A/N: Warning: reading this chapter may cause high blood pressure. But don’t worry. The maid is here.
I put the spiked club back into my skirt and make way for milady. The noise of the gate has caused the house to be astir with panicked shouts of servants. Soldiers come pouring out from the guardhouse.
A call of surprise and recognition came from an older knight among them, yet the soldiers still raise their spears despite his words.
“Who do you think you’re pointing those to?” Milady answers them with dignity.
The aforementioned knight follows up with a shout. “What are you doing?! Lower your weapons, now!”
The soldiers hurriedly obey.
“Lady Sharon, what has happened here…?” The knight asks as he looks upon what remained of the gate. Milady gives him a cool glance.
“…Bardo. These soldiers have not had enough training. You are the security chief of our Michel house, and yet what have you been doing?”
“I have no excuses, lady Sharon!”
Bardo says, kneeling and bowing on the spot. Milady walks by him with poise and composure.
The servants, the soldiers, the knights — all attention is on milady, the target of their apprehension and their fear, their disdain and their scorn, their anger and hatred.
She still walks forward, undaunted.
Truly commendable, milady, although her heartbeats are quite elevated and her eyes are teary now. I’m aware that whenever she gets stressed, she would automatically turn stony-faced and her tone would get a lot colder.
She must have been very scared. I’ll give her a lap pillow and lots of headpats later.
Greetings, everyone. It is I, Fleurety, the maid who would be the happiest in the world if she is to be allowed to comfort her mistress so.
Anyway, things are worse than I thought. Most of them have eyes of hostility, and even the best of them are either only neutral or apathetic. The number of people with a favorable attitude to milady can be counted on one hand.
While that old knight named Bardo seems relatively decent, I don’t think I can expect much from him, considering the quality of the soldiers here.
“What is going on here? …Sister?! What have you done?!”
My, so the brother has also returned.
Yohanne immediately makes a face upon seeing milady. Behind him, that annoying harpy of an attending maid named Mia also shows herself.
“Lady Sharon, this is most disturbing. I would never have thought that a member of the Michel house could be so barbaric that she would vandalize the gates so.”
“T-That’s because these gate guards weren’t—”
“And now you blame it on others! Disgraceful! The repair cost shall be deducted from lady Sharon’s allowance, and—”
“My, miss Mia, might there have been a misunderstanding? Milady has done nothing.”
I say from behind milady as I break my concealment. All the servants jolt in shock upon hearing my voice.
“W-What, you again? Ill-mannered girl, has no one taught you to not interrupt others?!”
“Ah, my apologies. As I have just seen a servant doing the same to lady Sharon, daughter to a marquis, I have assumed that it is simply a family tradition. Was I mistaken?”
I smile, tilting my head in a display of puzzlement. Mia’s face goes through a gamut of colors.
“The gate guards there seemed to have been hard of hearing, so I knocked. I never thought the gates would fall apart so… it must have deteriorated quite a bit. Right?”
I turn to look at the gate guards who was playing their card game when we arrived. Their faces pale, their eyes pinned to the floor.
“That’s impossible! It—”
Mia is stopped from launching into another tirade by Yohanne, who looks somewhat exasperated.
“It wouldn’t reflect well on our house to have a squabble here. Come in quick, sister. Father and mother are waiting. Follow me, Mia.”
“…tsk, understood. Soldiers, repair the gates!”
As Yohanne and Mia return back to the castle, the soldiers and servants get to work. Milady grasps my fingers with her own faintly-trembling hand.
“…Letty. Be careful, alright?”
“Yes, milady, I shall take proper care. Please do not worry.”
I give her a reassuring smile. Her shivering stops, and she moves an inch closer to me.
She’s like a puppy. So cute.
“Lady Sharon, please go to the dining hall. The master and madam are waiting.”
The maid immediately walks away after she finished relaying her message, sparing not even a bow for milady.
“…has any maid in this house been trained, milady?”
“It’s fine, Letty, just let it be… it’s always been like this.”
Milady replies to my complaint with a wry smile of resignation. She truly doesn’t have any allies in this house, does she?
“Then let us depart, milady. I will be with you.”
“Yes, we shall.”
We seemed to have returned to the marquis’ castle at just the right time for dinner. A call came before we could even leave milady’s luggage in her room. Fortunately, all of it is inside the Bag of Holding that she entrusted me, so there was no problem.
How deplorable the servants of this house are.
Upon entering the dining hall, glares of daggers immediately make us their targets.
“My, Sharon. I never thought you could be so shameless as to show your face here again, after all that.”
The voice is of a caked-faced old hag… ahem, I mean, a lady with a generous application of makeup. The blonde-haired woman is sitting at the head of the table.
How strange. Why is she in that seat?
“…madam Gidel, why are you sitting there? It should be Father’s seat.”
“My dear husband suddenly fell ill and is taking a rest. How terrible he must feel, to have such a dreadful girl as a daughter. Did you know? Just hearing that you’re back was already enough to make him faint.”
Milady bites her lips and says no more.
“Father has been most kind! He has allowed Mother to take charge of the house’s affairs, as well as letting her have the seat!” Says Yohanne as he sits next to Gidel, sounding as though it was all his achievements.
“Take your seat, Sharon. We will leave the admonishment for later. The chef has had to make your own portion, seeing as you’ve returned much too late in the day. You’d best be grateful.” Gidel says.
“…I’m sorry. I give my thanks to the chef.” Milady quietly replies.
The maid in the room guides milady to the lowest seat, despite the fact that she should be sitting higher up than Yohanne.
A glare prickles my sense, and I turn to look. My, is that not miss Akiru sitting next to Yohanne? Milady notices her too, and she gives voice to her question.
