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Chapter 25: I Had a Makeover
“This lotion made of carbell extract will make your skin so smooth!” one woman said.
“Next, we’ll give you a massage with the marison oil!” another added, moving about excitedly.
“And this serum, made of the wonderful heinefawin, should be applied directly to the area under your eyes!” the third one insisted, already dipping her fingers in the liquid and putting it on in a hurry.
After they were finished, all three maids squealed with joy. “The dark circles under your eyes are now gone, Mr. Kondoh!!!”
Seiichirou could only sit quietly and wonder at the confusing situation in which he currently found himself. It had all started when he got news from his superior, Helmuth.
“The date of the Saint’s expedition has finally been decided. It will be held six days from today.”
While Seiichirou was reviewing the documents that had been given to him, he was relieved to overhear the announcement. Five days had passed since Seiichirou had urged the Second and Third Order Knights to hasten the expedition; it was a part of the compensation he had requested for the physical assault he had been subjected to. Indeed, it seemed that they had done exactly as they had been told, but Seiichirou silently wondered if there were any objections from the crown prince about this.
Nevertheless, the exact date was now decided, which was good enough for him. Now the only things Seiichirou had to calculate were the total loss caused by the miasma and the anticipated cost of the upcoming mission.
“Ah, before I forget,” Helmuth said as he turned towards Seiichirou. “In order to honor the launch of the expedition, a royal banquet will be held three day’s time.”
Seiichirou cocked his head at that. “Pardon me…?”
They had not made any preparations yet, but it appeared that it was already decided the kingdom would hold a banquet for something as trivial as this. Maybe it was to show the royal family’s involvement as one of the main driving forces behind this expedition and obtain approval from top guests and other wealthy aristocrats to help support the purification process now and in the future, or so Seiichirou thought.
The mental abacus inside his head automatically began flicking beads1 to calculate the probable costs required for such an elaborate feast. However, his superior had not yet finished speaking, which interrupted his computing.
“Since you are also heavily involved in the expedition, Kondoh, you are also invited to the banquet. I will end up having to attend the banquet as well,” Helmuth finished.
It would appear that even Seiichirou was being dragged into the royal family’s shenanigans. Since he had no authority to defy them, there was no choice but to go along with the order.
That explained why Seiichirou was now having oil rubbed into his face. Everything happening in this moment was all thanks to his lively coworker that currently sat opposite of him.
“This is your big moment after all, Mr. Sei!! At the very least, we need to do something about those bags under your eyes!” Norbert urged. “My mother will help you,” he had chirped cheerily. “She’ll order the maids to take care of everything!”
It was so easy to forget the fact that this air-headed blonde man was the son of a noble. Despite the fact that his usual mannerisms were little like those a nobleman was expected to possess, Seiichirou could not deny that Norbert had a strangely good-natured personality. Perhaps it was that Norbert had been lucky enough to be raised by parents who were not only nobles in title, but who also possessed “noble hearts” too. It was exceptionally unprecedented.
As soon as Norbert found out about Seiichirou’s required appearance at the upcoming banquet, the young master had suddenly shown up in the dormitory with three women of various ages all dressed in similar uniforms.
Shortly after their arrival, they had ganged up on Seiichirou.2 Makeup was put on his face, and he was dressed in brand new clothing—an elegant-looking tunic that seemed to have cost a fortune. When they were finished, he was dragged inside a large grandiose hall.
Seiichirou was not left alone by himself, however. Standing beside him was his cheerful colleague with his hair neatly combed rather than in its usual messy style.
“So, you’ve been invited too, huh?” Seiichirou asked, giving Norbert the side-eye3.
Seiichirou had only been invited because he was one of the leading figures behind the expedition. He understood that Helmuth was too simply because he was Seiichirou’s superior, but what he could not understand was why a mere office worker such as Norbert had also been invited. Sure, he was the son of a viscount, but Seiichirou thought it would only be appropriate if both his parents went; they should not have to bring their son along too.
Sensing the confusion in Seiichirou’s tone, Norbert took a moment to explain. “Oh, that’s because I’m actually a part of the royal family! They often invite me to these kinds of special occasions.”
Seiichirou stared at Norbert in pure disbelief. For a second, he felt his brow furrow. As soon as the words “royal family” were spoken, he wondered if he had misheard Norbert.
