Chapter 37 – Viscount Roteschu (2)
“So you stopped looking for your letter friend?”
“Yes. If they haven’t revealed themselves by now, then they never will.”
“But you wanted it badly enough to go public…”
“I don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable because of me.”
Prince Heinley kept his promise. I awkwardly cut a piece of cake across the table where he was talking to a noblewoman. From time to time he looked at me, and I just smiled and nodded, hoping it wouldn’t seem odd.
‘He’s a good man…’
Sovieshu would have cut off Prince Heinley if he said anything strange, but the prince said nary a word about Rashta at all.
The conversation went from Prince Heinley’s letters to Grand Duke Kapmen’s continent, his magic, and how it worked in war. The grand duke offered only a few words, and did not speak about magic though he had graduated from a magical academy. He was equally silent on other topics, but my attention turned towards the door when it opened and someone came in. It was the captain of the guard.
‘What’s going on?’
Our eyes met, and he bowed towards me. Sovieshu still hadn’t noticed him, as his eyes were on Prince Heinley.
“Your Majesty the Emperor.”
Sovieshu turned his head, and the knight delivered his message.
“You need to come to the grand hall.”
He sounded serious. There were only twenty people in the room, so everyone could hear what he said. All the guests’ eyes were on him.
“Why is that?”
The captain seemed reluctant to answer in present company, but Sovieshu picked up on it and went outside with the knight.
‘What’s going on?’
I considered following them, but decided against it. If I was needed, then the knight would have spoken to me as well, and I wouldn’t be required if it had to do with Rashta or anything like that.
‘I don’t need to leave.’
I made up my mind and turned towards the guests again. When the time came, I left the Red Rose room and went to the grand banquet hall. I had to check on the other guests as well, and when the sun went down I had to inspect the fireworks.
‘I also made a promise to meet with Laura.’
However, the atmosphere at the grand banquet hall was livelier than I expected.
‘Did something happen?’
People usually tired out at days-long celebrations. Everyone would dress up for the last day, but the energy was usually not the same as the first. From the entrance I spied people talking and laughing, and the noise grew louder as I went in. I looked around confusedly, and Laura ran over to me.
“Your Majesty, Her Majesty, did you hear?”
“Did something interesting happen? I’ve been in the Red Rose room, so I don’t know what’s going on.”
“Something very interesting happened.”
Laura’s nostrils were flared in excitement, and she moved me to a suitable place for conversation. Nearby, there was a spread of crispy fried seafood, small dishes of pumpkin puddings, and milky coffee.
“You can listen while you eat. It’s an appetizing story!”
Laura pushed a pumpkin pudding and a fork towards me.
“Thank you, Laura.”
“You remember Rashta?”
It was not a topic I was fond of. I grimaced slightly, but Laura continued, despite knowing that I didn’t like talking about her.
“Do you remember the rumor that she was a runaway slave?”
“Yes, but are we not allowed to speak of it?”
Sovieshu had said he would punish those that did. Could they speak about this in a crowded place? I was worried, but Laura shouted out before I could stop her.
“She really is an escaped slave! Viscount Roteschu arrived at the party for the first time, and he recognized Rashta!”
“She was his slave, then she ran away!”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. If the Emperor was here he would’ve stopped him. Not only that, the viscount had only been in the capital for a few hours. He didn’t know about the rumors about Rashta or the order not to talk about her. That’s why he openly said Rashta was a slave in public!”
“Rashta said she was not, but everyone believed Roteschu. She looked mortified.”
“All the nobles who came up to Rashta must have seen it now.”
“And where are they now?”
“When Rashta fainted, Baron Lant carried her to her bedroom. Then the captain of the royal guard came and took Viscount Roteschu.”
So that was why the captain was looking for Sovieshu. For a moment, some unexplained feeling welled up inside me. Was it…vindication? Yes. I thought so. Sovieshu had been furious when he suspected I spread false rumors about Rashta as a runaway slave. The resentment and sorrow I felt now turned to satisfaction.
However, there was a small corner in my heart that didn’t feel thrilled. Where did this uncomfortable feeling come from?
I couldn’t figure it out, and I decided to leave it be for now.
In any case, did Sovieshu not realize Rashta was a runaway slave when he rescued her? However, even if he did know, I didn’t think Sovieshu would hate her. He had brought her here because of her pitiful circumstances and his powerful desire to protect her. Whether he fell in love with her then or not, that was their first meeting. And whether Rashta was a commoner or a fugitive slave, Sovieshu would still love her. He would try to protect Rashta from ridicule.
I didn’t know what would happen, but I did know that I didn’t want to get involved.