”Lawrence, your cloak’s a bit long. Won’t you trip?” Morse asked.
To become Duke Garcia’s knight, at least two senior knights had to recommend you. The knight captain and Morse led Xing Ye to meet the duke.
”I won’t.” Xing Ye’s face was as cold as ever.
The knight captain glanced at Xing Ye before peeking back again moments later. Xing Ye pretended he didn’t notice.
”Lawrence, you look a bit different today.” When they arrived at the door, the knight captain couldn’t help but mention it.
”It’s probably because I just bathed.” Xing Ye said.
After not washing for almost ten days, there’d obviously be a big change when he finally got clean.
”No wonder you smell so good…” Morse leaned in and sniffed, “Did you use the manor’s cologne?”
He was clearly so wrapped up in the cloak that not even the tips of his shoes were exposed yet those two were affected? The cheat really was strong.
”Who knows.” Xing Ye kept up the cold persona and lightly rapped the door, entering when he heard approval.
Duke Garcia was a well built man just over thirty years with sharp eyes. He was clearly much stronger than Earl Luca.
The knight captain dropped to one knee and placed his hand over his heart before speaking to Duke Garcia: “Grand Duke, this is Lawrence, an extremely skilled adventurer. If we fought in a true life and death battle, I wouldn’t be his opponent.”
”Knight Walter, I admire your honesty and fairness the most.” Duke Garcia set down his wine glass and helped the knight captain up: “I believe in your recommendation. If none of the other knights object, I’ll confer him a knight’s medallion tonight.”
The knight captain sincerely expressed his gratitude: “Thank you for your trust.”
He was very charismatic. Xing Ye silently observed Duke Garcia and noted that he was an ambitious man.
Before they entered the room, Xing Ye still hadn’t decided if he really wanted to become Duke Garcia’s knight or not. After confirming the duke wasn’t an idiot, he made his decision.
”Grand Duke,” Xing Ye saluted to Duke Garcia, “Before I become your knight, I have something I need to talk to you alone about. If you still wish to accept me after hearing it, I am willing to dedicate my life to you.”
”How audacious!” The butler behind Duke Garcia reproached, “How could we let a person of dubious origins like you be alone with the duke?”
The knight captain hurriedly spoke up: “I can use my life to guarantee that Lawrence is a devoted, kind hearted, and just knight. He definitely won’t harm the duke!”
Xing Ye was speechless.
Was Knight Walter’s head ok? The butler’s suspicions were very reasonable! Letting a powerful and dubious figure like him stay alone with the duke, what if he was an assassin?
Xing Ye actually didn’t really believe the mirror when it said “No man can resist your charms.” After all, the knights hadn’t really treated him differently in their days together. He only put on female clothing to create a conflict between the queen and Duke Garcia, but the effect of it was far greater than he imagined.
Morse also added on to Knight Walter’s words, insisting Lawrence was an outstanding and just man.
”I believe you two,” Duke Garcia supported the two knights up, “I’m willing to give Lawrence a chance.”
At the same time, he consoled the worried butler: “Believe in my strength. I’m not like those second generation nobles who only know how to eat and play around. Ten years ago, I even got the title of best swordsman in the country.”
His words placated both the butler and the knights, smoothing out their conflict while also warning Xing Ye that he couldn’t do whatever he pleased just because they were alone. He was a very formidable character.
Soon, only Xing Ye and Duke Garcia were left in the room. The Duke raised his glass, the other hand resting on the hilt of his sword. Although he appeared at ease, his guard was actually raised as he asked Xing Ye: “What do you want to say?”
Xing Ye clenched his fist. Although he planned it long ago, he still felt conflicted. But right now, he couldn’t care too much about his own pride. He was somebody who would seek victory no matter fair or foul. It was just women's clothes, who cares.
Xing Ye kept a safe distance from Duke Garcia and relaxed his voice, speaking softly: “I wish to use this to show my sincerity to the Grand Duke and beseech the duke to help guard my secret.”
”Oh? What kind of secret?” Duke Garcia’s interest was raised.
Xing Ye slowly untied his cloak and let it fall to the floor, revealing the loose lace dress inside.
It wasn’t some gorgeous, fancy dress or anything. Xing Ye just randomly picked it in the market. Although the color wasn’t the prettiest and the material looked cheap, it seemed to shine when Xing Ye wore it.
Xing Ye raised the ends of his skirt and gracefully gave Duke Garcia a curtsy, his voice soft: “This is my biggest secret. Even like this, can I still become the Grand Duke’s knight?”
Duke Garcia was struck dumb for a few moments before recovering: “You, how can you… you’re really beautiful, no, wait, Knight Walter said that your skills were very good? This…”
The powerful and disciplined Duke suddenly couldn’t speak properly, covering his mouth as his face turned red.
Xing Ye: “...”
You men were really… forget it, he was also a man.
