In order to deceive the Duke of Asteria's sharp and experienced judgment, I had to reveal rather than hide. If I tried to hide everything, what I want to hide might end up getting revealed instead. When dealing with a person like the duke, I had to show my hand and attract his attention with information that did not matter if it was discovered or not.
"Would you mind if I ask a question first?"
At my request, the Duke of Asteria burst into laughter and nodded.
“When it’s just us two, no, in front of the people here, it’s okay to speak comfortably. I wouldn't even mind being called grandpa."
Maybe because the interview was over, the duke turned into yesterday's benevolent figure, taking away the pressuring gaze. The him that I was seeing now was probably a dignified version that could overwhelm the audience.
I smiled and nodded comfortably. "Then I'll act comfortably, Grandpa."
At the nickname, Glont and Rosellis panicked.
"Kuhahaha! Grandpa! It sounds good!" The Duke of Asteria laughed rather loudly and nodded with satisfaction.
Rosellis looked at me as if I didn’t have any fear, but it was a misunderstanding.
A man like a duke took responsibility for what he said. If he said you could call him grandpa, he was the kind of person where you could really do that.
"Considering the questions and answers you had with me, I think you are going to use me as a guide for the state affairs conference in the near future. Is that correct?" I asked.
The Duke of Asteria glanced interestedly at Guild Director Glont then looked at me. "Oho, have you heard of it before?"
It was a short time, but conversing with the duke made me feel like I was talking to my big sister after a long time. My big sister also looked at me with eyes that seemed to see through everything just like his.
"No, it's just an inference. How many occasions would Your Highness, the Duke, need a civil servant?" I relaxedly drank black tea, collected my breath, and spoke slowly. "Also, you probably need a cover to avoid the eyes of the imperial family and Central Ceremony Department."
The duke looked at me with astonishment. "That's correct. Do you really not want to come under me?"
Looking at the Duke of Asteria, who was asking again, I answered while leisurely picking up a cookie, "Unfortunately, I am just a small citizen. I am satisfied with the present."
At my slick reply, the duke looked me directly in the eye and was slightly surprised.
"You, you're serious.”
Usually, if someone tried to understand my inner thoughts, I would have controlled my pupils with all my strength, but it was better to reveal my inner thoughts here. By the way, as a famous monster of the political world, he seemed to really know how to read people's minds.
I smiled with my eyes and bit the cookie. "I'm not good at lying."
Of course, not being able to lie was a lie. Suddenly, I remembered an anecdote that I learned in the etiquette class. Emphasizing the importance of the etiquette class, the professor said that a civil servant who once had been rude to the Duke of Asteria had his throat cut and died. I should act comfortably but never deviate from etiquette.
"So what's the question you want to ask?" the duke asked.
I flashed a business smile and said, "I'm sure Guild Director Glont recommended Fiona, so would it be possible for you to tell me why you chose me?"
If it was the Guild Director Glont that I knew, he was not the type of person to give this heavy responsibility to a new civil servant who had just come in. Originally, Roseland would have done it, but if he chose a substitute for him, who was struggling at his new job, there was no one other than Fiona.
"You must consider Fiona pretty highly."
"Yes, I do."
Fiona passed the civil service exam at the same age as I and had more than 10 years of experience. Thanks to this, she was knowledgeable on the lifestyle, manners, and invisible dark struggle of the imperial family. Being an admirer of Rosellis, she learned some martial arts and was able to at least protect herself. There was no one better suited in the eyes of Guild Director Glont.
"Hmm, I suppose it wouldn’t be a bad idea to talk to her. Well, the reason is not much. I'm going to have Rosellis as my guard, so I excluded her."
Oh, I wondered why Rosellis was here, but I guess she was here since she was supposed to be the guard. I opened my eyes slightly wider at the Duke of Asteria and looked at him.
Then the duke gave a light shrug. "Did you think I wouldn't even look into people who might become my guides?"
Of course not! Information about me and other people at the headquarters was almost public information. Most of the information that could be accessed by those with some authority or power was information about lower-level officials.
"Fiona seems to be famous among adventurers."
Fiona was famous as a fanatical believer in Rosellis. There would definitely be a problem if you put Rosellis and Fiona together in an escort.
After hearing the Duke's words, Rosellis tilted her head as if she didn't understand what he was saying.
"Well, there was some information about you too, but it was too little. A picture of you was also missing."
My aunt seemed to have pulled some strings. I thought about robbing the place where my information would be collected at some point, but it seems it’s unnecessary.
"Pictures being missing is a pretty common occurrence."
The Duke of Asteria gave a light affirmation to Glont's words.
