TC Chapter 39

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Asha looked down at them with the grace of an empress, her back straight and with no sign of embarrassment or shyness.

Rather, they were puzzled by her and her imposing momentum.

They heard that she was from a minority background, but she didn’t seem like a normal woman. 

Among them, the Duke of Blossom, who had pink hair like a cherry blossom, looked at Asha and smiled brightly at her. 

Duke Sihan Blossom was a playful and cheerful man that Asha remembered and was rumored to be a playboy.

     If Karaf saw it, he would feel offended….

Asha glanced at him and was startled. 

Karaf was already glaring at him with fierce eyes, clutching his armrest.

He had a bloody expression that seemed to be looking at the assassin who was aiming at the empress. 

The moment she looked forward again, Asha made eye contact with someone with mysterious blue hair. 

Count Kiam Delphinium. 

He was the man who in the past had destroyed ethnic villages……. 

Asha could not forget his cruel, laughing face that day, as he trampled her village. 

On the dirt floor, his men had grabbed her by the hair and dragged her in front of him in her bare feet. 

His beastly bright yellow eyes stared at her as if he had found a prey. 

She was sure that he heard the rumors that she is from an ethnic minority. 

Suddenly she felt sick and covered her mouth with one hand.

When Karaf saw her, he asked anxiously.

“Are you sick?”

“I’m fine, Your Majesty…….”

Asha tried not to look at him, but she couldn’t hide her trembling hands. 

When Karaf saw it, he slyly placed his hand on top of hers. 

His hands, white as they were, had been roughened by swords countless times until now, and now they covered her hand.

Asha looked at him in surprise, but Karaf looked ahead as if nothing had happened. 

She doesn’t know what was happening, but his intention was to reassure her with him at her side. 

Thus began the tribute ceremony.

Karaf usually liked big, beautiful, and colorful things. 

Seeing that the gifts from the nobles were of the highest quality, he now had his shoulders held high and ready to break through the ceiling.

“If you like any of those things, tell me. I will take everything to the Empress’s Palace.”

“…… Thank you, Your Majesty.”

Asha had no particular desire to receive any tribute but said so because she was in front of the nobles. 

But when Asha’s reaction wasn’t too bad, Karaf thought he finally had a chance to score points. 

The nobles paid tribute one after another with flattering greetings, but he was too busy examining Asha’s face.

     Is there something you like….?

As time passed, Asha’s attitude of showing little interest in the tributes made Karaf more anxious. 

He never wanted to admit that he couldn’t give her what she wanted. 

There was nothing that hurt his pride as an Emperor as much as that. 

The nobles greeted them at the foot of the stairs and quickly looked away. 

Rumors that the Emperor fell in love with the butterfly had already spread throughout the empire, but actually seeing it was even more amazing. 

Seeing him unable to take his eyes off the butterfly with an ecstatic face like in love, they doubted if this man in front of them was really the bloody emperor they knew. 

Asha also knew that Karaf was just looking at her, but she pretend not to notice his gaze as the nobles’ reaction seemed to intensify. 

However, Asha’s eyes, which had been looking at the tribute items indifferently for a long time, suddenly widened. 

Karaf, who had been watching Asha intently, looked quickly ahead.

When the hall door opened, a very compliant blue-gray horse entered with a dazzling white light.

Healthy muscles and strong body curves, perfectly organized and shiny mane, this is the description of a true horse.

As soon as Asha saw the horse, she inadvertently jumped up and screamed.

“Sheppy……!”

Sheppy also recognized her and made an exciting snorting sound, and gently flicked his long tail.

“…… Sheppy? Do you know this horse?”

When Karaf asked, Asha realized her mistake, tried to hide her emotions, and spoke calmly.

“It was a horse I used to raise. I lost it when I left the village…….”

Asha couldn’t bear to lie and looked at Sheppy excitedly.

She missed those blue eyes so much that looked at her quietly……. 

Karaf felt Asha’s joy and looked carefully at the horse. 

Although the horse was in the hands of Marquis Iris, the strength of the horse was so great that it seemed as if the Marquis was being held by the horse instead. 

Although such a horse is an excellent steed, Karaf knew from long experience that it is difficult to tame. 

But Asha asked carefully.

“Your Majesty… … I want to greet the horse, I haven’t seen it for a long time, would you please allow me?”

“Do as you please.”

As soon as permission was granted, Asha quickly got up from her seat, grabbed the hem of her dress, and hurried down the stairs. 

It was a moving moment of reunion. 

Jackal watched her run towards him as slowly as if time had stopped. 

The face he longed to see was right in front of him, even when he closed his eyes. 

Asha finally reaching him, whispered in his ear, lovingly caressing the back of his nose and mane with trembling hands.

