*The first princess Maria’s POV*
“Nee-san?! Why are you here?!”
Meeting again after such a long period of time, Lasa’s face turned into an expression of astonishment, as he cried out in a loud voice.
“Why? Isn’t it natural to for me to come home every once in awhile? Even if it is the imperial capital’s royal castle, no?”
“…but both Nii-san and Aniki left 2-3 weeks ago. Why is Maria-neesan home when school starts so soon?”
Both Nii-san and Aniki? I almost replied ‘Kid, aren’t you a strange one yourself?’ in response, but I held myself back.
I wonder if people see me as a weird person as well.
“I was waiting to receive an item I ordered from a merchant, and because it finally arrived today, I can now return to school.”
“An item ordered from a merchant?”
As an answer to my brother’s question, I took it out for him to see.
“Here it is.”
“A pendent? It doesn’t even have any jewelry in it, its all stone.” he tilted his head in confusion.
I smiled, “True, it’s not a gem, but this stone has a certain history to it that i’m interested in.”
“Maria-neesan, again?! You’ve dabbled with suspicious items too many times already, and now you’ve gotten yourself another one?!”
“Hey, I never involved myself with stuff like that!”
“Nee-san, you might be a genius that can do anything after a few lessons, but you’re unbelievably gullible, you know that?”
“That’s not true!”
My brother’s eyes narrowed as he looked at me.
“Then what kind of effect does it give off?”
It’s only times like these that Lasa can actually look intimidating.
“I was told that just by holding this stone, I’ll be able to encounter many strange events as if guided by fate.”
Lasa’s face grew a couple degrees colder.
“Strange? Don’t you mean dangerous?”
“Don’t worry about it, I’m the strongest person I know.” I replied proudly.
“Heh? So you’re going to fall behind in school for something like this? Can’t you act more like Aniki, Nee-san?”
“Hmph Lasa, aren’t you forgetting something?”
“What do you mean?”
“There are still three days until the entrance ceremony, I can still make it with if I rush.”
“It takes a normal horse-drawn carriage a week to cover the distance, aren’t you being a bit too reckless?”
“Don’t worry about it, I’ll use the horses trained directly by the head butler, they won’t tire easily.”
“It’s not the horses I’m worried about Nee-san.”
I patted Lasa’s head and gave him a wink.
“I’m the strongest big sister in the world, don’t worry, nothing will happen.”
“Sigh… Please don’t do this kind of thing again in the future.
But I think that side of neesan is amazing.
Rather than a coward like me, a cynical person like niisan is more suitable to be this country’s king.”
“Oh, is that me you’re talking about?”
Lasa’s cheeks were stretched to the sides.
It was supposed to only be a joke, but my cute little brother seems to have taken it as an actual threat.
“Well, I guess it’s about time I left, say goodbye to mother for me.”
“Understood, now just give me a sec to call the servants… Wait?! Nee-san?! Where are you going?!”
* * *
Before Lasa could say anything else I was already out the door.
I don’t want to be attached by the hip to some servant.
They’re only going to slow me down.
Quickly down the road, the galloping of my favorite horse Shiro-chan echoed out.
I only kept the minimum needed for food and money in my bag
Last time I was able to get to school in three days.
This time, let’s see if I can get there in two and a half!
The morning I left I couldn’t see a single person taking the same road as me, meaning… no traffic!
Yes, these are great conditions for a high-speed ride!
I’m probably riding at a new speed record right now.
“Good job Shiro-chan!”
Shiro-chan hasn’t been able to run for a long time so she’s happy too.
“Excuse me, that person on horseback! Can you stop for a moment?!”
After riding for a while, a voice suddenly called out to me along the highway.
As I came to a halt, the person calling out was actually a 7-8 year-old boy.
“Do you need something? I’m in a little bit of a rush here.”
“S-sorry for suddenly calling you out.”
The boy looked like he was about to cry.
“I’m on a journey, but I can’t complete it without a horse, could you by chance lend me yours?”