"Yeah, the picture of that friend named Flam is missing, too. You should put one in later."
"Yes, I will do that."
If Guild Director Glont puts one in, my aunt will probably get rid of it. My aunt's contract with me was to reduce my chances of being caught in return for me doing a favor.
"So what will I have to do?"
The Duke of Asteria answered my question while lightly chewing on a cookie. "Not much. You just have to follow me around and serve me."
"At the same time, you also want me to figure out the movements of other nobles and eavesdrop?” I asked with a smile
The duke pointed his finger. "You know it well."
I nodded understanding everything and asked Guild Director Glont, "Is it okay to use the reward vacation that you're going to give me from today? For the duration, I think it'll be good to use it until the conference is over."
I said it in a joking tone, but I meant it. I didn't want to get involved in such a nuisance.
"Hahahaha, how could it be ok?"
I definitely asked Guild Director Glont, but the answer came from the Duke of Asteria.
"Why, you don't want to play with this old man?”
I smiled at the duke who asked me playfully.
“Ahahaha. Of course, that’s not the case.” I actually wanted to say yes. Rather than disliking the Duke of Asteria, the struggle between nobles would be bothersome.
"I've been through so much that I'm just trying to get some rest."
The reward vacation time I was supposed to receive was 13 days. Five days for the ruins, five for when I was conscripted, and three extra days for all the trouble I went through. I worked so hard that I couldn't come back to the capital for almost a month, so it was fine for me to receive this much.
Guild Director Glont gave a difficult smile and offered a suggestion.
"I'll include this in your performance and make sure it’s reflected on your personal evaluation. And I’ll add some more vacation time.”
I don't know about the personal evaluation, but the extra vacation was tempting. The vacation card provided by Guild Director Glont was nothing short of a vacation card given by the chief of staff himself, so there was no risk of it being reduced or taken away.
“… How many days of vacation?”
“Five days.” Guild Director Glont replied.
The duke snorted. "Only five days when he is assisting me? Are you looking down upon me now?"
I bowed at the Duke of Asteria's supporting fire. "I will do my best to loyally serve you during this time."
The duke seemed to be content with my response and pecked at Guild Director Glont more. "At least 15 more days!"
"Ah, but 15 days is too much. How about six, no, seven days?"
Looking at the flustered Guild Director Glont, I thought I might actually be able to get 15 days if it went well. I made my eyes watery and dryly coughed.
"Cough! Cough! I'm ok. The cold I got from rolling around in the dirt in the unsanitary tents and warehouses is just going around like pneumonia."
For reference, pneumonia was not a big disease in my past life, but in this present life, it was a terrible disease that killed people.
"Fortunately, it's still just a cough. Your Highness, the Duke of Asteria likely will not be harmed because he is great, compassionate, and fair."
"I think you were like that, but it seems you’re a pretty cold-hearted person.”
Glont was flustered and sighed when he received the gaze of both me and the duke.
"10 days is the maximum. Even if I give you any more, you won't be able to use it according to the rules."
Come to think of it, there was a limit on the number of days that could be used per year for reward vacation due to manpower issues. Furthermore, the bad thing about the vacation system for imperial civil servants was that the reward vacation disappeared like romance. And above all, the number of reward vacations that Guild Director Glont could give out was also set, so even if you receive beyond the limit, others would lose their vacation.
"Oh, you must have gotten a lot of reward vacation previously.”
"Yes, it's quite a bit, if I include the reward vacation I received to celebrate the completion of the training center."
"I see. It's a shame, but let’s settle for 10 days."
The Duke of Asteria and I smiled playfully and picked up the cookies.
Surprisingly, this Sir and I got along better than I thought. Well, it was possible to tease Guild Director Glont like this because he was not the type to sulk or hold a grudge.
"By the way, where is your house? I didn't see your address listed."
The address was not listed probably because the place I was staying was a little special.
When asked by the duke, I swallowed the cookie and answered, "I'm staying at the boarding house being run by a person named Mrs. Arscilla."
"A boarding house. No, but Arscilla? Don't tell me that it’s the Mrs. Arscilla that I know?" the Duke of Asteria said.
Glont affirmed instead. "Yes, that's right. The address on the register appears to have been ordered by the prime minister to be erased."
"You've been living in a very unique place. Oh, so the friend with the good impression you were with yesterday lives in the same place?"
The friend with a good impression he was talking about seemed to be Lisbon.
"Yes, that’s correct. But why do you ask where I live all of the sudden?"
"What do you mean why? You have to be with me from now on until I return to my estate, so I want you to go back and bring the things that you’ll need," the duke said playfully and drank the black tea.Previous Chapter Next Chapter