Lucia Hears from Friends
“You’d best make sure you’re prepared,” Doctor Beccaria told me. “Given the way they were acting, I suspect you’ll receive a summons quite soon. Now then, I want you to stay here for the time being, Miss Lucia. You’re not ready to go walking about quite yet.” Then he left the room, leaving me to grapple with what he’d just implied.
Alone, I panicked. I didn’t have any clothes that would be appropriate for an audience with the king! Thinking of the contents of the closet in my room, I blanched.
I didn’t even know if such a meeting would even be permitted. I was just a servant. Normally, I would never even lay eyes on His Majesty! I couldn’t imagine being allowed to actually meet
him. And yet, if such lofty personages such as Vice-Commander Astorga and Headmaster di Vaio were taking an interest in me…I couldn’t be certain.
What am I supposed to do if he does summon me for an audience?
As I was fretting, I heard another knock on the door. When I responded, who should peek in but my friends!
“Chicca! Rossella! Jeanne! Joanne!” I called, delighted. They were all right! Oh, I was so glad to see that.
“You all right, Lucia? Everyone said they didn’t know where you’d gone after helping with those rocs. We’ve been looking for you!” Chicca told me.
Jeanne and Joanne jumped in. “That’s right! We never thought you might be in the knights’ infirmary!”
“Everyone’s talking about you, Lucia. You were so amazing! But who would have thought that Soap could be used for more than laundry?”
“Good work, Lucia. Are you all right?” Rossella added.
Looking at their bright faces, I felt as though a heavy weight had lifted from my shoulders. Finally, I could relax. That terrible time had ended. We were safe now.
As soon as I got out of the bed, Chicca wrapped me up in a big hug. Her body warmth soaked into me, and the gentle smell of soap tickled my nostrils. No no no, I couldn’t cry now! I didn’t want to worry anyone any more than I already had.
“I’m…so glad everyone’s okay,” I managed.
“Yes, thanks to you. You went and cleaned up all those ogres for us, didn’t you?” Still wrapped in Chicca’s arms, I looked up at her. “How did you…?”
“There were soldiers up on the wall, yes? Soldiers are common folk. I’ve got plenty of acquaintances among them,” she told me.
“My younger brother is a soldier,” Rossella added. “He told me. He said a soap bubble sent the ogres away. It had to be you.”
“And we know plenty of knights in the Handymen.”
“Yes, there are some perks to being laundrymaids for the knights. They told us about you being in this infirmary. Men aren’t allowed in here, but that’s hardly a problem for us. So we’re taking our break time to stop by.”
“I really appreciate it. I’m so glad to see you!”
They all grinned at each other.
“Now then, I heard you fainted,” Chicca said. “Are you all right now?”
“Yes, they gave me a restorative for mana, so I’m all better now.”
“Let us know if there are any problems.”
At Rossella’s words, I suddenly remembered — there was a problem! I hoped nothing would
come of it, but based on what Doctor Beccaria said, I would do well to prepare, just in case.
“Um! You see, I don’t know for sure, but I’ve been told…I might be summoned to an audience with the king… But I barely have any personal clothes! What can I wear that wouldn’t offend him?”
When I’d been in Hasawes, I’d prioritized buying medicine for my mother, and since I’d come to Arldat most of my money had gone to paying back my debts, so I had barely any personal possessions. Even clothes. Other than the gray apron dress that was my work uniform, which I was wearing right now, all I had was a sky-blue dress that I wore on festival days and a dark blue dress that I wore for my days off.
The twins glanced at each other. “Do you think they might lend you a gown?” Jeanne suggested. “Or…maybe not?”
“If not, then your light blue festival dress might work,” Joanne said.
Chicca pursed her lips. “The one you wore for King Lamberto’s birthday celebrations? I don’t know. It certainly is charming, but…”
“That one? The material is good, and it looks good on you, but it doesn’t have any decorations except for the ribbon on the corset. That’s a bit too plain. You don’t have anything else?”
My brow furrowed. “That’s all I have…” I admitted, and Chicca and Rossella both frowned a little in concern.
Maybe I should have bought something, just in case? But no, I had to prioritize paying back my debts. I was close, but I hadn’t paid everything off yet.
“I suppose it would be disrespectful to refuse a royal audience?” I asked.
“Best not to,” Chicca said briskly. “Lucia, what would you think of adding some embroidery to the light blue dress?”
Jeanne clapped her hands. “Oh, that’s a good idea! Even just a little bit would be charming!”
Embroidery… Come to think of it, that did sound better than getting something new. Even if I wasn’t called to an audience, it wouldn’t be wasted.
“Then let’s do that!” I agreed.
“Well then, I can provide the thread for that,” Chicca said.
“Thank you. I’ll pay you back later. Also, I’m not supposed to leave this room. Could you get the dress from my room for me?”
Chicca waved her hand merrily, a slightly embarrassed smile on her sunburned face. “Oh, there’s no need to pay me! Let us spoil you a little bit. I’d like to do the embroidery for you as well, but…well, I’m no good at fine work like that.”