Beyond the Border
We had apparently arrived at the border. When I looked out the window, I saw the driver talking to someone who looked like a government official. He handed over some documents from his bag which were most likely transit documents.
However, rather than the tense, serious affair that I would normally imagine when a head of state enters a foreign country, their exchange looked like it lacked any tension at all. On the contrary, they were slapping each other’s shoulders and laughing as if they were lifelong friends.
The official was not even looking at the transit documents in the first place. Their office looked like it was just a shack by the side of the road, and some carriages probably had more room than it. There were no signs of any caution to their surroundings at all, and it would be very easy to sneak across by keeping your head down in the fields or traveling through some nearby trees. Carelessness seems to be their company motto.
I would put up high walls, have it strictly guarded, and keep an eye out for everything–even a child…….well that would be an old story.
This is just the proof of peace I tell myself while relaxing back into the cushioned seats right before the carriage started to shake and rattle once again. As evidenced by the official-looking man from before calling out, “See you later!” while waving at our driver, we seem to have successfully passed the check. Of course, when the exam is 10 percent examination and 90 percent chat, I think we would have passed even if we got a zero on the actual examination.
I bemused myself with my own little joke while relaxing in the cushion–until a feeling of numbness ran through my body causing my body to jolt, my armor to rattle, and a loud shout to escape my lips.
My body jumped out of my chair immediately.
Almost at the same time, I heard Alexis’s voice as well. He had cried out in shock as well, and I soon realized that he had experienced a shock as well.
“Wh-what was that…?”
“Monette as well? My whole body felt like it had gone numb…”
Alexis’s movements mirrored my own as his head tilted to the side along with my helmet as we tried to figure out what had happened.
Surely at the moment that we had crossed the border, a sense of numbness had swept through my body. Unfortunately, it was only for an instant, and it was hard to say which part of my body it had originated from. In addition, the feeling passed quickly, and there was no trace of it left. Even if I look at my body to confirm, I cannot see my skin because there is a bunch of iron armor in the way, so I can’t check if anything is different.
“It’s weird,” I mumble inside my helmet.
Meanwhile, Alexis was checking himself over, and he was able to confirm that, “I don’t think it is poison.”
With him, his judgment seems to be skewed in a certain direction though, but I am not really in the mood to make fun of him as we are both in the same boat here.
That’s why I tried to move on and forget about that feeling just like Alexis…until Percival unexpectedly butted in. With the helmet in the way, it undoubtedly looked weird, but his blue eyes were certainly staring right around where mine were.
‘Perhaps he thinks I cast some spell…?’
Thinking so, right at the moment where I was about to claim that I had not done anything,
“Monette, are you truly alright?”
Percival spoke first.
He apparently did not experience that sense of numbness that Alexis and I had, so he does not know the degree of pain and is worried. His eyes looked a little worried, and he asked once again, “Are you OK?”
It is honestly to be expected. We crossed the border easily, and right when everything was going well, Alexis and I screamed out. It would be weird if he wasn’t worried.
“Everything’s fine. It did not hurt, rather I was just so surprised by a sudden numbing feeling that I unintentionally shouted out.”
“Are you sure? If you feel like something is wrong, we can hurry to a town and look for a doctor…”
“It is not a big deal. You are worrying far too much.”
“I’m starting to fell a bit sleepy right now, but I cannot go to sleep like this. I will gladly carry you both to the nearest doctor, so I can sleep without any worries.”
“Just shut up and go to sleep already!”
How scary! I raise my voice and thrash my arms around creating a loud *gashan* *gashan* with my armor.
Eventually being convinced, Percival nodded once ……..and then tried to pat my helmet. I don’t trust his words when he says, “It’s alright then,” and I take as much distance from him as I can. Since he is like this, I do not think that I will be able to sleep without worries.
But I am stuck in this carriage, so there is nowhere for me to run.
Percival says that he is okay, but he has tricked me like that before. But I should not get sidetracked by him, so I turn my gaze to Alexis.
