The Bewilderment of the Sacrificial Second Princess ~ Married Into the Enemy Country as a Hostage Princess, but Was Strangely Welcomed With Open Arms~ – Chapter 95

The Bewilderment of the Sacrificial Second Princess ~ Married Into the Enemy Country as a Hostage Princess, but Was Strangely Welcomed With Open Arms~ – Chapter 95

Chapter 95: Face to Face with the Pope

I landed softly on a round, fluffy cushion.

Despite the reduced speed of my fall to avoid injury, fear still gripped me.

Droplets of water were trickling down from somewhere in the room. Judging from the height of my fall, I deduced that I was in the basement of the palace.

However, the lighting was severely inadequate. Glancing up, I noticed holes in the ceiling from where the water was falling, and I realized that the cushion, along with a carefully crafted path, had prevented me from getting hurt.

The cushion was thick and clearly designed to catch falling objects. There were several candelabras on the walls, but I couldn’t see the entire room.

It appeared that the candelabras were positioned near the cushion on the ground, illuminating only the area surrounding it.

The basement didn’t seem old or musty, and the cushion was free of dust, indicating that it had been prepared in advance.

I felt a surge of anger and embarrassment.

Even though I was ready for anything, I never imagined they would go “this far”.

My cheeks burned with shame and fury.

(This is outrageous…to target the bathroom after a lady has finished…! That’s the lowest of lows…!) 

The sound of measured, deliberate footsteps echoed in the room.

Even though I was boiling with anger, the noise caused me to shiver.

“Ah, at last I have found you. The direct descendant of the goddess Lina’s legacy.”

An elderly man appeared, his voice raspy yet possessing a gentle, rich resonance.

The old man, who had approached close to the cushion, was slightly stooped, yet he wore a fine hat and priest’s robes. The garments were unadorned and stately, and his expression was serene with a gentle smile, even in the dim light.

He was likely the Pope, as I had suspected. And the thought made me shiver.

This kind old man seemed to harbor no ill will. No malice. Yet, I knew how many infants he had taken.

The Pope’s duty was to offer sacrifices to the goddess, according to Hillian’s information. And every year, on this day, at midnight, the Pope claimed a life.

“…Are you the Pope of the Wegrain sect?”

“Yes, I am. I am honored that you know, a direct descendant of the goddess Lina’s legacy.” 

“Please, stop. My name is Claire, the Crown Princess of the Baratonia Kingdom.”

“Kindly refrain from using such mundane titles in the mortal world. Direct descendant of the goddess Lina.”

Unfortunately, the conversation was not going well.

The old man was thoroughly devoted to the goddess Lina. His heart, body, eyes, ears, and everything else were dedicated to her.

I now understood what Gauche meant when he referred to the old man as a fanatic. If he had surrendered himself completely to the goddess Lina and was willing to sacrifice his own life for her, then there was no doubt he would take drastic measures.

“There is still time before the ceremony. As a direct descendant of the goddess Lina and a sibling to those who share her bloodline, I expect you to make an appearance soon.”

“…I don’t want to. Please return me to Auglia-sama.”

Although I knew it was futile, I tried to assert myself. However, the room was quite spacious, and the ceiling was also shaped like an oval, which made it difficult for my voice to carry.

The more I raised my voice, the more it echoed in the room. The echoes were designed to bounce off the walls and not escape, a construction technique based on applied acoustics that I had read about in a research book on architecture. 

If I had the habit of snapping my tongue, I would have done it. The sound would only reverberate within the room and not escape to the outside. Shouting seemed pointless.

“Please put aside all worldly matters. We have medication available to assist you, would you like to take it?”

“No, thank you… I’ll wait quietly.

My voice was strained. The zealous Pope was likely to misinterpret my waiting quietly as submission.

But that was not the case. I was waiting for rescue.

They must have already realized I was not in the room, but the design of the room prevented any sounds from the outside from entering.

They had no idea what they were searching for or how they were searching.

My life was precious, not only to myself but also to avoid igniting a war. All the connections tied to my life were valuable.

So, I wouldn’t resist recklessly. I would wait for help to arrive until the time of the ceremony, without wasting any time. I would trust and wait for everyone.

“I see. Well then, I must prepare for the ceremony, so I’ll take my leave. Please do not attempt to leave the cushion, as it may cause your body to burn and you will not be able to return the blood.”

With that, the Pope who had been standing a short distance from the cushion bowed deeply and departed, his footsteps calm and measured as they had been when he arrived.

Unfamiliar with the concept of being “burn,” I simply tore off a button from my nightgown with my teeth and tossed it outside the cushion.

In a split second, I thought the fire would ignite around the cushion, but the blue flame rose and turned the button into coal.

Thankfully, the cushion was treated with fire-retardant, so it did not ignite.

It was a creepy setup, designed specifically for the “sacrifice ceremony” due to a long-standing tradition. Even I did not know when the castles in other countries were renovated, but it was roughly five hundred years ago that a princess was brought from the Faithnum Empire to the Wegrain Kingdom.

Two hundred years later, Lina Religion was established as the state religion in the Faithnum Empire.

According to the scriptures of Lina Religion, the goddess Lina was said to have been born from the black sky as white.

Her cries filled the world with air, her umbilical cord became the earth, the black of the night that was swept away by the sea gave rise to all life on earth, and her song of blessing caused the earth and sea to flourish with green.

And then, she returned to the sea that mirrored the night and continued to keep watch over the world.

(What did the Pope say…? About me, as the direct descendant of the goddess Lina, and about Bianca… as the one who inherits the blood of the goddess Lina? Oh! That’s right, isn’t it?)

I had a vague recollection. Despite my dislike for the Lina religion, I remembered the content, but had forgotten the basics.

The white born from the black of the sky.

She had platinum blond hair, close to white, and gray eyes with pale skin. Although white or undyed nightwear was common, the fact that the Pope had specially provided this attire, which was all white, indicated his special treatment.

Although Bianca was carried in a palanquin, she wasn’t being offered as a sacrifice because of his appearance. I realized that, in the Lina religion, white was a highly valued color.

(I should have broadened my interests more…!)

Yes, even in the Lina religion… and even in the Poleinia Kingdom, Dullahunt was revered as the white of the sun. Despite not being a noble, he was treated as a noble person.

I tightly clutched the pendant I had exchanged with Auglia-sama, which I always wore under my nightwear.

(Even though I pray to God, there’s a possibility that my prayers will go unanswered… I have no belief… But please, if Lord Yoten no Mako is watching over me, I implore you…! I don’t want to die here…!)

With my eyes tightly shut, I grasp the small ruby tightly in my hand and, for the first time ever, I fervently implore a divine being.

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