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Indebted Lady to a Heartless Gentleman

⟪Complete Novel⟫ What sort of witchcraft was that? Her closed eyes snapped open, and she was met with his smoldering dark gaze, her eyelids slowly slid closed once more as he continued to devour her. 'Embrace me in your mind, just as you have in your body and heart.' She shook her head, but his hands pressed against her cheek, limiting her ability to move her neck the way she desired. 'I know you like this. I can hear it in your heartbeat. I can taste it.' She did like it. His deep voice inside her mind carried a wealth of passion. It felt like having even more of him within her. It was tempting to fully embrace it. 'You are mine, body and mind, give me everything.' *** The Archduke of Lanark was blessed with two daughters, his eldest was the most beautiful Lady in the kingdom, while the youngest, Adelaide, held a special place in his heart. Life for the noble family was about to undergo a profound shift. With the revolution threatening the aristocrats of Emoria, their Monarch demanded they part with a significant portion of their wealth to appease the people. As a result, Adelaide's proud father found himself facing financial hardships that pushed him into deep debt. Just as despair gripped the family, a mysterious stranger arrived in town, igniting fervent discussions among the nobility with his considerable fortune and flawless etiquette. To their astonishment, this stranger paid off the Archduke's debt, becoming involved in their lives in more ways than one. Egon von Conradie, the wealthy commoner, had a hidden agenda. But his perfect plan faced an unforeseen obstacle—he had not anticipated falling for the daughter of his mortal enemy. Only Adelaide, a rare Healer, had the power to captivate a unique Beast like Egon. *** Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, events, and incidents are the products of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. The art's credit goes to the owner.

MerrySweet · Fantasy
Not enough ratings
465 Chs

A watchful eye

"Adelaide de Lanark, what were you thinking?"

An astonished Adela who had just gone out of the cottage looked up at her father, he was stationed next to her sister and what appeared to be the full order of knights.

Kaiser de Lanark rode his white stallion and gazed down at Adela with judgmental eyes that seemed distant and harsh.

There was only one explanation she could think of for how he came to find her, she held her sister's stare feeling the betrayal starting to sink in, but it only went skin deep when Larissa subtly shook her head once indicating that she was not the one who told on Adela.

Someone else must have brought the incident to father's attention. But who?

"Adelaide! you will answer me when I talk to you!"

His bleak tone startled her, it contorted his usual nonchalant attitude that protected her wishes to put her knowledge of herbal medicine into good use and shielded her from the wrath of the Archduchess — The frenzy that radiated off of him made his previous passive reaction to what he already knew was going on behind his back seem like a fraction of her own imagination.

"Father, I… Inside, there was a patient who required immediate assistance…"

"Silence! Keep your selfish alibis to yourself!"

The rest of her explanation was stuck in her throat as she drowned beneath the waves of shame seeing the almighty Archduke raise a hand to continue silencing her. Long gone was the man who never broke an unspoken rule between the two of them to leave her be when she went out undercover and defied the discriminative rules of their society.

The Shield of the King, Kaiser de Lanark, was the liege's only brother and a righteous man who had learned the hard way how royal privileges came with royal responsibilities — Third in line to the throne and favored among aristocrats, it was only natural for the nobleman to preserve a certain image, even if it went against his principles as a loving father of two daughters.

While a noblewoman of Emoria enjoyed many rights, pursuing an occupation regardless of her academic accomplishments was equivalent to social suicide, even if she ended up repelling, her act brought a great deal of shame to the lady's family that no amount of passing time could undo.

He had turned a blind eye to what he assumed was a fleeting interest his younger daughter harbored because of her excessive kindness and her bright mind, he knew that she carried the same troubles he carried in a deeply buried place inside of him and found it difficult to stand against her resentment to the social fractures of their world when he felt the same about them. However, the fact that she came this close to the forest — a wilderness where unimaginable dangers lurked — brought shivers to the Archduke's brave heart.

"Arkin,"

The closest knight to the Archduke moved his horse two steps forward.

"Yes, Your Excellency,"

Kaiser's hand which weighed a ton in the air went slowly down following his plunging spirits as he continued to glare down at his younger daughter mercilessly.

