Chapter 37 – Castle Calypse (1)
Max wondered if the butler was frowning when he heard her stutter. Making no notice of it, Rodrigo placed a silver cup and some utensils in front of her with a solemn face, but otherwise, he didn’t show any other facial expression. Inwardly sighing with relief, she began to eat the food in slow bites despite being ravenous.
Although she usually had a modest appetite, Max couldn’t find herself to bring her spoon down. Only then did she realize she was quite hungry, having made the arduous journey to Anatol and not having eaten the night before. Or perhaps, it must be from the delicious food being served.
She quickly finished the hearty bowl filled with meat soup and vegetables. She slathered butter on freshly baked bread and even managed to finish a slice of meat pie. When she was replete, she washed the meal down with sweet cider and almost felt a little tipsy.
“Shall I bring out more food?” the butler said on one side.
“I-I’m finished now, thank you.”
She delicately wiped her mouth with a napkin and rose from the table. When she left the dining hall, Rodrigo joined her and continued his guided tour around the castle.
“Castle Calypse was built 150 years ago by Sir Anatol, a knight of the fallen Roem empire. At the collapse of the Roem empire, numerous monsters began to appear frequently in this area, and it inevitably slipped out of the rulership of the Seven Countries. Forty years ago, for geographic reasons, this land became part under the rulership of Whedon, but in the early days there were not many residents. Therefore, with the area left unattended, monsters naturally thrived in turn.”
Rodrigo traversed the hall and continued retelling the history of Anatol.
“But ten years ago, the eighteen-year-old Sir Riftan Calypse, who had just been knighted, came to be the Lord of Anatol.”
His steps slow, his voice took on a more stirring tone, “The Lord not only repaired the castle extensively, but he even rebuilt the walls to guard the land. Thanks to his strong and committed defense against the monsters and from an invasion of evil spirits, the number of people in this area has nearly tripled.”
The butler’s story was gripping, and his voice was awe-inspiring. Despite his outburst in front of the servants the previous day, it was impossible to question his loyalty to Riftan.
“But… I seem to be more focused on the outside of the castle, the grounds—I guess the practical aspects of Castle Calypse. So the interior is a little dreary,”
Rodrigo added, clearly embarrassed, which made Max laugh awkwardly; this was a problem she was to be tasked with solving.
“H-how many r-rooms are there?” she inquired. Since there was no choice in the matter, she might try her hand at it now.
“There are over a hundred rooms in this part of the castle alone. There are about forty rooms in the annex and castle’s tower, and another 250 rooms, including the guards’ quarters and the knights’ rooms.”
On the mention of the sheer number of rooms to be her responsibility, Max felt instantly weary. How could she possibly decorate all of those rooms? While locked in her inner turmoil, Rodrigo had yet to finish…
“And there are five main reception rooms, two banquet halls, two libraries and a tea salon on each floor… none of which have been used in all these years.”
Rodrigo apologized profusely with a deep bow.
“The knights don’t enjoy tea at all, so I’m not even sure why I even go to the market to select the best tea leaves.”
Max imagined Riftan sitting in front of the tea table, holding a small cup, and a chuckle almost rose from her. Indeed, she couldn’t imagine the knights or Riftan, for that matter, enjoying tea. Instead, it would surely be a mug of strong beer.
“Does Lord Riftan like tea?” Then he cautiously added, “Do you drink tea together, madam…?”
Max sported a faint blush at the mention of her husband’s name. “H-he likes it.”
“Then, I shall tell the waiter to prepare refreshments upon his return. And of course, only the best tea leaves for the masters of this castle.”
“I-I-I’m looking forward to it.”
A soft smile made the older adult’s wrinkled face seem younger. At this gentle display, Max also relaxed. Rodrigo seemed to be a good person.
“Then, I will continue the tour around the castle.” He continued to speak as they walked down the stairs.
“As you already know, the dining hall is located next to the main reception room on the first floor, and the women’s quarters, of which your room located, is in the center of the third floor. The Lord’s library is located at the north end of the third floor. The banquet halls and the guestrooms are on the second floor. Lastly, the fourth floor contains the castle’s main library.”
“T-there’s a library?”
“Yes,” he nodded. “The Lord has about 8,000 books on his shelves. Most dating from the Roem era… would you like to visit the library, Madam?”
Max hesitated for a moment. From the little knowledge she knew, books were extremely marketed to be expensive; what if she inadvertently tore a page or scratched the cover? For Riftan to think she was careless—she would detest the idea of it.
Max shook her head instead. “I-I’ll go a-another time…”
Rodrigo nodded without another question. “I will show you the reception rooms and banquet halls next.”
Max nodded dutifully. The reception rooms and banquet halls were the most important places to greet outside guests. It would be better to check these areas first so she could grasp ideas on how to decorate them.
She followed him into the banquet hall and opened her mouth in shock on their arrival. Not a single item was inside the spacious banquet hall. The cold air wafted from the floor to greet her, some even slipping through the cracked windows.
“Since we never had a banquet…” the butler started to murmur, clearly uncomfortable again.
“Ah,” Max tried to lighten the atmosphere. “T-there must have been n-no reason to have g-guests come over…”
“Most of the castle’s guests are knights, and they don’t even stay long enough for a ball. They probably wouldn’t even enjoy it, but they do drink a lot in the dining hall.”
Rodrigo paused, thinking for a moment. “We have never invited any nobleman to dinner. After spending plenty of money to repair the castle, for building the new walls, and reinforcing the drawbridge—we couldn’t afford to host social functions.”