A hand as white as snow picked up the teacup.
Beautiful fingers, with flawless, clear skin, were delicate and fluid, making it difficult to distinguish between ceramic and a living being.
She tilted her teacup in a graceful manner and enjoyed the scent.
Even those who talked about her origins as vulgar or lowly would not be able to find fault in her elegant appearance.
The person sitting opposite was silently watching her every move.
A tenacious and cold gaze, like that of a snake staring at its prey, shone in the curled eyes.
Why? What else are you being fussy about?
Thinking coyly, she lowered her eyes and placed her teacup on the table.
Then, with a drawn smile, the opposite of what was going on in her mind, she raised her head toward the other person.
“I’m rather ashamed to be held in such high regards by Your Highness.
What exactly did I do? I only did what I thought was right.”
In a sweet voice like that of a nightingale, she said something she didn’t mean. To not reveal one’s true intentions under any circumstances. It was one of the first rules of life she learned when she entered the palace.
“No, I don’t think so.
Everyone knows who saved my son’s life.
Don’t set me up as a shameless old woman, Countess.”
Contrary to her harsh eyes, a gentle tone flowed from the other person.
The way she talked made her seem like a benevolent old lady, but Grand Duchess Alienor was more of a veteran politician than just a good old lady.
She lifted her head upright and slightly moved her chin backward.
The servant who was standing behind her received the signal and stepped forward.
The servant placed the box on the tea table of Countess Patrí.
The beautiful rosewood box, engraved with a goddess sleeping in a vine intertwined with elaborate intaglio, was a rare work of art that even the box itself looks very expensive.
Countess Patrí looked down at the splendidly decorated box, and her eyes gleamed.
“What is this? Your Highness The Grand Duchess”
“It’s a small token of sincerity.
A small reward for the kindness the Countess has shown me, so please don’t hesitate.”
The Countess’ lady-in-waiting handed her the box.
The Countess couldn’t overcome her curiosity and opened the box on the spot.
Inside the box lined with crimson velvet was a dazzlingly beautiful pearl necklace.
This necklace was made with only black pearls, which were said to be the most expensive among pearls, and each one was almost as thick as a grape.
Countess Patrí sighed in admiration as she placed a hand on her cheek.
Since ancient times, noblewomen have loved pearls.
Among them, Countess Patrí’s love for pearls was immense.
She preferred pearls more than diamonds and sapphires, for there was no jewel that enhanced her beauty as much as pearls did.
“I’m not sure if I can accept this, Your Highness The Grand Duchess.
It’s just too precious…”
Okay but I’m not sure; Countess Patrí did not forget her words of humility.
Grand Duchess Alienor narrowed her eyes and said to the Countess with a faint smile.
“Even if it’s precious, it’s not as precious as my son’s life”
While it was said with a faint smile, the words of the Grand Duchess were sincere.
Nothing was more important to her than Prince Merrick’s life.
Countess Patrí couldn’t refuse any longer, and thanked her as she closed the box.
The Countess’s lady-in-waiting took the box and stepped back.
The Countess lifted the teacup she had set down with a flushed face.
Grand Duchess Alienor called the Countess in a subtle manner.
The Countess replied amiably to the Grand Duchess, taking on a much more earnest demeanor than before.
“Please go on, Your Highness.”
“Whilst I came here to pay my greetings, I have a request to make.”
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection.
If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
What do you mean by a request? What sort of request? Countess Patrí, hearing the words of the Grand Duchess, tilted her head inwardly.
This is because the Grand Duchess Alienor she knew was someone who would’ve straight away given orders as she wasn’t the kind of person who would ask anyone for a favor.
“Qtja’r atf wjaafg?”
“Pa’r fwyjggjrrlcu ab fnfc rjs la bea ibev, yea… vb sbe tjqqfc ab xcbk Djgbc Gewbca’r vjeutafg?”
“Tfr, P xcbk.
P’nf gec lcab tfg j ofk alwfr ja atf mbega.”
Ktfgf lr cb bcf ktb vlv cba xcbk Obelrf vf Gewbca, atf qgbajubclra bo atf wjpbg rmjcvji atja tjr cfnfg yffc rffc yfobgf lc atf lwqfglji mbega.
