Just before noon.
We arrived at the mansion of the lord of the 24th district almost on time, and were greeted by a group of sturdy guards who led us into the grounds. The carriage was carried to the stables by a small old man.
'Welcome, Miss Claremona. Your master is waiting for you.
An elderly butler with neatly coiffed gray hair greeted us.
He gives us a condescending bow in front of the large front door.
'Thank you for taking the time to see me today.
Estella bows to the butler with a proper bow.
There may be some lords who would not bow to a butler, but Estella does not neglect such things. Natalia doesn't do anything to stop Estella either.
I'm sure Estella is fine with this.
'--The more polite the lord is, the more the rudeness of the people will be offset.
'What are you talking about?I don't think so, so be polite.'
While being quickly nailed, we proceeded down the wide hallway.
As if to welcome us, there are big servants standing on both sides of the corridor. They bow to us every time we pass by,......, but there's something indescribably intimidating about them,......, and why are there so many bastards in this building?
I'm sure you'll agree.
The old butler quietly bent down and led us into a room.
This is a great way to make sure that you get the most out of your time with us.
'Welcome, Ms. Creamona. And my attendants.'
An old man with a stern face stood in the center of the large room.
His voice was quiet, but low and powerful, giving off a sense of intimidation that made me cringe.
His straight back was a beautiful silhouette that belied his age, and his torso was firm and steady.
As he has been the lord of a powerful district for many years, he is so dignified that you cannot find a single crack in his body.
His mouth is tied in a straight line with deep lines, his gaze is sharp like that of a bird of prey, his eyebrows are thick and firm for his age, and his romance gray hair covers half the circumference of his head from his right ear through the back of his head to his left ear. As if it was a bonus, there was only one hair on the top of my head.
I'm not sure if this is a good idea, but it's a good idea.It might be a Ka-chan,......!
'Sorry, I'm sorry. I was prepared for this, but I didn't expect Ka-chan to show up. ......!
'Who is this Ka-chan?
I was pulled by the sleeve, forced to turn around, and scolded in a whisper by Estella, whose face was so close to mine. In the process, I was poked several times in the side.
But that's not all!
If a scary old man with a very stern face and a haircut was Ka-chan, you'd laugh!
There's so much of a gap, I can't help but think it's intentional. I'm sure he's trying to make you laugh!
'...... Is there a problem?
'No, no!He has seizures sometimes that I don't understand. Please, don't worry about it!
Estella hurriedly made up her mind and quickly hid me behind her back.
Then she pinches my cheek and says, 'Mu-nirin! She pinches my cheek and forces me to 'stop laughing'. ...... Violence. It's power harassment. In some cases, a little s*xual.
I hid behind Estella's back, desperately trying to stifle the laughter that was building up.
''Once again. Thank you very much for responding to my request today, Mr. Donati. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to meet with us.
Good. I was curious too. I was also interested in ...... the up-and-coming female lord.
The air is thick with tension.
I'm sure you'll be pleased to know that I'm not the only one.
'We're not good enough. But we are honored.
'There's no need to be modest. I've heard many rumors about you.
'Well, speaking of rumors...'
In order to avoid meaningful probing, Estella forcibly changed the subject.
She is probably trying to create an atmosphere first.
It is easier to build a friendly relationship in a friendly atmosphere than in a tense atmosphere like this.
'I also heard a rumor about Mr. Donati. I heard that he's an old friend of Mr. Demilly, with whom I've been getting to know very well.
'Oh, you're close with Ambrose?
Bringing up a common acquaintance can help you get closer to each other.
Well, this is a very basic method. But it's also quite effective.
Knowing this, Demilly must have come to see Estella.
'Mr. Demilly has told me some stories about Mr. Donati.
By referring to Demilly as 'Oji-sama' and showing that she is extraordinarily close to him, she shows that she is harmless to Donis Donati.
This is the safest way to deal with someone who is difficult to get to know.
