Chapter 11: Royal Academy
Section 2: Secret Dealings
Over a hundred knights were lined up and waiting for us after we passed through the gate.
The spectacle of an army of female knights clad in silver armor lined up at attention is nothing short of mind-boggling.
There was enough food and fuel for us and the hundred others. We had all sorts of goods loaded onto the carriages, but this was still a tremendous amount.
“We’re already a caravan at this point.”
Coachman Carol laughed from up front. That’s right, surely anyone would think that to be true if they were to see all the stuff we’re carrying with us. But, with a hundred knights acting as its guard, there is no way any bandits would be stupid enough to try and attack.
“It will take us two weeks to reach Osnell-Tari. If we consider it a round trip, it will be at least a month before you are able to return home. Have you properly said your farewells?”
Straddling her horse at the front of the line was Yuhanna-sama, the leader of the Shirayuri Knights who welcomed us with a smile as we approached.
“Yes. Sorry to have kept you waiting.”
“I don’t mind. I was only able to speak with them for a short while, but they seemed like wonderful parents.”
Yuhanna-sama peered over her horse’s neck as we came close and gave Goldmund a quick look over.
“My, this child…….is this Goldmund?”
“Yes, that’s right. Why…….oh…..I see.”
“I still remember the day Rosalith brought this mud-covered child home. She tried to keep him a secret and smuggled him into her room. She ended up being found out immediately though when the unexplained noises scared me awake in the middle of the night.”
“A-About that……I apologize for the trouble Auntie…….”
Rose-san shrank back in one corner of our carriage. An apologetic Rose-san whose face is slightly red from embarrassment is too precious for words.
Anyway, a mud-caked Goldmund huh? Rose-san might have been an unexpectedly mischievous child when she was younger.
“I don’t mind it. But to think, together with this child…….fufufu, you never know what’s going to happen in life. For this dolinp who had been so small and even injured to grow so strong and even assist you in your journey”
For a small moment, Yuhanna-sama sat there and gazed deeply at Goldmund.
“It would be great if the same could be said of our meeting.”
I didn’t know what else to say. The first time we met, Yuhanna-sama left a rather severe first impression. So I clammed up, not wanting to say anything that would sour the mood. And then she said it was okay for me to use just ‘-san’ with her name as well. For just a bit, I couldn’t help but think she’s a little like Saluena.
“……perhaps I seemed a bit smug at first? I admit I was somewhat stressed at the time in anticipation for our departure.”
Yuhanna-sama then suddenly clapped her hands together as her expression changed.
“Now then, the Shirayuri Knights shall depart. Our mission, to escort the dragon slaying hero Iris Calvafon to the royal capitol of Osnell-Tari. Without a scratch on her of course! Is that understood!?”
All one hundred knights responded to Yuhanna-sama’s call as a loud, “Yes Ma’am!” rang through the air.
The line of knights broke in two, sandwiching our carriage between then, and our long march began.
The journey was more comfortable than I expected it to be.
I’m enjoying three square meals a day even without having to do anything. They’re really tasty meals to boot. Yuhanna-sama told me later that the knights hired their own personal cook who travels with them.
So I end up lying back and lazing around several times each day. That’s all I do actually.
Oh, sometimes I go up to the coachman’s seat so that Toslin or whoever else is driving can have someone to talk to. We work in shifts holding Goldmund’s reins, but Goldmund is so clever that it’s almost meaningless. If we want him to walk, we tell him to walk, and if he needs to stop, we only need to tell him to stop.
So in other words, everyone has nothing but free time.
Hmm? Isn’t this somewhat too different from how I imagined my grand adventure going?
Then again, if I think about how rare it would be to travel while guarded by a squadron of knights, I could see this as being a valuable experience.
“Oh, so the sky is blue today too……”
What I’m trying to say is that I’ve spent the last three days bored out of my mind. I’ve gotten used to the vibrations from the swaying carriage to the point where it is actually comfortable. Like I’m resting inside a cradle.
Ah, I’m sleepy.
Just when I felt like my consciousness was going to be sucked up into the wide open sky, somebody suddenly shook my shoulders.
“You’re completely out of it Iris. A worse person would’ve doodled something on your forehead.”
Carol was looking into my face with her hand still on my shoulder. I blinked a couple of times before sitting up.
“Hafu…….so, what’s going on? Is it already time for lunch?”
Carol was giving me an amazed look as I did my best to stifle a yawn.
“Doesn’t it seem like our positions should be reversed here?”
The way she’s saying that, I’m guessing she doesn’t mean it as a compliment. But it can’t be helped right? I don’t having anything else to do.
“Rude. It’s not like I don’t feel like doing anything.”
By the way, right now Toslin and Saluena are stationed at the coachman’s seat.
As for Rose-san, she is sitting back next to the luggage with Lapris and Phoenix resting on her lap. The two of them were making a racket a short while ago and tired themselves out. So now the both of them are peacefully napping away and using Rose-san’s thighs as their personal pillows.
“But I feel sick whenever I read on a moving carriage. That means my only options left are to eat, sleep, or talk to someone.”
Of course I would like to spend my time more productively.
I would love to read the book Grandpa gave me, and if possible, spend some time testing out what’s written in there.
But most of our day is spent on the move which means I have little time to practice my magic.
“No, I understand that. Food as the best way to kill time? I can relate. But I might also end up wondering how well my clothes are going to fit if I lived idly like this for two whole weeks.”
“No stop, that is…….”
Impossible…….is what I really want to say, but I’ve been worried about that a lot myself lately. I’ve caught myself rubbing my tummy every morning to check.
“See~? So you shouldn’t lie down so much. If you’d like, I could teach you a time killing game you can play when riding in a carriage, but”
“Eh, really? That would be a great help.”
“But, in return…….”
Carol’s voice dropped low as she slowly brought her face closer to mine.
She’s going to kiss me…….a thought like that crossing my mind shows just how much my mind has been poisoned because of my time with Mycena. And how excessively self-conscious I am.
Obviously Carol would never ask for something like that as a………
Surprisingly, Carol’s request was for me to teach her the alphabet instead.
“Yep. Is it no good though?”
“No, of course not. Rather, if you wanted to learn, I would’ve been happy to teach you even without getting something in return.”
“Oh, yeah. But that’s a bit…….”
Carol’s eyes momentarily turned towards the coachman’s seat. I followed her gaze, but it was just Saluena and Toslin up there like they had been before.
It looked like the two of them were talking about something between themselves and weren’t paying the two of us any mind.
“I, want to keep it a secret from Toslin…….”
“That’s……a secret too.”
Carol smiled shyly as she replied.
A secret though?
Well if Carol is looking to learn the alphabet, then there is no way I can afford to miss this opportunity. If I can teach her how to read, I should be able to get her interested in books as well. Then I can recommend my favorite books to her, and the two of us can talk about what we think of them when we’re done.
“OK, got it.”
Pushing my curiosity over the secret to the back of my mind, I nodded my head at the opportunity to increase my book friends by one.