Both of them were taken aback by the unexpected proposal.
Why would he make such a proposition to an unmarried woman known to be actively seeking a spouse? Regardless of how one tried to interpret it in a different light, it seemed to convey an interest in Cordelia.
Furthermore, even if that wasn’t the case, she had to decline this proposal.
They needed to work together until they resolved the situation of their swapped bodies, and Noah, due to his position, couldn’t easily leave the country.
It would be a bigger disadvantage if they were too far apart when the body switch occurred.
While pulling her left lip into a smile, Cordelia extended her hand beneath the table and lightly tapped Noah’s thigh.
Understanding the signal, Noah held the most important question in his mouth.
“It’s not like you’re unaware of my current circumstances, Your Grace.”
“Even though you’re aware of that, what’s the reason behind making such a proposition?”
Raymond slightly lifted the corner of his lips, giving way to a gentle and tender voice that was as alluring as coaxing a butterfly with a fragrance.
“To put it directly might be awkward, but when I saw you at the event, I fell in love at first sight.”
Cordelia nearly grabbed the person’s collar due to her astonishment.
Where on earth does he see a face that’s fallen in love? That’s the look of a child who’s found an interesting toy!
She wanted to ask if he was out of his mind this time, but for once, the fact that she was in someone else’s body left her speechless.
Why didn’t Linus come sooner and spare her from seeing herself like this? Now blaming the naive Linus in her mind, Cordelia reached beneath the table and discreetly wrote on Noah’s palm.
Upon understanding the message, Noah almost turned in Cordelia’s direction.
Wait, was she serious?
The grip that firmly held his hand conveyed sincerity.
Despite his complex emotions, Noah responded with an unwavering voice.
“Your Grace, I appreciate your feelings, but unfortunately, you’re not my taste.”
Good, well done.
He’s doing great!
Raymond, who had been gazing at Noah as he declined with a natural demeanor, smiled and responded unexpectedly.
“Is that so? I’ve never heard anyone say my face was particularly unattractive.”
“No, of course not.”
Unable to hold back, Cordelia responded with a sassy tone, but she hesitated when she noticed the gaze turned towards her.
Amethyst-colored eyes were filled with curiosity and glimmered gently like a crescent moon.
As soon as she saw that expression, the gateway to honesty swung wide open.
“Where do you find someone who openly says they’re not unattractive to their superior? It’s not like I want to shorten my lifespan!”
Of course, the man was handsome, but apart from that, it was inconceivable.
Who openly spoke like that to someone who governed a nation?
Cordelia paused her thoughts, feeling a strange discomfort as if someone spat on her face.
The servants around her seemed to be bowing their heads more than before.
Could it be a misconception? It also seemed like she heard a faint chuckle.
Maybe it’s just her imagination, yeah.
It must be!
“Indeed, is that why you want to say my face is unattractive?”
“Well, it’s not exactly like that…”
“It’s just that I’m so curious about your face, wondering how handsome it is.”
“No matter how lenient I am, emotions can be hurt.”
Facing him, who had a face that looked more delighted than if his tail had been caught, Cordelia smiled playfully.
Though she felt oddly uneasy, Noah attempted to stop Cordelia, but she had already spoken her mind.
“Unfortunately, it’s difficult to reveal my face without permission.
Our noble lady cherishes me greatly, you see.”
She leaned toward Noah and slipped an arm around him, his soft and gentle body turned rigid due to tension.
Although he wanted to protest, it wasn’t exactly a lie, so Noah nodded, his head moving up and down like a seesaw.
Raymond gently pulled his lip upward.
“But aren’t you, lady, currently discussing a marriage proposal?”
Even in the face of a question that suggested it might be time to stop the joking, Cordelia remained steadfast.
She lifted her eyes from their lowered position and glanced at Noah.
“She’s merely seeking a potential spouse; nothing has been confirmed as of now.
Isn’t that right?”
“Well… that’s true.”
Closer, closer, get closer!
Screaming internally, Noah calmly extended his hand over the table.
Oh well, whatever.
Noah picked up a grape and placed it into Cordelia’s mouth, which was attached to his arm.
Despite his slight trembling due to embarrassment, he managed to hold himself together.
Unaware of his inner turmoil, Cordelia cheerfully and deliciously accepted the grape.
At that moment, she was both annoyingly charming and adorably cute.
What can they do, it’s already turned out like this.
“Also, even if there are many potential spouses, I’m worried if I’ll find someone I truly like.”
“I suppose you can’t just choose anyone to marry.”
Ignoring the persistent gaze that seemed to assess her status and worth, Cordelia shamelessly stuck to Noah’s side, acting as if she had a metal plate on her face.
Feeling both helpless and annoyed, Noah blinked his eyes.
If he were to pull Cordelia away so blatantly in this situation, it would raise even more suspicions.
Because their relationship wasn’t one of dominance and submission, denying their connection in front of the other party who was already aware of this fact would only provide an opening for more questions.
But Cordelia was too close.
No matter the circumstances of their body swap, the fact itself was uncomfortable for his heart.
To make sense of this awkward situation, he opened his mouth.
