When Eugène arrived in the capital, the first place he visited was not the Ministry of Navy located inside the Imbert Palace, but the residence of Marquis of La Baille. He believed that there must be a reason as to why the personal seal of the Marquis of La Baille was stamped on the summons, not the seal of the Ministry of Navy. Even in broad daylight, such a guess came to confirm itself as the Marquis of La Baille was waiting for him in his study.
Eugène entered the study under the guidance of the butler, who had come to specially greet him and felt that the air in the room was heavy, in turn of which he tried to collect himself. It was rare for someone like Marquis of La Baille, being from a great aristocratic family, to be very faithful to official duties. It was already unusual in itself that the Marquis was waiting for him, putting off all the other tasks.
“Your Excellency, have you been at peace?”
Eugène took off his hat and paid his greetings. If it had been an official meeting, it wouldve been a military rite, but Eugène judged that it was not an official duty, considering that he welcomed him in plain clothes, not a military uniform. And even if it wasnt for official duty, it was still rather reasonable to show an excessive example to the Marquis as he was the elder in the family.
“Im fine. Theres no reason for anything special to happen when youre sitting in the capital looking at the documents. Have a seat, Baron Amieux. I have something to say.”
The Marquis of La Baille recommended a chair. Eugène sat down in a chair as told. The sunken face of the Marquis over the mahogany table, which was old but well-done and beautifully colored, could be seen. What do you plan on saying? Eugène thought about it all the way to the capital, but had nothing to point out, and faced the Marquis gaze with a calm look.
“Yes, Your Excellency.”
“I called you because I thought I should hand over this summons myself. I didnt want an honorable noble like you to be humiliated in front of a local judge.”
The Marquis threw an ominous hint in a dark tone and held out a sealed envelope. Summons? Eugène accepted the envelope the Marquis offered with a puzzled expression.
The envelope the Marquis held out was dazzling even on the outside. The envelope was made of the finest veludo* fabric, which could be seen red or green depending on the angle, and was brilliantly embroidered with golden vines that curled up the edges. The crest printed on the red envelope was in the shape of a three-headed eagle clutching a snake, which Eugène easily recognized the identity of.
Eugènes complexion darkened heavily. It was clear that something bigger than expected had happened. The three-headed eagle was the crest of the Ardi imperial family, and the three-headed eagle clutching the snake could only be used by His Majesty the Emperor. So the meaning of the envelope was clear. However, even though he knew it, Eugène could not understand why this had happened to him.
What exactly is it for it to be the Emperors Command? Not anyone else, but only I have specifically received the Emperors Command?
It was certainly unexpected. He had never imagined something like this, let alone expect it. Eugène was genuinely perplexed.
His name was well known at sea and in some port cities in the West, where sea and naval activity were directly linked to livelihoods. To be fair, however, his fame was limited to the western part of the empire, and it was also a minor thing that no one recognized after crossing the central border.
Traditionally, the army was strong in Estina, the Western Empire, bordering the great enemy of the Eastern Empire, Shaak, to the east of the inland. It is the situation of the Estina Empire that the military usually thinks of the army, and no matter how great the record of the navy was, it was often regarded as incomparable to that of the army.
On top of everything else, at the time when Eugène was at the height of his peak in the Baleum Sea, the Western Empire was fighting a war with the Eastern Empire, with the fate of the country at stake. So the situation became even worse.
In other words, when the Emperor was fighting a war over the continents best granary area called the Landrienne Plains, defeating the scoundrels of the Federation of Five Nations was no more than defeating rogue pirates – is what the perception of most of the imperialists for the coastal regions was like – as it was not as big of a deal at a time of such a war.
Eugène was well aware of that fact, so the current situation was surprising. To be honest, he couldnt believe the fact that the Emperor knew of his existence.
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“Its a summons.”
He said in a low voice. The Marquis let out a flat sigh and nodded in agreement.
“Thats right. A summons.”
“Is this a summons for the trial with the Emperors presence that His Majesty will personally oversee?”
“Thats what it says.”
“… I didnt think it would be anything good, but this is beyond my imagination.”
Eugène smiled bitterly. As he had guessed, this was not something for official duty. The Marquis had good reason to call him privately. The Marquis called him to the capital because Eugène had to appear in a divorce courtroom held by the Emperor himself. In addition, the fact that the Emperor specifically pointed out that Eugène should attend was not because the Emperor knew him, but because he knew his wife.
