(But damn, no matter how many times I think it over it’s such a miracle…)
I parked myself in a chair on the balcony, and stared blankly at the lake.
As expected, they hadn’t let me out of bed at all the first day after I woke up.
After that they let me wander about the room, but they obviously weren’t about to let me out of it; yesterday, feeling downright suffocated, I slipped into the hall for just a bit, and got distracted by the paintings hanging there. While looking at them and strolling along, I managed to get myself lost in this oversized castle.
When I thought I’d somehow managed to find my way back to the general area of my room, a bunch of brawny men with thunderous expressions started chasing me and I ran away on reflex. I strayed deeper into the castle, collapsed in the same place I fell from, and ended up stuck in bed again.
(Those were probably people out searching for me, I bet…)
Though their expressions were honestly so terrifying I couldn’t help but run.
I’m going to say it’s more than likely it blew up out of proportion again.
Though I don’t have the details, since I passed out again.
(I’m so sorry, I promise not to go out in the hall on my own again,) I thought, apologizing quietly in my heard, and leaking a small sigh.
It really wasn’t good for me to have slipped out of my room after the previous incident. … And even though I didn’t intend to slip out, the result was me getting ungodly amounts of lost and if you tell me that it counts, well, I don’t really have a leg to stand on.
It’s also understandable that Lilia now continuously reminds me not to leave the room.
It’s exactly because I’ve repented that I sat quietly in that chair for the whole morning.
(Somehow… it feels like I’ve become a doll of some sort.)
The scenery before me is painting-worthy.
The sky is brilliantly blue, and you can see the deep woods on the opposite shore.
The Cerrado Wood… the most famous woodland in Dardinia, where over half the trees and shrubs are over 500 years old. I’ve heard remnants and ruins of the Old Empire lay somewhere in the interior of the forest.
(Even though the scenery’s so gorgeous…)
Apparently, I couldn’t just sit and enjoy that scenery. It’s somehow still suffocating, and I felt almost crowded.
My current room is on the first floor, but falling off the balcony hanging over the lake here would still be plenty damn dangerous; whenever I thought of that, it felt as if my whole body wanted to tightly curl in on itself.
And so, even watching from an utterly safe place, I once again felt admiration for my extraordinary luck seeping into my bones.
It’s really amazing I was saved at all.
I was unconscious in bed for a full week, but of course I don’t remember that.
Compared to the week in bed, I feel my body was relatively unscathed.
When I first woke up, since I’d been sleeping so long of course it hurt here and there, but now I’m totally fine. Just a few bruises, but other than that nothing big enough to even call an injury.
(I bet the person who tried to kill me was shocked.)
Alterie was forced off a balcony at the end of the third floor. The maid-servant insisted it was not the sort of place Alterie would ever go alone.
To begin with, that was a playroom.
Filled with billiards and darts, it was a room where gentlemen would retire to after evening parties and enjoy tobacco and games, and of course, it wasn’t used that day. Moreover, a playroom such as that was not a place women would make a habit of visiting.
Being the sort of little girl who knew what sort of place the playroom was, there’s no reason she would ever decide to go there, even when no one was there.
And even if she did, the likelihood of an accident such as hers was exponentially low.
To begin with, Alterie wasn’t even the type of girl to go somewhere alone at all.
Alterie was raised a genuine princess since before she could remember. Alterie probably wouldn’t even conceive to go somewhere on her own. What happened yesterday was a direct results of this body’s contents being “me.”
So obviously, she’s not going to immediately make a break for a place she would normally never step foot in and fall the exact minute her attached collective of knights and maids have their heads turned.
Lilia never came out and said it or anything, but she obviously believed that Alterie had been kidnapped by someone and shoved off the veranda.
The Ducal House of Elsvelt was desperate to smooth things over and began calling it an “accident,” but this was really an “incident.”
It was an exemplary “Attempted Assasination of the Crown Princess.”
It’s no wonder Lilia and the knights in my company were so on edge, though that was partly my fault, too, for disappearing like I did.
