At The End Of The Hidden Greenery - Chapter 2
Translator and Editor: Effe and Yonnee
Chapter 2 – Akarna
—In El Ragnile, it’s commonplace for one woman to be in command of a group. And, the average number in one group is about thirty people.
One day was enough to turn the whole world upside down.
One day, instead of the mechanical sound of her desk’s alarm clock, Seo Jiwoo woke up to many people watching her. She was inside a pure white building with the large columns behind those people. Without thinking deeply, she could tell that this place was like a temple.
She was at the center of all those people.
She was sitting in a place that was perhaps an altar. She was wearing the same pajamas she had worn before going to bed. But she was not bewildered by the sudden change of environment.
One of them came up to her. He seemed like a high priest.
An elegant robe. A high crown worn over his head. And the people around him bowed their heads as he stepped forward.
Even though it wasn’t the type of clothes that she usually saw, she could tell that this was a place that people considered sacred. If this place was a temple, that person seemed to be a bishop. But as he bowed his head politely to her, Jiwoo became more confused.
He opened his mouth.
“It is nice to meet you, Akarna. What an honor it is to meet you.”
Surprisingly, she could understand him. He wasn’t speaking in Korean, but Jiwoo could understand the strange language.
“You, the guardian Akarna who has descended from the heavens to enact the will of the Lord.”
Jiwoo let out a rather stupid reaction, but it wasn’t because she agreed with what he said. She could only understand the speech, but she couldn’t speak the language.
Hearing that, the old man who looked like a priest smiled at Jiwoo, who was even more wary. And he pulled out a splendid dagger from his chest pocket.
Without a moment to react, he grabbed Jiwoo’s arm and cut off Jiwoo’s palm in an instant. Jiwoo flinched and let out a shallow scream. But surprisingly, the pain was not bad.
Compared to the deep cut left by the knife, the stinging pain she felt was like just a needle’s stab. Blood trickled down, but it stopped quickly. Not even a scar was left.
“This is the most sure proof that Akarna has been favored by the gods. And…”
The priest cut his hand this time with the dagger. The priest grabbed Jiwoo’s hand before she could even say anything, then guided Jiwoo’s blood over his wound.
The drops seeped into the wound, and his wound healed just as Jiwoo’s was.
“This is proof that Akarna came down to enact the will of God here on earth.”
The old priest smiled kindly at Jiwoo, who opened her mouth in surprise.
“Should I show you more?”
“You can say yes or no.”
He seemed kind at first glance, but he gave off the impression that this suggestion was not just a suggestion.
From that day on, Seo Jiwoo began to live in a temple in this unfamiliar world. Before she could adjust to the environment, she had to accept her position here.
The Akarna was a fairly high position in the temple. Before she could say what her name was, Seo Jiwoo was treated as Akarna and called Akarna. As she struggled to adapt, she almost forgot her own name.
Language was a really big problem. It was difficult to communicate well just by understanding the unfamiliar language. It was fortunate that she was able to pick up the words and listen, but whenever she tried to speak, what came out was just gibberish.
She couldn’t get rid of the feeling that the servants and priests in attendance were frustrated because she couldn’t speak properly, and sometimes she even got ignored.
Meanwhile, she had to fulfill Akarna’s duties. A duty to take care of the sick and rid the contaminated land of miasma.
The person named Akarna here was mandated to do that. The wounded and sick were fed with her own blood, and she had to help purify the land that was being eroded by miasma. She didn’t like that duty that was suddenly handed over to her. She was not the Akarna. Not even God’s guardian.
If there was such a thing as a real God and God entrusted her with these duties, shouldn’t she have been briefed beforehand? But in the temple, her opinions were not considered important at all. Deprived of the freedom enjoyed by modern people; when asked to go somewhere, she went, and when asked to come, she came.
Besides that, the temple needed the Akarna greatly, but they didn’t deem Seo Jiwoo’s safety as important at all. They believed that if Seo Jiwoo died, the spirit of the Akarna that resided within her body would just transfer to another body.
If Jiwoo neglected her duty as the Akarna, they would kill her without any hesitation, thinking that the spirit of the Akarna had found the wrong body. The old nobleman in the temple spoke in a gracious tone, but in the end that was what he meant.
She thought of escaping from the temple, but this world was too unfamiliar to Seo Jiwoo. This world was a place where a caste system existed, and if a foreigner like her, who was unfamiliar with language and culture, were to go out alone, she would immediately be turned into a slave. The only way for Jiwoo, who had no connection, the only way to live was to live in the temple.
In the end, as the days went by, she became more and more depressed.
When she barely had time to be alone, Jiwoo would squat in the shadow of the temple building and pass the time idly. Only the sky was the same as the Korean sky in her world. So she was able to forget her reality a little bit.
