Next Step, Exploring Outside (Part 2)
As was the plan discussed with Yuzuruha-san, I decided to take the time to circle around the entire area of the castle. Regarding the fields discussed earlier, I wasn’t certain if that was something I could simply cover on foot. Having moved on from the entrance porch, I noticed another servant walk out from another entrance close to the area under my room. This morning, this was the place I saw Saryuu doing his sword practice. A little ways away from the castle was a flower bed, the bricks surrounding the little pink and yellow pansy-like flowers blooming. People coming to the castle from outside will find themselves surrounded by countless flowers, as if to warmly welcome them.
“This flower, it’s so pretty.”
Saying such words unexpectedly, Alica-san responded instantly. Checking what I was looking at, she gave a “Oh” at my giggling.
“If you like them so much, I could have some brought to your room later.”
“Could we? Oh, but it would be much better to keep it in a pot than in a vase.”
“Yes, of course. I will make sure the pot is delivered to your room later.”
Oh, that was awesome. Alica-san, it seems she always knows the right thing to say. I didn’t really like cut flowers, potted plants were much better. My biggest concern, unless the flower is growing and blossoming in a pot, it won’t exactly live very long.
We continued around the corner. Reaching the end of the flower bed, I saw tall shrubbery going from the fence up to around two to three metersfrom the castle. It was quite magnificent to look at, from both the path and from the window, though I had not looked that closely from the window as I was distracted by Saryuu. The stone-paved path ended here, the way further being filled only by rough pebbles.
“Oh, the path ends here. What is further ahead?”
“Further in the back is our food storage, which is where we store food that has been brought here.”
“Oh, so it’s for the staff.”
That would be that. Certainly being located near the kitchen in that location of the back, it would make sense to have a food storage in that area. It wouldn’t do to have the chef need to walk very far when carrying such foods. ……I wonder if there is things such as freezers, or even refrigerators. Well, one could always hope, but it isn’t very likely.
“All this food carried over the paved stone, I wonder if it was transported with a cart or something..”
“That would happen whenever we would be purchasing them in bulk. However, usually the amount is much less and they are just carried in by hand.”
“That sounds tiring.”
I imagined one of the maids, walking around carrying vegetables in her hands. Ah, yeah.. a long time ago, I remember going out shopping for food with the Director. When you add the Director’s staff, we all surely ate a greedy amount. It was quite a lot to carry back to the orphanage, only made harder with the lack of proper eco-bags, instead we had plenty of cheap plastic bags. Director, I still had fun those days. Well, here they probably didn’t even use plastic bags, instead maybe they just used paper bags to carry their apples, or otherwise carried them without a bag. So very tiring.
Otherwise, in the area within the fence, next to the castle, there was a place where the stones had been treated roughly. This was probably where Alica-san and I saw Saryuu this morning, around this place. Looking at the wall of the first floor of the castle, were small windows concealing what was inside using white curtains.
“Saryuu was practicing with his sword around here, wasn’t he?”
“That’s correct. Though I don’t understand why he does so here, on your side of the castle.”
I nodded my agreement, while Alica-san massaged her neck inquisitively. The area in front of Saryuu’s room, it would be on the other side of the entrance, I wasn’t certain why he didn’t just practice there either.
“The area under Saryuu’s room, what was it used for?”
“Ah yes, that was the area for the male servant staff, including the part Yuzuruha-san uses as his own private room, I hear.”
For all the male staff. The second floor just above it belonged to Saryuu, and on the third floor was the same for father. That side as a whole, that side was entirely designed for the men. This other side of course, it was for the women.
“So the area here before us is where Alica-san sleeps, as well?”
“Oh, no. My room is not one of the ones down here, mine is one of the rooms in the attic.”
… so there is also a floor on the attic, with even more rooms. However, I will not be able to get a tour of that area, because I was not allowed into such staff areas. But I wonder, how would they reach the attic, maybe from the third floor?
“When we were looking around the third floor earlier, I didn’t see any stairs going up further.”
“Behind the castle, there is another staircase dedicated for the staff. I take it frequently, as it also gives easy access to all of our work rooms.”
“I see, so you’re just using another passageway.”
“It can be a confusing maze at times. However, since nothing is really sealed, this makes it much easier if we were faced with a thief or such.”
“… ah. It sounds complicated, to me at least.”