“I’m not kidding! Because my birth mother was of very low status, they couldn’t keep me in the royal palace and chose to put me up for adoption instead. Even so, I still have the blood of a royal running through my veins. That’s why I get to work in the royal palace after all and why they also invite me to all the fancy meet and greets too!”
Much to Seiichirou’s bewilderment, Norbert casually explained his royal lineage as though none of the darker details of it actually bothered him. To think that Norbert was serving in a place that was supposed to be his home… Clearly, he did not see himself as someone unfortunate.
“I see…” Seiichirou nodded with a sudden awareness. “I understand, Prince—”
Norbert quickly cut Seiichirou off. “Hey, whoa, no! I don’t have those kinds of rights in the palace! You don’t have to treat me like royalty!”
“No, it’s just that there are lots of things I would like to say about the royal family, and since you are a part of them, you ought to listen to everything I’ve ever wanted to disclose to a royal family member,” Seiichirou said, narrowing his eyes with unvoiced malice.
“Huh!?” Norbert squawked. “Are you serious right now!?”
While it was true that Seiichirou was shocked to learn Norbert was a member of the royal family, it did not change the fact that Seiichirou was still Norbert’s superior. Hence, Seiichirou could continue to bully Norbert4 as much as he pleased, just as he always did.
Several minutes passed, and it would still be a while before the king’s speech. Seiichirou, who had now been left alone by himself, was watching the guests drink and chat with each other inside the hall. 5
Looking around casually, Seiichirou saw neither Aresh, Yua, nor the crown prince amidst the crowd; they could be anywhere outside his line of sight in a place as packed as this. On the other hand, it seemed that no one really wanted to talk to Seiichirou, either because his position was lower than that of the other guests or because of a certain reputation he had cultivated for himself within the palace.
Well, perhaps except for one man. As soon as he noticed Seiichirou’s presence in the hall, he called out to the royal official.
“Seiichirou? My, you look so different today. I barely recognized you.”
At his arrival, the crowd had opened a pathway for the man to gracefully make his way towards Seiichirou. It was the prime minister with rose blonde hair, whom Seiichirou was very familiar with.
Today Kamil was also dressed in a formal wear that was more befitting for ceremonies such as this. His clothing was adorned with intricate embroidery made from gold thread, brazenly showing off its luxurious quality to all those nearby. As usual, the prime minister had donned his signature blue cloak to signify his high rank, but this time it was decorated with various jewels and aiguillettes6. Like this, Kamil looked even grander in appearance than ever before.
“Greetings, Prime Minister Calvader,” Seiichirou said. He had been practicing a new manner of greeting that was more appropriate for this world. Instead of bowing his head like he used to, he knelt down on one knee and placed a hand across his stomach, lowly presenting himself before the kingdom’s powerful prime minister. In response, Kamil raised a hand, silently bidding Seiichirou stand.
“Thanks to you, we can hasten the expedition,” Kamil said with a smile. “You have my gratitude.”
Seiichirou grew flustered at the praise. “No, not all… I think it’s thanks to you and the others’ involvement that we could make this happen. I don’t think I’ve done very much at all.”
While it was true that the expedition had been hastened at Seiichirou’s request and the kingdom was forced to comply due to their oversight of his well-being, it was but a mere request, nothing more. Seiichirou knew that it still would have required the efforts of other higher-ups to advance the idea for it to be made possible.
And although Seiichirou felt that he had done nothing, it was actually the result of all his calculations made concerning the amount of damage caused by the advancing miasma. Already, the estimated cost of the damages were increasing after six days of deliberation from the higher ups and thus forced them to consider hastening the expedition.
“I meant what I said. It is thanks to you that we’ve made to this far.” Kamil reiterated with a nod. It was obvious that he was proud of Seiichirou, much to the latter’s embarrassment.
After taking a long, hard look at him, Kamil finally chose to address the elephant in the room. “Nevermind all that, your complexion looks very good this evening. Those clothes… they suit you. You look handsome, Seiichirou.”
There was a smile on Kamil’s face, one that openly showed his newfound admiration for Seiichirou’s latest appearance. The royal accountant sheepishly returned the smile. Being praised by the most powerful man in the kingdom, who was also good-looking in his own right, akin to foreign actors, was a little overwhelming.
