The girl displayed a practiced sleeping posture within the carriage, which shook with bumping sounds.
Even though she is wearing a dress, notwithstanding being a simple one, she has a cushion between one of her knees and has fixed her body’s posture by leaning against another one. Holding a stuffed toy of a hippopotamus, battered from long use, in her arm, the ribbon, tied on her head, is pink. Its knot is starting to fall apart due to the clumsy way of binding it.
(The grown me and Paulina-sama… though she is boldly sleeping on this shaky travel.)
There is a woman, sitting on the opposing seat, gazing at the girl’s appearance without moving.
Her gallant, beautiful figure looks like that of a story’s prince. Her name is Wilma Kantola. Her age is around 17~18? Her undulating blonde hair has a single braid at the side of her head. Her emerald pupils are burning with a mighty will. The elegant outfit, that gives the impression of being a knight’s training equipment, although she isn’t disguising as man, has leather reinforcements applied all over. In the sword belt at her hips hangs a short sword. Its pommel has been arranged as a golden seal.
There are no female knights within the military of the Asuria Kingdom. It’s also the same regarding soldiers. Women exclusively work as rear support being labelled as female civilians in military employ. In spite of that, it’s a fact that she is armed with a sword. The reason is the special characteristic of the mission she has been entrusted with. Her special duty assumes that she must fight just like a knight, even if she is young and a woman.
Her job title is “Maid officer.”
It is something that had been established for the sake of protecting the royal women. The lord Wilma has to protect, is the adorable person sleeping in front of her.
Although having the rank of being the youngest child, she is the Third Princess Paulina, who owns the right to legitimately succeed the crown. With her age being 12 years old, she is old enough to even be wedded next year. Viewing the amber, gentle hair, one can feel the warmth of the earth in it. The skin, which doesn’t know about make-up, is squishy and soft. Please teach me the contents of the dream you are watching as you are chewing and wriggling. The small body with its short arms and feet is an embodiment of purity. Wilma’s cheeks slackened unintentionally and she quietly fixed the lap blanket on the girl.
Caringly, carefully, making sure to not disturb her peaceful sleeper’s breath…
Once she straightened her posture in the seat, a disgust slowly gushed forth from within her belly. Grasping the pommel of her short sword with her female hands, she suppresses the shaking, even if only a bit, and stands with her feet apart stepping firmly.
The faces of the cruel people of the capital appeared within Wilma’s mind. If it’s my own body suffering distress, let me show you how I can bear with it, but it’s Paulina who has been exposed to physical and mental absurdities. It’s at a level that I can’t even count the number of abuses thrown at her.
According to their words, it’s her level of dim-wittedness, unfitting of the royal family. Far from studying how to be a good ruler, she is clumsy at music, dancing, etiquette and just about everything else. She can’t master those. Just calligraphy is barely average? Drawings of horses and cattle depict monsters resulting in one doubting their own eyes. No, are the contents in her head to be doubted? Anyway, she is a worthless existence.
According to their words, she is similar to a stain due to stealing the blood of the royal family. Although she was carried out by her mother as the daughter of the former Earl Hiltoora, who broke his knee before the invasion by the Eberia Empire, we hear that her mother didn’t protect her fidelity. It might be because the former Earl is known for his shamelessness or it might be because she spread her legs for people from Eberia. Isn’t it a fact that the king kept that mother and Paulina away from the royal villa?
According to their words, she has an ordinary appearance that doesn’t even appear to be that of the royal family. She has hair like filthy mud. Drooping eyes as if still half asleep. A baby figure, that doesn’t seem like that of a woman at all. Not just her contents, but even her outer appearance is that of a child having grown up without a change. Even dresses and decorations don’t suit her. Like that, even the appearance of the family’s maid feels more graceful.
In a volume that can’t be heard by the person herself, however circulating those with great frequency… it’s malice, which soaked into the air of the royal capital. Escaping from the royal palace, it was still impossible to cut off that stench even in the previous royal villa. Driven away from the brilliant society, Paulina simply passed her childish, unchanging days without fighting against it.
Her back teeth are grating with a grinding sound. The grasped pommel is trembling.
However, feebly releasing those, Wilma exhales painfully.
Only the sound of the wheels turning around is reverberating. In the small world within the carriage, there’s only the two of them, without anyone else cutting in. There’s not even a court lady serving Paulina at present. Speaking of a court lady for a young princess, the noble’s daughters will likely aspire and compete for that position, but not a single one approached Paulina’s side.
Those, who get close to the third princess, are glared at by the first princess.
