It's been a week since Leticia arrived at Hugh's residence in the Capital of the Otis. Since then, she's just been inside her room lazing around.
"Lady Leticia, the butler said that the Duke will arrive in the afternoon." said Hazel, the maid that was assigned to Leticia.
"I see… it's been a week since then huh…" Leticia mumbled.
The tea cup and the saucer meet and make a sound as Leticia places the dish on the table and turns her head towards Hazel.
It's been a week of trying to get used to her surroundings where she was constantly being served and Hazel was always following her.
For the first three days, Leticia was constantly on her toes as she's at the place of the Notorious Duke of the North. She didn't want to become a burden to the servants at her sudden arrival but then the people were so kind to her that she thought it was not bad to be there.
She chuckled at the thought that she actually enjoyed her stay at the luxurious place of Hugh.
'Well, all of them are nice to me and they made me feel that I was really welcomed.' she thought to herself.
She then opened her mouth, "Do I need to be there when the Duke arrives?"
"You can do what you want Lady Leticia! If you want to welcome the Master, I'll tell the head butler so you can be notified when they arrive." Hazel replied in a refined manner.
"Oh no! I'll just stay in my room. The Duke will be tired. I'll just greet him after he gets his rest."
"I'll tell the head butler… then, if you'll excuse me, Lady Leticia."
Leticia awkwardly smiles seeing that Hazel bowed her head before she exited the room.
She turned her head and looked at the view outside the window. She calmly appreciates the sight outside her room where the intricate design of the garden boldly screams the wealth of the war hero.
"I should go for a walk…" she said to no one.
Leticia smiles as she sips the rest of the tea before she stands up and goes outside her room.
Austin and the rest of the Knight were exhausted to the bone as their Commander made a very bold and out of the question order to annihilate the knights of the neighboring kingdom that posed as a bandit and made a ruckus towards the people of the South.
'I knew that he's someone who I can't read but to say that we needed to finish the task in three days was too much even for me…' Austin thought to himself as he looked towards their Commander's back.
Right now, they're on a break as they have been riding their horses for three days with only a two hour break. They're at the entrance of the last village near the Capital but decided to stay in the forest as they don't want to alarm the people with their appearance.
"Haa… after we defeated those people we immediately rode our horses, so we didn't even get a chance to change our clothes." Austin shakes his head.
Austin was feeding his horse while also eating his jerky ruthlessly. He was starting to get sick from eating dried meat for three days as it was the only thing they could pack with the sudden announcement that they needed to come back to the Capital immediately.
He can see the rest of the Black Stallion Knights that were also exhausted because of no proper sleep as they needed to cover one week of journey in three days.
He saw Salis then and they met each other's eyes and as if Austin read Salis mind saying 'Why does the commander want to go back to the Capital in a hurry?'
Austin chuckled and shrugged his shoulders as his response. He also doesn't know the reason.
Salis couldn't hold back and went towards Austin to ask, "Mike didn't come back, do you think it has something to do with that?"
Austin also considers that. He stared towards the Duke's back and replied to Salis, "We will know once we get to the estate so, for now, let's just follow the Commander."
Both of them don't understand why their Commander was so adamant to leave the South to come back to the Capital where his cunning enemies reside. As they also knew that the Duke hated the Capital.
But what's this? Why does it look like he wanted to see someone so desperately?
Everyone knew that they could just deal with the bandits and take their time to stay in the south because there was not really a specific time that the King ordered.
Austine shook his head to erase the speculation that was forming inside his head that was too impossible to imagine.
"There's no way…"
"What?" Salis asked, hearing what Austin mumbled. "What do you mean that there's no way?" he added.
"Nothing…" Austin replied and tapped Salis shoulder, "Go and get ready, the commander seems to be in a hurry."
Salis, who is confused at what Austin said, leaves his side with a crumpled face. When Salis was at a safe distance, Austin unconsciously thought of something.
"In a way, the commander is the only one who really got a vacation!"
Leticia smiles at the flower beds that kept on swaying back and forth as the wind blew.
She always wants to have a garden like this but because she needed to be sustainable her garden has more edible plants than for decorations.
"They still have charm on their own." she said as she remembered her vegetable garden that has no owner now.
She squatted down to get closer to the pink peony blossoms and held one of the flowers.
Leticia looked up and saw how blue the sky was. She was blinded by the sun then heard the hooves of the horses.
"Hugh must have arrived by now… I should call him Duke now, right?" she asked herself while looking at the flower bed seemingly waiting for someone to answer.
When seconds passed and she realized what she said, Leticia softly chuckled. "Who am I asking? Seriously, I'm getting back to my old habit of talking to myself"
"Of course, I needed to address him with his title." she added.
Leticia didn't see that her smile that was always pasted to her face vanished the moment she thought of the difference in their status.
"Haa..." she sighed and proceeded to appreciate the sight before her.
Hugh arrived at his place and saw the servants lined up to welcome him and the Black Stallion Knights.
One of the people he saw through the crowd was Mike, bowing his head while his right arm was on his chest, a sign of respect towards the Commander of the Black Stallion Knights.
"Welcome back, Your Grace." Hans said as he welcomed Hugh.
"We prepared the food as well as the bath, which one would you prefer to do first?"
However, instead of a reply, Hugh just walked past him and stopped in front of Mike.
Mike immediately followed Hugh inside the palace without looking at his subordinates. Hugh stopped for a moment, remembering what Hans said.
"I'll take the bath first."
"Then, your Grace, should I wait…?"
"No, give the report along the way." Hugh sternly said as a reply to Mike.
"Yes, your Grace."
Now that they're not in the battlefield, the Black Stallion Knights will go back to calling him with his title.
Mike then wondered. 'Will Miss Leticia call His Grace with formality too?'
The thought didn't linger any longer as Hugh started to ask questions about the trip with Leticia.
"I see… you can go back now, Mike."
"Yes, your Grace."
Mike bowed and left the Master's room. Hugh was satisfied with the report, so he didn't ask questions anymore.
'But knowing Leticia, she would be happy just traveling to an unfamiliar place.'
Meanwhile, Hans silently attended to Hugh's needs while he was preparing to take a bath. Hugh had blood stains on his armor as well as some dust and mud that was stuck to his clothes as they went to travel three days in a row.
Clack! Cling! Clang!
Hans helped Hugh remove his armor, then he removed his stained clothes one by one as he walked towards the bathroom.
His clothes scattered on the red carpet floor.
The luxurious and wide bathroom welcomed Hugh. The gold patterns and decorations in the ceiling and furniture screams how wealthy he is.
"Hans, tell me everything that has happened for the past week. Especially about the days of Leticia."
Hans then begins to pick up the scattered clothes while telling him the reports.