(If I’d just kept all this in mind, everything would’ve been much simpler though… but… no one has officially declared this not an accident…)
That line of thought was going in an ugly direction, so I shook my head as if to fling off the ugliness.
Before my eyes, the while walls of the castle wavered on the lake’s surface.
This castle built above the lake was absolutely picturesque, true, but it didn’t seem very homeowner-friendly.
The castle and island were tied to the mainland by a single drawbridge that required at least three adult men to just barely raise and lower it.
They raised it every morning and every night. The noise it made was god-awful, too, and it always woke me up. Once, the sound it made when they dropped it was so loud, I thought lightning had struck something.
(… It’d be great if they oiled the mechanism to raise it, at least.)
Though I kind of doubt even a good oiling could save us from the torment.
Heaving a sigh, I turned toward a presence behind me and saw Lilia drawing near.
“Would you care for some tea?
I silently nodded.
Perhaps it was because of the accident, but my days passed me by.
In the mornings after I woke, I washed my face and my hair was styled.
From then until I finished changing usually lasted around 40 to 50 minutes.
Ah, in the units of measurement, minutes were read as “din” and time was read as “dida.” There were still 24 hours in a day, as I was accustomed.
Naturally, there were time pieces, and though the numbers were a little different from the Arabic numerals in common use, I could still read them, so no big deal.
Once I’m good and dressed, I take about 30 minutes for breakfast. Apparently I’m supposed to take my time and eat, but it’s a one-person meal. It just doesn’t take much time.
After breakfast, one is apparently supposed to receive formal greetings, but ever since I’ve woken up, the only one to appear before me has been my father, the Duke.
Even if you call him her father, Alterie’s been married and living at the royal palace since she was just seven months old, so it’s likely his connection to her as a daughter is thin as paper. They don’t spend a speck of time together, and once the morning greetings are over they don’t see each other for the rest of the day.
No other person comes to greet me, and I have no one to go and give greetings to.
That’s because, in this castle, there is no one whose status is important enough to require I have an audience with them; the only persons I would be required to go and greet would be the King and Queen, and my husband, His Highness the Crown Prince, or so Lilia told me. To start with, I’ve been pardoned from having to do them at all, based on my youth.
(Rather, it looks like I’ve been neglected.)
Welp, after the greetings are done, it’s recess.
It’s quite possible that if this were the royal palace I’d be taking lessons of some sort long about now, but even if this place is technically my parents’ home, it’s a vacation destination of sorts, so there’s none of that here.
In these environs, I have Lilia, and a handful of maid servants.
These ladies are my attendants from the palace, and are wholly unaffiliated with the Duke’s house. Their uniforms are even different. Only the attendants from the royal palace are allowed to wear black.
I don’t know whether to say “as expected” or not, but the one in charge of keeping them together is none other than the barely-twenty-something officially appointed lady-in-waiting, Lilia. Apparently she’s the noble daughter of a viscount serving as tax administrator in the territory directly under the royal family’s rule.
She felt a great amount of responsibility over the accident I was involved in, and took great pains to talk to me about many things, since I was thought to have forgotten how to speak. I think she was doing her best, hoping I would remember my voice, or words, even just a little over time.
Though the Alterie up until now practically never talked, it wasn’t that she didn’t talk at all.
Though the results weren’t terribly different between reticence and utter silence, the meaning was worlds apart.
(… I’m so sorry about all the silence.)
I… was Alterie.
For as long as I was tere, that would be my reality.
But… even though I’d been telling myself that keeping my mouth shut like this was for the sake of figuring out my situation, it might have also been because I wasn’t ready to accept it.
The doctor’s diagnosis declared that Alterie had apparently lost her words and her memories due to the shock of the accident. “Apparently,” because they couldn’t confirm anything with me, since I wouldn’t say anything.
To sum it up, I was sticking to my guns on this one.
I knew that I was Alterie.
I also understood most of the circumstances surrounding the situation.
… But I just couldn’t make the decision to proactively live as Alterie in this world.
