Chapter 21: Shrine of the Ancient Goddess

“Lady Elaine, let’s go down here first. We can’t stay here forever.”

“I understand…Do you know the way, Your Highness?”

I shake my head.

“I’ve been out of the Royal Palace many times, but you see, there’s a way. It looks like you can get down from there.

We could see a narrow path just below us. It’s not too high to climb down if you’re dressed to move around, but it’s impossible for us in our gowns. We will find the stairs and descend quietly.

Lady Elaine looked a little relieved, and then her face tightened up.

“Then, Your Highness, let me stand first.”

‘If anything should happen to you, my life will not be able to compensate for it,’ she says with a straight face.

I knew my position and its meaning well enough to not say it was exaggerated.

“I understand, then I will ask you to do it…And, Lady Elaine,


“Please call me Thia.”


“I would like to say no honorific titles, if possible, but let’s say it can’t be helped. Call me by that name in the city.”

There are several nicknames in my name, but I dared to choose ‘Thia.’

Because I don’t have to stick to it anymore.

I no longer have to worry about the fact that someone once called me that, or that I still get a little nervous every time someone calls me that.


“I know that the Royal Capital is a safe city. But that doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous.”

If it’s safe to identify yourself in the first place, there’s no need to go down to the city. Just find a regular gate to get in, identify yourself and go back in, and that’s it.

I wish I could have done that…

The question is whether these gate guards are trustworthy.

We were targeted in the garden of the main palace. Only a few people have access to it, and then we were targeted in the underground as well.

Which means that I don’t know who the enemy is.

I don’t have anyone particularly clear in mind, or it’s too much for me to think of it as normal.

It’s fine to be seen as a wealthy aristocrat. It’s unreasonable to claim that I’m a commoner in this outfit, and my appearance is too unworldly and unrelated to labor to be the daughter of a wealthy merchant. The problem would  be if they would find out that I was the Crown Princess.

The Crown Princess, wandering around without an attendant, is a perfect target.

“…That’s why I don’t want to be called Her Royal Highness. It is by no means disrespectful, so please be careful.”


“I’ll call you Miss Elaine, I suppose…If you are ever asked in town about our relationship, let’s just say that we are distant relatives.”


Then Lady Elaine continued with a small smile.

“…I’m afraid that Her Royal Highness and I are kin in a double sense of the word, aren’t we?”

“Elaine, I am Thia.”



Indeed, Lady Elaine and I are related to each other by blood, both from my father’s and my mother’s side.

“…Then let’s go.”

Lady Elaine looked at my proffered hand with a certain look in her eyes, then laughed and gently laid her hand on top of mine, and we stepped towards the lights of the city.


“…Are you okay, Miss Elaine?”

“Yes, I’m okay…Is Thia-sama all right?

“I’m okay.”

The city I was looking down from the middle of the hill was glittering with lights, but there was not a single light on the road down to the city.

And, unable to descend in a straight line, we were forced to take the long way around many times from earlier.

Perhaps this is an ingenious way to get to the royal palace when it’s attacked.

This is probably not the official route, but it still doesn’t lead anywhere in a straight line.

In the early evening, we descended a narrow, unpaved road. We almost fell down a few times and slipped and moaned a few times, but we didn’t stop. Once it was completely nighttime, we would be even more stuck. We understood that standing still in a place like this wouldn’t help.

…My shoes are bad

If my boots were like the ones I wore last year when I returned from Elzevert, I’m sure I wouldn’t have slipped in them like this.

Shoes like the ones we wore were very beautiful, but they were not practical. Even if our heels were flat, they were very difficult to walk on unpaved roads like this. Besides, the corset and panniers and fluffy gowns also contributed to this.

“…And when you get to the bottom, let’s take a break…Thia.”

Lady Elaine says, breathing on her shoulder.


I was starting to breathe a lot too, though not as much as Lady Elaine.

Even though it’s a gentle descent…

My feet are already like sticks and the soles of my feet hurt. Maybe I’ll have a fever tomorrow. I really feel my lack of stamina.

When I get back to the Royal Palace, I’ll do some fitness work…

I’ll incorporate a physical fitness walk or something into my daily routine.

And when His Highness Nigel picks me up, I’m definitely going to quit taking advantage of it!

I’m sure this lack of stamina is partly due to the fact that I was constantly spoiled on the move.


How long had we been walking? I’m sure it wasn’t very long, but it seemed like a long walk to us who had already been on the run for half a day underground.

We arrived at the back of a small shrine.

“A shrine, right?”

The state religion of Dardinia is the Luthia Orthodox Church.

But it does not forbid any other religion.

So I knew with knowledge that there were still shrines to these indigenous gods in the royal city.

I sullenly gaze at the small shrine.

“Thia-sama, I’m sorry, but may I take a break here?”

My feet are a little…and the toes of Lady Elaine’s shoes, are reddish-black and dirty.

“…Lady Elaine.”

I widen my eyes.