She, First Princess Eleonora, is the most valuable woman in Asuria Kingdom. With the king currently being on his sickbed, she is the woman standing at the top of the national sovereignty. Her becoming the next queen is a settled matter known by everyone. The prince consort, who will become her husband, is a former holy knight and she has formed a relation between woman and man with him. Her blighted love with the brave is known, but you might say that she’s currently at a position to reach for everything. You won’t find a woman living at her level of happiness, even if you searched the entire continent… Wilma believes so.
That Eleonora hates Paulina. Moreover, she is stating that without hiding it. Paulina is a shameful person. Paulina is the disgrace of the royal family. Otherwise, why would all nobles be able to be cruel towards Paulina?
Furthermore, the current Wilma would be impossible without her existence. Meeting with Paulina, wearing a sword at her side as maid and even those agonizing days… all of it is because of a case caused by Eleonora.
Eleonora established the special duty task called maid officer in order to protect royal women. Within the many governmental affairs dealing and conforming with precepts and customs, this royal edict stood out and it was a good opportunity, similar to a divine revelation, for Wilma. In Asuria Kingdom, if one desires the talents of a military man with a female body, she has to put in great efforts aiming for that.
Harvesting the fruits of those efforts, it had been decided that Wilma would serve at Paulina’s side day and night. However, that was already filled with evil intention. The selection of Wilma as maid officer in itself was scorn towards Paulina.
Even while being meagre, the Kantola family is a Knight household possessing territory and a mansion. They have the responsibility to provide military forces to their ruling noble. Wilma believed this matter to be the pride of a military family and didn’t think in her wildest dreams that it would be something like a shame. She didn’t believe that at all. Mingling with the lesser knights and their attendants, she valued her days of training martial arts.
However, once she compared herself with the other maid officers, she felt depressed at once. Except Wilma all other maid officers were descendants of high-ranking nobles. Moreover they have been granted consecrated, treasured swords by the church. That wasn’t the case for Wilma.
The daughter of a rural Knight, you can find anywhere, will likely suffice as the maid officer of the third princess, who hasn’t even a court lady, or such… Wilma, who heard such malicious gossiping riding upon the winds, was tormented. It was intolerable since even her appearance was used as ridicule against Paulina.
Look at it when you line up those two, either of them can be regarded as the maid… for the sake of wanting to say such thing, Wilma, who has such characteristics, was chosen. It was no one else but Eleonora, who did that.
She grasps her hand tightly.
Her body had mastered all kinds of martial arts. She had forged herself. Without even mentioning a short sword, a long sword, a bow, a spear… she could even fight empty-handed. She also made an oath to give up her life and body for her own lord.
But, how about reality?
The maid officer is no more than a single decoration adorning a royal woman. Even if she has to fight, that would be a vicious, political affair. Being struck by the poisoned arrows called malicious gossiping, being cut by the cold sword called sarcasm and being burned by the wicked flame called scorn, Wilma has no means to protect her lord from those.
(Although she lived together with brave-sama during the war, surpassed the sadness of bereavement and has supporters at a level, where they smashed the nasty plot of an evil man, why does she have to do such a heartless thing…?) (Wilma)
Wilma remembered the portrait of the brave, which decorated her family’s home. His appearance is that of a hero from illustrated stories. Full of kindness and bravery, he is a holy person, who strove for justice at all costs. For the church he is already the written legend of a saint. For a knight, it is a dream to fight at his side.
I wonder if we wouldn’t have fallen into such situation, if the brave was still alive… Wilma got close to the shading cloth of the window and lifted it. She looked outside while squinting.
The landscape of the north was spreading out.
She perceives the shadow of the Heaven’s Boundary Mountain Range stretching out lengthily and largely as the wall of mankind’s world. Beyond that there are huge ice fields. Those are filled with cold and miasma which are the enemies of human activity. Considering such things, Wilma even feels somewhat suffocated by the spring’s light blue sky. Without something like shields of protection against the sky, it’s no more than the wind simply blowing.
“Oh? Did something happen?”
The voice came along the sound of the horses’ hooves hitting the ground. A blue overcoat was vividly fluttering in the wind.
“Do you need a break?”
Wilma felt as if the smile of the mounted soldier held a somewhat daring component. However, with his battle aptitude being reliable, his pre-eminence in martial arts is transmitted by his strength and agility.
Captain Akseli Anel of the feudal army.
Speaking of the elites of the Helrevi feudal army, she is aware of the 1000 man strong cavalry unit, and their commanding officer is this man. Wilma knows that she can’t ridicule him because he is a soldier of a supply area in the rear. That’s because she has heard that he once cooperated with the Hakkinen guard corps. He demonstrated his valour as commanding officer even during the subjugation of the mounted bandits.
In such situation… of the third princess visiting the Helrevi Earldom, he is accompanying the carriage as commander of the escorting 100 cavalry and 100 soldiers. And, to begin with, he was also the ringleader, who changed this involuntary visit into something more difficult.
