Empire of the Ring

Chapter 780 - : Fatima’s Role (4)
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Chapter 780: Fatima’s Role (4)

The flea market in Beyoglu, Istanbul was still crowded as before.

Especially when the Kazakh Queen was said to visit it, citizens and tourists gathered into the point that there was no room left to step in.

The mere fact that she was born and raised in Istanbul stimulated the people’s curiosity to a great deal, and when it was known that she used to sell things in the flea market, it became a world-class tourist spot.

All merchants at the market were promoting their commercial goods with a sign that said it was where the Kazakh Queen used to have a stall.

The citizens were proud that Turkey was a hometown of the Kazakh Queen and a brotherly country to Kazakhstan.

The story that the last Archduchess of the Serbian Kingdom used to live in the slums of Istanbul was like a fairytale, and Fatima and Youngho’s love story became famous and popular and even plays about it were regularly held.

Fatima in those plays often became various main characters like the ugly duckling, the match girl, and even the girl in Daddy Long Legs.

She became a symbol for the Turks, who survived through all sorts of sufferings in life.

Of course, Youngho became a male protagonist along with her.

Istanbul was crowded by young people who dreamed of such fairytale love, and the flea market became a romantic place where countless Fatimas appeared and disappeared.

The Turkish government and the bodyguard team were troubled over the Queen’s security when she decided to visit the crowded market, but they could not stop her will to visit it where her past was still alive.

“Hohoho...”

“Why are you so happy?”

“Oh, isn’t it just funny? If I were the match girl, that means I’m already dead.”

Fatima seemed to be very excited and pleased to hear that the people of Istanbul had made her a fairytale character.

“You know the ugly duckling didn’t die. Also, in a Disney movie, the match girl returned.”

Fatima who had a reminiscing look on her face repeatedly looked around the flea market.

With her innocent look, she seemed to have gone back to the girl of the slums.

“Darling, do you still remember? I think that’s the spot.”

No matter how hard he tried, Youngho could not tell the difference between spots, but Fatima surprisingly found the spot where she used to be.

Feeling a surge of emotions, she did not leave the stall nearby for a long while.

There were many coffee shops nearby as if to show off Fatima’s popularity.

‘Has there been this many coffee shops before?’

Youngho really could not tell if this was it.

It was too long ago, and he was hung over the day he met Fatima for the first time, so he did not remember much about it.

When the Queen stopped her way and looked at a particular place, the clicking sounds of journalists’ camera shutters were heard here and there.

It seemed the place would be in chaos due to the merchants who would try to preoccupy this spot.

“I heard this place has become popular because of you, and all I see is new coffee shops.”

“You know at least I’ve done something for Istanbul.”

Although Istanbul was a place of frequent terrorist bombing attacks, it was continuously crowded by tourists, and one of the reasons was Fatima’s influence.

“Then should we help President Erdogan? His approval rate has gone down these days and he’s troubled. If you say a word about him, he will get back up in no time.”

When asked for military aid at the second meeting with Erdogan, he was concerned about his relationship with the military and his approval rating.

So, Youngho decided to stay in Istanbul longer, delaying his return schedule.

The longer Fatima stayed in Istanbul, the higher Erdogan’s approval rating was bound to rise.

The people were also actively supporting the government’s move, as it signed significant economic cooperation with Kazakhstan and agreed to cooperate on the Uyghur issue.

Since the arrival of the King and Queen of Kazakhstan in Istanbul, the tone of the media had also changed.

“We promised that much economic cooperation. Wouldn’t his approval rating rise naturally? I don’t want to support him since he’s no different than a dictator. Don’t you know that he ignored poor people during his service as a mayor of Istanbul and the prime minister? Our siblings almost died because of that although it’s because that I was able to meet you.”

“...”

It was because of the indifference of the Erdogan government that Fatima did not receive any support when he lived in the Istanbul slums.

If her family had received some medical benefits, she and her siblings would not have lost their parents, and if their parents were alive, the siblings would not have been in poverty.

Fatima still shuddered when she thought about those times. If it were not for her neighbors’ help, she would have been long gone.

Even when Zeynep was making a fuss to build welfare facilities in the slums, she tried not to pay her attention, because she still had a grudge and disappointment against the Turkish government.

Although Erdogan’s government was said to be empowering Uyghur’s independence, Fatima’s personal feelings did not want such help.

She was well aware that he was not really helping Kazakhstan but was trying to consolidate his political position.

