Lucia Does the Sacred Maiden’s Laundry
As I was watching Lord Reynard and Eric bicker, Knight Commander Agliardi approached, the king’s letter in one hand, as he talked to the prince. When he reached me, he knelt on one knee before me, his blue cloak fluttering as he moved. While I was distracted by the flash of his
insignia, he took one of my hands.
“Allow me to introduce myself properly. I am Fernando Agliardi, commander of the knights. Miss Lucia, it seems that you saved the castle in a time of crisis. As a knight charged with protecting the realm, please allow me to express my heartfelt thanks. You must have been terrified, but you still used your power to help us. Thank you.”
As he spoke, Commander Agliardi pressed his forehead against my fingers. Which…wasn’t quite what I’d expected? When Sir Celes had done something similar, he’d… Oh no, now I was thinking about that! It was so embarrassing!
Blushing, I looked past Sir Agliardi and saw the prince. “Lucia, right? Good job,” he said casually.
“Prince Edoardo, treat your vassals that way and soon you won’t have any,” Commander Agliardi said.
“Stop nagging me, Fernando,” the prince said sulkily.
If I recalled correctly, Prince Edoardo, the crown prince of Banfield, had turned twenty this year. Although his tone of voice made him seem a little younger than his age. Clearly, he trusted Commander Agliardi enough to presume on the knight’s patience.
The prince called to the Sacred Maiden, “Maria, you should come back now. If you keep hanging on Celes like that, I’m going to get jealous, you know?”
At the prince’s words, Lady Maria beamed happily at him. “Oh, Ed, you’re so cute!”
Apparently he’d come to call the Sacred Maiden back. Were we in the way, perhaps? I’d gotten the impression that the Sacred Maiden and Sir Celes were close, but…were she and the prince courting each other after all?
At some point, the Sacred Maiden had detached herself from the prince and grabbed me by the arm. “You’re coming, too!”
She headed for the carriage, pulling me behind her. “Isn’t it obvious? You’re going to be my attendant, aren’t you? My attendant needs to stay with me! I have so much laundry for you! I’ll hold the clothes, so you just use your magic on me at the same time, got it?”
“Ah, Lucia…” Sir Celes started to call out to me from where he’d been facing off against Sir Gaius, but with the Sacred Maiden dragging me along by the arm, I wasn’t even able to call back to him.
I’m sorry, Sir Celes. But…in a way, I was also grateful. I still hadn’t figured out how I should act towards him.
“Here we are!” The Sacred Maiden slammed the door of the carriage closed behind us and began throwing open the tops of the seats, pillows and all, and pulling out dresses that had been stored inside. “Ed will come by later. Now, here’s the laundry! You’re sure that magic of yours
will clean it all up, right?”
“Ah, yes, my lady,” I stammered.
“Well, what are you waiting for!” With a strange sort of eagerness, the Sacred Maiden thrust a dress at me.
So, I was supposed to cast Soap on both the dress and the Sacred Maiden, right? “Soap!”
The wagon might have been spacious, but it was still an enclosed space. In an instant, soap bubbles were everywhere. Using it indoors…might not have been a good idea.
I’ll use it outside next time! I promised silently. I’m so, so sorry, Sacred Maiden.
But even though the wagon was filled to the brim with soap bubbles, the Sacred Maiden didn’t seem startled at all. In fact, she seemed very pleased. “You know…these soap bubbles. At first, I didn’t get them at all and it ticked me off. But they’re really nice!”
Could it be that she’d taken a liking to the bubbles? Oh, I hoped so! “And you. Lucia, you said?”
“Yes, Sacred Maiden. It is an honor to meet you!”
The Sacred Maiden dropped down to sit heavily on one of the undisturbed seats. “Oh — that Sacred Maiden business. Could you knock it off? Everyone here is all Sacred Maiden this and Sacred Maiden that, and I’m so sick of it! And they won’t stop. Are the people in this world just really stubborn or something?” she asked wearily.
“Then, what would you like me to call you?” I asked. “My name is Nishime Maria. Maria’s fine.”
“Don’t call me ‘Lady’!”
“Then, Miss Maria?” I suggested.
“…That’ll do,” she said. “You know, you seem so much more normal than the attendants I’ve had so far.”
Normal? Well, that made a kind of sense. Most of the attendants in the palace were young noblewomen practicing for their own marriages. They and I were as different as the heavens and the earth.
On the other hand, I didn’t know the first thing about elegance or the proper etiquette to address a noble lady. Circumstances had led me to become an attendant, but…would this be a problem?
“I’m sorry. Until now, I was just a laundrymaid, so I don’t know much about being a proper attendant…” I started.
“A proper attendant?” Miss Maria snorted. “What, you mean like putting a girl up on a pedestal while you whisper nasty things behind her back? Like sneaking looks at Ed and Celes, and swarming around them in the hopes of getting there first the minute it looks like you might
be able to touch them? Ugh, this world is so selfish!”
She crossed her legs. Which…meant that her legs were showing under the hem of her skirt. Was that all right? They said that young noblewomen were supposed to avoid showing their legs. Could it be that the high-class women who worked as attendants couldn’t handle this sort of behavior?
“Um… Miss Maria?” I started.
“What?” She glowered up at me through her eyelashes. She probably would be angry at the comparison, but she reminded me of a kitten puffing its fur out.
“There’s something that I really wanted to ask you, if we ever happened to meet.” “Wh-What? Now you want something from me…?”
“Miss Maria…are you scared of fighting?” I asked, voicing the things I’d wondered. “When I first encountered a monster, I was absolutely terrified. It made me wonder if maybe you felt the same way.”
“So what if I am!” she demanded.
“If you’re scared of fighting…I’ll protect you.”
“I can’t fight, but my Soap, it cleanses them of…their will to fight? Their hostility? Something like that,” I told her. “So I was thinking…if I cast it on the monsters, you won’t have to fight, Miss Maria.”
Miss Maria’s jaw dropped.