Ktjcxr ab atf vlnbgmf, rtf kjr cbk pera atf fraffwfv vjeutafg bo atf Djgbc, Lbc Obelrf Gewbca, yea fnfgsbcf firf, fzmfqa obg Xgjcv Gemtfrr Cilfcbg, ralii mjiifv tfg Djgbcfrr Cwlfez.
“I believe you already expected it, but she is going to be a member of our family now.
What could I possibly do even if her disposition turns out to be unfavorable? For my son, it must be her and no one else.
How can an old mother handle the obstinacy of her young and grown son?”
The whole world knew that as strict as the Grand Duchess was, she was not the same toward her son.
And Prince Merrick loved Baroness Amieux, or Hon Louise Dumont, dearly.
How much love would one have for the other to endure such a big scandal and even file for divorce?
Countess Patrí listened attentively to the Grand Duchess, though she wondered what was so attractive about the somewhat small woman.
The Grand Duchess let out a low sigh and shook her head.
Though her face was full of displeasure, her stance seemed to be of one who had been forced to give up.
It looked like the impossible existed even for the seemingly invincible Grand Duchess.
She was someone who acted as if there was nothing in the world that couldn’t be done at will like child’s play.
“The problem is that her reputation is an utter mess.
She’s not a widow, but a divorcee, so who would regard her as a proper noblewoman when she wants to jump into another alliance right after a divorce? Not to mention, her only proper relative said he didn’t want to take care of the divorced lady.
Under these circumstances, no one would respect the Duchess.
It’s a treatment she deserves for the sin she committed, but unfortunately, she’s going to be my daughter-in-law.
I simply cannot let the Duchess of Fernand suffer like that.”
Countess Patrí felt a shiver run down her spine.
This is because she guessed what the Grand Duchess was going to ask of her.
“This is why I’m requesting you.
If you accept it, I will never forget your sincerity.”
“Please tell me, Your Highness The Grand Duchess.
What can I do to help?”
The Countess whispered as she forced her heart, pounding with anticipation, to calm down.
The Grand Duchess lived up to the Countess’ expectations as she let out a sigh.
“Take Hon Louise Dumont as your lady-in-waiting.
If you, His Majesty’s most favorite concubine, were to be her companion, no one would dare to ignore her presence.”
Countess Patrí’s lips trembled.
There was no way the clever lady didn’t know the actual meaning of the ‘request’ made by Grand Duchess Alienor.
Commonly, it was the duty of a noblewoman to serve an imperial lady.
Countess Patrí, the concubine of the current Emperor Ebroin V, also had aristocratic ladies-in-waiting.
They were both the Countess’ assistants and her closest friends.
Taking on the role of a lady-in-waiting to a woman of the imperial family meant taking on the role of an ally who supported her in society, forming a solid unbreakable bond.
If Louise, who will become the Duchess of Fernand, becomes her lady-in-waiting, she will gain the support of not only Louise but also of the Duke of Fernand as a whole.
But there was something of more importance than that.
Even a lady of the imperial family had limitations, according to her title.
Just as a concubine with the title of a Marquise could not have a lady-in-waiting with the title of Marquise or higher, a Countess could not have a lady-in-waiting with the title of Countess or higher.
Moreover, there was only one person that could have a ‘Duchess’ as her lady-in-waiting, and that was the Empress.
However, Grand Duchess Alienor requested for Hon Louise Dumont, the future Duchess, to be her lady-in-waiting.
What did that mean?
Countess Patrí realized that this was the real ‘reward’ for her.
“It would be an honor for me to have Hon Louise Dumont as my lady-in-waiting, Your Highness.”
The Countess answered from the bottom of her heart.
Her face, unable to hide the overwhelming joy and anticipation, shone brilliantly like the rising sun.
Grand Duchess Alienor gave a faint smile and raised the teacup.
While she was indeed smiling, her blue narrowed eyes were as cold as ice.
Benoux and Carol, the managers of the Argenson Inn, were now facing an unprecedented situation they couldn’t handle.
The attendant, who had a more arrogant appearance than any other attendant he had ever seen, made an expression and looked down at Benoux.
