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Published at 10th of August 2017 04:05:17 AM
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Chapter 2.1

Volume 4, Chapter 2: Where the Journey Takes Us



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The journey in search of Keith began .

We ride our carriage in the direction the ugly bear points as it follows Keith’s scent (well, to be precise, it’s following memories, but I can’t see it as doing anything but following a scent . )

For now, we do as the bear says – or rather, as the bear points . I don’t know whether this bear will be of any use, but right now our only lead is this bear, so it can’t be helped .

On a side note, we borrowed a rather large carriage (we did choose one that merchants or regular citizens would use just in case), so we’re not packed inside despite there being six of us .

Though well, Sora is driving the carriage for us so he isn’t sitting inside .

Inside the moving carriage, Lahna is passionately answering a small question about magic Maria had asked her . There’s no sign of her stopping talking any time soon .

Maria is listening to Lahna’s explanation intently, perhaps out of duty given that she was the one to ask the question or perhaps because of her diligent personality .

Jared, sitting in a seat up front, has been seeming rather downhearted since we left . He’s more well-behaved than usual – he simply gives one-word responses at appropriate points and smiles a fake smile .

I myself listened to Lahna’s explanation at first, but as her explanation grew in complexity, I became unable to keep up . So I started to feel drowsy and ended up dozing .

“Katarina, for the time being, we’ve reached the first town,” says Lahna, waking me up .

Looking through the window, I see a fairly large town .

It looks like we’ve reached our first town while I was napping .

At Lahna’s urging, I exit the carriage . I hear the bustle of the town .

Although it’s the first town on our journey, it’s close enough that we reached it in a half-day . However, I’ve never been here before – I’m a bit excited .

It’s been decided that we’ll start by asking around for information about Keith in this town .

“Well then, since the town is fairly large and we’ll stand out if we move around in a big group, let’s go looking for info in three groups – Katarina and I, Jared and Maria, and Sora,” Lahna suggests .

“If I can, I would prefer to be with Katarina,” Jared says, but Lahna rejects his request, saying that it’s already been decided .

Well, I don’t really care who I’m with . I just don’t want to be alone since there’s a chance that something troublesome will happen .

And so, it was decided that Lahna and I would work together .

After wandering around the town, we found that it wasn’t too different from our own town, perhaps because it wasn’t that far from it .

Still, I can’t help but nervously glance back and forth in a town I’ve never been in before .

“You’re like a country girl that came to town for the first time,” says Lahna with a wry smile, seeing my behaviour .

In this way, despite acting like country hicks, we asked around town about Keith as we walked . But we didn’t get any information .

To be honest, even putting aside my bias as his stepsister, Keith is a handsome guy who stands out . My thoughts had been lighthearted – I believed that we’d immediately find out where he was if we just asked a few people . It was a disappointment that we didn’t find out anything at all .

I feel downhearted .

“We’ve just started . It’s what happens from now on that matters . Don’t make a face like that,” Lahna comforts, “And Alexander is pointing to somewhere further ahead . ”

She gestures at the bear riding on her shoulder . When I turn my gaze towards it, as expected, it looks at me condescendingly as if it’s snorting at me . It really makes me mad .

Noticing my sour expression, Lahna follows my gaze to the bear, but by the time her gaze reaches it, it’s already returned to its original expression . What an infuriating bear .

But my irritation disappears in an instant as we turn a corner . A store is there, seemingly delicious sweets displayed out front .

“Ooh… looks so good…”

Entranced by the sweets, I press against the storefront .



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Ah, those are my favourite sweets . And other there, there’s sweets I’ve never seen before . I wonder how they taste?

As I stare at the sweets, my stomach lets out a loud gurgle – I’m feeling somewhat hungry . My body is so dedicated to its desires .

Right then, I hear laughter coming from behind me . Glancing back, I see Lahna laughing rather strangely .

It seems like my stomach’s loud gurgling was hilarious to her . She laughs for a while longer before continuing .

“We still have some time until we’re supposed to meet up, so do you want to buy some to eat?”

“Yes,” I naturally respond, cheerful .

I enter the sweets shop with Lahna and pick out my favourite sweets and the sweets I’ve never seen before for myself . Feeling bad grabbing sweets just for myself, I also bought snacks for everyone else .

Lahna said that she didn’t want any right now, but she did buy some featured sweets for later .

And then, we sit down on a bench and open our bags of sweets .

“Delicious…”

I throw the sweets I bought into my mouth, lost in their deliciousness . Lahna snickers again in a strange way .

“Is something the matter?”

Huh? My stomach isn’t growling anymore, right?

“No, I’m sorry . It’s just that your quickly shifting expressions are so fun to watch, I couldn’t help myself . ”

“… I see . ”

I can’t really tell if she’s complimenting me or what .

