Damia blinked as she received Kael’s apology. Perhaps his apology wasn’t just for the things that took place at the royal palace.
Perhaps even before that, from when he rejected her confession. And, possibly, even before that, including all times, he indifferently confessed his love and admiration for the Saint to Damia, who liked him.
“It’s alright. But thank you for saying that,”
Damia smiled softly in response. Since she didn’t love Kael anymore, she didn’t keep their past in her heart.
“I wish you a pleasant journey, Kael.”
“Take care of yourself, Damia. No matter what, always take care of yourself,”
Kael requested, looking worried. Although he was rather oblivious, he sensed it. The fact that his childhood friend was involved in something quite dangerous and serious.
Even as a child, Damia had always been a girl with a mature side. It was just her overwhelming glamorous looks drew so much attention, and that no one really appreciated her true character and value.
‘Whatever it is, Damia will do well.’
With that thought in mind, Kael prayed for his childhood friend’s well-being. Then he fixed his luggage on his shoulders and stopped just as he was about to leave.
Her face, looking at him with her clear eyes, was as elegant and soft as a painting. Maybe that’s why her beauty touched him as if he was a stranger.
Kael peeked a look around him as she stared at his face and warned her in a low voice:
“Of course I am not qualified to say this, but… … Still, I don’t think Sir Akkard is good enough for you.”
Kael, who gave such advice, was quite sincere. He came to the capital a little earlier than Damia, and thanks to that, he saw and heard many things in the palace.
Among the myriad of gossips, by far, an overwhelming share concerned Akkard Valerian. Everyone, especially women, was strongly drawn to him, loving his free-spiritedness, arrogance, and selfishness while also loathing it.
Even to a hetero man like Kael, he was extraordinary. And such a desirable man usually did not settle for one woman. Like the one and only dominant male in a pride of lions, he seemed obligated to instinctually sow his excellent seeds here and there as much as possible.
That was the essence of the being called Akkard Valerian, Kael believed.
“… … I know what you mean.”
Upon hearing Kael’s last request, she was unexpectedly not offended. She swept back her fluttering locks and even laughed.
“Don’t worry, Kael.”
‘Cause that’s never going to happen, Damia smiled and thought with a determined gaze.
* * *
After the day’s work concluded, the tension seemed to have eased. Akkard was dreaming of his hometown.
The place where he was now was the Amethyst Castle, the home of Duke Valerian in the south.
Built of marble with a deep blue and purple luster, the castle was just as beautiful as glass. Standing in the most luxurious parlor there, Akkard looked around.
‘Why am I here?’
It was a familiar landscape.
Gold and purple tapestries hung on the floor and walls made of solid wood, reflecting the light of the ages. Gorgeous chandeliers, glittering candlesticks, and pale ivory silk curtains fluttered in an elegant sheen.
Just as he stared blankly at the scene, he suddenly heard a clear voice from the side.
“Are you ready?”
Akkard turned his head with a puzzled look. And he soon inhaled and was gasping for breath.
There stood Damia… in a wedding dress.
“What ready? You, really.”
She wore a fantastic dress that exposed her slender neckline and fragile shoulders. Damia smiled as she covered her mouth with her hand. And she said in an incredibly affectionate tone,
“Today is our wedding.”
“Wedding… It’s—marriage—ceremony… … ?”
Akkard stuttered. I couldn’t believe that she was getting married to me.
He had been terrified of being tied down to a woman his whole life. Every time he caught them looking emotionally dependent on him, clinging to him, looking forward to something, he felt suffocated, as if a noose was tightening around his neck.
Even formal dating was too burdensome to him— but married! It was horrifying to even think about.
But then, why was the word ‘marriage’ flowing from Damia’s lips so enchanting? It was extraordinarily bizarre.