Predatory Marriage - Chapter 68
Chapter 68 – Breaker of Chains (2)
Haban tightly gripped his two fists as he heard Ishakan’s inference. Ishakan tacitly pacified Haban whose self-esteem was hurt.
“It’s not your fault, Haban. It’s only because even the Tomaris might be interfering too.”
It was difficult because the gypsies were also after the slave dealers. Nevertheless, Haban did his best.
“This situation is far greater than merely your inability. Rather, it’s because someone else is acting fast. They’re moving quickly so as to avoid us catching up.” Ishakan appeared to be thinking deeply.
“I don’t know what kind of slave dealers they are. How about solving these guys first?” Haban took out a leaf cigarette and put it in his lips.
After puffing the smoke, he talked. “How could we find them?”
“We move faster.”
Haban’s eyes widened in shock. He faced Genin with a confounded face and carefully asked again.
“…Are you okay? We are doing our fastest while keeping our moves discreet.”
“There’s no choice. We have to be inside the auction house, and find them there. We have to be early, at least an hour before them.”
Ishakan laughed. As he smoked through the darkness, he could see how much blood would spill on their attack, how much blood would paint his hands. Genin, who knew their king’s ferocity in fighting, specially against the people who enslaved their kind, looked at him with her brows raised.
In response, Ishakan said in a tone which made the air more chilly.
“What? You know that I’m good at self-control, right?”
It was the first Cabinet Council meeting since the Kurkan’s Welcome Banquet. Only Leah was present on behalf of the royal family at the meeting. The king had said that he was tired, and the Crown Prince did not attend because he was preoccupied with a hunt. This was a frequent occurrence though, so everyone was accustomed to his absence.
The atmosphere of the Cabinet Council meeting was tense. It was as if a knife had sliced the air. Finance Minister Laurent breathed in deeply, and cleared his throat. The tension on his face was clear as day.
“We must make a reform on the current tax system.”
The moment that he spoke the opening sentence, the whole committee erupted into chaos. Leah glanced around the conference hall, her stoic blank expression concealed her thoughts. The majority of the council members present, heavily objected to the idea. Stating it was complete nonsense and a reform was useless to the Estian economy, they unilaterally opposed.
“Whether the bill will be passed or not, it will be decided after the peace treaty. Today, the explanation for the reform…”
As the Finance Minister continued, the mood that settled over the conference grew darker. Everyone deep in their own thoughts, racking their brain on how to deal with the peace treaty. It was a delicate relationship that could be broken unfavourably at any moment, towards Estia.
Leah scornfully laughed deep inside. She knew that this meeting was a deliberate act to give them more time. Until the reform plans were approved, after the negotiations took place, the opposition party needed to gather their strength.
Leah was determined – she had to put an end to this. That way, peace could be maintained for a long time even without her being present in Estia. It would be her last duty towards her country. After the motion for the reform ended, Leah opened her mouth. Her voice spoke loudly and clearly in the midst of the tumultuous discussion in the meeting hall.
“There is one thing I need to inform all of you.”
The aristocrats stopped talking all at once and turned to face Leah.
“We are going to step up our surveillance of the slave traders and launch a major crackdown. This is also to successfully achieve a peace treaty with the Kurkans.”
In normal circumstances, the aristocrats would grumble about why they had to care about the slave dealers for the Kurkans. However, today, an atmosphere full of sympathy arose. Some even suggested finding the Kurkan slaves and releasing them themselves.
The reality was that everyone had received a bribe. Leah carefully identified the aristocrats who had been hostile to the Kurkans in the past but had suddenly changed their stance. It seemed like she had to focus on them.
After the cabinet meeting ended, the aristocrats gathered and talked, furthering an elaboration of the discussions that had taken place prior. Leah also had a conversation with the Finance Minister Laurent and Count Valtein.
“Thank you for your hard work.”
“It’s alright, princess…”
She comforted the rather haggard finance minister. Laurent stroked his chest as he said. “My mission will not end here. Are you going to the slave traders tonight?”
Leah nodded, answered back a ‘yes’, but Count Valtein drew a disgusted face as he secretly whispered.
“Byun Gyongbaek is coming. He is coming.”
Indeed, Byun Gyongbaek of Oberde was walking forward on crutches. He diligently approached Leah whilst limping. They were currently in a place where other aristocrats were gathered, so he probably came here on purpose to show others that his relationship with Leah was fine.
The Finance Minister and Count Valtein stepped back with a disgruntled expression, allowing Byun Gyongbaek of Oberde to approach them. He looked up, a nasty grin on his face and casually greeted the three.
“It has been silent for a while.”
He was indeed a shameless guy. She wondered how someone could be so impudent. Leah silently looked at him. However, Byun did not feel bothered by Leah’s defiance. He continued his idle talk, taking up their time.
“Securely lock your bedroom tonight and fasten the latch of the window. It would be better if you put a pane on it. Place lamps around your area in the Royal Palace, and command your maids not to sleep…”
She was amazed at the way he was babbling. Leah could not stand it anymore and cut him off.
“Byun Gyongbaek of Oberde. What do you want to say to me?”
Byun was enraged. The implication behind Leah’s words echoed to him: “Go away.”
“Is this not the fault of the barbarians in the Royal Palace? You are all fooled because of their gorgeous shells!”
He then swiveled around and raised his voice. “Aren’t the aristocrats too, busy praising and following the barbarians?”
The statement was meant to catch the attention of the aristocrats present in the conference hall.
“The peace treaty—don’t so foolishly proceed with such a ridiculous thing. Princess, you are naive. You are unaware of how superficial a treaty is, merely pen on paper. It is insignificant and will not be of value.”
When Leah only stared quietly at him void of the reaction he wanted to incite from her, Byun Gyongbaek’s forehead creased.
“Anyway, I will send my knights over to the Royal Palace. I shall order them to safeguard you through the night, so please accept one guard today.”
Then without bidding his goodbye, he turned and left, rudely leaving behind his advice.