In case you haven’t noticed, the title for each chapter is a line of dialogue that one of the characters would have said, usually at the very end of the chapter. Accordingly, the titles in Japanese were always in quotes. When I realized this I said, “Eh, it doesn’t really matter.” But then this chapter actually tries to capitalize off of the technique and it suddenly matters. Oops.
Ortensia’s dress reflected Conrad’s preferences perfectly showcasing a lovely design with flower decorations and ribbons over lightly covered cloth. With her golden hair tied up by a ribbon with a glowing red stone at its center, she came across as a truly beautiful yet childishly cute girl. Lucy saw how good she unexpectedly looked and started clapping.
She never thought that a woman who is always crying “Mi~ Mi~” could look so beautiful. The person herself was also filled with joy looking at herself in the mirror.
“Lucy, next is your turn.”
“Eh, I’m putting one on too?”
“Isn’t that natural? Oh well, I suppose it is inevitable you would be nervous trying on a quality dress considering how inexperienced you are. It is natural for upper class women to wear form-fitting dresses on a regular basis. Although this threshold may be too high for a commoner woman like you, that’s why on this occasion…..um, Lucy?”
Ortensia looked to her left and right when she realized Lucy was no longer sitting in front of her. When she finally found her, Lucy was already on her way to the screen the tailor had pointed them to.
“Lucy, what are you doing? Lucy?”
“I am trying on my dress just like you said.”
“Mi~! Listen to what I have to say until the end!”
“Just say ‘Yes’ once!”
“Why is it either twice or not at all!?”
While returning Ortensia’s “Mi~ Mi~” complaints with another “Yes yes,” Lucy proceeded to try on her dress…….and the sight of the girl inside the mirror made her catch her breath. The Ortensia who was still complaining grew impatient and peeked around the partition herself, “Mi…….,” but any complaints she had trailed off.
After a moment of silence, those complaints of hers, “Isn’t it rather becoming for a commoner?” turned into her version of a compliment. Lucy returned her praise with a bow before taking another look at herself in the mirror.
Contrary to Ortensia’s detailed and beautiful dress, Lucy’s was of a simpler design. Made from a dark purple cloth that matched the color of her hair, it stopped right above her chest exposing her shoulders and the silver chain she wore around her neck. The only strange thing to note was the gold lace running down the side which seemed out of place consider the rest of its simplicity.
It was the dress of an adult. When the designer had first showed it off, there was fear that it would not suit Lucy, but it looked unexpectedly nice–so much so that she started to suspect that the mirror was from a funhouse. It was to that degree of weirdness.
“As expected of a Rosedot family designer! Show your appreciation!”
“…..I suppose I’ll obediently show my appreciation this time. Thank you very much.”
“Now your attitude”
“I will never revise my attitude!”
Stubborn! Lucy smiled and laughed while patting Ortensia’s trembling shoulders. The maids who had been sent from the Rosedot house to help them with the fittings were overwhelmed by the exchange in front of them, but compared to the girls who had only ever seen their master as a last name, Lucy was a friend causing all of the maids’ expressions to soften.
……However things were a little different from Lucy’s point of view. While her demeanor looked calm from the outside, on the inside she was quite stressed from fighting off the maids who were trying to get her fitted for a maid uniform and secretly coercing her into unwittingly signing an employment contract.
In that situation they were able to finish getting their dresses fitted, and Lucy and Ortensia lined up in front of the mirror together. They were both wearing lovely dresses, mature dresses, and even though the two of them could be said to be complete opposites, their reflections in the mirror were showing the same shy smile.
It feels weird to see oneself dressed differently than usual, but this is what I will be wearing that day I take Claudio’s hand in mine. With that thought in her mind, Lucy’s heart felt uplifted as if she had just eaten something sweet.
“The party, it’s going to be fun.”
Giving voice to what she had been thinking, Lucy turned to look at Ortensia’s reflection inside the mirror.
She was staring at her own reflection with rose cheeks. She was probably imagining herself being escorted by Conrad. Seeing Ortensia like that, Lucy replied with a simple, “You’re right,” and then turned back to herself wearing her purple dress.
After the fittings were all done, Lucy left the academy and headed out towards the city area.
Although Liztena Magic Academy has a full boarding system, there are no rules about leaving campus. Students are even more than welcome to head home so long as they make it back for classes. As a matter of fact, so long as you book it in advance, the school even has carriages that can pick you up and take you to the city.
Lucy never had a reason to leave campus until now–this was an institution meant to cater to the high class students it teaches, so there was more than enough equipment and entertainment on hand that there was almost never a need to leave–so this was the first time Lucy ever rented out on of the academy’s carriages.
