This story is called “Under the Oak Tree,” and it is a web novel from Korea. Kim Soo-ji is the author, and they are also turning it into a webcomic.
The main character is Maximillian, a young noblewoman who stutters and has a really tough childhood. Her dad was mean to her, always hitting her and saying she was not good enough for love or happiness. She spends most of her time locked in her room and does not believe in herself.
Then, her dad, told by the King to handle a wild dragon, makes her marry a common knight named Riftan Calypse. In exchange for marrying Max, Riftan promises to deal with the dragon for her dad. They spend one night together before Riftan goes on his dragon mission.
After three years, Sir Riftan defeats the dragon and becomes a big hero in the kingdom. Max, though, thinks he found someone else because of rumours. However, surprise! He shows up with his buddies to take her home. He took their marriage promises seriously and quickly brought her to his fortress.
Now, they are in a happy marriage, and Max is finally getting love and care from people around her. Maybe now, she can start feeling better and believing in herself.
The road ahead might be bumpy. Max feels really unsure about herself and does not like herself much. Also, as the lord’s wife, she has to quickly get used to being in charge, which she is not ready for. There are tricky politics, scary monsters around, and a war is about to happen.
Common Story Themes
Mean Parent: Duke Croix, Max’s dad, is really harsh. He treats his daughters like tools for arranged marriages and thinks Max’s stutter makes her undesirable. He blames her for it, hits her a lot, and says mean things. This has left Max with lasting problems.
Different Parent: Riftan’s stepdad drank a lot, but he tried to raise Riftan well, even if they were not super close.
Lonely Outcast: Ruth, who works for Riftan, is disliked by other wizards. They do not want to serve at Riftan’s place because Ruth did not stick to his wizard promises, and they all hate him for it.
Always in the Mood: Riftan is often in the mood for romance with Max. He tries not to push if he thinks she is not interested, but she is too shy to say when she is, causing some unnecessary frustration.
Loads of Money: After taking stuff from the dragon’s stash, Riftan becomes super rich. When he brings Max to his castle, he lets her spend as much as she wants on decorating (even though she has never handled money before). He can also pay a ton of money when needed.
Note: In their world, Ruth keeps saying Riftan’s money is not endless, and he gets annoyed because Riftan’s plan is just to get more money by raiding more monsters.
Castle Wizard: Ruth is the official wizard for Riftan. He does magic to heal people, helps in fights with magic, and does other magical stuff for the castle.
Religion things: In their world, the main religions are called Catholicism and Protestantism. They worship a big G God.
Hard Times in the Past
Max had a tough childhood. Her dad hurt her, and people in his court did not like her.
Riftan lost all his guardians when he was 12 and started training as a knight. He has been in lots of battles and seen scary things.
Marriage Rules: In their world, wives are considered their husbands’ property. Riftan is relatively lovely to Max, but legally, he can hit her. When Duke Croix kidnaps and hurts Max, it is seen as stealing and damaging property. Even when Riftan almost kills Croix, it is thought to be too much.
Changing Opinions: Riftan’s knights do not like Max at first because of her dad’s bad reputation. However, as they get to know her and see she is not like Duke Croix, they start to like and accept her as their Lady.
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Super Doormat: Max used to be very quiet and accepting, especially under her dad’s beatings. She is slowly learning to stand up for herself in her new life, but it is taking a while.
Forgotten Meeting: Max met Riftan when he was a kid working for the blacksmith at her dad’s place. She even made him a flower crown, but she did not know he was the same person as her husband.
Fancy Prison: Riftan tries to keep Max from doing any work and stay in her room. He means well, wanting her to have a fancy, noble life, but it drives her crazy. After they argue about it, he realizes his mistake and lets her do more.
Happy Marriage: Riftan and Max love each other a lot, but they have some issues because of not talking enough and him being too protective. Overall, though, they are happily married.
Red Hair Attracts: Riftan likes Maxi because of her bright red hair. He is so into her that he does not feel attracted to any other women.
Big Guy, Small Girl: Riftan is way taller and much heavier than Maxi. He is just really, really big.
Special Bedroom Time: Maxi’s first night with Riftan is tough, but later on, he is more considerate about things like foreplay, and she starts to enjoy being intimate with him. They seem to have much energy for it, though.
Cannot Get Enough: When Riftan comes back from fighting the dragon, he makes up for lost time by having lots and lots of intimate moments with Maxi.
Annoying Smart Guy: Ruth is a genius wizard who has been handling Riftan’s stuff for years. He is also rude, sarcastic, and lazy, which annoys everyone, even Max.
