T/N: Today I want to give a shout out to my Cookie Donors Katherine and Casey! Thank you guys so much for the sweets! I’m enjoying them ❤ I left you pictures of the snacks I got on my Contributors Page so make sure to check that out if you haven’t already XD
And that’s how I ended up here at the Imperial Garden!!
I just got off the carriage and I’m now standing under the gates leading into the garden.
Altogether, I am in a group of 5 with my parents, Niisama, and Conny who was brought along as an aid.
Just yesterday we had decided to come here and lo and behold here we are only one day later. Honestly, I’m not sure if I should be happy or embarrassed with how much Father spoils me.
Incidentally, the reason that Father has been able to spend so much time with us these days is because he took a “medical leave” from his official duties under the name of needing some recovery time. In actual fact, he just wants to have some time to spend with us now that our family is whole once again. But since he’s in vacation mode right now, he’s been using his free time to flirt with Mother and spoil me whenever possible. And the one who made this possible, who was left in charge of all that work, was none other than Alphonse-san.
….Which reminds me, lately Alphonse-san has been looking really tired. I’ve seen him often with dark shadows under his eyes…. Is he really doing okay?
Even as I start to worry about Alphonse-san’s well-being, I try to turn my attention back to what Father’s telling me about the Imperial Garden.
“The popularized name for this place may be the Imperial Garden, but the official name is actually the Imperial Ruins Archaeological Reserve. And within this reserve you’ll find things like medicinal herb gardens, rose gardens, a lake, etc.”
Eh? Doesn’t that sound exactly like a Chuunibyou1 induced fantasy garden?! How wonderful!
My eyes are once again glinting in excitement as I focus all my attention on Father’s explanation. Seemingly noticing how seriously I’m listening to him, Father chuckles proudly a bit before continuing.
“This place has quite a long history, since it’s said that the first royal palace was built here. In fact, you can still see the remnants of its ruins here today. But eventually they decided to move the capital to where the current royal palace is built, and some time later they converted this land into a nature reserve.”
“So there’s a historical appeal to it as well!” I cry excitedly. Will-Niisama praises me for knowing such difficult words, and affectionately ruffles my hair.
“Since there was a time when this place was left derelict, there are still some structures with mysterious origins and unknown purposes that remain on these lands. On the other hand, there are some areas that they weren’t able to preserve at all. For that reason, there’s some places that visitors are prohibited from entering, so you mustn’t go wandering into those areas, okay?”
Nodding seriously, I try to carefully note down all of that information for later. And at the same time, I also make plans to come back here some day and properly explore every inch of this place. Isn’t this Imperial Garden almost too amazing?
“Hm hm~ Ojousama, don’t you look excited? You absolutely love those sorts of stories, don’t you~?” Conny says, looking at me as if she was looking at an excited and adorable little child. I can’t help but feel a little embarrassed under that sort of gaze. Was I really being that obvious?
I take a moment to try to calm myself down a bit, and then I finally take a good look around me.
We’re standing just inside of the security guard’s gate now at the edge of the first plaza in the Imperial Garden.
Stones pave the ground in spiraling designs leading towards the center of the plaza where there is a huge fountain with impressive sculptures in the middle of it. Other than at the entrances to three large pathways, there is also a wall of towering evergreen trees encompassing the whole plaza.
As I gaze at these trees, I can’t help feeling amazed by just how tall they are. If I was to compare them to something, I’d say that they are of a similar height to the ones you’d find growing around very old Shinto Shrines. They are so big that I have to lean my head way back just so that I can properly admire them.
We walk down the rightmost path in a little group with Mother and Father at the front. Conny walks right behind them so that she can shelter Mother from the sun with a parasol and then Niisama and I, walking hand-in-hand, follow after her. Niisama is also carrying our picnic basket so that we can stop and have lunch somewhere later.
The ground beneath our feet is paved with gray stones and forms a path that’s wide enough for 10 people to walk on it, side-by-side. I wasn’t able to see what the left and middle pathways had led to, but as we walk forward I catch a glimpse of where the path that we are currently walking on opens up.
We had all been chatting happily but as soon as we had walked through the opening in the trees, the view takes my breath away. All around me I am surrounded by a field full of blue and purple torenia flowers.2
And since torenias are flowers that can flourish even in the shade, the huge trees standing sentry that cast their imposing shadows over the fields have no effect on the soft green leaves, short stalks, and tiny blooms that are scattered everywhere within my vision.
I haven’t seen anything like this since I took a trip to Minamiboso during my past life. It had been very beautiful there as well…..
