Chapter 405. Sovieshu’s Despair (2)
“Your Majesty. Viscountess Verdi has been found, but there was no trace of the baby.”
The knight providing the report spoke seriously.
Sovieshu had not slept for several days. As a result, he had dark circles under his eyes, and he seemed so weak that if he were pushed just a little too hard, he would immediately collapse and be unable to wake up.
He had been trained since he was a child and he was used to working as usual no matter how exhausted he might be, but these days his mind did not function fully.
Sovieshu stared at the knight with sunken eyes. The knight lowered his head, unable to tolerate the Emperor’s gaze. It seemed like life had been extinguished from Sovieshu’s eyes.
“A thorough search was conducted, but she was not found. Furthermore, when we found the Viscountess…”
“Where was she found?”
“It was beyond the borders, a road surrounded by forest, far from the nearest village. The carriage had overturned and the Viscountess was injured.”
Marquis Karl, who was at Sovieshu’s side, put his hand to his forehead. Glorym was a baby, and if she was left alone in the forest…
Sovieshu closed his eyes. He had a headache and felt a sharp pain in his stomach that was hard to bear. The thread of hope that he had clung to over the last few days seemed to have torn.
Sovieshu seemed terribly exhausted, so Marquis Karl asked.
“Why did the carriage overturn? Was it an accident?”
The knight recalled the moment when Viscountess Verdi was found unconscious. There were no valuables left in the carriage.
“Bandits had already raided the carriage. When the carriage overturned, the coachman was killed and Viscountess Verdi was injured.”
“Did you ask Viscountess Verdi about the baby?”
“I asked her while her injuries were being treated. The last thing she heard was a bandit, who said to take only valuables.”
Marquis Karl looked at Sovieshu. His face had become terribly pale, like a colorless wax figure. Marquis Karl issued the order,
“Send men to search all the nearby villages and forests. Find out if someone picked up a baby, if a baby suddenly appeared in a house, if a traveler with a baby passed by, and so on.”
Once the knight had left, Marquis Karl asked Sovieshu.
“What will you do about Viscountess Verdi, Your Majesty?”
If the baby still held the title of princess and had been lost while in the Viscountess’ care, it would be considered a serious crime. However, Glorym’s position had not yet been restored, so no such crime was committed.
On the other hand, Glorym was the daughter of criminals and was supposed to be locked away in a tower, so it was indeed a crime to have secretly escaped with her.
But Sovieshu had overlooked Viscountess Verdi’s escape, and had even relaxed inspection at the checkpoints, so this matter could not be dealt with in accordance with the laws.
“I’ll think about it at another time.”
Sovieshu muttered with a heavy voice.
His mind was absorbed in the note left behind by Duke Elgy about Glorym’s true identity. He couldn’t think of anything else.
After Marquis Karl left, Sovieshu remained sitting in silence, his eyes on the carpet. He covered his face with his hands and sighed in pain.
‘Where is she? Did she crawl away on her own? She couldn’t crawl when I kept her by my side. But now… now I don’t know anything about her.’
‘Does Glorym know she’s lost?’
He was very worried.
‘Maybe the bandits took the baby, too? What can they do with a baby? Will they sell her into slavery?’
Legally, only criminals and their descendants could become slaves, but there were many people who were enslaved illegally. Rivetti was rescued from such a fate by Sovieshu’s own knights.
‘If the bandits want to sell the baby into slavery…’
All kinds of terrible thoughts went through his head. He was afraid that the baby would be attacked by a wild animal, that a bird would drop her as it carried her off in its claws, that bandits would kill her for being noisy, or that she would be sold into slavery.
His hands trembled and his stomach ached again. Sovieshu rang the small bell and ordered alcohol. He couldn’t bear this situation while sober.
As soon as the servant brought a bottle of alcohol, Sovieshu drank straight from the bottle.
When Sovieshu ordered the fifth bottle, Marquis Karl could no longer stand idly by and came in to stop him.
“Who told you to come in?”
“Forgive me, Your Majesty. But it would be detrimental to your health to drink any more.”
“I know. It’s just that… I can’t stand it.”
Sovieshu was not angry. He didn’t even seem to have the strength to get angry.
Marquis Karl approached carefully, took the bottle of alcohol from his hand and placed it on the tray. The empty glass brought by the servant sat on the tray, untouched.
“I won’t drink anymore, so go away.”
“I said I won’t drink anymore.”
Sovieshu ordered with his hand on his forehead, but Marquis Karl did not leave..
“The paternity tests were conducted in front of many people. The results could not have been tampered with in front of so many witnesses. We all saw the moment when the priest drew blood from the girl for the tests.”
“Even if Duke Elgy managed to tamper with the results of the paternity tests at the temple, we still cannot know the truth. Duke Elgy himself would not know the true results.”
“Besides, even if Glorym is found, the paternity test can’t be repeated because Rashta is dead.”
Sovieshu slowly removed his hand from his forehead. His gaze was icy, but Marquis Karl didn’t stop.
“Duke Elgy dared to say that, not because he is convinced that Glorym is Your Majesty’s daughter, but to torment Your Majesty with doubt. The fact that he would write a message confirming Glorym’s paternity when Duke Elgy himself is unaware of the truth is proof of his bad intentions. He has a grudge against Your Majesty, so you must not fall into his trap.”
Duke Elgy only gave him the keys and left the safe at the inn to delay Sovieshu and buy time to leave the capital and head for a nearby port.
When Sovieshu ordered Viscountess Verdi and Duke Elgy captured, the Duke had already boarded a ship.
Marquis Karl was right. Duke Elgy made numerous preparations. It was very likely that his appearance at the temple was not to tamper with the test results, but to cast doubt later on about the possibility that the test might have been tampered with.
Although Sovieshu understood what Marquis Karl meant, he could not accept it.
“If the test results were tampered with, doesn’t that mean it’s possible that she is my daughter?!”
“If that baby is my daughter, then I would have caused my daughter’s death through my own actions. How can you ask me to calm down?”
“She is not dead, Your Majesty. We will find her.”
Marquis Karl tried to reassure him, but Sovieshu couldn’t listen to Marquis Karl anymore.
The thought of never again seeing the child he had so longed for filled him with terrible fear.
Marquis Karl looked at Sovieshu with regret, but then he took the bottle and left.
He could hear Sovieshu’s anguished screams through the closed door.
‘The baby must be found.’
Marquis Karl believed that Duke Elgy had lied, but he still hoped that the baby would be found. Otherwise, he worried that Sovieshu would be unable to overcome this shock.