81: Most Dark
I had only just crossed a bridge, but what’s with this completely different atmosphere…?
It felt very jumbled which was different from the feeling that I got in the well-maintained streets within the Royal Capital. The buildings didn’t feel unified. There were beautiful brick buildings next to shabby houses. The intersections also crossed over several other streets as if they were made without thought. The smells of rotting garbage, cheap perfume and alcohol mixed together in the wind and floated all around the place.
Many people were standing on the road with vacant eyes, there were also those who were glaring at us and some who were appraising us with their eyes. Strangely there was no sound. I wonder if this place gets livelier after dark.
I felt a strong magnetic attraction that would make me one of these people if I wasn’t careful. It seemed like the type of place that would swallow you whole for better or for worse. Is this the slum?
Before I knew it, brawny men were following Way from the sides.
Eeh, Way, the Prince who was more prince-like than the Imperial Prince is really familiar with this place.
“This is the dump of the Royal Capital. The place where people who could no longer stay in the surface gather. This is the place that they don’t want to make public. The Royal Palace doesn’t want to get involved with this place, so they rarely set foot in here since long ago. They’ve left it alone,” I nodded at Way’s bold words. I can tell by looking. It was completely different from the well-organised streets of the Royal Capital.
Kicker hooked onto my arm and stuck to me.
The forecast at Most Dark was terrible, and the bright sun rays didn’t shine through here much. This condition alone was enough for the ordinary citizens of the Royal Capital to be frightened of this place.
We reached a vast and profound mansion which stood out like a sore thumb when we walked along the poorly paved road. Way, Kicker and I were the only ones who went inside. The two men, who seemed to be guards, waited at the front door. There were only stern men inside of the mansion. They nodded when they saw Way.
The only woman here was the one who brought the tea into a simple room, and I only saw her briefly; she looked reserved.
“Do you understand it now? I’m a resident of Most Dark and the next in line to rule this place. My father, the current boss, will be retiring soon. If I succeed him, then I don’t really have many chances to leave here. Regardless of my intentions, I would be completely involved in a job that others would think of as bad. So, I selfishly asked if I could go to the outside and do things that are considered to be good. I feel happy when I’ve felt that I’ve helped someone.”
“Heir to the boss? Then your existence isn’t meaningless, is it?”
“I don’t have a family register. I don’t pay taxes, and I don’t benefit from this kingdom. Family registers are only pieces of paper, but it proves my existence in this world. I don’t have firm proof of my existence, so I’m like a ghost.”
(I’m angry for some reason. Bragging about his misfortune? I have a family register, but my family treated me as if I wasn’t there at all most the time (?!). I’ve experienced it enough, so I know what it’s like to not feel value in my existence and be helpless. But for him not to be able to realise how important he is to the people around him… I don’t know if this is extravagant or misfortune.)
An awkward silence filled the room, and no one reached out to grab the tea. It was a comfortable sofa, but it feels uncomfortable.
“Way, I will go home today. And I’ll come back here again. Please tell the person watching the stone bridge from the other side about this… Kicker, let’s go.”
I left Way, who didn’t seem like he wanted to control the slums and controlled my anger as I left the big mansion with Kicker, who didn’t really know what was going on.
We were guided by one of the guards through the streets of Most Dark and crossed the stone bridge; we were back at the starting point.
Kicker let out a big sigh next to me. It’s nerve-wrenching just walking through there, isn’t it?
Most Dark, the place that had been blackened out on the map I saw in the Royal Library. An area that was treated as if it didn’t exist. The area which reminded me of the innermost feelings that Way and I wanted to forget.
“…… I want to get rid of this blackened spot,” I muttered as I grasped my hand tightly.
Then, I raised my head and laughed.
“Kicker, let’s splurge on lunch today and eat the special.”
“I want to eat something sweet too.”
I grabbed Kicker’s hand and quickly ran away from Most Dark. My gloomy feelings should disappear when I’m full.
I can think about things later.
However, I didn’t know that Cafule-san was watching us from a distance.