Chapter Four: King of Sexual Harassment
The next day was quite sunny. I wore my new dress, which I had gotten yesterday. I walked through the gates of the royal palace, hand-in-hand with my husband.
Even though I had lived in the palace for a year, I had lived in a place very far from where the knights and soldiers were located. Therefore, now was the first time I saw this part of the palace. The walls and pillars were simple, focusing on functionality. It was a wide contrast from the impressive guest rooms where I used to stay. Back then, I had been very much withdrawn, and I still was. Throughout the year I stayed in the palace, I never came here, not even once.
As I walked along the corridor, right next to my husband, I realized that he was an extraordinary and popular man. All the knights stopped to greet my husband and me as we slowly made our way to the training grounds. Everyone was unexpectedly friendly and greeted me properly, even if I only gave them a slight bow.
To be honest, I was a bit worried that one of my husband’s fans would call me out for being unworthy of the great Earl. However, everyone was friendly. He seemed to have a charismatic and charming personality that made me wonder if he was well-suited for his line of work.
At the entrance into the training grounds, I found a familiar face and waved in excitement. The maid beautifully bowed her head in response: an excellent depiction of etiquette that I had thrown out of the window. Lynn was a decent young lady, as long as you didn’t look too closely at her. In the royal palace, everyone thought she was innately elegant. I, on the other hand, understood that her elegance wasn’t innate but was a product of appropriate and regular practice.
My husband was right next to me, so I couldn’t run to her in a flurry of excitement. He seemed to notice I was nervous as he laughed a little and tightly entwined my arm with his. He stroked my clenched fist affectionately before gently letting go of me.
“Go ahead,” he said with a bright smile on his face. “I must practice. When you are done talking to Miss Lynn, please come to the training ground and watch.”
“Alright, I will,” I promised as I gently pulled away from him. I looked around to make sure no one was around before lifting the hem of my skirt and running at full speed towards my dear friend Lynn.
“Lynn! Long time no see!”
Lynn raised her head and looked at me, her face a mask of surprise.
“What’s wrong with you?” she asked, the shock still there.
“Nothing,” I replied, genuinely puzzled.
“Have you evolved into a reptile?”
“What are you saying?” I was getting too confused to understand what she was yapping about.
“Oh, I can’t understand the language you are speaking. What happened to the otherworldly automatic translator that you used to have?” Lynn asked, getting more worried.
“Lynn?” I called her name to communicate a question.
She kept her eyes on me as if searching for something as she spoke. “You have shed your skin, haven’t you?”
“I am human! Besides, reptiles don’t shed their skin, do they? They just heal, right?”
“Well, there’s a lot I don’t know about you. And it’s been half a year since I saw you,” Lynn said.
“I didn’t shed my skin, Lynn. The weather just suits it quite well, and I have been spending more time indoors. My skin simply reverted to its original color,” I said with a stiff smile as I looked at the back of my hand.
My complexion, which had been utterly brown when I was summoned, had returned to its original golden color. I suspected that the high-quality whitening cream that the maids in the mansion rubbed on me regularly played a major part in this transformation.
“No, not only that,” Lynn said. “You have also grown rather plum. No way,” she pointed out as her eyes dropped sharply to stare at my belly.
“No, it’s impossible,” I firmly denied her insinuation. I had a pure relationship with my husband. Our signs of affection were limited to hands, cheeks, and forehead kisses. Hugs were the farthest we had gone. I wanted a little more, but the Earl didn’t seem ready.
“That’s right. The Earl is already old,” Lynn said, breaking into my thoughts and accepting my denial. However, I couldn’t stand her making jest of my husband.
“What are you trying to say, Lynn?” I asked, even though I had a pretty good idea of what she meant. I wondered if there was a strange rumor making the rounds that my husband was inactive. As I thought about the possibility of such a rumor spreading, I also had to consider the possibility of the rumor being true.
Lynn nodded with a knowing look as a wry smile twisted her lips.
“At any rate,” she said. “I am glad you are here.”
“Thank you. To be honest, I prefer the Earl’s mansion. The food is very delicious. Oh, listen, I told my husband that I like rice a lot as it is the staple food in my old world. And guess what? He went out of his way to procure it in large quantities. Thanks to him, I can eat lots of it every day.”
