In the end, I was only person who volunteered.
Of course, this wasn’t because I intimidated the others out of it. I mean, I even looked around because I wanted some to participate as part of the beauty faction, which was indisputably empty at this point. However, not a single person held up their hand. Instead, all of them averted their eyes from me.
……Have I… done something to them?
It appeared that I wasn’t the only person taken aback by this phenomenon. The nobles also had troubled looks on their faces.
“Are-Are there any other applicants?”
They repeated the question over and over and over again. When they finally perceived that there was no one else, still unwilling to give up, they left behind the words ‘if anyone changes their mind, report to the domain lord’, and closed the curtain to this commotion.
While the girls and spectators returned home one after the other, one of the aristocrats approached me. It was the person who asked if I believed I could obtain the King’s favour.
He was a gentleman around his late forties with an elegant moustache immaculately dressed in clothes of fine quality. He had a beautiful posture and there were traces that he surely must have been popular when he was young.
Come to think of it, I forgot to ask about the King’s age. I wonder how old he is.
My consciousness had all been absorbed into the bath matter, omitting all other related information. I’d be happy if the King had this person’s degree of austerity and refinedness. To tell you the truth, I had a huge liking for older people.
“I would like to head to the capital immediately however, how long will you take to pack your luggage?”
“That will be unnecessary.”
I shifted my eyes towards the wheeled suitcase at my feet. That contained everything I owned.
“Why, you’ve already made preparations to head to the capital already?”
The middle aged gentleman raised his voice in surprise. He seemed to have perceived that I had come here with a considerable amount of resolve and preparation, and the uneasy expression that had followed him the entire time finally cleared.
I boarded the carriage that he had arranged. The other men appeared to have been the domain lord of this town and his underlings, hence, the only people riding in the carriage were us two. This was an extravagant horse-drawn box-shaped carriage, which, from the shape and the robustness of wheels, was entirely different from the stage coach I rode earlier. Likewise, the speed was also different and I was told that we would reach the capital by dusk. According to the map that the traveller had shown me, the capital was, with Middibles in-between, in the exact opposite location to Setruvi.
While the gentleman talked to the domain lord, I curiously surveyed the inside of the carriage. It had face to face seats that could easily seat four people and small curtained windows on both sides.
I then turned my attention to the leather seating. I calmly took out my citric acid spray from my shoulder bag, and after confirming that it was safe to use by spraying the edge, I quickly wiped the seat. Just as I was putting the dust cloth back into my bag, unluckily, the middle aged gentleman opened the carriage door and peered in.
“Thanks for waiting…….What are you doing?”
“It’s nothing. Please do not worry about it.”
“I am curious though……”
Sure enough, you want to know, huh. Please just let it slide, okay? If you keep picking on the small stuff, no matter how good looking you are, you’ll never be popular, you know?
“It’s a foreign good luck charm.”
You’re already satisfied with that answer? What an accepting person.
When I didn’t say anything else, he sat on the seat opposite me.
“I still haven’t heard your name. What is your name?”
“My name is Aida.”
“Aeeda. That’s a lovely name.”
Okay, I’ve given up. Father and Mother in Heaven, I’ve decided to live as Aeeda from now on.
On a different note, apparently, Aeeda was a name of a famous person in history. I didn’t know any more than that but it was no wonder everyone praised my name whenever they heard it.
“My name is Sigurd Benetridue. I will be your guardian from now on. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
Sigurd-san held the title of a Viscount. I didn’t have any knowledge about court ranks but I could vaguely tell he was some big shot. He was courteous and I could sense his kindness from his soft corners of his eyes. I heaved a sigh of relief that I seemed to have gotten a kind guardian.
“Um…… I know this may sound strange coming from me but, is it really okay to trust people so easily?”
Horz-san, Belinda-san and even this Sigurd-san. Aren’t they too trusting of other people? Or are the people in this country all this big-hearted?
“Hm. Be as it may seem, I am a good judge of character. I cannot even possibly imagine that you would harm His Majesty. Also, a person with ill-intentions would not personally tell the other person to suspect them.”
Apparently, people who have some ulterior motive would be honey-mouthed and constantly smiling. That my expressionlessness could unexpectedly help me out in a positive way was a happy miscalculation.
Although it was true that I had no ill intent, I did have quite a lot of ambition.
