I set out from the village early in the morning. This time, I bring a lot of stuffs and a lot of people, so I use horse cart. There will be around ten people attending the festival after the selection ceremony, so we all ride the horse cart together.
As we exit to the main road, there are villagers gathering around the end of the main road ahead. There are a lot of people, seems like almost the whole village is there. Just what could possibly have happened? While thinking that way, I cross over with the carriage. In that moment...
“Young Master, you must win!”
“Kurt-sama, you definitely can’t lose!”
“If it’s Kurt-sama, you’re gonna win, I know it!”
“We’re expecting some souvenirs, next family head!”
The rooting words are rapidly thrown in my direction. It’s a powerful voice. Then, the feeling that rides upon those words, I can tell that this cheering come from the depth of their hearts
“Thank you, everyone...”
I tear up a little bit. So happy.
“Kurt-sama is loved.”
“It seems so. They’re such a wonderful people who are almost wasted on me.”
I fall in love with this village again. The cheering from the villagers keep going on until our horse cart is no longer within their sight.
Arriving at the main village, the villagers climb down, leaving Tina and I alone inside the carriage to go to the main village’s warehouse. From early in the morning, the horse carts representing each village have already lined up there. For the sake of today’s festival, they have prepared as much offering as possible to put on airs.
In a sense, it leads to appeal how powerful the assets of our villages and how loyal we are to the main village. My father and his servants are promptly handling the row until it’s my turn.
“Father, I’ve come with the offerings.”
“Thank you for your effort.”
Father inspects the deer meat that I brought. The corner of his lips slightly twitch upward.
“Hm, such a splendid deer. It’s quite a treat.”
“I was thinking that it should be enjoyed in today’s festival.”
I give a business-like greeting. If I show even a little bit of emotion here, seems like a lot of things will overflow. Since the business is taken care of, I retreat. I shouldn’t overstay.
Father calls me to a halt. When I turn around, Father visibly hesitates for a moment before opening his mouth.
“After the selection ceremony, no matter if you win or lose, come to my room. There’s something I want to talk with you alone.”
Father looks small. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen him like this.
“I understand. Father, I won’t fail to visit after the selection ceremony.”
“Thank you, Kurt.” Father murmurs apologetically.
I don’t like seeing him like that, so I change the topic. “......I also have a request, if I may speak about it.”
I almost forget an important matter. After I become the feudal lord, there is a crucial rite to make people understand where I will lead this territory to. It is important to have my father’s approval to prepare it.
“What is it?”
“After the selection ceremony, no matter if I win or lose, please lend me the mansion’s kitchen. I wish to make pastries as a treat in the festival.”
When I said that, my father made a befuddled expression.
“Treating with pastries?”
“Yes. It’s something more important to me than anything. Also, it will convey my thoughts to everyone better than a thousand words.”
Father still doesn’t look like he grasps it, but he allows the usage of the kitchen. For now, this is enough. He will understand my real intention at the festival.
The selection ceremony is held on the central square of the main village. Together with Tina, I’ve arrived before it commences.
A dedicated ring has been erected. The ring is one level higher. Audience stands have been prepared in the circumference. Under the watch of the people of Arnold family, the feudal lord’s candidates must wield the spear and prove that they are worthy of becoming the feudal lord.
There’s still time, so no one else has come yet. There’s only me and Tina.
Tina grabs my hand tightly. I didn’t realize that she has been holding my hand. My hand is trembling.
“.......How strange. I know that I won’t lose, but I still feel nervous.”
I have my Sword Ability III and the martial arts that will showcase that. It’s actually harder for me to lose. But, even so, I can’t erase the anxiety in my heart.
I haven’t won against Jorg even once. That experience casts fear in me. It’s illogical.
Seeing me like this, Tina smiles. “Kurt-sama, can you squat down for a moment?”
“I don’t mind.”
When I squat down as Tina told me, she wraps her arms around my head, burying me in her chest. Tina’s warmth and softness and sweet fragrance. I notice her heartbeat too.
“Whenever I really feel painful, or anxious, my mother will do this to me. When she does, I can relieved. Kurt-sama, how is it? Are you still scared?”
I close my eyes. Tina’s very existence pleases my heart.
When I realized, I no longer feel anxious or tense.
“I feel fine now. Thank you. My attitude isn’t like me at all, I feel embarrassed.”
Being comforted by Tina who is younger, makes me feel miserable as a man.
