“Now then… What’s the name of the first king?”
“Easy. Cephas Cronolan!”
I was still studying in the noisy cargo carriage.
It was the tenth day of our journey, and today I asked Rille-nee to question me about the information in the notebook to see if there was anything I had missed.
“Correct. But isn’t it bad to call a king by his name?”
“Ah… Do I have to use honorifics in the written exam?”
“Why don’t you include it, just in case.”
“I guess so.”
Status based societies are so annoying.
“Okay, next is…”
I felt the carriage slowing down as Rille-nee was thinking about the next question.
“Oh, we’re here.”
I quickly took my notebook back from Rille-nee and put it in my bag.
I got on my knees, looked at the front of the carriage through the crates and saw that the gates to the next city were already in sight.
The gatekeeper led the carriage to a stop on the left side of the road. We and several other passengers got out of the carriage and went through the checkpoint in turn. This was always done before entering any city.
We passed through two cities before here, but it was unusual for two young girls to travel together, so the gatekeepers usually looked at us with a curious, surprised or puzzled expression.
“What’s your purpose for visiting this city?”
“We want to go to the capital.”
We presented our permit to the gatekeeper who had high cheekbones and looked like a rock. You can move freely within the fief, but if you want to go beyond the fief, then you have to pay money to the government office to get a permit.
We brought out our permit here because this city is the border between two fiefs.
The Chancellor’s fief and the Royal fief are separated by a large lake, and one had to take a boat to cross over to the next fief.
“There’s a boat going to the capital here, isn’t there?”
Rille-nee asked the gatekeeper after he had confirmed that the permit was real. By the way, our permit was given to us as a gift by Chancellor Leonard since he was the one who told us to go to the capital.
The gatekeeper pointed to the other side of the open gate.
“You’ll get to the harbour if you go down this street. There will be another checkpoint there, so show them your permit.”
He told us that the road ahead was crowded with houses which made it hard to see the harbour, but there were signs along the way, so we won’t get lost. It was part of their job to explain things to travellers.
“When does the boat leave?”
“It leaves twice a day, once in the morning and again at noon. The last boat has just left, so you can look for an inn to stay at on Helbel street to the north.”
“Okay. Thank you very much.”
We thanked the gatekeeper for his kindness, then went through the gate and down the crowded street. We had already paid for the carriage before we got on.
“We’re finally entering the Royal fief.”
Rille-nee said a little nervously as we walked.
“It feels like we’ve been travelling for a long time…”
My body felt like it had been much longer than ten days. We met a lot of different people and experienced a lot of things during our journey.
“But we’re only halfway there. Let’s eat something delicious when we reach the capital safely. Ah, hey, the guy I met on the carriage the other day said that the capital is famous for its pies. We have to try some.”
“Okay. ――― Fufu.”
“Huh? What’s wrong?”
I looked at Rille-nee since she suddenly started laughing, and she smiled back, “It’s nothing.”
“Is something wrong?”
“Nope. Nothing’s wrong. It’s just that you act the same no matter where you go, Aime. You always look towards the future. Yup, I’ll do that too.”
She nodded at her own words.
Maybe Rille-nee was nervous because we’re about to leave the fief since it’ll be more difficult for us to return once we cross the border.
Of course, she was fully aware of this, but it must have been scary to experience it instead of hearing about it. I have those feelings too.
But I can always envision things that are so fun that it blows those feelings away, so I can move forward without hesitation.
We got a place to stay for the night, but the sun was still high in the sky, so we decided to take our valuables with us and went to confirm our way to the harbour.
The roads were windy and complicated.
We followed a signboard with a picture of a boat and suddenly our vision cleared to reveal a clear blue lake as big as the ocean.
The people nearby glanced at Rille-nee and I since we had screamed, but quickly looked away and went back to their work.
Wooden boats were anchored by the lake. Workers were busily unloading the cargo from the boats and the carriages that were loaded with cargo passed by us.
There was a soldier station in front of the bridge. It was probably the checkpoint that we were told about at the gate. We had to pass through there to get on the boat.
“Look, Aime, it’s so far away.”
Rille-nee squinted to look at the hazy shore while holding her hair which was flying in the wind. It really was as big as the sea. How many hours would it take to cross this lake?
We stood on the shore with our mouths opened like idiots, then our bodies began shivering.
“――― It’s a bit cold, isn’t it?”
It’s spring, the season when crops grow, and I rarely felt cold while I was travelling, but I felt a little chilly here even with my cloak on.
“It might be even colder tomorrow if we leave in the morning.”
“Yeah. Should we go buy a thicker cloak?”
The ironclad rule was to travel lightly. Gis-nee told us that it was better to buy things in the nearest city when we need them. I guess this is how people travel in regions with many commercial cities.
Gis-nee has travelled a lot and she taught us that the most important thing was to take care of our body.
We shouldn’t be stingy when it comes to clothes if we feel hot or cold, so that we don’t get sick and delay the itinerary. It was cheaper this way too.
We returned to the city and started looking for a store but was quickly caught by the cheerful voice of a peddler.
“Travelling Ojou-chans! You’ll need a warmer cloak if you want to cross the lake!”
A lady with her hair pulled up in a bun was smiling at us and holding a poncho at the entrance of a small store. It was a great opportunity, so I decided to ask her a few questions.
“I saw you two passing by here a while ago. You probably want to go to the capital, but you’ll freeze in those light clothes. It’s still chilly around here, and it’ll be even colder on the water. Besides, it’ll take half a day to reach the other side.”
“It takes that long to get to the other side of the lake?”
I didn’t know that.
The lady looked deadly serious as she approached us.
“That’s right. The lake’s wind likes women and kids. You’ll be swept away by the Sky God if you’re not careful.”
“Is it really that cold?”
“That’s why you still need a cloak at this time of the year! Look, this is woven with sheep’s wool and it’s very warm~. Wouldn’t it suit you two Ojou-chans~? It’s cute enough for you to wear in the capital even after your journey is over.”
All the ponchos that the lady recommended were indeed cute. Many of the ponchos had fluffy hems and nice colours and patterns, making them very cute.
The cloth was tightly woven together, and the inside was covered in fluffy sheep’s wool, making it very warm. I knew it was a good poncho. It also wasn’t ridiculously expensive, but it would be a bit tough for us to buy two ponchos.
I made eye contact with Rille-nee and confirmed that we both wanted to buy it, then I immediately began haggling.
This was an everyday occurrence for us even before we left on our journey and the lady knew that we could afford these ponchos from the way we were dressed. We both drove a hard bargain, and I got the cheapest creamy yellow poncho I could find.
It was warm and very cute even though it was cheap. Rille-nee and I got matching ponchos, but there weren’t any ponchos for kids, so we ended up wearing the same size.
The hem of the poncho went all the way up to my knees even though Rille-nee’s covered her bottom.
“It doesn’t look very cute.”
I blurted out when we went back to the inn and tried it out. I looked like a teru teru bozu. It wasn’t bad… but it won’t look nice until I grow up.
“That’s not true. You look cute.”
Really? Well, she wouldn’t think I look like a teru teru bozu since she doesn’t know what they are.
I didn’t think it looked good on me, but it’s fine since Rille-nee said I look cute.