72. The Value of my Existence
The next morning.
“I think he’s in the castle. It’s kind of uncomfortable…”
I was walking down the corridor leading to the courtyard to feed Ralph.
Of course, I was referring to Duke Vincent.
The Duke of Ice.
He and Nigel were classmates back in their school days. He also seemed to be a very competent lord.
Nigel and Abby both said he was a good person, but I was vigilant.
“Am I overthinking this?”
“What are you muttering about?”
I was called out to from behind.
When I turned around—
“—L, Lord Vincent!?”
“Why are you so surprised?”
I saw Vincent’s face.
When he saw me, he didn’t even smile.
D-did he hear what I just said!?
When I felt my heartbeat quicken…
“I have something to ask of you today.”
Vincent approached me.
“You seem to be Nigel’s fiancée.”
I failed to comprehend his question.
Why did he know that?!
From Nigel, I guess. But Nigel had insisted I refrain from easily mentioning such important information…
However, I was currently in the presence of the Duke of Ice!
I didn’t know what to say!
“A, are you dissatisfied with something?”
I finally opened my mouth.
“Nothing. It’s just that he has never been interested in women. Back in the academy, he was surrounded by ladies, but he turned everyone down. What kind of woman did he make his fiancée? I’m just curious.”
He gradually narrowed the distance between us.
If Nigel had told him this, I could ease my worries.
But why would he bother to ask such a thing when we were alone?
While I was confused, Vincent asked casually.
“Are you worthy of being Nigel’s fiancée?”
Upon suddenly being told such a thing, I could only listen.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything bad. I heard about you from Nigel. It seems that you’ve worked as a healer until now. Which means, you aren’t an aristocrat.”
—He said sorry.
Even so, I didn’t think Vincent was the slightest bit remorseful.
“I, is being part of the aristocracy the minimal requirement to be Nigel’s fiancée?”
“I didn’t say that, either. However, no matter how good of a healer you are, other people might wonder if your knowledge, wisdom, and benevolence match that of Nigel’s.”
He was being roundabout.
However, what Vincent meant to say had been painfully conveyed to me.
…He was saying I was unworthy of being Nigel’s fiancée…
Certainly, I might be naïve.
I wasn’t an aristocrat, but Nigel still made me his fiancée… it might look strange to the people around me.
However, my feelings for Nigel were genuine. Even so, there was no reason for me to say that.
Was it because I was overwhelmed by my feelings?
Before I realized it, I was glaring at Vincent.
He remarked, “Hoo… aren’t you a pretty strong woman. I don’t hate that kind of woman.”
Vincent further closed the distance between us.
I kept retreating—however, my back hit the wall.
Vincent trapped with the wall. His arms were at both of my sides, preventing me from escaping.
“I will praise that courage. But you’re a woman, still. If you’re too careless, you’ll be eaten by a bad guy.”
Vincent’s beautiful face was right before me.
His skin was morbidly white. I got chills from his stare.
I wish I could push his body away and escape. …But it was as if my body had been frozen solid.
…I’ll be eaten by a bad guy?
What on earth was that man going to do?
“W, won’t you move aside? Doing this to a woman isn’t very praiseworthy.”
“Kukuku, you’re still strong. I’m liking you more and more.”
I don’t want to be liked by you!
I felt like I was being stared at by a snake.
When I was nervous…
“Oi, what are you guys doing?”
Vincent and I turned towards the voice.
“I was wondering how long you’d take to come to the courtyard, so I came to fetch you. Are you guys in the middle of something?”
When I saw Douglas, it was as if my body had finally been freed from an enchantment. I could move again.
I bent over, left Vincent, and ran to Douglas.
“We aren’t! Don’t say things that can easily be misunderstood!”
“Oh, that’s right, you have Nigel, after all.”
Although he was always causing trouble, he was somehow more dependable that day.
“Hmm… red hair, dark skin. Could you be the man Nigel mentioned?”
Vincent wasn’t deterred and looked at Douglas with interest.
“Well, this is all for today.”
Vincent turned around.
“But don’t forget this—what it means for a naïve girl like you to stand beside Nigel. Although the outcome might have been different if everyone were to know your true worth.”
Finally, Vincent left us for good.
The moment he disappeared, my shoulders sunk.
“Phew… Douglas, thank you.”
“I don’t know why you’re grateful, but you’re welcome.”
Douglas was nonchalant.
“That guy was the aforementioned Duke of Ice. Although he’s handsome, he carries an aura different from Nigel’s. Anyway, what the heck is—”
He gently rubbed my back.
“It looked like things were starting to get difficult. Talking to that overbearing man must have strained you. I understand your feelings well.”
“I, isn’t he!? That person is really terrible…!”
“But, why is he terrible, though? It seems to me that he’s merely worried about Eliane.”
“W, worried!? Why and how did you come to such a conclusion!?”
“He’s pretty aggressive for a human, but if he were a dragon, instead…”
Suddenly, Douglas mentioned something about, ‘dragon’—which shouldn’t matter.
I wondered if Vincent hated me?
He said that I was unworthy, naïve, and didn’t suit Nigel…
He told me a lot of things…
What should I do to be recognized by such a person?
It wasn’t like I could just confess that I was a former saint… what should I do?
“What’s wrong, Eliane? You look unhappy.”
“I don’t know anymore!”
I was angry and turned away from Douglas.
Maybe, it wasn’t Vincent’s words.
Maybe the reason his words had pierced me this painfully was because deep down, I was also concerned about my relationship with Nigel.
***T/N: …Y’know, that’s what she said, but judging from her attitudes in the previous chapters, I feel like the reason she desperately wants to prove her worth is because for the first time since forever, instead of spewing, ‘You’re so amazing! You’re the greatest healer!’ and insta-simping for her, A MERE IKEMEN CAST, WHOSE SOLE PURPOSE IS TO PRAISE HER TO HIGH HEAVEN, DARES TO NOT DO EXACTLY THAT, AND EVEN TALKED HER DOWN, WHICH GREATLY RUFFLED HER FEATHERS (lmao to the point she’s ready to reveal ‘IM TEH SAINT!!1111’ just to gain his reverence). So yea, it isn’t for Nigel. Besides, Nigel who? I almost forgot he plays a significant role because Author loves to shelf him in favor of her future studs.
Also, I’m not giving any brownie points to Vincent for popping the Mary Sue’s bubble, here, dude’s rapey as fuck.
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