“I’m not used to this sort of thing, so my coworker helped me dress up for tonight.” Briefly, Seiichirou looked down at the elegant tunic he was wearing.
“I even had makeup applied to my face…” Seiichirou continued. “Three women took care of me throughout the entire process. Apparently, they are much more adept when it comes to things of this nature.”
It was true that Norbert had brought some very talented maids with him. They had done their best to give Seiichirou the makeover he so desperately needed, applying any product they had on hand in order to make him look as attractive as possible.
However, what actually made Seiichirou stand out was not the makeup or the fancy clothes, but the lack of his chronic fatigue, which always made him look sickly and undesirable in the eyes of others.
But just makeup and clothing would have never been enough on their own for a case as severe as Seiichirou. First, something had to be done about the tired aura that he constantly exuded.
To solve that, the maids had given Seiichirou numerous massages to both his face and limbs. As a result, his complexion had improved and his whole body felt lighter, showcasing another talent of those extraordinary maids. They had even managed to get rid of the bags under Seiichirou’s eyes, which was his most notable feature, by applying concealer to the darkened areas beneath them. That final step in the makeover process resulted in Seiichirou’s current appearance.
But even without all that, Seiichirou was still a handsome man in his own right. He had refined facial features, most notably his nose. Even back during his university days, he had been popular.
Unfortunately for Seiichirou, after being exposed to the harsh reality of the world as a working adult, his dedication to his career had given him the appearance of a “tired old man”, which had hidden away his true beauty for a very long time.
Thanks to the work done by those three skilled maids who regularly served nobles, Seiichirou now looked like a man of his age rather than someone older. He even looked like a man of higher standing, displaying both wealth and wisdom with his clothes alone.
Ever since Seiichirou had entered the hall, he did not notice that some guests were observing him from afar, witnessing his new look. To those who knew him, this dramatic transformation was stunning. Even Prime Minister Kamil, who could not help staring at Seiichirou, was affected by it, whether he realised it or not.
Seiichirou too, had made his own comments regarding the makeover. He had enjoyed the massages most of all; they were pleasant and left him feeling good all over. However, the concealer applied to his face made the areas around his eyes feel itchy, which made him self-conscious and uncomfortable. For now, the best he could do was take extra care to avoid touching his face and staining the clothes Norbert had lent him.
But more importantly than all of that, and in spite of Seiichirou’s troubles fitting in with such a high-class crowd, he had decided to attend this banquet with a purpose.
Even if it was not something he would have chosen to participate in himself, there might still be something to gain by the end of it. As someone who valued efficiency, Seiichirou wanted to make sure that opportunity did not go to waste.
Facing Kamil, Seiichirou cleared his throat. “Excuse me, Prime Minister Calvader. I have a favour to ask of you…”
“Hmm?” Kamil, curiosity piqued, lent his attention to Seiichirou.
But as the royal official was about to ask, he suddenly found himself too nervous while facing Kamil, who was still staring intently at him. In the end, Seiichirou was interrupted by someone else nearby who could not read the air around the two of them.
“Hello there, Prime Minister Calvader! Long time no see!”
The one who barged into their conversation was a portly man with brown hair, a beard, and flashy clothes with a high collar that stood upright. He looked to be around forty or fifty years old. The most noticeable feature on this unknown man was the long, purple cloak he wore that signified his rank.
That purple… If I’m not mistaken, it represents the Court’s Magic Department.
Seiichirou also took note of the length of the man’s cloak. He could infer that this gentleman was the director of the court’s magic department then.
Seiichirou took a step back and bowed to the newest arrival in greeting.
“Good job on the summoning ceremony, Director Zoltan,” Kamil said to the man.
“No, no, it was nothing! Still, I cannot deny that it was certainly a large-scale event that would not have been possible without the Court’s Magic Department otherwise!”
Though he had started off humble, the man went to boast about his department’s achievements in a loud voice, much to Seiichirou’s bewilderment. Just as he had postulated from the man’s overall appearance, he was indeed someone who possessed a large ego.
“Recently, the Court’s Magic Department has received a request to participate in the expedition too!” Zoltan proudly declared. “Unlike those Third Order Knights who merely provide the muscle for such a campaign, we in the magic department have greater knowledge and philosophy on our side!”
Naturally, as the Third Order Knights were also adept magic users, it made sense that the Court’s Magic Department would be competitive with them.
