Chapter 17.1

“That’s more than enough. You’ve done an excellent job,” Lassino praised, and Cura beamed with a bright smile, her eyes reflecting gratitude.

“Elena, later on, let’s go to the Grand Duke’s bedroom together.” Cura took Elena’s hand and gently led her away from the flower-filled table and chairs, leaving the ornate vase right where it was.

The servants who were still occupied with cleaning pottery dishes shifted slightly aside, their movements faltering as Elena and Cura approached. Elena became nervous, avoiding their gaze and feigning indifference to their reactions.

“Take the cleaned dishes to the dining room,” Lassino instructed. Responding promptly to his directive, one of the servants gathered the freshly cleaned pottery dishes onto a tray and made their way out of the workshop.

With the table now unoccupied, Lassino began to unpack the silverware he had brought. The tray gleamed with an assortment of silver pieces, including a teapot, forks, and knives. Seated before this array of utensils, Lassino initiated the process of meticulously mixing various powders and liquids in a hollow container.

A slight, pungent odor wafted through the workshop, causing Elena to instinctively cover her nose with her hand. Seeing her reaction, Lassino broke into a broad, understanding smile. “The smell is a bit strong, isn’t it? It’s ammonia.”

“Ammonia?” Elena inquired, curiosity replacing her initial discomfort.

Lassino nodded and carefully examined the doughy state before him. He proceeded to rub the surface of the silver teapot with the mixture on his fingertip. “When you mix ammonia with alcohol, it becomes a watery consistency like this, and we use it to clean the silverware. It’s essential to maintain the distinctive shine of silver.”

Despite the unpleasant odor, Elena leaned in closer to Lassino, her curiosity taking over. “It’s fascinating,” she mused, her gaze fixed on the teapot.

Lassino continued to explain, “You need to gently and carefully rub it with your fingertips. The sparkle of silverware is a source of pride for the butler.” A soft, heartfelt smile graced Lassino’s face as he observed the silver teapot, his pride in his craft evident.

“I learned how to clean silverware right from the beginning of my butler training,” he shared, his voice laced with nostalgia. “At first, I wanted to run away because of this unpleasant smell too. My father scolded me when he saw me covering my nose and trying to do it carelessly.”

As he recounted this memory, Lassino’s eyes took on a distant quality, as if he were peering into a past that only he could see, lost in the depths of time.

“Look at this.” Lassino raised his index finger, the calloused and hardened fingertip visibly worn from the rigors of his labor. “When you rub silverware by hand, you may get blisters at first. They burst, heal, and then blisters form again, just like the roots of a tree. But this is also a source of pride for the butlers.”

“Because it’s evidence of hard work?” Elena ventured.

Lassino beamed in approval at her response. He stroked his beard thoughtfully and nodded. “That’s right. I’m very particular about the tableware used by the Grand Duke. He doesn’t openly praise, but you can tell just by his expression. Every time he enjoys his meal, I feel as though I’ve had a feast myself.”

Lassino continued to lovingly rub the silver teapot with the doughy substance on his fingertip, humming a soft tune as he worked. After scrutinizing the teapot beneath the light of a lantern, revealing not a speck of dust, he smiled broadly once more.

To Elena, it was becoming increasingly evident that the elderly butler took even more pride in his meticulous craft than he did in the silverware itself.

Lassino, Cura, and the other servants within the castle all bore an aura of fear and respect toward Kennard, and their unwavering loyalty was undeniable.

Initially, Elena had assumed their deference was a result of Kennard’s status as the most powerful pureblood among the Black Wolves. Yet, this explanation seemed insufficient when one considered the extremities to which they adhered to him, going so far as to be branded the “Black Wolf who devoured the Devil,” given Kennard’s reputation for unrelenting cruelty.

Elena, with her limited knowledge of Kennard’s true identity, couldn’t deny the kindness he had extended to her. This, she felt, hinted at a more complex character beneath the harsh exterior.

“The Grand Duke and Lord Serin have returned.” A breathless servant who had been dispatched to retrieve ceramic tableware rushed into the workshop, his words carrying the urgency of his run.

Lassino wasted no time inquiring, “What about the knights?”

“They have returned as well,” came the prompt response.

Upon hearing this news, Lassino’s hands moved even faster, engrossed in his task. “You go and take care of the Grand Duke’s meal first. After that, attend to the knights.”

The servants swiftly adhered to Lassino’s orders and hurried towards the workshop’s exit, each aware of their duties.

The servant who had announced Kennard’s return hesitated for a moment before speaking, creating an air of tension in the workshop.

Elena had initially assumed he was merely out of breath, but upon closer inspection, it became clear that the servant was not only panting but also appeared to be fixated on something with a sense of astonishment.

Lassino, his brows furrowed in concern, focused on the servant. “What is it?” he inquired, the urgency in his voice evident.

“The knights have brought someone in, and they’re covered in blood.”

Lassino wasted no time, leaving the workshop with a sense of urgency that rivaled a run. Elena and Cura followed in quick succession.

The news of the wolf pack’s early morning departure into the forest had already sown unease, and the information of someone being brought in drenched in blood further intensified the troubling atmosphere.

Elena, lifting the hem of her long dress slightly with both hands to prevent stumbling, also found herself placing a hand on her chest. Her heart raced uncontrollably, not merely due to the rapid walking but because of an inexplicable anxiety that surged within her, causing her chest, shoulders, and heart to clench.

Is it the Grand Duke? Is he injured? No, if that were the case, the servant would have mentioned it first. Elena quickened her pace, her steps becoming more determined as she approached the source of concern.



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