She and the Third Day 3
When I went to meet Raid, she and her escorts were already waiting.
By the way, Freed came with me. I brought him with me since he said he’d go on with his business after meeting Raid. Seeing Freed, Raid nodded understandingly.
I guess she understood why he came.
“Your Highness Friedrich, I will borrow your consort today. I apologize for this appearance, but――”
As Raid humbly greeted him, Freed took a proper attitude with her, despite his surprise.
“… No, it is I who should apologize for being unaware until now. Lidi was delighted yesterday about making friends with you. Please take care of her today.”
After the greetings finished in a pleasant atmosphere, Freed returned to my side and whispered.
“It’s true. I’m surprised.”
“Right? I told you, didn’t I?”
“Yup. If you hadn’t, I’d have misunderstood for a moment. But certainly, she’s Princess Ophelia I know.”
As Freed was shaking his head in disbelief, Raid said, perhaps having heard our talk.
“It’s our first time meeting when I look like this, but it’s unmistakably me, Your Highness Friedrich. I’ll tell you just in case, I’m romantically interested in men, so you needn’t worry about me making moves on Princess Lidiana.”
“That’s relieving to hear. Thank you for the good news.”
Freed replied in a voice that I could tell was absolutely, seriously delighted.
I explained to Freed that Raid only dresses as a man and she’s a proper woman, but after all, he seemed unable to really believe it without seeing the real thing.
Be that as it may, it was just like him to accept her so quickly. Seeming to think the same thing, Raid told Freed in admiration.
“The Crown Prince and Princess of Wilhelm are amazing. I never would have thought both spouses would accept me.”
“I’m not in position to deny your choices. Besides, Lidi called you her friend. As a husband, I can’t not accept my wife’s friends, right?”
As Freed clearly answered, Raid’s eyes widened, then she laughed out loud.
“I see! Certainly. It’s truly like you to accept me because I’m your beloved consort’s friend! That’s much more believable than if you strangely kept up appearances!”
“After all, she’s my everything.”
Raid’s eyes widened at Freed’s answer, and then she showed a gentle expression.
“―― Your consort said the same thing yesterday. You both really are a close couple. I’m envious.”
“Lidi said that?”
“Yeah. She said it like it was natural.”
Freed looked at me, so I nodded.
“It’s all true. There’s no need to lie about that, right?”
“Yup, you’re right. But Lidi, it’s vexing you were fawning over me where I couldn’t hear it. I really wanted to hear it directly.”
“I always tell you similar things.”
“Fufu… Still, it feels different.”
Freed laughed in a good mood. Raid told him.
“Then, we’ll be going out.”
“I’m sorry for getting in the way. Please have fun. Lidi, be careful.”
“Yup. Cain is here, so it’ll be alright.”
And while at it, Brother is here too. When I told him so, Freed laughed, “You’re right,” and walked in the opposite direction to us.
“Lidi, shall we go… Er, are those two your escorts?”
After watching Freed leave, Raid looked at the two people behind me and asked, so I told her.
“Yup. Older Brother and Cain. You know Older Brother, right? He’s my brother, and Cain is my personal guard in Wilhelm… Is that simple enough?”
“Older Brother and a guard, huh. I understand. As usual, my escort is Ed alone. You might worry that he’s the only one, but rest assured that his skills are certain.”
Even if she has no romantic feelings for him, she seems to fully trust him as her knight.
When I nodded, Raid offered me her hand.
“Well then, your hand please, Princess. I’ll show you around the town of Irvine.”
The town of Irvine I was brought to by Raid for the first time was brimming with energy. Appropriate for a port city, fish caught in coastal waters was sold. They didn’t seem to be eaten raw, but it was enjoyable to see them sold boiled or sun-dried.
And as befitting of the name merchant country, there were numerous street stalls. They were all over the town. Also all over the town, stores lined up their products on spread-out sheets. The goods were groceries, gems, daily necessities, clothes. Suspicious medicinal herbs and medicine were also sold. It was obvious people who came from foreign countries owned stores as well. While I was surprised by the spectacle I don’t get to see much in Wilhelm, Raid said.
“In Irvine, as long as they submit an application, stalls can be opened by anyone, even if they aren’t citizens. There’s no registration fee either, so all profits go to merchants.”
“However, providing false information when applying is punished. You have to provide your name, the country and town where you live, list of items you plan to sell, the location of sale. If possible, submit a sample. And, you need one cosigner.”
I heard a word I don’t hear much. When I looked at Raid, she nodded.
“It would be bad if people ran away if something went wrong. Moreover, it’s a crime prevention measure. The applicant must go to the Royal Palace together with the cosigner when applying. The registration is only recognized when their intention is confirmed and consent obtained. If they look threatened or unwilling, registration is denied.”
“Then, isn’t the registration difficult?”
Raid smiled meaningfully at my question and pointed inside the town. A light brown tent was set up there, and a single man was sitting inside on a small chair. The signboard said, ‘Guarantor, negotiable.’
