Chapter 99 – You Can’t Be Royal Family! (2)
The same time the maid comforted Rashta, Alan was weeping in amazement from having come across his former lover.
He had heard about the emperor’s concubine named Rashta at a social gathering after he came to the capital, but at the time he did not think she was the same one he knew. He was in a different location now, and a slave could not meet the emperor. However, he attended the party when he heard about the similarities between hair and eye color. When he discovered that the Emperor’s concubine was indeed his former lover, his heart trembled violently.
“Father, did you know?”
As soon as Alan managed to gather himself together, he returned to the mansion to speak to Viscount Roteschu. Alan found his father inspecting the interior of the mansion with his hands behind his back. When his son confronted him with the question, the viscount muttered “What are you talking about?” but his eyes did not fall from the magnificent mural.
“The Emperor’s concubine, Rashta, is the Rashta we know.”
Viscount Roteschu frowned and turned to face his son. He saw Alan’s trembling lips, and he clicked his tongue impatiently.
“You went to the palace banquet? When I saw the invitation was gone I thought it must have been Rivetti.”
Viscount Roteschu did not look at all surprised that Rashta was the Emperor’s concubine. Alan’s eyes widened.
Alan thought his father would be as shocked as he was, but he bore an air of complete nonchalance. Viscount Roteschu stroked his beard with one hand and pointed at a couch with another.
When Alan took the seat he indicated, Viscount Roteschu continued.
“In truth, we were able to come here to the capital because of Rashta.”
Alan looked at his father, dumbfounded.
“Why Rashta? Ah, is it because…”
It must have shocked her to find out about her son’s survival. Alan nodded at his conclusion, but the viscount spoke sternly.
“I can’t give you the details.”
“Act like you don’t know her.”
“But Father. If Rashta is safe, you have to tell me all about her.”
Alan tried to protest, but Viscount Roteschu was dismissive.
“As you may have heard, the Emperor is deeply in love with Rashta.”
“That means if you and Rashta are discovered, you may be incriminated. Do you understand?”
“So watch your mouth. Pretend you don’t know Rashta at all.”
“Father will take care of everything.”
It was the day after the party that my brother Koshar and his friend, Marquis Farang, came to visit me.
“Shall we go for a walk, Navier?”
I was on edge, expecting Koshar to cause an incident at any moment, but he surprisingly remained calm throughout our stroll. Although we ambled along a palace trail for more than half an hour, he did not mention Rashta or her baby.
“Did you rest well at home? It’s nice to be back after a long time, isn’t it?”
“Very comfortable. It would have been better if you had been there.”
“I’ll come and see you when I can.”
“No need, I’m here to visit you.”
“Is that so? Ah. And Marquis Farang? How are you nowadays?”
“Your brother nags me more and more.”
My brother narrowed his eyes at Marquis Farang’s response. However, the Marquis grinned impishly and continued to act tortured because of my brother.
“You two get along.”
“Koshar has deficient qualities everywhere else, but he’s lucky enough to have good friends. Like myself, or you, Your Majesty.”
As I watched the both of them, I remembered my childhood and smiled. It had been that way for a long time. It was nice to see him stay so frank even after we had grown up.
Just as we were entering the path to the Eastern Palace, I spotted Rashta leaning against a stone wall. My footsteps halted, and Koshar asked me what was wrong.
I was of two minds about how to deal with this: part of me wanted to keep going, while another wanted to turn and take another route. If I turned around, it would feel like I was avoiding Rashta, and my pride would be bruised. However, I felt uneasy not knowing what my brother would do if he saw her.
Before I could decide, however, Rashta looked at us in surprise and approached. Koshar did not recognize her at first. If he did, he likely would have thought of her as the villain who tormented his sister, but it was fair to say at the moment she looked as lovely as a fairy.
“Your Majesty, Rashta has something to say to you.”
Only after Rashta revealed her name did my brother’s expression twist into something more gruesome. Rashta looked at Koshar and lifted her eyebrows, perhaps in surprise that my brother and I looked so alike. Instead of greeting him individually, however, she continued.
“I heard it was very bad that you gave Rashta a sword, Your Majesty.”
I sighed, not because of her words, but because of the situation. I didn’t want to argue with Rashta in front of my brother and Marquis Farang, but I didn’t want to roll over because of her accusations either. If I did, my brother would get angrier, and others would think Rashta’s influence was larger than it really was.
“It’s not a bad gift for someone who is not covetous, is it?”
I answered in a chilling voice, but Rashta spoke back firmly.
“No. Whether some is covetous or not, it’s bad. And you mocked Rashta in front of everyone.”
Despite her clear voice, she looked unhappy. She paused and took a deep breath, and placed a hand on her bosom.
“But Rashta decided to put up with Your Majesty’s insult. Even if you continue to laugh, despise, and ignore Rashta, Rashta will endure.”
“Are you ashamed of the truth? You must have a high opinion of yourself.”
“Rashta is the woman the Emperor loves. If Rashta doesn’t value herself, it’s rude to His Majesty.”
“Does your value exist only when you are loved by the Emperor?”
A melancholy expression stole over Rashta’s face.
“No matter what you say, Rashta will bear it all. For the sake of the future children, Rashta doesn’t want to fight the Empress…”
“What do you mean?”
Did she think I would hurt her future children? An unpleasant feeling started to rise in me, but Rashta’s words stunned me even more.
“The Emperor told me. The Empress is likely infertile, so she will be the stepmother of Rashta’s babies.”