Chapter 63 – Red Flame Ring (2)
Eight days after Rashta asked Viscount Roteschu to uncover Duchess Tuania’s weakness, the viscount paid a visit.
“You’re earlier than expected.”
Rashta spoke to him in a sharp voice and ordered Viscountess Verdi to take away the tea.
“Oh dear. You won’t even serve me tea?”
“No. And I didn’t send her away because of you.”
Rashta did not reply. She didn’t want to tell Viscount Roteschu that she didn’t trust Viscountess Verdi.
“Hm. You don’t want to say.”
Viscount Roteschu seated himself comfortably in a chair and smiled.
“Speak quickly. Have you found anything useful?”
“Indeed. It was not that hushed, so the information wasn’t hard to find.”
Rashta waited in anticipation for his answer. Viscount Roteschu grinned and pulled a gossip magazine from his bag.
“What is this?”
Rashta took out the gossip magazine and unfolded it. It was dated from twenty years ago.
The magazine included topics on trendy designers, fashionable hat shops, popular actors, weddings that month, and restaurants. Although the fashion was two decades old, Rashta was still dazzled by the pictures.
Why was she looking at this? She flipped the pages with a frown. With her limited reading ability she could only glean some information through the pictures or simple words, but she couldn’t tell what Viscount Roteschu was talking about. Annoyed, she set down the magazine and stared at the viscount, who gave an “Oh” and took the magazine away.
“I thought the Emperor taught you everything.”
He smiled as if to reassure her that he was not making fun of her, and pointed to a section of the magazine.
“Nian, a beautiful young lady; Marquis Tuania, who devoted himself to the Church; and Lord René, Nian’s fiancé. This is the most talked about story here.”
“I told you to find information about the Duchess, didn’t I?”
“Here, Lady Nian is now Duchess Tuania.”
Viscount Roteschu explained with a click of his tongue.
“You think she was a duchess from birth?”
“Then is Marquis Tuania the Duke Tuania now?”
“The man we call the Marquis Tuania here is the eldest son of the Duke Tuania at the time. Now everyone calls him ‘Lord Marian’.”
“At the time, the successor was this man. But now Nian’s fiancé, René, is Duke Tuania. ”
“I’ll speak of them with their current titles, as it’s confusing. Lord Marian fell in love with his younger brother’s fiancée, Duchess Tuania.”
“It’s in the gossip pages, but it’s true. He even chased after her and they had a good relationship. But when the Duchess Tuania finally married Duke Tuania, Lord Marian was completely shocked, and he gave up his inheritance and went into the Church.”
Rashta opened her eyes wide.
“Why give up everything?”
“I don’t know. The problem was, Lord Marian committed suicide within a week of entering the Church. Since then the Duchess has had the reputation of a femme fatale. The gossip was all ablaze.”
Rashta’s gazed at the magazine with keen interest.
“This is the duchess’ weakness, isn’t it? People wondered if she killed him.”
“There were more rumors after that, but there isn’t any more information because the publisher went out of business.”
“Duchess Tuania had a baby seven months after she married the duke. The duchess claimed the baby was born prematurely, but people said the baby looked like Lord Marian’s.”
“At the time, the father-in-law, Duke Tuania, was so angry that he drove not only the journalists out of business, but publisher as well.”
Rashta swallowed hard. This was it.
The rumor could be reignited, and the role as the chewbone of society would pass over to Duchess Tuania.
“How do you like it?”
Viscount Roteschu looked on with a smile. Rashta nodded and took some jewelry from her jewelry box and handed it to Viscount Roteschu, who accepted it with glee.
“There’s more I want you to do.”
“If you’re on my side, you have to keep working.”
Rashta placed another jewel in Viscount Roteschu’s hand.
“You said Lord Marian killed himself in the church, did you?”
“Buy the people around the church and spread this story.”
“Before Lord Marian died, a beautiful woman visited the church several times.”
“Hmm. It may seem obvious that someone’s trying to attack Duchess Tuania. Will such rumors be enough?”
Rashta raised her eyebrows and laughed.
“It will be enough.”
Rashta remembered Duchess Tuania at the ball. There was another man around her that was always staring at the duchess with a darkened expression.
‘That man is a duke.’
Although many would side with the duchess, if someone with a similar status expressed doubt, it would certainly fracture opinions.
After Viscount Roteschu left, Rashta nervously paced the room in excitement. She could now pass her suffering to someone else. Duchess Tuania was highly visible in high society, and so when the gossip broke, everyone would talk about it.
‘By then, the rumor will disappear that I was a runaway slave.’
Rashta chewed on her lower lip and sank onto the couch. As soon as this was sorted out, she needed to find out about the baby…and that was not something she could trust Viscount Roteschu on.
‘It would be even more difficult if I chose the wrong person. Isn’t there anyone I can trust?’
Count Pirnu walked down the corridor and tilted his head in deep thought. The more he puzzled over it, the less he understood. Then, at the intersection where the central palace and the western palace met, he almost ran into the subject of his thoughts.
“Oops. My apologies, Count.”
Viscount Roteschu was quick to leave with a smile and apology, as if he knew Count Pirnu’s face. Count Pirnu looked behind him. The viscount’s step had a lightness to it.
Count Pirnu stared briefly at the back of his head, then headed straight to the Emperor’s office. As usual, the Emperor was laboring under a mountain of paperwork, but soon as Count Pirnu came in, the Emperor looked up.
“Ah, Count. Have you found it? How much did the maid pay for?”
It was two days ago when Count Pirnu informed the Emperor of the Red Flame Star he had bought at the auction house. The count had sought information from the auction house, but the person who put the ring in the market had gone to another region, and it had taken two days to track him down.
Count Pirnu approached the Emperor with a serious expression.
“Your Majesty, I heard the ring was paid its proper worth.”
“That’s good to hear.”
“But there is something strange.”
“Well…the merchant said the person who sold him the ring was not a maid.”
“It was Viscount Roteschu.”