“If that’s all you wanted to discuss, may I take my leave?”
Having grown up in the chaos of the palace during the reign of the previous king, Noah had encountered various situations.
He wasn’t so easily unnerved by this level of pressure.
With a mixture of reluctance in her eyes, Cordelia rose from her seat, mirroring Noah’s movement.
Raymond watched the two with an amused expression.
“Do you mean to reject the proposal outright?”
“I’ll keep my mouth shut on this one, but if you’ll excuse us, please.”
Looking at Noah as he replied with the utmost courtesy, Raymond turned his gaze to Cordelia.
He scrutinized the hands of the two as they held each other, his persistent gaze contrasting with his fresh voice that made them pause.
“Is there no other issue?”
* * *
“It seems you always bring troublesome requests.”
Bende sighed as if he had a headache.
Behind him, the two robed figures shifted their attention to Tiren, who was sitting across from them on the sofa.
The room had a large window that allowed plenty of light, but Tiren was well aware that the window was sturdier than it appeared.
It had to be that way.
Because there was a protective barrier cast upon it.
He replied, somewhat exasperated,
“Is that so?”
Although it masqueraded as an information guild, in reality, it was a gathering place for mages who went unnoticed by temples or congregated secretly from foreign lands.
While the nature of mages tended to be individualistic and averse to group living, even the most private individuals had no choice but to come together when faced with a common adversary.
For them, it was the nation, specifically the temples.
It all began with the notion that all magic had to be tied to the temples, and from the moment someone was identified as a mage, they sought to avoid the chains of laws that bound their every move.
Though there were many benefits to be gained, there were also those who simply desired to lead peaceful, ordinary lives.
Yet, since some form of communication was essential, they entrusted themselves to the information guild.
The secretive nature of mages aligned well with the character of the information guild, which regarded trust as a matter of life and death.
Near the borders of the kingdom, there were quite a few guilds that clandestinely interacted with mages in this manner.
Tiren had set foot in various places.
While it somewhat diminished the risk, there was no better way to keep the temples in check.
“I’m not sure if we have a mage capable of handling something like this within my knowledge.
I’ll send a letter to inquire, though.”
Bende, the guild master of ﹤Sollei﹥, was quite rational and efficient in his dealings.
Despite his amiable appearance, he had good social skills and could easily mediate disputes among the members.
And just as much, he had a great sense of pride in the guild.
That’s why it was quite surprising to see him nod in agreement so readily.
“Are you suggesting it’s that serious?”
Even if you were to go to ﹤Aurote﹥, you wouldn’t get a better answer than what you’ve heard from me.
Just by listening, I can tell it’s not some mediocre magic.”
Sitting right next to Bende, a woman dressed in a robe took the opportunity to explain.
She was Judith, one of the most capable mages affiliated with ﹤Sollei﹥, known for her remarkable skills.
She had a fairly youthful face, with a scar running from her right temple, passing her left eye, and down her cheek, which was quite impressive.
“If the magic is intertwined with a ritual, it’s likely within the realm of shamanistic practices.
Rather than direct spellcasting, the use of a medium inscribed with symbols implies the application of advanced magic.”
Given his familiarity with items that block magic for work-related purposes, Tiren was well aware that crafting magical tools wasn’t an easy task.
Observing his nodding in agreement, Judith continued her explanation.
“Finding the magic circle would have made things easier, but the fact that the medium with the inscribed symbols has disappeared is already a headache.
In shamanistic magic, you need the magic circle to dispel it.”
“What about this?”
Tiren pulled out a folded note from his pocket and handed it to them.
It contained a drawing of the magic circle that had been inscribed on the backs of Cordelia and Noah’s right hands.
Studying it closely, Judith raised her head.
“I could only replicate the form of connecting souls.
Just to let you know, I could attempt it, but if it’s magic that reverses someone’s body and consciousness without side effects, its design is likely to be complex and intricate.”
Tiren pointed out the discomfort he had been feeling since earlier.
“Still, you’re not saying it’s impossible to resolve.”
“It’s not something I would deem impossible to resolve.
However, it seems to be beyond the scope of what I can handle.”
“Well then, I’m willing to pay any amount to find someone who can solve this issue.”
“Are you asking me to keep this confidential?”
After some contemplation, Judith finally spoke.
“I have one person in mind who might be suitable for this… but I can’t say for sure how long it will take.”
Taking the purse of gold coins that Tiren had laid on the table, Bende inspected the contents.
Beside him, as he vowed to do his best, Judith cautiously added a remark.
“Do you happen to know that curses are included within the realm of magic?”
“It’s best to hope that this magic is not within the domain of curses.
Otherwise, the matter will become doubly troublesome.”
“Specifically, what aspect are you referring to?”
“Unlike other forms of magic, curses require a caster to break them.”
Judith’s pink eyes glowed ominously as she added that solving this using only a magic circle and potion would be difficult.
“You mentioned there’s a limit to the number of times this can be done.
What’s your estimate?”
“Roughly, I’d guess there are about five attempts left.”
“…Since we don’t know what might happen when all the attempts are used up, it’s better to be cautious.”
Her voice held a warning tone.
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