'So, Ambrose told you about me.
After closing his eyelids and nodding his head quietly, Donnis raised his eyebrows.
'He called me bald, didn't he?
This time it was Estella who blew up. I held back.
'No ...... no,...... never,...... that kind of thing!
Shaking and shaking, Estella wisely spits out the words.
You look pale. You're pale. Her heart must be under a terrible strain. A load called stress.
'(You'll feel better if you laugh as hard as you can.)'
'I can't do that, can I?
My whispered advice was rejected in a whisper.
I think it's easier for people to live honestly.
'There's no need to hide. Ambrose is always trying to get me to join his bald crew. I still have a lot of hair left, you know?
'What?...... ah, haha.'
I'm not sure if it's a good idea, but it's a good idea.
I'm not sure what to do. It's a wise decision.
Behind Estella's confusion, Natalia speaks to me.
'Which of the following will accurately convey the message: "Fifty steps," "Friends call friends," "Neighbor's scalp looks thinner," or "Hair loss, not return to roots?" ......
'You keep your mouth shut. You can't complain about the last two, especially if they're taken as a declaration of war.
I'd like to say something, too!'No, it's smooth! No!
But it's good manners for an adult not to say that, right?
No matter how much I know, I don't make jokes like that to people I don't know.
My mind is still thinking about it, though!
''Well, let's see, ...... Mr. Donati is known as 'DD' to his close friends. I think that kind of relationship is wonderful.'
'Mmm, is that so?'
'Yes. I too would like to be blessed with a close friend who calls me by such a nickname.
'You do have a nickname, don't you, "Lord of Smiles"?
'Shut up, Yashiro. Two meters away.
This guy changes his attitude from person to person.
I don't think that's a good idea, I...
'Mr. Donnis. Your meal is ready.'
'Oh, I see.
The old butler gives Donnis an earful, and Donnis spreads his hands toward us with a stern expression.
'I think lunch is ready. Would you like to join us?'
'Sure, I'd love to.'
With a sales smile on her face, Estella gives a cute little bow.
I'm sure you'll be happy to know that I'm not the only one who has a problem with this. ...... can't you at least ask her out for dinner with a smile? I'm not sure what to do.
It's as if he's been wearing a stern expression for so long that his face has hardened into that shape.
'By the way, I heard from Tracy in District 27.
On the way to the cafeteria, Estella walks next to Donnis and asks him to talk.
She is trying to casually close the distance between them while casually suggesting that she is also friends with Tracy.
You're a good diplomat.
When you're on the move, you can talk to people without being defensive or self-conscious.
This is a good time to flatter your opponent without being sarcastic.
'I heard that Mr. Donati was the only one who voted against the majority vote to demand compensation from the 42nd district.
'Oh, you mean that.
'When I heard that, I was honestly happy. Thank you very much.
'You don't have to thank me.
A stern face glanced at Estella, then quickly removed its gaze.
'I only did so for my own reasons. I didn't do it for your ward.
It was as if he was coldly shoving her away.
It was so cold and condescending that Estella gasped for air and missed her chance to say anything else.
'...... So, I see...'
It was only when they reached the dining room and Donnis' back was far away that Estella finally muttered this.
He's a stubborn old man who won't be swayed by anyone.
I guess he only acts friendly when it suits him.
It might take some effort to find out his true intentions.
Donnis sat down at the back of the room, and we were urged by the servants to move to our seats.
In the middle of this, Natalia asks me a question.
'Mr. Yashiro. That's what Mr. Donati said earlier. ......'
With a serious expression, Natalia expresses her opinion.
'In other words, "I didn't oppose it for your sake! It's called .......'
'What do you want from that old man?
There's no demand for the old man's moe anywhere.
It's not a good idea to leave Natalia idle. It's better to keep giving her a good amount of work, I guess.
When Estella stood in front of the chair, Natalia stopped talking and walked up behind her.
She restrains the servant with her hand and pulls the chair for Estella to sit on.
