“The refreshments are ready.”
Just then, the butler, Theobalt, came in and laid down a mountain of food. It didn’t seem like anyone was afraid, but it was perfect and just what I needed to lighten the mood after threatening them in my own unique way.
Fresh cream cake, apricot tarts, cherries pickled and dipped in chocolate, and small muffins. The eclairs, which were artistically stacked in a bowl, looked incredibly delicious with dried strawberry powder on top.
Their appearance was a treat to my eyes, and the sweet smell the desserts exuded was amazing.
I drank the peppermint tea and opened my mouth to hide my disgust for it.
“Make yourselves comfortable. If you have found something particularly delicious, you can order it again, and if there’s anything you want to eat while you’re working at the mansion, Maynard will make it for you.”
Then suddenly, Madame and everyone else’s expressions became muddled.
“Everything I want to eat…?”
This time, it was staff 1, 2, and 3 who spoke. Their attire looked a little worse than that of a madame or an assistant. It must be because they were not yet skilled in this field and their salaries were quite low.
I looked at their trembling pupils, curled up my mouth, and answered plainly,
“Yeah, I have a lot of money.”
* * *
Lacius has been in a good mood these days. Perhaps because she was fed so much that Shay’s previously sunken cheeks were now swelling to the point of being noticeable.
He cuts the steak for her at each meal and always checks whether she is eating properly or not. He would also urge her to try and take a bite of the cakes and tarts.
Shay looked really happy, but she would open her mouth coyly everytime as if wanting to hide her happiness.
Lacius feels happy seeing Shay getting a little plumper every day. Even the carriages who always fiercely chased him on his way home from work didn’t annoy anymore.
“You arrived, My lord.”
Theobalt and Maynard were there to greet him as he arrived home after stopping by the official residence of the Order of Rentus. However, the face he wanted to see the most wasn’t there.
“She’s with her guests.”
Guests? Was there anyone worthy of visiting the mansion?
As soon as he entered the house, Lacius took off his jacket and handed it to Theobalt. Then, lightly unbuttoning the button on his collar, he headed toward the sound of laughter.
“It goes well with this one, and that one goes well with this. Oh what should we do!”
“I know right. I don’t know what to wear.”
“Still, this silver dress is the best. It makes your red hair stand out even more!”
“No, that’s so fairy-like, how about a villainess look? It will surely look fierce!”
The voice mixed in the middle belonged to Shay. However, the rest were unfamiliar. Lacius stopped in front of the closed door. It’s probably women’s time, so he shouldn’t go in.
“The lady invited the dress shop’s madame, assistants, and staff.”
“She received an invitation to the tea party from Her Majesty, the princess.”
Lacius grasped the whole situation with that one sentence. Rather than going back and forth from the dress store to here, it was more efficient to sit down and just call them here.
“I see. Make sure you don’t neglect to serve the guests.”
“Yes, my lord.”
He wanted to say hello, but if he entered now, the flow would surely be disrupted. He didn’t want to be surrounded by women. Lacius decided to go straight to the bathroom instead. Following him, Theobalt said in a low voice,
“Maynard said he saw a suspicious person today.”
“A suspicious person?”
“Yes. He was driving out the carriage when he saw a man with dark skin near the mansion.”
Lacius’ hand which was unbuttoning his shirt flinched, and he stopped.
“Is he a desert warrior?”
“We’re not sure, but Maynard thinks he saw a tattoo on his face.”
“Why would a desert warrior be in the Empire?”
“I don’t know about that, but shall we let the matter go? He has a unique appearance, so he will be caught by his tail in no time.”
Tuk tuk, tuk tuk.
Lacius unbuttoned the remaining buttons without saying a word. Theobalt helped him remove his shirt, then Lacius slowly unbuckled his trousers.
“… … It may have something to do with Shay. It would be good to investigate it beforehand.”
Eventually, Lacius, who was now completely naked, went into the bathtub and ordered so. Theobalt smiled meaningfully and lowered his head.
“Yes, My lord.”
In fact, no one knew, but Theobalt’s real name was ‘Theobalt Luwin.’ During his childhood, he was called the Luwin of information.
A genius from the underworld who played with information in one hand and people’s lives in the other.
No matter how old he was or how long it had been since he stepped down from his position, his investigative abilities did not disappear. Theobalt withdrew, his eyes shining with interest for the fun job he had received after a long time.
Lacius’ upper body was soaked in the bathtub. There was a long, horrendous scar drawn all the way to where his heart was located. It was from when he was fighting the desert people, and Lacius still had not forgotten the one who humiliated him like this.
‘It was the first and last since he was born.’
When he thinks of the time when he got this scar, he immediately gets reminded of the desert’s scorching sunlight. When all the ordinary knights were suffering, he alone was no different than usual. Because the desert was where the power of the god of the sun shined the strongest. Seeing him like that, the knights muttered and revered him as the ‘chosen one’.
‘They’re not wrong, but I wasn’t the only one.’
From a young age, handling a sword was as easy as eating rice for him.
When he was fifteen, he realized the true meaning and supremacy of the sword, and it was the following year that he absorbed the secrets of the outstanding knights into his own.
And when he was seventeen, he went to war. It was voluntary. It wasn’t for the sake of recognition, fame, or success and even less so to prove his loyalty to the imperial family.
He was just sick of the attention toward him.
‘And I met him there.’
He had eyes similar to his.
Eyes of someone who was sick and bored to death.
Holding a sword was also not fun for Lacius. But the mere fact of being alive suffocated him so he had no choice but to wield it to make life a little more bearable.
As a warrior of the desert people, he and Lacius realized something the moment they made eye contact.
He experienced a creepy sensation as if everything around him disappeared and only one person remained.
A person who can kill me.
And in the battle that took place, Lacius tasted a painful draw for the first time.
‘I don’t think it’s him.’
He’s expecting too much. Despite that thought, Lacius still clenched his fists. But what if that’s the case. Why would he suddenly show up this time?
Lacius, lost in thought, narrowed his eyebrows at the terrifying notion that suddenly occurred to him.
‘He’s not here because he was paid to kill or kidnap Shay, was he?’
Lacius lifted up his upper body without realizing it. If so, he must find him and remove him immediately. Although it was a battle from a long time ago, he was the only opponent who had hurt him. Even though Shay was a painting wizard, it would be difficult for her to stop him. No, it would be impossible.
Her drawings were great, but she would be powerless in front of his sword with Aura.
‘But… Why am I nervous?’
Lacius’ hands flinched and trembled.
Of course, it was true that he signed some kind of contract with her, but it had not yet achieved any significant results. He didn’t have to worry this much. In addition, there was no guarantee that the man believed to be a desert warrior would be “that guy.”
“You are overreacting.”
Lacius pressed his temples. It’s not good to overdo anything. Lacius decided to focus on bathing and stopped thinking about it any further.
And maybe it would be better not to see Shay for the time being.