Chapter 2. We´re Not Even Family Anyway

 

 

“Good, I’m done with the hardest part.”

 

After I sent the divorce papers, my heart was much lighter.

 

That day, I treated myself to some well-deserved relaxation and self-care because I was shocked by recalling the memories of my past life.

 

I took a bath with warm water and enjoyed sweet desserts.

 

It made me feel comfortable to think that I no longer had to be in a hurry to receive attention or recognition from others.

 

I didn’t think there would ever be anything I could do to stand out in the eyes of my family, so I no longer needed to bother with the workers who ignored me for being an illegitimate child. 

 

I don’t have to cry secretly because of hurtful gossip at social gatherings.

 

I don’t have to wonder why I can’t live a normal life like everyone else.

 

I was rather relieved to find out that I was not a  true member of the Perdia family.

 

‘Yeah, from now on, I’ll try to live a little smarter.’ I resolved. 

 

When I have my own money, it’ll float in every corner of the house..!  

 

But such a peaceful time was short-lived, and an incident happened the very next day.

 

 “Miss, the Lord is calling for you.”

 

The butler of the mansion, known for his oppressive step and loyalty only to my father, came to me in person.

 

It’s incredible how efficient my Father is.

 

“Dad? Now?”

 

 “Yes, he told me to bring you right away.”

 

But I didn’t want to follow the butler right away. Truthfully, I wasn’t especially happy to meet my father.

 

‘No, I’m actually scared.’

 

While growing up in this mansion as a toddler, I never once felt comfortable in front of my father.

 

Even a child who doesn’t know anything will become naturally quick-witted if it lives here in this family.

 

‘My father doesn’t like me’. I knew the fact even before I was able to say it.

 

In the atmosphere of the Perdia family, where I couldn’t even mention my mother’s name, my father’s eyes looked at me, uninterested. I grew up with nothing but this indifference and the touch of the nanny.

 

Maybe the reason you hate me is because I’m an illegitimate child who was born unwanted. Because my presence is a stain on the family prestige.

 

‘It’ll all be over for me if he finds out that I’m actually the daughter of another man, and not even an illegitimate child, right?’

 

While my mind ran off the rails, the butler, who had been waiting in silence, politely urged, “Miss, please hurry.”

 

“All right.” I sighed. 

 

Why did he call me?

 

I couldn’t easily guess the reason because I had committed a lot of sins.

 

I followed the footsteps of the butler, lost in thought about what the hell was going on.

 

Ever since I remembered my previous life, I was holed up in my bedroom making various plans, but didn’t I have an accident just before that?

 

‘Is it because I was mistreating the maids?’

 

But until now he would never call for something so insignificant.

 

It was the Duke of Perdia who didn’t even blink when he went to the social world and ripped off the heads of other families. He was not interested in his children in the first place, including myself, so I hardly ever saw his face.

About once a month for a family meal? That was almost a formality, too. 

 

Since the Perdias are family members with very strong individualistic tendencies, they sometimes exchanged correspondences that were essentially survival reports to inform each other that they are still alive.

 

But there was a difference in his indifference between me and his two sons. 

 

In the first place, they and I differed in living situations. The duke and his two sons lived in the main building since they were first entrusted here.

 

Unlike them, I get occasional calls to the office to discuss family affairs, but the number of calls is limited to a handful.

 

There was a time when I tried to be loved by such a father, but the only thing that I received in return was silence and a cold gaze. He didn’t say anything and just looked at me. The emptiness in those eyes froze my already shivering heart.

 

‘But why is he calling me now?’

 

Now that I had regained my memory of my past life, I was scared of everything that happened unexpectedly because I know how the story (supposedly) will flow in the future.

 

“I’ll let the master know that you have arrived,” The butler said with a curt bow of his head.

 

“Very well.”

 

After the butler disappeared inside, I waited impatiently for the office door to open.

 

The door, which had been tightly closed, opened, and the scene within crept into my field of vision.

 

A man looked down picturesquely, his eyes scanning over various papers.

 

That handsome man was my father, Sylvester Perdia.

 

A powerful man called the Duke of Perdia, and the dark emperor with power to rule the underworld.

 

The duke slowly raised his head.

 

 

His raven-like hair seemed to absorb all the sunlight that penetrated through the window, except for the rays that reflected in his clear golden eyes. His gaze, devoid of emotion, reminded me of a wild beast.

 

I heard the door closing behind my back.

 

I went to his desk, trying to erase my nervousness. Before I could even speak, the duke spoke first.

 

“Elodie Perdia.”

 

As soon as my name was called, I felt the urge to run away, but I was already stuck.

 

 “Yes,” I answered, trying to keep my voice even.

 

“You had an incident.” There was no regret or concern mixed in the voice of the duke, who spoke the truth in a blunt manner.

 

’The time has come.’ I cried in my head. 

 

No matter how much I think about it, the biggest disturbance in recent years was yesterday’s confrontation with the maids. The escapade seemed to have entered the duke’s ear already.

