Editor: King of the End
The sky travel was somewhat comfortable. It doesn’t shake at all, so no one feels nauseous.
I thought that the wind and clouds would affect the situation, but the dragon repels them. The dragon doesn’t just fly with its wings, it flies with the power of Magic too. Moreover, it flies while repelling the wind. The circumference of the dragon is windless, and the blimp that the dragon pulls also receives the same benefit.
Looking at the blimp, I can understand why Chloe felt disgusted. The source of this dynamic force is a jade jewel. I recognized the feeling on my skin.
I should give a present to Chloe later on. I want to apologize for giving her an unpleasant memory on our trip.
A plot of land large enough to receive the landing of the dragon can only be located in the outskirts of the town. Once we descended there, we transferred to a regular coach.
I’m shocked when I see the townscape. This town is the citadel of Duchess Renalier’s Duchy, Märlar (マーラル). Saying that it’s elegant is an underestimation. The energy and amount of people here are inferior to Eclaba that Margrave Fernande governs, but it’s really organized, and I can feel each and every aesthetic in them. Those who live here must have been the topmost elite, and the accumulated long history in this town draws the town’s charm.
“Looking at this makes me realize what a country bumpkin I am.”
“Kurt-kun. I can’t say I don’t understand your feelings. I can’t imitate the style’s height and atmosphere here.”
“Exactly. But still, I very much prefer Eclaba. It has more passion.”
The gap between the rich and the poor in Eclaba is wide. It’s a melting pot of every single possible thing in the world, where people are getting replaced one after another. Therefore, it’s a gathering of the upstarts. That very same high energy is what gives strength to the whole town.
“The way you said that makes me really happy. We should arrive in the Duchess’ estate soon. Keep yourself nice and steady.”
With that, we arrived at Duchess Renalier’s estate at last. I was already surprised when I saw Margrave Fernande’s manor, but this exceeded that time.
The estate is built with profound brickwork, while the yard is so vast, and yet being minutely detailed in every nook and corner. The craftsmen’s sensitivity left no stones undone, it’s an impeccable layout. I’m a bit overwhelmed.
It’s necessary to have a wide coach’s lane in the yard. While enjoying the beautiful yard, the coach continues to gallop forth. Even the margrave’s daughter, Faruno, who should have gotten used to this kind of thing, is actually so fascinated that she’s speechless.
On the opposite side, Tina and Chloe don’t seem to have much interest. I heard from them that the handiwork was too unnatural and that they much preferred the beauty of the raspberry garden in my village.
It must have been their sense of aesthetics as an elf and a foxkin who live along with nature.
After we arrived in the estate, we are escorted to the room where we’ll be staying. I heard that they didn’t provide extra arrangements for the servants, so I look at Tina and Chloe. Those faces tell me that they’d rather us to be together, pleading, even.
Among the nobles, there are those who feel restless without being constantly accompanied with their servants and guards, so it’s easily acceptable.
The room arranged for me isn’t a room, as in a single bedroom in a hotel. To compare it to Japan’s scale, it should be like 4LDK apartment. It’s huge, and all the furnishings are first grade.
“We’re being well received, aren’t we?”
“Yes, it’s an amazing room.”
“Un, it’s so amazing that I can’t say anything else.”
Even if it’s by mistake, it’s not a room that will be arranged for a baronet’s heir. If a baronet is invited to a party, the lodging? Yeah, the lodging has to be arranged on his own, usually speaking.
So, having this kind of room arranged as if I’m the guest of honor must be due to the high anticipation on their behalf.
Tina and Chloe’s eyes are sparkling with curiosity, as they look around restlessly.
“Both of you, you can do anything you want except for breaking things.”
As I say so, they start to shout in unison.
“Kurt-sama, this bed is so soft!”
“Look! There are lots of pretty clothes in the closet! I wonder if we can wear them.”
“Over here, there are fruits.”
“The tea served here smells sooo good!”
If it’s not me, looking at the un-servant-like behavior from the two of them will probably make that person mad, but for me, I’m having fun seeing them being happy about all of this.
But, we have no time. Soon, I’ll be called for an audience. I have to prepare myself to be as presentable as possible.
The presentable me is now waiting together with Faruno and Volg for Duchess Renalier while looking at the audience hall. As a duchess, it’s natural for her to have that kind of room. Margrave Fernande has long gone ahead of us. As the first one, it seems there are things that shall not be spoken with me in the room.
Actually, I’m not interested in that at all. As a duchess and a margrave, they must have subjects to discuss between them.
