Next Step, Exploring Outside (Part 1)
Anyway, after getting to relax a bit after lunch, it will finally be time for my outdoor tour. Alica-san handed me a “please use this, as it is proper etiquette for this time of day” with a cute parasol, which she had brought along. Pure white fluttering in the wind, with a long sturdy wooden handle. It was visibly fancy, and probably came from mother’s collection.
“When I mentioned to the duchess that Seiren-sama wanted to check out the garden, I was told to make sure you had that one. It was picked for being large yet simple.”
“I’m to have what? Oh, this, so mother picked it for me?”
“Oh, yes, that is correct.”
“…. I see. Okay, can you please thank her for me later?”
Mother, simply gave me this. Along with the outfit and , I’ve been given a lot of different things from mother and father. Speaking of such, another thing mother did for me, she had woven the contents of the talisman bag onto a portion of the ribbon for my dress, so for the first time that ring was finally seeing light. Of course, I would have to take very good care of it.
“Do you like it?”
Alica-san and I laughed happily, as I was startled for a moment, forgetting what she was meaning.
As we headed towards the entrance hall, we found Yuzuruha-san there. He looked towards me, and then gave a quick bow.
“I’ve heard you’ve had a desire to get to see the yard outside of the castle, Seiren-sama.”
“Yes. I have only been inside the castle so far since arriving yesterday. I want to also have a chance to see outside.”
After explaining why I wanted to see outside, Yuzuruha-san’s “Please, have a nice trip” saw me off. Still, with a suddenly tense expression, he also spoke further with a whisper before I could pass him.
“While I have complete faith in Alica, please take care as to not go too far from the castle. While we do not want you to feel trapped in a cage, we do have an obligation to look after you.”
“I will be careful. I will try to make sure that I would not stray far from Alica-san.”
“By all means, please do so.”
Hmm, even being the Duke’s daughter, the regulations regarding leaving home were still quite strict. ….. I wondered, maybe this was mostly due to my disappearance 18 years ago. Still, Saryuu was the one who made this trip for morning lessons, and soon I will be doing so for my own in the afternoon as well.
Still, I should be careful. When I show up in front of her, mother gives me a hug without any hesitation. Whenever I have something to ask, father will be happy to reply. Those two, I truly would not wish to cause them any further grief.
Yuzuruha-san held opened the main entrance door, motioning for me to continue outside. This would be the first time since coming here, that I would get to be outside. Still, there was just one more thing to consider.
“….. my first time past the first door, and even this space just outside seems so vast..”
This was the front porch? Standing outside the front door, everything look so enormous. It felt like an exceptionally extravagant hotel. A number of stairs formed a staircase on top of the ground, cut from exceptionally long cobblestones. Looking back at the design of the entrance from the other side of the door, a short distance from doorway, another medium sized door had lined the entrance. Considering the design of the entrance hall, which I had looked at earlier this morning, I suspected that other door was a staff entrance for direct access to their own rooms. Meanwhile, the main door extended from the porch to the roof. Looking up from below, I could see more whitish arabesques draping the walls. The atmosphere was nice without being too notably darkened.
“There is a Horse-drawn carriage available, sheltered nearby so that it does not become wet from rain or snow.”
Since Yuzuruha-san was busy with work and had already gone back into the castle, Alica-san went over the details of this expanse. A horse-drawn carriage. This world really did lack mechanical development, but at least there was some form of basic transportation. …. although the horses here, might not be like the horses I’m familiar with either.
“While it is not a problem for this season, the ground here is especially slippery in the winter, it will be especially slippery on the cobblestone. With such, please be careful.”
“Snow, that won’t be for a while.”
“That is true. It is possible to get heavy enough snowfalls to be covered ankle deep.”
Such a snowfall. The cobblestone, carved with such a beautiful stripped pattern, most likely would be quite slippery indeed. Considering snow, I recalled from the past, the snowman I made that was built from the snow in the orphanage garden. I had used some empty cans that were left lying around to make a face. I recalled, I even made sure the cans were properly discarded later. Once winter pilled in enough, it might be fun to have a snowball fight…. actually no. I get the feeling that such would not be allowed. After all, everyone is cautious about my safety simply because I’ve stepped outside…. but I hope that by winter, they will have calmed down a bit. Well, for now I should just enjoy myself, with winter quite far away. At this, I looked onward at the path extending beyond the stairs at the bottom of the porch. The path was a cleanly-set stone pavement, with another dirt path lined beside it. On both sides of the path were rows of some sort of tree, which had already grown thick shallow green leaves. The rows of planted trees outside looked like a garden itself. Because of being spring, they were lined with a variety of different flowers. I wonder if those were placed there intentionally. The path continued beyond this gardened decoration, towards the main gate a little father away. The gateitself looked like a fence of iron, set between the two gateposts on both sides, looking a little wider than the main gate from my school. It was also slightly taller than most people, with another smaller entrance a short distance away, like some kind of service entrance. The iron fence-line extended around the castle farther than I could see. Most likely, it completely surrounded the castle.
“Alica-san, the gate over there, is that the inner main gate?”
“Yes, there is a gatekeeper standing watch there.”
A gatekeeper. Really, does my home need to be so strictly watched?
“Exactly, because opening and closing the main gate will need a person present. Especially, in the event that a horse-drawn carriage has arrived, because they couldn’t then manage a gate that large by themselves.”
“Ah, what about over there? The smaller entrance over there, is that also for people?”
“Yes. That would be the private entrance, which can be used when not travelling very far away.”
I had not considered this. Yes, of course then, that could make such a large gate difficult. Because a world like this would not have anything to automatically operate it, someone would have to open it by hand. Having someone stationed for such… it made sense. Also, because it could be so hard to open such a door constantly, there was the other smaller entrance. Well, it seems I still had a lot to learn.
“I see, it seems helpful having someone watch the gate.”
As I am impressed, Alica-san continues to chat. In the meanwhile, the servant staff of maids and men restlessly rushed past. Most likely still so busy, due to lunch recently ending.
“I don’t know for certain, but a while ago there was a thief that frequently came to take from the food being grown here at the castle. That particular year, we had a very poor harvest as you might have guessed.”
Hey, wait. In other words, there is a harvest field. Not just a flower garden, but an entire agricultural farmland field. Well, maybe that’s why Yuzuruha-san is always away from the castle so often. Just how much area does this castle cover, ittai. … actually, I shouldn’t consider such stuff that is only making my head hurt.
“If you can’t eat, you can’t survive. So then, how did everyone endure?”
“It was alright to an extend due to foods already preserved in storage. When a famine occurs or similar shortages in our dominion, we would often simply turn to trade with other lands. This also is true in the reverse situation.”
“So just help each other when needed. That makes sense.”
This was comforting to know. Well yeah, without resorting to trading for food with nearby regions, a lot of people could have died in starvation. Once such occurs, everything in the territory goes out of control. Calmly considering such, Alica-san turned to me once more.
“So, would you like to keep going, Seiren-sama?”
“I would. Alica-san, please lead the way.”
“Certainly. Do not forget to make use of your parasol. As well be careful, please watch your footing.”
Yes, at least the parasol opened normally. Not truly my style of parasol, but it was good regardless. With such, I made my way down the stairs. At least it wasn’t raining, trying not to slip was difficult as is.