 

After taking one deep breath, I swallowed dry saliva. Then I clenched my fist and shouted, “I’m sorry!”

 

“…what?”

 

“I’m sorry!” I repeated desperately. 

 

“Elodie Perdia.”

 

“I won’t do that again!”

 

“…….” 

 

It’s a strategy called three consecutive hits of apples.

 

If the other person asks for forgiveness first, there is nothing to say. 

 

As to whether my method had really worked, there was a sense of absurdity on the face of the duke, who was otherwise normally expressionless.

 

‘Did I succeed?’

 

‘At least I don’t think he’s angry, so that’s enough.’

 

As I was turning the idea of forgiveness over hopefully in my head, the duke, who had once again hardened his expression, pressed his forehead and spoke softly.

 

“I was contacted by the Crown Prince. I heard you asked the prince to break up the marriage.”

 

“Oh? That’s the truth.”

 

I had mistakenly thought it was the story about the fight with the maids that landed me in hot water with the duke. I didn’t think that I would be called to the main house for that reason because breaking off the engagement was a must.

 

‘I thought he wouldn’t care.’

 

He shouldn’t care, because he is not really interested in me. 

 

I shook my head in amazement, but I got nervous again at the unusual look of the duke.

 

‘Oh, my.’ I shrank again with a lot of nervousness.

 

The duke’s countenance, which looked at me as if he had heard something ridiculous, somehow became even colder. 

 

“All this time, I have turned a blind eye to whatever you were doing within the family.”

 

 “I know,” I admitted quietly. 

 

“But this time, it is a little different.”

 

“…”

 

“Wasn’t this the engagement you wanted?” The duke questioned. 

 

It was. 

 

At that time, I had hoped to be engaged to the First Crown Prince. So the Duke of Perdia, who did not want to be associated with the imperial family, was coaxed into making this engagement. I wanted to have strong socio-political power so that no one would criticize me for being illegitimate and ignore me.

 

If I went further than ‘duke’s daughter’ and became empress, no one would laugh at me. I wanted to let them taste the humiliation of calling a neglected, illegitimate child an empress. I was obsessed with that idea.

 

‘If I knew in my youth that it was the shortest route to destruction, I wouldn’t have made these decisions..!’

 

With our purge ending in mind, I stared calmly at the duke.

 

 “I’m sure you were against it when we got engaged. So, I thought it wouldn’t matter if I broke my engagement.”

 

“The situation has changed.”

Currently, there were two candidates for the throne of the Wallentian Empire. Adenmir Presil Wallent, the first crown prince of the Empress, and Beltran Locke Wallent, the second prince of the Empress.

 

My engagement was the same as saying that the Perdias implicitly support the First Prince.

 

When I think of the original work, the Duke’s words must be true, as I and the first prince broke up and he adopted Estelle to push her into my place instead.

 

 “You´re saying you can’t break up the marriage, right?”

 

 “Yes.”

 

 “All right,” I agreed.

 

The duke raised his eyes as I calmly complied. I swear they weren’t the eyes of a father looking at his daughter.

 

He was just trying to see what the person in front of him could be doing. 

 

As usual I avoided the duke’s eyes to avoid unnecessary suspicion.

 

‘Unexpectedly, breaking up the engagement is not easy.’ 

 

I had no way of knowing that the first Prince contacted the duke, not me. The reason was quite a mystery. 

 

Of course, I thought he would sign and submit the divorce papers. Probably because the first prince Adenmir didn’t like me that much. In the first place, he only coveted Perdia’s power to become emperor, so he treated me politely as his fiancée. 

 

On the other hand, before I remembered my past life, I had a little affinity for the man.

 

‘Because he’s handsome?’

 

But no matter how good looking he is, I can’t live off his face – I have to avoid a ruinous future.

 

Anyway, it was clear that Adenmir hated me, so I thought it would be better to induce the other side to ask for a divorce first. When I thought about that, the duke leaned against the chair and waved his hands, dismissing me.

 

 “Keep a low profile for the time being. Go back and reflect on yourself, Elodie Perdia.” 

 

I was surprised that the punishment was lighter than I expected. I thought he might give me a bigger punishment for not reflecting on myself.

 

As I turned around to go outside, I saw the duke staring at me.

 

Why? You look like you want to say something, or is it my misunderstanding? 

 

In the end I couldn’t resist and asked directly. “Do you have anything else to say?”

 

“…. No, go back.”

 

My doubts were not completely resolved when I left the office at that remark.

 

‘Your face seemed like you really had something to say.’

 

The thought was overshadowed by the gentle closing of the door.

 

***

 

When I was diligently heading to my bedroom to carry out a good life of diligence, I had the misfortune of running into two people walking across the corridor.

 

“Hi, Lili.” It was my brother, Jansi Perdia.

 

“What are you looking at?” Alongside him was the younger brother, Carlot Perdia.

 

The only thing at the end of this corridor was the Dukes office, so perhaps they were both heading there. 

