He shot up from his seat with a burst of energy, having a new goal in front of him for this fresh spring day. The only obstacle in front of him became clear upon entering the expansive mansion--there were approximately one hundred and eighty rooms in this ridiculously large mansion--likely to overcompensate for something Althaus lacks. Finding one specific room would be akin to finding a needle in a haystack, especially since he was on his own since Norbert was busy tending to the shrubs.
"Come on, it's time to prove you can guide your way through this place without any help--!" He assured himself, slapping his palm against his chest.
Boasting a new wave of confidence, he marched through the squeaky-clean halls, opening and closing every single door he came across--or at least, every unlocked door.
Somehow or another--he ended up in the main hall in his misguided search. Before he could continue on his way, a knock on the front door rang through the lobby, stopping him in his tracks. He stopped and looked around, waiting to see if anyone was going to get the door. In most cases, he wouldn't hesitate to get the door, but with this being somebody else's house, it just didn't sit right.
"Really? None of the maids or even Norbert?" He looked side to side before shrugging.
He made his way down the velvet-carpeted stairs, hearing another knock against the door.
"Coming," He yelled out to whoever was behind the door.
As he reached the doors, he grasped the large, golden handle and slowly pulled the heavy doors open.
The person behind the door greeted him with a wide smile, displaying his pearly white teeth. It was a man who looked to be in his mid-twenties, wearing a long, black trench coat and a top hat to match. He towered over Ren, but not quite as tall as Norbert--what really stood out were his deathly crimson irises that seemed to study his very essence.
"Urr, w-welcome to the Althaus estate--what business do you have here?" Ren tried his best to sound formal in front of the mysterious man.
The man didn't answer right away, staring at Ren with his frivolous grin before taking his top hat off and bowing his head. He had somewhat long, brown hair in the style of a bob cut.
"Pleased to meet you, I am Rouge, Argonaut of the Sleuth Squadron."
The man raised his head with his wide smile still persisting, placing his hat back on top of his head.
Ren froze in place at the man's introduction--feeling his blood turn cold in his veins. He quickly crossed his arms to hide his trembling hands.
--An Argonaut? Here? Now? Why did I have to be the one to greet him--?
The man stepped closer to him, bringing his gaze down to meet Ren. His persistent smile only served to unnerve Ren as his joyful smile seemed to be anything but that.
"My apologies, did I frighten you? I've been told I have quite a horrifying gaze," The man stood back up straight, adjusting his coat.
"Not at all…" Ren lied, stepping to the side to allow the man into the home.
Rouge slightly bowed his head and stepped in, each step he made with his leather boots echoed through the vast mansion. Ren watched as the man looked around, turning in a complete circle as he seemed to look at every last detail in the lobby.
"Quite a fantastic home, I've always heard Althaus had a fancy place, but this is beyond my expectations," The Argonaut turned his gaze back to Ren as he fixed his black leather gloves.
He could make out a symbol on the top of each glove that seemed to resemble a crest. Everything about the man screamed to Ren that he was dangerous in a way that he had never encountered before. Now that he had experienced mana first hand--the aura emanating from Rouge was ungodly. The air around him was thick and damp, making it almost hard to breathe. Behind the ever-present smile the man held, all he could sense was sinister intentions--a lust for blood.
"It is quite silent in here--is the lord not present?" Rouge asked Ren, snapping him out of his trance of fear.
"I...I don't know," Ren answered, unable to look the man in the eye.
"You don't know? Are you not a servant of this estate?" The man lowered his face close to the young man's, inspecting his expression with a devilish smile, "What is your name, lad?"
Before the lustrous gaze of crimson, it felt as if speaking anything besides the truth was impossible, that very concept became erased as a possibility.
"Ren...Ren Nakamura," He answered quietly, wanting to shrink away under the soulful gaze of Rouge.
The Argonaut's eyes seemed to glimmer at those words before his smile widened, smiling ear to ear as he continued to peer at the boy.
"Re~n Naka~mura, what a fantastically beautiful name. I don't believe I've ever heard it. Forgive me if I am wrong, but judging by your appearance--you don't seem to be from Mastorn, correct?" Rouge sounded out his name in a harmonic tone, spinning around before coming to a stop.
"I'm from the east," He answered quickly to try and lower the man's suspicion.
If he was playing by the standard rules for these fantasy alternate worlds--then there should definitely be an eastern kingdom.
"Is that so? Well, Ren, I'd like to ask you a few questions since the lord of this estate isn't present apparently," Rouge smiled, placing his hands behind his back.
Somehow or another, it seemed his answer was sufficient, for now. He could tell the Argonaut was waiting for him to show him somewhere within the mansion that they could speak, the only problem was--he didn't know his way around.
"Alright...right this way," Ren gave him a nervous smile as he began to make his way down the hall.
--Help. Help. Help! He prayed to whatever god existed in this world that Norbert or Meinhard would run into him.