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«Under the Oak Tree (Web Novel) - Chapter 403

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Chapter 403

This chapter is updated by Novels.pl

Rfitan glared at the princess, his anger boiling just below the surface. He turned to look at Maxi when she spoke.

Though Maxi was slightly relieved to discover that her husband found the princess’s attention unpleasant, she maintained her blank expression.

“You said we had to pass through the Ignord Plains before it gets dark,” she pointed out.

“You must mean the Gnoir Plains,” the princess corrected primly, taking a sip of wine. “Is it not rude to call a place in Dristan the Wedonian way?”

“Forgive me, Your Highness,” Maxi replied wryly before fixing her gaze back on Riftan. “Should you not order the men to break camp and prepare to depart if we are to cross Gnoir Plains before sundown?”

“It is usually a commander’s prerogative to decide when the army sets out,” the princess replied sharply as if readying for a fight. “Though you are Sir Riftan’s wife, do you not think you are overstepping a little?”

Losing her patience, Maxi glowered fiercely at the woman.

Before she could say anything, Riftan snarled, “I will not allow any discourtesy toward my wife.”

He gave the princess a warning look and stressed each word, adding. “She is a mage of the Remdragon Knights, which means she has the right to offer her counsel at any time. I believe it is Your Highness who should watch for overstepping.”

The princess’s expression grew surly. Riftan opened his mouth as if to say something more but stopped himself.historical

Looking thoroughly fed up, he rose and coldly bellowed to the spectating knights, “Rest is over! Get ready to set out!”

With that, he wrapped an arm around Maxi’s shoulders and led her to the tent where the horses were sheltering from the snow. Maxi glanced back at the princess’s rigid face with great satisfaction before furtively looking up at Riftan.

“Is it all right…for you to speak to the princess like that?” she asked, trying to sound concerned. “If this were to earn the royal family’s ire-“

“King Thorben is not a fool who would let his sister’s personal feelings cloud his judgment. And you also needn’t tolerate her effrontery just to keep her happy,” Riftan replied flatly as he walked Talon out of the tent.

Maxi frowned. If the princess did not have the influence to sway King Thorben to their side, why was Riftan putting up with her? She looked up at her husband with disapproving eyes.

“Then…why are you tolerating that woman’s behavior? You could easily keep her away by placing Dristan’s cavalry in the rear.”

“This is Dristan. No one knows the geography of the region or the structure of Vesmore Castle better than their people. That’s why I stationed Dristan’s cavalry with the Remdragon Knights, and that’s the only reason Lienna Moor Thorben is riding close to me.”

Riftan let out a small sigh as he saddled Talon before turning back to Maxi.

“I know that you find the princess’s behavior unpleasant. I know because I’d want to flay any lout who dared ogle you. But we will reach Vesmore Castle in a few days, and the princess will naturally move to the rear. Just try to put up with it until then. I shall try to keep my distance from her as well.”

Feeling somewhat appeased, Maxi nodded. She did not want to continue behaving like a narrow-minded child when he was doing so much to placate her. As she led Rem out of the makeshift stable, Maxi vowed to play the role of the understanding wife until they reached Vesmore.

Unfortunately, it took less than half a day for her resolve to helplessly crumble. She witnessed the princess pretend to lose balance while dismounting, then throw herself into Riftan’s arms. For a moment, Maxi found herself unable to breathe from sheer rage.

She watched as Rfitan reluctantly helped the princess. When her husband coldly extricated himself from the woman, Maxi hastily looked away. She could only handle looking at them for so long, and she did not wish to cause a scene.

Earnestly praying for patience, she trudged over to the campfire. She joined the soldiers as if nothing had happened and ate her supper. The persistent glances from Ruth and the knights made it clear she was failing to control her expression.

Still, she was proud of herself for not doing much more. As she ate her stew, she repeated in her head that she would only have to endure for a few more days. Once she had finished eating, she immediately retired to the barracks to rest.

