There was no time to lose. Hence without delay, Kasser went to pay his respects to the Sword King as soon as he was settled in.
Having two kings sitting across from each other in the Great Hall, created quite a rare sight to see as it was uncommon for a king to visit another kingdom.
However, the kings from the five kingdoms would occasionally run into each other, as they all paid frequent visits to the Holy City, unlike the Desert King. So, whenever the occasion arises, they would meet up for a meal or drink as there was no reason for them to be hostile towards each other. In the Holy City, they were only guests as Sang-je was their host. The companionship they shared in the Holy City was more of a private matter, not as a king.
“It’s been such a long time, Desert King.”
“Yes, it surely has been. As I was only a boy on my last visit. I truly appreciated the warm reception you’d given me last time. Your kindness was more than I deserved.”
The words were more than just a flattery out of courtesy as Kasser meant every word he just said. He’d truly received the most welcoming reception when he had last visited the Slan Kingdom as a delegate. And just like today, the Sword King himself had come to greet him in person and a huge banquet was held to welcome his visit. The king had also treated the young prince, who was yet to come of age, as the head of the diplomatic mission with respect.
After he had returned from his mission, Kasser had unwittingly shown his personal appreciation toward the Sword King before the late king, his father.
[The Sword King was truly a man of virtue.]
He immediately realised his mistake as soon as the words left his mouth. It was an inappropriate remark when he was supposed to give reports based on objectivity. More so, it was imprudent for a prince to make comments on the kings from other kingdoms. But without telling him off, the late king intoned instead,
[The Sword King is indeed a right-minded person.]
Neither for good nor ill, the late king never tended to make comments on others. Therefore, that particular remark of his father had left a great impression on Kasser’s mind ever since. Although a part of his reason for accepting the invitation was out of his defiance towards the Sang-je, it was all the more because of the pleasant impressions he got from the Sword King in the past.
“You speak with such modesty, but a mere boy wouldn’t have been able to pull out the role of a delegate with such perfection. As a father, there’s nothing else I would wish for if the prince could be just as half good as you.” said the Sword King with a hearty laughter.
“I am afraid I hardly deserve such high praise.”
“You have no idea how much I was worried about getting another turn down from you. I even warned the warriors about the consequences they’ll face if they ever fail to bring you back to the palace. However, this does not make us even for the last time.” said the Sword King as he reminded Kasser of the last time when his invitation was declined. Three years ago, when Kasser was returning to his kingdom with his newly wedded wife, he had kindly turned down the Sword King’s invitation to make a stop at his castle on the way.
Well knowing that the Sword King was only jesting with him, Kasser chuckled as he replied,” As far as I’m concerned, I believe we’re now even as you’ve also turned down my invitation not long ago.”
When the last active period was about to come to an end, Kasser had sent an envoy to officially invite the prince and princess of the Slan to his kingdom. However, his invitation was declined for some reasons on their part.
“Is that how it goes then?” said Richard the Sword King as he broke into laughter.
“But I hope you didn’t find the refusal offensive. As there was an inevitable reason for turning down the invitation. It wasn’t my arbitrary decision after all.”
“I didn’t find it offensive in the slightest. As I know that you wouldn’t manage the affairs of the state with your personal feelings.”
Richard’s eyes had slightly widened before he laughed approvingly at Kasser. At the same time, he was reminded afresh of how quick the years go by when the image of the young prince, who was all rigid with his reply either a yes or no, flashed across his mind.
The conversation lasted for another while with topics like the damages inflicted in both kingdoms during the last active period. But with not so much importance. Then, when there was a momentary silence during the conversation, Kasser glanced at the servants who were standing at the corner of the room before he asked, “May I have a moment to speak with you in private?”