While he was beaming at the thought that the long wait had come to an end, Erna, who was lying on her bed, suddenly leaped to her feet.
“This is not the time! I should hurry up and get ready!”
What do you mean ready? While Kalion was searching through his memories, Erna hurriedly approached the door of her room and said, “I told you. I’m going to see a play with Orpé. That’s why I ended the meeting as quickly as possible. I didn’t intend to waste my time listening to nonsense anyway.”
Kalion’s face wrinkled at the word play; Erna exclaimed in enthusiasm.
“Anyway, I’ll be back! I’m going to have dinner too, so you eat first!”
With a look of pure excitement all over her face, Erna sprinted to her closet.
“Orpé! Get dressed and ready to go!”
“Absolutely! You didn’t mean to leave me, did you?”
Orpé would have normally played a role in calming Erna. Today, however, her voice was just as excited as hers. Kalion swept his face with one hand and turned his head away. On a desk they shared, he saw a book with a dark red cover.
A sigh escaped from Kalion’s mouth the moment he read the title in golden letters on the cover, which featured the back of a muscular man. Unlike the books in the Grand Castle’s library, the pages were made of low-grade paper, and the smell of cheap ink wafted up his nose. The book was a written account of a play by a traveling troupe that had come to Hessenguard a month earlier—and also the book that Erna was obsessed with these days.
“They said that young wizards got caught watching them during lectures,” Erna had said as she casually left the book on the desk. “I brought the confiscated items because I was wondering what the hell was going on.”
That night, when she had called him into bed, he had said he had one more document to review. Kalion wished he could turn back time. He should’ve dropped everything and sprinted to her side. If that were the case, Erna would not have read that book, and he would have fallen asleep happily, feeling her soft and warm body to his heart’s content. However, he had spent a considerable amount of time poring over a document, when Erna, bored, discovered the book she had discarded earlier in the day.
Erna had snatched the book and went to her favorite couch and started reading. After a while, Kalion finished his paperwork and plopped on the bed. But Erna, who he thought would come along, was still glued on the sofa with her back upright and her eyes focused.
“Erna, are you not going to sleep?” Kalion had asked.
“You sleep first,” she had replied, “I need to read more of this before I go to bed.” She gestured with her hand as though she did not wish for him to talk to her any further with her attention only to the book.
Who is the person who asked me to go to bed!
Feeling heartbroken for no reason, Kalion closed his eyes, telling her to do as she pleased. After a while, he thought that Erna would come into his arms. However, after waiting for what seemed like forever, there was no sign of Erna. Kalion eventually fell asleep. Then, as always, he awoke to the sound of birdsong at dawn.
Kalion rubbed his eyes and frowned. Erna’s eyes were bloodshot from reading the last chapter of the book.
“Did you not sleep?”
She seemed oblivious to Kalion as she stared intently at the book. After a while, Erna turned the final page and closed the book with a mutter.
Kalion frowned at her murmur. He didn’t know who that person was, but he was certain it was a man.
Erna continued to stroke the cover of the book longingly. This was the beginning. She constantly mentioned his name ever since. For this reason, Kalion had known the entire plot of Dangerous Barbarian despite never having read a single page of the book.
The female protagonist of Dangerous Barbarian is a maidservant of a certain princess. When the princess is to be wed to a barbarian in return for her kingdom’s peace, the maid is dressed as the princess and is married to him instead.
The male protagonist, Marius, is aware of the maid’s true identity from the beginning, but pretends otherwise out of hatred for her and her country and his plans to invade again someday. He is intentionally unkind and cruel towards the female protagonist, especially on the bed. However, as he gradually begins to develop feelings for her, he denies his feelings and acts more harshly. When the female protagonist discovers that Marius has learned her true identity, she runs away from him with her child.
It was a typical romance novel; however, Dangerous Barbarian became sensational because of the author’s vulgar yet explicit remarks about their intimate nights, which was uncommon for most novels. Besides, the male actor in the traveling troupe portrayed Marius so well.
Kalion swallowed his displeasure, hearing Erna’s cheerful voice. Erna was the one who struggled the most during the meeting with the four kingdoms. She deserved to do as she pleased. What’s the big deal about watching a play once, he thought. He waved his hand to bid her goodbye and said, “It will be fun, have a good trip.”
And then, a week later, Kalion realized something was badly wrong.