My consciousness was brought back to reality.

I looked around and muttered to myself.

“Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe just gave me an oracle.”

“What?!”

Thanasios stood up with a start, knocking his chair over and staring at me with wide eyes.

In the end, I was called by the priest and had the oracle of the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe officially documented as a formal document before heading to the planned temple site.

Chapter 37: Escort

The planned site for the temple was a personal residence of the deceased owner. It seemed that the wealthy merchant who was the owner had passed away a few years ago, and the place had been left untouched ever since. The deceased merchant had no family, and it seemed that it had been abandoned because it was difficult to find a buyer.

However, it was said that the place was spacious enough and could be used as a temple and a base for knights with a little renovation. That’s what was written in the documents handed to me by Ioel, Thanasios’ secretary.

In the end, I decided to go to the planned temple site alone. Thanasios and the maids were busy, and there was talk of assigning soldiers as escorts, but it seemed like it would take too much time, so I declined and left somewhat forcefully.

Normally, it would be a problem to let the princess go out alone, but this was Styx Kingdom, and the public safety in the capital was excellent. Moreover, the place I was going to was a quiet residential area where former Uranos Principality knights were gathering. It was not a problem for me to go out alone in a simple tunic, as no one would recognize me as the princess, but rather as a poor girl. It was sad, but it was the truth.

Walking along the clean cobblestone streets, following the map provided in the documents I received, I arrived at the planned temple site in no time. Surprisingly, it was just a stone’s throw away from the royal castle. I thought to myself that I could come here every day.

Approaching the place, I saw several knights loitering at the gate. They looked like travelers and seemed a bit worn out. It was understandable since they had come all the way from the Uranos Principality. I couldn’t help but wonder what had happened there to make them come all the way to the Styx Kingdom. However, I shook off those thoughts and focused on the task at hand.

First, I approached the knights at the gate and spoke to them.

“Excuse me, hello. My name is Eleni. I have been sent here by Prince Athanasios.”

“Princess Eleni!”

Before I could finish my sentence, the knights stood up and straightened their backs, shouting my name.

Hearing the commotion, other knights came out as well. I had never been surrounded by so many men before and I panicked, looking around desperately for someone to help me.

Then, I spotted Korya among the knights and called out to him.

“Korya!”

He must have noticed my desperate plea that sounded like a scream. Korya, who had grown his hair a little longer, pushed aside the knights and came to me.

“Eleni-sama, it’s been a while… no, we met the other day. I’m glad to see you’re doing well.”

“Likewise, Korya. But more importantly, where is your leader?”

“If you mean the Knight Commander, he’s over there. Please, allow me to escort you, Princess.”

Korya was in high spirits as he took my hand and led me inside the mansion. The hall had a high ceiling with a mosaic-tiled arch-shaped roof, walls, and floors. They all indicated that this mansion was built by a very wealthy person.

Although I wondered why such a place had no buyers, I put that question aside when I saw the former Uranos Principality Knight Commander walking towards us.

The Knight Commander knelt down on one knee and showed his formal knightly respect. The other knights followed suit without a word and performed a splendid ceremony. Even I, who had no knowledge, could understand how much these knights had trained and how proud they were. They never lost their pride as knights, even if they became travelers of hardship.

The Knight Commander, who was slightly older than middle-aged, raised his head.

“It’s an honor to meet you, Princess Eleni. Since Korya is the only one among us who has met you in person, we were not allowed to come and greet you, and we have been frustrated. However, we have come this far to pledge our loyalty to you.”

Huh? To pledge loyalty to me? Why?

They should be loyal to the Duke of Uranos, not me. Yet they left the Uranos Principality and came all the way here. What happened in the Uranos Principality?

To find out, I first thanked them.

“Thank you for coming all this way. If you don’t mind, please tell me the story of how you came here.”

The Knight Commander nodded deeply. He stood up and tried to guide me to a room with chairs.

——I never imagined that I would hear such a story.

Chapter 38: The Lette temple knights group

I sat on a chair in the living room of the mansion and listened to the explanation from the Knight Commander without interrupting.

“As a matter of fact, all the knights of the Uranos Principality are here.”

——All of them? What?

“Although we have already lost our status as knights of the Uranos Principality, we have decided to abandon our country because we have become tired of serving the Duke and Princess Paulina. We are knights, and we want to pledge our loyalty to those we should serve. Of course, this decision was not made overnight, but after carefully considering all of the Duke’s actions up until now. Therefore, we came here, thinking that if we listened to Korya’s story, Eleni-sama would allow us to work as knights.”

Were things so bad that knights would abandon their country?

“The Uranos Principality we fled from was in a hurry to send Princess Paulina to the Kailus castle ball, so they didn’t even bother to send pursuers. Of course, since all the knights are here, it wouldn’t have been a problem even if they did.”

I don’t understand why the ball was given priority over the knights.

“After that, I don’t know what happened to the Uranos Principality. We were wandering and struggling to survive day by day.”

That means something really difficult must have happened.

I had many thoughts and opinions, but I realized it was pointless to point them out one by one. There were many things they didn’t understand, and it wouldn’t help to know the current situation of the Uranos Principality. Right now, the priority was to convince them to switch their allegiance to me, who they desired to serve.

“It must have been tough. I know it’s not enough to just say ‘thank you for your hard work,’ but that’s all I can say for now.”

“You’re too kind.”

“Speaking of serving, you will become the temple knights of the newly built Temple of Lethe.”

The knights were restless at the unfamiliar term “temple knights.”

The temple is the center of faith, where each god is enshrined, and the temple knights are responsible for its protection and assisting the activities of the priests and priestesses in the outside world. Since the Uranos Principality did not have a large temple, they were probably not familiar with the term “temple knights.” They had an honest question on their faces about what to do in such a situation.

The Knight Commander opened his mouth anxiously. I was tense, thinking that I had to somehow convince them.

“Excuse me, isn’t that to serve Eleni-sama?”

“Well, I am the chief priestess of the Temple of Lethe. So, with you guys…”

Once again, the knights were in a commotion. I didn’t understand why they were making a fuss and panicked. What should I do?

However, the Knight Commander opened his eyes wide and looked straight at me.

“Eleni-sama, what’s going on?”

“Huh?”

“The chief priestess… Eleni-sama entrusted with such a great role?”

Oh, I see.

To change the subject, I cleared my throat with a cough.

“As a princess, I am allowed to hold a certain position as a clergy member. Therefore, would you be satisfied with me becoming a temple knight?”

Let’s keep it quiet about the fact that no one knows about the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, and that I was given the responsibility of the temple because I know the most about it. Some things are better left unknown.

The commotion settled down, and the Knight Commander looked around before nodding in agreement to me.

“Well then, we will… Excuse me, but what kind of goddess is Lethe?”

“Oh, she is the goddess who governs forgetfulness. I have been serving her since my days as a nun.”

“Understood. We will serve the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, and you.”

And so, the more than two hundred knights of the former Uranos Principality were able to continue their activities under the new name of the Lethe temple knights of the Styx Kingdom.

However, the Uranos Principality seems to be in a state of devastation. I have no attachment to it, but it’s a little concerning.

But there’s nothing to do but wait. The day Thanasios tells me will come soon enough.

For the next few days, I was busy with the maintenance of the Temple of Lethe.

Chapter 39: There is Not a Glimmer of Faith

It has been three days since Eleni was given her task.

In the late-night study, Thanasios leaned back deeply in his chair, staring at the body of the candle flame amplified by the crystal lamp on his desk. He wanted to be alone with his thoughts, so he had sent his secretary Ioel away.

He meets Eleni every day. They have meals together in the morning and evening, and although they now take separate baths, it’s not a big deal. It’s better to think that he no longer needs to take care of a young girl like her forever. Besides, even if he’s okay with it, Eleni might actually hate it. He had completely forgotten, but consideration for ladies is also taught by the main god, Styx. Therefore, he should stop it soon.

He thought so, but now he was starting to worry in reverse.

In Thanasios’ mind, the image of Eleni, a thin and underdeveloped girl, came to mind when he first saw her. Her poor diet, which barely sustained her, living conditions better than a slave but still terrible, and the tunic that looked like it was meant for an adult but was in tatters, all of these things made him reluctantly accept that this was the result of ten years of living like this. If someone were to say that this would improve in just a few weeks, it would still be a long way off. Nevertheless, he decided to entrust the reconstruction of the Temple of Lethe to her, thinking that it would be better to give her some work than to leave her idle. He was worried, but he didn’t want to cage her like a bird, so he believed it was the right choice.

But what did she want to do? What did she not want to do, and what does she want?

It would be normal to think that she wanted a normal life, the treatment befitting a princess. Despite being a nun, she was originally a princess, a woman of noble birth. It was only natural for her to have such desires, and Thanasios thought so too, but…

“…I can’t imagine Eleni wanting anything.”

Thanasios had been observing Eleni for the past few weeks and had come to realize that she hardly ever asked for anything. She was even timid when it came to receiving things, as evidenced by her insistence on wanting to eat guiropita at the tavern in the town (which ultimately made her sick).

Suddenly, Thanasios remembered one thing that Eleni clearly desired.

“Revenge, is it?”

That was the one thing that Eleni clung to, so much so that she prayed to the gods for it.

Thanasios couldn’t understand why she wanted it so badly. He had never experienced such mistreatment in his life, as he was a privileged prince who had always had everything go his way.

But the revenge was already decided by the main god, Styx. As a follower of the main god Styx, Thanasios accepted that decision without question. The Uranos Principality had already fallen into ruin, and news of the death of the Duke of Uranos had been received in secret. So, what else was there to do?

Perhaps the revenge was not yet over?

Although it cannot be answered with certainty what would make Eleni happy, he doesn’t think she has yet grasped the essence of it.

What will happen from now on? And is that something Eleni wants to know?

Perhaps it is up to him to determine that.

If Eleni wants to know about the ugly events of this world, there is no reason to stop her. However, Thanasios will protect Eleni from the wicked people who come like natural disasters and the atrocities of injustice.

——Oh, great god Styx. That is the role I am meant to fulfill.

There is no answer even if he asks. Thanasios is not a priest and cannot hear the voice of the gods.

However, there is no doubt in his faith.

Thanasios extinguished the candle flame and left the office.

He strongly felt that he wanted to do something for Eleni. It was not just about emotions such as love and goodwill, but it was right——Thanasios was convinced of that.

However, if he were to add a little selfishness to it.

Thanasios’ footsteps stopped as he walked down the marble corridor illuminated by the waxing moon.

After hesitating for a few moments, Thanasios decided to head to a different destination instead of his own bedroom.

Chapter 40: May You Be Happy

Gently pushing open the white polished glass door with grape vines carved on it, Thanasios approached the canopy bed in the center of the room, trying not to wake the sleeping owner of the room. Eleni, who had learned to cover herself with a puffy feather comforter and wear a nightcap on her long golden hair, was snoring with her face half-buried in a large pillow.

Thanasios had noticed that when Eleni was sound asleep, she curled up and shrank herself to protect herself from the cold. The Uranos Principality was mountainous, and the remote monastery was probably located in an even colder place. It was unlikely that they had adequate warm clothing or bedding. It must have become a habit for her to sleep like that. No matter how warm the bed was, it would take time for Eleni to feel comfortable enough to sleep soundly.

Sitting on the small round chair next to the bed, Thanasios lifted the comforter slightly and peered at Eleni’s face.

Her expression was stiff, as if enduring something.

Thanasios was surprised. What could she still be enduring in such a privileged environment? Even while sleeping, what was tormenting her? For a moment, he even thought about waking her up, but Thanasios stopped himself.

Thanasios doesn’t know what to do. Just spoiling Eleni won’t bring her peace of mind, but rather more anxiety. After all, being suddenly brought to this Styx Kingdom and receiving an oracle to marry Thanasios, where is the element of relief in that? No matter how much Thanasios tries to serve her, Eleni will probably think this way.

