Chapter 67 – Did You Find A Connection?
Petronilla had a feeling that this man’s demands would only increase in scale. Seeing her expression, Rothesay’s face turned disappointed.
“As I thought, is it impossible…?” he murmured. He looked so much like a baby kitten thrown out to the streets that Petronilla’s heart wrenched. She heaved a sigh.
With that one word, his lifeless expression soon lit up. “Really?” he asked.
“I will not say it twice.” Petronilla added a condition. “However, I must return home before the sun sets.”
“Of course, My Lady. I’m not a promiscuous person.”
Petronilla nearly said that he did look like one but decided against it. Now that Rothesay was granted Petronilla’s permission, he spoke up excitedly.
“What time will be good for you, My Lady? If you are free now, I would be more than happy to go this inst—”
“Ah, I apologize, but I cannot right now…” she said with a slight frown. “I will send a messenger to Count Bradington’s estate. How does that sound?”
“Wonderful,” he said with a smile that said that she was welcome to any time, and seeing that, Petronilla gave a low chuckle without realizing it.
Rothesay smiled at her reaction. “Oh? You just laughed.”
“Isn’t that so?”
“…Is it that of big concern?”
“Yes, it’s very important,” he said in his sweet, baritone voice. “That was the first time you laughed while looking at me.”
I don’t think that was the first time…
While Petronilla was confusedly trying to recall whether this was true or not, Rothesay slowly rose from his seat.
“Are you already leaving?” Petronilla asked.
“I believe you said that you were busy. I do not wish to take more of your precious time, My Lady.”
“Then, I will bid you farewell for today.”
With those words, Rothesay got on one knee in front of Petronilla. While she was being too busy dazedly staring at him, he kissed the back of her right hand. Petronilla’s face flushed at the chivalrous gesture. Rothesay smiled, as if to reassure her that it was nothing to be embarrassed about.
“Then I shall come see you tomorrow, my lady,” he said smoothly.
He then left, fully upholding the manners of a gentleman until the very end. Petronilla stayed seated for a while, before coming to her senses with a shake of her head, then got up. Then, Marchioness Grochester entered the room.
“How did it go, daughter?”
“Sir Bradington. I really do like that man.”
“Pl…please don’t say such unnecessary things, Mother,” Petronilla stammered, her face beet red before she fled the room. Why would Mother say something like that so suddenly! Petronilla smoothed down the dress she was wearing, then decided she needed to get to the palace immediately.
It was around 2 o’clock in the afternoon by the time Petronilla knocked on the door to the Queen’s quarters.
“Nilla, why were you so late today?” Patrizia said warmly.
“Ah…” Petronilla was caught slightly off-guard, before calming herself and answering casually. “I… woke up late.”
“It’s rare of you to sleep in,” Patrizia mused quietly. Petronilla gave an awkward laugh and nodded.
It was then that Mirya came in with a plate full of snacks for the two of them. Patrizia took a bite of a chocolate dacquoise before saying,
“I have something to tell you.”
“What is it?”
“Well…it’s about Duke Ephreney’s concubine.”
“Ah.” Petronilla had a vague idea of what her sister was about to say. “If it’s about that, then let me go first.”
“Hm? What do you mean?”
“That concubine’s name is January.” Petronilla continued in a serious tone. “And Madame January is conspiring with Rosemond.”
“Goodness, so it’s true!” After confirming her suspicions, Patrizia shook her head.
“How’d you know about this?” Petronilla asked.
“Last night, by chance, I overheard them speaking on the terrace, though I couldn’t hear everything. Something about their plan being this and that…”
“I think this January woman is more involved with this than I initially thought.” Petronilla handed something to Patrizia. It was the letter that she found in January’s room.
“What is this, Nil?” Patrizia asked.
“It’s a note that I found in January’s room. I’m sure you can tell just by looking at it, but it’s addressed from Rosemond.”
Patrizia quickly opened the letter and read it. In was written:
To January, it’s me, Rosemond.
I heard that Duchess Ephreney took a trip out of the country. To think that she would tell Petronilla to watch over the house… gosh. There’s no doubt that that woman has gone crazy. She actually left the house in the care of her husband’s political enemy. I wonder if she even realizes how risky that is.
In any case, be careful, Jan. Petronilla is the Queen’s older twin sister. On top of that, she is not a foolish woman. If you act even the slightest bit suspiciously, we’ll be found out instantly.
