"Have you two packed everything you need?"
"Yes, seems like it."
The mother and son duo were standing at the mansion’s gate, wearing clothes suitable for travelling.
It was Riley and Iris.
"But... Will Sera and I really be enough?"
"That is right. In my opinion, I wish for...two more to follow us."
"Let's just get going, you two will be more than enough."
It seemed it was difficult for him to stay in the sun for too long, and so Riley took his first steps toward the carriage.
Ian sighed at the ground as he watched Riley shamble his way into the carriage.
"The capital...capital...I mean, it's good that you're going. But why must you act so..."
"Ian-nim. Please. One thing at a time."
Sera gave Ian a sneer as she poked at him with her elbow, then bowed her head.
Stein had come personally to the gates in order to bid his farewell to the two leaving for the capital.
"Are your preparations finished?"
Iris replied before Ian and Sera could answer.
"Hm, there was no need for you to go too."
As if unsatisfied, Stein’s face crumbled as he looked at Iris and the carriage.
It seemed like Riley was already lying down inside the carriage, as he could no longer be seen.
"That was the condition right?"
Contrary to what Stein had wanted.
Unable to hide her smile, Iris began to console her husband to not be so down.
"It's my first vacation with my son, so please don't break the mood with your jealousy."
"You are jealous. Aren't you?"
Stein snorted with his arms crossed.
"Since you're going with him, make sure Riley actually competes..."
Iris narrowed her eyes and called Stein's name.
Stein, with his sentence cut short, looked at Iris' eyes and flinched.
For a woman who'd never practiced swordsmanship to have such charisma, it was not fair.
"I won't force him to do it. It’s a vacation. We're just going sightseeing. As I said before, wasn't that the condition?"
The condition for Riley to head to the capital; it was not for Riley to 'compete', but rather to 'watch' the tournament.
Thanks to Iris' negotiation, Riley could see the wide world, take his mother for a vacation, and leave the mansion.
It meant he didn't need to swordfight.
"Well, I will suggest it to him."
Iris made a small laugh as she stepped onto the carriage.
All of the servants behind Stein began to bow simultaneously.
It was time to leave.
"Then, Ian. Sera."
"I leave their safety to you."
As Iris got onto the carriage, Stein called on the butler, Ian, and the maid, Sera, who were standing by.
Ian and Sera bowed and answered at the same time.
"Yes, even at the cost of my life."
"Yes, even if it will cost my life."
That was the servants’ determination to protect them.
Filled with loyalty, the two answered without hesitation and unsheathed their swords slightly to Stein, then began to move the baggage.
Even though it was a Count's family trip to the capital, the baggage was rather light.
"...Then we shall take our leave."
It seemed they decided to take turns leading the horses, with Ian on the driver’s seat and Sera inside the carriage.
With the crack of the whip, the two horses began to move.
The carriage heading to the capital had a simple design to it.
The current season was neither summer nor winter, but spring, and thus the windows were left open.
It was a carriage made just for spring.
It was designed so the passengers could feel the spring breeze as they travelled.
"It's been a while since I visited Solia, I'm excited."
"Ah, I forgot to tell you. Solia is the name of the capital. The capital has a name, and it's called 'Solia', kind of like 'Iffa' for Iffa village."
"Oh? I wasn't aware. I thought it was just called ‘the capital’."
"Well it's expected as you'd rarely left our domain. You better get used to it soon. When we arrive, you will hear ‘Solia’ rather than ‘the capital’ a lot more."
Sera began to explain Solia with a bright smile, as Iris remembered something.
"Now that you mention it, Sera, you're from the capital right?"
Twenty minutes had passed since they had departed from the mansion.
Riley, who had been looking out the window with his chin on his hand, glanced at Sera.
It seemed like her story about the capital sounded much more interesting than the view of Iffa village from out the window.
Sera was already smiling with excitement.
"Everyone’s so lively, and there's so many things to see. This is the first time you two are visiting Solia right?"
As Sera clapped her hand with the question, Riley answered.
"Then you should look forward to it. Solia is a really good place. I can assuredly affirm it will be a wonderful memory. With your permission, allow me to act as your guide!"
Riley accepted Sera's favour with a laugh, then posed his first question.
"The capital...no, Solia should be filled with people right? I'm not good with walking through crowds."
"Hm, it is true the central plaza is crowded. It is a four-way intersection which splits the capital into four districts, and it is the best place to hear the most recent gossip of the castle. Other than that, it should be fine. Young Master should be able to handle it."
The current destination for the party of four, 'Solia', was so large that it was divided into upper, lower, left, right sections for the sake of organization..
The right, left and lower districts were where most commoners and merchants lived.
"I remember seeing it in a book."
A picture of a circle that was split into four equal parts.
He remembers seeing the map which had the upper area denominated as 'the Palace'.
"So where did you live, Sera?"
Among the baggage they brought was also a map of Solia, and Iris handed it to her along with her question.
As she looked at the map Iris handed her, she pointed her finger with a grin.
She was pointing to the 'left district'.
"Here, the Left Solia."
"It was termed as such to make it easy to organise. Where I pointed is called the Left Solia."
Sera's finger trailed left then down, and down to left again.
"This is called the Lower Solia. And this is the Right Solia. Ah! The upper is an exception. We just call it the Solia Castle. That is where our objective, the tournament, is held."
"Wow, so it's that large?"
"It is a city, not to mention the capital! A major city holding the palace! You can't compare it to our mansion or Iffa village."
As Sera gave a devious smile to boost their anticipation, Ian who was driving the carriage peeked behind him and joined in on the conversation.
"I have been to the capital a few times myself. Not only are there things to see, but delicious food to have had as well."
Iris' cheeks turned red with anticipation.
Unlike his mother, Riley made a somber face with his chin locked onto his hand.
"Actually, concerning that 'dream' you told me about before, Young Master."
The carriage was driven over a bump with a dull thud.
It seemed like the wheel had gone over a large pebble, but it didn't affect their travel.
But, it was enough to change Riley's face.
"Among the snacks in Solia is something similar to what you've told me...about the dream."
Ian who was expertly leading the horses looked around the surroundings then moved his eyes to the back.
"Yes, what...what was it? Carbonated drinks, was it?"
"When you drink it, you can feel the bubbles pop in your throat. You always talked about how it's sweet, cold, shocking, and when you drink it with ice...that you could almost feel like you’re going to heaven."
"...Y-yeah what about it?"
As Riley remembered the three soft drinks, he asked with a big gulp.
‘Why am I sweating so much even though it's not summer?’
"You did say it was a dream, so I'm not sure if it's the same as what you'd told me but...there is something like it."
"I guess you'd call it a sweet beer where you don’t get drunk? No, it was more like a drink that seemed to pop more. The colour was...black..."
Riley quickly stood and pressed his face toward the driver's seat.
Iris and Sera flinched with surprise.
'T-there’s coke... here?'
Riley's jaws dropped.
The thought of wanting to drink it right now was so strong that he was almost having withdrawal symptoms.