Chapter 17 - Another Monastery
Scrutinizing their surroundings, Edna measured the situation. Eli had definitely said he would do nothing for this land. But he couldn’t simply leave it as it was.
‘Will I really be able to convince Eli? Would it even be okay to try?’ Edna questioned herself.
As Edna thought hard on how to persuade Eli, said man was busy tying the reins of the horse to a tree. Then, he returned to her side and, seeming as if he wanted to measure her, said, “My men will arrive in a few days. They went to look for their dispersed families after the order for them to settle down fell. I have to get ready if I am to spend the winter here with them, but I haven’t a clue on what to do.”
Edna looked up at Eli and asked, “Didn’t you say you were not going to do anything? Have you changed your mind?”
Although he didn’t want to contradict himself, he had no choice. “I can’t help it. Now you are here and my men are set to arrive soon. Winter is almost upon us, so shouldn’t I try to live with a little more comfort until the king lets me go? It’s annoying, but this scenery is also disturbing to see,” he replied with a grimace.
His cold words told Edna that he, a mere commoner, was someone of great importance to the king. She could see how much he cared for his men. It surprised her that Eli, a man rumored to know nothing but war, had this side to him. Furthermore, his tone of voice when he described the situation as ‘disturbing’ even betrayed a glimmer of regret.
“But I won’t do anything myself.”
“So who’s going to do it? I’m sure you—” she began, but he cut her off.
“You can do anything you want, Edna.”
She was quiet for a moment, lost in thought. Does he understand the weight of what he just said? By telling her she could do anything she wanted, he was giving her enormous power. Yet, by using her knowledge to perform such a role, she risked exposing the lie of being an illegitimate daughter. Stuck in a quandary, Edna pursed her lips tightly and lowered her eyes to the ground.
Eli stared quietly at the top of his wife’s head. His instinct was warning him that she was not what she appeared to be, and a long war taught him to listen to his instinct. Now that very instinct whispered to him that Edna was hiding something; she wasn’t a bastard child. The way she looked at him in the eye and relentlessly talked back to him, showing pride that was uncharacteristic of bastard children… These behaviors made Eli expect something from her. But, at the same time, he worried and wondered about what Edna was truly capable of.
Education was out of the question for illegitimate children. Eli was aware that the territory could not revive by sheer will alone. If the world could be changed at will, then there would be no war or brutal slaughter. If it was possible, he wouldn’t have abandoned himself and confronted the world like this.
Eli stared at Edna, who appeared to be lost in some serious thoughts. Suddenly, she looked up and asked, “Will there be no wedding?”
“Your clothes aren’t even ready yet. Do you want to have a wedding looking like that?”
In his experience, women usually went crazy whenever dresses and jewelry were involved. He thought Edna would be greedier because she had nothing before. Instead, she merely opened her mouth and calmly stated, “I did say I did not need dresses. Please take me as your wife before God.”
“What did you say?” Eli casually asked and looked down at her.
“I need a justification to perform my role as the lord’s wife. So find a priest and acknowledge me as your wife.”
This was no ordinary proclamation. Eli sensed that she was a quick-witted woman. He easily unearthed her intentions. At the moment, she was but a humble illegitimate daughter of a viscount. But once she formally married Eli, her status would be raised to unimaginable heights, thus granting her the power to do many things.
Holding both her hands together, Edna looked at him with eager eyes. Eyes that were a warm brown now. Her eyes, which changed color following the light like a prism, bothered him for some reason.
It was a very rare eye color.
Eli unknowingly stretched out his hand to pat her delicate shoulder, but Edna immediately flinched and stepped back, avoiding him. At that moment, there was a stir in the depths of Eli’s heart. She was afraid of him, and yet, she dared to look him in the eye. Noticing how she waited for him to speak, expression a mix of fear and courage, he changed the topic. “There must be a monastery here, too. God protects them so the armies wouldn’t have killed everyone in there.”
Edna unconsciously frowned at his profane remarks. It was a dangerous blasphemy to speak of the priests with contempt. In some cases, it was even punishable by burning.
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