Under the Oak Tree - Chapter 147
Translator – LN
Proofreader – Nymeria
Rudis spoke up quietly to Agnes.
“Your Highness, if a criminal commits fraud or steals, the general law to resolve the matter is to pay back the victim ten times the cost of the equipment or lost business. If the criminal cannot pay, he will have to conduct labor accordingly.”
Agnes stroked her chin.
“It’s more generous than I expected. In the Capitol, they cut off their wrists right away.” She sounded used to violence. “How are murderers condemned?”
Rudis answered calmly.
“If convicted, murderers are exiled or hanged. The verdict is usually influenced by the victim’s family. If no family exists, the decision is based on the priest, who acts on the will of God.”
Max became more depressed. Even though she was the Lady of the land, it was embarrassing how little she knew about Anatol.
“Look at that crowd of women!” Agnes suddenly pointed. “What are they staring at in that stall?”
Max looked up. In a narrow alleyway, more than a dozen village girls were squabbling. The princess grew excited and grabbed her arm, wanting to get into the pandemonium.
“What in God’s name are they arguing about?” Agnes said.
The village women were in a catfight to retrieve the best fabrics piled on rows of shelves. Max had no idea about what was happening, she stayed silent like a silly noodle and looked at her maid, Rudis.
“T-there. W-what is that?” Max asked her, referring to the fabrics.
“My lady, those are accessories that are worn around the waist. When the spring festival starts, the village girls twist these fabrics around their waists, wear flowers in their hair, and sing songs in the fields.”
“Is this a tradition referring to the nymph who was Uigru’s lover?” Agnes said.
Rudis nodded and responded courteously to her.
“According to the legend, the nymph had seduced the hero, Uigru, by wrapping a piece of cloth around his waist and bestowing him with a flower garland on his head. For centuries, the maidens in Anatol have dressed to represent the oak spirit in the spring and sing songs in the field. It is a very well-kept tradition.”
Agnes’ eyes brightened.
“Y-yes?” Max said.
“Maximilian, you can’t miss a festival in your own town. Let’s participate in this one together!”
Ignoring Max’s response, Agnes grabbed her arm again and pulled the two of them among the fighting maidens.
Max’s scream died in her throat. Her hair was pulled by the girls shoving each other, shoulder to shoulder, who also mussed her clothes. However, she could not escape since Agnes’ grip on her arm was too strong and she felt like crying.
“How about this?” Agnes said.
The princess was in her element, she pushed women out of the way, got into the middle of the throng and grabbed a purple piece of cloth, then shook it in front of Max’s face, who nodded alarmed. She was still struggling in the crowd, her stomach was cramping, and it felt like Agnes was going to tear her arm out of her sleeve. She just wanted to leave, but the princess was not finished yet.
Agnes frowned at the piece of cloth she held.
“Green or yellow would suit you best, Maximilian, it would complement your red hair nicely…”
“W-well, a-anything is fine f-for me.”
“What do you think? Blue would suit me best, wouldn’t it?” Agnes said casually. “Wouldn’t this match the color of my eyes?”
Max screamed when the crowd pushed her roughly. The village women were shouting, shoving, and pulling on one another’s hair and dresses. She had never had an experience like this, to be pushed back and forth, while she was in shock. Agnes finally decided on two fabrics she liked and threw three coins to the stall owner.
“I’m buying these two!” Agnes shouted. “Is this enough?”
“Oh, of course! Let me get the change.”
“No change, thank you!” Agnes shouted happily and drew back from the crowd. Max retreated with her, touching her tousled hair and loosened dress. Hebaron, who had fallen back to watch, sighed.
“Princess, won’t you please avoid these types of situations? What if you were struck badly? Or if someone found out about your identity…”
“Omo, are you worried that those feisty country maidens could hurt me?” Agnes laughed, still excited about her experience.
Hebaron softened his voice and talked paternally.
“I spoke wrongly. Those girls were the ones in danger. Your Highness was pushing and aggravating them as if they were harmless reeds…”
Agnes snorted at his sarcasm and turned to Max. She was half-listening and when noticed Agnes’ gaze, flinched. The princess gave her a red cloth with a genuine smile.
