ITDHL (Novel) Chapter 96

C96

Is the alpaca man a king? Lariette looked at Hamad in surprise. Did a distant king appear at the festival and claim to be in love with a woman he had never seen before? Even if that were the case, how could a commoner address a king by his name?

Ashtar was a city with great independence, making it difficult to access. The emperor also knew that they called themselves a kingdom, but not much was known about them. This was because it was impossible to send soldiers to the Desert of Death. Therefore, the Lord of Ashtar was an unofficial king, also nicknamed the king of the desert. But was the king of the majestic desert the alpaca man? Lariette squinted her eyes in suspicion.

"What kind of appearance is that?"

"It is a grave offense to impersonate a king."

"Me pretending to be myself?"

Hamad opened his mouth, astonished. He had even revealed his full name, so why didn't she believe he was the king? He frowned at the injustice and urgently explained himself.

"This is my palace, and everything in this desert belongs to me. How else can I prove it?"

"How do I know they're not just words?"

"Shall we find the maids and ask them?"

"They could be lying."

Hamad scratched his head in frustration. He thought she would be surprised or find it cool if he revealed his identity, but he never expected this reaction.

"How can I prove it to you so you believe me?"

Bingo. That's what Lariette wanted. There was no reason for her not to believe the confession about his identity, as she thought Hamad would be associated with the prince of Ashtar in the first place. It was just a trick, where she would use his ego to get what she wanted.

"If you really are a king, wouldn't there be a way to contact the capital during the Wind Month period?"

Lariette asked, squinting her eyes. The way she slightly tilted her head to the side was very attractive. Hamad couldn't take his eyes off her face for a moment, but then he came to his senses. He responded as if he were in trouble.

"It's difficult no matter if I'm a king..."

"See, you're lying. What kind of king are you, the alpaca king?"

Furthermore, his attire was also strange. Lariette added with a pout. This was a clear display of disrespect, she was sure he would notice.

"Alpaca again...! What's wrong with my outfit? It's cool!"

"I want to respect your taste, but it's embarrassing to see it. My heart is too sensitive."

Hamad wanted to tell her that it was the traditional attire of the desert, but his clothing showed more skin than others in Ashtar, so he couldn't utter a word. He couldn't lie.

"Isn't it more pleasant to see chest muscles...?"

For the first time in his life, he was surprised that someone had an opinion about his dressing style. He thought the more muscles were visible, the better. And what the hell is the alpaca?

"Then, about how to get in contact. Is there a way or not?"

Lariette took a step closer to Hamad and boldly asked him. Instead of saying it was impossible, he used the word "difficult," so she believed there would be a way. Hamad foolishly looked into space, unable to find a place to look as she approached. Suddenly, his bare chest began to bother him, mocking him once again as she got closer. Lariette was like a game of tug-of-war. He thought she was like that.

"Let's give it a try."

"Thank you, Your Grace."

Lariette responded, her eyes narrowed like a fox. She was satisfied with hearing the answer she wanted, on the other hand, Hamad felt his heart beating again as he saw her beautiful smile.

"If she smiles like that, maybe she's interested in me."

The man named Asrahan could be a brother or relative left behind in the capital. Hamad worked hard to clear his mind with positive thoughts and tried to make an important suggestion.

"The festival is in two days. There will be fireworks and a dance held in the square."

It was the Isis Festival. Lariette smiled softly, as the dream she had about Asrahan came to her mind. Hamad, who didn't imagine that Lariette was thinking about another man, continued with an unusually cautious air.

"I have to do my first dance as king... it's a very important event."

"Oh, I see."

Lariette responded curtly. She was waiting for him to finish speaking quickly and find a way to contact the capital.

"Will you dance with me? The first dance."

Lariette looked at him with wide eyes at the unexpected offer. Then she smiled brightly as if she felt honored. It was the first time Hamad offered a dance to someone. He had never danced with another woman. Instead of holding a woman's hand and dancing, he showcased his solo performance.

"Sorry, but I don't like it."

That's why he had never been rejected before.

---------------

"Let's dance together."

