4 (2) – 1
The carriage which Camilla rode on trundled through the snow-covered road on its way towards Blume.
As she looked out the window, the fields of snow continued far off into the horizon. Over the rolling hills and deadened trees, the snow even collected on the top of frozen rivers.
Yet even this was less snow than one would apparently see further north. The west of Mohnton, where Blume was located, was said to have one of the mildest climates in the territory. The winters weren’t too freezing and the summers weren’t too oppressive, not to mention that the miasma was also a lot less of a problem here. There weren’t as many swamps dense with miasma, instead, there were a lot of forests with normal wildlife. It was one of the few lands in Mohnton actually containing some expanse of agriculture as well.
However, at this time of year, the fields were dead of course. It was still quite some time before things would grow again, come Spring.
As she watched the endless fields of snow roll past the window, Camilla sighed.
“You don’t look well, are you okay?”
Nicole, who was sitting opposite her in the carriage, asked her worriedly. Even though she asked, she didn’t wait for Camilla’s reply as she began to try and pull a blanket out of the luggage she had beside her.
“Ahh, no, I am fine. The trip merely wore me out a little, that’s all.”
The ride from Mohnton’s capital to Blume usually took half a day by carriage. However, the roads were slick with snow at the moment. As the journey took longer than it typically would, it would be even more tiring for people who weren’t used to traveling such long distances without rest.
They had left the previous day. After spending two-days traveling by carriage, Blume was finally nearby. It only made sense that she would feel fatigued after such a long period of traveling.
But, Nicole seemed to be suspicious all the same.
“Is that really all? When we spent the previous night at the inn, you didn’t want to leave your room at all and you didn’t look well…”
“…Is that so?”
Camilla tried to avoid the conversation as her eyes drifted back to the window. She didn’t want to meet Nicole’s painfully earnest gaze right now.
“It is so. Because when we usually go somewhere new, you’re always the first person to want to look around, Mistress-”
“Do not call me that!”
Both Nicole and Camilla were surprised by that sudden shout. As Nicole’s eyes widened in shock, Camilla quickly pressed a hand over her mouth.
Up until now, Nicole had always been in the habit of calling Camilla ‘Mistress’. At first, Camilla had done her best to rebuke her for it, but eventually it became a fruitless chore so she pulled her up on it less and less.
Lately, she had gotten used to it and just let Nicole call her how she pleased.
Though it had been quite some time since she had snapped at her for using that word, it had somehow come out of her mouth surprisingly harsh. Nicole blinked in surprise a couple of times, but when she spoke again, her face was even more earnest than before.
“But really, it sure was strange… When you told me that I would be coming to Blume with you. ‘Come with me, do not leave my side even for an instant’, you said to me. Even though I thought you were supposed to be riding in Lord Alois’ carriage.”
That’s right. In fact, Camilla was supposed to ride in the Duke’s carriage alongside Alois. As a result of refusing that, Camilla took the secondary carriage with Nicole, whilst Alois now had to travel in the Duke’s carriage sandwiched with all his male attendants. She felt bad just thinking about it.
By the way, the Head Chef Günter was amongst Alois’ retainers this time. Apparently he was brought along due to him being Klaus’ direct boss. After being provoked by Klaus’ words and blurting out that she ‘loved Prince Julian’, Camilla had been inadvertently avoiding meeting him.
“Well, that’s because you are my only maid, after all.”
Camilla frowned slightly at Nicole, trying to hide her embarrassment.
“What’s more, how do I put this, it would have been uncomfortable… being alone. I wanted somebody to stay by my side.”
Camilla’s voice trailed off into a murmur. That last sentence could barely be heard over the shaking of the carriage underneath them. Far from being convinced, Nicole only looked more and more anxious.
“You really are different from usual today, Mistress.”
Camilla bit her lip and averted her eyes. As Camilla’s only maid, they had spent several months close together now. Nicole was easily the person who saw Camilla the most often.
If Nicole was impertinent and pushy like this before, the usual Camilla wouldn’t have stood for it and would definitely have snapped back. But right now, she felt like she couldn’t say a thing since the maid’s words were the truth.
– But even so, what should I do?
‘Become my fiancée?’ When Alois had asked that of her, Camilla couldn’t give him an answer. After that, seeing how Camilla was rooted to the spot in silence, Alois had told her that she ‘didn’t need to make a decision right away’.
But if not then, just when should she reply? How could she talk to Alois now without having answered him?
And above all else…just how was she to respond?
This was the matter that Camilla was most uncertain of.
That said, she couldn’t afford to keep dallying forever. Sometime soon, she would have to make a decision. That dark fog creeping through her would only get worse if she kept Alois waiting on tenterhooks without an answer for too long.
In the past, Camilla had once called Alois ‘insincere’. Camilla now felt those words were more suited for herself.
Because…Camilla felt like she was being terribly dishonest with Alois right now.
Just spinning her wheels and avoiding the man himself wasn’t going to solve anything, Camilla knew that more than anyone.
But it was as if her body would just inadvertently do everything to avoid him, while her mind and heart kept spinning around in a blur.
Guilt towards Alois. Love towards Julian. Camilla’s own passions…and regrets. Revenge. Envy. Other feelings buried deep within her heart. Countless emotions that she couldn’t keep control of clouded and confused her thoughts.
Around and around they spun.
She felt dizzy.
The wheels of the carriage moved off the sludgy snow that covered the road before and onto stone pavement.
With the sudden change in vibration, Camilla looked out the window.
Sloped grey rooves sat atop whitewashed walls. The houses that lined the street looked like a layer of snow beneath a veneer of ash.
Although the houses seemed to have a simple design, on closer inspection they were actually quite elegantly made. The white and grey only served to accentuate the beautiful designs of the stained glass windows. Certain bricks in the house’s construction were left unpainted, providing a certain playful aesthetic. Even though all the houses were similar, taken as a whole, they were an excellent display of good taste.
Perhaps even the snow and ice on the roof was a considered part of the vista? The icicles that dripped from the roof beautifully fit the atmosphere.
It was like a deliberate mix between the serious Einst and the vibrant Grenze. A town that looked prim and proper with a subtle sense of fun energy.
This was the town known for its flowers and perfumes run by the Lörrich family – Blume.
I wonder if this town will treat Camilla a little better than the previous two?
Edited by: ApoPie