Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
In the bustling town of Austell, Fransisca begins to look for the parents of a lost little girl, completely forgetting that she is also lost.
When she finds that the parents are not nearby, she decides to change the location by taking the girl by the hand.
”Are you from Austell?”
Fransisca asks as she pulls the girl’s hand. And the girl shakes her head, “No.”
”I’m from Freswain.”
”I see. Well, this town is fun, isn’t it? So many waterways, so many boats.”
”Yes. More than in Freswain.”
”So where you live, there are waterways too?”
To Fransisca’s question, “Yes,” says the girl.
”A lot more than here. You know, my dad is a boatman in Freswain.”
”Wow, that’s great! So do you have birds too?”
The girl nodded proudly to Fransisca who was impressed.
”Yes! My bird’s name is Nick, and he’s staying at home right now.”
”Ah, I see.”
Fransisca smiled at her and the girl asked, “Where’s your dad?”
Fransisca stammers. She felt like she was suddenly doused with cold water.
He was a king, but she couldn’t say that. That would reveal her identity. Nor could she say that he was no longer of this world.
When she remained silent, the girl asked her, “Is he a great man?” which made her more nervous.
”…Why do you think so?”
Fransisca asks back.
The girl tilted her head.
”Because Onee-chan is beautiful and looks like a princess.”
Fransisca was at a loss for words.
She was dressed in commoner’s clothes, but she was confronted with something that made her say so.
”And you’re wearing an expensive-looking sword…”
The girl smiles at her. But there is no malice in her expression.
Well, the girl is a child. It’s better to tell the truth than to make a fool of her. So she decides, and answers.
”Well, that’s true, I’m a princess… sort of. But I’m keeping this a secret. So please don’t tell anyone.”
She puts her index finger gently on her lips.
The girl stops and her eyes widen.
Her voice is so loud that it shakes the whole area, and Fransisca becomes impatient.
All around her, people around her look at her as if they were wondering what was going on.
”It’s not amazing! It’s not extreme. Let’s be quiet. Look, the people around here think it’s some kind of event or something.”
”Ah… I’m sorry.”
The girl quickly came to her senses and hurried to apologize.
Perhaps embarrassed by the way she was being looked at, the girl took Fransisca’s hand and gave it a tug.
She then gave Fransisca a beaming smile and said, “Let’s go.”
Seeing her charm makes Fransisca smile too.
”Yes, let’s go. We have to find your parents as soon as possible.”
After that, the girl nodded her head cheerfully. Her face shows no signs of anxiety, and Fransisca’s heart breaks.
Fransisca is glad if her presence helps to distract her, even if only a little.
Now, they walk along the cobblestone streets, climbing up and down a series of short staircases.
Eventually, they arrived at the landing place of a small boat. There, an unmanned ferry is just about to be launched.
”Ah, a ferryboat.”
Fransisca blurts out.
At that moment, a thought occurred to her.
”Ah, isn’t that the boat that goes around the town slowly? If we go looking for them on that boat, we can cross the whole town and maybe we can find your parents. It would be easier for them to see us.”
”But I don’t have the money…”
”Don’t worry. Onee-chan has it.”
Fransisca smiled at her.
Thus, Fransisca and the girl boarded the boat for the first time together.
The boatman, who had heard what had happened, tied a letter on the leg of a bird that had come back from the advertising campaign and released it into the sky again.
He said that this was to let the guard know that there was a lost child.
”If I do this, the guard will help you find your parents.”
The boatman tells the girl, to which she replies, “Thank you.”
”Good for you. I hope you find your parents.”
Fransisca pats the girl on the head and the girl smiles happily.
Soon the boat arrived at another landing place.
There, two people were already waiting for them, a man and a woman, accompanied by a guard.
The girl’s joy spreads across her face, and she immediately gets off the boat and jumps on her father first.
Besides the father, the mother bows her head to Fransisca.
Noticing this, the little girl talks to her mother.
”I wasn’t scared at all because of Onee-chan.”
”Umm, that’s good. Did you thank her properly?”
At her mother’s urging, the girl runs up to Fransisca.
”Thank you, Onee-chan!”
She thanks her with a big smile and gives her a bag of caramels.
”Here. It’s for you, Onee-chan.”
Fransisca waved her hands down and watched the girls and their parents walk away.
”After all, she has the best smile with her parents, doesn’t she?” She suddenly feels lonely.
”I’m so glad, young lady,” Fransisca was told by the boatman who had started rowing again.
”…You’re a foreigner, aren’t you? You may have come here to see the festival, but you still take care of lost children in a foreign country all the way here. That’s quite a feat.”
”No, not at all.”
Fransisca shook her head.
”At that time I was just—”
On the boat, Fransisca finally remembers.
Fransisca gives a wry smile to the boatman who asks her.
”…I was lost, too.”
Needless to say, the boatman’s smile tightens at that moment.
* * *
The bird was sent away again, but when it arrived at the next landing place, Alexis was not waiting there.
Instead, there stood a strange middle-aged man in a cloak and formal attire, accompanied by a guard.
”Oh, my Lord!”
The boatman bows his head in haste as soon as he gets on the boat.
”…My lord?” Fransisca tilted her head.
The Lord walked up to Fransisca and bowed to her on his knees.
”You are Queen Fransisca Sheridan Sagrado from the Kingdom of Sagrado, aren’t you?”
Fransisca’s face scrunched up as she was told the name she had been hiding.
Nearby, the boatman, who had just been chatting with her in a friendly manner, looks blankly at her.
Discouraged by this, she answered firmly to the Lord.
”…I have not yet given my name.”
”I know who you are, even if you don’t tell me your name. You do not know me, but I was present at the last celebration in Lynus. You were there with the Priest-king.”
The other party is not playing a trick but is convinced of Fransisca’s presence.
Fransisca realized this and, after a sigh, thanked the boatman and decided to get off the boat.
”Ah, please forgive me…! Please forgive me… for all the disrespect I have done to you, not knowing that you are a foreign royalty…! I swear…!”
Seeing the boatman bowing unnecessarily makes her sad.
”No, there’s no such thing as rudeness. You have done your best. Please allow me to thank you.”
After speaking softly to him, Fransisca walked up to the Lord again, who remained on his knees.
Even though she was not the ruler of his own country, the lord could not speak to her as an equal, even though she was a foreigner and a member of the royal family of Sagrado.
In the meantime, not to be overheard, Fransisca speaks to him in a hushed voice.
”…I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m here on a personal visit. I do not intend to visit official places. I hope you could let me go.”
”No, I cannot.”
His reply was unexpected.
Fransisca was so surprised that she couldn’t help but ask back.
”Because you have a guest waiting for you.”
Hearing these words, Fransisca let out a sigh.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
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