Chapter 1 - Prologue
Seria raised her glass, glaring at him as if giving him a warning.
‘If you get too close, you will die.’
Until a few days ago, he was still her fiance. It seemed like Kalis understood exactly the message of Seria’s glare.
She didn’t want to make eye contact with him any longer, so she quickly turned her head away and took a step. She was the one who had been looking out for Kalis’s mood, but she didn’t expect that position to be turned upside down at once. It was ironic.
She shifted her gaze toward the giant clock on the wall, thinking if she stayed here, she would have an eye-staring fight with Kalis for a long time, and she wanted to be alone. Besides, not dancing with Kalis was an unfamiliar experience in its own way. Up until a few days ago, she thought she was going to be the Marchioness of Haneton. Though she once said she didn’t know what life would bring and thought that if she had married Kalis and spent each day with him, she would probably have lived the rest of her life happily.
‘There are some futures in this world that are predictable, aren’t there?’
But right now, she just felt betrayed. He was serious about her, but he was also serious about the heroine. If she didn’t fix his arm in the first place, would they have hated each other just like in the original story?
Perhaps, it would have been better. They probably wouldn’t end up like this. No matter how much she struggled to avoid the original story, it was useless. She believed Kalis loved her, but he couldn’t shake off Lina as the fated original. The idea that everything else might play out the way it was supposed to slowly grew in her mind. She really didn’t want to think like this. But to live, to survive, the fear that she had deliberately turned her back to, that she had kept hidden, left its mark like mud. She shook her head lightly, shaking off the lingering emotions.
She suddenly remembered the sound of Kalis grabbing her and shouting urgently, “I’m divorcing Lina, please marry me again.”
She was so angry at the time that she didn’t have time to think about it properly, but now that she thought about it, other questions filled her mind.
‘What’s the point of getting married like that? If Lina craves for something again, he would go to her, wouldn’t he?’
If Kalis was given another chance, would he go to the temple and swear an oath that he would give all his lands and title to her?
She should have been angrier with Kalis.
‘Really. I should have said something like this back then.’
Why did it never occur to her when they were fighting, but it did later? Why didn’t she go over there and punch Kalis in the face and scream like this? That would turn Berg Castle upside down, and in a few days, words would spread through the social circles of the entire empire. Her sinking mood improved a little as she giggled at the thought of the improbable. As she finished her glass of champagne, she called out to a passing servant.
“Hey, you there.”
“Shall I get you another glass of champagne, My Lady?”
“No, it’s okay. Thank you.”
She handed him the empty glass and walked toward the stairs. Sitting there for a long time was not a good choice, so she left the table for a while. Of course, leaving the grand banquet hall was a stupid idea. It would look like she was running away because she couldn’t bear the pressure of rumors.
And she decided that the best place to escape to was the “Grand Duchess’ Terrace,” which had a great reputation in Berg Castle. Just as the resting room for the royal family at the imperial banquet, this terrace was said to be available only to the Grand Duchess of Berg* (Lesche’s mother) and her invited guests for generations.
It had more symbolic significance than the other terraces, as it had to be climbed up a flight of stairs, and rumors said that the moonlight fell on it beautifully. Since Lesche was unmarried, the Grand Duchess’ terrace also had no master. It had been closed for a long time, but now Linon insisted that it should be kept open as was customary. Seria refused to be a burden, but Linon worked hard all day for Lesche, and he convinced her that he would not regret seeing the extent of it.
The truth was, Seria was completely fooled by his words. She had no words to describe how hard she worked to decorate this place and prepare the banquet. And she just barely made it in time for decorating the High Priest’s pavilion to come the next day.
Actually, Seria wanted to visit this unknown place where even the royal family of the Glick Empire could not even ask first.
‘When am I ever gonna get this chance again?’
As she approached, the well-dressed servant deftly drew back the thick green curtain.
The vest he wore had a large blue embroidered Berg’s pattern on it, meaning that he had temporary permission to enter the terrace for certain reasons.
“Why don’t you put on your cloak and go out? It’s very cold outside.” The servant spoke.
She looked at the bottom of the stairs before stepping out onto the terrace. Several nobles were looking at her, but they turned away hurriedly.
Lesche, who was much taller, was surrounded by other nobles, but Seria could see his face. His silver hair shimmered with the reflection of the light. Lesche Berg was an eye-catching man. For such a great guy, he stood there looking annoyed. It seemed like he was trying hard to manage his facial expression. How unexpected, the life of a powerful man.
