< — Negotiation — > (3)
The Duke of Ramis opened the final document, fearing what the outcome might be this time. But then, he knit his brows and turned the page. The document contained information regarding his son’s sexual preferences, something that he had never wanted to know.
During this time, the Taran Duke’s Information Division had continued to search the red-light district for anything scoop-worthy that had to do with David. If David had a thing for abusing women, it would grow more and more extreme and they expected it to lead to an accident. During the investigation, they discovered that David had strangled a prostitute to death.
“That final document is my last resort.”
The Duke of Ramis frowned. The information in the final document had the most insignificant value among the negotiating tools that the Duke of Taran had brought today. He could not understand what the Duke of Taran wanted to use these things for, when his son was already dead. Dirty laundry such as the death of a few prostitutes, was a messy topic for nobles to talk about in rumors. Nobles liked rumors, but they were silent about rumors that hurt their reputation.
“The place where the incident happened, was Princess’ Katherine’s break room. As Gong knows as well, His Majesty has strictly forbidden referring to the scene of the incident as the princess’ break room.”
The King’s action proved to be effective and the public referred to the case as an incident that had happened within the palace. There were a lot more people that did not know that the incident had occurred in Princess Katherine’s break room. The king blocked the possibility of his sister being involved in this incident. It was similar to what Hugo had done.
“In the event of today’s negotiations breaking down, I will take that document to His Majesty. And I will inform him that two rumors will soon spread in the social circle, about Count Ramis’ ugly sexual preferences and that Count Ramis harbored lecherous feelings towards Princess Katherine. The princess’ break room happens to be the perfect place. I will ask His Majesty to choose between Ramis Gong and his sister.” (Hugo)
“Are you saying that you dare…to threaten His Majesty?” (Duke Ramis)
“I’m saying that presently, there is nothing I won’t do.” (Hugo)
The Duke of Ramis’ hand holding the document trembled. After a long stretch of silence, the Duke of Ramis opened his mouth, looking very exhausted.
“What are you playing at.”
“I have to save my sacrificed knight to protect my wife’s honor.”
The Duke of Ramis responded fiercely before Hugo finished speaking.
“Let me finish. I will protect Count Ramis’ honor.”
‘While you are alive.’
Hugo added inwardly. He wanted to quickly resolve this incident, and have it disappear from people’s minds. He planned to put Roy away where eyes couldn’t reach him, but only until the Duke of Ramis was dead. And around when the incident became faint in people’s memories, they could then use the excuse that Roy was unjustly executed when the real culprit was someone else and quietly reinstate him.
To do that, he would have to re-negotiate with the king and the new Duke of Ramis, but that would not be difficult.
Hugo spoke briefly about his plan to switch Roy with someone on death row. The Duke of Ramis looked at Hugo with a strange gaze, almost like the one that Kwiz had given him. It was an expression that said, ‘How did you come up with such an idea?’
For the Duke of Ramis, his family’s honor was the most important thing to him. He had no energy to fight against the Duke of Taran. He had already grown too old. He was an old man that preferred to compromise rather than smacking heads.
The Duke of Ramis could close his eyes to his son’s death if his son’s honor could be protected, unless it was an unjust situation where his son had died an innocent death.
“In addition, not even His Majesty knows that my wife is involved in this incident. I have only revealed this truth to Gong in order to get your cooperation. I do not want this fact to be spread outside for whatsoever reason. Gong will take this to your grave.” (Hugo)
“…Alright. In return, please discard all the information you have about this youth association. And as for the youth association, I will deal with it myself.” (Duke Ramis)
“Sounds good.” (Hugo)
The negotiations had reached an agreement. Hugo took back one of the three documents, the one that contained information regarding the truth of his wife’s involvement in the incident.
“Why are you going to this extent?”(Duke Ramis)
“Just like Ramis Gong wants to protect your family, I want to protect my wife.” (Hugo)
The Duke of Ramis stared at Hugo because it seemed like he was saying ‘you want to protect the superficial face of your family while I want to protect my people’. But there was no trace of ridicule in those cold red eyes.
