While it was obvious that I brought the problematic person with me since it wasn't common for a noble to escort a random damsel to his lands without any greater intention behind such visit! But that didn't change the fact I was quite curious what kind of route Matsu's thoughts took to arrive at this conclusion.
"My lord… Your carriage carries signs of blood on it, and outside of losing someone on the travel that should be free from any casualties, I don't see Vigo anywhere in your group. With just this, I could assume that some kind of accident happened, maybe some bandits or crash on the road, but with the addition of the young lady, two more soldiers I do not recognise and the envoy arriving to discuss such matter… I wouldn't be able to carry out my duties if I was unable to connect the dots! Thinking about this… Are you going to vie for her inheritance rights, sir?"
Ah, it was nice to talk with someone intelligent! While I couldn't deny any of Elia's wits, her wisdom was far more practical than the analytical and cold way of Matsu's thinking! Just by listening to her explanations I felt like an idiot for asking this question in the first place as if only an idiot couldn't come up with such an answer!
"It's scary how on the point you are. On the side note, does being so intelligent, hurt at times?"
With just a small smirk for the reaction, Matsu bowed her head lightly and was about to leave, when Elia trodded forward.
"Would you be so kind as to tell me how this envoy looked like?"
That was something I didn't pay any attention to. With how everyone from Pilzno outside for Elia and her retainers was completely foreign to me, I simply forgot that she could know that person, giving me a way to prepare for the meeting in advance!
"Ah, he is a high blonde, in his middle twenties. He announced himself as Markus, but I honestly doubt that's his real name. And before I forget, I told the servants to guide him to the guest rooms in the northern wing of the palace. Should I push a handyman to notify him about your arrival?"
Just as capable as she always was - at least, according to the system-produced resume. While I knew how important this meeting could be, there was no point for me to rush things. Making him wait could serve as an additional reminder of what his place was in the middle of my damned castle!
"Yeah, tell him I will call for him when I will have any intention of meeting him. Additionally, could you prepare a list of taverns in our lands? It would help me immensely."
While there was no reason for me to be so polite due to difference in our status, maybe because of my modern upbringing or maybe because I believed that commoner like her was actually far more valuable as retainer as A… a drunkard and skirt-chaser, warranting my way of approaching her.
"I will get right to it, sir"
With how usefull she was, there was no way I could bother myself to point out that a commoner like her should address me lord instead of sir. This second form was to be used in the army or amongst nobles when recognising hierarchical attitude! But while she was born in Poland, she spent a lot of her early years travelling with her father around the Europe, where those terms of referring to the nobles were quite different, giving all the more reasons to ignore this small mishap of hers!
Seeing her moving to the mayor house where the common archives were kept, I called for some handymen and ordered them to bring a single barrel of every ware I bought all the way in Krakow into my personal quarters, before leading a now smaller group to yet another gate.
While the lower castle was rather open and actually connected to the pasture located on the elevated garden serving as the private stock of the lord, it was actually the high castle where all the important decisions were made, and where the actual palace was.
Reaching the gate with only two of my standard companions and Elia with her retainers, we went on top of a long bridge, connecting both parts of the castle over a deep ditch. With how angled it was, despite both parts of the stronghold built around the same height, the bridge actually entered a small gate, on the second floor of the gatehouse. If not for this ingenious bit of architectural creativity, separating the castle into two parts would be useless, as one could simply scale the ramparts and get on the bridge!
Only when I took my first step on the wooden bridge, I realised how beautiful the scenery view was. Compared to the few times when I visited the ruins of this place back in the modern times, instead of a city sprawling all the way to the horizon, I could gaze at the endless lines of fields, filled with different colours, indicating how commoners varied their crops.
Or at least, that's what I saw with the eyes of my imagination.
With the little ice age in its full swing, not even the sunny weather of today was capable of improving how dull and grey the entire area looked like. According to my rough estimates, it would still take about a month or two for the first crops to start sprouting and changing this average view into something filled with the beauty.
After crossing the bridge and going down the stairs of the gatehouse, my group entered a big, paved courtyard, with an enormous main tower protruding from its centrepoint.
With all of the buildings serving both as the outer walls of the high castle, outside of the well beside the keep, every single structure was pressed against the outer rim of the area. Right as we came out of the tower, all the buildings on our left and right were used as shops, kitchens and other necessary amenities for everyone living in the castle, with the palace separated in two wings, encompassing the outer part of the rim in the shape of half-circle.
While we could enter the living quarters through the main gate, with how I wanted to avoid meeting the envoy, for now, I decided to use the outer towers with staircases, that allowed us to bypass the main building and enter the southern wing of the palace instead of going through the main hall.
Dismissing my companions with the order to lead Elia's retainers to their temporary quarters, I led now strangely mute girl towards my own chambers. Following the navigation of my system, I quickly reached the big, intricately decorated doors, before pushing them open.
Compared to the outside view that even the bright sun that graced us today couldn't colour, this room, despite its walls being made mostly with stone, still gave off warmth, cosy feeling. With a double, kingsized bed taking nearly a third of the space in the room, the remaining part was nicely exposed to the sunrays of the setting sun, causing the cabinet and several, deep chairs to look even more expensive than they in fact were.
"Now, I think you should understand why I wanted to talk with you in private."
With how Elia asked about the appearance of the envoy and turned silent ever since I could tell that this person was most likely some kind of big-shot of her family. While I doubted it was her brother himself, a respected steward or even maybe someone who wanted to mend the rift in the family and bring both parties together would make the girl's reaction fitting.
"Yeah, I think I know…"
With her fur coat falling instantly to the ground, Elia instantly shrugged due to the cold. While I couldn't blame the servants for not knowing about my arrival, seeing her in this poor state made me want to curse them for not starting the fire in a big fireplace at the outer corner of the room.
But her actions didn't stop there. With her hands slightly trembling, she reached for the buttons on top of her chest and undid them before I even managed to force any kind of reaction out of my suddenly tightened throat.
While I liked where this was going, this wasn't my intention at all! With only a few days spent together, I came to like this intelligent girl, but maybe because of my modern yet prudent standards, I didn't think this was the right time to do the thing that Elia's actions indicated she had in mind, nor did we even know each other for long enough to warrant such forwardness!
By the time her modest cleavage got exposed through the gap in her skirt, she already reached with her hands upward, not only pushing her breast up and making them even more alluring but attempting to push the straps of her skirt out of her shoulders!
Despite being from modern times, and despite how she was willing to expose herself and most likely go all the way with me right now on her own accord, the uneasiness on her face and slight tremble to every move she made, was far more than I could handle.
I would never let this kind of nice relationships I was slowly building with her to be destroyed only because of this kind of misconception! With how she was at her lowest right now, if I were to take advantage of her dependence on me, as soon as the deal would be done, there would be no way for us to come back to the fun times where we joked around and talked about various topics while travelling!
With her body suddenly freezing in place upon hearing my stern shout, she tilted her head like some sort of cat, unable to comprehend what I had on mind.
"I wanted you to explain who the fuck this envoy is for you and why did Matsu mentioning his appearance made you silent like that! I think I already said I won't take advantage of you!"