“That’s an unreasonable proposition, why should I?”
“I don’t have a lot of money on me, so can I do anything else in replacement of payment?”
Hmm… what to do…
“I don’t know, what’s your story?”
“My grandmother is going to die soon, so in the end I wanted her to at least be able to eat her favorite sugar cake one more time. I traveled to the village in order to buy some, but because I was in a rush on my way back I twisted my ankle. I can’t get back to grandma in time like this… *hic*”
The boy couldn’t hold back his tears any longer, and started crying.
Those certainly were rough circumstances to deal with, especially for a kid that age.
Though once I hand over the horse, I won’t be able to change my mind, and I’ll definitely be late for the ceremony.
“I can’t just give you the horse, it’s too unreasonable a request.”
“Really? So it’s no good afterall. I’m thankful that you just stopped when I called out to you, I wish you a safe trip on your journey.”
“I won’t be able to give you the horse, but I don’t mind if you ride on the back.”
The boy’s face instantly turned bright.
Of course I wouldn’t just leave him behind.
Well, I might not be able to break my record, but I can just challenge it again another time.
* * *
“I bought it grandma! Your favorite sugar cake!”
“Oh thank you Jaro, it must’ve been a rough trip to make.”
“It was nothing grandma, I’d do anything for you.”
“I-i’m so happy right now, it’s been a really good life.”
*gusu* yeah, I was a bit skeptical at the beginning, but I’m glad I helped.
She has a good grandson, so I’m sure that grandma will rest easy knowing he’s back.
“Apparently, you took care of my son, and because of that we were able to eat my mother’s favorite cake with her in her last moments. Take this as thanks, I’m sorry that I couldn’t give anything more expensive.”
From the boy’s mother, I received an item as thanks and her words of gratitude.
It was a bracelet made from glass beads.
To me it wasn’t much, but it should be worth a decent amount for a commoner.
There was no way I could refuse it though.
“Well, now I need to hurry off to my own destination.”
“Okay, have a safe trip, we won’t forget this anytime soon.”
“Let’s get going Shiro-chan!”
Just barely enough.
That detour took quite a bit of time.
But there’s still enough, since I’ve gotten better at horse riding since last year.
“Excuse me! The person on horseback over there!”
For the second time I was stopped along the highway.
“Do you need something? I’m in a hurry here.”
“Oh my apologies, it wasn’t that big of an issue that I stopped you.”
Then why bother asking me to stop? I wondered…
“Can you show me that glass bracelet that you’re wearing there?”
This? But this is something that you can buy pretty much anywhere.
I held out the bracelet that was dangling off of my right wrist.
“Oh, as I thought. It’s the same as the bracelet that I sent to my wife, I’m feeling somewhat nostalgic now.”
I wonder if the woman I met earlier was his wife?
Oh well, it’s probably best not to ask too deeply into these sort of things.
“Somehow, the feelings that I had back then are sprouting inside me again. I didn’t have any gold, but there was love. Our two hearts burned for each other, and we knew that as long things stayed that way, we wouldn’t need anything else. Our stomachs were empty but our hearts were full, I was so happy at the time.”
“Your wife sounds like a nice person.”
“She was, but we’ve been separated for a while now, that burning passion of ours has already cooled down. She’s leaving to travel to a foreign land by ship, and I don’t think I’ll see her again until the end of days.”
Somehow, it’s a sad story.
But it was nice to listen to.
“Oh how I wish to see her again… just to remember what I felt way back when… I want to see my Medea, but that ship is leaving soon, and there’s no way I can get there on time by foot.I brought a lot of trouble to her throughout the years, so I guess it’s only fair that she leaves to a foreign land for a break.”
A teardrop fell from the eyes of the old man.
I wonder why.
Hmm… should I help him? Or leave so I won’t be late?
Argh, whatever!! I’ll do it!!
“Jump on Jii-san! I’ll give you a ride to the harbour!”
* * *
After another detour towards the harbour…
“Medea! There’s something I have to say to you!”
