Chapter 58 – Duke Elgy’s Warning (1)
The stronger the light, the more visible the shadows.
Duchess Tuania had reigned as a pillar of high society for twenty years, and as such had accumulated many enemies. However, with all her laurels and repute, even they couldn’t speak ill of her. They remained quiet, but were always anxious to talk about her faults.
Rashta’s comments in front of Duchess Tuania yesterday afternoon had given them the ammunition they needed. Those who secretly hated the duchess gathered in Rashta’s reception room to laugh and gossip.
“Actually, Miss Rashta complained a little after hearing Duchess Tuania’s words.”
“To be honest, does she truly have only five lovers? How many men chase after her? Are they all unrequited loves?”
“The duchess does get around.”
“The real Empress always sits quietly, while Duchess Tuania always carries her head as if she were the queen of society.”
To them, Rashta was like a shield—someone who could speak out plainly and badly against Duchess Tuania, but who would not be ignored by society. All they had to do was to air their catty remarks behind the shield that was Rashta.
“Rashta only said what she heard…”
“To be honest, the rumors have been around for a while. I couldn’t speak about them because I didn’t have the right words, and I was afraid of being caught by the duchess’ followers.”
“Aren’t those followers strange too?”
The nobles whispered with Rashta in the middle, and it was not until three or four hours later that they stood up.
“How did Rashta do?”
As soon as they left, Rashta approached Duke Elgy, who had been watching the conversation from the sidelines. He smiled, lowering his eyes.
“Well done, Miss.”
Rashta twisted her body back and forth at his compliment.
“Yes. Nice start.”
“But…will people turn away from Duchess Tuania?”
“No, not too much at the moment.”
“Right now, just this. Checking to see if there are any complaints. Stirring things up.”
“Oh…then what should I do now?”
As Duke Elgy looked at Rashta’s naive expression, he burst into laughter and rose from his chair.
“You can do it all by yourself from now on, right?”
“Rashta doesn’t like this—”
“As I said, Miss.”
He approached Rashta, then leaned down and whispered in her ear.
“You’re cute, but I told you it’s hard to deceive me in areas like this.”
Rashta shot him a look of loathing, and Duke Elgy chuckled.
“I’m not insulting you, so don’t be upset.”
Rashta pouted and raised her eyebrows. Duke Elgy opened the door of the reception room and walked out into the hallway.
“Where are you going?”
Rashta ran to his side, and he turned and shook his head.
“I’m going out for a while. You don’t have to come. I’m not going for a stroll.”
About four to six times a year a massive public ball was held, an event where even commoners could attend. I was in the middle of a long conversation with the culture minister to decide on the date. He hurriedly excused himself to go to the bathroom, and I stepped outside the office for a moment to relieve my fatigued eyes.
‘I’ll take a walk.’
I stared down the long corridor and began to walk slowly, hoping to relax. After only a few steps, however, I noticed Duke Elgy leaning on a pillar not far away. Why was he standing there? When I stopped and looked at him, he smiled and straightened himself to bow to me.
“I’ve been waiting here for three hours. You must be very busy.”
His wavy, golden hair swayed with his bow. I became all the more curious—he waited three hours just to see me? I tried to remember if he had a prearranged meeting with me. If it was urgent, he should have sent someone to give a report…
“How can I help you?”
Duke Elgy smiled and murmured, “Ah. Straight to the main point.”
“Very good. Quick. Do you happen to know I’m a friend of Heinley’s?”
“You heard it.”
What on earth did he come here to say? Duke Elgy mumbled ‘heard’ to himself and suddenly frowned and looked down at the floor. An awkward silence passed. He stood there for about three minutes before he spoke again.
“I’ve heard from Heinley a few times about you, Your Majesty. Did Heinley say anything about me?”
Not often, but once. And it wasn’t flattering.
“I haven’t heard much.”
I answered him honestly, and he fixed me with his gaze as he took a couple steps closer.
“Did he say anything strange?”
Heinley did, but I couldn’t answer that. I shook my head and said no, while Duke Elgy sighed and placed his hand on his forehead.
“It’s just the way he is. He always says bad things about me to someone he likes.”
“He’s been telling people I’m a cursed doll or a living ghost story…”
“It’s a lie, so there’s no need for you to pay attention to it.”
” …I don’t know why you’re saying this to me, or your intentions.”
“When I saw you yesterday, I didn’t think you would socialize with people like Heinley.”
“What kind of person is that?”
“The same kind as Heinley and me. Someone who’s frivolous.”
Yesterday I had only smiled and nodded my head, and barely opened my mouth to say hello. When the tea party was cut short, I left. He had barely seen me and decided what kind of person I was from that?
“But if there is a difference, Heinley is a man who wants someone to be his complete opposite, and as for me, I’m a frivolous man who wants to get along with frivolous people.”
“Does that mean I’m not fit to be the prince’s friend?”
“No, I’m here to give you some advice.”
“Heinley is a two-faced man, Your Majesty. He says one thing in front of you, and does something different from behind. He can both smile and hurt people.”
“Don’t trust the sweets he offers.”
“Aren’t you Prince Heinley’s close friend?”
Why would Prince Heinley and Duke Elgy speak ill of each other? As soon as I spoke, Duke Elgy smiled nonchalantly.
“It was Heinley who called me here in the first place. Didn’t he say that?”
He shook his head and continued.
“For a few years Heinley’s been setting up—”
Before he could finish speaking, there was a knock on the wall. I turned around, and saw Sovieshu staring at me and Duke Elgy.
“Another foreigner again.”
Duke Elgy bowed at Sovieshu and left with an innocent smile.