Chapter 18 - Father’s Disciple
When the person listening in to their conversation left, the tense air slightly relaxed.
‘Those steps. How annoying.’ The young man wore a frown on his handsome face from this mysterious cause of displeasure.
He turned to his master, who had just called his name. “Yes?”
“Did you call her that, knowing who she was?” Although his master’s monotone voice wasn’t too different from usual, the look in his eyes was very fierceful. It had been a long time since this man revealed what lay behind his indifferent mask.
“I don’t know who she is.”
There was only one person who could bring out this reaction from his master. Although Max knew who she was, he continued to stare at his master indifferently.
Ten years had passed since he started learning swordsmanship from his master, at the age of twelve. Max knew how strict and blunt he could be. Even so, there were moments when his master softened his usually stony demeanor…
“It’s my daughter.”
That was only when he talked about his daughter.
Max recalled her name. “Jubell.”
His master smiled. “Yes.”
Max had only mentioned his daughter’s nickname, but his expression had already softened. The young man frowned. ‘He’s impossible to understand.’
When Max’s mother died at a very young age, his life was threatened by enemies within his own family. It was Duke Floyen, his master, who protected him from frightening situations and taught him how to defend himself.
“Since you consider me to be your master, I will secretly teach you swordsmanship for your survival.”
At one point, Max looked up to his master so much that he wanted to become just like him. He had no such aspirations now.
‘He put a leash on himself for someone like her.’ At this thought, ice seemed to freeze over the young man’s red eyes. The corner of his tightly closed lips raised crookedly.
‘I will never have a weakness like you.’ Max knew very well that his master was having a difficult time because of this weakness of his. ‘The tighter the leash, the weaker one becomes.’
He laughed cynically before reverting back to his usual, stony expression.
His master observed him and asked, “Do you happen to have someone who frequently comes to mind?”
At the unexpected question, Max shook his head, then scrunched his eyebrows upon recalling an unpleasant experience.
“Hey, what about change?”
His master sighed at his odd expression. “Go back before it gets too late.”
The young man draped the hood of his cloak over his head and stared at him with sunken eyes. “You take care of yourself.”
After wishing a cold farewell, Max jumped out of the window. His master watched him, despite knowing that he was too skilled to get hurt.
‘It’s worse than I thought.’ Although he had taught Max to cherish life, his disciple was becoming more and more cold-blooded. He didn’t hesitate to kill his enemies if needed, regardless of means or methods.
A dark shadow fell on the duke’s ethereal face. ‘I used to be like that as well.’
Duke Regis had realized long ago that the weak died first in times of war. Rather than sympathizing with them, he hadn’t bothered to hide his disgust. But now the cold-blooded man changed, and it was because of a girl so fragile that he had to be careful about even touching her hand.
A gentle smile lit Regis’s face in the dark.
‘You don’t know anything, Max.’ For Regis, his lovely daughter was his dull life’s only salvation. He wanted to teach the importance of this to his foolish disciple.
‘Because of that child, I can exist as a human, not a monster.’ She was the reason why he could continue to live without going crazy.
* * *
After returning to my room, I told the maids that I had seen a rat.
“The butler recently hired a pest controller, so I thought he had hunted down every last one of them.”
Merilyn shook her head. “There must have been some left because the mansion is so big. Rats breed quickly.”
Just thinking about it made my knees weak with fear. ‘This is terrible. Even seeing one of them would be scary…’
Merilyn noticed my worried expression. “Don’t worry,” she assured me. “I will report it to Madam Perez so they will never appear again.”
I relaxed my expression and smiled. ‘Good thing I didn’t tell my father.’
If I had spoken to him at that time, he would’ve stopped me from asking the maids to hunt the rats. But since he didn’t know that I had eavesdropped on his conversation, he would assume that I had seen a rat somewhere else in the mansion.
‘I can finally relax knowing that they will take care of it.’
* * *
“For this reason, I have gathered up the servants to catch rats.”
Regis sighed upon receiving this report from Madam Perez, the housekeeper. ‘It seems like she misunderstood our conversation.’
The duke became anxious as he tried to think of a way to reassure his daughter.
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