It was none other than Sig who suggested hosting a tea party and inviting Britia.
“Didn’t I mention it before? Don’t we have a variety of tea leaves and desserts in the capital?”
Although it wasn’t something to boast about, since Sig became the owner of Altheim, they had rarely guests. Let alone inviting someone like Britia to a tea party!
“I had hoped you would at least come back with some hints since I have no idea what to prepare!”
Was he foolish to think that he, who had only experienced the tastes of ‘delicious’ and ‘edible,’ would know enough to prepare a tea party that suited her taste?
“If I had known, I should have brought Yulan with me.”
Evry lamented, thinking that if they were such a food enthusiast, they would have undoubtedly been more knowledgeable about this kind of issue than themselves.
“I left him behind because he was clearly going to devour the party food without caring about people’s gaze, which would have been embarrassing.”
Despite Yulan’s pleading to be taken along to try the city’s cuisine, he was pried away. At that time, it had been more important to avoid being criticized by the city’s socialites who considered the people of Altheim to be uncivilized barbarians for eating monster meat.
However, now that Britia’s priority had become slightly higher than those people, they regretted it belatedly.
“But I couldn’t help it.”
Sig muttered as if making an excuse.
“Her smile is too powerful.”
And then, struggling to regain his composure, he sighed heavily.
Seeing his face, which was usually devoid of any signs of effort, completely relaxed to a pathetic degree, Evry couldn’t help but open his mouth.
Among the knights of Altheim, no one didn’t know that Sig dreamed of a fateful love. However, there was not a single person who believed it would come true.
“Rumor has it that Your Grace thinks such a woman will suddenly emerge from a snowy field or fall from the sky.”
“Just make a snowman and fall in love with it.”
There were even those who mocked him severely. Although the words seemed excessive, Evry could somewhat empathize with the story. Sig Turas always dreamed of fateful love, but his efforts were woefully inadequate in comparison.
First of all, to meet someone, he had to be visible in social circles. However, unless Her Highness Empress angrily ordered him to come to the capital every year, he wouldn’t even come down from the north.
He didn’t eagerly accept invitations and travel around, nor did he personally invite anyone.
“Since that person said she would personally host a banquet, I had a feeling… But really…”
Sig had fallen head over heels for her.
Suddenly, Evry felt a tickling sensation in his chest.
“Should I go back and ask her again, even now? But I’m not confident that I won’t forget to ask her when I see her face.”
Sig’s voice grew faint.
“Of course, it’s good to meet her again, but how will she think of me?”
Watching him worry, Evry slowly lowered his head.
“I have been thinking too narrowly. I thought Your Grace’s chances were slim.”
When Evry learned that Sig had an interest in Britia, he became excited and even imagined the sight of their child running around Altheim Castle. Unable to control his emotions, he immediately wrote a letter and sent it to the commander who was staying in the north to protect the castle.
‘Prepare yourself as there may be someone who will become the lord of Altheim this time and return with us!‘
A few days later, he received a reply from him.
[I almost laughed my head off, so bring good liquor from the capital.]
It was merely a single line with no hint of expectation or interest. Come to think of it, there was a postscript.
[If there is a woman who is willing to marry that oak tree and come to Altheim, be sure to bring her. If successful, I will call you Evry for the rest of your life.]
He could imagine the commander gaping with a wide-open mouth on the other side of the letter. He wanted to scold him and make him regret his words, but unfortunately, he saw the reality even in him.
Just because Sig has Britia in his heart doesn’t mean she will become the lady of the castle right away. She also needs to have such feelings. That was an obvious fact.
“So, do you think I have a chance?”
In response to Sig’s question, Evry laughed and firmly denied it.
“Don’t look at me with those eyes. Do you think I want to awaken you to such reality, Your Grace?”
His expression, which had been loosened by thoughts of Britia, became stern as usual.
“Unlike the formidable Duke, she is a beauty in everyone’s eyes, isn’t she?”
“I don’t need you to tell me things I already know.”
“Look at yourself right now. When you glare at me like that, your usual dignity seems fierce.”
Sig’s eyebrows twitched at Evry’s frankness.
“It’s said that there may not be an engagement, but who knows how many competitors there might be if it’s her?”
Even if Britia didn’t know, there would surely be many men willing to propose to her.
“However, the advantages Your Grace possesses are merely his strength and wealth, and the fact that he is the Emperor’s nephew, isn’t he?”
Sig asked who he was referring to when he said competitors, but Evry casually dismissed it.
“What else is there? It’s not like you have a dazzling eloquence or an appearance that anyone would fall for.”
Evry looked at the Duke’s face as he glared at him fiercely, and firmly pressed his lips together.
“The knights, when they go on a campaign together, will come to realize the greatness of Your Grace. They will be filled with reverence. But that method is completely useless to her.”
