– I’m so mad!
As Camilla stomped down those cobbled streets, she paid no heed to where she was going.
– How! Dare! They!
Even though her head is burning with anger, the cold air still bit at her skin. But as that rage twinkled in her eyes, Camilla’s body kept on moving.
After rushing out of the mansion, she just went wherever her feet took her. Although the colour of the sky became ever darker, Camilla kept going.
The late evening sun sunk towards the horizon quickly, as the shadows of the town stretched ever longer. Businesses that remained shuttered during the day opened up for business, with many ruddy-faced men lining up outside. Women in exotic and titillating outfits called out to entice various merchants and miners who passed by to come inside.
The streetlamps set up around the city flickered to life as the evening passed into night. The bright lights they emitted weren’t burned from oil or gas, but took their power from the manastones they used as a battery. These lamps were lit using the refuse manastones that weren’t seen as fit for export.
Was it the light of the manastone that signaled the beginning of the town’s nightlife? Unlike during the day time, the town took on a more seedy vibrancy than during the day time.
In a place like this, a girl like Camilla inevitably stood out. Wearing a high-class dress, with her hair ornately tied up and with various pieces of jewelry like valuable necklaces and earrings.
Surprised to see a noblewoman in a place like this, people inevitably turned to look at her. But, they quickly looked the other way in a panic when they saw her thunderous face.
– That man! Just who do you think you’re pitying!?
As those emotions swirled around in her chest, she didn’t keep track of just how far she walked. She had no idea just where in this town she was either. Although she’s walked for so long, it seems like she keeps seeing the same sights over and over. Of course, she has no idea how to get back either.
– I will definitely pay you all back!
Even the possibility of making Alois slim down was impossible now.
Camilla’s yelled back at that doubtful voice in her heart. She won’t lose. This much won’t bring her down.
As she etched that in her mind, she kept striding down the road.
And, as she went, something brought Camilla to an unintended stop.
Something had run into her, just a little below her chest. Despite yelling that out, it hadn’t really hurt her, instead her bubbling anger was more to do with someone stopping her in the first place.
“Why are you just standing about idly like that!?”
Camilla knew what had bumped into her straight away. Right in front of her, there was a confused looking boy. Perhaps, about 12 years old? He had a patch on his pants and his shirt looked worn out. It was plain to see that he hadn’t been living an affluent life.
“What, aren’t you just a child!? Why are you out so late!?”
“….What the hell, why are you just bumping into people like that!”
When he first saw Camilla’s angry face, the boy had stiffened up as if he were frightened. But, that only lasted an instant. He suddenly became rather cheeky, talking back to Camilla.
“Are you a bad kid!? If you know your way home, go back there!”
“Haa!? Aren’t you the one who’s lost!?”
The boy and Camilla yelled back and forth under the incandescent magical light. But, the boy’s face that became red from all the yelling seemed to be a little exhausted looking.
“You should at least know where you live! But, as for me, I can’t go home…!”
“You really are lost then!”
“I told you, that you’re wrong!!”
As the boy yelled that from the depths of his belly, he suddenly sighed deeply. Then, he suddenly looked at Camilla with a serious face, the girl he had looked down on as been lost.
“Well, whatever. Can you help me for a bit?”
“Ha? I don’t have any money.”
“What do you think I am!?”
She thought that he was a young beggar and assumed he was going to badger her for money. But, right now, Camilla doesn’t have a single coin on her. If you sold her ornaments and jewelry, one would probably fetch a fair price, but she was hardly going to part with those things.
“You’re such a weird person! I just want to ask for some help! The truth is, I was actually going to go ask Lord Alois, but…!”
At that unexpected name, Camilla’s mouth hung open.
“The old lady collapsed on her way to Lord Alois’ place. I want to help her, but no one believes me and even if I went to see Lord Alois the servants would just kick me out…”
“Fell down… That’s a real problem!”
On the way to the estate, she fell by the roadside?
She looked around in wonder, but she couldn’t see anyone like that. Instead, all she could see were people watching her talking with the boy, with expressions that seemed to say ‘what a pity’.
– What kind of expression is that…?
Camilla couldn’t quite understand. As she looked puzzled, a kind natured person spoke out to Camilla.
“Oi, you better not get to close to that kid, young miss.”
“…Why is that?”
“That boy is infamous around here. He’ll coax people in with his lies and then fleece them. Everyone in town knows about him.”
As he said that, the people nearby began to murmur. “I heard he used the ‘my mother has a sudden illness’ lie three times in a row.” “Last time, he said that his sister was dying, even though he has no family.” “It’s all just a trick to get people into an alleyway. It makes it easier for him to escape afterwards.”
As she listened to those people talk, Camilla glanced at the boy. As she looked down, all Camilla could see was the boy who was staring at his feet with clenched fists.
“He was trying to lure people in for a while now, but you’re the only one who paid any attention to him. Everyone around here knows not to get involved with that boy.”
As he laughed, someone nearby said that. It made perfect sense. The reason why he decided to call out to such an out-of-place person like Camilla is that no one else would give him the time of day.
“Are you a pickpocket? You’re the worst.”
“…This is different!”
As Camilla muttered those words, the boy cried out in frustration.
“I’ve never done that since the old lady took me in! It’s the truth…! I just need help to bring her home… Please help me!!”
Tears were beginning to form at the edges of his bloodshot eyes. But, the boy bit his lip and forced them back.
That expression was familiar. It was like the one that she had not too long ago.
“……Well, fine. I understand.”
Camilla nodded as she looked at the boy for a time. As she said that she would help him, Camilla was reflected in the round eyes of surprise the boy looked at her with.
“Oi oi, are you serious? This kid is a well known liar, you know.”
Someone interjected as they watched Camilla agree to help. But, without even turning to face the direction of the voice, Camilla found her words.
“So far, this child hasn’t yet told me a falsehood. Whether or not this child is a liar or not is not something that I know about. Therefore, for the time being, I shall believe him. Where is this old woman?”
“…Really? You really believe me!?”
“For now. If it turns out that you were lying to me, be ready for the consequences.”
The boy nodded vigorously. She heard a laughing voice say ‘that’s so pitiful’, but Camilla ignored it completely.
“The old lady has been really sick recently… But, there’s medicine back at the house! Right now she’s resting in a back alley! I’ll take you there!!”
The boy grasped Camilla’s hand, trying to hurry her along. Camilla ran with light footsteps, following the boy’s lead.
She knows that what she’s doing is reckless. Even Camilla would usually have hesitated in doing something like this.
But, Camilla had noticed it.
From the boy’s hair, there was just the faintest scent of cookie dough.