Hamad said to her, walking through the palace corridors, and following Lariette's back like a puppy. No, he was so big that he looked more like a wolf than a puppy. And the response came less than a second later.

"I don't like it."

And Hamad proposed again within that same second.

"Let's dance together."

"I refuse."

"I refuse your refusal. Let's dance together."

"Ugh, why is this guy so annoying?" Lariette thought with a fake smile on her lips. If it weren't because he is the king, she would like to give him a beating. However, to get rid of Hamad, who had been chasing her all day, there was a more effective method.

"Your Majesty, even after asking you for something, you still follow me?"

"I have my servants to investigate you."

"Well, Your Highness is not an incompetent person, so you will find out very soon."

Lariette laughed, emphasizing the word "incompetent." As expected, Hamad, whose eyes were burning with fighting spirit, responded that he would press his subordinates.

"More than that, Lari, I'll show you something fun. Follow me."

Quickly, his face turned childish and playful, leading Lariette to the palace's patronage. Lariette followed him, sighing behind him.

"Wow, what is this?"

Lariette's eyes gleamed with joy. Standing in front of her was an animal, the animal was quite large, with fluffy white fur, bulging ears, long eyelashes, and big eyes. The way it looked at her with its head tilted was very cute.

"This is Yama. People from Ashtar ride these creatures when they travel through the desert. Despite its appearance, it's fast and brave when facing monsters."

"Cute..."

Lariette instinctively stroked Yama's fluffy fur. He extended his neck towards her, enjoying her touch.

"What Kuntal said was true."

Hamad praised his servant with all his heart for recommending a good suggestion. He advised him that women from the capital were weak against cute animals. He rushed to propose, taking advantage of this moment when Lariette's mind was relaxed.

"Let me give you this Yama. Will you dance with me at the festival instead?"

"No."

Lariette's response, however, was quick and firm. Hamad, who had already been rejected more than ten times, seemed gloomy and asked.

"Lari, don't you like the idea?"

It was a rather serious voice. Lariette turned her head and looked Hamad in the face. She had to win the favor of Ashtar to get what she wanted. If Doha were nearby, he would advise her to act like him. It was a sound decision, but Lariette didn't want to be like Doha. Taking advantage of his affection for her, the experience of having attacked Doha in that way was enough.

"I have someone I love. I'm going back to the capital to find him."

So she replied sincerely.

"Thank you for saving my life and being kind to me. As long as I know that Your Majesty has a reasonable interest in me, I don't want to leave you any room."

Hamad stared into her violet eyes that met his gaze. Lariette was worried that he might be angry enough to dismiss her, after all, many of the men from the capital she had seen wouldn't accept being snubbed and would blame the woman. She was worried that Hamad might also be that kind of person.

"It is..."

Hamad opened his mouth with a deep voice.

"You were rejected, yes."

"Hahaha!" He burst into laughter, then patted Lariette a couple of times on the shoulder, as if consoling her, embarrassed.

"It's okay. If that's your opinion, I can't go any further."

"Uh... thank you?"

"In exchange."

Hamad smiled and continued with a relieved expression.

"Let's be friends. Calling me 'Your Majesty' is embarrassing. Let's call each other by our names."

For a moment, a memory from the past passed through his mind because it reminded him of someone who would laugh and say similar things.

"Since we've built such a good relationship, how about being friends? To navigate through this difficult working relationship, I really like Lady Lariette."

When memories of her last moments with Doha came to her mind one after another, she felt a pressure in her heart. However, as she lifted her head to meet his gaze, the frustration diminished. Because there was no selfishness on Hamad's face, and although one never knows, Lariette felt that way and vowed to stay alert until the end. She didn't want to go through that again.

"Yes, Hamad."

Upon Lariette's response, Hamad smiled satisfactorily. Then he requested a handshake. She hesitated for a moment, carefully extending her hand, considering that it was nothing more than a handshake. But as soon as both hands made contact, the strong shout of a man cut through between them.

"Dear Mr. Hamad!"

"Kuntal. What's happening all of a sudden?" Hamad added with a smile.

To gather information, an error occurred in the recommended method.

