Chapter 13 - Her Will To Survive
“Yes, I will survive. I will survive until the end and see with my own eyes how this world comes to ruin.” Edna spoke to herself in a low voice and ironed her will.
* * *
Eli wriggled out of the blanket as the hot sunshine poked his eyes. After gulping down a glass of cold water and violently shaking his head, he came into the room and groped the floor looking for his clothes, but his randomly discarded clothes were neatly folded on the table.
Someone had entered his room without permission! No, what was more astonishing was the fact that he didn’t wake up throughout. Eli hurriedly dressed up. Next to him lay his favorite sword. Astounded by this unbelievable occurrence, he hung the long sword around his waist. It was only then that he snapped back to his senses completely.
Eli was lost in deep thought as the hot sun absorbed the humidity in the room and stung his eyes.
The civil war had already ended two years ago, but since then, Cayden had skillfully used carrots and sticks to conciliate the nobles who sided with the late king in order to strengthen his royal authority. This forced Eli and his men to continue to engage in punitive battles. Therefore, he was only able to return here a month ago.
Everyone ran away then and only two maids and one servant remained in the abandoned castle, which was always dirty and dusty, as there was an absurd shortage of people to manage such a large building. But he didn’t mind at all, just as long as no one went in and out of his room. But yesterday, someone stealthily entered his room for the first time.
Eli opened the door and went out. Immediately, as the memories of last night flooded his mind, he glanced toward Edna’s room. As he was wondering what Edna was doing now, he looked down at the hall as his ears pricked up a soft noise coming from it.
Edna, whom he assumed to be lying in bed crying to herself in the room, was there. He opened his eyes wide and looked at her amid a cleaning session. She was cleaning the big hall by herself with a rather slow and clumsy hand. Eli opened his mouth in a bland tone, deliberately meant for her to hear, and mused out loud, “Why is she doing a maid’s work?”
At the sudden sound of his voice, Edna instinctively flinched, but she did not raise her head to look up at him, nor did she offer an answer. Even after Eli went down the stairs and stood behind her, Edna did not look back at him.
Eli looked at her curiously. The first thing he noticed was that her shoulders were full of tension. Her hair was blond at the top of her head, but an ugly red color was showing more prominently further down as if she had dyed it on purpose. That red color had made the tips of her hair burn bright in the candlelight yesterday.
Edna roughly tied together her odd mixture of reddish blonde hair and tightly clasped the broom. It was as if she was showing him one reason why her life was worth preserving.
Eli kept looking at her with a cold glance. The brown satin dress was hung ridiculously short for her lean and tall figure. Edna was at least one head taller than the average woman. However, despite her scandalously exposed legs, her back figure looked so elegant that one would not dare call her an illegitimate child.
“They must think me a joke for them to send you thus dressed.” He wondered, and Edna flinched at his words and resumed sweeping. The clothes she brought were all ones that Anna had asked the sisters to bring, except for the pure white dress she wore yesterday.
“Are you going to get married in this outfit?” He asked.
It was only then that Edna stopped sweeping; her gaze still pinned to the floor, wet her dry lips with her tongue and opened her mouth.
“You thoroughly tore up the dress I was going to wear at the wedding yesterday.” Edna rebuked quietly.
“Didn’t I tell you yesterday that I don’t like women who talk back?”
“Then should I not answer you at all?” Edna muttered coldly and began to sweep nervously. Eli giggled. Edna’s claws were drawn out just like a lion cub. Her stubbornness and pride seemed to show on her stiff back. Another giggle escaped him, but Eli soon wiped it off his face and opened his mouth to pay her the price of her virginity, as he had promised her yesterday.
“We’ll have to start by getting new clothes from town then.” He said in a commanding tone.
Edna looked back at him in surprise at his unexpected words. Eli shrugged and added lightheartedly, “You can’t get married in tattered clothes and I don’t want to see you in such a short dress.”
The question of whether he had decided to take her in as his wife jumped out before she could restrain herself.
“Why… are you trying to accept me as your wife?”
“Well, who knows?” Eli muttered, looking pointedly into her face, now in clear view under the bright sun. “It would be simpler to think of it as the price of your virginity. I told you yesterday that if you were a virgin and you proved your life’s worth, then I’ll think about it. I guess you didn’t hear that I was a man of my word.”
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