The servants in Donis's mansion are all men, so they don't want Estella to get too close to them.
I almost forgot to mention that Estella is the daughter of a nobleman who is about to get married. Moreover, she is currently in the position of a lord. She should not be allowed to come into contact with an unspecified number of men.
...... outside of the sunlit pavilion.
'You can make yourself comfortable. Meals taste better when they are eaten in peace.'
It's a good idea to have a good idea of what's going on in your life.
...... It is your frowning face that makes it difficult to relax.
They are sitting on both sides of an unusually long table.
This is Estella, me, and Natalia sitting in a row, with Donis sitting across from us.
However, next to Donis, there is a meal prepared for another person.
A glass of water is placed in front of us.
'I heard you were young, so I thought water would be better than alcohol. If you'd like a drink, let me know.
'No, just water. Thank you for your concern.
Donnis seems to be drinking water as Estella does.
...... Oh, no. According to Demilly's information, Donnis is a drinker.
If that's the case, he may be trying to keep his partner from drinking alcohol for whatever reason.
If the other person drinks, I have to go along with him or else I have to tell him no.
They may not want to say, 'I'm sorry, but I can't drink.
'It's ...... delicious.'
Estella sipped her glass of water, following Donnis' lead, and rolled her eyes at me.
No, I don't care if she sees me. I'm not a gourmand or anything, so I can't really go into detail about the taste of the water. ......
I'm not a gourmet or anything, so I can't really comment on the taste of water.
'This is ......'
Natalia and I both let out a squeal.
It is indeed delicious.
It has a refreshing taste, like drinking fresh water from the Alps. It's easy to drink and has no habits.
'Come to think of it, they make sake in the 33rd district, don't they? If they are using this water, I'm sure they can make very good sake.
These were the words he had spoken to Natalia.
But it was Donis from the other side who responded.
'Hello, young man. You know me well. Are you a drinker?'
'Oh, no, .......'
I gave Estella and Natalia a look, but they just gave me a ...... 'safe' look.
If you don't know what they really mean, you have no choice but to go with 'safe'.
'I'm more interested in the manufacturing method ...... than the drink.'
'Oh, I see. No, I'm impressed for such a young man.
I don't know what impressed him.
But most of the time, when people talk like this, they're talking about ......
'On the other hand, ......'
...... when you want to compare someone to someone else and condemn them.
Donis' gaze turns to the empty seat next to him.
Someone who is not interested in products made with koji is going to sit in that seat.
The timing of this introduction means that he is the heir ......, but Donis is unmarried. He has no sons.
'Sometimes ...... I hope you don't mind me asking, but ...... is that young man Ms. Claremona's fiancÃ©?'
Splashes up next to me. ...... a bit of a rainbow.
Hey, aren't you choking?Don't die.
'Your reaction ...... seems to be different.'
'Yes,...... palm......, I do not have that kind of relationship with him. I'm sure we have a friendly relationship, both public and private. ...... Kohohohoho.'
Donnis glances at me.
It's an unpleasant look, like he's trying to price me out. It annoyed me a bit, so I gave her a s*xy wink.
Donnis begins to choke on his breath.
I guess that was a little too stimulating for my old, wrinkled heart.
'Sh,......, you're smiling like the god of death,......'
I'm sorry, but you look like the god of death.
'But, I see, ...... you don't have that kind of relationship.'
'Yes. He's the one who invented a new seasoning using sole, and he accompanied me to the koji factory.
'Oh, I've heard. I think it was bean sauce. ...... Bertha said it was promising.'
He got the information from Bertha, not from Riveka.
Well, it's easier to talk to an old lady than a little kid, I guess.
'But that young man seemed to have shown up at the meeting in District 29 before?
'It's that .......'
'That's because I'm the one who suggested the fireworks. Mister.'
Estella didn't seem to like saying it, so I'll come forward myself.
Somehow, I think she feels like she's putting the blame on me. You don't have to worry about it.
