As the sun rose on the horizon, painting the sky with hues of orange and gold, Sato, Divanchi, and Yuri embarked on their journey to Nervek. The weight of responsibility settled upon Sato's shoulders, his impending role as the new Duke of Nervek looming large in his mind. The significance of this moment was not lost on him, and he understood the weight of the expectations placed upon his young shoulders.
As they made their way through the countryside, Sato's keen eyes observed the changes taking place around them. The landscape seemed to transform before his very eyes, a testament to Vlad's ambitious vision for the future. New roads had been carved out, weaving their way through the vast expanse of the land. These roads held the promise of connectivity, linking villages and towns, and most importantly, providing a direct route into the heart of the forest.
Sato couldn't help but feel a sense of awe at the sheer scale of Vlad's constructions. The determination and foresight behind these new roads spoke of a leader driven by a desire to unite the people, to create a path towards progress. The forest, once an enigma cloaked in mystery and trepidation, now beckoned with a newfound accessibility.
As the journey continued, Sato's thoughts were consumed by the responsibilities that awaited him.
After a journey of several hours, Sato's carriage came to a halt at the grand entrance of the town. The imposing gates stood tall and majestic, the symbol of authority and prestige that awaited within. The carriage, carried him with a regal air, drawing the attention of those who caught sight of it.
As the carriage came to a stop, Sato's steady gaze surveyed the surroundings. The red district, with its opulent mansions and elegant estates, lay before him. It was in this district that Vlad's mansion, a testament to his power and influence, resided. The very heart of Nervek's political and social scene.
With a serene demeanor, Sato stepped out of the carriage, his posture exuding confidence and grace. His subordinate, sensing the gravity of the moment, followed suit.
The imposing mansion stood before them, a structure that spoke of wealth, authority, and the weight of responsibility that would soon be transferred to Sato's shoulders.
As he approached the mansion's entrance, Sato's eyes flickered with a mixture of anticipation and composure. He was keenly aware of the significance of this moment, the culmination of his journey and the beginning of his reign as the new Duke of Nervek.
The entrance to the mansion seemed to invite him forward, beckoning him into the world of politics, power, and intrigue that awaited within its walls.
Sato took a deep breath, centering himself, and with measured steps, he crossed the threshold, ready to embrace the challenges and responsibilities that lay ahead.
As Sato stood at the entrance, the piercing gazes of the mansion's workers seemed to bear down upon him. Their curious eyes followed his every move, whispering among themselves, their murmurs echoing in the air. Sato couldn't help but feel the weight of their expectations and the enormity of the task that lay before him.
He let out a soft sigh, his words barely audible as he muttered to himself, "Good grief, I don't know what made me think this would be easy." The challenges and intricacies of his new role as the Duke of Nervek began to loom large in his mind, a reminder of the trials that awaited him.
Yuri, ever loyal and supportive, offered her unwavering faith in Sato's abilities. Her voice carried a hint of mischief as she spoke, "I have full faith in you. If their eyes are bothering you, I'll happily gouge them out for you." A mischievous smile played upon her lips, emphasizing her fierce loyalty and protectiveness towards him.
Sato's expression softened as he glanced at Yuri, grateful for her unwavering support. He shook his head gently, dismissing her offer. "That's not necessary," he replied, his tone filled with a mix of determination and humility. He understood that earning the respect and trust of the workers would require more than just eliminating their curious stares.
Before Sato could knock on the mansion's door, it swung open with a suddenness that caught him off guard. Standing before him were Erza, the mansion's mistress, and her trusted maids, Shuna, Luna, and Xanxia. Their presence at the entrance indicated their preparedness to receive him, their demeanor poised and attentive.
"Lord Sato, it's good to see you again." Shuna said with a smile as she slightly bowed her head.
"Lord Sato, it is a pleasure to see you again," Shuna greeted with a warm smile, her demeanor respectful as she offered a slight bow of her head.
Xanxia, unable to contain her astonishment, chimed in, "Indeed, you look different." Her eyes widened, clearly captivated by the changes in Sato's appearance.
Before Sato could respond, Erza swiftly intervened, her hand firmly grasping his arm. "Enough chatter, come, Father is waiting inside," she declared, her voice holding a sense of urgency and authority. With a gentle yet insistent pull, she guided him towards the entrance of the mansion, urging him to move forward.
Yuri let out an exasperated sigh, her frustration evident in her mutterings, "Such an annoying creature." She cast a brief glance towards Divanchi, who stood outside, her senses keenly aware of a figure lurking in the garden to their left.
Divanchi's eyes darted to the side, her instincts guiding her attention to the hidden presence in the garden. Suspicion flickered in her gaze as she surveyed the surroundings, her instincts telling her that something was amiss.
As the group proceeded into the mansion, a sense of intrigue and anticipation filled the air.
Once inside the mansion, Erza guided Sato, Yuri, and Divanchi towards the balcony, where Vlad, the patriarch of the family, sat.
He reclined in a chair, a bottle of saké resting before him along with a couple of grapefruits. The soft breeze gently rustled the leaves of the nearby trees, creating a serene atmosphere around them.
Erza opened the glass door leading to the balcony, announcing their arrival with a warm smile. "Father, the Duke has arrived," she declared, her voice carrying a hint of pride.
Vlad's eyes shifted towards the entrance, a smile beginning to form on his lips as he spotted Sato making his way towards them. However, his expression quickly transformed into one of astonishment and shock as he took a closer look at Sato's face, realizing the transformation that had occurred.
"You have ascended," Vlad voiced out, his words filled with a mix of surprise and admiration. The revelation of Sato's changed appearance seemed to have caught him off guard.
Sato returned the smile, a glimmer of satisfaction in his eyes. "I knew I didn't have to explain it to you," he responded, his voice carrying a sense of reassurance and confidence.
He moved closer, taking a seat opposite Vlad, settling into the comfortable chair. Erza gracefully settled beside Sato, while Yuri and Divanchi stood behind them, observing the scene with watchful eyes.
The atmosphere held a blend of anticipation and reverence as the former Duke and the newly appointed Duke engaged in their private conversation.
The rest of the group remained respectfully silent, their attention focused on their masters, awaiting the exchange of words that would shape the course of their future endeavors.
"Indulge me a bit, what did you ascend to?" Vlad asked.
"Demon lord." Sato replied.
Vlad's laughter echoed through the balcony as he leaned back in his chair, overcome by amusement. "Demon lord, huh?" he chuckled, his voice laced with a mixture of surprise and pride. "Once again, you've managed to surprise me, Sato. I couldn't be prouder of the path you've chosen."
Erza's smile widened, her grip on Sato's arm tightening as she leaned closer to him. "When do we depart for the ceremony?" she inquired eagerly, her eyes shining with anticipation.
Vlad straightened himself, his demeanor filled with a sense of purpose. "Indeed, we have everything we need," he affirmed, his voice resonating with authority. "Sato is here, and with Erza by his side, we shall proceed. The people of Nervek are already eagerly awaiting the arrival of their new Duke."
The realization of the impending ceremony sparked a surge of excitement within the group. The time for Sato to embrace his role as the Duke of Nervek had arrived, and their departure held the promise of new beginnings and the fulfillment of their collective aspirations.
With Vlad's words serving as the catalyst, the atmosphere on the balcony transformed, brimming with a sense of urgency and determination. The final preparations were set in motion, and the journey to Nervek, where the destiny of the realm would be altered, was about to commence.
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