Chapter 41 – Queen’s Favorite (2)
Rashta was entangled in a net of complicated emotions. She was grateful that Sovieshu protected her. The Emperor knew from the beginning that she was a runaway slave, of course, but his desire to safeguard her had compelled him to cover it up even after the matter was revealed. How many other men had sweetly whispered their devotion to her before abandoning her, using their identities as a shield? Ironically, it was Sovieshu, the most powerful man in the empire, who did not do so.
But fear of the past still nipped at her heels. Just when she had barely shaken off her shackles, just when people were starting to look at her as “Rashta” instead of “slave”, was when her identity grabbed her ankles again. If it weren’t for Sovieshu’s love for her, her dream would have died because of Roteschu.
But what about the people who once hung onto her every word and smiled? What would they do now? Rashta was worried. She hadn’t yet met with the other nobles since the truth came out, and she was fearful that those smiling faces would turn into rejection.
Rashta stroked the amber bracelet on her hand, but her heart did not settle.
‘No, even if Rashta is a slave, Rashta is now the Emperor’s concubine. It won’t be the same as before…’
Rashta hugged a doll that Sovieshu had designed for her, a soft thing made of fabric and cotton. Then, the door opened, and Viscountess Verdi entered the room with an uneasy expression on her face.
“Miss Rashta, Viscount Roteschu came to see you…What should I tell him?”
In the confusion of the moment, Rashta used the same title she had used in the past. Viscountess Verdi looked startled, but she didn’t say a word.
The viscountess’s expression was replaced by a kind smile, but Rashta was sure the other woman must be laughing at her. If the viscountess knew about Roteschu’s relationship to Rashta, she shouldn’t have mentioned him. Wasn’t it the subordinate’s job to keep others out of the way? Rashta was sure that if the viscountess were still working for the Empress, she would have been more responsible.
Rashta bit her lip. If she had known this, she would have lain down in the Emperor’s room and feigned sickness. It was a mistake to return here to organize her thoughts alone.
No, no—the problem was that the Emperor allowed the viscount to go around freely in the first place. Why didn’t the Emperor just drive him out? Why didn’t he just kill the viscount himself or put him in prison? Wasn’t Sovieshu capable of anything?
Rashta held back the hot tears in her ears as she gave an order to Viscountess Verdi.
“Tell him to go back.”
However, Viscountess Verdi hesitated.
“Tell him to go back!”
Rashta yelled this time, but Viscountess Verdi still did not move. Are you ignoring me now too? Rashta wanted to tell in rage. The viscountess continued in a shaky voice.
“Well…he said if you don’t let him in, you would regret it…”
“He said that?”
Anger gave Rashta courage, and she gritted her teeth.
“Then tell him to come in. Let me see his shameless face.”
She was determined to give him a cold bowl of abuse.
However, when he entered, an ominous smile on his face, her insults died on her lips.
“Lady Rashta. Congratulations. You are the Emperor’s concubine.”
Viscountess Verdi, who was staring alternately between Rashta and Viscount Roteschu, rushed out of the room when Rashta glared fiercely at her.
Rashta turned back to look at Viscount Roteschu, who helped himself into an empty chair. “Very good, I like it,” he said contentedly.
“Why are you here?”
Rashta imitated the Empress’ stern tone. Rashta’s own voice was perfect in charming people, but it lacked authority. The viscount let out a chuckle.
“You’ve grown to be quite a lady now, Rashta.”
“Don’t thoughtlessly say my name. You will no longer simply address me as Rashta.”
“I’m sure that’s true…for a definite period.”
“Do you know how many years a woman stays as an emperor’s concubine?”
Rashta bit her lip at the viscount’s barbed remark. He was tapping his fingers against the table and bobbing his neck in time, when he noticed the bracelet on Rashta’s wrist.
“Oh, how beautiful. Is it made of amber? Hm? Let me take a look.”
Rashta flung her hand behind her. Viscount Roteschu frowned for a second, then smiled.
“The Emperor ordered me to correct my erroneous claim that you were a runaway slave. Now I’m being treated like a fool who cannot even recognize a person’s face. Whether your secret will be revealed or not is up to me. I’m thankful for the gold and silver, but it’s not quite sufficient, hm?”
Rashta turned on him wildly.
“Then you should not have said that from the beginning! You’re shameless! You’re only hiding that I’m an escaped slave because the Emperor ordered you to. You’re not doing this for me.”
An insidious smile spread across Viscount Roteschu’s face.
“Well then, why did I say nothing about the baby you abandoned?”
Blood rushed to her face again, and she clenched her fists. The white of her eyes were red with blood.
“How dare you lie! You killed my baby!”
Rage flooded every pore of her body. The way he so nonchalantly claimed that she abandoned her baby echoed hatefully in her ear, but she forced her mouth shut for fear of Viscountess Verdi overhearing them.
Viscount Roteschu said “Well?” and widened his eyes in an exaggerated circle. Finally, Rashta stood up.
“You can’t threaten me with a baby that’s already gone.”
Viscount Roteschu chuckled.
“Gone…what do you mean, Rashta?”
It was an ordinary laugh, but Rashta felt her spine chill. Roteschu’s expression suddenly hardened and his tone turned mocking.
“I would not kill my own grandchild, my own blood.”
“You’re…you’re lying! I saw the body with my eyes…!”
“If you don’t believe me, do you want me to bring it to you?”
ant me to bring it to you?”