Despite his supposed heavy involvement in the summoning, Seiichirou had a hard time remembering if this gentleman was even present during the ritual. Perhaps this man had only recently gotten his directorial position through some other shady connection, or so Seiichirou suspected.
Regardless, he doubted that Aresh would even pay an ounce of attention to this man or his boisterous claims.
“Allow me to introduce this official,” Kamil said to Zoltan. “His name is Seiichirou Kondoh, the vice director of the Royal Accounting Department. He is an excellent worker. It’s thanks to him that we can carry out the expedition sooner than expected.”
After Kamil’s brief introduction, Zoltan looked at Seiichirou as if he had only just noticed the royal official’s presence now. Nevertheless, Seiichirou bowed to Zoltan in greeting anyway.
“Oh, so you’re the Saint’s…”
Seiichirou knew exactly what Zoltan was going to say, but the stout gentleman was unable to finish his sentence since it was a well-known fact that this royal official was under the direct protection of the royal family. With Kamil present as well, he must have deemed it wise to swallow the rest of his words and leave them unsaid.
“I’m pleased to meet you, Sir. My name is Kondoh,” Seiichirou offered in an attempt to diffuse the tension. Although it was clear that Zoltan was another person who thought lowly of him, Seiichirou paid it no heed. He bowed his head to Zoltan, still treating the latter with the utmost respect.
Zoltan only snorted in response. Seiichirou noticed it, but still, he did not react.
Because this man had a huge ego, Seiichirou figured it would be easy to persuade him to do whatever Seiichirou wanted. All he would need were some well-placed comments and a little praise to make Zoltan weak. The fact that this man was also the director of the Court’s Magic Department would save Seiichirou a lot of trouble if he played his cards right.7
Suddenly, someone amidst the crowd caught Zoltan’s attention. He rushed towards them and returned to Kamil and Seiichirou with a new person by his side. It was someone that Seiichirou did not immediately recognize.
Zoltan huffed at the newcomer with little restraint, “I can’t believe you’re fooling around in a place like this! Go and greet the prime minister, you fool!”
“I’m so hungry after being stuck in the laboratory for ten days straight~ And there are so many good foods here, too~” The one who appeared to be Zoltan’s subordinate casually replied instead of doing as he had been told.
This man was also wearing a purple cloak, but it was similar to Seiichirou’s brown one in both length and adornment, as it only covered one shoulder. The colour of his hair was an unusual blend of orange and pink.
In his hand, he held a plate containing some of the dishes being served in the hall, and there were bits of food clinging to his face, giving him a childish appearance.
It was immediately apparent that this man was the vice director of the Court’s Magic Department, judging from the cloak he was wearing. Though he sported a pair of downturned eyes, they opened wide the moment he set sight on Seiichirou. Then, something peculiar happened. He began rapidly fluttering his eyelashes8 at the royal accountant in a… weirdly flirtatious way.
Seiichirou was both taken aback and confused by the man’s behavior, but despite that, Seiichirou still lowered his head in greeting.
Although the both of them were the vice directors of their respective departments, Seiichirou had imagined that his counterpart in the Court’s Magic Department would be more enchanting somehow, perhaps more showy or mystical when compared to the otherwise mundane Royal Accounting Department. Moreover, Seiichirou was still a newcomer himself, so he was aware that his position was one of the lower ranks among those in attendance at the banquet tonight. Still, he thought he ought to address the other man with some sort of respect.
“These men are Prime Minister Calvader and Vice Director Kondoh of the Royal Accounting Department. Greet them properly!” Zoltan commanded his subordinate in a booming voice.
As ordered, the other gentleman straightened his posture, but instead of facing Kamil like one would expect, he turned to speak to Seiichirou directly.
“You’re from the accounting department!?” He looked at Seiichirou with stars in his eyes. “Please give me some money!”
Seiichirou pulled back in reflex. Then, with a frown, he shook his head curtly. “I refuse.”
In response to Seiichirou’s cold answer, the other man froze in place. A look of utter despair appeared on his youthful face. “But why~!?”9
Hasr: Huge thanks to everyone for their support and messages on kofi! You folks are the best! Hopefully, we can get the funds to Whistle in the next few days and make her ACTUALLY TAKE CARE OF HERSELF smh.
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