346 Princess's "Return"

 Marius eventually came out to see us off at the door. We waved as we got into Camillo's carriage.

"Seeing off the spirited Count?
There's an Imperial princess here. We have the imperial princess. He's even higher than the Marquis.
Indeed. Then it's only natural.
Well, me and Eizo, we're merchants and blacksmiths, so we're pretty low.
No doubt.

 As we left the Amur mansion, Camilo and I laughed at each other.

"You're even more casual with the Count than I've heard."
"Well, yes. I can't say much for Anne either, but at least I consider her a friend.
Am I?
I don't know.
I don't know.

 Camilo clicks his tongue deliberately. This time Anne laughs with him. And so the carriage continued on its way through the quiet inner city.

 At the gate stood the gatekeeper who had been there just a moment ago. As we passed by, our eyes met, and he looked satisfied.
 As for the identity of the two men and women, who didn't look like armed nobles, it was more likely that they were carriage guards, given their current state, and he probably thought about that.
 Thinking that I would not see him again for a while, I looked at the shrinking gate with some sadness.

 I walked down the crowded main street and passed through the large outer gate.

I remembered that the reason the gate was so big was so that the giants could pass through.
Is that so?
That's what I heard.

 I think it was Camilo. He didn't interrupt me, so I'm pretty sure that's what he told me, if not what he told me.

I've heard that our ancestors were bigger than we are now, too.
Oh, yeah.
But I wonder if they were big enough to have to prepare for it.
"I guess.

 I said, looking at Daimon. It's so big that even Anne could have arranged four or five people vertically.
 It is possible that there was a tribe of giants that were unusually large, but it is doubtful that they were large enough to be prepared just for that purpose.

I'm a human child, so I'm small, but there's no shortage of stories about giants who are too big for their own good.
Such as?
For example, dishes are a little too small for human size.
And clothes?
Yeah. Well, they need a lot of cloth to make them, and that takes a lot of time and money. ......
I see. Oh, should I get bigger dishes?
No. No, I'm fine with the normal size. If your mother is coming, you might want to have her prepare it, but I don't think she's planning on it.

 Even though Anne doesn't need it, there's no guarantee that Anne's mother - that is, the emperor's wife - won't have other guests from the Titan race at any time. Maybe I'll make it in the afternoon after I've collected my quarry.

 And so the carriage goes on its way. The sky was clear again today, and white clouds were moving slowly along the blue road. The grass swayed tantalizingly as the breeze caressed the meadow.

Even though it looks so peaceful, something is going on somewhere in the world.

 I murmured to myself as I looked out over the landscape. Anne, who overheard me, replied.

That's the way of the world, isn't it? We may have different positions, but we're all basically working for ourselves, so we're bound to clash at some point.
That's true.

 If possible, I would like to keep myself away from such things, but I guess that's not possible as long as I am involved with the world. In fact, Anne ......, or rather the empire, thought that I was better than the kingdom.
 But still.

I don't want to have anything to do with that.

 I felt that if I didn't say that, I would be dragged right into it, so I said it, and Anne didn't say anything more.

 The carriage went faster than usual, and we reached the entrance to the forest before nightfall. Still, in a little while, the sun would turn the area red.

"Excuse me, can I have a torch just in case?
"Yeah. Take as many as you want. No charge this time. I'll take one next time.
You're a greedy bastard.
I'm a merchant.

 Camilo and I shook hands, laughing, and said our goodbyes. It's almost home.

 A little further into the forest, just as I had expected, the forest turned orange. The lengthening shadows of Anne and I are slowly moving through it.
 There was no conversation between us until this point. We just walked silently through the trees.

 We thought we'd reach home just in time, but it didn't look like it was going to happen, and the orange that had filled the forest began to turn black.

Should we light the torches while we're at it, just in case?

 I took the necessary tools from my possessions and lit the torch. The orange color returned to the surroundings.
 Anne and I start walking again.

"You know what?

 A little while after we started, Anne opened her mouth.

"What is it?
"I'm kind of happy right now.

 I urged her not to answer, but to go on.

"My days as a princess were fine, though. It's who I am.

 The sound of treadmills echoing in the air.

But coming to Eizo's house was the first time I felt like I could truly relax.
I see.
So I'm happy to have that life again.
That's good. Well, he'll have to help me with the work, but basically we'll all just relax.
I'm looking forward to it.

 "I'm looking forward to it," said Anne in a cheerful voice that contradicted the darkness around her. I can't believe we're going to be living deep in the woods! I thought it would be hard for her if she thought she was going to be living deep in the forest, but I was a little relieved to hear that she didn't seem to be, at least not in words.

 As it was getting darker, I found a light different from the torchlight. It was a house.
 At the door, everyone is coming out. Krull and Lucy were also sitting in front of the house.

Hold this for me, will you?

 Anne took the torch with a blank look on her face. I moved a little bit away from her and faced her.
 At the same time, everyone's voices, including mine, echoed in the forest where the only sound was the wind.

Welcome home, Anne.

 Anne's face was a little puzzled at first, but then she gave me a look that made me wonder if she was laughing or crying.

"I'm back, guys.