Chapter 72 - Tea Tasting Party
The brooch was decorated with aquamarine gemstones and set with platinum. I could tell it was expensive just by looking at it. ‘He couldn’t have possibly sent it to me for free…’ I opened up the accompanying letter, which went as follows:
Dear Lady Floyen, I am sending this gift in order to celebrate your recovery. I hope you like it, my lady. It is thanks to your benevolence that the workshop is booming, after all.
Although it’s not much, I would like to send you a gift every month as a token of my appreciation. Please accept them without restraint, as I do not expect anything in return. It would also be an honor if you visited my workshop whenever you can, my muse.
The letter was lengthy, but it was essentially thanking me for promoting his work. ‘If I think about it, I did somewhat advertise his workshop… it should be okay to accept this.’ Thanks to him, I didn’t have to worry about my lack of accessories anymore. ‘Although I don’t plan on selling his gifts… I can use them as an emergency fund in the worst-case scenario.’ After silently thanking Fyodor for this useful gift, I turned to Merilyn. “I plan to visit Arcade Street. Please make preparations.”
* * *
“The lady is getting ready to go out, Master. She says it’s been a while since she went shopping.”
Regis sighed in response. “Who are the escorts?” he asked.
Derrick listed the most skillful knights from the Floyen household. “Sir Geraldine, Sir Todd, Sir Dylan, Sir Howard, and Sir Ronald. There are five escorts in total.”
Regis nodded with a satisfied expression. “Alright, that’s sufficient.”
“A messenger from Madam is also here. She says there is urgent news you must be informed about.”
Although she seemed carefree on the outside, Fresia was inherently cautious and rarely summoned him for trivial things. Regis sighed. ‘She’s probably not pulling my leg like she did last time… I should go.’
* * *
“Do you have plans for today, Your Highness?”
Max scrunched his face at Fresia, who was hinting at him to leave. “Why?”
“A guest is coming.”
Max felt his temper rise and noticeably expressed his displeasure. “If it’s a guest, use another room here.”
“Well… the problem is… the guest is Duke Floyen.”
Max twisted his expression in response. “So? Are you telling me that I should run away from this place to intentionally avoid him?” Max had always maintained a semblance of politeness towards the duke because he was his master, but it seemed like he was severely enraged now, as indicated by his extremely perverse behavior.
‘I know he’s my lord… but he’s so difficult to deal with.’ Fresia silently groaned and said, “We will be discussing an important issue this time, so I think it will take a while.”
“What issue would take this long?” Max retorted.
Fresia sighed softly. ‘It’s not something I can tell him… What should I do?’ She didn’t dwell on this question for much longer, however, because of her experience in assisting Max. She decided to tell him a piece of information she had planned to give the duke as part of their deal. “I heard Lady Floyen will be attending a small tea party held by some noblewomen. Sir Mikhail, of all people, will be attending the party as well.”
Max widened his eyes in response, then narrowed them severely. “What? Why him?”
‘It used to be difficult to recognize his emotions in the past because he was always expressionless, but he’s become a lot more transparent these days.’ Fresia tried her best to suppress her laughter and said, “I don’t know; that’s something only he would know. But if he’s attending an occasion to see his ex-lover, doesn’t it seem like he has regrets?”
Max glared at Fresia. His expression was fierce, but it was quite different from the face he made when he was angry. Fresia knew what the subtle difference was. ‘Jealousy, it seems. I never thought my lord would ever make a face like that.’ Not long ago, he had been an unfeeling man who didn’t hesitate to ruthlessly kill his enemies. Although he was a rather generous person to his allies, he was incredibly cruel and merciless toward his enemies, so much so that it even frightened Fresia sometimes. However, he seemed to have changed at a certain point.
“Keep him alive,” he said last time. Fresia couldn’t tell yet if these changes were going to benefit or harm him, but she didn’t mind them. In the past, her lord seemed to be turning more into a monster, like the emperor, but now she could sense a faint trace of humanity from him.
“That’s why I’m telling you to hurry up and go…” Fresia trailed off upon seeing that Max had already disappeared and clicked her tongue. “That was fast. How energetic of him.”
“The guest has arrived, Madam.”
Fresia hardened her expression and arose at the sound of someone knocking on the door. ‘It’s time to work.’
* * *
Max felt his blood boil and his head getting hot. Back when he was ridiculously weak, he could only survive by deceiving his father and stepmother. This made him good at suppressing his anger, a skill which he maintained even when he had grown in strength. However, this emotion, which he had always been able to restrain, was out of control because of a single fact. ‘She’s meeting with him again?’
After his mother died, Max decided to tread the path of becoming emperor and pledged to never be swayed by something as trivial as emotions, to not ruin his plans. He had abided by this since he was young, but now he was feeling the very things he had desperately tried to avoid. Even so, he couldn’t help but visit her.
“It gets cold at night because we’re in-between seasons.”
“I was worried because I have strange preferences for food, but I’m glad you like it as well.”
“It’s not for free. Just help me when I need it.”
As he recalled the words she had said, Max felt her poisonous presence take effect. Even so, he found himself unable to escape because she was just that addictive.
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