Chapter 2: The Second Prince
By the time Sylphia had finished cleaning the temple, night had fallen outside the window. The moonlight shining through the lighted windows was mysterious and glittered on the marble walls and floors of the temple.
Sylphia loved moments like this.
The gifts to Marianne were all beautiful and Sylphia sighed at how wonderful the world was from which they came. It was also a joy to meet people who truly appreciated the spirits, without any ulterior motives toward the saint. Sometimes Sylphia even gets to enjoy some fine sweets.
And there is another reason why she likes her position as a decorative Saint.
In the darkness of the night, Sylphia’s heart jumps out of her chest at the sound of a voice softly calling her name.
“I brought you something to eat. Are you all right?”
As she answered, a candle was lit in the moonlight. Gold hair shines in the flickering flame.
There stands Lute Gimlet, the brother of Marianne’s fiancé, First Prince Antonio Gimlet, and the second prince of the land.
As Lute turns around, a servant holds out a basket to him. The smell of a delicious soup wafts from its contents.
Sylphia’s stomach growls again.
Sylphia was not allowed to eat. Since Marianne, the mistress of the temple, is not in the temple, no food was sent to her. She was also not allowed to leave the temple. That was Antonio’s instruction.
She manages to survive because many of the gifts she receives include food, but Lute, out of pity, sometimes brings her food like this.
“I’m sorry about my Brother.”
“No, don’t worry, Lute-sama. That’s a rule, too.”
“I don’t know how much longer we can keep up this nonsense…”
Sylphia takes Marianne’s place as she enjoys her affair. This has been going on for about three years now.
Antonio pretends to forgive Marianne’s affair, but he tries to get rid of his pent-up resentment by locking Sylphia away and abusing her.
Antonio knows the risks to the public if Marianne’s behavior comes to light. That is why Sylphia is there.
And when a great misfortune occurs and it is seen as the wrath of the spirits, the blame will be placed on the “false saint” Sylphia and not Marianne, who was in the temple because a non-saint prayed to the spirits. And the main reason was…
“But because of that role, my family will not fall…”
Antonio promised to support the Harvest family if they accepted the role of decoration to conceal Marianne’s absence.
“Lute-sama, if you’ll excuse me…”
Holding the basket in her hand, Sylphia took half of the food on the red patterned wall and the other half on the blue patterned wall. Neither steaming soup nor bread with cheese can be made without the earth and sky.
Perhaps it is because she continues to stay in the temple and think about the spirits that she gradually becomes more familiar with them and feels closer to them. Sometimes she feels like they are right next to her.
If she were to tell Antonio or Marianne this, they would probably laugh at her and say that she had finally lost her mind.
“Thank you for the food. It was very delicious.”
“Good. I’ll bring food again tomorrow.”
Lute, who lowered his eyebrows and smiled apologetically, made her heart ache.
(I’ll be able to see Lute-sama again, so it won’t be too hard for me.)
“Since you’ve been here, the temple has been getting more and more gifts. Of course, some of them are for Marianne… But merchants and farmers who have never been to the temple before also come to see you. They listen to your stories and are more grateful to the spirits than ever before because you tell them how wonderful the world is.”
“That’s a blessing, isn’t it?”
She had no one to talk to, and she wanted someone to listen to her. It’s honestly nice to hear.
Lute-sama. My family, the Harvest family, used to be a saint-born family, just like Marianne-sama’s family, the Honeydales. However, my ancestors failed to pray, which angered the spirits, and there was a famine that year. Then my family was deprived of the role of saint.”
The Harvest family, having lost their title as saints, had no other merit and quickly fell into decline.
“So I am happy to be involved with the temple again. I will pray hard, even if I’m just a decoration until Marianne-sama comes. I will pray hard for this country.
Sylphia smiled at him, and Lute smiled back.