“It’s okay once in a while. I love Kurt-sama, including that side of you.”
I’m thankful that I met Tina. I sincerely think so. Releasing Tina’s embrace, I stand up again. I’m no longer trembling.
The only thing left is to win.
After a short time, people are gathering. I see a familiar face among them.
“So you’re in this place, I’ve been looking for you.”
The one who greets me in friendly voice is Marquis Fernandes. Behind him, his attendant is following him while holding a big wooden box.
“I apologize for making you look for me, Marquis Fernandes.”
“Oh, it’s fine. I simply want to show this to you without wasting any second.”
Before the gaze of Marquis Fernandes, there’s the wooden box that his follower was holding. That is, most likely...
“Could it be, that is what I requested?”
“Correct, that is your requested item.”
His follower approaches me and opens the wooden box. Inside it, there is straw, which holds eggs. I take one of them. Well-shaped, there’s no shortcomings in the size. This egg is good.
“They are amazing.”
“Because this is a reward for you who has shown me something wondrous. I’ve prepared the very best kind. I’ve arranged the chicken that lay these eggs to arrive here tomorrow morning. It would be troublesome to hand over today, wouldn’t it?”
“I really appreciate your thoughtfulness.”
I cannot go out of the main village today. It’s a great help to have them tomorrow. It’s a pleasant consideration.
“In exchange, I’m urging you for a wonderful pastry. Both Faruno and I are looking forward to it.”
“Could it be that Faruno-sama comes here as well?”
As the third daughter of Marquis Fernandes, she came along to quench her curiosity of me at the inspection time. I didn’t think that she would go as far as coming to this selection ceremony as well.
“She does come, seeing that the result of today’s selection ceremony isn’t entirely unrelated to her.”
I listen to Marquis Fernandes’ words, then tilts my head. Marquis Fernandes only shows me a meaningful smile. In that moment, Father, my younger brother Jorg, Faruno, and their attendants arrive. When Jorg’s eyes meet mine, he looks away. Looks like he has a bad awareness of me after that one incident.
On the other hand, Faruno runs up to us with sparkling eyes in an instant. “Aah, Father! It’s cunning of you to speak to Kurt-sama first, even though I have departed in haste!”
“Hey, you shouldn’t run. It’s very unladylike. Look at Kurt-kun, he’s so surprised that his eyes become round.”
“Ah, that, uhm, I’m sorry. I’m usually more ladylike, though?” Drooping her head, Faruno murmurs shyly.
“No, I do not mind it in the slightest.”
“I’m glad to hear that! Kurt-sama, you have to win in today’s selection ceremony! I will cheer on you.”
I feel perplexed because I have no idea why Faruno would be rooting for me. I can feel someone’s prickling gaze. Jorg glares in this direction. Right now, I kinda pity him. Rooting for me means wishing for Jorg’s defeat.
“Faruno, with our position, it’s dangerous to root for either side. That could be taken as a Marquis’ will. Even as a reward, giving the eggs in a public space is probably not enough prudence on my part.” The Marquis warns Faruno.
His words are reasonable. Faruno’s current remark possesses quite a danger. In this place, there are leaders from other villages other than us. If they are to think that the Marquis endorses me, it might get unpleasant.
“I’m really sorry, Father.” Faruno apologizes for the second time.
“Marquis Fernandes, Faruno-sama, the only thing in my mind is to put my whole effort. Naturally, my younger brother Jorg is the same. The strongest, the one most suitable for the title will become the next feudal lord. As simple as that.” I give a follow for Faruno.
Marquis Fernandes smiles thinly, noticing my intention.
“Just as you said, Kurt-kun. We do not intend to put the mouth for the succession of Arnold barony.” Albeit a little forced, Marquis Fernandes declares strongly.
It should be fine now. Afterwards, we give the proper greetings and separate with each other.
Finally, the selection ceremony’s time has come. Jorg and I face each other in the prepared stage.
“Brother, I can finally end you. What I’ll do after becoming the feudal lord, look forward to it.”
The surrounding spectators begin cheering. Soon after, Father appears, announcing the beginning of the selection ceremony, starting the duel. This battle will decide everything. The one who will become the feudal lord will decide if I can protect everything I have, or if they all will be taken away from me.
“If that were to happen, do as you like. That is, if you can.” I laugh fearlessly.
I no longer feel anxious. Tina has given me courage. The rest is just to win this.
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