“If I was married on a whim of the gods, I might also be abandoned on a whim of the prince. Like my father who abandoned me and my mother.”

Can the girl who only wishes for revenge against her father who abandoned her and her mother truly trust Thanasios?

Can Thanasios truly understand Eleni?

Thanasios thought while staring at Eleni’s stern expression. He had no intention of being arrogant about his position or status, but from an outsider’s perspective, it might seem that way. As a prince with an important position, he undoubtedly excels more than others and reigns as a strong person.

Isn’t it presumptuous for him to understand the feelings of a girl who endured ten years of suffering, given his position? Trying to melt her heart and make her do his bidding would go against the will of the main god, Styx.

Thanasios was seriously troubled. He had not been so troubled in recent times, not even with the pending issues and national challenges brought to him by Nikita, which he had no trouble making decisions on.

——How can Eleni be happy? Not just as a wife, but as a person, if only she could find happiness.

Thanasios knew that there was no answer to his dilemma, but he couldn’t stop thinking about it.

For the sake of one girl, the wise prince of the Styx Kingdom was troubled and wished for her happiness.

——May you be happy.

Thanasios sincerely wished for that alone.

The prince of good nature, loved by the main god Styx, did not realize that he had found the answer precisely because he did not know his own qualities.

The main god Styx murmured.

“You, who can sincerely wish for someone’s happiness, can surely make Eleni happy. Don’t worry, you are on the right path.”

Even if the voice did not reach him, Thanasios would not stray from the path.

Eventually, Thanasios slipped out of the room, being careful not to wake Eleni. Although the short time they spent together could not solve everything, it was more than enough for Thanasios to have a sufficient respite.

Chapter 41: Wouldn’t you hate everything in this world

Early in the morning, Thanasios told me that he had something to discuss.

“It’s hard to talk here, let’s go outside.”

With that, Thanasios took me out of the royal castle and headed towards the castle town.

Thanasios took my hand and led me through the alleyways. The narrow paths were spotless, and the strong morning sun shone through the gaps between the buildings. It was almost summer. Thanasios said so and took me to a small tavern on a street corner.

It was still too early for the tavern to be open, and I wondered what we were going to do. Thanasios boldly opened the door to the tavern. The bell on the top of the door rang as we entered. I followed him nervously.

The slightly old-fashioned tavern had several skylights that let in the light. There were three tables with four matching chairs each, and five chairs of various sizes at the counter. The young chef, who seemed to be the owner of the tavern, and a young man were peeking through the gap between the hanging frying pans, wondering what was going on.

Thanasios smiled.

“It’s been a while. I’ve been busy lately and couldn’t come.”

Then, the owner’s expression softened.

“What’s up, Prince? You’re still sneaking out as usual.”

“Alright. Oh, this is Eleni. She’s my wife, although we haven’t had the ceremony yet.”

I was surprised and frozen by the sudden introduction, but I quickly turned to the owner and managed to nod my head.

The owner was also surprised.

“Well, well… that mischievous boy has grown up. Oh, you want food? I’ll prepare it right away, so please sit down.”

“Wait, we’ll order something different today. Something that Eleni can eat.”

Thanasios took the menu from the counter and quickly placed several orders with the shopkeeper. The shopkeeper took notes, and Thanasios handed him a drachma coin as payment. I remember that one drachma coin was worth six obolus coins. It should be enough for the two of us to have a meal.

Thanasios turned around and led me to the table. He pulled out a chair, made a grand gesture, and gestured for me to sit down. It was a bit too much and made me feel uneasy, but I sat down on the chair. The chair, which had become so blackened and old that it could be called antique, had probably been sat on by hundreds or thousands of people, and the wood was comfortably indented.

Thanasios whispered to me.

“This is the tavern where I’ve been coming since I was a kid. I used to sneak out and eat here, and then go to the gambling den where Nikita is. The owner is like a childhood friend, and his father, the previous owner, was always good to me.”

I see. It’s one of those secret shops that you go to incognito. Clever Thanasios seems to be able to easily sneak out of the royal castle, making it difficult for people to find him.

From behind the counter, there was a loud popping sound. The sweet and fluffy smell, like when baking wheat sweets, also wafted over.

“Thanasios-sama, what is that sound?”

“They must be making fried food. Have you never heard the sound of oil splattering?”

“No, I haven’t. Oil was…a precious commodity.”

“I see. They’re using olive oil to fry. In the southern part of the Styx Kingdom, the production of oil squeezed from olive fruits is thriving and is circulating at a low price.”

Thanasios explained it to me politely. The monastery’s meals didn’t use oil, so when the smell of oil filled the air, I choked a little. Thanasios, who was watching me, went to open the window. His consideration was appreciated, but it seemed like it would take some time to get used to it.

The sound of the oven opening, the sound of a knife hitting the cutting board, the sound of taking dishes out of the cupboard. When I was about to pass out from all the smells, the owner skillfully brought three large plates and several small plates as serving dishes.

On the table were freshly cooked dishes steaming with heat.

“Please enjoy the spanakopita, gemista, and lokma. Take your time,” said the owner, who had nothing left to do, and returned to the other side of the counter.

I had never heard of these dishes before, some kind of pie with vegetables stuffed inside, and small round fox-colored things. I was getting hungry, and my stomach was starting to growl.

Thanasios skillfully served the dishes onto a plate, giving me a slightly smaller portion. He then handed me a fork that was placed on the table.

“Here, try it.”

“Y-Yes. I’ve never heard of these dishes before.”

“None of them contain meat, but the oil might upset your stomach. Would you like some yogurt?”

“No, I’ll be fine. I’ll try it.”

“Okay.”

I thanked Thanasios for his consideration and held the fork. Then I remembered the main topic.

“Um… Thanasios-sama.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Do you have something to talk about?”

“Oh, yes. I’ll talk to you properly.”

“You won’t lie, will you?”

“That’s right. I’m just a little lost on the order of things to talk about. It’s all a bit…complicated in this world.”

The world is complicated. That’s for sure. Thanasios is someone who has to deal with these complicated matters. Perhaps he’s trying to explain it to me in a way that I can understand.

While waiting for Thanasios to get to the point, I try to distract myself with something else. For now, I want to find out what’s inside the vegetables that were baked in the oven in front of me.

“What is this? Gemista?”

“It’s stuffed peppers with rice and vegetables.”

“Rice?”

“Don’t you know? Well, try it and see.”

With that, I scoop out the contents with a fork. It’s tightly packed and crumbly. It’s not like couscous or any other tiny pasta, and I can see bits of chopped tomatoes and herbs.

I put it in my mouth. The flavor of the vegetables spreads gently. When I chew, the crumbly bits easily break apart.

What is this? The closest thing I’ve had to it before is…barley?

“It’s definitely a grain.”

“It’s different from boiled barley.”

Hmm, it’s a new texture for me. Chewy. The more I chew, the more the flavor comes out.

After swallowing, I aim my fork at the next target.

In front of me is something like a triangular pie, filled with green vegetables. The round, fox-colored thing next to it seems to have some kind of syrup on it.

“Is this a pie? It’s filled with spinach… a lot of it.”

“It’s a cheese and spinach pie, spanakopita. We stuff it with various ingredients.”

“And what about lokma?”

“It’s a honey-covered fried bread. It’s a common breakfast for commoners in the Styx Kingdom.”

When I cut the spanakopita with a fork, the cheese falls apart. I expected the pie to have a strong flavor, but it’s actually light and easy to eat. The cheese is salty and rich. Yes, I could eat this.

Finally, there’s the lokma. It’s a small, round fried food. I poke it with a fork and take a bite. First, it’s sweet. The syrup is sweet. The sweetness hits my tongue directly. The crispy exterior and the syrup that envelops the soft and chewy dough are the main components. My mouth can’t help but say “wow” in happiness.

“Is it good?”

Thanasios asks me, and I nod vigorously.

Thanasios hasn’t touched the food yet. He doesn’t even have a fork.

But Thanasios finally seems to have decided to speak.

“First of all, what I’m about to tell you is information that is not yet widely known. It will eventually spread, but Nikita will bias the information to some extent before releasing it. The shock is just too great.”

Munching on my lokma and swallowing, I listened silently to Thanasios’ story.

However, the story was just as Thanasios had said, too shocking.

“Two weeks ago, at the annual ball held at the Kailus castle, all the kings and nobles from various countries who had gathered there were massacred by the rebellious commoners. Regardless of age or gender, the bodies of the nobles were all severely damaged, to the point where they could only be identified by their clothing. Your half-sister was also among them. In addition, upon receiving the news, the Duke of Uranos went insane. The rebellion of the commoners in the former Kailus Kingdom spread to surrounding countries, causing the Hyperion Empire, Minava Kingdom, and Uranos Principality to collapse. With the death of the nobles who ruled the country, a new regime will be born.”

Thanasios smoothly delivered the story up to that point.

The content reached my head clearly. Unfamiliar words, unheard-of words, and above all, the word “death” overflowed.

That alone weighed heavily on my heart and made it sink.

“I see.”

That’s all I could say. I didn’t know what to say.

It was a story that made the world seem to crumble. The ugly world and the ugly people I hated were swallowed up by a terrible torrent mixed with death. It was so painful to hear. Does Thanasios always listen to such stories? In such a terrible world, Thanasios fights. I felt like I had been told a small part of that story.

As I was trying to think through my sluggish thoughts, Thanasios brought me back to reality with his voice.

“Eleni, let me ask you one thing. With this… is your revenge over?”

Revenge?

For a moment, I was puzzled by what he said.

Oh, I see. He must be talking about the deaths of the Duke and Princess Paulina. The man who drove my mother to her death and the woman who despised me, the daughter of that man.

Is the revenge I wished for to the main god Styx over now?

No, it’s not over.

The flame of revenge burning in my heart has not yet subsided. My mother’s regret has not yet been cleared. My resentment has not yet been cleared.

I honestly confessed my feelings to Thanasios.

“I still feel that way.”

I said it out loud.

Is it despicable to seek a heavier punishment? I looked up at Thanasios.

However, Thanasios didn’t change his expression at all. On the contrary, his eyes looking at me remained the same.

“I see. No, I have no intention of blaming you. But who should you seek revenge on from now on? I’ve thought about how far the divine punishment of the god Styx can reach.”

Thanasios was thinking about my revenge as if it were his own matter. It was surprising that someone of his noble status, like Thanasios, would take such a serious approach to such a vulgar matter as revenge.

Or is it because it’s about me? No, that’s not it. It must be because the god Styx is involved.

My revenge is only possible because of the backing of the god Styx – that’s why.

“I…am worried that your revenge will become like a wildfire.”

Thanasios looked straight at me.

Normally, I would be captivated by his beauty. But now, I couldn’t feel that way. After all, Thanasios was deeply concerned about me. I was overwhelmed with regret and shame for making Thanasios worry about me. To overwrite those emotions, Thanasios spoke calmly and advised me.

“If you hate something, everything related to it will become hateful. But that hatred will never end that way. The target of revenge will never run out, and you will have to risk your entire life. Won’t you end up hating everything in this world?”

Unconsciously, I repeated those words.

Hating everything in this world.

Is that what my revenge is about?

Do I hate not only the man who abandoned my mother, but also the country he rules and the world that allows it?

Do I hate everything indiscriminately and want punishment for it all?

I don’t know. I wanted revenge without even understanding that.

I had to tell Thanasios about it. I didn’t want him to misunderstand me.

“Thanasios-sama, it may be irresponsible of me to say this, but I don’t understand it well either. How far is revenge supposed to go? What is the will of the god Styx, and how do I determine who I should take revenge on?”

