‘One day, my real parents will come for me.’
It’s a story that every child living in an orphanage has fantasized about at least once.
Especially if you only knew one parent, the story can be a ridiculous one.
“My real father is a nobleman, you know.”
That’s why it was Lenalee’s habit to say that she was going to come for me one day with a bunch of nice dresses and a bouquet of flowers.
Of course, everyone in the orphanage knows that it’s just a lie.
No, it’s not so much a lie as a wish…Lenalee wish, hope, desire, is just a fairy tale.
In that way, we can finally live in reality when we dream as much as we can. We don’t have such a privileged life that we can dismiss it as a mere lie.
I was born to a poor craftsman in the Royal Capital and lost my own mother when I was four, and my father and stepmother when I was seven.
Since then, my home has been an orphanage.
I had both my father’s and my mother’s relatives, but all of them were poor. No one could afford to raise another child in their home.
Rufa, who walks a step and a half behind me, calls out to me with a voice that has some implications.
Rufa and I happened to be friends who came to the orphanage on the same day.
Unlike me, who was born in Royal Capital, Rufa was born in the north. He lost his mother due to a pandemic and came to the royal capital when his father, a poor civilian, was assigned to the royal capital. In the life of an only child, his only father died in a carriage accident and he came to this orphanage.
Initially, he was supposed to be staying here until his relatives in the north took him in, but now he was one of the oldest people in this orphanage.
“It’s that stall on Main Street.”
“…You know you can’t do that anymore.”
The biggest event in this country is the Spring Founding Festival. In addition, this year is a big event in which the Founding Festival and the Accession Ceremony which will be held together. The capital will be in a festive mood for more than a week, including the three days before and after each that.
This district of Regalia is the home of the royal palace, and some of the festivities have already begun a week ago.
Many stalls have begun to line the main street.
Every year, the orphanage also sets up a small stall in one corner of the street. Every year, the orphanage stalls sell small bouquets of rosephilia flowers grown by the children in the orphanage’s flower beds.
The Founding Festival is a festival of flowers to begin with. Many beautiful flowers are overflowing, collected by professional florists for this day.
And yet, every year, the little bouquet of rosephilia grown in the orphanage is sold out.
That’s because the white rosephilia is the flower symbolizing the meeting between the founding king and the fairy princess.
Rosephilia plays the most important role in flower-filled Dardinia at the beginning of spring, hence the name Rosephilia, the flower that heralds spring.
The orphanage’s cash income from the bouquet stalls was an important source of income for the whole orphanage.
“I think we can do something with it, even if it’s not a bouquet of flowers.”
“…I like food. Preferably something that’s easy to make in large quantities. Just something really simple. It’s a festival. If it’s something a little different, it will definitely sell.”
“Look, no matter how much we celebrate it, no one is going to buy something that we can make at home.”
“Yeah…so that’s what I’m trying to think of something.”
“What are you going to do about the ingredients? I don’t know what we’re going to make, but we don’t have that much money to purchase… At best, it’s only enough to pay for the ribbons in the usual bouquets.”
“The rest is from the orphanage, right?”
“That’s what we’re feeding you with. It’s not worth it.”
“…Well, that’s right.”
“Let’s just go clean up the shrine and get back to it…I need to help prepare the food.”
We take turns cleaning the old shrine not far from the orphanage.
The orphanage receives money for doing this every day. The orphanage has several such jobs in the district, and that’s how they supplement their daily bread.
“…Hey, Ragg, look at that.”
Looking towards Rufa’s line of sight, there was a woman running who looked to be a noble of high status. Her pale-blue complexion seems unusual.
“…That’s not a good thing.”
I mean, what is that aristocratic old lady doing here?
This is a district where many artisans live. By no mistake, this is not a district where the nobility would come. It’s not that there aren’t some low-ranking officials, but most of them are uncounted officials.
“Ra-Ragg…? Such rude language…”
“Please. The carriage, please. Please turn the carriage around.”
“What? Huh? Um, it’s okay with a street carriage?
“Any kind of carriage will do.”
With my gaze, Rufa runs ahead at full speed.
At this time of day, there should be a carriage around the corner through here where Grandpa Rhoda always waits for guests on his way back to the cathedral.
“Grandma, this is it.”
I run, holding the grandmother’s hand in the dress.
Then I run to Rufa, who is waiting for me at the door, and I help her into the carriage.
“…Thank you, boys.”
‘Here,’ she says. Gently grasped in her hand was a brooch with a beautiful woman’s profile on it.
“Thank you…Thank you so much.”