His wife had asked His Majesty for a divorce trial.
Well, thats as surprising as it is.
Eugène muttered in his mind. Its a divorce trial. It was a surprise in a different sense than before. My wife filed for a divorce? Eugène had never thought there would be such a wild side to her.
He always thought of her as a timid and quiet woman. She was perfectly aristocratic, in both good and bad ways, and was a woman who faithfully complied with common sense and adhered to the discipline of the aristocratic society. Then why did she do such an absurd thing?
Marriage was sacred. It was sacred as long as God blesses it and is guaranteed by the Great Code of Lex Ardica, although people often defiled its meaning. It was the law of the current empire that you can cheat, but cannot divorce. It wasnt impossible, but the risk was so great that no one dared to do it.
According to the Great Code, in the case of ordinary citizens, anyone seeking a divorce must obtain the endorsements of two priests, two judges, and two relatives to support the decision. Not only that, the petitioner must pay the hefty trial costs to hold a divorce court, and there must be solid evidence as to why the marriage can no longer be maintained.
What was important here was the so-calledreason for blame, and if there was no reason attributable to the divorce, the request for a divorce trial itself cannot be made, and if the law court does not acknowledge the reason, a hefty fine must be paid to the state for disturbing the countrys law.
However, the divorce trial did not end with that. Even if a trial is held and luckily a judgment is made and the divorce is established, the problem still remains. In the divorce trial, the losing party would be charged with responsibility for leading to the divorce and be sentenced to a hefty fine. The winning party of the trial also had to pay a hefty fee to go through the paperwork to get out of the marriage.
If you could find the word closest to the description ofhefty that appears four times in the above description, it would beastronomical. The total cost of the trial was so horrendous that any refusal would make sense once the divorce trial was over.
Thats why people didnt think about divorce. The wealthier the rich, the worse the phenomenon became, to the point that adultery was more common than divorce in aristocratic societies.
“Im sorry, but I just want to ask you one thing. What on earth was her reason to blame me?”
Eugène asked the Marquis. The reason he dared to ask the Marquis was that the Marquis of La Baille was his uncle-in-law. That was the reason why the Marquis felt a sense of responsibility for this incident and delivered the matter directly.
Eugène and his wife, Louise, met through the Marquis of La Baille, and it was none other than the Marquis of La Baille who was a witness at their wedding.
“There was no reason for her to blame you, Baron Amieux. Rather, she filed for divorce on her own grounds.”
“… I dont understand what youre saying. Did she just say that she accused herself?”
“Yes, she confessed herself that she had committed adultery.”
Eugène felt like he was listening to a bad joke. He couldnt understand it, and it was absurd. What do you mean by adultery? Is that really the only reason?
That couldnt be it. Eugène knew too well that that could not be the reason, so he was doubtful of the reason. His wife was no fool. For the nobles, adultery was as natural as the dessert that followed a meal, and it was a kind of custom and secret routine. A private routine that everyone committed, but was ostensibly hushed and unexposed.
From ear to ear, mouth to mouth. Although it circulated as secret gossip, it never came up to the surface. Just as it is polite not to talk about bowel movements at a meal, it was the rule of the nobility to know about other peoples sleeping life but not to make an issue about it.
Eugène knew immediately after marrying her that his wife was having an affair. The reason behind not mentioning it even though he knew was because it was a common practice, and also because he was not particularly innocent.
He was a sailor who, once out to sea, could not return to the capital for two or three years. Unless he was a saint with a piece of wood below his waist, it was impossible to keep his chastity, and he was not so ferocious enough to unilaterally force his wife to do something that she would not want to do, even if she was unable to have a newlywed life at a beautiful age.
Since it was a marriage based on necessity, his marital relationship, which had never exceeded a certain level, did not deviate significantly from the general level of other aristocratic couples who were indifferent to each other but kept the minimum courtesy.
“Thats what she said. Im ashamed to say this myself, but her love affair has spread throughout the capital. It is said that the rumor spread not only within the Imbert Palace but also among the general public. There is no greater disgrace than that.”
The Marquis confessed in pain. What he was ashamed of was not the fact that his niece had committed adultery, but that her adultery had become widespread. It meant that his niece had not behaved properly, and that she was in direct violation of the unwritten rules of the society, which embarrassed the public by causing a disturbance, and in turn violating the rules of the aristocratic society, which wasto do something but act as if nothing had happened.
