Chapter 29 – Disobedience to the King (1)
“… I think the rainy season is about to begin.” Riftan, who was about to tether the horses, said, as he looked up at the sky.
The sky was rippling with an ominous pattern of fish scales as if it had become the sea. Riftan nodded his head again knowing that he was right, and the knight who had lightly tossed a log into the fire agreed with him.
“I’m depressed just thinking about it. It’s awful to wander through these mountains in the rain. My armor feels so heavy and useless, and the ground becomes drenched.”
The other knights all took off their armor, grunting as they warmed their hands by the fire.
“We should have arrived at Anatol by now.”
“What difference would that make? Did you forget? As soon as we arrive at Anatol, we have to leave for another kingdom in just a few days,” another knight threw in.
The frowning man snuck a glimpse at Max, who was staring into the fire. “It took much longer because of this horrific wind… Wouldn’t it be funny to anger King Ruben even more by delaying further?”
“Well, the rainy season is about to begin. What can we even do about it?” Riftan tied his horse’s reins to the post and plopped down next to Max. The blonde knight Ricardo was sitting quietly next to his horse with an unmistakably depressed look on his face.
“Does the warrior who defeated the red dragon now refuse to respond to the king’s call because of some rain? You can’t keep your Majesty waiting any longer! We’ve already wasted enough time with this useless work!”
The man’s voice cut across him like a whip on his back. Max’s face turned pale and Riftan’s face turned red with anger.
“Uslyn Ricardo… Be careful what you say to me.” Riftan then added, “Who said I would disobey the king? I’ve just been delayed a bit.”
The man pursed his lips as if he was about to start shouting again, then he suddenly turned his back and heavy silence fell all around. The only sound that could be heard was the crackle of firewood. One of the knights, known for his impertinent and sometimes thoughtless actions, suddenly spoke up.
“I agree with our leader. I don’t want to get wet in the rain like a mangy dog. We’ve been through this for three years, and I’m ready to go back to our old lives.”
“You pathetic bastard! With this wind-!”
“Lord Ricardo and Sir Nirta both have a point. We should instill the power of the Remdragon Knights on the capital as soon as we can,” argued Ruth, who until then had been sitting quietly in the corner. Then, a knight called Hebaron triumphantly stood up.
“Look at that. Even the wizard says that I’m right.”
“It’s just raining a bit. There may be time before the rainy season truly begins.”
Ricardo looked upset but Ruth looked pleased. He had felt a palpable release in the tense atmosphere and secretly breathed a sigh of relief. With this argument, they still hadn’t decided about when they would leave for Anatol and the territory of Croix.
Max recalled a map of the continent of Roviden that she saw in the castle library one day. Riftan’s estate in Anatol, was located on a small peninsula, which stretched like a snake’s head toward the southwestern tip of the South Sea of Syria. She was told that it was surrounded by rugged mountains and wide-open fields to the south.
Whedon’s capital, Drakium, was located to the far northwest, far above Anatol. The fastest route from Aranthal, where the battle against the dragon commenced, to the royal capital was to go straight up the Wiserium River. She had only a flimsy knowledge of geography, but it seemed clear that they were taking the long way around.
‘It’s all my fault… I brought the king’s wrath down on us!’ Max inwardly confessed.
Max vaguely understood why Uslyn Ricardo was so nervous. Riftan had refused the king’s proposal to marry his daughter. The more she thought about this problem, the more her stomach twisted up in knots.
‘No, it’s not because of me… there has to be another reason. What other knight in this world would postpone a king’s call in order to take his wife home?’ But she soon got rid of her dark thoughts. It made no sense to blame everything on herself.
When the central powers are weak, a man with a large tract of land with the military power necessary to maintain and protect it was far more powerful than the king. Whedon was after all more stable than the other six nations.
Moreover, Ruben III is a king who was a strong leader and crucially had the allegiance of hundreds of respected knights. Such a person could not be put on the back burner so easily.