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8. Isaac’s Circumstances
Isaac Valentine’s morning always started at the same time. When the magic alarm rang, he rubbed his eyes and looked up at a portrait of Ciel on the ceiling.
“You’re cute again today, my little sister.”
There was only one reason that he put Ciel’s portrait there.
It was so that he could wake up early and see Ciel’s face for even a single second more.
Unlike his colleagues living in the knight’s quarters, he willingly chose to commute from home to stay with his cute sister.
That meant that he had to get up an hour earlier than his colleagues and that he returned an hour later, but that was fine with him.
Since he was able to be with his cute sister every morning, all of those troubles just melted away like snow.
By the time he left his bed and finished his breakfast, Ciel, who had awoken, came down to the dining room.
“Brother, you were awake already?”
Emerald eyes, wavy blond hair, and an angelic smile. Of all of their siblings, Isaac and Ciel looked the most like Duchess Eve.
“Isaac, don’t get hurt and don’t fight with your friends, all right?”
Despite her constant nagging, Ciel’s voice was as brilliant as a nightingale’s song. Isaac smiled as he stroked his energetic sister’s head.
“Yes, I will.”
“You’re sure playing around. What are you doing being so clingy this early in the morning?”
Louis, his younger brother, was asking for a beating again today. Isaac smacked Louis’ head, then mounted his horse with a look of regret.
He first started learning how to use a sword when he was five years old. Sir Cromwell, his teacher and the current leader of the Knights of the Blue Dragon, recognized at once that the young Isaac’s physique was extraordinary.
– Please give me this child. I’ll raise him into a great knight.
His parents always respected their children’s wishes. And in the end, solely because the shiny armor looked cool in his young eyes, Isaac said he would become a knight.
Shortly after his brother Louis was born, a girl with black hair arrived at the Valentine’s mansion.
The girl, who was the same age as Isaac, was named Clara. She was said to be a poor child who had lost all of her family members in an accident.
“From today onwards, Clara will be part of our family. Please treat her kindly.”
She was quite a pretty girl, but Isaac was not impressed. At the same age, they couldn’t really be classified as an older brother and younger sister so they decided to just be friends.
His parents seemed like they wanted a daughter, but Isaac had never understood his parents’ feelings.
At least until Ciel was born.
Ciel Valentine was a precious daughter, the only one born into the family in a hundred years. While the whole family was in a festive mood, Isaac noticed a suspicious current flowing through the house.
The servants began to ostracize the adopted daughter, Clara. They said that now that Ciel had been born, Clara, who was just a substitute daughter, was not needed.
‘The way everyone is reacting… just what kind of child is Ciel?’
Only a few weeks after the baby was born, Isaac was able to meet his sister for the first time.
“This child’s name is Ciel.”
When Louis was young, he wasn’t cute at all. But his younger sister was different. The baby blinked while making chewing motions with her mouth.
Without a doubt, her bright eyes and fluffy blonde hair were an exact copy of his own.
“Ciel looks a lot like Isaac.”
His cheeks turned red at his father’s words. Isaac was the only one who had inherited his mother’s blonde hair, and his precious youngest sister looked exactly like him.
“I know. Standing side by side, I think it’s apparent that they’re brother and sister.”
It was like looking in a mirror. He wondered if he had looked like that when he was a baby. As Isaac reached out carefully, baby Ciel clasped his finger with a completely innocent face.
“Oh my. So cute. Our Ciel must like Isaac.”
His mother’s words no longer reached his ears. The bright baby’s smile became stuck in his head like an indelible mark.
He had thought that, like Louis, another younger sibling would just be annoying. But after seeing the barely 100 day old Ciel, it wasn’t easy for Isaac to regain his composure.
It was around that time that Lord Cromwell called in his young disciple to lecture him on the spirit of knighthood.
– Human beings only become stronger when they have something they want to protect. Isaac, what do you want to protect?
The first thing that came to his mind was Ciel’s smile. Looking at her clear eyes gazing back at him made him feel better for no reason.
– The Valentine family’s girls generally live short lives. You have to protect her because she is your precious sister, the first girl to be born in a hundred years.
After Ciel had safely passed her first birthday, his father told him about the tragedy that had befallen the Valentine family.