“It means that it’s really fun being with you, Katarina . Right now, I can understand how they feel . And why you’re someone they need in their lives as well . ”

“… Who do you mean by ‘they’?” I ask, not understanding one whit of what she was saying .

Lahna just smiles meaningfully .

“What I mean to say is that I think it’s the same as how my magic is to me,” she says, not answering my question .

“How your magic is to you?”

“That’s right, for me, my magic is what gives the world colour,” says Lahna, her expression somehow calm and nostalgic, “In the past, when I was young I was bored with the world . Since I was talented, I could do most things easily . There wasn’t anything I found fun . I wasn’t a cute kid – I always was thinking that everything was boring . ”

Her story was like something I heard before . About a person who was so perfect – too perfect – that they weren’t able to be interested in anything . Someone who seemed blessed, but was lonely in a way .

“But one day, someone I knew gifted me many collections of books relating to magic . My acquaintance was a little strange and gifted me mainly difficult books that even adults would have difficulty reading rather than children’s books . ”

They gifted her difficult books on magic? If I had been her, I would’ve probably immediately pushed them into a corner on my bookshelf .

But Lahna apparently didn’t do that .

“I was addicted after reading just a bit . I felt that something was interesting for the first time ever – I devoured all the books I was given at once . I received quite a few books, but I finished reading them all in two, three days . And by the time I finished reading, I had become completely obsessed with this thing called magic . Fortunately, I had magic myself, so I was about to try out a lot of things, and so I got even more addicted . ”

Ah I see, so that’s how Lahna became the magic geek she is today . I listen, making noises of understanding at times .

“Oh yes, you’re the second person to hear this whole story, Katarina,” Lahna says .

“What, is that so?”

I had automatically thought that it was something she told a lot of people .

“Well, it’s not really a story I want to tell just anyone . The only ones I’ve told are you and my partner, I guess?”



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“Partner?”

“Yeah, my fiancé . ”

“Your fiancé!?”

I was shocked . To think that Lahna, who seems to have zero interest in anything but magic, had a fiancé as well .

But no, Rafael did mention that Lahna was a noble of fairly high prestige, so well, it’s not as if it’s out of the question…

“W – what is he like?” I ask, curious .

“Eccentric,” Lahna responds shortly .

Ah, so her fiancé is that type of person…

I see . But I still kind of want to meet her fiancé at least once, just to see what kind of person he is .

Fiancé… oh, speaking of which .

“I just remembered!” I say suddenly .

“W – what did you remember!” asks Lahna, looking surprised .

“Ah, my apologies . I had been thinking that your story of your childhood sounded familiar, and I just remembered why it does . ”

“Oh, and why is it familiar?”

“Ah, yes . It reminded me of Jared-sama . He told me before that he’s able to do anything and isn’t capable of being fascinated with anything . ”

Well, in reality I didn’t hear it from the man himself . I just read it during the otome game’s storyline from my past life .

“I see, so Jared was the same . So he was able to safely find something that fascinates him as well . ”

“…? No, I do not believe that Jared-sama has found such a thing yet?”

After all, he should’ve met Maria and fallen in love with her, thus becoming fascinated with her . But unfortunately their love didn’t bloom, so Jared shouldn’t have found anything to be fascinated with yet .

“… it’s awfully unrequited . ”

“Hm?”

Lahna lets out a deep sigh for some reason .

“Well, still, it’s fortunate just that he found something that fascinated him . Just finding one such thing brightens your surroundings at once . You gradually find more and more things you find fun, after all . Just like I did,” says Lahna, laughing mischievously, “Alright, it’s time to meet back up . Should we get back to the carriage?”

And so, we returned to the carriage, each holding sweets in a hand .

When I return holding sweets, Jared says, “All you did was eat sweets, no?” so I erase his portion of the souvenir sweets .

I gave Jared’s portion to Maria, who happily exclaimed, “Wow, they look so good . ”

Everyone else hadn’t been able to find any information on Keith either . So, in the carriage, we head even further out .

************

As we ate sweets inside the carriage, cheerfully talking together, we reached the next town .

We’ve gotten quite far from the academy – the town is much larger than the one we reached first .

“Woah, what a big town,” I exclaim at the scenery I can see from a carriage window .



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“That’s true, it’s the biggest town in this area,” Lahna explains, “Mm . The sun has begun setting – should we rest in this town today?”

With Lahna’s statement, it was decided that we would stay in this town today .

When we leave the carriage and head out into town, it’s fairly bustling with activity, even if naturally it isn’t as much as the castle town .

There’s double the number of people compared to the last town, and plenty of stores .

Lahna and Sora have apparently visited this town before, but this is all new to everyone else .

I had never visited the town from before as well, but as it wasn’t that far from where we lived, I was mostly used to the scenery, the stores, and the goods being sold . But this town was very different .

