Empress of Otherverse - Chapter 153
Chapter 153 –
“Huh? This is [kimchi stew]!”
Bina was surprised.
It wasn’t really an authentic kimchi stew. It was the dish Lucretius nagged the chef to make for Bina when she was pregnant with Beatrice. It was basically a stew with a spicy and sour flavor.
“I had them make it because you like it.”
She checked the smaller bowl beside the stew dish. As she suspected, it was a bowl of grain that strongly resembled cooked white rice.
In this world, rice didn’t exist. However, Lucretius managed to find a type of grain similar to Korean rice from a faraway kingdom.
It was called nort, and it was much drier than rice. However, it still tasted similar and with the sour stew and a bowl of nort, it was enough to remind Bina of her old home.
Lucretius looked at Bina happily as she mixed the stew and the nort together. Beatrice and Lucretius were learning Korean from Bina, and there was a saying that resonated with him.
‘I absolutely understand what it means when just watching your loved one eat makes you feel full yourself.’
His Korean was improving quickly.
Bina ate everything in front of her. She insisted she ate so much to reassure Lucretius, but it was obvious that she was starving. Lucretius knew this, but he pretended to believe her.
‘What an understanding husband I am.’
Lucretius cut up the fish for Bina and asked, “So I heard Duchess Lonensia was here to see you?”
Bina took a bite of her bread and nodded. “Yes.”
Bina grinned slowly. Lucretius knew exactly what her smile meant so he grinned as well.
If you lived with someone, you grow to resemble each other. Bina and Lucretius thought alike, and they didn’t even have to say the words.
Lucretius continued, “So it was as we expected.”
Bina nodded. “It was exactly like one of the scenarios we came up with.”
“Which one was it?”
“Scenario B. After our meeting, she went to see Yulia.”
Lucretius smiled faintly. “Cornelius was always so fond of his first son and his granddaughter Isabella. It was partly because he didn’t believe in his second son and his wife Norma.”
“And I now understand why Cornelius couldn’t trust them.”
“I agree completely.”
Lucretius pushed the fish plate towards his wife, who ate a piece of it happily with her silver fork.
Lucretius asked, “So what is your opinion?”
“She definitely failed my test. As to what I should do… I will decide after I have a talk with Yulia tomorrow.”
“I hope Yulia at least passes your test. It would be a shame if she doesn’t, especially when you are so short on maids.”
Bina smiled confidently. “She will do fine.”
“If you say so.”
Bina picked up a piece of bread and stuffed his mouth with it. Being a good husband, he ate it without a fight.
As Bina predicted, Yulia indeed passed with flying colors.
Yulia kneeled in front of the empress. “I… I don’t know what to say, your highness.”
Bina shook her head. “Yulia, there is no reason you should apologize. You didn’t do anything, right?”
Bina smiled gently, making Yulia nervous. Did Bina not realize how serious this situation was?
However, what Bina said next made Yulia felt relieved. “Duchess Lonensia did look very confident. For a while now, I have been wondering if she planned to use you, Yulia. I was right.”
“So… you have expected this?”
Bina nodded. “Remember how I embarrassed myself by trying to get the emperor interested in you? I think perhaps I gave the duchess the idea. Perhaps this is all my fault…”
Yulia looked down apologetically. “No, your highness… I don’t know what to say.”
“This isn’t your fault, Yulia. Don’t feel bad about it. Besides… The duchess’ reasoning is actually sound. The emperor will be getting many wives and concubines soon. To control them, I will need help. Having Lonensia as my ally would be beneficial, and I can trust you, so it makes sense that you are the perfect candidate for the first wife’s position.”
Bina said it gently, but her words were filled with thorns.
Yulia quickly shook her head. “No, your highness. I’m not sure if I am worthy to even say this, but… If a woman with a powerful family becomes the first wife, it will be harmful to your highness’ position.”
Bina looked down at her maid blankly for a few seconds before laughing.
Yulia looked confused. “Y, your highness?”
