Chapter 87 – Heinley Departs (2)
Prince Heinley parted from the Empress, then he immediately went to Emperor Sovieshu to give him his news.
“You’re returning to your country?”
When Sovieshu heard the report, he stared at Prince Heinley then murmured to himself for a moment.
“And the Grand Duke too…”
Prince Heinley didn’t say anything. Destroying the future to prove one’s love was what emotional five- or six-year-olds did. The atmosphere hardened as the two men observed each other for a while. After a brief moment, Sovieshu gave a smile.
“Very well. Have a safe return.”
Later, Prince Heinley sought out Duke Elgy, but there was already someone else with him.
“I’ll make it up to you.”
A familiar voice was coming from the duke’s room.
“Absolutely…thank you so much.”
It was a woman’s voice. Prince Heinley hid himself and waited for his friend to be alone. Soon the door to Duke Elgy’s room opened, and Rashta emerged.
“Don’t worry, Miss.”
After the sound of small footsteps faded away, Prince Heinley stepped from behind the pillar and walked towards Duke Elgy.
“I was waiting for you to come out.”
Duke Elgy smiled, even though Prince Heinley had appeared out of nowhere.
“You’re always hiding here and there.”
“I came here to talk to you.”
“Are you returning home?”
“It’s about something else.”
“What do you mean?”
Instead of speaking, Prince Heinley pointed to the open door, and both men entered Duke Elgy’s room. As soon as the door closed, Prince Heinley spoke.
When I woke up the next morning, Prince Heinley had already left. The bearer of the somber news was Sir Artina, who informed me that the prince had left swiftly at dawn.
I had said goodbye to him yesterday, but if I had known it was our last meeting, I would have said a few more words. I had assumed I would see him again the next day.
Although we had a strange start, we had grown to be good friends. I should have said that. But it wasn’t just Prince Heinley and Queen who left me.
I went to the Central Palace for work, but I was so depressed that I went back to the Western Palace for lunch with my ladies-in-waiting. There they gave me unexpected news.
“Your Majesty, Duchess Tuania is leaving the capital.”
“Leaving the capital? Then the divorce—? ”
“The judge must have ruled in favor of the Count because of Viscount Langdel.”
I felt a stab of guilt. I had succeeded in saving Viscount Langdel, but the information he found was buried, which put Duchess Tuania at a disadvantage in the trial.
As I reproached myself, Laura shook her head.
“Don’t be too sad, Your Highness. Duchess Tuania wanted to say thank you, Your Majesty.”
Countess Eliza pulled out a small letter from her inner pocket.
“She asked me to deliver this to you.”
After the ladies-in-waiting left after finishing the meal, I took out the letter and spread it open.
— I know what you did for Viscount Langdel. Thank you for doing me this kindness. I know you’ll blame yourself, so I’m leaving you this letter.
— I decided to follow Viscount Langdel. He tried to give his life for me, and now I want to be with him. It would be best if all this didn’t happen at all, but in the future, if you are in any difficulty, I will surely repay you. Please burn this letter after reading it.
Although there was no signature, I recognized Duchess Tuania’s handwriting. I looked down at the paper for a moment, then lit a candle and burned the letter.
‘Viscount Langdel’s pure love for her eventually drew her heart…’
Duchess Tuania was a wise woman and would overcome anything.
The letter seemed to burn slowly first, but soon the flame rapidly ate through the paper. Finally, all that was left was a small scrap between my fingers. I set it down on the table, then blew out the candle.
Prince Heinley, Queen, and Duchess of Tuania. Three people were gone. Two went far away, and one’s destination was unknown.
I sank into a depression. That night, I waited for Queen to tap the window with his beak, but it remained quiet. I opened the window, and the wind that blew in was so cold that it gave me goosebumps.
– Isn’t it cold?
Prince Heinley’s question yesterday seemed to come back from the wind.
I gave a late reply, then left the window open as I curled into my blanket. There was no sign of Queen the following morning.
“Oh no. You must have a cold, Your Majesty.”
Countess Eliza, who came to attend to me in the morning, was surprised when I sneezed. I blew my nose and nodded in embarrassment.
“I suppose so.”
Most likely it was because I slept with the windows open.
“Shall I cancel today’s schedule?”
Countess Eliza looked at me anxiously. I checked my calendar and asked her to do so.
“And call the palace doctor.”
A mild cold wouldn’t matter, but something more serious would be a problem. I couldn’t blow my nose noisily in front of the people and ministers I had to have serious discussions with.
“Please bring me something comfortable to wear.”
As Countess Eliza left to call the palace doctor, another lady-in-waiting came to help me into a warm, thick dress. I didn’t wear any other ornaments on me. Later, Laura brought some clear soup and I had breakfast alone.
About half an hour later, Countess Eliza returned with the palace doctor. After I was recommended bed rest, the doctor diagnosed me with a mild cold, and told me not to strain myself and then prescribed some medicine. As soon as I took it, I closed my eyes.
When I opened them again, it was already midday. A lady-in-waiting hadn’t taken away the medicine container yet, and the window was firmly shut. I looked at the closed window, then stood up to open it again out of habit. Perhaps Queen will come while I’m asleep…
Countess Eliza, who came in with a towel and large basin, saw me and immediately started chiding me.
“Oh no. There’s a strong wind chill and you can’t leave the windows open, Your Majesty.”
She set the basin next to the bed and closed the window. I wanted to open it again, but I didn’t want to argue when she was worried over me.
‘As long as I’m in the room and I’m awake, it’ll be fine.’
I could open the window for Queen then.
I watched as Countess Eliza dipped the wet towel into the hot water and squeezed it, then used it to warm my hands and feet.
“You need to get well soon.”
“Oh, and on my way to retrieve the palace doctor, I heard that Lord Koshar will soon arrive in the capital. ”
First came joy, and then anxiety. Lord Koshar was a good brother to me…but he was a bit of a delinquent. He wouldn’t start fights, but once there was an argument, it sometimes turned violent. When I became empress, my father had worried that my brother would cause an accident that would harm my reputation, and he hurriedly sent my brother away to an outer region.
Would my brother be able to sit still when he sees that Rashta is pregnant…?