Chapter 30: Wagging a Tail

Duchess Rania was currently before Edwin doing a dogeza(kowtow).

Edwin felt uneasy about the current situation.

A dogeza is something, that is common among commoners as a form of high apology. Usually used when one offended another party extremely.

Among noble societies, it was considered the highest form of humiliation for a noble to dogeza themselves. That’s not to say that it never happened.

If the social standing between two nobles was high, it was not uncommon for the lower noble to dogeza to the higher noble in cases where they were seeking an extremely important favor or forgiveness for a high offense.

Royalty and the highest nobility - dukes and duchesses would never dogeza to anyone out of their own free will. Perhaps if their lives were threatened, but Edwin was not doing that to the duchess.

In his mind, this situation was shocking.

“I humbly apologize for the actions of my daughter towards you, your highness.”

“No…no… there is no need for you to go that far. Please rise, duchess, are you aware of what you’re doing?”

“I am. I see no other way to show my sincerity towards your highness. The current strain in our relationship is the result of my disrespect towards the royal family of Highland. Had I shown the Highland royal family the respect it deserves, this situation will not have occurred.”

“That’s not true. You were always unaware of your daughter’s decisions, right?”

“Nonetheless, I could have handled the aftermath with better care. It is because of the shortcomings that I did, and I accept the responsibility on the matter.”

“If you insist - then fine, but I will not change my mind.”

Edwin couldn’t see her face, but the duchess had a wry smile on her face.

“I implore you to reconsider your decision. Vidfamne has a lot of connections that would be of benefit to Highland.”

Edwin thought about her words. Edwin had ghosting, but they were limits to their capabilities.

They were unsuited to infiltrate noble society as well as unable to cover a large area. At most, they could gather information from 2 or 3 nations if stretched.

Vidfamne was the exact opposite of this. Thanks to Duchess Rania’s efforts, they could boast the largest intelligence network on the continent.

Even surpassing the 2 great empires of the continent.

Edwin was well aware of their capabilities in this regard. That is why he closed the borders. If trade, was allowed to continue with other countries, Vidfamne would have used that as a tool to learn of the happenings in Highland.

The odds of that happening were not that high, but Edwin couldn’t take the chance.

If he could somehow have access to Vidfamne’s intelligence network the duchess had made from wedding her daughters and charming merchants, it would become a huge asset to Highland.

It was a juicy carrot the duchess dangled in front of Edwin, but could he trust the information she would feed him?

“Considering our past interactions. How can Highland trust Vidfamne?”

Duchess Rania could feel the pressure Edwin emitted when he asked the question.

“Then, along with the connections, I offer myself as well.”

If Edwin was drinking a beverage at that time, he surely would have spat it out.

“What are saying?” he asked in a flustered voice.

“As an apology to Highland for my rude behavior in the past. I humbly ask to be made a concubine.”

If Edwin’s father or past kings were present here, they would no doubt die of shock.

The term concubine can be used for both female and male lovers of nobility or royalty.

The main function of a concubine is producing additional heirs, as well as bringing their partner's pleasure.

Children of concubines have lower rights to inheritance and titles, which are regulated by the nobility system.

Concubines are always from commoners and never nobility or royalty who instead become second wives or husbands.

If a nobleman or woman were to become a concubine, the backlash from noble society would be bad.

Power, influence, and respectability would all take a beating.

Edwin knew all this, thus begged the question. Why would the duchess ask to be a concubine and not a wife?

This first answer he thought of was that it would be impossible.

Duchess Rania built Vidfamne by forming bonds with other nobility across the continent. If she became a wife to a noble house or royal family - her children would have a large backing and would be in a position to overthrow the children of the legal wife.

Such a situation would be disastrous for a noble family and catastrophic for a royal one, as it may lead to civil war.

In other words, unless she was made the legal wife, accepting the duchess as a second or third wife would be setting up the future of the noble house or royal family to fail.

If Duchess Rania had thought of that in advance it made sense that she did not request to be a second or third wife.

Of course, being a legal wife, hence Queen was also out of the question as it would be no different than Vidfamne duchy annexing the Highland royal family.

