A Saint who was Adopted by the Grand Duke - Chapter 76
“Do you mean your title of a Prince?”
“Yes. And if Your Majesty allows me, I wish to be greedy for higher standings.”
Noah faced the Emperor, his voice unwavering and full of strength. His eyes brimmed with a determination that was unlike his child self.
The Emperor couldn’t help but feel flustered at his appearance. Although Noah had been a deep-rooted person for the longest time, it wasn’t to this extent.
‘A child with no longing for power.’
It was strange to see the same Noah who avoided answering when hinted for the Crown Prince position shift in such a drastic way.
He was worried that Noah’s change was due to his desire for revenge against those who drove him out.
“In the past, you felt burdened with the position of the Crown Prince. Why caused your change in mind?”
“I have a goal.”
“And what is that?”
Noah chuckled at the Emperor’s question.
“We mustn’t remain dominated by the Temple like this. We might seem like equal allies, but is there anything the Imperial family can do without keeping the Temple in mind?”
“Yes. My goal is to destroy the Temple.”
Although only the two existed in the room, the Emperor peered at their surroundings and hurriedly covered Noah’s mouth, his face tense.
“Noah, you must be careful with your words anytime, anywhere. The Saint is capable of watching over all our words and actions.”
A deep fear embedded into the Emperor’s mind. He had seen and witnessed every small action the Temple had made all his life to belittle them.
This was the reason he couldn’t refuse anything the Temple wished for, even as he tried to assure himself about the decision.
“I’m not afraid.”
Noah knew better than anyone through Esther that the Saint was not a figure for anyone to be petrified of.
“Trust me. You are well aware that the current Temple is not just.”
Noah knelt on one knee before the Emperor. Then he raised his head to face him, awaiting his order.
The emperor sighed and faced Noah with complex eyes.
His son did not tremble for a moment as he proposed such a huge gamble. He even felt a sense of ease.
‘When did you grow up this much?’
The Emperor’s eyes deepened as he gazed at Noah. Their black eyes, reminiscent of each other, intertwined in the air.
The Emperor filled with emotions as he stared at Noah, who was unlike himself, willing to face the Temple.
“Raise yourself first.”
He helped Noah to the sofa. Then he rested on a chair and pressed his temples.
“You don’t know the world because you are still young. The real fear as you stand before God… Without the power of the Saint, the stability of the Empire cannot be maintained. That is the reason we must not go against the temple.”
Noah smiled softly at the word ‘saint’.
“What if the Saint is on our side? No, should I say we will be on the side of the Saint? Then, wouldn’t it be alright?”
The Emperor’s hand slowly fell from his forehead. His eyes grew bigger.
“Perhaps it would be possible then… But, it doesn’t add up.”
“I know the identity of the next Saint. And that Saint will never stand beside the Temple.”
“A-are you serious? Who is it?”
The Emperor seemed to have forgotten his current position as he sprang from his seat before sitting back down in excitement. The next Saint was that much of an important figure.
“I can’t tell you just yet. But it is all true.”
Noah’s eyes remained clear and steadfast as he faced him. Even if he lied, the Emperor would have believed his words.
The Emperor’s mind tangled. A large stone had been thrown into a calm surface of water and caused a permanent stir.
It was hard to believe that the Saint would turn her back against the temple, but it was also implausible for Noah to have healed from God’s curse.
“Is your illness truly cured?”
“Yes. More or less.”
“While you were away, Damon’s forces firmly intertwined with the Temple. If you appear now, he will try to hold you down one way or the other.”
“I shouldn’t allow him the time to do so. Before I announce myself to the public, I will strengthen my faction first.”
Noah’s firm resolution moved the Emperor’s heart.
The Emperor, guilty of what he had previously done to Noah, couldn’t possibly refuse his request.
“Alright. If you truly escaped from God’s curse, it will be easy for you to return to your original position. With my support, you may become the Crown Prince.”
The Emperor leisurely leaned forward and folded his arms. His voice regained stability.
“But not now. You lack power.”
Noah moderately accepted the Emperor’s cold criticism.
“Please be patient for exactly one year. I will conduct a force to support me in the meantime.”
“Good. However, the Temple is already urging Damon to accept the Crown Prince position. You must hurry.”
Noah nodded while smiling gracefully. His innocent features remained the same as before he left the Imperial Palace.
“Then I’ll leave. I’ve stayed for too long. If anyone suspects us, my plans will go wrong.”
The Emperor’s eyes clouded at the thought that he would have to let Noah go without accomodating a friendly conversation. It had been a while since they last chatted.
“Where will you go?”
“I was going to head back to where I initiated originally, however… I am in a hurry, so I will reside near the Imperial Palace. All the key figures gather here.”
