Riftan's POV - Under the Oak Tree - Chapter 35
Chapter 35 – Riftan’s POV
Translator – LF
Proofreader – Nymeria
“Thank you. I wish to visit and send my present in person if I can, but I can’t leave the territory unprotected given the sudden increase of monsters attacking.” The knight stood up from his seat with an eased smile, as if satisfied with achieving a favor. “Well then, please visit my castle before you leave.”
As Bayern went outside with his men, Riftan climbed up the second floor to avoid the curious gazes of the mercenaries. Elliot Caron quickly chased and questioned after him.
“Why did you accept to do a favor for such a rude knight?”
“It just happened to turn out like that. It’s a great opportunity to investigate whether the Duke has noticed something.”
“But… you might get subjected to unnecessary interrogations.”
“I can afford to handle that.”
Riftan responded curtly at his subordinate, whose eyes were filled with anxiety, and entered his room.
When the rest of the party arrived, Riftan stopped by the Bayern Castle as he promised and took with him twenty-one fox furs and seven rolls of silk, then headed to Croix Castle. Pulling the wagon took two more days than usual, but it enabled him to enter the Duke’s manor without much suspicion. Riftan merely pointed to the wagon branded with the Bayern crest whenever the guards expressed doubts about his sudden visit.
“I was visiting the southeastern region and happened to accept a favor of delivering the engagement presents for the Duke’s daughter.”
After the guards checked the wagon, the gates were opened at once. Riftan led his knights into the magnificent gates, resolutely entering the Croix Castle. The pale winter sunlight shone brightly against the white castle with a silver light.
“Please come this way.”
Soldiers carrying long spears escorted them from both sides as they were led to the castle. After a while, the butler came out of the castle and checked the presents they brought in the wagon.
“These are all valuable items. The Duke will be delighted.”
“These presents were from his vassal knight. I was merely asked to deliver them.” Riftan bluntly declared with a nod and mounted off his horse.
The butler pretended not to hear his words and continued calmly. “The long journey must have been tiring, I shall guide you to your rooms so you could rest.”
The servants came rushing after the butler’s orders. Riftan unconsciously shifted his eyes around as he followed the servants. Then, he realized who he was trying to find and smiled bitterly to himself.
Where the hell is your mind wandering to in this kind of situation? Despite ridiculing himself as such, he couldn’t stop searching for her.
“Please let me know if you need anything.”
As soon as Riftan entered the spacious room with its fireplace already lit, he removed his armor piece by piece. Soon, the servants brought him a tub filled with hot water for a bath. After he drove all the servants out, who were reluctant to leave their duty of taking care of his bath, he washed his hair and body with soap, cleaning off all the swear and dust off his body. Then, he took out the cleanest tunic he packed and wore it. Just then, a knock resounded on the door.
“Excuse me, Sir Calypse. The duke of Croix summons you. Will you spare a moment of your time?”
“I am in the midst of changing my clothing. Hold on for a while.”
Riftan put on his trousers and hung his sword around his waist, then pulled the door open. The butler gave him a stern look, as if scrutinizing whether his appearance was decent enough to appear before the Duke, then began to lead the way.
“Come on in.”
Riftan then followed him into the reception. Croix was standing tall in front of the tapestry embroidered with the figure of Isaac and colorful fishes. As the butler quietly closed the doors and left them, the Duke, who was staring out the window, slowly turned around to face him.
“It has been a while, Calypse. I heard you delivered the presents from my vassal.” Contrary to his soft manner of speaking, his eyes were chillingly cold. “You went through a lot of trouble.”
“I heard that there is a celebration within the household. Jared Bayern regrets not being able to meet you personally and give his regards.” Ritan pretended not to notice his inquisitive gaze and responded in a dry tone. “I happened to be passing by the south eastern region and he asked me to grant this favor to him.”
“You happened to be passing by the southeast, huh…” The Duke repeated his words sarcastically, his thin lips pulling up to a smirk. “It makes me deeply curious as to why you happened to pass by that area. From what I know, your estate is located in the far corner of the south west.”
“I am a knight, as you are aware of. It’s not my nature to stay still in one place.” Riftan spat out his excuse that he had prepared in advance. “I was hunting monsters and ended up going all the way to the east.”
The Duke’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. Riftan read his expression, noticing that the he had yet to notice what was going on in the Lexos Mountains. If he knew that the dragon was waking up from his slumber, he would have no reason to summon him and have this conversation.
Riftan turned the topic around, avoiding fueling his suspicions. “I would have prepared a congratulatory present for the engagement had I not been wandering around hunting monsters. Please, forgive me for coming empty-handed.”
“The engagement is yet to be official.” The Duke declared, stroking his beard. “Although it is true that the Royal Household has come to arrange a marriage, as you know, His Majesty the Prince is merely ten years old. It seems that the rumors spread about holding a matrimonial ceremony after the prince has finished his studies abroad, engagement presents came pouring from all over the place. It has placed me in a tough spot as well.”
