Chapter 449. Brief Farewell (2)
Translator: Aura / Editor: Tiny Zebra
While Navier was torn between desire to comfort her husband and fear to face him due to her worry that he could come to resent her, Mastas met with her brother, April. Together, they went to a secret conference among the Underground Knights. After the conference, as they walked back, Mastas asked her brother with concern.
“What is the word on the street about Grand Duke Lilteang?”
The Grand Duke had been found outside the front gate of the Embassy of the Eastern Empire, so anyone who passed by must have seen his emaciated appearance. Mastas was concerned about how the passersby had reacted.
“Has anything been said about Our Majesty?”
“Do you mean Her Majesty the Empress or His Majesty the Emperor?”
“Of course I mean His Majesty Emperor Heinley. Empress Navier has nothing to do with this.”
“People know that Grand Duke Lilteang was punished because of what he did to Duke Zemensia’s son. They believe that Emperor Heinley must have held the Zemensia Family in high esteem, otherwise he would not have treated a member of a foreign imperial family so harshly. They seemed pleased, since the Grand Duke has never had a positive image in our country.”
Mastas was relieved. But she noticed that April’s expression was somewhat solemn, so she asked, puzzled.
“What’s with that face?”
April answered reluctantly.
“People have a misconception.”
“Although the people seem pleased with His Majesty’s actions, Her Majesty’s reputation was affected by this situation.”
Mastas’ eyes widened and she grabbed April by the collar of his shirt.
“What are you talking about?! What did our empress supposedly do?!”
“I am but a messenger! What did I do to deserve to be tugged around with so much violence?”
Mastas quickly released her brother. He smoothed the wrinkled collar of his shirt while he huffed.
“As people see it, His Majesty held the Zemensia Family in high esteem, but in the end he completely destroyed them due to his love for Empress Navier.”
“And how else should His Majesty treat a family of traitors?”
“The problem is that some people believe that His Majesty was willing to discard his loyal subjects for Her Majesty.”
“That’s absurd! Those vultures had no understanding of what loyalty means. They targeted Her Majesty first!”
“Of course, most people share your opinion. However, I’m concerned that the bad opinions of the minority will spread. People like to badmouth more than they like to praise.”
“That won’t happen!”
Mastas ruffled her brother’s hair, making it so wild that it looked like a bird’s nest.
As April debated whether to tell his sister about an incident in which Easterners quarreled with Westerners who badmouthed Navier in their presence, he saw someone over Mastas’ shoulder. His eyes widened and he raised his hand in greeting.
Mastas flinched and asked under her breath,
“Lord… Lord Koshar is here? Behind me?”
“Here I am, Miss Mastas.”
Mastas became stiff like a wooden doll, frozen in an awkward posture. With her eyes, she asked her brother for help. Mastas didn’t actually know what kind of help she wanted, exactly, but she asked for help anyway.
However, her brother misunderstood her silent pleas for help. He smiled with satisfaction, winked at her, and quickly left.
Confused by April’s sudden departure, Koshar asked,
“Has something urgent come up?”
Mastas clasped her hands tightly and mumbled,
“I… I don’t… I don’t know.”
Flustered, her eyes wandered around the corridor. She couldn’t help it. She had never spoken face to face with a man as handsome, delicate, and innocent as Lord Koshar. In fact, she thought that Lord Koshar seemed as pure as a lily of the valley. Mastas worried that Lord Koshar might faint suddenly, like before, so she wanted to speak carefully.
“Um… Lord… this … um, Lord Koshar.”
“Tell me, Miss Mastas.”
“Um… the weather was bad a few days ago.”
“To avoid catching a cold, one can drink a glass of milk mixed with honey.”
“Is that advice you think I should follow?”
“Since you’re delicate… well, it’s not a bad thing for you to be delicate. I like… Lord Koshar is delicate.. Wait, that doesn’t mean I like… Uh, I don’t dislike you either… What I mean is, with your delicate constitution, you can easily catch a cold from bad weather. It would do you good to drink warm milk mixed with honey.”
Mastas realized that it was very difficult to deal with a delicate man. She struggled to choose the right words so as not to hurt him.
Since she lowered her head in embarrassment, she didn’t notice Koshar’s gaze on her as he held back his laughter.
Amid her struggle to find the right words, she suddenly blurted out,
“Don’t get sick!”
Then, she quickly turned and ran down the corridor like a cheetah.
Quietly, Koshar murmured to himself as he watched her run away.
“Mastas, why is your face so red? Weren’t you supposed to meet your brother?”
Rose teased as soon as Mastas entered the drawing room. Indeed, Mastas’ face, neck and ears were as red as a tomato.
