I heaved a sigh. “Erina, I keep telling you, I’m fine.”
Like the usual, Erina sat opposite me in the carriage.
It has been three days since I arrived in the third city for the Lord’s punishment. Although it was faster than it had been when I was in Piraeus, it was convenient. Or to say, just as what I have expected. All because the delegate Mother sent was given enough time to sort things out before I arrived.
“I haven’t spoken a word, Amelia.” In a manner befitting of her position as a maidservant, she sat with her hands on her knees.
“Your gaze is enough to tell me, you know?” I leaned my head beside the window, watching the scenery pass by. “Besides, you were able to check my condition every time you need to give me a wash. Isn’t that enough proof to you that my body is fine?”
Erina had been worried. Since my sleep has been cut from the usual eight hours, down to three to four hours, Erina began to wonder about my health. The fact that she was calling me by my name instead of ‘Her Highness’ was proof.
“The signs or symptoms may not be visible in the early stages, Amelia,” unsmiling, she said. “It would best be cautious and prepared once you suddenly knock yourself unconscious.”
Again, I sighed. “I won’t faint. Or at the least, I haven’t felt that I would faint recently.”
Me fainting on my own wasn’t a rare case. Or should have been.
It started out when I was nine to ten years old. During those times, I was juggling magic study, basic physical movements, politics, land management, and several more. However, since I wasn’t back to full health, and the fact that I was severely ill after Grandfather’s death, me fainting from time to time was uncommon.
At that time, I was reprimanded by not Erina alone, but by Mother and Father. But Erina gave me the most number of lectures.
And currently, the gaze she shot me back then, was similar to the gaze she was giving me.
“Anyway, were almost there.” By that time, I sighted a large river-fed moat. Across it was several structures of stone. Either reinforced by metals or wood.
“It’s been a while.” Erina closed her eyes and smiled.
This, at the least, is where we could rest at ease. My fief, the Duchy.
The moment I alighted the carriage, my sight was greeted by familiar faces.
“Welcome back, Amelia.” With a wide grin on his face, Father, wearing leather padded silk, approached.
By his side, Lara greeted similarly.
“I’m back, Father, and Her Royal Highness Lara.” I returned a smile. “How was your stay?”
“Nothing to scoff at.” Father chuckled.
“Like always, there are surprises,” Lara added.
Then a lynx ran up to Father’s side. It was wearing a blue coat over its body. [Welcome! Welcome!] Then the lynx placed its paw over its nose, then quickly, a little below its ear. It was Marco.
“Thanks, Marco.” It has been a while since I last saw Marco. “Say, Marco, can we speak later?”
There was something bothering me. And I was sure it had something to do with Father. Because, for all I knew, Marco wasn’t as round as he was back then. Basically, he turned plump.
A little after we exchanged greetings, I excused myself with Marco. We were not that far from Father and Lara, but I made sure I spoke to Marco in a whisper.
“Marco, you have grown quite a lot.”
At the least, Marco’s speech was still the same. Butchered as always.
“No need to thank me.” I patted Marco’s head. “You were doing your job properly, right? That’s your reward. But tell me, what can you say about Father?”
In a few seconds, I took a glance at Father, then to Lara. For some reason, when Lara met my eyes, she smiled. And her hand pointed to Father unknowingly.
I nodded and returned my sight to Marco. “Marco, has Father been giving you a reward?”
[Yes!] Marco readily nodded. [Additional for catching!]
I knew it.
Father acting like always. It was reassuring, but something like this won’t pass through me.
I leaned closer to Marco’s ear and whispered. “Marco, if you get too fat, you won’t be able to chase down Father. By then, Mother would exchange you for someone else.” It was like the sweet words of a devil. “From then on, no more bucket of fishes for you. So don’t let Father deceive you with those tempting fishes.”
[W-wha…] Marco froze.
“Think about it. Eternal supply of fish or a large amount in a limited number of days.”
[W-what should I do, oh great Lia?]
I was slightly surprised by Marco’s sudden change in the manner of speaking.
Maybe that was too dire of a situation for Marco?
“Go on a diet, Marco. Do it. Exercise more and get those limbs and body moving. Lose those fats. For the eternal supply of fish.”
[For the eternal supply of fish.] Marco lifted his trembling paws. [For the eternal supply of fish.] He muttered while glancing at his balled paws.
At that point, Father’s plans to lose Marco started to crumble. But I did not care. I did not want any more siblings than I already have.
“Now then.” I lifted myself up and dusted my skirt. For a moment, I observed Marco who was mumbling the same words. Taking my leave, I approached Father and Lara. With a smile, I said, “This will reach Mother.”
“...” Father frowned.
“And Father. Regarding the Order of Scales, I refuse.”
“… Your reason?” Maybe he knew that Marco’s issue was already a lost cause that he readily accepted the change in topic.
