Maven puffed out her chest and straightened her back as she proceeded down the scarlet carpeted path that lay before her. She did her very best not to look to either side, but she could feel the heavy gaze of those she passed on her back. Even while avoiding eyeing anyone too closely, it was obvious that there were hundreds of opulently dressed men and women present in the grand hall.
Every single step felt like an eternity, her tiny feet barely taking her forward no matter how much she moved them. Kannon was uncharacteristically well-behaved, delicately sitting atop Maven's right shoulder. To the crowd around her, it felt oddly appropriate. An adorably small Saintess with solemn expression, adorned with an even smaller divine messenger. The attendees could only see a calm and serious expression on Maven's face, but had no idea it was actually frozen in nervousness.
Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap. I can feel all those gazes boring into my back. Ignore it, Maven. Ignore it! Just put one foot in front of the other. Even Kannon stopped buzzing around for this, I can do the same. Dang it, Fae should have walked in with me.
Breathing in and out as quietly she could, Maven forcefully continued on. She felt comforted by the quiet presence of Kannon and Henna by her side, though she really regretted the absence of her familiar fanatic. If only Fae could have walked down the path with her, she might have been able to shield her back from prying eyes.
Atop the dais, at the end of the carpet, stood the Pope in full ceremonial regalia - weighed down by even more heavy gold than usual. He wore the mask of the beneficent old man, looking exactly as one would expect the leader of the Church should.
He smiled gently at Maven as she climbed the small stairs the end of her journey. Fae had schooled her thoroughly on what was expected here. Luckily, the Saintess wasn’t expected to do much here. This was mostly an opportunity for the Pope to do some grandstanding and highlight just important he was.
Maven merely had to kneel on the dais and let the Pope do his thing. As Maven knelt in prayer, the Pope raised his hands above his head grandiosely.
“Thank you for joining us here today, my honored Lords and Ladies. Today, we celebrate the induction of the Saintess: Maven of House Daegal. We have all been blessed by a gift from the Goddess Kannon herself. You all bore witness to the sign of her advent, the blessing bestowed upon all who lived in the capital. Even more, the Saintess has been entrusted with a divine messenger. Look! Upon her shoulder sits a fairy, granted to her by the goddess herself......”
Maven just ltuned out the rest of the Pope's long speech as he droned on and on, running through long speeches about the love of the goddess, how blessed the human race, and how the entire world must come together to crush the vile demons. It went for so long that her knees began to hurt; it’s quite difficult for a child to fake prayer for so long, after all. Even more difficult would be genuinely offering prayer to the disappointing goddess currently poised on her shoulder.
After the Pope said his piece, he made one final grand gesture and then folded his hands in prayer - exuding a halo of pure light magic. Knowing this was her cue, Maven bowed her head while maintaining her posture of prayer. The halo crafted by the Pope hovered for awhile, until it landed on her head.
《This is so dumb…… why is he making such a fuss over a bit of magic? I can feel for myself that there's nothing divine about this ceremony at all.... 》
《Sssssh, Maven. Be quiet! If I can stay quiet here on your shoulder, you don’t get to complain!》
As Maven and Kannon traded complaints, the halo crafted from the Pope’s compressed magic finally touched Maven’s skin.
The second the halo made contact, enormous white wings sprouted from Maven’s back. Many times larger than Maven’s body, the wings, with their radiant aura and immaculate form, entranced all who saw them. The Pope, Duke Daegal, the nobles, and even Fae hiding in the back - everyone could only stare in wonder.
《Wh-wh-what is this, Kannon?! What do I do?! Where did these wings come from??》
《C-c-calm down, Maven! I-I-I don’t know, but everyone’s staring at us!》