Bern put his hand on the door to the room where Elmenhilde should be and turned the knob but it wouldn’t open.
It’s probably locked then.
“What should we do?”
Of course, we didn’t have any key on us and also didn’t have anything to break the door with.
Bern shrugged his shoulders and kept me away from the door.
Ah, is he…
“Move away from the door, Elmenhilde.”
Not one minute had passed after he warned her, the door looked miserable as Bern kicked it open.
It was already cracked. So pitiful.
Elmenhilde seemed to have escaped to the corner of the room and murmured with a dumbfounded expression.
The room Elmenhilde was in had its windows boarded up, with only a sliver of light coming through. But the room itself is immaculate, and splendidly spacious.
First of all, probably because I was overcome with so many emotions, I hugged her. Even I was surprised at how happy I was upon seeing her.
Violin’s really in the way though.
“Why do you have a violin with you?”
“I changed jobs.”
It’d be difficult to tell her the details, so I just replied randomly.
Of course, she made a face as if to say, ‘Don’t try and give me that random joke.’
“Why are you both—”
She was most definitely feeling helpless.
Her eyes were wet and shined from the light that came from the corridor.
Bern did say that she was on house arrest, but it doesn’t seem like they were rough with her. I’m really glad.
“Someone entrusted you to us.”
She caught her breath, taken aback, but what came out of her mouth was:
“Is it my real father…?”
Elmenhilde feebly shook her head.
Which reminds me, I’ve been thinking this the whole trip, but I knew her hair drills wouldn’t hold, and they had turned into normal curls instead.
“No. But Viscount Bormann…”
She must have been thinking of it the whole time she was in this dark room all by herself. She could only frown, troubled, but even so, it seems she’s already accepted it in some way.
“I’m the daughter of Duke Hestria, right?”
Elmenhilde isn’t the real daughter of Count Hausknecht.
Her mother was already pregnant by the time she married the Count.
Her father is unknown.
That’s what they say, but what Lucas wrote on his letter was that Elmenhilde’s father is her mother’s brother. The Duke also confirms it on his side of the story.
Which means that Elmenhilde is a child born from siblings. A pure, direct descendant of the Duke.
She and everyone around her thought that meant she was the daughter of the head and his official wife. But a part of these people knew about it. Some of which included Count Hausknecht and the head of the branch family.
Of course, many in the country think of relations between close relatives as taboo, but it was banned by religion in the neighboring country because the tendency was so strong. Due to that and the fear of a scandal coming out, the Duke got rid of her by marrying her to a count of this country before she was born.
Even though she was a child of taboo, for the Duke who valued lineage, Elmenhilde was the closest child by blood. He might have thought, ‘Killing her would be too disappointing.’
Or maybe there’s someone who pleaded and wished for both Elmehilde and her mother to be separated from the Duke, and to be able to live in safety.
In the end, the other person seems to be having internal squabbles about legitimate lineages and wanted to welcome her back by all means.
And that’s why Lucas requested us from behind the scenes to escort Elmenhilde until Bell.
“Sorry, but can you guys talk while we escape?”
Ah, that’s right, the door made a loud noise when he kicked it down, so it wouldn’t be weird for someone to come check.
“Okay, let’s go!”
“W-wait a minute. How are we escaping from here?”
There’s the perfect way for Elmenhilde to escape.
It’s just that, if it was me, I would think, ‘I wish I could be discrete about it though.’ I had been thinking, so I was quiet for a while.
“Ah, yeah, it’s probably going to be okay.”
“What’s with that ‘probably’?! Wait, can’t we just go down?”
“It’ll be fine.”
We followed after Bern who guided us, and I grabbed her hand as we ran.
“Hey, Elmenhilde. In the beginning, I thought you were a hateful person that was sometimes bothersome. I even thought, ‘What did she get arrested for now?’ but I figured there’s nothing you could do about it since you saved a grandma.”
“… I’m sorry.”
We continued escaping by heading towards the north side of the estate. Several footsteps came behind us as they ran up the stairs connected to the entrance.
It’s such a human mystery that when one has to drag someone by the hand, the trembling of their legs would disappear.
“I’m not angry.”
Except for what other people would think though.
“I also troubled you when I fell asleep. Also, thank you for taking care of me… Since I forgot what I said at the time.”
Elmenhilde couldn’t say anything back.
We ran down the corridor while hearing multiple horse neighs from far away. The late cry of the security outside the residence.
It seems that Titus had done well.
I could hear people coming out of the entrance shouting, though I wonder if it’s because they noticed Elmenhilde was missing or something else.
But fortunately, we didn’t come across anybody else and managed to arrive at a room up north.
We slipped into the room before anyone saw us.