Don’t forget, Jan. We’re accomplices. We’ve left the dock on the same boat, and there’s no turning back.
I believe in you.
Remember to burn this letter.
“Accomplices…” Reading that one word which caught her eye, Patrizia frowned heavily. Could it be that this woman helped out Rosemond with all of her evil deeds? As if she could read what Patrizia was thinking, Petronilla spoke.
“It’s not that far-fetched to think that, Rizi. I know what you’re thinking.”
“Even though they’re accomplices, it seems that they don’t fully trust one another.”
“I think so, too.” Rosemond clearly stated to “burn this letter.” However, January left the letter as is. This was probably January’s insurance in case things went south. Or is it?
Patrizia laughed. Figures, a villain couldn’t trust another villain since their everyday lives are spent stabbing people in the back.
“For now… I don’t think it’s a bad idea to keep watch on them. How much longer are you looking after the Ephreney estate, Nil?”
“I actually received a message the day before yesterday from Duchess Ephreney.” She continued with a sigh. “It seems that her son’s condition is really severe. She’s quite distressed.”
Patrizia felt the slightest bit of irony from this situation. There was no denying that she and Duke Ephreney were political enemies, yet her older twin sister was watching over their house. What kind of absurd situation was this? Still, the matters of the world could never be viewed with a black-or-white attitude.
“Let’s see how things play out before making a move,” Patrizia finished.
“You can count on me, Rizi.”
“Of course.” Patrizia lightly smiled before carefully putting the letter in her jewelry box. Thinking that it would be a crucial piece of evidence for later, she told Mirya to hide it in the most secretive place before giving her attention back to Petronilla, a comfortable expression on her face.
“So sister, did you find a suitor last night?”
Petronilla’s face turned red for a brief moment. Seeing her reaction, both Patrizia and everyone else in the room were thinking the same thing. Ah, something must have happened.
“Who is it?” asked Patrizia laughingly.
“There’s no one.”
“Lies.” Taking amusement with the situation, Patrizia giggled as Petronilla pleaded the Fifth. Deciding to show her sister some mercy, Patrizia gave a final laugh before changing the topic.
“Alright, alright, I get it. Jeez, Nil, you’re so…”
Right then, someone burst into the room. Startled by the sudden disturbance, Patrizia’s eyes flew wide open. Mirya scolded the servant girl who barged in.
“How could you act so disrespectfully in front of Her Majesty and the Lady?”
“It’s alright, Mirya.” After calming Mirya down, Patrizia turned to the servant girl with a furrowed brow. “What is the matter?”
“That is…Princess Ephreney showed up to the council meeting…”
Rosemond did? Patrizia frowned. What the servant girl said next, however, only deepened her scowl.
“…She declared that Your Majesty is infertile and that His Majesty the emperor must take up a royal concubine.”
The expressions of everyone who heard those words hardened. There was a heavy silence in the room, until it was broken by none other than Patrizia.
“Tell me exactly what happened,” she spoke calmly.
“It’s as I said, Your Majesty. This news just came out from the council meeting. Princess Ephreney said that Your Majesty was infertile and that the Emperor must take up a royal concubine… And she began asking the other nobles for their opinions on the matter.”
“Hah!” Patrizia couldn’t stop the scoff that burst from her mouth. Meanwhile, Petronilla wore a grave expression. Neither Raphaella nor Mirya looked particularly happy.
Why is she obsessed over my fertility? Patrizia genuinely wondered before contemplating the reason. Rosemond wasn’t the type of girl to risk her life over something useless. She wasn’t that stupid. If that’s the case, then could it be…?
“Am I…” Patrizia murmured. Am I really…?
“Am I really infertile…?”
While Patrizia was speaking to herself in disbelief, another person came rushing into the room. What is it this time? Another wave of bad premonitions crashed over her.
“Your Majesty the Queen.” The new servant girl who came to bring the news looked like she was about to cry.
Patrizia swallowed hard. “What is it?”
“It has been decided that Your Majesty’s fertility will be tested,” the servant girl announced with a trembling voice. “Your Majesty, is this… is this…!”
Patrizia cut off the girl’s words. Her face looked grave before she suddenly got up from her seat. Everyone watched Patrizia’s cold expression.
“If it’s true, then we’ll need to set up a countermeasure.”