Baron Titonsser's estate was located deeper in the forest, yet it still remained in the middle of the road connecting the Tristan Empire and Tuga Mine.
The size of the territory was small; even the baron's castle was small.
It hardly resembled the home of an empire noble.
It caught Wells' eye; unlike their family's manor, which was as big as a castle, the Titonsser Manor was more of a smaller manor than a castle.
The men guiding the way took the shortest path directly to the baron's estate.
And in less than five minutes after they reported to their master, Baron Titonsser was seen running out of the room chaotically.
“Urgh! Oh! Oh, my! The— Duke Honeywell! Welcome! Thank you for stopping by my humble abode.
Come, I'll take you inside.”
“…Then, please excuse my rudeness, Baron.”
Wells silently assessed Baron Titonsser.
The man greeted them with nothing less than excessive kindness.
The baron was much older than Wells.
To be precise, he could most likely be the same age as his deceased parents, and yet, he treated him so graciously.
You're not too old to be settling down just outside the capital and giving up on your ambitions.
I don't even attend religious events as much as you do.
Are you really not greedy for power?
The duke found it hard not to be suspicious of Baron Titonsser's every move, especially after the letter from his sister.
However, as if he could hear the duke's inner dilemma, the baron looked back at Wells with a kind and hopeful expression.
“If it's not imposing, may the Titonsser family treat the duke to a meal?”
Regarding his open invitation, Wells firmly disagreed.
“No, thank you.
If possible, we would like to just rent a carriage—”
Wells abruptly cut himself off as he caught sight of the escorting knights and coachmen who had followed him all the way.
They had fallen silent and were visibly relieved at the thought of rest.
They clearly need some time to rest, just like those hopeful faces.
He then observed the tired postures and his own rain-soaked clothes.
Heavy rain does not mean that their only problem would be the rain.
Even if they traveled by carriage, the next day their bodies would be trembling from the aches of sitting still in cold weather and from excessive caution as they navigated during the night and rain.
Inwardly, Wells wailed in pain, but that was only on the inside.
To the baron, the duke simply nodded stiffly.
“If you insist, then thank you.”
With his guest's agreement, the baron beamed with joy.
“Yes! I have ordered a bath of water for you as well as a room prepared for you to wash up and rest in.
I will have someone call you in time for your meal.”
The servants of the baron's manor guided the coachmen and knights to their quarters while the baron led Wells personally.
The room assigned to him was smaller than a guest room in his manor.
However, that wasn't a problem for the duke.
Feeling a strong desire for cleanliness, Wells marched to the bathroom, resisting the urge to strip and throw away his sticky clothes.
“Shall I call an attendant to assist you?”
The old man patiently waited for Wells to assess his surroundings before speaking.
“No, this is enough.
Washing is something I can do by myself.”
“As you wish, then I will see you again at dinner.
Clothes have been prepared and are in the closet.”
Still cautious, Wells remained vigilant as the baron bowed at the waist before leaving.
Before re-entering the bathroom, Wells did not forget to remove his report for the emperor and neatly place it on the desk.
Then finally, he succumbed to his instincts and threw off his heavy clothes and soaked himself in the hot water and steam.
He dunked his head under before rising to comfortably rest with his shoulders submerged.
He brushed back his wet hair and crossed his arms.
His dark red eyes narrowed in thought.
He doesn't look like a bad person.
By the way, how does Rose even know about the baron? She's never seen him before.
With his body relaxing, it gave Wells the time to question and compose himself.
He thought it through, whether it was at a social event or on the streets of the capital, Rose would never have been able to cross paths with the baron.
He was convinced, especially since, after Rose got lost in the capital when she was a child, Wells had developed a habit of always keeping an eye on who she met and where she went so that she could always remain safe.
In his memories, there was no meeting between his beloved little sister and Baron Titonsser or any other member of the Titonsser family.
“When I get back to Honeywell Manor, I will ask Rose what that letter meant and what Elliot Proud did.”
As Wells busied himself with washing up and tidying his papers, the butler of Titonsser Manor came to report.
It was time for the meal.
The Duke of Honeywell followed the butler to the dining room, where he found a group of people already waiting for his arrival.
The Titonsser family, one man and two women, Baron and Baroness Titonsser,
Wells turned to the last female in the room.
You must be the same age as my sister, Rose.
A girl stood racked with tension; she was around Rose Honeywell's age.
Her light brown hair was plain, like the baron's, but her eyes gleamed like the greenest emeralds.
It could also be the light of the chandelier, too.
She must be the baron's daughter.
“Duke Honeywell, introducing my wife and daughter.”
“It's an honor to invite the Duke of Honeywell to dinner.”
Baroness Titonsser greeted Wells with a soft voice.
After returning her greeting, his gaze once again fell on the young lady.
The title of duke must have been intimidating, but the daughter of the baron appeared nervous for a moment before her curiosity shone through.
“Nice to meet you, Duke Honeywell.
This lady is Ilya Titonsser, daughter of Baron Titonsser.
It's an honor to dine with His Grace.
By all means, please enjoy the meal.”
Let's not show hesitation.
Just perform well.
Recalling the old days when he invited nobles close to him to his manor, Wells smiled and slipped into his friendly demeanor.
Shaking off the laughter from pleasant memories, they responded to the husband and wife.
“Thank you for welcoming my presence under such short notice.
I will definitely repay Baron Titonsser when I have returned to the capital.”
