Chapter 18 – Ishakan
Proud and huge, the Kurkan’s boats and ships touched the soil of Estia. From the distance, she could tell that they came with gifts.
As Leah watched the glistening white diamonds, which loosely hang on the wooden ships, her vision became hazy. She suddenly remembered the scarce amount of food she had eaten that day—only a handful of wild berries and a cup of tea.
To her utter annoyance, she had been commanded to control her diet more than usual to achieve an even thinner waist. Her maids felt sorry for feeding her such meager meals, but they had to obey orders from above.
Queen Cerdina herself supervised the princess’ meals. Should she find out that Leah consumed even a mere crumb more than what she’d set for her, both her and kitchen maids would suffer such horrendous consequences.
To Cerdina, Leah was a mere tool, not a human. In order to please the numerous nobles and the visiting Kurkans, Leah was required to be outstandingly beautiful, especially today.
The discomfort was almost unbearable, Leah grimaced as she supported her weight by holding on to the banister. She felt dizzy from the pain her tight corset squeezing her empty stomach caused. The fabric digging to her skin, she knew it would leave marks by the time the banquet ends.
Her eyebrows furrowed as her vision swayed. Afraid of messing up her perfectly rouged face, she forced herself to straighten her expression.
On the corner, Countess Melissa watched the princess with pitiful eyes. The suffering this child had gone through…
Among the palace’s subordinates, she had been with Leah the longest. Seeing Leah’s thin frame shake, she immediately realized what was happening. Approaching her hastily, Countess Melissa quickly supported the princess’ collapsing weight.
Leah could barely manage to stand. However, unaware of their mistress’ struggle, the other maids continued to admire Leah’s beauty.
“Princess!” One maid squealed, “Look at how beautiful you are.”
“You’re the only one who can pull off this dress so magnificently.”
“What if the Kurkans fall in love with you?”
Baroness Sinael was the one who spoke last, and upon hearing her comment, Countess Melissa lightly reprimanded her, giving her her most venomous glare.
After a few adjustments here and there, the princess was finally ready at last. Sporting a straight face, she headed off to the royal palace with several maids in tow.
The main hall was the most splendid part of Estia’s royal palace. The ceiling was painted with frescoes pertaining to Estia’s rich history, the marble columns were inscribed with different kinds of detailed carvings, and the throne was made of gold, ivory and precious gems.
Several esteemed guests had gathered there, but as soon as she entered, Leah became the center of their attention. She walked faster, making her way to a discreet corner, trying not to bump into any other royal who’d arrived before her.
Blain smiled crookedly as he spotted Leah walking around the room. He’d been so busy preparing the countermeasure plans for the Kurkans that they hadn’t been able to see her after returning from hunting. He made a mental note to talk to her after the meeting was over.
Feeling his eyes on her, Leah averted her eyes and, instead, went up to her father and greeted him. Then, she greeted Cerdina, and after acknowledging Blain’s presence with a nod, took the seat designated for her.
Shortly after, the powerful sound of the trumpet rang out; the bustling hall went silent.
Everyone held their breath—their eyes glued at the magnificent doors of the hall. No one dared to blink, for this was a history unraveling before their very eyes.
The gigantic doors opened, letting sunlight pour into the hall. Slowly, the Kurkans’ figures became clear—their tanned skin and vivid eyes mesmerizing everyone in the hall.
People exclaimed with wonder at the Kurkans’ beauty. Unlike Estia’s formal clothes that were tailored to fit perfectly around the body, the Kurkan clothes were sewn with generous amounts of natural fabric that hung loosely around their bodies.
But despite the beautiful appearance of every Kurkan, everyone could distinguish who their leader was just by his appearance.
The man’s tanned skin glowed under the sunlight, his body well-endowed the muscles as strong and huge as a beast’s. He sauntered in, leisurely placing one foot in front of the other, walking without a care in the world.
His golden eyes carefully scanned the hall, stopping right at the princess, who stared at him with a dumbstruck expression.
This can’t be happening…
Leah’s breath hitched, and her heart raced… What’s more, she could see the hint of a smile lingering on his lips as his deep, sharp gaze scoured all over her body.
The man stepped forward, keeping his eyes locked on Leah. He stopped in front of the royal family, and a familiar low voice echoed throughout the hall.
“May the light bless Estia,” the king said with a meaningful smile, “I am the king of Kurkans, Ishakan.”
Leah clenched the skirt of her gaudy dress, wanting to rip it off.
It was him!