“You must not hug the Lady. Her dress will be wrinkled.”
“Oh, I see.”
“You can just hold her hand and go.”
Lavigne put my hand in my brother’s. He immediately gave a smile as we walked.
He moved slowly, considerate of me although his legs were simply naturally long.
“Our Dia is so cute!”
“Miss is so pretty!”
The people we encountered as we walked greeted me with warm smiles, and words of admiration.
I was a little embarrassed but I still greeted them face to face.
It took some time, but we arrived in front of the dining room, which was a floor down before it was too late.
The large antique doors were closed, and on either side stood two magistrates.
“Let’s go in.”
After my brother spoke to me, he nodded his head to the two magistrates.
As soon as the Magistrates opened the door, I glanced inside. There were as many as a hundred people sitting at a very long table.
Everyone was wearing fancy clothes, not their regular uniforms. There were some who wore armbands on their arms or shoulders.
‘I guess that signifies that they have a certain status.’
Most of them looked pretty strong, except for a few. Especially the blue-haired woman who looked a few years older than the Duke.
‘I guess she’s the head of the Magistrates.’
Since I couldn’t use detection magic, I couldn’t see exactly how strong they were.
However, through intuition alone, she was definitely someone of high level.
‘She can even stand well in front of the demon king.’
Of course, she couldn’t stop him, but she would do well enough.
I went inside with my brother as I looked around quickly.
“Welcome, Young Master.”
As soon as my brother appeared, all the people who were sitting stood up to greet him. Most of them scanned me with their eyes as they said their hellos to him.
Recalling the words Lavigne has said earlier, I observed the people’s reactions shrewdly.
‘There’s certainly some who harbor some subtle emotions.’
But most of them were smiling as if to tell me I looked cute. Some were laughing, and among them, I found a familiar face.
‘It’s Chamon Tant.’
The Deputy Chief of the Third Post who gave me the jerky.
Tant looked at me with shining eyes, as if she wanted to talk to me.
‘I think she’s holding it in because it’s a formal dinner.’
Gallio, the head butler, and Ruth, the chief priest, were also seen.
Gallio had a calm face as always, and Ruth smiled kindly at me.
I soon noticed that the seat next to Ruth was empty.
‘Who’s not here yet?’
Suddenly, I realized.
I didn’t know yet, but I realized it when I saw some familiar faces.
Lavigne’s request bothered me, and when I saw more than a hundred people I didn’t know in a large and solemn place, my body was a little stiff.
At that time, I feel a little bit of strength from the hand that my brother was holding. I turned my head and looked up at my brother, as we walked forward. My brother gave me a grin as if telling me not to worry.
I nodded a little, trying to tell him I was fine and kept walking while staring ahead.
The Duke sat on the innermost and upper seat of the table, and Big Bear sat diagonally left of the Duke.
‘The leopard hasn’t come yet.’
When I saw my brother earlier, I thought he looked very nice and mature.
However, when I saw the Big Bear up close, I realized that I should not use the word ‘mature’ on my brother.
The Big Bear with his slicked-back hair and black tuxedo was a real adult.
I wanted to run to Big Bear right away and hug him, but I held it in.
It wasn’t just Big Bear who looked incredibly nice.
The closer I got to the Duke, the more my eyes sparkled.
The Duke had her long black hair up and decorated neatly with red jewels.
I could only see her figure at the table because she was sitting in a chair, but that was enough.
She wore a beautiful tight-fitting dress with a combination of gold and silver, revealing her elegant neck and delicate collarbone, accentuating her narrow shoulders.
Her hands which held a transparent glass of purple wine were long and thin, giving off a seemingly fragile feeling. But she was clearly not.
Those golden eyes placed beautifully on her fair and pretty face, radiated an aura as strong as ever.
Though she was delicately and beautifully dressed, she was still deadly strong like a beast.
There was something that came to mind at that moment.
‘If she dresses like that and swings a two-handed sword…! That’d be the best.’
I stared at the Duke imagining the scene.
Since my brother and I entered the dining room, the Duke had been looking only at me, but she suddenly turned away.
However, when I looked at her with shining hot eyes, as if she noticed my gaze, she looked at me.
The scene I witnessed at the Third Guard Post flashed by my eyes, but it was only for a moment.
When she saw my eagle eyes, she flinched. Her face distorted visibly.
‘So cool! Wow!’
I screamed in my heart.
The Duke turned away from my constant gaze and turned to my brother.
“It is my honor.”
“Dia, come on in.”
I answered and sat down on a chair.
Of course, I didn’t do it alone because the chair was too high.
My brother put me in the chair.
The thick cushion on the chair allowed me to maintain a higher view than I thought.
My brother sat down on the right side of Big Bear, and I sat to the right of my brother.
I don’t know much about etiquette, but it seemed to mean a lot to sit right next to someone of the Duchy’s lineage.
