Chapter 1 Part 1
Rattle. Rattle. The wagon shook. It was midnight and the journey was not over.
We were approaching the third border post where Kwanach had given false information. We will probably arrive at our destination tomorrow morning.
I let Marianne sit by my side and drove the wagon myself. It was mentally comfortable for me to sit in the horseman’s seat, although I was occasionally replaced by another horseman.
When others were around, I had to deliberately lower my voice and keep it low, always fearing that my mustache would fall off. There were more than one or two inconveniences.
Marianne was sorry that she had not learned how to handle horses. Even though it was not her fault.
I called Marianne’s temporary alias, who was now cajoled into going along. Marianne turned to me quickly and said,
I told her to go rest, but it didn’t seem easy. So when the others were around, Marianne sometimes chose to be silent altogether.
“Come in and rest if you’re tired.”
It made me talk to her differently.
“I’m not tired.”
“It’s late at night.”
The truth was that I was tired from staying out in the field for so many days. I hadn’t been able to wash properly and my body was very dirty.
Occasionally, the people forgot about their own surroundings and dipped themselves in the ponds around the place, but I couldn’t do that. I didn’t even go near the pond. It would be suspicious.
I had to be content with dipping a cloth in water and wiping my skin in the carriage.
‘I’m glad Kwanach and I are in a situation where we can’t be near each other.’
I couldn’t help it because of work. However, I didn’t want to face Kwanach with such a dirty appearance. I was afraid I would smell, and the mustache and wig were not pretty.
When I saw Kwanach earlier, I was immersed in a strange sensation.
I can see why he’s known as the Sun God.
Stepping away from the view, Kwanach was quite different from the man begging for my affection in the bedroom.
He was a head taller than the rest, and his body was solid. A deep, low-pitched voice leading the crowd. Above all, his face was so admirable that it made me forget the fatigue of the march for a while.
The atmosphere surrounding Kwanach was overwhelming. Perhaps it was because I was now a porter and a member of the servants’ flock, and I didn’t even feel that he was my husband. Sometimes I would admire him vaguely from afar.
‘Why is he so great?’
Even now, I could see Kwanach’s back as he stood at the head of the line if I stretched my neck. It was a pity that we were so far apart, but it was nice to get a different feeling from him.
I looked at Kwanach’s back and said,
“Do you remember the fight between His Majesty and Jaxor?”
“You talk about that again?”
“Oh, I asked you already?”
“Yes. I guess you were really impressed.”
Marianne gave a small chuckle. I let out a small cough. It was fortunate that my hat covered my face, because my face was probably red from embarrassment.
It was the first time I’d ever seen Kwanach in a proper combat situation. It was amazing, even though it was just a practice battle.
Even when I lay down to sleep, I was bewildered by the image that came to mind.
He looked so strong.
I didn’t know the first thing about fighting, but I could notice that Kwanach’s power was great. He was a man who exuded his own strength with every fiber of his being.
And very much so….It was wonderful.
Just thinking about it made my heart leap. I gripped the reins more tightly.
I could understand why Kwanach had made such a big deal about protecting me. For such a strong man, I must have looked like a very weak person.
That was when I heard the signal from the front. It sounded like a call to stop. One of the knights at the front shouted out.
“Let’s rest here.”
Turning his head at an angle, Kwanach took a quick look at the people following him. For a moment, his gaze seemed to linger on me at the far end of the line. I may have been mistaken, though, because the distance between Kwanach and I was considerable.
Eventually, Kwanach said in a thick voice full of dignity. The echoes spread so far that the air seemed to vibrate.
“Tomorrow morning we will arrive at our destination. Before that, I will personally pour a cup of liquor for each of you to honor you for following me on this arduous journey.”
The people buzzed with excitement at Kwanach’s words. A cup poured directly by the emperor…. There was no greater honor than this.
I saw soldiers whooping and hollering. The faces of the people were excited.
We had a last-minute itinerary, so we had to run without rest. Even so, I’m sure that a word from Kwanach would have washed away the fatigue of the soldiers away.
But the cup would not be given to porters like me. While I was watching the banquet as if I were a spectator, Kwanach’s words fell in succession.
“Regardless of your status, I will give you all a drink.”
I stared at Kwanach in surprise.
Even in the Radon Empire, where discrimination based on status has been abolished, I didn’t expect this much freedom. To me, it seemed quite extraordinary.
Everyone was in an excited mood as we hitched our horses and prepared to camp out. We built a big fire in the middle to keep out the cold of the night.
Then, one by one, Kwanach really started pouring out the drinks. Rather than drinking to get drunk, it was a ritual of aspiration for the reign.
The people formed a circle around a large bonfire. They drank from a single small glass, one by one, in turn.
It was said to be one of the oldest traditions of the South to pray for good health. Only at this moment, all were one, regardless of rank and status.
Kwanach poured the drink only enough to have a small sip.
When the person receiving the drink finished his, he would then give it to the next one. The people standing there waited for their turn to come. I was the last in line.
Kwanach really cared a lot, even for those below him.
When people had the power, they could have forgotten their status and be cold to the people below them. But Kwanach didn’t do that.
I stared at Kwanach , who was slowly moving towards me. After a few days apart, he was now close enough that I could see his features.
I was kind of nervous. I didn’t want to look strange to other people. However, a porter being presented with the cup by the emperor would naturally be nervous and at a loss. I felt a little relieved, thinking that it might be rather strange to be unconcerned.
In front of me it was Marianne’s turn. Marianne took the drink and handed me the glass.
“Wait a minute. The cup is chipped.”
Kwanach looked at the cup that had been using so far and got a new one.
As a result, I received the drink from him in a new cup. I bowed down and received a cup and held it out toward Kwanach.
‘I don’t look good…….’
I was embarrassed to be standing in front of Kwanach with such a dirty appearance. I knew that Kwanach would not care much, but I just prayed that this time would pass quickly.
I could hear the sound of the drink filling the cup. However, when I received the cup, our hands touched briefly. Kwanach’s skin was as hot as fire. I tried not to flinch.
Our hands must have touched it accidentally, but all my nerves were focused on the area where it had touched Kwanach. My skin was hot and tingled.
I heard the sound of Kwanach stop pouring.
“I’m sorry, Your Majesty.”
I mumbled, trying to keep my voice low. I turned my head, closed my eyes and put the liquor in my mouth.
It was a small amount, not even filling the cup halfway. It was as if he had poured me less on purpose. I didn’t drink much alcohol, so he was worried about me, but it was only a little hot when it went down my throat, and it was fine.
When I swallowed the drink and opened my eyes again, Kwanach was gently staring at me.
His pitch black eyes were shaking. I had seen those deep dark eyes before.
It was the look he had before he kissed me.
I gasped and avoided Kwanach’s gaze, slumping down and looked at the cup. My face was hot, perhaps from the effects of alcohol.
I didn’t know what Kwanach’s gaze implied. My fever rose in embarrassment.
The person next to me took the cup I gave him, and Kwanach walked past me. I finally let out the breath I had been holding in.
After a few moments of contact with Kwanach, I was immediately struck by a strange feeling. Even when Oslin made it known that Kwanach was suffering, I just laughed it off.
But now, I felt the urge to hold his hard and thick hands that passed by me. The desire to dig into his solid arms that I had only seen from afar for a few days.
Those desires secretly swirled in my head.
‘I’m crazy ……’
I couldn’t believe I thought about this before catching Roman…
The tips of my ears burned hot.
If only Kwanach hadn’t looked at me like that…….. I tried to calm my racing heart as I inexplicably placed the blame on Kwanach.
The last night before we reached the border had ended in such a bizarre heat.