Episode 3. Their wedding (2)

 

The night of the wedding, the Duke of Esbaden’s palace had a festive atmosphere.

 

The family members of the castle chatted happily while sharing alcohol and food, and they all united to celebrate the welcoming of the new couple.

 

However, Dooha, the princess of Bashal, who was the main character of the wedding, was not in a good mood.

 

“It’s too late.”

 

As soon as the wedding was over, the Duke went to his office, saying he had to deal with the overdue work.

 

In addition, he didn’t even show his face in the bedroom until dawn was almost over.

 

This was not something that could be excused.

 

‘Or is it a tradition in the Empire to leave the bride in the bedroom on the first night?’

 

If it were true, it was as if there were no proper traditions in the Empire.

 

Even her maid, Layla, was not allowed to enter her room. It had been a long time since she had gone out with other maids.

 

Dooha, unable to overcome her boredom, got up from her bed.

 

She looked around the bedroom. The Duke must have occupied this room by himself before she came.

 

Although it was a bedroom, expensive books and famous paintings filled one of the walls and stood out.

 

Dooha raised her eyebrows in surprise, recalling the duke’s face which she had seen for the first time today.

 

She thought that his entire body was made up of muscles, including his brain. That he was simply a muscular man all over in armor.

 

‘I didn’t think he was anything like this.’

 

“Well?”

 

Dooha, who was walking around, stopped in front of the painting. It was hanging in the far corner compared to the other paintings that were on the wall.

 

It was a painting of a huge flower tree that was not unusual.

 

However, if there was something unusual about it, it was that the lower part of the branch looked messy as if it had been painted over.

 

It looked like something was painted underneath.

 

“This…”

 

Dooha was about to touch it with her hand subconsciously.

 

“I hope you don’t touch that recklessly.”

 

Dooha turned around, startled by the cold voice coming from behind.

 

The owner of the voice was the Duke, Leonhart, who had become her husband today.

 

As if he had just washed, he was dressed in a simple outfit with a thin robe and a pair of pants.

 

Drops of water were dripping from his half-wet hair, casting a shadow on his forehead.

 

She didn’t recognize that he was this handsome when she saw him during the day.

 

Dooha stared at him without realizing it.

 

Contrary to his beautiful and splendid appearance, his gigantic physique seemed to be inconsistent, barely balanced.

 

Could it be that this was due to the darkness of the room, with only a scarlet light for lighting?

 

He looked very different from what she had seen during the day.

 

If she said that during the day he looked like a cool and intelligent ‘person’, what would she say now at night?

 

He was like a ‘beast’ with a leash on.

 

Dooha remembered a beautiful, unknown beast that the elders of the tribe had caught when she was young.

 

Bright yellow eyes with shiny gray hair.

 

Even when it was chained to its leash and became a guard dog, it was the type who was judged by its eyes and momentum.

 

For some reason, the duke resembled that unknown beast.

 

A strong, beautiful, and ferocious existence.

 

Dooha slowly pulled back her arm that had been outstretched towards the painting.

 

The way he spoke was frightening, but his actions were the opposite.

 

Some people don’t like when people touch their belongings.

 

Meanwhile, Leonhart simply crossed his legs as he sat down on a chair in the middle of the room.

 

He looked at Dooha with his arms crossed.

 

His eyes were cold, with no emotion.

 

“I have something to tell you in advance.”

 

He spoke with a voice as cold as his cold eyes.

 

“I took you as my wife, but I do not intend to share a bedroom.”

 

Dooha was not stupid nor ignorant enough to misunderstand what the man in front of her meant.

 

Although she frowned at him, Leonhart continued speaking with his indifferent face, as though he didn’t care at all.

 

“It’s not like we got married because we wanted each other, so there’s no need to live like a real couple.”

 

He wasn’t wrong.

 

Dooha, too, agreed to this marriage of alliance only for the sake of the national interest.

 

Of course, there was a personal reason, but it was a story that did not need to be revealed.

 

“I don’t care what you do here as long as you don’t lose your dignity as the ‘Duchess of Esbaden’.”

 

Do not invade each other’s private space, but be faithful to each other’s roles in the public eye.

 

That was the Duke’s first rule of marriage.

 

“Then I wish you all the best in the future…”

 

Leonhard stood up slowly.

 

“…Madame.”

 

He left the bedroom with similar words of farewell.

 

The short but intense first night passed in vain.

 

Dooha, who stared blankly at the place where her husband had disappeared from, burst out laughing.

 

“Huh.”

 

No luck either.

 

‘I can’t believe my husband is such a j*rk who can only stay to say what he wants to say.’

 

Dooha ruffled her hair violently.