If the main god Styx accurately understands my desire for revenge and is making those who deserve divine punishment pay for it, that would be good. But who is included in that punishment and how far does it go? How long will the revenge continue?

Only Thanasios and I know that the revenge I wanted is being accomplished as divine punishment by the main god Styx.

Thanasios is probably anxious. I wanted to somehow alleviate his anxiety.

“I see… I would like to know more, but humans cannot know the intentions of the main god Styx. It can’t be helped.”

Thanasios pondered for a moment.

Finally, Thanasios moved his fork towards the spanakopita. He needed time to think, so I tried to distract myself with the sweet lokma.

But then, thanks to the sweetness, I thought of something.

“Um, Thanasios-sama. After we finish eating, would you like to go to the Styx Temple?”

“What for?”

“If we pray and make a wish, we might receive a divine oracle from the main god Styx. It’s just a possibility, though.”

That’s right, it was a simple matter. If it was the work of the main god Styx, the best thing to do was to ask directly. Although there was no guarantee that I would get an answer, it was still better than doing nothing.

As a priestess, I might be able to receive a divine oracle.

Thanasios seemed to understand and agreed.

“Okay, let’s do that. By the way, lokma is delicious.”

“It’s chewy and sweet.”

“What about dessert? Let’s order baklava.”

“Yes, I’m looking forward to it.”

Afterwards, the baklava we ordered arrived and it was too sweet, causing me to shiver.

Anyway, the task at hand was decided. I was eating the rice in the gemista, enjoying the texture of the grains.

Chapter 42: That’s taking over my body

Without delay, Thanasios and I returned to the royal castle and made preparations to visit the Arche of Apeiron, where the Styx Temple was located. Thanasios held my hand, which made me a little nervous, but thanks to him, I believed that we were doing the right thing and didn’t get lost.

The mysterious spherical sanctuary Arche of Apeiron was just as it was before, with a white sun of light floating in the center. People such as priests and priestesses were spending their time leisurely doing their work. It was a peaceful scene, and nothing could disturb the tranquility here, no matter what happened on the surface.

As Thanasios and I stepped into the Arche of Apeiron, the high priestess Panagiota, whom I recognized, came to greet us as a visitor.

“Good day, Your Highnesses. What brings you here today?”

Her voice was somewhat stern. Thanasios might have come to request something from the Styx Temple, I thought.

Thanasios calmly said, “We urgently need to obtain the oracle of the main god Styx. I believe it is possible if we go through Eleni, the chief priestess.”

High Priestess Panagiota was clearly surprised. And no wonder, for oracles are bestowed by the gods as they see fit. It is rare for humans to obtain them through mere request. Even if the prince insisted, it would be dismissed as impossible.

However, High Priestess Panagiota crossed her arms and pondered.

“Obtaining an oracle… is that really possible? According to the literature, there were cases where a priestess could obtain one if she wished. But the priestesses here cannot do such a thing. Would it be different for Eleni-sama?”

High Priestess Panagiota did not start with a denial, and seemed to be taking Thanasios’s unreasonable request seriously. Since she had not outright refused, it should be possible to try.

“For now, I want to try. Please let Eleni enter the temple.”

“Understood. Then, Eleni-sama, please fetch this water and offer it at the altar.”

As instructed, I approached the stream of water flowing through the hollow of the Arche of Apeiron, the sacred domain, and dipped the small jar I was given. The main god, Styx, is also the god of the great river. The small streams in the Arche of Apeiron are said to mimic the great river that Styx rules over. I offered the water from the stream and prayed. That was the procedure.

I entered the small temple alone. I placed the jar on the simple marble altar inside and knelt on the floor covered with a woven mat. I intertwined my fingers, closed my eyes, and clenched my hands.

Come to think of it, I haven’t prayed to God much. I don’t have much faith, and I also have anger towards the God who didn’t help my praying mother. I think it’s meaningless. Even now, I still feel the presence of the main god Styx and the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, but I still think so. Even if I pray, God won’t grant my wishes. It’s pointless to ask something from a capricious God. So, to be honest, I didn’t expect anything.

“Main God Styx. I am not in a position to ask you for anything, and I am just a small human who relies on your capriciousness. If you don’t answer me, Thanasios and I will be disappointed, but that can’t be helped. It’s wrong for humans to expect something from God.”

That’s what I truly believed.

However, the main God Styx easily gave me a divine message.

“Eleni Athanasia Sipunimo, the priestess who received my blessing. Spread this message to everyone.”

A clear and resonant female voice echoed in my ears and head. Without any delay, the voice continued.

“Carry the mark of Styx. Carry the medal of Lethe. Then, I shall answer your wish.”

As if having said what needed to be said, the voice stopped.

I looked at the Lethe medal that I always wore on my chest and then briefly thought about where the mark of Styx could be. Yes, it was there. Thanasios had it. I would borrow the golden mark of Styx that the priest of the Styx Kingdom possessed.

I rushed out of the temple and shouted to Thanasios, who was waiting outside.

“Thanasios-sama!”

“I heard you! Use this!”

Thanasios removed the golden mark of Styx that he was wearing around his neck and pressed it into my hand.

The moment I received it, my consciousness began to fade. I felt the ground shake and sway. But someone immediately supported my weak body, as if taking over my body.

My mouth moved on its own.

“No, it’s difficult to synchronize the wavelengths. I thought I could do better.”

What?

It wasn’t my voice. It was the clear female voice that I had heard earlier. And it was coming out of my throat.

Thanasios, the high priest Panagiota, and other priests and priestesses had expressions of shock on their faces. I didn’t know what to do and my eyes were swimming. However, the control of my body was in the hands of the main god, Styx. The goddess with long silver hair had taken over my body and descended to the earth.

“Eleni?”

At Thanasios’ call, my body reacted on its own.

To my surprise, my body hugged Thanasios and I was very excited.

“Athanasios! Kyaa, you’re so cool and cute! I’ve known you since you were born!”

“What? Uh, yes?”

“When you made a fortune at Nikita’s gambling den, I was cheering you on so much! I got carried away with the blessings and the bet didn’t work out, but it was a shame.”

For a moment, Thanasios had a look of concern on his face. He may not have wanted others to know about it. He seemed a little flustered.

Perhaps the main god, Styx, who had taken over my body, sensed this and coughed deliberately to change the subject.

“Ahem. Athanasios Cypnimus, the most intelligent young man in the Styx Kingdom. This is the oracle from Styx.”

Styx, the main god, suddenly became serious. Tension filled the air, not only for Thanasios, but also for the priests and priestesses who held their breath. It was even possible to sense their confusion, as it was unthinkable for a divine oracle to descend before them.

However, Styx spoke in a nonchalant manner.

“It’s been a while since I last punished anyone, so I went a little overboard and destroyed a few countries.”

I’m sorry! Styx cutely apologized through my mouth. Please don’t say such outrageous things through me, Styx.

“Oh, but it won’t be bad for this country! What else did you want to ask?”

“That’s right! God Styx, is Eleni’s revenge not over yet?!”

Thanasios didn’t forget the main topic even in this situation. He was indeed a wise prince favored by Styx. He would fulfill his purpose in my place.

Styx, on the other hand, seemed rather indifferent.

“Well, since the nobles did something bad to Eleni, why don’t we just get rid of the nobles? So, it will end with the end of the nobility system. Therefore, please work to reform the nobility system or go to war, or whatever you want to do.”

“Wait a minute, God Styx. Isn’t that a really grand story?”

I couldn’t move my own mouth and it was frustrating. Without giving me a chance to ask or speak freely, God Styx finished the story on his own.

“Well, I’m about to disconnect, so the oracle is over! See you later!”

With a snap, as if a thread had been cut, I lost all strength in my body and collapsed to the ground. My mouth moved up and down, and I confirmed that I could move my body as I pleased, clenching and releasing my hands.

Thanasios looked down at me. I was so scared that I couldn’t look him in the eye.

Even though it was God Styx who did it, it was me who hugged Thanasios and talked to him in a familiar way. It was my body.

“…Thanasios-sama.”

I curled up like a pill bug.

I was blushing so much that I could feel the heat coming out of my face.

“Please don’t look at me, it’s embarrassing…”

“Ye, yeah…”

And this incident was recorded as an oracle of God Styx in an official document.

Afterwards, I was horrified and despairing at the thought that my embarrassing behavior would be remembered for generations to come.

Chapter 43: Pax Styxana

On the night of the day when the divine possession of the main god Styx, or rather Eleni, occurred, Thanasios called Nikita to his office. Whenever important decisions were made as the Styx Kingdom, Nikita was always called upon as an advisor. Thanasios could usually make decisions on his own, but he called upon Nikita to explore more possibilities and obtain some assurance.

Thanasios conveyed the daytime commotion to Nikita and asked him, “What do you think, Nikita?”

Even without mentioning the divine possession of the main god Styx today, Nikita understood what Thanasios was referring to.

“Well, first of all, I’m not a follower of the main god Styx. But if I were to say, I think everyone in the Arche of Apeiron divine realm might have had a collective hallucination.”

“No, that can’t explain it. First of all, Eleni couldn’t have known about my childhood.”

“Well… that’s certainly true. There’s no one else who could have told her except me. But I swear I haven’t told her about how my lord made a fortune. Even I have some pride, even though I was defeated.”

“You don’t have to tell me. That’s enough.”

Thanasios got to the point and approached the core of the divine possession.

“I see a possibility of abolishing the aristocratic system on this continent.”

He didn’t want to say that it was necessary to complete Eleni’s revenge, but he had already told Nikita about it.

Nikita wouldn’t object. On the contrary, if Thanasios’ prediction was correct, he would take a proactive stance.

As expected, Nikita presented the necessary information about the state of the world and its purpose.

“Let’s talk a little about the future. The Styx Kingdom’s unique system is fine as it is, but other countries are not so lucky. The rebellion and establishment of a new state by citizens in the former Kailus Kingdom and surrounding countries, as well as the reform of the political system, are already a foregone conclusion. It is also certain that this trend will spread to other countries. If that happens… other countries and nobles will strongly oppose it. They fear that their vested interests will be violated and they will be executed, like the nobles of the former Hyperion Empire and Minava Kingdom.”

Thanasios nodded. Nikita confirmed it and moved on to the next topic.

“However, sooner or later, a large-scale rebellion by the citizens against the nobility and aristocracy would have occurred. It was almost predictable. If it miraculously succeeded, or rather, if it was a great success, the world would change dramatically. Therefore, as the Styx Kingdom, we should ride that wave. It is not strange to support devout citizens rather than the nobility and aristocracy who are only concerned with war.”

“What if we become the target of criticism and execution instead of the nobility and aristocracy?”

“That would be the time when faith is no longer needed on this continent. Nothing lasts forever, and the role of the Styx Kingdom may come to an end. However, it won’t be immediate, and we will survive for the next few hundred years. If we want to continue to be safe after that, we need our descendants to work hard during that time.”

I see, that makes sense.

Those who believe in the main god Styx, whether they are royal or religious figures, or citizens, would never utter such words. People who innocently believe in eternal peace and the protection of the main god Styx avoid the end of the Styx Kingdom. However, as Nikita said, the time will come when the Styx Kingdom will also come to an end. What can be done now is to delay it as much as possible. Alternatively, it may be possible to gain further glory and prosperity. To do so, one must read the flow of the times and make decisions accurately. That is all that Thanasios, who lives in the present, can do.

“If there are any strange points, please point them out, our wise prince.”

“No, there’s nothing. I agree with you. Alright, let’s talk about what we should do. How’s your contact with the citizens who rebelled?”

“We have negotiated with some of the leading figures and are pushing for organization. We have already sent people with military and organizational experience, and soon, selected merchant associations will come to discuss cooperation in terms of funding. We have conveyed the overall framework of the country we aim to become and have reached a general agreement. We will work out the details, but it won’t take much time.”

