Predatory Marriage — Chapter 145. Palace (1)
Translator: Atlas / Editor: Regan
Once again, she fell asleep. Even though she didn’t want to, she couldn’t fight off her drowsiness.
In her dream, she was running away from something, running frantically through pitch darkness. After a long time, she found a door, and beyond the open door was a light. But when she tried to reach it, she fell. Her ankles were bound, and the door slammed shut just as she looked down to see the shackles on her ankles..
The light disappeared. Darkness filled the whole place as Leah banged desperately on the door until she was dragged by her chains into the deeper dark.
Leah woke with a short cry. But as soon as she saw golden eyes staring down at her, she felt comforted. She sighed. Ishakan pulled down the cloth that covered the bottom half of his face, stroking her hair with one hand.
“Did you have a nightmare?” He asked.
She gave a small nod and laid her face on his chest, realizing belatedly that she was on a horse in his arms. How many days had she slept this time? The landscape had changed completely. The desert was behind them, but before her was a green land, and beyond that, palm trees and grass and buildings like she had never seen before. Their architectural style had never been seen in Estia. And at the end of the row of white stone buildings stood the palace of the Kurkan.
It looked elegant and mysterious with its domed roof and four pointed spires, with arched doors and windows. Leah lowered her gaze. The path the horse galloped down was paved with fine stone patterns. Even in Estia there were few roads so well constructed. This sort of road would only be seen in the capitol, or in the castles of the wealthy.
The Kurkans’ purple silk came to her mind. Even then, Leah had realized that the Kurkans must have the best dyers on the continent.
Her assumption had been right. The mainlanders called the Kurkans barbarians, but that was not the reality. They had better craftsmanship than most developed countries. Ishakan chuckled at her as she looked so intently at her surroundings.
“I knew you’d like it.”
Embarrassed, Leah bit her lip and tried to calm her excitement. Everything was quiet, now that she thought about it. There was no one to be seen, just the two of them on Ishakan’s horse. She asked where the Kurkans who had been riding with them had gone.
“I sent them to the palace first, to avoid the noise,” Ishakan answered.
“Because I didn’t want them to wake you up.”
The streets were also silent and empty. But soon, as Leah watched, she realized that this was an artificial quiet. There were glowing eyes in the cracks of the windows, in the palm trees, in the dense undergrowth, the alleys, and all around her. The eyes watched curiously and instantly vanished as soon as she made eye contact. She could feel more eyes from Kurkans that she couldn’t see, looking curiously at her silver hair and white skin.
It was a bit embarrassing, but she was grateful for their welcome, though she wondered if there was a reason they kept hiding.
“Is it necessary to keep them from coming out?” She asked.
“You’ve already experienced it once. You need quiet so you can rest properly,” he said, and she closed her mouth, remembering what had happened at the oasis. “Maybe it’s because of the animal blood,” he continued. “But we are all very loyal to our instincts.”
Leah stared at him, puzzled.
“They’re intrigued about your nature,” he said. It was a very straightforward and embarrassing answer. “Of course, the choice of a mate is not determined solely by external factors…”
She understood what he meant and reddened all the way to her neck, making Ishakan laugh out loud.
The gates at the outer walls of the palace were open, and the palace was as silent and empty as the streets, and even more beautiful inside. Exotic plants bloomed in the garden and they stopped before an arched gate and dismounted. Ishakan entered the palace with Leah in his arms.
The great height of the ceiling was surprising, creating a feeling of spaciousness, and the luxurious decorations drew the eye from one object to the next. The most impressive feature was the tiled floor, made of gold, jewels, and marble. Square tiles connected perfectly like vines to create intricate curving patterns. Even the pillars and ceiling had symmetrical patterns that looked mesmerizing.
“I want to show you many things… but you must rest first.”
As Ishakan walked, Leah watched in fascination. Before she knew it, they had reached a room.