Be Fascinated - Chapter 5
Philia woke up from her sleep. Her body was already clean. The clothes she was wearing were soft. The moment she woke up, a bell rang and she unconsciously flinched.
‘Where is this place?’
Suddenly, she recalled the sexual affair that had taken place last night. Her face flushed. At that moment, the door swung open and a handmaiden came in with water for her to wash up with.
“Have you awoken?”
“I am Paula, the new handmaiden who will be serving you from today onwards.”
“Are you hungry? Shall I have breakfast prepared?”
“No, I, well…”
“Are you, perhaps, feeling any discomfort?”
Philia’s face grew serious. The moment ‘discomfort’ was mentioned, her body began to ache. Even her lower parts were stinging, evidence of yesterday’s love affair. She shook her head as her face reddened.
“Wh-Where is His Highness?”
“His Highness is at the Imperial Palace.”
That was a given.
“Then, where is this place?”
“This is a mansion privately owned by His Highness.”
“His Highness told me to ensure that you’re well-rested and waiting for him here.”
Philia wanted to dig a hole and hide herself in it. How could she ever face Claude again?
“Okay. Please tell him that I’m sorry for causing trouble.”
Philia got up from where she was seated. Paula was startled and immediately blocked her path. The demure handmaiden seemed uncharacteristically agitated, but Philia failed to notice.
“Ah, my Lady…”
“I’m sorry but I’m no Lady. I’ll make sure to pay you back for letting me stay the night and for lending me these clothes.”
“M-My Lady… But, the state of your body.”
“It’s okay. I brought this upon myself.”
Uptight. She was just too uptight. Philia smiled, her blue eyes bright, and walked out into the hallway. Paula became even more desperate. If she let the lady leave, she would die at the hands of the Crown Prince.
“Please have mercy on me, my Lady.”
Keeping her in this mansion as if she’d been captured and imprisoned. What Claude had ordered was a soft confinement.
“It’s presumptuous of me to say so, but I know my Lady is still unwell.”
Philia lowered her head in shame. After all, who else could’ve cleaned her up? She was almost certain that it was him.
“If I let my Lady leave, I’ll be in big trouble. Of course, I don’t want that either.”
Philia was lost in thought as Paula spoke to her, begging for her mercy. She couldn’t just put Paula in danger by doing whatever she wanted.
“Okay. Then I’ll find him and talk to him in person.”
“Could you really do that?”
Paula’s face brightened and she heaved a sigh of relief as Philia nodded.
Trust is earned after a long period of time.
There is a prophecy inscribed in gold in the Bible, written in divine characters that are incomprehensible to humans. The divine inscriptions are in complex forms that not even linguists can understand.
There is only one way to interpret this prophecy, and that is to put your hand on the Bible and pray for several days. After that devout prayer, the inscriptions will be interpreted.
No matter how sincere the High Priest was, it was difficult to interpret the new language. Eventually, the High Priest and one of his beloved deacons were able to interpret it after a few days and they were overjoyed.
‘Under the North Star, on the day when red flowers bloomed in the middle of Winter, I sent my child down to Earth.’
Under the North Star, the day the red flowers bloomed. Philia was born on that day.
The priests searched the villages in the North where the ‘red flowers’ had bloomed.
On the day Philia was born, her parents had discovered strange, blood red flowers blooming around their house and removed them.
When she turned eight, the words of the prophecy had spread. Her father found out that his daughter was a Saintess and handed over his little daughter, Philia, to the Temple. Her new life began at the age of thirteen.
Sent away at such a young age, she did everything the Temple told her to do.
A month ago, a priest who had helped interpret the prophecy committed suicide. Apparently, the prophecy called for ‘blue flowers’, but such flowers did not exist in this world. Hence, the High Priest, who had already passed on, had fabricated the prophecy and changed it to ‘red flowers’. The priest left this message and died.
The priests were divided by their opinions. The High Priest who received the prophecy had passed away after fulfilling his duty, and the only other priest involved in the interpretion had committed suicide.
