Lucia Becomes the Sacred Maiden’s Attendant
At Sir Gaius’s announcement, everyone shouted in chorus. Including me! Sir Gaius, the only connection between my power and the Sacred Maiden’s is purification!
Sir Gaius pulled a letter from his pocket and passed it to a stern-looking man with short blond hair that was smoothed back. “Here, Commander. Letter from the king. I imagine the details are written up there.”
The man — who must have been Knight Commander Agliardi — opened the letter and read it intently. His hair had an adorable little cowlick right at the top of his head — or, wait, was I being rude again?
“Hey! What is all this nonsense!?”
A young woman with the beautiful face of a fairy-tale princess stormed forward, shoulders back and graceful eyebrows lowered in fury as she planted herself in front of Sir Gaius.
“A power like mine?” the Sacred Maiden demanded, her face flushed and jet-black eyes sparking with anger. “If you had someone like that around, then what was the point of bringing me here!? You’ve got to be kidding me!” She turned that blazing glare at me. “You there!”
“Y-yes’m!” I reflexively straightened.
“What do you think you’re doing here!?”
What was I doing…? Um, should I say that I was here to help the Sacred Maiden?
When I hesitated to answer, the Sacred Maiden’s rage grew. “What do you think you’re doing, turning up now!? Get away from Celes!” she shouted.
“Sacred Maiden, she is…”
The Sacred Maiden grabbed the front of his uniform. “Celes! You’re my bodyguard, aren’t you!? What are you doing, getting all friendly with a plain little thing like that!” she ranted. “Are you trying to make me even angrier, when I’m already upset!? You there, go home! We don’t need two Sacred Maidens!”
Had something unpleasant happened to the Sacred Maiden? Going by what I’d heard, she’d been angry from the start. Which meant that the first step should be to calm her anger. But how?
When in doubt, talk to people. “Sacred Maiden,” I started. “What!?”
“It’s an honor to meet you. My name is Lucia Arca. Originally, I only knew that my power could remove stains from laundry. We learned that it had another effect when I happened to use it on a monster, but it is nothing like your magic of sacred light.”
Proper greetings were important when meeting someone for the first time. And I had to clear up this misunderstanding. We are as different as the heavens and the earth, Sacred Maiden! And so, I introduced myself to her.
It turned out that, when startled, her large eyes grew even wider. Looking at her long eyelashes, I found myself thinking, So this is what people mean when they speak of someone as a beauty.
“What was that!?” she pressed. “Taking stains out of laundry?”
“Yes, my lady. It can remove any kind of stain!”
“Then clean this dress up! If you can do that, then you can become my attendant. How’s
The Sacred Maiden spread out the hem of the dress she was wearing. The lovely pale pink fabric was spattered with blue marks. It was unmistakably monster blood, and that certainly wouldn’t come out using normal washing techniques!
But removing stains was my specialty. Glad to show off what I was best at, I confidently focused my attention on the Sacred Maiden’s dress. “Of course, my lady. Leave it to me. Soap!”
“Oh!” the Sacred Maiden yelped, as my magic enveloped her.
I’m sorry! Of course it would be a surprise to have magic cast on you unexpectedly! Please forgive me! After all, only children run about playing with soap bubbles!
The Sacred Maiden stared at her now stain-free dress. “Wha—”
“Hey!” A boy wearing the robe of an Academy mage abruptly pushed her aside. “Hey, that magic just now, what was it? I’ve never seen or heard of anything like that!”
His clear amber eyes were sparkling with intense curiosity. To my shock, the robes he wore were a deep red. To look at him, you would think him maybe ten years old, but apparently he was truly talented.
“I’m Eric Acquafresca. As you probably noticed, I’m an Academy researcher.” The boy indicated the hem of his robe, turning a full-faced smile on me. His friendliness was adorable, and with his wide gold eyes, he reminded me of nothing so much as a kitten.
“I’m honored to meet you, Lord Acquafresca. I’m Lucia Arca.”
“Eric’s fine, I don’t bother with all the stuffy formalities. But, Lucia, that magic…”
“Hey! What are you butting in for!” The Sacred Maiden shoved herself between Lord Eric and me, grabbing the front of my dress. It hurt a little. “Eri-kun, back off! You, you said your name was Lucia? Those soap bubbles, what were they? Did they do this?”
“You meant removing the stain?” I asked.
The Sacred Maiden mumbled something, still clutching at my chest. “No! It’s like…I feel a little better somehow, or… Anyway! That, that onsen-sort of feeling — that was your magic, right!?” A hint of redness had risen in her cheeks; it was incredibly cute. “All right, I’ve decided. You said your name was Lucia? You are now my attendant! You can’t leave. Oh, but even if you’re my attendant, I don’t want you fawning all over me! I really do not need that. But you have to cast that spell every day! And if you’re a bother, I’ll send you straight back!”
Apparently the Sacred Maiden was quite taken with Soap. Perhaps she was simply a fastidious person? Traveling was dirty and dusty, even if you were riding in a carriage.
“I’ve never seen you so enthusiastic, Maria. You must have taken a liking to her.”
The Sacred Maiden’s face immediately brightened as the prince approached us. “Ed!” she cried. “It’s not like that. It’s just, we can’t bathe every day, right? But right now, it felt like I’d gotten to soak in a hot tub, it was lovely. Besides, wouldn’t it be helpful to have an attendant to handle the laundry? But if she ends up acting like those others, I don’t want her. They were such a pain! Didn’t you think so?”
“You certainly are free-spirited. I suppose that’s what I like about you.”
