The flower greeting season was already half over, and the cold got harsher. And there’s still no news of the flowers blooming yet.
My birthday is nearly here. Looking back on the past, I can say I was independent.
From then on, I was utterly absorbed in copying the map. The map that I saw at the Royal Library was so beautifully drawn, anyone who saw it could tell where the streets were.
I thought that I could draw pretty well since I sketched embroideries, but I wasn’t drawing what I saw, and I had to choose the thickness of the lines. Flowers were fine, but it was difficult to draw a picture map with the main building outlined. The Royal Palace probably didn’t require me to do this, but I wanted to test my skills. I spent every day feeling as if my head would explode from how much I was troubling myself over this.
“Well, I don’t want it to be put together with the map in the Royal Library even if it’s complete.”
I spent the whole day drawing the map. It felt as if my days were passing by like a dream.
I devoted all my time copying the map, except for when I ate and slept, and even on holidays I would only clean and then go back to copying. Recently, I haven’t been able to enjoy the scenery outside. Neither have I experienced the bright spring sun that peeked through the thick clouds. If I weren’t aware of it, then I wouldn’t have known that spring was here.
I’ve almost finished inking the one-meter-square paper, and once I add the colour, it would finally be complete.
I wanted to look at the real scenery once more before colouring the map in and went to Most Dark.
I didn’t have to get dirty or feel scared anymore since I was used to being here, but whenever I come here, I would always feel gloomy.
Now that I know more people here, I wanted to help women who can’t earn money without using their body. I really didn’t understand where it was coming from. I think that because I was blessed in life, I want to help those who are in a more difficult situation than I.
Is there nothing I can do...? Forgive me for thinking this.
I took a deep breath in front of the black-penned map and slid a thin brush on the paper.
There were few bright colours in Most Dark. There was a lot of dull brown and grey in the town. They had stone pavements and dirt roads, and even the buildings looked like that. The only ones who had a lot of colours on them were the prostitutes. Way didn’t wear many colours, but the men around him did, and the colours on the clothes of the people in Most Dark were faded.
“The city itself is plain. I’ll keep it as it is, but I’ll also add in some colour, so it doesn’t look too lonely.”
I added faint red, yellow and orange onto the map. Still, it looked better than just having it plain black.
I started talking to myself more, probably because I worked alone a lot.
I quietly moved my brush as I aimed for completion.
“I guess it looks like this. Finished.”
I stretched with both my hands up. My behaviour is a bit bad, but it’s finished, and no one is here, so it should be fine.
I was able to understand things. It’s probably fine even if this was put in the Royal Library.
If someone saw this, then they would probably say, “You’ve produced decent results, and you’ve served the Royal Family as a noble.” I made a map of the slum which even the officials have a hard time trying to infiltrate. I created a connection between the boss of the slums and the Royal Family.
I believe His Highness Ludens already knows why I tried so hard to make this map.
“This time I’ll be a commoner.”
This time, I won’t let them say any quibbles.
I might have shown them that I’m competent. But, I think that His Highness Ludens’ would be able to find more qualified people if he went to search in different villages instead of just amongst nobles.
I didn’t feel the need to be an elegant and refined noble. For better or for worse, I learnt from interacting with the slums that being dirty and being helpless was also part of living. Even so, I met charming people who did their best to live.
I’ve never had much money. I love delicious food. A hygienic lifestyle felt comfortable. But still, if I wanted to live freely, then I had to be a commoner. These thoughts have not changed.
“Your Highness Ludens, I don’t want to be used by you.”
I started preparing with the finished map.
The next day, everyone was at the Royal Capital’s Public Order Consolation Room. His Highness Ludens, Roberto-sama, Lancel-sama, and Leyard-sama all looked brighter than usual. They weren’t in formal wear, but they were neater than usual. This showed how much they appreciated my map. I couldn’t help but be nervous seeing them dressed like this.
Incidentally, I was in my usual black bob wig, and the eggplant coloured Royal Women’s uniform.
(Fuu, calm down.)
I loosened my tightened fists and let out a quiet breath.
Everyone’s gaze was focused on the map I drew, that was spread out on the low stand. It was a bit funny to see four tall people standing as if their heads were close together.
“Hmm, this is pretty well made, isn’t it? I only asked you to make a simple map, but you’ve gone above expectations.”
“Woah! You’re right, Your Highness. This is just like a painting. If I knew that Lady Ann was this talented, then I would have had her join as my subordinate.”
“It’s easy to understand. It’s a little different from a practical map, but it seems like you’ve drawn the main building here.”
“Lady Ann, did you try to imitate the map in the Royal Library? I hadn’t expected something like this... But, it’s certainly well drawn.”
(Kyaa, I did it! They praised me.)
I calmed myself down so that I wouldn’t grin. I did an excellent job to be able to get these people to compliment me!
But...what do they mean when they say that this wasn’t the kind of map they wanted?
“Erm, the only maps I’ve seen are the ones in the Royal Library... But are there other kinds as well?”
It seems like I’ve screwed up. But well, I screwed up in a good way, so it’s okay.
“You were able to draw something to this level, so I’m sure you put your heart and soul into this, Lady Ann. I will gladly accept this map. I will have to reward you for this since you did draw a map which is worthy of being preserved in the library. Tell me what you want.”
His Highness Ludens’ green eyes stared at me as if he saw right through me. I was surprised that my heart thumped in my chest.
“This map is a result of me serving the Royal Family as a noble. I would like to be a commoner now. Please dismiss me.”
I stared back at him with my light-brown eyes without flinching. I wasn’t wearing a gorgeous dress, but I gave him my best bow. I hope I can convey how serious I am...
I continued to stay in the same pose with my head down. How long has it been?
“You went to the slums to complete all this work, Ann du Deniswell, or rather, Ayesha-maria Org du Thousand, I shall grant your wish. I won’t go back on my word. You can really become one. Aah! I really wanted to keep you by my side. I thought that you would want to remain as a noble if you knew what the slums were like. Too bad.”
His snorted, but his eyes weren’t smiling. It was a feast for my eyes, but yeah, this person is scary after all.
“That’s why I said that her going to the slums will have the opposite effect. It is Your Highness who said she would work harder and become more passionate if she saw what the slums life is like. You said that her results would improve. And, the 2nd Imperial Guards Vice-Captain, Dick Eigorn, has sent a petition wishing for a secretary. You want to be a commoner right? Do you want it?”
Roberto-sama’s grumpy amber eyes pierced at me. His voice didn’t conceal his displeasure at all.
(Huh? Are they reluctant to let me go?)
“Does that mean I’ll be working at the garrisons in Coolden? Yes, I accept.”
I think my happiness oozed out into my voice. Oh, my face must look slovenly right now. I can’t control my emotions.
Trying to hide my smile, I put both hands to my cheeks.
“Wow, you look thrilled. You got your wish, after all.”
“No one can stop it anymore. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen His Highness’ bitter laughter.”
“Lancel, don’t say it.”
“Lady Ann, will you make everyone tea?”
My feet felt light, and I began brewing tea for everyone. I am confident that I can brew delicious tea today! I’ll let you taste the best tea!
On this day, I couldn’t help but be excited about the future.
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