The priests secretly headed back to the villages in the North in search of a child born on the day ‘blue flowers’ bloomed in Winter. Though they believed it would be impossible, the Temple was able to find a Saintess who was born on the day the ‘blue flowers’ bloomed.
It was Bianca. Bianca was the child of a lower class aristocrat and her parents loved gardening. Naturally, blue flowers were present in the courtyard of their house.
The Saintess, who had grown up with the love and care of the priests from a young age, was mercilessly expelled from the Temple as a fake saint.
“I believe that everything is God’s Will, and I harbor no resentment towards my Lord,” Philia, the fake saintess, prayed.
“However, please allow this foolish girl, who was deceived by pleasure, to move on in peace.”
Prayers were just her habit of talking to herself. After praying, Philia got up and sat down on her chair. She was lost in thought about what to do in the future.
Firstly, she had to return to the village where her parents lived.
‘I wonder if you still remember me.’
She hadn’t even contacted them once. In fact, she couldn’t even remember their faces anymore. Nevertheless, she remembered having a happy childhood when she was younger.
Just the thought of seeing them again left Philia feeling somewhat bitter and ashamed. There was one thing bothering her. She was twenty-one years old. If she were a normal woman, she would’ve gotten married by this age…
Philia was lost in thought. There was little an unmarried woman could do.
Getting married and giving dowry is all the filial piety she could do.
“Should I… Get married?”
All her life, she had to distance herself from men, and yet she suddenly had to consider marriage. Just thinking about it made her dizzy.
Philia turned around, startled by the sudden low voice. Claude was standing there.
“ Y-Your Highness, when did you get here?”
“What do you mean by married?”
Claude’s tone was calm as per usual, but there was a hint of irritation. Hearing that, Philia flinched.
Unknowingly, she muttered and explained, “Well… When I return to my parents, the only thing I can do is get married.”
“Aha, I see.”
His tone was eerily calm, as was his face. However, for some reason, Claude’s eyes seemed fiery. His gaze was piercing.
It was like before. His eyes were terrifying, it was as if they were emitting fire. Still, she glanced at him. Philia came to her senses saying, “Oops”.
“Your Highness. Thank you. And, I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry as well…”
Claude pondered those words.
“Because I’ve troubled you. And…”
Philia recalled the events of yesterday and her face began heating up. She had been under the effects of an aphrodisiac and had lost her sense of reasoning, but her memories were still intact.
“Because I caused you trouble.”
Philia’s face reddened and her lips trembled. They were not in a sacred relationship where they were hoping for a child, it was simply a relationship of ‘rubbing flesh’ for pleasure. It was the most detestable and taboo act in the Temple.
“Are you ashamed?”
Philia answered with her head bowing low. Suddenly, she couldn’t let him see her face.
“I, well… Thank you, I will repay your favour.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“I’m leaving now.”
“The village I used to live in.”
“You mean…to get married?”
“I don’t know if that will really be the case… Anyway, I can’t stay here any longer.”
“I’m already indebted to you.”
She felt like a child being questioned for her mistakes. She shifted her gaze to look at Claude’s face, more precisely his chin, and saw the corners of his mouth raise.
What was he thinking about?
“I heard that you live in the northernmost part of the country. How are you intending to get there on your own?”
“There are probably more than one or two creeps in this country.”
Claude leaned down and looked at Philia. Philia was startled when she looked up. His face, one that she usually considered handsome, was uncomfortable to see up close.
“I will try to get in touch with your parents.”
Claude’s words were even more surprising. Claude looked at her face as if he were staring into her soul.
“Shouldn’t checking if your parents still live there be the first thing you do”
“Come to think of it, Your Highness is right.”
Philia nodded, her eyes wide. The corners of Claude’s mouth momentarily raised into a smile before lowering once again.
“Well, do that, but stay here for the time being.”
“Why on earth… Are you helping me?”
Claude looked directly at Philia and said “I can’t just send off a woman who knows nothing about the outside world.”
It was a rather gentlemanly reason. Just as she was getting used to his face, his expression turned twisted.
“It’s not really for that boring reason…”
“It’s really just courtesy towards a woman I’ve slept with.”
She was flabbergasted by his blunt remarks. Claude grinned.
