Under the Oak Tree - Chapter 210
Translator – LF
Proofreader – Nymeria
The light on Max’s face grew cloudy. Her spine grew cold as if she was submerged in ice water when she heard that Riftan faced a thousand trolls in battle. They were monsters who were heavier than bulls and had incredibly fast regenerating abilities, to the point that even with their head half-cut, they could heal in a blink of an eye when they were attached back to their neck.
To think that he battled an army of such terrifying monsters with only two hundred men… How could you be so damn reckless?
Max felt her heart shrivel, Selena’s words were far from reassuring her. She opened her mouth and couldn’t help groping on her stiff tongue. “H-how about the others…”
“Don’t worry. There wasn’t a single casualty among the Remdragon Knights.”
Max let out an audible sigh of relief and Selena continued in a more hesitant tone.
“But… it appears that some of them were injured.”
“Wh-who? How many… how serious are their injuries?”
“I don’t know the details. I only heard that some of the knights were seriously wounded after the battle and that they had to stop their advance to recuperate and receive medical treatment.”
Max clasped her blood-drained face with trembling hands. The faces of the Remdragon Knights flashed rapidly in her mind. Divine or healing magic could quickly repair an injury on any part of the body, them halting their advance could only mean that their injuries were far from being minor. As her heart squeezed, worrying about which ones of the Remdragon Knights were hurt, Idcilla suddenly approached them with an anxious expression.
“Have you heard anything about Elba?”
Selena shook her head. “Aside from the Royal Knights of Livadon camping near the Ethylene Castle, there was nothing else that I could find out.”
Idcilla’s head bowed in disappointment, and Selena reached out to comfort her, placing a hand on her shoulder. “In a few days, each unit from the warzone will be coming here to replenish their supplies. When that happens, we can get more information, so don’t fret too much.”
Idcilla perked up a little at the prospect. Selena then left, she would often gather information and Max would always cover for her duties on the other tent. Staring into space for a moment, she pondered on the news the priestess brought, then quickly cleared her head and concentrated on her tasks. Her cheeks burned and her face was covered in sweat from being near the fire, but the searing flames helped distract her from her terrible anxieties. Max emptied her head and concentrated on simmering the herbs in the cauldron. After the medicine had cooled down, she fed it to the patients, cleaned their wounds, and replaced their bandages. Once she was done, she went to help with the food preparation. There wasn’t even time to catch her breath.
Finally, when she finished her work for the day, Max sank onto the stack of hay in the narrow tent. She couldn’t even lift a finger. The summer heat only served to rot all the grime on them, and the smell of blood, sweat, and horses filled her nostrils. It was even difficult to breathe properly due to the stench and humidity, but Max was too exhausted to make a fuss about it. She curled up like a withering cabbage, thinking about what the future would hold for her.
Would this way of living continue until the war is over?
Her confidence and willpower to keep all of herself together crumbled to the annoying hum of the mosquitoes swarming around the dark tent. Tears fell from Max’s eyes: she yearned for Riftan dearly and she missed Calypse Castle, but she was the one who decided to come all the way there. As if to gather all her spiraling feelings, she closed her eyes tightly.
The next day was just as hectic. Before the sun had even risen, she went out of the tent to wash her face in the nearby stream of water and went straight to the makeshift infirmary. A total of three hundred wounded men were encamped, and only five high-ranking priests capable of using divine healing magic were around. Due to the scarcity, the priests only focused on treating those who were in critical condition. The others had to recover naturally over time and were left to the care of the priestesses. Once they had confirmed that one of the wounded had died during the night, they went to the main storage tent to prepare medicinal herbs. The priest who supervised the herbs gave them a palm-sized flat board made of wood and gave them instructions.
“From what we saw yesterday, most patients suffer from broken bones. Since they could not move properly, you priestesses will have to help them from eating to washing. You must carefully monitor their conditions from morning ‘til evening and inform me immediately if anyone loses consciousness or develops a fever.”
Max listened intently as the priest continued to speak hastily. “Pay special attention to those patients whose wounds are still bleeding. You must check whether their wounds have pus or maggots, you should prepare a detox medicine and feed it to them three times a day. Also, make sure their hands and feet are always clean and change their bandages at least once every three days. Herbs and firewood are available here in the main storage tent, you can take as many as you need every day.”
After the priest finished, he divided them into six groups, each group made of seven priestesses. Each group oversaw forty patients. Fortunately, Max and Idcilla were assigned to the same group.
“I heard that most priestesses only know the basics of healing. If you have any questions, feel free to come and ask right away. I will be stationed near the northern gates.”
When the priests left the tent, the priestesses began to divide their tasks. For each group, two will be taking turns on watching over the patients while the other five will be preparing food and fetching water. Max went with two other priestesses to hoist water from the well. The task sounded simple enough, but constantly providing drinking water, boiling herbs, and cleaning was not that easy. They had to prepare medicines for forty men, provide them breakfast and two other meals, wash hands and feet, clean the pus from their wounds, and wrap them with new plasters and bandages. After that, they still had to take care of the horses and prepare food for the other soldiers in the fortress.
