I-it’s really cold!!
Wait a minute. Sorry about that, I’m actually experiencing the sea in winter.
With how strong and humid the wind is, it’s col…co… Ah, wind! The wind! Is really strong! Ahhh, my hair…!!
Seeing me suffocating from my own hair, Bern quickly blocked me from the wind with his body. With the wind abating, I lost myself in removing the hair clinging to my face.
Our hair that was exposed to the salty smell of the strong wind entwined together. Even though usually my hair’s curly.
I-I was being killed by my own hair. That was a close call.
So that my hair doesn’t fly into a rage again, I quickly tied a cloth around my head. During this trip, I’ve experienced a lot of things so I’m now a complete master at this.
Separating from Elmenhilde, we escaped from the Bormann territory, changing directions here and there to lose our pursuers, and after a considerable amount of detours, we finally ended up in Marquis Weiss’ territory.
Marquis Weiss’ territory is further up north than Bell, and because it’s along the bay, it’s shaped like a cookie that’s been bitten off of.
The bitten off cookie is exactly the port city we’re in right now, overlooking the bay. It’s about half a day away by horse from the town center, and is fairly pretty.
And in this harbor is an important mode of traffic; a connecting ferryboat that heads towards the northernmost Wehner territory, Darius’ home. This ferryboat is an important means of travelling to the Wehner territory, isolated by two, great mountain ranges.
Darius’ home is so troublesome. Well, it’s not like I plan on going so it’s fine.
Additionally, it’s not only the Wehner territory that’s connected to this port by a ferryboat.
Naga Solcia Monastery. The monastery Lila is at.
That’s near where Elmenhilde departed from, and my purpose for this trip.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s not like we were just wandering about aimlessly on this trip for no reason.
Why did we specifically came to a northern monastery enough to brace this extreme cold? It’s because I have something I want to ask Lila.
It’s not wanting to ask how Lila’s feeling after the end of the fiancee turmoil, nor is it finally asking her about her previous life with no reluctance whatsoever. I came here because of the dream I’ve been having this whole time.
The dream Bern who really isn’t Bern that gets weaker every day in the cold, stone prison with his limbs in shackles.
Somehow, for the first time, I have a rough guess of what this dream means.
But I want a positive proof.
There was no other way for me to do this except ask Lila, and I feel like I have to know before I marry Bern.
Bern shielded me from the extremely salty and fishy wind, and we proceeded to go to the ship’s information desk of today’s most important destination. We probably look like centipedes fighting, or a choo-choo train right now. But well, we only have two people though.
With such a ridiculous stance, we very earnestly left the harbor like two centipedes, and escaped to the district-like area where they’re separating the fishes as I followed after Bern, one step after another. The rows of stores lining the path considerably blocked the wind, and relieved, we let out a breath.
The severe cold was still there, but I felt like I could finally comfortably breathe a little easier without the strong wind.
Wow~ That was cold. I can’t feel my nose so much so that it feels like it already fell off or something.
“Your nose isn’t cold?”
Breaking our two-person centipede-slash-choo-choo train, I rubbed both of my hands together, and let out a breathe. I can’t deny that it’s just a drop in the ocean, but it’s better than nothing.
“Nose? It’s moreso my ears than my nose.”
I covered up Bern’s ears with my slightly warm hands. Of course, because Bern’s so tall, we look like a girl standing on her tiptoes, pulling the guy’s ears, and a guy having his ears pulled.
“Is it warm?”
My hands that covered his ears were somewhat warmer, but Bern, who specifically leaned over so I could more easily grip his ears, nodded seriously.
I see, I see. I’m glad.
Probably because of the stormy seas today, the locals and fishermen-like people obviously stuck out more at the information desk than those who came looking for the boat. It seems that everyone was free, and gathered in large numbers because they were unable to take out their boats. Sure enough, this place also acts as a sort of meeting place for this district.