“Sheppy…… Did you come all the way here to see me?”

“Pureung.”

Jackal flapped his ears and let out a loud snort. 

His desire to hold her in his arms was like a fireplace, but for now, the only way to express his feelings was like this.

“I’m so glad you came.”

Asha hugged the horse’s neck and rubbed her face. 

The horse looked surprised for a moment, but soon closed his eyes and accepted her.

He was fierce, but he turned into a gentle horse with just her touch.

Karaf blinked at her affectionate appearance. 

It was the first time he had seen her miss, and like someone so much, even though she seemed to have no greed for anything.

If it wasn’t a horse, it would be a scene in which two lovers dramatically meet again after a breakup.

As he watched them, jealousy suddenly assailed his mind, and he was surprised.

     I’m crazy……. Am I jealous even of a horse now?

He let out a small laugh and looked back at the horse. 

The horse, which Asha was holding, looked into his eyes for a moment and made a small snort as if it was laughing at him.

Karaf’s eyebrows rose. 

For some reason, he thought that the way the horse was looking at him was really fierce and arrogant. 

Jackal suddenly saw her slender arm.

Suddenly, Sheppy lowered his eyelids and pushed her arm with his nose, fixed only on her bandage. When Asha noticed, she spoke softly.

“I’m fine. It’s all healed now.”

She said so, trying to reassure him, but Jackal, whose sense of smell became more sensitive after transforming into a horse, could smell the blood seeping through the bandages. 

As much as Karaf hated minorities, Jackal couldn’t stand the fact that someone so defenseless was the only being who could undo his curse.

He could tell what kind of treatment Asha had received at the Imperial Palace. 

His blue eyes, which looked at him sitting on the throne, were bloodier and fiercer than the wind that blows in midwinter. 

However, not knowing how Jackal felt, Karaf quickly ordered the chamberlain, thinking it was an opportunity for him to get closer to Asha.

“Give that horse the best stable and let Vanessa see it whenever she wants.”

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

Asha said, looking back at him with lively eyes.

“Your Majesty, thank you so much!”

Karaf was a little stunned when he saw such a bright appearance for the first time.

“You like it so much?”

“Yes! I like it so much. It’s the best gift I have ever received.”

When Asha liked it so much, Karaf looked at Marquis Iris and said with satisfaction.

“The Marquis is the only one who has brought a tribute to Vanessa’s liking. I have high expectations for the Marquis in the future.”

The Marquis was greatly moved by those words. But he tried in vain to cough, stretched out his chest, and replied.

“It is an honor, Your Majesty. Please continue to trust me.”

Karaf nodded, and the surrounding nobles looked at him with envy and jealousy. 

After that, the tribute ceremony ended, and  Asha left with the horse.

In the corner of the banquet hall, precious tribute items that she didn’t even notice were piled up like a mountain. 

Duran watched silently from behind as Karaf crouched down with a disturbed expression.

Even though he had everything, he was speechless at the sight of it, as if he had lost everything to the horse. 

* * * * *

Asha followed the chamberlain to the stable. 

Following Karaf’s instructions to prepare the best stable, she came to a large room that hardly resembled a place for horses. 

Asha blinked. 

The standard of ‘best’ that she thought was different from his. 

The room was carpeted instead of straw, and large, soft cushions were placed on it. 

It was a room that was warm and comfortable enough for people to stay in. 

Jackal was relieved. The place was different from the scruffy and gloomy stables he had been staying in until now.

     …… I like it.

On the other hand, Jackal was mentally and physically exhausted as he had undergone all sorts of hardships to infiltrate the palace.

Asha led him to a cushion, then Jackal lay down comfortably on it. 

He looked so cute that Asha sat down next to him and gently stroked his mane. 

Jackal fell to the ground, softly closing his eyes and blushing. 

If there was a heaven, he thought it would be this place……. 

Its shiny bluish-gray tail, like a silkworm, was beautifully scattered on the floor and moved smoothly. 

Sonya laughed naively from behind.

“I guess that horse really likes Vanessa!”

Asha said softly.

“Yes. He followed me a lot. This horse is not mine but another man’s …….”

Jackal looked at her, stroking his mane with a weak gaze. 

Sonya asked, tilting her head.

“A man?”

Asha realized her mistake and answered quickly.

“This owner of this horse was also from the same village. Please keep this secret from His Majesty.”

“Yes! Don’t worry! I will the secret to the grave!”

Sonya spoke boldly, but Asha smiled bitterly. 

It was a fact that she knew better than anyone. 

Sonya looked at the horse and admired it.

“Its fur is smooth! Its muscles looked very strong! I understand now why women like muscles.”

Sonya snorted like a pervert and secretly tried to take her hand to the horse. 

Jackal groaned as a shadow fell over him.

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