Translator: Kurehashi Aiko
Volume 3 Interval: The Noble Lady’s Choice Part 2
When Lishella called her, Lava’s face turned really sad.
「I’m sorry that that night turned out the way it did. And that we couldn’t come to see you.」
After all, they wiped out all traces of their involvement in this case.
So she was slightly impressed that she knew that she had returned home, probably without asking any other noble for information.
The sudden visit was surprising indeed, but…… That’s right, the fact that she appeared before her using anything but human means wasn’t surprising at all.
Lishella wanted to get up from the bed so that she could greet her properly, but then she remembered that she was wearing only a thin nightgown, and her face became red in an instant.
It wasn’t something that she could casually show to other people, but at the same time she couldn’t call in the maid to help her get changed in the dead of night.
Realizing this unprecedented crisis she suddenly found herself in, Lishella could only stiffen under the sheets and pull them all the way up her chin while Lava drew closer.
「I’m really sorry. I know that it must be embarrassing for a young noble lady to be seen by strangers at night. I didn’t see anything, but please wait just a moment.」
Lava shook her finger, and in the next moment Lishalla was wrapped in bright magical light.
When the light finally subsided, Lishella discovered that she was wearing her usual indoor clothes.
They were pretty, and their overall design reminded her of a certain golden-haired tailor that she met not so long ago.
Thinking like that, Lishella realized that the figure of Lava was already right beside her.
「I got it from Ligurila. We had wanted to give you a dress, but then we decided on something like that instead.」
She smiles and raises her hand up, creating a small bulb of magical light that was shining brightly.
Even though she was speaking politely, as you normally would to the aristocracy, Lishella could sense that her words were somewhat embarrassed.
While blushing, but this time for an entirely different reason, Lishella gets out of bed to show her gratitude.
「Umm, Figura-sama. May I ask what is the purpose of your visit?」
「First of all, I want to apologize. I wanted to come and visit you sooner, but some stuff took longer to take care of than I would have liked.」
No, you don’t have to apologize, that’s what Lishella would have liked to say, seeing the expression on Lava’s face.
Besides, she had no idea what that ‘stuff’ she was talking about could have been.
「But now that all of my work is done, I think I should have it a little bit easier for tomorrow onward.」
She couldn’t possibly understand what she was talking about, but it seems that Lava was in good spirits.
「Um, thank you very much.」
When Lishella spoke up, Lava fidgeted for a little bit and eventually changed the topic.
「Still, I’ve heard about you hard work, Lishella. You’re doing everything in your power to help your dominion and its people.」
「No, I mean. It is only expected of me to do so.」
「That is exactly why. You try to meet everyone’s expectations. There are only a few people who can actually do that.」
Lava says so, and her words somehow deeply resonated with Lishella.
When she was talking with her, Lishella felt as though the mask that she would normally put on everyday was disappearing.
She was happy that she could be like that with someone, to have someone who understood just how hard it was for her.
Showing their emotions so openly was something that the nobility would never do in front of other people.
However, she remembered that Lava was in fact someone from outside the spectrum of common sense, and that made her laugh a little bit inside.
「They all listened to my advice and what I had to say. That is why I was doing my best.」
When Lishella started her work, people didn’t really think that much of her.
But she was fine with that. She understood that the people needed someone to guide them in the right direction.
Of course, after a while people began to warm up to Lishella and earnestly follow her advice, even though some of them remained suspicious of her to the very end.
If there’s something you don’t understand, just ask for explanation and she will explain it to you. And for all of their hard work, they would have her eternal gratitude.
And Lishella could also feel that the attitude of the servants have been slowly changing for the better around the house.
They were still doing their job the best they could, but something’s definitely changed.
「I see. It was much different from my initial image, but I guess that you have some wonderful friends here.」
「Friends, you say?」
「Yup. From what I can see, you are no longer a distant person to them. And the atmosphere around you has changed, too.」
If Lava was saying that, it surely must have been true. That’s the feeling Lishella was getting.
「Do you really think I can do this?」
「That I do not know. However, I really like this land and its people. You are a good bunch. If I could, I would really love to come and visit you again some other time.」
Lishella remembered that time when she went to the nearby village to see if it was affected in any way. She remembered the smile of the children, the gratitude of the people for the help she was offering them and their despair that there was nothing they could do for her in return.