“Kurt-sama, those clothes are very suitable for you.”
“These are the only clothes that I have that can be presentable in front of the Duchess, though.”
I’m wearing the clothes that I previously received from Margrave Fernande for the engagement party. With this, my attire shouldn’t draw any ire, I suppose.
“Likewise, Faruno. That dress you’re wearing for the first time really fits you. White dress and pink hair. I like the fluffy princess-like dress, but a smoothly falling dress like this looks just as beautiful.”
Faruno is in a white dress that looks refreshing. Compared to the usual, it accentuates her silhouette better. It’s a rare sight from Faruno, who prefers cute and fluffy designs.
“To be called beautiful, oh my. Kurt-sama, you’re quite the charmer.”
Faruno bashfully holds both of her cheeks.
Behind her, there’s Volg who seems to be on the verge of smiling while looking at us. I think it makes me embarrassed too.
“Have you ever met with Duchess Renalier before, Faruno?”
“A few times, or so to say, but they were before she became the Duchess. We were close in age, thus there were many occasions as such.”
“Before she became the Duchess?”
“It’s justifiable if Kurt-sama didn’t have any previous knowledge regarding this. The previous Duke** Renalier was killed in the previous war. Afterwards, the current Duchess Renalier’s brother was supposed to be the successor, but he died due to an illness two years before that, and the only person who inherited the bloodline was the current Duchess Renalier.”
The circumstances of the upper side of the society barely reaches a backwater region like Arnold. I did think that it was unusual for a woman to be the family head; I see that there were those kind of circumstances.
“It must have been tough for her if she’s around your age, Faruno.”
“Yes, she’s only 18 now. Holding a duke’s responsibility at that age isn’t something that I can even begin to imagine.”
Frankly, I’m shuddering as I think of myself in that position. Shouldering the weight of a baronet and a duchy is too vastly different.
“…..Although she was that young, she expanded the duchy all at once. My father has completely acknowledged her competency, even going as far as saying that she’s a beast. She’s someone I really admire.”
“If it’s someone Margrave Fernande acknowledges, she’s unmistakably excellent, then.”
“People of whom Father unreservedly praises, including Kurt-sama, can be counted with one hand.”
In that case, I can’t show any weak spots. I shall brace myself and go in.
We received Duchess Renalier’s summons and went into the audience hall, but Margrave Fernande had already been talking with Duchess Renalier there.
Duchess Renalier is a woman who is younger than I thought, with beautiful dark blonde hair. The extravagant dress she is clad in feels classy instead of gaudy.
The duchess is sitting on a throne that is slightly higher than the rest of the room, talking to Margrave Fernande who has been standing right in the center of the audience hall. I can hear what they are talking about, but the main topic must have ended earlier.
Faruno and I walk until we reach Margrave Fernande’s side, then we kneel there. It’s not allowed to start the conversation from our side, so we’re waiting for her to speak first.
“You’ve come from afar, Faruno Fernande, Baronet of Arnold’s heir. We are truly grateful for your answer to the sudden call.”
“It is our honor to offer our measly power for the sake of this land’s future, Your Grace.”
It’s impossible to complain about it, so I nod.
“Arise. I see now, you are Kurt Arnold. You have a good face indeed. Intelligent and confident. A person whom Margrave Fernande cherishes. I can understand his desire to claim you as his own.”
“Margrave Fernande has truly treated me well.”
“Have you heard about the reason for this call to summon you?”
“I have heard about the banquet of the four Grand Duke’s gathering that will be held a week from now, and the necessity to serve a new, delicious full course that no one has ever experienced before on that occasion.”
“Yes, that’s exactly the case. I take it that you have also understood about the circumstances?”
“Yes, Your Grace.”
I recall the talk that I had with Margrave Fernande. The opposition between the imperial faction who wants to stop warring, and the noble faction who wants to go to war. In order to increase the influence of the imperial faction, it’s necessary to show the faction’s strength in this banquet. I thought that it was a simple banquet before, but it wasn’t strange to have that kind of underlying issue. For example, in Austria, pastries were the weapons of their diplomacy. They are famous for the great dining diplomacy using the famous imperial pastry of Vienna.
“I wish to stop a war. And for that reason, I’m borrowing your strength. I wonder if you, who comes from the spear wielding family of Arnold, actually prefers a war more?””
There’s some truth to that. Originally, the first generation of Arnold was a commoner who gained his rank with a single spear; my father also became famous from his participation in the war, gaining a medal of honor, and restoring the former strength of Arnold using that medal of honor.
