A Saint who was Adopted by the Grand Duke - Chapter 60
Listed inside the article were orders to welcome the guests in possession of the paper. They were told to treat them with the utmost respect.
“Ex-excuse me! I’ll open the doors right away.”
“We will return before daybreak, so please be sure to let us through then.”
“Yes, I understand!”
The gates unfurled.
The Grand Duke and his attendants promptly passed the entry on horseback. They weren’t held for any mandatory inspection whatsoever.
“From here on out, I will be guiding everyone.”
Upon entering the territory, Ben rose to lead the way. He had previously memorized the roads of the region in advance and therefore held more knowledge in where their objective existed.
As they passed the main road and fell upon the outskirts of the territory, a shady and unkempt slum came to view.
“Was it here?”
“Yes. According to the temple’s records, this would be the site.”
Darwin’s eyes gleamed brutally as he rushed towards the tenement housing. His voice was intense to the point *a bird would’ve dropped.
*TL/N: Not too sure, but it seems like a Korean idiom. Any suggestions towards the meaning please put in the comments! Thanks~
The slums in Harstal were on a smaller scale. One could see from the beginning to the end of the housing, even at a close distance.
There existed not one decent shelter. All left from the property were eight straw houses barely managing to keep ahold of themselves.
“It seems everyone is resting at the moment. Shall we wake them?”
The knights requested charging immediately. Darwin nodded steadily in response.
It was then.
A middle-aged man seemed to have discerned the unfamiliar hooves of the horses as he hastened outside.
“Kuek! Wh-who are you?”
Following behind were the rest who happened to be disturbed from their sleep.
“What’s the matter?”
“What? Who’s there?”
There were six individuals, including the man. Darwin frowned at the few amounts huddling before him.
“There’s too little.”
“We’ll search for more.”
The knights scoured the slums and gathered those who attempted to flee, including the individuals who remained inside.
Ultimately, there were less than ten. The individuals were all well over 50. No children existed within the crowd.
“Why are you here at such a late hour? Who the hell are you!”
Amongst them, a grey-haired woman, supposedly the oldest, stepped forward to show her missing teeth.
“We are just poor people who make a living by begging every day. If there is anything you need, I will cooperate… Please put away your sword.”
Although she appeared to be a feeble and needy old woman, the knights reached their swords, aiming her way. Her scrawny body trembled.
At first glance, she seemed an innocent person, but to Darwin’s eyes, she was but a serpent.
“Where have all the others gone? The children.”
“This is everyone. It’s been a while since I’ve looked after the children.”
The old woman responded meekly, aiming to win the Duke’s favor.
Darwin jumped off his horse. He seemed to cower them even more, now that he had set foot on the ground.
“Are you in charge of this place?”
As Darwin strode and stood before the old woman, the knights, including Ben, hurried to his side in surprise.
“Your Grace, it’s dangerous!”
“Yes, we will proceed in your stead.”
Darwin raised his hand in instruction for them to keep distant.
He slowly leaned to meet the old woman’s eye level and stared into her.
“If we did something wrong, please tell us. Why are you doing this?”
As the old woman slightly glanced to meet Darwin’s gaze, she felt the hairs all over her body shrivel. She immediately fell to her knees.
“I am aware you earned money by gathering and selling orphans.”
“…That happened a long time ago. I don’t have the heart to do that now.”
“It’s not that you don’t have the heart, it’s that you aren’t able to.”
Darwin scoffed. Judging from the number of people gathered, they seemed incapable of committing any deed. Those residing in the slum weren’t mere beggars.
Filthy humans who made a living by selling children. They were no different from slave traders.
Just the thought of Esther living under such dirt caused his blood to churn.
Darwin suppressed his urge to cut the woman’s breath and proceeded with the interrogation.
“You may not recall all the children you traded off, but there must be one that comes to mind. The child you cast to the temple.”
“U-ugh, I don’t recall. How many children have left? How could I possibly remember…”
“It would be advised for you to recall. That is, if you don’t wish for your death.”
He grabbed the old woman’s neck as the cruel words left his lips. With only her bones left, it was manageable to strangle her with a single hand.
“Kuk, kugh… Sa-save me! I remember! It’s her! The one with pink eyes!”
The old woman seemed to have concluded he would truly kill her if she continued with her facade. She impulsively spilled the truth.
Darwin loosened his hold to the point where the woman could breathe and drew his face closer.
“Where did you find the child?”
