Chapter 69 – Inside an Auction House (1)
“What is this…”
Count Valtein, who had previously stepped back allowing Byun Gyongbaek to say his word, approached Leah and spoke.
“Did he also knock his head like how he broke his legs?” Valtein mused at the incredulous behavior he had just witnessed.
“I think so. He’s even thinking of sending his knights to the royal palace! No matter how much you ignore the royal family, this is too much.”
Following that, Count Valtein explained that for such matters, there existed the most basic universal laws and orders. All of which Byun had just broken. He had poked his nose into the affairs of the royals, where he was not wanted and not needed. Beside him, Finance Minister Laurent also steamed with anger at the blatant disrespect and intrusiveness.
However, unlike the two who were furious and cursing under their breaths, Leah passively frowned. She did not utter a single sound and only contemplated quietly.
This was not the first time that Byun Gyongbaek had committed such an impertinent act—not even the second! The fact that he had continued to do this repulsed her. He was completely despicable and arrogant, assuming that his courting of Leah would be successful.
Even if they have not yet wed, he was acting like Leah was his trophy possession. She sighed in hopelessness. This was her fate, and for her country, she had to put up with it.
However, Byun had been treating the Kurkans poorly. No, that was an understatement. He utterly loathed them, refusing to call them anything but “barbarians” and cursed their kind to the grave.
Yet, despite this all, Byun Gyongbaek knew the Kurkans better than anyone else. So, his string of swear words directed at them were not said without meaning. There had to be an incident that had caused even the bold and shameless Byun to be so horrified and disgusted.
However, the Kurkans who had been captured as slaves had never shown any remarkable unusual behavior. Perhaps, there was something different about a Kurkan who was not a slave?
Hence, it would have been nice if the Byun would tell her of his knowledge about the fascinating race, but he had already left the conference room.
“First of all, let Byun Gyongbaek of Oberde do what he wants.” She ordered resignedly.
Since the negotiation for the treaty would soon be finished, Byun should be wracking his nerves right now. Because of this, it was better if they let him have his way and not cause extra troubles. It was also one of the ways to reassure him that he could still make the royal family his puppet.
Besides that, the royal family were powerless to stop him if he still stubbornly insisted. Instead of being pushed around, it was better appear like they had complied with him.
Even when she had come back to the Princess quarter’s, the words of Byun Gyongbaek that seemed to forewarn them of an impending disaster continued to appear in her head. She could not forget them, and throughout her whole afternoon schedule, she chewed on his words.
After her simple dinner, all of her maids except Countess Melissa, who was currently resting, gathered before her. Leah had intended to go out with the countess during the nighttime, thus had to prepare.
As per usual, Countess Melissa combed her hair today. The delicate thin strands were crossed over each other in a braid. The braids were then pinned up, and she artfully concealed her woven silver hair with a brown wig.
Leah checked herself in the mirror and suddenly the memory of the time she had snuck out of the royal palace popped up in her head. Then, she had also worn a wig and discreetly left the walls that confined her. That was the beginning of when her life had been thrown in mayhem. It was the first time she met Ishakan.
Leah was brought back to her senses as Countess Melissa called out to her. Her violet eyes glazed over the mirror. A gloomy, despondent face stared back at her. Her unmoving and emotionless stature worried Countess Melissa, who was concerned that the princess felt ill.
Every time Leah had snuck out of the palace, Countess Melissa had always been anxious. She could not stop the odd feeling of what if something grave would happen to the princess outside the palace walls. It was as if she were a mother, watching her child venture for the first time, leaving behind the safety of the nest.
“Do you really need to be involved in this?” Countess Melissa voiced out her concern and care for Leah.
“As you know… The count cannot solve this alone.” Leah replied, shaking her head softly.
Rather than refuting, Countess Melissa only patted off the dust from the robe that Leah would be wearing. Leah smiled gently as she saw the Countess’ cute disgruntled face.
“I’ll leave it up to you, Countess.” Leah smiled.
“Of course. Don’t worry, princess. Please return safely.” Countess Melissa nodded assuringly, her eyes telling Leah that she could be trusted.
After bidding her goodbye, and having Melissa send her off, Leah entered a hidden passage that was disguised behind the wardrobe of her room.
The wind whipped icicles of cold air towards her when she finally came out of the dark, secret passage. The lantern that she had held dimly lit up the few steps in front of her before she had reached the door to the outside of the palace.
Leah glanced up at the sky. Unlike yesterday, which had been cloudy, the sky tonight was clear. A wash of black and diamonds glinted from afar, and the moon in particular, was exceptionally large today. The round white moon floated seamlessly in the sky, as if it were a commander, superior to all the stars and emitting a soft and comforting light.
On a normal occasion, seeing this sight, Leah would think it was just beautiful. However, maybe it was due to the words that Byun Gyongbaek had said earlier in the Cabinet Council Meeting, she felt that the silver light rays shone by the moon were ominous and gloomy. The mist of the light enveloped her as she continued to observe the crevices of the full moon for a long time.
Finally, she forced her feet to move. She could not stay here forever, as Leah had a task to complete.
A black wagon devoid of a family’s insignia was waiting for her not far from the entrance she had come out of. When she tapped the window of the wagon, the thick and heavy curtain that secluded the inside of the wagon from view was raised. After confirming that it was indeed Leah, from inside, Count Valtein opened the door.
“You’ve arrived. We shall now be heading off.”
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