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«Under the Oak Tree (Web Novel) - Chapter 402

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Chapter 402

This chapter is updated by Novels.pl

“Does it upset you that much to see another woman bat her eyes at me?” Riftan teased. Ignoring Maxi’s glower, he glued himself to her back. He rested his chin on her shoulder and continued smugly, “I had no idea my wife was this possessive. I’d better watch myself from now on.”

“Th-The princess was making advances on a married man! I-I simply couldn’t stand her brazen behavior!”

Riftan’s smile only widened at her feeble excuse. Maxi looked up at him sharply, eyes blazing like an enraged wildcat, and struggled to free herself.

Instead of letting her go, Riftan picked her up and sat on the bed. He placed her on his lap and whispered sweet words to her as he peppered her pouting cheeks with feathery kisses.

“You are endearing even when you’re angry.”

It took everything Maxi had to maintain her furious expression, but she found she could not withstand his gentle ambush for long. Sliding his hand inside her robe, Riftan tenderly caressed her abdomen through her flimsy dress.

Feeling her spine melt like butter, Maxi grumbled a tad resentfully, “I’m starting to think… you are quite the rogue.”

“Your charming antics bring that out of me,” he replied with a grin. When his hand slid upward to delicately cup her breast, Maxi hunched her shoulders ever so slightly, even as she discreetly pulled on his wrist to elicit a stronger caress. The playfulness on Riftan’s face vanished instantly.

He tipped her head back and crushed his lips against hers. As his tongue sought its way into her mouth, he gently tugged on her taut nipple. Maxi let out a deep moan. Just like that, a tingling heat ignited within her stomach.fᵣₑₑwₙ.cₒₘ

Wanting more, she guided his hand to the junction of her thighs. Riftan responded with a growl and hungrily stroked her through her thin garment. She opened her legs slightly, hoping he would caress other, more sensitive areas.

All of a sudden, she felt his hand abruptly withdraw. Maxi looked up at him in confusion.

His face was visibly strained from the frustration of holding himself back, but he tried to put on an awkward smile. “I should wash up first. I haven’t had time because of the princess.”

With that, he lowered her from his lap, rose from the bed, and strode to the wooden tub.

After vacantly staring at his back, Maxi said in a glum voice, “You were with her the whole time?”

Riftan, who was in the process of pulling off his tunic, looked at her over his shoulder. “Don’t tell me you actually doubt me,” he said with a faint crease forming on his brow.

“O-Of course not! It’s just… that woman seems to have lingering feelings for you… so I can’t help but be concerned about what you might have discussed.”

Riftan wordlessly regarded her for a moment before letting out a small sigh. “The princess merely negotiated with me on behalf of King Thorben.”

Maxi’s head perked up at the unexpected answer. What did the King of Dristan have to negotiate with Riftan?

Sensing her curiosity, Riftan calmly explained, “As you know, the Armistice of the Seven Kingdoms is currently being threatened. The Church of Osiriya, which has served as the pillar of the armistice, is greatly divided, and the present pope has been unable to unite the two clashing factions. Those against the armistice have used the division within the church to join forces and strengthen their cause. To stop their efforts, we must also gather more supporters of the peace agreement.”

“Th-Then… does that mean you have succeeded in winning Dristan over to our side?”

“I’ve yet to receive a definitive answer, but I managed to convince them to take a neutral stance!”

Maxi gaped at her husband. Because of its territorial disputes with Wedon, Dristan was the nation most unhappiest with the armistice. It was to the point that their royal family secretly supported raiders that plundered the eastern territories of Wedon despite the peace agreement prohibiting kingdoms from invading each other. How had Riftan managed to persuade such people?

As if reading her mind, Riftan sighed and continued his explanation. “The only reason Dristan wants to wage war is to reclaim the lands they ruled over for centuries. However, if they were able to repossess these lands without bloodshed, they would no longer have a reason to oppose the armistice.”

Maxi stared at her husband in horror. “Y-You promised them our eastern territories? But making such promises w-without royal approval is treason!”