The Marquis came from a great aristocratic family and valued honor more than anyone else, so he had no choice but to be ashamed.
However, Eugène noticed something different, in the words of the Marquis, instead of the pain. The fact that his wifes infidelity had gained attention from everyone. It was this fact that drew Eugènes attention.
To be honest, his wife wasnt beautiful enough to be talked about. Although she was quite pretty, it was not enough to be considered a beauty. Although one of her aunts became the wife of Marquis of La Baille, the family was of humble status, so the rest were only low-ranking nobles.
The circumstances were the same for his family. In the case of Eugène, the only thing he inherited from his ancestors was a title, and he didnt even own a territory. In other words, the successor of a nobleman who received the title and enlisted in the military as a general soldier, rather than an officer. It was also the navy instead of the army, where success was traditionally guaranteed.
The wife would not have been able to enter the Imbert Palace without the patronage of her aunt, Marquise of La Baille. What his wife had done became a matter of public interest. This meant that what the wife did was one of two situations. Either the wife was blinded by passion and had completely lost her mind, or the wifes lover was a man of great nobility.
“She mustve been in trouble. Her Highness The Grand Duchess must not have stayed silent about this. Were there any problems with the location?”
After gathering his thoughts, Eugène asked, swallowing a low groan. The Marquis was terribly surprised to hear what Eugène had said. This is because he didnt think hed be able to guess the true identity of the other adulterer after hearing only that much of the story.
“How did you know? Have you heard the rumors too?”
“No, I guessed after seeing the summons. Divorce trials are indeed held in special courts, but it is rare for His Majesty to appear as a judge in person. I wondered if the Emperors kin had something to do with it.”
When asked by the Marquis, Eugène replied. Hearing his answer, the Marquis was greatly in awe, but in hindsight, the reasoning itself was not that complicated. The relatively simple reasoning was largely attributed to the small number of the Emperors kins due to the incident that occurred in the third year.
The special court held in the presence of the Emperor was rarely open unless it was a matter related to the imperial family, and there was only one person who was likely to have anything to do with this incident among the Emperors kins and is in a position to actually influence the Emperors actions.
Prince Merrick, Duke of Fernand.
The son of Grand Duchess Alienor, the only surviving member of the imperial family, was the current Emperors cousin, and sixth in line of succession to the throne, as well as the only adult among the heirs. To put it bluntly, there was no other person who could be his wifes lover.
Furthermore, Prince Merrick was such a womanizer that even he, who has been impassive about capitals affairs, heard the rumors. This was usually the case with high-ranking and wealthy nobles, but in the case of Prince Merrick, the behavior was even worse thanks to the strong protection of his mother, Grand Duchess Alienor.
“Isnt that what she was originally supposed to do? He is her only son, and was born late, so she greatly cherishes him.”
The Marquis face turned bitter. Thats what he said, but it wouldnt be a threat at all. Grand Duchess Alienor was inherently arrogant and wielded even greater influence as she became the only surviving imperial adult after three years of catastrophe.
And Prince Merrick was her only child. She was notorious for exceptional boasting about her extraordinary child, and it was obvious how she would behave in this case.
“Now that the word is out, let me tell you something.”
The Marquis of La Baille spoke up reluctantly after being silent for a moment. Feeling uncomfortable even when bringing it up seems like a bad tale is about to come out.
“Yes, please go ahead.”
“Yesterday, Her Highness The Grand Princess personally visited this place. As you may have guessed, she was here to give her opinion on this case. …She said that she didnt want this to go on too long. Its uncomfortable to hear Prince Merricks name going up and down in the publics mouth.”
It was said that there was no such thing as a trade for a child, but that is exactly what the princess was like. Upon hearing the words of the Marquis, Eugène smiled wryly. There was no way for him to say that the noble princess left with a direct warning as if she was capable of everything and anything. If you want to fix it, you have no other choice but to fix it.
“I understand. I dont want this to spread too much either. We will cooperate to ensure that the trial ends as soon as possible.”
He was nothing but a navy admiral leading a fleet at best. Even as a vice admiral, not an official admiral, it was impossible to fight against one of the most powerful people in the empire.
If he had loved his wife to death, things would have been different, but since it was a marriage that was so lifeless, it was simply amazing that she had caused such a serious accident, and he was neither angry nor resentful. Being a cuckold externally was not a big deal for him as he had little interest in fame in the capital.
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