056 The Oubeniel Dining Table p.1


Translator: yAmi

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If somebody had to be chosen as a target for Tullius, it would be Linus and that very same Linus was walking about unprotected. The Second Order of the Imperial Guards moved swiftly to protect him. In spite of that, nothing extraordinary happened. For Elisha, who had been anticipating a move on Tullius’ part, the result was rather disappointing.

(Well, I'm sure the Viscount is not as shallow as to make a move in this situation.)

She half guessed what was going to happen. If Linus were to be harmed now, the culprit would be assumed to be Tullius. Even if he wasn’t the mastermind, the old man in the royal capital would certainly assume so. It was the height of foolishness to stir up trouble despite knowing this. Otherwise, it was somebody else who wanted to frame Tullius while burying Linus at the same time.

(No choice then, I’ll have to make some assertive moves.)

She tightened her corset as she thought. She was in the middle of getting dressed for dinner. Even though she was a knight of the Imperial Guards, she was not imprudent enough to wear a suit of armour to a dinner she was invited to. She had ten to twenty dresses for such formal occasions. Though, she would be much happier just keeping a single dress while spending the rest of her money on new armour. However, if she lost face as a noble, her parents and a certain old man would be annoyed.

"How could the daughter of Balbastre, even if she ran from home, have only a single piece of dress?" or "The Imperial Guards also act as a billboard for the royal family, so it's part of their duties to dress a little, isn't it?”

She had been lectured to the point where she had calluses in her ears. In fact, she once sold a dress, but a replacement was delivered the next day. And that was given to her from both her parents' house and the Marquis Lavallee. Those guys were usually bickering with each other, but they got along well only at times like this.

Since then, she kept all of her dresses, and they were either rotting in her closet or reluctantly put on when she needed them, as she did today.

"Damn, it's difficult to move in this, as usual. Why do I have to wear something like this......?"

There was no reply to her mumblings. There was nobody insolent enough to be peeping on her since this was the Second Order and nobody in the whole kingdom would dare to make an enemy of Elisha Rosmond Balbastre. Elisha did not have a squire to help her get dressed, nor a slave. It was tedious, but she had to do it herself.

She lightly fixed the crumples on her clothes that appeared when she was wearing them, then lightly combed and tied her hair, before putting on her belt which had her favourite sword.

From the mirror, a beautiful woman who could outshine the moon was standing dignifiedly. The unusual appearance of her sword was just a spice to her unrealistic beauty. And yet...

"......Well, I guess this isn’t too bad."

These were her personal feelings. In the first place, where Elisha was about to go was, in some ways, a battlefield. It was a battlefield between nobilities, where words were exchanged instead of swords, tricks and ploys were employed instead of arrows, where deceit was magic itself. She would like to protest with her unwillingness, but since she had been assigned this role, she had no choice but to dance to the tune of it.

"Well, time to go."

She patted herself on the cheeks to get herself together and then turned on her heel to the door. Her destination was the dinner table where the "Man-eating Snake" was waiting.

※ ※ ※

Linus Strein Oubeniel had a pale look. What was about to begin was a dinner hosted by the most abominable Tullius. It was the world’s most horrible dinner, hosted by a butcher and served with slave prepared food.

The thought of having such a dinner was unnerving. The mental stability he had just regained was about to crumble again. This was the first time in his life that he felt so reluctant to eat.

After all, who knew what was in the food. Elisha mentioned that poison would be detected by their equipment, but on the other hand, anything other than poison could be added into their food.

—What if it's mixed with the blood of the slaves he killed?

—No, maybe he dissected humans and made dishes out of them.

—Or perhaps, they might be served with the flesh or raw livers of the most bizarre-looking monsters.

Gruesome images floated in his mind one after another.

He wanted to jump out of his seat and return to his room. But his honour would not allow himself to display such behaviour in front of Elisha and the others who were his guests. He also didn't want to leave Tullius here and make it look like he was the bigger person in the mansion. It wasn't a matter of willpower. If Linus couldn't entertain the guests and let Tullius play host, his brother's position in the family would appear relatively higher than his. The position of the man as a descendant of the main family of Oubeniel would grow.

It was unlikely that the 'slave-killer', who was hated even by the vassals of the main family, would be nominated as the head of the family instead of him, but there were always exceptions to the rule. There were mainstream and non-mainstream factions within the vassals under Linus' control. What would happen if the latter faction became more and more distrustful of him, the current leader? It was unlikely, but not impossible that they would pick Tullius as their figurehead to destroy Linus.

Considering that, he could not afford to show any weakness to his brother or his retainers here. Even more so to the members of the Second Order, who were outsiders and could present the events of today to the outside world. It was these thoughts that bound Linus like chains to his uncomfortable seat at the table.

In deep contrast to the elder brother's tormented and awkward smile, the younger brother was in a jovial mood. He folded up his napkin and hummed to himself, as if he was looking forward to the meal. If this man was looking forward to the dinner, then surely something outrageous must be up. Linus frowned.

"Thank you for waiting, respected sirs and madams. Dinner is ready."

It was Uni who appeared from the kitchen and greeted them. Linus wasn't waiting for her at all. He even hoped that she would not come forever. But the female slave, whose emotions could not be discerned at all, continued without any conscientious consideration of his disappointment.

Tullius gave his affirmation, stood up and began to lead the toast.

"Well then, ladies and gentlemen! Let's have dinner! Only this time, I, the unworthy one, will take the lead in place of my brother. But before that..."

He sat back down and brought his hands together in front of his chest and lowered his eyes.

"—O Lord, ruler of the heavens. We thank thee that thou hast given us sustenance tonight."

He began to offer up prayers that would be common at the house of believers. It was common practice in this continent, and there was nothing remarkable about it. But the fact that this was Tullius Oubeniel doing it, sent shivers down Linus’ spine. What the hell is this godless homicidal maniac doing now, he thought.

In any case, it was an appropriate start for a meal. If one failed to do so, it was the worst in terms of manners. Linus grudgingly followed suit. Naturally, Simone, Elisha and the other guests, as well as their accompanying retainers also followed suit.

After Linus finished his prayers and looked up, he saw Tullius looking like he was in an awfully pleasant mood.

"......Well, let's eat then!"

"Wait, Tullius."

Linus interrupted him.

"We have not been informed of what food we will be served tonight, have we?"

If he decided to give an outrageous answer, Linus would send him criticisms. With a smile on his face, Tullius took on his question.

"Oh my! How forgetful of me! Well, I apologise for the rudeness."

He scratched his cheek lightly as he said. The lack of remorse in Tullius’ attitude made him irritated all over again.

"The season is now summer and you all must be tired from the long journey. So, although it is a little out of season, we have prepared this course with a lot of anguilla, which is very healthy for the body."

Anguilla was an eel. Normally, eels were fatty in the fall and winter, but relishing them in the summer was delicious too. Having learned that it was something more decent than expected, Linus felt slightly relieved. On the other hand, the fact that it was not an ingredient he could complain about was irritating. It was a mixed bag for him.
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