Predatory Marriage — Chapter 98. Bride Kidnapping (1)
Translator: Atlas / Editor: Regan
Looking into his eyes, Leah couldn’t help remembering their first meeting, which was a deliberate meeting Ishakan had disguised as a coincidence. It felt as if it had happened yesterday, Ishakan in her cloak, and she in her disguise.
The memory did not alleviate her doubts.
It seemed the Kurkans had relationships with Estian dignitaries. It wouldn’t be strange if their King had done something to compromise Leah, who was a key figure in Estian society. She knew how easy it would be for Ishakan to persuade her, and possibly steal Estia’s most sensitive information. Simple reason warned her that she should turn away from him and his lies, but her heart didn’t want to believe that.
When she realized she was still doubting after listing twenty-nine different reasons why she shouldn’t trust him, she could only come to one conclusion. Her ability to be objective had been compromised. When it came to Ishakan, she could no longer think properly.
He waited silently for her response while Leah wrestled with her thoughts.
“It’s never easy,” he said finally, after a prolonged silence. Leaning forward, he kissed her slowly, softly. It was a simple and loving kiss, without the demand of lust, and he drew back to look into her eyes. “What do you want to do after the peace treaty?”
She did not answer.
“Do you still want to die?”
She lowered her gaze.
“Are you dying for your convenience?” She said nothing. “You’re dying for your own convenience?”
She couldn’t easily answer any of his questions.She felt adrift from his questions and the feelings he provoked. Her eyes fell on the circle on the floor, the light streaming through the window overhead. It looked like a luminous rope she could climb to escape this suffocating room. She could just imagine a cool breeze blowing all her problems away once she escaped.
A familiar impulse surged within her, but this time, it wouldn’t go away. It wouldn’t be ignored. It spread through her body.
The man whose lap she was sitting in had ruined everything. Even her most irrevocable decision, the one she had sworn she would never change, had been affected by his influence. The hard shell inside her shattered, because of him. Ishakan had destroyed her plans and left everything unstable and dangerous.
She was hesitant and choked with remorse.
“I don’t want to die,” she whispered. Her throat was tight. She felt as if that simple sentence had torn her to pieces and cut her insides.
Ishakan’s golden eyes remained fixed on her. He didn’t press her, he was just paying attention to her as she trembled in his arms. She was shattered inside.
“I want to live.”
Since their creation, the Kurkans were an unnatural race. They were born in defiance of natural law and filled with imperfections. They could only live to adulthood and have offspring after performing certain rituals. If they were not allowed to celebrate their initiation rites, then they could not even grow old, and were trapped in the space between adolescence and adulthood forever.
Kurkans rescued from slavery were sent back to the desert for their initiations. They were reborn as warriors and then allowed to perform their tasks and live in their towns. Intending to bid them farewell, Ishakan went to the plains outside the capital, where the wind blew through the tall, thick grass.
Unlike the Kurkans who had undergone their rituals, these Kirkans were much smaller, dressed in robes with backpacks on their shoulders. Looking at Ishakan, they waited respectfully for him to address them.
“May the sandstorms blow away from your path,” he told them, and they bowed their heads in thanks.
A woman at the front of the group spoke carefully.
“We thought our king had abandoned us.”
“I, too, was abandoned in the past.” His eyes turned cold as he spoke, remembering his predecessor. “I rose from the same depths you all once inhabited.”