Something flew into my face with a sudden cry.
In sync with the sound of something breaking, pain hit my face.
But not so hard as to knock me down.
Mucus dripped down from my hair.
It smelled really bad.
It didn't take me long to guess what this mucus thing was, for there were a lot of broken eggshells scattered around my feet.
From the bad smell, it must be a rotten egg.
Not yet fully aware of what had just happened, another cry rang out.
“Everyone knows you like to screw with several men at once each night!”
Again, something from the crowd was seen flying toward me.
For some reason, this time I thought it wasn't an egg.
Closing my eyes reflexively, something red covered my vision instead.
Followed by the warmth of one's body, then a thud.
His low voice sent chills all over my body.
His short, spitting words were filled with suppressed anger.
Only then did I realize.
Latban protected me from the throwing attack.
Wrapped by his cloak, I was held by his arms so I could not see what happened outside.
Only the screams of the knights and people could be heard.
“Every night the priests will get into your crotch!”
It was the voice of the person throwing the rotten egg earlier.
My body froze at that.
What he said was true.
Maybe not every night, but Yvelina indeed did that.
“Shut him up.”
As Latban opened his mouth again, the man's swearing stopped with a thud.
Replaced by the buzzing sound of people around him.
“Is the rumor true?”
“I've heard it.
They say so many men sell holy items given by the Saintess.”
“I've heard it's not much of a secret in the Great Temple.
Many priests talk about it themselves.”
The small murmur soon turned into a big roar.
People's attitudes who suddenly changed even though they shouted for my blessing not long ago made me wonder if that was all a lie? The rumor must have spread thoroughly.
For them, rumors turned into facts as soon as someone was seen calling me a dirty whore while throwing a rotten egg.
Now, there was no need for the man to shout and swear anymore.
People have naturally raised their voices.
“I think it would be better to go back inside,” said Latban lowering his head to me under the cloak.
I couldn't answer.
I was scared.
If I decided to look outside now, I was scared of people's gazes that would fall on me.
Even if the rumor was not something I did, as long as I live as Yvelina, then I have to accept all the insults and looks of disgust from people.
“Dirty whore! How many longers do you want to hide behind the Temple Knights?! Hey, people, you all should know too! My relative said…!”
Did Latban move this time? The big body hugging me shook, followed by a thud, then the screams of the person who cursed at me a whore stopped.
“I'll take you.”
Latban seemed impatient waiting for my answer.
However, the moment he led me to move, I grabbed him by the arm.
Latban stopped moving.
I took off the cloak covering my body.
The rotten egg mucus that slid from my hair was dirtying his cloak.
Did he think I'd just come back in like that?
The people who had been swearing at me with enthusiasm fell silent as soon as they saw me showing up.
It was then that I realized that whatever I was about to say in front of them wouldn't stop the rumors already circulating.
'No matter what I try, will it still end up like the plot in the novel?'
Unlike the story in the novel, although now I—as Yvelina—attended the prayer meeting as scheduled, the dirty rumors still spread.
I turned away from the disdainful gaze of the people.
Among them, there was one whose existence was forgotten at the moment.
He was the old man who had toppled over due to the strong urge around him.
I walked over to the old man.
What used to be crowds of people competing to get close to me, now they're backing away.
The old man was still in his place, not moving.
“Are you still hoping for my blessing?” I asked.
The old man nodded.
I stepped closer and put my palm on his head.
His hideously distorted skin and the bad smell didn't surprise me.
I had often seen much more similar severe conditions in the hospital.
“May God be with you always, even in the most difficult moments and in the happiest moments.
He will be with you whenever you want.”
There were many words of blessing.
I memorized dozens of them for this ceremony, but this would have been its end.
Then I bowed my head and kissed the old man's head.
Just as radio broadcasting became a prop for one person's life, I hope this fake saintess' blessing will also be a strength to this old man.
The old man raised his head and looked at me.
“Thank you, Saintess.”
The moment our eyes met I realized…
'He's not an old man!'
His blue eyes that stared at me looked frighteningly bright.
There was no sign of lethargy or fatigue due to an illness.
Instead, his eyes gleamed with joy and curiosity as if he had just found something interesting.
As the man was about to get up, he stretched out his hand.
Then grabbing my hair which ran down his shoulder.