“Excuse me, I would ask about lady Akiru…”
“Miss Akiru has accompanied Yohanne home as his friend, and I must say, she is such a wonderful young lady. Aah, if only I can have a daughter like her… Akiru, getting used to an entirely new world must have been hard on you. Feel free to think of our house as your new family, and I your mother.” Gidel says, smiling kindly at her.
“My, madam Gidel! I would be most happy to!”
Miss Akiru replies with a beaming smile. Yohanne and the servants look upon the scene in joy and contentment.
“Lady Sharon, dinner is here.”
The maid before slams a dish of food down in front of milady.
Honestly, calling it ‘food’ would be an offense to cooks everywhere. The plate is full of worm-eaten greens that, on a closer look, still have the live insects inside, as well as dirt and even pieces of gravel. I see Mia standing behind Yohanne and sneering.
As I expected, even milady is shocked into silence. Gidel sees her and speaks, sounding absolutely delighted.
“It is all that the chef could make on such short notice. Eat, Sharon. I will not hear of any selfishness.”
Milady whispers as she takes utensils in hand.
“Milady, please refrain.”
I gently stop her before she could reach for the food, and I take the plate.
“Who are you?! I have never seen a maid such as you! Know your place!” Gidel shrieks. Apparently she hasn’t heard of me through Yohanne.
With the plate on my hand, I guilelessly smile at her.
“My apologies. I am Fleurety, exclusive maid of lady Sharon. As I do not work for the Michel family, I am not required to follow your order.”
“Wha-?! Sharon, what did you do this time?!”
“My, my, I would have thought a noble lady would be more graceful. Now, I shall take the liberty to have a taste of this dish.”
“Impudent girl! Are you accusing us of poisoning the food?!”
“I have only said that I would ‘have a taste’, madam, not ‘testing it for poison’. It seems the people of this mansion shares the same hearing impairment.”
I borrow the utensils from milady’s lithe hands. With a single mouthful, I clean the plate.
Hmm, quite crunchy, these pebbles. Aside from the sounds of my eating, the room is absolutely silent. Everyone’s faces pale.
“Freshness, ingredients, cooking method, all are not to milady’s taste.” I turn to her. “May I prepare your dinner, milady?”
It takes a few moments for her to start speaking. “…yes.”
“Then, please enjoy.”
I place in front of her the food that I have prepared beforehand as insurance.
“It is milady’s favorite: omelette rice with the fluffiest eggs.”
I slice apart the omelette, releasing a flow of creamy gold to cover the rice and a mellow fragrance of butter. As the aroma of chicken rice, egg, and butter spread across the room, I hear somebody gulping.
“Instead of demi-glace sauce, today the topping will be the veeery sweet kind of ketchup that milady likes so much.”
With the ketchup, I draw a huge heart symbol on the dish. I make the same symbol with my fingers near my chest, and I look to lady Sharon.
“Together with me, milady: ‘Tasty, tasty, moe moe kyun!’”
“Umm, ‘tasty, tasty’?”
“‘I’m a lucky man. I’m thankful for everything that led me to this point… that led me to you!!’”
“‘I’m a lucky man’… wait, what?!”
My? How strange. This was what the Maid Chief had taught me to do whenever a maid makes omelette rice. Have I made a mistake somewhere?
“Open up, milady. Aaaa—”
Milady reflexively follows my lead, her brain not having rebooted yet, and I feed her with a spoonful of omelette rice. She chews like a little baby bird being fed her first meal.
“I am glad, milady.”
As I continue my happy feeding time with milady, miss Akiru is the first to regain her senses. She asks.
“…Kamishiro… what is that?”
“This wonderful dish has been made from the meat and eggs of birds-of-paradise, as well as tomatoes that I have harvested from the forest of spirits.”
“Letty?! You used monster ingredients again!” Milady says, sounding scandalized.
“They are ingredients that I am certain milady would not be opposed to. Besides, milady’s every meal until now have always been made from some form of monster ingredients.”
“Monster meats?! They’re almost poisonous, aren’t they?!”
Hearing the word ‘monster’, Yohanne immediately jumps up and shouts. I chuckle and take out an ancient-looking journal.
“It is, in fact, not so. An elf summoned several centuries ago had left behind this journal, which has since been stored in the academy’s library.”
Humans, or living beings in general, would become more powerful by absorbing mana.
Overconsumption of mana would cause flora and fauna, lifeforms lacking in willpower, to be ‘monsterized’. The human body, however, would only find monster meat rich in mana to have an overwhelming taste and would respond with a gastric response as a way to prevent itself from absorbing too much mana.
But an elf has done research into the phenomenon, and they have written as follows.
If the taste and density of mana inside monster ingredients can be reduced down to a level that the human palate can find enjoyable, and if a person continues to consume such ingredients, then over time, his or her body would slowly gain the physical characteristics of elves.
It seemed the elf’s endeavor had been to help their Partner live longer.
“The results of the research had led to some success in the removal of mana from certain monster ingredients, which was the origin of several delicacies we know of today. However, the food is still expensive, and the taste remains rather difficult to enjoy.”
“But what about this…?”
Milady says, staring at the omelette rice I made that she has tasted.
“Indeed. I have succeeded in improving the taste. Lady Sharon, I expect you will find yourself quite slow to age, as well as living relatively longer than most other people.”
Milady begins to pull at her cheeks in her surprise. Recently, her skin has begun to be as smooth and bouncy as that of a baby’s.
“Y-You, maid girl! Make me that dish!”
Gidel screeches with bloodshot eyes. And not just her, those among the female servants who are over a certain age are also looking over here with eyes full of desire.
As I pinch my long skirt and drop into a graceful bow, I give them a beaming smile.
“My apologies. I work for lady Sharon and her only.”