“Perhaps there would be no better empress than Duke Cross.”
Even as Raphael was just stating a fact, Helios seemed to be frustrated at it.
Instead of answering, Helios pulled his cravat from his neck.
With his arms crossed, Helios looked down at Saruvia’s portrait on the document.
His expression seemed more tired than usual.
“You don’t seem to be inclined to do it.”
“Something like that.
Rather than not being inclined to do it, it’s a matter of responsibility.”
Helios flipped through a few more pages full of young noble ladies’ faces.
There was a wide variety of candidates who he had known for a long time, and there were also some foreign princesses.
Among them was one little girl who was ten years younger than him.
As soon as he saw the girl’s face, Helios shook his head in frustration.
“By what standards have you chosen the candidates, Raphael.”
“These are all based on the good interests of the empire.
I’ve arranged the order of candidates from the greatest to the least political and economical benefits to Your Majesty.”
No longer having the motivation to go through that pile of documents, Helios just chucked them back on the desk.
Startled by this action, Raphael looked at the emperor with a darkened expression.
“Your Majesty, this time you must seriously consider it.
As the ministers have stated, you cannot keep the Empress’ seat empty.
Even if you’re not particularly enthusiastic about this, you’ll have to choose one of them.”
“I know that I can’t put it off any longer.
It is also my duty.”
With an expression that said he truly understood everything, he smiled at Raphael.
He had been feeling the weight of this title for the last six months.
And naturally, for him to strengthen and consolidate his position, he would need a successor.
Ever since he was still a crown prince, he had constantly been under pressure to take in a crown princess, so of course this was something that he was already used to.
It was all thanks to his parents, who built a happy family in their marriage founded on love, that he could stay alone until now.
His case was something unprecedented even throughout the empire’s history, and even when it came to the neighboring countries.
“To be honest, there is no other candidate more perfect than Duke Saruvia Cross.
Don’t you know that she’s been interested in Your Majesty for the longest time now Besides that, she’s well-known amongst the nobles for her outstanding beauty.
And the most important thing is that the Cross Duchy has many mages under their command, and if a marriage were to happen between the families, then this power would naturally be considered as a pillar of the imperial power.”
Raphael pointed out the most important fact.
“You’ve always been worried about that, haven’t you They’ve been taking a huge budget cut from the imperial treasury all this time, and this marriage would make it possible for Your Majesty to know the details that they’re not disclosing right now.”
“Yes, and my thoughts on the matter remain the same.”
“As long as you’re able to marry Duke Cross, everything will be solved easily.
Our side can maybe also negotiate a lot of things under the condition of this union.”
The easiest and most efficient way to go about this was to marry Duke Cross.
The reason why House Cross could stand tall by itself without disclosing its details, even though they continued to receive a large budget from the imperial family every year, was because their prowess in magic was unrivaled among the noble families.
House Cross had always been dealing with the most sensitive and difficult magic spells out there.
The greatest mages in the entire empire and even the mages under the imperial family have all also been taught by the House Cross.
Their exclusive possession of magical knowledge was what made them stronger, and this created a situation wherein every mage would need to learn under House Cross in order to perform advanced spells properly.
Due to the secretive nature of their magic education, the imperial family would bequeath a budget to House Cross every year so that they could raise high-level mages who could enter the workforce.
Because of this funding, there was a condition that House Cross would send mages to the imperial family every year as well.
As a result, all imperial mages were more often than not loyal to House Cross, and it was the imperial family who always had to suffer the consequences of losing mages.
If Helios were to marry Saruvia, who was the head of the duchy, then this would be the golden opportunity to transfer the role of educating and managing mages from the duchy and to the imperial family.
‘It’s just that I can’t bring myself to marry her.’
Helios, who did not answer Raphael’s impassioned speech, glanced at his watch and firmly tied his loosened cravat again.
It was time for him to meet the person they’ve been talking about all this while, Duke Saruvia Cross.
* * *
With red, luscious lips so beautiful that they would command the attention of everyone around her, Saruvia gave Helios a smile.
The knights watched this captivating appearance and gasped breathlessly.
Even when standing next to Helios, her beauty did not pale in comparison.
Being known as the empire’s most beautiful woman was not a moniker she gained for nothing.
“Thank you for accepting my request, Your Majesty.
It’s an honor to be able to see the garden with you.”
Saruvia greeted him with a light smile.
Contrary to the expectations that Helios would flash his usual refreshing smile, Helios rather smiled as well, but with a somewhat troubled expression.
As if to hide her distress, she slowly closed her red eyes for a moment, then opened them once again.
“Your Majesty doesn’t seem to be in a good mood today.”