(WEB NOVEL): Under the Oak Tree - Chapter 182
Translator – LF
Proofreader – Nymeria
Riftan narrowed his eyes, noticing her outfit as his eyes trailed her from head to toes. Startled by his gaze, Max quickly grabbed her loose clothing and lowered her eyes uneasily. Riftan’s fierce expression became more and more distorted with irritation and fury.
“What the hell are you wearing? Damn it! You’ve got this all planned out!” He rubbed his head roughly as if trying to ease a terrible headache. “Why the hell are you so stubborn? I’ve made it clear that you shouldn’t interfere!”
“Riftan is the one who’s s-stubborn! You keep saying no with no clear reason…give it a chance please. If I-I will suffer… a little to get everyone arrive safely… isn’t it worth the risk?”
“The Lady is right.” Hebaron intervened again in a slightly calmer tone.
“We don’t know what dangers to expect on this expedition and we can’t waste any more time looking for a wizard. The commander may agree to take the risk himself, but you cannot risk the lives of your subordinates. It’s a dilemma.”
“Are you saying it’s fine for my wife to take that risk?”
“We can keep her safe!”
“B*llshit! Not even one of you…!”
Riftan, screaming blind with anger, suddenly fell silent. His face was fiercely contorted with anguish. He couldn’t risk the lives of his men simply for the sake of his own matter. The gentlemen in the room noted this dilemma and began to chirp to ease him.
“We are not asking you to expose the lady to the battlefield. Once we get to Livadon, we can find a high priest from a temple in the capital to take her place. We can leave her in the temple for a while and move to the Louiebell by ourselves.”
“Right. Once we get to the port across the border, we will be traveling by boat, which will be significantly safer.”
“The matter is the travel of getting to the port! The route to Livadon is dotted with countless monster habitats scattered throughout the mountains and forests. If we take a noble woman who cannot even defend herself, she will only drag us down.” Riftan responded fiercely.
“That’s not true! I can also cast d-defensive magic…!”
“What and how much can you do with the little magic that you have learned in just a few months?!”
“If you can’t believe her, then let her prove it.”
They all turned their attention to the dark-skinned knight who was still standing against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest. He shrugged like it was no big deal and continued.
“What I mean is, let’s test the Lady’s defenses. If she’s strong enough to deflect our attacks, then she’d be fine against the attacks of most monsters.”
“It’s a great idea.” Gabel quickly supported.
“I agree with Eden. If the lady’s defenses are not up to scratch, then we will drop this. The lady should give up efforts as well.”
Max’s shoulders sank. She claimed it so confidently but in truth, she wasn’t sure her barriers were strong enough to withstand an attack from a Remdragon knight. She internally squirmed as the knights reached a unanimous decision.
“However, if the lady is successful, then the commander shall hold no further objections. It would be foolish to leave a wizard who knows how to heal and have basic defensive skills, forming an expedition composed of only knights to head for Livadon. Please do not impose such risks on your subordinates.”
Gabel looked at Riftan with unwavering resolve. Riftan alternately glared at Max and the knights with a sharp gaze, finding no more justification to object and twisted his lips. He remained silent for what seemed like an eternity, before finally forcing himself to speak again.
“…Fine, we’ll test your skills. Come outside.”
He turned around and walked out the door. Hebaron patted Max’s tense, frozen shoulders. “If the Lady succeeds, the commander will no longer be able to object. Please flatten his nose1.”
She had to be successful. But what if she made a huge deal out of this only to fail in vain like the last time? Max swallowed the dry lump stuck in her throat.
No, my barriers… don’t break that easily.
The other day, Medrick swung a pickaxe he used to plow as a test, and it deflected without a hitch. However, a skinny old man’s pickaxe and a trained knight’s strike are miles different.
She followed the knights into the field and peaked at their physique. They all had strong, bulging forearms and muscular legs like a stallion’s. Riftan led them to an empty space behind the training ground and turned to her after finding a decent area.
“Now, cast your shield.”
The knights rushed forward when they saw Riftan grasping the handle of his sword that was secured to his hip.
“Wait, wait a second! No way! Rumor has it that only a few wizards in the world are capable of blocking the commander’s attack!”
“Wow! That’s really too much! Even Ruth can’t deflect the commander’s attack!”
“…don’t even try to deviate. Of course, I’m going to hold back and control my attack.”
All the knights, even Max, looked at him in disbelief and doubt was clearly evident in each and every one of their eyes. Everyone knew, unless you were an idiot, Riftan had every intention of breaking her defenses, no matter how strong she did it now.
Hebaron booed loudly. “That is unacceptable. If we don’t test it with the attack of a knight other than the commander, I won’t accept the results!”
“I object to that! It’s obvious that any of you will try and cut the corners of your attack.”
“So, what if we go easy on our attack? How many wizards in this world can block a full-out attack from a Remdragon Knight? Being able to block a troll’s attack level is enough!”