'I see. Then it seems that you've always been behind the recent breakthroughs of the 42nd district, isn't it?
'That may be the reason. However, the fact that the 42nd district has made great strides and continues to grow is mostly due to the efforts of the residents who live there.
'Oh, ......, I'm sorry to judge you by your appearance, but you seem like a man who would never be modest,......, so you do have a sense of propriety.
Donnis began to show interest in me.
The wrinkles between his eyebrows have faded somewhat, and there is a light in his eyes.
'Even more so, Miss Claremona. You'd better make sure you don't let that man go. He's too good to lose, despite the difference in status.'
'Yeah, ......, that ............, I'll think about it, ......'.
He looks at me for a moment, then quickly looks away.
Stop it Estella. You look like a girl when you make that gesture.
'Or is it that ......'.
Donnis opens his dry lips thinly and narrows his eyes.
'Does he already have a girl in mind?
Now it's me.
'What is it?You still have her?What kind of girl?Don't tell me you have a crush on a woman not old enough to be your daughter?You like old women?Don't be so covetous, or you'll miss your chance at marriage, boy.
He laughed gaily and stroked his wrinkled cheeks and chin.
Who likes old ladies? Don't say that before it's been too long since you saw Bertha. ...... I'm getting goosebumps from imagining all kinds of things.
I'm not sure if it's a good thing or not.
'Don't limit it to old ladies, old man.
Estella scolded him in a reserved manner.
But the weakness of her tone is probably due to the fact that she acknowledges her own faults, saying, 'Well, you can't blame me for saying that.
'Hmm!You've got a lot of nerve calling me 'old man', kid!You're the only one in all of Broom who talks that big!
'No, I heard you're called 'stubborn old man' back there.'
I don't know. ...... You're a funkier old man than I thought.
You can call him 'old man' now, can't you?
'Well, whatever. If you're still in doubt, the sooner you make a decision, the better. There are no do-overs in life, you know.
He drank his glass of water and asked the servant for another.
After such an action, Donis turns to Estella.
'Miss Claremona. You too. Since you are now in the position of a lord, it is inevitable that you will be caught up in various ties. But don't ever regret it.
These words are like Donnis himself saying that he regrets his life.
A man who has remained unmarried until this age and has fulfilled his duties as a lord.
What kind of regret does this man have in his heart?
I'd like to ask him a few questions.
...... I don't really understand marriage either.
It's too late.
Donnis growls in a low voice as another glass of water is placed in front of him.
He was clearly uncomfortable, and his brow wrinkles deepened.
'Is Filman still not coming?
Donnis turns angrily to the servant standing beside him.
The servant shakes his shoulders at the sharpness of his voice.
'Actually, ......, he said he was taking a long time to prepare. ......'
'What kind of preparations do you have to make to keep your guests waiting!Bring them in now!I don't care if you're in your underwear or completely naked!Don't embarrass me by keeping my guests waiting any longer!'
Under the shouts of anger, about eight servants hurriedly ran out of the dining room.
They must be the poor servants caught between the current and next heads of the family.
'Mr. Donati. Who is Mr. Filman?'
'Hmm?Oh, I'm sorry. He's my nephew's son. He's my successor, the one I'm currently training.'
Donnis has no children.
Then the heir would be chosen from his blood.
But that's a long way from ...... his nephew's son.
Donis's brother, ...... Donis's age, would not be suitable to be the next head of the family.
Donis is 60 to 70 years old by any measure. His brother would be in his late fifties at the very least. Even if he took over as lord at that age, he would have to be replaced soon.
Normally, it would be better for the nephew to take over. ......
'I can't leave it to someone without talent. My nephew and niece's sons-in-law have all turned into soybean farmers who are obsessed with farming. A man who has forgotten how to behave like an aristocrat can't be a lord.
Without asking me anything, he started to talk about his relatives and their shame.
