Chapter 50: 031. Imperial Prince is Attending a Banquet -2 (Part Two)
“I went to look for you in your room, but you were not there. Where have you been?”
The caring grandfather asked her with a concerned expression, and Alice replied with a smile. “I was studying in the library, grandfather.”
Rapahel smiled back in response. “You resemble me when it comes to satisfying our far-too intense curiosity. I’m worried that you may harm your health if you keep this up, child. Ah, and also, please do be more careful. The Seventh Imperial Prince is lurking somewhere in the palace even as we speak. Do pay extra caution not to run into him.”
Alice flinched a little when she heard that.
Due to her excessive curiosity, she had recently ended up ‘spending’ the whole night with the Seventh Imperial Prince. What kind of a misunderstanding would occur when her grandfather learns of this matter?
Maybe he’d even seek out the Imperial Prince once more while wielding a crosier.
Alice did her best to form a bright smile. “Please do not worry. I’m growing up healthy and tough all thanks to my mother who safely gave birth to me.”
“Aikoo, my granddaughter!” 
Raphael lovingly held her tightly. She smiled like a benevolent goddess as she gently patted her grandfather’s head.
“Will you be alright?”
He asked her again with another deeply worried expression.
Even if his granddaughter was praised as a genius, the task they were about to perform together was just too heavy of a burden for her young shoulder to bear.
“I’ll be fine, grandfather.”
With those words, Raphael handed over a bird beak mask and a medical robe to her. “Don’t push yourself too hard, child. Well then. Let us go inside.”
Alice put on the mask and the robe before staring at the door of the First Imperial Prince’s room. Raphael knocked, opened the door, and stepped inside.
The First Imperial Prince suffering from indescribable torment was laying on the bed. His body was rotting away even now. Judging from how he was thrashing about wildly on top of the mattress, his pain must’ve been truly agonising and unbearable.
The healers wearing the bird beak masks who had entered earlier grabbed the prince’s four flailing limbs and bound them tight to seal his movements.
Then, healing magic was cast on him.
Alice lent her support from their side.
She kept her eyes locked on the First Imperial Prince Luan through the clear lenses of the mask.
Cold sweat trickled down her body. This one single act of trying to conserve his rotting body had kept them mindlessly busy. They also had to pay an even greater attention so that divinity wouldn’t accidentally get into his heart tainted by the curse.
She was praised as a ‘genius’, a ‘once in a generation talent’, or even as a ‘girl who might be a saintess’. And yet, even someone like her was nothing more than yet another ineffective healer in front of the First Imperial Prince Luan.
The treatment process came to an end seven hours later.
The healers opened the door and exited from the room. The expressions revealed after removing their masks were of despondency. They either held their heads in helplessness or plopped down where they stood. Some even spat out frustrated groans.
Alice was no different from them. She carried a forlorn expression underneath the mask.
“Alice,” Archbishop Raphael called out to her as he took off his mask. He too was soaked in sweat from head to toe.
Noticing that she didn’t respond, his gaze shifted towards her. The girl was simply standing there in her spot unmoving, her mask still on her face. It was probably due to mental shock, even though she had to go through the same experience every single time.
“…Don’t blame yourself. This is an impossible task, after all.”
Alice flinched a little when she heard that word. “Impossible…”
Raphael watched her blur the end of her word and immediately realised his own slip of the tongue.
She wanted to save the First Imperial Prince more than anyone else. So her own grandfather passing the ‘sentence of death’ on the dying prince right in front of her eyes was clearly not the right thing to do.
“…I’m sure you’re exhausted from this ordeal, so why don’t you go ahead and rest in your room? I shall take care of reporting back to the Imperial Family.”
She powerlessly nodded her head.
With staggering steps, she walked on the palace’s corridor. However, the very moment she went around the corner, all semblance of strength abandoned her legs and she ended up squatting down.
‘I couldn’t heal him…’
She took off the mask. Her golden locks were soaked through and the messy strands tumbled down her face.
Her despairing expression could now be seen with the mask off.
‘But why not…? I possess Gaia’s fragment, and yet… why couldn’t I…?’
She already knew that she was the ‘saintess’. She knew better than anyone that she was still in the middle of her growth, and in the future, she’d get to wield an even greater power than right now.