Every day passed by them in an instant, as if time was on fast forward. Slowly, Max got used to the tough work. Although it was much harder than she had expected, she didn’t mind and didn’t complain about it. Her heart ached so much seeing men who could forever be crippled from fighting monsters that she felt sorry for not being able to help them more. If she could, she wanted to heal each and every one of them with her healing magic. However, that was a distant dream, given her limited supply of mana. Even casting it on merely 3 to 4 people a day drained her energy to the point that she could not handle the rest of her tasks. In the end, Max decided to refrain from using magic as much as possible. In such a situation where she was responsible for dozens of men, she could not pour it all on only a few of them.
She meticulously cared for the wounds of the patients assigned to her and soothed their pains by offering analgesic herbal teas hourly. It was another busy day when Idcilla secretly beckoned to her.
“Madam.” She whispered.
Max was in the midst of preparing a medication, but stopped what she was doing and looked. Idcilla had a finger against her lips and urged her to come out quietly. She looked around for a moment in confusion, then followed the girl out of the tent. The sweltering rays of summer sun pierced her eyes. Max paused for a moment to rub the sweat away from her forehead and nose and Idcilla grew impatient and waved her hand, urging her to hurry.
Idcilla sneaked around the campsite and stopped her tracks when they reached the fortress wall. She hid behind the bush and abruptly pulled her arm to hide with her.
“J-just… what is happening?” Max asked in a whisper as she leaned in next to her.
“Look over there.” Idcilla pointed her finger above the bush and Max soon realized why the girl called out to her. Dozens of knights lined up outside the wide open gates.
“Those are the Knights of Wedon. They are here to get food.” Idcilla whispered in her ear.
Max’s eyes widened. Just as she said, the knights’ coats were bearing Whedon’s crest. Her heart began to race at the thought of Riftan being among them.
“I think they will be leaving immediately once they’re done getting their food supply.”
“I-immediately?” Max asked in disbelief and Idcilla nodded in response.
“Now’s your only chance to gather news and details about the Remdragon Knights. What do you want to do?”
Max bit her lower lip. Even if Riftan wasn’t among them, she would be able to at least know how he and the knights were doing. She covered her face with her hood and stepped out from behind the bush.
“I’ll go and pretend that I’m only helping out… I’ll make sure n-no one notices me. Then maybe I can listen in… on the kn-knights’ conversations.”
“I’m going too”.
Max shook her head. “If we both go, we’ll get noticed. You must go back to the tent Idcilla… before the others find out. If I hear anything about the Royal Knights of Livadon… I-I’ll let you know.”
Idcilla thought for a moment, then nodded and turned to leave, knowing that Max’s words made sense. She headed straight to where the Knights of Whedon were, and as she approached their barracks, she heard the Archduke’s hospitable voice.
“It must have been difficult getting here. Please, come inside. Take a break while the soldiers load the food into the wagons.”
He led the Knights of Wedon to the barracks while Max hid behind a wagon, watching the knights pass one by one. Max poked her head out, trying to get a good look. Just as she was about to approach one of them to ask him about the situation in the frontlines, someone familiar crossing the gates suddenly caught her eyes. Max’s eyes widened.
It was Elliot Karon, who left before them and got caught up in Louiebell, and he was entering the castle gates with the other soldiers. Max felt like crying at the face she hadn’t seen in months. She heard that Riftan came to the rescue successfully, but she did not know if any of them were seriously injured and wondered if everyone else was unharmed. She felt like a kettle of boiling water, wanting to act on impulse and rush to him to ask for any detail or information, but if she got caught now, she would likely be forced to return to Levan. With great self-control, Max crouched behind the carriage, careful not to be discovered. However, she froze in place when she saw that behind Sir Karon there was Ruth.
She watched warmly, seeing the face of her friend who she hadn’t seen in months. Oh, how she worried about that pestering and sarcastic guy! Ruth’s gray hair had grown a bit longer than the last time she saw him, it was messy and reached the nape of his neck, and he had lost weight, making his already slender face look even skinnier. He opened his mouth wide to yawn, looking exhausted as he always did, then, he dismounted from his horse. Max smiled. Even from a distance, she could hear his usual grumbles.
After leaving instructions for the knights, Ruth headed towards the nearby small stream. Max hesitated for a moment, but quickly decided to follow him. He walked over to the stream, rolled up his sleeves, and splashed the water loudly all over his face. Once she made sure no one was around, she approached him silently and squatted next to him. Ruth didn’t immediately recognize her, whose face was covered in sweat and dirt and who was dressed in shabby priestess clothes. To him, it appeared like she was just another priestess who came to fetch water. He shot her a disinterested look, then went to wash his stained hands and feet.
Max frowned and reached out to touch his arm. Only then did his blue-gray eyes turn to see her clearly. She smiled awkwardly at Ruth, who blinked at her with a blank expression.
“I-It’s been a while, Ruth. You seem well… I’m relieved.”
As if struck by lightning, the wizard immediately stood straight up and opened his mouth as if he was about to scream at any moment. Max jumped at him like a rabbit, quickly covering his mouth to prevent him from doing so. The action made Ruth’s thin body fall backwards, looking like a scarecrow, and then he fell straight into the stream with a splash, splattering water all over her robe.
Max looked at him with pleading eyes and desperately begged him. “P-Please… don’t ‘cause a commotion. N-nobody knows… that I’m here.”
He stared at her in utter disbelief, then upon seeing her priestess robes opened his mouth again.
Note – LF: AAAAAH RUTH IS HERE!!!