“Perfect, no problem.”

“I just followed my lord’s instructions.”

“There are too few people who can handle that. Now, what about Hemerapolis and Amphitrite? I think General Sophocles is there.”

“We should send the elite troops of the army for support. We can call it an escort mission.”

“Something else happened?”

“Even amidst the chaos of neighboring countries, the nobles of both countries are making a fuss, and it’s safe to assume that war is imminent. Therefore, we must launch a surprise attack on the Hemerapolis Senate and stop them.”

“I’m not thrilled about it, but it’s better than a war.”

“Of course, we need to send a well-trained unit.”

“I’ll give instructions to the army. We’ll leave the rest to General Sophocles.”

Thanasios suddenly looked at Nikita.

He seemed to be smiling in a creepy way.

“What’s with that creepy smile? What’s wrong with you?”

“No, nothing. On the contrary, I’m pleased.”

Thanasios tilted his head. Did something happen to make Nikita happy?

However, it was immediately apparent. Nikita was happy and laughing because he had a major goal in mind. It was ridiculous.

“Ambition is truly exciting, don’t you think?”

“I didn’t want to think about it if possible.”

“Hahaha! My lord, you are so humble! You want to bring about a revolution in the world for your wife!”

Thanasios made a disgruntled expression upon hearing those words—the unfamiliar term “for my wife”—being spoken to him directly.

“It’s embarrassing to say it to my face, so stop it.”

“My apologies.”

Nikita showed no signs of remorse. But Thanasios decided to let it go, as it would be too much trouble to make him change.

In any case, these schemes were for Eleni’s sake. That’s what gave him the strength to keep going.

He would change the world if he had to. If that would calm the flames of Eleni’s hidden revenge and satisfy her.

The wise prince of the Styx Kingdom did not yet know that this was the path to domination. In later years, the phrase “Pax Styxana, the era of peace brought about by the Styx Kingdom” would be coined to describe the three hundred years that followed.

Chapter 44: The Princess and the Knight

Today, I came to the city’s blacksmith with Korya to make the altar for the Temple of Lethe.

Although it’s called an altar, there aren’t many things to decorate it with. Thanasios arranged for a marble stone altar, and we only need to make a plate to offer the decorations with candlesticks and the handle of the medal I carry. The Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, prefers simplicity, and in my memory, there wasn’t much on the altar at the monastery. The way to pray is simple, just meditate and spend time. It can be done anywhere, once a day. Therefore, the altar is technically unnecessary.

However, for the members of the Lethe Temple Knights, it should be the center of their faith, so we need to make it look presentable.

Korya, wearing a new white and blue knight’s uniform, leads me through the alleyways.

“Well, I was almost wearing nothing but rags until I came here from the Uranos Principality, so I’m grateful for the new clothes. My life will be more stable, and it’s all thanks to Prince Athanasios and Eleni-sama!”

“I see, that’s good to hear. But, since everyone originally has a different faith, don’t you have any resistance to serving the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe?”

“Oh no, not really. Knights… while we may also believe in the God of Victory, Nike, or the God of Strength, Kratos, we’re not that enthusiastic about it. Our loyalty to our lord is more important. However, well, we have no experience in how to express our faith now that we have to believe in the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe.”

I see, so they have that kind of concern.

Perhaps ordinary people don’t know as much about how to practice their faith as I thought. Or maybe they’re much more casual about it than I am. It’s not a big deal, though. The Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe probably won’t make a big deal out of it.

To reassure Korya, I decided to tell him about it.

“It’s okay. The Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, is a generous person, so as long as you meditate once a day, there won’t be any problems. Just try not to be too extravagant and practice self-restraint. It’s no different from other gods in that regard.”

“Is that so? I have to tell everyone when I get back!”

“I would appreciate it if you could do that.”

However, there were over two hundred knights, so it would be quite a laborious task to spread the word.

In that case, let’s try a different approach. I asked Korya.

“Can all the knights read and write?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Then I’ll make a simple guide to our faith. Distribute it to everyone and tell them to use it as a reference.”

“Oh! Everyone will be happy with that! But, you know, with the message game, the message can get mixed up…”

I’ve never played that game before, but apparently it’s a thing.

Watching Korya’s cheerful and lively back, I thought to myself that spending time like this was also nice. I had never walked around the city before, and since coming to the Styx Kingdom, the only places I had been to were the castle, the secluded monastery, and the taverns in Nikita and Thanasios, where I was taken once each. Those were the only places I had been to outside.

It is as if God has given us permission to do what we enjoy.

“The blacksmith is up ahead. You ordered a candlestick and a plate, right? Both will be made to order.”

“Korya.”

“Yes, what is it!”

I turned around and expressed my heartfelt gratitude to Korya.

“Thank you. I had so much fun being brought here.”

Then, Korya blushed and straightened his back as if he was about to jump up.

“I-it’s an honor beyond my wildest dreams, Eleni-sama!”

“Is it really that big of a deal?”

“Yes! As a knight, it is such an honor to earn the trust of a princess!”

That’s right, Korya was a knight. Even now, the relationship between me and Korya continues as princess and knight.

Well, if it makes Korya happy, it’s fine. I’ll play the role of a princess to meet his expectations.

“Then, would you escort me, Sir Knight?”

“Gladly!”

Korya, with a gentlemanly and joyful expression, proudly escorted me to the nearby blacksmith.

The sight was truly heartwarming.

Chapter 45: Helios Perennus

The Styx Kingdom Royal Castle had numerous gardens. The Arche of Apeiron and the plants illuminated by the sunlight grew well, and some were even lent to the Royal Agricultural Research Institute. The technology for increasing the harvest of wheat and rice, making them resistant to cold and diseases, and shortening the time for breeding was far superior to that of other countries.

In one of the greenhouse gardens, close to the top floor with a white terrace, there was a young man.

With silver hair and red eyes, he couldn’t leave this place. He wore a specially made veil and spent his time in a special glass that blocked harmful wavelengths of light. He had been here since birth, and his rare delicate beauty was never known to the public, and he was destined to spend his life here.

But that was about to end soon.

Thanasios arrived at his terrace, holding documents in his hand.

Thanasios stopped in front of the armchair and bowed.

“Good morning, elder brother. I have come to ask you to look at some documents today.”

At Thanasios’ call, the young man, called Helios Perennus, his elder brother, looked at him with displeasure. He raised his head from the armchair and lazily opened his mouth.

“If you say it’s okay, then it’s okay. Or are you going to put some responsibility on me?”

“I have no intention of doing such a thing.”

“You must think that you have taken over everything in this country, standing in for our sick father, the king.”

Thanasios didn’t even raise an eyebrow at Helios’ sarcasm. It was nothing new, and he knew that it was Helios’ small way of distracting himself from his inability to leave due to health reasons.

However, Thanasios couldn’t ignore Helios completely. Important decisions in the Styx Kingdom require the consent of the powerful members of the royal family. Unlike the king, who is bedridden and unable to stand or stay awake, Helios, who is expected to be the next king, has enough power to intervene in such matters, even if he doesn’t usually handle administrative duties.

Of course, the reason Thanasios doesn’t disregard Helios is not because of that, but because he respects him as a close relative and a superior. However, Helios sees it as Thanasios’ arrogance and calculation. He believes that Thanasios, who is practically the highest authority in practical matters, would not fail to use Helios, who still has value to offer.

There was a well-liked younger brother who excelled in everything, and an older brother who was a shut-in and couldn’t even go out properly. If the comparison continued from childhood, the older brother would inevitably come to hate the younger one.

Thanasios knew this. That’s why he pretended not to see it.

Thanasios tells Helios about a plan he recently decided on.

“I want to share my plan with my older brother today.”

“Plan? What are you scheming?”

“To abolish the nobility system on this continent. That’s the plan.”

Upon hearing this, Helios snorts.

“What a foolish thing to do… Are you planning to make enemies with everyone on this continent?”

“No. This is the flow of the times. Styx Kingdom will survive in the next era by taking advantage of this trend. That’s why.”

“How many people will die for that?”

“Many. But we have to do it. I don’t want to increase the number of victims anymore.”

“That’s a fallacy. If you want to overturn vested interests, you have to defeat all those involved. Of course there is a way, but will it last even after your death? Otherwise, it will only be a reform for your lifetime.

Thanasios’ face remains stern. Helios doesn’t like it.

Surely, Thanasios, who is wise, has already considered Helios’ thoughts. No one can interfere with Thanasios’ decisions, and Helios knows better than anyone that his decisions are undoubtedly correct.

However, just because he knows it doesn’t mean he can accept it.

“I understand that my brother is worried. However, the success of the rebellion in the former Kailus Kingdom is the beginning of the next era. Soon, similar things will happen throughout the continent. We must control them.”

“Do you think you can do it yourself? Don’t be so conceited. How long do you plan to be trapped in childish omnipotence?”

“Brother, that’s not it. I…”

Helios raised his hand to silence Thanasios.

“Do you think I have the power to resist you?”

Thanasios fell silent.

All the issues brought up in this situation are essentially for post-approval. Things are already moving according to Thanasios’ plan, and Helios is just approving it. Neither Helios nor Thanasios tried to change their formal relationship, knowing it would be pointless. Even if Thanasios tried to give Helios power and importance, Helios would refuse it, citing health reasons. Even if it was a way of getting back at Thanasios, it was his true intention.

“Anyway, Father would say something like this: ‘For your sake, I will take responsibility and die.'”

“If he says something like that, even if he’s my father, I will strongly protest.”

Helios sneered at the serious Thanasios, twisting his mouth.

“Thanasios, there’s something I need to tell you.”

“What is it?”

“I don’t have much time left. According to the doctor’s diagnosis, I will die in about six months.”

Upon hearing those words, Thanasios clearly showed a look of shock on his face.

Helios looked satisfied, thinking that he had accomplished something. It was a petty thing, but it was the only way to resist.

“It’s an incurable disease. There’s nothing to be done. I’d rather die in agony than suffer.”

Helios closed his eyes. Just a week ago, his attending physician, who had been taking care of him since he was born, had told him the same thing.

Originally, Helios had been diagnosed with a short life expectancy. Even now, at the age of 24, he cannot have normal contact with the outside world. He cannot even go out into the sunlight. He can only live in a greenhouse, rejecting everything and spending his days in idleness until he dies. No one could save Helios. Even the best doctors in the Styx Kingdom have given up on treating him.

There is no way someone like that could become a king. However, the fact never leaked out from the royal castle. Strict information control was in place. They even attributed some of Thanasios’ achievements to Helios, deceiving both foreign countries and their citizens. If they didn’t do this, the Styx Kingdom would be divided into Helios and Thanasios factions as candidates for the next king, and they would fight each other. It was a last resort to avoid unnecessary conflict.

And when Helios dies, it won’t be necessary anymore. Helios, who has lived a life of consideration that he couldn’t refuse, secretly rejoiced at being released from the shame, pain, and inferiority complex.

But Thanasios is different. Helios doesn’t acknowledge it, but Thanasios was more concerned about Helios than anyone else. Ironically, the day when it pays off will never come, and both of them know it.

Thanasios asks in a tense voice.

“Who knows about this?”

“I thought you would ask that. Don’t worry, only the attending physician knows. I haven’t even told Father yet.”

Even if he said it, there was nothing he could do for his dying father. Helios lowered his gaze. Everything was going smoothly for Thanasios. With his older brother, who was supposed to inherit the throne, dead, the throne would inevitably fall into Thanasios’ lap. Thanasios knew that even if he told him, he wouldn’t be happy, but that didn’t clear Helios’ mind.

Thanasios insisted, “Let’s offer a sacrifice to the healing goddess Panacea and have the priests pray. If we do that…”

“You’re smart but stupid. What’s the point of relying on gods? It’s a useless struggle.”

