Predatory Marriage - Chapter 328
“Insolence!” The Knight Commander shouted, loud and aggressive to cover up his own flicker of fear. Lifting his sword, he charged at Ishakan.
He gave another loud shout as he swung it, but it was already too late. Blood splashed onto the ground, and as Ishakan lowered his own sword, two things thumped onto the ground. The first was a broken sword, and the second…
It was the right arm of the Knight Commander, who toppled off his horse, screaming as his blood poured onto the ground.
Ishakan watched emotionlessly as the man wormed across the ground, and Haban nudged her horse over to hand him a cigar. Ishakan smoked half of it before he tossed the remaining stub in the maimed man’s direction.
“Command me, my King.”
“Cut out his tongue and stuff it down his throat.”
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Immediately, Genin unsheathed her sword. The Knight Commander cringed back, trying to squirm away, and Ishakan laughed to see all his bravado evaporate.
“One must take responsibility for one’s words.”
They had broken the last line of defense. All that remained was to march on the royal palace of Herben. The Kurkans who had made camp near the capital were preparing for the final battle.
“I hear many have already fled.”
“We will probably return home in a couple weeks.”
Haban stared at Ishakan. Ishakan held a single rose in his hand, with a further pile of them beside him, which had already had all their thorns removed. Each time his small dagger flashed, more thorns disappeared.
Ishakan had frequently entertained himself this way whenever they were in camp.
“Are you planning to give those to the Queen?” Haban couldn’t help asking curiously. “It will still be a while before we return to Estia. Those roses will have wilted by then.”
“I’m just practicing for when we return.” Ishakan smiled, examining the stem for any remaining thorns. “I will only give her the most beautiful roses.”
He could have ordered his subordinates to remove the thorns, but Ishakan wanted to do it personally. He was wealthy enough that he could buy her anything, but there was no money in the world that could compel him to attend to such details for anyone but her.
Distracted by the sight of his King trimming flowers, Haban went on with his report.
“It is said that the kingdom of Balkat will be sending emissaries to Estia, escorting their freed Kurkan slaves. Their King will come to negotiate peace. His Queen will accompany him.”
Ishakan smiled again. It made him remember his negotiations with Leah, back when he had come as the King of Kurkan to negotiate peace with Estia.
“It may just be gossip…” Haban added, frowning slightly. “But it’s likely that the Kingdom of Balkat is playing a deeper game.”
The former King of Balkat had died young, of an illness. As he was childless, his younger brother had inherited the throne, and accepted his brother’s wife as his Queen, according to the customs of that kingdom.
By all accounts, it was a loveless marriage. Yet despite the rumors of their estrangement, now they suddenly wanted to come to Estia as a couple.
“They are both said to seek many partners,” Haban added. “I am afraid they might be trying to make some mischief.”
Ishakan lowered the rose in his hand.
“Well…Estia and Kurkan are only united by marriage.”
“It seems that Balkat means to try to break up the alliance…”
Haban hesitated, and then said what he did not want to say.
“There is some speculation that they will try to seduce you, or your Queen.”