Though he didn’t fully understand what the emperor was getting at, Viscount Dion knew that he had to say something .
If he wanted to survive, that is .
“Of course, Your Majesty . I will only do as you command . ”
“How long has it been since Lady Lania took over the Northern Lands?”
“She has been ruling the region ever since the late Duke became ill and was on his deathbed . The Northern Lands, unlike the other regions, is highly dependent on having a leader, since it is isolated from the rest of the empire . ”
“And just what does that stepmother do?”
“The Duchess…Ehem . ”
Viscount Dion gave a cough at the mention of the duchess .
Though he was supposed to answer the emperor’s questions, it was hard to answer such a question without feeling awkward .
“If she married someone her father’s age, she must be extremely ambitious, no?”
“Well, you see…she doesn’t come from a good background . But her social standing simply isn’t high enough to control the proud high nobles of the region . It is not enough for the more conservative and orthodox families .
“How low is her status for it to be like that?”
“Though I do not wish to speak badly of another, the Duchess’s family barely meets the standards of a lower noble household . Her father, the baron, is a drunkard and has several wives . It is unclear who the Duchess’s mother is and whether or not she has siblings .
“…And so that’s why her condition is like that, I see . ”
T/N: he’s probably talking about how he saw her crying . Lol…she was crying over your sister, you idiot . xD
“What was that, sir?”
“It’s fine . ”
Rashid held up a hand dismissively, as if he hadn’t said anything important .
Shortly following, the viscount, who had been watching the arrogant emperor’s every movement, continued his explanation .
“Anyhow, since the Duchess’s standing isn’t very good, it was difficult for her to gain power and position . ”
“That probably isn’t the whole story though?”
Rashid’s red eyes glinted sharply .
“Technically speaking, the Duchess should have the most legitimacy for the position . Just because this is the Northern Lands, those stupid things wouldn’t determine the leader based on one’s past and heritage . ”
“…Your Majesty . ”
“So tell me . What are the other rumors of the Duchess to explain reasons for her disqualification . ”
The emperor had cleanly grasped the crux of the situation . Viscount Dion took out a handkerchief and wiped his sweat .
The information he was about to say fell into the jaw-dropping category .
“Th-that the Duchess is in fact…of witch descent . ”
“I know that . What else . ”
“There’s also the rumor that she’s mentally unstable . And even…that the Duchess caused the late Duke’s death…”
Even after hearing rumors that would leave anyone else shocked and surprised, the emperor was left completely unfazed .
Rashid covered his mouth in displeasure as the viscount stood dazed eyes, completely unsure of how to continue .
“Nothing like, say…that she went insane after losing a child . ”
“She was unable to forget her child that died right after childbirth and thus became like so, or a rumor of that kind . ”
“Hahaha, that’s impossible!”
As the viscount roared with laughter, the hot-blooded Tenon looked at him with indignation .
How dare he in front of the honorable Emperor!
Rashid stopped Tenon as his younger brother began pulling out his sword .
“…So you’re telling me, it’s not true?”
He even looked as if he wasn’t upset .
“That woman has never had a child before?”
“Indeed . It is said that the late Duke passed on as soon as they were wed . It’s also very unlikely that he and his wife were even able to greet each other properly . ”
“…Is that so?”
Forget about a bad mood, he even looked like he was smiling with one end of his mouth curling upwards .
But even after wearing a happy expression he wasn’t aware of, Rashid then furrowed his eyebrows .
“Then why was she in such a state…”
He looked like he thought he wouldn’t be able to answer the question no matter how long he thought about it .
The viscount who had been racking his brain to add anything to his words, added his opinion into the mix in a crude manner .
“To be honest, most people are probably not even aware of the Duchess’s existence . Since the late Duke passed away as soon as they were married, she rarely showed her face to the public . It’s true that there are rumors revolving here and there, but unless Lady Lania opens up the discussion, there isn’t anyone here who would dare to ask about the matter to the Duke’s Household . ”
“The lady’s reputation must have improved while those suspicions remained . ”
Unable to answer with a negative, the viscount could only respond with a smile .
One book wasn’t enough to contain the rumors on Duchess Catherine .
And yet she remained in the Evendell Household, yet to be ousted, and the de-facto heir, Lady Lania, remained silent on the matter instead of fanning the flames .
A wise and generous princess .
