Chapter 1 Part 1
“To develop the medicine, it needs mana. What are you going to do if your body gets overwhelmed?”
“I’ll be careful not to overdo it.”
Kwanach clenched his lips, feeling frustrated.
I persuaded him in bewilderment.
“I’ve heard that the number of people suffering from sclerosis is increasing. But we don’t know the cause of the onset of the disease, and the cost of the medicine is too high for the common people to afford.”
“I’m sure that if Simon and I work together to research and learn more about sclerosis, it will help the Empire.”
I looked at Kwanach anxiously, but he didn’t make eye contact with me at all. His lips were tense, and the veins on his neck popped up.
Kwanach , who had been silent for a while with a troubled look on his face, said in a faint voice.
“….. I didn’t bring you here to work. You don’t have to suffer.”
Hardship? What is hardship?
I didn’t understand what he was saying right away, so I just blinked.
Being held dead and having to spend all those years as a ghost, that was hardship.
The rest of the world was falling apart and there was nothing I could do about it. I was nothing. …… The heavy sense of helplessness I felt at that time was still fresh in my mind.
In comparison, now that I am alive, no matter what I do, even if the process would be painful, I wouldn’t call it hardship.
“You only have to enjoy the good things and see the good things. Just being in this palace is enough. You don’t have to make any effort to be useful to this country.”
Kwanach seemed nervous. This man was like a flimsy piece of glass that would break if I touched it.
“Kwanach. I’m doing this because I want to.”
“You’re telling me not to do anything? I don’t want to. If there is something I have to work on, I will. I’m an empress. I want to be responsible for my position.”
“It’s strange that I’m the only one who gets what’s good from you…I am not a doll.”
It was quiet, but spewing out words without a break. It sounded like we were having a fight.
Kwanach examined me with his dark eyes.
“…… You’ve always been stronger than I thought.”
Strangely enough, I flinched at Kwanach’s tone and the look in his eyes, as if he had known me for a long time.
“But this time I won’t back down, Usphere.”
Kwanach’s gaze sank lower.
I flinched and gripped the hem of my dress.
He wasn’t as kind as he usually was. He looked as strong as when I first met him on our wedding day. There was also a hint of sharpness in his dark eyes.
Why would someone who had always made an effort to fit in with me come on so strong just now? I couldn’t understand it.
Kwanach said aloud.
“Do you know that the medicine for sclerosis is distributed in Guilier Upper Tier? Even I, the emperor, can’t even peek at it. It’s a place that is in charge of trade with other races as well.”
“Trade with other races?”
“It’s the most influential group on the continent. They’ve become richer by selling sclerosis drugs at a high price, and I don’t think they’d want to give up that golden goose.”
I could see what Kwanach was worried about.
If the Guilier people knew that I was going to try to break the formula for the drug, they wouldn’t be sitting still.
“But we can’t just leave it like this, can we? We have an ever-increasing number of citizens suffering from sclerosis. ….”
“Even the administrative bureau is aware of the seriousness of the situation and is looking for ways to address it. So you’d better not worry about it any more.”
“The way to do that is…….”
“I said not to worry about it. If you’re doing this because you’re worried about Marianne’s sister, I’ll take care of her medicine bill.”
His voice was crisp and clear, and his eyes refused to let me in.
Although we were politically married, I vowed to be worthy of the empress’ position.
I was intoxicated by Kwanach’s kindness and unintentionally hopeful.
I wanted to help Kwanach. The Radon Empire was an unfamiliar place, but I wanted to help the people here, just as I did in my homeland. That was all.
‘Does Kwanach want me to be quiet?’
My buoyant feelings turned cold. I couldn’t interrupt Kwanach’s objections with my adamancy. I didn’t want my relationship with him to go awry.
No matter how nice Kwanach was, he was the emperor of an empire and I was just a Princess who was sold from a weak country. The fact that I had forgotten for a while remained clear in my mind.
I said quietly, avoiding Kwanach’s gaze.
“I was just trying to help you.”