 

She abandoned her homeland and escaped to the Empire, but there was nothing she liked about the man who became her husband except for his outer appearance.

 

“I’ll be glad if my husband doesn’t get naive…”

 

Just then, she remembered what her brother had said before she left Bashal.

 

Slowly, she felt her head getting hotter with anger.

 

Doesn’t that guy even know who he got?

 

She, Dooha, was the princess of Bashal.

 

Among all five tribes of Bashal, there were very few people who could honestly ignore Dooha. She was initially a princess and was even nominated for the next tribal leader. Instead, Nihir, who was insane, got the position. 

 

“It’s ridiculous.”

 

She didn’t want him to play with her like a goddess, but just to be treated fairly. It was not as if she was a docile thing that would leave as soon as she got hurt. 

 

‘We aren’t going to share a bedroom? We’re not a real couple, so let’s not care about each other?’

 

‘How dare you treat me as if I was a sad princess who has been forced to sell everything she had? Who do you think you are to accept me as your wife, sir?’

 

(That’s how it comes out.)

 

Dooha looked up at her ceiling and raised the corners of her lips.

 

Slowly, she approached the painting that the duke had told her not to touch.

 

“Let’s put it somewhere.”

 

Dooha, who was staring at the painting, stroked the white part that was painted over with her hand.

 

A confident smile was hanging around her mouth.

 

“Whose choice was it?”

 

A smile that expressed a strong will to not lose to anyone.

 

***

 

“…What is this?”

 

It was the first morning after her marriage with her husband, who had rejected her on their first night.

 

Dooha raised her eyebrows as she looked at the maid she had met for the first time.

 

From the worn-out frills to the rustic look to the sparse old stains…

 

Although it was a dress made of silk, it was an old garment that anyone could tell looked worn out.

 

“This is the dress the Duchess will wear.”

 

“Hey! Are you out of your mind?! Do you want the princess to wear these ragged clothes?! You’re telling me that she’ll wear this to breakfast with the Duke right now!”

 

At the handmaid’s words, Layla scrunched her face and shouted.

 

But the maid continued her words with a dry face as if she was a doll.

 

When she looked closely, there was a slight crack on the corner of her mouth, seemingly to be smiling.

 

“Since the Lord’s wife came earlier than the scheduled date, these are the only clothes prepared. I’m sorry.”

 

“Is it my princess’s fault, then, that you brought such clothes? How dare you use her as an excuse!”

 

Layla yelled at her and got angry, but to no avail.

 

The maid simply repeated her words of apology like a parrot, showing no sign of remorse or wanting to correct the mistake.

 

Dooha, who had been watching her silently, finally opened her mouth.

 

“Okay, leave it alone.”

 

“…Yes, Duchess.”

 

The maid didn’t know whether she was going to tell her to go, so the expressionless maid’s face was blurred for a moment, but she soon returned to her original state.

 

With a polite greeting, she stepped back and left her room.

 

“Princess! Why did you just let her go?! You must be very upset!”

 

Layla shook her ragged dress and made a fuss.

 

“How dare you give the princess a dress like this! These things… they don’t learn…!”

 

“Maybe she didn’t want to accept the Duchess, who didn’t even spend her first night with the Duke.”

 

It had been less than half a day since the night of her wedding, but rumors were already circulating in the castle.

 

Rumor has it that the Duke abandoned his bride and ran out of the bedroom on the first night.

 

“Oh, that’s…!”

 

“I understand. They don’t serve me, they serve the Duke, and there’s no reason to serve the Duchess whom the Duke didn’t even recognize.”

 

Dooha looked in the mirror, putting on the old dress that looked like a rag over her body.

 

“But looking at the measurements, it’s not that insincere.”

 

“You are a princess!”

 

Layla murmured as she looked at her master’s carefree face.

 

“It’s almost time for breakfast with the duke! How could you dress like that?!”

 

“Yes, it’s too much to wear to a meal with your husband.”

 

“Of course! In the first place, no noble wife in the Empire wears such clothes!”

 

Layla clenched her fist with an angry face.

 

“Why won’t you call the maid and fix this? It’s obvious that they didn’t put out proper clothes even though they have them!”

 

She looked at her Dooha with eager anticipation.

 

“It’s your specialty! You beat up those who set things up without knowing the reason! Hurry up and do it! Yeah?”

 

“Of course, that’s my specialty, but I don’t think now is the time to use it.”

 

“Yes? What? Isn’t this the perfect time to use it?”

 

“Lyla, it’s not just because of my power that I surpassed my brothers to become a chief candidate.”

 

She answered in a calm voice and handed the dress she was holding in her hand to Layla.

 

“And when it comes to clothes, don’t you have one more piece besides this?”