Chapter 1 - Prologue
The year-end party two days later was a last-minute affair, but preparations were not delayed.
‘I did it.’
Seria came to the hall with a slight disappointment because she was still worried about it, but her fears were unnecessary.
She was quite pleased to see the hall transformed to match the end-of-year atmosphere. The two days of running around on Alliot’s back had been worth it.
The sweet melodies of the beautifully dressed musicians tickled her ears. She stood on the rather angular second-floor staircase and looked around the hall. There were many nobles, even though the official party had not yet begun. They were busy in groups of two, dancing lightly to the music, or gathering in groups talking. Probably more than 90% of their conversation was about her.
The official reception started in the evening, and the only thing she needed to do was to show up together with Lesche. When she returned to her room, Begonia was already there waiting.
“Do I have to call you Grand Duchess now, My Lady?”
Seria smiled at Begonia’s playful words.
“It’s a kindness His Highness had done to save my life. It was a kind of slavery contract, and the role of the temporary hostess was that of a slave…”
She was actually still a bit busy. Nevertheless, the help she had received from Begonia in many ways was so great that she gladly accepted the request to meet her.
“I see there are cases where favors become destinies,” Begonia said, smiling graciously but with a keen eye. She was now looking carefully at the dress on the mannequin. The pink-beige dress, along with the wedding dress, had been commissioned by Kalis for her to wear at their supposed wedding reception. But the reception had suddenly turned into a year-end party and Begonia had come to see her in a state of emergency.
“The dress you wear at a wedding reception is very different from the dress you wear at a year-end party. The former is an extension of the wedding and can be neat and clean, but the latter has to be more glamorous. If I’m not careful, it can look shabby.”
No designer wants their work to look shabby. That was why there was so much jewellery on the dress all of a sudden.
With Begonia’s simple instructions, her assistants began to dress her. Her hair was braided in place, and carefully decorated with jeweled pins as well.
“Would you look at this dress in the mirror, My Lady,” Begonia said, suddenly pulling it out of a square leather satchel.
“Would you like to see it? It’s a perfect dress for a spring picnic.”
It was a beautiful lentil-coloured dress that Seria naturally admired. She complimented Begonia heartily.
“It’s very pretty.”
“It’s one of my main pieces for the next season,’ said the elated Begonia, laughing in earnest.
“I will give you this dress, Lady Seria, under one condition.”
“Would you make some changes to your existing dress contract with me?”
“What changes would you like to make?”
“I would like to change the client of the contract to Lady Seria instead of Marquis Haneton. Can you do it?”
“It’s not difficult, it was my dress anyway. Please give me the contract.”
“After all, Lady Seria has a kind heart. That’s good.”
As if she had made up her mind to say this today, Begonia immediately took a piece of paper from her pocket. It was a dressmaking contract signed by Kalis a few months ago. Seria looked at his familiar name for a moment, then quickly drew a line through it and wrote her name next to it.
“Here you go,” she said, confirming her signature and looking as refreshed as someone who had removed a tumor.
“Very well. That’s the end of it. How troublesome it was.”
“Because the Saintess wanted me to make a dress for her.”
“Yes. It wasn’t a dress for the year end party. I didn’t have much time to spare. She wanted a dress to wear when she went to Haneton Estate.”
“A dress to wear to Haneton Estate?”
“Yes. At the time I still had a contract with Marquis Haneton, so the Saintess wanted to add another dress to it.”
Lina must have been unaware that Kalis had requested a divorce. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have requested a dress to wear to Haneton Estate.
After the end of the year party tomorrow, all the nobles who came in the name of celebration must leave the castle, and Lina would also have to leave Berg Castle in a few days. She was a Saintess, so of course she had to go back to the Great Temple, but to go to the Haneton Estate…? The question arose.
‘Does she really hate the Great Temple so much?’
With only the priests around Lina, they would all have nothing but good things to say about her. Objectively speaking, New Castle Country, with its great temple, was a beautiful and magnificent city. Of course the food was a little unpleasant, but the priests would never say that such a trifle was a disadvantage. Seria didn’t really understand this, as she had been to the temple after being possessed by the original Seria, just to see the famous sights.
In any case, the divorce from Stern would take quite some time, and until then Lina would be the Marquess of Haneton. The title of Saintess was classy and special, so Lina would always be called Saintess.