Laura chimed in.
“Maybe the brother you went to see… was someone else’s brother?”
Mastas spoke firmly. Then she stomped to the corner, pulled out her spear, and waved it. She seemed to be channeling the adrenaline through her spear.
Rose and Laura looked at each other, giggling. Countess Jubel mumbled while shaking her head,
“She doesn’t know how to lie.”
“She was definitely with a man, right?”
“Definitely. If not, why would she act like that?”
“I can hear you! I can hear it all!”
Mastas screamed at them, put the spear away and stomped out of the drawing room. My ladies-in-waiting burst out laughing.
I also enjoyed their chatter. It was nice to set aside my worries about Heinley for a little while, while I enjoyed the cheerful atmosphere.
After a while, Rose suggested that we eat pudding. Countess Jubel wanted cookies, and Laura remarked that if we were to have cookies, it would also be nice to have ice cream. They called the maids to order the desserts while I went to my bedroom. My clothes felt tight and I wanted to loosen some of the inside buttons.
When I returned, all kinds of desserts were displayed on the table. We took our seats and picked up our forks. Just as I was about to taste the pudding, I was interrupted by a knight’s voice outside the door,
“Your Majesty, Emperor Sovieshu is here to see you.”
My ladies-in-waiting froze, mouths full and forks in midair. When I put down my fork, they all reluctantly put down theirs as well. Countess Jubel sighed and stood up, followed by the others.
My ladies-in-waiting’s eyes widened.
After I repeated my request, I got up to open the door myself. As soon as I opened the door, I saw Sovieshu holding a basket. When I stepped back, he walked past me into the drawing room. I spoke to him coldly.
“What brings you here?”
Sovieshu glanced at my ladies-in-waiting. They stared at him with displeasure, but Sovieshu immediately turned to me and handed me the basket, as if he didn’t mind the presence of my ladies-in-waiting.
“It’s a gift.”
“I don’t want it.”
Despite my curt refusal, he set it down on the table next to the desserts. Then, he walked to the door, pausing before he left.
“You can look at it later.”
“I’ll throw it away.”
Countess Jubel and Laura, who didn’t know that Emperor Sovieshu was actually the nineteen-year-old Sovieshu, coughed and looked startled.
Sovieshu smiled bitterly.
“No matter how much you push me away, I have no choice but to hold on to you.”
This surprised me. I asked my ladies-in-waiting to stay because I thought he would not say inappropriate things in front of them to preserve what little is left of his pride.
“You are my soulmate. No matter how often you reject me, I will seek you out, Navier. Because I need you like I need air to breathe.”
Sovieshu stared at me with bright eyes eager to say many things, then lowered his gaze. However, as if realizing that he was wasting time, he raised his head and looked at me. I felt as if he was memorizing every part of my face. Slowly, his eyes roamed all over my face.
“I love you, Navier.”
“That doesn’t change how I feel about you. Even though you say you’ll never come back to me, that you don’t love me, even that you hate me, I love you. I’ve thought of you as my wife all my life. How can I erase our days together now?”
“In time you will come to think of me as a stranger. It worked for me”
“I don’t think it’s possible. I will yearn for you no matter how many years pass.”
“Look for the silver-haired woman who looks like an angel. Then, it will surely be possible.”
“The silver-haired woman…”
Sovieshu muttered with resentment. He must have heard about Rashta’s appearance, but he couldn’t seem to remember her. He just stared at me again and said,
“I heard that the Commander of the 4th Division of the Transnational Knights came to see you. He may be headed to the Eastern Empire to discuss the matter of the port, so I think I’ll go back, even though I haven’t completed the two weeks yet.”
He hesitated, so I spoke harshly.
Sovieshu nodded regretfully and whispered,
“Goodbye. I’ll write to you.”
Then he left. After I closed the door and returned to my seat, all my ladies-in-waiting leaned forward and peppered me with questions.
“Is he really leaving?”
“What was that all about?”
“How can he ask Her Majesty to go back to him?”
“He is clinging to Your Majesty.”
“Of course not.”
I answered sharply, then went into my bedroom with the basket. Once I pulled aside the lid, I saw that it was filled with envelopes. Why did he do all this?
Disgusted, I picked up the basket with the intention of sending it back, but a letter without an envelope caught my eye. When I took it, I saw the familiar penmanship.
— This is the only letter written by me. The rest were written by travelers from the Eastern Empire I met during my stay here. They are mercenaries, businessmen and other fellow countrymen. These letters were written by people who appreciate you. Read them one by one, whenever you feel sad.