The dusk was beginning to turn blue, and there was an abundance of light below us.
While we were fleeing underground, apparently it was time for evening darkness to take over on the ground.
The twinkling lights, glittering, sparkling…It was vaguely shaded, but it seemed to fill the dimness as if it were painting the ground with a daylight-like brightness.
Lady Elaine and I watched the scene in silence for a while.
“…What a beautiful sight it is…”
I was taken aback by the somewhat sullen sound of voice.
We escaped to the basement of the royal palace…and I’m sure there’s nothing blocking our view…
I looked around, and when I noticed a fence taller than my own height behind us, I involuntarily held my forehead.
Now I’ve done it. A sigh escaped my lips involuntarily.
Lady Elaine tilts her head in wonder.
“…Outside…we’ve gone out…”
“Yes, this is outside the royal palace.”
Yes. This was outside of the outer wall surrounding the royal palace.
I look up at the wall behind me. It’s three times my height…The towering majesty gives off a heavyweight intimidating feeling. I’m sure it’s impossible to climb up this wall in a straightforward manner at first.
There is another outermost wall, but the outermost wall is more like a fence than a wall. This is only the dividing line between the grounds of the palace and the capital, so you could say that this white outer wall is in fact the wall that protects the palace.
If you face forward and look down, you can see the outermost wall of the fence.
For all intents and purposes, it’s easier to go outside than to return to the royal palace.
It’s not that I’ve never been outside. Even in the past, I’ve been taken out of the royal palace for a sneak peek, though I’ve lost count.
But it was always absolutely safe.
Because I was with His Highness…
I’m sure I’ve always felt suffocated in the palace and dreamed of being able to go outside freely, but when the opportunity to go outside comes around, I actual feel more anxious than the joy of being free.
And most of all, I feel this heartache of not having anyone to protect me all the time!
…I’m sure I was fine on my own the whole time.
Of course, I know that at my tender age I can’t do anything without the help of everyone else, but I thought I was standing firmly next to His Highness on my own.
And yet, I relied on him so much…
I’m honestly glad that I was able to go outside, even though I was in this situation. But I can’t help but seek out the people who stand beside me.
My husband…His Royal Highness Crown Prince Nigel Elsebard Thea Diehl Vera Dardie.
I know he’s not there, but I can’t help but look up beside him, maybe it’s already a habit.
I take one deep breath and clench my fists tightly to regain my mind.
This will probably be preached at, but…
But it’s no use. I didn’t have the option of not running away at the time, and I don’t think I made a mistake in running to the basement.
I just don’t have the courage to sit in that place quietly waiting for help.
“…Your Highness, where are we?”
Elaine, who was fascinated by the appearance of the royal capital that she had probably seen for the first time, asked me with an uneasy expression, as she seemed to be able to finally afford to distract herself.
“…It’s outside the royal palace.”
I thought that was an amazingly stupid answer, but beyond that I didn’t know where we were either.
As one can see…but I really only know that much.
There’s a tower, a belfry…well, from the scenery, I think it’s probably more north.
Mostly, the combination of Lady Elaine and myself is too much.
I think we’re probably one or two of the most sheltered people in this country.
“I am sorry to have involved Your Highness in my affairs.”
Lady Elaine dropped to her knees on the spot and bowed her head.
“Please stand. It may not be Lady Elaine’s fault.”
“Maybe I was the target, you know?”
“…I’m not saying that’s not a possibility, but I think it’s more likely than not.”
Elaine-sama, who had an idea, shook her head loosely.
“Worrying about it here won’t get us anywhere. Rather, let’s think about the future first.”
I touched Lady Elaine’s shoulder, urging her to stand up again.
Given my status, it’s normal for everyone to kneel in front of me, but I still can’t get used to it.
“Think about the future?”
I put my face close to the wall behind me and flattened my surroundings, observing carefully.
While I’m admiring the unfamiliar landscape, the exit that was supposed to have been vacant a moment ago has somehow disappeared.
No seam in sight…
This may be some kind of trick, but there is no indication that an exit or door appears when I touch it.
…I think it means this is a one-way exit.
It’s the type that can only be opened from the inside, and we probably can’t return from here.
“…It seems impossible to return from the exit we just used.”
“What should we do,” asked Lady Elaine, looking puzzled.