"Lady Adelaide shall ride with you back to the manor. Wait until we completely disappear from your sight before you follow us... and keep the due distance,"

The Archduke peeled his eyes away from his daughter's hurt expression and held his head up high. He was convinced that this punishment would teach her a good lesson, otherwise, he would not have been able to go through with it.

"The rest of you shall follow me back to the estate right this instant!"

Thoroughly Insulted and abandoned, Adela watched as the Archduke squeezed his white stallion with his legs steering it away from her, he was followed by her sister who wore a sorrowful expression while she rode her mare and then the rest of the knights' order. They galloped back to the Archduchy's rich side leaving a wall of dust between Adela and the sound of their retreating horses.

Selfish? How is venturing all the way here for the mere possibility of saving a life selfish?

Lost in thoughts, she did not realize that Arkin had dismounted his horse and stood next to her holding the reins with his right hand and holding his left hand out to her.

"My lady, allow me to assist you,"

"...I hardly got the chance to protest sufficiently let alone defend myself,"

The desolate cold breeze that howled over the eastern entrance to Lanark Forest and shook the unkempt sea of grass rubbed salt into her wounded ego. She clasped her shawl with both of her hands as she shuddered.

"Adela…You're shaking,"

Arkin shrugged off the navy-blue cloak he wore over his armor and placed it over her shoulders.

"This is no place for a Lady, let's follow your father back home,"

She looked up at him with defiant eyes.

"All too soon? What of the due distance he requested? Or would you risk smudging the Archduke's immaculate image?"

Baffled by her stubbornness, the knight's face hardened. Seeing the fire in her eyes lingering, he clicked his tongue.

"If you knew the dire consequences of your actions, then perhaps you shouldn't have been so stubborn to embark on this journey of yours in the first place… We both know that you're going nowhere anyhow,"

Her childhood best friend was satisfied watching the wilfulness draining from her face, his hopes were renewed that Adela would finally come to her senses now that the Archduke himself was her opponent. But she had something else on her mind.

"...I want to gather some catnip first so let us do that quickly, they are in their season and my stock is running low,"

His lips parted and his eyebrows went down as he prepared his wits to object fiercely, "If you truly care about your father's happiness, you'll go straight home just like he ordered you to,"

She knew that Arkin was right, but she also understood her father's intentions of coming to collect her himself instead of sending the knights to do so without him. Getting permission to leave their estate any time soon would be a snowball's chance in Hell.

"Arkin, that is an order...I will enter that forest with or without you and you know that perfectly well. It is better to enter together, or else, father will be more upset,"

He found himself regretting his decision to give her his oath of fealty yet again, he chin-pointed toward the forest and radiated aggressiveness, "You know what's in there better than anybody else, the fact that you keep knocking on danger's door like this is one of life's mysteries!"

Adela did not share her friend's beliefs, all the local folk tales that went around the forest being haunted meant very little to her.

"Shapeshifters are the only real danger in Emoria, and you, Sir Arkin, know better than anyone that Lanark is fortified against them,"

The day Larissa was born, a mana stone was extracted from Extremizer — the Archduke's enchanted sword — and buried deep underground in the west side of the forest sealing the fate of any shapeshifter who dared invade the Archduchy and dooming them into eminent evaporation.

As he continued to look down at two decisive olive-green eyes, Arkin hoped that by a miracle, the Archduke would turn around and come back to pick up his daughter, for there was no dissuading her otherwise.

"...My herbs grow where the sun shines generously so I never stray too far inside, but if you are that scared, I guess you can wait for me here... I won't be too long,"

Deeply offended by her implication that he was a coward, the knight decided to make his true concerns clear to the troublesome Lady de Lanark.

"You may choose not to believe in ghosts, but rebels are beings with flesh and blood like you and I… And if they learn of your identity…" He tensed as he pushed back the livid images his mind kept assaulting him with, it was far worse than what a ghost might do to Adela, and he had to protect her from that at all costs. "...Do this vassal of yours a favor and never enter that wretched place alone, at least not before we suppress the uprising and capture the outlaws."

She softened at his obvious struggle and placed a hand on his shoulder, "I will ask you to tag along with me every time, you have my word for it,"

The two nodded at each other and smiled the way they used to as children after one of their long arguments, neither one of them took notice of the shadows watching their exchange curiously from afar.