Chapter 100 – Only I Can Protect Myself (1)
I laughed in amazement. I asked her to repeat herself in stunned surprise, but as soon as I finished someone else stepped forward.
“What did you just say?”
It was my brother. His face resembled mine, but he looked terrifying when he scowled. He was a warrior battle-hardened on the frontier, and the atmosphere around him instantly changed when he got angry.
Rashta took a hesitant step back, surprised by Koshar’s aura. As my brother approached her threateningly, she staggered further backwards.
She fell on her buttocks, her hand shooting out to protectively wrap her stomach. I quickly walked up to my brother and caught his sleeve.
Almost at the same time, Marquis Farang grabbed Koshar by the arm and tugged him.
“Let it go. Don’t get involved.”
At that moment, Rashta looked up with a frightened expression and gave a sharp scream.
“Aaaaah! My stomach!”
She crawled on the ground with a look of agony.
“Why are you pretending to be hurt?”
Koshar looked ready to explode. Rashta was still holding onto her stomach, and when I saw the image my heart dropped to the floor and I felt as if ice-cold water had been doused on my head.
A crowd started gathering as Marquis Farang tried to pull my brother away.
“My stomach hurts! Aaaaah, my stomach hurts!”
Rashta continued to scream. Some from the crowd knew of my brother’s notoriety. A few people rushed to the Central Palace for help, while others approached Rashta to examine her condition. The guards, along with Marquis Farang, attempted to hold back my brother’s rage.
“You there! You dare say Navier is infertile and expect her to raise your children! I’ll cut out your tongue!”
Koshar continued to yell even as he was pushed back.
Rashta’s eyes trembled in fright. It was true she said those words, but it was hard to refute him when he was yelling, so she didn’t say a word back. Koshar was heaving and panting for breath, and the guards and Marquis Farang finally managed to take him away.
Rashta looked up at me and sobbed pitifully. I noticed that her forehead was soaked in a cold sweat, so she must not be faking an illness.
She seemed to be mouthing something at me, as if asking for help. I didn’t know what she was expecting. The councilmen will come soon. There were many officials around, and there were guards to help or carry her. There was nothing I could do for her.
I stared down at her for another moment, then turned and went to find my brother.
“Is Rashta alright?”
The palace doctor was studying Rashta with a serious look on his face, and Sovieshu couldn’t help but be impatient. Rashta looked at the doctor, her eyes wet with tears.
“The baby. Is the baby fine?”
Sovieshu clicked his tongue in frustration.
“Is there something wrong with the baby?”
“The baby is the most important thing for Rashta.”
“You are more important than an unborn baby.”
“Stop. Don’t get too agitated.”
He wiped the cold sweat on her forehead with a towel and glanced at the doctor. It was a signal to answer quickly. The doctor took a step back and replied gloomily.
“Miss Rashta needs to be stabilized, Your Majesty.”
“Are you saying she’s hurt?”
Sovieshu replied sharply.
“It’s not that.”
The palace doctor gathered his hands together as if in apology.
“You have to be cautious in the early stages of pregnancy, and she is not physically strong. Try to avoid situations like these in the future, otherwise she may miscarry.”
As soon as the doctor left, Sovieshu angrily kicked the sofa. Rashta’s cheeks were tracked with tears as she gripped her blanket. Sovieshu closed his eyes and managed a deep breath before calmly speaking.
“Rashta. Watch your words in front of Koshar. He is a man quick to anger. I’ll put a restraining order on him, but I don’t know what he’ll do when my eyes are turned away.”
Rashta looked at him in surprise.
“Watch my words?”
“I heard from other people that you spoke ill of the Empress, namely about infertility.”
“A-ah no, Your Majesty!”
She vigorously shook her head, but she remembered Koshar shouting his accusations at her wildly in front of the crowd. There were so many witnesses, and Sovieshu didn’t look like he believed her. She choked up.
“It’s not true…”
She should have opposed Koshar’s words then, but at the time her stomach hurt so much that she couldn’t explain herself. It was clear to her now that the people believed Koshar’s words immediately. She found it so unfair, but instead of denying it, she burst into tears.
“The Empress first told Rashta that she was worthless!”
However, Sovieshu unexpectedly defended Navier.
“The Empress is someone who manages her image to the extreme.”
Rashta flushed at his reply. Instead of siding with Rashta, Sovieshu believed Navier. A feeling of uneasiness soared in her. At this rate, she seemed to have fallen on her own after pouring insults at the Empress.
‘It’s true that I fell by myself. But if such a scary person comes near you, you can’t help but be surprised and fall down.’
She bit her lower lip. Was it because of stress? Her belly was starting to ache again.
The pain of a few hours ago stirred in her memory, as well as the Empress’ cold stare at the time. The Empress had looked down on her when she was asking for help…
Sovieshu attempted to soothe her, but she still couldn’t bring herself to speak. She was miserable. She wasn’t a dog that could let her anger go once she was scolded. What if Sovieshu would misunderstand that she was a bad woman and then abandon her? The concubine’s position was not a stable one, and she could be driven out or neglected if Sovieshu started to dislike her.
‘Like the concubines of the previous emperors.’
What would happen if she was expelled from the Imperial Palace? How much money will Sovieshu give her to support her baby? Or perhaps her baby will be taken away, and she would be the one kicked out.
That wasn’t her only problem either. The Empress’ brother or Viscount Roteschu might try to look for her and kill her then.
Rashta’s heart went cold. She had already been abandoned, her baby stolen, and she had nearly died. She didn’t want to suffer the same fate again.
‘Not like this.’
The Empress may be a dignified figure, but she was cold-blooded. Her brother was violent and rude. The nobles treated her like a cute novelty, but they could easily turn their backs on her. And although she loved Sovieshu, she could not trust and depend on him. Rashta soon realized that she was the only one who could protect herself and her baby.
As soon as she finished thinking, she spoke in a soft voice.
“Rashta did not say anything about infertility to the Empress. Even if Rashta’s words were misunderstood…Rashta carries the Emperor’s baby. I don’t deserve to be pushed.”
“Koshar pushed you?”
“Yes. He didn’t push hard, but he pushed me.”
Sovieshu’s gaze suddenly turned steely.
Sovieshu had been briefed on the aftermath of the incident, but no one knew the cause of Rashta’s fall. By the time the crowd had gathered, she was already on the ground and Marquis Farang and Navier were trying to stop Koshar, so no one knew the exact sequence of events.
But Koshar pushed Rashta? If Rashta had said Navier did it, Sovieshu wouldn’t have believed her. However, Koshar was just the kind of man to do such a thing.
“Get some rest for now.”
He pulled a blanket over Rashta’s trembling form and left the room. His calm lasted only a few steps, however, and when he returned to his room, he summoned his chief secretary, Marquis Karl.
“Marquis Karl, make sure that you completely ban Koshar Lilder Troby from entering the Imperial Palace until further notice.”
“What? A restraining order…?”
“A suspension is not enough.”
“But Your Majesty, Lord Koshar is the Empress’ brother and successor to Duke Troby.”
“That is why I only went this far. However, he was determined to push Rashta.”
“Lord Koshar pushed Miss Rashta?”
“According to her.”
There was an uncharacteristic note of doubt in Sovieshu’s words.
Marquis Karl recalled that Sovieshu kept Viscount Langdel’s report instead of throwing it away.