El had just finished eating. Normally, he wasn't one to pay much attention to the taste of his food, as long as it was edible. However, he couldn't deny that Elian had rather daring culinary preferences. Isabella's recipes often veered into uncharted territory, and the only way El could describe their flavor was "powerful".
None of the household staff was aware of El's existence, except for Lysandra, of course. To them, "El" was simply a nickname the parents and Lys used for Elian. However, they couldn't help but notice the stark difference in Elian's demeanor. One moment he would be youthful and curious, and the next he would become cold and indifferent. They attributed this to what they believed was bipolarity, but never dared to discuss it openly.
Since the kitchen staff, including Isabella, were unaware of El's existence, they prepared their usual dishes. El had no choice but to consume the food offered to avoid arousing suspicion.
Lys could have easily ordered a different menu, but... "Hee-hee."
When was the last time she could tease El like that? She stood next to him, savoring every little frown he made as he ate. She even considered taking pictures, but with other maids in the room, she held back.
El quickly noticed Lys' reactions and understood everything. This girl was too much. It seemed he had been wrong to ignore her antics. Maybe he needed to bring this friend of his back into line. With this thought in mind,he pushed through the meal. When he was done, he turned to Lys and said, "Hey, Lys, when was the last time we trained together?"
Hearing this, Lys began to sweat on her back as she watched the small smile at the corner of El's lips. Then she understood; he wanted revenge!
There was no way she was going to humor him.
"A long time, master. Unfortunately, due to my duties as a maid, I can't afford to spar, as it would interfere with my work for the rest of the day," she replied.
El knew it was true. A maid couldn't afford to spar, or at least not seriously, for it would leave her tired and unable to perform her duties. Spar at the end of the day? Still out of the question, since they had to get up early the next morning.
Unfortunately, it wasn't Elian she had to face, but El. Elian might have accepted her excuse and let her go, but not El. He couldn't let her off the hook after this little stunt of hers. No way.
So he immediately called another maid and asked her to fetch the head maid, the one in charge of the maids.
Seeing this, Lys' hands began to tremble. Her near future looked bleak. She started to say, "Mast-", but was abruptly interrupted.
"Fear not, Lys. I absolutely cannot allow you to work after a spar with me," he declared with conviction.
A minute later, Matilda Everhart, the esteemed head housemaid of Thorne House, entered the room. Her dignified presence and unwavering grace were unmistakable. Matilda stood of average height, her posture exuding confidence and poise. Though her skin bore the slight signs of weathering from years of service, it still maintained a healthy complexion, and her sharp hazel eyes missed nothing.
"You summoned me, young master?" Matilda inquired respectfully, bowing briefly in deference to her young master.
"Yes, Mathilda. It's been a while. I'm glad to see you haven't aged a day," El said sincerely. His flattery was true; he marveled at how Matilda had maintained her appearance. Elian's memories dated back to when he was only a year old, and Matilda had cared for him like a son. She had endured countless sleepless nights for his sake, always caring for him with a deep smile. Elian was deeply attached to her, and El also had a great fondness for Matilda because of the care she had shown them both.
Matilda chuckled softly at El's compliment. "Oh, you joke, young master," she replied with a twinkle in her eye. "But your kind words warm the heart of an old woman. Now, what can I do for you today?"
El inquired, "Oh, about that. You see, I need Lys' undivided attention for a few days. Could you spare her from her duties?"
Lys started to speak quickly, "No, my-"
But Mathilda interrupted with a warm smile. "Of course, young master. You can even have her for a month."
"Really? That's wonderful," El replied enthusiastically, keeping his calm demeanor.
"Thank you, Mathilda. I hope this won't be too much for you," he added.
"Don't worry, young master. We have more than enough maids to manage," Mathilda assured him.
"That's great. That's all I needed, Mathilda."
"Good, do not hesitate to call on me if you need anything," she said before gracefully leaving the room.
El turned to Lys and suggested, "Shall we go for a workout?"
Lys started to speak but was interrupted again. "I can carry you if you prefer."
She sighed and replied, "No need, young master."
Together, they left the main house and strolled toward the vast training complex, a facility that rivaled a football stadium in size and appearance.
The outer walls surrounding the training area stood tall and imposing, creating an enclosed and fortress-like atmosphere reminiscent of a large stadium. These walls served both practical and aesthetic purposes, providing privacy for practice sessions while presenting an impressive facade, complete with circular design and spectator seating.
The complex boasted a plethora of amenities, but today El's focus was on the central sparring area. Elian and Lys arrived at the designated spot.
However, El couldn't help but notice the dejected expression on Lys' face, causing him to reflect on his actions. Had he gone too far? She had only played a harmless prank on him. In retrospect, he realized that maybe Lys didn't deserve the beating he had originally intended to give her.
Could it be the lingering effects of yesterday's events? Was he looking for an outlet for his pent-up frustration at not intervening when he should have? It seemed most likely.
Fortunately, he stopped himself before he crossed a line. He looked at Lys and spoke in a softer tone, "Lys, don't be discouraged. I was only joking earlier."
lightsΝοvelEl could empathize with Lys' despondency. Even though they were the same age and Lys was his elder, El's strength far exceeded hers, not to mention his penchant for fighting.
Observing Lys' expectant look, El continued, "Yes, I just wanted to loosen up after a long day's rest. He conjured up the excuse on the spot. "So, shall we spar? I'll focus on defense only, no attacks."
Lys felt a wave of relief as she imagined herself leaving the arena in one piece. She decided to humor El for a moment before giving in. However, El seemed to read her thoughts when he added, "But if I sense that you're not giving it your all, I might just delete all your anime episodes."
Lys' horror was palpable as she immediately replied, "You wouldn't dare!" El just grinned and replied, "Try me."