Even though she knew it would be tough, Lishella wanted to protect the people of her land.
「I see. Yes, I understand.」
Lava looked into Lishella’s eyes and extended her hand towards her.
「Let’s make a promise, Lishella.」
Lishella extended her hand as well, and then there was a bright light shining on it.
Then, when she opened her hand, there was a small, shiny ring with a stone resting at the palm of her hand.
It was glowing and pulsing delicately.
「Umm, this stone… what is this? Is it that person?」
「This is the only thing that I managed to salvage out of him. He was hurt and is now sleeping deeply. He may not even emerge out of it before the day you die.」
Lishella was at a loss for words, while Lava said so apologetically while turning her gaze away from the stone.
「Since you were connected, you may be able to hear his voice one day, but I don’t know when that might happen.」
「I…… This is more than enough for me.」
Those words slipped out of her mouth without her even realizing.
Lishella looked at Lava, at the same time squeezing her hand on the ring, desperately trying to contain her raging emotions.
「That person is right here. That fact alone is more than anything I need.」
「…… I see.」
Lava blinked several times before she said that. Then, she brought her other hand and closed it on Lishella’s hand.
「If so, then you should have it. That’s probably for the best.」
Lishella squeezed her hand around the ring even harder.
「Which finger would you like me to put it on?」
「The ring finger.」
Although it would cause her some inconveniences, like when she would be writing with a pen, Lishella’s decision was firm and Lava’s expression changed upon hearing that.
It wasn’t anything bad. It was just…… kind of embarrassing.
「Ah, no, but you see. The truth is…… In some cultures, putting a ring on that finger is equal to marriage.」
Lishella’s eyes opened wide as her face became red with increasing waves of shame.
「I-is that so?」
「Want me to stop?」
Asked that, Lishella was silent for a moment.
「Is that a custom from somewhere far away?」
「Yes. It is something that comes from beyond this world. So I assure you, only I’m aware of the true meaning of this gesture.」
「If so, then it’s good.」
It didn’t really matter to her whether the culture that invented it was true or not.
What was important was the meaning. The meaning that only Lishella would know.
Then, when the ring was placed on Lishella’s finger, she brought it close to her face and whispered to it affectionately.
It was the name of the most important person to her in the entire world, the name that she learned on the day when they formed a contract.
The stone in the ring blinked for a moment, and the contract crest on her chest ached.
If he was truly gone, or got bored with her, this crest would surely have disappeared.
That’s what he told her in the beginning.
So, after he disappeared, this crest was her only remaining ray of hope.
A single tear dripped onto the ground.
Lishella rose her head, and saw that Lava was crying.
But he was here. He was truly here. She could feel it.
After a while, when they both managed to calm down, Lava opened her mouth.
「Another message is from Ligurila: “The payment for the dress should be sent to Lily’s Tailoring Workshop”.」
「Y-yes. I want to settle things down a bit here, but I am definitely going to pay for it.」
Although Lishella’s face was still wet with tears, she nodded her head.
「She also said that if you were ever to have another fashion-related problem, just write her a letter. And since that dress won’t be good on you forever, you should come to her workshop and visit her someday.」
Lava says so, and her eyes are full of mischievous joy. Her smile was exactly the same.
「I know that it is a long way to Ballow, but let’s meet again sometime in the future, Lishella!」
She realized then that it was a goodbye.
But those words weren’t goodbye words by any means.
Thinking about that, Lishella realized that it must have been hard for her as well.
Even though she didn’t want to think of it like that, Lishella managed to smile with all of her might.
Even though she hadn’t wanted to cry, the tears started to flow out once again.
「Yes, until we meet again.」
Lishella bowed deeply, and her tears began to drip down onto the floor.
This deep bow was the highest form of showing respect to someone that she knew.
This gesture was supposed to be special, to be shown only to members of the royal family, but Lishella thought it was more than appropriate for the person who did so much for her.
「From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much.」
She eventually raised her head, but her tears just wouldn’t stop to flow.
There, right in front of her, Lava was opening her mouth, and Liushella thought she could almost hear her say ‘I’m sorry’.
But then she blinked for a split of a second, and the next thing she realized was that there was no longer anyone else in the room but her.
There was only that warm, distinct feeling left in the air.
It was only the next morning through the express delivery, that she was informed that there had been an Obsidian Dragon seen around the royal palace.