Really, being so rich there was always the risk of thieves. This would just be inspiring for thieves, after all. At the same time, it means only the staff will get to see such stairs. A secret passage designed only for the maids…. giving them easy access suddenly all over the castle. It almost seemed unfair. Still, it was commonplace in this castle. Wait a moment, about what she said earlier, it was sounding like she was a ninja slinking around the shadows of secret hallways.
Looking further upwards, I could see the windows of the second and third floor. The third floor, that would be the window for mother’s room, and the second floor window below it would be for mine. The first floor, so only a few of the maids stayed behind those windows. Speaking of such, that would mean Alica-san and and Minoa-san would have had other work, before coming to care for my room. It was something else to consider.
“Alica-san and the other two maids, have you three been working here very long?”
“Yes. Before you came I was usually assigned to help with the preparation and cleaning for meals in either the kitchen or the dinning hall.”
“And so then, you’ve had your room for a while.”
“Whenever we got sick, it was always helpful to have a place to rest. However we do spend a lot of time working late hours behind curtains until it is time to sleep, very often we never get to go outside.”
I understood. Kaya-san was assigned as mother’s personal maid, and in just the same way, Alica-san-tachi were assigned to me. So then, there were quite a number of unseen people looking after things here. Still, it wasn’t yet clear why Saryuu picked here to swing around his sword.
“That might actually make sense.”
“Saryuu and his practicing here, I think it was because he didn’t want to be seen by someone. Most likely by Yuzuruha-san, probably, who would have complained that he wasn’t being diligent in his studies.”
As father had said earlier, Saryuu would much rather play outside than study. Considering his burden of people expecting him to be a good heir, he was just too embarrassed to been seen doing such by those who scrutinized him with such expectations. He would need to diligently study for such, because it would be hard to properly be heir of the family if he otherwise wasn’t knowledgeable enough. I mean, neglecting such could lead to a lot of problems for the family…. historical dramas like this, I’ve read so much about.
“Until yesterday, I wasn’t even here. Being here, he wouldn’t have been seen much at all. Here, behind the large trees in front of the entrance, with my room vacant until yesterday, it would have been the perfect location for him.”
“That is true. Seiran-sama’s room’s furniture and such was only obtained a little while ago, it was indeed an empty room until then.”
So it really made sense, Saryuu would have been here hiding while shaking a sword, instead of doing the studying that would have otherwise been expected of him. He chose the right time and location when he wouldn’t be easily seen, until I arrived. Indeed, I mean his sister only just came back yesterday, he wouldn’t have ever noticed that he was under my window. After all, this just made sense for a boy his age. I would know because I’ve been through similar myself.
“I did a lot of knitting when I was a young teen. I wanted to look strong, so hid such embarrassment so that no one saw it.”
Also, there is just the concern about being bullied due to being seen doing such stuff. I really did have to worry about most the same stuff as Saryuu is now. Except of course, I certainly didn’t have any interest in waving around swords. The director did task me with building more of my physical prowess, but, that was mostly because I would never hit anyone and always got bullied.
“You did such a thing?”
“I still remember. I would just never speak of such, trying hard to escape discovery.”
“Certainly… you simply weren’t properly understood. Were you just simply shy?”
I was not aware of it until then, but it was something else to consider. For me… my first moments as a woman, it was very embarrassing. So suddenly, my life as a guy was gone. Alica-san’s reply left me wondering if I might be a bit mistaken suddenly, that maybe there was something I still didn’t understand about how Saryuu felt. So then, this was something I might need to consider further.
“Saryuu-sama… he should not have done such a thing.”
“Still, next time it might be best to pretend that I saw nothing.”
“Alright, just do be careful.”
Considering carefully what to do with him together, both of us couldn’t help but laugh suddenly. I wasn’t certain if Saryuu would return again tomorrow, but I wanted to encourage him. At the very least, I wasn’t about to tell anyone else about it.
At that, I turned back to Alica-san. During breakfast, Saryuu also had a maid with him. It might be someone else next time, another maid attending to him.
“By the way, the maid with him. His maid is probably also aware of his routine morning exercises.”
His maid is probably familiar with his morning schedule, from what I could determine. Alica-san replied, holding a neutral expression.
“I had thought you were already aware. It seems Seiren-sama might not have noticed, the servant staff with Saryuu was a man.”
“What, they were?”
Wow, I didn’t notice at all. Saryuu has a male maid with him. Alica-san knew he was a guy. What kind of ninja was this maid?