The following day, we rode out under a bright, blue sky complemented by a few fluffy, white clouds. With such weather, we shouldn’t need to worry about rain anymore. The road wasn’t in bad shape, either, so the rain had most likely ended earlier than I had expected it would. We had been so focused on playing card games yesterday that we didn’t even notice when it had stopped.
Proceeding smoothly, the wall surrounding the Capital came into sight in the early afternoon.
Shuri gasped in awe.
It was her first time seeing it, so it made sense for her to be this surprised. When I had first laid my eyes upon the capital walls, I had been awed as well.
「Okay, let’s walk from here on out. It would be problematic if the Bears caused a commotion.」
I had already told everyone in advance, that once we were in sight of the walls, we would walk. I had explained the reason properly, so they all obediently climbed off the Bears.
「Thank you, Hugging Bear-chan, Swaying Bear-chan.」
Shuri patted both Bears, and was quickly followed up by Fina and Noa, who also gave their thanks. The Bears cried happily in reply. I then proceeded to thank them myself and returned them to their gloves.
We didn’t walk for too long and soon reached the gates. Compared to the last time when we had come here for the king’s birthday party, it was much less busy with way fewer people entering and leaving. Still, just like usual, the passing people stared at me weirdly.
It was a gaze I could never get used to no matter how hard I tried. With three cute girls by my side, it was even worse this time.
The girls tried their best to protect me from getting stared at by walking beside and in front of me, but it felt like that simply made us stand out more. This situation could easily be described as the Beauty(ies) and the Beast (Bear).
Passing through the gates, our next problem was figuring out how we would get to Eleanora-san’s mansion. We were quite the distance away, and of course, I couldn’t just summon the Bears in the middle of the capital. We could hire a horse carriage or walk all the way. What should we do?
「Oh right, Yuna-san, there’s something I forgot to tell you.」
As I was deciding on which means of travel to pick, Noa suddenly spoke up.
「In Mother’s letter, she said we should go to the gatehouse after arriving at the capital.」
「Yes. There is a carriage waiting for us there. She figured we wouldn’t be able to travel with Swaying Bear-chan and Hugging Bear-chan inside the capital, so she prepared one for us.」
How thoughtful of her.
I wished she had told me beforehand, though. I had no idea she would have carriages prepared for us; what if we had used the Bear Gate and skipped entering through the city gates, instead? That was a close call. Well, there were plenty of excuses I could come up with, but it could still have been a pain to use them on her.
「So, do you know where the gatehouse is?」
「Yes, it’s over here.」
As we followed Noa, a guard approached us.
「I knew it. I heard that a girl dressed as a bear has been spotted entering the capital, so I figured it must have been you, Yuna-dono.」
Taking a closer look at him, I recognized the person in front of us.
「Good afternoon, Ranzel-san.」
「It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Thank you for all your help with the Salbert family case.」
I should have been the one thanking him. When I had first come to the capital for the king’s birthday celebration, he helped me out with handling the bandit case. He had also taken care of the aftermath caused by my rampage in Sheelin. Without him, Cliff, Eleanora-san, and Gran-san, I didn’t know how I would have dealt with those corrupted nobles. Just thinking about that noble family made me feel sick in the stomach… With everything they had done, I kind of regretted I hadn’t beat them up some more. I should have at least smacked them a hundred times more for hurting my friends and other innocent people.
「But please, don’t go too crazy from now on. Yuna-dono, you may be an adventurer, but you’re still a young girl.」
Oh, it had been a while since somebody saw me as a little girl. I had been treated as a Bear far too often lately.
「Thanks, I will take care. By the way, why are you here, Ranzel-san?」
「Eleanora-sama told me that you and Noire-sama would be coming soon and to prepare a carriage for you. I’ve been waiting here at the gatehouse for the past five days.」
This was definitely an abuse of authority…
Well, it was for Eleanora-san, so maybe he didn’t mind? Good thing we hadn’t used the Bear Gate, or else we would have completely wasted five days of Ranzel-san’s time.
「Um, I think my mother has caused you a lot of trouble with her selfish orders. I apologize for her actions.」
Noa apologized in her mother’s stead.
「No, please don’t worry about it. This is all a part of my job.」
「If you were waiting for us, shouldn’t you at least switch out with other people?」
「She most likely asked for me because you would recognize me. With that, you could be reassured and ride the carriage in peace. I think Eleanora-sama was quite concerned about that, and didn’t want to send someone you didn’t know.」
That made sense. It did feel a lot more comfortable knowing that I would be riding in a carriage handled by Ranzel-san rather than some stranger. I should thank Eleanora-san for her consideration when we reached her.
「The carriage has already been prepared, so please follow me.」
Ranzel-san took the lead, and we followed.
「Thanks, Noa. This really helps.」
「Thank you very much, Noa-sama.」
「Thank you, Noa-neechan.」
「I didn’t do anything, though. This is all thanks to Mother.」
Noa didn’t want to take the credit.
「Even so, we’re still grateful that you mentioned it.」
「Yes, thank you very much.」
Noa was now troubled as we all thanked her again. Wasn’t this the part where she should have proudly accepted it?
Soon, we reached the carriage and boarded it then set off towards Eleanora-san’s mansion with Ranzel-san leading the horses.
Looking out the small window on the side of the carriage, I saw the capital was bustling with a lot of people as it usually did. I reminisced about the first time I had come here, and realized how many more people there had still been around during His Majesty’s birthday celebration; it had been a lot of trouble to even get anywhere with how crowded the streets had been.
Shuri’s eyes sparkled as she looked outside. I was really glad we had brought her along.
「Do you want to go sightseeing around the capital tomorrow?」
Shuri excitedly looked at me.
