The full course meal served at the banquet earned rave reviews, which began with the Four Great Dukes and ended with the rest of the nobles. Only then did I feel relief from the burden on my shoulders. Honestly, I very much prefer to hold a private banquet with Tina and Chloe like this, but I still have a single task to do.
I need to mingle with the other nobles, so I head over to the dance hall where the get-together is currently held.
The banquet has ended safely, but there’s an intriguing matter. About Duke Härtling. He is hiding something beneath his gentlemanly behavior. He also has an uncommon interest in me. It wouldn’t be strange if he has set some traps for me after this.
“You’re making a complicated face. Kurt-sama, do you hate dance parties?”
“No, I just have something on my mind, that’s all.”
The soft-looking pink-haired beautiful young girl who is standing beside me smiles. She’s Faruno, my fiancee. Her well developed pleasant-looking figure is clad in a lovely dress of the same pink color as her hair.
“This is the first time you’ve shown me this dress, but it looks cute. It’s a perfect fit for your warm atmosphere, Faruno.”
“Kurt-sama is blessed with a glib tongue.”
Faruno’s cheeks redden. I tear my eyes off of her to look at our surroundings. As expected of Duchess Renalier, she even hosts dance parties. Live music from the absolute best orchestra reverberates in the room, while the prided chefs of the Renalier ducal house are all serving snacks to the best of their abilities, they have even prepared the finest wine to go with them.
Holding this party once must have already exceeded the budget of my pioneering village for a month. I’m not concerned with the food, though. I want to savor this chance as much as possible, I wish to learn this land’s culture and techniques. However, it’s not as if I have that much spare time. Such a waste of such a valuable opportunity.
“Fufu, I’m very glad that I can participate together with Kurt-sama in this party.”
“I have way more fun staying in the kitchen hall and working with the pot, though.”
That’s 100% true for me. I do have the interest to build a network for the sake of marketing my pastries or gaining approval for my business, but I have no hobby of climbing the social ladder.
Participating like this in a dance party, the nest of everything that is evil, brings me so much agony, but I still have to do it. I’d rather work behind the scenes, but Duchess Renalier has specifically told me to participate. As a lone aristocrat, there’s no way I can escape from participating.
The nobles around me don’t even notice the music or wine, as they plunge head first into networking here. Naturally, that’s how I should act too.
“You cannot say that, Kurt-sama. You are my fiancee after all.”
“You’re right. I can’t possible leave my cute fiancee in disgrace.”
When I say that, Faruno grabs my arm. She said something logical. Even if I have no interest in climbing the social ladder, I want to avoid causing the ire of the other aristocrats. I must interact with them within my limits. While thinking like that, Margrave Fernande shows up while bringing a man with him.
“Hey, Kurt-kun. Have you been enjoying the party?”
“Yes, I am. I won’t be able to taste the music and liquor of this quality anymore if I run away from this opportunity.”
“There are countless marquesses and counts who asked me to be introduced to you. How do you want me to act, though?”
“It will be a great help if I can be introduced to as few nobles as possible, within the limitations of not marring your reputation, My Lord.”
Hearing my reply, Margrave Fernande wryly smiles.
“Honestly, you’re really a man with no greed. It’s a chance to increase your personal connections. ......Nah, someone like you doesn’t need that, I suppose. You have even moved Duchess Renalier. After gaining the duchess’s favor, you don’t really need to curry more favor with the other aristocrats here.”
Margrave Fernande says that lightly, but he actually hits the mark.
“And I caught the eyes of someone as influential as you as well, My Lord.”
“Hahaha, your words made me happy.”
I pause there.
“There’s a single person that I want to greet personally, Baron Frenhertz. I wish to directly express my gratitude for taking my younger brother Jörg under his care. And then, if possible, I wish to know Jörg’s present condition.”
Jörg had been twisted, crushed by his own inferiority complex which had accumulated from being compared to me while he was growing up. That’s why I sent him out of the Arnold fief to try living with his own power and talent as a man in a place where he wouldn’t be compared to me all the time. So Jörg headed over to Baron Frenhertz’ domain and started being a retainer there.
We’ve been keeping in touch through letters, and he mentioned that he was doing well in his writings, but because he’s such an obstinate person, I can’t just take his words at face value. As an older brother, I want to listen to the opinion of his superior.
“Ahahahaha, so it’s something like that. You’re thinking of your brother, huh? It’s just as well, because the truth is, Baron Frenhertz also wishes to see you. That’s why I brought him here.”
When Margrave Fernande says that, the man who has been standing by his side faces towards me and smiles. He’s a man with large build that can only be achieved through continuous tempering. His face and figure seem to have sincerity, fortitude, and vigor painted all over. His atmosphere resembles my father’s somehow.
“Hear that, Fernande? Kurt Arnold, the one who is currently in the spotlight, spoke well of me, you know? I’m not someone who can be cast away so easily, right?”
“It’s just some simple flattery from Kurt-kun, don’t let it get to your head.”
