Under the Oak Tree - Chapter 94 A Veiled Past (1)[Updated at: 2021-12-13 20:50:28]
Chapter 94 – A Veiled Past (1)
Riftan chuckled, running a hand across his locks. “My wife lacks imagination. Just because it’s white, it’s Rem?”
“Re… The name Rem… Hey,” Max faintly flushed as she defended her choice, “I like it.”
She didn’t bother to mention that he was named after the knights he led. A moment later, the horseman saddled her on the steed’s back, and she sat on Rem’s back with Riftan’s help. She wasn’t accustomed to horseback riding yet, so her body instinctively stiffened at her feet far from the earth. She strained her arms, clutching the reins tightly. On the other hand, he was a natural.
“You don’t ride a horse often, do you?”
He spoke conclusively, glancing at her clumsy posture. Though embarrassed, Max nodded her head timidly.
“I di-idn’t ride a ho-horse that o-often. I didn’t ha-have much wo-work to do. Well, I’ve a-always been in-inside Croix Ca-Castle.”
“I know that. It’s quite a famous story. The first daughter of the Duke of Croix was weak and extremely delicate, so she was reluctant to appear before the public.”
Max had an anxious look at the strangeness of his voice.
“Well, I-I didn’t know tha-that rumor was go-going around.”
“The Duke of Croix is one of the ten most influential people in the West. It’s perfectly natural for people to be interested in his daughter. Besides, you didn’t show up on the outside at all unlike your sister, did you? No wonder you piqued the people’s interest. There was even a knight who sneaked into the Croix Castle because he couldn’t overcome his curiosity about you.”
It was the first time she heard such a thing. Max immediately dodged his curious gaze. What did Riftan think of her after hearing the rumor? Would he have imagined a lady with a weak body, as delicate as jewels? She was obviously short and thin, but she didn’t have any charm. It was true that she was frail and timid, but she also knew that her personality wasn’t so lovely. She snapped out of her thoughts, speaking in a bright tone to hide her feelings of inferiority.
“We-well, the knight mu-must have been di-disappointed.”
Riftan, who was dragging his horse slowly towards the rear gate, looked back at her and frowned. With a tight grip on the reins, Max replied with a blank look.
“Oh, only be-because he went through lengths, only to see… she-she was an ordinary wo-woman.” The tip of her ears flushed red as she spoke.
She believed her appearance was plain, but she didn’t want to be so demeaning in front of her husband. Even pretending to be an ordinary beauty felt like a shameless remark.
“I don’t think so. You’re lovely enough.”
As he slowed the horse down, he approached her. Max thought he was overreaching, and only laughed awkwardly.
“Oh, do-don’t do that. Tha-thank you for telling me.”
Then he frowned as if he was dissatisfied.
“I’m an honest fellow. If you had a disappointing appearance, I wouldn’t have reacted so enthusiastically in the bedroom. Have you forgotten that I let you sleep well last night?”
Max was literally crimson red from head to toe. Her lips were frozen, wondering what to answer. Riftan lifted himself off the horse and grabbed her chin, staring into her orbs intently, which made her heart thump loudly.
“I guess it was stupid to ask you to do horseback riding. Would you like to go to the bedroom now?”
She shook her head stiff enough to produce a creaking sound. He made a vague expression, which was hard to tell whether he was smiling or frowning, and immediately stood up straight.
“Then hurry up. We can’t stay here any longer if we want to leave the castle.”
Max soothed her pounding heart and managed to chase after him.
They walked silently along the narrow forest path behind the gate. The world was still as if it had fallen into a deep sleep. All she could hear was the sound of branches swaying in the wind, the rustling of fallen leaves, and the cries of birds from the distant sky.
Max stared blankly at the image of the Riftan in a peaceful silence. He moved naturally and gracefully, as if he was one with a horse. On the other hand, Max leaned back and held the reins like a lifeline so as not to fall off Rem’s back. Riftan, who turned his head to make sure she was following well, smiled bitterly at the sight.
“I didn’t realize my wife was such a terrible rider.”
The jeers from the front heated her cheeks.
“I to-told you… yo-you insisted I ride with yo-you,” she replied back a bit defensively.
Riftan chuckled, then instructed her. “Try to relax your shoulders. When you’re nervous, the horse can feel you jittery too.”
Max breathed out long, attempting to relax her shoulders. However, every time the horse moved, her hips jolted up and down, causing her to lose her posture. Riftan, who was observing the scene closely, brought his horse closer and advised her with a serious face.
“You relax your upper body and tighten your thighs matching the movement of the horse. Like when you sat on my lap…”