A girl who worked as a servant of the castle was spooked by the roaring sound from the castle gates.
「W-What? What is……? 」
The girl, who was on her way to get water with a bucket she took from the kitchen as part of her daily routine, couldn’t figure out what made the noise as she looked around in fear.
Among the many other servants who similarly had no idea what was happening, there were some that left the area with a rushed look.
It’s not as if someone was making any noise.
However, like a cloth slowly wets from spilled tea, the girl felt the anxiety slowly spreading among the servants.
As for the girl herself, she was confused and unable to understand the situation.
Burdened with too much confusion, she automatically shifted her focus back to her work, with the routine she was used to, not knowing what she should do even when the atmosphere of uncertainty was overbearing.
(Ah……. Fetching the water, I need to get going……)
As the girl crouched down to pick the bucket she dropped, a young servant man who ran through the area spoke of something she’d never expect to hear.
「Enemy! We’re under attack! 」
「Enemy attack…… they’re attacking here!? 」
「No way!? The frontlines are nowhere near here, right!?」
The other servants were doubtful of the news.
「You heard that sound just now! They say some unknown army has broken into the town! I just heard it from the soldiers at the castle gates! Didn’t all of you hear that explosion just now!? 」
「It did come from the direction of the gates……」
「Then was the noise just now……from their battle? 」
They were skeptical of the story, but that’s when another explosion sound came from the direction of the gates.
Although it was in a volume much softer than the one previous, they could understand that something abnormal was happening at the castle gates.
Once the fear caught up, it only took a few moments before it spread throughout the area.
Those who were initially skeptical of the man’s story realized that something unusual was going on.
「What are you guys doing!? Quickly find a safe spot to hide, I’m going already! 」
The servant who brought the news left his last words and ran.
Seeing him leave, the other servants started panicking.
「T-This can’t be a joke! 」
「Why are there enemies at this place!? 」
Suddenly, the entire area was on the verge of a panic, and everyone broke out in a run, disregarding manners, in search of a safe spot.
「Hee? ……E-E-Enemy!? 」
Seeing the others making a run, the girl finally understood the situation.
Treating the bucket in her hand as a shield, her back figure was adorable and funny, looking around the area like a lost little squirrel.
The other servants had already long left the girl and disappeared.
「I-I need to hide……」
The girl who was left behind spoke.
But the girl didn’t have the foresight to think of a good hiding place right away.
The girl, who was raised as the third daughter of a wealthy merchant family, was constantly compared to her outstanding siblings and developed an inferiority complex as a result.
She managed to get a job as a servant in this castle as she did not have her parents’ permission to even help in the business, no marriage partner in mind, and only her identity was assured by her family’s long-standing business.
Normally, a castle servant is only hired after rigorous screening, as it is a job that is longed by the commoners.
However, rather than assisting their previous rulers, the Nagras royal family, during a national crisis, the Thoria royal family rebelled and drove them to destruction. It’s not a job that’s well received, given their notoriety.
Because most of the original servants had returned to their hometown during the period when Marquis Thoria crowned himself as King Thoria, there was an emergency hiring, with ability coming in second. It was a situation in which anyone with a credible background would be hired.
If not for that, then the girl without any redeeming features nor looks would never had been picked.
(A safe place…… a safe place is……)
Despite the emergency, the girl was hesitant, unable to decide where she was going and only circled the area while carrying the bucket.
(My own room……, I need to go out once so no……)
The girl at the very least understood that leaving the building was dangerous when the enemy is attacking.
(Then maybe the kitchen……, but they might go looking for food and find me……)
While she was going back and forth and removing places from the list in her mind and wasting time, the scream of agony was getting closer.
The sound of metal hitting against each other from the end of the corridor, and then screams.
The sounds that happened intermittently felt like they were slowly getting closer to the girl.
With the abnormal presence that seemed to draw closer at each second, the girl stopped thinking and just hid behind a shadow.
If she were to think calmly again, hiding in any of the rooms would make it harder for the enemies to find her, but at that time, the girl was so much in disarray that she didn’t even think of something that simple.
Footsteps slowly drew closer to where the girl hid.