Thus, another day passed, and a more grueling one began. Maxi did her best to keep her eyes away from the pair riding side by side at the head of the army. Instead, she concentrated on following the men in front of her. Despite her efforts, however, her patience was quickly draining away.

With the next battle approaching, Riftan was focused on gathering information on Vesmore and its surrounding areas, and Lienna Moor Thorben made full use of the opportunity to talk with him constantly. To Maxi, it seemed as though the war and their mission to stop the dragon’s revival were far from the princess’s mind.

A fierce gust lashed past her face, forcing her to stop glaring and look up at the sky. The sporadic flurries of snow were intensifying. The harsh weather was almost a blessing in disguise, as it made wallowing in jealousy difficult. Ears numb, she braved through the biting cold, desperately trying to keep up with the rider in front of her.

Riftan’s call for respite finally came from the front. As soon as she heard it, Maxi practically fell off her horse. She tottered over to the blazing campfire the soldiers had already stoked. That was where she stayed, huddled close with just enough distance to keep from getting singed, before she had to get back on Rem when the wind started to die down.

The cold snap lasted three days, delaying the army’s arrival at Vesmore by an entire day. Maxi breathed a sigh of relief when she saw the hazy outline of the walled city beyond the veil of snow. They had finally reached their destination.

It suddenly occurred to her that their arrival was nothing to rejoice about. It also meant this was the eve of their final battle. As she looked toward her husband at the front, she sent up a desperate prayer that their army would be granted time to rest before the fighting began.

To her relief, it did not appear as though he would order an immediate siege. After surveying the city’s ramparts from a hill, Riftan ordered the knights to set up camp.

Soon, the legion of soldiers on the field positioned themselves around the city. Maxi followed the Remdragon Knights to a ridge that directly overlooked Vesmore.

It did not take long to get a clear view of the hundreds of stone structures that crowded the city, including a grand basilica. Maxi’s face turned grave as she assessed the sturdy walls. Like Midna, the ramparts showed no signs of heavy damage, as if the city had been taken from the inside.

Did this mean they had to execute another infiltration to open the city gates? She was discreetly watching the nearby Temple Knights when she heard Ruth sigh.

“It seems the army that went north has yet to arrive.”

Indeed, the forces led by Sejuleu Aren and Princess Agnes were nowhere to be seen. Since the units led by Riftan had circled south to get here, the others should have arrived at least a week earlier.

“Could they have…run into trouble?” Maxi asked.

“They are likely having problems with supplies as well. Arex is no friend to the armistice after all,” Ruth replied, scratching the back of his head in annoyance. “Then again, since the nobles were hit with hefty taxes to fund this war despite the famine, it’s no surprise that they are unhappy with the request for additional supplies.”

“B-But …we are fighting for the peace of the Seven Kingdoms. The feudal lords have a duty to support the men fighting in their-“

“Why would they care about duty when they’re on the verge of going destitute? They fear their draining coffers more than the vague threat of the dragon’s resurrection.”

“A-Are you saying they do not care whether the army starves to death? When we are risking our lives-“

Maxi halted her heated outburst. She had just spotted what appeared to be a flock of crows advancing toward them in the distance like ominous clouds.

A chill ran down her spine when she saw what they truly were. They were not crows but wyverns - hundreds blocking out the sky. In the same moment she realized this, a kopel blared out from the font.

Ruth was the first to come to his senses. “Raise shields!”

As Maxi hastened to summon her mana, large stones began to fall from the sky like hail. holding back a scream, she sped up her mana circulation. Even though the barrier was in place, the sight of the raining rocks made her break out in a cold sweat.

While trying her best to maintain control of her mana, Maxi frantically looked around. Though the other mages had quickly summoned shields as well, their efforts had not been enough to protect the whole army.

Soldiers struck by the hurtling stones were sprawled on the snow in ghastly conditions, and several of the army’s wagons, siege weapons, and tents lay in pieces strewn across the ground.

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