(Baron Hakkinen, why had this soldier been recommended…?) (Wilma)
Wilma ended up scowling at him unintentionally. But the other party isn’t concerned about it at all.
“It will be alright. We will arrive at our destination before evening. There’s still going to be plenty of time for resting.” (Akseli)
Wilma, who had a mood that it wouldn’t be alright in the least, firmly grabbed the window frame. Did he try to encourage me with that? Skilfully bringing his horse near, Akseli puts his ears close. Even admirably considering the ways of courtesy, he doesn’t try to peek into the carriage, even by accident. Wilma somehow doesn’t feel amused by that after all.
The circumstances are unfavourable.
The cold-weather damage, which continues at every place in the central part of the northern region, the provocative conduct of the Eberia Empire’s army at the front and the king’s illness lasting for more than a season. The enthusiasm for restoration after the “Festival of the Holy Flame” has cooled down and public anxiety is continuing to spread in the Asuria Kingdom.
Although it was an idea of the First Princess Eleonora, who was unhappy about that, the three princesses are doing a tour of visitations of the kingdom’s northern territories. The princesses are going around the Earldom Salmant and the Earldom Peterius in the Northwest, which are adjoined by the Plain of Wandering Calamity, and the Earldom Helrevi in the Northeast. The plan is to encourage the officers and men at the front while extensively soothing the people.
The First Princess Eleonora’s popularity is immense, alongside the legend of the brave. The Second Princess Margareta has also been widely idolized by the people for promoting relief projects for poor people and her beauty. Compared to those, there were nothing but unfavorable comparisons for the Third Princess Paulina. She hasn’t yet done anything as she’s still young. Lacking gorgeous beauty, she is an existence that has simply been driven out of the royal villa. Or being those “unfavorable comparisons” might be her role… once she thinks that, it becomes unbearable for Wilma.
However, it was decided to change this plan because of Paulina’s bad physical condition. Without heading for the front-lines, she just has to do the anticipated visit at Earldom Helrevi and then to return to the capital. Rather than becoming a burden, she will go home by walking properly in the back. Such was her treatment.
Even so, that’s fine, Wilma judged.
Rather than Paulina being looked down upon while the public attention is on her and even if she isn’t receiving a treatment as princess for example, I wanted to finish this quickly and return to the royal villa. I won’t even mind the abuse for running away. I just wanted to wrap her up in a warm, gentle space. I wanted her to spend a lot of time like that, even if it’s only a bit.
However, such a prayer of Wilma was smashed by a single feudal army’s captain.
“Her physical condition also looks like it has recovered. How about it? She finally came to these northern extremity at great pains. Not just the territory’s capital, but also every city… or do you want to try going to places such as the remote regions instead? Do you actually want to confirm the state of the villages in the territory’s remote regions, strongly hit by cold-weather damage, with your own eyes? This humble me will gladly guide you.” (Akseli)
Earl Mathias Helrevi, who faced having lost at drawing lots, recommends him. Once Paulina showed her agreement in the form of a nod, there wasn’t any means left for Wilma to change it anymore.
Thus it has been decided for the carriage to turn over the wheels towards the remote regions in the Northeast while being protected by the feudal army. Our only rescue is that the road’s maintenance is strangely thorough, huh? And yet it is shaking and shaking. Currently Paulina is sleeping. Currently Wilma is glaring at the soldier with the name of Akseli.
“… In the first place, where to are we headed?” (Wilma)
In order to not wake the sleeping girl, Wilma reluctantly brings her face close to the ear of the soldier and asks.
“Where is this carriage heading?” (Wilma)
Once she conveyed it like that with a voice that became low due to her anger, that man answers without even particularly concealing his joyous expression on his face that looked surprised.
“It’s a village called Kikomaru.” (Akseli)
“Didn’t I tell you?” he mutters with the conviction that he had told her. Wilma can’t deny it. She was upset at the time they decided to head for the remote regions, thus her memory isn’t definite.
“What is… What are you saying is there?” (Wilma)
Wilma regrets it by saying 「Damn it!」. Though those were words said due to her backlashing, she remembered the reason for heading there. If I remember correctly it’s about measures against the cold-weather damage. I would be truly pathetic as maid officer and would be made fun of, if I didn’t even listen to that.
However, the soldier, clad in a blue overcoat, smiled without a tinge of contempt.
“There lies a mystery. For me it was a hard-to-get treasure, but for Miss Princess… well…” (Akseli)
He parts with a smile at the end of his words. The words left behind are just like a riddle. Wilma separated from the window frame, obviously befuddled. It’s probably because it was something unforeseen? She ended up losing her strength somehow.
The carriage proceeds onward.
At the time, the party arrived at Kikomaru, the daylight was still high and it was warm.