Chapter 11

 

 

Kwanach tapped his thigh with his hand.

 

“Step on it and get in.”

 

“But why?”

 

“Hurry up.”

 

Kwanach showed no signs of retreating. He looked at me as if saying he had already broken one rule of etiquette and would not let it go in vain.

 

I hesitated for a moment and then stepped on his thigh. I gently placed my hand on his hand that Kwanach held out to me and accepted his escort.

 

Kwanach’s thighs were as hard as stone. They didn’t even budge when I put my weight on them. His big hands were rough with calluses, but they were warm.

 

Thanks to Kwanach, it was easy for me to get into the carriage. 

 

Did Kwanach always have a high body temperature? The skin that came in contact with me was tingling like it was on fire.

 

It was the first time I had ever been escorted like this by a man. My life was spent busily shuttling between the royal palace and the borderlands. My heart throbbed with surprise at the unfamiliar experience.

 

Eventually, Kwanach with his big body came in and sat down across from me. Even though it was the widest carriage I had ever seen, it felt cramped when Kwanach walked in.

 

“Let’s go.”

 

At Kwanach’s order, the carriage began to move slowly.

 

I looked through the window at the people of the palace standing far away. I was not at peace leaving my sickly father and young brother behind.

 

The slowly rolling carriage was silent for a while. I tried to focus on the scenery from the window, ignoring the presence of the man who was now my husband, filling the carriage.

 

Then Kwanach’s low voice broke the silence.

 

“You may be distraught right now, but you won’t regret this marriage.”

 

I turned my head slowly to meet Kwanach’s eyes.

 

“I don’t regret it. Nor will I ever.”

 

“…….”

 

“Oh, I was told that this dress was sent by you. Thank you.”

 

The dress was a mixture of yellow-green and green. It was a color that gave me comfort.

 

“It suits you well.”

 

“Does it? It’s actually a little more colorful than what I usually wear.”

 

The hem of the skirt was inflated, and even a slight movement made the fabric rustle.

 

“Beautiful.”

 

I flinched at Kwanach’s short reply.

 

“The dress?”

 

“And….the dress.”

 

Kwanach spat out those few words and turned his head to the side.

 

I floundered for a moment, unable to fully comprehend his words.

 

‘He complimented me on my appearance, didn’t he? He’s not that scary.’

 

I bowed my head gently and thanked Kwanach.

 

“You’re really kind for giving me such a compliment.”

 

“I’m not much of a talker and I can’t give fancy rhetoric. I’m sure you’ve heard it hundreds, maybe thousands of times.”

 

“I have never heard it before.”

 

“…….”

 

“And not hundreds or thousands of times. I’m not that great looking.”

 

Standing beside Kwanach, I would fade away. He shone as intensely as his other name, “The Sun God,” but I find him somewhat brooding and quiet. I had that level of objectivity.

 

Kwanach turned his head to look at me again. He narrowed his brows.

 

“Who told you that?”

 

“Huh? What?”

 

“Who told you that you are not good looking?”

 

“Oh, I just think……Kwanach, compared to you, I think I’m a normal axis.”

 

Kwanach stared at me in silence for a moment. He had a seemingly expressionless face and also seemed to be angry at the same time.

 

The longer the silence lasted, the more strangely tense I felt. It wasn’t until after a while that Kwanach spoke again.

 

“So do you think I’m handsome?”

 

As normal as the sun rises in the east, it is natural that Kwanach was handsome.

 

“Yes.”

 

“That’s a relief.”

 

Kwanach’s mouth curled up at an angle as he said,

 

“I was worried that you might run away from the bedroom.”

 

“What do you mean, “run away”? I at least know my duty.”

 

“Duty.”

 

Kwanach furrowed his thick eyebrows and swept his black hair back several times. His thick lips casually opened.

 

“A born royal woman like you seems to have a very strong sense of duty. It looks like you’re already ready to mix with the man you first met today. I don’t know because I’m of humble birth.”

 

Kwanach leaned his large body toward me as he spoke. His body’s scent was so overpowering that I felt blank for a while.

 

“I want a true marriage.”

 

“…… What?”

 

 “If you mean that you don’t want to be in a relationship because of a sense of duty, but try to pretend it’s good? Don’t act like you’ve been sold.”

 

“I didn’t mean it like that. If I upset you, I’m sorry…….”

 

“No more apologies.”

