Chapter 1 Part 1
The muscles in Kwanach’s face twitched every now and then as he looked at my pale face. I stared quietly at him. I found Kwanach intriguing and mysterious.
It was the first time I had ever felt a strong curiosity about a human being instead of a book. Was it because Kwanach was different from the other men?
Each unexpected point I found myself at made me want to explore the depths of this man’s mind a little more. It was strangely rewarding, like learning new knowledge.
I smiled lightly as I stared at the still tense Kwanach.
“I’m glad you favored me.”
At my answer, Kwanach finally let out a small sigh as if relieved.
“I will not ask you this again, if I ask you twice I’m afraid you will faint. Why are you so nervous?”
“….. I’m not nervous.”
Kwanach firmly denied it.
“You don’t lie, do you?”
“I’m not saying anything. I just think you’re kind of cute. …”
Oh my goodness, I couldn’t help but say cute, and blinked for a moment. Cute. Emperor of the Empire and this big man looked cute.
“I think you’re cute. Yes.”
I finished speaking deceptively, and dodged Kwanach’s gaze.
Kwanach looked at me in silence for a while. I guess I misspoke after all. How could I say cute to the emperor? There’s a degree of profanity.
But what was I supposed to do when every time Kwanach spoke with a nervous look on his face, “The Tale of the Black Bear” popped up in my mind?
I must have read too many books. Seeing that I had such a good imagination.
‘Should I say sorry?’
I was just about to open my mouth, and Kwanach spoke first.
“Are you sick?”
Kwanach seemed seriously troubled.
“You said I’m cute. You wouldn’t think so if you weren’t sick.”
Kwanach wrinkled his brow and scanned me all over. I shrugged softly and said,
“Oh, you’re offended.”
“I’m not offended by what you said. I’m just surprised.”
“You’re not offended?”
Kwanach nodded briefly.
“I’m glad. I was worried that the sound was a bit profane.”
“I’m your husband before I am emperor, so you don’t need to worry about that.”
“But why do you think I’m cute?”
“It’s a …… black bear.”
Kwanach tilted his head curiously. His burly hand was still gripping my arm.
I felt uncomfortable revealing my thoughts to him alone, so I quickly changed the subject.
“Shall we go in now? I think I’m fully digested.”
“If you want. Let’s go.”
Despite his reply, Kwanach seemed to want me to say no. He seemed somewhat nervous.
“Umm, actually, I don’t mind walking a little longer.”
“Then let’s go that way. I’m sure it’s ready by now.”
“Did you prepare something?”
“Not much. Today is the first day you and I go to see the Imperial Palace together, so I want to make a good memory. Come this way.”
Kwanach gently took my hand and led the way.
His steps towards the greenhouse garden. There were lamps in some places, but it was nighttime and the groom was dimly lit.
As I entered the greenhouse garden, a thick scent of grass enveloped me.
I looked at Kwanach and asked,
“Please wait a moment.”
Kwanach turned and whispered to the chamberlain. I remembered that just before he left for his walk he ordered the attendant to do something.
Did he make them prepare something here?
Kwanach took me to the center of the garden. It was covered with marble and had fluffy chairs and hammocks for sitting and relaxing.
I sat alongside Kwanach on a long bench chair. The light from the lamps subtly illuminated the plants surrounding us on all sides, and the glass ceiling revealed a starry sky.
It was time to immerse in the interplay of nature and artificial objects.
Kwanach leaned towards me gently and whispered.
“It’s going to start now.”
“You’ll know it when I see it.”
He pointed towards the ceiling with his finger, leaving only vague words. When I raised my head, I could see something twitching on the high ceiling.
What looked like fireflies began to appear here and there. In the blink of an eye, there were dozens, then hundreds of them, forming a single swarm of light.
I was mesmerized watching the waves of light swimming between the plants. At first, I thought they were fireflies, but upon closer inspection, I realized they were something else, mixed with magic.
The lights moved in an orderly fashion, creating one large shape. It undulated like a rippling wave, spinning around and around in a circle.
It even passed through the leaves like wind.
Waves and wind created by light…….
I let out a small exclamation. I couldn’t breathe properly as I watched the feast of light.
The lights, shining like tiny stars, fluttered beautifully through the garden as if they were alive. It was the first time in my life that I had seen such an enchanting and mysterious sight.
The lights flew through the air, then it came down to us. Up close, one of the light buds was as small as my fingernail.
