Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 07: Thus The Stage’s Curtains Rise
“—So, I’ve been assigned to infiltrate the royal capital’s church as the second prince’s pawn.”
After giving a brief explanation, I took a sip of my tea. I then glanced at the woman sitting in front of me, trying to stifle her laughter but ultimately failing.
“Fufufu, you always continue to get roped into things, don’t you? You really are such an amusing friend.”
There, a beautiful woman with ebony hair and crimson eyes sat. She was wearing an unadorned jet-black mourning dress, which enhanced her beauty and mysterious eyes. Her name was Cardia Remington. She was the former Baron Remington’s wife; her husband having died last year. A widow at the mere age of twenty. After leaving the Remington family in the hands of her stepson –who was older than Cardia– she was now living comfortably with her servants in a villa at the royal capital. She was one of the few friends who knew the real me. I had to comply with the second prince’s request, so I came to the Remington villa to vent my frustrations. The owner of the house – Cardia didn’t actually listen to my complaints cordially. She was just amused.
“I’m not happy about getting involved in this. For goodness sake, it’s absurd to expect me to infiltrate the royal capital’s church on my own…”
“If it’s impossible, why don’t you just call it off? If you plead with your watery eyes, he might be willing to withdraw his request even now. To have the beautiful daughter of House Lewis begging him, he wouldn’t ignore you, would he?”
“If I did that, I’ll be seen as the incompetent daughter of the marquess! Besides, do you think I’d do anything to disgrace that child’s… Vincent’s face?”
“Huh… isn’t this usually the part where you say things like, ‘To tarnish the Lewis family name is…’? Your love for your brother sure is unwavering.”
“Of course. I only care about the Lewis family because it’s the house that Vincent will inherit.”
“I’m sure your father would cry if he were to hear that.”
“I don’t care about a good-for-nothing raccoon who sells off his own daughter!”
“Okay, okay. So, can you actually infiltrate the capital’s church?”
Cardia, who had been talking lightheartedly thus far, suddenly asked me with seriousness in her eyes. She must be worried about me in her own way. I met her gaze directly and answered back.
“I can do it. No, I have to. Not as Marquess Lewis’ daughter but as Julianna Lewis. If it is for the sake of His Highness… for the Rowlands Kingdom.”
“I thought you didn’t care about the kingdom for sure.”
“I am grateful. I’m grateful to this country for giving birth to my beloved ones, raising them, and watching over them. I’m proud to be a citizen of this country.”
“But you’re not proud of your household?”
“Not being proud of my house is… It’s the fault of that good-for-nothing raccoon who couldn’t stand the death of his two wives and neglected his children for years. You’re no different, Cardia.”
“I suppose so…”
Cardia lowered her eyes sadly. Cardia had abandoned her family –House Wyler– due to her brothers’ family feud. She must have had something on her mind. I couldn’t bear to leave my friend with such a sorrowful look. So, I cheerfully announced.
“To begin with, there is no role that Julianna Lewis, who has played so many roles, can’t perform! I will play it with pride, even if it means risking my life.”
“Fufu, your confidence is so great. It seems my fears are unfounded.”
“Well, I’m not planning on becoming a laughing-stock.”
“Then I will be waiting with bated breath to hear from you.”
The smiling Cardia was as beautiful as a flower in bloom. I was relieved to see my friend’s cheerful expression return and stood up from my seat.
“I have a lot of preparations to make, so I’ll be going now. I’ll see you next time after I complete the infiltration.”
“I’m looking forward to it.”
“Just because I’m not coming to check on you doesn’t mean you can live an indulgent life, okay?”
“If you’re so worried for me, go and finish your mission already.”
“I plan to. See you soon, Cardia.”
“See you soon, Anna.”
I bid a short goodbye to my friend and headed for the entrance.
“My daily life without you would be… very boring.”
I hadn’t noticed until the end what Cardia had whispered with a smile, one as charming as a beautiful poisonous flower.