“You know I would never do such a thing. These are terms King Reuben has already consented to.” Riftan shook his head incredulously at her reaction. “After the duke’s death, the duchy will pass on to you, the crown princess, or the royal grandson. If there is to be a dispute over the inheritance, the eastern nobles will have to take sides. And once they start fighting each other, Dristan will use the opportunity to invade our kingdom. If the lands are to be ravished by war anyway, it’s better to use them as leverage now to get what we want.”

“B-But if you consider the immense profit those lands yield…”

“The taxes paid by the duchy may be astronomical, but the cost of protecting it is not much different. King Reuben had already sent word to King Thorben that he was willing to negotiate over the eastern territories, and Lienna Thorben was sent here with her brother’s response.”

Maxi blinked vacantly at the revelation. She had noticed the king’s frequent summons for Riftan after their arrival in Balbourne, but she had never imagined their discussions being about this.

Feeling foolish, she mumbled, “I thought… you were only negotiating with her over the supplies.”

“That is what we wanted everyone to think. Secret agreements between two kingdoms are best kept private, after all.”

Rubbing his nape with a wet hand, Riftan wearily leaned his head against the tub. Seeing him so exhausted made Maxi feel a pang of guilt. While she had been fuming with petty jealousy, he had been doing his all to prevent a war.

She hung her head in embarrassment before rising from the bed to quietly walk up behind him. Picking up the soap on the rack, she said resolutely, “Let me help you bathe.”

Riftan’s eyes flew open. He stared at her before giving her a troubled smile. “I think I’ll manage. You should go to bed early.”

“But I want to.”

Maxi quickly lathered the soap and started to wash his hair. At first, he tried to avoid her, but he soon leaned back in resignation.

After carefully rinsing his velvet hair clean, she gently massaged his broad shoulders and muscular nape. A contented sigh seeped from his lips. Maxi watched him with a pleased smile, then leaned forward to peck him on the cheek.

Riftan looked up at her with feverish eyes and gently pulled her arm. “Join me.”

“I’ve… already bathed.”

“So?”

Maxi feigned reluctance, but she soon undressed and entered the tub. He drew her on top of him and pulled her into a tender kiss. Maxi smiled, twirling his sleek hair around her finger. A sweet pleasure soon took over.

The next day, the coalition army departed the city with forty baggage wagons laden with supplies. The Royal Court of Dristan had fortunately prepared ample provisions in advance.

They now had enough food to sustain three thousand soldiers for half a month. Not only that, but Dristan had also provided five hundred additional troops. Even so, Maxi found it difficult to feel happy about all of this, as the person tasked to lead Dristan’s cavalry was none other than Princess Lienna herself.

She shot a murderous glare at the woman who seemed practically glued to Riftan. Though his aloof manner with her was embarrassingly obvious to any observer, Princess Lienna remained unfazed, and she continued to come up with all sorts of excuses to linger around him. Maxi could not believe the woman’s audacity. 5 Does she have no shame?

She rather aggressively stirred her porridge, her spoon clattering against the bowl. If only she could pounce on her and give her a stern warning to stay away from her husband. But she did not wish to frustrate Riftan’s efforts with her petty jealousy.

Dristan’s support was necessary in maintaining the armistice. Hence, she had no choice but to tolerate the infuriating princess until she could finally return to Anatol at the end of this tiring campaign.

Maxi desperately tried to quell her anger while she mechanically shoveled porridge into her mouth.

Ruth, who had been flickering glances at her, blurted out in exasperation, “Can’t you do something about your eyes? They remind me of a dead fish. It’s starting to terrify me.”

“Mind your own business.”historical

She did not spare the sorcerer a glance. Over in another group, the princess was currently laughing while playfully slapping Riftan’s forearm. Maxi’s expression must have been fearsome indeed, as the knights who approached with their rations swiftly changed course upon seeing it.

It was no use. She could no longer feign indifference, her dignity be damned.

Gripping her spoon with almost enough force to snap it, Maxi scarfed down the last of the tepid porridge. Then, she shot to her feet and marched over to Riftan.

“Should we not be setting off soon?”

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