His demand was both simple and large. It meant to release all restrictions on the Rudbihi family. The right to step back into society, into the imperial family.
“It’s not difficult, right? Those years of waiting. I think I’ve had enough of that order to hold my breath for a while.”
“…Okay. I will tell His Majesty by myself. However, if your daughter goes on a rampage again, I can’t guarantee it then either.”
Duke Rudbihi smiled until wrinkles formed in his eyes.
“Yes, I know. I’m doing this because I know my daughter’s weakness well.”
Shortly after, Duek Ragham’s carriage left the Rudbihi family. Duke Rudbihi, who was still sitting on the sofa of the parlor, was lost in thought. When his subordinate came in, he glanced at him.
“So, did you find it?”
“…I’m still looking. If Lord waits a little longer…”
Then Duke Rudbihi’s body swung sideways. “You still haven’t found it? Does it make sense to say that a vast amount disappeared in an instant without a trace!”
“I’m sorry, Lord. I will definitely find it if you give me a little more time.”
There was a mine explosion not long ago. It happened early in the morning, just after the guard shift. That mine was where his source of funds was held for several years, waiting for the right time to collect things that would become huge property stakes.
He hurriedly sent people to search inside the collapsed mine for several days, but the things inside disappeared like ghosts. He questioned those who were on guard duty. Still, they said they had fainted while lying neatly in one place until the explosion occurred and only woke up when they heard the explosion sound.
The area was surrounded by the remains of a huge explosion, making it difficult to find traces, so the culprit hadn’t been found until now.
“That son of goddamn bitch.”
It wasn’t that there weren’t any suspicious people, but it was impossible to move recklessly.
“Don’t be too reckless. Find it quietly.”
At least he managed to hold the back of his neck with this today’s deal. If today’s deal was well talked about, it would be possible for him to achieve the revival to the point of forgetting what was stored in that mine. That glory.
“Yes, please tell me.”
Duke Rudbihi stroked his chin slowly.
“I need to catch Lucellai’s rats. We must see the right time, so get ready to drive them out.”
In order to do that, it was necessary to grasp the weakness first.
* * *
It was the evening when the sun began to set. Fortunately, I was able to attend dinner with my mother. We didn’t eat dinner at all except when I had something to say, so there was no guarantee that I would succeed today. I attended the dinner while worrying about it, but it went smoothly.
Honestly, it wasn’t easy to deliver the empress’ letter directly to my mother. In the first place, I didn’t move as my mother ordered, and I was paying the price for it. Plus, it was definitely awkward to see their faces after hearing the unbelievable story from Blake Ariandel. However, I had no choice but to jump directly into the fire pit for my purpose. It wasn’t like it only happened once or twice.
“You must have something to say.”
“Ahaha, that’s true, but I also want to see Mother.”
“You’re not a child who moves unnecessarily.”
“Sometimes I just want to see Mother.”
At that, my mother didn’t criticize me anymore. I waited a little longer until Sir Shubart showed up before handing out the letter to make some protective measurements.
“Sorry for being late! I didn’t expect Bella to come first. I wish she could come every day.”
A warm rested on my shoulder. Just in time, Sir Shubart had arrived. I almost flinched but managed to turn my head and smile.
“I will come often. It will be difficult to come during the day.”
“Yes, you can always come if you’re bored. What are you all doing? Bring more food.” When he said that, the chef and the maids behind him quickly moved, setting up the table.
“So what do you want to say?”
As expected, my mother tried to get down to business with only a few slices of salad in her mouth. I put the letter on the table as I saw Sir Shubart sitting in his chair and drinking water.
“This has been sent to me. I want to show it to Mother before I attend.”
The maid took my letter and delivered it to my mother. While my mother’s hand opened the letter, I waited while holding my breath without realizing it.
Sir Shubart raised his eyebrows at me as if asking what was going on. He seemed to be doing this because he thought he would be scolded by my mother if he spoke.