Looking at the shining prince and the Sacred Maiden standing together, it was like a scene from a painting.
While I was watching them, someone grabbed my arm.
“Lucia.” It was Sir Celes. “Lucia, what’s going on?” he asked. His usual cheery expression was nowhere to be seen; instead, his face was hard as he studied me.
Oh, that’s right — we hadn’t really explained the situation, had we? I freed my arm from his grasp and went to step back a bit, but this time he grabbed onto my wrist, keeping me from moving. Was he really that interested in hearing why I had been chosen? Well, I suppose it was rather unprecedented, a laundrymaid being sent on a quest like this. Naturally he’d be concerned.
“The castle was attacked,” I told him. “Wha…!”
The color left Sir Celes’s face as I explained about the roc attack. Come to think of it, I felt a little strange now. I’d been so certain, back then, that Sir Celes was somewhere in the castle. But of course I hadn’t seen him. He hadn’t been there at all.
“We evacuated, but then a roc attacked, and I ended up casting Soap on it, and it calmed down… Then, Sir Fedele and Sir Ascari asked for my help, so I tried casting it on the ogres, and for some reason they all left. So when the king heard about it, he ordered Sir Gaius and me to come help the Sacred Maiden,” I explained.
“Yes. He’s been worried about you, Sir Celes.”
Sir Celes was certainly beloved. I was glad he had so many good subordinates.
I was sure he’d be happy, but Sir Celes had a very different reaction. “Blitz…I’ll get you for this!”
“Wait, why?” I yelped, startled by Sir Celes’s unexpected response. Why would he be angry?
Sir Celes just said, “Still, I’m glad you’re all right, Lucia. If something had happened to you…”
“Oh, the castle was fine!” I said hastily. “A few people got hurt, but Sir Astorga said that no one died…”
“Ahh… Yes, of course. That’s a relief. Well done, Lucia.”
“Indeed, I was so glad!” He praised me! I was so happy, and bashful at the same time; suddenly, I couldn’t look Sir Celes in the face. I had done a good job, hadn’t I? Thank goodness I’d tried so hard…
“Still, what could His Majesty possibly be thinking, sending you out when you’re neither a knight, nor a soldier, nor a mage,” Sir Celes growled. “Is that guy the only person he sent to guard you? Sheesh. Why did they only send one? If the rest of the guys had the time to send messages, then he should have sent them! Lucia, nothing happened on your way here, did it!?”
“Nothing in particular, other than getting a little practice at fighting monsters,” I assured him. “Oh…I see. And it was just the two of you.”
“That bear didn’t try anything funny, did he!?” Sir Celes demanded.
Sir Gaius huffed, joining the conversation with obvious amusement. “Okay, not gonna let that one slide, Cap’n. I’m Lucia’s protector. Unlike you.”
Sir Celes grimaced.
Sir Gaius did seem to be having quite a lot of fun. And they knew each other’s names, so could it be they were friends?
Then the Sacred Maiden jumped into the conversation, ignoring Sir Gaius completely to latch onto Sir Celes’s arm. “Oh Celes! Look at this! My dress is all clean now! I’m so happy!”
“…That’s wonderful, Sacred Maiden.”
“Come now, you should be happier for her, Cap’n Sacred Maiden’s Protector, sir.” “Shut up, you bear!”
Sir Gaius roared with laughter.
“So, Lucia! Show me that magic you used again! Oh, before that, let me measure your mana levels!” While I was watching Sir Celes and the Sacred Maiden, and Sir Gaius’s laughter at the two of them, Lord Eric — or, wait, it seems he would prefer to be called Eric? — came up to me.
“Oh dear. Apparently my brother has found new toys to play with…” Behind Eric, Sir Gaius’s younger brother had also joined us. Although, between his slender build and long hair, he didn’t
look anything like Sir Gaius. Perhaps they would look more similar if Sir Gaius shaved his beard? …No, I still couldn’t picture it.
“Miss Lucia, I am Reynard Canalis. I’m the younger brother of the bear over there. Please, simply call me Reynard. I hope my brother treated you politely during your journey?”
“I’m Lucia Arca. Sir Gaius has been very kind to me. I’m glad that he was the one to accompany me.”
“Is that so? I’m glad to hear it. My brother has his quirks, so there are many people who can’t stand him… I’m glad that you don’t mind.” Sir Reynard smiled at me.
Ah-hah! The way his eyes crinkled when he smiled was just like Sir Gaius! So they really were brothers.
“C’mon, Reynard, aren’t you done talking yet? It’s my turn! Hey, Lucia, could you hold this in your mouth for a moment?” Eric held out… Waaaait a minute, I’d seen that before!
“I’m not drinking that mana restorative!” I said hastily.
“You’ve had that before? Don’t worry. I just want to measure your mana levels right now! I measure, you use your magic, then we measure it again. You need data to do research!” With a bright, charming smile, Eric handed me the measurement device. When I accepted it warily, he pulled out a notepad and pen.
“Great! Hurry up and take the measurement, Lucia!”
Lord Reynard raised an eyebrow. “Master Eric, do you mean to pester Miss Lucia? I recall that the Sacred Maiden was quite irate with you before.”
“But! They both use magic I’ve never seen before! Of course I need to collect data about it!” “You are such a fiend for research…”
“Aw, you’re too kind.”
“That wasn’t a compliment.”
I’d just been thinking that Sir Gaius and Sir Celes made an amusing comedy routine, but Lord Reynard and Eric weren’t half bad either. They might not look at all alike, but the siblings really were similar to each other, weren’t they?