Chapter 14 Part 1 – What is the concubine’s Shylock Company? And what about the grandparents, the Vygods? This is freaking me out…
From their mansion, you could hear the moaning of the dead, or at least, that was the rumor.
They also say that the mansion is built on the flesh and bones of those in debt to the owners, ground down by heavy interest into suicide.
There’s said to be countless ghastly eyes that peer down from the trees surrounding the mansion, and a groan of the dead as the wind goes through the trees.
Also, the cobblestones around the mansion are continually wet even in drought, as the tears from those who have been squeezed into squalor and suicide spring up through the ground.
Well, no one really sees the dead…
Yet there is good reason why such rumors exist, as people bitterly watch this prosperous family repeat the same outrage over and over, so there’s at least one or two ghost stories that get generated among it all.
And the name of the family that people are so reluctant to speak about is the Shylock family.
They are the creators of the largest company in the country – the Shylock company.
「Where is the abortion medicine? It’s a strong poison! I’ve controlled it very closely, I thought. Tell me, big brother!」
The second son of the Shylock family, Ethelreed said as he jumped into the guestroom, flustered.
He would often battle his relatives over business disagreements.
There his older brother Dexter and older sister Ambrosine were relaxing in the guest room instead of their own bedrooms. Only the family members of the Shylocks were endowed with the keys to the company storehouses.
The Shylocks began as victualers, civil merchants of death that sold weapons, armor, and supplies to a moving army as it marched over the beleaguered lands.
They also handled poisons.
The current leader of the company lent sums of high interest to needy aristocrats and his wealth swelled like a dammed river.
Shylock Company thus grew not only throughout the kingdom of Hydrangea but through many neighboring kingdoms as well.
「Don’t get so bothered. We three siblings run this place, so don’t try to plunge everything into chaos. It’s degeneracy.」
The oldest brother, Dexter, muttered.
「I, as his avowed lover, will soon be his wife. It’s a sign that I’m getting closer. Is there a problem?」
Ambrosine said, with a snort mixed with a laugh.
There was a sudden wind carrying a voice.
~You killed me~ ~And me~ ~With that poison of yours!~
~They always crush others in that fashion!~
The winds coursed through the room carrying the spirits’ voices vexations.
Ambrosine frowned and caressed her hair.
Sometimes strange wings blew through this room.
Since it was an older room in the mansion, there were many places where drafts entered.
「Lover? Wife? What are you talking about, sister?」
The youngest of the three, Ethelreed said, flummoxed.
The two evil older siblings looked at the younger, more virtuous one with a look of disdain.
「Ambrosine here is the lover of the Crimson Duke, in other words, Duke Wilhelm. We’re going to become his dependents soon.」
The younger Ethelreed was shocked at the words of his older brother Dexter. He couldn’t comprehend the meaning, eyes opened wide. His sister Ambrosine caressed her bobbed hair onto her shoulder and said with a smile,
「I’m fine where I am now as concubine. I desire a higher social standing, so I must unseat his wife and dispose of her. I will soon be at his side, and there is no man in this kingdom that can stop me.」
She said, quite confidently.
Since she lived in an environment where money could buy anything, Ambrosine’s ego had grown into a festering mass of noxious pride. She wanted to be a vicious queen, and soon.
「Heh, what? I can show you that with money, the man is in my hands. To think how many other aristocrats are in debt to we Shylocks. All the houses that can’t repay us are bound to cooperate with us in getting the Duke on our side. There are uses for aristocrats that can’t repay after all. Money is the weight of all things.」
Then, the eldest son, Dexter laughed at the ceiling.
The same massive ego as Ambrosine.
Overconfident in money, drunk on power. Those two things lead one to think they’re great.
「If the Shylock family attained the rank of nobility, there would be no need to marry the Duke to rise in society…and if so…」
She said with a devious smile.
「The child of the duke and I will succeed in the duke’s line… 」
Ambrosine bent her head back in a laugh again.
She wore pointlessly gaudy and over-colored clothing in the day, covering her mouth with a garish fan. There was no way to hide her vulgar nature, though. Even though she was a glamorous woman, she had the color of a poisonous insect.
When a noble and commoner marry, the child does not have the right to continue in the noble’s line.
A child of a commoner cannot become a noble.
However, in a different way, if a commoner’s family joins the noble’s family, that’s a different story.
「Heh heh, yes, we, the Shylock Company will mix with the heroic crimson bloodline of the Duke, and become one of the nobles. With the power of blood and money, we will reign over both the nobles and commoners.」
Dexter bragged haughtily. It was not ambition so much as it was a man that just wanted to be king of the hill.
The family seemed to act so sophisticated, but if you were to gaze closer, they all had a conniving look that they exuded from their bodies.
~Noble?! Commoner trash!~
~Your blood is dirtier than PIG SWILL!~
~If you got any closer to the sewer, the rats would scream and run in fear!~
The wind swirled around the vengeful spirits and several documents were caught up and flapped around the room.
