Predatory Marriage — Chapter 93. Fiancée of Byun Gyeongbaek of Oberde (2)
Translator: Atlas / Editor: Regan
The day for negotiations had arrived. The morning sky was clear.
As it was only the first round of negotiations, they agreed to send three representatives from Estia and three from the Kurkans to attend. Leah represented on behalf of the royal family, with Count Valtein and Finance Minister Laurent to assist her. They arrived first, scanning the empty meeting room before they sat down. The Finance Minister was nervous and trying to hide it; he was already afraid of the Kurkans, and he knew what Leah was about to attempt. Stiff as statues, they were nearly holding their breaths as the doors open. Leah stood as a sign of respect.
“I welcome the King of the Kurkans,” Leah greeted them.
“May light fall upon Estia.” Ishakan smiled in response. “It has been a long time, Princess.”
The sight of him sent a wave of emotion through Leah. She felt a tingling nervousness, and though she tried to keep a serene expression on her face, she was sure her expression was giving her away. Count Valtein kept sending her glances, but she kept her eyes on the Kurkan representatives and pretended not to notice.
She hadn’t expected Ishakan to bring Genin and Haban, but there they were, bowing. Strictly speaking, the two could not help Ishakan in diplomatic matters, but she was grateful for their presence anyway. The fact that she knew them calmed her, and this business would have been more difficult with strangers.
Though Ishakan had continually disturbed her and shaken her heart since the day she met him, she couldn’t help feeling bitter. She knew what the Kurkans thought of these negotiations. No matter what Estia did, they would approve the peace treaty.
Ishakan seemed to be in a good mood. Despite Leah’s aloofness, he took his seat beside her comfortably.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to personally converse with you, Princess. I have only heard rumors,” he said.
This was obviously a lie. They had spoken before. They had done a great deal more than speak. But at least he was speaking politely and behaving himself, given the formality of the occasion.
“You exaggerate,” Leah replied mildly. “In truth, it is my honor that we can have this discussion.”
With the formal greetings complete, the negotiations could begin. Ishakan immediately seemed determined to get her into trouble.
“So, what did you think?” He asked. It was an ambiguous question, and Leah hesitated. Ishakan shook his head. “My question refers to the initiation of our conversation.”
She knew he would keep pressing until she have him the answer she wanted.
“It is an excellent beginning,” she sighed.
Ishakan burst out laughing. “Thank you for your hospitality, Princess,” he said, with a bright smile, pleased.
Count Valtein and Minister Laurent glanced at each other, perplexed. Choosing to ignore Ishakan’s impudence, Leah focused her attention on the documents she had prepared.
“First, I want you to read this,” she began, handing Ishakan a document detailing the agenda of the day’s negotiations. But he had no intention of reading it.
“My understanding of the language of this continent is poor,” he said, setting the papers aside. “Can you explain it to me instead, please?”
She knew he wanted to get straight to the major points of contention and considered niceties like agendas unnecessary. He wanted to conclude the negotiations quickly and then simply chat with her.
“Estia has prepared several concessions,” she said, relenting. “First, we will hand over the Kurkans currently in our custody. The royal family currently has thirty Kurkans that we have rescued from slavery. Secondly, we will lend a portion of the western territory to the Kurkans for an indefinite period of time, including the proceeds obtained from the harvests in that region…”
The premise of a negotiation was that each party involved should state their terms and conditions, and then work together to adjust the details and make concessions to resolve any disputes. But as she spoke, Ishakan just smiled, leaning back in his chair with his arms folded.
He chuckled when she finished. “That’s all?”
The conditions she had presented were certainly appealing. But for the King of the Kurkans, who did not fear war, might consider the only appealing offer was to hand the entire country over to him.
Leah took a deep breath. She knew Ishakan did not always respond to things that looked like common sense. But she was the princess of a kingdom without power, and she only had one option left. Setting the documents aside, she met his glinting golden gaze.
“You are aware that I am the fiancée of Byun Gyeongbaek of Oberde?”
Ishakan’s eyes narrowed.
“Certainly,” he said, adding in a hard voice. “And when he marries you, Princess, Byun Gyeongbaek of Oberde will have the right to succeed to the throne.”
The room was deadly silent. Ishakan’s relaxed good humor had vanished utterly.
“He could succeed immediately,” Leah agreed.
“Are you telling me that you are going to make Byun Gyeongbaek the King of Estia?” He asked. His voice sounded fierce. Very dangerous.
“If you don’t sign the peace treaty, yes.” Leah struggled to keep her voice from shaking. “It just might happen.”