The Extraordinary, the Ordinary, and SOAP! – Chapter 23

Lucia Prepares to Depart

When I ran away from Sir Celes — I mean, returned to the wagon, Miss Maria gave me a concerned look. “What’s with the red face? Did he do something?” she asked.
“No! Nothing! Nothing at all!” Right, it wasn’t like anything had happened. I’d just gotten a little flustered. I pressed my hands to my cheeks. They were hot to the touch. I must be beet red!
“Reeeally?” Miss Maria’s eyes glinted “That doesn’t look like nothing to me.”
Just then, the prince entered the carriage. “You look like you’re having fun, Maria.”
“Ah, you have the new attendant with you.” The prince gave me a glance. “You may leave.”
He then turned all his attention to Miss Maria. He truly must have been taken with her; I got the impression that he wasn’t seeing anything except Miss Maria anymore.
“But I want Lucia with me, too!” Miss Maria complained.
“You do? But she’s an attendant, isn’t she?” The prince gently held Miss Maria’s chin. “Besides…I kind of wanted to be alone with you…”
“Oh! I-I’ll just step outside!” I said.
His Highness was incredible. So much pressure! Well, I was glad they were getting along, at least.

When I left the carriage, I saw Sir Gaius beckoning. He must have been waiting for me. “Hey! Little lady, we’re about to set out!”
As I hurried over to Sir Gaius, I saw Sir Celes say something to him. Suddenly, Sir Gaius looked very amused. So they were getting along, too!
“Eh, might as well give it a try.” With that, Sir Gaius began to detach my cushion from his saddle. Perhaps he thought that I would be riding in the carriage?
“Sir Gaius, could I ride with you?” I asked.
“Hmmm.” Clearly enjoying himself immensely, Sir Gaius handed the cushion over to Sir Celes. “Don’t you think it’s a good idea to ride with someone other than me from time to time?” White teeth flashing in a broad grin, he looked pointedly at Sir Celes.
Eh!? But, did that mean he wanted me to ride with Sir Celes? Wait, but after what had happened earlier — I hadn’t gotten my composure back yet, or maybe my heart wasn’t ready yet…

“Sir Gaius, maybe that’s not a good idea?” I pleaded, a little desperately.
But Sir Gaius turned me down with a merciless grin. “Nah, you young things should hang out with other young things from time to time. This old man’s taking a break!”
If he wanted to take a break, I couldn’t really impose on him anymore…but if I had to ride with Sir Celes right now, I was afraid my heart was going to explode!
“Hey, you can ride with me! Then we could talk about your magic!” Eric offered.
“Master Eric, do you know how to ride a horse with a passenger? It’s not easy,” Sir Celes told him.
Eric hesitated. “Well…”
“Is the mini-magician not so good with horses? Give it up, it’d end with both of you falling off,” Sir Gaius declared.
“Don’t call me mini just because you’re a big bear!” “But you are mini. In inches and in years.”
Oh dear. They had a point, to a beginning rider I really would be baggage… And you were so considerate to offer, Eric! I’m sorry!
As they argued, Commander Agliardi came over, Lord Reynard following him. “You seem to be having fun,” the commander said. “But we need to set out soon. I want to reach the first of the Cristallo Sacro by today or tomorrow.”
“Hear that? Better get cracking, Cap’n.”
“Brother, please stop picking fights… Lord Celestino, Lady Lucia, I apologize for him,” Lord Reynard sighed.
They were right, we couldn’t afford to waste time here. Right, time for me to grit my teeth and bear with it! It would be fine, I could just think of it as being the same as our usual lunches. I was still a little shaken from earlier, but generally we just talked normally. And we had so much to talk about, too!
Firmly pushing down my agitation, I dipped my head. “Sir Celes, I’m sorry to impose on you like this.”
“Not at all.” Sir Celes gave me a bright smile and helped me up onto the horse. I really did need to learn how to mount and dismount on my own. It wasn’t right for me to bother people every time.
Checking that I was on the horse, Sir Agliardi ordered, “Is everyone ready? Then let’s move out!”
He was riding on a dapple-gray horse, while Lord Reynard was driving the carriage. It was a shock to realize anew how small our traveling group was. I’d heard that the Sacred Maiden had sent away her attendants, but I couldn’t help but think that they should have kept the soldiers

with them, at least.
While I was thinking, Sir Celes wrapped an arm around my waist and murmured in my ear, “We’re going.”
Sir Gaius had never held me unless he was pushing the horse fast, so I started a little in surprise. “Oh, right!”
Oh dear. We’d never actually touched like this when we’d been at the castle, so I felt suddenly bashful. I suspected my heart was going at twice its usual pace. But my own inner shyness aside, we set off without any trouble. Our first destination: the Cristallo Sacro of Kyriest!

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