The old gentleman smiled at my greeting. "You are a civil servant." He looked at me with an interesting gaze.
"Do you know him?" Glont asked him.
"It's just to the level of being a slight acquaintance.”
I wonder who that old gentleman is that the Guild Director Glont is acting submissive? Considering Glont's history, he was someone who could stand tall even in front of high-ranking nobility. Then it meant that the old gentleman was likely not any ordinary high-ranking noble, or that he was someone with such great achievements that even this director would act submissive.
Either way, I'd be in trouble if I gave a bad impression.
"Come to think of it, I was trying to play with the kids yesterday, but something suddenly came up, so sorry for leaving without saying anything."
Glont and Rosellis's expressions became slightly stiff at the old gentleman's apology.
Just what is that old gentleman’s identity that a single apology would make them so surprised?
"No, it can't be helped if something came up."
The old gentleman burst into laughter when I showed him a business smile. "Hahaha, thanks for understanding. So how's Sister Riemann doing? I met the head nun, but I wasn’t able to see that child, Riemann."
"Yes, she was very grateful to receive the candy that Sir gave. She was regretful that she was not able to see Sir.”
"Is that so? Huh, huh, I'll have to stop by again before I leave the capital,” he said as he looked through the people at the headquarters who came up with me. Then he smiled and spoke to Guild Director Glont, "Let's go with that child."
Glont was flustered when the old gentleman pointed at me. "Yes? But it has not been long since he became a civil servant, so he may cause some inconvenience."
The old gentleman shrugged at the director. "It's okay. I can handle it if it’s just that."
"How about at least having a conversation with the person I recommended?"
At Glont's suggestion, the old gentleman looked at Fiona. "You mean that girl? It’s fine. I've already picked a capable enough person, so why take more time?"
At the old gentleman's declaration, Glont kept his mouth shut.
The old gentleman smiled playfully at the sight. "And how can I be a gentleman and take a girl to an ugly mud fight?"
Did you say an ugly mud fight? I felt like I just heard something very bad.
With a sigh, Glont let everyone go back except me.
Fiona cast me an apologetic look as if she knew something, and then went out of the guild director’s office without saying a word.
What is it? What is that you need to look at me with such pitiful eyes?
"Come sit here."
The old gentleman gestured to me and offered me a seat next to Rosellis, who was opposite him. I sat down carefully and gave her a look as if to ask what was going on. In response, she looked at my eyes and just smiled bitterly.
The old gentleman’s sharp eyes were focused on me, a complete opposite of the friendly eyes that I saw yesterday. Then he saw my civil servant ID card and sipped the black tea.
"Yes, so your name was Den von Mark. I'll call you Den. Is that all right?"
"Yes, please call me whatever is convenient.” I didn't forget my business smile and looked directly at the old gentleman.
He definitely had the body of a rather ordinary knight based on his mana and body movements, but I felt a strange charisma and spirit from.
"Good. Just relax and have some cookies and answer. How were your grades in etiquette while you were at the training center?"
I picked up a cookie as the old gentleman recommended and answered, "It was 75 points."
Etiquette was a subject that I studied carefully to control my grades. The center’s evaluation of etiquette classes was 100 percent through a practical evaluation. I had to learn all the etiquette of the empire to a high enough proficiency to be able to even deceive the professor because one could be failed due to a misconduct charge if one showed signs of cheating.
"Well, it's a little too low. Assume that His Majesty, the Emperor has suddenly appeared before you. What are you going to do?"
How should I answer that? Should I answer according to my etiquette score?
I looked into the eyes of the old gentleman. With the sharp, blade-like gaze, there was a risk of being caught if I tried to deceive him.
I answered with a round smile, "It would depend on where I stand."
The old gentleman looked at me with interested eyes.
"By my standards, if His Majesty, the Emperor were to my right, then I would turn 45 degrees to the left and kneel down, and if he were to my left, then I would turn to the right. If he were in front of me, I would turn to the right and kneel."
According to court etiquette regulations, one was not allowed to face the emperor directly unless one was a noble higher than a count. Therefore, as long as you didn’t show your back, your body had to be slanted as much as possible before showing etiquette.
"Then suppose you're invited to a noble dinner. What will you do first?"
The question was like “Should one add noodles or soup powder first when cooking instant noodles?”
"First, I would have to find a seat and sit down."
The answer was to put water in first. The old gentleman burst into laughter at my answer.
"Puhat! Yes. You have to take a seat. I asked the wrong question. The food came out after you sat down. What will you do first?"
"There are too many answers to the question. The rank, position, and relationship of the noble who invited me. What are the reasons and qualifications for my invitation, and where is my position at the dinner?"