“I’m not an expert in riding wyverns right now. Aside from that, I have several responsibilities to take care of from here on. But I’ll try to speak with the Tribe if they are willing to lend a hand.”
I’ll take time to train them. My time too will be consumed in the process. I can’t have my time shortened right now.
Father crossed his arms. “I see. About how long would it take the knights to ride a wyvern?”
“It depends, but first, we’ll need specialized saddles. Other than that… the species of the wyvern in question? Though I knew you were able to retrieve wyvern eggs, I don’t know what kind it is.”
“So there’s no choice but to rely on the Tribe huh.”
I knitted my brows. “Why are you against it? I’m a chief there, you know? Even at the least, I have some influence there. It won’t be that far-fetched for them to lend a few Enarfs that could give our knights some pointers about wyverns. In addition to that, it might open up trade for tamed beasts.”
“The treaty had only been revived recently.”
“You’re just stubborn. Even though it was just revived, there’s no harm at all in having a continuous exchange with them. Even now, I’m trying to set up a distillery in the Tribe itself to receive the favor of the Dwarfs.”
“Amelia, there are some things that should be taken one step at a time. Trust must be built from the base and up.”
I heaved a sigh. Isn’t that why we were hiding the fact that the treaty was partly severed from five years ago? And what do you mean trust? Is the Tribe that hard to understand?
Afterward, Father and I transferred to a private room. We had our discussion there. However, as things were, it was decided that I would be allowed to do as I please. In short, Father gave up in persuading my decision to pass the responsibility of training the Order to someone else.
Shortly after Father and I ended our discussion, a servant told me that someone wished to meet me.
“Is it from the merchant’s side? Maybe Tineva’s child? Or maybe Hilda that Kasta wrote about?” Those were the immediate personalities that I thought that would want to meet me.
“It came from Lady Kanna of the Tribe, Your Highness.” The servant bowed.
“Kanna?” I was puzzled. For all I knew, I expected Kanna to come along with Meiko and Mola. “From which building is she staying?”
Based on the servant’s words, it seemed that Kanna remained in the same room she stayed with Meiko and Mola. A room located in the quarters for guests. It was a small structure beside the main research facility inside the Duchy.
“Welcome back Lia.” She stood there with a smile. She wore the same set of leather clothing she used when we parted.
“I’m sorry for making you wait, Kanna.” It has been a week and two days since Mola and Meiko departed.
“Hehe.” Kanna grinned. “If it’s for the promised nap, waiting isn’t even an obstacle!” Like a victor, Kanna raised her right arm into the air.
My lips curved into a wry smile. “I thought you would forget.”
“There’s no way I’d forget such an important matter!”
“Your priorities sure are something.”
A nap. That was what I promised when I parted with Kanna. The only condition was to retrieve Meiko. The idea came from the words she muttered while I was rummaging my mind for a solution to the previous deadlock.
“Sorry Lia, I don’t think can help with this issue. But if there’s anything within my capabilities, let me know.” Those were the words she muttered.
Within Kanna’s capabilities… What if, the situation turned into something that Kanna could move?
And so Kanna deployed the Enarfs and White-tails after rushing to the Duchy while accompanied by one of my Guards.
“Well, you earned it.” I was still reluctant to the idea of having a nap with Kanna. More like I was not ready and used to sleeping with someone other than Erina. “But Kanna, if you do something funny, you’ll regret it.”
Kanna waved her hand in dismissal. “No worries. I just want to feel Lia’s warmth.”
“… Kanna, that’s not that pleasing to hear.” I covered my face with the palm of my hand. “Anyway, since you’re here in the Duchy. Kanna, will you fly with me back to the Tribe? I have something to apologize to Garfin.” I turned my sight to my feet.
Kanna frowned as she inched closer. “Did something happen?”
“Well… I destroyed Garfin’s gift.” From that point, Kanna nuzzled her head against me.
“I wonder if Garfin would be angry with that.”
Allowing her to do as she pleased, I asked. “Why not? He probably took time and effort to craft such an amazing piece.”
[‘Weapons are meant to be used, not kept.’] Kanna spoke in the language of the Dwarfs. “That’s probably what Garfin would lecture you about. No, more importantly, I think he would be happy that used his weapon to the point of breakage. He’ll probably think you were in a dire situation that you couldn’t help but overuse it.”
“Kanna, that’s not the point. It was Garfin’s gift for my coming of age. Aside from that… nothing remains of the original. It’s completely destroyed.”
“Well, you have to see for yourself.” Kanna looked up to me from my chest. Her expression was something akin to the feeling of bliss.
“...” Silently, I reached out my hands and pinched both of Kanna’s cheeks. “You’re indulging yourself way too much.”
“Bwhut I chant hellp itt.”