Chapter 1. Prologue
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The commander of the Kingsguard of Hildes followed Shed, hiding his confusion. In fact, he had been like this ever since he followed his Lord to the battle to defeat the barbarians. Each day was a series of bewilderment and astonishment.
‘What is a slave’s branding….?’
He nearly fainted when the unfortunate-looking wizard really did perform a magical procedure on the chest of his Lord. Still, the only thing that reassured the Commander of the Kingsguard was the fact that his Lord looked as indifferent as usual.
‘The imperial Princess didn’t even seem to be interested in my Lord.’
Looking from the banquet hall, the imperial Princess had a bored expression on her face the entire time. Her pupils grew a little larger when she heard that his Lord (Shed) wanted her for reward, but that was all. Once again, he thought his Lord was amazing. If he had received such a gaze from the imperial Princess himself, he would have shrunk right back.
Did his Lord fall so greatly in love with the Princess that he did not care about such things?
For no reason at all, he had nothing but questions about the Princess. What on earth was it about her taste and hobby that makes her enjoy carving the chest of people like that? No matter how valuable her status was….
Having thought that far, the Commander of the Kingsguard stopped thinking.
When he thought about it, there was no one born with a nobler lineage and a more precious position than that imperial Princess. Even the emperor of Delo could not have the eyes of the heir.
The Commander of the Kingsguard was convinced of that. Was it by birth? The royalty of the Hildes were accustomed to paying a reasonable price for what they wanted.
The maid of the imperial Palace approached quietly and opened her mouth.
“I will escort you this way.”
The Commander of the Kingsguard followed the maid.
The palace was much larger than he had imagined, and above all, the gardens were magnificent. At this time of the year, it was a midwinter forest itself. It was as if an entire quiet countryside had been replanted. The tightly planted birches were covered with snow, creating an atmosphere of peacefulness and detachment from the world.
“When will I see my Lord again?”
The attendants of the imperial palace also had a quiet and refined image. Even the question that the Commander of the Kingsguard had ventured to ask was answered in a very calm manner.
”You will meet him again in a week.”
* * *
”Royal Lord, this way.”
The chief chamberlain of the imperial household already knew about whether he should treat the royal Lord (Shed) as a slave or the Princess’s fiancé.
The only custom that was in effect was to take him to the imperial Princess’s bedroom as a slave, so he asked the chambermaids to guide Shed.
Shed looked around the spacious palace as he moved his feet.
Raha’s palace was no longer the place he knew. It seemed that the residence had been moved and a new palace had been built.
The faces of the attendants were familiar, but they did not recognize Shed’s face as it was in the past. Instead, he sensed their nervousness.
It was understandable. Currently, his position was ambiguous. A slave was a slave, but his status as a betrothed was scheduled. Above all, wasn’t he who had saved the imperial army?
Besides, there was no separate signs of nervousness from this man. Far from fear, there was a rather faint sense of relaxation in his gaze over the palace.
Shed opened his mouth.
“May I take a bath first?”
“Yes, of course. Let me show you to the bathroom. Royal Lord.”
The attendants, who were somewhat nervous, bowed their heads to hide their confusion. Then they cautiously led Shed into the bath.
“…… other slaves should be coming in today, too.”
The emperor had brought quite a few slaves back with him. However, after the beautiful ‘doll’ of the past ran away, Raha had not shown any interest in any slaves. She was sick for a long time and couldn’t even move her body.
Besides, the place where those slaves were brought and the bedroom of the imperial Princess in the inner palace were completely separated.
So their wedding night is today?
The maids, who were usually like their master and always calm, began to be puzzled by it.
Was that the right word for this situation? However, it was not such a wrong word. That royal Lord seemed to be very strong, even though he was carved with magic branding. He looked completely different from the numerous slaves who died quickly.
They believed that this royal Lord wouldn’t die and the Princess would finally have a husband. So wedding night was the right word.
The maids exchanged glances. They weren’t sure what to do.
The maids prepared the bath first, as usual, starting with the imperial Princess’s bath. Hot boiled water. Cold water to match the temperature. Aromatic bath salts and dry towels. The preparations were completed in turn, including flower petals to float in the tub, perfumed oil, and even light undergarments.
After that, the maids meekly waited for their master. They had always wished for the early return of the imperial Princess at the banquets she attended with the emperor, but never had they waited as anxiously for her early return as they did today.
* * *
Late at night.
