Under the Oak Tree - Chapter 163
Translator – LF
Proofreader – Nymeria
Max needed to make herself busy. Being idle brought memories of her time at the Croix Castle and it made her feel like an empty shell. She then decided to go to the kitchen and supervise the servants to see if dinner was going well. Just as she came down from the stairs and was heading towards the hall, a loud voice called over her shoulder.
Max turned her head to the direction of the voice. Sir Gabel Laxion and Sir Lombardo walked through the wide-open door with serious expressions, which made her nervous.
“W-What’s the matter? At this time of the day…?”
“I apologize for calling you so suddenly. There is someone injured, will you kindly take a look at him?” They passed through the servants who were cleaning the hall’s floors and ran straight to her. Max was taken aback and widened her eyes.
Back when she had just started to practice healing magic, she often looked after injured knights and never experienced depleting her mana, but after the last incident such exchanges ceased. Still, it had to be something very urgent for them to decide to request her help. Max felt embarrassed and hurriedly opened her lips to talk.
“How about… R-ruth?”
“The wizard is at the construction site right now. I don’t want to burden you, milady, but I can’t afford the time to go down the town and find another healer.”
They were in a hurry and didn’t wait for Max’s reply as they quickly led her to the door. She almost stumbled in hurry as she tried to keep pace with the knights’ wide strides.
“H-How… Who was injured?”
“Some knights were sent to Libadon for an inspection of the land last winter. It seems that they were attacked by werewolves beyond the territory of Anatol as they were coming back, one of them was bitten and infected with venom…” Gabel lightly clicked his tongue and belatedly glanced at Max with anxiety. “Do you know how to use magic for injuries involving venom?”
“I-I studied the magic formula. Yet I haven’t had the chance to actually practice…”
“You can give it a try this time.”
Gabel spat out without hesitation, then began to slide down the railing of the stairs. Max tried to hurry down to keep his pace, but had to pull the hem of her dress up to one side to prevent her from rolling down.
“R-rather… Wouldn’t it be better to wait for Ruth to return?”
“If we delay it any longer, the venom will spread, and he will be unable to use his right hand for the rest of his life. His life as a knight would be over. We won’t blame you if you fail, but please give it a try first.”
Lombardo spat out in a tone that seemed more like a compulsion than a request and Max swallowed dryly. The knights had so far lived trying to hide even the smallest injuries, but now that they were actually coming to her for help in a moment of crisis, she didn’t know whether she was feeling happy or overwhelmed by what they expected of her.
What if I can’t handle it? She followed the knights across the garden, rubbing her damp palms against her skirt to wipe away the sweat. They passed through the doors leading to the training door and then headed straight towards the dorms.
Max stepped in the wooden building to follow them and stiffened as soon as she realized that the inside of the room was very dark: the sunlight was kept outside with thick curtains. It was only when the knight lit a candle that a desolate space with three or four camp beds came into view. The room seemed haphazardly made to cater just those who were injured during training.
As she followed the knights, she saw a shelf full of medicinal herbs and bottles of unknown medicine, a brazier emitting a faint light, and a boiling kettle. Max looked around and trembled slightly at the strange scenery. When she heard a weak moaning sound, she turned towards it and saw a young knight lying down on the farthest bed. She stepped over to him and frowned.
“It’s dark, so I can’t see the wounds well. C-can the curtains be taken off?”
“Werewolves’ venom makes one’s nerves extremely sensitive. Sunlight exposure intensifies the pain so the struggle will be harder. Here, let me light another candle instead.”
Gabel explained briefly, then lit a candlestick next to the bed and the dim light revealed the knight’s bare torso. Max looked down tensely and when she confirmed that the size of the wound was not larger than what she was expecting, her shoulders loosened a bit. There was a deep bite mark on his forearm, but fortunately the bone didn’t seem to be damaged. However, the infection was serious.
She placed the back of her hand against the young man’s face, her eyebrows furrowing at the heat of his body temperature.
“The antidote… H-has he taken it?”
“He immediately took it when he was bitten, but the monster who bit him seems to be a high-level one, so the antidote is not working.”
Max turned her head at the unfamiliar voice. A young knight with an emaciated face entered the infirmary, carrying a flask. Sir Lombardo quickly took the flask out of his hand.
“I told you to take a break and let the servants do these chores.”
“I am fine. On the other hand, this guy was bitten while he was bandaging me. It’s my responsibility to take care of him.”