“I didn’t mean to mislead you. I had fun with you last night, and it’s not hard to give this much.”
“Intercourse between a man and a woman is nothing to be ashamed of. Even the nobles in the Capital, no, everyone sleeps with each other when they feel the same way.”
“As a saintess, it may be a little embarrassing for you, but it really isn’t a big deal.”
If so, does that mean he’s done this before?
As Philia’s face darkened, Claude asked, “Did I force you to do it, or did I perhaps threaten you?”
Hearing Claude’s words, she frantically shook her head. She was in such distress last night. Perhaps she should spend the night with another man in some way. It was better to spend the night with a man she was attracted to, like him.
“Also, another thing, aren’t you feeling uncomfortable? It was your first night with a man,” Claude whispered subtly. Philia’s red face wouldn’t cool down. Claude placed his hand on her shoulder.
“In fact, I’ve lost my mind too.”
It wasn’t a touch with sexual intentions. It was normal, person-to-person contact. Nevertheless, the moment she felt that big, hard, warm hand, she unconsciously imagined him stroking her body.
As if trying to shake the scene from her imagination, she moved away from Claude’s hand.
“Thank you for your consideration.”
Claude stood rooted to the ground, his hand still cupped in the shape of her shoulders. The corners of his mouth raised and he grinned.
Philia looked up and asked, “Are you…uncomfortable?”
“No way,” he said softly, lowering his arms, “are you afraid of me?”
“No, it’s not like that. It’s just that Your Highness is a difficult person.”
“Difficult person, you say.”
Philia seemed to have become a child full of excuses again. Claude had always been a difficult person. He had provided a place to stay, and even did ‘something like that’ with her yesterday, so it wasn’t going to be easy.
“Even so, thank you again. I’ll pay back the favour someday.”
“Pay back? How?”
He had a cheerful child-like voice, but it didn’t sound like mockery.
“I’m not some poor man in need of a reward.”
Philia’s face turned red at Claude’s words. Yes, Philia was a commoner. But what kind of trouble could the Crown Prince of this country get into? It may have been presumptuous to rush to repay him for the kindness he had bestowed upon her.
“There is one way you can repay me…,” Claude said with a smile on his face.
“What is it?”
That smile made Philia a little anxious. Is he perhaps asking for something that’s too much?
“Stop saying ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome’. Just accept my favour quietly.”
“I did it with good intentions, but it’s rather troublesome to say no every time…”
“So you have to accept it.”
Philia nodded at Claude’s words.
“Then, let’s have dinner together tonight.”
“Here? Not at the Imperial Palace?”
Philia’s eyes widened. Claude was visibly confused as to what was wrong with having dinner in the mansion.
“Is something the matter?”
“No, no, I was just wondering, is Your Highness not staying in the Imperial Palace? Aren’t there many matters to tend to…”
“The Imperial Palace is a complicated place. There is a lot to do, and it’s really a headache.”
“I wish I had at least one mansion in a quiet city, but the reality is that I can only have such a mansion in the Capital and find solace here.”
The most perfect Imperial Crown Prince. Philia was like Claude, or so she thought. It was just like when he had come to the Temple three years ago. He was always laid-back and looked comfortable with everything.
She couldn’t believe Claude was able to get away from the Palace like that… Of course, the difference between them was too large to imagine but, in a way, it was similar to how she had also wanted to escape the Temple.
Philia smiled unconsciously. Forgetting her shame, a pure smile stemming from human-affection lit up her face. His reddish-brown eyes glistened at the sight.
“Why are you smiling?”
“Nothing, I just think Your Highness is very much human too.”
“Hmm, I guess I wasn’t human to you in the past then.”
“No, that isn’t what I meant. I thought you were a very perfect person. I thought you were tolerant of things like boredom.”
“Hmm, so that’s what I’m like in your eyes.”
Very naturally, Claude continued the conversation. Unknowingly, Philia opened her heart to him. He said that last night’s accident didn’t mean anything and that he was someone who had simply done her a favor. Philia looked up at Claude, her mouth slightly open. She blushed, her cheeks turning a pale pink colour.