Chapter 47 – Society’s Chewbone (2)
The palace was shrouded in morning fog when I awoke. I opened the window and leaned my head out, allowing the cool air to cleanse my body. Today was the day I would discuss opening diplomatic ties with Grand Duke Kapmen.
‘I have to be at my best.’
I mentally composed myself. When I tied the curtains together, I discovered a letter on a window sill, secured underneath a stone so it wouldn’t fly away.
I opened the letter and saw Prince Heinley’s handwriting.
– Trust me.
What did he want me to trust him for? I was surprised, but I felt happy receiving a letter after a long while. Unfortunately, I couldn’t send a reply right away since Queen was gone. I tucked the paper in a drawer and went to the bathroom to wash my face in cold water. Afterwards I rang a bell, and the ladies-in-waiting entered to prepare me for the day.
“You’re having a meeting at a round table, aren’t you? You’ll be seated next to people, so we shouldn’t choose a dress that’s too wide.”
Countess Eliza selected a black dress that fell almost in a straight line, and then arranged my hair.
“If Queen comes when I’m away, please give him some water.”
“Of course, Your Majesty.”
“And allow him inside if it rains. Sometimes he gets caught in the rain outside the window.”
I left Countess Eliza with my requests, then took a deep breath and left the room. I believed I could face this.
The meeting convened at 10 a.m. It was a relatively small assembly—present were the finance minister, the foreign minister, important officials from each department, Grand Duke Kapmen, Sovieshu and myself.
The topic was the opening of diplomatic relations with Rwibt, and the benefits, losses, and feasibility. There were a total of eight continents in the world, with little exchange between them. The Wol continent, where the Eastern Empire is located, and the Hwa continent, where Rwibt was located, were relatively close compared to other continents, but even so, it was still a long distance. It would take time to generate profits from private trade, and quick communication was essential in state-led transactions. Given the situation, it was difficult to reach a conclusion. However…
‘Why does Sovieshu look like he’s in a foul mood?’
He glowered through the discussions. He was supposed to lead the meeting, but he made it difficult to offer free opinions and the officials kept looking at him.
‘Is it because of what happened between Duke Elgy and Rashta? He shouldn’t bring that with him to work…’
I lifted my head from the map and swallowed my sigh, when I encountered Grand Duke Kapmen’s gaze. His expression was neutral, neither antagonistic nor favorable. When our eyes met, he nodded, and I nodded in return.
The meeting crawled slowly, and by the end of it I was in charge of the matter at Grand Duke Kapmen’s recommendation. His reasons were incomprehensible, considering his attitude towards me at New Year’s Day.
‘Grand Duke Kapmen.’
I finally closed the meeting, and the room emptied. I followed Grand Duke Kapmen out into the hallway.
“Do you have a moment? I want to ask you something.”
“Yes. Go ahead and ask.”
“Why did you recommend me to take charge?”
Grand Duke Kapmen raised his eyebrows.
“You don’t like it?”
“I’m just curious. A few days ago…”
He criticized me for how I dealt with Rashta—or lack of it. I didn’t say it out loud, but his lips curved up as if he understood what I meant.
Was he smiling? That made me quite upset.
“Because it holds true.”
“There is no one else who could be in charge other than the Empress.”
“What do you mean?”
“When I spoke of the Imona and Imot, you were the only one that understood what that meant.”
He recommended me for that reason only? I hurried to explain.
“As I said before, I only know a few words. I wasn’t being humble, it was true.”
“Yes, but many people don’t even know those words.”
The language was not a compulsory subject at the academy …Was it really alright to leave me with this serious task based on that alone? I couldn’t show weakness as empress, however, so I finally nodded. Now that it had come to this, I had to fill in the gap with effort.
“Please, if you’ll excuse me.”
Grand Duke Kapmen gave a slight bow as if he had nothing more to say, then turned and walked down the corridor.
Tang tang tang.
The sound of his shoes echoed with each step he took. I turned my head and went the opposite direction, and when I saw Sovieshu through the open door of the conference room, leaning against a table.
He had been brooding throughout the meeting, but now his expression looked even darker.
I was worried and approached him, but I regretted it as soon as I did. Did something happen with Rashta? It was impossible for me to ask this, but I couldn’t ignore Sovieshu when he was looking like this.
“You look grim. Are you alright?”
Instead, I avoided reason and only asked about his current state.
However, the words that left his mouth stunned me.
“Empress. Do you have a preference for foreigners?”