When I asked back, the old gentleman nodded as if he heard a sufficient answer.
After a few more questions like this, the old gentleman asked me a little flustered, "Why did you have only 75 points in etiquette?"
I picked up the cup of tea and answered the old gentleman's question, "It is because I'm not good enough to get a perfect score."
"Kuhahaha! That means you could have gotten a perfect score if you had wanted to.”
That was a very arrogant interpretation from my humble answer.
"What an unexpected harvest. I'll make you a count in 20 years, no, 15 years. Do you want to quit being a civil servant and come under me?"
I was nervous about what the old gentleman said. Starting with the rank of count, one would be able to directly participate in state affairs. If he was not lying, it would mean that the status of the old gentleman in front of me was beyond my imagination.
I made a mistake. Being polite was the correct choice, but I did too much.
I bowed my head politely. "I am undeserving of your suggestion and do not know how I should respond. But I fear it is too big of an obligation that is too much for me to handle."
"You don't take my words as false."
I replied with a smile at the sharp gaze of the old gentleman.
"I don't think you are the type to speak falsehoods."
"I didn't think Guild Director Glont would fit in with a man who used falsehoods."
At my response, the old gentleman looked at Guild Director Glont with a look of discontent.
"Tsk, all the talents always gather around that pervert.”
I agree that Guild Director Glont was kind of a pervert, but apart from that, I thought he had a strong reputation. I don't think Pushover would like to hear it, but he and Guild Director Glont seemed to resemble each other. If you removed Lisbon’s pushoverness and put in pervertedness, he would be like Guild Director Glont.
"Without asking why I’m recommending this, or who I am, but you’re afraid of excessive obligations. Are you saying you don’t need a reason since you've already made up your mind to refuse?" The old gentleman looked at me with a mixture of interest and joy. "This is the last question. Who do you think I am?"
After careful consideration, I answered the old gentleman, "I apologize if I am wrong. Are you perhaps His Highness, the Duke of Asteria?”
"And the reason?"
"First, Guild Director Glont behaved himself as if he were lower, and so I thought Your Highness must be a high-ranking noble of at least count status. And since Your Highness said you would make me a count, I narrowed my reasoning down to a nobleman with a rank of duke or marquis."
Although, there was a monster among the count class. However, there was no way that a monster who was deliberately staying at the rank of count would offer to raise me to a count.
"Hmm, if it’s just that, there’s still a lot of candidates. There are thirteen monsters that I know of in the political world, the business world, the imperial army, and the temple who can raise a person’s rank to the count if they wished."
That was tantamount to admitting himself to being a monster.
For your information, among the thirteen monsters that the old gentleman mentioned, Uncle Bloody was one. Of course, those who were raised to a count by my uncle were limited in political activities because they were of my uncle's line.
"Yes. So Sir, I have not heard my answer being affirmed, so may I continue to call you Sir?"
"That's fine. From now on, just speak comfortably when there's only the two of us."
At the old gentleman's consent, I smiled and put down the teacup I was holding.
"Thank you. So I reduced the number of candidates based on Sir’s age. About half of them were removed from consideration."
"Hmm, that’s right." The old gentleman nodded in agreement.
"The last thing that was decisive was when Sir said to me that he would lift me up to a count in 15 years."
I nodded with conviction. "Yes. At first glance, 15 years is a very long time, but it's too short for a person like me with no rank to become a count."
According to Big Mama Information Agency’s information, it took 124 years for the family of Count Asilante, a family to which the Guild Director Glont belongs, to rise to a count status. And if they didn’t have an outstanding existence known as Glont, they would probably still be viscounts.
"The environment in which one can accumulate merits to climb to count in such a short period of time, and the powerful enough authority to forcefully raise someone to count... For someone to have both of these at the same time, I thought it would be His Highness, the Duke of Asteria."
The Duchy of Asteria was a breakwater, bordering the Demon Territory and receiving constant attacks throughout the four seasons. It was no exaggeration to say that there was no better place to build merit excluding the palace where old political monsters crowded about.
Even after my explanation, the old gentleman kept his sharp eyes on me without moving. The surroundings remained tense and silent. In the end, it was still the old gentleman in front who broke the heavy silence.
At the sudden loudness, the surroundings looked puzzled, but I could see what the laughter meant.
The old gentleman, no, the Duke of Asteria, looked at me with joyful eyes.
"Yes, that's right. I am the Duke of Asteria, as you say."
I had a gut feeling at the Duke of Asteria's gaze as if he were looking at something interesting.
I received the attention of a troublesome monster. But I couldn't help it. Those eyes weren't as easy to fool and hide from as the professors at the training center.Previous Chapter Next Chapter