“There exist businesses that will become cosigners for money. It’s by no means cheap. And then, there is a system where the country becomes the cosigner if you work for the Royal Palace for a fixed period of time. If you serve the Royal Palace for one year without problems, you don’t need to look for the cosigner.”
“So there’s such a thing.”
I was surprised that an alternative for those who lack money was properly provided.
“You can choose whichever method you prefer. If you have a guarantor, you can just bring them in, if not, hire one for money or work for the Royal Palace. In any case, there’s a way prepared.”
“I see. If you nevertheless don’t register, you’re subject to penalties, right?”
“If you still don’t want to register, there must be a reason. For example, selling illegal goods.”
“I see. It is a port city. There’s a possibility various things will be brought in.”
Illegal things. For example, prohibited drugs, unlicensed arms or ammunition, animals that could carry plague, various things.
“Goods go through an inspection, but some may still slip through. Those measures help to crack down on them as soon as possible.”
“Indeed. Even if it’s cracked down on, smuggling doesn’t disappear. Every country has it hard, huh.”
Even Wilhelm has similar problems. No matter how wealthy the country, crime is never zero. The Royal Capital of Wilhelm is surrounded by tall walls and gates. Since the entrances are limited, it’s still fine, but I’ve heard from Freed that it’s terrible in towns with harbors. I can imagine how hard Freed’s uncle, Lord Garay, has governing a place where the navy headquarters are located.
When I earnestly nodded, Raid smiled wryly.
“Wilhelm also has port towns, doesn’t it?”
“They aren’t the Royal Capital, so I think it’s better than here.”
“No, everywhere is similar.”
While talking, we walked along the main street.
Brother, Cain, and then Raid’s guardian knight Edward followed behind without cutting into our conversation. The number of people was high. And they were all wearing different clothes. While I was admiring the diversity, Raid stopped before a red brick building that faced the main street.
It was probably a café. When I peeked inside, there was a dining area inside in addition to the many tables outside. It seemed about seventy percent full.
Most customers were leisurely drinking coffee.
“Lidi, let’s enter here. I often come to this café for a change of pace.”
“I’d love to!”
Raid called out to a nearby employee.
Seeing Raid, the employee smiled right away.
“Oh, Lady Raid. Welcome. Have you sneaked outside the Royal Palace again?”
“No, today I’m showing a friend around. As for seats… That’s right. Since it’s a precious outing, give us tables outside. One for two, and one for three.”
“You won’t share a table?”
“Yeah, they’re our escorts. If we all sat together, we’d suffocate.”
As Raid said so, displeased, the employee laughed, “You’re the same as ever, aren’t you,” and showed us inside.
I could guess from the regular customer-ish exchange that she very often hangs around here.
Be that as it may, I was aware that I also often wander around the Royal Capital, so I said nothing. I feel sorry to everyone for going outside, but I don’t want to stop, since it’s a good breather and I can meet all the townsfolk.
We sat on the seats the employee guided us to. Brother and others were seated next to us. Because they were three men, moreover all good-looking, they stood out incredibly. They gathered a lot more attention than us.
“They stand out, don’t they?”
“Yeah, it’s a good camouflage, right? All eyes invariably turn to them.”
“Older Brother is among them, so I don’t want to admit it, but it’s a feast for the eyes.”
“It is. By the way, I think we look like a couple.”
“That’s amusing too. If I hadn’t informed Freed, I absolutely wouldn’t be able to laugh though.”
I’m glad he met Raid earlier. Being misunderstood for lovers would be the worst development.
There’s nothing good about Freed being jealous.
The employee handed us the menu, so I checked it.
Various kinds of coffee were listed, followed by numerous confections that go along with coffee. There were also light meals, so it seemed like you could get through lunch here.
“Raid, you’re a regular at this store, right? If you have any recommendations, I hope you could tell me.”
I didn’t know what’s good at first look. When I honestly asked for help, Raid nodded, “That’s right.”
“Then, the Rammdahl coffee. It’s made from beans gathered from the Rammdahl region, but I recommend it. It’s easy to drink, and it’s especially popular with women.”
“Ooh, then I’ll have it. As for confections…. What should I do, I wonder.”
“I recommend this pudding. It comes with fresh cream and caramel.”
“Sounds delicious! Then, I’ll take that .”
It’s been a long time since I ate pudding. It seemed I could enjoy various flavors as fresh cream and caramel were served separately, so I followed Raid’s advice without hesitation.
“I’ll take the same. And, three cookies. I leave their choice to the chef.”
The employee received Raid’s order and left with a smile. When I turned my gaze towards Brother, they also appeared to have finished ordering as well. Edward, who was also from Irvine, was there, so I doubt they had any problems.
“Raid, what do you usually do in town?”
Until the order came, we amused ourselves with chatting. Raid seriously answered my casual question.
“I mostly observe people. I engage in writing, so I like seeing different people. Especially since this is a port town, I never get tired of the various people passing by.”
“Which reminds me, you mentioned writing romance books.”
Yesterday I overlooked it, but come to think of it, it’s a very interesting topic.