My heart ached.
“I’m sorry if I crossed the line.”
I made up an awkward smile, suppressing my bitterness.
“I’m sure you couldn’t even eat properly because of all the unnecessary talk. Please eat more.”
The quiet Kwanach opened his mouth. I bit my bottom lip gently and bowed my head more deeply.
Kwanach sighed long. Then I heard him pushing his chair out.
I slowly raised my eyes again and saw he walked toward me with a stiff face.
He must be angry.
He might have thought I was accusing him of not taking action when the sclerosis problem was so serious.
He probably wondered if I had grown horns when I tried to intervene in political affairs even though I was new to this land. It seemed I overused his kindness.
I got up and bowed to him.
“Your Majesty, I’m sorry. I have no intention of ignoring Your Majesty…….”
I was in the middle of continuing my speech, pretending to be calm. Kwanach came in front of me and suddenly got down on one knee and grabbed my hand.
I was perplexed. I had no idea why the emperor was kneeling. It was fortunate that no one was in the room.
With a frown, Kwanach held my hand and kissed it.
“God damn it.”
Kwanach mumbled, resting his cheek on the back of my hand.
“Oh, get up, please. Why are you on your knees…?”
“Why are you calling me ‘Your Majesty’ again? Please don’t do that.”
“I’m sorry. You seem to have been frightened by my attitude. I didn’t mean it that way. I was just…”
Kwanach’s voice trembled. I blinked quickly and looked down at Kwanach.
He was a huge man, despite the fact that he was kneeling on one side. But his strong, broad shoulders were trembling. So did the fingers that had grabbed my hand.
‘Wasn’t he angry? It was more like fire…….’
He seemed scared.
Kwanach let out a damp breath and buried his lips deeper into my palm this time.
“Usphere? I’m ………. I’m afraid.”
“You’re right. You didn’t cross the line. If you help us, we might be able to make a drug for sclerosis. I know that. But…I was afraid that you might get involved in some evil while doing so, I just can’t stand the thought of it…….”
Kwanach spat out more and more words in a worried tone. He was having a hard time breathing.
I panicked at Kwanach’s unexpected reaction and crouched down to meet his gaze. The skirt of my dress fluttered out to the side like a wave.
Kwanach, who had been nuzzling his face in my palm, slowly raised his head. His eyes were red. His lips, which were slightly open, were quivering with a shaky breath.
Drenched in fear. He was not a man as fancy and strong as the sun god.
I didn’t know what drove Kwanach this hard, but I felt like I had to soothe him.
“You’re worried that I’ll get injured in a conflict of interest or a political dispute? Is that why you told me not to worry about it?”
Kwanach just nodded. He was older than me, and only now did he seem vulnerable.
“Why are you worried? You can protect me.”
“I’m reassured by the mere thought of you.”
Stunned for a moment, Kwanach grabbed my shoulders firmly with both hands. Fierce emotion flashed in his dark eyes.
Kwanach’s suppressed voice carried on, barely a syllable at a time.
“I’m protecting you. But what if I fail.”
“I may or may not be able to protect you. ….”
He looked like he was about to start crying. Kwanach pulled me tightly into his arms.
I was buried in his embrace.
Thump, thump, Kwanach’s heartbeat rang in my ears. It was very fast and unsteady. His body temperature was so hot that I could tell he was very agitated.
I hesitated and placed my hand on Kwanach’s back. His breathing became louder, and his back went up and down roughly.
“There’s no way you’re going to fail. There is no one in this world stronger than you, Kwanach.”
“No, I have a history. I had to force someone to leave me…….”
Kwanach murmured in a somber voice, as if lost in dark memories.
The painful life of being a slave. The supreme war that followed. I didn’t know the details of how Kwanach endured those years.
However, it wasn’t hard to guess that he had suffered many losses.
‘Was there anything that would hurt more than losing your loved ones?’
Kwanach exhaled hot breaths and buried his face into my hair. He put more strength into the arms that held me.
“Usphere, I don’t want to lose you.”