Lucia Meets the King
After that, they brought me the dress from my room, and I began to work on the embroidery. I worried over the design a bit, but finally settled on a traditional pattern that had long been popular in our kingdom. My mother had taught me how to do it, back when she was healthy.
Because I had been told not to leave this room, I couldn’t do my work, so as a result I really had nothing to do except to concentrate on the embroidery. This turned out to be a good thing. A few days later, just as I finished the embroidery, I received the notification that I had been called to meet the king.
“Immediately, sir?” I stared at Sir Astorga, who had brought me the message.
The sharp-eyed vice-commander simply nodded without any reaction to my rude stare. “Yes. His Majesty had an unexpected opening in his schedule. I apologize for the lack of advance notice. Please bear with it.”
“But, I don’t have any clothes…”
“The dress on the wall there will do. Please hurry.”
Apparently they didn’t have gowns they could loan. Maybe it was a good thing I’d prepared in advance. Thank goodness I finished in time, I thought with a sigh. I was flustered by the sudden summons, but the king was a busy man. It wouldn’t do to cause him any trouble.
Once Sir Astorga had stepped outside, I put on the finished dress and tied my hair back with the ribbon that Sir Celes had given me. Rather than my usual basic ponytail, I put a little more effort into it, braiding it into a half-up style.
“Do you think this is good enough? It won’t come across as rude?” “That should be fine.”
Was this an urgent meeting, perhaps? I could only tilt my head, wondering what they could possibly want to talk to me about.
“Regardless, if you are ready, then let’s go. His Majesty is waiting.” “Of course! Please lead the way, sir!”
I never would have dreamed that a day would come when I would have the honor of speaking directly to the king! It wasn’t as scary as facing those monsters, but I was definitely nervous. Nervous enough that my fingers had gone cold. Clenching them, I hurried desperately after Sir Astorga, who had already set off ahead of me. His legs were much longer than mine, and I didn’t want to be left behind.
We passed through the left wing, where the knights had their headquarters. As we entered the central area, where the royal palace was located, I found myself gaping at the magnificent
surroundings. The floor of the marble hallway was covered with a thick carpet that seemed like it would swallow my feet up. Even though there were no windows, magical lanterns with stones enchanted with fire magic lined the walls, so it was quite bright. The people we passed all looked refined and elegant. I felt like I was in a dream.
It was a long way to the audience chamber. When we finally arrived, it was heavily guarded by knights of the First Regiment. It drove home all over again what an incredibly important person the king was. All of this was far too weighty for a simple common-born girl like myself!
As I was gaping, the well-tended door opened smoothly, without so much as a creak.
I wasn’t certain what the proper etiquette was, but since it would be rude to look directly at His Majesty’s face, I carefully looked down as I stepped forward. Was…was that all right?
I studied Vice-Commander Astorga’s blue cloak at the edge of my vision and my own reflection in the shining marble floor as my thoughts raced. Why had they even called me here in the first place? Was it…because I had repelled the ogres’ attack, maybe? Just please don’t scold me, I prayed.
As I shook with nerves, a voice suddenly said, “You are Lucia Arca?”
Could that be His Majesty’s voice? It was deep and resonant, and full of a solemn dignity. In comparison, I could only cringe and say, in a small, thin voice, “Y-Yes, m’lord…”
“Florido and Ivanoe have told me of your power. Is it true that your magic pacifies monsters, then?”
Was it true? Was that something that someone could fake?
My words jammed in my throat. I had no idea how to answer. Or if I even should give a direct answer. I’d lived my entire life as an ordinary person, I had no clue how I was supposed to respond at a time like this. I’d never even met nobility; I’d never even in my wildest dreams imagined that I might have the opportunity to encounter royalty.
As I hesitated, struggling for a response, Sir Astorga said, “If I may, Your Majesty. We have received reports from both the knight regiments and the soldiers. I also saw it with my own eyes. We believe it to be true.”
He answered for me! Thank you! And, he had been on the walls back then? I hadn’t noticed at
I relaxed just a little bit. Maybe I had needed help, but I’d managed to get through that part. But the king’s next words left me dumbfounded all over again.
“I see. Then, Lucia Arca. You are commanded to rendezvous with the Sacred Maiden, Maria, and to use this magic to assist her. You will be rewarded generously.”
Of course… Wait, what!?