When she boarded the prepared chariot and left the academy, she flew through the forest so quickly that she felt stupid having walked through it before. If it was like this, then Lucy figured she might unexpectedly be able to get back before the sun sets.
Her destination was a flower shop at the edge of the city.
Lucy called out to the person running the store, “Welcome……..” but she suddenly stopped when the full sight of all the flowers hit her and her calm expression collapsed,
“Lucy, you came,”
but she quickly returned to herself when a delightful voice greeted her.
“Sorry Elena, I got here earlier than I thought I would.”
“It’s okay. I was just about to start cleaning everything up.”
Her long black hair tied back in a bundle, Elena quickly dressed up the flowers in her hand with some wrapping paper. In the meantime she laughed cheerfully saying that business across the country was hard, but she was getting by.
Lucy figured it would be hard work running a business that had opened only a few days ago, but Elena was all smiles while passing over a bouquet of fresh cut stems.
“Even though we just opened, Lucy will be promoting our goods after all. Expanding our store won’t be just a dream if we get a reputation at Liztena Magic Academy.”
Lucy’s eyes opened wide in shock, but Elena’s roaring round of laughter made her shrug and reply “I’ll try my best,” with a smile.
Elena was always like Lucy’s gentle and amenable older sister…..but that warm feeling of friendship was quickly replaced, “I shall fill the royal palace with my flowers!” as Elena started a round of teasing and Lucy’s cheeks went hot. This was familiar as well, but Lucy could have done just fine without it.
“Well, my husband should be coming back soon for dinner. We have a stew prepared that might not compare to how fine of food the academy has, but Lucy always liked it. ………Do you remember? You used to ask me to make it all the time.”
“Rather than going out to eat, I always said I wanted to eat Elena’s stew. …….I remembered.”
Elena had to wipe away a tear after how happy just those few words had made her, and “Then help me set the table” ushered Lucy inside.
After finishing her dinner, Lucy got back on the academy’s carriage and was seen off by Elena.
Lucy made a bitter smile having been told more times than she could count to be careful and having repeatedly been hugged goodbye, separated, and then embraced again repeatedly until she smelled the same as the flowers Elena works with all day. But for some reason she was unable to tell her she was worrying too much.
Lucy sat next to the window in her carriage and watched Elena continuously wave, only taking the time to sit back in her seat after she was no longer in eyesight and absentmindedly watched the sun slowly set on the horizon.
“……….I wonder what”
Lucy started muttering to herself when she suddenly noticed something weird outside the window.
It looked like there was something moving above the tree canopy. But this was a carriage for Liztena Magic Academy, something meant to ferry their students to and from the city, there was no way an ordinary animal could follow after it. Moreover, this path was enchanted with the headmaster’s own magic to keep it clear of animals, so not even a harmless rabbit let alone a vicious beast should be able to come here.
If it is an ordinary animal, it should not be able to come here……..yet she felt like there was something coming.
But when she stared at the trees overhead to see what could have flown away, nothing entered her sight, and she felt a weird sense of incomprehension as she disembarked the carriage after reaching the school grounds.
She made sure to tell her driver thanks before turning her gaze to the top of the old castle that was her school. The moon had just risen to the very top point of the highest tower as black clouds started to cover the sky. It was a fantastic sight yet an ominous one.
But there is even stronger magic protecting the academy than there is in the woods, so beasts are unable to enter. So it’s okay……..
………or it should be at least.
So what is this large gray colored body that was standing in front of her?
There was no doubt, it was most certainly the creature that Lucy thought it to be.
An old castle and a tremendous dragon, obscured in the night was a fantastic setting straight from a story. But Lucy couldn’t afford to appreciate that blessing at the moment.
This was a dragon. An ancient creature that’s body easily exceeded Lucy’s height. As a matter of fact, Lucy would have had to extend her hand up above her head just to touch its belly when it was standing on four legs. ………No, it should be three rather than four?
As Claudio had said, the dragon in front of Lucy did not have a front right leg. Rather than being cut off though, it looked like it had grown naturally up until a point and then started to whither away.
There was a part that looked shriveled and was thinner than the rest with a belt tied around the arm marking the difference between the two parts……….although it was old and cracked, it was easy to see that that belt had originally held a pretty design.
The size and the design were greatly disproportionate to the dragon, but of course any type of collar shouldn’t be on a dragon in the first place. It’s not a cat…………then a cold sweat ran down Lucy’s back,
and a name she felt like she had said many times until then came to her lips.