08-06 To Celuroa Kingdom
The next day, 6th of April.
In the morning, Jin and Reinhardt visited the room Elsa had stayed in.
No one spoke a word. They only silently gazed at the objects Elsa left behind, or possibly had no choice but to leave behind.
Among them was the doll Non Jin had given her a while ago.
It was a little dirty, however it wasn’t dirt from neglect, but a result from all the times Elsa had brushed it or held it in her arms.
(So she left behind you too.)
Jin merely whispered in his heart and softly touched Non’s head.
The dagger was also left behind. Looking at it Jin felt a little disappointed.
However, he was most of all surprised and worried that she had left the Ring of Protection behind.
Jin worried himself about why she had done that, as she must’ve known its usefulness. He had wished she had at least kept hold of this. That’s why Jin picked up the ring and put it in his pocket.
After doing that, suddenly there was a knock on the door, and Elsa’s elder brother Fritz came inside along with a subordinate of his.
“What, Reinhardt, you were still around.”
He said as soon as he saw Reinhardt’s face.
“We were just about to leave.”
“Hmph, I see.”
Fritz said, surveyed the room, then turned to speak to the butler and the guard.
“Throw away your excess possessions. You guys will be under my jurisdiction for a while. I’ll think about whether I send you back to our country or not some other time.”
Fritz said and hit Non who was on top of the night table with his hand, making her fall.
Before she hit the floor, Jin caught her. Fritz watched it from the corner of his eyes and,
He snorted disdainfully and,
“Reinhardt, go already. I think you know this, but don’t say anything unnecessary.”
He said to Reinhardt, back-to-back with him.
With just a short reply, Reinhardt patted Jin’s shoulder and he left the place.
Jin followed after Reinhardt and left without looking back while carrying Non.
The butler Adberg and guard Herman lonesomely watched the two leave.
＊ ＊ ＊
The same day at ten in the morning. Jin and Reinhardt rode their carriages and entered Celuroa Kingdom.
Because Reinhardt had gone through with the legalities, there was no problem passing through the border barrier.
The two spoke little words. Even so, they seemed to be enduring Elsa’s disappearance.
At two in the afternoon they arrived in the provincial city of Tellurs where they would spend the night.
In the back of Tellurs flowed a large river called Torres, and on the other side of it was the capital city Esaia.
The river Torres was over 200 meters wide, and there was no bridge. A ferry was the only way across. For that reason, ships were on a reservation system. There were few boats large enough to take carriages on board.
“Reinhardt-sama, I hear that there is one vacant reservation in three days.”
The butler Claude said apologetically.
“Is that so, well, no way around it. You reserved lodgings, right?”
Because there were many visitors waiting for ferries, it was necessary to have many inns.
“Yes, there is an adequate hotel with vacancies.”
And so first Jin’s group went to that hotel. It was surprisingly ten storeys tall, a rather tall building for this world. Jin’s groups rooms were on the sixth floor.
“Taking the stairs to the sixth floor seems really tiresome.”
Jin was thinking something like that, but surprisingly he was carried by golems.
“For its size, Celuroa Kingdom has relatively few people. That’s why golems are used in all sorts of places.”
It was Jin’s first time experiencing sitting on a golem’s arms being carried up some stairs. The invisibly following Reiko had a somewhat annoyed expression but of course it wasn’t seen.
“Ah, I can see the river.”
Being on the sixth floor meant that they could see the faraway river Torres from above the rooftops. Dozens of ferries were going back and forth. But all of them were small boats.
“Why don’t they make more large boats?”
Reinhardt caught the words Jin muttered to no one in particular.
“That’s the kingdom’s policy. The river Torres is a natural moat, you see. Immediately on the other side of the river is the royal capital Esaia. That’s why private individuals aren’t allowed to own boats that more than ten people can board. The boats large enough to use for carriages are all under the country’s management.”
Hearing that Jin wondered if the situation was similar to Ooi River’s in the Edo Period. There even boats had been forbidden, and Jin remembered once seeing a scene in a period drama where travellers were carried across the river by people.
“Well, I guess there’s nothing else to do than take it easy for three days.”
