Atelier Tanaka Volume 4 Chapter 5 part2
I arrived at my destination, the home of Earl Bitch.
“This place is massive….”
The home I naturally compare this place to is the noble mage’s mansion. His house had a garden large enough for Christina to comfortably land in. Even so, the home of Earl Bitch is much larger.
And the quality of the craftsmanship on the manor was equal to any gothic structure I had seen pictures of on Earth.
It reminded me of Notre Dame or Saint-Étienne Cathedral; a place that looked too grand to simply be someone’s home. But that’s coming from someone like me who could never understand the mind of the rich.
I stood in front of the gates for some time as I admired the regal structure at a distance when a voice called out to me from the opposite side.
Two groups of two guards each appeared on either side of the gate and walked up to me.
“What business do you have at Earl Bitch’s manor.”
“Ah, umm, excuse me, my name is Tanaka and I recently became part of the FitzClarence faction as a baron under the sponsorship of Earl Elizabeth. I wish to properly introduce myself to Earl Bitch.”
Is it going to be difficult to arrange a meeting without an appointment?
I remembered how Schael changed his attitude towards me once he found out I was a baron and made sure to mention that right off the bat.
Of course, the gatekeeper looked hesitant to believe me. I was still dressed in my traveller’s clothes and looked like anything but a noble. I had originally only planned on visiting Allen, so I saw no reason to look the part of a baron.
But, apparently, introducing myself as a noble was enough to at least get the guard to acquiesce for the time being.
“…I see. I’ll need to check to confirm what you’ve told me. Please, wait here a moment.”
The guard I spoke with exchanged a few words with another guard before the other guard headed up to the main building on his own.
I tried to act confident in the hopes that I’d be allowed in, but now I’m wondering if the Earl won’t even want to bother meeting with me. Allen was supposedly taken – I assume to their home – by the Bitch’s carriage, but I doubt mentioning his name or my connection to him would mean much to these guards.
I might have placed too much hope in my title.
As I was worried about being turned away, a man exited the manor and made his way down to the gate. It wasn’t the guard that had left previously; it was a well-dressed middle-aged man that, if I had to guess, I’d say is the Earl’s valet. He told me that his Master would meet with me and instructed me to follow him to the manor.
IT was quite a distance from the main gate to the entrance of the manor. The road we walked on was primarily used for carriages, I assumed, as it was five or six metres wide. The entire estate made me think of an amusement park or some form of public facility rather than a private home.
Our destination was the drawing room on the first floor.
The noble mage’s home and the school dormitory had been designed with functionality in mind while this place clearly had an emphasis on appearance. There were elaborate decorations everywhere I looked, shelves filled with small sculptures, and exquisite paintings and ceramics all through the hallway we entered through.
And the person that decorated his home so opulently, was sitting in front of me.
The head of the Bitch family was seated on a sofa in the centre of the room.
“…you are Tanaka, correct?”
“Yes, I’m Tanaka.”
He had a stern expression on his face.
His chiselled features added to his intimidation factor, but there was a clear resemblance to Sophie-chan. Even in a country of primarily white people, this family would stick out due to their overwhelmingly good looks.
The features that most reminded me of Sophie-chan were his deep blue eyes that appeared to be sunken into his head due to his high-bridged nose and protruding brow. He had a thick head of brown hair that was swept back which, again, added to his intimidation factor.
“It’s been a while, Allen-san.”
Just as I had been informed at the Knights’ HQ, Allen was here as well.
He sat opposite the Earl with clear surprise on his face after noticing me. Apparently, they were discussing something before my arrival. Are they acquaintances?
“This person has impeccable timing….”
Sophie-chan’s dad said this while looking at me.
I wonder if I was the topic of their discussion.
That’s a little worrying.
“I’m sure you’re time is precious, so I appreciate you taking the time to meet with someone like me. I am a simple newcomer, but I wished to humbly pay my respects to you and the FitzClarence family by properly introducing myself.”
For now, I’ll make the first move.
“Is that a joke, Baron Tanaka?”
Does he think I’m being sarcastic?
Then, what does he want me to say?
“Everything I do is done to honour the name of Viscount FitzClarence. I owe her for everything I have and I only wish to see her continue to rise.”
I’m not sure what he meant by that, but flattering your boss never fails.
We’re both a part of the FitzClarence faction.