Edwin now pondered the benefits to Vidfamne.

In Highlands’s case, the advantages would be that they would have access to Vidfamne’s large intelligence network?

No!

Edwin realized it

A Husband and wife share many things and the head of the house is usually in charge of all those things, but a concubine was different.

[Tch…this woman] he thought

As a concubine, Duchess Rania would have her reputation take a beating in noble society while Edwin and the Highland royal family - who have always been considered dogs wagging their tails to the duchess - will be thought of highly in society for having conquered the duchess of Vidfamne.

Having her as concubine would be seen as the duchess of Vidfamne submitting to the King of Highland.

The keyword in that phrasing is ‘seen as’

In reality, Edwin realized that Highlands’s victory would only be symbolic.

As his concubine, Edwin would no doubt have to protect and support Vidfamne or risk staining his royal name. In other words, Vidfamne would become like a vessel of the kingdom, thus under its protection.

The problem was that Duchess Rania would still be in charge of the duchy in all aspects.

Because she would be a concubine and not a wife, Edwin would have no say on anything she owned before becoming a concubine - which in this case would be Vidfamne and Edwin would more or less have to protect the duchy or loss credibility in public eyes should he let the duchy of his concubine fall to another nation or the demons.

[Just by becoming my concubine she would be reinstating the Vidfamne alliance between us.]

To protect a territory you had no control over would be a great loss for the Highland royal family unless.

“In addition, I vow that the next ruler of Vidfamne will be a child who has both my blood and Highland royal blood. I also relinquished any claim that child and any child of mine would have to the thrown of Highland.”

Almost as if reading Edwin’s mind the duchess made a declaration that solved all his troubles.

First, the blood tie to Vidfamne would be formed and in turn to all the families that Vidfamne had also made connections with.

Secondly, no child of the duchess would be in any position to seek the crown. While the chance was small, with the large backing Vidfamne could raise it wasn’t impossible.

Thirdly, while Highland would now have access to the Vidfamne intelligence network without fear. The next head will be someone with Highland blood, meaning a child between the duchess and Edwin. There was no reason for the duchess to deceive Highland.

Edwin didn’t reply to her words and still pondered.

[These terms are one-sided in Highlands favor. Am I missing something?]

“Why would you go so far, duchess? Like your daughter said if the hero defeats the demon king Highland will more or less become an outcast. Are you sure you want to tie Vidfamne to us?”

“I don’t know what my daughter was thinking but she was wrong. Even if the hero is victorious only a fool would overlook the technological advancements Highland has made.”

“ah…”

“I have no doubt Highland will become a commerce powerhouse in the future. The empires and the holy kingdom will surely overlook Highlands’s decision for favorable trading terms and the hero will need funds to rebuild his homeland. Rather than criticize Highland’s absence in the war, he would most likely request funds to sweep the matter under the rug”

Now that Edwin thought about it, Prime Minister Herman Clark did say that such a thing was most likely be the outcome should the hero win.

[Ah…I forgot. I better make sure he never finds out.]

Edwin was so lost in his thoughts that the duchess, who was still kowtowing, was worried that he was thinking of rejecting the offer.

The deal she presenting Edwin was a good one in her thinking, but was it enough to wash away all the animosity the royal family must have felt towards her.

Edwin was the last survivor of that family, and while he did say he held no hatred towards Euphemia, that doesn’t mean that he had no hated towards how Duchess Rania had treated his family.

“Edwin-sama… my treatment of your family has been nothing but self-indulgent. I beg of you to accept my offer and if it will ease the feeling of animosity toward me. Please trample on my head.”

[She is willing to go that far huh? To allow someone to trample on your head as you kowtow is a hard decision not make and an almost impossible one for nobility.] Edwin thought

Edwin took a deep breath before standing up. Stepping on a woman’s head was an unmanly thing to do, he thought to himself, but

[If I am to make Highland a might Kingdom, I can not afford to show weakness]

He lightly stepped on her head, “Very well. I accept your offer. From this moment on, you are my concubine.”

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