Lucia Learns Celes’s Identity
The first to notice us was a slender knight with glasses and long hair waving in the wind. He looked more like a bureaucrat than a knight.
Brother? Startled, I looked over my shoulder at Sir Gaius. Had that knight just called him brother? Ignoring my skeptical stare, Sir Gaius waved a hand casually, acting the same as ever. “Hey, Reynard. Fancy meeting you here!”
The knight that Sir Gaius had called Reynard called out to the people around him, and began running towards us. Another did as well, a knight with tousled golden hair who… Wait a minute!
Reflexively, I rubbed my eyes. Because that looked like…
It was Sir Celes. But, why? Wasn’t he back in Arldat? I panicked for a moment, but…that was unmistakably Sir Celes before me.
“Lucia, what are you doing here!?” Arriving at our side in no time at all, Sir Celes extended his hands to where I sat stiff as a board on the saddle. Without thinking (habit can be a powerful thing!), I took his hand and slid down from the horse.
I stared at the man in front of me intently. He was indeed Sir Celes. No doubt about it. But if Sir Celes was here, and not among the knights and soldiers who’d been sent back, then that meant…
Finally, everything fell into place.
Why Sir Celes had been so startled when I’d asked about the Dragonslayer. Sir Fedele’s and the other knights’ strange expressions.
Why Sir Gaius had laughed so hard.
Of course they would react that way. My Sir Celes was none other than the captain of the Third Regiment, the famed Dragonslayer, Celestino Clementi!
I could feel the blood draining from my face.
Looking at Sir Celes anew, I saw the regimental insignia that he’d never had before dangling from the clasp of his blue cloak. When I’d become a laundrymaid, Chicca had taught me that only those with the rank of captain and higher were allowed to display their insignia publicly. In other words, the man before me was unmistakably the captain of the Third Regiment of the kingdom’s knights.
Looking at it, I panicked. I mean, it never even occurred to me that Sir Celes might be the Dragonslayer! He may have been born common, but he’d risen to the rank of a famed knight- captain. In comparison, I was utterly common. What a complete mismatch.
“Lucia?” he asked. In contrast to my flustered state, Sir Celes was acting the same as ever.
Suddenly, I wanted to cry. “Sir Celes” might not mind, but this wasn’t a back courtyard of the castle. His Highness the crown prince himself was here. Could I still speak casually to Sir Celes, as I always had? I couldn’t decide.
Surely Sir Celes would prefer me to treat him as I had before. He was the one who’d laughed and said the Dragonslayer was a human being, the same as me. And I wanted to. I wanted to talk to him like I usually did. I didn’t want to act as though we were strangers.
But…in a certain sense, that had always been during our private time. This was far more public. I didn’t know how to treat him.
Sir Gaius thumped me on the shoulder. “Oi. Lucia.”
I came back to myself. “…Oh! Right!” Oh dear, I was still holding Sir Celes’s hand! I didn’t want to, but it would probably be a good idea to let go, wouldn’t it?
“Lucia…” Sir Celes started, looking troubled.
“Say, didn’t you have a message from the guys in the Third?” Sir Gaius interrupted.
“Oh, yes! Um, Sir Celes.” Spurred by Sir Gaius, I turned to Sir Celes. This was no time to be flustered — I had to properly convey the feelings entrusted to me! “They asked me to tell you, ‘Everyone awaits your return’… Hey! Sir Gaius, why are you laughing!?”
He’d exploded into laughter at my words. Clutching at his stomach, Sir Gaius patted me on the head as I glared at him a bit. “Don’t forget the rest of it, Lucia. They also said, ‘Brace yourself,’ Cap’n.”
“…You are Gaius Canalis?”
“You even know the names and faces of the guys from the other regiments, eh? That’s our hero.”
“Enough joking. Why did you bring her here?” Sir Celes demanded. He seemed to be angry. Because I was here? …Probably.
“Celes! Who are these people!?”
Startled by the new voices, I turned. While I’d been distracted, the rest of the Sacred Maiden’s party had reached us.
“Oh? Did they send Maria a new attendant?”
“Sheesh. She’ll just send them back. What’s the point of making them come all this way when the Sacred Maiden already said she doesn’t want ’em?”
Out of the hubbub rose a new voice, slightly older than Gaius. “Gaius, what are you two doing here? Who is this girl?” the man asked suspiciously.
Sir Gaius smirked. “We’re here by the king’s orders. This is Lucia. She’s got a power similar to the Sacred Maiden’s.”