“It’s a letter from the empress,” I spoke to Sir Shubart almost in a whisper.
“Segbay.” A sharp voice came from my mother’s mouth.
At the same time, Sir Shubart’s expression became cold. It was so fast that I couldn’t recognize it. At the end of her sentence, my mother handed over the letter to Sir Shubart. Sir Shubart lightly checked and held it out to me. It was so fast that I wondered, but I thought he only checked the location.
“There will be nothing to worry about,” said Sir Shubart as if he was reading my mind. It was the same as saying that I could attend it.
I thought there would be something more, but there was nothing else, which made me almost disappointed. I nodded, then raised my knife and fork.
My mother immediately rose from her seat, but Sir Shubart stayed with me while I ate dinner. As we talked about one thing or another, Sir Shubart asked when he was about to empty the plate.
“Do you sleep well these days?”
“It’s alright. Not that bad.”
I smiled and looked at Sir Shubart, who, as always, asked after me and was concerned.
“A very tall man with silver hair.”
No matter how I looked at it, it didn’t make sense. Blake Ariandel’s voice kept buzzing in my ears.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Sir Shubart asked with wide-open eyes, perhaps because I was staring too hard.
I looked at him for a moment and said, “It’s purely a curiosity.”
“Is that so? What is it? Tell me.”
“You took me from the orphanage when I was little, right?”
As I asked, I carefully examined Sir Shubart’s expression. Without much agitation, he rolled his eyes as if he recalled them and nodded.
“Right. Do you still remember your childhood?”
“A little. Faintly. You said that the orphanage is ruined now, right?”
“Yes, it probably did. Or maybe it passed to someone else before closing. Why were you curious about that?”
“It’s just that. I suddenly wondered what my parents were like these days. I must have thought about them because I used my power and looked for a way. It’s just a curiosity.”
Sir Shubart rose from his seat and patted my head lightly.
“I already told you not to blame yourself. Let’s just forget about it now. You don’t have to struggle with bringing out those memories. Then you will be able to sleep more comfortably.”
“Is that true?”
“Of course. I will tell them to bring some dessert that you will like.”
Then Sir Shubart headed directly to the kitchen. I wiped my mouth with a napkin while watching Sir Shubart’s back like that.
As expected, he’s avoiding it too. I couldn’t be sure of anything with this, but my mood calmed down a bit once I realized that Sir Shubart was doing this to avoid or hide something.
After tasting the dessert that Sir Shubart brought himself, I headed to my mother’s room. I knocked on the door twice in front of the tightly closed door.
“Mother, it’s me.”
When I opened the door, my mother was sitting in front of a large dressing table that looked like a throne, looking in the mirror and touching her hair.
“What about Shubart?”
“He went to the office with Ian earlier. I guess he has something to tell Ian.”
I got closer to my mother. My mother made eye contact with me for a while and began to brush her hair again.
“I’ll do it for you.”
“Why are you trying to do something you didn’t do?”
I smiled awkwardly at the remark and accepted the comb in my mother’s hand. Fortunately, my mother quickly relaxed her strength from her hands and left me with the brush. I brushed off my mother’s smooth black hair.
“But I did it for you in the north sometimes.”
“But it was too cold there.”
My mother’s hair was not even oil, but it was smoothly wrapped around my hands without any tangles. I combed a few times and looked at my mother; her face was more relaxed.
“It’s done, Mother. What do you think?”
When I put a hairpin that my mother put on the dressing table in advance, it looked pretty good even though I was not very good with my hands.
“It’s all right. Thank you.”
“I will do it again next time. Don’t worry too much about meeting the empress. I will make sure I don’t make a mistake. If I feel something is strange, I will leave right away.”
“Don’t worry. You’ll do well on your own.”
“Yes. I must go now. I think it will be tight to prepare from tomorrow.”
After putting down the comb and taking a few steps back, my mother stood up.