Chapter 98: Predatory Marriage
“…Where are all the others?” Rihannan whispered audibly.
It was only her. Igor too. Witnesses from both kingdoms should have surrounded the bed with white curtains drawn by now. But it was empty.
“Most likely enjoying the wedding reception banquet.”
“…What do you mean?”
He poured a glass-half-full of liquor and passed it to his wife. She took it half-heartedly. He poured another glass for himself.
“It’s a wedding and it’s only natural a reception is held to celebrate the bride and groom. They’re most likely dancing, drinking, playing, and fooling around. They won’t be home until after dawn.”
True. A reception was as natural as the passing of time. Even now, she heard the rambunctious echoes of excitement and melodies playing from here. But this was not the answer she sought for.
“They won’t be coming? The people who would bear witness to our…”
Igor looked into the eyes of the girl he loved… like the blue of the sea cradled by the moonlit night. He loved the rain, the ocean, the river… it reminded him of her eyes; eyes the color of blue. But she hated purple… those purple eyes of his… the eyes that she feared.
“Rihannan, the custom of witnesses watching on the sidelines to ensure the first night’s ceremony occurs no longer exists. I got rid of it.”
She blinked and looked at him.
This was a first and the first she learned that an ancient tradition in Arundell could be easily abolished.
“Do you know why there exists a custom of nobles bearing witness to the royal’s first night of marriage?” as he asked, he tilted the glass and took a sip.
Rihannan followed suit.
“No. I don’t know anything about its origin,” she said.
“Long ago, relatives from both the groom and bride stood as witnesses to prove that their marriage was no predatory marriage.”
“I heard about that in ancient times…”
“Yes. That’s right. Before they were influenced by the ancient empire, this kingdom was once a lawless world.”
She learned as of recent from Mrs. Cessley that the ancient times had a sort of logic where only the strong and powerful prevailed. Abductions to obtain brides often occurred, causing various problems to arise – one being the difficulty of determining the legal status of a child depending on the legality of the marriage.
“In those days, when Arundell was no kingdom but consisted of tribal chiefs, bride abduction was a common thing, and when those tribal chiefs became king, the tradition continued, causing much confusion to the legality of marriage. If the marriage was illegitimate, the king and its heir would be disqualified to sit on the throne.”
“…I see,” Rihannan nodded in understanding.
Rihannan listened to his explanation while sipping on her wine little by little till it was almost empty.
Igor poured a bit more wine into her glass.
“When the throne became a hereditary succession, the legality of marriage became an important factor. If not played well, it may end up in the hands of others. In other countries where royal authority was firm, there was no need to worry over whom the king married. His words were law. But on the other hand, here in Arundell, the aristocracy had a strong grip on power and it is why the custom of witnesses remains to this day.”
“Then what got rid of it..?”
“Proof of my own strength,” he raised his lips and smiled softly.
Rihannan laughed. He looked like that young boy she once knew.
“You did a great job.”
“Heh. The man you married is capable of this much.”
“I already know of your outstanding ability. That I’m here right now is living proof.”
A man who could pressure Chrichton and take the princess as hostage and as his wife was no ordinary man. Igor had done what he could never dream of in the past.
Rihannan finished her wine. She felt tipsy and brave.
“And with or without witnesses, everyone is aware of the story of how I became your wife. In a way, it’s no different from a predatory marriage. You drove your ship to Crichton all high and mighty and threatened the royal and nobility to give up their princess. It’s obviously not normal.”