“Why are you crying in a place like this?”
That was when she first met him.
She didn’t even get up from her spot and turned her gaze to where the voice was heard. He was a stranger who was accompanied by a couple of knights. A face she had never seen in the temple where she had lived for over a year.
He seemed to glow as he stood with his back to the sun, and she couldn’t even look straight ahead at first. He was a beautiful person. He had impressive vivid black hair despite the light, and his neat forehead and bright red eyes under the thick eyebrows gave a reliable impression like the sun. His high nose bridge and angular jawline even made him look elegant.
Jiwoo rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand. She thought the man was saying some weird things, but it really brought tears to her eyes.
The man was not offended. He just looked curious.
Jiwoo didn’t know how to speak formally so she was sweating all over. The man did not question anything, but the knights behind him looked more surprised.
Jiwoo was restless during the bizarre meeting.
The person who ended this was the servant of the temple who was looking for Akarna.
“Ack, Akarna! You’re here!”
The servant rushed to Jiwoo’s front, as she was stunned. He noticed the situation and gave some excuse.
“Greetings, Your Highness the Crown Prince. The A-Akarna doesn’t know much about the earthly words yet.”
“Akarna? This one?”
The Crown Prince, who looked down at Jiwoo, smiled picturesquely after a while.
“If she doesn’t know the words yet, does that mean she is still in the process of learning?”
“Yes, yes. That’s right, Your Highness.”
“Then, Akarna, would you like to learn to read and write from me?”
Jiwoo and the servant were surprised at the same time. The crown prince did not stop smiling and held out his hand to Jiwoo, who was wary.
“Nevertheless, I came to meet the Akarna of this generation, and it seems that I came to the right place. The Empire is receiving a lot of help from you, Akarna, so I also want to be of help to you through this opportunity. I will be staying in the castle for a while, so spend some time with me.”
For Jiwoo, she desperately needed to learn the language that she could only understand.
In the temple, she was given just two choices—yes or no. Even if she occasionally tried to express a different opinion, she was usually rejected because the Akarna had to be the model of the temple.
Whether dispatched to the inside of the temple or to another area, they always had an attitude of supporting Jiwoo as the Akarna with such a burdened countenance. It was also because she didn’t make progress even when she tried to learn.
It was the first time anyone had approached the Akarna like that. Jiwoo yearned to form any human relationship at all, and so she took the Crown Prince’s hand.
His name was Aleph. Crown Prince Aleph of the Kaarbaude Empire. The largest and most powerful country in the world. He was the crown prince of the empire and a hero who led the war to victory.
He seemed to be the same age as she was, but he had already gone on the battlefield and led his army to victory. She was curious as well as longing to listen.
He was a good teacher to the Akarna. She had no problem understanding speech, and as she was determined to learn words and letters, the rest was easy.
“Akarna, you’re a fast learner, aren’t you? Have you ever studied before?”
Rather, when the crown prince offered to teach, he was amazed at Jiwoo as she learned quickly.
“I’ve been going to school since I was little.”
“Since childhood. Having an opportunity to learn at a young age is not an easy task even in the Empire… It seems that you have experienced it for a long time?”
The crown prince suddenly grabbed her hand.
Jiwoo thought her heart was pounding, but he only looked at the traces that remained deep in her hand after holding the pen too long. Jiwoo tried to calm her noisy heart and said.
“Yes, um… About 16 years?”
“You look young.”
The empire developed faster than other places and was ahead in every way, but public education was not as developed as in modern Korea. How could this place compare to a country in her world? Looking at people’s appearance and lifestyle, would it be correct to say that she was in medieval Europe?
In the end, Jiwoo chose her words and gave an answer.
“It’s common in my birthplace.”
“Anyway, it’s delightful that you’re fun to teach.”
The crown prince not only lived in the court, but also traveled around the battlefield and met a lot of people. So, Jiwoo was able to learn not only one language but also many kinds of languages and accents through him.
But that wasn’t the point. While Jiwoo was being dragged here and there, the crown prince appeared and not only gave the Akarna a tight schedule, but also gave her a moment’s reprieve.
In fact, Jiwoo, who was accustomed to Korea’s overtime culture, lived her life without realizing that it was difficult. No, actually, even if she knew it, it would have been of no use.
The temple did not actively try to solve the Akarna difficulties with communicating. To the extent that she thought it’s intentional. So, although it may not have been a big deal for the crown prince, Jiwoo felt great gratitude to him.
Then one day, during class, he said,
“You can’t always study like this. Why don’t we go out together?”
“Follow me. The temple imposes a rule on you that’s too old-fashioned.”
“Right now, at a time like this, just say ‘Let’s go, Your Highness’.”
He led Akarna, speaking like a good teacher.
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