Chapter 1 Part 1
My mind went blank.
I mumbled in a small voice. The knights averted their eyes from us. Perhaps it was because it was the second time they saw this, they didn’t seem surprised like last time.
Was it okay for the Emperor to do this in the Radon Empire? Was it okay for the Empress to be embraced every time? Was I too conservative because I was from the North?
I had heard that the Radon Empire was more liberal in etiquette.
But then again, this man was the Emperor. No matter what, Kwanach’s ways would be the law….
Now that this was the second time, I stopped fighting.
I turned my head towards Kwanach’s chest and hid my face.
Ack, ack….I could hear Simon gasping from behind me.
So we walked to the guest bedroom with me in Kwanach’s arms. He gently sat me down on the bed.
I said as he stroked my disheveled hair.
“…… Why do you have to hold me like that every time? Aren’t I heavy?”
“Heavy? Is it you or me?”
Kwanach said with a grin. I glanced at the huge husband standing in front of me and nodded.
“No. I’m not heavy.”
“You’re too thin.”
“I’ll eat more…”
“We’ll see,” said Kwanach with a satisfied look.
“Let’s continue what we were saying.”
“Why the sudden change of subject?”
Kwanach sat down again on the chair he had sat on all day yesterday and stared at me.
“There are many people around you. They’re all your men. I was worried that if I called your name too freely or treated you too comfortably, your dignity would be diminished in front of them.”
“Oh, so that’s what you cared about? They won’t see me less or lose faith in me because of that.”
Kwanach replied firmly, his voice full of conviction.
I felt like I was hit in the head. I realized that I had been thinking too much in the Achaia’s way.
This man rose from the lowest step of the ladder all by himself. He had no power, no wealth, no position, no nothing.
With just his inherent charisma and ability, he built an empire with many armies following him. I shouldn’t be worried.
“Oh. Yes. I’m sorry, Kwanach.”
“…… Why? Why do you apologize?”
“Because I was too presumptuous… Yes. Your prestige is not something that can be diminished by one of my designations. I’m sorry if I offended you.”
“No, you didn’t.”
Kwanach looked surprised, and in his haste, he reached out and grabbed my arm. His palm was as hot as fire.
“Usphere. I wasn’t accusing you of anything, I was just telling you not to worry.”
Kwanach’s long, slender fingers wrapped around my arm like a trap.
“So please don’t apologize to me. Don’t ever say you’re sorry. I feel strange when you do that.”
“I feel like I’ve become a terrible person.”
Kwanach bit his lip with a deep sigh. I’ve never seen him so flustered and distraught in my life. I couldn’t help but stare into his shimmering eyes.
Confusion – embarrassment – a little shame – this was the first time I had ever read Kwanach’s emotions so vividly.
He didn’t look like an unapproachable wall of a man, he looked like a normal person to me. I was so happy that a small smile crept over my lips.
“Yes. I’m not going to say I’m sorry. I will instead promise to call you by your name from now on.”
Only then did Kwanach gently let go of my arm, feeling relieved. He breathed more easily, but then his brow furrowed as if he suddenly remembered something.
“Oh. What did you and Simon talk about?”
“We didn’t talk about anything in particular. We just exchanged a word or two about my physical condition.”
Kwanach’s lips raised up.
“You looked quite happy just for that.”
“Did I? I thought he looked like my younger brother. I feel comfortable talking to him. He’s so happy to hear compliments. Like a child.”
“What are you talking about? Simon is one head taller than you.”
“What kind of praise did you give Simon?”
Kwanach stared at me. Suddenly I felt like I was being interrogated.
“Oh, I said he was a very good doctor.”
“Not that, again.”
“Think about it. Are you sure that was all?”
“Is it important?”
“It is important. My wife was alone with a man outside and had a very pleasant conversation, too. That’s important. Yes, it is.”
‘My wife’, it was obvious, and not the first time I’d heard the word, but for some reason, my face felt hot. Perhaps it was because the emotions contained in the words that Kwanach spoke with feverish intensity felt raw and different from the usual.
I let out a ragged breath.
‘…… It sounds like he’s being jealous.’
I absentmindedly pinched and rubbed my dress with my fingers.
“Hmm, that’s all Simon and I talked about. It’s true.”
Kwanach said with a heavy sigh.
