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It had been so for many generations, even as far as the Kingdom's genesis. Past Monarchs rarely ever married out of romantic interest, but rather greed or power. Whoever the most influential person was at the time, they wouldn't hesitate to make them their King or Queen.

That is why it surprised the entire Kingdom when Jihye's Father suddenly announced he would marry a commoner— a woman that he happened to meet in town one day. Their tale became one of the most told romances. How a King came to fall madly in love upon the first sight that he was willing to make an utter stranger his Queen within the same month. Jihye's mother had been a much more extravagant rags to riches story, very controversial at the time. Though their love wasn't enough to keep them together it seemed.

Jihye had assumed she'd continue her Father's path and eventually marry the person who had captured her heart, but it was her Father himself who destroyed the possibility with a demeaning arranged marriage. A disappointment to say the least.

And Jihye had a feeling that the awaiting engagement was the reason why she was summoned to the Royal Advisor's office an hour before dinner. Or any of the thousands of secrets Jihye had came to light and she was about to be admonished to no end by Sunoo's father in place of the King.

Given the circumstances, Jihye uncharacteristically hoped it was the first.

"Perhaps I shouldn't have escorted you here so early." Soobin stated, breaking the mutual silence in the office. "It's my fault for assuming aristocracy were above punctuality."

It's only been a day since Soobin had been officially appointed as her temporary steward, but in their short amount of time together, Jihye learned that Soobin took everything he did very seriously. From ensuring Jihye followed her schedule flawlessly to asking her every other quarter hour if she required any assistance. Bizarrely, he had Sojung beat with his work ethics.

Jihye shook her head at Soobin. "It's not your fault." She eased as she began to step away from his side. "Adults tend to arrive later than they arrange. But if it's the other way around, they lose their heads." She mumbled the last part, but from Soobin's stifled chuckle, Jihye assumed he had heard her.

"That is if they haven't lost it already." Soobin mumbled back.

Jihye didn't conceal her laugh at his remark as she discerned everything that was similar to her Father's office to this one, attempting to appease her boredom. It was insignificantly smaller, or perhaps the over clutter of stuff gave the office an illusion of appearing so. Sunoo's father had a nearly identical collection of books, both historical and for entertainment purposes. But he didn't make an effort to maintain the space aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Maps upon maps littered his walls, and Jihye found herself gravitating towards one of the East Kingdom's coasts. Not because of how accurately it was scaled and drawn, but that half of the map where the ocean usually was marked— was completely blank. As if left unfinished on purpose.

She shook her head, telling herself she shouldn't snoop around while waiting for Sunoo's father. But her curiosity got the best of her.

Shooting a quick glance to the door, ensuring no one would walk in soon, Jihye sauntered towards the map with her hands at her sides. The closer she got to it, the stronger the sensation in her head became. It was difficult to explain, which was why she didn't question it, only acted upon the urge.

The room was lit from above, but with the covered windows and the multitude of clutter blocking the chandelier's luminescence, Jihye had to squint her eyes to see clearer. After probing the map for quite some time without spotting anything out of the ordinary, Jihye flickered her gaze to the nearest bookcase on her right. And like a moth to a flame, Jihye caught sight of a burgundy colored book in the middle of slate. Jihye wandered closer, running her fingers over the spine of the book before pulling it out from the shelf.

𝐌𝐎𝐍𝐀𝐑𝐂𝐇.  enhypen Where stories live. Discover now