Afterwards, I told my simple life-story. I also talked about how I was good at cleaning and made use of that skill to earn a living. It goes without saying that my ‘life-story’ was the full of lies version about how I came from a neighbouring continent with the help of a relative. If I told him that I came from another world, instead of the palace, he would probably carry me to a mental hospital.
“Cough. Aeeda. So… how, how did you master your s-special s-skill? Forgive me for my discourtesy, however, from the way you look… I find it extremely hard to believe.”
Sigurd-san’s cheeks had a slightly reddish tinge. Did he choke? I wondered in concern.
“Let’s see. I learnt from watching and imitating my mother. As far back as I can remember, I was already naturally doing it.
“W-Why! From such a young age you were already…?!”
Sigurd-san looked completely astonished and his eyes grew as round as saucers.
‘Garuta Continent is that advanced?’ I could hear him muttering. Was that really something to be so surprised about? Cleaning was something even a three year old could do. Ohh. It must be because aristocrats have butlers and maids to clean for them so the act of personally cleaning up was probably inconceivable to him.
“This is beyond my expectations. How promising!”
Sigurd-san was overcome with emotion, as if he was about to burst into tears, and grabbed hold of both of my hands.
“I am of the opinion that for the future of this country, his majesty must produce an heir as soon as possible. Although you may be a foreigner, our same feelings of devotion for this country are the same. I want you to serve His Majesty together with me to the best of your ability.
“Yes, I will try my very best.”
With renewed resolve, I firmly shook Sigurd-san’s hand. Despite his intellectual looks, he was quite a passionate person. I think we’ll get along well.
Several hours later, the carriage finally arrived in the capital.
I let out a small exclamation of wonder at the sight I could see from my window. The townscape had exceeded my expectations. The stone paved streets, which were even more uniform than Miderv’s, were wide enough for several carriages of this size to pass through side by side. Possibly because the carriage originally had some a mechanism underneath, the jerkiness was slight but when we entered the capital, there was absolutely no vibration at all. That was how well-made and developed these streets were.
Both sides of the street were lined with tall buildings. The ground floors consisted of many shops. There were café bars with tables and chairs underneath the protruding eaves and lots of people chatting, with a drink in one hand. Many of the shops had sophisticated signboards.
I had felt like I had time travelled back into the ancient times but this world might be more modern than I had expected.
“Where is the royal castle?”
“You’ll see it soon. Look.”
Sigurd-san pointed outside the window in the direction we were travelling. I sidled up to the window and looked outside. At the end of the straight path I could see a big castle.
It was a pure white building with a large number of pointed roofs that was the very personification of a Western style castle. It surpassed what I had imagined and I couldn’t conceal my amazement at the vast size of it.
“I thought that you’d be more surprised…”
Oh, it was concealed. Sigurd-san must have thought my reaction was weak, and dropped his shoulders with disappointment. I felt bad for betraying his expectations.
When we travelled a few more metres and we reached the black castle gates, the door guards who were clad in silver armour approached us. The terror I felt was stronger than my curiosity. I could guarantee that if I saw these people at night I would run away crying and screaming. After Sigurd-san opened the window for the guards and they examined his face, the castle gates were opened. Was this the so called famous person face-pass?
Past the gates was a large lushly green garden. It even had a gazebo and a fountain. Furthermore, the castle building was still a long distance away. Every day must be hard for the employees who walked to work.
The destination we finally arrived at was a place already parked with lots of other carriages.
“It appears that others have also brought along their side consort candidate.”
Sigurd-san frowned slightly. I see. The other aristocrats had probably recruited candidates from other areas of the country as well. If the girl, who they were guardian for, became a side consort there was a high possibility that they would receive a promotion or a reward.
Which meant, the number of carriages here alone already indicated the existence of rivals. The fight hadn’t started yet. In order to re-motivate myself, I stealthily pushed up my breasts which I felt had fallen down slightly.
When I stepped off the carriage, something gently fluttered down my feet. Guessing what had just dropped, I picked it up in the speed of light and shoved it into my suitcase. ……It was the towel I had used to wrap my bum. It appeared that the vibration of the carriage as we were travelling had caused the towel to slip down.
“Hm, what was that?”
“It’s nothing. It’s a foreign good luck charm.”
Although Sigurd-san looked a bit baffled, he said, ‘I see’, and accepted my answer. Foreign good luck charm. That was a handy phrase.