“You won’t know until you try.”

“Shut up. You’re satisfied with this show of concern, covered up by faith. It’s the most annoying thing to me. Do your hypocrisy somewhere else.”

Helios coldly pushed Thanasios away.

He didn’t want him involved. He wanted at least minimal information sharing, but he didn’t want to be seen with sympathetic eyes or be taken into consideration. Helios just wanted to die quietly as soon as possible.

Helios knew that Thanasios wanted to help him, even though he knew that. He didn’t like it. The compassion of the strong only made Helios more miserable.

“Don’t look at me like that. Everything is moving in a way that suits you,” Helios said, trying to sound tough.

Thanasios said nothing. No matter what he said, he couldn’t improve the situation and it would only insult his brother.

Eventually, Helios took the documents and drove Thanasios away.

He no longer wanted to be involved with anyone. Helios waited for death alone in the greenhouse.

Chapter 46: To Talk to My Brother

Thanasios seems tired for some reason.

Sensing this, I quietly moved the sugar jar closer to Thanasios, who was sitting across from me at the table, next to his coffee. He finally noticed it and smiled.

“Oh, thank you. I was just craving something sweet.”

“No, it’s just that you seemed tired, and if there’s anything I can do to help…”

It’s already night, and Thanasios, who has been working all day, must be tired. The candle in the crystal lamp is flickering. Unlike the room with the chandelier, my terrace study — which is more like a reception room — seems to be able to give Thanasios some rest.

In the sky-high royal castle, there is the Arche of Apeiron, which is dimly lit in the starry sky. The night tea party with the two of us has become quite familiar. However, Thanasios has never shown signs of fatigue before.

I want to know the reason, but at the same time, I don’t. I still can’t penetrate Thanasios’ heart.

However, today seems different from usual. Thanasios asked me this question.

“Eleni, have you ever talked to someone who is close to death?”

For a moment, I was stunned, then I understood the meaning.

In my life, there have been only two people close to me who have died. The first was my mother, and the second was the old nun Yorgia. My mother’s death was too sudden, and I couldn’t even see her body. In contrast, I was with Yorgia until the end, watching over her and burying her in her grave. Yorgia, without a doubt, taught me about death through her own experience.

I try to remember the days I spent with Yorgia, but they are already hazy. There are also memories I don’t want to remember. However, I remember her on her deathbed.

“When I was a nun, there was an old nun named Yorgia who took care of me for almost ten years. I was with her when she died, but she tried to hide her physical condition until the very end. It was only when she was about to die that she finally talked to me about her death and what would happen afterwards.”

Yes, Yorgia didn’t tell me anything about her approaching death. She only spoke to me when she couldn’t get out of bed, and taught me that running the monastery was only about doing the bare minimum, that if I ran out of food and money, I would have to go somewhere else, and not to expect any help from the Duke of Uranos. That’s what she taught me.

I try to guess Thanasios’ intentions, but there’s no way he would reveal his thoughts to someone like me. It’s unfair in a way.

Despite my one-sided grievance, Thanasios made an unexpected proposal.

“Eleni, if you don’t mind… would you be willing to talk to my brother?”

Thanasios’ expression, illuminated by the candle flame, was serious. I couldn’t read any other emotions from the shadows.

“My brother is in the greenhouse garden on the upper floor. He’s physically weak and can’t leave there. As a result, his contact with people is extremely limited, and he doesn’t want it either. But…”

Thanasios added, “If it can be a distraction.”

It would mean something to both me and Thanasios’ brother.

I became a little interested in Thanasios’ brother, whom I had never heard of before.

“Understood. I will do my best as a conversation partner for your brother.”

“Okay, I’m counting on you. Thank you.”

Thanasios seemed relieved, and his cheeks relaxed.

However, there must be some intention or problem behind the request to me. I can sense that much. I want to meet Thanasios’ expectations, but honestly, I am not confident. Having been confined to the monastery for ten years, I am not good at talking. Of course, Thanasios must have known that and asked me to be a conversation partner for a reason.

Come to think of it, there was something I needed to ask.

“By the way, what is the name of your brother?”

“Oh, it’s Helios Perennus.”

“Helios-sama, huh? It’s wonderful to have a name that bears the name of the sun god.”

When I said that, Thanasios had an indescribable expression on his face. I wonder if I said something that offended him.

Chapter 47: Say This, Say That

I was greeted by Helios Perennus, the owner of the greenhouse garden located on the upper floor of the royal castle. He had a beautiful appearance that could rival that of his younger brother, with a mysterious look of silver hair and red eyes that could make one think he was born under the love of the goddess of beauty, Venus, rather than the main god, Styx, whom the Styx royal family should worship.

However…

“Go home.”

That was the first thing he said.

Sitting in his armchair, Helios frowned and didn’t even bother to hide his dislike for me.

I tried to keep some distance and engage in conversation with Helios, hoping to somehow get through to him.

“Um, Helios-sama, I—”

“If rumors spread that I met with Thanasios’ wife, it will be your problem.”

“No, I didn’t come here as Thanasios-sama’s wife.”

“Then what do you want?”

“I came here to talk to you, Helios-sama.”

Helios let out a big sigh. Was it that disappointing? Nevertheless, since I was asked by Thanasios, I will fulfill my duty as a conversation partner, if only to avoid being a freeloader. Yes, that’s what I’ll do.

“Do you always spend your time here?”

Helios turned his face away and opened his book, ignoring me.

“May I have some tea?”

He snorted and laughed through his nose. Although there were several teapots and some empty cups on the table for multiple people, it seemed that he had no intention of offering me any tea.

“Do you enjoy reading?”

“Shut up.”

His sharp voice cut through the air. Finally, Helios was angry with me.

With a grumpy gesture, Helios poured tea into a cup and roughly pushed it towards me.

“Go home after you drink it and tell Thanasios. It’s none of your business.”

Well, if he said that, I would be angry too.

I walked up to Helios and sat on a small chair meant for resting your feet. Then I drank the tea in one gulp. Unlike usual, I felt a little rebellious and spoke strongly.

“Perhaps you should tell him yourself.”

“I can’t leave from here. Are you telling me to waste time by calling Thanasios?”

“Your message would be more meaningful if you conveyed it yourself. I’m sure Thanasios-sama wouldn’t think it’s a waste of time.”

“Okay, you’re an idiot.”

“That’s true. After all, I was confined to a remote monastery for ten years since I was a child. I am ignorant of the world and have not received sufficient education. I am not suitable to be Thanasios-sama’s wife. But I am confident in myself.”

“What good does that do?”

I tried my best to explain, but Helios was completely exasperated with me. He was quite logical, unlike Thanasios, and always had a retort ready.

“Listen, you fool. I don’t sympathize with you. You are lucky enough to marry Thanasios, the most capable man on this continent. What is there to sympathize with? You are not like me, and you don’t even need to get close to me. Just go back and live surrounded by sweet treats and caring maids.”

“I understand what you’re saying, but I’m still not used to the simple meals here, and my stomach still gets upset. The doctor warned me not to eat too many sweets. The other day, I ate guiropita and had to take a laxative.”

“A laxative…you’re even more foolish than I thought.”

He didn’t have to call me foolish so many times. I was getting annoyed.

However, Helios didn’t insult Thanasios. He even said that Thanasios was the most capable man on the continent, so he must have some respect for him. He just had a twisted personality.

I began to understand the meaning behind Thanasios asking me to be Helios’ conversation partner. Thanasios must be at a loss with his twisted brother. First of all, Thanasios is too busy to have a face-to-face conversation, and Helios is unlikely to be open with his excellent younger brother.

But what can I do? No, I don’t have time to complain. I need to find something I can do.

Ignoring my determination, Helios tried to drive me out of the greenhouse garden like a dog or a cat.

“That’s enough, go home. We’ve talked enough today.”

“Then, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“You don’t have to come anymore.”

“No, I will come. Even if you lock the door and prepare a guard, I will come. If necessary, I will bring the Lete Temple Knights and break through.”

“Stop it, you fool. What are you so obsessed about?”

“Thanasios-sama asked me to be the conversation partner of his beloved older brother! So, I will fulfill that request!”

I don’t know if Thanasios is Helios’ most beloved, but it’s certain that he values him enough not to ignore him.

Upon hearing this, Helios looked extremely displeased.

“…Ugh, I can’t stand playing along with this idiot. Leave!”

Helios snatched the cup from the table. I could sense that he had no intention of having any more tea.

Alright, I’ll leave it at that for today. I stood up from my chair, breathing heavily, and said firmly as if to emphasize it.

“Goodbye, Helios-sama. See you tomorrow.”

As I turned my back, I heard an obvious click of the tongue. Alright, I’ll come back tomorrow. I was filled with an inexplicable fighting spirit.

Chapter 48: Lest Thanasios Be Unlike Us

I asked Thanasios if it was okay to bring the knights of the Lete temple to break through the door of the greenhouse garden, but he shook his head, so I gave up. Instead, Thanasios granted me permission to open the door with his authority, which was a relief.

“Eleni, how did my brother react?”

“He’s a stubborn person. But he spoke highly of Thanasios-sama.”

“…I see.”

“Although, his expression was hard to understand.”

“Haha, that’s just how my brother is.”

With that conversation, I became convinced that Thanasios did not hate Helios. Therefore, it was my responsibility to melt Helios’ stubbornness for Thanasios’ sake.

However, it was not going to be easy. I thought about what to do, and the answer I arrived at was…

Thanks to Thanasios, I was able to enter the greenhouse garden without any obstacles and once again came before the annoying Helios – my chair was still not prepared – and sat on a small chair for a footrest. I poured tea into an empty cup and made this request.

“Please talk to me about something.”

Helios couldn’t resist my forcefulness and was just making a disgusted face.

“You come barging in here and then beg me for something. Who do you think you are?”

“But you have free time, don’t you?”

“I’m not free.”

“By the way, I forgot to tell you my name. It’s Eleni.”

“I didn’t ask.”

“I used to serve as a nun to the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe. I still believe in her.”

“Are you stupid? There’s no such thing as a god.”

Helios’ words were inappropriate for someone of the Styx royal family. It could shake the foundation of the Styx Kingdom, which believes in gods and governs the country based on divine oracles.

What should I do? What should I say? As I was confused, Helios sighed and said:

“If there really is a god, it is the devil himself who makes me so miserable. Meanwhile, Thanasios is favored and even mentioned in divine oracles… I find it distasteful that the Styx Temple is lying like that just to keep the mood up.”

I understood what Helios was trying to say.

Even if there is one person who is favored by the gods, there are countless others who are abandoned by them. Thanasios is the former, and Helios and I are the latter. Some people respect Thanasios for his special status, while others resent and envy him, feeling that it is unfair. Especially for Helios, having Thanasios as his younger brother only made those feelings stronger. Why only his brother?

I didn’t want to be treated specially. I just didn’t want to see anyone else being treated specially besides myself. I think that feeling is universal, not just for Helios. If you think that the all-powerful gods are showing favoritism and treating you with contempt, it can make you feel miserable.

I understood. That’s why my mother gave up hope. She prayed, but her prayers went unanswered, and she learned that she had been abandoned by the gods, leading her to take her own life.

“My mother, who passed away, always prayed.”

As if shaking off my memories, my feelings came out of my mouth.

“I’ve always thought that it’s meaningless. Even now, I still think so. No matter how much someone who is not favored by the gods prays or wishes, nothing will change. Relying on the mercy of the gods is foolish.”

So is a wish for revenge. They don’t come true because I wish for them.

“To be honest, I don’t have any faith at all. I only followed the minimum obligation as a nun because I was forced to become one. The Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, didn’t do anything for me. She didn’t even show me a way to escape from the miserable life in the monastery.”

