A Man's Promise
Kurdak thought that he was going insane. Why did he ever open his mouth? Even he didn't understand his own behavior.
Did he like Lamir? He didn't know. In fact, he hadn't spent that much time with her save for the half month he recovered under her care. Lamir was quite attentive to his recovery, so Kurdak was quite touched by the effort she put in.
As for whether he had feelings for her, he couldn't be quite sure. If he were honest, he didn't dislike Lamir's personality. Even though she was a member of the Rodelas household and a high-order priestess, she had never displayed the kind of haughtiness young noble ladies usually did. She identified more as a priestess than a noble.
Though she came from an elite background, her personality was carefree and kind and Kurdak was more than happy to have a friend like that. That was why during his recovery, he would always chat with her about anything. He felt utterly relaxed and untethered.
Usually, when he met strangers, he would always put his guard up, and when he was dealing with Leguna, he always felt the burden of responsibility. After all, he was the boss, and as the boss, he had to take care of his minions. He didn't only feel responsible for just Leguna, but also Annelotte. Vera, on the other hand, was the person Kurdak cared most about.
Since Cyranos's death, Kurdak always had to consider how to solve a problem alone. Even though Vera matured quite a bit since then, he couldn't allow himself to hide behind the woman he loved. So, he had always tried hard and that fatigued him somewhat.
Only when he was with Lamir could he finally relax. That woman would always pester him with odd stories and Kurdak was more than happy to boast to a beautiful woman. Those were the most relaxed days he had ever experienced.
And he did miss that feeling of relaxation quite dearly. So, when he heard Lamir was about to marry Kanjiras, Kurdak suddenly felt a sense of urgency. That was definitely the feeling that had been bothering him.
Would he let her go just like that? She didn't seem too willing to marry Kanjiras, however. Kurdak did say he would help her if she ever had any trouble, so would he be going back on his word? No, Kurdak always kept his word, especially the word he gave to women who treated him well!
So, he finally spoke out.
"Is there anything else?" the soldier said, not looking the slightest bit dissatisfied with Kurdak's response.
He had long envisioned Kurdak doing something like this. He hoisted Lamir off his shoulder and put her on the ground.
"I have a few questions for her," Kurdak said.
The soldier was surprisingly amicable.
"Are you willing to marry Kanjiras?" Kurdak asked Lamir, who was raggedly breathing from the exertion.
"If I were willing, why would I sneak away from my grandfather to come here? I almost got killed on the way, here, you know!"
Her eyes reddened as she recounted what happened. Even though she was 26, her life in the church caused her to keep much of her purity and innocence through her growth into adulthood. Even though part of her running away was something she had done after mustering all her courage, another contributing factor was her girlish capriciousness.
It was only then that Kurdak came to know how much effort Lamir actually put into this.
He nodded and said, "Then…"
"Wait, I have something to ask you too!--" Lamir wiped her tears off with her dirty hands and stared straight at Kurdak. "--Does your promise still stand?"
"Which one are you talking about?" Kurdak tested.
"What else could it be? That one! Don't play dumb!" she shrieked.
He hesitated for a moment.
If a beautiful woman risked her life to seek him for protection against her family's wishes… what would he do? Any man would stand up for her, right? Not to mention the fact Kurdak had promised her he would do so before.
In the end, he nodded. "My promises naturally hold up."
Lamir breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of Kurdak nodding. She didn't know what she would do if Kurdak really feigned ignorance. If that really happened, then it was just her bad luck for judging him wrongly!
But now, it seemed her evaluation of him was correct. She pushed aside the bangs on her forehead and said, "Now that I'm here, help me! I don't want to get married to Kanjiras!"
"Miss…" Kurdak said with a palm to his face, "How do you expect me to help you? It's General Manhattan we're talking about. You want me to jump into a pit of fire for you just like that? It's quite irresponsible of you, you know!"
"I… I don't care!" Lamir threw a tantrum just like Vera would. With her face flushed red, she said, "Y… you already promised! Since I'm here, solve this issue for me! Or… or you'll have failed your promise!"
"What happens if I fail to carry out the promise then?" Kurdak said mischievously with his eyes rolled.
"You!" Her eyes reddened once more at the sound of that. She tried to give Kurdak an angry glare, but it looked pitiful no matter how hard she tried.
Though he was quite humored at seeing her act that way, he didn't dare to joke around any longer as she was about to burst out in tears. He flashed her a reassuring smile and turned to the soldier.
Kurdak's smile gradually melted into a solemn expression. "Apologies, friend. Even though you found her here, I can't let you take her away."
"Why?" The soldier still didn't get mad.
Kurdak noticed that the man probably had an even cooler temperament than Annelotte. It was as if nothing could move him.
"Because she doesn't wish to leave," Kurdak said, "And I've given her my word to help her out if something like this happens. That's all there is to it."
"Mister Kurdak," the soldier said with a slightly threatening tone as he took a few steps forward, "Do you know against whose orders you go?"
"I know. General Manhattan's," he said with a firm nod, "Even so, I can't let you take her away. I gave her my word, so I will keep it. That is what every man should aspire to do. Before I am a soldier, I am a man."
"Are you really going to disobey General Manhattan for such a laughable line of reasoning?" the soldier continued, "You should know how this will end. The best case scenario is that you'll be relieved from your position, but in the worst case, you could be court-martialed."
Kurdak kept silent. He was definitely shaken slightly, but when he turned back at the helpless Lamir, he softened up. It was she who had taken care of him that caringly when he was injured, so he ought to repay her for that one way or another, right?
He firmed his resolve and nodded. "That's right. I'll bear the consequences, no matter what they are. You can tell the general what I said in full. I will bear all responsibility for this."
"That is to say… I won't be able to leave with Miss Lamir no matter what, then?"
His gaze cooled as if he was preparing himself to use force.
"Yes, no matter what," Kurdak said without backing down.
The atmosphere cooled down in an instant. Lamir was a little dazed from hearing their exchange. Manhattan had always shown her his warm side and would never be harsh on her, let alone punishing or scolding her.
But she had forgotten that her grandfather was also the commander-in-chief of the general's armies. It was only now that she was made aware that Kurdak was not just facing her grandfather, but the leader of all the troops of the empire.
She had just come to test Kurdak's intentions. After all, even if she wasn't willing to leave, Manhattan would just have someone take her to Kanjiras by force. But now that it had developed this degree, she finally understood that Kurdak could lose his job and life for honoring his promise to her, which touched her greatly. She definitely judged him correctly!
Even though she fell even deeper in love after seeing how Kurdak acted, she knew it was best to de-escalate the situation. So, she stepped forward and tried to say something.
But before she could, the soldier spoke first. Surprisingly, he nodded casually and said, "Alright. Then we'll leave Miss Lamir with you."
The sudden change in attitude surprised both Kurdak and Lamir. They didn't think the soldier's tone would suddenly shift to a friendly one.
But before they could ask about anything, the soldier waved and left with his subordinates. Kurdak didn't know if he imagined it, but the man seemingly smiled to him just now. Was it a sign their plan worked? Or were they just glad? The smile really confused the heck out of him.
"U--umm…" Lamir didn't know what to say. After a long while, the best she could come out with was, "Thanks…"
Kurdak felt a tinge in his heart for some reason. After some hesitation, he gave her a light hug. "Alright, leave this to me. You don't have to worry about anything any longer."
"Okay…" She felt her eyes get wet, "Where's Vera?"
"I had her look for Leguna. There's something I need her to do for me," he replied.
"Leguna?" Lamir was stunned to hear that name. "I met him on the battlefield two days ago! Vera wasn't there with him!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter