Updated: Jul 4
Tara encounters someone she didn't really expect to see.
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Episode 30. 85.5 kg (3)
The wooden wheel was broken, so we couldn’t move it.
The coachmen whipped the horses with a harsh cry, “Hiya!” and I immediately heard a sharp creaking.
One, two, clang! One, two, clang!
I tried to add strength to match the command, but the carriage only shook slightly and didn’t move.
We were probably quite the pitiful sight, because two coachmen behind us ran through the rain to help with the carriage.
One, two. Go! One, two. Go!
The shouting grew louder, but the carriage still did not budge.
At the same time.
Kyle was waiting for a carriage at the entrance of the Red Heart Knights Guild.
Uniquely, the knight guilds of the Empire did not belong to the Military, and mercenaries would gather together to form small groups. These groups were commonly called guilds.
They were free and didn't belong to a particular organization, maintained political neutrality relatively well, and strictly acted according to the rules.
In chainmail, Kyle didn’t appear much different from the knights who usually wandered the streets of the Knight Guilds.
The Red Heart Knights Guild had dispatched a number of knights to the Three Year War with Skandoa and were unofficially sponsored by Kyle.
Because of that, he often visited when he had time, and when Kyle's dedicated knights, the Order of the Phoenix, lacked personnel, he recruited them from the Red Heart Knights.
"It's been raining a lot, so I was told to wait for the carriage, but it's been delayed because of an accident over there. What should we do?"
When he looked in the direction Walter was pointing, he saw a carriage was leaning to the side and blocking the narrow road about 40 meters behind them.
"An accident? Is it something the Ministry of Security should know about?"
"It's not that serious, but there was a large puddle in the dirt road that had been washed away by rainwater, and it seems to have gotten stuck in it."
"There's a horse stable at the intersection at the front, right? Let's go to the road over there."
Walter immediately opened an umbrella he had taken from the Red Heart Knights Guild building, went to His Highness' side and held it up.
"Walter, don't make it obvious! Give it to me. I'll hold it."
Only then did Walter realize that the Prince was visiting here as a regular knight. He smiled, embarrassed, and followed him.
"Oh! Huh. Why did you stop?"
The Prince had suddenly halted, and turned around to look in the direction of the accident.
"What is it?"
"That young lady is trying to lift the carriage!"
It was difficult for him to understand his Master’s words as he burst out laughing at the wrecked carriage.
"Let's go. I feel bad watching."
"Eh? Your Highness!"
In the carriage.
Ha... How was I going to open my eyes? What should I say? Shit. I was so embarrassed! I wished my eyes, nose and mouth would all disappear!
I was getting a little sore. What should I do?
I thought about it over and over again, but I couldn't come up with anything.
Oh... I'd prefer not to wake up. I'd rather lose consciousness! This couldn’t be real!
My fainting spell had been short and intense.
I had been out of my mind, struggling with the carriage which had no intention of moving at all in the pouring rain.
I could hear the shouts of the coachmen and the sound of the rain beside me. The sounds were so loud that I couldn't notice the appearance of the people who suddenly approached me on time.
I was exhausted and on the verge of giving up. Suddenly, the carriage began to move.
'Oh! What’s this?'
I didn't think I had applied enough force, but it moved. It was strange, but when I looked to the side I saw someone I recognized very well.
Come on, this was ridiculous. Clearly the futile use of force was getting to me.
I rubbed my eyes and then wiped away the rainwater that got into my eyes.
[On the count of three, turn right and push! One, two, three!]
And then it happened.
Startled by the Prince's sudden appearance, I bent over awkwardly then the carriage shook violently and suddenly jerked forward.
It had been going well until then. It was just that my brain stopped functioning.
Stuck in a bent position I hit my head on the part of the carriage that jerked forward and then fell on my butt!
I couldn't even properly scream, I fell backwards, and then everything went black!
Gosh! Really. Was fainting my hobby?
And when I woke up, I was in this carriage. I opened my eyes for the first time.
Then I squeezed them shut again.
I saw him.
I thought I must've seen it wrong. Why would he be sitting there, casually reading some papers?
Fortunately I was covered by a blanket, but my whole body was still wet and the hem of my dress clung to my skin, causing a sense of discomfort. But that was the least of my concerns.
Should I open my eyes naturally? Should I stand up and greet him as if nothing had happened? Or should I get up, open the door, and run? Oh, I was going crazy! What to do?
No matter how much I thought about it, there was no answer.
Hmm. Because the carriage wasn't moving, did that mean we were still here? What about Peter and Beth? How did I end up laying here...! Shit. No way. Had I been carried by all four limbs again? No! I didn't think so! It couldn't be!
I quickly erased the image from my head and started thinking about how I could get out again.
However, the image played over and over in my mind.
"You seem to be awake, so why don't you get up? Come on, stop hesitating!"
I opened my eyes in a flash.
"Ha... Haha. I can't believe I'm here. I never thought I'd see you again in a place like this..."
"Every time I see you, you seem to fall and pass out."