“This is a thank you gift for guiding me around Anatol. I picked this for you because it reminded me of the color of your hair.”
“T-thank you.” Max hesitated before accepting the gift, and Agnes smiled satisfied.
Max looked at the fabric she was given, that had a rough texture. She was confused. Why was Agnes being so nice to her? She watched the princess, who was holding a blue piece of cloth around her waist.
“Should I tie it around me like this?” she asked Rudis.
“Yes, tie it this way to keep it from touching the ground.”
“Maximilian, try your gift on, too”, Agnes said.
“I-I, to d-dress in public…”
Max unraveled the fabric in her hands and made a nervous expression and Agnes shrugged her shoulders.
“Alright, you get a pass today. However, we’re going together to the spring festival for sure!”
Agnes batted her eyelashes and smiled softly, then began to walk quickly through the marketplace again. Max folded her gift and went after her slowly.
The group continued to walk around for an hour and a half before returning to the carriage. During this time, Agnes had purchased on a whim five gemstones, dragon scales, Wyvern monster leather and a variety of medicinal herbs. Her enthusiasm over the herbs reminded Max of Ruth bargaining in the marketplace. Were all wizards obsessed with rare herbs and magical items?
“I can see why merchants take the risk to travel to Anatol.” Agnes said. “There are many rare herbs here, and the gemstones are comparably cheaper than in the rest of the kingdom.”
“According to our wizard, there are a lot of rare herbs in the Anatorium Mountains” Hebaron said. “Because of the monsters there, it’s also easy to get monster bones, skins, and gemstones.”
The knight continued to pack Agnes’ purchases in the back of the carriage and she stared at him, confused.
“I see that you’re selling monster parts in the marketplace, and yet you don’t dare interfere with the church nearby?”
“In Anatol, the Protestants, not to mention the Catholics, have virtually no power. Although the church exists, it is only a place to raise orphans with funds the Captain provides. The church has only recently congregated. It used to be just land.”
Agnes pointed and shouted. “What’s this? I’m jealous!”
Max was confused. “W-why are y-you jealous?”
“From a wizard’s point of view, this scenario is ideal. Wizards and priests often don’t see eye to eye.” Agnes huffed. “Priests often see us as beings working against God’s will.”
She took a seat inside the carriage. Max recalled the priest who had mentored her in her youth and could not imagine the man hostile to wizards. She asked, confused.
“Why? T-to use m-magic is amazing. A-any noble w-would want a w-wizard.”
“Wizards only began to be a commodity when this war started.” Agnes said. “Once the fights over land increased, ransoms on wizards increased a lot. Since I knew wizards were needed to support my father’s reign, I convinced the Protestant sector to take a more tolerant position on magic. Today, magicians are so powerful that the Church must accept them. According to traditional doctrine, magic is a demon’s power that refutes God’s will. Demons are evil spirits, and it is sacrilegious to trade demon bones, scales, and gemstones.”
The princess took out a red gemstone she had recently purchased and sighed.
“The Catholic Church still strongly influences the trading of monster parts, and usually only allows mana stones to be traded. If you’re caught trading monster bones, scales, or skins, you are referred to them. I have only been able to make a few magic tools, myself, since resources are limited.”
“Do p-protestants allow t-trade?” Max said.
“Protestants allow people to trade gemstones, monster bones, scales, and even monster skins freely. However, trading the blood or flesh of a monster is strictly prohibited.”
“W-what w-would you do w-with the blood or f-flesh?”
She had heard that mana stones and bones from monsters and dragons could be used for magic equipment, such as using scales and skin to make armor. But how could one use the blood or flesh? Agnes smiled, amused at her trepidation.
“They can be used for black magic or alchemy. There are rumors that some people even consume monster flesh.”
“Eating that!” Max exclaimed.
Note – Nymeria: Unpopular opinion, I really like Agnes, she doesn’t really care about anything and she’s so easygoing! I think she’ll be a good influence for Maxi.