From that moment on, there had been a growing appreciation for her in the public’s eyes .
“Well, the lady’s reputation is impeccable, really . Your Majesty must have also noticed this at the welcoming, but the lady had much poise and no qualms as the hostess . ”
“…That’s true . ”
With his eyes lowered, Rashid responded indifferently . The red glare that fell on his fingers seemed to be able to sharply pierce everything .
The keen eyes turned to the viscount, who began to speak loudly .
“Uhhh, Your Majesty . Do you have any further questions to ask?”
“Who is your master?”
“…Ththat is of course the one who has received the blessing of the God, Your Honorable Excellency the Emperor . ”
He stuttered as he answered the question and instinctively kneeled .
Rashid’s eyes narrowed as if he were satisfied .
“It’s good that you haven’t forgotten . ”
“Your Majesty . ”
“Since I won’t have to cut someone’s stomach as a reminder of who did and is doing the grunt work so that you’re all able to live and eat . ”
Get out .
Rashid lifted his chin along with the friendly warning, and the viscount withdrew from the room, cold sweat dripping from him .
As if enjoying the moment of silence, Rashid smiled and crossed his legs .
“If you don’t instruct the dogs like this every once in a while, it’s easy for them to forget their owner, who keeps them on a loose leash . ”
“But Your Majesty, I do not think the viscount was lying . ”
“Sure, maybe for now . ”
“Whether what he is said is true for now but not true later, one has to take responsibility for their words when telling Jihm . ”
He looked at Peyton as he began to approach him .
“An emperor’s servant being stupid is no different from treason . ”
“Was there perhaps something in what he said that bothered Your Majesty?”
“……That woman is a witch who harms children?”
I don’t think so .
Murmuring as if to himself, Rashid shook his head and got up from his seat .
As he returned to his spacious desk and picked up a quill pen, Tenon approached him as well .
“Well, if we think about what we saw at the town, she certainly didn’t look like she was going to do anything to the children . In fact, to do that she was just too beaut…I mean, what I meant was-” (Tenon)
“Sure, she’s not a witch who would get rid of children . ” (Rashid)
“Though she could still be a witch . ” (Rashid)
Rashid put down his pen, folded the letter he’d written, and slid it into a black envelope . He then poured wax and stamped it with the emperor’s seal on top, pointing a finger at Peyton .
“I could find out if I just asked her in person . ”
“Your Majesty personally wants to ask her?”
Peyton and Tenon looked up at Rashid in shock .
They became more confused as they thought about all the previous occurrences when the emperor questioned someone’s motives .
“Whatever, just cut them down . ”
He never listened to their explanation properly .
In fact, the longer the excuse, the faster Rashid pulled out his sword .
They didn’t know why the emperor wanted to solve his doubts personally like this .
Nevertheless, the emperor’s instincts had never been wrong before .
“But Your Majesty, there is no need for you to waste your energy on this matter . Since there is also the issue with Haniel at hand, why don’t I meet with the Duchess in Your Majesty’s stead . ”
“No . ”
He seemed louder than necessary as he voiced his rejection .
Seeing Tenon flinch, Rashid belatedly swept a hand through his hair as if frustrated .
“Maybe my doubts are unfounded . But if she’s a witch that really preys on children, she might have something to do with Haniel’s matter . ”
“But you just said that the Duchess doesn’t seem like that sort of person… . ”
Shut it .
Rashid’s powerful aura swept past the two brothers .
It told them that though they couldn’t be exactly sure what the Duchess’s matter was about, it didn’t seem like a good idea to keep refuting Rashid any longer .
“As you know, there are many noblemen in the North who are armed . ”
“They have no choice . It’s the continental bridge that’s stuck in the middle of the kingdoms”
“As Peyton Hyung-nim said . Though you may have conquered the entire continent, from generation to generation of rulers in the kingdoms, there have been big and small disputes . ”
“Then did you notice the large number of knights at the welcome banquet . ”
“They say that all the well-to-do aristocrats of the North were gathered . How many of them do you remember?”
The look on Peyton and Tenon’s faces changed at Rashid’s significant remarks . The battlefield was the only place where their brothers, the members of the imperial family, would meet the lower nobility of the North .
The empire held a vast amount of territory and it had been many months, even years, since they had seen them that they had forgotten the faces of the lower nobles .