Although he actually felt quite uncomfortable, Xing Ye kept the calm look on his face as he continued: “I am being completely honest about my identity; I don’t wish to deceive you. But at the same time, I hope that the Grand Duke won’t mind my gender and treat me as an ordinary knight.”
”No… you…” Duke Garcia rubbed his face and avoided looking straight at Xing Ye, slowly calming down before speaking: “You’re such a beautiful young woman, why do you want to become a knight?”
Xing Ye’s face didn’t change as he casually made up a tragic story about a girl dressing up as a man. It was a common plot in modern world stories, stuff like bringing honor to the family, helping her mother win favor, being bullied by relatives; in short, there were countless reasons why Lawrence dressed as a male since birth and already basically considered himself to be a man.
”After my mother died, I didn’t have any attachments left in my family and left my home with the few belongings I had.” Xing Ye narrated, “Since I was raised as a boy since I was small, I wouldn’t know how to act like a girl. Right now, I just wish to become an outstanding knight to bring honor to my family. Would the Grand Duke be willing to accept me?”
It took a long time for Duke Garcia to return to normal: “Cough, put on the robe first.”
”Yes.” Xing Ye also couldn’t stand his clothes.
”I am a gentleman who respects women. If this is your wish, I’ll help you achieve it.” Duke Garcia said, “However, I can’t let you become a knight just because of your gender. You need to prove your strength.”
”Of course, I just hope the Grand Duke can help me keep my secret. Would that be alright?” Xing Ye went on one knee and raised his head slightly, looking up at the duke at a 45 degree angle.
This was reportedly the most attractive angle.
”Don’t worry, I won’t speak of it.” Duke Garcia got up, “I’ll prepare for the welcoming ceremony, you should go and change.”
Xing Ye thanked the duke for his magnanimous words before retiring to his room, greeting Morse and Walter on the way back.
The mirror was tucked between his bosom the entire time. When he took it out, “Puke!” was written on it in big letters. Xing Ye ignored him and talked as he changed: “This cheat’s even bigger than I thought.”
Mirror: Your bottom part is also big, don’t tell me you really intend to seduce the Duke?
”How could that be possible?” Xing Ye said, “I’m just giving Claire’s identity another layer of defense. In a few days, the duke will bring the knights to the Imperial Palace to send the queen her birthday presents. At that time, there’ll definitely be a body search conducted to enter. With Duke Garcia’s protection, nobody will dare to touch me.”
Of course, he also had another goal: however, success depends on this body’s charm and Duke Garcia’s ambition.
Xing Ye changed into a handsome knight’s uniform and fiddled with it following the mirror’s instructions, making his waist seem even slimmer and legs longer.
After finishing everything, Xing Ye hid the mirror in his pocket. The knight uniforms were designed with concealed pockets so you couldn’t see it from outside. Furthermore, because knights were often on the move, the pockets were made very deep so it would be very hard for the mirror to drop out. It was very convenient.
In the welcoming party, Duke Garcia introduced Xing Ye to the knights and asked them if Xing Ye should be conferred a medallion. The knights who weren’t in the delivery group and hadn’t seen his strength naturally refused to acknowledge him at first but after a few duels, Xing Ye was completely accepted.
Duels were also one of the party’s entertainment features. The Duke sat at the head of the table and raised his cup for a toast: “I’ll bestow this glass of red wine to whoever wins.”
Duke Garcia drank the best quality wine. The flavor was completely different from the gross thing Xing Ye had in the tavern. Moreover, this was an honor and a display of the master’s trust. The atmosphere instantly turned excited.
Knight Walter was very worried. He wanted to take Xing Ye’s place in the challenges but Xing Ye just pressed down on his shoulder and gave a confident smile.
He was skilled, defeating his challengers with just a few punches and kicks. When nobody dared to challenge him again, he took a kneel in front of the duke and accepted the wine glass, courteously speaking: “Thank you for your present.”
He picked up the glass and downed it in one gulp. A drop of red wine spilled from his mouth, trailing down his fair neck before finally sliding down within the folds of his collar.
Duke Garcia’s throat couldn’t help bob.
The butler secretly frowned. What a vulgar way of drinking, it was wasting the Grand Duke’s fine liquor.
After the clamor, Duke Garcia pinned the knight’s medallion to Xing Ye’s chest. His fingers trembled slightly, seeming afraid that he would accidentally touch Xing Ye’s breast.
Knights in the Duke’s manor all had luxurious rooms. Xing Ye soaked in the bath with contentment as he picked up the mirror and asked: “Magic mirror, magic mirror, tell me, can Duke Garcia challenge the queen’s authority?
The system automatically took over the mirror and replied: “My child, don’t believe in a man’s superficial affections. He will only do what he can bear the cost for you, any more is impossible.”
“That’s enough.” Xing Ye said.