Author: alyalia

“By the way… why is Madrenne so late?”

 

Arianne had no idea that Madrenne was desperately searching for her while she was trying on a dress in the dressing room.

 

As I moved my steps from the end of the alley towards the central square, I again felt the tenacious gaze around me, which made me furrow my brows.

 

“Oh my, look at that lady’s dress. I’ve never seen such a shabby dress before.”

 

“It does fit on her. If you don’t have money, you should wear a dress like that. Hmph.”

 

Talking like that on the subject of wearing something which made you buried like a pudding…

 

Women who didn’t know Arianne’s identity were whispering about her frillless dress. They laughed, saying that perhaps her plain dress was because she was from a fallen noble family.

 

“Hmph. Those with no backbones don’t know how to follow others.”

 

It was an era in which money was shown by how many frills were on your clothes. The richer they were, the more frills clothes they wore. Even commoners had at least one frill dress for going out. Arianne’s frillless dress was no different from poverty.

 

From the mansion, a fancy carriage and a dress adorned with jewels and frills were perfect for showing off their wealth. It had been consistent in any era that a person’s value would be judged by their wealth, not by their talent or potential.

 

“Lady!”

 

In the distance, a woman was running to call Arianne. It was Madrenne.

 

“Where have you been to just show up now?”

 

At my scolding, Madrenne said with an expression of regret, “Lady, do you know how long I have been looking for you? I’ve been looking through all the dressing rooms on this street.”

 

I said, crumpling my brows, “Nonsense! Do you know where I’ve been all this time? Can’t you tell from the dress?”

 

At my words, Madrenne looked over her dress and said, “It’s strange. I’ve looked for Lady all over the dressing rooms… But what’s wrong with this dress? Why is it so plain? Lady, no matter how urgent you are… how could you wear poor clothes like this?”

 

“What? Poor? How dare you say such a thing to me!” Recalling the sad days of living without a single penny, I shouted with the momentum to grab Madrenne’s hair at any moment.

 

“I’m sorry, Lady. Ah, by the way! I found that boy.”

 

Madrenne hurriedly changed the subject. If her hair was grabbed on the sidewalk, she wouldn’t be able to carry her face in the future. Well, Arianne’s reputation was the next problem.

 

“That boy?”

 

When I tilted my head and asked, Madrenne said with a puzzled look, “Have you forgotten? The kid who threw dirt on the Lady’s dress earlier. When you asked me to catch him with a scary face…”

 

I, who was about to yell at Madrenne for being cocky, paused.

 

“Ah, that boy? Did you catch him?”

 

Madrenne gave some money to a sidekick in the alley and found out the boy’s name and where he lived.

 

“Of course, I couldn’t catch him, but I found him. If I didn’t find him, it would be me who would get caught and get killed. What choice do I have?”

 

I glared at Madrenne’s whining and said, “If you already know, what are you doing without guiding me there?”

 

At my scolding, Madrenne sighed as if she had given up and began to lead the way.

 

“I found out the house where that boy lives. I heard that he lives in the slum of the capital.”

 

“Slum? Where is it?”

 

At my words, Madrenne raised her hand and pointed to one place. Her fingertips were far from the capital’s center, toward the steep hillside at the corner of the elegant mountain range surrounding the capital.

 

“Ha?”

 

Despite Arianne’s frightening expression, Madrenne only raised and lowered her shoulders, then said, “I just found it according to the Lady’s command.”

 

I gritted my teeth and said, “Let’s go for now. Where is the carriage?”

 

“Lady… The carriage can’t go up there.”

 

“What?”

 

“Yes… that… we have to walk there.”

 

Madrenne’s shoulder flinched at the gritting of teeth coming from her back. She began to walk in a hurry. If I look back, I will die. Going straight is the only way to survive.

 

* * *

“Gasp. Gasp. Lady… let’s go together…”

 

I saw Madrenne calling me with a dying voice down there, and I said, “Just come up for now and talk later. Where the hell is that boy’s house?”

 

I had risen to the top of the slums, but Madrenne was still below there.

 

“What is it? Why… lady… is… fine… like… that? Urgh! I feel like I’m going to throw up.”

 

Excited to be out in the town for the first time in a while, Madrenne came out dressed in her most expensive clothes and tightened her corset, so there wasn’t much room for air to enter. As she climbed the steep hill, she was on the verge of fainting. On the other hand, Arianne had taken off her tight corset, and wore a light dress, so it wasn’t really difficult for her.

 

“Are you going to come up soon?”

 

With my help, Madrenne climbed the hill with all her might.

 

“Gasp! Gasp! Gasp! Gasp! Gasp!”