Footsteps that were too light if considering a soldier with armor.
In a corridor with no one else around, their voices were clearer than ever.
(Please! Don’t notice me!)
She prayed for the danger to pass by while her eyes shut tightly, as the footsteps that drew closer stopped near her.
「The one hiding there. A servant? 」
It was a young man’s voice.
The girl was panicking at the fact the enemy knew where she was.
「Leave him, Al. We will deal with him when they actually try to attack us. 」
「I mean, if it’s really a soldier, then sure. 」
From the footsteps, the girl thought it was only one person, but after knowing there were two from the voice, she was deep in despair.
(What can I…… how do I……!)
The girl knew her legs weren’t that fast.
Even if she tried to make a run for it now, the enemies will surely not allow her to escape.
「Come out now if you don’t intend to stand against us. If not, I’m attacking with no questions asked. 」
「Hiiic! Don’t kill me please! 」
At the man’s warning, the girl immediately jumped out of the shadow and prostrated on the ground, showing that she had no intent to resist.
A short period while she trembled in fear.
Seeing there was no response from the opponents, the girl slowly raised her face to see her opponents.
(A young…… soldier?)
Her eyes saw a young figure that can be said at most in the tens.
What was strange was his equipment.
Not wearing any armor, but a slightly thick mauve robe that a magician would seem to wear, the man didn’t look like a soldier at all.
However, when the girl’s eyes saw the sword that the man held, she screamed pathetically a little.
The sword that the young men held was glowing with a dull crimson color under the light of the corridor.
In this dim corner, it only looked like a blade drenched with blood.
And when she shifted her gaze away from the sword, she screamed a little again.
It wasn’t a person that’s beside the young man.
Rather, it was a quadrupedal beast covered in golden color fur.
Having a nose that was too sharp to be considered a dog’s, and triangular ears like that of a fox.
However, the size that was unfit for a fox instilled instinctual fear in the girl.
The girl didn’t have the courage nor bravery to stand unfazed when a carnivorous beast that was larger than a meter was standing right in front of her.
「She’s afraid, Al. 」
「While looking at Rona, right? 」
「Isn’t it because of your unsheathed sword? 」
「Maybe you can imagine how you look from a third person’s perspective first? 」
While the girl’s body was petrified, the man and the beast were conversing with each other lightly.
When facing against a beast that’s speaking human language, perhaps it is a normal reaction.
「Well, leaving that aside. 」
The man paused the conversation with the beast and faced towards her.
「What are you doing hiding at this place? From what I can see, I can only think you’re trying to set an ambush. 」
The girl’s tension lowered when the man asked with a tone kinder than she expected.
「U-Umm…… I couldn’t escape in time……」
「Couldn’t escape in time, but still……」
Seeing the girl answering while looking a little lost, the man had a stupefied face.
She felt that he was trying to say that there is surely a better hiding spot than here.
「If you’re going to escape, then go outside. Staying in the castle is still dangerous. 」
The girl’s eyes became round from the man’s unexpected words.
「T-Then…… you’re letting me go? 」
The man showed an expression of surprise when she asked, then scratched his hair while he said.
「I don’t intend to be so underhanded that I draw my sword against someone who isn’t resisting. I will not be merciful to anyone, regardless of age or gender, if they are my enemy, but I’m not that low to swing my sword at a mere servant.」
「In short, rest easy, we’re not your enemy. However, staying in the castle is dangerous if you get caught up in our fight, so leaving the building is preferable. 」
The golden colored beast added on after the man.
「But isn’t the outside dangerous……? 」
「The outside is alright already. There’s only Thoria soldiers at most. 」
The beast answered with an inexplicable answer.
In any case, knowing that she had been spared, the girl felt relieved.
「That………. I can’t be more thankful. 」
While expressing her appreciation while still on her knees, the man’s hand lightly hit her head.
Having said so, the hit didn’t have much force, it was more of a tap.
At the very least, knowing that the man in front of her isn’t someone that bullies the weak, the girl felt relieved and thankful for her fortune from the bottom of her heart.
「See ya. 」
As they left with a short farewell, the man and the beast left the girl sitting stunned and continued walking deeper into the castle.