If there is no reward for believing, what is the point? Where is the meaning in continuing to do something meaningless?

In front of God, human feelings are meaningless.

“That’s disrespectful.”

“I suppose so. Maybe the reason why the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, didn’t save me is because I’m like this. But that doesn’t mean I hold a grudge against her now. I understand that it’s just the way things are. If I’m lucky, it’s only because of Thanasios-sama’s favor. Thanasios-sama is loved by the main god, Styx. Only Thanasios-sama is smiled upon by the gods. Not me, never.”

My wish is just a side note. If it benefits Thanasios, then my wish is just being used. I don’t have any dissatisfaction with the main god Styx, but it’s certain that we have to keep a certain distance.

After we both took a sip from our cups and quenched our thirst, Helios finally agreed with my point.

“That’s right. The main god Styx smiles only upon Thanasios. That’s correct, that’s how it should be.”

Just because he agreed, it doesn’t mean I’m happy about it. Well, if Thanasios can be happy, then it’s a good thing, but as an individual with weak faith, I don’t think it’s a good thing.

Surely, Helios must feel the same way.

So, after hesitating and thinking for a while, Helios looked at me with a serious gaze.

“Eleni, keep this conversation to yourself. So, don’t come here anymore. Don’t do anything that will make Thanasios sad.”

What does that mean? Is it a warning that, as Thanasios’ wife, I should have a proper faith?

Even after receiving the divine prophecy and seeing the appearance of the main god Styx and the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, I still don’t fully believe in them. I know they exist, but I also know that they may not necessarily be on my side.

In this country, on this continent, such thoughts are considered disrespectful and heretical. Helios warned me not to spread such ideas to Thanasios.

At that moment, it became clear that Helios cares deeply for Thanasios. No matter what he says, he is worried about his younger brother.

It’s becoming quite an unpleasant story.

Without exchanging many words with Helios, I left.

Chapter 49: Curse

The next day, while sorting through various documents related to the reconstruction of the temple with the help of the knights at the Temple of Lethe, Korya handed me a small white dish about the size of his palm.

“It’s galaktoboureko. It’s actually something that can’t be taken away, but I negotiated and brought the whole dish for you since you seemed busy, Eleni-sama.”

Looking inside the dish, there was a crispy thin pastry overflowing with sweet-smelling cream. Korya was well-prepared and handed me a spoon.

With the knights watching, I took a spoonful of the sweet galaktoboureko and put it in my mouth. It was refreshing and sweet, with a crispy pastry and creamy filling that I ate with relish. It was light and easy to eat, and I quickly finished the dish.

“How is it?”

“It’s delicious. Oh, I hope it was okay for me to eat it.”

“Yes, of course! It was worth buying it for you!”

Korya said with a smile on his face. It seems that I had made Korya worry about me.

Ah, that’s right. I opened the lid of the wooden box that had just arrived. Inside, wrapped in a scrap of cloth, was the same medal as the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, that I wear around my neck.

“Please distribute these to everyone. There is a mark on the back that proves you are a member of the Lethe temple knights, so you can use it as identification. Don’t lose it.”

“Oh, this is what I’ve been waiting for! Thank you so much!”

Is it really something they’ve been waiting for? Well, they were once knights who lost their status, so they must understand the importance of their identity.

I entrusted Korya with the distribution of the Lethe temple knights’ medals and returned to my struggle with the documents.

However, one of the knights ran up to me.

“Eleni-sama, could you please give us some work to do soon?”

Work. I was surprised by the word that had completely slipped my mind.

The Lethe temple knights have no work, which means they are currently just a shell called the Temple of Lethe without any substance. Even I can understand that this is not good.

“Work… We don’t need that many people for guarding the temple, do we?”

“Yes. The same goes for patrolling the surrounding area. In addition, there’s training, equipment procurement and storage, and if possible, we would like to have something like a dormitory where the scattered knights can stay and feel safe.”

Realizing that there seemed to be a lot of work to be done, I began to rummage through the document box that was placed on the floor.

After all, since the person who gave me the work was capable, a large number of documents were handed over. I remembered that there was something useful in there for the current situation.

There was only one sheet of paper, but it had the seal of Styx on it, and only one person in this country, Thanasios, the deputy of the highest authority, could stamp that seal on official documents.

“Here it is. It’s the instruction sheet I received from Thanasios-sama.”

Fortunately, Thanasios had summarized the necessary matters for managing the temple and wrote down what needed to be done in a simple way. For me, it was an unknown territory, and although I could pray, I couldn’t manage it.

I read aloud while pointing to what was written on the paper.

“First, we need to discuss with the surrounding temples to establish the parish (diocese?). Then we submit an application to the royal castle and complete the tasks assigned to us. The support funds will be distributed through the bank annually, and the usage is generally not questioned, but records must be kept.”

I tried to understand the content by breaking it down. In short, we get the job from the royal castle and can use the distributed money freely.

“Since we can use the money, let’s first look for accommodations. We need to take care of our basic needs.”

“You’re right. Then let’s think about the job. We’ll assign those who are good at accounting or knowledgeable in business to handle those areas, and we’ll choose a few people to handle administrative tasks such as negotiations with the royal castle. As for the support funds, we’ll leave it to Eleni-sama or the Knight Commander to manage. Normally, we can leave it to the Knight Commander.”

The knight who spoke to me seemed to be a veteran, and he spoke fluently.

Perhaps they couldn’t bring themselves to suggest these things until now. I felt guilty inside. I felt sorry for being a poor chief priestess.

“I’m sorry. I have no experience in these matters, so I’m causing trouble for everyone by not doing it sooner.”

“No! It’s our fault for not properly presenting our case! Please don’t worry about it!”

The knight was considerate and gave instructions to the other knights to carry out the proposal. I could hear him calling for the Knight Commander to discuss the details.

At this point, it would be better to leave it to the experienced knights of the order rather than me sticking my nose in. As I tried to leave the circle of gathered knights, a woman’s voice echoed in my head.

“Eleni, are you busy?”

I looked around. There were no other women here besides me. And I recognized this whispering voice.

I called out to the knight.

“I’ll be stepping out for a bit.”

“Please leave the personnel matters to me!”

With reassuring words, I moved to a quiet separate room and listened carefully by the window.

The voice belonged to the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe. She had suddenly given an oracle before.

I heard the voice again.

“Eleni, it’s not exactly an oracle, but Styx-Okaasama is feeling down.”

“What?”

“She overheard your conversation with Helios.”

Hearing that, I felt a little uneasy.

“So, everything is being monitored…”

It’s creepy to think that someone is listening in on conversations everywhere. Besides, I wouldn’t be able to say anything bad about the gods. It’s like censorship. If they were to say something like, “We’ll revoke your protection and won’t grant your wishes,” then I would say to Thanasios, “I’m sorry, but do as you please.”

As I was thinking about this with a heavy sigh, it seemed that things weren’t going in that direction.

“No, it’s not like that. Styx-Okaasama likes to watch over things here and there… and she even pokes her nose in. Oh, I don’t know anything about the content of the conversation, though.”

Surprisingly, Lethe was quite nonchalant about it. From her tone, it even sounded like it was Styx’s own doing. Well, that might be true. Lethe seemed to be a sensible person.

However, Lethe suddenly said something like this.

“Also, Thanasios’s brother Helios is under a curse.”

At the sudden and unfamiliar ominous words, I involuntarily repeated them.

“A curse?!”

Chapter 50: Anger and Nausea

Without thinking about the volume of my voice, I let out a wild and crazy scream.

I covered my mouth and listened to Lethe’s troubled voice.

“I think, maybe… He’s cursed instead of Thanasios. Someone prayed to the gods for a curse on Thanasios, but it was meaningless in front of the protection of Styx-Okaasama, so all the curses were transferred to Helios instead. And because he’s the first prince of the Styx Kingdom, he’s been cursed since before he was born.”

It was probably an event in a world that I couldn’t even imagine.

Humans pray to the gods. It’s to have their wishes granted. However, there are also those who pray with ill intentions. That’s what’s called a curse, and the gods don’t consider human intentions, good or bad, at all. They grant what they want to grant and what can be granted. That’s how it is.

And no matter what the result may be, the gods don’t even feel pain or discomfort. It’s just like how the main god Styx does anything for Thanasios, without caring about what happens to other countries.

However, Lethe seems to be slightly different.

“That’s why I hate wishes and prayers… Everyone, including the gods and humans, is too irresponsible.”

I could clearly hear a sigh from Lethe. She didn’t seem very god-like and appeared to be a hard worker. In fact, not praying might have been a relief for Lethe. I couldn’t help but think that.

However, that was beside the point. The important thing was the curse. I also knew that Helios had serious health problems and couldn’t leave that greenhouse garden because he couldn’t believe in the gods. If it was because of the curse, and if he couldn’t fulfill his duties as the first prince of the Styx Kingdom, it would be a very frightening thing. People cursed Helios, Thanasios, and the gods responded to it.

I shook my head. I didn’t want to know about such things in the world. Even if it was an ugly and hateful world, I didn’t want it to be a world that spread malice. I suppressed the anger and nausea that welled up inside me and asked Lethe a question.

“Um, Helios-sama doesn’t know about the curse, of course.”

“Yes, Styx-Okaasama doesn’t give oracles about that kind of thing. Besides, there are things that humans are better off not knowing.”

“Why did this happen? Helios-sama hasn’t done anything bad enough to be cursed, has he?”

Halfway through, the words came out as if I was spitting them out. To be honest, I was so moved that I wanted to strongly condemn someone.

“Surprising. I thought you only cared about Thanasios.”

I wanted to tell Lethe that it wasn’t true.

“Helios-sama, who is in a difficult situation, also cares deeply about Thanasios-sama. I don’t think such a person is a bad person. Besides, if Thanasios-sama knew about this, he would do everything in his power to help Helios-sama. However, whether or not to tell him… If Thanasios-sama knew that Helios-sama was cursed in his place, he would be very depressed and blame himself.”

It’s not hard to imagine. Thanasios is a kind and gentle young man. No matter how much he knows about the ugliness of the world, if he thinks that his brother Helios is suffering because of him, what will happen? He might hate the gods who gave him the curse, and his devout faith might crumble. Or he might seek revenge on the main god Styx, like me. If Thanasios wishes it, the main god Styx will surely grant it. And what kind of damage will that have on the world? It will create tragedies that I can’t even imagine.

No, that’s not right. It shouldn’t be like that.

“Is there anything we can do? I’ll do anything I can.”

“Well…the curses that have been cast on him have already taken effect, so there’s nothing we can do about that. But if he’s going to receive any more curses in the future, we might be able to do something about it.”

“Really?”

“Eleni, persuade Styx-Okaasama to give Helios her blessing. If you do that, things should get better.”

Persuasion is not my strong suit, but I have to do it. I have to improve the situation even a little bit before Helios falls into the depths of despair and Thanasios blames himself. It’s my duty now that I know about it.

“Can I do it?”

“Yeah…you’re the only one who can.”

I decided to trust Lethe’s words.

To persuade the main god Styx. With that mission in mind, I prayed for someone for the first time.

“Understood. I’ll head to the Arche of Apeiron right away and offer my prayers at the temple.”

Perhaps Lethe heard my determination, her voice disappeared.

I hurried back to the royal castle.

Chapter 51: How the Gods Make a Steep Distinction

I passed by Thanasios in the hallway of the royal castle.

“Eleni, you’re back…where are you going?”

“I’m sorry, I’m in a hurry!”

I rushed to the bath. I had finally gotten used to it, but now was not the time to relax. I washed quickly and poured water over myself, and if I counted to ten while soaking in the tub, it was already over. Since I had come out too quickly, the maids who were supposed to be waiting with towels were not yet ready. I grabbed a towel that was lying around and dried myself off. The maids helped me along the way.

