On the first night, they stayed at a fancy place that felt more like a hotel than an inn. But they had to go easy on the wine, as they would be traveling again the next day. They would finally be arriving in the southern territory of Lowland. And the day after that, they would set off for the elf lands.
“Are there any customs that are very different in the south compared to Midland?’
Chiharu became worried and asked Nyran.
“Not really. But…”
“Ahh. Well, I’m the fifth prince. Meiya is the youngest child and the fifth princess. No, the fourth? No, I have three older sisters and she’s the younger sister that is considerably…”
Nyran sounded confused.
“You have four older brothers. Three older sisters. Two younger sisters. There are ten of you in all. Only the youngest was born much later than the rest. Right?”
“Ah, yes. Thank you, Kaider. My younger sisters were born after I left, and I don’t even know which of my older sisters are married.”
“It gets even more confusing when you add your cousins.”
Kaider said sympathetically. Chiharu said,
“Weren’t you going to say something?”
“Ah, right. Yes, there are many of them. And they are very friendly. Perhaps too much so.”
“Ah, so it’s just like the dwarf castle?”
“Yes. So, be prepared for that.”
While it was a lot, it was nice to know that the south lands were warm and friendly. Chiharu was quite happy about this information.
“I’m looking forward to meeting Meiya.”
“You know her?”
“Yes. It was Meiya who defended us from the inlanders during the unveiling.”
“But isn’t she like 8 years-old?”
“I think so. But she was very brave.”
Chiharu said as she remembered that moment.
“None of the adults would say anything. But she remonstrated the inland princess.”
“I see. She’s grown up since I last met her.”
Nyran looked happy.
“The first prince is the future king. The second will assist him. The third was sent to the beastlands…”
He said. Hmm. Hmm…
“The fourth was sent to the elf lands…well, he might have already returned.”
“They wouldn’t keep him there forever. Those who are sent to the three territories will eventually need to get married.”
“I see. What about you, Nyran?”
“It’s too early for me. I will wait for things to settle down first. I think I should like to marry someone who will come with me to the dwarf lands.”
That was no surprise.
“Well, maybe you should search for someone in Midland.”
“People in the south are on friendly terms with the elves, but don’t know much about dwarves. So that may be a good idea.”
While Nyran and Chiharu talked, Edwy and Kaider listened behind them.
“I thought Nyran preferred Chiharu.”
“What are you talking about? Still… It’s true that he thinks a lot about her. Maybe that is why he keeps his distance. I don’t know. But I don’t think it’s right to assume he has romantic feelings just because of his age.”
“That’s a strangely decent opinion coming form you, Kaider.”
“Wait a minute. What is that supposed to mean.”
Edwy said the rude line and then turned his head away.
“Now, it’s time to rest for the day. Maki and Chiharu, I hope you won’t go out into the balcony secretly anymore. Kaider and Nyran will do it with you.”
He said. If they were going to do it anyway, then they should do it while being protected. Of course, he wished he could be the one to stay with them, but it was obvious that guards should be stronger.
“Hey! Oh, well. Yes. Maki and Chiharu, what will you do? Will you be ready in about an hour?”
Maki and Chiharu had not expected the others to accept this nightly duty so easily, and so they were surprised.
“Yes. Thank you.”
“Sorry, but would you mind if I went too?”
Van asked hesitantly. He had made such a bad first impression and had yet to make up for it. And so he kept a low profile most of the time. However, if there was a chance to see the Saintesses doing their job, he could not stay quiet.
Maki and Chiharu looked at one another. And then they looked at Aeris. Aeris chuckled.
“He’s much more proper back at home. I could stay with you if you are worried, but wouldn’t it better if there weren’t too many people there?”
He said. If that was what Aeris thought… And so Maki said,
“You can come with Kaider and Nyran. But there is no guarantee that any monsters will come. Also, you must be quiet.”
And so she gave her permission.
One hour later. As it was summertime, Maki and Chiharu wore thin pajamas.
“You should be wearing robes!”