Chapter 38 – Castle Calypse (2)
Rodrigo sighed lightly.
“It seems, after so many years of neglect, the Lord seems to have forgotten a haven beyond nests of monsters and the bloody battlefield exists in this meager Castle—such things are probably trifle to him.”
Max inwardly vowed to herself that it wouldn’t stay such. The bland room before her will come alive in a blaze of colors and luxury, becoming one of the the most coveted banquet halls in the continent. Nobility would fight tooth and nail only to gain an invitation to the elusive castle Calypse.
“P-please call the m-merchants as soon as possible,” she said, a resolution in mind.
Rodrigo nodded fiercely, he could feel her determination and that impressed him.
She surveyed the reception and guest rooms next, both quarters almost no different from the banquet hall. At the very least, the guest room was mildly accommodating with its basic but dull furniture. Each room was equipped with sturdy beds and clean comforters, simple shelves lining the window for whatever the occupant may deem to place on it. There wasn’t enough to scrutinize in the simply decorated room, so they continued down to the first floor to check the servants’ quarters.
“The male servants live in a separate building, and the maids live in a lodging on the ground floor so that they can always respond to their master’s call. If the madam requires of anything, you only need to ring the bell in the room, the maids will come right away—even in the middle of the night.”
According to Rodrigo, castle Calypse only employs 87 servants, a considerably lacking force to manage a gargantuan fortress, the grounds and moats around. Yet, on the other hand, maybe it wasn’t too small of a number considering that the owner had left it empty for such a long time.
Different faces passed by before her as she was introduced by Rodrigo to some of the maids working in the castle. After acquainting with numerous faces she was bound to forget in the next day, they continued their tour towards the castle’s kitchen. Unlike the former rooms that were dead and cold, the enormous kitchen was the opposite—it was warm and full of activity.
Max glanced at the large fireplace on the left wall, the flames flickering beneath a pot large enough to be used as a bath. Even more so on the deer roasting over the open oven fire under the vent, or perhaps it must be the delicious scent making her focus on the latter.
Her still, standing frame was a contrast against the shuffle of feet of the busy servants who were working tirelessly. Some were kneading bread, others peeling potatoes, cutting smoked meat onto plates and washing dishes, bowls stacked in heaps near the sink.
“The kitchen is the busiest place in the castle. The servants have no time to rest as they prepare food for the knights and guards to eat. And because of the shortage of workers, almost all the servants of the castle have to be equipped on the kitchen whenever lunch or dinner approaches.”
“S-so that’s why we didn’t s-see the servants in the o-other rooms…”
She swore to tell Riftan that he had to hire more servants.
“Would you like to see the annex now?”
When she nodded, Rodrigo led her outside.
Immediately, under the bright glare of the sun, a lifeless garden greeted her. A lonely tree stood next to an unmanaged pavilion, the only life present in the ground the weeds that grew on the flower beds.
She furrowed her eyebrows. Even if the Great Hall is considered as the Lord’s pride, the garden manning the entrance to the main castle should still be emblazoned. As the first thing that guests see, there should be an exorbitant, stunning display of flowers enough to blind them. After all, first impressions leave a lasting impression.
A secret was on her lips. The one thing she could be confident about was her eye for landscaping—it had been her father’s passion and that meant ingraining it on her as well.
‘Even if I can’t do that much this season, at the very least I should make certain we don’t get ridiculed.’
“D-do we have a gardener?”
“The servants take turns cleaning the yard and garden… but there are no official gardeners and landscape architects.”
Rodrigo replied, wiping his forehead laced with cold sweat.
Max knew the servants were not to blame. It was usually the responsibility of the Lord and his Mistress to furnish the castle. Since Riftan had been on a lengthy expedition, the management should have fallen to her hands as his wife… Yesterdays accusations her husband had thrown at her suddenly flooded her mind like an inclement torrent.
“S-show me the annex, please.”
“Yes, madam. Come this way please.”
Quietly following Rodrigo’s instructions, they walked past the gray garden and along the small walkway on the left side of the Great Hall. Old oak trees provided them dense shade on the dirt road from the unforgiving heat.
“The annex was the primary residence of the late Sir Anatol’s clan, but now it has been remodeled and used as lodging for apprentices.”
Max tilted her head curiously. “D-does castle C-calypse have a-a lot of apprentice k-knights?”
“There are about thirty. After the Lord became the Knight Commander, many aristocrats sent their sons and daughters to train under his tutelage. Upon the end of their apprenticeship, they are initiated as members of the Remdragon Knights.”
The butler, who was leading the way, suddenly halted in his steps. They stopped close to a wide, open field at the end of the path. Boys, barely considered adults with their faces reflecting their youth, were all lined up, each of them wielding a wooden sword that looked harmless but Max knew would yield some damage.
“Oh, it’s the hour for training,” he then turned to her, asking for opinion. “What shall we do, madam? Would you like to greet the apprentices?”
“Oh, no… I d-don’t want to d-disturb them. We can c-come back later…”
Sudden embarrassment sprout inside her from nowhere, and she suddenly stopped talking. Riftan’s broad shoulders as he stood ramrod straight in front of the boys caught her eye.
“I guess the Lord was overseeing the training.”
The butler also found himself standing under the shade of the tree and said in a tense voice.
“I believe it’s a good idea to go back, madam. The lord doesn’t like spectators to be present during training sessions.”
“Oh, then let’s go.”
She hoped the disappointment wasn’t evident in her voice. As she turned back to the castle at Rodrigo’s request, she felt the familiar rough palm of a man grab her delicate wrist.
Double chapter updates <3