Chapter 117 – A Person Who Spreads Rumors, A Person Who Exploits (2)
Disappointed by the failure of the abortive drugs, as well as the continued nuisance towards Navier, Koshar was more determined to dig up information on Rashta on his own.
Navier had said, “Even if you take out Rashta, the Emperor will bring in a new concubine.” And so what? It was a matter of removing them too. And if another concubine appeared again? Hit them once more. All emperors had concubines, but what did it matter? The emperors were not married to them.
‘It would have been easier if her husband was not the emperor.’
Koshar kept his eyes fixed at the back of Viscount Roteschu’s head as he trailed him. After several days of investigation, Koshar knew that Viscount Roteschu was helping Rashta. In fact, the viscount did not even hide the fact, claiming that because his mistake had caused Rashta trouble, he wanted to pay her back…
Just then, Viscount Roteschu entered a bar. Koshar waited a moderate amount of time outside before going in.
The bar was full of activity and commotion. Most of its patrons were commoners, but since it was a vintage establishment, there were some nobles scattered about.
Viscount Roteschu was sitting at a table, seemingly enjoying the atmosphere. He had two more friends sitting across from him. The table in front of them was empty, as if they hadn’t been served yet.
Koshar tried to find a seat nearby, but there were none, so he was forced to take a table on the second floor. He couldn’t make out the viscount’s voice, but he was able to look down on him from his new vantage point.
“What would you like to order, sir?”
A waiter who looked no older than sixteen years old appeared next to him. Koshar pointed towards Viscount Roteschu’s table.
“Same thing they’re having.”
The waiter turned his head to where Koshar was indicating.
“It’s better if you go sit with them for conversation.”
Koshar slipped the waiter a small jewel, and the waiter’s eyes widened before he tucked the small treasure away. Sometimes he received tips in silver coins, and one time one gold coin, but this was the first time he had ever received such a large payment.
“Please wait. I’ll bring your order soon.”
The waiter bowed his head quickly and hurried to the first level. As Koshar watched, he could see the waiter wandering around Roteschu’s group and serving their order.
Koshar finally relaxed and leaned back into his chair. He started to take in the conversation of the surrounding patrons.
Once he did, however, he couldn’t relax.
“Then Her Majesty the Empress…?”
“Yes. The Emperor’s concubine had a tea party, and the Empress held one on the same date on purpose.”
“Wow. I can’t believe it. So the Empress is bullying her?”
“Well, no one attended the concubine’s party.”
“A concubine is only a concubine. Things like that happen too.”
“Of course. But the concubine is a commoner like us. Maybe they look down on her because of that.”
“Yes. The nobles torment and ignore her.”
“I’ve seen the concubine before at a ball. She’s a true sweetheart.”
“I’ve heard that as well. All the nobles were acting condescending, and she’s the only one that got along with the common people.”
“Even without seeing it for myself, it’s obvious how she’s treated in the palace.”
“I’m on her side.”
“Yes, the Empress is just one of those people.”
Although his ears snatched up conversations here and there, it was clear that people were talking about the Emperor, Empress, and the concubine.
Koshar studied the various people who were speaking. About half of them seemed suspicious. Some spoke as if they knew the Empress’ intent, and were cleverly spreading rumors that she was a bully. However, even more unpleasant rumors were starting to fly about.
“The Emperor is spineless and the Empress is a cruel woman.”
“If you have a concubine, you should protect them properly.”
“How could a commoner like Rashta become a concubine? The Emperor must have forced her into it.”
“Perhaps. The Empress is not aware of it and only torments Rashta…tch.”
At first Koshar suspected that these were sent by the Emperor’s people, but it seemed not to be the case, as they were cutting down even the Emperor.
‘Was it her?’
Koshar clenched his fists.
It was four days since the tea party. Marquis Farang came to tell me the gossip going around recently.
“For that rumor to go around…”
It was not a pleasant story to hear. He looked sympathetically into my eyes as he sipped his coffee, then he set down his cup and made a confession.
How upsetting it must be for him to hear such slander against his younger sister. My heart hurt.
Marquis Farang continued in a hesitant voice.
“Don’t be so angry, Your Majesty. Koshar heard the rumors but did not do anything.”
“… I’m not angry. I’m sad.”
The marquis looked at me, perplexed, and before speaking carefully.
“Would you like me to do something about it? I’m can make Rashta look like a wicked woman.”
“That will eat away at me.”
“Some will believe our side’s words, but some will believe Rashta’s words. If that continues, then later on the idea that ‘Both of them are the same’ will arise, and the Imperial Family will become a laughingstock.”
The marquis gave a shudder and grumbled.
“But you won’t play into her hands.”
“People will look at the actions, not the words.”
“And your actions speak for itself. But Your Majesty, people do not believe in perfection. Will they always admire you if you do the right thing? No. And while the people love heroes, and what they like even more is a fallen hero.”
“Marquis Farang. ‘That woman’ can manipulate public opinion for her own benefit, but I can’t. I am the empress, and I must think of my country and people.”
I didn’t know if Rashta was behind this new wave of rumors, or if it was Duke Elgy, or Viscount Roteschu. I suspected Duke Elgy myself. No matter who did it, however, all three of them were foolish.
“Whether I’m cast as the villain or Rashta, in the end the Emperor will be regarded as a spineless man who bends too easily others. It would hurt his dignity. Poor public opinion makes governance difficult.”
“Do you care for His Majesty in the midst of this?”
“It’s a long-term perspective.”
Would I shine if Sovieshu became an incompetent emperor? No. If he was removed, I would be a deposed empress. No matter how horrible he was, I had to take care of him as long as he was on the throne. Even if it hurt me right now. Besides…
“Keep an eye on Duke Elgy.”
“Do you mean the playboy?”
It would cause enough problems if Rashta manipulated public opinion for her own personal ambitions, but…
It was downright dangerous if Duke Elgy were involved. He was a foreigner who had no interest in the strength of the Eastern Empire.
Duke Elgy himself said that Prince Heinley had called him here and had been planning something. There was nothing wrong with being careful.
At the same time.
King Heinley I was the newly coronated monarch of the Western Kingdom. People danced to lively music in celebration, while foreign delegates cast interested glances to that young, unmarried king.
Heinley smiled and did his best to be relaxed as he received and thanked his guests. He heard the excited chatter of the crowd, but the smile that floated to his lips was a sharp line.
His mood was even more pronounced when he saw Grand Duke Lilteang, the envoy from the Eastern Empire. Heinley was crestfallen when he learned that the Empress would not come to his coronation, but he did not reveal his disappointment to Grand Duke Lilteang.
The duke was delighted by Heinley’s hospitality and laughed gaily during their conversation. However, when Grand Duke Lilteang brought up the topic of a potential queen, Heinley couldn’t help but be piqued.
“You still haven’t found a queen. Is it because of Miss Rashta?”
“…Why do you think so?”
“Hahahaha. All the nobility in my country thinks so.”
Prince Lilteang laughed loudly, still seemingly believing that Heinley was in love with Rashta. McKenna, who was standing behind Heinley, nearly clicked his tongue in disapproval.
Heinley continued to smile stiffly in the meanwhile, a feat that could be considered impressive. However, when the Grand Duke insulted Empress Navier to praise Rashta, McKenna was so shocked that his mouth dropped open.
“The Empress has been treating Rashta like leftover rice since the concubine became pregnant. If you saw the way Empress Navier harasses Miss Rashta, Your Majesty, your heart would be broken.”
McKenna was right about to block Heinley’s ears, when the king gave an unexpected response.