Chapter 89 – It’s Darkest Before Dawn (2)
Sovieshu murmured to himself as he sat at his desk and studied his papers. Count Pirnu looked up from a report about book distribution.
Sovieshu sat stiffly with his chin propped on his hand. A heavy sigh left his mouth.
“Your Majesty? Are you all right?”
Sovieshu hesitated at first, but in the end he answered.
“I’m worried that the empress will be hostile to the baby.”
“Ah…Does she hate it?”
“I believe so.”
Count Pirnu gave a nod of agreement.
“It can’t be helped. In rare cases, favored illegitimate children can be a threat to a successor.”
Sovieshu’s mouth twisted.
“Isn’t it too early to worry about when we don’t even have a successor?”
“She is like a cold blade. As an Empress is she remarkable, but…”
He closed his eyes with a heavy sigh.
“If she has ill feelings towards the baby, I’m afraid she’ll treat it with that cold, knife-like nature.”
Count Pirnu thought it was too early to worry, but he accepted the Emperor’s words. Sovieshu had looked forward to being a father, and the baby would be the firstborn of the Emperor. It was natural for Sovieshu to be concerned.
“What do you think, Count?”
“Well…I am actually more worried about Lord Koshar than the Empress.”
“Koshar? Hasn’t Koshar gone to Palme?”
“Duke Troby seemed to have given his son permission to return now.”
Sovieshu’s expression hardened as he remembered that man.
Koshar Troby was the elder brother of Empress Navier. Since Sovieshu had been Navier’s fiancé since childhood, he was familiar with Koshar. He resembled his beautiful sister, and was skilled in martial arts. Unlike the ice-like empress, however, Koshar was like a volcano. His hot temper was useful when directed elsewhere, such as the sparsely populated frontier of Palme were dangerous bandits thrived that called themselves the “Eternal Thousand.” Duke Troby sent his son there less for the purpose of defense, and more to redirect his violent personality. In an explosive situation, he could be deadly.
Sovieshu pursed his lips in thought, while Count Pirnu smiled awkwardly.
“But now that his sister sits on the empress’ seat, he should be a little better behaved than before. Do not worry too much, Your Majesty.”
“I wasn’t worried before you told me this.”
Sovieshu gave Count Pirnu a disapproving look before returning to his papers. However, the Count’s words left a deep imprint on his mind. Koshar Troby cared for his sister terribly. Would he be willing to leave Rashta, Navier’s romantic rival, untouched?
Sovieshu had a throbbing headache, and eventually called the palace doctor.
The same time.
Koshar, the subject of everyone’s concern, casually stopped by a large women’s clothing store, bringing mischievous laughter inside with a friend. Marquis Farang, who accompanied Koshar, stopped and looked around with a red face.
“Is this really necessary?”
There was no reply, and the marquis looked sideways. Koshar was staring at a dress that a young girl would wear.
“If I buy this for Navier…”
“It won’t fit. It never does.”
“Is that so?”
“Your sister is no longer a child.”
“I suppose so, indeed. Time passes so swiftly…”
“Hey. Don’t distort the past. She was already tall when you left.”
“She’s still a little sister in my memory.”
Koshar scratched his nose and laughed. Marquis Farang clicked his tongue and asked for the tailor.
“Excuse me. Please help us.”
As soon as the tailor approached, Marquis Farang pointed towards Koshar.
“My friend is looking for a dress for his sister.”
The tailor spoke in a kindly voice.
“Do you know her size, Sir?”
Koshar glanced at Marquis Farang, then turned back and replied mildly.
“About this tall…”
“Ah, she must be quite tall. What is her body type?”
“A lovely body shape…?”
“…I’m not sure what that shape is. Can you be more specific?”
Koshar shook his head, and the tailor made a puzzled look. She turned towards the marquis, but he also shook his head.
“It’s difficult to fit the clothes if you don’t know her size.”
“I still want to buy something. I haven’t seen her in years. Don’t you have anything suitable?”
“If it’s something you can buy without knowing the size, how about a hat?”
“I’ll take it.”
The tailor displayed to them a variety of hats, and Koshar began to look over each one carefully. But even this was not easy. The tailor had pulled out a total of thirty-five hats, and all the other customers in the store gathered to watch the activity. Marquis Farang was so embarrassed by the women that he quickly stuck to the wall, while Koshar completely immersed himself in the selection process.
Finally, he picked five colorful hats and left the clothing store. Marquis Farang tutted at his friend.
“Do you like your sister that much?”
“She’s such a lovely girl. And—ah, look at that.”
“That bread. It must be delicious if so many people are lining up. I’ll bring one to Navier.”
Koshar pushed his way through the crowd, the marquis clicked his tongue again and followed his friend. They stood in line for ten minutes. As Marquis Farang’s patience was starting to run low, his ears caught a snatch of conversation.
“And the Emperor’s concubine…?”
“Yes, my cousin works as a maid in the palace. The concubine is pregnant.”
“So she’s pregnant before the Empress. What happens then?”
Koshar, who was holding on to the shopping bags full of lace and frill, suddenly turned around.