‘There are other methods besides that, but regular citizens of the empire can’t do it, so it’s irrelevant.’
Grace had never encountered any information or premise where the curse’s medium exploded.
‘So Aria being able to break Sylvester’s curse was a unique case. The direct placement of a curse on a human body was uncommon too.’
Such a curse was rare; in fact, scouring the entire world, only Sylvester was the one who was affected this way.
Aria observed Grace, who was lost in thought and spoke up after a while.
“Also, that day, I saw the mist around you disperse… but when I saw you again here, you were once again enveloped in it.”
She didn’t want to keep responding with “Huh?”, but under these circumstances, Grace couldn’t muster another reaction.
“…Crown Prince Sylvester’s curse has never worsened.”
“It didn’t lift all at once, but I can visibly see it easing. However, in the case of the Duchess, the curse was completely lifted, but today, she was once again wrapped in the mist.”
“That’s why you said it seemed similar.”
Grace was perplexed.
‘So, does this mean I, I mean Grace, have been under this curse all along?’
Perhaps being cursed was the reason she heard such odd murmurs.
Thinking this way provided some comfort to her. While she couldn’t solely blame her depression on the curse, some of the severe, inexplicable events might be due to it.
‘If it turns out later it wasn’t a curse, well, that’ll be just as depressing.’
Grace pondered another possibility, then her curiosity was piqued about Aria’s intentions.
“Why are you telling me all this?”
Is it a proposition of some kind? Whatever it might be, that offer could dictate Grace’s next moves.
But Aria’s words weren’t an offer.
“…I sense an energy similar to mine in you.”
‘What is she talking about?’
“I wondered if, perhaps, you possess divine power.”
Divine power in a character who had never even made an appearance in the original story? Grace was on the verge of dropping her jaw.
‘A saintess possesses a divine power far greater than priests, so she is sensitive to both contamination and divine energy. That’s why Aria couldn’t be mistaken.’
Grace didn’t believe Aria was wrong. The only issue was, that divine power wasn’t an energy that manifests later in life, like magic.
‘Having divine power and being a saintess are two different things. Priests with divine power still can’t measure up to a saintess. Yet she says I’m similar to one?’
The Linden Viscounty’s temple was so small it was practically ornamental. To formally meet a priest, one would need to travel by carriage to a larger territory.
However as Grace grew up, she had often visited the temples in neighboring territories, but she had never once heard any word of her having any divine power.
Furthermore, since a saintess already existed, the likelihood of another emerging was non-existent.
‘Is it because I’ve possessed this body?’
It was the only conclusion she could reach. Differences brought about by her possession.
‘But if that difference has truly granted me divine power, then it seems that the dark pebble was indeed the curse’s medium.’
She had already removed it and had overhauled all the pebbles in the garden, but a similar situation again meant that the entire annex could be a dangerous place.
‘If the reason she’s reluctant to be in the annex was because cursed objects are scattered throughout, it would make sense.’
The problem was, she didn’t know how to figure this out. Grace barely held back a sigh.
‘It’s said those with divine power instinctively know how to use their power. So, I can’t even ask about it.’
Grace gave Aria, who was subtly tiptoeing around her, a sidelong glance.
‘…Just as I thought.’
Aria was just as she was described in the original story.
Innocent and kind-hearted.
Even though Grace could potentially seem suspicious, she subtly asked Aria a question.
“Saintess, are you close to His Highness the Crown Prince?”
“Wha-? Oh, yes! He’s helped me a lot. I consider him a good friend.”
Grace decided to drop a hint to help Aria.
“I’ve never really met a variety of people before. So, I had a hard time understanding the Duke when I first got to know him.”
Of course, there was a bit of a white lie in her words, but Aria wouldn’t know, and the implication was what mattered.
‘I’m not sure if Aria will pick up on it.’
“I never knew my heart could race so much upon befriending someone so dear.”
“Ah, this is a secret between us. Just a girls’ chat.”