Her sarcasm was not a thing to be missed. Buried beneath it—alongside the naked spark of cruelty—Mariko sensed something much darker. It was clear the empress disliked Prince Raiden. But simply attempting to cause him strife by tormenting his future wife seemed … unsophisticated. All too predictable.
Mariko’s hand barely muffled her gasp. My lord, if you would permit me to—It should not concern you. Your family’s lands are far removed from the source of the disease. Raiden drew himself up to his full height. And you are under my protection while here in Inako.
I would not only be concerned for the welfare of my family, my lord. If any people of Wa are suffering, it is a cause for my concern.Raiden blanched. Of course. I only meant that you need not worry. Others will worry on your behalf. Those with the skills to handle these kinds of difficult situations.His pompous dismissal of both her and her abilities grated on Mariko’s nerves. Which lands have been affected by the plague, my lord?
The Yoshida and the Sugiura lands. The Yokokawa clan. The Akechi lands.She paused in consideration. They are your family’s loyal bannermen.
The wheels in Mariko’s mind continued to turn in careful circles. Have imperial troops been deployed to help? Have the people residing on these lands been quarantined to prevent the plague from spreading? Have healers been sent to study the nature of the affliction and isolate its cause?
A grimace touched the edges of Raiden’s features, there and gone in the blink of an eye. It is true there is much to be done. I am certain the emperor will send along help as soon as he has settled the most pressing matters of the imperial city. He spoke the words with a conviction that belied his actual sentiments, for his eyes told a far different tale. They flitted from side to side, searching the rafters above for a shade of truth.Amelia blinked, thinking that Beth was referring to the amazing night she had shared with Darian. Her confusion must have shown because Meryn elaborated.
"You're up before noon." Meryn yawned.Ryuu was already passing out cups of steaming beverages. He turned to her. "Itoko-sama what would you like before breakfast?"
Darian chuckled at her side. "We have learned to appease the beast before we start eating." He pointed to a bleary-eyed Meryn who was blowing on her mug."The beast, huh?" She turned to Ryuu. "I'll just have a cup of coffee."