“I don’t know anything. It was a kid Lucifer brought.”
“Lucifer? Is he among the group?”
Darwin coldly scanned those forced out of the slums.
“No; Lucifer, that f*cking bastard… He stole all our worth a few years ago. All the money we had left was hers.”
The woman claimed for Lucifer to have left after gathering all their money years ago.
Since then, division broke the association, and people scattered elsewhere, leaving no more money or power to maintain trading children.
His eyebrows wriggled in displeasure. He ended up coming here all for naught.
He threw off the old woman and retreated to leave the area.
However, at that moment, something shining through the woman’s threadbare rags caught his eye.
“Wait. Where did you find that?”
“It’s mine. I bought it.”
The old lady shifted her eyes and stuttered helplessly the moment Darwin recognized the necklace.
Overcome with a sudden inclination, he overpowered the old woman with force and tore apart the chain.
“You purchased this?”
He could see through the woman’s lies the moment he inspected the necklace at close range.
It was an accessory comprising an elaborate pink diamond that screamed value.
It was not a necklace measurable with money. If that was the case, it wouldn’t be possible for the woman to lay hold of the thing.
“Tell me the truth.”
Darwin pulled his sword, seeking hidden answers the old woman was concealing.
As the blade scratched her neck, the old woman broke into tears.
“Hik… That is the only thing I have left. There is nothing other than that.”
“Tell me where you received it.”
“…It was hanging on the girl’s neck when Lucifer brought her.”
Darwin’s hand clenched the necklace as he regarded her statements.
“It was hanging around Esther’s neck?”
It was all the more disturbing when the article was none other than an unusual pendant.
“I will take this.”
The old woman sobbed as she held Darwin’s cloak.
“How dare you touch his Grace?”
The knights pushed away the old woman from their master using their feet.
“What should we do?”
“Kill them all.”
He no longer held an interest in the association, now that he had dug every piece of valuable information.
Darwin intended to finish them off once the interrogation was over from the very beginning. As they sold children in the past, it would be better to finish them off. This was also in case rumors of Esther leaked.
Darwin turned around and stared at the necklace with mixed feelings.
“Ben, search for a man named Lucifer from Harstal.”
After the blood storm, the slum in Harstal completely vanished. No one survived.
Esther left for the salon Darwin reserved beforehand to select her dress for the upcoming anniversary.
Of course, she anticipated it to be the same boutique they stopped by when she first arrived in Tersia, but the wagon stood before a completely separate shop.
“Is this the right location?”
“Yes, his Grace ordered for me to deliver my lady to this dressing boutique.”
She asked once more to ascertain this wasn’t the wrong destination, but the horseman simply opened the door to the carriage and dismissed her worries.
Esther tilted her head and observed the appearance of the salon. Her eyes glimmered the moment she recognized the sign.
“Oh? Is it also here?”
It appeared to be the same boutique she stopped by on her way from the temple the previous time.
“This is a very famous area.”
She never imagined there would be one existing in Tersia. Esther entered the store, dazed.
The woman in wait for Esther welcomed her with a large smile.
“Huh? Are you…”
It was none other than Dolores who appeared to greet Esther. The young girl’s eyes widened in surprise at the sudden figure.
“Yes. I am very honored to be able to meet the lady again like this.”
On the other hand, Dolores seemed to have known in advance of Esther’s arrival.
“How are you here?”
“We initiated a branch since the lady visited the last time. His Grace requested for the lady’s outfit, and it so happened I was here for business.”
Dolores was as elegant and attractive as Esther recalled.
She was a person who did not contain any hate and presented favor openly.
“It’s all thanks to you that our branch entered Lille Street.”
“I didn’t do anything.”
Esther followed Dolores down the hallway as she glanced about the boutique.
The newly built, large, and brilliant salon included as much as three stories. Among them, Esther was escorted to the drawing-room on the third floor, reserved for VIPs.
“The lady may sit here.”
It was a luxury sofa prepared solely for Esther. As soon as she relaxed on the furniture, her body indulged in the coziness.
‘Where is it from?’
While Esther was distracted by the couch, hangers lined up within the drawing-room.
“These are the apparels I have selected in advance for the lady.”
Dolores smiled brightly as she stood by the racks.
“I will present one after the other, so please provide your utmost attention.”
Every time Dolores waved, the maids would remove the dress from the hanger and display the designs.
Just looking at the dresses prepared in various colors and designs were vibrant and eye-catching.