An old horse-drawn coach ran along the main street of the royal capital. From the outside, one could see that the carriage was not very comfortable to ride in as it constantly rattled and shook. Two people, who were of inappropriate statuses, were riding in said carriage. It was the daughter of Marquess Lewis and her personal maid, but the two looked neither uncomfortable nor out of place even though they were riding in such a carriage. The lady had slightly lustrous long, dark brown hair and blue eyes. She was wearing a youthful, grass-colored dress that was in style last year within the castle town while carrying an old but durable travel bag that looked like something a middle-aged man would carry. The maid was wearing a white blouse, a simple brown flared skirt, with her caramel-colored hair pulled back with a headband. In her lap was a beige cloth bag. The two figures were probably emulating a young girl from the suburbs who had come to the capital, and a young wife who had just done some shopping. However, the conversation inside the carriage did not seem appropriate for either a noble’s daughter and a maid; or even a girl and a young wife for that matter.
“Ugh, I feel sick. I’m going to throw up, my breakfast is going to…”
Mary looked at me coldly as I struggled to endure the shaking of the carriage.
“My lady, a lady should not be spreading such filth inside a carriage.”
“I’m not spreading anything yet! …Ugh, now even more so…”
“It was your ladyship who decided to take this carriage, no? It’ll be impossible to carry out His Highness, the second prince’s orders with such sloppy behavior.”
“…Are you still angry, Mary?”
“Of course. Who would willingly send their beloved mistress to her death?”
“Death? …You’re overreacting.”
“I’m not overexaggerating! One wrong move and you’re dead, you know? If my lady gives the order, I, Mary, will do the job for you.”
“Mary, you’re my personal maid… You can’t do that, alright? I’m asking you to do something that only you can do, aren’t I?”
Mary seemed reluctant and fell silent. Although she might not be convinced, she seemed to accept my plan to infiltrate the church of the royal capital. It has been two weeks since Prince Edward asked me to infiltrate the royal capital’s church and made me his pawn. I have been very busy ever since I returned home. First of all, I had to take care of major tasks for the time being, and then I had to decide who would take over for me while I was away. Officially, I was supposed to be on a long-term inspection tour of our territory. At the same time, I began to infiltrate the church of the royal capital. Somehow, I managed to use my contacts to create a false identity as an “apprentice nurse” and succeeded in arranging the infiltration. I began with creating a role for the fake identity. Then I adjusted my appearance, tone of voice, and personality to the smallest detail.
After that, infiltration day arrived in a flash.
Silence reigned in the carriage. To be honest, I was about to throw up, so I was grateful. After a while, the shaking stopped, and I heard the driver’s voice saying, “We’re here.”
“I’ll see it through, I promise… I’ll be expecting the best tea and pastries when I’m done with all this, alright?”
I turned my genuine Julianna smile to Mary.
“…Yes! Please look forward to it.”
The smile returned to Mary’s face. I was relieved to see this and alighted the carriage. After paying the driver, I walked towards the church that stood before me. It was a large, white-colored church, and I could tell that it hadn’t been here for very long. There was a fountain and several statues in the vast garden. To put it simply, it smelled of money. I wondered if they truly worshiped Luwell, the goddess of purity. I was inwardly dismayed, but I didn’t show it and put on a nervous expression instead. I stopped in front of the main gate of the royal capital’s church. Its black and opulent iron bars stood tall. It was open, and it seemed that the church was still free for anyone to enter. There were two gatekeepers, though. I took a deep breath. Once I crossed this gate, I would no longer be me. What I felt was not fear; it was joy. The delight of performing on a stage where death awaited me if I made a single mistake. On this stage, there were actors with various agendas. I would also be performing with them. The role I had been given was that of a pawn for the second prince… Would I be a supporting character, a leading one, or a supporting but indispensable one?
Now, let’s see if I can play it out accordingly and perfectly to the end.
Suspicious of my pause, the gatekeepers approached me. There was no turning back now, the performance that would involve death was about to begin. I took my first step towards the gate.
I yelped stupidly and fell down, hitting my face hard from the impact.