“Then let us eat.”
Baron Titonsser gestured, and the attendants stepped forward and pulled the chairs.
A variety of foods were spread out on the long table; it was too much for just four people.
The kitchen staff must have been a bit exhausted in order to prepare for my arrival.
The meal with the baron's family was quite satisfactory.
Throughout the meal, the baron would bring up topics in a conversational tone, allowing the duke to not be burdened as he ate while listening to the chatter around him.
If Wells had one complaint or found something bothersome, he would choose Ilya Titonsser, who sat diagonally across from him.
“Your Grace, is it true that the capital has festivals all year?”
“If the capital had festivals and events all year, the Imperial Family's finances would be depleted.
Festivals are held once in each of the four seasons.”
“I've heard that the parties held in the Imperial Family are splendid! They are said to be so dazzling that I would not be able to open my eyes fully!”
He was temporarily speechless.
“It's not that much.
The chandelier in the Imperial Hall that holds the banquets is the most splendid and largest in the entire capital—no, throughout the empire.
Maybe that's the reason for those rumors.”
Ilya, who had never been to the Imperial Empire or its capital for the past eighteen years, was unable to hide her inquisitiveness.
Her father warned her to mind her manners and not behave rudely, but Ilya kept questioning Wells to confirm her fantasies.
Even though the girl before him was a year younger than Rose, it could have been the similarity in age, Wells patiently answered her interrogation as he thought of his little sister, who waited for him at Honeywell Manor.
One question led to another, and soon, Ilya's curiosity did not end until the table was empty.
“It appears it's been a while since I've spoken so much.”
Having returned to his room, Wells was relieved as he headed to the desk.
He had protected the papers well as he walked in the rain, but his arms and coat were not enough, and they had still gotten wet.
“It looks like I will not be getting a proper rest today.”
He pulled out a chair, an empty sheet of paper, and an ink bottle.
Still, maybe it'll be easier to transfer it again since I've already written it.
See, some of the erased letters are coming to mind faster.
He worked tirelessly, filling out the papers and guessing the missing words without interruption.
“Who is it?”
“Duke, it is me.”
The voice belonged to none other than the Baron of Titonsser.
Wells replaced his quill and answered the door.
The baron stood outside, holding a tray with a teacup and kettle.
At Wells' inquiring gaze, the baron gave an odd laugh.
“You must have been resting.
I would like to have tea with you.”
I was just surprised that you brought the tea yourself instead of an attendant.”
“Hahaha, as our manor is small, I tend to bring and drink what I want after a meal.
By the way, are you busy with work?”
The baron's eyes lingered on the sheets on the desk.
“I hope I have not disturbed you.”
His face showed his embarrassment.
The Duke of Honeywell treated the baron well, as, firstly, he was in his territory.
Secondly, he did not want to cause unintentional trouble.
Wells did not want any incidents to occur.
“It was nothing important.
I was thirsty, so the tea came just in time.
Let us have tea together.”
Baron Titonsser followed the duke to the table placed at the side of the room.
After the duke sat, he lowered the tray and set the teacups.
The warming functions are good.
The tea still has steam despite coming from the kitchen to the room in the middle of winter.
Wells accepted the cup handed to him.
“You must be tired from traveling under these rainy conditions and losing the carriage.
This tea helps to relieve fatigue.”
“Yes, many thanks.
It smells delightful.”
I like the scent of the tea.
It hasn't been long, but I can already feel the tension in my body drain away under its aroma.
Even my mind is calm.
I'll have to ask for some tea leaves when I leave for the capital.
It would be nice to bring some for His Majesty.
As he sipped the tea slowly, Wells discovered that Baron Titonsser, sitting across from him, was rather serious.
Knowing that he had something on his mind, Wells understood that having tea with him was not his intention.
He put the teacup down.
“Thank you for the tea, but I am not a talkative person.
Didn't you come here because you would like to speak to me?”
It looks like I've hit the mark.
Baron Titonsser's shoulders trembled.
Alas, he still waited until the duke had drunk the cup of tea before he dared to speak.
Do you perhaps remember your words from the dinner earlier?”
“Hmm, what did I say?”
Normally Wells would not say useless words, so he tried to recall if he had said anything inappropriate.
During dinner, it was hard to notice what the baron spoke about when all he did was answer Ilya's questions.
Honeywell's duke was uncertain, so he smiled awkwardly at the baron.
If he noticed the smile or did not care, the baron ignored him and quoted his words from the dinner.
“You said that you would repay the favor when you returned to the capital.”
Enlightened, Wells remembered his words from before the meal began.
It wasn't just empty words, he meant them.
He intended to make amends when he returned to the capital to repay the kindness that Baron Titonsser had shown him today.
“I remember, is there something that you require? Say whatever it is, I will give it to you if it is within my power.”
As long as it wasn't nonsense, such as demanding the emperor's seat, Wells could keep his promise.
He was, after all, the Honeywell of the Tristan Empire.
Contrary to his thoughts, the baron desired something unexpected.
I want Your Grace to support Ilya so that my soon-to-be-adult child can make her debut in the social world of the capital.”
[TL/N: Who says, “It's me,” and just magically expects the other person to know who it is? ^^
Anyway, in my opinion, that's quite a big favor to ask for when all he's doing is lending him a carriage and making him stay the night.
But oh well, that could just be me.
Anyway, Rose's first plan looks like a bust.]
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