34. On the Tree
“Lucia-chan, are you tired?”
…I was too deep in thought.
Phil, who was worried, whispered.
I wasn’t too tired, but I nodded slightly.
“I’m a bit thirsty.”
“Then, let’s take a break once this song finishes.”
Phil spun me around and turned his gaze to the wall.
He seemed to be looking for a place to rest.
Speaking of which, I remembered that my brother had been left unattended. As I felt slightly guilty, the song ended.
Phil took my hand and guided me to the place he had eyed.
A slightly cool breeze entered from a window facing the courtyard.
There were many chairs around the window, but since it was too cold, no one dared to sit there.
“I’ll fetch you a drink.”
The moment I sat down, Phil abruptly left.
I saw off his tired back and exhaled.
While we were dancing, I didn’t feel tired. But the moment I sat down, my legs felt a somewhat exhausted. I wore shoes that matched my feet, but they seemed to have gotten strained because I normally didn’t wear them.
I was confident in my physical strength, but I might have muscle aches tomorrow.
With that in mind, I looked out of the window.
In contrast to the bright hall, it was dark and quiet outside.
The trees in the courtyard swayed in the wind, and the rustling leaves could be heard.
The quiet night, which was familiar to me, made me forget that I was in the royal palace.
However, the trees in the courtyard looked a little different from those I knew.
It was dark, and I was unsure, but the type might be different.
Or, the way the branches grew might be different because they were pruned regularly with sufficient manpower.
I was staring at the branch… when I suddenly noticed.
“I’m sorry for the wait. Alves wasn’t in the drink corner, so he might be eating… Lucia-chan? What’s wrong?”
To calm down, I took a sip of the drink I had just received.
The wine had been watered down so it tasted just like fruit juice.
After I had moistened my throat, I felt a little calm. I looked up at Phil, who looked confused, and gently pointed at a tree in the courtyard.
“I swear I saw a child on top of that tree…”
Then, he looked out in a hurry, leaning out of the window.
He squinted as he examined the tree I had pointed at.
Having another drink, I also observed the tree along with Phil.
In the darkness, the tree’s leaves quietly swayed in the wind.
There was nothing amiss with it.
What I saw was probably an illusion.
I felt concerned, but Phil stared at the tree without doubting me.
The tree branch shook lightly.
I could see small legs from between the leaves.
“That’s… a child, right?”
“Why is a child on such a tree at this time?”
“…I believe to see what a ball looks like.”
Phil answered plainly.
However, he appeared to be both expressionless and tense.
…He might be familiar with the child.
“I’m sorry, Lucia-chan, I need to go somewhere…”
“Stay here, I’m sure Alves will be looking for you soon!”
He suddenly put his foot on the window frame.
“I will catch that child!”
“Wait, I will come with you!”
I didn’t understand why I said that, but Phil sounded really serious. I just couldn’t let him go alone.
Phil stopped for a moment, then he glanced at me.
After smiling, he jumped from the window.
I went got up in a hurry.
We were on the second floor, yet I could see Phil running as if nothing had happened.
I looked around, turning away from the window.
There was a staircase that led outside nearby. From there, I went outside and looked for the tree I saw from the window.
It was hard to see from the inside, but when I went outside, I could see the roots of the tree well.
There was a tall person there, saying something to the top of the tree. He seemed to have removed his mask.
I went there as fast as I could.
“I know you’re there, show me your face!”
“Huh? Could it be Phil?”
“That’s right, Lida. For the time being, come down before you get hurt.”
“No, I want to watch a little more.”
“You’ve been told that you can attend next year, already!”
“But I want to see it now!”
Apparently, Phil was acquainted with the child.
The moment I got close, I found a small child perched on a tall branch.
The child suddenly turned to me.
“Phil, who is that woman?”
“I’m Lucia, nice to meet you.”
The child was staring at me from the top of the tree, but eventually he grinned.
“Are you Phil’s girlfriend?”
“Hey! Enough already! Come down before brother comes to fetch you himself! Al must be there too, right!?”
“Here I am~”
I heard a child’s voice from another branch.
Apparently, there were two people on top of the tree—and they were both familiar with Phil.
I didn’t know why they had decided to climb a tree in the royal palace, but I was relieved for the time being because no accident occurred.
“But… I can’t get down from here.”
***T/N: I thought it’s going to turn into a horror…
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