|Author: Kobayashi Homare||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3025 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1465 words|
Three weeks passed since we crossed the border into Leble and we finally arrived at the imperial capital. Having spent more than a month living inside a rattling carriage, it almost felt like my body and seat had become one. At first, Suplehawk wanted us to remain in the carriage at all times and do nothing, but halfway through the trip he finally gave in and let us resume our training to kill time. The stress from not moving was starting to drive me crazy anyway. Though it was also funny seeing how the guards treated us more respectfully when they saw the kind of unordinary training we did.
The imperial capital was a large city, which made sense considering the emperor lived there. It was still inferior to Bordaule’s capital, but Surfour was so small it did not even make sense comparing them. The stores on its streets, the wares sold there, the people walking on the streets, they all were very varied and interesting in their own ways. However, there was one stark difference with any city in Bordaule, the number of soldiers on the streets. I felt like I could see at least one in every corner of the city, with stern gazes looking around as if monitoring the citizens. Or rather, that was probably exactly what they were doing.
“That is the palace where His Imperial Majesty resides. You will be staying there for the following days as well. We have allocated some time in the future for any sightseeing you might desire, so please stand by until the time comes.”
Considering how militant the country was, the palace was also built with more emphasis on tactical usage rather than appearance. The walls were lined with holes for archers, or to drop burning oil onto enemies below. Any seams left on the wall were covered to make climbing them difficult, and there were many containers with water to fend off burning arrows, all ready for any eventual battle. Past the walls there was a small garden, but considering the dimensions of the entire palace that garden was just a tiny speck of green, showing once again how much they prioritized the military aspect.
Once we were inside the palace itself, we were led into the guest rooms. The attendants that came with us from Bordaule were assigned the rooms around ours, but the four of us forming the actual Hero’s Party shared a single room, which was as large as a hall and could easily fit in way more than just four beds if needed. We were on the second floor so there was a balcony affixed to the room, but all we could see from it was the boring interior of the palace, so there was not much sense in having it.
“Hahh…I’m so tired.”
“That was a really long trip after all, more than a month just to get here.”
“It would’ve been just a few days with Flight Magic.”
“My butt can’t handle it anymore. I don’t want to see a carriage ever again…”
Once our bodies sank into a soft couch in the room, we did not feel like getting up again. We remained still, our eyes focused straight ahead. A maid laid some tea on a table in front of us, so I sluggishly reached out for a cup to take a sip, and as the sweet flavor spread through my mouth I could feel my exhaustion fading ever so slightly.
“Sorry for intruding while you rest, but the emperor is arranging an audience for you in a few minutes. I’ll come back to call you when it’s time, so please stay in this room until then.”
Suplehawk entered the room, said that, and left again. He was probably busy going to every room repeating the same line, fulfilling his duty as a guide. I would feel truly sorry if someone else had been tasked with that role.
“Where are you going?”
I stood up and walked past Karin and the rest, who looked at me with puzzled looks as I turned the doorknob. They were taken aback seeing that I wanted to go out so suddenly. Though that was the obvious reaction considering we had just been told to not leave the room.
“I’ll go take a walk. I’ll be back before he comes to call us.”
“Just don’t go causing any trouble out there!”
“And avoid standing out.”
“Don’t forget you’re in a foreign country, Master.”
They realized it was useless to try and stop me, so they simply told me to be careful. I simply waved at them and left the guest room. While my excuse of taking a walk was partially true, I also wanted to do some reconnaissance of our enemies. Having at least some knowledge of the palace’s layout could greatly improve our survival rate if things took a turn for the worse. And while this was indeed a foreign country, it was Leble, a place whose people never gave me a good impression. I could not be too careful around here.
“I still remember the way from the main entrance to here, so I should check what’s further ahead.”
Every time I felt someone close, I would diminish my presence and hide in the shadows. The soldiers and knights passing by would be oblivious to me scurrying around, going on their way without batting an eye. When I had memorized most of the second floor, I discovered the stairs leading to the third floor.
“Another floor huh, I guess that’s where the emperor and his family are likely to live.”
“What are you doing here?”
That voice caught me by surprise and when I turned around, I found a girl standing behind me. She was smiling widely, her head slightly tilted in question. Her clothes looked like those of a monk, but she also had a sword so maybe she was some type of knight. She wore similar white armor to Luvias, though it was covered with a robe embroidered with the symbols of Lumiere, god of justice and light. I had been a bit careless, but it was still impressive that she managed to sneak up on me unnoticed.
“You aren’t someone from the palace?”
“Ah, no. I came from Bordaule, I’m Lapis. I was taking a walk and lost my way.”
“Oh, is that so? To be honest, I’m in the same situation, what a coincidence.”
I recited the excuse I had thought of beforehand, to which she replied with a bright smile, having found a fellow lost person. I felt like seeing her smile was enough to put my heart at rest. She also appeared somewhat clumsy and innocent with words, so all in all I felt so comfortable I even forgot to measure her strength.
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“You say you’re lost too, does that mean you were invited here from another country as well?”
“Yes. I’m Freya from Lumielle, though I guess I’m a hero now.”
“I see, I’m here together with Luvias, Bordaule’s hero. I hope we get along.”
I bowed to her after introducing myself. I had unexpectedly run into Lumielle’s hero in an unexpected place. I could feel a strong holy presence in her, just like a high level priest or maybe even more. Though if she had managed to earn the title of hero, then she also had to be proficient with the sword, and her ability to sneak up on me also showed she was rather powerful.
“Ohh! You’re traveling with a hero? That explains why I felt such a strong aura around you. And I guess Bordaule’s hero must be someone truly amazing if someone like you is following under them.”
“I wonder… Though I’d say she’s at least decently strong…”
“My apologies, I really would love to talk to her now if possible, but it seems we don’t have enough time for that now.”
“…It looks that way.”
Freya looked to the side, and there I saw a couple of people coming running towards us. One of them was our guide, Suplehawk. He had probably found out I was not in the room anymore and came looking for me in a hurry.
“We should have some free time after the meeting, so maybe we can talk over tea then?”
“Of course, I’d be glad to do so.”
“Alright, don’t forget about it, okay?”
As one of her servants that came running scolded her, Freya turned a mischievous grin to me. A smile forced itself on my lips seeing her. So that was Lumielle’s hero, Freya…quite an interesting person. Having found out that people like her were taking part in this meeting, I felt like something important would happen soon.