Chapter 105 – If I’m Right, Apologize (2)
The next day, Marquis Farang arrived as soon as he heard my call. He was just in time for lunch, so I asked him to sit with me for a meal. He ate quietly for about ten minutes before I brought the subject up.
“I’ve known you since childhood, so I’ll be straightforward with you.”
“Hmm. The potatoes are a little salty.”
“This isn’t about the food.”
“I thought so.”
Marquis Farang smiled and wiped his mouth with a napkin.
“But I think you’ll need to say a few more words.”
“An abortive drug was found in the meal of the Emperor’s concubine, Rashta.”
“I’ve heard. It is a terrible thing.”
“Do I know the person who did such a terrible thing?”
“Your Majesty…you know almost all the nobles.”
“It was a noble who did it?”
“A servant or maid wouldn’t need to do something like this.”
Marquis Farang placed a potato in his mouth and smiled elegantly. However, his hands were trembling. He always did that when he lied in front of me. He caught me looking at his hands and he cleared his throat.
“Well, you don’t have to worry about it, Your Majesty.”
“I don’t want to be in a position where I have to worry about it.”
“Then you can ask the chef to make the potatoes less salty. Let’s not fuss over such terrible events.”
I stared at him silently, and he raised his hand and scratched his cheek. His hands were still trembling. I narrowed my eyes at him, and he started looking distressed.
“You look scary like that. It’s just like Koshar.”
“Marquis Farang. Are you sure that I don’t have to worry about this?”
Marquis Farang looked on the verge of tears.
“Why ask me something I know nothing about?”
“Did my brother order you to do it? ”
“The Emperor thinks it’s my brother’s fault. Are you sure this something I don’t have to worry about?”
Marquis Farang didn’t look surprised when I told him that Sovieshu suspected Koshar. That made me more certain that my brother and Marquis Farang were involved with this.
The marquis sat frozen for a moment, then he finally gave a deep sigh and mumbled in a small voice.
“Rest assured, Your Majesty, you will never find any conclusive evidence.”
“You destroyed the evidence?”
“It is difficult to get rid of evidence that we purchased the drug. It does very little harm to the mother, so it is very expensive and sale is highly restrictive.”
With his head down, the marquis folded his napkin into a strange shape and set it down next to his plate.
“But while we can’t get rid of the evidence that we bought the drug, we can manufacture evidence that someone else planted them.”
He had folded the napkin into a swan with a broken wing.
“If things go wrong, we have an actor who will say he did it.”
His hands were no longer trembling. He was not lying anymore. Marquis Farang poked the beak of the swan and smiled at me. A fog rose in my heart, and a defeated sigh escaped me.
“Marquis Farang. It is important that you are not noticed…”
“But the fact that my people did such a thing cannot be ignored.”
My emotions wrestled within my breast. I was angry that my brother and Marquis Farang committed a terrible act for me. But my pride was also hurt that Sovieshu was right.
“Your Majesty. If there is light, there is a shadow.”
“Don’t say it was something you had to do. I know it’s not.”
“Koshar did wrong by any moral standard. Without a doubt.”
“But he did it for me, right?”
“Don’t look at his dark side.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
“Do not make judgments for me.”
Marquis Farang finally left, but I was even more upset. What to do with Sovieshu now…
To tell a lie would be shameful. I knew everything anyway, and the thought made me squirm. However, it wounded my pride to have to apologize to him. I spent all day and night thinking about what to do.
“Your Majesty, are you alright? You look pale.”
“I was thinking about something…”
I couldn’t tell my ladies-in-waiting about the abortive drug, so I gave Countess Eliza a reassuring smile. She didn’t seem convinced by it, but she didn’t pry any further.
Fortunately, the Western Kingdom delegation arrived in the afternoon, so I could set aside those worries for a while. I encountered Sovieshu in the White Rose Room, but he didn’t ask me how my progress with the investigation was going. He treated me formally, and I received the delegation’s greetings with a calm look on my face.
“…To this day, King Heinley says he greatly enjoyed his time in the Eastern Empire before his ascension to the throne.”
When the delegate finished speaking, a nobleman behind him came up with a long golden box. Marquis Karl, Sovieshu’s chief secretary, opened the lid and pulled out a scroll from inside. He handed it to Sovieshu, who then opened the scroll and read its contents. Sovieshu nodded, then handed the scroll back to Marquis Karl.
Throughout the process, I looked at the faces of each of the delegates. I did not know them, except for the knight that often accompanied Heinley. I had hoped he would have brought Queen or the blue bird…
I knew I could not go to the Western Kingdom in the present situation I was in, and I wished I could have sent it by letter. I swallowed my regret and smoothed the expression on my face. My skin prickled as I felt a gaze on me, and I turned my head to see Sovieshu looking at me with cold eyes. He turned his head away, but he still looked displeased.
“Please tell this to King Heinley. As you may know, the Empress of the Eastern Empire is very busy and valuable to our country, and so she cannot travel far.”
After hearing his words to the delegation leader, I understood why he looked so grim. As I was lost in my thoughts, the delegate had asked Sovieshu whether I could be the imperial representative for the coronation ceremony.
“I will send Grand Duke Lilteang on the mission.”
After his refusal, Sovieshu leaned over to me and spoke in a low voice.
“Are you still investigating the drug?”
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After meeting with the delegation, I went back to my room and sat dazedly at my desk.
There was a rap on the window. I quickly approached, and saw a blue bird holding a large bag of envelopes. When I opened the window, the blue bird flew in and placed the bag in front of me.
“Did you bring all this?”
The bird nodded and collapsed on the bed with less decorum than he usually did. After giving the bird some water, I quickly opened one of the letters.
— You didn’t give me a definite answer, but you would have told me straight away if you couldn’t come. May I look forward to meeting you? I’ll be happy to see you, Queen.