A Saint who was Adopted by the Grand Duke - Chapter 46
Darwin was very pleased with Esther’s response. He picked her up, craving to cuddle her adorable figure.
“Alright. Instead, I’ll attach an escort knight alongside you.”
“I can go there alone…”
“No. You can’t risk a long journey unaided.”
Darwin settled Esther down and pondered for a while, only to be found gesturing for the Knight Commander.
“Did you call for me, Your Grace?”
“How many people have been officially made knights after their coming-of-age ceremony this year?”
“There are about twenty.”
“Bring all the men who are interested in becoming my daughter’s escort. It is not a mandatory order.”
“Yes, I understand!”
Before heading back to the rest of the knights, the Knight Commander held out his hand and approached Esther.
“This isn’t a formal meeting, but it is a pleasure to meet you, my lady.”
While Esther tried to hold the Knight Commander’s extended hand, Darwin swiped the man’s arm to the other side.
The commander was so petrified by Darwin’s glaring eyes that he quickly ran to the others to avoid his line of sight.
After a short while, the number of knights brought back by the leader were… twenty out of twenty.
“I have brought them.”
Esther faltered nervously as countless eyes gazed her way. She didn’t think this many would offer to be her guard.
“Everyone seems to be here?”
“Yes… the truth is all of them wished to volunteer for Lady Esther… I never forced them here.”
The commander chuckled.
He spoke none but the truth. In fact, no one was being forced to participate. As soon as he finished explaining, all twenty knights simultaneously applied.
Esther was undeniably charming, however, most of them wished to escort the Duke’s favored daughter in order to guarantee themselves a successful career.
“Choose one yourself.”
Darwin gently placed his hand over Esther’s shoulder as he chattered softly.
“Well, I mean…”
Esther, flustered, observed the knights one by one. They were each gazing at her desperately, pleading to be the chosen one.
‘Oh, I don’t know.’
Not able to make her decision, she quickly swept her head around and spotted someone who seemed to stand out from the rest.
There stood a charming blonde-haired man. His refreshing blue eyes seemed overly relaxed, unlike the rest of the strained knights.
Esther whispered quietly to Darwin as she silently admired his calm appearance.
“If I have to choose, then him.”
“Do you mean Victor?”
Darwin’s eyes narrowed as he studied the person Esther pointed towards.
Victor was a new rookie that placed particular effort into his training sessions. He earned excellent grades and presumably built a good reputation as a trainee.
There was only one flaw he had if one. There were many rumors circulating of his known affairs with women.
“What do you think, Ben?”
“I believe he is the best choice. The knight will make sure not to commit any wrongdoing to the Lady, so you can leave the position to him while resting assured.”
Darwin pondered seriously, then opened his eyes while addressing his orders.
“Victor will stay; the rest of you head back.”
After Victor’s name was finalized, the remaining Knights’ expressions overflowed with dejection.
Although they couldn’t clearly express their feelings as they were before Darwin, they held Victor’s forearm tightly while passing by and shot him looks of envy.
“Yeah, why is it just you? It was my wish to serve my lady, I’m so upset.”
“Victor… that lucky guy.”
Victor made a peace sign behind his back to the other knights who were sorrowfully backing to their positions.
The moment Darwin addressed Victor sternly, he erased the smile off his face and saluted as he regained his composure.
“Yes, Your Grace.”
Darwin’s gaze was so ferocious, to the extent that it made Victor’s body stiffen. Nonetheless, he strode forward bravely, his attitude bold.
“You will escort Esther any time she is outside this residence. Do you understand your position?”
It was a great honor to escort Darwin’s family, noting the fact that he was a member of the Knights and managed strictly under the Duke himself.
Victor bent on one knee, a serious expression drawn on his face, and placed his hand over his chest.
“Of course. I will cherish my lady more than my life.”
He declared solemnly as he turned his head to face Esther.
Refreshing energy was delivered to Esther as she stared into his dashing azure eyes.
She only selected him on the spot, however, up close, he was an attractive and handsome gentleman.
“Oh, um… uh… please, please look after me.”
Esther’s cheeks turned bright red. She nodded, her face meeting the floor.
“I look forward to your kind cooperation, my lady. Would you give me your hand for a moment?”
Victor smiled and gestured as he asked Esther for her hand.
Esther glanced over to Darwin’s side, and when she noticed him nodding, she carefully placed her hand over his.
“I’ll do my utmost best.”
Victor placed his head over Esther’s hand. Then, he lightly kissed her fingertips.
When the soft texture pressed gently on the back of Esther’s hand, her eyes turned as round as a rabbit’s.
Victor’s sudden action quickly and completely altered the atmosphere.