This seemed to officially announce that I was close and valuable to the important people in the territory.
‘Is this how they treat all their guests?’
Even if it was just protocol, I was so happy that my heart was pounding.
‘So that everyone knows I’m close to Big Bear and you right?’
I was really pleased.
Soon the doors opened wide.
Marciana Leocardia, Leopard and Heir to the Duchy, appeared.
I thought she would come in a dress like the Duke.
She was wearing a white shirt and black jacket paired with a black pantsuit.
It was a monotonous but luxurious design. The black leopard-shaped boutonniere with golden eyes hung from her chest and shined splendidly.
‘No, I don’t care if it’s worn.’
Just like the Duke, the Leopard was radiant nonetheless.
The body, wrapped in a white and black suit, was thin and slim, but a strong force emanated from her.
Her face was also intense. With flawless skin, her beautiful face was deserving of the Duchy. In particular, those golden eyes emitted a powerful force like that of a Duke’s.
‘What a pair of mother and daughter.’
I knew it already, but I felt it again.
‘They said I looked like the Leopard. Does that mean I also look like the Duke?’
But it didn’t look like it to me.
The color of our hair and eyes were different, and our bodies itself were different.
The Leocardia Family was one where twelve-year-olds grew to look like they were 20 on their birthday.
On the other hand, I was much smaller and thinner than ordinary people.
‘How should I say this? We simply give off a different feeling?’
I heard that the Duchy’s direct line can support that entire continent through their existence alone, and it really seemed like it.
They were special.
‘It’s amazing. How different they are from me…’
Suddenly, I felt a distance that I couldn’t measure.
Even if I reached out to my fullest capabilities, they were people I could never reach.
‘I’m not good enough…’
I sighed silently and watched the Leopard walk leisurely.
The Leopard sat down and looked at the Duke.
The Duke nodded and stood up with the wine glass in her hand.
‘I guess that’s the signal.’
About a hundred people who were sitting and exchanging conversations in small voices reverted to serious faces and immediately stood up. With a glass of water or wine in their hands, they stared at the Duke.
Big Bear, Leopard, and Brother did the same.
‘I need to stand up too.’
I got off the chair and stood in front of it.
The chair was high, so I came down with a bang trying to jump down. I also couldn’t look at the Duke like everyone else, the table was too high.
I was shocked, but I also didn’t want to give up.
I raised my toes up the best I could, held the edge of the table with both hands and raised my head.
I could barely peek my eyes up on the table.
As I met eyes with the Duke, I saw her eyes look at me wide open.
No, not just the Duke, but many people, including the two bears and leopard were looking at me.
Most of them closed their mouths tightly, but they seemed to be holding back their laughter somehow.
My face flushed.
‘Should I place my feet back down and not look at the Duke? No, I can’t be the only one who does that. A guest can’t be rude to the master of the house. But…’
In fact, I was ashamed.
And maybe because I was wearing unfamiliar shoes, but my toes began to hurt.
The Duke cleared her throat, staring straight at me.
Everyone turned their heads and looked at the Duke.
The Duke spoke at ease, with a smile that seemed relaxed and full of spirit.
“Congratulation on my Husband and Son’s safe return.”
The voice was not too loud but dominated the spacious dining room.
The Duke took the wine glass in her hand and placed it to her mouth and emptied it at once.
After everyone shouted in unison, they all drank the drinks in their hands.
The Duke waited until the people had finished drinking and said, “Let me introduce you to Dia.”
Everyone’s eyes were on me again.
The Duke looked at me too, her expression stiff. I think it was because she was trying to stifle her laughter.
“She’s a guest of the Duchy. Let us all welcome her.”
Everyone shouted in one voice.
I was a little shy and happy. And I couldn’t figure out what to do.
‘Should I also say hello?’
As I pondered for a moment, the Leopard smiled and whispered to me quietly.
“You should say thank you.”
I gave the Leopard a smile of thanks and said loudly to everyone, “Thank you! Nice to meet you!”
I tried my best, but maybe because I was nervous, my pronunciation was a little off.
The people who heard my voice couldn’t hide their smiles while I was crying inside. Some even laughed, including the Duke, to my surprise.
It wasn’t big, but the Duke laughed clearly, and everyone who saw it had their eyes wide with surprise. Although she quickly closed it with a smile.
But everyone had already seen it.
The Duke cleared her throat again and looked away from me.
As the owner of the Duchy, she sat down with a relaxed smile as if declaring something.
“Let us all eat.”
Everyone sat down with a smile.
I finally put down my trembling feet.
The toes in my shoes seemed to ring loudly.
“Well, let’s all sit down.”
My brother smiled and grabbed my waist and put me down on the cushion like before.
The chair was also pushed closer to the table.
My brother raised his hand to touch my hair, but he lowered it back, perhaps in consideration of the ribbons in my hair.
‘It’s a bit of a shame.’
Then, the door of the dining room reopened.