“Hmm, you’re exactly what was described to me.”
“Yes, I suppose I am.”
I quietly bowed my head in agreement.
‘Actually, Earl Bitch, Baron Tanaka is an excellent wizard. His abilities were even acknowledged by Lord Fahren and I saw them first-hand when he fought a dragon.”
Allen spoke up to support me.
I saw Earl Bitch’s eyebrows twitch slightly.
Perhaps mentioning the noble mage’s name was the way to go.
“It’s rare for that magic maniac to acknowledge anyone. You know, Allen, if you’re going to lie, you should come up with a better story than that.”
“No, those are the words of Lord Fahren himself.”
That’s the second ‘hou.’
He’s staring daggers at me.
But he looks angry by default so I can’t even tell what he’s thinking.
“What does Richard have to say about you?”
“I haven’t had the privilege of meeting Duke FitzClarence yet.”
“What a ridiculous thing to say. Are you stupid enough to come to me before ever meeting with the Duke? Or is this the wisdom of Earl FitzClarence?”
“I was looking for Allen at the Knights’ headquarters and they told me he was headed to your home.”
“What is it exactly that you understand?”
“That you know this man has been working under my auspices.”
Sophie-chan’s father has been helping Allen advance his position.
“When my daughter told me that he had a close relationship with Viscount FitzClarence, I thought he’d make a good vassal, but I never expected another man to steal her away from him.”
Uh-oh, I’ve stepped onto a land mine.
I now understand why Allen was kidnapped.
“And this same man that stole her away has come to me before ever meeting with Richard.”
A sly smile crept across the face of the Count.
I don’t have much of a choice now.
I’ll have to go with the flow.
I’ve gone down a new route with no way of turning back.
“…that’s exactly right.”
“I thought as much.”
What am I supposed to do now?
It doesn’t look as if the FitzClarence faction is as united as the outside world believes.
If I don’t play this right, my noble life will be over before it ever had the chance to begin.
“This is good news for you, Allen. Thanks to him, you might just live to see another day.”
“There’s something I’d wish to report on that note.”
“And what is that?”
If I play this right, I can get Allen to return to the lolibitch, but I need to be careful and consider how my actions will affect all of the powerful people involved here.
Otherwise, my life will the next one taken after Allen’s.
“Viscount FitzClarence is a capricious woman. Her temperament can change day-to-day and she may move on from me at any moment; possibly, back to who she was originally interested in. In fact, it was the Viscount that told me where I’d be able to find Allen today.”
“But she helped make you a baron.”
“Allen could be the next baron and, in due time, could even advance to the position of duke.”
It’s like I’m walking on a tightrope.
I’ve never even met Ester-chan’s father and the power her family holds rises every day. I’m going to have to meet with him at some point.
“Why would you work against the person that helped grant you a position amongst the nobility?”
“No matter what led me to where I am today, I understand that the position I find myself in is only temporary.”
“What is it that you’d wish to accomplish if you’re position where permanent?”
It’s hard for me to speak my honest feelings to someone with such an intimidating face.
Besides, why would a Count care what the lowest of Baron’s has to say?
“Yes, what would you do with that newfound power?”
No matter how I think about it, the only thing I dream about is a girl with an intact hymen. Becoming the infololi’s husband doesn’t sound so bad either. But, I’m sure if I were to speak my honest feelings, I’d be sent straight to prison.
“It’s nothing special, really. I just wish to be in a position where I’d be able to help my friends that are also commoners like Allen here.”
Let’s hope he accepts the same vague response that I gave the Manson Group.
“However, this is just the first step on a long journey for me. I’m sorry that I’m not able to give you a better answer.”
Count Bitch closed his eyes and thought on my words for a moment.
His calm demeanour and chiselled features added to the austere elegance that surrounded him. The only thing that could improve his look would be a cigar in his mouth.
“…it didn’t take long for you to show your true colours.”
“There’s no point in hiding when you’re surrounded by allies.”
Count Bitch snorted at my reply.
“Both of you, go home for today. I’ll call for you when I need you.”
Allen and I exchanged glances, wondering what we should do before we stood up and left the room.
This is going to become a huge problem if I’m not careful.
“Allen, what are we going to do….”
“We need to talk about this, but that can wait until we get out of here.”
Our audience with the Count came to an end.
A butler and maid guided us out as we left the Bitch residence.