“If we go around the perimeter of this outer wall, there may be an entrance somewhere…”
“But during that time, we could be mistaken for a suspicious person, or if someone knows it’s us, they might make a scene.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
‘That’s not good.’ Lady Elaine and I agreed.
“Besides, it’s not always our allies who might find us first.”
It’s also possible that the people who came after us earlier will find us first.
“…Then what should we do?”
Lady Elaine looked at me with an uneasy look on her face.
‘I’m the one who wants to ask that question,’ I thought, but there is room for such feelings.
While I’m not too happy about it, I’m used to sudden situations.
…I don’t think there are many things that can surprise me more than when I first woke up in this world.
So I think I can afford to be generous with most things.
…oh, that’s right.
It became clear at the same time.
I don’t have to think of Lady Elaine as an older lady.
It may not sound good, but Lady Elaine is a princess who has been kept in a very small box until her age, or rather, she has been protected.
It’s not only that she is ultimate in naivete, so to speak, but she also a lacks an independent and proactive attitude because of the powerful protection she’s been given.
I’m not exactly in a state to speak for others either in that aspect…Maybe mine is even worse than that, but the experience of living as a thirty-three year old working adult, albeit in a different world, has helped me in many ways.
That’s why I don’t hesitate to be proactive and act on my own when it comes to situations like this.
On the other hand, Elaine doesn’t seem to have the drive or the guts to do something on her own, or to be proactive at all.
Maybe it was the way she was raised in her family since she was a child.
Normally this kind of spoiled state would eventually collapse at some point…
Normally, when you get married, the difference between your birth family and your married family would be a culture shock to you, as well as the values you had until then would be shattered in a grand way, but Lady Elaine’s guardian is old lord Grachie, whose protection is strong and yet ironclad. As a result, it came to this point in an impossible state.
Regardless of the pros and cons of that, if Lady Elaine refrained from doing so because she was an elder, she wouldn’t be able to move a single step from here forever.
“Even if we stay here, I don’t think we’ll get picked up.”
Lady Elaine nodded honestly. This hawkishness that comes from a good upbringing is hard to get. I’m also grateful that she doesn’t make a strange fuss.
“…I don’t know if it’s reckless, but let’s go down to the city for once.”
“To the city?”
The Royal Palace is located on a small hill…Or rather, the entire area that includes this hill is the site of the Royal Palace. The fact that we are outside the outer walls means that we have gone a long way down underground without knowing it.
Although we hardly even went down the stairs…
“Well, we’re not completely off the hill yet, so we’re on the grounds of the royal palace, but rather than being found as a suspicious person or making a fuss in such a place, I’d rather leave here and get ready. I think it’s better to go back secretly.”
“…That’s right. If so, I think it would be a good idea to go to my home in Royal Capital.”
Lady Elaine said in a hesitant tone.
…I see. I was only thinking about returning to the palace, but Lady Elaine doesn’t necessarily have to return to the palace.
I had decided to go down to the city to return home from the outside, but I was struggling to decide what exactly I should do.
…It’s easier to get back to the dukes than to the royal palace, right?
I honestly didn’t want to leave the vicinity of the palace if possible, but there was no way to get back even if I was close enough. The only way to get back was to run to the nearest detached palace and return to the palace from there, or to try to sneak back in using the underground passages connected to the outside.
A bit reckless, I know…
Few people who live in the royal capital care about it, but this royal capital, Al Greya, also has an underground capital…the ruins of a city sunk into the ground.
That’s right. It is not only the royal palace that stands on top of the ancient ruins of the city, but also the whole of this royal capital, Al Greya. This entire royal capital, Al Greya, is on top of the ruins of a city.
…Nigel-sama said said that Arsei-Ney was involved in planning the city of the royal capital as well as the royal palace.
The legendary architectural genius, Arsei-Ney, built not only the royal palace but also the royal capital using the ruins.
People cannot live in the underground of the capital.
But there are roads that can be taken—There is an underground road that runs endlessly in all directions, just like the Royal Palace.
Unlike the basement of the royal palace, there are no guards, but rather most of it is a waterway, which is a different kind of danger.
And, of course, there is a path that leads to the royal palace.
I know of two.
One is the passageway that His Highness Nigel told me about, which connects the Royal Palace to the place where the first government office, which is now the Central Division’s checkpoint, was located.
I’ve actually used this one. However, since it’s a place used as the Central Division’s checkpoint, they are more cautious than usual. It is not possible to enter the premises without revealing your identity, and if you do, there will be a lot of commotion.
