Chapter 19 - Taking Shelter
Every word she spoke was clearly heard by Eli. Feeling her soothing touch upon his arm, his hardened expression immediately softened.
Edna didn’t believe Eli would go so far as to kill the priests. The termination of a priest, under the ruling of a cardinal, was akin to being accused of murder, even if occurring during a war. The judgment if a cardinal was no trifling matter; even the king could not carelessly intervene.
Just as she had expected, Eli released his grip on Abbot Noel’s collar, albeit roughly. The priests, having watched the abbot’s plight from the side, rushed to rescue his collapsed body. Together, they trembled in abject fear.
Turning her gaze to the pale abbot, who seemed to be on the brink of death, Edna said, “I shall be sending you the necessary supplies tomorrow at the latest. You, as the one responsible for the monastery, will distribute those supplies evenly among the villagers. God will be watching you, but know that we will be watching even closer. I trust you understand how you should behave if you don’t wish to meet God sooner than you hope. Do not disappoint us.”
Perhaps the priests caught on to the subtle double meaning behind her words because they stared at Edna in awe. Sometimes verbal threats were far more effective than putting a knife against someone’s neck. The priests all nodded haphazardly to express their understanding.
With his toned arms crossed over his chest, Eli stood next to her, brooding over her words. His suspicions about her only grew: a rat like Viscount William couldn’t educate his illegitimate children.
‘Where did this woman learn how to speak so eloquently and make such underlying threats? Over her masters’ shoulders? No matter how smart she is, wouldn’t this be impossible without proper learning?’
Only after the commotion was over was the pair able to achieve their purpose in visiting the monastery. A few moments later, Eli and Edna were officially married and she was titled “Duchess”. The last step was to inform the king about his marriage.
“Are you going to start right now?” Eli asked as he walked out of the village, ignoring the greetings of the priests.
“What?” Edna asked, confused.
“Now that you’re officially the Duchess, I’m asking if you’ll exhibit your new authority right away,” Eli elaborated.
“I don’t really know what to do,” Edna replied cautiously, the imposing dignity and eloquence she had displayed in front of the priests earlier expertly concealed.
Eli had an inkling that she already had something in mind, but did not allow his suspicions to surface and said, “Anyway, it’s going to start raining soon. We’d better return to the castle.”
An anxious glance at the sky was enough for Edna to notice the dark gray clouds that promised heavy rains. The breeze brushing past her face was heavy with moisture.
Eli grabbed her by the waist and picked up the pace, saying, ” I don’t want to be stuck in the village when it rains so let’s return quickly.”
Her shoes kept slipping so he supported her at first, but soon Eli was carrying her over his shoulder. Upon reaching the horse, he immediately mounted her on it, just in time for the rain to begin falling heavily. It took but only a moment for the village to turn into a muddy swamp that swallowed them up to their ankles.
“It’s going to pour a hell of a lot. We have to hurry,” Eli muttered.
Edna nodded and waited for him to get onto the horse. With a single leap, he settled behind her and they began to ride toward the castle. Their bodies became wet to the bone under the unrelenting rain, with the fog and freezing wind chilling them to their bones.
“We won’t make it to the castle. If we fall off the horse, it’ll be a disaster,” Eli muttered, narrowly avoiding a fall after the warhorse almost slipped on the mud. He searched the area and Edna, grabbing his clothes tightly, followed suit. There didn’t seem to be anywhere nearby that could shelter them from the rain. As Eli got off the horse to look for shelter, the drenched Edna silently stared at his caring back.
‘Whenever I’m with him, it feels like I’m back to my old self… To the proud and confident me that lived in falsehood. How could I have predicted that the past I thought I had already forgotten still lingered in my mind? He must have thought it strange. My words and actions back at the monastery surely added to his suspicions. If he asks about it, what excuse should I give? Would he even give me time to make any?’
Feeling troubled, Edna forced herself to stop thinking about it. If he asked, she would have no choice but to blatantly lie to his face to alleviate his thoughts.
A sad smile hung on the corners of her lips. The devastated village and collapsing monastery passed by her eyes. Even if people held no enmity toward one another, they couldn’t help but become enemies in times of hunger.
※ IP licensed to WordExcerpt. The rights of this work belong to the copyright holders. No portion of this work may be reproduced, transmitted, copied, duplicated, or modified in any form without written permission from the copyright holders.