It wasn't rough, but I had to keep looking at him, unable to get up.
He took my hair and slowly brought it to his lips.
After a gentle kiss, he looked at me and said,
“I look forward to seeing you again.”
✧ ✧ ✧
First day of the prayer meeting, the last ceremony ended just like that.
Anyone who had cursed Yvelina a dirty whore was caught by the holy knights and locked up in the temple prison.
The priests sighed heavily, complaining that what they feared had happened in the end.
I didn't mean to eavesdrop.
I could hear their voices clearly behind the garden bushes.
“I knew this was going to happen!”
“Now, those ugly rumors will spread throughout the continent within a month.”
“What will they say to the Great Temple? This will be a huge disgrace to us!”
The priests' voices grew louder and louder.
Then someone said,
“Really, why do we have to worry about that? Isn't this all because of the Saintess?”
I wonder will she come to her senses after all these troubles.
Everything is just so wrong.”
Their voices slowly decreased, it seemed like they were tired keep on talking about Yvelina.
“I heard they even called her the whore of the Great Temple…
Now, I don't know anymore.
I'm going to go get ready for the rest of the prayer meeting tomorrow.”
The main priest who started the talk left, the others followed suit.
Making sure that everyone was really gone, I stood up and lay down on the garden bench.
I grabbed my wet hair hanging down, smelling the strong scent of flowers.
Even though I couldn't smell the rotten eggs anymore, somehow, the smell of the ceremony lingered in my nostrils.
“I'm tired…” I murmured to myself.
A lot had happened in the last one day.
I had not been able to sleep well since the previous day, and had been moving around since the dawn where the prayer ceremonies continued throughout the day.
But what tired me the most was the last ceremony.
'I didn't expect Latban to kneel to me again.'
After returning to the room, the man knelt directly in front of me on one knee and bowed his head.
“I couldn't do my duty properly.
Please hold me responsible for that.”
I understood why he behaved like that.
Latban was the one in charge for my security, but instead, I got hit by a rotten egg in front of many people.
“It was not your fault, Sir Latban.
It was my mistake to make you do something else.”
If only I hadn't told Latban to bring the old man, he would have blocked the rotten egg without a problem.
So I ordered Latban to get up from his kneeling position, but he didn't move an inch.
“It is my responsibility if the Saintess is injured for any reason.”
Latban's manner was too firm.
Unless I let him take responsibility for what happened, this guy definitely won't budge.
I'll hold you responsible for the guard's mistake, but not now.
Please carry out your mission unchanged until the prayer meeting is over tomorrow.”
“It's an order.
Get out of here.”
Like Latban, I imitated his firmness.
Whether to hold him responsible or not, I have no intention of saying anything at this time.
I didn't have the mental capacity to do that.
So, when I said it was an order, Latban reluctantly withdrew.
I muttered, looking up at the night sky.
And not a single good idea came to mind.
I tried to find the lightest punishment in Yvelina's memory, but all that popped out was the harshest.
“I don't know.”
First of all, maybe I should put aside the Latban punishment.
I had more nagging questions floating in my head.
'Who is that man?'
The man who pretended to be an old man and asked for my blessing.
'For what purpose?'
I grabbed my hair again and lifted it up, staring at the part where the man kissed.
Thinking hard but nothing came to mind.
'I look forward to seeing you again…'
There was strength in his voice.
I could feel it.
That the man will surely come and see me again.
I was curious about the man's identity but oddly wasn't worried.
From the way he looked at me, he seemed happy.
I did not feel any hostility.
'It was the crowd around him who were far more dangerous.'
I suddenly felt like crying remembering what they had said.
'Why do they call Yvelina a whore?'
If she was really a whore, she should have been the one selling her body for money.
But Yvelina did just the opposite.
She held the men who came to her and gave them lots of money and valuables.
Not that her attitude was commendable, but it just felt unfair.
“I have to prepare for tomorrow's prayer meeting…”
Earlier after taking a shower, I decided to lie down on the garden bench for a while feeling the night breeze.
My eyes closed by themselves.
I had to go back to my room using the secret passage, but my limp body won't move.
'Let's stay a little longer.'
In the end, I fell into a very deep slumber.
And when I woke up again, I was already on the bed in my room.
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