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2. The Ancient Dragon Kharis
The following day.
Taking along Julieta, who wore a white veil, I paid a visit to the chalk-white shrine beside the royal castle. The shrine was the centre of the kingdom’s state religion, the Dragon God faith, and was the [Dragon Priestess] Julieta’s home.
Confined deep under the Palcemith Castle was an ancient dragon named Kharis. The kingdom used the powers of the countless spirits gathered here, drawn to the dragon’s vitality and mana. This made it possible to live a prosperous life.
The Ancient Dragon Kharis, who had been imprisoned since the founding of the nation had a nearly eternal lifespan when compared to a human. But that didn’t mean he was immortal. Once every ten years, he had to consume the flesh and blood of a close relative of the sacred priestess. Otherwise, he would use up all his strength, even if he were an ancient dragon. And that meant the same as the downfall of the kingdom.
To prevent this, the kingdom made the Dragon God faith the state religion; and in its long history had put in place an arrangement to select a sacrifice. The priestess chosen to be the offering would be called the [Sacrificial Priestess]. Her standing was equal to that of the king. The role Julieta was given, the [Dragon Priestess], oversaw the rites in the Dragon God faith and was tasked with guiding the people. But that role had been a mere formality for a long time. It was now given to daughters from noble families or the youngest princess of the royal family to elevate their status. However, the fact that the women chosen to be the [Dragon Priestess] died an early death was a fact known to all. Julieta’s predecessor too was long dead.
I believed there was a reason for this, and I knew I could reach a common ground for my purposes.
To join hands with the so-called “reason”, I paid a visit to the shrine before calling upon the ancient dragon Kharis.
“…I am sorry to have kept you waiting, Your Excellency Prime Minister.”
At the chapel, in the waiting room that had been specially prepared for the use of nobility, I had requested an audience with the master of the shrine and at the same time Julieta’s guardian– the Head Priest Malacia. Making no effort to hide his evident displeasure, Head Priest Malacia did not even bother to warn the ladies-in-waiting, glancing at the veiled Julieta at a distance and animatedly gossiping in whispers. No sooner than he entered the waiting room, he ostentatiously let out a long sigh.
“I did not wish to see you again if possible.”
Straightforwardly speaking, he was implying “I don’t want to board a sinking ship.”
Head Priest Malacia a slit-eyed man who lent a hand to Anderheim, did underhanded dealings in the name of the Dragon God faith and successfully lined his pockets. He was extraordinarily clever and could accurately see through all the circumstances surrounding the kingdom. That must be the reason why he did not wish to see me. His wisdom was quite useful. If it had been the former me, I would have perhaps raised the stick in my hands high to crack his head open, but of course, I wouldn’t do such a foolish act now.
“Seeing how you are acting, it seems you must have already heard of the fuss in the audience room.”
At my words, Malacia gave a brief nod.”
“Yes, I have heard of it. The Crown Prince unexpectedly broke his engagement with Lady Julieta and appointed the Sacrificial Priestess, Miss Nasha Laturi as his new fiancee. On top of that, he also nominated Lady Julieta as the Sacrificial Priestess…It is so preposterous, I cannot even laugh. As for the Prime Minister, he accepted it without a single objection? You’re being seen as quite the fiend.”
“Kuku, that goes unsaid. If this continues, destruction is what awaits you, Julieta and I.”
“What nonsense are you spouting? I intend to somehow escape this kingdom. Well…it is quite an arduous task though.”
The collusion between Anderheim and MAlacia had been watched closely since the beginning. In the unlikely event that we try to escape the kingdom, it was obvious that we would be prevented from doing so.
“So, I have a suggestion…Malacia, will you hear me out?”
In front of the doubtful Malacia.
I gently lifted Julieta’s veil to reveal her face.
In front of my eyes, Malacia stiffened and was left speechless.
I added fuel to the fire.
“Is this…Lady Julieta…?”
“Ah… that voice certainly is Lady Julieta. But that… also…”
The recipient of what could be called an intent stare from Malacia, Julieta shyly looked down, cheeks dyed.
She must have been surprised.
Until now, Julieta had always been caked in thick face powder with garish lipsticks and heavy makeup. But today, she had been given light makeup that accentuated her natural beauty.
I took the pains to visit a salon that dealt with cosmetics and carefully thought over which colour scheme suited Julieta the best. Using the makeup I chose, I thoroughly guided Juliet on the art of natural makeup.
…I never thought that my experience helping my sister with makeup while cosplaying would come to use in such a situation.
Just as the official setting said, from a ghastly pale face caked in makeup; Julieta transformed into a beautiful girl who stirred up one’s protective instinct. The transformation was similar to a butterfly emerging from a pupa. This was to be the first weapon in my plan.
“Malacia. I want to make a storm rage across Palcemith.”
“…A storm, you say?”
“That’s right. Whether it succeeds or fails all depends on my visit to the Ancient Dragon Kharis… but I think my chances are pretty good. Rather than struggling till ruin like this, why don’t we give a real scare to that righteous Crown Prince?”
Malacia, whose gaze at long last left Julieta hooked up his lips and once again took a seat at the sofa facing Julieta and me.
“So you’re saying you will ally with the Ancient Dragon Kharis… sounds like something interesting is about to happen for certain.”
“No doubt it is.”
“…If that’s so, shall we test the skills of Your Excellency?”
“Ah, as you wish. I request your guidance.”
I was led by the smiling Head Priest Malacia.
I, holding hands with Julieta, set foot into the long underground passage under the shrine that led deep into the royal castle.
Who needs a fiancee why you’ve got papa Anderheim to do your makeup?
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