Heavy Shower (3)
“What were you talking about?” Tarkan changed the subject.
“Ah, I was wondering how the demonic beast plains subjugation works, so I was asking about that.” Aristine gestured to the map.
Unsurprisingly, Tarkan did not rebuke the warriors for showing her the strategy map.
Aristine looked at the map for a while before pointing to one spot.
“Why is this spot empty?”
She had seen several strategic charts of recent years but there was always one spot that remained untouched.
It was located between the main base and the national border, so she felt like avoiding it would actually obstruct their movement.
“Because that’s the territory of one of the Great Demonic Beasts.”
Four great demonic beasts lived in the vast plains.
It was five until Tarkan defeated the great Murzika.
“The subjugations are to keep demonic beasts in check because they invade the border during winter, so there is no need to touch the great beast.”
“I see.” Aristine nodded her head. “Are the contoured lines the territory?”
“Yes. Actually, the real territory is this part in the middle. But we can move within the area, and it is best not to get too close, so we’ve marked the distance as 2nd tier, 3rd tier and so one.”
There were five overlapping circles with distorted contour lines. Apparently, the territory was widened to the 5th tier for safety.
Seeing as there was no other spot being avoided, it seemed that the other three Great Magic Beasts were coiled up far away from Irugo.
“Hmm, then where should I set up the demonic beast barrier to test it?”
“I thought it was going to be installed between the outer walls to act as a barrier?”
“Because of the fall subjugation, there will be no demonic beasts coming to the border during winter, so I figured if it would be better to demonstrate the effectiveness somewhere else.”
The fortress wall was the very important as it was the last line of defense before anything could reach the people. But in reality, demonic beast encounters were rare, so it was difficult to show ‘oh, this works!’ immediately after installing the barriers.
“Other places will definitely be better, but building the barrier can be dangerous once you enter the plains.”
Being attacked by a demonic beast while building a barrier would be the worst-case scenario.
“I think it would be better to install it with us in the spring. It will also be safer then.”
“Hmm, maybe that’s better.”
After Jacquelin said that, Aristine rubbed her lips and studied the map.
It would be better to go steady and safely, than to go fast and run into trouble.
‘Besides, we can conduct more research during that time.’
The longer they could research, the greater their chance of finding a more effective solution.
‘We should use this chance to study a portable option as well.’
A portable barrier would be very useful for the warriors once it was completed.
Aristine looked at Tarkan, Mukali, Jacquelin, and Durante.
These people will be able to fight more safely and comfortably.
‘Okay. Let’s do this!’
Aristine pulled away from Tarkan who was holding her waist.
“You’re going already?” Tarkan asked, trying to hide his disappointment.
“Yes, I have to tell my people about this.”
“I’ll escort you.”
“No, this is a very busy time for you, and I can’t keep taking up your time.”
“We have to stick together, though.”
“Mm, but it’ll be dinner soon and I’ve already taken a lot of your time…” Aristine mumbled and when she turned her head, she paused.
The warriors were crying to her with their eyes.
Princess Consort, His Highness Tarkan is really, really busy. Please stop him.
It was the desperate eyes of people who worked overtime every day.
‘Why not tell him directly?’
Tarkan was a reasonable person and easy to communicate with. While thinking that, Aristine patted Tarkan’s arm.
“I will go by myself. I want to organize my thoughts on the barrier too. See you later.”
Sure enough, Tarkan, the reasonable and communicative man, nodded his head wistfully.
“Alright. See you later.”
The three warriors struggled to control their facial expressions when they saw their master like this.
Truly, a vicious beast who only acted docile in front of his wife.
Tarkan hugged Aristine tightly.
As she buried her face in his warm, firm chest, she forgot to breathe for a moment.
When Tarkan let go, it was Aristine’s turn to feel wistful.
Tarkan grinned and whispered, “You better get going.”
Aristine felt like she was enchanted.
She stood there in a daze, and it was only after he escorted her to the carriage, and she sat down that she came to her senses.
‘What is this?’
It left her feeling very disappointed about something and very unsatisfied.
* * *
Time passed steadily.
Aristine remained very attached to Tarkan.
She had no choice but to be apart from him when they both had to work. But other than that, they were stuck together like one body.
They were sticking together to prepare for the time that they would be apart, so why was it that she was feeling sadder?
She had no idea.
In Tarkan’s embrace, Aristine slowly opened her eyes. His warm, thick arms were holding her tight.
Aristine unconsciously burrowed deeper into his arms when the cold temperature in the room hit her.
The sunlight seeping through the lace canopy was useless.
Aristine blinked a few times, then turned her head to look outside the window.
The sky was overcast.
From the humidity in the air, it felt like it was going to rain.
Tarkan pulled her by the waist.
“Sleep more.” His languid voice lingered in her ears.
As Aristine tossed and turned, her sleepiness slowly went away, but she stayed in bed with Tarkan, instead of getting up.
The world felt saturated with a pale-blue tinge like the depths of water.
In the midst of it, Tarkan was leisurely lying down with his eyes closed.
Aristine, who had been watching him silently, stretched out her hand.
She touched his firm shoulder, brushed her hand past his neckline, then skimmed down and touched his collarbone.
Her hands were moving boldly.
She moved down the curve of his body and pressed against his chest muscles. His bouncy chest flinched as Tarkan reflexively braced.
Aristine looked up.
Tarkan, whose eyes had opened at some point, was looking down at her.
The two stayed like that for a while, their eyes locked in the air.
“I think I failed.”
Tarkan frowned at that sudden comment. “Failed what?”
“Even though we’re so close together, I’m not prepared to be apart at all.”
Aristine’s voice reverberated through the bedroom due to the damp air. “No matter how much we stick together, I never think it’s enough. Rather, I want to stick together even more.”
They said body-obsession was addictive, and it really was.
Tarkan stared at Aristine’s face as she spoke softly, and his breath caught in his chest. Without realizing it, his stomach clenched, and her muscles tensed.
“What do I do?”
When Aristine asked that, Tarkan quickly sat up. He placed his hand by the side of her head.
Tarkan’s eyes deepened as he looked at Aristine who was lying beneath him.
“Do you feel like that too?”
Tarkan’s jaw clenched at Aristine’s question.
Did he feel the same? What was this woman talking about?
Tarkan always felt like this. He always felt like it wasn’t enough. Every moment he was with Aristine, he kept wanting more.
Aristine reached out to him. Her dainty fingers touched Tarkan’s shoulders.
Tarkan felt like her fingers were a spell binding him. He couldn’t get away from her.
But today was that very day.
The day that he leaves Aristine’s side for the demonic beast subjugation.
It was his natural duty, and also Tarkan’s pride.
But he didn’t want to leave his wife like this. He couldn’t.
At the call coming from Tarkan’s lips, Aristine’s eyes shook slightly.
Did her name always sound so sweet?
Tarkan’s body slowly tilted down. Lower, and even lower.
His hot breath cut through the damp air.
Aristine didn’t close her eyes. Nor did she try to avoid it.
They looked into each other’s eyes, their faces close enough to feel the warmth on each other’s lips.
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