The atmosphere was very different and the goods being sold are mostly items I’ve never seen before . I end up distracted by the variety of goods displayed by the stores .

And then I can’t help but stop when my eyes land on one such item .

“Woah, that’s cool . It’s nice… I want it…”

I’m in a cheerful mood – I feel like going around to sightsee .

“Katarina, we did not come here to have fun,” Jared interrupts .

“Ugh, you’re right . ”

“But well, if there’s something that has caught your eye, shall I buy it for you? Which do you wish?”

“What, are you serious!?”

How generous, as expected from a prince .

Well, I am from a Duke’s House, but I’m the only one in the family not given much of an allowance because “we can’t have you waste money . ”

And so, I need to carefully pick and choose what I want to buy, and most of it goes towards vegetable seeds, seedlings, and manure . So I’m actually pretty broke .

To make things worse, I spent quite a bit of money on sweets in the last town, so I need to save my money for the future .

Thus, I’ll accept his kind offer!

I pick up the item that had caught my eye and hold it up in front of Jared .

“It’s this!”

“What!? This is…”

I feel like I see Jared twitch a little . Then, after a little while…

“Um, what kind of tool is this?” he asks .

“I do not know . But doesn’t it seem super cool!?” I answer, somewhat excited .

The item I picked up after it caught my eye was a round tool that fit nicely in my hand . It seemed kind of like a mirror, but there was no mirror attached to it – instead, decorations adorn its rim in a circle .

I have no clue what it might be used for, but it looked like some kind of secret magical tool (much more than that ugly bear, honestly) and seemed super cool .

It looked kind of like you could summon beasts by shouting out “Come!” while holding it .

Its cool design re-awoke my otaku soul from my past life and made me want it .

At my insistences that I wanted it because it looked cool, Jared lets out a vague “I see,” then gives a realistic response: “For now, let’s ask the shopkeeper what it’s used for . ”

“Oh, that’s just an ornament,” the elderly shopkeeper responds once we ask .

“Just an ornament? Is it made by someone famous?” Jared asks . The shopkeeper looks troubled .

“No, I don’t know who made it . It’s something that’s passed through a lot of different stores since no one wants to buy it . We were thinking of getting rid of it soon too – we’ve had it for quite a while but no one’s been interested in it . ”

So to summarize it’s travelled all around the marketplace because no one buys it no matter where it is .

The shopkeeper says that they bought it off of it an acquaintance shopkeeper for a low price .

And so, we were able to buy it for a fairly low price . I was glad because although Jared generously offered to buy it for me, I wouldn’t have been able to ask him to buy something too expensive for me .

“Are you really happy with that?” Jared asks me a number of times .

“I’m fine with this,” I respond repeatedly .

And so he buys it for me .

“Jared-sama, thank you very much,” I thank him cheerfully, carefully putting the ornament in a pocket .

“Something so cheap… I would’ve bought you something more expensive,” he says .

“I wouldn’t accept, you’ve bought me so many vegetable seedlings and such . I would feel bad asking you for an expensive item . ”

“You don’t need to worry about that . We’re engaged, aren’t we?”

“No, but…”

While it’s true that we’re engaged now, it’s just for the moment . If Jared finds someone he loves… huh, I feel like I’ve forgotten something important because all I can think about is how Keith ran away…

Jared smoothly reaches a hand and caresses my hair as I think deeply .

My heartbeat kind of rises .

“Hey, Katarina, it looks like you’ve forgotten because you can’t think about anything but Keith, but like I said before, I –”

“–Enough . So you were loitering in a place like this when I noticed that I couldn’t see you two,” says Sora, appearing suddenly and grabbing Jared’s hand .

The hand caressing my hair stops touching, and I can no longer remember the thing I was almost about to recall .

“… Sora, did you do that on purpose?” Jared asks, turning a threatening gaze to him .

It seems like Jared has suddenly gone into a bad mood even though he was all smiles a moment ago . Why in the world?

“Yes . I had been asked to, after all,” Sora responds .

“Asked to?” says Jared, raising an eyebrow in distrust .

“Yes . Lady Mary Hart submitted an official request through the Ministry of Magic to ‘ensure the safety of Katarina-sama’ . ”

“… Is getting in my way a part of that request?”

“Yes . Actually, that is the main goal of the request . ”

“…”

Jared goes silent, his face grim .

I didn’t really understand some parts of the conversation, but the important thing was that Mary made a request to the Ministry of Magic to ensure my safety during this journey . Though this journey wasn’t really dangerous or anything, it made me happy that my friend cared about me .

What a kind friend I have .

“Well then, we’ve decided on an inn so we should head there . Lahna-sama and Maria-san are waiting there . ”

That’s right, at Sora’s urging we head to today’s inn .

Jared was muttering things like “She got me,” and “To think she’d go this far . ” Did something happen?



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