Chapter 33 - Bribery (2)
Chapter 33 – Bribery (2)
Watching the servants in silence, was a woman, whose hair made it look like her head was bigger than the rest. She carefully sidestepped the array of servants, before holding out an ashtray for her king, to which Ishakan effectively dropped the growing ash from his cigarette.
“Genin,” he acknowledged, “Where’s Haban?”
“He’s scoping out the conference hall.” She answered. “He told me he wanted to make up for last night’s little skirmish.” Her tone was haughty as she spoke bluntly to him. It might have sounded like she was defending Haban, but Ishakan knew better as he shook out more ash, and blew out another puff of smoke.
Last night, Princess Leah had witnessed a glimpse of a Kurkan’s true nature. He would have preferred if she did not—she didn’t need to see it.
Certainly, it would have been better if Haban had managed to get her away before the events occured, but Ishakan was thinking perhaps it was another factor that couldn’t be avoided in that circumstance.
“What can I do then?” he asked her, “I was born like this, I couldn’t hide it for the rest of my life.”
“I know, but-”
“And I’m not one who’s easily frightened either,” he continued, cutting her off, before letting out a fond smile, “Do you know how brave she was? Instead of being frightened and scared, she’s working hard, worrying about last night.”
Ishakan then let out a sigh, “I don’t know how to use her to our advantage in the negotiation.” He admitted as he discarded the cigarette, placing it on the ashtray as he put on his robes. “She was always like that, so devoid of fear.”
His unruly brown locks were then slicked back as they were combed over, clearing out any obstacle to reveal his sharp eyes and forehead. The collared garment was engraved with colorful embroidery embedded with gold threads. The servants thoroughly filled the small buttons one by one in a row and trimmed them neatly so that there were no wrinkles on the cloth.
“Once the negotiations begin, I think the most problematic part will be the princess since she is the core of the royal family.” He fretted.
“But the negotiation is just an excuse, right?”
Ishakan held the leaf tobacco in his hands again once more, hovering it close to his mouth. She’s one of the many reasons why he came to Estia. But it seems that Leah is becoming more and more the priority than anything else. Ishakan sighed and puffed up smoke, lost in his thoughts.
“But it keeps on bothering me.” He finished softly.
Genin didn’t know whom Ishakan was referring to, but she could fully understand. Genin blinked as she asked a question.
“Aren’t you here to repay her kindness? Do you have an interest in her?” She finally asked, and instead of receiving a reply, Ishakan only offered her a smirk, which gave Genin a clear picture on what he was planning.
“You’re making her your bride.” She stated, and Ishakan let out a bark of laughter.
The idea itself was absurd.
“You think too much as a Kurkan. You must keep in mind, she’s an Estian.”
“Why should that matter?”
Ishakan lets out a sigh. “Just don’t look at it from a Kurkan’s perspective.”
At the statement, Genin’s brows furrowed in thought, and soon fell silent, before finding her voice once more.
“It’ll be a difficult path.” She told him in reply.
Indeed, it was a hard thing for Genin to understand. After all, she got married to her husband when they held her captive, which was the Kurkan way. And for the Kurkans, it didn’t matter that Leah was already betrothed to Byun Gyongbaek.
Ishakan took his time to formulate a reply as he chose what accessories he would be wearing for the day, particularly the only around his neck.
“One step at a time,” he told her, “And let’s begin with today’s banquet.” Genin nodded in acceptance before looking over the jewelries as well.
“The one on the right looks like it would suit you better.” She supplied helpfully, and Ishakan nodded.
He picked up the necklace, the one with a fiery red ruby as its centerpiece. The door then burst open, as a Kurkan servant came in and stopped shortly behind them.
“Your Majesty, he’s arrived.” The servant told them and Ishakan straightened up.
The person they’ve been waiting for finally arrived. Ishakan received the hand mirror another servant handed over to him and checked his nape.
“Let him in.” He ordered, and the servant quickly obeyed, leaving the room once more. The next time the door opened, a middle-aged man entered.
His attire was fit for the banquet. Despite it being modelled largely after the latest Estian style, he would undoubtedly stand out in the crowd, even those of Kurkans.
He had a confident aura around him as he stood up straight and tall. But despite his bravado, he couldn’t hide the cold sweat that was beginning to form on his temples. HIs eyes raked over the room, before stopping at Ishakan, meeting his golden eyes. He gulped down briefly and stood still.
“I believe this is our first meeting.” Ishakan started and the man gave a terse nod.
“Yes, it’s a pleasure to finally meet the King of Kurkans.” The man responded. Ishakan beamed at him despite the late greeting.
“Please, don’t be nervous,” He said, “I don’t bite.”
The man only let out a light laugh before silence reigned once more. He didn’t know how else to respond to the slight tease.
“Indeed, Kurkans don’t eat humans.” Genin added with a genuine smile, and though it was meant to put the man at ease, he was still not. Genin moved back as Ishakan came forward to finally shake the man’s hand, before gesturing to the nearby chair.
“Please sit,” Ishakan offers, “We have much to discuss.” He added, but the man did not move, and was still resolutely standing.
“I won’t say anything that would bring harm to Estia.” He already clarified as Ishakan observed him.
This one’s not so easily fooled, I see.?Ishakan thought.?Is this why Leah keeps him around? She’s got a good sense of people, I’ll admit.?He mused to himself before letting out a light chuckle.
“And you won’t need to,” he reassured. “But that’s not why you’re here.” He signalled his servants, and one of them moves to bring out a box that was placed by the corner, before bringing it closer to the two men, presenting it between them.
The man did not want anything to do with what the box contained, but when the servant opened it up, his eyes widened as he saw what was inside. Seeing his reaction, Ishakan moved to his side, whispering right next to his ear…
“All I want,” he began to utter, “Is to get close to you,” Ishakan pulled away as the man looked at him warily, “Count Valtein.”
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