A Saint who was Adopted by the Grand Duke - Chapter 50
‘Should I move aside?’
Victor’s feet immediately reacted and advanced. However, after recalling Esther was on his back, he held back.
In the meantime, the children approached closer than he had anticipated. Victor hurriedly wrapped himself around Esther and stirred to the side.
He had anticipated they would pass by without any incident, however, the bottom of Esther’s clothes were torn by one of their many knives.
Victor was flustered.
He hurriedly turned to face Esther. Fortunately, only her clothes were touched and she received no injuries.
Victor barked at the children that were now behind him.
“Hey! Why’re you all standing? My lady almost got hurt!”
No matter how dull the dagger had been, if it succeeded in hurting Esther… It was terrible just imagining the scene.
“My lady, are you alright? I apologize. I failed to act accordingly… Were you surprised?”
“I’m not hurt. It’s alright.”
However, contrary to Victor’s expectations, Esther remained calm and unshakable.
On the contrary, Victor was more taken aback by the fact that she was the one to comfort him.
“Your clothes are torn. If the knife had reached my lady…”
“But Victor would have already stopped the attack far before that.”
At her response, Victor returned to his original self and pouted sulkily.
It wouldn’t be strange for a girl that age to cry or scream, overtaken by shock.
However, rather than being surprised, she contained no agitation. It was shocking how she could be so relaxed.
Esther yawned as if nothing had happened, and once again comfortably positioned herself on his back.
Victor’s eyes widened as he commenced hearing Esther’s even breathing.
“My lady, did you fall asleep?”
No response returned.
Victor shook his head in bewilderment after he realized she fell asleep in no more than an instant.
‘I don’t know anything about my lady.’
Until recently, he had perceived Esther vaguely. That she was just like any girl her age; nothing special.
Although she was somewhat bleak and expressionless, she constantly smiled.
She was a nice child who didn’t order him around but kindly asked him to escort her, and even thanked him afterward.
Thus naturally, he thought she wasn’t suitable as a member of Tersia, famous for its coldness and cruelty.
However, now that he thought it over, his speculations were wrong. A completely different person was hidden behind the calm expression that always seemed indifferent.
Victor now gained an interest in the elusive girl.
‘She was called Diana, wasn’t she?’
He wondered what the history of this name was, and how she was adopted from the temple as the Grand Duke’s daughter.
“I should seek permission to remain my lady’s escort after we return.”
After Victor concluded his crucial decision at a moment’s notice, he smiled and strengthened his back to better support Esther’s body.
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While Esther was away from the estate, a special guest paid a visit to the Grand Duchy.
Although holding the title of the Seventh Prince, he was very loved by the emperor. Unfortunately, due to his illness, he was thrown out of the Imperial Palace.
Noah de Barten.
“Would you like me to prepare coffee or tea?”
“I would prefer coffee.”
As soon as the butler heeded Noah’s words, he motioned to the maid. Afterwards, he guided him to Darwin.
‘He’s more handsome than I’d heard about.’
Many rumors floated about the prince’s outstanding appearance. He anticipated most of them were merely exaggerated, however, when facing the respective person himself, he understood that they were true.
In fact, Noah dressed in a dark navy suit made him seem beautiful enough to attract everyone’s gaze.
As the butler admired his appearance, they halted in front of a white door. That was as far as he could guide him.
“After opening the second door, there will be the drawing room. His Grace is waiting in there.”
Noah nodded as he opened the door. The sound of his shoes clicking against the antique marble floor reverberated.
A second door emerged as he passed through the corridor filled with elaborate statues and paintings.
“It’s Noah. I’m entering.”
It was an arranged meeting, so there was no need for him to hesitate in opening the door.
Darwin slowly stood up and greeted him. He had, in fact, been previously waiting for Noah inside the drawing-room.
“Long time no see, Grand Duke.”
“You seem much healthier than I’ve heard.”
Darwin carefully observed Noah, a person he hadn’t encountered in quite a while.
As the current Emperor only cherished his one son, Darwin was also interested in Noah more than in the rest of the princes.
The moment he turned ill, all his power was taken away from him. Nonetheless, if he ever regained his health, there would no doubt be another political battle.
“I’ve recovered quite a bit as of now.”
“I heard it wasn’t a disease that could be cured?”
“I was fortunate enough.”
Noah leisurely strolled towards the sofa. He received Darwin’s gaze well.
“Shall we sit down and have a chat?”
“…Come this way.”
Darwin also only briefly glanced at him. Just in time, a maid entered and left two cups of coffee before the both of them.
Noah took a slight sip of his hot coffee and smiled gently.
“Oh, this is very fragrant. Are these coffee beans from Colvia?”
