“You can see the residence from the window already.” [Pioro]
I turned to the window to the right as pointed out, and there, were high walls and a moat… Isn’t that a castle?
“Serge-san, Pioro-san. This is neither a residence nor a mansion, is it not? This is clearly a castle.” [Ryouma]
Try as I might to look at it from a different angle, there was simply no other way to put the building in front of me but a castle. Moreover, it was not the beautiful white fantasy castle that the Land of Dreams had. Guards could be seen here and there on the highwalls. The head of a tower could even be seen sticking out from behind the castle walls just like a chess piece.
…This isn’t a house. This is a fortress.
My thoughts aside, the carriage continued along its way, eventually changing its direction toward a castle gates where soldiers were lined up.
“President of the Morgan Company, Serge Morgan, along with two others. The driver and the two people seated at the back are servants. The cargo is a small gift to His Grace. Please grant permission.” [Serge]
“I’m listening. Please proceed to the residence as you are. When you get there a person will guide you.” [Guard]
I thought the security would be a lot stricter, but that didn’t take long at all. We were back on our way before we knew it.
What was that?
“Is something the matter?” [Serge]
“I felt something strange just now…” [Ryouma]
“Maybe it’s a barrier? A barrier to prevent bandits from sneaking in with dimension magic.” [Pioro]
“A barrier, huh.” [Ryouma]
“There are cases where individuals sensitive to mana will feel strange when passing through one. The residence of the duke’s family have several layers of barriers erected through the employ of magic tools and barrier mages.” [Serge]
I never felt like this when I used barrier magic, though…
“But enough of that, we’ve almost arrived.” [Serge]
I checked my attire one last time and braced myself.
“Thank you for bringing us here.” [Ryouma]
I thanked Serge-san’s subordinate who drove the carriage and got off.
The first thing that caught my attention was the line of servants that came to greet us. There were twenty people! Twenty! They split into two lines on both sides, heads bowed, and cleared a path for us to go through.
…I feel like I’ve seen this scene several times in manga, but I never thought I’d be on the receiving end of such treatment.
But what was even more surprising was the building up ahead. Unlike the fortress from before, it was a splendid western-style residence. The outer walls and towers certainly gave the impression of a fortress, but the residence inside looked more like a proper guest house. Although it was made of gray stones and looked old, it was properly being maintained, so it did not look dirty. If anything it gave the place a personality that felt historical.
A butler called out to us. He is probably the person in the highest position here.
The first thing he said was that we had to be moved to a waiting room before meeting the duke. Our three servants – this included Fei-san – were to wait at another room. The gifts were handed over to the attendants to be checked. They will be sent to the waiting room before we meet with the duke’s family.
“This way please.” [Maid]
We walked after the maid guiding us just as we were told.
“Please wait here for the time being.” [Maid]
When we got to the waiting room, two women I’ve been acquainted with before were there waiting.
“Arone-san? Lilian-san too.” [Ryouma]
“It’s been a while. Ryouma-sama.” [Arone]
“We’ve been waiting for you. You seem well.” [Lilian]
The maid that brought us looked at the two as if asking if they were acquainted with me.
“Oh, they helped me out a lot in the past.” [Ryouma]
“Really? In that case, I’ll be taking my leave. If you need anything, please just leave it to these two maids.” [Maid]
When the maid tasked with guiding us left, I sighed with relief.
“Would you like some drinks?” [Arone]
“We have water, black tea, fruit juice, and light liquor.” [Lilian]
“I’d like some fruit juice please.” [Ryouma]
“Black tea for me.” [Pioro]
“Water will do. Thank you.” [Serge]
As expected, these two are used to this already and were acting perfectly natural.
“Thank you very much… Fuu…” [Ryouma]
The juice was cold and felt good as it passed through my throat.
“What? Are you nervous?” [Pioro]
“Of course he is.” [Serge]
This might come off as strange, but I’m actually not that nervous to meet the duke’s family. It’s just that it’s my first time visiting a noble’s mansion. And while I won’t go as far as to say ‘proud’. As the top executive of a store, I feel as if I have to act with some manner of imposing here.
That being said, I was only an employee in my past life. I’m still new to this top executive thing, so I can’t quite calm down.
Gotta act imposing. Gotta act imposing… But if I overstep my boundaries, I’ll displease someone… The lines are vague, so it’s rather confusing. It’s different from manners or seating positions, where the angles and places have already been defined. I have to act according to the atmosphere or based on the personality of the person I’m talking to.
..Aren’t you always looking at others and telling yourself to have confidence? Now that things have started to change, don’t you think you’re lacking humility? Don’t you think you’ve been getting cheekier lately? Aren’t you becoming arrogant? Why do people say stuff like that?
If I become too conscious, I’ll end up being too humble again and just annoy others. How am I supposed to make this work?
“Ryouma-sama? Are you alright?” [Arone]
Oops. I was being needlessly frustrated there. It might be because of the suit.
“Yes. I’m just a little nervous.” [Ryouma]
“Really? Your eyes are dead.” [Pioro]
“It’s fine if you’re not sick, but… You don’t really have to be that nervous. If something happens, Pioro and I are here to back you up. To be honest, though, from what I’ve seen of you until now, I don’t think you’ll need it.” [Serge]
Arone-san and Lilian-san encouraged me, saying things like, ‘You look plenty calm’ ‘There were guests more nervous than you’.
I’m grateful for their sympathy. I’ll do my best.
After that we talked idly among ourselves.
The maids also talked proactively. Maybe they were trying to get my mind off of worrying.
They were so proactive they actually became the center of the conversation. We talked about recent news, such as ‘how we met’, ‘what happened after we parted’… All sorts of topics while we killed time waiting.