Chapter 56 – His Departure to the Capital (2)
“… Are you feeling any better?”
At the abrupt question, she looked down in a hurry, trying to mask her earlier thoughts.
“I-I’m all right.”
“You were in pain the last time we did it.”
Her face flushed carmine, feeling as if it was on fire.
“T-truly, I-I’m fine…”
“I wish you would say that when we’re in bed.” He grimaced and asked perversely, “So that if I ask you ‘Can I do it more?’ you would tell me ‘It’s fine’.”
“Tha-that, that kind of talk…”
She looked around in panic. Seeing that the knights were already far ahead, she looked at him with a timid look and stiffly continued.
“Tha-that kind of talk, you, you can’t talk about those things, if someone hears….”
“So, what if they hear?”
They may find fault with them for being lewd and unprincipled–the sordid almost rose from her throat. So she kept her mouth tightly shut like a honey-fed mute. Over the past few days, only their erotic nights finding their way to mornings filled her memories. When she couldn’t speak and started tearing up, Riftan, who was looking down at her with an impassive face, suddenly burst into laughter.
“My innocent, naive lady!”
Then he hugged her by her waist and gently interlocked their lips. Max slightly shuddered at the cold touch of hard armor she felt over her clothes. Her pulse beat erratically against her chest that she could almost hear it in her ears.
“Don’t make it too hard to stay apart from you.”
Max looked up at him with trembling eyes. She wanted to ask if it was truly difficult to be separated from her. The words, “Can I come with you?” soared from her heart to the tip of her tongue, but couldn’t make past her lips. She might have hung from his neck and begged, had it not been for the fear that his sweet moment would be ruined, and he would be irked. She suppressed the first reckless emotions she had ever felt and tried to sound calm.
“We, we n-need t-to go… we have a meal, we have to…”
He put her down as if his excitement waned as her words brought him to reality. Max restrained her urge to stick to his side, and calmly walked on.
After the meal, all the knights mounted their chargers. Max came out to the courtyard with a train of servants to see him off. Elegantly balanced atop of a giant black steed, Riftan slowly turned his head and looked down at her.
“I’ll be back soon.”
“Be, be careful… come back soon.”
He somehow managed to understand her small murmuring and slightly smiled. He leaned down almost to the point of falling off his horse and clasped her face. She couldn’t reject him even though all the servants were watching.
She tiptoed and reciprocated his kiss. Their lips that had been just slightly overlapping were now clasped together wholly. The man, who was gently pushing his tongue down her mouth, abruptly straightened up and calmly led the horse to the front as if nothing had happened. The knights, mouths wide open and awe-filled faces, followed with a sigh. Max saw them off with a bright red face.
As the knights passed the gate and in a long straight line crossed the moat, the guards on the wall blew their copels with full might. The sound of the dull noise intermingled with the trotting hooves.
For a long time, Max stood rooted to the spot, even after their figures had long disappeared from her sight.
After he left, she fell sick for two whole days. The accumulated fatigue from the myriad of happenings the past few days inundated. It had hit her body as if an embankment had collapsed.
She was suffering from a severe cold, so the maids boiled herbal soups and tried to cool her fever down with some wet towels.
Thanks to their careful tending, she was able to open her eyes feeling better than the previous day. She asked Rudis to prepare a bath, thinking she would feel much better after she’d washed her sweat-soaked body.
“Is it really okay if I don’t call the healer?” Rudis, who brought a hot bathtub with the maids, said.
As she took off her pajamas, Max shook her head in negation and pushed herself into the bathtub.
“Now, now I am… f-feeling better.”
“I don’t know if the medicinal herbs from the wizard are enough. It’s not too late to call a therapist…” Rudis continued worriedly, trying to dissuade her.
“I’m, I’m really fine. It-It’s just a bad cold.” She deliberately smiled.
Though she had not fully recovered, the fever had, fortunately, come down. If she ate well today and didn’t move around too much, she would regain her strength and perhaps would feel a tad better tomorrow.
She came out into the garden with a thick shawl and in a dress newly made by the seamstress. Temperatures had dropped noticeably in just the past few days.
“After the fall rains pass, they say the temperature drops like this,” Rudis explained, smiling gently at the woman she accompanied, who was astonished by the cold wind.
“I think, soon–I think winter is coming soon…” Max mumbled.
“The winter in Anatol is not that cold compared to other regions. It rarely snows even in the middle of winter, maybe because we are close to the South Sea. Even when it snows, it stops at the point of sleet.”
Max was a little disappointed. She had never seen snow piled up as her father’s estate was located in the warm southeast region. She heard that it snowed so much in the capital city of Drakium that they could blanket the whole world and still have snow left over…
Will it start snowing by the time he arrives there?
Ahhh Riftan finally departed which means more screen time for our Maxi… will be posting more chapters this week.