Drunk Truths: Maxi drinks a lot at a party and starts talking about how scary the knights are and how annoying it is to be short next to them. Everyone finds it funny.
Repeat the Insult: When Riftan sees Duke Croix hurting Max, Croix says a priest can heal her. Riftan ignores that and keeps beating Croix, saying a priest can also heal him.
Tough Outside, Nice Inside: Ruth is mean and tricky, but he is the first to be kind to Maxi. He even tells off Riftan for being too much for her. Later on, he becomes her friend and teaches her about their culture, magic, and money, keeping her secret about not having the best education.
Earn Your Spot: In Riftan’s knight group, the best fighter is the boss, no matter their background. It is like getting a better job based on skill, not family.
Love Struck: Riftan fell in love with Max when they were kids, and he has been crazy about her for almost twenty years.
Law Confusion: At first, Max thinks Riftan can do whatever he wants with her, following the law that sees her as his property. However, Riftan makes it clear he would never do anything without her saying it is okay.
Healing Magic: Ruth’s main job is using magic to heal. When Max shows she is good at it, too, he starts teaching her how to do it better.
Scary Wilderness: Outside the safe areas, there are lots of dangerous monsters. Riftan and his knights have to regularly check the lands around the castle to get rid of them.
Serious Fight: When Riftan finds Duke Croix hurting Max, he seriously beats him up, almost breaking every bone. He stops only because Max stops him from killing Croix.
Solo Fighter: Riftan is like a one-person army, so much so that he is seen as a super crucial strategic asset all on his own.
Almost Perfect Marriage: While they have some issues talking to each other, Max and Riftan are really devoted and happy together.
Talk Troubles: Because of her tough childhood, Max struggles to speak up for herself or share her feelings. This causes problems with Riftan, who sometimes misunderstands her silence or short words as being unhappy when she is just surprised by his kindness or scared to express herself.
Story with Extras: The novel has very detailed descriptions of Max and Riftan’s intimate moments. The webcomic is more discreet, showing less when things get steamy.
From Poor to Rich: Riftan started with little as a poor farmer’s son. His stepdad spent a lot on his education as a blacksmith’s apprentice. Riftan ran away, became a mercenary, joined a knight group, and eventually got lands and titles from the King for being loyal.
Shy and Quiet: Max is really shy and quiet because of the abuse she went through. She finds it hard to talk or be social and says sorry a lot, even when it is not needed.
One True Love: Riftan was completely focused on getting back to Max during the dragon campaign, even though other ladies liked him.
Good Heart Matters: At first, scared of Riftan, Max later sees and falls for his good qualities: he is gentle, brave, and kind.
Talking Trouble: Max has had a strong stutter since she was a kid. Her dad did not like it and even tried to beat it out of her, which ironically probably made it worse.
Too Protective: Riftan often wants to keep Max in their room or a small part of the castle because outside can be dangerous with monsters. However, sometimes, he goes too far, not even letting her go to safe places in the town.
World’s Normal: In their world, this view is kind of normal. Compared to others, Riftan is more open-minded. When Duke Croix hurts Max, it is not seen as hurting her but as damaging Riftan’s property.
Magic Training: Ruth sees that Max has magic potential and starts teaching her. Riftan does not like it at first and tries to stop it. Eventually, he lets her learn when Max insists.
Skilled Partner: Riftan knows how to make Max happy right from the start, and she thinks he must have been with other women before.
Unexpected Virgin: When Riftan reveals he has never been with anyone before Max, she is surprised. He learned from hearing other mercenaries brag about their… intimate experiences.
People May Ask
What is the story about?
Max, who stutters, is forced into marriage with Riftan. After he left for a campaign right after their wedding night, he returned three years later, ready to cherish her. As they start their life together, she wonders if she deserves this love and happiness.
How many chapters are there?
Book 1 has 193 chapters, with 45 side chapters (read these before Book 2). Book 2 is unfinished at 106 chapters. The author is on hiatus for a year, but there is hope for Book 3.
Is there a physical copy?
The web novel “Under the Oak Tree” by Kim Su-ji will be published in English by Penguin. It is set to debut in print, according to Ridi Corp.
What is the message of the oak tree?
Oaks symbolize longevity, strength, stability, endurance, fertility, power, justice, and honesty, reflecting a strong symbolic image developed over time.
How did Riftan fall in love?
Riftan found comfort in old memories of Maximilian during a tough time, rooting her deeply in his heart. He could not look at other women and often dreamed and fantasized about her, even from afar.