Even then, she couldn’t shake off this gnawing feeling that even if her growth was completed, it’d still be impossible to heal the First Imperial Prince Luan.
‘At this rate…’
…The prince would definitely die for sure.
No, he wouldn’t just merely ‘die’, but turn into an undead, instead.
This was indeed the ‘impossibility’. Exactly as her grandfather told her just now. Demonic energy invading one’s heart meant that the curse would never come undone unless you died first.
-Resurrection, is it? Doesn’t sound like it’ll be completely impossible, actually.
Alice recalled what the Seventh Imperial Prince said earlier.
[Resurrection], a miracle that would only be seen in the legendary myths. Not to mention, an absolutely impossible domain that went against the providence of nature itself, too.
But if it was this ‘miracle’, then treating the First Imperial Prince would certainly be possible.
She tried to comb through every bit of knowledge crammed deep inside her head. She kept her fingers crossed all the time but eventually, had to let go of her expectations.
What a funny thing it was. She herself loudly stated that such a thing was impossible, and yet here she was, hoping for that exact miracle to occur.
In the end, there was nothing she could do.
She held her head in frustration and despair.
(Back to 1st person POV.)
“You sure this is everyone?”
I perused the report Harman had compiled for me. It was a list of past actions and the individual relationships the Seventh Imperial Prince had, ones that the Paladin got to observe with his own eyes in the palace.
When I asked him about such things back in the monastery, this guy didn’t even mention anything about Alice Astoria. So naturally, I had to dig in even further for his reasoning, and he eventually replied that it was ‘to maintain secrecy’.
It sorta made sense, seeing how even the village stuck in the Land of the Dead Spirits knew about the Seventh Imperial Prince trying to assault a lady-in-waiting. It’d be even more troublesome if the rumour of whose granddaughter it was somehow wound up spreading throughout the empire’s citizens.
“Yes, your highness. This is everyone.” Even while answering me, Harman was avoiding my gaze.
“…That’s odd. There isn’t any info on my mother and father here.”
“Do you even require that, your highness? Don’t you remember them perfectly anyway?”
“What do you mean, I remember? I’ve forgotten all about them, you know.”
“You don’t have to hide the truth from me, your highness. We’re riding on the same boat, aren’t we?”
“What the heck? You’re now openly getting in bed with me? Fine, whatever man. Hurry up and spit it out, will ya.”
Harman had this deeply troubled expression on him.
He pondered deeply about something before opening his mouth. “When you were with both of your parents, you lived a truly happy, ordinary life, your highness.”
Even as he said this, he kept avoiding my gaze.
This guy, he was definitely lying.
I figured that I still wouldn’t get any answers even if I went around asking other people. I noticed earlier that the maids and servants were very reluctant to even mention both the father and mother of the Seventh Imperial Prince.
Which wasn’t surprising at all, since the topic itself dealt with the Imperial Family’s internal affairs. Unless you were a high-ranking aristocrat, even thinking of mentioning it in the open would be quite tough.
Harman seemed to be trying to change the topic, because he brought something else up. “Tomorrow is the banquet, your highness. Have you finished preparing for the occasion?”
He did urge me to learn about etiquette earlier, but I didn’t bother. Heck, I didn’t even have enough time to learn more about magic, so where would I find spare moments to waste on learning such a useless thing called etiquette?
Harman spat out a lengthy sigh. “Others may start mocking you if you put on a poor display, your highness. Charlotte has been learning diligently in her own room, just so that she wouldn’t embarrass you in any way.”
“Tell her to just relax and enjoy it at her own pace. Isn’t that what a party is supposed to be, anyway?”
“A party and a banquet are two different beasts, your highness.” Harman sighed once more. “What will you do if his highness the First Imperial Prince attends as well?”
After hearing that, I quickly glanced at the report once more. “You know… there is no mention of this First Imperial Prince in here, too.”
“A simple oversight on my part, your highness.”
Harman’s gaze automatically went towards the ceiling. This dude… his ability to lie was on par with little kids.
I asked him, “Okay, so. Who is the First Imperial Prince then?”
Harman pretended to not hear me, but when I locked my glare on him, he finally caved in and opened his mouth.
“Luan Olfolse.” His gaze lowered and he was now looking straight into my eyes. “…He’s your older brother, born from the same womb, your highness.”
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