Chapter 12: Etiquette (5/5)

The landowner smiled at Elric, “Do you find this room to be particularly messy, milady? A thousand pardons if so, but these are the collection of curios my dear friends have left me to keep on their behalf. Some are simply gifts given to me. Each item is a masterpiece I felt unwise to keep in a rotten cellar to degrade with time. What use is a masterpiece if it cannot be appreciated? What value is there in an object without one to evaluate it? It was on those premises that I decided to display them all here for everyone to enjoy. Though I’m dismayed to say there may be a bit of a mess.”

“You are too kind in your words.” Elric responded. This person was becoming more and more mysterious by the sentence.

The man gestured for Elric to sit in any of the four seats, all four of which had cushions made from different hides. The owner was clearly a man of culture and wanted his guests to enjoy the different pleasures he could offer. From the piles of fox skin, seal skin, mink fur, the rather tough dragonhide, elephant leather, rhino leather, the sleek and glossy tiger hide, leopard hide, and deer hide, this man had it all. Even the chairs themselves were made from the durable yet springy rattan.

Sitting down on the leopard-hide seat, the man waited while his companion, the blond, took the seat with the tiger-hide seat. Elric, being tired and wanting to rest on anything, took up the closest chair to him and sat down.

When he did sit down, Elric noticed that the two men were now giving him an amused smile. He blinked. Did he do something wrong?

Looking down at his seat, Elric realized then that he was sitting on a chair made from bear hide. It was an interesting coincidence given that Kebrilio was often quoted as being ‘bearlike’. But given that he was that bear’s niece, Elric didn’t really think it was fitting for him to be sitting on it.

But on the other hand…he was tired. Now that he sat down, Elric didn’t feel like standing back up. The bear-hide chair he was on was dreadfully soft and relaxing. It felt as though he was truly on top of a soft black bear. It was soft, yet thick. Springy, yet firm. Why would he want to stand up and rid himself of this pleasure?

He stood up.

Relocating himself to the fox-skinned chair, the one that reminded him of Charle, Elric sat back down. At least this chair was just as comfy as Kebrilio.

Elric was content. Sitting on this seat would be a very nice way for him to vent all his anger and frustration at Charle for the embarrassing predicament he was in.

While Elric was busy enjoying the fur seats, the blond man and his friend were still trying to finish up their non-verbal conversation. Eyebrows raised and eyes blinked, but neither of them said a single word. It was as if their eyes were all that were needed to have a meaningful conversation.

An agreement was seemingly made a while later when the two finally looked away.

“If you are willing, my lady,” Spoke the landowner, “We two would be delighted to hear your fair name.”

Elric had been in the middle of eyeing the rapier hanging on the wall when the man’s question caught him off-guard. He was so surprised by the question, in fact, that he nearly gave his real name. “I am called Fantasia.”

“Fantasia, a good name. Would I be permitted to call you lady Fani?” The blond smiled charmingly.

All at once, Elric felt goosebumps all over his skin. Luckily his stomach was already empty else Elric would’ve vomited it all out after hearing that nickname. 

Actually, now that he thought about it, Elric was starving. He still hadn’t anything to eat today! He was prevented a meal earlier when Charle brought him over to Flania for punishment. With the mess that he suffered at Flania’s hand, the crossdressing and everything, Elric completely forgot about eating and was dropped off by Kebrilio at Merlise’s estate. From there, Elric was forgotten by the noon meal due to Merlise’s training. In the end, Elric completely forgot about the state of his stomach until now when he was finally safe. And now that he remembered the fact, Elric felt absolutely ravenous.

Hiding his emotions wasn’t something Elric was good at. His face was essentially a mirror of his mind, constantly reflecting his thoughts. Right now…Elric looked like a starved woman!! His eyes were honed in on the phoenix tree planted outside the window. The delicious golden-red phoenix fruit was delectably tempting to him, and anyone would clearly be able to see Elric’s thirst for it.

Not that the two gentlemen minded. They knew Fantasia was a bit of an airhead, that much could be ascertained the moment they saw her hop the gate. Her actions now were rather…cute. Compared to women who often hid their true emotions and feelings under a mask of pretentiousness, an airhead like Fantasia was far more preferable.

Elric was quickly invited to the dining room for a meal with the two. This invite was of course accepted without hesitation.

He didn’t know what kind of magic they used, but the two gentlemen soon had two maids sauntering into the room with a meal cart in hand. The landowner personally placed a beautiful platter of food onto the table in front of Elric. Soon, the table was filled with all sorts of food.

Saliva pooled up inside of Elric’s mouth at the sight. Preventing it from slipping out from his mouth was already taking most of his willpower to do.

The blond smiled at Elric, curious at the fidgeting and staring of Elric. “Lady Fani, are you perhaps famished?”

So absorbed was Elric in the food laid out in front of him that he completely ignored the disgusting nickname the blond man called him by. “Oh, yes quite. I hadn’t anything to eat this entire day yet. My morning started with these tacky clothes forced onto me along with these annoying earrings. Then I was escorted to learn under Countess Merlise for the afternoon and was forced to walk myself home. And then I was pursued relentlessly by that crowd. I find myself too tired and too hungry to care much longer, if you please.”

And then he raised his knife and fork. It was time for him to wine and dine.

The food in front of the two gentlemen remained untouched. They lacked the hunger and interest in their food. Instead, they’d much rather satisfy their thirst with wine and their interest by looking at Fantasia tackle the cuisine in front of her.

Thankfully Elric’s table-side manners were impeccable thanks to Flania’s training. Though he ate at a faster pace than one would prefer to see, he was still elegant and refined with his hands. The fork and knife in both hands danced endlessly as they worked to bring bite after bite into Elric’s tireless mouth. 

Thankfully, Flania wasn’t here. Despite how fancy Elric was with his food, the princess would’ve still torn her hair out of frustration and anger at his pace.

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