“Sob, Akaneee…! “
My little sister was crying, her usual adorable face was now distorted in a huge way.
Tears were pouring out of her big eyes one after another, and no matter how many times I wiped them away with my handkerchief, there was no sign of stopping. In addition, her snot was running down her nose, exposing her in a manner unbecoming of a 16-year-old maiden.
As I rubbed my sister’s back, I looked behind her, at the prince who seemed at a loss of what to do.
The blond-haired, blue-eyed, handsome prince from the story was Cain, the second prince of the kingdom of Gilberta.
He had a wonderfully well-groomed face, and although we’ve only known each other for a short time, he often wore a princely, refreshing smile on his face, but right now all I could see was exhaustion and resignation.
Prince Cain, who met my eyes, silently shook his head from side to side.
I believe he bent over backwards to find a way to appease my sister. But since he wasn’t able to find any solution, he finally gave up and brought her to me.
I let out a little sigh so that my sister, who was still crying in my arms, would not notice.
No matter how much time passes, I always knew what to say to my spoiled little sister when she found herself in a bad mood. The formidable magical words that were a hundred percent guaranteed to change her mood. I whispered them softly in her ear.
“I’ll make pudding for tomorrow’s snack, so will you cheer up for me?”
“Gosh, …… really?!”
See, the once crying child, now quickly turned to laughter.
When I saw my sister’s big, tear-stained eyes widen and her cheeks relax with happiness, I couldn’t help but smile a little.
I was a little relieved to see my little sister still hugging me tightly and looking so happy at the thought of being able to eat her favourite pudding.
I reflected about that while viewing the sky. I was really filled with anxiety about the future until just now. That feeling was mostly blown away by my sister’s happy face, though.
I continued to stroke my sister’s light chestnut hair.
It was almost dawn now. The setting of the sun dyed the sky in a crimson colour, and it was so beautiful. A large, faintly visible moon looked down on us.
＊ ＊ ＊ ＊ ＊
My name was Akane Takanashi. 24 years old. Compared to my peers I had my fair share of hardships, but who doesn’t? Until recently, I was working and supporting my younger sister, who was eight years younger than me. I was just a normal girl.
My younger sister Hiyori, now in her first year of high school, was able to help out with the household chores, and without our parents, we managed to make it through our days together.
It was six years ago that my parents died in an accident. I was 18 years old and my sister was 10.
I had just graduated from high school and was about to enter college.
When my parents died, my sister and I, along with our dog were at a loss as to what to do, but fortunately my grandparents were still alive and well, so they let us live with them in the countryside.
I gave up on going to college and decided to work as a clerk in a small company with the help of my relatives.
Since then, I have been working at an unfamiliar job while trying my best to take care of my elderly grandparents and my adolescent little sister.
My grandparents’ house in the countryside was located in a place where you could not go anywhere without a car.
At first my sister was stunned to see that there was no convenience store or anything like that, but she unexpectedly fell in love with the chickens we kept in the back garden and quickly became familiar with the neighbourhood kids.
I think she enjoyed fishing in the river near our home, or going into the mountains to catch insects, and other such activities that she couldn’t have experienced in the city. My sister, at least, was always playing around outside and always had a dark tan when she was little.
As for me, I liked living in the countryside, though not as much as my sister. Of course, that was because of my grandparents.
My grandmother was starting to show signs of dementia, but she seemed to be able to think clearly when she was making preserved foods and local dishes, and I spent a lot of time learning from her.
My grandfather also took good care of us and planted trees and tended to the garden that produced various vegetables and fruits for us, and we enjoyed harvesting them together every year.
I think the relaxed atmosphere and time spent in the countryside suited me. Looking back now, I have many happy memories and I think I was as happy as I was when my parents were still alive. I experienced and learned so much that I didn’t have time to grieve or be sad about them.
Those days passed so quickly though…
The reason why my gentle grandparents taught me a lot of things was because they also cared that I would too, become someone nice like that.
After my grandparents passed away two years ago, my uncle, who inherited the house, allowed us to continue living there. As a high school graduate with an office job and a low salary, it would have been a big problem for us if we had to pay rent as well.
We were also trying to economize as much as we could, saving the money we had from our parents’ insurance to pay for my sister’s higher education.
So I was grateful to my uncle for graciously letting us use our grandparents’ house.
I had a vague idea that our life together as two sisters and a dog in the countryside would continue like this for a while until one of us got married.
The turning point for us came on Christmas Eve, when we were sitting underneath the kotatsu with our bellies full of hot pot, and my sister giddy with excitement was just about to cut a slice of the Bûche de Noël cake she bought after waiting a long time in line at a famous patisserie shop.
While experiencing such happy moments, the landscape in front of me distorted, and I felt a weightless sensation as if I were in freefall, and the next thing I know, the house shook with a screeching roar.
Thinking it was a big earthquake, we ran out of the house in just our clothes and with our dog, a dachshund, held in my arms, only to find five men in suspicious robes and a handsome prince waiting for us.
–I don’t have to tell you, it was Prince Cain.
I couldn’t help but stiffen when I saw these unfamiliar looking people suddenly appear in front of me. In addition, my sister and Prince Cain were staring at each other and not moving, while the men in robes were pacing left and right, and my dachshund, Leon, was hiding behind my legs and threatening the suspicious figures in front of me. It was a chaotic situation.
Now that I think about it, the situation was quite irregular, and they seemed to be confused as well.
To sum it all up, it seems that this was a different world, and we were summoned along with our house. Furthermore, my sister was in the special position of being a saint, and I was just an ordinary person who got involved in this by mistake.
The fact that my sister was a saint was something that we found out as a result of an investigation conducted by the most important looking man in the robe, who chanted some kind of mumbled gibberish spell at us.
My sister was getting excited at the unfamiliar term “Saint”, but I couldn’t keep up with her and froze. Then, she wanted to learn more about it, so we moved to a different location.
We decided to meekly follow the prince, wanting to get a grasp of the current situation anyway we could.
Apparently, our house was summoned to the middle of a vast garden in the castle. The house was surrounded by flower beds and hedges that were neatly arranged and covered with a light layer of snow.
‘I’m sure that at the height of spring this whole area will be a magnificent sight with beautiful flowers in full bloom.’
This meant that some of the flowerbeds and hedges must have been destroyed because of our house.
– I felt deeply sorry to the gardeners…
As I walked a little further, I came to a place where there were many thick, white columns with elaborate workmanship – “what kind of Roman temple is this?” I thought.
As we walked into the large white building, we saw a corridor decorated with gold work and vivid murals, just like an European castle.
Moreover, everyone we passed was dressed like a character in a fantasy movie. Some of them bowed deeply and politely to me with a look of admiration on their faces, and I, who hadn’t been able to keep up with the various things going on in my head, just bowed back to them in reflex.
Then, we arrived at the King’s throne room. The place where noblemen come to have an audience with the king. Honestly, it looked wonderful! It was gorgeous! For an ordinary citizen like me, only such words would come to mind after witnessing it.
We sat in our over-decorated chairs, squinting to keep our eyes from being blinded by the reflection of gold and other sparkling jewels, drank tea made by a real maid and listened to the King explanation of why he had summoned us.