Raha hid her impatience and hurried to her feet. Her heart pounded like crazy, as if it were not her own. The road to her palace seemed so far for today. She wanted to get off in the carriage as usual. But she had to ride to the gate of the Imperial Palace.
She couldn’t help but regret it. The large diamond earrings swung from her ears. Normally, she would have been nervous about her painful earlobes, but not now. Raha was not feeling the slightest bit of pain. Because all her nerves were focused on that man who suddenly appeared out of nowhere.
So that name was real?
He wanted her for a reward?
He was proposing to her ?
Her head was spinning. Many questions were unanswered, drifting around in her head, and she even felt as if she were walking in a dream. Raha walked without rest and was able to enter the palace earlier than usual.
“Your Imperial Highness.”
The attendants lined up to welcome their master’s return.
“Where is the royal Lord?”
“He’s in the inner palace.”
“…… Did he say he wanted to go there?”
“He asked where the slaves should be, and we told him that’s the place….”
Raha was distracted by the maids’ panic and at a loss for a reply. Yes. The maids were perplexed too. Raha was also perplexed. Once again, she realized that her maids still did not know the royal Lord was the doll of the past.
It was also clear that the sacred power covered Shed’s true face. High Priest Amar would have helped. Because this was like a suicide mission.
The maid asked cautiously.
“Would you like to start the bath, Princess?”
Raha did not even know that the attendants had already carefully removed the heavy earrings. Soaking in the warm tub, she simply stared into the void. Her body slowly relaxed, and all her questions came together.
Slave? The King’s royal brother was a slave?
Was he insane?
After her bath, Raha put on a gown made of wool layered over a thin negligee. Because Karzen had built a new palace, the structure was completely different from her old palace. It was not structured like the Outer and Inner Palaces, which were divided into a lonely courtyard.
However, there were three separate palace buildings. The one Raha was now going to was at the far end, the separate palace used by the slaves when they entered.
The more she stepped into the building, the more nervous she became. Her heart was pounding strangely. She became aware of all the structures, one by one, that she would normally have walked straight past….
Raha stopped in front of the bedroom door.
She put her hand on the handle, which was lined with layers of buffalo skin. She gripped the handle and exhaled. Soon, just before she opened the door, the door swung open from the inside.
Raha, who was holding the handle tightly, stumbled with a start. She did not fall. Because a firm had grabbed Raha’s arm and stood her up straight. Her heart was pounding wildly.
Her gaze met bright blue-gray eyes. Raha slowly fell silent. She didn’t know what in the world to say. Nothing came out. There was no voice, as if someone had shoved a shadow under her throat.
How long had they been silent? Suddenly Shed pulled on Raha’s arm. Just before Raha wobbled, he lifted her fully to his chest. With one arm holding Raha in his arms, Shed closed the bedroom door.
Raha glared at him quietly as he held her against his chest. It had been a long time since she had been in the inner bedroom, and it was spacious, warm, fragrant, and quiet.
Shed strode forward and laid Raha down in the middle of the soft bed.
His gaze suddenly turned to her feet. He reached down and removed Raha’s slippers. Then he squeezed her cold feet. It felt like a burn, perhaps because of the heat of his body heat.
Raha tried to shake it off, but she couldn’t. It was different from before. As the magical slave branding this time was light, she could his strength.
He had lost his original slave branding and escaped, but now returned to his original slave status? What on earth was wrong with this man?
“Why did you come back?”
“Why did I come back?”
“Yes. What in the world…….”
He didn’t even remember how he got out of here? Raha couldn’t understand Shed. What did he want now, why had he come back?
“Why are you doing this?”
“I told you. I wanted you as my reward.”
Raha retreated back with a wary expression on her face.
“What do you want from me?”
Shed tilted his chin at an angle instead of replying. His large body filled Raha’s field of vision. Among other things, his eyes were completely fixed on her.
“You said you would use me to satisfy your sexual desire.”
“Then you should keep using me.”
Raha bit her lip. She suddenly became aware of Shed’s indifferent voice.
Just as she had thought about Shedd every time during that season, he was similar, but not the same. It wasn’t due to longing and loss, but in any case the fact that he repeated what she said to him back then…..
It was strange. Her heart was pounding so hard it could not be expressed in words. So much so that the strength slowly drained from her hands that were clutching the gown she was wearing.
The weak hand was caught. In an instant, Raha’s chin was lifted by Shed’s firm hand. The lips came together as they were. Raha’s body began to tremble on its own at the familiar feel of the hot tongue digging into her mouth.
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