「There are still a couple of days before the festival, so we have plenty of time to look around.」
「Yuna-san is right. We came all the way to the capital, so we should take some time to look around. I’ll be your guide. Where do you want to go, Shuri?」
Noa asked, acting like an older sister would.
「I want to go to the castle!」
Shuri said something preposterous.
Noa looked troubled when she heard Shuri’s request.
I wasn’t in the position to say this, but the castle wasn’t an easy place to enter….
Hmm, how much leeway did my permit for entering the castle grant me? Could I bring acquaintances in with me? I should probably check with Eleanora-san first. If it was okay, then we could take a tour.
Shuri looked a bit disappointed.
「I can try asking Mother, but…」
「Shuri. You can’t trouble Noa-sama. You promised, remember?」
It seemed like Shuri had been forced to promise many things before coming to the capital.
「Sorry for being selfish, Noa-neechan. Anywhere is fine as long as we all go together.」
Noa hugged Shuri in gratitude. Fina looked at the two happily, and I looked at all three of them the same way.
If Eleanora-san said I couldn’t use my permit to bring Shuri to the castle, I would just have to ask the king to return a favor. I had been letting him eat all sorts of dishes and had also gifted his daughter, Princess Flora, picture books and plushies. Not to mention the time when I had subjugated all those monsters that were about to swarm the capital.
He could at least let me bring someone on a walk through the castle in return, right?
As the carriage rattled on, we talked about good sightseeing places. Many suggestions were flying about when the carriage came to a stop suddenly. Looking out, we realized we had arrived.
Shuri commented when she stepped out of the carriage and looked up at Eleanora-san’s mansion. Well, it was a noble’s mansion, after all.
「I’ll be taking my leave now. Please give Eleanora-sama my regards.」
「Thank you, Ranzel-san.」
I thanked him for his service, and the girls did the same. Ranzel-san smiled at us warmly before riding off.
Turning back to the mansion, I noticed that Suririna-san was already standing by the front door, smiling as she waited for us. The guards must have called for her while we were parting ways with Ranzel-san.
「Noire-sama, we have been waiting for you.」
Suririna-san welcomed Noa before turning to me.
「Yuna-sama, thank you for escorting Noire-sama here today.」
「I just did my job.」
「Fina-sama, I’m glad to see you are well.」
「Suririna-san, it’s been a while. Thank you for taking care of me before.」
「And this cute girl here must be Shuri-sama.」
Shuri gripped Fina’s hand tightly.
「Come on, Shuri, your greeting?」
Shuri said her name in a small voice.
「I’m one of the maids working at this mansion, Suririna.」
Suririna-san’s smile helped relieve Shuri’s nervousness, and she beamed her a smile in reply.
「Everyone must be tired. Please, come inside.」
Suririna-san guided us into the mansion.
「Suririna, are Mother and Onee-sama here right now?」
「Madam is home, and Shia-sama should be returning shortly.」
I thought that Eleanora-san would come find us as soon as we arrived, yet Suririna-san took us to a deserted room and let us rest while she served some tea and snacks. After chatting with her for a while, Shia rushed inside, still in her uniform.
「I heard Noa was here.」
「Onee-sama, it’s been a while.」Noa stood up to greet her.
「Noa, you’re really here. So is Yuna-san and Fina. And you must be Fina’s sister, Shuri.」
「Shia-sama, it’s been a while. Thank you very much for inviting us to your school festival.」
「It was Mother who invited you to stay here, but please do have fun at the festival as well.」
「Yes, we will.」
Everybody gave their greetings.
「So, Shia, are things going well with the festival preparations?」
「Yes. Thanks to you, things are going great.」
「Thanks to Yuna-san?」
Noa tilted her head since she had no idea what her sister meant by that.
「Yuna-san helped us out on deciding what we would be selling at the festival.」
「That reminds me, how are your cotton candy making skills coming along?」
「We’ve been practicing everyday, so we can make them properly now. Also, since we didn’t want the candy we made from practice to go to waste, we’ve been giving it to all the staff working at our homes. Even our families are helping us eat them.」
There was only so much cotton candy a person could eat…
「Still, thanks to all of the practice we’ve done, I dare say we are able to produce them quite skillfully now.」
「Shia-sama, that’s amazing. It’s so difficult to make cotton candy properly.」
「That’s right, it’s hard.」
Shuri made a circle with her arms to gesture the shape of the cotton candy.
When I had made the cotton candies for the orphanage the other day, Fina and Shuri had both tried making them with me. They knew it wasn’t easy.
「Um, what exactly are all of you talking about?」
Noa asked in confusion.
Right, Noa was the only one here who didn’t know what cotton candy was…
「Noa-neechan, it’s cotton candy.」
「It’s fluffy like a cloud and really sweet and delicious. It’s a very strange candy.」
Shuri, who couldn’t read the atmosphere, explained it to her.
Noa looked at everyone after hearing about it.
「Did everyone know about it?」
Shia and Fina both nodded.
「Am I the only one who doesn’t know about it?」
Yeah, she was the only one, here at least.
「Did you leave me out on purpose?」
「Of course not.」
We really hadn’t intended to… I had just sort of happened that she was the only one who didn’t know.
「But I’m the only one who doesn’t know about it!」
Noa looked at us dejectedly.
「I would make some for you right now, so you can see and taste it for yourself, but the machine is at Mariks’ place, so…」
Shia’s remark made Noa brood even more.
「It’s okay, Noa. I brought one with me.」
I proceeded to take out the cotton candy machine from the Bear Box and made some cotton candy for Noa.
Only Noa didn’t know about cotton candy. lol