“Darinea…the fate of this kingdom rests on your hands…I hope you can someday forgive me for being such a powerless king…”
“Father, worry not. I promise you I’ll succeed.”
Despite knowing that this could possibly be her last time to see her father, Darinea steeled herself and spoke confidently.
As a princess, she had worn only luxurious and beautiful clothes her whole life, but right now, she was dressed with the shabby clothes that a traveler might wear. Shabby as clothes might be though, it couldn’t hide her unmatched beauty.
This secret journey she was about to go on was unsurprisingly too dangerous for a young, beautiful girl to go alone. If she ends up being captured by bandits and the like, who knows what ill fate awaited her.
On the other hand, it was impossible to provide her a large group of guards. In the end, they settled on entrusting her to a single guard.
“Marisha, I beg of you, please take care of Darinea.”
“I vow to do my utmost, your majesty.”
Not only did she possess strength—enough that she was made a member of the royal guards even though she was a woman—she also had a good background as well as great loyalty toward the royal family.
These qualities made her the ideal companion for the princess.
“Your highness, to hide our real identities, I suggest we pose as sisters. However, since I can pass only as the older sister, I’m afraid I will have to talk to you casually. Apologies in advance.”
“I understand, Marisha-neesama.”
“Just to doubly sure, I also propose that we use aliases. If I may, I’ll be referring to you as Ria from now on.”
“Very well. Then, I shall refer to you as Rin-neesama from now on.”
“…alright, let’s be off, Ria.”
Like that, Princess Darinea stealthily left the palace.
Despite struggling, the princess uttered not a single word of complaint as they traveled northeast.
What lied northeast of the royal palace was…the Albert territory.
“We’ll finally enter the Albert territory tomorrow, won’t we, Rin-neesama?”
The princess had known beforehand that they were travelling into essentially enemy territory and thus prepared herself. Yet, understandably, she was unable to hide her nervousness.
After all, if ever Lord Albert knew of their presence, their mission and the king’s plan would come to nothing.
“There’s no need to be afraid, Ria. Lord Albert himself is in the former Schneger territory right now. And his attention is completely set on the royal palace. We’re not exactly under his nose, but it should still be hard for him to notice us.”
“Y-you’re right…but even so, can the hope father spoke really be here?”
“I don’t know the details myself, so all I can do is believe right now…either way, we should know for sure once we reach the city called Riesen.”
And so, they continued travelling.
Once they entered the Albert territory, they continued going north.
“So, that’s the city of Riesen…what impressive walls!”
“Y-yes. And it’s not even their capital. That’s the Albert territory for you, I suppose.”
When the two entered the city, they were even more surprised.
“What a fantastic city…”
“I heard this was an old city though…?”
The buildings and the roads in the city looked as though they were built just recently.
Furthermore, not a piece of trash could be found anywhere.
“If you take a walk around most cities, even in the royal capital, you’re bound to see trash and animal waste somewhere along the way. At times, human waste as well…”
“The people in the streets are clean too. Too clean, even.”
“Indeed…yet, judging by the clothes they’re wearing, they seem to be just ordinary citizens…but are they really…?”
Moreover, the city was abuzz with activity.
For some reason though, vagrants, which were a common sight in the royal capital, were nowhere to be seen.
“What’s going on in this city?”
“If Lord Albert managed to build a city like this, can it be that he’s actually a great lord…?”
“I’ve heard countless tales about his warmongering…but I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of a tale saying that he’s skilled at territory administration…”
Bewildered like that, the two proceeded to their destination.
What awaited the two there was…