Margrave Fernande and Baron Frenhertz talk to each other as old bosom friends without any attention to their respective statures. Now that I think about it, my father told me that they were childhood friends who also fought together side by side in the last war. Without fail, Baron Frenhertz would take command of the front line in the last great war and Margrave Fernande had a great faith in him. It seems that he also has saved Margrave Fernande’s life before.
“No, it isn’t just some flattery. Even among the pioneers in my fief, there is no one who doesn’t know your name.”
“Come here, come, you make my back itch. Sheesh, after thinking that you’d become more impudent and intoxicated in that kind of spotlight, you said those things instead. It’s not cute, really. As expected of Jörg’s older brother. His boasting does hold some truth. No, it’s more like the real one is an even better man.”
It’s a little embarrassing. Has he been praising me out there?
“Is Jörg doing well?”
“Yup, that he is. He’s my right-hand man now. He’s talented in the spear and quick-witted. Lately, he even had his mana awakened. He’s earnest in learning, so he catches on fast to everything. Having that chap around is such a great help, you know?”
So Jörg has been doing his best. I feel relieved hearing that.
“I’ll be leaving him under your care from now on as well. He might be uncooperative, but he’s a good man at heart.”
“Of course. I’m not that stupid to discriminate against that man. Still, though...”
Baron Frenhertz shows a complicated expression. Looking at that face makes me feel somewhat anxious.
“Is there something?”
“Initially, I promised to send him back if he misses his home, but now, it’ll be painful for me if he does go back there.”
I can’t stop myself from laughing. I see, so Jörg has been recognized to this extent.
“Whether he will eventually go back to Arnold or not, it will be his decision alone. If you don’t want to return him, please treat him well until he doesn’t want to come back home.”
“I thought the same. Maybe I should give him one of my daughters. It looks like my third one has fallen for him, and it doesn’t seem impossible to get reciprocated from his side as well.”
Just like that, we kept talking about Jörg. It seems that he was appointed to go with Baron Frenhertz to this estate, but he said that he didn’t want to see me before he could stand on his own. I feel slightly regretful, but there’s a greater happiness from having him say that for me.
After separating from Baron Frenhertz, I greet the other groups of aristocrats with Faruno. As Duchess Renalier’s person of interest, they butter up to me. Many of them seem to have the intention to ask for any leftovers, so having Faruno and her high standing to ward them off is a great help.
If it’s just me with my low standing, I’ll probably only be taken advantage of and it will be disastrous.
Finally, after making one round of greetings, Faruno looks at my face with greedy looking eyes. I wonder what the cause for those eyes is. That’s right, I think she’s been looking at the pairs who joyfully danced in the center of the dance hall.
“Faruno, shall we dance too?”
“Yes, Kurt-sama! I gladly accept your invitation.”
She definitely wished to dance all along, but it must have been difficult for a girl to be the one who initiates it.
“However, I’ve never danced before in my life since I was born. Please don’t laugh if I take the wrong step.”
“It’s all right, because I will be leading.”
So we head over to the center of the hall to dance like that. When we go there, other people around us start to gather with great attention. It’s natural. I’m a person who suddenly rose to fame, while Faruno is a pretty girl who catches people’s eyes. While basking in the showering attention, Faruno and I begin dancing.
“Kurt-sama, is this truly your first time? Your movements are very fluid.”
“I memorized the movements of the others around us with my eyes. Besides, I only match my moves with Faruno’s. Doing that will make me dance, naturally.”
Just as I said, I unexpectedly catch on to dancing pretty well. The detail of the movements is difficult, but I can grasp the outline. I can predict how to move next from the music and Faruno’s movement and breathing. Then I just need to move accordingly.
“I’m very happy that I can see Kurt-sama’s splendor. It’s a complex feeling, though. I can only dance well after a lot of bitter study.”
She sighs without realizing it. Even this display of her childish side is part of her charm. After a while, the music ends. We stop dancing and Faruno retracts her hand reluctantly. It’s rare for nobles to dance with the same partner twice in a row. I feel slightly reluctant as well, but this is just enough, isn’t it? When Faruno and I separate, though, there are many female scions gathered nearby.
They should be here to request for a dance. If possible, I want to refuse that, though...... While I’m thinking of that, the crowd splits open.
Duchess Renalier is there in person. Her fixed blonde hair is fascinatingly elegant. Her bewitching figure, clad in a black dress, draws out her attractiveness. Both Faruno and Tina represent cuteness, but this girl can only be called beautiful.
“Kurt Arnold, heir of the Baronetcy of Arnold. Thank you for your hard work today. The food was more wonderful than I expected.”
“Those words are enough to reward all of my efforts, Your Grace.”
“If it is suitable for you, would you allow me to have this one dance?”
Her words cause the people in the vicinity to make noises. A duchess and a baronet. Originally, even asking for such a thing is enough to make me waver. Even so, it should have been allowed for this day, right?
“Yes, it is my honor.”
I reach out my hand, and she takes it.
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