Marriage And Absente - Chapter 11
At first, Tom took the armor to the blacksmith after Swan entrusted it to him. The blacksmith was a man who had the trust of the town’s lord, and he was a pretty good craftsman. That’s to that, not only the lord but even the nobles who lived beyond the territory. Knights often commissioned him as well. That’s why when it came to armor and insignias, Tom thought the blacksmith would know everything.
However, when the blacksmith looked at the insignia on the armor, he just stared at it for a long time and told Tom he didn’t know whose house it was from. Tom sat motionless as the blacksmith just lugged the armor back into his arms then told him to return it to the owner.
The blacksmith sighed and said, “I’ve never seen that insignia before, but the iron and the tempering technique used to make it aren’t a joke. The way the metal was melted isn’t something that lower nobility would do for a knight. I don’t know, but I think you’re dealing with a prominent aristocrat or some such.”
The blacksmith quickly chattered and poured out what he wanted to say then promptly kicked out Tom from his smithy.
That’s why the armor was still at Tom’s house. If Swan hadn’t come to his house four days ago and asked him to keep it for her, he would have come to return it already.
But Swan… Tom sighed. Swan loved the man in front of her. She was in love, and now Tom was at a loss. It had always been like that for Tom. Even if it was wrong, he was always willing to help Swan with everything.
Besides, he didn’t want to see that crying face again. He already felt guilty enough that he was lying to this man.
“You asked around?”
“Of, of course. It’ll take a long time and the blacksmith might have lost track of it, but it’s there.”
Tom closed his mouth, intimidated by the glare pointed at him. In the end, he couldn’t return it. Another excuse was that the blacksmith had lost it.
Atlion looked at Tom with anger behind his eyes. This was the man who hadn’t looked for Swan for a long time. Swan said that this man wasn’t at his house the day she visited him, so whatever he did that day, it was suspicious, especially when it looked like he was avoiding Swan.
Atlion narrowed his eyes. Tom was meant to come every four days, but he hadn’t visited the cabin for more than a week. But what if it was beyond avoiding Swan? Atlion reigned in his temper and stared at the man.
Even if it was a special armor, it could still be reproduced. He didn’t think his memories would return so easily, but it was still worth a shot to look at the insignia and try to remember the noble’s name that insignia belonged to. The past was always just beyond his reach.
“H-He said that once he recognizes it, he’ll give it back right away!”
Tom got down on his knees. His shallow-looking hawk nose trembled. Atlion glanced down at the man who had his hand on the floor, bandaged with an old cloth that seemed to be covering quite a deep laceration. Atlion raised his foot and trampled on the hand.
Tom cried out in pain as his joints cracked under Atlion’s foot. Suddenly, the door of the cabin swung open and Swan came in. After crushing the finger bones of the man, Atlion removed his foot. Tom trembled and groaned, holding his hand.
“W-What are you…”
Swan, who had ointments and bandages in her arms, looked at the two men with a pale face. Atlion made eye contact with her, his expression cold, then kicked the man on the face.
The man was still holding his broken hand as he laid panting on the floor. One tooth splattered out of his lips, seeming to be one of his front teeth. Swan was startled out of her stupor and immediately rushed to the man’s side.
“Ack, ahh! My, my hand!”
“Why—why is your hand…”
The man raised his quivering hand as Swan leaned down to hug him. Somehow, Atlion felt dirty. Whether he was like a godfather or stepfather to Swan, it was unpleasant to watch them.
His eyebrows wrinkled as he bit his lip. He stared at the man who was floundering on the ground and breathing hard. After looking at the woman who was half hugging the whimpering man, Atlion left the cabin.
Eyes that were either lukewarm or cold. A manner of speaking that rarely offered reassurance.
Even though she knew it, Swan looked forward to it. Her heart fluttered on its own even though she tried not to get excited. What did it mean to like someone? She couldn’t figure out what it was that made her so shaken.
After barely treating Tom, who had been rolling on the ground with his crushed hand, she sent him back to the town. Then, the man did not speak any more. He was a man who never spoke to her first, but after the incident, he blatantly avoided Swan.
He seemed to think that his armor was intentionally disposed of. It was natural that he got angry. Even though it was damaged, the armor was still valuable and it was precious. Knights of nobility, no matter what their rank was, would think it unacceptable that their armor had been sold just like that.