The light formed a single curve and began to circle around me. One of them bounced back and sat gently on the top of my nose.
I felt a pleasant warmth on the tip of my nose. I was pleasantly surprised, and the laughter just popped out of my mouth.
The lights that had been swaying around me as if they were greeting me moved up to the ceiling again.
Gradually, the cluster of lights began to fade and scatter here and there. Eventually, they completely disappeared from the air.
I was mesmerized for a while. I felt like I had woken up in the middle of the night after being immersed in a raging dream. I regained my composure and looked at Kwanach.
Kwanach seemed to have been looking at me the whole time.
“Kwanach, what is all this?”
“Did you like it?”
Kwanach gave a small cough.
“Yes, of course I did. It was really beautiful! Did you prepare this? Was it magic? I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
Unknowingly, I moved closer to Kwanach.
Kwanach’s lips, which had been stiff, gently relaxed. Then the edges of his mouth lifted slightly. It was an extremely faint movement to be called a smile, but it softened his impression.
“This is scroll magic that I obtained from the Dwarfs who do business with our empire. It’s a trend among the elves these days.”
For a moment, my hazy mind woke up and the story of the Wood Elves and the Catatel family came to mind.
I was actually trying to figure out how to find information about the Elves…….
“Are you interested in elves?”
“Yes. I’m a little curious about them. I’ve heard that the magic the dwarfs use is similar to that of the Wood Elves. Are these dwarfs usually close to elves?”
“They are probably closer to the elves than we are. In a few months, the dwarfs should be here again. If you are interested, I can arrange for you to meet with them.”
“I’m grateful for your help. But is this the kind of magic that is popular among the elves?
“It’s a minor spell, to be exact. It’s usually used for banquets.”
Minor magic meant simple magic that could be used by ordinary people who could not handle high magic but only needed a scroll.
It was far from being used to attack. It was everyday magic, like lighting a light or making food taste a little better.
“But it was very impressive for simple magic.”
“That’s because it contained dozens of elaborately constructed scrolls.”
On the human continent, even a small magic scroll could only be obtained by paying a large sum of money. One scroll was equal to a month’s salary for a commoner.
“You used dozens of scrolls? To show this to me?”
It seemed that the First Emperor disappeared for a while. He said he would keep away from luxury and emphasize rationality.
However, I had no idea that he would hold such an event just to preserve the memory of our first walk…
I couldn’t bear to say ‘you don’t have to go this far’. But thanks to him, I had such a wonderful and amazing experience.
I hesitated and decided to just say thank you.
“Thank you. I will not forget this day for a long time. How are you so sweet?”
Kwanach stared at me. His thick collar swayed a couple of times, and he spoke with a low voice.
“I am not such a sweet person. You’re being nice.”
“No, you’re very kind.”
Kwanach hesitated for a moment without replying. A strange feeling arose in his face. It was hard to tell what he was thinking.
He said with a more subdued look in his eyes.
“I’m glad to hear that I’m doing something good. I’m actually trying very hard. I had promised myself that if I could have a wife, I would be kind to her without any envy in the world.”
“When I was a slave, I never imagined my life as it is now. Marriage was impossible from the start. So, if by some miracle I do end up with a family, I’ll try my best. ….”
Kwanach fell silent, unable to finish his words properly. His dark pupils seemed to be immersed in damp memories.
Slavery was abolished now, but until a few years ago, slaves were treated like the property of their masters. They were not legally human. So they couldn’t have a family.
They had sexual relations like cattle with whomever their masters arranged. If a child was born of this relationship, that child also inherited the status of a slave. The children of slaves either labored for their parent’s masters or were sold elsewhere.
Only a few years ago, that was all the life of Kwanach.
What some people deserved, he did not.
The institution of marriage was also something he had finally acquired after a bloody revolution.
Yes. All of this had to be special to him.
I felt like I was one step closer to him as I further understood his world.
There was no slavery in the Kingdom of Achaia. I had only heard occasional stories about the people of the territory being treated like slaves. The life of a southern slave was a world I did not know much about.
But Kwanach had been fighting for a long time. In the end, he got the rights that seemed impossible.
Even if it was a marriage in exchange for a peace treaty, Kwanach probably didn’t want to take it lightly.
“While I considered this marriage merely a political obligation, he…….’
I stared at Kwanach and carefully placed my hand on the back of his hand. Kwanach flinched and looked at me with wonder.
“….. What’s wrong?”
“I just wanted to grab it, so I did.”