Speaking of my past life….. I said it so easily just now, but the fact that I’m here like this…. means I really must have died, huh? I wonder if I just passed away in my sleep…. or maybe I died from overwork?
I had been an overtaxed corporate slave after all….
I continue to ponder my illusive past as I stare absentmindedly at the flowers, but after a moment like that, Niisama tugs gently on our intertwined hands.
“It’s very pretty right here, but if we just walk a bit further then there’s an even bigger, prettier area up ahead of us. So, shall we keep going?”
“Okaaaay~” I say, and then we continue our walk.
The path that we are on cuts through the flower fields and heads towards a little hill, so we are now walking up a slight incline.
After a couple of minutes, we finally leave the evergreens and torenia flowers behind us and end up in a wide open grassy area filled with a variety of bushes and shrubbery.
I take a quick glance around to make sure no one’s watching me, and then heave a little sigh.
“…….Alice, are your legs getting tired?”
Ah. I was found out.
Even though it had not been very steep, I still had to walk up a hill just now, so Mother was spot on when she asked that. I’m quickly tiring myself out. It’s just… I’m already 5 years old, so I don’t feel very comfortable asking someone to carry me up the hill so I decided to try to hide my fatigue.
“Sorry I didn’t notice…..”
While I was debating what to say in reply to Mother’s inquiry, Will-Niisama had already passed the picnic basket over to Conny and had walked back over to me. Without another word, he picks me up easily, settling me comfortably into his arms.
“Wah! Ni, Niisama! Are you sure this is okay?”
“I’ve been training properly, so I promise I won’t drop you. So don’t worry and leave this to me,” Will-Niisama says proudly, puffing out his chest. Niisama’s chest certainly does feel a lot more firm than I was originally expecting. Despite being 13 and probably going through a growth spurt right now, he’s not nearly as skinny as one would think. And somehow, he seems to smell kind of good too. The power of handsomeness really is incredible.
I seem to have forgotten all my prior hesitations now…. this might actually be fun…. Letting out a little happy giggle, I pat Niisama’s chest while I let him carry me up the hill. From a little ways behind us, I can hear Father lamenting that he “wanted to do that…..”
Father seems quite strong as well though, so I guess I’ll let him carry me next time.
And so I had a very pleasant trip up the hill. Once we had reached the top, there was a wide open expanse with a great view of the sky.
The ambience seems somewhat similar to an English Garden with a large variety of flowers being grown within.
“Oh, that’s it! Isn’t it, Mother?”
I could tell at a glance. There’s an arch covered in roses leading to a small, circular little area that is encompassed in rose bushes and has a pergola just like the one that we have at home.
The pergola covers the space and roses spill down from its trellises in lovely shades of red, white, and pink giving the tiny plaza a lovely atmosphere.
“Yes, that’s right. But it’s also an important place to your father and I as well,” Mother tells me a bit bashfully while Father looks at her with a bright smile on his face.
“It is the place where I proposed to you after all. I still haven’t forgotten how happy you looked at that moment,” Father tells her, teasingly.
Ohh! So this place had such a story behind it as well. To be proposed to while standing under a pergola with roses hanging overhead, that sounds just like a fairy-tale.
But, to not only propose here, but to recreate such a venue in your own home, that feels even more amazing. It’s like keeping a physical reminder of their love for each other right next to them at all times. Are they seriously that lovey-dovey…..?
….On second thought, yes. Yes they are.
We all watch on as Mother and Father get lost in their own little world together, whispering sweet nothings to each other as if we aren’t even here, but then a sudden sound startles everyone. It sounded a little like the high pitched whine of a puppy.
We all start looking around in confusion, trying to locate where the sound might have come from, but then I notice that Conny’s face has gone bright red. Ohhhh.
“Conny….. Could it be that you’re hungry?” I ask her, and Conny nods her head embarrassedly.
“I was just starting to feel hungry myself. Should we have our lunch around here?”
Father suggests, so we place our picnic basket on the garden table that’s just a little ways away from the pergola and we all sit down to lunch together.
T/N: So, am I the only one who didn’t know what a pergola was? Apparently it’s an arch typically made with trellises that often have flowers growing on them. I was too lazy to make a footnote about it, so here’s my explanation for it haha.
1Chuunibyou, if translated literally, is Second Year of Middle School Sickness. It’s a fun Japanese term for people who imagine themselves to have special powers and possibly a special destiny in this world. Since such an occurrence often happens around middle school age, I believe that’s where it got its name. If you want to see this illness in action, then I highly recommend watching The Disastrous Life of Saiki Kusuo. It’s a phenomenal anime and one of the main characters, Kaidou Shun, has a very bad case of Chuunibyou.↩