Chapter 16: Deep in Trouble II (3/5)

Only after the banquet would Kebrilio consider Fantasia’s engagement to Hughesin. Implicitly, this meant Hughesin was free to approach Fantasia however much he wanted within those five days without Fantasia declining to meet him. The purity and name of his niece, Kebrilio argued adamantly, was paramount. Should she be clean in name and body after these five days, Kebrilio said he would consider the matter of marriage if his niece was impressed with Hughesin’s courting.

Countess Merlise was supposed to have Elric fully taught in six days according to Flania’s original plan for Elric, but somehow Saludy decided to help oversee those lessons.

Hughesin’s heart skipped a beat; his mother would be teaching Fantasia? This was welcome news indeed! A servant was summoned to the room at the snap of his fingers. 

“Prepare the coach!” He commanded, it was time for the finest garments to be bought for lady Fantasia. He wanted to be the one to personally gift it to her! 

His servants were as efficient as ever. Shortly after the order was given and Hughesin prepared himself for the outing, his very own personal coach was already hitched to a horse and waiting for the servant right outside the manor.

Hughesin was like a hurricane, leaving behind a completely still Somiret to sit there in silence as the duke barked out order after order. Love truly did make people fools, Somiret sighed. Hughesin was a sharp person on a regular basis, but it seemed like love dulled his senses and made him a dullard like any other commoner.

“Hughesin, my friend.” Somiret called out to him, “What’s all this commotion for? Is it all even necessary? Do recall your mother’s friendship with the duchess. Given their relationship, would it even be necessary to transport lady Fantasia to the duchess every day? Now, don’t you think it would be an easier matter for you to head over to the duchess and see if she would prefer if her class met here instead? I am sure your mother is having similar thoughts as well.”

The suggestion snapped Hughesin out from his stupor—he slapped himself onto the forehead, a goofy smile on his face as he thought of the implications of moving the lessons here.

Again, Somiret wasn’t sure if he should laugh or cry at this.

Time trickled by as Hughesin and Somiret waited for the coach with his servants to return. When it did, the head butler came rushing out from it followed by two other servants. In his hands was a beautiful long skirt that trailed comedically behind him. 

“As per your instructions, milord,” gasped the butler. “We have managed to purchase the most expensive garments. Is it to your liking, milord?”

Cautiously as if he would handle his own child, the butler offered up the garment with the two servants behind him holding a corner of the skirt per person.

Both men stared at the dress, stupefied by the amount of decorations on the dress. Countless pearls were strewn about over its surface, the hems had embossed gems all over the edges, and the lacing was a masterwork. The dress looked more like a jeweled lantern rather than something to be worn.

Somiret was the first to turn away, a chuckle nearly escaping forth from his lips. How tacky this butler was, to pick such an inelegant dress! It was even worse than the garments Fantasia wore the day before!

As much as he laughed at the dress, however, Somiret was also quite pleased. It was a good thing that the butler had no sense of fashion else he’d never would’ve picked out a dress purely on a sense of price and returned to the estate with it. The man might as well have thrown the gold given to him to buy the dress back to his master’s face.

Hughesin was not so subtle. The dress was ripped away from the servants’ hands with astonishing force before the duke tore it into three. Rolling the shreds together into a ball, he threw it onto the ground before kicking the butler and two other poor servants out from the room.

He gave Somiret an embarrassed smile. “His work is as quick as his loyalty is strong, but that appears to be the extent of his capabilities, haha. I’ll have to find a more capable person to serve as butler.”

He glanced from the balled-up dress in his hand to the window. Hesitating whether or not if he should throw it out, the duke gave a final sigh before throwing it in a corner of the room.

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At the same time as Hughesin was dealing with the dress, Kebrilio and Saludy were walking back toward the room with Elric to announce their decision.

The prone figure of Elric greeted their eyes once they stepped in. Head-first onto the pillow, Elric was in a very unladylike fashion—not that Saludy minded. She waited as Kebrilio roused the listless person with astonishing patience.

Kebrilio, caring little for Elric’s thoughts on the matter, summarized his talks with Saludy with a warm smile on his face. He even made sure to add to his skit by adding lovingly, “Fantasia, my dearest niece. You need just ask and your dear uncle will comply.”

Elric was seething. 

He had heard it all. Enough of their discussion was heard by the time Elric’s head hit the pillow. The nerve of that man! He’d have this man served as bear hotpot if Elric could have his way. Or maybe he should cut him up slice by slice and serve him as barbeque? Maybe with some fox meat sauce served on top?

Elric knew there was no way Kebrilio thought up of this type of arrangement by himself. It had the smell of Charle’s handiwork all over it! And yet again, Kebrilio proved to not be a friend at all with his cooperation… 

The magi code felt hollow to Elric now. How depraved was the man to so willingly entrench himself to a deception so easily proven wrong? 

Elric . “Uncle dearest, I do find myself quite chilly. Would you kindly send for me my animal-skin things? I won’t ask for much, just my two bearskin quilts, two bearskin paddings, two bearskin blankets, two bearskin carpets, and two bearskin cushions, that’s all.”

A request laden so heavily with satire behind them was not lost on Saludy. Only her grace and refined upbringing allowed her to stifle a reaction from herself.

“Lady Fantasia,” She delivered. “We welcome your time here at our ducal house. Ask for anything and the estate shall deliver for you. But I digress, you must be famished—my chefs will prepare any meal you desire.”

“Stewed bear paw.” Elric blurted out.

The grin never died away from Kebrilio’s face. His shamelessness was as thick as his body, and though the magus wasn’t as thick-skinned as Charle, he was a solid second place. Just seeing the man laugh off Elric’s dietary choice was proof of that.

“Now, my niece,” Kebrilio began. It was time to wrap things up. “I’ll send for a maid with your clothes. I’m sure you’ll be pleased.”  Standing up, he turned around and walked out from the room.

The entirety of this spectacle was witnessed by both Somiret and Hughesin. Both found the pointed humor to be thoroughly fascinating—who else in Karth would dare ridicule the Archmagister right in his face? That the one asking for the skin of a bear, an animal most reminiscent of Kebrilio, was his very own niece? No one would believe such a story if they didn’t personally witness it.

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