Predatory Marriage — Chapter 92. Fiancée of Byun Gyeongbaek of Oberde (1)
Translator: Atlas / Editor: Regan
The easiest way to handle Byun Gyeongbaek was to capitalize on his weaknesses. Leah knew that if she kept manipulating his sensitive ego, then he would inevitably make stupid and careless decisions.
Initially, she hadn’t planned to do this, but the Kurkans’ action at the auction house had put Byun Geongbaek at a disadvantage. Watching freed Kurkans boldly walking the streets of the capitol had added insult to injury, and might well provoke the impatient man into action. There were already rumors that he would begin military maneuvers. Leah had no choice but to intervene.
In the past, she had always treated Byun Gyeongbaek with cold indifference. The fact that she had approached to initiate conversation must have bewildered him, and he remained aloof and distracted, watching her warily. It made Leah’s task even easier.
With her business concluded, she dismissed him and beckoned to Countess Melissa, who had been nervously watching from a distance.
“I believe things will unfold as you have wished,” Leah told her.
The Countess sighed, her hand fluttering over her chest. “Princess! Why do you have to keep doing such dangerous things?” she asked. She was concerned, but her eyes sparkled. “Byun Gyeongbaek must be going crazy,” she laughed. “How dare he challenge the Princess?”
But her laughter faded as she considered her own words.
“I am worried,” she added anxiously. “You spoke bravely to him, but we don’t know the limits of his ambition, or what he might do to achieve it…”
“It’s okay,” Leah assured her. “He can’t have it all.”
He had taken the bait she had dangled in front of him. By the time he discovered the truth, it would be too late, and Leah’s plans would be too far advanced to stop. The knowledge was a load off her shoulders.
“Would you like to take a walk, Countess?” she asked.
The Countess smiled, reassured. “It would be my pleasure, Princess.”
Together, they headed for the garden, and Leah deliberately chose less frequented paths so they could stroll without being overheard.
“I want to tell you something,” she began, and the Countess’s eyes widened. Leah laughed. “Don’t worry, everything will be fine.”
The Countess’s eyes drifted to Leah’s neck, concealed by the high neck of the gown she wore. No doubt she was remembering what she had seen that morning. Fortunately, they had been alone, and she had seen the bruise on Leah’s delicate skin, with many other frightening marks on her pale neck.
She hadn’t pried, choosing instead to attend her princess in silence. And when she dressed her, it was in a modest high-necked dress, covering her all the way to her throat.
“Princess,” she finally said.
“You know that whatever you ask of me, I will do without hesitation…” She trailed off anxiously, clearly worried about Leah’s honor and what it might mean for her safety. The Countess knew what would happen to an impure bride.
No doubt she had also heard from Count Valtein, who had seen Leah and Ishakan together at the auction and warned the Countess. Countess Melissa was not always good at verbalizing her thoughts, but now she spoke without hesitation.
“I have heard… I have heard that there are Gypsies who sell potions that can deceive others. It is said that if you consume one, the world around you will change and become difficult to discern. The person’s vision will become hazy and dreamlike. If you need one…I will buy it for you before you leave.”
Leah understood what she was offering. If Leah had lost her v!rginity to Ishakan, then Leah could make Byun Gyeongbaek drink a potion during their first night together, and deceive him by sprinkling a few drops of animal blood to stain the bed. He would never notice.
Despite her own noble status, the Countess wouldn’t betray Leah. She was volunteering to help her lie to the royal family and deceive Byun Gyeongbaek.
“I believe in you, Princess,” she said, her eyes moist and reddened from the pain in her heart. “I believe there is always a reason for your decisions. But please share your burdens with me so I can help carry the weight.”
The Countess knew Leah better than anyone, and knew that Leah often chose to deal with problems personally, forgoing outside help. But however hard she tried to conceal her problems from others, they only seemed to double. As soon as she solved more, more would appear. And Leah didn’t want to risk anyone else. She knew the stakes of the game, and knew its conclusion. How could she reveal her plans to the Countess when they ultimately ended with her own death?
“Thank you,” said Leah softly. If nothing else, she was grateful for the offer. “When the time comes, I will ask for your help.”