“You are a drag,” Lynn scoffed.
I wondered if she was right. I guess it depended on how one saw it. However, on second thought, I had to admit that I was actually a real drag.
“I was. I’m sorry,” I replied. No one wanted to be forced to listen to the stories of other people’s love lives. I remembered my seniors in high school and how they talked about their boyfriends for hours. I remember finding their stories boring and annoying. And yet, here I was doing the same thing to Lynn. She was so nice to me, and I didn’t want her to dislike me.
I apologized vigorously.
After I finished the apology, Lynn shook her head, signaling that it was okay. Her face morphed into a faint smile as she spoke, “I am glad you are happy.”
“Yes, I am, Lynn. Thank you.” My heart grew warm and fluffy inside. Lynn hardly ever smiled, and the fact that she was doing so now indicated that she meant what she said.
“But you do have a feminine body now,” Lynn said as her face returned to its usual mode of expressionlessness.
“Is that so?” I wondered as I looked down at myself, twisting my head around to see every side of my body.
She was right. But it was about time I grew up anyway. In my original world, I hardly ever had the time to enjoy proper meals. I was always too busy juggling between morning training, after school, and official tournaments. I couldn’t deny that my body had changed and had grown plumper compared to the skinny stick it was when I first arrived. Even my once-flat chest had gained some weight. I tried to dismiss it as the effect of the corset. However, I remembered the last time I ran in the backyard and how strangely heavy I felt.
“In this part of the palace, being by the Earl’s side is much better. There are chairs and tea in his corner of the training grounds. Let’s talk there,” Lynn said.
“I love you, Lynn,” I told her with a bright smile.
“I know,” she replied as she led me to the training center.
Inside the training center, I was surprised to see my husband directly exchanging swords with the young knights. He beautifully hit them three times and then used his sword to point out their weak points as he gave them advice on how to be better fighters. Unfortunately, I was high up in the viewing area of the training grounds, so I couldn’t hear the words he was saying.
“Oh, cool.” I joined my hands together and started muttering under my breath.
“‘So annoying,” Lynn grumbled as she watched me. However, I didn’t mind if it was. I was motivated to enjoy the day. I felt like I could talk to people for three hours straight.
“Oh my!” Lynn suddenly turned on her seat sharply, almost spilling her tea in the process.
I looked at where she was looking and was shocked to see the King of Sexual Harassment and his bodyguards enter the training grounds through a door that stood opposite the door we entered from. It was the first time in a year and a half that I was seeing him.
“Oh, don’t mind me. Continue with the training,” the King said with the same low voice he had employed back when I was summoned. It wasn’t sweet or pretty like my husband’s voice. And as usual, he gave off a pseudo-macho atmosphere that made me feel sick to my stomach.
He smelled like a cosmetic store with numerous counteracting perfume scents perpetually exuding from him. I suddenly realized that he smelled that way because he had sex with several women at a time. I knew that he had dozens of concubines and mistresses in the palace who were always at his beck and call. He was super childish and seemed incapable of growing up.
I wondered why he was here. I didn’t see him while I was living in the palace. It made no sense that I should see him here on the training grounds. While I was wondering if I had to say hello, I was tapped on the shoulder from behind.
I turned around to see my husband standing behind me.
“My husband,” I whispered, wondering when he had gone behind me. He smiled and hugged me softly. I enjoyed being wrapped in his arms. His body temperature was a little higher than usual, and the smell of his sweat made my heart beat faster.
I let myself bask in the familiar feeling of his chest as I placed my hand around the wide of his back. Both of us hugging might have looked like a cicada hugging a giant tree due to the differences in our physique. However, I didn’t mind. It was three weeks since my husband hugged me last, and I was determined to enjoy the opportunity placed in front of me.
“Your Majesty. What seems to be the problem? Weren’t you planning to visit the temple under construction today?” my husband asked in his cool voice.
I suddenly realized that my husband was trying to protect me from interacting with the King. Could he have gotten wind of my history with the king? I thought as my ears filled with the bustling of a crowd of people approaching us. The King was getting closer. Luckily for me, my husband did not let go of me.
