After arriving at the castle [First Part]
“Understood, then please, proceed.”
Somehow, I arrived at an incredible, a really incredible place.
A place so big and so tall that you couldn’t even see its top…… a pure-white castle, the White Knight.
While I was on the carriage I didn’t open the window, so I didn’t know how the situation on the outside was.
But when I opened a window that the castle gatekeepers couldn’t see, I finally saw the place we were at, I finally saw this castle in Ishtalika called the White Knight.
Right now, Chris was having a conversation in order for us to enter the castle, so I guess even a royal carriage can’t just enter as is.
I managed to hear bits and pieces of that conversation, 『Vice-Captain of the Royal Guard, Christina Wernstein. I’ve returned from my escort mission, and now I’ll continue to the castle』……I see.
She’s quite the elite, being the vice-captain of the Royal Guard.
“Mother, Chris-san is quite a big deal, right?”
“She’s always been a strong girl, but it seems she got a nice promotion. Despite being such a dolt…… pardon me, she can be a bit of an airhead, but it’s amazing she reached the position of vice captain.”
Someone like her, who has the aura of a big sister and can work really hard……?
You just can’t hate her.
I wonder if she’s ‘cured’ now, or maybe it’s only a matter of time before seeing her real self.
“Well then, it’s about time for us to get off, Ain. You’re not leaving anything behind, right? ”
“Mother. It’s not like I have any actual luggage.”
“My, I guess you’re right, my bad…… fufu.”
That’s right, even after returning to the Roundhart territory following that incident, it’s not like we stopped by at home, we just passed through and came here.
If we talk about my luggage, all I had was a small wallet with my status card and a document serving as proof of identity, but I don’t think that identification has any meaning now.
“Now then, Olivia-sama…… excuse me, Princess. And also, Ain-sama, please watch your step.”
Princess? Ahh, I wonder if it’s because there are other people?
She had been calling her Olivia-sama up until now, that’s why suddenly switching to Princess feels somewhat weird.
I heard she had been her escort previously for a long time, so it seems she has a sense of discretion around official places and switch to calling her Princess.
“Yes, thank you…… It’s been a long time but as expected, this is a great place. It feels like I’m finally back home.”
That beautifully grown lawn, those intricately designed waterways, are they made of stone? Everything is sparkly clean.
The only places where dirt can be seen are those behind the lawn.
A beautiful scenery that goes on and on, and the size of the castle makes you bend your neck to the point it hurts.
This was the scene I saw after getting off of the carriage that stopped on the road next to the path leading inside the castle.
“Isn’t it beautiful, Ain? From now on there will be a lot……you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see as much as you want, so for now, shall we go to our room first?”
“Y-Yes, got it. After you.”
“Princess, will you go straight to your room? ”
“Yes, it’s my house after all. Or, is there a problem?”
“Not at all. However, I think there will be a lot of people who will be surprised.”
“That’s something I really don’t mind at all. Is there anything else? ”
Olivia wanting to go to her room even a moment earlier, rushed Chris in a pushy manner.
“No, sorry to have been keeping you waiting. Still, I will continue to escort you.”
“I’ve said it since a long time ago, but the insides of the castle are a safe place.”
“Then, let me repeat this to you again. I’ve been telling you this since a long time ago……In the case of something unexpected happening, it would be too late if I’m not there.”
“Yes, yes, I remember…… then, let’s go together.”
“Yes, I shall accompany you.”
“Ohh, Vice-Captain Chris, where were you sin……ce…… yester……day……? ”
A knight that saw Chris inquired about the circumstances.
He then noticed the woman standing next to her, his face turning into one of confusion, not recognizing her……immediately after it changed into surprise.
“An escort mission, did anything happen?”
“N-No, nothing in particular happened……I was just a bit concerned about the person being escorted.”
“That’d be me.”
“I……I knew it, Olivia-sama! ? When did you come back……! ? ”
“I arrived this morning. Ahh, that’s right, it’s okay to ask you for something? ”
“Y-Yes, of course, please ask for anything.”
The knight next to him, the one who opened the castle’s door was surprised, and he sent Chris a look of what appeared not only as surprise, but also bewilderment.
Only after Chris whispered something to him, that knight managed to regain his composure…… and turned back to carrying himself properly while dealing with the royal family.
“I was troubled about who to ask. Please call Martha, and tell her to come to my room.”
“Understood, is it urgent? ”
“Well, it’s better if she comes sooner, can I leave it to you?”
With a final reply in acknowledgement, the knight went to call for Martha.
And looking at his steps, he appeared a little hurried.
“Alright, let’s go then, Ain.”
“He looked quite surprised.”
“It can’t be helped; I came back so suddenly after all.”
The princess who had married into another country, made a sudden return home.
There’s no way he wouldn’t be surprised.
“The people of Ishtalika knows that the Princess married into Heim. But still, that doesn’t mean anything more than that was announced even to the knights in the castle. They were only told it was for the sake of Ishtalika.”
“I’m a bit relieved…… that means I’m not the only one.”
Ain nodded in acknowledgement.
And, there was one more thing he understood.
“That means, Mother, the people in the castle are the same as me, since they too don’t know the reason why you married into Heim.”
“You could say that.”
“Ain-sama. Even across all Ishtalika, the number of people who know that reason can easily be counted with the fingers of both hands.”
“(Is it really such a confidential information? Or what kind of secret agreement did they make to go to such lengths to hide this?)”
“We’ll speak about that when I meet with father at dusk. I know I’ve been just telling you to wait…… but just a little longer, okay? ”
“It’s alright mother, let’s just relax in the room first.”
“You’re really a good boy, Ain…… yeah, it really makes me want to take roots.”