“I also felt that numbness, so it does not seem to be your curse.”
“Yes, and it does not seem like I was bitten by something either.”
“I have this appearance(heaviness)¹, so I cannot think of see if I have any bite marks or bumps…”
When Alexis started looking at me in a strange way, I grabbed some of the cushions off the seat and covered myself with them. His eyes quickly dropped to his feet.
If it was Alexis alone, then the possibility of it being the result from some bad luck of the curse is high, but I had also become numb this time. However, it did not affect all of us as Percival claimed that he had felt nothing. Same thing with the driver. When Alexis called out to him, his only response was a look of confusion while holding the reins.
Does it have something to do with the sitting position? For example, at that moment, the wheels rolled over something, and the vibrations carried up into the carriage. In the first place, we jumped up and cried out at the same to time it has to be something like that right….?
So while I was thinking about that, Percival gradually stood up.
Did something happen? Did he notice something?
Alexis and I both turned to look at him, and while receiving the gazes of the two people, Percival said something without saying anything before slowly approaching me………
I was lain sideways. *Pon*……..*Pon*……… and the idiot kept lightly patting the waist of my armor.
He is sleepy.
“….He did say he was starting to feel sleepy earlier I suppose.”
“Mmm. I was still thinking about the numbness, so I didn’t really pay him much attention though….”
I wrinkled my eyebrows inside my helmet. Percival is trying to lightly coax me to rest, but it is impossible for me to sleep with the constant *pon* *pon* *pon* from him constantly hitting my armor. I could actually fall asleep pretty quickly if I could rest by myself, but I do not bother saying anything like that to him since he does not listen in the state he is in.
Even when he starts singing a couple lullabies–quite poorly I would like to add–I do not say anything.
I try to struggle free, if only to show my resistance, but he is holding me firmly down while patting my helmet and showing a stupid grin.
This lullaby is creating a really annoying environment, so I try to pretend I am already asleep. Unfortunately the bothersome sleepy Percival is not fooled by the fake snores coming out of my helmet.
My thoughts quickly become split. One half being spent on what that numbness could have been, and the other half being used to figure out how I am going to survive these next fifteen minutes of hell.
A small voice called out the moment Monette and the others had crossed the border.
The place is a complicated valley a short distance away from the border. A place that is impossible to find for those who visit this valley without knowing the trick. It is a beautiful piece of nature that would make one want to look around once you get there.
Contrary to the scenic landscape, within the hidden space, a luxurious mansion was constructed, and it was here that the person who had called out was tranquilly sipping tea.
When she felt Monette’s party cross the border, this woman looked up from her tea and smiled. She was amazingly beautiful when she did so, and any man who saw her would immediately fall in love while any woman would be overcome by jealousy.
But there were neither men nor women around to see that smile, and the only other living creature was a cat that was sleeping on a shelf hanging from a nearby wall. No matter how beautiful smile it was, it did not seem to affect cat who was peacefully sleeping the day away.
Still, when its master called out, the cat awoke and perked up its little ears.
“Concetta, we apparently have guests. Please go and pick them up.”
As it was ordered to, the cat called Concetta replied once with a hoarse response, and slowly opened its eyes. As it rose to its feet, the cat stretched itself out on top of the shelf before jumping down and landing on the ground with a *plomp*.
The cat stretched itself out once more before turning its eyes forward and making its way to the door. It moved slowly and lazily, but when watching it move with its beautiful fur and graceful air, it was the picture of elegance.
Watching the back of her cute cat, the Lord nodded once in satisfaction,
“Customers after so long. I will have to do my best to give them the best hospitality.”
and she happily laughed in a low voice.
1. Some of you may have encountered this この恰好 in Japanese. It is usually done so that the reader can know what a Kanji with several meanings means. It is also often used as a way to make a joke or pun. Since I can’t/don’t know how to write two words overtop each other like that on here, I just use parenthesis when necessary.