Chapter 58 – Max’s Resolve (2)
Aderon rose from his seat with an awkward face, leaving behind the parchment paper with several explanations written down. As soon as he left, Max bolted for the library in haste. It took her several hours just to record the cost of the marbles and the wages for the workers. She heaved a weary sigh at her pathetic accomplishment when she suddenly heard something behind her back. She looked back in surprise and was greeted by the sight of a man looming from behind in the far corner of the library, enclosed in a pile of books.
The man looked back at her with his sullen eyes while scratching his light gray hair. Max didn’t know how to react, so she replied with a blank stare in turn. He was now sitting on top of the precious ledgers. How long has he been lying there?
“Why are you so noisy these days?”
The wizard suddenly frowned and complained, seemingly feeling no embarrassment encountering the lady of the estate while sleeping on the library floor. Max stuttered back, bewildered by his imposing manner.
“Ca-Castle–I’m re-redecorating the castle….”
“The castle is the castle, but what I’m asking about is madam Calypse’s business.”
“Who else? You’ve been whining in the library for the last few days. Did you know you have been greatly disturbing my sleep?”
Her mouth hung agape, ashamed over the fact that someone had been watching her piteous acts of groaning, sighing and tearing at her hair. She instantly felt furious with him for not telling her his presence had been nearby in her times of anguish… and stupefied that she was being reproached instead of getting an apology.
She didn’t know which of the three emotions she should react to. While she stood there astonished and unable to respond, the man rose from his makeshift comfort and went right before her.
“Are you… a bookkeeper?”
She hurriedly snatched up the sheets of paper on her desk, bleakly hiding them from his sight. However, the man just ignored her effort to conceal the papers and nimbly picked them up from her evasive hands to scrutinize the incorrigible handwriting. The next moment, the wizard’s eyebrows quivered.
“… just how many miscalculations do you even have?”
He turned around to keep the paper away from her outstretched arm and kept looking over the contents in sheer horror. He blurted out a low groan.
“Why is one marble plate twenty Liam? I’m sure you just wrote the wrong units, right? Please tell me you merely mixed up units.”
“Ju-just right now… I-I was in the m-middle of fixing it…!”
Max desperately explained herself to Ruth, who was on the verge of foaming at the mouth in anger. He, who was glaring at her with squinted eyes, instantly went for the books she was hiding behind her back.
She was flabbergasted at his straightforward behavior. A gentleman should never touch a lady’s things without permission, or so she had always been told. The act of forcefully snatching away a lady’s belongings without permission was something only a ruffian would do.
Max pulled on the hem of her dress with a red face. “Gi-give it back! Ho-how, how could you, dd-do, do something so, so, rude…!”
“… Just how much have you spent in the last few days?”
She flinched and carefully looked up at him. The wizard’s face was horribly distorted and her heart sank at the sight of it. Was something wrong?
Ruth clenched his teeth and slowly gathered the strength to ask.
Cold sweat trickled down her body as she tried to think of an answer.
“Ri-Riftan… said not to worry about money.”
“But you should at least know how much you spent, no?”
The reproach made her face burn with discomfiture. She shrank away and couldn’t look straight, akin to when her private tutor had admonished her for her pronunciations.
“I-I-I don’t know the exact, exact number..”
“Do you know the approximate amount?”
As soon as she slowly shook her head, the wizard rubbed his temples violently, attempting to regulate his annoyance. For a moment, she wondered why she was being scolded by him, but then the fear of having done something terribly wrong gnawed at her. So, Max confessed after a long hesitation.
“A-a-actually… I-I-I’m not familiar w-with this kind of work, so….”
“If you aren’t familiar you should at least ask for help!”
His words uttered in frustration were too right that she couldn’t say a word in response. Max trembled in horror, feeling like the biggest fool in the world.
“Is-is it really that… wro-wro-wrong?”
“First of all, the ledger is a mess. Some items are ridiculously cheap, some ridiculously expensive… the calculations don’t match at all. Also, these item purchases–there are too many unnecessary purchases! While it’s true that Lord Calypse made a ridiculous amount of money from the battle against the dragon, you can’t just spend it without thought! There are numerous knights and guards in Anatol and we are responsible for their upkeep. Most importantly, we are planning on building a big road that will connect the port to the village next year. To add, winter is approaching so our tax revenues will take a hit. We have to try and cut back on any kind of possible waste!”
Max shrank her neck in like a turtle at the relentless onslaught of censure.
“I-I didn’t, know… I-I didn’t hear anything about that. He-he just said to do whatever I want.”
Ruth let out a deep sigh after he heard her mumblings. As if he had lost all his energy, he drooped his shoulders and continued.
“I’m not saying redecorating the castle itself is wrong. It’s true we have become like a military factory that doesn’t care about anything but defense. But it’s too much. If you keep spending money like this, it will be just a couple years before Lord Calypse has to go rob another Dragon Lair.”
Max reeled back about to collapse and gripped the chair firmly. She was trying to give the castle a massive facelift to make Riftan glad… after all, it was the responsibility of the mistress of the house to keep things beautiful too. She felt all the blood in her body leave as she thought of how her husband might go berserk for her misguided actions like the man in front of her. Max looked up at him with tears in her eyes.
“If-if you te-teach me what I did wrong, I-I will fix it….”