Chapter 14: Selfish
Dear Riley Morgan-sama,
The crocus flowers are blooming beautifully these days.
How are you doing?
The other day when I met Poppy, I was surprised to hear that you were going on a business trip to the neighboring mountain region.
I heard that there are many magical beasts in the mountain region.
Riley is a former friend who has trained in martial arts together in the Order, so I believe that he won’t easily fall into a dangerous situation, but I am still a little worried.
I am looking forward to the day when I can hear about your souvenirs with Poppy.
From your friend, Leah Flores
“Flores, do you have anything you like?”
When I blinked at the unexpected question, Master William continued to press the point.
“Like a place you like, or something you have that you like.”
Since the day we went on a tour of the town, William-sama has shown more interest in me, Leah Flores.
Until now, he has tried to be like a good neighbor and has interacted with me, but since the incident the other day, his attitude of trying to recognize me as an individual has become more apparent.
His concern to make our relationship a good one makes me feel uncomfortable, but at the same time, it reminds me of the fact that I don’t have enough substance to answer when asked.
What will happen to me after I have protected William-sama to the best of my ability? If a more capable guard knight appears and I am no longer needed, what should I do when my role is finished?
I return to myself with the worried voice of William-sama.
“I’m sorry, was that a difficult question to answer? If it’s hard to say, you don’t have to force yourself.”
“No, that’s not what I meant…”
I try to twist out the answer to the question while turning my head.
“…The sea, I think.”
When asked about my favorite place, what ultimately came to mind was the shining ocean that I saw for the first time when I came to the Duke of Moore’s territory.
“You like the sea. What do you do at the sea?”
“Nothing in particular… I just watch the view and pick up shells. I often go to the sea on days off.”
He placed his hand on his chin and thought for a moment before turning towards me and opening his mouth.
“If it’s okay with you, would you take me to the beach you often go to sometime?”
Feeling my face show a look of confusion, I carefully put my words on my tongue.
“I’m sure there’s nothing that Your Highness would find interesting there.”
William-sama gave a faint smile at my confusion.
His thin, beautifully shaped white fingers traced the open pages of the book.
“I just want to see it.”
I involuntarily nodded my head at the look on his face that I couldn’t read.
Under the cloudy sky where a fine snow is falling lightly.
On this winter sea that feels cold and somehow lonely, a warm wind blows in, giving a faint sense of the arrival of spring.
While watching the white, fine snowflakes fall and disappear on the sand, William-sama and I walked along the coast.
“It’s quiet here, isn’t it?”
Making a sound like “sak, sak,” William-sama walks in front of me.
“Hey Flores. Do you know why there’s no snow on the beach?”
Suddenly asked that, I stop walking.
“…I don’t know.”
Since I couldn’t think of an answer, I honestly replied that and he continued talking while looking out to sea.
“The water of the sea contains salt. Salt has the effect of melting ice. So if there is a small amount of snow, it will melt due to the salt contained in the seawater that has seeped into the sandy beach. That’s why there is no snow on the sandy beach of the sea.”
He looks back and smiles.
“Fufufu. This is the first time I’ve seen this scenery.”
William-sama narrows his eyes and smiles.
“You teach me various things.”
In front of that smile, I opened my mouth.
“Such… I don’t know anything. I don’t even measure up to your knowledge…”
Saying that, William-sama starts talking again while looking out to sea.
“Maybe that’s true. If you hadn’t brought me here, I wouldn’t have known the splendor of the sea. The cold of the wind, the noise of the townspeople, and the deliciousness of the yana fruit. Just having knowledge doesn’t mean anything. You have given my knowledge a flesh and blood experience.”
After saying that, he looks out to sea for a while and then starts walking again.
After walking a little, he squats down.
And picking up something, he holds it up to the sky.
“It’s a pearl shell.”
He looks at it, changing the angle of his hand many times.
Contrary to the roughness on the outside, the inside shone beautifully with a glow like the aurora.
As I stared dazedly at the shells reflecting light in his hand, I was startled by William-sama approaching me.
William-sama took my hand and pressed the pearl shell he was holding into my hand.
I am confused, not understanding his intention.
“I’m giving it to you.”
He smiled softly at me, who was making a puzzled face.
“Pearl shells look no different from other shells from the outside. However, once you open them up, they reveal their shining inner surface in various colors.”
He tilted his head while smiling at me.
“It’s just like you.”
As I held my breath at those words, his deep sea-like lapis lazuli eyes gazed at me.
“…Those are kind words for someone like me.”
Finally managing to say that with some difficulty, William-sama furrowed his brows as if troubled.
“You have too low of an evaluation of yourself.”
Then, turning his body,
“Well, that’s just my personal opinion, so you don’t have to believe it if you don’t want to. You can do as you like with that shell too.”
Saying only that, he started walking along the coast again, so I hurriedly followed after him, letting my guard down.
That night, as I stared at the pearl shell given to me by William-sama, I was at a loss as to where to put it.
It seems a shame to put it in the same bottle as the other shells, but if I leave it out, it will get dusty.
“…Next time, I’ll buy a container for this pearl shell.”
I muttered to myself and temporarily placed it next to the bottle.
As I looked at the shell reflecting light in seven colors, I remembered the words he said to me at the sea.
[It’s just like you…]
I stare at the pearl oyster and rest my cheek on it.
(I’m not such an extraordinary person now, but will I someday become a person who shines inside like this pearl shell?)
Even as the night grows late, I continue to gaze at the shine of the pearl shell without getting tired.