A fire was burning in the heart of the wood stove situated in the center, with the old but well-maintained inside was heaven compared to outside. Though it’s a little musty for a place like heaven.
When I walked to the information desk, I was greeted by a friendly smile from the elderly lady.
“Hello, how may I help you?”
“We’d like to go to Naga Solcia Monastery.”
“Oh my, you came at a bad time. The boat heading towards the monastery only comes once a week, with it having left just yesterday. The next one will come next week.”
“Is that so?”
Though it’s more expensive than a boat, it might be best for us to go there by horse. We’re not exactly in a hurry, but the snow and cold is getting worse as time passes by.
Anyways, I’ll have to consult this with Bern….
“Are you husband and wife?”
The elderly receptionist glanced at Bern, and as she leaned out from the counter, curiously asked us.
“Eh, ah, no, not yet.”
I was surprised with how sudden it was, and answered her question as I flustered about. For some reason, she replied, ‘I see,’ and nodded her head.
“I see. It’s fine.”
What is? What’s fine?
“From the moment you guys came in, I understood that I was wrong. It’s that so-called having class, right?”
Ah~ I might have been caught by a troublesome person. Though it’s already too late to think that.
“That’s definitely troublesome, huh?”
I replied on the spot without explaining.
What? Class? Is she praising us? But to say that it’s troublesome, what….
“You guys are in the middle of eloping, right?”
Whatcha talking about?
That caught me off guard.
For some reason, I started talkin’ in Kansai dialect while that surprised me. And that’s exactly what, what’s she going on about?
Wait a minute, what did she say?
Is she talking about me and Bern?
I thought, ‘That comment about having class was cause we’re nobles,’ why of all things is it eloping … She grabbed my hands as I was bewildered, and got even more excited all on her own.
“Though love with a difference in status is troublesome, if it’s with this handsome man, then there’s no helping it.”
She looked at Bern who was killing time by looking at the help wanted posters on the walls, and let out a sigh of relief.
“When I was young as well, I worked at the Marquis’ estate, and admired the Master’s third son … I admired him one-sidedly though the person probably doesn’t know me, but you’ve managed to win his love. That’s wonderful!”
That’s right~ Seeing as Bern’s really good-looking, and capable, I overcame many obstacles, and won his love … Wait! That’s completely wrong!
This is just a maybe, but does she think I’m a servant, Bern’s the son of the master, and with our love despite the differences in status, are eloping?
Wait, wait, wait. This is weird. Definitely weird.
I’m a full-fledged noble! Moreover, a Marquis’ daughter! Wait a damn minute!! … D-Do I not look like it? Don’t tell me you just don’t want to say that I have no class? I mean I do, but it’s because I just don’t give off a noble vibe, right?
After that, the granny said, “If it’s the inn here, you guys will be safe, and will be getting married at the monastery, right?” Let’s just pretend to smile for now. It’d be weird of me to say, ‘I’m also a noble, you know,’ which I’m honestly bothered about.
But as a result, I managed to learn more about this harbor, so it’s fine … It’s shocking in its own way, and although it is, yeah.
Ah, but I know I don’t really suit Bern. I know, but~
In the end, she gave me a hug over the counter, and after finally releasing me, I cursed in my mind, ‘Hmph! I’m just a plain girl after all!‘ and returned to Bern’s side. I could feel a warm gaze on my back, but I ignored it.
“Looks like things got really exciting over there.”
“Young master, I’m parched.”
I took Bern’s arm as he was unusually flustered, and half-dragged him to leave the information desk.
“I would like to eat seafood.”
“Why are you speaking so politely?”
I firmly stared at Bern, uncomfortable.
Dammit, this high-class face! I love it!
I got tired of pretending to be a servant after that, and pulling the unconvinced Bern who would sometimes protect me from the wind again and again, saw that there regrettably wasn’t much fish at the fish market except for a few. Well, that’s to be expected.
As for the state the fish market was in, I might have needlessly worried but at noon, we were able to safely get some seafood dishes.