Whether it was melted down to erase the seal or to coat it, the value of the precious metal wouldn’t change, so it was easy to think that Swan and Tom were determined to sell it. Her heart leapt up to her throat. She couldn’t say anything as she was being ignored.
She just wanted the man to look at her again. If she continued looking at his back, perhaps he would return her gaze.
Air blew out of her lips as she sighed. Earlier, Tom couldn’t even see two inches beyond his nose after his hand got crushed. The man had gone in and out of the house frequently just to see the place where he was first seen by Swan. He always said that he would be back soon.
“Do you remember anything?”
They were together in such a small space, but they did nothing together except entangle their bodies for worldly pleasures. If Swan didn’t talk to him first, he would go through the day without ever opening his lips to speak. If she was away to dig for herbs or to clean up her fields, they would only face each other at night.
Was it tiresome for him to spend time like this? She was worried that he didn’t like living like this. Should she offer to dig up herbs together? But she wasn’t sure if knights liked doing stuff like that. She would only be getting herbs from the fields, but he might dislike it and think that she was ridiculous for bringing it up in the first place.
Swan looked down and waited for him to answer. She wouldn’t even know if he’d answer that he could remember something. And it seemed like he was the kind of guy who would leave as soon as he’d find a lead, too. Swan didn’t exist in his future. Swan would not be one of his choices.
She was sure that he didn’t like anything about living with her. She was nervous. She liked him so much that waiting for his answer made her tremble.
“Th-then I hope you remember something soon. That way, you can go back, right?”
It was a dry, insincere answer. However, Swan continued eating, holding onto her pounding chest. The man who, at first, would refuse her food and say he had no appetite, ate his oatmeal quickly and got up from his seat.
Swan raised her head and looked at him. She prepared wine and turkey today, but he touched nothing but the oatmeal.
“You’re done eating? Try the turkey, too. There’s also wine… I-I went down to the village because of business I had to take care of at dawn, but I thought of Sir Knight… It’s also from the brewery that Tom likes…”
With a flushed face, she babbled on. She went down to the village early in the morning because she had something to do there, and it was hard to say that she thought of him, that’s why she bought turkey and wine. It was like her tongue was twisting over a foreign language.
More so because she wasn’t telling the whole truth. She didn’t have proper food to give to the muscular man in front of her, so she went downtown just to get some food rich in calories for him so he could move more nimbly. But he ate nothing but the food Swan prepared herself, and so he chewed the dry piece of bread like it was meat.
Was he truly particular about the way his food was prepared? What did nobles usually eat? She was worried about what to do and went down to the village early in the morning, determined to buy some ingredients quickly and come back right away. But she was afraid of going to the brewery by herself, so she stopped by Tom’s warehouse and asked him to buy wine with her.
Before that, she wandered into a butcher’s shop to get some poultry. Except for Tom, who she had known for as long as she could remember, it was the first time in a while that she spoke with other people. She felt so flustered that she barely got to buy any turkey after stuttering several times in front of the shop owner.
She worked hard to prepare this meal. The turkey dish was something that reminded her of the last time she celebrated her birthday with her mother. She couldn’t remember eating turkey any other time.
Meat itself, including poultry, was not common food at all. Still, it might be common for him. The way it was cooked might not be to his standards, but she thought that one piece would be enough…
It was difficult to guess what he was thinking because he was a man who never revealed his emotions, either through his expressions or through his body language.
“I’m not feeling well. Sorry.”
“Oh, um, I-I see. What’s wrong? Is your s-stomach upset?”
Did the food go bad? Or maybe he got a stomach ache? Swan was the one in charge of his meals. Except for the breakfast they had after their first night together, Swan was always the one preparing their meals. There was nothing for a man to do in this cabin.
There wasn’t much to do except to wander to the spot where he was found unconscious. She thought about giving him a task to do, but she couldn’t say it out loud because she was afraid that he would be offended.
“No, it’s just…”
With a pained smile on her face, she continued to stare at him, hoping that he would look at her as well. But the man turned a blind eye and didn’t continue speaking. There was a clear look of abhorrence on his face, then, he left.
Swan looked at his retreating figure and dropped her head. The baked turkey and wine lay untouched on the table. It was a table that was twice as abundant as usual. It took a long time for her to prepare all of it, and so it was even more difficult to throw it all away considering the time and effort she put into it.
‘But he said he didn’t feel well…’
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