 

Kwanach’s unpredictable reaction confused me for a while.

 

In truth, I didn’t care what it took as long as I could maintain my seat as empress, so I was going to tell Kwanach that he could have any lovers or concubines that he wanted. I was going to be an empress who was both present and absent, like a transparent presence. I did not want any kind of power.

 

I was content with my role in maintaining the peace agreement.

 

What was the point of pretending to be something I wasn’t?

 

And a true marriage?

 

I didn’t know what it was. But it would be easier for me to live as a mouse.

 

As a man who destroyed the dynasty with hundreds of years of history and caused upheaval on the continent, he was good at embarrassing people.

 

“And, uh, the consummation.”

 

Kwanach said in a low voice. The consummation. I heard those words through his mouth, and suddenly I felt numb below the waist.

 

Actually, I only knew that it was between a husband and wife, but I did not know the detailed process. I’ve never even tried to imagine it in detail.

 

“You don’t have to do it just because you feel obligated. I’m not going to make you if you’re reluctant.”

 

“I thought you wanted a child with me.”

 

“Yes, I do. But I don’t want to do it like I’m catching up on my work. It’s an act of sharing love.”

 

“…….”

 

“Isn’t it?

 

“Yes, it is…”

 

I didn’t expect this from a wild man who had subjugated half the continent to his land. I expected him to be colder, to be drunk with blood and tears, and to have his way with women.

 

I felt a little unaccustomed to the normal, healthy way of thinking that came out of his mouth.

 

“Usphere, I’ll do the wedding night when you’re up for it.”

 

“What do you mean when I want to? That’s….”

 

“I’ve heard that the North stresses chastity in its women, but I’m not. Night love is meaningful only if you want to.”

 

“…….”

 

“I have no desire to force a woman to do something if she doesn’t want to from the start. Just because I come from slavery doesn’t mean I’m a scoundrel. Just say it. Would you want to be held by a man you met for the first time today?”

 

“…….”

 

“You can answer honestly.”

 

I hesitated and shook my head slightly.

 

The truth was, for me, the longer I delayed my night duty, the longer it would take him to discover my infertility.

 

It was good, but I was feeling rather bewildered. Nobles and royalty usually have political marriages. Often, like me, they saw their groom for the first time on their wedding day.

 

That’s how everyone spends their time. That’s how I was going to live my life. A loveless marriage is commonplace.

 

This man, however, was different. He wanted to spend our time together like it was not a strategic arrangement.

 

“I knew you didn’t want to do it. I’ll be waiting for you, but I don’t know how long I can wait.”

 

“…….”

 

“Let’s do them one by one. When we arrive at the Imperial Palace, I intend to perform the wedding properly. Today was just a procedure to obtain the legal relationship of husband and wife.”

 

“Thank you for your consideration.”

 

“I just don’t want you to end up like the old tradition of the royal or the nobles.”

 

I heard that the Kwanach had broken all the falsehoods and pretensions of the old days. However, wasn’t this political marriage proposed by him first?

 

How could a conquering king create a new movement for people when he himself didn’t follow the path he set? It was hard to understand him. What was he going to do with me?

 

I asked carefully.

 

“What exactly do you want from me?”

 

“Didn’t I tell you?”

 

“I’m sorry, but…….”

 

“Don’t use the word “sorry”. Am I your boss?”

 

He wasn’t my superior, but that didn’t mean I should treat him casually. I gently bit the thin flesh at the back of my mouth before continuing with my words again.

 

“…… I was distant from female activity since I was a child. I’ve never had tea parties with women my age. I don’t know how to treat my husband, and I’m not a kind person.”

 

“I’m glad to hear that. I’m not sure about those things myself. I’ve only been on the battlefield.”

 

“…….”

 

“You asked me what I wanted. I don’t want you to act like you do now. Don’t be overly polite and don’t treat me like I’m in trouble.”

 

Kwanach’s lips twisted.

 

“You’re born royalty, it must be a difficult request for you. I don’t even want you to treat me kindly. Yes, I understand. You were forced and compelled to marry me.”

 

No, I really wanted to marry him. I had been waiting for this day with years of anxiety. Of course, it was for political purposes, not because I wanted the man Kwanach himself…….

 

Wasn’t it the same with Kwanach?

 

“I am also aware that a woman like you would never like me.”

 

“…….”

 

“But at least pretend to love me. I’ll do the same.”