32. From the East to the Central
Speaking of the royal castle, it was at the heart of our kingdom and acted as the center of politics.
I heard that it was formed by three buildings.
His Majesty the King lived in the north building.
Coronations were usually held in the central building.
The east wing had a large tower.
The building that I was looking up towards had a tower so tall, it hurt my neck. Said tower was integrated with the walls. As this was the royal palace, that was probably the east wing where the headquarters to the kingdom’s army was located.
I had learned all that from a story.
When Alves was still a knight, and I was still young, I often begged him to tell me stories of the royal castle. He told me about how the cloaks of each knight would flutter in the corridors of the east wing, the strict training of the infantry, and the sight of the knights drinking alcohol and throwing knives in the barracks’ cafeteria.
Of course, his stories about the balls held within the royal palace were amongst my favorites. My father would tell me about the time he first met my mother, and my brother would tell me what he saw as a guard.
I thought I’d also get to participate in those balls once I grew up—until my father died.
After my father died, while a bit farfetched, there was a chance that I could go with Gorman.
However, the situation of the Ragulen territory didn’t improve, and in the end, my engagement with Gorman was annulled. Thus, I completely forgot about the balls of the royal castle.
Moreover, the masquerade ball was held during the period where the aristocrats of each region would report their tax revenue along with other important information about their territories.
It was so unrelated, I completely forgot about the ball that was to be held at the royal castle.
“If we were to enter from the front, we’d have been able to ride to the immediate vicinity. However, as we’ve come with a carriage, this is where we stop.”
“Is that why you prepared a horse beforehand?”
“I can’t let Lucia walk too much in that dress.”
“…Well, is that so… also, you’re overusing your privileges again, right?”
Alves rode a horse while complaining and reached out to me.
It seemed that I’d be riding with my brother.
I could ride a horse by myself, but my current attire made it impossible.
If I had a steppingstone, I would be able to do something by myself—
Shortly after turning around, I was on the back of another horse.
It had a sidesaddle for women.
However, the horse itself was large. It didn’t look like a horse intended for women to ride like that. While I tilted my head and reflexively held the bridle, someone got on behind me.
“If it’s my horse, Lucia should be able to ride it just fine.”
“Then, prepare a war horse for me!”
“About that, well, finding a knight who’d lend me a war horse isn’t possible… so please make do with that.”
Phil turned away from Alves. He took the reins from me and started walking the horse. My brother was coming behind us with his horse, but he seemed angry.
I tilted my head again and then looked up towards Phil.
“Is horseback riding prohibited on castle grounds?”
“Usually. Although knights are excluded from that prohibition. Guard knights are also allowed to roam around here as well.”
…In other words, shouldn’t I be prohibited from riding there?
My brother said that it was a privilege. Therefore, I thought that it was thanks to Phil that I could ride a horse.
I turned my eyes towards our surroundings.
It was almost time for the sun to set, and the sky surrounding the walls was burning red. The sky in the direction of the gate we entered from was already close to night. We’d soon be enveloped by complete darkness.
I never imagined I’d be witnessing dusk in the courtyard of the royal castle.
When I was looking at the building, which was dyed in a shade of red, Phil cleared his throat.
“…Lucia doesn’t seem nervous at all.”
“But I am! I thought it’s going to be a smaller ball!”
“That’s not it… isn’t this your first to riding a horse with me?”
“That? When I was a child, I used to ride with my father, and also my brother, so it doesn’t bother me. By the way, indeed, this is my first time riding with Phil!”
“Well, it’s alright, then… Am I at the same level as Alves? As long as I’m not disliked, then it’s alright?”
Phil was muttering something with a gloomy expression.
When I was wondering if I should listen to him, I heard gorgeous music.
“It has begun. That building in the front is our destination. I’m planning to sneak into the venue after a few songs pass. Alright, now that we’ve come this far, let’s have a good time. If we stay in the corner, we won’t stand out, so I’ll have you dance a lot!”
Phil said that and laughed.
It was a bright, child-like, smile that I knew very well.
***T/N: HAHAHA PHIL-NII CHAN IS DEPRESSED.
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