“I want to do you a favor, but there must be people who are living as if they are dead just like our siblings did somewhere in Istanbul. I am reluctant to step up to help the Erdogan government that is ignoring such people.”

Youngho could not say another word.

He felt sorry that he was using her for his greed.

He had forgotten how painful Fatima’s past must have been for her.

“I think I’ve been forcing my thoughts on you when you don’t have many good memories of Istanbul. I’m sorry to keep reminding you of your painful memories.”

“No, I’ll do what I have to do as a queen. I’m done with my personal feelings.”

“No. Just coming to the flea market today would have been a great help to Erdogan. Let’s go home now. The interests of the royal family and the state are important, but you are more important to me.”

One could take his livestock to the waterfront, but could not force them to drink.

The same logic was applied to people. Once could not force another to do something against his will since it would only hurt their relationship.

***

Youngho’s heart continued to feel heavy pondering upon what he talked about with Fatima even when he returned to Kazakhstan.

He was regretful to think for whom he was doing all this.

Feeling that he had been forcing his goals and thoughts for everyone around him, he blamed himself.

Eriksson, who had been watching him, bluntly asked.

“Your Highness, do you have concerns?”

“I just have a lot to think about.”

“Your Grace, I could be presumptuous, but can I say something?”

Eriksson was not about to let it go.

“Oh, it’s nothing.”

“You know, most of the conclusions you come up with alone are not carried out well. You seem to have a lot of concerns. I’ve been serving you for years now, and I feel like I can read your mind just by looking at your eyes. I don’t know if I can be a good conversational partner to you, but would you mind telling me what’s in your heart?”

Youngho could not refuse it since Eriksson was being so earnest, so he came clean about what he had felt from his talk with Fatima.

“For whom are you doing this? Why do you ask such a bad question? Your Highness has been living for the people until now. You’ve taken righteous ways but you didn’t reject adopting expedients occasionally as well. Such expedients are no flaws because you thought of the bigger cause first. There would be no one who could blame you for that. I also agreed to most of your decisions. Would you have chosen this difficult path if you wanted to be well-off alone? You’ve carried a huge burden, and that’s not what you wanted for yourself. It was forcibly given to you and you only wanted to share that burden with the people around you. Why do you think you’ve forced that? It was for everyone’s good.”

When Eriksson saw the Duke being carried away by his emotions, he stepped up to help as he knew it was not right.

In life, there were many times when people would have doubts about themselves.

However, depending on how they dealt with such feelings, life would take different turns.

Life was built up by feeling all sorts of emotions such as shame and joy, but in Eriksson’s eyes, Youngho seemed to be caught up in minor emotions.

That was why he decided to encourage him.

“Lord Eriksson, how can you wrap my life so nicely? You need to tell me the know-how.”

“Your Highness, I’ve only told you objective facts. I have neither added nor subtracted any more, so please forget all the feelings you are having these days. You have a lot of work to do right now, but doesn’t the fact that you are having such leisurely thoughts mean you have a room in your heart? If there’s one thing I can learn from you, it’s this.”

It was a worn-out praise, but Youngho felt better.

‘Have I been thirsty for praises?’

“After hearing your words, I seem to have forgotten for a moment that I am the Duke of Kazakhstan. I’ve already decided to walk this path, but I was having a second thought because I was obsessed with trivial feelings. It’s an irreversible situation, and I have to see the end in some way anyway.”

Eriksson smiled all over as Youngho seemed to have gotten out of mixed feelings.

It was because he confirmed that the two finally had the same idea.

This was why it was important for someone to confirm that what one was doing was never wrong. It was also about restoring confidence.

***

Uyghur’s independence was a matter of immediate concern to Kazakhstan’s well-being.

It was because it was a matter of having a buffer zone against China.

To achieve it, Kazakhstan had to crack down on its own territory first.

If it tried to attack China, ignoring borderlines with holes everywhere, it might soon face a counterattack.

After settling down his emotions, Youngho began to strengthen the internal stability.

Although the Kazakhstan border troops were not sloppy or poorly trained, he ordered them to check the soldiers and re-train them to eliminate their weaknesses one by one.

It was designed to look like usual heightened alertness from China’s view.

In this way, the border area was reinforced watertight.

While clamping down on military personnel, he also carefully took care of pending economic issues.

Kazakhstan’s economy was concerning due to the tensions with China.

Kazakhstan was now just at the entrance of a developed country.

Kazakhstan’s economic constitution was weak enough for the economy to falter with just a small external factor.

When he was busy with this matter, the news that he had been waiting for was delivered.

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