“Speaking of which, I must return Marquis Haneton’s ring.”
Like all noblemen of high tradition, Marquis Haneton had an emerald ring that had been passed down from generation to generation. The emerald ring that had been in her possession when Kalis proposed to her was still resting peacefully in her jewellery box. She had forgotten about it because she was not in the right frame of mind. She wanted to see Kalis and return the ring as soon as possible, but Begonia frowned and sighed.
“Saintess is not good at noble etiquette, I don’t know how lucky she is for such a thing. Marquis Haneton has a request, so you may not know that it is difficult to reject the request of the person who becomes his wife.”
“So you’ve decided to rewrite the contract?”
“Yes, from now on, when the Saintess asks for a dress, I can comfortably refuse.”
It was the same as the original that Lina wanted Begonia’s dress. Well, Begonia’s dress is beautiful. It’s like there’s an element to it that resonates with the hearts of people.
There was a knock on the door and a servant with a very troubled expression came in.
“What’s the matter?”
“You have a visitor.”
“Why are you being so stuffy?”
The assistants were startled when they suddenly saw a woman peeking out from behind the servant. They immediately checked Seria’s condition. Luckily, she was still wearing her dress.
“Designer Begonia, you’re really here!”
It was Lina. She seemed to be able to walk on her own feet after a day. She walked in slowly, dressed in a beautifully decorated manner, as if she was attending a year-end party today. The pure white dress that Lina was wearing suited her image perfectly, but Seria had the feeling that the nobles were going to bite off more than they could chew. It reminded her strangely of a mini wedding dress.
Lina walked slowly over and blushed as she saw the beautiful lily-of-the-valley dress sitting in Begonia’s hands.
“Designer Begonia. I was wondering if you would accept my request for a dress. I heard that this dress was also made on a commission from Kalis. If you don’t have enough money for the commission deposit, I can tell the priest to give you more!”
What should she point out first?
Seria was worried about that beautiful dress, that the thoughts passing through her head and the thoughts in Begonia’s head were not so different.
No, Begonia looked much more furious than Seria did. For she was a designer sensitive to “aristocratic elegance”, with a reputation even in the imperial court.
“Saintess,” came the stern but courteous voice. “This is Lady Seria’s abode. Therefore, it would be proper for you to address the master of the place first.”
Lina looked at Seria, cowering badly at the stern rebuke.
“Excuse me. Good morning, Seria.”
She hurried to greet Seria, but it was too late. Begonia was not Lina’s teacher of etiquette, who would help her redeem her mistake, the reputation of Kalis and Lina had already been ruined in Begonia’s mind.
“Not long ago, Lady Seria was changing her dress. It would only be a vulgar and unbecoming crowd to open the door of a lady’s room, at the hour before a ball!”
Lina’s face flushed red, but this did not remove the cold, hard expression from Begonia’s face.
“Above all, my dear Saintess. I am not a designer who calculates dresses simply in terms of money. So it was very rude of you to say that I don’t have enough money.”
“I didn’t mean it in that way…”
“A blade once swung can leave a mark in the sand. Please understand that I can’t accept your request for a dress.”
“But that dress is also a request from Kalis. It’s not difficult to add one more dress or so….”
“Unfortunately, not anymore. That’s changed at the request of Lady Seria. We’ve amended the contract, so it’s now difficult to add a dress for a Saintess who has nothing to do with Lady Seria.”
Lina suddenly approached Seria with a puzzled look on her face. Then she took Seria’s hand curtly.
“Designer Begonia, that’s all right. I’m friends with Seria.”
At that moment, a deep silence struck the room. Seria removed Lina’s hand from hers and spoke.
“We’re not friends.”
Seria frowned. In aristocratic society, ‘friend’ does not simply mean the same age group. You had to be as close as two people in the next order of family to be able to talk about “friends” in a dignified manner. Above all, to be friends with Lina could be seen as a way of forgiving Kalis for his behavior. And she could never forgive him.
“How can I happily be friends with my ex-fiance’s current wife? Can Lina do that?”
“Kalis and I are not officially married! Seria, you know that. I just had to do it to save him.”
“That is your affair, and I have nothing to do with it.”
Lina, whose face had just turned pale, said.
“Please leave, Lina. And don’t come back like this again.”
She caught Seria in a haste.
“We can be good friends! I heard everything from the teacher. Your mother is a commoner actress!”