Hamad smiled and pondered. By the way, the recommended method failed, so his servant, Kuntal, took a deep breath and urgently delivered the news.

"It's a report of a great energy in the desert. Someone seems to be wandering in the Ashtar Desert. But the energy is truly unusual..."

Hamad's face, which had been smiling helplessly, quickly turned cold, and he asked for additional information in a cold voice.

"The number, is it an army from the capital?"

"No, it's not. It's not the army... they say it's a single individual."

"A person?"

"You said it was an enormous energy," Hamad furrowed his brow.

"Yes, that's what the scout said..."

Lariette's breath caught. Suddenly, her heart began to race wildly. Her skin tightened with tension, and her fingers trembled. She didn't understand why, until the soldier's words continued.

"It's a guy with blue eyes, black hair, and he wields a black sword," he said.

Boom.

Her fast-beating heart dropped with a loud thud. Lariette's gaze pierced through the barrier and stared at a distant place. Hamad immediately looked at Lariette upon hearing the description of the familiar appearance. He knew too, because he knew he had a sword, and he was the only one who could exude so much energy on his own. But Hamad hoped it wasn't him.

"Asrahan."

Lariette defied his expectations and whispered the name Asrahan. Somewhere beyond that wall, he was alone in this wild sandstorm and a horde of monsters. He, who usually didn't leave the capital, had only one reason to come to Ashtar. She didn't know the exact purpose, but he was here to find her. So she couldn't stay still either.

"Hamad."

"No."

Hamad quickly interrupted Lariette. Even after seeing that enormous sandstorm, he had to go to the capital, find his beloved, she was in a mess, didn't know what to say.

"I can't help you this time, Lari. Like I said yesterday, during the Wind Month, in Ashtar, no one goes outside the walls. No matter how good friends we are, I can't let my soldiers face that threat."

Lariette silently shook her head as if it weren't so. Moreover, she had never made unthinkable demands.

"Let me borrow one."

"... What?"

"A Yama. Can I borrow one?"

"You don't intend to..."

Hamad furrowed his brow. And Lariette continued speaking firmly.

"It's a strong creature that two people can ride."

------------------

The Desert of Death.

A sandstorm with the scent of blood constantly blew over him, enveloping Asrahan's body. He kept moving forward, thrusting his sword into the sand. It would be fine if it were only a sandstorm, but the Desert of Death was filled with powerful monsters that were not found near the capital. Now he didn't even know how many monsters he had killed. Thirty? Or fifty? At least it was definitely more than that, because monsters kept appearing and attacking him. Asrahan couldn't relax for a moment, let alone sleep. His back still throbbed from the burns. It was because the priest had abandoned Deauville and started pursuing him before he was fully healed.

"Lariette."

Asrahan moistened his dry lips and whispered the name of the woman he missed so much.

"I won't die until I see her again. Even if I die, I'll free her from that terrible illness, and only then will I die."

Asrahan made a promise and pressed on. However, as time passed, fatigue accumulated, and he felt as if his overworked body was on fire. He felt dizzy because he had been hit multiple times by monsters whose skin was poisonous. It wouldn't be strange if he died at any moment.

"Ahhh!"

"Caaaaaaa!"

Once again, enormous monsters appeared and surrounded Asrahan. There were about five Class A monsters. If it were him, he would have handled them without difficulty, but the situation wasn't too good. His body was hot as if it were fading away, his vision was blurry, and strong winds blew and shook him.

"My Lariette."

Asrahan gripped his sword and shouted her name as if casting a spell. Soon, the fierce attack of the monsters poured down on him. Asrahan continued cutting down monsters, moving his heavy body tirelessly with the strong determination that he couldn't die here. The monsters fell one after another. However, he couldn't afford to be careless. The tail of a giant scorpion rushed towards him. Although Asrahan knew this in advance, he couldn't avoid it, and then, through his blurred and dizzy vision, he saw a person running towards him in a yellow sandstorm. The sound of animal footsteps could also be heard.

"Asrahan!"

The voice of the woman who had failed him and whom he missed so much sounded like thunder.

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