(It’s just me being pathetically indecisive though…)
Alterie is adorable. She had a hell of a pedigree, and moreover, she had her status as the Crown Princess. If all went well, I would be able to live here just fine.
Even thought there were risks, if you looked at the conditions between this world and the old one, the conditions here were incomparably good.
Even still, I couldn’t help but think of my former world.
(Even though there’s no chance of going back…)
That alone I somehow understood.
Back then, I probably — rather, Izumi Maya’s life was lost.
Then, I think my soul was somehow reborn into Alterie.
(…. no matter how I think about it, that seems like the likeliest possibility.)
In manga and such I’ve seen where a soul managed to possess a body, but the original owner’s personality was still present wasn’t it? But I was different. Only one soul resided there.
(Well, not that there’s much I can do about it…)
I breathed a sigh.
Since I’d woken up there were wasn’t anything I could do about anything, to the point where sighs would chain themselves one after another.
(Though the doctor diagnosing me with amnesia was convenient…)
If anything was off, I could act as if it were the shock from the accident and fool them.
Also, it looked like Alterie was pretty reticent anyway.
(At any rate, she even earned herself the nickname Doll Princess…)
The employees gave Alterie the nickname “Doll Princess.” I think there might’ve been someone who called her “Ice Princess,” too… but however you said it, it was easy to imagine what sort of child she was.
I wondered if this sort of thing counted as lese majeste, but well, I did it at the store, too. We’d give people from the main office or managers code names to talk about them.
I mean, if you just came straight out and said their name and they heard you, you’d have no excuse, right?
“Apologies for the delay.”
A wonderful smell came from the wagon Lilia brought with her.
The moment I laid eyes on fresh-baked financiers and madeleines, I couldn’t help but smile.
O.m.g. It looks delicious!
For a moment, Lilia froze.
I tilted my head slightly, and looked up at her.
“No, it’s nothing. Now, please enjoy.”
Silently, I nodded. At that time, I didn’t have a clue that what shocked Lilia so much was seeing me smile.
In other words, that’s just how much of a “doll” Alterie was.
(Mm— … so good! Wow, the person who made this is pure genius! I want to know the recipe!)
The beautiful, lightly-browned financiers were a superb dish, filled with butter and modestly sweet.
When making baked sweets like this, cooking temperature was the most difficult, and critical, point in making sure lightly-browned didn’t become burnt charcoal. And though the sweetness was modest, sugar has a bad habit of making things even easier to burn.
(Mm—, but rather than sugar, I think this is honey… yeah. Probably honey.)
It had a rather distinct sort of sweetness to it. But since it was paired with milk, that distinctiveness left a very good impression. It was a perfect balance.
While drinking a beautiful, amber-colored black tea, I took a second one in hand.
(I wonder what this green color is… spinach? Mugwort? I doubt there’s powdered green tea in this country…)
A green financier. I think it’s from some leafy green vegetable. The slight bitterness was delectable.
“That is a financier made with Giadi. Giadi is very nutritious,” Lilia explained, seeming strangely pleased.
Aah, I get it, I thought, helping myself eagerly. I wonder why it is that we become so happy when we eat sweet things? What a wonder.
(What should I do… should I eat a third, or should I not…?)
It wasn’t an age where I needed to worry about dieting, but it would be a problem if I couldn’t eat lunch properly.
“This one has carrot, but it doesn’t much taste like them.”
(I’m completely fine with carrots, but I wonder if Alterie hated them…)
And while thinking “Forget it,” I reached out to take a third one.
The carrots’ natural sweetness was delicious.
The person who made this was an absolute master. I almost want to ask them to take me as their apprentice.
If we put these out for sale, they’d go like hotcakes! Ah, but sugar seems like it might be valuable, so in terms of cost performance it would probably be impossible, wouldn’t it.
When these sweets spread a short time later it became a big deal, but of course, at that time I had no idea it would end up that way, and eventually I at an almond and a raisin-flavored financier, bringing my total to five.
For some reason, all the maid-servants looked deeply gratified.