PREVIOUS
NEXT

When their eyes met, Asella thought that his eyes resembled those of a ferocious beast. 

Sponsored Content

Once her gaze met his, it was so intense that it made her feel like she was unable to move, like someone was holding her captive.

His red eyes were more like a dark crimson than a bright crimson.

It was reminiscent of a stagnant puddle of blood.

“…”

Then again, she wasn’t the only one who couldn’t take her eyes off.

Calix lost his words as he stared at Asella’s face.

It was surprising seeing the woman who wouldn’t even make eye contact with him suddenly stare straight into his eyes as she spoke.

‘Ah.’

The sudden realization hit him; his wife was not wearing a veil. It seemed to have slipped off during the attack.

The swelling in her cheeks had somehow subsided considerably thanks to the treatment she received before her departure.

‘White.’

This was the first word that came to his mind. Her overall impression and atmosphere were so.

Transparent, pale skin looked like finely crushed pearls, and dazzling long silver hair flowed down her back like waves.

More than anything else, her blue eyes reminded him of the clear waters of the pale seashore.

Everything in her looked the exact opposite of him to the point it made him wonder if there were other people like this.

“Your Excellency?”

“…On the battlefield, there are many times when you are forced to do everything yourself…”

Sponsored Content

Calix answered indifferently.

He had spent several years on the battlefield, where people died every day.

In dire situations, there were countless times when he had to pull out blades and arrows from his body on his own. There were even times when he had to cauterize* the wounds without anesthesia in order to prevent them from rotting.

“Almost done.”

With light moves, Calix slathered the medicine generously on her wound and wrapped her hands with a clean bandage. 

When he was done with the treatment, he had Asella completely bandaged from her elbow to the back of her hand. Her fingers were the only thing that had survived from being covered by the white bandages.

“You will have to endure this for a few days. I’ll call the priest as soon as we reach the Duchy.”

Asella nodded.

“You’re breaking out in a cold sweat.”

Glancing at the area surrounding her forehead, Calix added in a casual, nonchalant tone; then, he pulled something out of the pocket of his cloth.

It was a black handkerchief. A handkerchief without a single decoration or embroidery, frankly, it was so pitch black that it looked bizarre.

Asella accepted it without a second thought and held out her hand to receive it, but she stopped when she realized what she was doing.

“Let me wipe it for you.”

As Calix approached her, Asella involuntarily took a step back.

“I-I can do it.”

“With that hand?”

Calix asked, leaving her at a loss for words. Even though he had treated her, her hands were still not free.

Sponsored Content

While she hesitated, he leaned over again. His unique scent swept over her, and she felt the soft touch of the cloth touching her forehead.

‘…Something is not right.’

It seemed as if heat was blooming every place where he lightly tapped her skin. Although it was just a hand wiping away sweat, her face began to burn.

As the strange sensation that she could not understand continued, Asella could not hold back and bit her lip.

“Ah, thank you. Your Excellency.”

“Not yet.”

“I’ll wipe the rest on my own.”

It was a somewhat stubborn request. Calix looked at her for a moment, avoiding her gaze, and held out the handkerchief.

Asella accepted the handkerchief carefully.

“Thank you very much. I will definitely return it later.”

However, she kept fiddling with the edge of the handkerchief instead of actually using it. Calix watched the scene silently.

To him, she didn’t look like she would ever use his handkerchief.

Perhaps she didn’t like it because it was his. For some reason, it made him feel slightly bitter.

* * *

“Your Excellency, the barracks have been set.”

Calix straightened up at Ryzen’s report. He turned to Asella, who was staring at him, not comprehending what was going on, and added an explanation in an uncharacteristic manner.

“We’re going to stay here today.”

Sponsored Content

“We won’t be moving?”

The time was dawn, and it was blindingly bright outside with the morning sun pouring down.

It was moderately warm, and the weather was clear and easy to move around in. It was just dawn, and the idea of staying here just had her puzzled.

“Additional personnel will join us in the capital; also, we need to replenish our supplies, and we have the wounded and injured to deal with too.”

“I didn’t think that far ahead. Sorr-“

“And….”

Asella flinched; she was about to utter her apology out of habit when her words were interrupted. It was as if he didn’t want to hear her apology.

“I’ll have to bring you a new carriage.”

“…Carriage?”

“The carriage you and your sister were riding… It’s broken.”

“Aren’t you going on horseback?”

“You say that when your hands are in such a state?”

Calix clicked his tongue as he asked.

Asella looked down at her hands. He was right. It was hard to hold the reins properly in such a state.

Feeling like a lousy and useless piece of baggage, Asella’s heart sank heavily.

“When we travel, we have to ride horses for nearly ten hours a day. Your body can’t handle that.”

Calix said, looking at Asella’s petite body. It was hard to believe that she was a direct descendant of Chartus. She was even more so than the southerners of the Empire, who were known for their relatively small stature.

Sponsored Content

His speculation- no, this was not speculation; he was certain that one of Philip’s methods of abuse might have been starvation just by looking at her.

Calix unintentionally reminded himself that he would step back into that house and deal with him properly.

“The barracks may be inconvenient, but it’s better than a broken-down carriage. Can you get up?”

“Yes.”

Asella answered as if she had been waiting for him to ask. She gathered her strength to stand but sooner than later; she slumped back.

Perhaps it was because of the bandages she was wrapped in, but it was difficult for her to balance her hands. Moreover, her legs, which had loosened from their tension, were not strong enough to bring her up to her feet, no matter how hard she tried.

“Um, just give me a minute, I can-“

Calix pressed the area between his wrinkled brow as he watched her.

It was hard to tell if she was trying to test his patience or if she was just trying to appear all tough in front of him and that she didn’t need his help; either way, he had been patient enough that it was starting to feel a bit frustrating.

“Did you say you would ride a horse like that?”

It couldn’t be helped.

She couldn’t walk, so he had no choice but to hold her in his arms, he thought as if making excuses to himself on why he should hold her. 

_______________

cauterize

/ˈkɔːtərʌɪz/

verb

burn the skin or flesh of (a wound) with a heated instrument or caustic substance in order to stop bleeding or to prevent infection.

Sponsored Content