 

“I think you’re on your way back from seeing Father. I heard you asked the First Prince to break up your marriage, is that true?” Jansi asked softly in his sweet voice, calling me like usual. 

 

I followed his lead and laughed openly, but inside I was wary.

 

Jansi Perdia, who inherited the Duke’s black hair, resembled the Duke of Perdia.

Unlike his father, though, he was always smiling. I wondered if the Duke would look like this when he smiled. 

 

Jansi, who inherited the blood of the Duke of Perdia, was the most powerful in the family. He wielded Perdia’s power of destruction.

 

The power of destruction could make life-threatening or fatal wounds, and could even make inanimate objects disappear. It was a power that everyone feared.

 

On the other hand, he always smiled gently, but you should not be fooled by that kind shell.

 

Jansi always called my name in a friendly voice and asked after me without hesitation. Thanks to that, I thought Jansi was the only good person in this family. However, I realized that I was under a big illusion after I accidentally met his completely cold stare during “the incident” a few years ago. He looked at me as if he was watching something disgusting.

 

As my memory returned, my image of Jansi, which has not been good, got even worse.

 

‘A person who is different than he appears from the outside.’

 

There were some psychological descriptions of Jansi in the book, which was the same as I felt. He was smiling on the outside, but on the inside, he was the kind of person who treated people with thorough calculations, at times crushing them thoroughly.

 

When I only laughed but did not answer, Carlot who was standing right next to me, said sarcastically. “It was  a request for a breakup, the First Prince must have been the one asking first.”

 

Carlot, who had curly red hair and golden eyes, hated me outright. He was my younger brother, two years younger than me, but I never once called him my brother.

 

That summed up our relationship nicely. When he was young, he used to call me “Hey, illegitimate child” instead of my name.

 

Now that he has grown up a bit, he doesn’t call me an illegitimate child anymore. I don’t know if he realized it’s a shame to Father.

 

‘I guess that’s a little better…’

 

It’s lamentable.

 

If I had to compare, it was easier to treat Carlot, who hated me, rather than Jansi who kept his thoughts a secret. He was the only opponent I had to face in order to look good to my family.

 

The two in front of me were obviously the direct lineage of the Ferdinand family, taking on the appearance and characteristics of their biological mother, the Duchess, and their biological father, the Duke.

 

On the other hand, I didn’t fit in.

 

‘It’s only natural since there isn’t a drop of blood from them in me.’

 

In the past, I was very sad about that, but now that I know the truth, I am not depressed.

 

That’s right. I’m going to take care of my father.

 

“Yes, I’m on my way out after talking to Father.”

 

When I looked at Jansi and answered, I could feel Carlot staring at me because he was ignored in an instant.

 

 ‘It’s fun.’

 

I fixed my eyes on Jansi without even looking at Carlot.

 

“Did you get in a lot of trouble?”

 

“Just some reflection in my room for the sake of diligence.”

 

Before I could finish my sentence, Carlot cut in.

 

 “It suits you,” he sneered.

 

It was an obvious provocation, but I lightly ignored Carlot and continued, “…it’s over.”

 

“It must be hard to be diligent,” Jansi said sympathetically.

 

“I´ve been in my bedroom lately anyway. It’s all right.”

 

“Yeah. Cheer up Lili, and if you need anything, tell me.” Jansi smiled softly and patted me on the shoulder as if encouraging me. Then Carlot glared at me as if to kill me even more.

 

“If you need anything, you can handle it by yourself. Don’t be a bother to my brother.”

 

A clear sense of hostility was felt in everything Carlot said. I felt the line that he drew, insisting that I could never get inside his walls.

 

Jansi, who couldn’t wait, finally said a word.  “What’s the matter, Carl? We should get along with our family.”

 

“Family?” Carlot sarcastically asked back.  

 

But Jansi answered without even putting saliva on his lips. “Yeah, you are both my lovely brother and sister.”

 

‘You’re lying.’ I thought to myself. ‘How two-faced.’

 

Of course, Carlot predictably jumped out of disgust.

 

“Hey, are you crazy? I’m the same as that?” Carlot, who would never treat me like family, wrinkled his face as if he couldn’t believe it.

 

If it were just a day ago, I would have been hurt and feisty, but that was not who I am now. 

 

‘Who cares? We’re not even family anyway!’

 

So, I instead answered with a brighter smile than usual, to make Carlot´s stomach upset.

 

“Thank you for your concern, brother. And Carl.”

 

Perhaps wondering at my attitude, Jansi looked at me with meaningful eyes.

 

“You’re nuts.” Carlot twisted his head and pretended to puke.

 

‘You’re so rude.’ 

 

I bit my tongue and turned around. It was annoying to deal with.

 

‘That’s enough.’

 

I just need to get out of this house as soon as possible. Then we don’t have to look at each other, right?

 

I couldn’t wait for that day.

Even though I’m an illegitimate child, from the outside they say I’m the only young girl of Perdia. Inside, however, I was deprived of as much as they could manage.

 

I left the place and my ‘brothers’ behind me with a light step.

 

***

 

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