Today I’m going to report to the Duke that I’m going to marry Alice.
On the way to the noble quarter, I stopped by a pastry shop on Third Avenue and bought a large quantity of pudding as a souvenir.
It was the first time I had ever bought so many puddings at once.
I felt a little sorry for the store when Alice said, “Please give me all the pudding you have, including the one in storage” There were about 100 puddings in total.
But when she said, “Not enough …” I thought, Seriously!?
Apparently, she wanted to buy enough for the servants too.
“In total how many people live in your house?” I asked her. She replied, “About 300 people.”
I think with that amount you should book it in advance.
“I only remember it at the last minute,” Alice said.
I see, the type who vulnerable to gambling, huh? I had always thought that she was the type of person who would somehow further escalate the situation where she should be stopping to take a risk in the first place. I’ll be careful not to let her make any bet in the future.
We substitute the pudding with cookies for the time being, and I put a large number of our groceries in my shadow.
Finally, we arrived at Duke’s house. No matter how much I’ve seen this, it’s still amazing. This is no longer a mansion. It’s already a palace.
And the scary thing is, I heard their house in the countryside is even more impressive than this.
I sound the door knocker, which had a shiny polished brass owl on it, and was immediately greeted by Jeffrey.
His unusually straight back makes me straighten my posture reflexively.
Welcome back, young lady, Mr. Hayato. It’s been a while. Everyone is waiting for you. First of all, please go to your room and change your clothes.
“Huh? Can’t we just leave it like this? I came here intending to leave as soon as we were done talking.”
“My master told me to make Alice look like a proper lady before meeting him, so I’m afraid we can’t have a compromise on this.
Marry Ann, Florina, if you would?
And, Mr. Hayato, please come this way.”
With a strong compelling aura, Mr. Jeffrey leads me in a different direction from Alice.
I wonder if I’m going to be judged for laying my hands on this house’s princess. I haven’t done anything yet, though.
Didn’t the Duke send me on that mission with that intention?
I glanced back at Alice and saw that she was also looking at me with a worried look on her face.
I was getting more and more anxious.
Mr. Jeffrey opened the door to a room, and inside was a mature man and another man, no older than me, who got up from their chairs and immediately kneeled as we entered.
I wondered if they were the executioners. The older one had a white cord around his neck. Maybe that’s how they will strangle me.
As I stared at them, Jeffrey turned and said,
“You don’t need to be so alarmed. Mr. Taylor, this is the man I’m talking about, I will leave the rest to you.”
“Certainly, Thank you, sir.”
A tailor. – Mr. Tailor!
“Mr. Hayato. Please do cooperate, I’ll come back when you’re done.”
“No, wait! What…”
When I was looking at the door that Jeffrey had just closed, the tailor came up to me with a measuring tape in his hand, which I was mistaken as a white string.
“We don’t have much time. Please take off your jacket and put on as little clothing as possible.”
“Wait a minute. I didn’t hear anything about this. Can you explain?”
“Too bad sir, I also don’t know. I’ve only been instructed to finish your formal wear in the shortest possible time.”
Formal wear did he mean formal dress?
Before I could ask further, he took off my jacket and used the tape to measure my shoulder width.
The man who seemed to be his apprentice recorded the numbers he mentioned on a piece of paper. He also measured my height. Ah, I’m a little taller than a few months ago. That’s good.
The measurements were taken quickly, and as they were putting away their tools, Mr. Jeffrey came back into the room at just the right moment, as if he had been expecting this.
“So how is it Mr. Taylor, How long do you think it will take?”
“This will take about a month, but I would be more certain if you could allow me to come back to measure him at any time.”
“I understand. I’ll make the arrangement. Thank you very much.”
… Just what’s going on?
The conversation is carried on without me, and I felt like I was already being swept along into Duke’s pace even though he hasn’t shown himself yet. I was a little scared to meet him now.
When you’re caught off guard like this, that’s how you’ll usually agree to an absurd request.
Later I learn that my premonition came true in a direction I hadn’t expected.
“A knighthood? for me?”
The Duke told me that as soon I arrived at this intimidating yet gorgeous room, which is said exclusively reserved for the Duke family’s head.
The Duke, who had an unusually relaxed atmosphere in this luxurious room, sat across from me, crossed his legs comfortably, and nodded.
“Yes. It’s under our umbrella, though. His Majesty already knows, so you can become one at any time.”
