Chapter 20 - Be My Wife
Count Townsend’s angry hand had struck William in the face.
“William!” Elena looked at the man who protected her. His back was trembling. ‘What is this… What on earth is going on…’ She couldn’t believe that her father was trying to hit her. This felt like a nightmare.
“Lord Townsend, please control your anger and listen to Lady Elena,” William said. The hard slap had left one of his ears ringing, but he was still glad that Elena hadn’t gotten hit.
“Get out of the way, William. I’d rather kill this wretch.” The count was overwhelmed with anger, and his reason had deserted him. All it had taken was one thing to set him off. ‘Out of all people, why did it have to be Gareth? Why did she give herself away to such a lowly man? Why him? I wanted to use Elena to find a powerful, aristocratic son-in-law, but all she has done is disgrace my family name.’
At that moment, a cold voice sounded from behind them, “You asked me for the terms of employment, Elena?” Elena turned her vacant eyes to where the voice was coming from. Gareth, who was leaning against the doorway, was staring at her. “Be my wife. That’s my answer,” he said.
It was a proposal out of the blue, his quiet words having an enormous effect. Everyone was silent for a moment.
Gareth continued to stare at Elena, urging her for an answer. However, it was Count Townsend who spoke first, “A daughter belongs to her father. I won’t allow her to marry you.”
Gareth straightened, pulling out his sword as he spat out heartlessly, “I’ll kidnap her if you send her to a nunnery, and I’m willing to cut your hands off if you touch her. Your choice, Count.”
His words seemed to weigh down the very air, and his looming presence was so oppressive that it was as if shadowy wings were unfurling from his back. In the face of this, the count’s breath left him. He closed his mouth with a hardened expression.
William still hovered defensively in front of Elena, though he was not sure who he was protecting her from.
“What’s your answer, Elena?” Gareth asked.
Elena had a hard time figuring out if he was telling the truth. The world was spinning. She had always done her best and had no idea why her father was treating her like this. She knew well that a daughter belonged to her father—but to think he would just dump her on someone like this? If he was going to marry her off just to anyone, she would not still be a maiden at 19. She would have already been married.
As she thought that, Gareth spoke, “I can definitely stop Logan.”
Giggs quickly signaled to the men. They unsheathed their swords in unison when they saw his order, and the castle’s knights drew their own swords in response. It was a volatile situation. There was tension in the air in an instant, and it felt as if blood was going to spill at any moment.
“Elena, I won’t ask you twice.”
Elena was dizzy—she couldn’t hear Gareth’s voice clearly. Unable to stand anymore, she collapsed to the ground. Gareth strode forward, pushing William to the side with his shoulder, and lifted Elena up without hesitation.
“Let’s go,” he said, turning to leave, but William belatedly pulled out a sword and blocked his path.
“Giggs!” Gareth shouted without thinking twice.
In an instant, Giggs’ and William’s swords range against each other. The sound of swords clashing against each other filled the small room, and the onlookers watched with deathly pale expressions. Still, the combatants managed to avoid harming their surroundings. Neither Gareth nor Count Townsend stopped them. This was like a mental tug of war between the two to show who was stronger.
At the commotion, Elena gradually came to and gritted her teeth. She knew her father’s stubborn personality well, maybe too well. Whether he regretted it tomorrow or even that afternoon, he was never going to take his words back. No matter how much she pleaded her innocence, and even if he knew that she was telling the truth, her father wouldn’t change his decision. He hated Gareth too much to do so. He abhorred him more than Logan. Count Townsend considered the dignity and pride of a nobleman as part of his identity, and his obsessive self-image was suffocating Elena.
Gareth took Elena to the doorway and gently put her down. Before she could will her trembling body to stand, Gareth pulled out his sword and approached Giggs and William.
He only took two short steps. Then there was a crash as Gareth skillfully struck William’s sword while it tangled with Giggs’. The knight’s sword flew into the wooden ceiling and, before he had time to react, Gareth punched William in the gut, causing him to double over and gasp.
“What’s your decision, Count Townsend?” Gareth asked.
Count Townsend quivered and bit his pale lips instead of answering.
Gareth grabbed William by the neck, dragging him across the floor like a dog before roughly throwing him to the ground. The knight fell heavily, and Gareth slammed his boot into William’s ribs, eliciting a quiet grunt from him. The sound painfully penetrated Elena’s ears.
William was a well-trained knight, but he was no match for the battle-hardened Gareth. The knight remained facedown, and Gareth stepped on his shoulder to pin him there, asking Count Townsend, “Is this still not enough?”
Giggs watched what was happening. Gareth had never stood for his subordinates being mistreated. However, Count Townsend remained as still as a statue, as if this was the first time he had been faced with a situation like this.
‘Ha!’ Gigg’s face warped into an obvious sneer.
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Lantern Against the Wind
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