Marriage And Absente - Chapter 0 - [Prologue]
Translator and Editor: Shin and Majormandorin
Chapter 0 – [Prologue]
What Swan found was a lump of ash, or more precisely, a scorched, dusty piece of armor. It belonged to a man who was most likely dead for he had traces of being wounded by fire.
She stepped back in surprise. Even though she knew many people crossed borders, it was the first time she discovered someone who had disappeared into a world they could never return from.
The stream sparkled in the warmth of the radiant morning sun. The fresh emerald green leaves of the evergreen tree gently rustled in the wind. The cool soft breeze swirled around Swan, clearing her mind of anxiety. She took a deep breath and approached the man.
The man, who had his head submerged under the trickling stream, was remarkably tall. His shoulders were handsomely broad and his back was straight. Given the long limbs and large muscles, it would take a while for her to move the man.
Swan dropped the basket she was holding near a rock and approached the man. Then she carefully flipped his shoulders and grabbed his long arm and with much difficulty, pulled the man out of the water.
This alone made her sweat. Swan wiped her forehead with her sleeves and looked at the man.
In the morning sun, his face dazzled with beauty. Raven black hair, long thick eyelashes, sharp chin, and plump lips. Viridian-colored mud and ash clung to his cheeks, making him quite unkempt, but could not hide his attractive features.
Swan, who was trying to look at his face more clearly in the morning light, groaned and lifted the man. She wrapped one of his arms around her shoulders to support him, but it didn’t work. With limited stamina remaining, she continued dragging the unconscious man while whining. Suddenly, the man’s head bumped into a mossy rock.
Swan, who was dragging his arm, yelped and fell on her behind.
‘I thought he was dead!’
Her teeth chattered as she shivered in fear.
The man struggled to come to his senses as he kept coughing. Water spluttered from his chapped lips. Swan quickly tore off his armor, easing the airflow. She pressed the lungs area and rapidly pumped until he spat out all the fluids.
“H-Hey, a-are you awake?”
Her hands trembled. It was confirmed, the man was alive. At first, she had thought he was dead and had plans to bury him or call uncle Tom from the valley to burn him with fire. If the man hadn’t made any noise, Swan surely would have gone on to become a murder! With this thought alone, her legs abruptly lost their strength.
The man’s eyelids softly fluttered. Swan had never seen a patient like this before. She tried to move him in an upright position, ignoring her heart that raced madly with fear. Often, patients who came to her house were injured, but they were always conscious. This was the first time she found someone seemingly dead.
Now she needed to take him back to her home to be healed. But how could she move such a heavy man? She could get Uncle Tom to help, but how? Swab sighed as she thought about her next course of action.
Not long after she was pondering, she tried to lift his body, but there was no other part of his body except his arm that she could support on her shoulders. It would be nice to have Uncle Tom to help, but she knew that he would be at a widow’s house or the bar at this time. Without grumbling, she continued her long journey.
The pattern embossed on the silver-grey armor shined in the summer light. She focused on the design as she slowly trudged back home with the mysterious man.
Swan just turned twenty. A girl, who was beautiful, pure, and full of energy, was as fresh as the greenery that covered the valley. She was even more innocent and shy than the girls in the villages that lived outside the valley.
Tom always praised her soft eyes and cheeks that easily blushed, and her doe eyes that twinkled. He believed she was prettier than all the other youth people in the village combined.
It was an unwanted compliment, but she stiffly smiled as a token of gratitude.
However, Swan was truly extraordinarily pretty. Flawlessly radiant skin, small ears, rosy cheeks, silky blond hair cascading in lovely tresses. The white nape of her neck was always white and soft like a lily. Her peerless features made her one of a kind.
Yet what stood out high above all the others, were her fresh transparent green eyes that were like glass. Absinthe. That was the name of the alluring color. It was the name of the liquor only nobles could afford. It was immensely rare for anyone to possess such an eye color, even more so for a young girl in the most remote part of the country. Thus, Swan’s eyes were the most fascinating and unique part of her.