The man in a red-yellow uniform with gold borders, that was, the uniform of a court attendant, which carried power and dignity, yelled at Benoux with his back straight.
“You mean to say that Baron Amieux isn’t inside?”
The manager was startled and straightened his posture before he shook his head.
“No, I’m afraid not, Sir.
He went out a little while ago and said he had some business to attend to outside… When he usually goes out like this, he doesn’t back until evening.”
“Is that so? Then it can’t be helped.
This is an invitation from the Marquise of Lamotte.
The Lady expects a quick reply, so let me know as soon as he gets back.”
The letter placed on the silver tray was unmistakably authentic.
Since the titles of concubines were limited to one generation, the concubines would often represent themselves by using temporary crests with a lily-of-the-valley flower pattern on top of the crest of their original family from which they descended.
The letter on the silver tray had a lily-of-the-valley flower pattern on top of the crest of Marquis of Despan, so it certainly was a letter from Marquise of Lamotte.
The person who brought the letter was none other than the court attendant.
Cold sweat broke out on the manager’s back at the clear evidence that had no room for questioning.
When the attendant had finished speaking, he turned in an unfriendly manner and walked out of the inn.
“My goodness, how many of these have arrived already?”
The manager counted the invitations that had arrived for Baron Amieux once again.
The manager’s special safe was about to explode due to the invitations sent by the Emperor’s three concubines, as well as influential noble families, regardless of faction.
He couldn’t even go to the bathroom as he stood guard at the counter because it would be a matter of severe disgrace if he lost even one.
However, he did not lament his plight owing to the serious lesson he learned after realizing that the man he had only considered a fallen noble at best, was unexpectedly a magnate.
Now the manager knew exactly who he was.
Come to think of it, it was foolish of him to not recognize his identity from the beginning.
It was because of the prejudice against the fallen Eastern Nobles, that he was unable to guess the identity of the other person even after hearing the rarely addressed and old-fashioned eastern-style surname, Chastan.
There was currently no other noble in the capital more famous than him.
Is this what one would call a blessing from a fortunate wife in disguise? The Baron, who had been talked about mainly because of his wife’s adultery, became famous even on his own behalf due to the exceptional kindness His Majesty had bestowed upon him during the divorce trial.
His Majesty, a man of blood and iron, someone who had never shown favoritism when dealings with subjects, even said that he would personally choose a partner for Baron Amieux’s second marriage and saved his face.
The war had just ended.
It was a time when the authority of the Emperor, who held the military power in one hand, was soaring to the maximum.
In a situation where the Emperor’s return to the capital after two years became the focus of attention, this freshly favored subject, who had suddenly appeared, was of utmost interest not only to the politicians but also to ordinary citizens who had nothing to do with politics.
“Oh, Your Excellency, Baron Amieux.
The door opened at just the right time and soon, Baron Amieux came in.
Precisely like when he first visited the inn, he was dressed simply in a red navy uniform and an old coat, but the manager’s attitude toward him was clearly different from the first time.
He hurriedly stepped out from behind the counter and greeted him.
The waist, which was bent with profundity, was almost at a right angle.
“You always work hard.”
Baron Amieux nodded as he greeted him back, and was making his way to the second floor.
The manager hurriedly dissuaded him, beckoning the errand boy from behind.
The quick-witted errand boy occasionally ran with a special safe in his arms.
The manager carefully took the special safe with both arms and spoke to Baron Amieux.
“While you were away, another invitation came by.
There were many who wanted an answer as soon as possible”
The manager spoke in a polite tone and opened the safe in his arms for him to take a look.
Baron Amieux silently looked down at the bundle of invitations.
The sight of a tall, well-trained man looking down with his hawk-like eyes was indescribably daunting, but the manager firmly pushed the safe.
He broke out into cold sweat yet again, it was something beyond his control.
To make it clear once again, it was the manager who had to take responsibility if the invitations were not properly delivered.
“… Bring me a candle.
Pen and ink too.”
Baron Amieux requested the usual preparations in a low voice.
The manager nodded enthusiastically with a flushed face.
“I shall prepare them right away, Your Excellency.
May I bring you some beeswax as well?”