“It’s only until my father’s generation. I will raise my standing through the power of pastries, not spear. A war is definitely unnecessary.”
That is the vow of my dream. I declared it to my people the moment I was crowned as the heir of the feudal lord. I cannot break those words. If there’s a war, it will take so much time that I don’t even have.
“You are interesting. So you’re saying that instead of a warrior, you’re a cook. Yes, even to the extent of throwing away the Arnolds’ valor.”
“It is indeed true that I’m not a warrior, but I’m not a cook either. I’m a pastry chef.”
When the duchess hears my words, her eyes turn round and she laughs. Then, someone who uses that moment to drive another attack appears. It’s Volg.
“Your Grace, let me humbly say in this moment. We will be troubled if our young master is undervalued. Indeed, Kurt-sama is a pastry chef, but he didn’t throw away his valor. His military strength has even exceeded this humble self. He also possesses excellent governing skills, and his cooking skills should not be even mentioned. He’s a pastry chef who is able to fight on this political stage with his cooking.”
Chills run down my back as I think of the double meaning there. While I’m being highly praised by Volg, he’s also the one who caused these chills. Naturally, someone who’s not even an aristocrat like him wouldn’t be allowed to speak in this place.
“How absurd, aren’t those too many talents?”
And yet, Duchess Renalier is only chuckling, without rebuking him at all.
“Volg, it’s been a while. The hero of the last Great War is still playing pretend as the butler, I see.”
“It’s not playing pretend. I truly take pride as Faruno-sama’s butler.”
“I see, so you don’t intend to return home at all?”
“At the very least, not until Faruno-sama gets married, rears a child, and that child becomes independent.”
“……And at that time, both you and me will be thinking about our retirement, won’t we? I see, I understand this man doesn’t only get approval from Margrave Fernande, but also from you. How exciting.”
Duchess Renalier looks at me with heated anticipation. Such a terrifyingly intense pair of eyes.
“Baronet of Arnold’s heir. From today onwards, your preparation shall begin. However, in order to spur your spirit, we shall talk about your merit early. You may expect something good. I will reward you with a favor.”
I gulp. A good reward to be expected from the duchess. There’s no way it’s something measly.
“First, the pastry that you are going to sell later on. You may specify all of them as Duchess Renalier’s appointed purveyor’s goods.”
That’s a great remuneration. Duchess Renalier will only recognize the highest quality goods. Being recognized by her will make the nobles from all around the empire to gather. Besides, I will have the appeal of having the duchess as my backer. In the trade of the whole empire, this is the most convenient reputation that one can get.
“Next, my Märlar town’s secret recipes. You are authorized to access all of them for your perusal.”
That also makes me overjoyed. The art of baking in this world isn’t advanced, but it’s still refined over time by those who lived in this world. There has to be a pile of secret arts and discoveries that I don’t know about.
“Regarding your fief, you are exempted from taxes for three years. You shall use the leftover funds for the advancement of the Arnold fief.”
Three years exemption of taxes. Now this is truly good. Frankly speaking, it’s more effective than temporarily being granted some hard cash. Taxes will increase along with the income. With it being exempted, I can put my full effort towards earning as much as I can without anything to worry about.
“Have you become spirited yet?”
“I already am.”
This is the best thing to gain for the sake of Arnold’s development.
“Then let us conclude our negotiations. It is about time; let me invite you for dinner. For now, I wish that you will get acquainted with the skills of my cooks. Moreover, I wish that you will sincerely think that “It’s the bare minimum standard, so can my cooking surpass this?”.”
“And if I cannot?”
“I will have you return home. You won’t be punished for going home at this point…… however, it will still be regretful. If you fail this trial, you will be stamped with a disqualifying letter, both as a pastry chef and as a cook. Therefore, advance with caution.”
This is a trial. If I’m thinking about a safety plan, it is probably better if I fail here. By failing, I will be able to escape the obligation of this banquet. A letter of disqualification is way more preferable than dragging mud across her face in front of the four Grand Dukes.
However, I don’t have any intention to fail, because this is a battle with my pride as a pastry chef at stake. I shall advance with all my strength.
Ah, the dark side of the world. 🙁 I’m sure the jade jewel doesn’t come as a gift of thanks like Kurt’s. Congrats for one of the readers who got this right. 🙁
4LDK means a space with 4 bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, and a kitchen. It’s huge for an apartment.
Anyone else getting Renalier x Faruno possibility here? Renalier x Volg? Why is there no illustration of Volg at all, so far!?
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