“Okay. I’ll believe you this time.”
“By the way, Simon is not a man yet.”
“Of course he is.”
“No, he’s not. He’s not even an adult yet, and he looks very innocent compared to his age.”
“You’ll never know. Don’t trust men.”
“Kwanach, you are a man too.”
“That’s what I am saying.”
“I said I’d wait until you’re ready, but don’t relax too much in front of me. I’m not a trustworthy guy, you know.”
“What kind of joke are you making ….?”
“It’s not a joke.”
I squeezed my lips shut as the heat suddenly seemed to surge to the top of my head.
Suddenly it was getting hot. Why was it so hot…the empire was supposed to be in winter now, but it was hot perhaps because we went further south.
I let out a couple of dry coughs and fanned myself lightly. I had a feeling that the heat was not going to go away with Kwanach beside me.
“Don’t you need to go and do your business? You said that Lord Beynard sent for you.”
“I’m done talking to Oslin. He’s a workaholic and he just called me here for a few things, nothing too important.”
“I see. So what else do you have to do…?”
Kwanach stared at me with his arms crossed.
“It sounds like you want to get rid of me.”
“No. You’re busy and I’m taking up too much of your time.”
“I’m not busy.”
“Are you going to be here today?”
“Yes. Because once we’re at the palace, I won’t have much time to accompany you. So let me do this. Are you uncomfortable?”
I wasn’t uncomfortable, but when he stared at me, I felt hot. But I didn’t say that because it would give off a strange vibe.
Instead of answering, I just shook my head lightly. Kwanach looked at me with satisfaction.
“I’m going to get some books, so please lie down for a while. Don’t suddenly disappear by yourself again.”
“I went through all the paperwork and training while you were asleep, so I thought I’d read a book.”
“Oh, you like to read too?”
My voice became excited involuntarily as the most interesting topic for me was mentioned.
Kwanach wriggled his lips at my question and gently turned his head.
“Uhm, a little bit…”
“What books do you usually read?”
“…… I just read this and that.”
“Me too! By the way, you mentioned that the library of the Radon Empire is the largest on the continent. It’s a reflection of your hobby, isn’t it? How many books do you have on the ship?”
“I put some books in the parlor. Would you like to read them? But you have seasickness.”
“I took my medicine. I’m fine. I’ll stop reading if I feel sick. Can I go with you and pick one?”
“Let’s do that.”
I jumped out of bed and stood next to Kwanach. He cleared his throat a few times and held out his large palm to me gently.
“Hold on to me or you’ll fall again.”
Instead of explaining that I had never fallen, I quickly put my hand on his palm. I was starting to get antsy to see the books.
There must be many rare books in the Radon Empire that were not available back home. My heart throbbed at the thought of seeing all the books at the library.
“I’ve never seen you so cheerful. Let’s go look at the books.”
Kwanach smiled and grabbed my hand tightly.
* * * *
For several days, I locked myself in the room and read books with Kwanach. There were a dozen or so books on the sailing ship, just the first I had seen.
I was afraid that the humidity of the ocean would damage the books, but it was an unnecessary worry. Kwanach had an artifact that would remove the moisture.
It was bought from a tribe across the human continent, so it must cost quite a fortune. It seemed like he cared a lot about books.
As a man who made his living on the battlefield, I thought he would be distant from books. I guess I was just prejudiced. I’ve reflected on that.
By the time I read three, Kwanach had finished one book. Unlike myself, who read fast, he seemed to be a reader who grasps one thing and reads closely for a long time.
He was the husband I thought I would have nothing in common with. When we found unexpected similarities, I felt a bit closer to him.
The sailing ship arrived at the port on the border of the Radon Empire after four days at sea.
It was originally a distance of ten days by ship. I found out later that they had hung several artifacts to enhance the power of the sailing ship.
To spend such a large amount of money, Kwanach seemed to be in a hurry to return to the Imperial Palace.
Once we disembarked, we were able to move around more easily than before since we were in the imperial territory.
The roads were much cleaner and more polished than in Achaia. It felt like driving twice as fast over the same distance.
The Radon Empire was really developed.
However, my country’s people called Kwanach, who had accomplished these developments, a barbarian.
I felt bitter at how much my homeland was behind, like a frog in a well.