「A successor of the Shylocks to the duke?! Are you two crazy? The Duke of Wilhelm loves his wife. Besides, I heard she was pregnant. And on secret orders, the duke was sent on a secret mission months ago to a neighboring kingdom. And now you say you’re his concubine?! How do you become a mistress to a man in a different country?!」
Ethelreed said, this second son having more common sense and doubting his brother’s words.
But the Shylock Company has a wide spread over information.
But one can still find truth in the rumors.
Though most citizens of the realm had no idea what the Duke was doing, Ethelreed knew about the Duke’s true secret mission.
So hearing Dexter and Ambrosine carry on like this made them look truly delusional.
Even so, these two older siblings of the Shylock family were impudently bold.
「Is she pregnant? Then we can deal with that. That’s all there is to it.」
「’Deal with that’…you don’t mean…」
Ethelreed swallowed his words.
When he first entered the room, hearing Ambrosine talk about herself as concubine and the wife, didn’t connect the dots as to what it meant, but now that he began to understand his body began to shake.
「That’s what I was saying. I gave some abortion medicine as a ‘gift’ to the wife.」
「It can’t be…」
Ambrosine laughed with a huff at her little brother, who was pale with contempt.
「There is a cook at her place with a sick daughter, for which medicine costs a great deal. You were friends with him. The only place that handles such a medicine is the Shylock Company. At first he tried to say now, but with his daughter’s life at stake, he quickly was broken. He’s probably serving as the cook to the Duke’s wife right now. That gift from Ambrosine is now secretly being fed to the wife…as a seasoning in her food.」
「Robert! How could he…!」
Ethelreed was so upset, he had no words to say.
Dexter had chosen Robert simply because the man was close to Ethelreed.
And the way Dexter ridiculed him proved it.
This Robert that Dexter and Ambrosine had used had lost his wife and his only daughter was gravely ill, but even so, the man was still proudly able to live an upright life. Ethelreed knew him well and felt the siblings using him was cruel, almost as if they had taken the suggestion from Satan himself…and it agonized Ethelreed.
「Such a sincere man! So sad!」
Ethelreed grasped at his head and moaned.
~Killed! Robert will soon be killed!~
~Like we were! Just like us!~
~And his daughter as well!~
The wind spun in the room as the ghosts raged. A window flung itself open.
Dexter walked over and calmly shut the window with one hand.
「The abortion drug works superbly. If you just use small amounts, no one notices. It’s a hallucinogen as well, and affects the heart of the drugged.」
「…we, we’re all going to be killed by the Duke! He’s about to retire to the realm of his wife’s father, the O’Brians! He was on a secret mission and all of his troops know it! You think you can just call yourself concubine, mock his wife, and get away with it?!」
Ethelreed shouted, not thinking.
Or more like screamed.
He was trembling in fear.
There was nothing sane about their plot.
The two were delusional about their power of money and had lost all semblance of reason.
The Duke was no man to simply fall for petty gold.
You also couldn’t just usurp his power.
Even more, the Duke’s wife was loved by him dearly, and he would not forgive anyone hostile to her.
Ethelreed knew that even if he wasn’t involved in the whole plot, that he would taste revenge just because of his siblings.
There was a drunkard that harassed the Duke constantly when he was young. He had laughed with his mouth open wide at the Duke when a sword was stuck straight down his throat into a door- his head just rocking in the air, skewered on the sword.
Another enemy of the Duke tried all he could to trap the Duke with this plot and that, until he was found dead, trampled by a horse.
～The Duke will never forgive them! Avenge our souls! Know the pain we’ve endured!~
~Kill! The Shylock Company! Judgement!~
The wind rattled the window again. The vengeful spirits were angry.
「Don’t be so loud, Ethelreed! What’ll happen if people outside hear that!?」
The head of Shylock, the chairman, Desmond, entered.
He wore plate armor that made him look like a walking mountain.
His face, scarred and scratched, was a testament to him being captured and tortured by brigands.
「We weren’t just blabbing on about it on our own. We all discussed it. And about the Duke’s father, Marquis Vygod – the conditions of debt cancellation and this proposal to join his clan has been made after two negotiations.」
Dexter and Ambrosine looked at each other and grinned.
「Namely, that Ambrosine is the concubine of the Duke by his father’s word. The Duke is now known to be staying at this mansion, and not secretly in a foreign country. This proposal was drafted by the Marquis Vygod and his wife. They really do hate the wife of the Duke.」
~Again! The house of Shylock avoids judgement again!~
~The power of money, crushing people under its weight!~
~Someone should kill them all~
The spirits of vengeance cry as they swirled in the air.
The wind laced around the room with a whooshing noise, then descended into silence.
「That’s mad! All of these plots!」
Ethelreed said, repulsed.
「Now I need to go and greet this wife of the Duke. ‘Hello, I’m your husband’s concubine. He’s been here practically forever, so I decided to contact you about it. Let’s be friends. I can give you jewelry and clothing that you can never imagine.’」
Ethelreed looked at this glamorous woman with a frown of disgust.
He wished to eschew this corrupt blood of the Shylocks from himself, that flowed throughout his body.