“(Roots……? Why roots……? Perhaps that’s some idiom that’s unique to Ishtalika?
Hahaha, then please go ahead, mother.)”
After his imagination ran wild for a bit, Ain then spoke.
“Come to think of it, I haven’t seen anyone from your family, Mother.”
Honestly, he thought he will run into them as soon as he entered the castle, but nothing like that happened.
People who appeared to be servants judging by their clothes and knights kept stealing glances at them, their faces undoubtedly surprised.
“Yeah, you’re right. I guess they are busy with something.”
Right? She said as she turned towards Chris as if waiting for an answer.
“His Majesty has no special business to attend, so I guess he’s doing his usual duties. The Queen is visiting a nearby town.”
“So, Mother isn’t here?”
“Yes. However, Katima-sama ……the First Princess is like His Majesty, working in the castle.”
“(In other words, that would be my aunt. I wonder if she’ll get angry if I called Auntie/Oba-sama? Speaking of which, I wonder if she’s as young as Mother……Ahh, I’ve never heard my mother’s age.)”
“Onee-sama, huh? I wonder if she has noticed already? ”
“She wasn’t good at doing official duties. It seems like she goes to the laboratory. That’s why I don’t think she’ll notice what happens outside.”
“(Mother’s elder sister, huh? I’ll have to greet her later.)”
By the way, she said laboratory, but I wonder what a Princess is doing at a laboratory?, Ain thought.
Seeing Ain lost in thought, Chris thought of changing the subject.
And then, she turned towards Ain and asked him.
“By the way, Ain-sama, while I might come off as rude for suddenly asking this, but is there something you’d like to eat? ”
Ain was suddenly asked about a meal, but to be honest, he was already hungry.
“(That’s right, I haven’t eaten anything since I got on the water train……I guess I’m hungry since I’m in my growth period?)”
Olivia’s mood brightened seeing Ain being cared for.
“That’s right, Ain, I thought of asking for something to snack on when Martha came…… shall we eat a proper meal instead? ”
Just as Ain tried to reply, Olivia responded to Chris’ question first.
“So long as it’s not a bother to you, by all means.”
You can’t let a meal pass after hearing about castle food, right? With those thoughts in mind, Ain decided to look forward to it.
“Okay, let’s do that, after all I’m starting to want to eat. I’m glad you noticed this, Chris.”
“Your words honor me, Princess. I was just a bit concerned.”
However, Ain was shocked.
He wondered if he really looked that much hungry, he even started to get embarrassed.
“T-That’s not it, Ain-sama! Don’t make such a face, but since you haven’t had anything substantial to eat for a while…… I’m sorry if I read the situation wrong.”
“It’s okay if he makes that kind of face, after all, isn’t he cute?”
Yeah, I’ll eat a lot and become a proper adult, while Ain had those thoughts, the knight who went to call for Martha came back.
“Please excuse me, Princess, is this a good moment?”
“About Martha-sama, first of all, this note.”
The knight handed over a small letter to Olivia.
『I’m so happy that you’re back home, Princess, and apparently there seems to be a lack of food and other accommodations to welcome you. I apologize for not being able to go to your side earlier than anyone else.』
“Ara…… Did she hear about Ain already? ”
“Yes, I told her there was one more person with the princess, and just in case, I described him.”
“Is that so? Thanks, that really helps me. Since it all too normal for me to have this child next to me, I forgot to tell you about him earlier.”
The knight was relieved when hearing those words.
“Also, there’s another message from Martha-sama, it seems the hot water is ready. It’s okay to go to the bathhouse as you are, there will be a lady-in-waiting with a change of clothes and whatever else you need.”
“Martha really is great, that’s a big help. Chris? Let’s go to the bathhouse.”
“As you wish. Then, allow me to guide you…… I leave the luggage, tell a servant to carry it to the Princess’ room.”
“Yes! ……Uhmm, please excuse me, Princess. There was one think Martha-sama wanted me to ask you.”
Chris left Olivia and Ain’s stuff with the knight.
Speaking of a princess’ room, a male knight would usually not be allowed to enter.
The knight will hand the luggage to a servant, and that servant will then bring it to Olivia’s room.
“If possible, I’d like to eat meat.”
“As you wish, I will convey those words. However, what she told me to ask was about identity of the person accompanying you.”
“My son, Ain, come on Ain, introduce yourself.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Ain Roundhart…… Uh? Mother, is it okay for me to call myself Roundhart? I don’t think I should keep introducing myself as such.”
This was his first self-introduction since coming to Ishtalika, he didn’t mind doing it, but he had one question.
“(Are, then, does this mean right now I’m just Ain? There seems to be a punishment for using another house’s name without permission.)”
” ! ? Olivia-sama’s esteemed son…… is it? ! ”
“That’s right, the child I gave birth to.”
The knight then became extremely flustered, a feeling Ain could completely understand.
And then, puzzled by that sudden revelation, the knight’s eyes turned to Chris.
“……Ain-sama is Olivia-sama’s “legitimate” son. You can tell it to Martha-dono like that…… there isn’t a problem with that, right Princess? ”
“Not at all.”
Being spoke to like that made Olivia be in high spirits.
“P-P-P……Please excuse my rudeness! I will tell her that as soon as possible! ”
“This is one good thing that came from my service in Heim, you’re free to think of it like this.”
Although everything was a little hectic, Ain didn’t feel he was seen as someone troublesome, judging from the atmosphere, so he was relieved.
“(Ahh, that’s right. The circumstances about the separation haven’t been made public yet.)”
He then headed to the bathhouse a bit worried, hoping that the bath would be divided into men’s and women’s.