Manga Read Along: Red River Vol. 14 – 99 Problems

Spoilers, spoilers! Oh my stars and garters, there are spoilers. Need prior installments? Check the archive.

Here it is. The most pivotal volume yet. When we last left the characters, Yuri was racing back to Hattusa in the hopes that she could travel back to the future before Queen Nakia bricked over the spring. Just as she reached the city, she had a premonition that something bad befell Kail. Indeed it had, as Kail seemingly took an arrow to the heart while fighting desperately against the invading Egyptians. What happened to him? Let’s find out.

A scout meets Yuri just as she crosses the river to report that half of Kail’s army is trying to halt the queen’s new construction project but she’s blithely ignoring his commands. If Yuri does not return to her own time immediately, the spring will be sealed and her way to return cut off for good. However, Kail is reportedly faring badly in battle since he is fighting at half strength. Yuri knows she makes a tough decision. If she returns home, she might be consigning Kail to his death, but if she stayed to help him any longer, she will never see her family again.

The family she only thought about at plot convenient points it turns out is no match against the feelings she has for the guy who attempted to rape her just two volumes ago. But it seems that little incident has gone totally down the memory hole. Yuri wheels her horse around and gives the command to rally the troops to aid the king. Shinohara’s art really pops throughout the volume and Yuri’s decision looks really heroic even if I think she is making it on some questionable grounds. Yuri regrets the loss of her family but she is at peace with her choice, vowing that she will be buried in the red soil of the Hittite Empire after she spends her life working to better the kingdom.

At the Egyptian front, the Hittites are still hanging there even after Kail was supposedly killed three days prior. The commanders suspect that he is still alive. As it turns out Kail was keeping Yuri’s final farewell letter in a pouch around his neck. The arrow struck that and broke the tablet which slowed it down enough that the tip didn’t penetrate down to his heart. He has a deep chest wound but he’s still able to give commands. He is hiding the extent of his injuries. However, he knows that if he can’t come up with a plan to make a retreat soon, the Egyptians will overwhelm him.

At just the right moment, Yuri and her army appear on the horizon and come barreling in. Kail couldn’t be more surprised to see Ishtar herself riding to his rescue. Reenergized and with the numbers to win, the Hittites drive off the Egyptians. Yuri rides into camp looking for Kail. When she spots him watching the Egyptians run away, she flings herself at him and he catches her. Then she tears open his cloak, sees the bloody bandages and exclaims that she knew he’d been injured. Kail is at first upset that she stayed behind but Yuri indicates that she understand the consequences of her choice.

Yuri promises that she will attend to both her military and political duties as Ishtar without complaint. Kail basically says that now that she’s here permanently they are going to do the sex. Yuri says that she’s okay with that. Given all she’s been though, her expression seems less one of enthusiasm and more one of resignation. Then they have four pages of kissy-face panels.

Following the battle, Kail and his army takes refuge in a nearby Hittite city that his brother is mayor of. The sisters put Yuri in the bath and prepare her for the sexy-times. Which Yuri is not ready for because as her internal dialogue reveals she didn’t think that Kail actually meant he wanted to do the sexy-times with her because he didn’t say it outright. She is actually pretty freaked out about when the sisters tell her point blank she’s about to be sexed up. But they scrub her and perfume her and doll her up.

Then Yuri has to sit through a victory banquet and all she can think about is the fact that Kail is hours if not minutes away from sexing her up. Yuri’s anxiety only gets worse when the mayor’s wife asks him if he’s decided on who he will take as legal wife and she has to think about things about she’d rather not. Like how is going to cope with always being the ‘other woman’ in Kail’s life.

After the banquet, Kail carries her off like he was Rhett Butler but the effect is someone blunted by Yuri freaking out when she sees the bed. Kail lays her down and expresses gratitude for staying with him as he kisses and touches her. He acknowledges the enormity of her sacrifice and promises to make her happy. Yuri’s face is distinctly uncomfortable as they get down to it. Most of the panels are close ups of Yuri’s face and eyes which keeps everything PG-13.

While the grand defloweration scene was no fun, I have to assume that at some point Yuri got into it because the next scene shows a wrecked bedroom. The servants are waiting outside the door and note that they’d been in there for four days straight. Just shagging away like bunnies. The love birds are cuddled up in bed and Yuri thinks how she is deliriously happy right now. Just before they get down to another round of sexy-times, Yuri halts the proceedings to beg Kail to not take another concubine. She understands that he must take a wife. Kail sexes her into exhaustion and goes out to talk strategy with his crew.

He announces to his advisors and commanders that he has come to a decision. He is going to marry Yuri, a choice that’s met with great delight, and they need to come up with a plan so that the Senate will approve it. Yuri has no wealth, title or political connections that she can bring the empire. Her only asset is that they believe she is Ishtar incarnated. While that’s powerful in its own way, there is no tangible benefit to her becoming his queen and its always been tradition for the queen to come from a powerful noble family.

Now that Kail and Yuri have had their honey moon, they must return to Hattusa. The sisters scramble to attend to Yuri. As one of the twins takes her clothing to the laundry, she drops her shawl on the ground. Rufasa picks it up and kisses the edge of it. Kash catches him feeling up her clothing and Rufasa swears that he will keep his love for the princess a secret.

Meanwhile, Nakia has been busy putting together her next attack. Now that Yuri is trapped in the past, she needs to drive her away from Kail’s protection and plans to drive a wedge between them by putting out the call for every available noble woman and princess to take up residence in the king’s seraglio. Every woman there will be putting pressure on the king to either take her as wife or concubine.

Yuri is still walking on cloud nine as their chariot rolls up in front of the palace. When they walk in and find close to a hundred women waiting to greet the king, Yuri couldn’t be more shocked. She expected that he’d take a wife eventually but she wasn’t thinking it would be so soon. Among the bachelorettes are Alexandra, who Yuri met in Arzawa, and Kail’s old flame, Princess Selto.

Kail blows them all off, but Yuri is shaken to see all these beautiful women in the house. He promises Yuri that she alone has his love and he will send them away as soon it’s politically safe to do so. Yuri does not have an easy time adjusting to the new cramped seraglio. The other women are deeply jealous that she is only one Kail summons to his chambers night after night. They start bullying her and pushing her around. One princess says that Yuri will be nothing as soon as Kail gets tired of her and this intimidates Yuri. It bothers her she is lower than ever the princess’s personal servants and she brings nothing of value to their relationship. She starts withdrawing from the public areas so as not have to deal with the other princesses.

Kail notices how isolated she is and laments that if she can’t step up and force the others to respect her position as king’s concubine, she isn’t fit to be queen. He’ll continue to love her but his hopes of marrying her will be dashed. As the women clamber for Kail’s attention, Princess Selto starts playing pranks to humiliate Yuri liking drenching a rug in oil so she falls on her face. Rufasa notices how Selto’s bullying is getting worse and he tries to petition the king to force them to stop. He’s noticeably angry, his rage betraying his affection for Yuri. Kail says that Yuri needs to stand up for herself and not hide behind him if they are ever to make her queen.

There is a big banquet that night and Selto orders her maids to sabotage Yuri’s clothes. At the party, Yuri gets a big insult when she’s seated furthest away from the throne. This drives home how she is the lowest ranked woman there. Nakia goads Yuri into dancing for their amusement like she did to capture the fortress in Arzawa. Yuri dances and she draws every eye. Then the straps of her dress break leaving her naked in front of the crowd. Talk about a nightmare situation.

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