Like a witch in the forest. Yes, a witch, that’s what they called. Yet neither Swan’s mother nor her mother’s mother was one. It was common for people to say that the child grew from a seed and was raised without a father. It was just a ridiculous rumor.
Occasionally, Tom, the carpenter of the village, checked on her every four days. Sometimes, he’d bring a patient with urgent injuries for treatment. He did not inform the village of Swan’s existence, so she was always isolated in the valley where she lived as a witch in her little hut.
Swan stared at the man. No, it was right to say looking down at a man lying on the bed. Even if she yanked the sleeping man’s hair back and forth, he didn’t stir. He had completely lost consciousness.
She brought the man into the cabin and laid him on her bed, took a breath, and began to assemble the needed dried herbs.
After grabbing the useful medicines and the raw roots and leaves that could be used as medicinal material, she went back to the man. She took off his armor, exposing his drenched clothes that stuck to his skin.
She looked down at the giant man. He stirred as if to wake up, only to completely stop moving again.
It was long, hard work. Not only was she treating a man, but her personality was also shy. Swan couldn’t even talk with the villagers near the valley. Uncle Tom was the only man she knew, and of course, the only person that she knew.
Did she need to bring Uncle Tom? But something could happen if she left a patient alone… Swan saw a bloody red stain beginning to grow, but wasn’t quite sure what the cause was.
She had no choice. Rolling up her sleeves, Swan swiftly tore down the armor covering his lower body. The man’s long sword was flung on to the ground. Clang! As soon as she took off all his armor, his body temperature fell, and the man started to tremble with a pale blue face. Swan glanced at him and lifted his wet clothes.
It was a deep wound from a violent stab. Thick crimson red blood dripped from the long cut in the waist. Even if the outer layer of skin healed, it was obvious that a scar would remain.
A groan leaked from the man’s lips as the cotton soaked in the disinfectant touched his damaged area. Swan took notice and continued to wipe the area around the cut with cotton a few more times. After finding a sedative, she shoved it in his mouth then she put her hand on his forehead that was cold to the bone. As his fever started to cool down, cold sweat came out.
Swan got up and diligently moved to the other side to work on the stab wounds. She brought in medical needles and threads for suture.
“It’s better to treat him while he’s unconscious.”
This was the first time she had seen such a deep wound on someone passed out. Only Uncle Tom could compare. One time he was stabbed in the middle of the day for touching a woman down in the village who had a lover. Swan gulped and picked up the needle.
The hands of the maiden pharmacist, who lived in a remote hut located in the Valley of the Waterfalls, trembled. With a deep breath, she gave strength to her slippery fingers. The man’s wound continued dripping blood, his mouth open again.
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With precision, Swan stabbed the needle into his skin. The man’s beautiful eyelashes flickered. Swan lifted his head, observing him. Was he going to wake up?
Swan’s face flushed red as she examined the man’s beauty that could easily make people faint. She couldn’t concentrate like this. Swan lowered her head and started stitching. Fortunately, the man never regained consciousness during the suturing process.
After closing up the wound, Swan carefully applied the ointment and then bandaged it. Then she calmly looked back at the man, ignoring the mess of iron armor on the floor.
Normally with this kind of cut, it would have caused someone to boil with a fever as hot as the flames of hell. Yet, the person in front of her only murmured for a while before calming down.
With all his might, the man must have desperately endured the pain without a sound. She raised her hand to examine his chest and abs. With her soft fingers, she traced the clearly defined abs and the scar that remained.
Sturdy chest muscles and shoulders that were handsomely smooth. A straight neck and masculine collarbone, and his husky smell that lingered in the air…
Swan’s heart was beating fast. The masculine body distracted her while millions of thoughts ran through her head. Swan shook off her messy feelings and stood up after confirming the man’s pulse was back to normal.
She picked up the pieces of broken armor one by one and looked at the man. A longsword and a red cloak, probably worn around his waist, gave hints to his identity, but it was too early to infer. However, he must surely be a certain nobleman’s knight…
Swan didn’t know what family he belonged to, especially because of all the wars lately… At the very least, she was sure his rank was very high. She lowered her head with a weak face and left the hut with an armful of armor.