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Damia lived in the North all her life, and her family was in the business of providing supplies for the High Temple. Nevertheless, this was the first time she had seen the saint.
Such a noble and hard to meet being was the saint. She never thought she was going to ‘accidentally’ meet her in this distant capital, who she’d never even seen a hair of hers when she lived in the North.
“Excuse me. I didn’t even know you were the Saint, I was rude.”
The saint who received Damia’s empty apology was startled.
She was so skinny and slender, she looked just like a girl. But if, as she claimed, was really the Saint, she would already be close to fifty. Because she was a saint with ample divine power, her aging was more than twice as slow.
“No. It’s… … I didn’t mean to hide it.”
Saint Callistea averted her eyes and spoke as if making excuses. But Damia didn’t believe a word.
There were plenty of opportunities for Callistea to reveal her identity in the first place. She could have responded to Damia’s self-introduction, or when she said her hometown was in the North.
But Callistea bit her tongue every time. Damia looked at her with her disappointed eyes. Naturally, suspicions welled up in her chest.
‘Why did the Saint… … ask after my family?’
Upon receiving her glance of mistrust Callistea shrugged her shoulders. From every angle she looked like someone who had something to hide.
At this moment, Damia’s eyes narrowed and were about to narrow further. Frowning Kael, covered the Saint with his own body as if to protect her. And he hinted at Damia.
“Dami. The Saint is uncomfortable.”
“No matter how rude you are, it is unacceptable for you to be rude to the Saint. I can’t allow it.”
What the hell did I do?
Damia felt dumbstruck with this absurd situation as she looked into Kael’s eyes. Unfortunately, it was clear that he sincerely meant it.
The eyes of her once sweet childhood friend could now, depending on the circumstances, see her as an ‘enemy.’ In disbelief, Damia kept looking at him, searching his eyes, but his cold glare never wavered.
The heat of her first love, which was still not completely gone, tormented her. But what stung more than Kael’s cold words was his desperate attitude toward Callistea.
“Are you okay, Saint Callistea? I’ve been looking for the lady for a while.”
“What do you mean—fine?! Weren’t you feeling dizzy this morning? If you are not feeling well, why did you go out? Even to this distant garden.”
Kael’s eyes and tone, full of worried care for Callistea, were particularly excited. Damia, who had had a crush on him for over ten years, noticed right away.
‘Come to think of it… … .’
Suddenly, a memory from the past popped into her mind. It was the day that Kael, who had gone to worship at the High Temple before, managed to catch a glimpse of the Saint from a distance.
When Kael saw the rumored Saint for the first time, he was moved and stayed exhilarated all week long. Repeating over and over again how sacred the figure of the Saint as she healed the sick, and how noble her calm demeanor was even after completing her good deeds.
Damia thought it was a common sense of awe for the High Temple typical of Northern nobles. But it looked like she got it wrong.
‘Ah. So that’s why Kael… … He joined the paladins.’
To follow the Saint. To be a shadow protecting her.
Her lightning flash of realization flickered through her head. He thought she knew Kael well for all those years, but in fact she knew nothing about him.
“You’re unwell. Let’s go home now, Callistea. The summer sun is hot. Then you may faint and your anemia may recur.”
As he knelt down on one knee in front of Callistea and looked up, Kael’s face was shining brightly. Bright with the joy of serving her, and delighted to dedicate his devotion to her.
The moment she saw this, her heart ached as if it had been ripped out. The severe pain brought her close to vertigo, Damia gasped and closed her eyes tightly. After seeing this, Callistea approached without knowing what was going on.
“Where are you sick, Lady? Wait, let me take a look.”
Her hand reaching out toward her felt like her rake. It was unbearable for her.
Of course Damia didn’t do anything foolish like strike away the hand of the Saint. But, instead, she backed away from her like a rabbit running away from a thorn bush.
“It’s all right. There is no need for the Saint to do that.”
Thanks to that, the Saint’s hand, which had cut her through the air, fell weakly beneath her. She looked at Damia for some reason with her mysterious expression on her face, and sighed briefly in disappointment.
“Oh… … .”
It was Kael who immediately responded to that sigh.
“You are rude to the Saint, Damia!”
Damia was stunned by his sharp accusation. She did nothing wrong to deserve such a rebuke. Kael also had eyes, so he knew it.
No matter how saintly she was, she could not freely touch her body unless Damia asked her to. Still, Kael reproached her instead of the Saint. As if he were trying to show off his allegiance to her.
‘Kael, how could you… … .’
You know how much I cherished you. What have I done to deserve this treatment?
The tip of her tongue was swollen with resentment but she couldn’t bring herself to spit it out. Instead her throat and heart ached and were in terrible pain. Now she knew if she said those words, it would mean nothing to Kael.
Regardless, the person who caused pain heartlessly turned his back.
“Let’s go, St. Callistea.”
Callistea, standing next to the tall Kael, was also slender and tall. So the two looked painfully good together, as if they matched each other.
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