“I would appreciate it.
Well then, keep up the good work.”
Baron Amieux quietly praised the other person and climbed the stairs again.
The manager handed the safe to the errand boy next to him, wrote and sent a letter to another errand boy to prepare the necessary supplies to write a letter, and then returned to the back of the counter as he let out a sigh.
Good Lord, Just what in the world has struck upon me? The manager felt the sound of pain coming out of his mouth and patted his shoulder.
Such work was usually entrusted to the butlers of noble families. Butlers get monthly salaries in return, but I’m not even the butler of that noble, so why do I have to do this?
The manager let out a sigh as a way to vent the indescribable grievances in his mind that could be said out loud.
If the man had been a fallen noble, he wouldn’t have even bothered, though, it was not exhausting per se to look over everything of a master that had appeared out of nowhere.
“Is this the Argenson Inn where Baron Amieux is currently residing?”
However, the manager couldn’t even afford the time to lament.
In a moment, another guest came and asked for the Baron.
The manager, who had been relaxed for a while as he was grieving about his situation, straightened his posture and turned around.
A man wearing a uniform that he could now recognize, which was of a court attendant, was looking at him.
Who else sent this time? No, hang on.
Didn’t all three of the concubines already send an invitation? The manager greeted the guest with a sociable smile on his face, though he was quite puzzled on the inside.
“Yes, that’s right.
May I ask what brings you here?”
Huh? However, this time the court attendant’s uniform was slightly different in color.
The overall details were the same, but instead, there was an epaulet on the shoulder with three gold stripes embedded in it. I heard that a man dressed like that was a primary court attendant who served His Majesty himself… HUH. Primary court attendant?
“There’s a message and an invitation to be delivered from His Majesty to the Baron.
Where is the Baron right now?”
As he had guessed, the other person was indeed a primary court attendant.
The manager, was frozen stiff as he gasped, and was shivering from the cold sweat on his back.
For the manager, the authority of a primary court attendant, who always served His Majesty from a close distance, terrified him more than Baron Amieux, who was not a man of many words from the start.
I have to guide even a primary court attendant now. The manager had turned as pale as a blank sheet and struggled to answer, unsure of how to display the proper etiquettes.
“Three… You can find him once you go up to the third floor.
The third room on the left is the Baron’s room.”
The primary court attendant’s eyebrows rose sharply upon hearing the manager’s answer.
Just as the common servants of a noble family and court attendants were different in class, ordinary court attendants and primary court attendants were also different in class.
Primary court attendants were noblemen with the title of Baron or higher, who in reality performed the role of an aide rather than a mere attendant, and they were the closest to the Emperor among all his other aides.
“Why are you standing like that? Aren’t you supposed to guide me?”
The man glared at him with a pathetic gaze and said coldly. No, but I told you where he is, so can’t you find him on your own? Do I have to guide you when you don’t even have to go anywhere far? The manager obviously didn’t have the guts to actually ask all that, so he immediately stepped out of the counter and led him upstairs when the primary court attendant rebuked him.
“Your Excellency, a primary court attendant has come to visit.”
The manager knocked on Baron Amieux’s room and informed him of the business with the utmost respect.
Soon, an answer was heard from inside the door.
The one who opened the door was the errand boy recently sent to the Baron, and all he said before leaving the room was ‘Would you like to come in?’
The manager led the primary court attendant inside and followed the errand boy out of the uncomfortable place.
After turning around, he sighed once again.
How long are you going to stay at the inn? If the situation has reached this level, even if you are in debt, you should arrange a mansion for yourself!
Apologies for the delay ㅠㅠ For those who didn’t know, I was on a week-long break but I’m back! Updates will resume according to the previous schedule.
On another note, I would like to point out that because some things may get lost in translation, I make changes wherever I deem fit.
Also, about the French culture part, I need to remind you all that the author has only taken a few ideas for their book.
The story does not take place in France nor are any of them of French nationality.
It’s a fictional empire called ‘Estina’ and they speak ‘Eneca’.
Not everything will stay true to the ways of French royalty, culture, etc.
Please don’t take the historical depictions too seriously since it’s mostly fiction. Thank you for reading ><
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