He said it as if it was nothing.
No, no, it may be nothing to you, but it’s a big deal to me, Duke.
I’m just a guy who’s good at dealing with monsters and has no education whatsoever.
I’ve had several similar invitations in the past, but I’ve always turned them down because I don’t think I’m cut out for it, and more importantly, I don’t trust noblemen in general.
I’m not sure if I harbored the same feeling about the Duke right now, still…
“Because you’re going to marry Alice, aren’t you? That’s why you came here to talk about it today, am I right?”
“Th-that’s true, but…”
What is he going to do if I wasn’t?
What was I going to do if I wasn’t? From the moment I stepped into this house, the tailor to this room had created an atmosphere that made it hard for me to say no.
I wonder what Alice would have done if she were here with me. I feel like she might be concerned about my position and will try to stop me.
…Ah, so that’s why you had us go our separate ways as soon as we arrived?
I always thought the Duke was a fearsome man. He knows how to control people to follow his wishes.
“… Is it necessary to have a certain degree of nobility if I want to marry Lady Alisha?”
“I thought it would be nice to have one, but if you don’t have one, I can always give one.”
“Haha… as expected. You have an unusual way of thinking.”
“I just feel that you’re the right person for it. So, what do you do? Accept?”
I wondered if there was any other option but to nod.
I thought about it, but I couldn’t answer right away. Being under the wings of Stuart’s Family is not a joking matter. I can’t even imagine what my life will be like from this point on.
“Should I accept it, how my life will change after this…?”
“For starter…. I guess you’ll be living here for a while and studying. Of course, I won’t ask you to spend all of your time here. On weekends, you’ll be free to do whatever you want. But on weekdays, you’ll have to go to the academy.”
It is said that most of the noble children go to the academy.
The one Alice graduated from.
Must I go to such a place?
I’m not sure if I can handle it …At most, I could only write and read.
“It’s okay. You don’t have to be worried about that.
I can get you a tutor before you enter the school, so I think you will be able to acquire at least the lowest level of academic ability. After all, they are many kinds of people there, from the best to the worst.
All you need is the fact that you graduated from there. Before you transfer, take the exam, and depending on the result, you can start at the second-year class. If all goes well, you’ll graduate in six months.
After that, I’ll give you part of my territory, and you can rule over it. It’s called Ridill, and it’s a nice, peaceful place.”
He even offered to give me a part of his territory. Isn’t a territory is an essential part of nobility?
….. That’s how much the Duke cherishes Alice. He prepared to do so much to support a newcomer like me.
Then it occurred to me that the name of the place, Ridill, sounded familiar.
I checked my memory and found that I remembered the name of the place.
“Ridill… I remember, I’ve been there once. When the farmland was overrun by Antaeus and the guild asked me to take them out.”
It was about two years ago.
Antaeus is a very belligerent giant-type monster with the highest level of danger that will attack any living creature it sees. It gets its magic power from the soil to regenerates and resurrects itself endlessly.
Back then, I was still with my friends. I remember Lav went with me to Riddil, and after defeating it, we were all troubled by the village people forcing us to drink alcohol.
Then the Duke clapped his hands and leaned forward with a glitter in his eye.
“Ah, that time! I remember it was two years ago, right? The village chief wrote in his report that there was one very strong child. Well, you saved me that time.
It’s a mythical monster, so it must have been powerful, right? to be honest, I’m impressed. This might be way too late. But, did you think the reward was worth it? that time I was worried if it was too little.”
“No, it was more than enough.”
Well, that’s good.
I’m glad it was you.
The Duke smiled, looking unusually happy.
The conversation went off-topic, and I become relaxed. Suddenly I remembered the sweets I had purchased.
I should give it to them now since I don’t know when Alice will come.
“Oh, this may a bit off topic, but Alisha had bought some souvenirs for the duchesses, a sweets from a patisserie on Third Avenue.”
I was kind of anxious to take food out of my shadow pocket, so I took out a pudding from the shadows under the table.
I can only fit two in one hand at the most.
I put two on the table first, and the Duke, with a curious look on his face, picked one up and said, “It’s from my wife’s favorite restaurant. Thank you,” he smiled.
“Alisha had planned to buy some for all the servants, but unfortunately they didn’t have that much in stock.”
As I spoke, I brought out more and more and placed them on the table, and when I was just about to put the tenth one, the Duke stopped me.
