Chapter 96 – The Meaning Of The Gift (1)
Rashta’s face lit up with joy as she opened the present.
“Oh my God! Thank you, Your Majesty! How beautiful!”
“Do you like it?”
“Yes! It truly is gorgeous.”
Rashta turned over the sword several times, her eyes shining in admiration at the jewel-studded hilt and finely etched details on the blade.
“To have such a beautiful sword…”
She couldn’t help smiling and making exclamations of appreciation. Clearly she didn’t understand the meaning of the gift…
“I’m glad you like it.”
I didn’t think it was necessary to explain it to her, and so I turned around.
Rashta called out to me. I looked back at her, and she set the sword down on the sofa and came up to me with her hands folded on her stomach. What was she doing? She stood in front of me, gently rubbing her belly.
“Thank you very much for coming. I’m so happy. Rashta really wants to be friends with Her Majesty…”
Her lovely voice, innocent demeanor, and warm gaze was enough to make up for her lack of court etiquette in other nobles’ eyes. Her charm failed to impress me, however.
I turned around instead of answering. I wasn’t the woman of honor this day. I wanted to spend a few minutes greeting other friends and then retire to my room, but Rashta seemed to have more to say.
“Your Majesty, is…is it alright if I ask you a favor?”
I looked at her indifferently.
“What kind of favor?”
Rashta put her hands together and looked at me with her large, dark eyes.
“I hope you will bless my baby.”
Many people often came to me to bless their baby, and Rashta’s request wasn’t unusual. However…
“I must decline the request ”
This time, however, I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t think my blessings had any significant effect, and even if they did, I didn’t want to bless Rashta’s baby.
Rashta’s eyes widened as if she didn’t expect me to refuse in public, looking the image of a kicked puppy.
“Will the child that receives my blessing be happy?”
Rashta’s face reddened.
“But if you still want it, I’ll do it.”
Rashta blushed to her ears and lowered her eyes. The pitiable sight seemed to stimulate Sovieshu to action, and he looked at me angrily and hissed at me in a small voice.
“Is this really necessary?”
Some people turned at the sound, and Sovieshu looked around and lowered his voice further.
“Do you have to embarrass me in front of all these people?”
“I didn’t want to be embarrassed.”
“You bless babies almost every day. Is it so hard for you to do it once more?”
“Sometimes words are heavier than a thousand pieces of gold.”
“Do you understand what you’re saying?”
“I do. I’m sure you didn’t want to hear it at a time like this.”
Sovieshu fixed me a stony glare, and the nobles around us looked on even more curiously. I spoke in a voice barely above a whisper.
“If you don’t want drama, stop making it out to be one.”
Sovieshu kept his face expressionless and turned around as if he were fed up. As Sovieshu stood by Rashta, she looked up at him with wide eyes and rubbed her hands on her belly. I couldn’t see Sovieshu’s expression because his back was turned to me, but it was obvious that they were in a world of their own.
I didn’t want to be here anymore, and so I turned around, but then changed my mind. I turned back and approached the sofa instead, and Sovieshu stared at me intently. ‘What are you going to do?’ was clearly written all over his face.
I walked between the two and spoke to Rashta.
“Do you still want my blessing? If you really want it, I’ll do it.”
I addressed Rashta, and then looked to Sovieshu. Although he wanted me to give a blessing, Sovieshu did not look happy, as if he suspected I was hiding a knife in my sleeves or skirt. But I did not hide knives in my clothes. I hid them in my tongue.
Rashta gave a large smile and nodded. Her hand swept her stomach once more. I spoke slowly, staring at the belly that still showed no signs of swelling.
“Dear child. Be like the sword I have gifted you. Gorgeous and beautiful.”
Rashta was smiling. Did she really think I would curse her? Rashta looked up at Sovieshu brightly.
“The Empress blessed our baby!”
Despite Rashta’s delight, Sovieshu stared at me with a suspicious look. I wondered what he had to say. He didn’t look away, but he silently wrapped Rashta’s shoulders with his hands.
Rashta settled back on the sofa as she gently caressed her stomach. She placed her hand on her belly whenever she wanted to talk to her child.
‘Baby, look at them. Those proud nobles all came here to see you.’
‘Baby, look at them. Those people who would despise you for being a slave are now offering you gold and silver.’
‘Baby, look at them. They are all below you.’
This experience was different from when Rashta gained attention from being Sovieshu’s concubine. She felt joyful at carrying the Emperor’s baby and receiving the love of the people. Her status was once dependent on the whims of Sovieshu, but now she was the mother of his firstborn child, and no one could change that. Even the Empress, who treated her as if she were invisible, had given her a gift and blessed the baby!
Rashta smiled as she stroked the beautiful blade given by Empress Navier. When her child was grown, she wanted them to be admired and have that sword at their waist, as proof that the child was loved by the Empress. The Empress may or may not be infertile, after all.
‘If I can remove Viscount Roteschu…’
The viscount was the only black cloud in her and her family’s future. So far, she hadn’t seen him here…
As soon as that thought came to her, however, she saw a face that made her heart freeze.