Secondly, there is a passage between the West Palace Cathedral and the Royal Capital Cathedral.
I haven’t used this one, but I know it’s available. I’ve heard more about it from His Eminence Shion, who says he actually uses it a lot.
The problem is that the paths above ground and below ground are not the same, and I don’t know much about them.
It’s the kind of thing where there’s a big difference between listening to a story and actually walking around!
Besides, unlike getting lost above ground, getting lost underground is not just being lost, it’s distressing. Probably life-threatening.
I don’t think it’s fashionable for researchers of the royal palace to call it an ‘underground labyrinth’ or ‘royal city labyrinth’. I am not ready to step into such a place without knowing the exact paths.
And even if I did know the exact path, it would still be dangerous in my case!
His Highness has always picked me up and carried me around, so I’ve never given it much thought, but I seem to be quite directionally challenged.
And there is a reason for my hesitation in running into the detached palace.
This is because the two detached palaces in the royal capital are now mainly the queens of the former king…the first queen Yulia and the second queen Argenna.
In other words, if I rush to the palace, Queen Yulia or Princess Argenna will found out about this.
And that, too, I hope to avoid if possible.
So Elaine-sama’s offer was very much appreciated by me.
So, I think it would be good to have a messenger secretly sent out by the Dukes to pick me up.
“The royal residence of the Duke of Grachie is in the northernmost part of the old city, right?”
In my mind, I envision a rough map of the royal capital.
I know roughly where it is, but I’ve never actually been there.
“Yes. It’s right next to the North Bell Tower…it’s very busy every day.
…Then the ringing bells would give me a general idea of where to go.
I think people who live in Royal Capital can do it rather well, but I can hear the sound of the bells in the belfry.
Therefore, if you can distinguish the sound of the northern bells from the sounds you hear, and if you can figure out which direction they’re coming from, you can aim for that one.
Problem is, it’s probably not within walking distance.
The heels of today’s shoes are almost flat and very easy to walk in, but neither me nor Lady Elaine can walk that long a distance. It’s because we don’t have basic physical strength to begin with. I don’t think I have even a tenth of the physical strength that I had in the past when I worked ten straight shifts.
And then there’s our clothes.
Neither of us were flamboyant in our everyday wear, but we were dressed in gowns made of quality fabrics and lace in a lavish manner. And since I wasn’t expecting to go outside, they were quite thin.
It’s still cold in Royal Capital…
The calendar says spring is here, but you need a cloak or coat to go out.
-achoo!-, Elaine-sama sneezes at the right time.
…Yeah. I need a jacket as soon as possible.
It’s strange because once you start to be conscious of it, that’s when it feels like it’s really cold Right now, I’m moving around so I don’t have to worry about the cold so much, but it’s going to get colder and colder as the night progresses. And then the temperature will drop even lower.
I look at my outfit and inspect it again in my mind.
I’m wearing a chemise over my underwear, with a soft corset and lace panniers over it. Then there’s an underdress and an overgown…I’m sure I’m wearing enough layers, but some of them just aren’t keeping you warm.
Specifically, around the décolletage…around the neck.
The type of gown that’s starting to become popular now is one that has a large décolletage opening, and the same is true for the gown I’m wearing.
This means that the later I wear it, the more open the décolletage will be. In the morning, it’s about as open around the neck as I’m wearing right now, but in the evening, some people are bold enough to show their shoulders. It’s still at the beginning of a trend, so many people are taking a wait-and-see attitude, but sooner or later, some people might start to show off their bosoms more boldly.
Lady Elaine is wearing a shawl that covers her neck, so she must be a lot warmer than I am, but I don’t think she can stay in this outfit forever.
…And I think I’d be very noticeable if I walked the streets dressed like this.
The overall color of people’s clothing is dull in the distance as they pass by the city. This is because gray is the most common color of coats and cloaks and other winter clothes.
Alice told me that cloaks and other winter clothes tend to get dirty easily, so people tend to choose colors that don’t stand out. The most popular color is gray, followed by brown and khaki. I thought black or navy blue would have the least noticeable stains, but they don’t choose black or navy blue very often because they’re more expensive to dye.
Elaine-sama’s gown is a cream color and mine is a bright peacock green. Both would stand out among the grays and browns.
But for now, I have to go down here…
In my mind, I began to consider going down to the downtown area I could see below.
|♡| Table of Contents |♡| Support me! |♡|