“No, these have been grown directly on the estate, so it doesn’t have much of an extraordinary taste.”
He was not embarrassed by Darwin’s blunt speech. On the contrary, he spoke of its distinctive taste in total astonishment.
“Then I guess this place and I match well. This is the best coffee I’ve ever had.”
“I’ll tell them to pack it for you before you leave.”
“You don’t have to. I can just come here often and enjoy the taste.”
Noah shook his head as he took another sip of the coffee. The strong aroma of the beverage passed through the tip of both their noses.
‘What futile words.’
Darwin’s eyebrows soon began to lower.
He agreed to meet Noah as he was curious concerning the reason why he suddenly sought for him. However, his patience was not great enough to deal with the child.
“What was your purpose for this meeting?”
Only then did Noah’s smiling and bright expression convert. Noah responded as bluntly and straightforwardly as the duke asked him. His dark eyes shone dimly.
“I have a request for the Grand Duke.”
Darwin’s eyes turned cold as he received Noah’s words.
The Prince who was to die under a restraining order wishing for a request? Darwin only then became cautious, alert of his possibly hidden intentions.
“What is it?”
“I’d like to live in the Grand Duke’s territory.”
Darwin set down the teacup he was holding. It was such an absurd story he couldn’t help but crack the bottom of the cup.
“I don’t understand what you’re hinting at.”
“It is as I said. Please allow me to reside in Tersia.”
Noah did not avoid Darwin’s gaze and spoke calmly.
“Has the prince forgotten his restraining order?”
“That was the case thus far. Now, everything will be solved within a year.”
Noah’s voice was filled with conviction.
“I will be in touch with my father soon. After I am completely healed.”
“Is that possible?”
“Yes, that is why I am asking. My illness can only be cured while in Tersia.”
Noah calmly explained the reason he had to reside in Tersia. It was accompanied by a lie that the river flowing outside the territory contained a special medicinal ingredient for his illness.
“Hmm, this is the first time I’ve heard of such an energy.”
“I also just discovered it.”
Darwin displayed his suspicious gaze and Noah held his hands up as he pleaded for his trust.
“The moment this disease is cured, I will become a miracle survivor; a blessed person. I believe it wouldn’t be very difficult to become the Crown Prince after public sympathy is directed towards me. What do you think?”
“That is logical.”
Noah had a point.
Although he was the Seventh Prince, he possessed the Emperor’s favor.
Unlike the other princes, his mother was the current Empress.
In addition, the Third Prince, now the number one successor candidate, wasn’t very reliable due to his desire for entertainment over the throne.
Excluding the deceased princes and the younger ones, if Noah was healed, he would most likely regain the Crown Prince title once more.
“I, the person who will become Crown Prince, will owe the Grand Duke a great debt. There’s nothing disadvantageous for the Grand Duke, is there?”
Darwin glanced at Noah, his feelings jumbled. He couldn’t detect any lies from his deep eyes.
“Are you interested in Imperial power?”
“Yes, I want power.”
Although the question would require much thought, Noah answered unhesitantly. Darwin could feel the firm determination rising from the child.
He sighed. The Noah he remembered was a pure prince who contained no desire for authority.
He wondered what on earth changed such a weak mentality like this.
“There’s someone I wish to help.”
“This isn’t child’s play. If the prince is searching for power, that means you could become the next Emperor.”
There was already endless pressure placed among the princes to gain the Crown Prince’s seat.
If he were to aim for Imperial power, he would have to survive the complicated struggle.
“I know. I am not doing this for mere bluff either.”
Noah’s eyes shone brilliantly. It was his most important desire, and he had already made up his mind.
Realizing Noah already maintained unwavering will, Darwin decided not to attempt to stop him.
“Well, that’s good. I’ll progress along with this for now.”
There would be enough time for him to change things.
Darwin decided to quietly watch for now. What was he trying to do? He would, slowly, realize what Noah was really up to.
He strongly doubted whether Noah could be cured, nonetheless, he decided to accept the deal.
It was only having him stay in the land anyway.
“You can never stand out. If you reside in a remote area, no one will realize you’re there.”
“Thank you, Grand Duke.”
Noah’s face brightened. This much permission was enough.
Living in Tersia alone would make him much closer to Esther.
As Noah glanced around happily, his eyes settled on one place. It was where a portrait hung in the center of the wall.
“Ah! Was that painting also done by Esther?”
Darwin’s face hardened as soon as he heard Noah vocalize the familiar name.
“Did you get acquainted with my daughter enough to call her name?”
Noah, noticing Darwin’s cold glare, belatedly attached an explanation.
“Because we are of the same age… We decided to be friends. Haha.”
Darwin stared at Noah, not caring to hide his distaste.
He’d never heard of that from Esther.