After he finished, he said, 'That's what you wanted to hear, isn't it? He wrinkled up and twisted his cheeks.
This old man ...... must be saying that we are no threat to him if we tell him about our weaknesses.
I feel just a little bit uncomfortable, as if I were dealing with Merle.
It's not like the lords of the 24th district have been in control of BU for decades.
'I've had Filman since he was six years old, and I've personally trained him to be the next lord. He'll turn into one in the future. I'm not crazy about him.
Perhaps he saw something in the six-year-old Filman, or perhaps he was just proud of the fact that he had taken a pure, innocent boy and turned him into his own color.
Donis's confidence is considerable.
'And yet ......'.
The confident expression on his face twisted into a sneer.
'That idiot has been rebelling against me lately, forgetting ...... the debt of gratitude that I raised him to this point, and has begun to talk back to me!I'm sure you'll be pleased to know that I'm not the only one who's a bit of a jerk.
Oh, ...... is a perfect complaint.
It's the same old, same old 'young people these days' complaint.
'Next year they'll be adults, and now they're sneaking out of the house at midnight to play at night!Young people these days are so flabby!
Oh, ......, I finally said it.
I guess old men say the same thing in other worlds.
He puts his elbows on the table, crosses his arms and rests his forehead on them.
Then he let out a long, heavy sigh.
'......Is it still wrong that we're not blood related ......?'
It was the first time Donis had shown a weak face.
If it was his own son, he would not have been so defiant, he thinks.
However, he will become an adult next year, which means he will be fourteen this year.
At that age, everyone goes through a period of rebellion. This is especially true for hot-blooded boys.
Perhaps Donis has never experienced child-rearing. He has never taken care of his own children, or even those of his siblings or relatives.
His relatives wouldn't want to show their children to an old man who so blatantly disrespected them.
That's why they don't know. That's why they don't know what rebellion is.
'Miss Claremona. You should get married. And do it while you're as young as possible. Take it from an old man.'
'Thank you for your advice. I'll keep it in mind. As for .......'
Estella's eyes looked straight ahead and caught Donnis clearly. She has the power to outdo herself even when they are staring at each other.
She clenched her fists lightly in front of her chest and carefully let out the words that were difficult to say.
'Right now, I want to fulfill my duties as a lord. I love the 42nd district. I want to put the happiness of those I love above all else right now.
The pride and determination of a lord.
That must be Estella's untruthful heart.
'I think my happiness can wait.
Receiving Estella's straight eyes and straight words, Donis slowly pointed at Estella.
'Yes, we're going to be late!
'No, you're not!
'Yes, it's a shame!Yes, it's over!
'Mr. Donati!I'll think properly when I'm old enough!So don't worry!
'I thought so too, when I was young!But here we are!Yes, we're the same!I'm with you!
'I'm going to get married at the right time!
'If there are any recipients left by then!
'Ahhhh, you're so annoying, you old man!
'Estella-sama. You're leaking too much of your true feelings.
'Well, leave her alone, Natalia. That was the old man's own fault.
You can't blame him for calling you an old man.
Oh, and by the way, calling you a retard or a hoarder is just your personal opinion, we don't think that way at all. Adult girls, very nice.
--I don't know where you're going with this, but I'll follow up.
'So I ask you, Miss Claremona!Have you ever kissed anyone?
'You're being too s*xist, Mr. Donati!
'Then I don't care if it's your waiter's daughter or that guy over there!Tell me the story of your first kiss!
'How much do you like to talk about your love life, you old bastard?
I'm not going to hold back anymore.
If someone starts to run wild, you have to give him an even hand regardless of his position or power.
That's the way of the world.
Just as I was beginning to think that I should smear the bean sauce I had gotten on each wrinkle, a man appeared in the dining room accompanied by several servants.
'You didn't have to wait for me.
Looking at the man's face, I couldn't help but raise my voice.
The other side seemed to have noticed us too, and his eyes widened and he shouted.
'Why are you guys here?
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