“Oh, the chief priest suddenly came down with an ailment. I was told that we are to go later,” the King said. “Huh… Is that little monkey? Is she the one you are holding in your arms right there?” he asked, noticing me for the first time.
I couldn’t believe that he would dare say such a thing to me. I tried my best to turn around and get a good look at him. I could already imagine the smug expression on his face as he held his nose up in pride. This time, I wasn’t just going to injure his hand. I was going to bite it off.
My husband’s hands tightened around me as soon as I tried to move. He seemed to have sensed the slight strain of my body and intercepted my movement before I could even turn. I felt rather bewildered that my husband was suppressing me. I knew he meant well, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was being held back and held down.
“Your Majesty,” my husband said in a tone that made the room suddenly turn cold.
“Oh, what?” the King shot back in an upset and defensive tone.
“I would appreciate it if you do not look down on my wife.”
I had a feeling that something frightening was about to happen. I was a little scared, but I didn’t want to miss anything that went down. I tried to twist my body again, but my husband’s hold grew even tighter. His strong muscles held me so firmly that I had trouble breathing. As expected, as soon as I stopped struggling, he relaxed his grip. I took in a deep breath and calmed down just as the King waved the white flag.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
The heavy silence in the room continued. However, the relaxed atmosphere in the training camp started to slowly make a comeback. I was surprised. The King had apologized. The proud and arrogant King had said the word sorry. I had to face him and smirk. He needed to see my face of triumph. But when I tried to turn my head to look, my husband’s grip yet again tightened around me. I couldn’t breathe. My nose was pressed into his chest, blocking the flow of air into my nostrils.
“Well, that’s that about that. Anyway, your complexion has improved since the last time I saw you. I guess getting a wife makes you feel alive and young. How is she? I bet she is giving you something better than medicine.”
“Your Majesty, kindly enter the training platform for a minute.”
“It seems that while I was away, you had become quite vulgar. Those who are superior to others should aim for nobility and continue reaching for it even if they do not attain it. I will train your corrupt mind to think with a clean spirit and mind.”
“Wow. I’m kidding. Don’t take my words seriously. Your training is too intense for me,” the King said as his face turned pale, and he scurried out of the training center.
From their conversation, I realized that my husband used to be the King’s instructor in swordsmanship, and the King was still afraid of him.
“I have to get back to work. I am leaving you with Lynn for now. But let’s go home together,” my husband said as he let go of me and dropped a light kiss on my forehead. He walked briskly through the same door the King had taken. I suspected that he was going after the King to give him a much-needed training session. He was such a wonderful husband. Willing to take revenge on the King himself just for my sake.
Even with my husband gone, the knights didn’t stop their training. They returned to the all-too-serious hustle and bustle of sword fighting. I returned to my seat and rejoined Lynn. However, as I sat down, a sudden feeling of unease came over me. Something wasn’t right. But my thoughts were suddenly interrupted as Lynn filled my cup with tea, and her eyes turned to the door just as my husband disappeared through it.
“What his majesty said was not a total lie,” Lynn commented as she took a tiny sip of her tea.
“Earl Greeden. His complexion has improved. His hair and skin now look so glossy that it’s hard to believe that he is actually over sixty.”
“He probably was just under a lot of stress before. He only recently started getting enough breaks. He now gets two days off every tenth day, so he feels much better,” I replied.
I went down memory lane and remembered the first time I met him. Even then, he exuded a glittering and lovely aura. However, the past few months had been incredible, so it didn’t hit me as odd that he had changed.
I caught Lynn staring at me as if she wanted to say something.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Nothing, Just that the Early is surprisingly pretty.”
“Don’t even dare. The Earl is mine.”
“Don’t worry about it. I prefer the younger-dog type that bites hard. I am looking forward to handling them properly and disciplining them.”
“I’m happy to hear that,” I replied with a sigh of relief, and I truly was. Luckily for me, Lynn was a sadist. Regardless of her personality, she was still a beautiful woman, and I didn’t think I could win if she decided to compete with me for the Earl’s affection.
While I was lost in thought, the sunset and the time to leave the training grounds arrived. I was still waiting for my husband. To pass the time, I decided to chat with the numerous knights who came up to me from time to time.