I put on a white long-sleeved dress that was prepared for me and tied my damp hair into a bun. I headed towards the Arche of Apeiron, but then I remembered.

I still didn’t have the golden Styx seal, so I couldn’t go to the Arche of Apeiron alone.

I panicked at the foot of the wide floating stone staircase. I didn’t want to involve Thanasios, but how else could I get there?

Then I thought of Nikita. Actually, I confirmed from a distance that Nikita was there. My eyesight was above average, so I could tell. I hurriedly ran to catch up with him.

“Nikita-sama!”

“Oh, what is it… what’s wrong?”

“Um, do you happen to have the mark of Styx? I have to hurry to the temple!”

Then, Nikita shook her head.

“Unfortunately, I am not a follower of the main god Styx.”

“R-Right, I forgot.”

When I thought it was hopeless, Nikita suddenly smiled.

“Hahaha, I just don’t have it with me right now. My room is right there, let me go get it for you.”

So, I obtained the golden mark of Styx. Nikita generously said, “It’s not something I need, so please take it. Do as you please.” Nikita was a good person. Or maybe he intuitively sensed that it would be beneficial for Thanasios.

I went back up the stairs with the golden mark of Styx in my hand. It was a quick journey, taking only a few steps until the scenery suddenly changed.

A small white sun floating in the sky, a spherical grassy ground, and a small stream flowing through the sky. The priests and priestesses looked at me with curious expressions as I appeared.

I caught a passing priest and asked for directions.

“Please, I have to go to the Styx Temple! Please take me there!”

I must have had a very intense expression on my face. The priest nodded and hurriedly led me to the Styx Temple. I received a small jar and filled it with water, then offered it at the simple altar at the back of the Styx Temple.

I knelt down, clasped my fingers together, and bowed my head with my eyes closed. I didn’t know how to pray properly, but I had seen Yorgia praying like this before. If I did it the same way, it should be better than just closing my eyes like I usually do.

I prayed. It was the first time I had prayed for someone else. For Thanasios, for Helios, please answer my prayers. I only thought of that and hoped it would reach the main god, Styx.

If you think about it, that’s what everyone prays and wishes for. To convey their thoughts to the gods for someone else or for themselves, regardless of whether it’s done with good or bad intentions, under various circumstances.

How do the gods distinguish between them?

My thoughts were interrupted there.

Chapter 52: Fighting Back

Sunflowers were in full bloom. The night sky was filled with stars, and a warm breeze blew. Cosmos flowers with pink petals swayed by the riverside.

Here, where seasons and day and night are ignored, one can meet beings that they would not normally encounter. I knew that. From behind the tall sunflowers, a woman with silver hair in a loose robe came.

It was the main god, Styx. Her expression showed a hint of confusion.

I’ll make the first move.

“I have something to talk to you about, main god Styx!”

However, Styx’s attitude was completely different from before and she seemed annoyed.

“Ugh… I thought I had my eye on you, but it seems like you didn’t like me very much.”

Perhaps it was because she overheard my conversation with Helios the other day, or maybe she didn’t like my attitude of drawing a line. She was sulky and seemed unhappy.

“Well, never mind. What? You’re not going to rely on my mercy, are you?”

I was also getting frustrated with Styx’s sulky behavior. I couldn’t hide my disappointment that she was such a god who couldn’t be understood.

So, I said a little more firmly.

“Yes, I have no intention of being at the mercy of your whims.”

I might be called ungrateful, but I thought I should be honest. Even though there is a difference between humans and gods, there should be sincerity between them. It would be troublesome if relationships were changed on a whim.

I asked Styx, who was pouting, with a scowl.

“Why didn’t you give Helios-sama your protection? Why do you favor only Thanasios-sama?”

Then, Styx said something outrageous, seemingly without any ill will.

“Isn’t it for Thanasios’s sake? I was thinking of making his younger brother his substitute, but I thought it would be safer for Thanasios if he was born first.”

(TL: Not sure I get it right: (A)Thanasios was supposed to be the firstborn and Helios the secondborn, but Styx switched the birth order, so Helios received the curse instead?)

Upon hearing that, I felt dizzy. This god is always thinking about Thanasios, which is fine, but she doesn’t care how much unhappiness she causes around him for that, and she doesn’t even seem to be aware of it.

I cannot agree with such innocent but also potentially evil thoughts. No matter how important Thanasios is, it’s not right.

“Do you understand how much Helios-sama cares about Thanasios-sama?”

“What does that have to do with me?”

Styx’s voice became firm as she didn’t like being blamed.

“Eleni, don’t misunderstand. You are not in a position to question me. I only gave you protection because it benefits Thanasios. Helios doesn’t need my protection.”

——Well, let’s change the approach.

I stopped looking up to Styx as a superior.

She’s just a child. A disobedient child. If I think that way, it’s important to persuade her.

“That’s not true. Okay? What if Thanasios-sama finds out about this?”

“He’ll be happy that I did everything for his sake, won’t he?”

That’s a terrible misunderstanding. Why doesn’t this god understand Thanasios?

“No, he won’t. He might start to dislike you, main god Styx.”

“Why? What for?”

“Let me say it again. Do you understand how much Thanasios-sama values Helios-sama? If he finds out that Helios-sama took on the curse instead of him, as per the will of the main god Styx, he will hate you for why you did such a thing.”

“Hate me? Thanasios? Eleni, what do you mean? I did it for Thanasios. Because Helios is…”

“Helios-sama is not a substitute for anything. He is Thanasios-sama’s irreplaceable and beloved older brother. If something terrible were to happen to him, Thanasios-sama would be devastated.”

Styx was extremely surprised and opened her mouth wide. She seemed to want to say that she had never thought of such a thing, but she might have understood my point of view to some extent.

As evidence, Styx still resisted.

“But Thanasios should understand. He is a devout person.”

“That’s why, the deeper the faith, the deeper the despair. You’ll stop believing in everything. What will happen if Thanasios-sama thinks that even believing in God won’t save him? Can this country survive like that?”

Styx closed her mouth and held her head, as if she understood. She may not be able to imagine Thanasios losing faith in herself, but she understood that it would affect the future of the country that worships her as a god.

After a while, Styx stamped her feet. I won’t say she looked like a child.

“Well, what should we do then? We can’t just give everything we want. There are limits, and even I can’t change the course that’s already set.”

“Even to give Helios-sama divine protection?”

“That’s easy, but what will you offer in return?”

Offer. I had forgotten that gods demand compensation in exchange for answering prayers.

“The protection to keep Helios safe from curses and the blessing to bring happiness to his life from now on. That’s all well and good, but it wouldn’t make sense to receive them without any compensation. Especially if it’s for someone who doesn’t believe in me, what would my followers think?”

That was a valid point. It was too convenient to receive the protection of the main god Styx without offering anything in return.

If that was the case, then something had to be paid. But what?

I couldn’t ask Thanasios or Helios about this because I didn’t want to let them know. The same went for the Styx Kingdom. So, the only option was for me, who knew about it and had directly asked for it, to pay for it.

I had one idea that might be a suitable compensation.

“Understood. Then, I will pay the compensation.”

“Oh… What will you offer?”

Styx showed a childish, expectant face with a grin.

Perhaps this god was pure. She might not be a wise person who thought deeply, but rather a motherly existence who watched over this world.

In response to her whimsical and thoughtless behavior, I decided to strike back like a cornered rat biting a cat.

“I will never have children in my lifetime. In exchange, please give Helios-sama your protection.”

Chapter 53: Did My Prayers Get Through?

In surprise, Styx’s voice became strained and her mouth opened and closed.

“E-Eleni, do you know what you’re saying? Lies won’t work in front of me.”

I responded with confidence.

“If it requires compensation, then this is necessary.”

“That’s not it… I mean…”

“If Thanasios-sama finds out that I cannot bear children, he will surely stop loving me. But isn’t it better than him hating everything? As a royal, he can find another wife to bear an heir. He will be happier that way. Thanasios-sama doesn’t need to know everything. It’s better than hating everything.”

I said it all at once and took a deep breath.

But come to think of it, since coming to this royal castle, Thanasios has treated me very well, even in just these few weeks. He has been so caring that it could be called doting. It was the most fulfilling time of my life. I have already received happiness. Therefore, I must repay him. Even if it means using the rest of my life, I have already received something worthy of it.

For Thanasios, that is non-negotiable. And Styx, who loves Thanasios, cannot overlook that.

Styx was perplexed. She was desperate to persuade me.

“Eleni, you may not know this, but Helios will die in six months. Is it worth it to give him protection for just six months? Is it worth the scars that will last your entire life?”

It’s a foolish question. I laugh.

“If it makes Thanasios-sama happy, then isn’t that enough? Lord Styx, you should be thinking of Thanasios-sama first. Then you should know what the best course of action is. Or do you doubt my determination?”

Styx can no longer ignore my argument.

It’s all for Thanasios. Styx cannot ignore the pretext and true intentions. If I am telling the truth and being serious, then surely God knows.

Unbecoming of a god, Styx looked up at the sky and muttered something to herself.

“I’m going to beat Moirai to a pulp now… add Venus’s blessing, and it’ll be about ten years of this and that. Hmm, that’s the limit, I suppose.”

The words I heard were either ominous or incomprehensible.

After a while, Styx straightened her back and turned towards me.

“Ahem. I understand, Eleni. You should not sacrifice yourself.”

Styx was saying something godly. I couldn’t help but think it was disrespectful.

“Besides, you’re my priestess. I don’t want to make you unhappy. We’ll find another way to pay the price, but it’s only fair that Helios does it. Since Helios is the one who receives the blessings, he should be the one to pay. That’s how it works.”

“But what do we have to pay? If it’s to Helios-sama…”

“It’s okay, it’s okay. Anyway, Thanasios would be sad if Helios disappeared, right? So, I’ll talk to each of the gods and try to get some concessions. But I can’t promise to let Helios live out his full hundred-year lifespan.”

Already, Styx has made a big concession for me. I never expected her to do so much for me, and I felt like I saw the true nature of Styx, the mother of the great river.

Styx finally smiled.

“The best future you envision may not come true. But the next best future should be within reach. If that’s okay with you, I’ll give Helios my blessing.”

That’s enough. I nodded.

“If it’s for the sake of Thanasios-sama, then as you wish.”

Styx approached me and stroked my head. It seemed like she was saying, “You’re such a helpless child.”

Did my prayers reach her? I believe that I must have moved Styx’s heart —— and then I regained consciousness.

Chapter 54: I will visit you here again

The next day, at the royal castle.

Ioel, the secretary, came to Thanasios’ office out of breath.

“Your Highness! Something terrible has happened!”

The usually calm secretary had a desperate look on his face. Thanasios saw the situation through the gap in the wall of piled-up documents, but he was already tired of being bothered by another issue at this point.

“What is it? You know I’m busy right now.”

“It’s urgent, please come quickly. Helios-sama is out and about.”

Thanasios retracted his previous statement and stood up vigorously, then rushed out of the office.

It was rare for Helios, Thanasios’ brother, to even walk in the corridors of the royal castle. His greenhouse garden was connected to his room, and the corridors of the castle, which were filled with light, were a harsh environment for him. When Thanasios saw him before, he was wearing a special umbrella, veil, and a robe that covered his entire body.

However, when they arrived at the place where Ioel led him to Helios, he was standing calmly in the middle of the bright corridor, wearing a veil but without any special clothing. For him, even bathing in the sunlight, which was like poison, was nothing.

Helios’ silver hair shone so brightly that it almost overflowed, giving off a divine radiance. Indeed, the bureaucrats and maids around him were captivated by Helios’ beauty. It was no wonder, as he was an existence that they rarely saw, and it was as if he had stepped out of a meticulously painted mythological scene, shining with light.