The young knight stubbornly replied, grabbing the flask, and approaching the bedside. He then soaked a towel with water and began to wipe the body of the unconscious man. When the cold towel met his feverish body, a weak moan erupted from him. Sir Lombardo stiffened looking at the pitiful scene and turned to Max with urgency.
“Please hurry, if the venom spreads further, his arm will be permanently damaged.”
“I… I’ll try.”
She tilted the candlestick with a tense face, carefully examining the condition of the arm bitten by the monster. She had already seen a werewolf bite before, but that was very different from this. There was a foul odor emitting from the two pitted teeth marks, which were so deep that they looked like they had been nailed with a hammer. The bruise on his arm resembled a dark burgundy stain of paint and it was swelling like a plump sausage.
Can I really heal it? Max tried to recall the magic she had learned from Ruth as she placed her trembling hand on top of the wound. Healing venom-infected wounds consumed less mana than healing magic, but the process and the execution was more complex.
She started drawing out her mana, trying to remember the unfamiliar formula, but controlling mana in that way was not as easy as she had initially thought. She drew the magic formula twice without success and the tension was evident in the faces of the knights who were watching quietly by her side, noticing that she was encountering trouble during the process.
“Is it… difficult?”
“I… I’ll try one more time…”
Max muttered in a creeping voice, her face turning red from the effort she was exerting. She felt regretful, thinking that she should have practiced this variant of magic instead of wasting time struggling with self-pity. She was afraid that if she didn’t succeed in healing that young knight, the trust that was built between her and all the knights would crumble in an instant.
Max aggressively wiped the sweat from her forehead with her sleeve and applied her mana once more. When a hazy blue light was emitted and it wrapped around the knight’s arm, she began drawing the intricate pattern again. The magical power that flowed into the knight’s body purified the blood contaminated with venom and discharged it from the body with the help of the magical formula. Noticing that it was working, Max exhaled a long sigh of relief. After a while, the dark red stain around the knight’s arm and its angry swelling subsided.
“It’s… a-all done.”
Max slowly removed her hand as she felt that the dark energy was completely eradicated from the wound. Gabel picked up a candlestick and looked closely at the knight’s complexion. He then suddenly pulled up the curtains and the bright sunlight flooded in, making Max squint her eyes and furrowed her eyebrows.
“He’s not reacting aggressively to the sunlight. It seems that the magic worked, and the venom’s completely gone.”
“It’s not certain, there may be some v-venom and dark energy left… he’ll need more antidote. Will you kindly boil medicinal herbs?”
“I’ll prepare it.”
The other knight, who had been restless by her side until then, quickly started making tea, putting herbs and leaves into a kettle. Max sat by the window and sighed for a moment as the tea boiled. It had been a long time since she used magic, so she felt slightly tired, but she wasn’t feeling dizzy like it was when she completely depleted her mana.
She weighed her remaining mana and deciding that she could afford to use healing magic, she applied it on the knight once more. As the bite marks on his forearm rapidly healed, the young man’s face started to look better, showing relief.
“We are grateful that you did so much, this is beyond favor. M ’lady should also drink the tea that’s brewing, as the medicinal roots in it also help restore mana.”
“We have to properly express our thankful greetings to you. Thank you for saving this young knight’s life.”
At Sir Gabel’s polite words, Max’s face turned red. Hearing such appreciative words from others was like sweet rain amidst a drought, a break from the suffrage of dreadful thoughts. She muttered with a shy face whilst sipping the steaming herbal tea.
“It’s a r-relief… that I was helpful.”
“You were extremely helpful. Had it been later, the venom would have spread, and his arm would have been permanently damaged. Sir Ruth wasn’t around, but luckily for this guy, milady is capable of using healing magic.”
Max suddenly frowned and looked at the attending knight. “You shouldn’t have to return to the castle immediately, you should have prioritized going to the healer without delay.”
“We entered Anatol through the front. We decided that it would be better to go to the castle immediately than go down hill and pass by the village. Moreover, he insisted that no matter what happened, we had to go straight to the castle. I didn’t even know that the venom had spread faster than I thought.”
The other knight, who was sweating whilst stirring tea in the kettle, muttered with a preoccupied expression. “And above all, we thought that we had to deliver the news to the Lord as soon as possible.”
“What news?” Gabel asked with a puzzled face.
Then, the attending knight opened his lips, carefully choosing the right words to deliver.
“As you know, the Lord sent us to Libadon to gather information. We stayed there over the winter and investigated the monster movement phenomenon.”
“Did you discover something out there?”
The knight then nodded with a firm expression.