“I can’t help but like you, Yulia, because you are such a straight shooter, but you should learn to not always say the truth.” Yulia gaped as Bina continued. “What are you going to do if I say, ‘You’re right, Yulia. Both you and your aunt are too dangerous for me, so I will have to get rid of both of you?’ Hmm?”
At Bina’s teasing tone, Yulia blushed as she realized how naïve she was. It was clear that Bina had already guessed what the duchess planned.
Yulia replied, “I can be always honest with you, your highness, because I know you are a fair empress.”
Bina smiled. “I’m sorry I tested you, but I had to be sure. Now I know.”
However, unexpected things were about to happen. Things that not even Lucretius or Duchess Lonensia could have predicted.
This year was the best year for Duchess Lonensia in the last five years. Three years ago, dowager empress Katleyanira and her brother Marquis Toruka were executed.
It wasn’t that her entire family was eliminated. Clodys took over the title and he changed the family name as the name Cornell was now associated with the traitor Katleyanira.
Because of the rebellion, the Toruka family now had no political power. If Duchess Lonensia wanted, she could demolish the family in a heartbeat. Now that her father-in-law Cornelius died, she was the duchess, and she controlled one of the most powerful families in the kingdom. The current empress was from nowhere without a family here who could aid her. The only heir to the throne was still a very young girl.
Duchess Lonensia was in power and today, she was gifted with an amazing visit.
When she saw the young man get out of the carriage, she exclaimed, “Oh my! How many years has it been? You didn’t come to your grandfather’s funeral…!”
The young man with light brown hair was Roberto des Lonensia.
He was the second son of the current Duke and Duchess Lonensia.
“Long time no see, mother. You look beautiful. I tried to get here sooner when I heard about grandfather’s death, but… it took longer than expected.”
Roberto usually dressed expensively, but today, he was wearing all-black to show his respect.
“Let’s go see your grandfather soon.”
“… I hate the family tomb. It’s so dark and gruesome, but I guess I should. I didn’t attend the funeral, so I better at least visit his grave.”
Norma went back into the house escorted by her son. The servants bowed deeply as they passed.
Unlike his father, Roberto was social and good looking. He resembled Norma the most; therefore, he was her favorite among all her children.
However, Roberto was too free-spirited and irresponsible. Norma rarely saw him as he traveled all over the world.
The duchess’ first son Daniel was a dutiful heir who followed orders well. He married early and although he still didn’t have an heir, he and his wife were still very young.
Unlike his older brother, Roberto was a troublemaker. He caused problems and accidents as he traveled.
Norma complained, “Do you know how shocked I was when I received a complaint about you from North Santos?”
At his mother’s scolding tone, Roberto replied apologetically, “Sorry I made you worry, mother.”
The duchess sighed. “I took care of it, so don’t worry about it. That girl’s family was a nobody, so I got her an acceptable husband as retribution.”
“Haha, thank you, mother. I can always rely on you.”
The duchess sighed again. He was only twenty-five and still very young. She understood that he wanted to enjoy his freedom a while longer, but he was now old enough to have his own family.
Because of his bad reputation, Roberto’s previous engagement was canceled, and Norma was having difficulty finding him a wife as he barely stayed home.
She wished he would marry first, then he could do whatever he wanted, and no one would care.
Roberto said to his mother, “By the way, I’m excited about eating Mrs. Bilsen’s cooking again.”
At the mention of the longstanding chef for the Lonensian family, Norma grew rigid.
“I got rid of that woman after your grandfather’s funeral.”
“It is unwise to keep a lazy servant. Your grandfather was too easy on the helps.”
Roberto remembered how his mother didn’t get along with Mrs. Bilsen, who was Cornelius’ trusted chef.
Roberto thought secretly.
‘So this must mean that the butler and the main maid must have also been replaced.’
He was right. All the familiar faces were gone.
Even though his father knew his second son was home, he never came out from his room to greet Roberto. Fabio remained in his room, apparently busy with a maid.