“Lord Benetridue. I see you have brought along a girl of quite a unique background.”
After we exited the carriage, a wide middle-aged man started talking to Sigurd-san. As for why I’m not calling him a gentleman, it is because that man was not elegant and he looked at a person’s body like he was licking over it. Even though these boobs were fake, being looked at with those eyes did not feel pleasant.
“Yes. I had the good fortune to encounter a magnificent girl. We both hold the same will and purpose,” Sigurd-san said, throwing out his chest with pride.
The middle-aged man looked slightly rattled hearing those words.
“I have also brought along quite a beauty. See, it’s the girl over there.”
I followed the wide man’s line of sight. However, but there were several girls and all of them were beautiful so I couldn’t determine which girl he was talking about. I guessed she was one of the two to three girls without a guardian beside them. The other characteristic they shared other than their beauty was that they were all dressed rather simply. Although the guardians were very aware of and overly cautious of their opponents, on the surface, they kept a harmonious facade.
“Let’s both do our best.”
“Yes, for the sake of this country’s future.”
The two showed a calm smile. That were acting like they were on good terms but it was very obvious they were like cats and dogs.
We were then transferred to a place that looked like a reception hall. It was a hall laid with fluffy carpet and ornamenting the walls at regular intervals were paintings, that were clearly expensive, and pots and other items of unknown usage. It seemed like if one were to accidentally inflict even just a single scratch onto these items, even if they spent their entire lifetime, they still wouldn’t be able to pay off the cost of repairs. In order to keep as far away from the wall as possible, I decided to encamp right in the middle of the hall.
That was when suddenly the noise and chatter disappeared all at once and everyone went down to their knees. When Sigurd-san saw that I was confused and didn’t know what was going on, he told me to imitate the other people, thus I too fell to my knees and bowed my head.
“His Majesty has arrived.”
I see. It appears my true target has arrived. Unless I gained His Majesty’s favour to a certain degree, my pleasant bath life plan would end up in failure.
There was a sound of heavy footsteps and then the creak of a chair being sat on. It was most likely the King.
“What are those women doing here?”
A man, who was obviously in a bad mood, spoke. Perhaps he was surprising young, as there was vigour in his slightly deep voice.
“With all due respect, as your majesty said that you are already sick and tired of noblewomen, we have now gathered commoner girls. Please choose whomever you please,” said the middle aged man who spoke to Sigurd-san earlier.
There was no doubt that after this, the king would tell everyone to raise their heads and then start picking. I drew my arms a little closer to my chest. However, what His Majesty said next were words I never would have expected.
“Kick all of them out of here.”
Why is he kicking everyone out without even looking at their faces?
So the rumour about him and the queen being heads over in love is true. The king must not want a side consort.
Then what’s going to happen to my pleasant bath life?
I’ve come all the way here already. I wonder if they’ll let me have one bath at least.
“Why?!” “Your Majesty!”
The guardians all cried out in sorrow. I could understand their feelings very well. Those words were exactly what my heart was screaming.
“All those who object, get out.”
With those words, they all shut up. Did ‘get out’ mean he would fire them? That was too tyrannical. If you were in Japan you could file a lawsuit for unreasonable dismissal but it didn’t seem like that would work here. The mood in the reception hall promptly converted to ‘resigned mode’.
No way. Aren’t you giving up too easy, middle-aged sirs?
Someone, anyone, have some more perseverance.
I thought and in a spur of the moment, I raised my head. My eyes widened at the sight of the person sitting on the throne. Although I wasn’t sure if it really did physically widen, feelings-wise, my eyes opened to its utmost limits.
This was because the sight that jumped out at me made want to doubt my own eyes. I stared fixedly at him, my head still raised. I was so surprised, I couldn’t make a sound.
I continued staring even after Sigurd-san called it to my attention and I lowered my head again.
His majesty was———— wearing a mask. A cold solid steel mask.
 Aida calls that man Oji-san and calls Sigurd Oji-sama. Oji-san means Uncle. It’s also similar to the word ‘mister’ and is a slightly impolite way to address a middle-aged man (like calling a middle-aged man ‘old man’). Oji-sama, is also middle aged man with a different suffix. ‘sama’ is a suffix that shows respect towards the person they are addressing. Hence, Sigurd’s Oji-sama has been translated as middle-aged gentleman, while Oji-san has been translated as middle-aged man.