Chapter 48 – Refurbishing Castle Calypse (2)
“A k-kiss from a-a n-noblewoman is t-the h-highest honor a k-knight can r-r-receive.”
His reply came a beat later, sereneness still on his features. “I come from a humble background, so I never had many feelings for such old-fashioned stories. Furthermore, I wouldn’t feel any honor in getting a kiss from a woman who would’ve frowned at my unbearable stench as I stepped closer to her.”
Max was taken aback by his apathetic response and remained her eyes fixed on the floor, her gaze enough to burn a hole into them any moment.
Riftan leaned his sword on the wall and laid into the bed with her, showing he had no intention of being sarcastic for her queries on his personal life, and her predilections surrounding it. Noticing Max tense up automatically at the second presence beside her, Riftan let out a wry smile as he rolled on to his side.
“Don’t worry, I won’t tease you tonight. I hear you were sore.”
Max nodded her head, far quick to be considered normal, her neck flushing. As Riftan grabbed and pulled her to lay beside him, he placed the lid on the lamp, extinguishing the fire glowing beside. Darkness slowly engulfed the room. And she listened to his steady heartbeat beginning to relax, thoughts forgotten.
Another day went by castle Calypse in this manner.
The musk of earth filled the castle as the downpour continued for days.
Despite the weather, Riftan had gone around inspecting the village, the mine, and farms. Wanting to be responsible as well, Max had asked for permission to use the library freely. She was struck with uncertainty with all the books, overthinking she might damage them, but soon her fear had turned to awe as she scanned the bookshelves.
Max found a ledger written by Knight Roem, who had once ruled Anatol nestled between the parchments.
She restrained herself from digging into books on poetic literature from the Roem era and instead opened a book on mathematics. She wasn’t trying to learn anything too grandiose. What she needed to do first was to strengthen her rudimentary knowledge on currency and basic arithmetics.
But without some guidance, her efforts were all for naught—it was much of a tumultuous challenge for someone without proper education.
“Madam, the president of the merchant guild, has come to visit you.”
Max shut the book she was reading and walked out of the library. When she followed Rodrigo into the living room, a man in his mid-thirties stood up from his seat to greet her.
“It is an honor to meet you, Madam Calypse. My name is Aderon Thoner.” The merchant bowed his head in deference.
Max could barely place a smile on her face. She was informed the merchant would come to her, now that the rain has eased, but facing him made her extremely nervous. But perhaps it was more so because of the decisions that were to fall on her hands.
Max held her breath shortly before opening her mouth. “T-thank you for c-c-coming through t-the r-rain.”
“It’s no trouble, madam. I apologize for not visiting you soon enough,” the merchant replied, smiling generously.
Max sat in front of the table across him. As soon as she seated herself on the plush cushioned chair, she still felt too anxious to initiate a conversation. Despite having enough chance to talk after being reunited with, rather than the hushed silence her father demanded from her—she shouldn’t be too nervous now. But she couldn’t help but feel on edge.
“I heard you are planning to renovate the castle. Do you have a specific place you want to start with?”
The merchant spoke before Max, who couldn’t quickly bring herself to talk.
“W-well, I-I want t-to c-change t-the windows f-first. T-the hallways a-are t-too d-dark and a-a-a lot of r-rooms have b-b-b-broken w-w-windows.”
“Changing all the windows in the castle to new ones will considerably raise the cost. Are you thinking of balt–glass?”
Max pictured the clear windows inside castle Croix. She didn’t know there were different types of glass.
“The price varies highly depending on the type of glass. Balt-glass is the cheapest while crystal-glass from the southern continent the more expensive variant. If you would like, I can prepare some samples to show you next time.”
“Y-yes, I-I would l-l-like that v-very m-much.”
“Any other things you would like to change?”
“W-we need c-curtains for t-the w-window and a c-chandelier f-for the b-banquet r-room. A-also d-decorative c-carpets f-for the floors a-and w-walls…”
Realizing this might be a massive business for him, the merchant grinned from ear to ear. On the other hand, Max felt her throat tighten. Riftan did say he would pay whatever price, but did he really mean any amount? Still torn whether to continue with this large. not to mention ambitious project of hers, the merchant had started to rush with her plans. Eager to put it to life and pocket the exorbitant coins.
“It takes some time to order all the items you’ve listed. I will come back with samples as soon as possible at whatever time suits you. If I may, can you show me the floors and walls that you intend to decorate, madam?”
Max glanced at Rodrigo with a slight tilt of her head. The merchant would know what the castle needs better than her.
The two left the living room and walked to the largest banquet hall in the castle. Rodrigo, an older servant, and two guards followed them from behind. When Aderon, the merchant, looked around the room, he soon made a long speech about which part of the room needs what and what items they would need to order more.
Max tried her best to remember every word he mentioned; avant-garde, he said, each exotic piece he listed promising exuberance to the dreary interior.
“What do you think about changing the stone tiles into marble?” he suggested, looking at the ground with disapproval.
“W-we s-s-should work on our p-priorities f-first…” Max started, trying not to get too caught up on too much detailing.
But the merchant continued waving his hands around the room, his words rapid-firee and a contrast to her floundering words.
“I think the marble tiles on the floor and a mural – the walls will need redoing with limewash – will look fantastic. Obviously, I’ll make sure only of excellence will be used in the refurbishing.”
“I-I’ll have t-to t-think a-about it,” she answered with an awkward smile.
“I think there is a need to go extravagant and elaborate. This is the castle of the continent’s greatest knight! Don’t you agree that he deserves to live worthy of praise as his title?” The merchant impassionately replied, making Max freeze, her perfunctory smile turning almost crooked.