A hundred years before Ciel was born, any girl born into the Valentine family became ill and died before the age of three.
No one knew why. Perhaps due to his father’s warning, Isaac didn’t even dare to reach out and touch the hands and feet of the small baby.
He didn’t have the courage to approach her because he thought she would break. Little Isaac used to settle for sneaking a peek at his only little sister from afar.
Fortunately, after suffering from a single serious illness, Ciel grew up healthy and strong. Recalling the memories of the past, Isaac arrived at the Blue Dragon Knight’s Training Center early as usual.
“Hey, Isaac, long time no see.”
“You’re back from the border, Sir Wilhelm.”
His colleague Sir Wilhelm, who had been re-assigned to follow the Crown Prince, welcomed Isaac.
“I heard that you applied for an appointment in the Crown Prince’s Palace.”
His teacher Sir Cromwell, who had received his application to leave for the Crown Prince’s Palace, sighed with an obvious look of disappointment. He asked if Isaac was worried about his sister.
Hearing that Clara and Ciel would be entering the Palace, Cromwell reluctantly gave him permission to leave.
Isaac wasn’t going because he liked the Crown Prince. In truth, he had more bad feelings towards the Crown Prince than good feelings.
‘Who the hell is the Crown Prince anyway?’
Just like at Ciel’s birthday party, the Duke of Valentine, who had always remained neutral, had begun to side with the Crown Prince and he didn’t like it.
He already knew that the way the Crown Prince looked at his sister was unusual. The subtle atmosphere flowing between the two made Isaac uncomfortable.
At first, he thought it was just unfounded anxiety. But on the day of the incident with Grand Duke Stan, his eldest brother Theo told Isaac a shocking story.
– Isaac, calm down and listen to me. I think His Highness, Alex, has his heart set on Ciel as Crown Princess.
It was as painful as a slap to the back of his head. What shocked him the most wasn’t what Alex had been harboring in his heart, but the fact that Theo had known before him.
‘Why didn’t Ciel tell me?’ A sense of disappointment washed over him. The reason was obvious. He was with the knights’ order and wasn’t able to be home at the right times, so at best, he could only see Ciel at breakfast and dinner.
Even though they lived in the same house, he wasn’t able to get rid of the feeling that he was drifting further and further apart from his younger sister. His younger sister, whom he had sworn to protect for life, had started keeping secrets without her brother’s knowledge.
He was frustrated. He never thought Ciel would keep a secret from him. In addition, after the last drug case, those two had occasionally seemed too close to each other.
He had resigned himself to always being second to Clara. After all, it was Clara who was always next to Ciel, not Isaac.
However, it was unacceptable for the Crown Prince, who had suddenly appeared out of nowhere, to threaten his position.
“Hey, I heard a rumor. Isaac, isn’t your sister really beautiful?”
Even though he was a son of the Valentine family, here he was the same as all of the other knights. Isaac frowned at the question his colleagues in the knights’ order had asked him unreservedly and asked them something in return.
“Where did you hear that from?”
“I heard it from a friend of mine in the department handling that last drug case. They saw an incredibly pretty little girl and I heard that it was your youngest sister.”
It took less than a day for rumors about the sinful beauty of his sister to spread throughout the knights’ order.
By the time he returned home from work, Isaac had been bothered by the whole order of knights.
“How pretty is she? Tell her to come to the upcoming tourney.”
A tourney was regularly held prior to the change in their assignments. However, Isaac hadn’t ever invited his family.
In order to protect his little sister, he rejected every proposal.
“It’s a little difficult…”
“You’re so mean. Are you really going to act like this?”
No matter how firmly he spoke, his colleagues’ tenacity was completely indefatigable. As Isaac continued to flatly refuse requests, rumors began to spread day by day, eventually twisting in an absurd direction.
“Isn’t she actually horrifically ugly?”
“Tell me about it. I think he must be acting like that because he’s worried that we’ll be disappointed if he shows us the real thing.”
Among those being snide, more than a few were jealous of Isaac, whose indomitable strength had become well known at a young age.
He was already uneasy, but now that the knights’ order had become like this, Isaac grew even more worried.
 A tournament between knights