 

I looked disapprovingly at Madrenne, who made a rough sound of taking a breath. She usually carried heavy things easily, but I wonder if she was originally this week.

 

“Gasp. Gasp. Gasp…”

 

When Madrenne seemed to have calmed down a little, she was called back to work.

 

“Where is that boy’s house?”

 

Madrenne looked at Arianne with disappointment because she didn’t worry about her at all, but it didn’t affect Arianne.

 

I went beyond expressionless and spoke again with a cold face. “Where is it?”

 

Madrenne, who came to her senses, hurriedly guided me. “I’m sure it is at the very top and the innermost…”

 

The top of a slum. Among them, when we went into the innermost part, there was a shabby house that was sloppily attached with boards that were supposed to be able to block rain and wind.

 

Madrenne knocked. As she knocked, she heard a child’s voice from inside.

 

“Who… are you?”

 

“Does Teil live here?”

 

“…”

 

“Hey! I heard that Teil lives here. Hurry up and open the door.”

 

After a while, the door squeaked open. I didn’t know if this could be called a door though. A small, scruffy girl poked her head out through the open door.

 

“Who are you?”

 

“Where is Teil?”

 

The girl couldn’t answer and was just only glancing at us. She seemed to be scared that we looked only for Teil. However, Madrenne was in no position to overlook the frightened girl’s situation, so she asked as if she was on duty.

 

“That Teil. Is he not home right now?”

 

“Yes… He went out to get something to eat and hasn’t come yet.”

 

Madrenne crumpled her brows as if she were troubled and turned toward me.

 

“Lady, it seems that he is not at home right now. Should we come back later?”

 

I didn’t like the word ‘later’. When the hell would it be? An hour later? A day later? I mean, it wasn’t clear, and the chance to just let it go would be bigger.

 

With that in mind, I decided to wait. Didn’t you feel relieved to have solved anything right away? And I didn’t want to climb this awful hill again.

 

“Let’s wait.”

 

“Yes? Do you know when he will come back? Besides, there is no place to rest here?”

 

“So you want to climb this hill again? Of course, I won’t come next time. I’m going to make you do it.”

 

At my words, Madrenne immediately urged the girl. “Hurry up and open the door. We’re going to go in and wait.”

 

Madrenne muttered as she looked around the house, “Oh my gosh… is this really a house?” As she said, the house was a mess. The roof was roughly placed on the roughly built wall, and tables and chairs with a roughly wide selection were so old that they seemed to break down if they sat down.

 

I asked out of curiosity, as there was no furniture like a bed anywhere in the house the size of a booger. “Where do you sleep?”

 

The girl, who had been unable to take her eyes off me with her mouth open from the moment she first saw me, looked down in surprise as if she had finally come to her senses, lowered her head, and pointed at one place with her finger.

 

“Over there? Do you really sleep there?” I asked in surprise, and the girl nodded with her head down.

 

My brow furrowed. There were no such things as a bed or futon where the girl’s finger pointed. On the dirty haystack, there were only a few blankets that looked old and moldy.

 

“What about your parents?” At my question, the girl only shook her head and said nothing.

 

Even if she didn’t speak, I could tell. The condition of her house and the fact that Teil had gone to get food and hadn’t come yet were enough to tell me what was going on with this girl.

 

I felt bad, but that’s all. There were nobles and commoners, rich and poor, men and women. Not everyone could live well. Because the rich didn’t want to share.

 

The conversation ended there. I thought there was no need for unnecessary conversation because the purpose wasn’t this girl in the first place. But I guess the reason wasn’t because of this girl. The girl, who was fiddling with her dirty skirt, asked me.

 

“Perhaps… are you an angel?”

 

“Huh? Me?”

 

“Yes… You are an angel, right?”

 

The twinkle in her eyes gave the impression that she had no doubt that I wasn’t an angel.

 

An angel… She didn’t know anything because she was still young, but humans shouldn’t be judged based on their appearance.

 

I smiled benevolently and patted the girl’s head. The feel of my hands when I patted her head… wasn’t good. The girl’s cheeks flushed as if the touch of patting her head was pleasant. I was a little sad and proud that she could be this bright even though she was living a life like this, but at the moment when I tried to withdraw my hand due to the damp touch.

 

“No! I just got this from an errand. I didn’t steal it!”

 

“One gold per errand… You want me to believe that?”

 

“It’s true! Why can’t Brother believe me?”

 

“Isn’t that because you didn’t usually act trustworthy?”

 

I heard a scuffle outside the door. Then.

 

Creek. The door opened, and two people entered the house. I withdrew my hand from patting the girl, smiled at them, and said, “Teil, you’re here now.”

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