The inside was a mess; chairs and tables piled on top of each other, and there was even a statue covered in cloth. The decorations in the room itself were far and few—probably a storeroom then.
I pulled her towards the window.
The north side of this room is in between small shrubs, overlooking the road, and the stone paving below the window was wet with evening dew.
So no one entered, Bern leaned in front of the door and listened to what was happening out in the corridor.
“And so, how are we escaping?”
“A carriage will show up below this room, and you’ll jump from here.”
When I suddenly pointed at a window to the side, her face quickly tensed up.
“Huh!? From the window you say, are you insane?”
“Windows are perfect entrances, you know.”
Bern said, perfectly imitating Titus. Oof, he seems really playful today.
“Seems like it.”
If you’ve got any complaints, redirect them to Titus.
When I first heard it, I also objected, thinking it was too brutish. But no matter how strong Bern is, it would be considerably dangerous when they break through his defenses at Elmenhilde, who can’t fight, and me who was brought along. If that’s the case, a surefire escape is better even though it poses the same amount of danger.
That’s what Bern and Titus said.
“It’s impossible…! Isn’t this the second floor?”
“There’s going to be a lot of blankets piled up, so…”
I’ve also confirmed it by diving on top of the blankets, but I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it still hurt from the second floor..?’
“If it hurts, I’ll just say ‘It hurts.’ I’m already resigned to it.”
You’re so strong-minded, Elmenhilde.
Both of us looked down below the window. Looks like the carriage’s a little late.
“When you get to Bell, you’ll be taken care of by the navy garrison. You’ll definitely be fine after you get on a ship bound for Hestria.”
But the reality waiting for her in Hestria isn’t so simple either.
Elmenhilde is running away from a dispute within the Count’s family and will be diving towards a new dispute within the Duke’s family.
These words feel slightly ignorant.
I hung my head in shame as I couldn’t find any other words to say, and she suddenly said:
“I like Bernhardt-sama.”
What the. That was so random.
“Uhm, I already know though…”
“But the one I love is the Bernhardt-sama that likes you. That’s why Lizia-san, you should believe in yourself more.”
Elmenhilde’s winter-like eyes looked straight at me.
When I looked into her eyes, I saw that it wasn’t because of flattery or half-heartedness, but because it came from the heart. It’s definitely a little vexing how she said that to try and encourage me.
But even so, I’m still happy.
I couldn’t hold back my tears and looked upwards.
Because this was a storeroom, there were no decorations, and my tears withdrew as I looked at the simple beams on the ceiling.
Heh, that was close. I would have cried in front of her again.
Ah, I can see the carriage.
Moreover, the corridor was getting really loud. Bern quickly urged us to go with his eyes.
“Well, Bern’s my fiancé, so you should give up, but I’m sure there’s a man who’ll be better than him in the neighboring country.”
“I’ll definitely look for him… Though it’ll be difficult.”
I opened the window and facing the carriage, waved at it.
I shivered from the cold night wind.
“I’m extremely thankful for everything you’ve done for me so far.”
Silently lowering her head, Elmenhilde put her hands on the window frame.
So she doesn’t accidentally fall, I supported her with my hands on her back.
It doesn’t look like her body would fall at a glance, but seeing as it’s the second floor, it’s extremely high. Moreover, you couldn’t quite gauge the distance since it’s pitch-black outside.
This is really scary….
“Of course I’m not…!”
Of course she wouldn’t.
The carriage stopped exactly below the window. We prepared a considerably large carriage to make her landing much easier, but looking at it from here, it looks exactly that. In the end, it doesn’t change the fact that she’ll have to jump off.
Elmenhilde took a deep breath, but her body slowly trembled.
Her grip on the window frame was too strong, so much so that it seemed to be creaking.
I don’t think you could simply prepare yourself to jump down just like that.
I could only pray that she would land exactly on the carriage as I remembered what Bern said about having to push her off in the worst case scenario.
Bern who had been quiet up til then called out her name.
Elmenhilde looked over her shoulder.
“This trip was nice.”
It was the first time during this whole trip that Bern had smiled at her.
Elmenhilde laughed to hide the tears at the corners of her eyes and after that, firmly put more strength into her body, and—
She strongly pushed off from the window frame and flew out.
Her hair and dress floated, fluttered, and her figure disappeared into the darkness of the night.
A cushy sound resounded, and the coachman whipped the reins. And as if it came to, the carriage ran away.
I leaned out the window, watching the carriage run like a hurricane towards town in the night, and waved at it.
I couldn’t see clearly because it was dark, but she most likely returned it back, right?
Though she might be buried in blankets and struggling out of it.
“We should escape as well.”
There was no time for me to get all emotional about parting with her.