His words instantly caused my face to burn. I groaned on the inside. Sighing, I slowly got up.
My butt was sore, but nothing seemed wrong elsewhere.
My green dress clung to my body, my red hair was an unmistakable mess and my shoes and skirt were stained with mud.
I pulled up the safety blanket and wrapped it around myself. Very slowly, and as far away as possible, I turned around and sat down without looking at him, although all of my nerves were focused on him.
I could feel it without looking. His always piercing grey eyes were staring at me.
"Y–Yes. Ah, I guess we have an ill-fated relationship. Haha..."
Again. I was stuttering. And an ill-fated relationship, what was that supposed to mean!
My private thoughts were spilling out before passing through my brain. My gaze wandered around his neck so I wasn't looking directly at him. I was afraid of seeing his eyes full of ridicule.
But as I stopped stuttering, I unknowingly lifted my gaze.
"W–Why are you staring at me like that?"
"Well... Perhaps because you're interesting?"
Ah... I was actually amazed by myself. And whenever I saw him, his eyes were always very intense... When did he change clothes? He looked perfectly fine. This was cheating!
"There's no way the Count would send a hired carriage, and to such an unexpected place. Well, you always appear in unexpected places."
"Well, the same goes for you, Your Highness... Thank you. You're a member of the Imperial family, and you're personally helping me out..."
"The Lady is also one of my people. Besides, you shouldn't come down with a cold."
I was about to get up and say goodbye, but I stopped.
Those were not words that should be coming out of the Prince's mouth.
Was he worried about me now? The person he was going to whip?
There was no sneer on his face, nor was there anything else.
What were his intentions? I couldn't read his face...
"If you can't take the test..."
"If I can't...?"
"The opportunity to take you down a peg disappears."
Of course. I was crazy for thinking he was worried. He had a knack for telling jokes with a straight face. And a joke it was, right?
"Ah. Yes. Since you must be busy, I can't keep you any longer, so I'll go now. Thank you. I won't forget your help today." I grabbed the carriage's doorknob.
"If you're really grateful, you shouldn't."
"I don't want anything big, so I'll accept a small gesture."
I was genuinely perplexed.
"A thank you."
"Only with your mouth?"
"Huh? If I'm not supposed to say thank you with my mouth, then what should I do?"
"In general, a person with good manners will give a gift in accordance with their gratitude."
Oh my. What a cheapskate. What did he mean 'gratitude'? Why couldn't we just act based on goodwill, chivalry, neighbourly friendship or something like that?
It was not boring to see her expression changing from moment to moment, as they all looked full of discontentment.
Tara's large, round eyes flitting back and forth made her look a bit like her own age.
In fact, Kyle himself didn't even understand why he was doing this here, using his precious time.
He dismissed Tara Elias as a mere curiosity because she was a type of person he had never encountered before.
So that was all he felt for her, that he kept wanting to test, curiosity about someone who wasn’t dull.
"Are you going to keep holding it? It must be uncomfortable."
She reluctantly let go of the doorknob she had been holding until then and sat back down in her seat.
"Alright. Tell me. I'll do what I can. Oh. Also, despite the fact I'm a daughter of House Elias, it can't be expensive. My father is rich, not me."
"... Did you forget I'm part of the Imperial family?"
I stared at him because of his words.
The words of someone with overflowing wealth. What could it be then?
"So, what kind of gift do you want?"
"Your intentions in coming to the streets of the Knight Guilds."
"What? Why would you..."
"I just happen to have some time. Let's hear it. Why are you here?"
Again, why? What was he trying to achieve?
His gaze was very burdening, even while I was organizing my thoughts. But I didn’t avoid them.
Why on earth was he spending his time on me? I had a headache. But in a way, this meeting was also an opportunity to get to know him.
Didn't he say that in order to defeat your enemy, you had to be like the enemy? Prince Kyle was the one who would eventually destroy our family.
To stop him, I needed to do my best to understand him and stand by his side.
Even so, I didn't like this kind of meeting. Unlike his clean self, my body was wet and defenseless.
He was difficult to deal with even if you met him at your best, but I was in this state.
I felt a chill and forced myself to hold back the trembling.
"... You don't want to talk?"
At his urging, I decided to explain as soon as possible and leave this place.
"It's about Bernard, my exclusive knight. Two days ago, Bernard..."
The story started like that and ended quickly.
He never interrupted my story and watched me with piercing eyes.
When I first felt that gaze, my body had automatically shuddered, but now that I was used to it, my discomfort had subsided.
However, even after the story had ended, he didn't say anything, so the atmosphere in the carriage was awkward.
After the seemingly never-ending silence, his question finally came out.
"The knight assaulted his captain."
"Do you really need that knight?"
"Why are you asking such a question?"
"I wonder why it was necessary for you to personally come to this street in search of a knight who was fired. You're wasting time you could use to prepare for the exam just to find your exclusive training knight."
Because Bernard was going to become a general. Even if I failed and was on the brink of death, with his power, I might be able to save some of the family, including myself.
I forced out the shaking words from the back of my throat.
"Because he's my knight."
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