Thanasios couldn’t believe his eyes. But no matter how many times he looked, it was his brother Helios standing there.

“E-Elder brother?”

Helios beckoned Thanasios over.

“You’re late, Thanasios. But it’s just in time. Come.”

“What are you doing? No, more importantly, how are you feeling?”

“Don’t worry about me. I thought you should be present for this too.”

With that, Helios began to walk. Thanasios was so surprised that he couldn’t even ask where they were going, and his eyes were fixed on Helios’ every move.

It was the first time that the brothers had walked side by side in the corridors of the royal castle. Helios followed the lead of the maid and walked straight towards their destination.

And they arrived at the bedroom of the Styx Kingdom’s king. The king, who was bedridden, hardly ever left his bedroom. He was in a state of alternating between consciousness and unconsciousness, and his condition did not improve or worsen.

But today was different.

Helios entered the king’s bedroom, followed by Thanasios.

Then, the doctors, nurses, and maids who were inside all looked at Helios at once. But their gaze quickly returned to the person lying on the central bed.

An elderly man with a mix of white and navy hair had a pale complexion, but his eyes were open. The king was awake, and Thanasios was once again surprised by this fact.

As if on cue, Helios spoke to the king.

“Your Majesty, if you are awake, there is something I would like to ask for your approval on.”

Helios spoke clearly and distinctly. Thanasios, like the others, was surprised to hear such a convincing voice that resonated in his stomach.

“I, Helios Perennus, will step down from the position of the first prince. Furthermore, I suggest that the throne be abdicated to Athanasios while you, Your Majesty, are still alive.”

As soon as Helios finished speaking, the room fell silent.

People were bewildered and unable to speak, trying to understand the meaning of his words. Thanasios was left speechless because he understood the implications of Helios’ words.

Helios had announced that he was giving up his position as the prince of the Styx Kingdom. Not only that, but he was also pressuring the king to pass the throne to Thanasios.

It was an unimaginable situation, and no one knew how to react. At that moment, the king nodded firmly and said, “Very well. I cannot bear the burden of my duties any longer. I leave the rest to you.”

With those words, the king closed his eyes. Everyone present heard his words and became witnesses, as if supporting Helios’ actions.

Helios turned around and smirked at Thanasios.

“That’s how it is. Congratulations, Thanasios.”

Despite his words, Thanasios couldn’t understand or accept anything. Things were moving too quickly, and Helios had casually handed him the heavy responsibility and position of the king.

Even Thanasios, known for his intelligence, couldn’t keep up with the situation. He didn’t know what to ask or what to do, feeling lost and confused.

“Wait! What do you mean by stepping down?!”

“Well, as I said earlier, according to the doctor, it was a misdiagnosis. Well, there may be a difference in lifespan compared to an ordinary person.”

“Uh…?”

“Anyway, I don’t have to deal with you anymore. Just do your best.”

With that, Helios left the king’s bedroom. He left Thanasios standing there and the people in shock, and returned to his own dwelling, the greenhouse garden.

In front of the entrance to the greenhouse garden, a small girl was standing. She had long golden hair, big blue eyes, and a smile on her face. The tunic that covered her whole body was her favorite.

Helios smiled. He had to reward her for waiting so faithfully. He was in a good mood.

“Eleni.”

Standing in front of his sister-in-law Eleni, Helios calmly told her something he shouldn’t have said in his position.

“I don’t believe in gods or anything like that.”

Eleni agreed with Helios’ words.

“Well, I think that’s fine. It’s all just fate’s mischief or coincidence.”

“I see.”

Helios is a smart young man, not as much as Thanasios, but he understands some things.

“You did something,” but unless he says it, there’s no point in poking around in the bushes.

Without any agreement between them, Helios and Eleni just accept the reality that it’s okay like that.

“I’ll come back to the greenhouse garden again.”

“You’ll come back anyway, even if I tell you not to. You’re an idiot.”

With a snort, Helios returns to the greenhouse garden.

Eleni watches his back and smiles contentedly.

Chapter 55: Happy Hour

Thanasios seems to be busy.

I haven’t seen Thanasios for the past few days. There are various rumors going around about an urgent coronation ceremony, advancing the wedding, and so on. The maid explained it to me, but I don’t really understand. I’m still not used to the customs and traditions of the Styx Kingdom, so I couldn’t understand some of the words. It’s a shock.

So, I went to the Temple of Lethe to work, was teased by Helios in the greenhouse garden, looked for offerings to give to the main god Styx and the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, as a thank you for the other day, and walked around here and there. Even so, I think it shows that the Styx Kingdom is very safe, as I can spend my days peacefully without any danger, thanks to the protection.

I bought two large bouquets of white roses, which are said to be in season, at the flower shop in the castle town, and decided to offer one to the Temple of Lethe and the other to the Styx Temple in the Arche of Apeiron. Fortunately, I had enough coins that Nikita gave me, but there are no more left. I wondered if I could earn some money if I worked somehow, like helping Nikita with his work. I realized later that it’s not something a princess should be thinking about.

In the midst of the evening, I walked through the hallway of the castle, which was tinted red. The light was scarce, shining through the glass that extended up to the high ceiling. At night, the moon and stars became the chandeliers of the hallway, making the navy blue floor and white walls sparkle. From the white hallway of the morning to the hallway that resembled the bottom of the sea in the deep night, everything was fantastic.

I waited in the hallway near the Arche of Apeiron, the sanctuary of the vast castle. This was the perfect place to wait.

What was I waiting for? Of course.

“Nikita-sama!”

I could catch Nikita, who was trying to return to his room, without missing a beat.

Nikita, dressed in black, stood still and smiled warmly.

“Princess Eleni, what can I do for you… This is the second time you’ve asked me that.”

“I have a request. Is there any work I can help with?”

“Why is that?”

“I want money.”

I intended to answer honestly.

However, it seemed quite funny to Nikita.

“Hahaha! That’s how it is!”

“Is there something funny about it? I want to feed Thanasios-sama Calamarachia Tiganita again.”

“I see, I see. I understand. Let me lend you this as a promotion gift,” said Nikita, taking out about ten obolus coins from his pocket. He counted them one by one into my palm and left them there.

“As someone who is still unfamiliar with this country, Eleni-sama, it’s best to avoid earning money. So, when you can earn it someday, please return it to me, and there will be no problem.”

I was impressed that there was such a method.

“Thank you very much!”

“No problem. Whenever you need it, Nikita Bank will provide you with a loan.”

Nikita joked and waved goodbye to me, then went into his room.

I held the obolus coins tightly and planned to go to the dining tavern tomorrow. It’s about a ten-minute walk to my room, and although it’s quite a distance, I’m used to it. I’m finally back and used to having a modest dinner alone.

After dinner, I read books in my study until I got sleepy. Recently, I’ve been reading guidebooks and travelogues for foreigners. I now understand a lot about the royal castle and the castle town. I hope it will be useful someday.

When I was at the monastery before, I used to spend my nights lost in thought. It was a time to reflect on the small things in life, without necessarily thinking about anything in particular. It was a time to absorb various emotions, whether they were happy, funny, sad, angry, or anything in between. I couldn’t sleep until I had calmed my mind. Yorgia, in her lifetime, used to tell me to meditate whenever I had free time, but I often found it boring and tried to avoid it.

Since coming to the Styx Kingdom, I had forgotten all about that. There were too many things happening, and it took time to process everything. The rapid changes in the situation, the ever-changing emotions of the people, the names of unfamiliar things to remember — there was just too much to take in.

Will I ever get used to it?

My aimless and blurry thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a door opening behind me.

I turned around while still sitting in my chair.

It was Thanasios. It felt like it had been a while since I last saw him. He closed the door and came over to me.

“Eleni, I’m sorry for leaving you alone. I’ve been incredibly busy these past few days.”

“No, it’s okay. I understand. But does that mean you’ve finished everything you needed to do?”

“Well, more or less.”

Thanasios sat on the reception sofa. He patted the seat next to him and called me over.

“Come here. I have something to tell you.”

I couldn’t refuse his request, so I put a bookmark in my travelogue and went over to Thanasios like a puppy.

As soon as I sat down, Thanasios said, “Finally, you’re putting on some weight. Your complexion looks better too. I’m relieved.”

It wasn’t the kind of thing you say to a woman, but I was happy nonetheless.

“It’s all thanks to you, Thanasios-sama. And everyone else has been so kind to me too.”

“Is there enough food? You should still avoid guiropita.”

“Please don’t bring that up.”

I’d rather not talk about guiropita, as it’s embarrassing just to think about it. Thanasios laughed as if he found it amusing. Well, if laughing at my past foolishness helps him relax, then that’s fine.

Thanasios slowly reached out and placed his hand on my shoulder.

“May I pat your head? And could you sit on my thigh?”

“Um, is that okay?”

“What’s the problem?”

“It’s just that I’ll be using your lap as a pillow.”

“With those thin, twig-like legs of yours, how are they supposed to be a pillow? It’ll take a few more years.”

“…I see.”

When he said it so clearly, I couldn’t say anything. I reluctantly placed my head on Thanasios’ thigh, being careful not to get my hair tangled in his body.

Thanasios’ hand touched my temple. He gently brushed my hair up to my ear and stroked my recently fluffy blonde hair.

It was warm. Thanasios’ warmth, his consideration, everything was new to me. Maybe I had forgotten, but it was certain that I had rarely experienced this kind of warmth in my life.

I stayed still and surrendered myself to this happy moment.

Chapter 56: Final Chapter: The most secure place in the world for me

The world is much more forgetful than we think, and history is often painted over, burying the truth in darkness.

Where was my hometown? I have already forgotten. I vaguely remember my mother, but that’s all. Everyone, including myself, has completely forgotten about my life before I became Eleni Athanasia Sipunimo. Suddenly, I appeared in the history of the Styx Kingdom and became the wife of the unparalleled genius king, Athanasios. Perhaps some public records remain about my involvement with the oracle, but no one will ever know what kind of person I was. Despite being a queen, I went to the Taberna in the castle town to buy Calamarachia Tiganita, and ran around helping people in need with the knights of the Lethe temple. I even took naps in the sacred Arche of Apeiron. Such things may remain in the memories of people of that time, but they will surely not be recorded.

Today, I am chatting with Thanasios on the sofa in the study. When I get sleepy, he takes me to bed. At times like this, he says this.

“You haven’t gained weight yet. You need to eat more, or I won’t be able to use your lap as a pillow.”

I always think that he should treat me more like a lady.

To Thanasios, I am still the little girl he raised. Of course, I am his wife now, and we already have three children. However, Thanasios never changes his attitude towards me. He strokes my shiny golden hair, puts his arms around my back, which has become softer to the touch, and kisses my made-up face.

In the soft bed and feather duvet that sink into my body, I snuggle up to Thanasios, who sleeps next to me, and curl up to sleep.

This is the most reassuring place in the world for me. I can forget everything and think that it’s okay.

Because…

“Eleni, come and receive the oracle!”

“Eleni, for the next offering, we want sweet treats.”

It’s because the noisy gods always speak directly to my head. At night, they read the atmosphere, but during the day, their voices echo without question. I can’t help but think that they should speak to devout believers instead of just me, a non-believer.

Besides, I haven’t prayed since then. I no longer feel the need to do so.

I probably know the reason why.

Both the main god Styx and the Goddess of Forgetfulness, Lethe, seem to think of me as a friend or something. It’s strange to pray to a friend, and it creates a certain distance between us.

Also, I feel like I made a wish to the main god Styx. What was it? I prayed about my brother-in-law Helios, but was there anything else?

I don’t know. But I don’t think it’s a big deal.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter.

I fell asleep again today in Thanasios’s arms.

(The end)


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