“Wait a minute. Where are you getting them from?”
He bent over with a quizzical look on his face and peered under the table.
The Duke didn’t have to do such a posture.
“It’s not there, but if there’s a shadow – or to be exact, if I recognize it as a shadow, I can connect it to other space.”
I leaned forward a little on the table, creating a shadow with my body, and I stick my hand into it. Even if I’m not dyed with the darkness attribute, I could at least do this much.
Now that it was much easier to take out, I used both hands to grab five puddings at a time and pull them out.
The Duke watched closely with his mouth open and his eyes open in amazement.
When I finished taking them all out and placing them on the table, the large table was filled with sweets.
“It’s impressive… this thing that you do.
I’ve never seen anyone utilize the attributes of darkness in such a way. And I don’t understand the logic behind it, even when I see it being done right in front of me.”
“I don’t really understand it either. When I was little, I thought that shadows were mysterious… I feel like it was connected to another world, so I added the dark attribute to my magic and poured it in, and this is what happened.”
The shadow where I touched rippled like the surface of the water.
The Duke gasped and stared at him as if he was devouring it, and then, after a moment of silence, he suddenly came to his senses and told Jeffrey, who was standing behind him, to take the pudding to the kitchen to keep it cool.
A little while later, Alice finally appeared.
She was dressed, and they arranged her hair, and she looked like the real young lady she had been when I first met her. She even smelled like flowers.
I was a little nervous, but as soon as I started talking to her, I felt relieved to see that she was the usual Alice.
“Oh? Only you two, where’s everyone else?”
Alice tilted her head slightly and looked around the room, probably wondering why it was just the Duke and I talking.
“Yes, there’s something I want to talk to you. But first, it’s good to see you, Alice. I think your expression becomes brighter now.”
“Is that so? … or rather, I’m more curious about the topic you were talking about behind me.”
“I’ll tell Alice about that now, but you’ll need to wait until I hear Hayato’s reply first…
So, what do you think? I know you have a lot on your mind, but you see, Alice is not basically like this. This is for Alice’s sake, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing.”
The conversation topic
shifted back to me.
I know it’s for Alice’s sake.
When I look at it this way, I think again. Alice is, after all, the daughter of a respectable nobleman. It’s not like she was raised to marry a commoner.
I’m actually relieved that I don’t have to make Alice give up her nobility.
The noble society must be a difficult place—an elegant and enclosed world. I don’t think I can easily walk into it.
But if Alice is beside me…
“… I understand. I’ll take it.”
Nodding, the Duke smiled and explained to Alice.
“We were just talking about the knighthood. I’ve already lobbied the council and obtained His Majesty’s approval. The only thing left to do is for me to recommend it formally, and it will pass.”
“Really? Since when father started working on this?”
“I started making arrangements as soon as Alice left. It was easy because the royal family now owes us a lot of favor.
But you guys took so long to get engaged, and I was worried that I might have wasted my time.”
The Duke laughed, and I felt a sense of weakness come over me as if I had just finished a hard job, and my body becomes relaxed.
It seems that the Duke was planning to bring me into the noble society from the beginning.
Not knowing that the thought of the difference in our status kept me agonizing day and night.
“…then, my worry is…?”
“That said, I’m not the first person who offers you this, right? though I heard you’ve rejected their offer.”
“That’s true, but…”
Did the Duke know about it?
I wonder if that’s why they invited me to meet the tailor first, to create an atmosphere that would make it even hard to refuse.
As for me, it would have been enough reason to say that it was for Alice’s sake.
Alice herself looked into my face with a worried look and said
“…Hayato, are you sure you want to do this? That means you’re at the mercy of our ……of Stuart family. It will inconvenience you in many ways, and you should think a little more about—”
You’re really adorable.
“If this were offered by any other family of any other nobles or aristocrats, I wouldn’t take it. …… but it’s okay. I’ve already decided.”
It seems like it’s for you, but it’s not.
It’s a decision I’ve made because I want to.
So, no matter what happens, it’s no one’s fault.
It’s not something Alice should worry about.
“That’s the spirit, and goodness, Alice, I swear won’t do anything bad. I swear in the name of goddess Minerva.
So, let’s move on. Can you tell Aklys in detail later on where and how you got that lot of pudding out of that pocket?”
He’s just like Alice in how he utilizes cash and how he forces people to get things done.
He’s Alice’s father, after all.
Like a father, like a daughter.