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“One of the patrols left their baton here,” Vert explains. “That spooked me. I thought they’re here for another inspection.”
“Me too. Hahahaha.”
“What’s so funny?”
“I almost got a heart attack because somebody forgot their baton.”
That earns a snort from Vert. “Yeah. That lucky guy didn’t know how close he was from getting injured. I almost attacked him when he got so close to the closet. You did a good job keeping silent.”
“Yeah, we’d be screwed if that was a real inspection. We should leave as soon as we can.”
“Not immediately though, it’ll only raise suspicion. Speaking of which, I should tell you the escape plan I prepared.”
The plan is pretty simple. We wait until it’s night before checking out of the hotel. We will then act as a pair of noble siblings who got their vacation interrupted by an urgent matter. Rosalys will leave earlier to check on the train station. Depending on the situation, she’d either come with us or go separate ways.
“If it’s too dangerous, she’ll rent us a coach and pick us up at the hotel,” Vert finishes.
“Coach? As in horse drawn one?”
“Why not a car?”
“Like I said, we’ll use the train if it’s safe.”
“No, not train’s car. I mean the four wheeled car,” I say, before it occurs go me that if this Vert doesn’t know soccer, then she might not know what a car is. “It’s like a coach, but moved with machines.”
“Oh, you mean a mechanical coach. Nobody rents that. The price is too expensive; and it’s a horror to maintain.”
I wonder what could be so horrible in maintaining a car. The worst it can do to you is make you dirty and smelly.
“I’m talking about the price of the spare parts and its fuel,” Vert says as if she could read my mind. “I admit it’s cleaner and less smelly than a horse, but who needs one if you can fly with a pegasus.”
“Fly with what?”
“Pegasus. We have them as taxis—until they’re all conscripted for the war.”
After that comes the preparation. Vert dyes my hair to black—it was, apparently, turned to white while I was sleeping for ten years—and asks me to strip so she can put on the change. Fortunately my furious refusal works, so here I am, back in the closet, struggling with the clothes.
I am in the middle of figuring out which end is the dress pants’ top when someone knocks the closet door.
“Need any help?” Vert’s muffled voice comes through the door.
“Nope! I’m fine! I’m on my last garment here!”
“Are you sure?”
Even so, I take approximately fifteen minutes to put the pants on. Fortunately I don’t take a second longer because Vert opens the closet door right after I finish zipping the pants.
Vert gives me a once over and a hum of approval.
“You look good in it. Like a real noble,” she says, with a hint of awe. “How does it fit?”
I move limbs around to test for any tightness. “The shoulder part is a little restrictive,” I say as I rotate my right arm.
“It is supposed to be like that. Now wear this.”
Vert helps me putting on a jacket coat on top of the dress shirt; the end result, as she describes, is me looking like a born and bred gentleman.
“What are you going to wear?” I ask.
“What I’m wearing now. I’m already dressed as a noblewoman before you woke up.”
“I see.” Wait a minute. If she’s dressing as a noblewoman, then, “Are you wearing a dress?”
“Yes. What kind of dress that doesn’t have a skirt?”
“Oh my God.” Vert is wearing a dress. A DRESS. A dress, damn it. The Cross family’s biggest mystery is standing right in front of me now and I can’t even see it! Arrgggh! Why do I have to be blind right now?? This is so unfair!
Distracted by my own misery, I don’t notice Vert leaving the room until she comes back.
“Come on, our ride is ready.”
The disappointment of not seeing Vert in a dress makes me forget my fear of going outside. I don’t even notice we are outside until Rosalys calls out to Vert.
I look up and my jaw drops. Not at the coach, but what’s pulling it.
They’re pegasuses. Real, living, organic winged horses.
I thought she meant another type of transportation called pegasus. But I see that she meant it literally.
“Thank you, Rosalys. Come on, brother. Let’s get on this and go to our way already,” Vert says as if two dark skinned pegasuses pulling a coach is a quotidian sight.
“They’re pegasuses,” I say, finding myself unable to say something more intelligent.
“Yes, they are. But not the ones which can fly. Their wings are too small—probably a cross with a wingless horse,” Vert says, explaining why we have pegasuses pulling the coach instead of the normal horses. “Wait, you can see now?”
“Huh?” Now that she mentions it, yes—I can see the pegasuses, a grey haired maid sitting on the coach’s driver seat and a slightly childish looking adult with Vert’s face, her signature short hair, and… green eyes? I don’t know. It’s too dark to make out the color. “Yes, but why?”
“I don’t have any idea. Let’s ponder about that in the coach. Hurry up and get on,” Vert says before getting in herself.
I follow Vert into the coach. To my relief, the coach is a closed type coach with windows and curtains. Not to mention the seats are cushioned leather seats that looks like a sofa. I can close the curtain and pretend we are in a moving house instead of being outside. If it doesn’t work, I can just lay down and sleep. It’s wide enough to contain my upper body.
I take a seat across Vert, who sits right behind the driver side. Once I’m seated, she closes the door and orders Rosalys to go.
“You can go now.”
“Yes, lady Vert.”
Rosalys ring a bell, and the coach moves, accompanied with the pegasuses snort and flap of wings. Nobody stops us from leaving the inn.