The Train Moves with the Ring of the Bell
While Arthur had been harsh in his dealings with the inland nobles, Maki and Chiharu had already made up their minds about leaving before that.
It’s not that it was so bad, making money off their magic gems without doing anything, it was a good life in a way. If anything, they deserved more for being forcefully brought here in order to churn rocks out of their foreheads.
Arthur, Aeris, Zynis and Grudo had treated them very well. Edwy had become like a younger brother to them. Sera, while still in her thirties, had been like a second mother. The people of the castle were kind and warm.
But still, they had to pass guards every time that they left their room. They needed disguises when going out to the city. They were treated like delicate glass sculptures that would shatter from the smallest scratch.
Maki had not enjoyed that. A luxury trip around the world may have been waiting for them. But it would have felt suffocating when they were constantly surrounded by guards, by the king and his servants.
And they had seen poor children in the city, people doing their best to live their lives. It may have indeed been best for them to shut themselves inside of the Saintess Palace, like their predecessors. Silently purifying the world of miasma. It would be even better if they occasionally visited the three countries most close to the shadow world. Then, no one would be able to hurt them.
“The thing is, Chiharu. We’ve already died once, I think.”
“But we’re alive, aren’t we?”
“Yeah. But I don’t think that the Maki over there, who was lovingly raised, will ever be back. It ended at 25 for her.”
“When I think of it like that, what’s the point in living in fear, and shutting ourselves in the palace? Even if we asked, we couldn’t work the same jobs we used to, those jobs probably don’t even exist here. That being said, it just doesn’t suit me, staying in the palace forever.”
“I have an interest in libraries, so I could probably manage it for a while.”
“You could, Chiharu. But not me. Not now. I just want to go outside more. Without worrying about being watched.”
That’s the conversation they had that night.
“Maybe we should just leave then.”
“Private airships, privates trains. Who needs them. How is that any different than what it’s like here? We are just normal citizens. We can ride in the second car.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m not as tough as you, Maki. Things get on my nerves pretty quickly, but I know how to handle money.”
The incident with the inland people only made their decision easier. It wasn’t just a few people who disliked the Saintesses. Many people hardly grasped what they were, they seemed unrelated to them. And the further their lands were to the shadow world, the less value the Saintesses seemed to have. It was important to understand this reality.
They would ride the train. Not as sons of nobles, but dressed as common people. Maki and Chiharu used their height difference to pretend to be a brother and his younger sister. They had lost their parents and were now going to meet some relative who would take them in. The relative was their mother’s cousin. An Adventurer who explored dungeons.
The bird people could cross the sea in three hours. The train took five. How long could they run without getting caught? They would try to arrive in the town further in from the closest town by the shore without getting caught. It was the deepest dungeon town. They didn’t care where they went, as long as they were alive. So they may as well go to one of the three territories and collect miasma.
They withdrew some money from the bank. Fortunately, they had private bank accounts. They even bought old clothes to wear. And different colored wigs.
They would leave as soon as they had fulfilled their duty as Saintesses. When they were presented to the common people.
“Are you leaving?”
“We didn’t carry any Saintesses dressed like boys. We carried Saintesses dressed like girls.”
“We bird people are not bound by anything. We are free.”
“I know that well, Saikania.”
It was obvious from the day they met. Maki and Chiharu chuckled.
“So, you two stay free as well. But are you sure that you do not want to cross the sea?”
“That’s too scary.”
“I probably wouldn’t drop you.”
“That’s not enough.”