It would be too much of a waste of time to travel back and forth from Tersia. Living in the Capital would help him meet others.
“Good. If you need any help, contact me right away.”
Noah stood from his seat and lowered his head. The Emperor held Noah before he could speak his farewells.
“Meet your mother before you leave. She hasn’t slept properly ever since the day we let you go. She misses you very much.”
Noah’s eyes reddened the moment he heard of his mother’s condition.
“Not yet. She is a very soft-hearted person. Please keep this a secret from mother and sister until the right time comes.”
Noah couldn’t help but feel nostalgic towards his mother. It was heartbreaking to hear that she hadn’t been able to sleep all this time.
Still, he turned around and left, suppressing his emotions. The Emperor hesitated before speaking.
Noah looked back. The Emperor’s tender eyes reached Noah.
“I will never give up on you again under any circumstances. There will never be a second time. I am so sorry.”
“…I have never blamed father. I understand.”
He said so calmly, but a stream of tears flowed down Noah’s eyes as he turned around.
The anxiously waiting Palen jumped in surprise as he witnessed Noah running towards him.
“W-were you scolded? Did something happen?”
“No. The conversation ended well.”
Noah quickly wiped his tears with his sleeve. He made the excuse that something flew into his eye, and that was why he was in this state.
Although he himself didn’t understand why his tears flowed, his expression became much more refreshed after.
“Anyway, I can’t return to Tersia.”
“What? Then where will you go?”
“I’ll search for a place now. Will you help me?”
“Again? Yes, but…- I think I will become a master at finding residences after this.”
Noah sent Palen a grin and left through the hidden exit under the escort of the Emperor’s direct knight.
‘Phew, I’ll see you later.’
He expected this outcome, but now that he bore the reality, Esther’s face emerged into the air.
He ought to be conscious of all his actions the following year. This would prevent him from meeting Esther until things proceeded well.
Noah was glad the conversation with his father ended well, but the disappointment wouldn’t leave him.
A year and two months have passed.
The seasons changed several times since she was 12.
Esther turned 14 years old.
This completed the 21 months since her incarnation.
Saint Cespia, who should have passed away by now, was still alive. This was a significant change from the many regressions she had experienced before now.
Despite her anxiety, Esther continued her daily life faithfully. She was now perfectly adapted to the family of the Grand Duke.
Esther smacked her lips as she dozed off against the window from which warm sunlight emanated.
Her small mouth moved busily. Perhaps she was dreaming of food.
Someone dared to interrupt her peaceful sleep and ran down the hallway at full speed. Abruptly, the door opened.
“My Lady, the Grand Duke will arrive soon! You must come down quickly.”
“…Ung! I wasn’t sleeping!”
Esther’s eyes lit. She stood and hurriedly smoothed her dress in front of the mirror.
Fortunately, everything was flawless. She had been earnestly awaiting his return since the morning.
The Esther reflected in the mirror changed significantly in a year.
She grew up eating full meals and gained weight. She also grew in height by one span. Her skin was glowing.
The charming Esther was now bright and energetic, with not a single shade hovering over her.
She quickly followed Dorothy outside the room. She was overjoyed at the thought of meeting her father after a long time.
“Were you dozing off? You said you had the extracurricular homework due tomorrow.”
“The sunlight was too warm.”
Esther stuck out her tongue and rushed down the stairs. She seemed like a normal child her age.
Fortunately, she didn’t arrive late. As soon as they reached the first floor, Darwin had just opened the front door.
Esther’s face bloomed.
Darwin embraced Esther as she ran towards him.
Smiles emerged on the faces of the servants as they observed the family’s affectionate display.
“Have you been well?”
Esther shook her head and looked up at Darwin.
“I missed you.”
With those sparkling eyes, Darwin couldn’t hold back and hugged Esther tightly.
“I missed you too.”
It hadn’t been long ago since Esther commenced speaking these embarrassing phrases, but now she’s changed to the point it left her mouth unconsciously.
Darwin had been dispatched to the eastern border for a month. This was on a special request from the Emperor.
Esther buried her face deep into his shoulder as she tightened her arms around Darwin.
Darwin smiled gently at Esther’s cute act and stroked her hair.
Then he carefully set her down and glanced around.
“Where is Judy?”
As soon as he spoke, a loud bang resounded from outside. Judy was the only person capable of producing such a fuss in the Grand Duke’s house.
Judy opened the door and hollered. His face was covered with sweat since he had been exercising.
Darwin frowned and scrutinized Judy’s figure. His muscles seemed to flex even more during the short span of a month.
“How long have you been working out?”
“Just a little everyday… Hehe. But how was the border? Did a real monster even come out?”