Taking a non-knight noblewoman like her on a sudden monster-slaying mission would be inappropriate.
“Yeah. With your mediocre strength, you probably won’t impress her in any way.”
The words of the subordinate, who said he was completely useless, pierced Sig’s heart. But it was true. He couldn’t even compare to Britia’s little toe. Sig let out a bitter laugh.
“At least being wealthy is still a good point. But being His Highness, the Emperor’s nephew is a double-edged sword.”
It might be a favourable condition for someone ambitious, but it’s a burdensome condition for someone who wants to live quietly. In fact, Lord Lockheart actively approached Sig to build a friendship, but Britia didn’t seem to have such intentions.
“Still, there is one fortunate breakthrough.”
“She said she finds Your Grace cute .”
It could just be drunken ramblings. However, no matter how you look at it, isn’t Sig Turas someone unlikely to be called cute?
“I can’t possibly understand those words, but what’s important is that she said it.”
Evry wanted to believe that it wasn’t just a slip of the tongue due to intoxication, but a sincere sentiment. No, she had to believe it.
“Another advantage we can utilize is the fact that Your Highness is young.”
“How do we utilize that?”
Sig couldn’t understand what advantage there was in being young.
Evey’s face became somewhat serious.
“From now on, Your Grace should present himself to her as a younger, cute, and wealthy man, Sig Turas.”
“A younger, cute, and wealthy man?”
Sig asked again, unable to comprehend Evry’s words. Even if he said it out loud, it was a statement that he couldn’t grasp.
“Where is the charm in that?”
It didn’t seem strong in the slightest. As someone who had never felt any particular charm in elements other than strength, Sig found it incongruous.
“If you can’t achieve that, the conquest of Britia Lockheart will fail.”
The words “conquest will fail” stimulated Sig, who couldn’t sympathize at all.
“But how does being a younger, cute, and wealthy man fit into this?”
“Fortunately, you are already younger and wealthy, so that’s covered. The problem is becoming cute.”
Even though it was a suggestion that came out of her mouth, Evry thought it truly made no sense. How could they make this towering figure, almost like a beast, cute? The path ahead seemed dark.
“But if we leave that aside…”
Evry closed his eyes slightly and imagined Sig alongside imaginary competitors. She was all smaller and weaker than Sig, but her appearances were above average, and they had money.
“As expected, if you want to improve your chances, Your Grace has no choice but to become cute.”
Sig blinked slowly, never having considered such a possibility.
“I’ve never made such an effort before.”
“If you haven’t, will you not do it in the future? Then you might as well return defeated to Altheim.”
Evry deliberately expressed himself strongly to provoke Sig, who hated losing more than anything.
“As a loser who has never even made an effort.”
In response, Sig’s eyes, which were initially bewildered, became sharp.
“What specifically do you want me to do?”
Sig didn’t want to lose. But he couldn’t understand how he was supposed to make himself cute, no matter how hard he tried.
“First, we need to figure out what part of you she finds cute.”
“Her standards are probably not common. So it’s unlikely she would find Your Grace cute just by looking at him.”
“In conclusion… I don’t know either.”
Sig’s face, which had been listening seriously, became grim.
“That’s something we’ll have to figure out from now on. During the banquet, we need to carefully observe what she pays more attention to, what she says. We must be meticulous.”
“Are you asking me to do that?”
“Then, do you want the three of us to have tea together?”
Sig pondered for a moment before tightly sealing his lips. He seemed to dislike that idea as well.
“For now, what we can do is… yes. Highlight the fact that you have a lot of money. If we don’t know what she likes, just offer all kinds of tea and snacks and recommend everything.”
Thus, Evy suggested, subtly displaying Sig’s financial means.
“Then it’s likely that what she likes will be among them without even having to ask.”
Evy nodded his head.
“But what if she claims she has to leave before finding what she likes because it’s dinner time?”
“We have to prevent her from leaving until she finishes eating!”
Evy raised his voice, as if it were an obvious statement.
“Prevent her from leaving?”
Was it okay to do such a thing? Sig’s lips parted slightly, struck by a fresh shock.
“If she gets tired of tea and desserts, then this time we’ll treat her to dinner.”
There was no one there to remind Sig that keeping someone captive wasn’t an act of hospitality, not like when he invited them to a party. Normally, Evry would have played that role to explain that to his boss.
“If she finishes it all, we’ll prepare more, and prepare more again.”
At this moment, Sig’s mind was consumed by a fiery excitement, rendering rational thought impossible. The image of Britia Turas, now the esteemed host of Altheim, loomed large in his mind, along with the regret of not recognizing her. The imposing figure of Evry, who referred to himself as “Mr. Evry,” also held sway over his thoughts.
At that moment, Britia felt an inexplicable chill and worried about her health, wondering if she had caught a cold or some other illness.