Southwest of the royal capital.
It was an afternoon, two days after leaving the royal capital, Sereia arrived at Hazbaa, a fiefdom ruled by Count Dirk Hertl.
This was the first time in her life that Sereia had traveled so far in a four-horse cart. Her back was sore and aching from the constantly shifting seats.
“A frontier territory, huh? I thought it would be more rural. It’s full of stores and people! Lots of different ethnic groups too.”
Anne, who was sitting in front of Sereia, exclaimed as she peered out the window.
This girl claimed that this was also her first long trip, but in contrast to Sereia, she was so full of energy.
Red-haired and lovely, Anne was one of the servants in Sereia’s family. She had been working for Count Palma since the age of fourteen, and would soon turn 18.
Although this girl was rather brash and frivolous, Anne was very cheerful and carefree. Sereia already considered her as a friend, as the two of them were not far apart in age.
“…Lady Sereia. Are you still upset that I followed you?”
No answer. Anne, who was looking out of the window excitedly, turned her head and gave Sereia a glare.
“I’m not upset. I’m just tired from the constant rocking on this carriage.”
“Really? You’re just tired? So you’re happy to be with me?”
Anne asked the question like a passionate lover, making Sereia purse her lips. The girl was relieved to see Sereia’s face soften. She must have been worried because her mistress was silent most of the time.
“I’m glad you’re here with me. I just don’t think it’s right to let a young girl like you accompany me to this kind of place”
It had been decided that only one maid would accompany Sereia, as it might cause trouble to Dirk Hertl if a large group of people barged in.
Originally, an elderly maid was supposed to accompany Sereia to this border region, but apparently Anne volunteered directly to Sereia’s father and insisted on going with her.
Of course, Count Palma, who knew that his daughter and Anne were very close, readily agreed.
Sereia was about to start a new life in an unfamiliar place.
Though there was some guilt for dragging a girl as young as her into this life, with Anne by her side, it should alleviate some of the gnawing worries.
Anne had family and friends in King’s Landing. It will not be an easy distance for her to travel from King’s Landing to the frontier.
“Lady Sereia thinks too much! I heard that they have their own knights order here. The knights in King’s Landing are young and handsome, but most of them like to act cold and don’t care about the commoners. …But I’ve heard the knights here are very friendly.”
Again, Anne exclaimed with a gleam in her eyes.
It was true what she said. In the royal city, there were very few knights from commoner backgrounds. Far more were from noble backgrounds.
Discrimination in the capital is ingrained, said Harold who was being talkative at that time, which was rare. He said he wanted to change the knighthoods’ atmosphere.
He always looks sober, but he also has a…hot-blooded side in him. He hates bullies, and is always serious about not tolerating any wrongdoings.
Sereia and Harold once went to see a play together.
But due to an unexpected circumstance, the opening time was delayed.
It wasn’t exactly her curfew, but Sereia was forced to leave by Harold, saying that she should be back by the evening.
“Why? What’s wrong?”
“At this rate, I won’t be able to send you back by the appointed time.”
“…That’s not a problem, I don’t mind.”
“No…we’re in the middle of the play. We’re not leaving.”
Both were whispering, but it was clearly an argument―right in the middle of a play. The people in the audience around Sereia and Harold stared at them and told the two to be quiet, so eventually, they had to leave.
Leaving a theater in the middle of performance was considered a bad manner.
When Sereia pointed this out to Harold, the man retorted that it was the theater’s fault for not starting on time. It could not be helped, he said.
I don’t care if he broke his promised schedule a little. …He really was an inflexible person…
The recollection was interrupted by Anne’s voice.
“Oh…you were talking about the knight in charge of the frontier territory. What is it about?” Sereia asked, trying to remember what Anne had said.
“I know you said that you didn’t think it was right for me to go along with you, but what if I had a wonderful encounter? If I ever meet a wonderful man, and that man by chance is a knight, and then we end up getting married, would it be right for me to accompany you, Lady Sereia?”
“So…you apparently have an impure motive following me here?”
“Of course, I can’t just let you here alone. But…it’s still a bonus if I ever meet a nice man and succeeded in riding his balls. An impure motive, indeed.”
Anne’s honest words, full of desire, made Sereia laugh aloud.
“I’m glad you came here with me,” said Sereia sincerely.
With Anne here, Sereia felt that no matter what awaited her in the future, she felt that she could live a reasonably pleasant life.
Well, although this Anne was indeed a bit like a wild boar and easily provoked, there was not a single side in her that made Sereia feel uneasy.
Hazbaa’s border was surrounded by a massive fort. And as Anne said, they have their own frontier knighthood. Even so, it has allied with neighboring countries and hasn’t been in conflict for a long time.
Perhaps this was the reason why this frontier town was bustling and the faces of the people were joyous. Trade seems to be thriving, filled with various ethnic groups.
While chatting with Anne, Sereia looked out the cart’s window at the cityscape.
A large gate came into view. They passed through it and entered a large park. The carriage stopped in front of a castle-like mansion.
“I hope he is a good man.”
“…I hope so.”
Sereia’s marriage to Count Dirk Hertl was arranged through the royal family, in which Princess Cornelia was most likely also involved.
If she had even the slightest sense of guilt for having stolen Sereia’s fiancé, and if she had prepared a good match for her, that would be nice.
Father said he was twenty-seven, so we’re not too far apart in age, but…
Sereia did not place much importance on appearances. A small head is fine, a fat head is fine.
Sereia disliked men with hair, but…well, she could bear with that.
Sereia didn’t expect much. She just wanted someone who was kind. She felt that if this Dirk Hertl was a good person, they could get along well.
That was Sereia’s modest hope for her new fiancé. …Unfortunately, that modest hope will never be fulfilled.