“I’m sorry. I don’t get to walk around much…”

“No. I’m sorry I didn’t notice that.”

“No…Thia-sama also, your feet are…”


I looked at my feet when I was told to, and found that the cuff at the back was dirty. I had noticed that the heel had rubbed and blistered, but apparently it had been crushed at some point.

And maybe I just can’t see it yet, but I’m sure my toes are in a bad shape too.

The crushed blisters from the last evening party were just finally starting to heal…

“…I didn’t notice.”

We looked at each other and then let out a wry smile.

Then we turned our gaze to the shrine.

“…Shall we take a rest here?”

“Yes, I agree.”

We open the barred door of a small stone shrine.

Inside is a small altar with a single fat candle dedicated to it.

…Ah…this small space, maybe it’s something to feel calm about.

It would be a room of about six tatami mats in terms of the size of the room here, but it’s only a floor area that could be used as a storage room.

The only thing dug into the wall behind the altar with simple thin lines is the ancient goddess Shriega, wearing a crown of stars.

It is said that this Shriega is another appearance of the mother goddess of the Luthia Orthodox Church. She is a very popular god of guidance that illuminates the lost. This shrine is also very nicely cleaned, so there must be some devotees nearby.

Lady Elaine and I closed our eyes, fell to our knees and prayed to the altar, hoping to borrow the place.

There is no manner in ancient prayers to God. Or maybe it just hasn’t been handed down to us today, but there are no set scriptures or rules for how to pray. So the length of that prayer is different for each individual.

And I was the one who opened my eyes first. I waited quietly for it to end because Elaine-sama was still praying beside me.

I guess I was walking too much. My body is a little lazy.

…I think my body is a little hot…

It was supposed to be cold, but I was feeling the heat. My mind is foggy.


I thought Elaine-sama was calling me…I knew it, but I couldn’t respond well.

I sluggishly moved my body to turn around, but I couldn’t move as I wanted to.


What’s wrong with me?

As I tried to get up, my everything went dark and my consciousness closed in on me.


It was dark.

A total darkness.

It was darker than night, just one color of darkness.

If I was the girl I appeared to be on the outside, I might have been terrified, but unfortunately, who I was on the inside was different from whoI was on the outside, so I was not terrified

…Here…where is it…?

I feel like I need to go home soon, but I don’t know where I am and where I need to go back to.

…I  am Arthirea. Arthirea Luciane Thea Dis Dardie

I murmur my name in my mouth and identifies myself.

The Crown Princess of Dardinia and presumptive heir of the Duke of Elzevert…and the only Elzevert.

And then I was tripped up and remembered.


The man who would be the king of this country, my husband—and the place I should return home to.

If I don’t go back…

I had to get back to Nigel-sama as soon as possible.

Pushed back by the urge to rush, I slowly opened my eyes.

The first thing I saw was a bare wooden ceiling with no decorations whatsoever.

With a small shrug, I realized that I was being laid out on a horribly hard bunk.

Where am I?

At least it’s not the shrine I was at before I lost consciousness.

Every part of my body ached.

It was a strange place I didn’t know.

“…Are you awake now?”


Although it was an unknown place, I knew the identity of the person in front of me from their distinctive clothing.

“…Where am I?”

“Don’t worry. This is the orphanage attached to the Regalia Cathedral. You don’y have to worry anymore.”

It was a woman around her sixties, hair in a white wimble and pushed back and veiled, and dressed in a grey and white monastic suit, smiling as if to reassure me.

“An orphanage, is it?”


“Why am I in an orphanage?”

The last thing he remembered before I lost consciousness must have been the shrine of the ancient goddess Shriega. How did I get to be in this place?

You were lying in a shrine on the edge of this regalia district.

“…Was it just me?”

I wonder what happened with Lady Elaine? Did I do something reckless in my fall?

“Yes. The children said you were alone.”


“It was the children of the orphanage who went to clean the shrine and found you.”

“……Is that so.”

Maybe she went to get help and got mixed up.

I think about such things in my feverish head.

I don’t know how long it’s been since then, but Lady Elaine must have been quite lost.

Would she want to go and call for help without me or wait for help at the shrine…?

In a way, it would have been the ultimate choice.

…If it had been just Lady Elaine, I’m sure she would have waited forever.

But I was also there. I was sick and seething with fever.

I hope she made it to the duke’s house safely…

“…Can I thank the kids for their help?”

I tried to wriggle up, but the nun held me back.

“Don’t get up yet…If you’re grateful, you can thank them later.”


The nun gives me a drink of water when I cough because of the dryness of my mouth.


“There is nothing in this orphanage, but there is a well, so there is plenty of water.”

I closed my eyes when prompted to sleep again.

…I have to thank her for my nightgown…

The completely unadorned cotton nightie was a little stiff to the touch, but it was several times better than sleeping in a gown.

But my body must have been so desperate for sleep that my consciousness was pulled away before my mouth could spin a word of thanks.

…Thank you, don’t forget…

I had that much firmly etched in the corner of my mind.


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