We should have asked her why she was in such a hurry.
But we didn’t ask her anything.
But we did a little kindness to an aristocratic grandmother in need, and received a beautiful brooch in return, which made us feel somewhat satisfied with our good deed.
It was still early evening, but I thought to myself, ‘I’ve had a full day.’
“…Why was that old lady fighting over every second like that? I wonder if she was looking for a carriage like that?”
“Come one, I don’t know. But it’s none of our business. Let’s not get nosy. We don’t live in the same world as the nobles. We don’t want to get in trouble for knowing something that we don’t need to know.”
“Oh, yeah. That’s right…”
“More than that, what do you think it’s worth?”
“Hmm, I see brooches like this all the time, so it can’t be that expensive, can it?”
“You do see those a lot. What does that mean?”
“Come on…but it’s beautiful, so let’s not only take it to Grandma Job’s place in the pawn shop, let’s take it to Mr. Grau’s place in the auction house as well. If we think we can get a higher price at the auction than at the pawn shop, we can have it sold there.”
I randomly shoved the brooch into my pocket.
“I feel like I’ve been making a lot of offerings to the shrine lately.”
“Isn’t it because it’s so close to the Founding Festival?”
The offering to the shrine is supposed to be in the form of a drop from the goddess of the shrine.
Perhaps because it is a goddess, fruits are the most common offerings, followed by sweets and sugar. Then there are grains, liquor, vegetables, and etc.
The goddess of this shrine is not involved in the founding festival, but we are more careful than usual in cleaning the grounds. On the day of the event, flowers were to arrive from the local church and we were going to decorate the entrance.
“Come on, let’s quickly clean up…”
‘Let’s do it,’ I was about to say, and I stood there, trying to open the grate door of the shrine and step in.
“Ragg, what’s going on?”
From behind, Rufa peeks in.
A golden glow in the candlelight…For a moment, I wasn’t quite sure what it was, and then the moment I realized it was a person, I felt my blood run cold.
At this time of year, sleeping outside overnight would be life-threatening. The inside of the shrine might be indoors for a change, but it’s not the most airtight. I approached them in a hurry and grabbed them.
She was like a special made product. Had she been a little older, I might have thought the goddess of this shrine had manifested.
“Wow, she’s so beautiful.”
“…Right. She seems to have a bit of a fever.”
“Let’s take here to the orphanage, Ragg. Let’s show her to Lela Adele.
Nun Lela Adele is an old woman who has been taking care of us as our mother replacement.
“…Should we do that.”
“Yeah. I don’t know what or why she’s here, but she I stays, she’ll probably die.”
“She doesn’t look tough by any means.
“…The grandmother from earlier, could it be that she came to dump this kid here?”
“No way…and if that’s the case, it’s funny that she was alone and didn’t have a carriage to accompany her.”
“But do you think it’s irrelevant?”
Like the grandmother before, this fallen child is probably a pretty amazing aristocrat as well. What she’s wearing and her shoes are also amazing. Probably, both of them must be priced at a rate that we couldn’t afford even if we spent our whole lives on it.
It is unlikely that two such amazing aristocrats would show up in this regalia area, completely unrelated to each other.
Maybe grandmother had gone to call for someone to carry her child.
This outfit, the kids would want to wear it if they saw it…
The girl, dressed in the very princess dress that children dream of, doesn’t wake up when I pick her up.
“She’s the child of a wealthy nobleman, right? This girl.”
“Maybe…I wouldn’t ever be wearing such useless-looking shoes.”
I don’t know what the circumstances were, but all I know is that she wouldn’t be a good kid to have in a place like this, me and Rufa.
“If she wasn’t abandoned, then what is it?”
Rufa tilts his head.
“…Is it hidden here?”
Maybe she wished for the blessing of the goddess Shriega, who was kind to children.
“Either way, it’s not a good idea to stand out too much, is it?”
“I’m sure there’s something going on, and if that’s the case, we should take her in secret.”
“All right, Rufa. Take off your jacket.”
As I say this, I also take off my own cloak. The child’s body is wrapped in a slightly larger Rufa jacket. I put the jacket over her head. Her sparkly blonde hair absolutely stands out.
Maybe it’s because she’s so tired, or maybe it’s the fever, but the child shows no signs of waking up. She only frowned a little when I picked her up and stood up, and then immediately began to make little sleepy sounds.
If we hadn’t found her, she would have been abducted or sold off.
“She looks like a beautiful doll.”
This was our first, somewhat one-sided, encounter with Thia.
At that time, we didn’t know that this beautiful child was anything but a doll.
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