The Duke of Ramis was amazed every time he saw Hugo. He was the owner of the vast land called the North and as the Duke of Taran, he was very forthright. He didn’t bother himself with petty tricks and always confidently did what he wanted to do. People were not displeased with him and accepted it ‘because he is the Duke of Taran’.
It was a great talent as a politician to not cause jealousy in another’s heart. And that was why whenever he saw his son who was the same age as the Duke of Taran, he always felt that his son fell short.
‘It’s my virtue that fell short. Who can I blame?’
Rather than blaming his son’s shortcomings, he should have guided his son’s good points and covered him magnanimously. The Duke of Ramis deeply felt his shortcomings as a father, and as the lord of a family.
* * *
While the secret deal between the Duke of Taran and the Duke of Ramis took place, the King pretended not to know, and the situation flowed like a stream of water.
Fabian search the entire nation and found a reasonable stand-in among the prisoners on death row. While being interrogated for his crimes, the man was beaten a lot so he was in a bad shape, but that made it even more believable. After all, if the knight who killed the Duke’s eldest son was in a good shape at his execution, people would think it was strange.
The King passed down a brief statement. There was no detailed information about the truth of the case, just that Sir. Krotin had admitted his crimes and was to be executed. Since it was a case involving such a high ranked person, even though people did not know the specifics, they would only speculate amongst themselves.
Roy came out of the dungeon, wearing a sack-like hood and after walking a while in bound ropes, he was substituted in the middle. The one heading to execution was the death row prisoner imitating Roy.
The carriage carrying Roy away did not even have windows and ran straight to the gate. He had to leave the capital as soon as possible without being seen by anyone. Hugo had already used his influence to make it so that Roy could pass through the gate without going through the identification process.
Lucia was still pacing up and down the receiving room, impatiently. Publicly, it was time for Roy to be executed.
Hugo went into the palace and was officially meeting with the King and the Duke of Ramis. It was a formality to show that the two close forces of the King had no animosity with each other.
‘Has he gone through the gate safely?’
Lucia felt regretful for not being able to give Roy her last farewells, but she could not take the risk of bringing a felon, who was known to be publicly executed, into the ducal residence.
When the door to the receiving room opened and Jerome came in, Lucia stopped her pacing around and lifted her head. Fabian was following right behind him and entered the room.
“Sir. Krotin…?” (Lucia)
“He left safely.”
Lucia heaved a huge sigh of relief.
“I feel so sorry, I don’t know what to do. Because of me, Sir. Krotin lost his honor as a knight and left for the north like he was being chased away.”
Hugo sent Roy to the northern border. It was the region where Roy used to stir up trouble with delight. Meanwhile, Roy had cheerfully asked if he could kill all of them(the barbarians) because his body had been growing itchy for a while.
Fabian could not sympathize with the Madam’s sadness in the slightest, but when he thought that he would not see the guy for a long time, he had mixed feelings.
“Did you tell him I was thankful and sorry, and that he should stay healthy?”
“Yes, I told him. But Sir. Krotin said that there was something he wanted to ask Milady…”
“What is it?”
That crazy bastard. Swallowing those words inside, Fabian said:
“He asked if Milady remembers all the noblewomen you meet at a party. Apparently, he was curious about that.”
Roy said that with a very serious look on his face and asked Fabian to get the answer and let him know when he came to the north later. Fabian really could not understand that guy’s state of mind.
Lucia burst into laughter.
“There’s no way that’s possible. I only act like I do.”
“…Yes, I’ll tell him that later.”
Fabian replied with a sour look on his face, and Lucia laughed again.
‘Roy is really a good person. He’s being considerate of me till the end so that I won’t feel sorry.’
Lucia’s misunderstanding was growing bigger. And there was no one to correct it.
 If you couldn’t understand…well, he will make it seem like David was trying to do a lil something with Princess Katherine in her break room.
 Reminder: a [gate] is a magical device. I think a portal is the best way to describe it.
Red-light district: an area of a town or city containing many brothels, strip clubs, and other sex businesses.