Darwin turned ice-cold and glowered at Victor with heated rage as if he were capable of breathing fire.
“What are you doing?”
A kiss on the back of a lady’s hand was considered a light greeting often shared even if the respected people only met for the first time. As it turned out, not only Esther was uncomfortable.
Victor felt he made a dire mistake as he witnessed Darwin grow ruthlessly wild.
“Ah… if I made a mistake in any way… I apologize.”
“How dare you touch Esther?”
“Your Grace, it was a simple knight’s pledge.”
As it appeared Darwin wouldn’t stay calm for much longer, Ben stepped in anxiously.
“Father, he hadn’t reached it yet.”
Esther smiled as she hurriedly showed Darwin the back of her hand.
In fact, he did touch her hand with his lips. Nevertheless, avoiding the incident came first. Darwin’s wrath subdued as if his previous anger was but an illusion.
“Is that true? Anyhow, be careful. If you touch Esther once more, it won’t end with mere words.”
“I will be careful.”
Darwin fiercely gazed at Victor, even after his rage had calmed.
‘We’re going to require more escorts.’
His distrust of Victor had grown to the fullest. Darwin considered including a secret escort for Esther, aside from Victor.
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The next day.
As Esther prepared to leave, Judy pulled her arm in a whiny motion.
“I’m coming with you. Why can’t I?”
His muscles and body naturally became larger due to his training, but that changed nothing of his character.
“It’s because some may recognize you. I’ll be right back, so don’t worry.”
Esther apologetically embraced Judy.
As Esther’s little hands swept Judy’s back, a grin flashed across his face.
“Okay, I get it. But be really careful. It’s too dangerous out there.”
“Don’t hold onto Esther too much. Victor will make sure to protect Esther from head to toenail. Right?”
Dennis’s voice frightened Victor even more than Judy’s.
He clenched his fist, feeling the subtle pressure placed on his shoulders.
“Of course, Young Master.”
Victor smiled as he lowered his eyes.
“Also, I brought this just in case. You won’t have to use it, but just take it if needed.”
Dennis handed over a small pouch. Inside was a seal engraved with the crest of the family as well as several diamonds.
Esther gladly received the items and placed them inside her small bag.
“Then I’ll be back.”
After a light hug from the twins, Esther entered the carriage.
“Yes, you have to be careful.”
“Come back quickly!”
Judy and Dennis waved until the carriage completely disappeared.
On the other hand, the moment the wagon reached a specific point farther from the mansion, Esther and Victor left their seats.
“Thank you for bringing me.”
“Have a safe trip, my lady.”
After bidding them his farewell, the horseman retreated to the way he had come from.
This was because they would now travel using a carriage arranged by the temple. Of course, this was to hide their identities.
“Victor, like I said before, will you make me feel at ease from here?”
Esther turned from viewing the entrance of the temple to Victor.
“But if his Grace knows of this, he will not let it pass.”
“I will never tell father.”
As Esther gazed at him with earnest eyes, Victor’s heart slowly melted.
‘Why didn’t anyone tell me you were this cute?’
Victor smiled flusteredly as he clutched his heart. He was taken aback to see himself grinning so foolishly.
“Only until we return, and, you’ll have to call me brother… Please speak to me comfortably.”
The moment Esther spoke the word ‘brother,’ Victor’s smile widened even more.
As Victor ought no younger siblings, Esther seemed infinitely cute and adorable in his view.
His heart felt like it had been thoroughly purified as he observed her soft flowing hair and dawn-tinted eyes.
‘If his Grace knew this, he’d really throw me in jail…’
Darwin’s fierce eyes came to mind and terrified the daylights out of Victor once more.
He lightly touched his throat and felt as if a blade had sliced through.
** ━━━━━━━⋅•⋅⊰∙∘☽༓☾∘∙⊱⋅•⋅ ━━━━━━━**
It was very simple to enter the territory where the central temple was located. No confirmation was needed as Priest Shin himself accompanied Esther.
After Esther exited the carriage, she tilted her head at the unfamiliar scenery.
It wasn’t the main gate where people entered and left from.
Furthermore, it was too late for visiting hours, thus the door to the main temple was already secured.
“Where are we going, Priest Shin?”
“As I said, this is unofficial, so we will head through a passage only the High Priests know of.”
As she followed the Priest, a back door that Esther had no knowledge existed appeared. Of course, a separate knight was guarding that door.
“Show me the way.”
The knight gazed sharply at Esther’s accompaniment.
Priest Shin presented forth the high-class pass that he always retained in hand. The door finally opened after the verification process ended.
Although Esther didn’t fully understand, she obediently followed.
The Saint was a figure of the highest rank in the temple.
No matter how unofficial the meeting was, it was strange to be secretive to such an extent.