Translator: Drey Editor: Sherminator
【Heavenly Castle • In the Dining Hall】
「Ah, hey, Mea. Eat slowly. Even so, this is really delicious, isn’t it?」
When everyone was eating breakfast while having such conversations, Rant suddenly opened his mouth.
「Come to think of it, is Ayla-sama related to the royal family of Azul Kingdom?」
Hearing such words, everyone’s eyes turns to Ayla.
The face of Ayla, who was delighted to inform me that she was able to skillfully peel a potato, froze after hearing the few words of Rant.
A moment of silence continues and Schnee hastily says.
「Hey, Rant! …..No, Ayla-san has the same red hair which is the trait of the Azul royal family that we have heard before, so we had a talk that maybe you are related to them. However, although the deepness is different, we also saw someone with red hair besides you so maybe you just have similar hair color.」
When Schnee explained that while pinning down the head of Rant with one hand, Ayla suddenly stood up while covering her mouth.
「I, I’m sorry…..!」
Ayla quickly said words apology and rushed out of the dining hall. Her face became pale as if the blood instantly drained from her face.
The running sound through the passage went far and A1, who was at the entrance of the dining hall, turned his face to Ayla’s back.
「…… I’m going to look for her shortly」
When I said that, the Torraine and the others stood up quickly.
「We will also go」
「Ah, no, it will be difficult if she’s still confused, so please wait here first.」
While smiling wryly at the offer of Torraine, I refused gently and headed in the direction where Ayla ran.
She ran to the elevator as I thought to myself. While I’m on my way, I could hear that Rant was being scolded. So when I looked back, A1 was walking this way rapidly in big steps.
We entered in the elevator and I chose the first floor. I hesitated for a moment, but I felt that she was probably going outside.
「You’re worried aren’t you, A1」
It became silent after I said that and we rushed out to the floor as soon as the elevator was opened.
As I expected, as the main gate was in middle of opening, I saw the figure of Ayla running outside from the gap between the doors.
I chased her while calling out her name. Ayla rushed out and stopped at the slope.
The slope looks gentle because it is curving midway, but the left and right only have fences about the height of the waist, so she will be seriously injured if she tried to jump over it.
Imagining that Ayla got hurt before my eyes, cold sweat ran on my back.
「Ayla…… that, I don’t care about it, so I won’t ask anything . . . . let’s go back to the castle together. Torraine and the others are also worried, you know?」
When I gently said that, Ayla turned around to look at me. Her eyes were full of tears and her mouth was tightly closed in order to keep herself from crying.
I gently held out my hand to Ayla who shed tears as she looked at me.
However, maybe because she was hesitating over something, Ayla had no sign of approaching me.
And, suddenly A1 who was standing next to me started walking. No way, I wonder if he judged that it was an instruction when I said ‘Let’s go back’?
My reaction was delayed after seeing A1 who suddenly started to move and during that time, A1 is already drawing near to Ayla.
「Ah, don’t, don’t come……」
Ayla let out a voice while drawing back reflexively from the approaching A1.
She’s only a few steps away from A1’s reach, when her butt hits the fence of the slope, her body bends backwards.
The moment when I was about to start running, A1 reached out his hands at an unstoppable speed.
He gently supported Ayla who was about to fall down and carried her within his arms.
A1, who secured Ayla in a princess carry, came back silently as if nothing had happened.
「…… As one would expect of A1」
I muttered that while feeling exhausted and looked at Ayla’s face who’s blinking in surprise.
In the end, all the best parts were taken by A1, but it can’t be helped.
When I said that to the two, Ayla looks downwards with her brows in ハ as if embarrassed.
「I, I’m sorry……」
I smiled to Ayla who said that in a subtle tone and turned to A1.
「Put her down」
Ayla who was released by A1, opened her mouth with a serious expression.
「…… Can you, hear my story?」
Hearing her words, I gently nodded.
While looking down at the tree-lined road from above the slope, Ayla opened her mouth.
「…… I am, a princess of the Azul Kingdom. My real name is Letizia Ayla Azul.」
「…… So, you are really a Princess. Certainly, I had a feeling that something is out of place about you being a village girl.」
Hearing the shocking revelation of Ayla, I said that while being convinced to some extent. After all, she can’t do any housework even though she’s a village girl.
While I’m nodding, Ayla turned towards me and bowed deeply.
「I told you a lie, I’m really sorry…… I became content with your kindness and the everyday warmth we spend together. And, on the contrary, my fear only grew that my lie would be exposed eventually…… 」
「And so, you weren’t’ able to say it. Is there a reason why you can’t speak about being Royalty? Well, if you suddenly say that you are a princess, I would be surprised, though.」
When I said that with wry smile, Ayla shook her head from side to side.
「… I am a sinner. It is a grave sin that will never be forgiven……」
While she muttered that in a hoarse voice, Ayla looked at the sky beyond the tree-lined road.
「…… I was arranged to marry one of the princes of the Blau Empire. As proof that the Kingdom will tie an agreement to become a vassal state of the Empire. However…… I escaped while being escorted by Imperial soldiers…… 」
「……Do you, dislike that prince?」
When I asked her, Ayla started to shed tears again.
「…… I don’t like him. That person is already fifty years old, so I am too young. Also, among his fifteen wives, I heard that half of them had already died…… It is just a rumour, but it seems that those who died had really tragic deaths……」
Apparently, that prince is a terrible guy. If he is married to a girl that is related to royalty from other country, it will surely be exposed if they die. After all, there must be an exchange of letters which contained some informations.
If the letter didn’t arrived or the family couldn’t meet their daughter even if they came to the empire, it’s only natural to think that something has happened to their daughter.
It seemed like my guess was correct as Ayla shivered.
「Even among his wives who are still alive, it seems that there are those who can’t actually meet their families even though they can exchange letters with each other…… According to the rumours, it seems that one or two of their limbs were missing, because it was cut off……」
I reflexively stretched out my hand to Ayla who was trembling. However, Ayla turns to me while interlocking both of her fingers in front of her chest. Her face was drenched in tears.
「…… I was scared. I was very scared and I was crying every day…… but, I am a princess of the Azul Kingdom. If I don’t become a wife of that prince, the kingdom will……! But despite that, I, I……!」
Her sobbing began to mix and she became unable to talk well at the end.
However, her very painful struggle was transmitted.
How heavy is that burden for this sixteen years old girl? I wonder if it’s a feeling like going to a torture room by yourself?
I can not think myself being in the position of Ayla in a true sense, but I can sincerely sympathize to the circumstances that she had been through.
「…… Ayla, if you like, why don’t you stay here forever? You will lose the life of a princess, but it’s comfortable and fun.」
When I said that, Ayla shook her head while covering her mouth with her hand.
「I, I can’t…… If, if I will not expose my neck and die in front of the Emperor, the Azul Kingdom, or at least, the people of the Kingdom…… The Azul Kingdom, our country will……!」
Hearing the heart-wrenching shout of Ayla, I couldn’t endure it anymore, so I wrapped my arm around Ayla’s shoulder and hugged her.
「It’s alright. I will do something about it. So, take it easy.」
The moment when I said that, Ayla started to cry with a very loud voice as if it’s a lie that she had endured until now. While caressing with my other hand the head of Ayla who continues to cling and cry, I look up at A1.
I felt that the eyes of A1 who’s looking at the sky had cast a light.