Riftan would have bet his entire fortune that the Duke had deliberately spread those rumors; there would have been no way for the stories to spread beyond the Royal Palace borders otherwise, but he swallowed the cynical thoughts and continued to speak as respectfully as he could manage.
“In any case, it is true that there is something to celebrate. Since a good marriage is bound for your eldest daughter…”
“Second daughter.” The Duke immediately corrected him. “It is my second daughter who will be married into the Royal household, Rosetta Croix.”
Riftan was unaware of how tense he was until he heard the Duke’s reply. He tried to appear calm. “Either way, being married into a good household is something worth celebrating.”
“I appreciate your kind words.”
The Duke let out a restrained sigh and sat gracefully on a satin chair. His suspicions about Riftan wandering in the southeast seem to have dissipated as the doubtful expression disappeared from his face.
“You may go ahead and take your leave. I just wanted to know the reason why you were wandering around my territory.”
Riftan silently turned around, but as soon he reached the door, his feet felt as if they were stuck to the floor and he couldn’t move. He held the doorknob and swallowed dryly. It may be the younger sibling betrothed this time, but it may be a different story in the future. She was a noble woman of a prestigious family, people desiring to have her as his bride overflows in this land.
One day, she would also marry the eldest son of a prestigious noble family. He wanted to be able to reach her at least once before that happens. Riftan couldn’t resist the intense urge and turned to face the Duke again, who stared at him threateningly, his eyes foreboding.
“What is it?”
“…I have a personal request to ask of you, your grace.” The Duke’s forehead wrinkled, and his eyebrows gathered like earthworms. He stared at Riftan for a long time with sharp eyes, trying to dig into his intentions, then smirked. “Tell me about it.”
Despite being granted permission, he couldn’t find the right words easily. He had never felt so daunted even before the King. He licked his parched lips, barely opening his mouth.
“I would like to dedicate my geth… to your eldest daughter.”
The Duke’s eyes opened wide with unexpected shock. Riftan held his breath as he waited for his answer. Those words were always running through his head, but he never had the intention of it escaping from his lips. Traditionally, geth’s were oaths dedicated to a lord’s wife or children.
Croix was in the midst of a battle of nerves with the Royal Household given the engagement, offering his geth to the Duke’s eldest daughter could be interpreted as an act of disloyalty to the Royal family. However, he wanted to reach her despite that risk. Even if it was just once, he wanted to kiss the hem of her dress and be able to call her name.
Riftan could no longer bear the long and heavy silence and repeated his question. “Will you allow me to dedicate my knight’s oath to your eldest daughter?”
“…for what intention are you making this request?” The duke questioned, his eyes narrowing in suspicion.
Riftan’s face hardened. “A geth can only be given once in a knight’s lifetime. No knight shall use his geth to accomplish other intentions.”
“Are you saying that you merely intend to display your pure honorable respect to my daughter?”
The Duke of Croix smiled as if he were dumbfounded. “I can’t believe it.”
“First of all, I don’t believe that you have the honors of a knight.”
Riftan’s whole body stiffened at the sudden humiliation. The Duke picked up his glass of wine, moistened his lips, and continued in an annoyed voice.
“Honor can only be passed down generations. Just because you are a little capable of wielding a sword doesn’t mean you have it, it is not something you can earn overnight.”
“I am… a knight who received his title from Whedon’s ruler in front of the church. There is no reason for me to hear such insults.”
“I am not trying to insult you. I’m merely stating the truth. It’s not fair for you to assume that you have earned the same honor as a real noble just because you were given His Majesty’s favor and blessing.” The duke clicked his tongue at him as if he was genuinely pitiful. “You must be trying to use me to build your position, but you better put aside those hopeless expectations. I have no intention of having you near me nor my daughter.”
Riftan flushed at his savage insults. He knew ever since that the Duke despised him, but he never expected to be ridiculed so openly. Croix ushered his head to him arrogantly while he was still standing at loss for words.
“If that’s all you have to say, get out and leave. I am tired.”
Riftan clenched his fists so tightly that his nails dug into his skin, then he turned around and left the reception. His whole body trembled with anger from the humiliation.
He strode down the stairs, his jaw clenched tightly. At that moment, his eyes caught Maximillian Croix climbing up from the bottom of the stairs. Riftan stopped in his tracks and stood tall. She also paused from her movement as if she also saw him and hunched her shoulders.
The look of fear in her eyes clawed his heart more fiercely than ever before. Riftan felt the anger scorching inside his chest turn into frustration. She stood closely to the wall with a terrified expression. Riftan, who was staring at her, descended down the stairs.
He felt like a miserable beggar who was thrown out while he was begging.
Note – LF: This was such a difficult chapter to translate ‘cause I kept crying ☹ I had to pause ‘cause Riftan was hurt so much.
Nymeria: Crying? No babe, we’re THROWING HANDS NOW. THIS LOWLY SON OF A BBBB HOW DARE YOU. My poor baby :c