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Of the three of Duke Barga’s daughters, it’s nice that I got to escort Sansaqua’s former member, Laptiricia-sama. I will also be escorting her alongside the Guild Researcher Ashley-san. As of now, I am staying in the waiting room next to Laptiricia-sama’s private room. The role had been decided from the beginning.
The male escort would accompany the client wherever she goes, and protect her with force if needed. The female escort would act as a court lady and protect the subject while she is staying in her room. As for a court lady, their responsibilities were to assist, usually, a noblewoman and server to their needs. But unlike servants, court ladies were expected to be well versed in governmental duties.
In short, Ashley-san was dispatched for this mission because of Laptiricia-sama’s need a woman with both secretarial and escorting abilities. In addition to having sufficient capacity for the job, she was also close to Lapitirica-sama.
I couldn’t freely enter or leave Laptiricia-sama’s private room; only being allowed to enter when summoned or if the situation called for it. Ashley-san took care of the secretarial works, coming and going from the room.
Meanwhile, I was simply idle here. No, I’m doing my job here, you know? I’m monitoring the area via my map projected on the lenses of my kevlar mask. I’m also listening to the surroundings via the sound sensor, so I could actually hear Laptiricia-sama and Ashley-san talking next door.
“Ashley-sama, how did you become acquainted with Shaft?”
“That guy… I met him during a survey for the General Guild.”
“So, that’s how! But, Ashley-sama… Are you… Not afraid when you look at his face?”
“Yes. During my stay on Sazanka, I’ve been through various dungeons and subjugations. Of course, I’ve also fought undead before, but I didn’t fear them. Actually, this is the first time I’ve felt scared when seeing someone’s face.”
” Laptiricia-sama, you’re about to enter the social world. You may start seeing Prince Ark in the future, but before that, you’ll meet a lot of magical races and nobles first. You should remember this, never be fooled by their appearance. Similarly, do not judge Shaft by his appearance. He’s trustworthy, and no matter what happens, he will definitely protect you.”
“Is that so? I’ve heard rumors about the Black Mask Shaft. It is said that he was the one responsible for blowing up the Yagoche Company’s storehouse, killing everyone inside.”
“Right, the guild does keep track of his combat record. Looking only at the number, it was indeed an insane number of victims, but he also rescued six women during that incident; four of which, were totally unrelated who just happened to be at the scene. If he was such a merciless and brutal person they made him out to be, do you think he’d be willing to save someone else who’s unrelated to him?”
“That… I don’t know.”
“That’s why, Laptiricia-sama, you must be able to firmly identify a person’s true worth; be it Shaft, or any noble you meet in the future.”
” – – Alright, Ashley-sama.”
At one point, I stopped looking at the map and simply stared at the ceiling. What she said about me being a mass murderer and a merciless vandal, I can’t refute that. Nor can I really blame her for being scared of me. Ashley-san’s footsteps are approaching. Apparently, she was returning to the waiting room.
“Shaft, we’re heading out to the terrace to freshen up.”
Ashley-san told me before she headed back into the private room. I got up from my chair and left the waiting room. Standing guard in the corridor before Laptiricia-sama’s private room until ordered otherwise. Whenever we had the chance to be alone, I would chat with Ashley-san about my endeavors as Schwartz.
About the zombie face, about Rafflesia, and about how I refused Remi-san’s offer to join the guild so I could continue exploring dungeon’s solo. And that “Shaft” was created so that “Schwartz ” wouldn’t be implicated with what I did. She quietly listened to all of what I had to say, and still chose to believe in me regardless.
She only gave me on condition. That when I’m acting as Shaft, I could call her Ashley. In return, she would call me Shaft. But when I’m acting as Schwartz, she won’t allow me to call her just Ashley.
Of course, I agreed to it.
A moment later, Laptiricia-sama came out of the room with Ashley-san in tow. Both the girls headed to the terrace. With the mapping process of the castle itself already completed, I understood where it was completely.
The terrace was located on the castle’s third floor. It was a pretty spacious balcony, with a dome-roofed gazebo in the middle. While Laptiricia-sama and Ashley-san sat underneath it, I stood guard near the terrace’s entrance.
Are they coming to the terrace because it’s tea time? While I wondered about that, the princess took out a fairly thick book and proceeded to read it while she sipped her tea.
From what I heard from them, apparently, it’s a picture book depicting the crest of the noble families. Perhaps she’s learning about it to better recognize the nobles she’ll meet during tonight’s party. But can she really memorize it all?
While looking around vigilantly, I heard footsteps closing in on the terrace from within the castle. The first to enter the terrace was a maid pushing a tea cart. Right after was the Deputy Commander of the Barga Knights and Viscount Butler Caymon.
Viscount Caymon was a knight I encountered during the Emerald Demon Dungeon’s conquest. I’ve met him before as Schwartz, but this would be the first time he’d met Shaft. Just like when we first met, he was wearing the silver full plate armor, similar to what Captain Steed wore. The difference being that Captain Steed’s armor was blue colored.
“Beyond here is Laptiricia Barga-sama. Would you please state your business?”
I stood in front of the door leading onto the terrace, preventing the well-groomed bearded knight from proceeding.
“Deputy Commander of the Western Barga Knights, Butler Caymon. I’d like to confirm with Laptiricia-sama regarding her Highness’s travel schedule.”
“A moment, please?
I asked Butler and the maid to wait outside the terrace while I headed towards the gazebo. Ashley immediately noticed I was coming.
“Deputy Commander-dono is here to confirm her Highness’s travel schedule, and a maid came to deliver more tea.”
“Shaft-san, please allow them in.”
It was Laptiricia-sama who responded. She didn’t seem to be that afraid of my zombie face. Maybe she has gotten over it somehow.
“As you wish.”
I bowed, placing my right hand above my leg and sliding one left slightly back before I headed back to the entrance.
“Deputy Commander-dono, sorry for the wait. Laptiricia-sama has been expecting you. Please come in.”
“Thank you. By the way, aren’t you that ‘Black Masked Shaft’?”
“My name is just ‘Shaft’. Black Mask is not my name.”
“Hoo, I leave Laptiricia-sama in your care.”
This person didn’t seem to realize that I am actually Schwartz. Keeping my head down, I waited until Viscount Caymon passed through.
When I talked to Ashley-san during our spare time, she refused to mention how she recognized me as Schwarts immediately. The only reply I got was “It’s a secret ”, as she blushed and acted like a maiden in love. I could only feel embarrassed when she looked like that.
“Ah, well~ can I come in too?”
When I turned to the source of the voice, I found the maid gripping the tea cart handle hard, seemingly scared.