Chapter 11 – I Can’t Believe He’s Doing This To Me (2)
Though he was desperate not to do this, Sovieshu called in his servants and secretaries and gave them an order.
“I need a lady-in-waiting to serve Rashta. You all must have female relatives. I want each of you to recommend two people for me.”
The Emperor’s concubine was in an odd position, as both the subject of much attention and envy, as well as criticism and contempt. Sovieshu thought that Rashta’s status as a commoner must have hurt the nobles’ pride. For this reason, some emperors married their concubine to another aristocrate to forge a noble identity, but there was too much talk about Rashta to conceal her background. For a month or a year, the nobles would only pretend to be friendly to Rashta, so long as Sovieshu continued to care for her.
Because no one would volunteer, he had no choice but to give an order.
“She needs to have a peer, so be mindful about the age difference.”
The servants and secretaries exchanged awkward glances among themselves.
“You’re talking about this…this runaway slave! Are you crazy?”
“Father! How can you say that to Mother?”
Baron Lant’s hands were trembling and sweating profusely.
“Runaway slave? No, she’s not a runaway slave, she’s a commoner–”
“Even if she’s not a runaway slave, it’s still a problem because everyone thinks so!”
Baroness Lant put her hands on her hips and glared at her husband.
“You want me to serve a runaway slave? People will laugh at you, and our Jess, as well as me. The Baron Lant is below a slave!”
Baron Lant believed that Rashta was a charming and lovely woman, and that one day other nobles would fall for the new concubine. But that was the future, and it’s clear that people in society today had a bad opinion of Rashta. Unfortunately, what Baroness Lant said was true.
“What about on your side, your niece Aesi–”
“Are suggesting we decide her future for her because she isn’t your niece…? Even among your extended family there are at least three nieces, no?”
“You don’t know their personalities. They aren’t just someone you can put into another person’s care.”
“Oh my, see this? What’s the excuse now?”
As the Baron and Baroness Lant argued with each other, the other servants and secretaries found themselves in similar circumstances. Everyone shook their heads while talking about the runaway slave. However, they weren’t in the position to back down like the Empress. In the end, Count Pirnu and Baron Lant were ordered by the Emperor to bring their female relatives to the palace for a month.
I thought Sovieshu would force me to inquire the noblewomen again. But somehow, three days later, my ladies-in-waiting informed me that Count Pirnu’s daughter and a Baron Lant’s distant relative would serve as Rashta’s companions. Setting aside Baron Lant’s relative, it was surprising that Count Pirnu’s daughter would take on the job.
“Isn’t that young lady’s name Helen?”
I knew that the Pirnu family was a strong household.
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Yet Helen somehow was the lady-in-waiting.
“Helen is inquisitive and has a good relationship with her father. Maybe she’s here for the Count’s sake.”
“I suppose so.”
I nodded and did not bring it up anymore.
Fortunately, a few hours later, I completely forgot about Rashta when I went for a walk and found the handsome bird once again. The ladies-in-waiting were amazed when the bird flew and hovered before me.
“Oh, the bird’s here again.”
“See how it goes to the Empress! Amazing.”
The bird had another note on its leg.
– But I’m smarter than a bird. I’m sobering up now.
I chuckled as I read the note. It was for no big reason in particular, I just laughed.
I watered the bird, then quickly wrote a reply.
– Looks like you’re not fully sober yet. What’s the bird’s name?
The ladies giggled again after seeing my note. Everyone mused on whether it was fun to write such letters. I kissed the bird’s small head and launched it into the sky, and it flapped its wings and flew away.
This time I ended the letter with a question. Would the person who received the letter reply to me again?
I liked to think so.
The name I temporarily forgot about arrived back in my ears not long after.
“Empress. I’ve come to ask you something about Rashta.”
I was busy discussing the New Year’s preparations with the minister of finance when Sovieshu brought her up.
“Is it urgent?”
I glanced at my watch, as if I had already finished my work day. If it was not urgent, we could talk later. There was no rush about Rashta.
Instead of replying to me, Sovieshu looked at the minister, who stood up awkwardly from his seat and walked away. All the other officials followed suit. In a moment, only the two of us were left in the room.
“What’s going on?”
Sovieshu looked at me beyond the large table.
“As I said, it’s about Rashta.”
Please, couldn’t he solve the concubine’s problems on his own? I nodded, pressing down the words in my throat.
“Did you spread rumors that Rashta is a runaway slave?”
“That story again?”
Except he was more specific than before. Last time he only asked if I said something strange. I looked at him in trepidation.
“Not only do Rashta’s new ladies-in-waiting do not treat her properly, but they also don’t act as ladies-in-waiting at all. ”
“Your Majesty, I don’t want to be involved in any way with your concubine.”
“But why do they ignore Rashta at every turn, and compare everything she does to the Empress? Poor Rashta hid it and didn’t say a word to me. If I hadn’t seen the ladies’-in-waiting behavior by accident, I wouldn’t have known it was happening. ”
“Shouldn’t we ask the ladies-in-waiting?”
“I asked, and they said they didn’t want to serve a runaway slave.”
“…You are truly unreasonable.”