TO’s LN v3 goes on sale 12 April 2017! Please support the author, artist, and publisher by purchasing a copy, physical or digital (release date will be later). It was just a coincidence that I’m releasing closing to the sale date. I’m also only adding the cover to this chapter because it provides a useful image for the descriptions.
Leave me behind, and I’ll go by myself!
If it was that simple, I wouldn’t suffer any hardships…
Even connected by land, it wasn’t a distance you could walk. I don’t know the exact distance, but there were thousands of kilometers from the capital of Nebel to the border of Flamme, and that was just the linear distance. If you calculated the ups and downs, the twists and turns, the distance would be even further.
Yeah, not happening. Too much of a stretch.
We didn’t have a bunch of fantasy-like modes of transportation, like riding on dragons or teleporting through magic circles. Steadily making my way by carriage would be best, but the formalities would be a huge pain since going to Flamme by road would take me through two countries, Wind and Sckellz.
That’s why I decided to travel by ship. If I left from one of Nebel’s southwest ports and entered through one of Flamme’s western ports, it would be a lot less of a hassle.
But, I had a problem.
In other words, if I planned to travel by sea, I needed to secure a ship first.
I sought out Master Julius again. There was no one else who might help me board the merchant ship, I thought. I hoped he wouldn’t mock me for asking his assistance. I, a little girl with nothing to recommend herself but her status, could not possibly acquire a ship on my own. Unless I had black pepper to trade it with.*
Luckily, he didn’t go with Georg so he was still in Nebel. If I wanted to ask for his help, now was my only chance.
However, catching Master Julius with his full schedule was a nigh impossible task. If I waited until he had the time to spare, who knew when that might be.
To the port town of Tao, my kingdom’s gateway to the southern seas.
A strong smell hit my nose the moment I got out of the carriage.
Below the hill covered with old paving, the blue horizon peaked through gaps in the buildings.
“It’s the sea…”
It was my first time seeing the sea ever since I was born in this world. I’ve seen it several times when I was living in Japan, but it didn’t have such a clear color. The waters before me weren’t just blue, they were cerulean.
For a second, I’m spellbound by the beautiful, sparkling sea.
I turned to find Sir Leonhard looking down at me.
The new way he was addressing me also made my heart leap. Well, he was doing that because we’re traveling incognito.
“Please don’t wander away.”
My eyes lit up as he offered me his hand.
Can I really hold hands with him?!
I reached for it, carried away, but then I hesitated.
In my simple dress, I didn’t think anyone would recognize me as a princess, but the possibility was always there. And besides, it would be terrible if someone mistook Sir Leonhard for a child abductor? Wait. If I like him, that’s not something I should say or think.
If I had thought about it in a logical manner, I would have realized that even if we were holding hands hardly anyone would have jumped to the conclusion that Sir Leonhard was a lolicon. They might have assumed we were siblings separated by an age gap, or even a young father with his daughter, as much as I hated to admit it. Something reasonable like that.
But like I mentioned earlier, I was carried away, so high I couldn’t think straight. I took no notice of my surroundings either.
“Wah!” I cried as I was suddenly lifted into his arms.
Soon after, a giant man with a basket on his shoulders raced through the spot I had just been standing.
He protected me.
“Th-thank you, Sir Leon…”
He smiled gently, his handsome face closer than it’s ever been before.
I couldn’t look at him directly.
Believing my heart might soon stop, I hoped he would put me down quickly, but he started to walk with me still in his arms. The sound of his boots as he descended a narrow staircase rose around us.
“Er, S-Sir Leon? Um, I’m fine now, so…”
Put me down, I finished, but the words were swallowed by the bustle of the port town.
But it seems like the he did hear me.
“Please hold on until we arrive,” he said with a troubled expression, and I couldn’t bring myself to argue. It was probably because of how I spaced out earlier. He probably worried such a slow child might stray out of sight if allowed to walk by herself.
If I obediently placed my hand on his shoulder to support myself, he might turn to me with a smile, as if to say, Very good.
A part of me wanted to be pampered, but I’d be completely treated like a child.
I’d be happy, but my feelings were mixed…
He held me not like a princess, but like a child.
I was almost thirteen, but when he treated me like this, I wondered when I might truly be seen as a woman.
“Is something wrong?”
He looked at me anxiously as my head hung in dejection.
“N-no!” I said. “I just had something on my mind.”
His look turned thoughtful.
I’m begging you, please don’t ask. I don’t want to make a pathetic confession to the man I like that I’m worried over whether he’ll ever see me as a woman.
My head came up. Sir Leonhard silently pointed at the sky, and I looked up like he wanted me to.
The radiant sunlight beating down made me squint, and a white shape flew overhead. Seagulls flew in file toward the ocean, the peculiar sound of their cries resounded through the air. They flew freely over the orange roofs that extended across the landscape. The scene seemed as if it had come straight out of a postcard.
“Wow!” I exclaimed in wonder.
Since I was higher than usual, it seemed like even the seagulls were within reach.
“Sir Leon, did you see? They were so close!”
“Even they way they cried mya mya was cute!”
“They sound like cats, don’t they?”
So black-tailed gulls were the same, even in this world.
I wonder if there were black-headed gulls as well?
“Though it seems like there are many of the real thing as well. Look, over there.”
On the slanting downward roof of a home, three cats were enjoying their naps. There was a tabby, a white cat, and a light brown cat. It looked like they were using each other as pillows, and it was a very heartwarming scene.
Three fluffy furballs. And the world was a better place because of it.
I couldn’t help breaking into smiles, and said in a small voice, “They’re so cute!”
Sir Leonhard froze, his eyes widening as he stared me.
Or, uh, did I make a funny face?
In an instant, I became worried.
But in the next moment, my worries flew away.
Please don’t say something like that with such a sweet smile.
Wow. Bisu and Rose are both old school. Much thanks to my friend kasu for looking up this reference. I just couldn’t figure out why Rose was mentioning black pepper out of the blue. It’s rather apt though, considering this is a fantasy world with a European bent, and spice was a luxury that came from the East. Bisu is a history nerd, maybe.