The rooms reserved this time were four adjoined rooms. One was assigned for Reinhardt, and one for Jin. One for male servants like Claude, and the last one for female servants.
All the rooms were connected through doors, so the construction allowed them to come and go without going through the hallway.
Right now, Jin and Reinhardt were chatting in Reinhardt’s room.
“Reinhardt, you had to stop here on your way through too, right?”
“Yeah. Because there’s no other route than this.”
Reinhardt said that it was Celuroa Kingdom’s policy that there were no other ways to Egelia Kingdom than through here.
There was one more, a narrow road in the moountains, but it seems that because beasts and burglars appeared frequently only armed troops used used it. There didn’t seem to be settlements that could provide supplies either.
“This town is fine, but on the other side of the river there are five ramparts, and without permission you can’t get deeper than past the first rampart. Normal travellers walk the roads between the first and second rampart.”
From Reinhardt’s explanation Jin thought that the country appeared rather complicated.
The so-called ramparts were stone-built walls like the Great Wall of China that appeared to go on endlessly. There were five of them. What a waste of labor, Jin felt.
“Because I’m a diplomat and we’re going to approach Esaia, there’lll be problems going through the ramparts until the fourth one. What’re we going to?”
“Yeah, well, we don’t have to try too hard to get inside.”
No thanks to difficult things, Jin said to Reinhardt. Reinhardt seemed to be of the same opinion and,
“In that case, let’s use the road beyond the second rampart.”
He brought the topic to an end.
“The proper Esaia is inside the fifth rampart.”
They had spare time until dinner, and so Jin listened to Reinhardt tell the details about the ramparts.
“The space between the fifth and fourth ones is wide, and there’s a town there. Prosperous commoners live there. It could be said that for all the people except the nobles, that’s where Esaia is.”
“You mean that’s where you could enter without a problem, Reinhardt?”
“Well, that’s the case. So, the space between the fourth and third ones, that’s even wider. However, because that place is meant for holding back the enemy when the time comes, military drills and such are held there, it’s not a place with a very pleasant atmosphere.”
Having it explained to him, Jin nodded in understanding.
“Ah, so that’s why the highway is between the third and second ramparts.”
“That’s right. Because anyone can travel between the second and first ones, I hear the public order isn’t good. But that doesn’t mean I’ve witnessed it myself, though.”
That evening’s meal was lonelier than usual. Just by having no Elsa, the mood changed this much, Jin thought.
“I wonder what Elsa’s doing right now.”
Suddenly Jin spoke out by accident.
“Yeah, me too. Elsa’s happiness, I wonder what that is.”
Reinhardt threw back at him, apparently thinking about the same thing as Jin.
Jin had something he wanted to ask Reinhardt, so after the meal while drinking Teee,
“Reinhardt, can I ask you something?”
He started a conversation.
“Mh-hm, what is it?”
“About Elsa’s brother, Fritz, was it?”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“Despite appearances, way back when he played together with Elsa, did he spoil her a lot?”
He asked because the brother had been too different from the image he had got in the town of Delead from the talk with Elsa about her playing with her brothers when she was a child.
Thereupon Reinhardt made a large nod and,
“Ah, I see.”
He said and began to explain.
“Fritz changed four years ago. It was the period after the previous king of Celuroa Kingdom had died, and the current king who succeeded him hadn’t yet solidifed the foundation of his government.”
It hadn’t progressed to a war, but there had been battles larger than skirmishes, but smaller than wars, Reinhardt said.
“During the time he was a second lieutenant, and the enemy…Celuroa Kingdom’s national defence army took him as a prisoner of war. Eventually he was extricated in a prisoner exchange, but ever since then he’s been a different person.”
He became a power supremacist, or more precisely he began to pursue power in all respects, Reinhardt said sadly.
“Until then he had been a good elder brother who doted on Elsa, though.”
“I…see. That must’ve been difficult for Elsa.”
The kind elder brother whom he had called a muscle-brain and made Elsa laugh was completely changed. It must’ve surely come like a bolt out of the blue.
Jin once more thought about what Elsa’s happiness could be.