“Now, now, calm down both of you.” Once again, Gabel stepped between the two angry hounds eager to bite each other’s heads. “Let’s not waste our energy on these useless arguments. How about this; we let the lady choose a knight to test her barrier. You can measure the strength of the knight with your eyes.”
Riftan turned to Max, but she quickly avoided his expectant gaze. No way would she choose him. They would think of her like crazy if she did. Max looked at the assembled knights one by one and tried her best not to look in the direction of Riftan, whose eyes were punching a hole in her and practically yelling at her to choose him.
Hebaron was bigger and slightly taller than Riftan. As for the other knights, all of them have massive shoulders and bulging forearms. She narrowed her eyes as she examined them more closely, then turned to Gabel, whose physique was the slimmest among the knights.
“I-I… just have to name the person, right? “
“Yes, you can choose anyone as your opponent.”
“Then… I would like to choose… Sir Laxion… if you will be my opponent, please.”
The corner of Gabel’s soft smile twitched slightly. “…May I ask why the lady chose me?”
“Because you are the m-most…reliable.”
Max could feel Riftan’s icy gaze pricking her cheek, but she continued to look ignorant. Gabel looked at her with knowing eyes and then stepped forward with a deep sigh.
“Alright. I’ll test it out.”
He unsheathed his longsword tied at his waist and slipped into stance. Under an unusual pressure, Max caught the reality of the situation and scurried to lift her mana. She focused on pouring out all her concentration to maximize her mana. As she practiced, she increased the flow and speed of her mana and the ground below her trembled weakly. Soon, the land around her began to rise into the air. Max reinforced the barrier with the magical formula Ruth taught her, making the walls made with earth thicker and harder.
“Then here I go!”
Max spinned her mana to full speed and pushed her mana to its maximum capability. Her heart was pounding nervously and cold sweat trickled down her back when she heard Gabel kick the ground and run toward her, it was then followed by a heavy blow. The defensive wall of the barrier shook violently.
She looked at the barrier with a nervous expression plastered on her face. The attack was followed with two more thumps but the wall didn’t break and didn’t budge at all. Max couldn’t believe her eyes; her barrier was still firm in front of her. She turned her head to Riftan, and gave a triumphant expression.
Contrary to her expression, he just stood there, tall and commanding, and looked at her with a complex expression that she couldn’t define in words. Max smiled nervously at the darkness that gripped his features. Despite the stifling atmosphere surrounding Riftan, Hebaron approached him and laughed.
“Is that enough to convince the Commander?”
Riftan simply turned. “…do what you want.”
Then, he walked away in anger. Hebaron simply shrugged at Riftan’s bitter attitude. “Don’t let it get to you. He’s a reasonable person after all, he will come around soon.”
Hopefully Hebaron was right, Max prayed as she watched Riftan retreat back with desperate eyes. Her heart felt belatedly heavy from disobeying her husband so blatantly, but she quickly pulled away from those faint-hearted thoughts. He gave his permission. She could take any amount of coldness and anger from him, as long as she could go with him.
1 – It means Riftan’s holding up his nose too high. Basically, Hebaron’s saying Max should crush Riftan’s pride lol.
They embarked on preparing to leave for the expedition. Max also quickly ran back to her room to pack only what was necessary. Rudis was helping her pack while acting like a mother full of worries, she even had to fight with her, who tried to stuff fifteen outfits into her leather bag. And Rudis was not alone. Rodrigo and all the other servants brought her all kinds of things, asking her if she would like this or that. Even the seamstress who made all of her dresses came with a hat and veil, saying it was to protect her face from sunburn, but Max only picked up a few essentials. She managed to fill her bag with a pair of sturdy pants, three changes of underwear, a pair of socks, and two robes tunics that apprentices usually wore.
Max also brought a bag of medicinal herbs, some of Ruth’s medical tools, and three manastones. Even though she knew it wasn’t a pleasure road trip, she couldn’t leave behind a small ivory hair brush and half a bar of soap wrapped in a pouch, hanging them on her belt. She wanted to bring books on herbal medicine or magic, but it would burden her to bring such expensive items, so she only packed a few parchment with Ruth’s notes.
“Should the lady leave for such a dangerous journey?”
Rudis, who was working to fix the straps on her bag, spoke with a tremor in her voice. Max was delighted by her concern; her usual calm and firm maid, who never showed a hint of her own personal emotions, finally expressed herself for the first time.
“D-Don’t worry. I’m going with the most powerful knights in the West. Nothing bad will happen.”
Rudis hesitated then grabbed her hand. “Please… take good care of yourself.”
Max looked deeply into her dark brown eyes and nodded vigorously. Rudis smiled sadly. She took her hand firmly again, then stepped back. Max walked over to the mournfully meowing cats, hugged and kissed them before finally leaving the room.