The acqua pazza-like dish was extremely delicious.
It’s possible to occasionally be able to eat freshwater fish in the inland areas, but as expected, those that grow up carefree in the sea are different. Freshwater and saltwater? I dunno what those are!
The extremely picky Bern made a grim face at the same time as he ate a shellfish. But as far as his attitude goes, he doesn’t seem to hate it as much as peas.
What did peas ever do to you, huh?!
Although it turned dim in the evening, the wind settled down slightly so we went to the harbor once more.
On the wharf were small boats lined up in rows, rocking side to side together with the movement of the water.
Following the tides was the smell of fish.
The bustling voices of the fishermen resounded in between the intermittent sound of the waves, and sometimes the high-shrill cries of the seagulls would join in.
The edge of the wharf was slightly higher, and I stood there gazing at the sea even though standing there wouldn’t really change the scenery that much.
I saw a small shape in the horizon. Is that … an island?
“Hey, Bern. What’s that?”
Narrowing his eyes, Bern looked at where I was pointing ahead, and muttered in a low voice, ‘Ah.’
“That’s the Solitary Island of Grief.”
I unconsciously let out an ‘Uhmm.’
Solitary Island of Grief is its nickname, and its formally called … What was it again? Oh yeah, it’s probably something prison.
People with special, heavy crimes are imprisoned there. For example, harming or trying to cause the downfall of the royal family, or someone whose status is close to royalty.
And among those are Alois and Viola.
Every time I remember Viola, I think things like, ‘What’s the difference between me and her?’
Somehow unable to endure it, I hung my head.
Probably to remind me that it was there, the wind blew strongly, and violently lurched me forward. Keeping my balance, I put my right feet down a level.
She fully used her knowledge of her previous life.
By no means can I forgive her for brainwashing Lila, and scamming people, but the reason behind all of this should definitely be because she just strongly wanted to be happy, but I….
I only relied on my knowledge in my own self-interest, and thinking that ‘I can’t do that myself,’ used that knowledge to to run away. ‘Because it’s not good if I were to do something unnecessary and worsen the situation.’ Thinking back now, wasn’t I just indecisive, a coward, and selfish? That’s what it feels like to me. Or rather, I can’t help feeling this way.
If I were smarter, stronger….
Elmenhilde did tell me I should be more proud of myself, but there’s really nothing I could be proud of with my current self.
I wasn’t really aware of it, but I hated that self of mine. The drawback of not telling anybody else is that it piled up inside of me, and took shape.
I never took hold of the chance to say my secret.
The memories of my past, and not my past.
To be honest, crazy, evil thoughts like ‘They’ll definitely treat it as a joke,’ popped into my head.
Even if they do believe me, the thought that my dishonesty, and weakness would be exposed to them frankly scares me.
Even if the other person is Bern.
Nevertheless, I have to say it.
It’s fine even if he doesn’t believe me, I want to be at ease.
Even if … he … doesn’t believe me?
I just … want to be at ease?
Which is it?
Do I want to say it … or not?
Do I want him to believe me … or not?
I don’t know.
Even though it’s my own feelings, I don’t know anything about it.
Rather, since this is Bern we’re talking about, he’s smart so he’s definitely noticed something was up. That’s right, that’s because he’s a hundred times smarter than me.
Ah, I’d rather I be cross-examined!
I resigned myself to the thought that I came here to rely on others in my time of emergency.
My head went in circles, and unable to handle it, I crouched down.
Worried about my weird behavior, Bern also crouched down. He probably felt that I was really already sick.
When I let out an ‘Okay, okay,’ something twinkled at the corner of my eye.
When I raised my head, tempted by that radiance, the lower part of the setting sun was weaving through the thick clouds, heading towards the horizon. The yellow sun stretched towards the surface of the sea, like a bridge, and dazzled.
‘Since I’ll look like an idiot anyways, I’d rather just say it.’
Something gave me the push I needed.