“It’s too late, our relationship has already ended long ago.”
“Don’t say that, today, I saw a bracelet that looks just like the one I gave you oh so long ago, and at that moment all the feelings of that time bloomed inside me once again.”
“Is that so? That’s nice, but I need to get on my ship now.”
“Medea! Please! I’m begging you! Please don’t go!”
“…tell me, what is this?”
Medea held out her right arm to Jii-san.
“This is… the bracelet I gave you all those years ago!! I thought you already threw it away?!”
“As if I could discard something like this.”
*Gusu* The couple’s love has been restored, it’s a good thing I brought the old man here.
I wish you two many years of happiness in your marriage!!
“I thank you for giving my husband a ride during your journey, from now on we will work hard to keep this relationship strong. Here, take this silver key that I was going to exchange for money in the foreign land, and have a safe trip.”
I was handed a mystery key made completely of silver.
I wonder what it opens, is it expensive?
Well as long as the couple is happy, I guess all is well.
“Well, if you excuse me I’m in a bit of a rush here.”
“Your welcome! Let’s go Shiro-chan!”
It took me a while to notice it, but Shiro looked like she was getting tired from all these detours.
I couldn’t keep stopping for people, I had my own schedule to stick too!
“Excuse me! That person on horseback over there!”
Ignore it, ignore it.
I’m sorry, but I’m really in a hurry.
The man calling out to me jumped into the middle of the road! I was just barely able to stop in time. Rather than me, I think Shiro-chan was getting frustrated from her running constantly being stopped.
“What is it?! What do you need so bad that you would jump in front of a running horse?!”
“It’s something of the utmost importance.”
“Well can you hurry it up?!”
“Sure, but first can I see that thing that you are holding in your hand?”
I held out the silver key that I still had clutched in hand.
“Just as I thought, this is the key used to seal the former vampire king that struck fear in hearts of all men. Ever since the generation of my great grandfather, more than a hundred years ago we have been looking for it, and now I finally found it.”
“You want it? Here you go.”
“You’re just going to give it to me? I must have great luck to have met you.”
Upon receiving the key, the man fell to one knee and broke down in tears.
“Mother, father, grandfather, all of my ancestors, oh how you tease me so! To allow me to find the key we have searched for so long for, but to not give me enough time to make it to the seal! Once the sun rises the next day it will be too late, but there is no way I can make it to the ancient cave on foot! Messing up at the last moment, just what am I worth?!”
The man slammed his head on the ground and was punching the dirt with his fist.
“Why ancestors?! Why?!”
Why did I have to listen to your story?! Why?!
“I’m not going to take you…”
“I said I’m not going to take you!!”
* * *
“To fulfill the one thing the Earl clan had sworn to do, to actually find the key to complete the seal…”
“With this key, the seal shall be complete! May your terror never see the light of day ever again!”
“No! My ambition!! No!!!!”
…and with that the vampire king or whatever that voice was, was sealed inside the cave.
“Oh ancestors, our family’s wish has finally been fulfilled on this day, may all your souls rest in peace. ”
I didn’t cry.
It would’ve been better if I just ignored him.
“My journey is now over, so this legendary sword of mine is no longer needed, will you not receive it as my good will?”
I really don’t need it, but the man kept looking at me with that grateful expression of his.
His journey of a lifetime was over, how could I not receive it?
“Now if you excuse me I’m really in a rush here.”
“Oh great traveler, you are now the benefactor of the Sonata country, we are forever in your debt.”
“That’s nice, let’s go Shiro-chan!”
Soon after I was called out to by another voice.
…Will it ever stop?!
* * *
“Excuse me! That traveler over there!”
I wanted to ignore them, but I always stopped because it’s a conditioned reflex.
This is bad, my body’s starting to get really fatigued.
“That sword attached to your waist, isn’t that the sword used by the wise man?”
“Do you need a ride somewhere?! I’ll give you a ride!! Just make it quick!!”
“…nice, hop on.”