We left the storeroom, hid from the servants and maids looking for Elmenhilde so they wouldn’t see us, and at worst, made them faint. We went down the stairs near the entrance, but–
“There they are!”
Oh my god. There’s three of them as well…!
I unconsciously took two steps to the side, and not even having stepped one foot on the stairs, Bern jumped.
At that moment, the men who were going up the stairs could only look at him, not knowing what was going on.
Probably because he was annoying, Bern landed on one of their faces, the man in front: Man 1.
Ah, by land, I mean, you shouldn’t be! Landing! On a person’s face!
The layout of the stairs by the entrance was in a Y-shape, and the left and right sides are narrow with yet another slow curve.
When Man 1, whose face was stepped on, was unable to handle Bern’s weight and fell backwards, Man 2 and Man 3 were surprisingly unable to avoid him on the narrow staircase, and they both fell and rolled down like dominoes one after the other.
Bern dismounted the human sled at a random step, but as expected, his balance was off, and he immediately fell as well.
But just because Bern got off didn’t mean that Men 1, 2, and 3 stopped sliding down the stairs.
As always, upstairs was loud, and I hurriedly went down the stairs, following Bern.
For the groaning men who became like dumplings at the bottom of the stairs, I avoi-avoided… Dammit, I have nowhere to…!
So I wouldn’t step on the people that were stretched out, I walked around them on my tiptoes, going ‘Ho, ho’, and went through it like I was playing hopscotch. I didn’t need to say, ‘Ho, ho’ but it just came out.
We left the landing and ran down the wide staircase.
It happened as soon as we reached the entrance.
A remarkable, nice-sounding voice resounded from above. The vibrations through the atmosphere completely reverberated through the soles of my feet.
Bern, who had looked over, immediately covered the latter half of his face with his arm.
Eh, what is he suddenly doing?
“Do you know exactly what it means to turn against me?!”
The man had a nice physique and was well-dressed, but he went down step-by-step on the stairs opposite of the one we had used towards the landing.
Wait, who is this guy?
I thought I was growing senile but immediately understood who this person was.
Don’t tell me…!
“The nerve of you to call me without honorifics, young lady.”
Are you kidding me!? He’s not fat nor is he bald! He’s a well-built, attractive middle-aged man!? Moreover, his voice is nice, more than what’s necessary.
Wow, I don’t really know why, but I’m extremely shocked.
Bern got in front to protect me.
I see, the reason why he suddenly covered my face is because of this Bormann, huh?
There aren’t many people with black hair and grey eyes, so even if you hide half of your face, there’s no point, but well, it’s fine even if I don’t say it…
“What’re you doing lying around? Quickly arrest them!!”
Bormann kicked one of the three men who haven’t gotten up to wake up, but it doesn’t look like they can get up that quickly.
He got even angrier, excessively and recklessly hitting them with the cane he was holding.
And finally discerning that they were useless and had to do it himself, he corrected his grip on the cane and took a step towards the stairs.
The paper-like brass ornament on top of the cane reflected dully.
Bern was probably thinking whether we should try to break through the front, or if we should look for a different exit. His eyes were quickly looking about.
If it was the same as always, I would have left it to Bern.
But today is different.
That’s right, I have something I have to do just for today.
I shook off his hand, and slowly went in front of him while glaring at Bormann.
Bormann may look helpless, but he is someone who doesn’t play by the rules—on the contrary, he’s someone who trembles so much when being glared at. But immediately seeing that I had no weapon on me, he regained his composure.
His face that seemed to say, ‘Pray tell, what exactly will you do to me?’ which increasingly angered me.
Sigh, you stupid ass….
I ran up the stairs at once so that I wouldn’t back down.
Of course Bormann brandished his cane, but I didn’t care about that as I also brandished my violin, and—
Striked his head with the violin.
My arms numbed from the pain, and I unconsciously dropped them.
It made me feel slightly like a rockstar.
Ah, wait, this is a violin though.
I always say this after, but of course, violence is bad. Yes, it’s bad. But, Bormann is an exception! It may be unreasonable, or whatever, but I don’t care! Reflect!
The cane that Bormann hit my shoulder with slipped through his hand from the impact, and he looked to be in extreme pain, but more importantly, I feel like I’ve satisfied an achievement.
The part of the violin that was shaped like a gourd, and the long and narrow part broke off with the strings barely holding them together. It dangled, and I abandoned the violin and my wildest dream of performing as I went back to Bern, striking a triumphant pose.
And was scolded like usual.
After that, we left Bormann as he crouched and held his head. Since we were unable to escape from the residence, we used the opening left by the security by releasing a part of the horses into the garden, and meeting up with Titus, we finally managed to escape the Bormann residence.