Seria smiled at the sight, but of all people, her gaze met Lesche’s. She immediately erased her smile and lowered her head lightly. She could feel the gazes of the nobles gathered towards her, as Lesche responded to her gaze.
She turned away and whispered to the servant who was still walking through the curtains.
“Can you do me a favor?”
The servant’s eyes seemed to widen and he immediately nodded. Seria then stepped out onto the unknown terrace wearing a light cloak that the servant brought her. The terrace was overwhelmingly beautiful. The fantastic moonlight seemed to collect and illuminate like mirrors. The railings made of white marble looked like a work of art. A single lofty chair was placed a little off the center of the terrace, and a wool carpet on the floor. She could see why Linon was so confident about it. The rumors were not exaggerated at all.
She took her time admiring the terrace. The Grand Duchess’ terrace was about half a floor higher than the tallest terrace in the Grand Banquet Hall. As she looked around, she saw quite a few couples enjoying secret meetings out on the terrace.
‘It really is a special place. I can see firsthand all the rumors.’
Somehow she got the feeling that this terrace was not just for relaxation, but was also used for social and political purposes. She leaned back against the sturdy railing and looked up at the sky. The full moon was exceptionally large and it was shining. The sky was studded with more stars than she could count. It was an ecstatic scene, but as the servant had said, it was terribly cold, she shivered a little.
However, the cold air cleared her head and she closed her eyes, enjoying the refreshing feel. How long did she do that? Suddenly, the sound of a door opening with a small bell ringing reached her ears. She opened her eyes and turned around, there stood a person she half expected.
“How did you get in here?”
“Didn’t the servant stop you from coming in without my permission?”
“I know, but I politely asked in the name of the Saint.”
“What’s the use of asking? I did not give you permission. Do you know that the traditions of Berg Castle are so strict that even if you are a Duke, if you enter here without permission, you will have to live as a slave for Grand Duchess Berg for a week?”
Lina, who looked at Seria with shocked eyes, struggled to answer.
“But, Seria, I… I told Kalis that I wanted a divorce.”
She clasped her hands together shakingly and poured out words. And Seria answered in a flash.
Lina looked perplexed, perhaps because Seria’s response was too calm. Perhaps she thought Seria would be surprised at the news.
“Lina, is that all you have to say?”
Lina hastily stopped Seria from calling the servant.
“Seria! According to what the priests have told me, Stern’s divorce is as complicated as marriage, and we can’t divorce right away, but we will! Therefore….I will return what I took from Seria…!
‘Return what she took from me? Did I hear her correctly?’
Seria was momentarily rendered speechless by Lina’s condescending attitude. She said in a cold voice,
“Lina, I think you misunderstood something, but even if you divorce or die with Kalis, I have no desire for him. So if that’s the end of it, please leave.”
She furrowed her brows as Lina’s voice grew louder. The terrace of the banquet was intended for secret meetings. Therefore, it was common sense to talk quietly, but Lina’s voice now was so loud that it defied common sense. The nobles out on the terrace would surely be looking up at them. Her head started to hurt.
“What is it that you wish for, Lina?”
“What do you mean, there’s nothing like that! I’m, I’m…”
At the same moment, there was a small rattle of a bell at the door.
Lina cried out in a tearful voice.
“I’m not even the main character, in fact, I’m like a foreign object caught in between the two of you.”
‘Foreign object? Main character?’
That was what Seria had indeed to say to Lesche before their first dance. Obviously, Lina heard it.
She stared at Lina in a strange mood.
Lina. The heroine of this world. Seria knew Lina’s character well, having read the original story.
Lina was basically a heroine with good character, but she was not the type to present the so-called angst giver. She defeated the villains who bullied her because of the sub-men in the original story with a distinctive comeback.
Seria raised her hand and placed it gently on her cheek. It was still slightly swollen. These were the marks of her desperate efforts to protect the heroine. Even though Seria’s anger was not well controlled, she managed to patiently gather it up and hit her own face instead of Lina’s.
She had never bullied the heroine. She was not a villain yet.
But why would Lina copy exactly what she said at this moment of all times?
She asked the servant to ring the bell if anyone tried to come in. So when the bell rang, she knew. Who would dare to come up to the Grand Duchess’s terrace…? Obviously, the only people she could think of were Lina and Kalis. The others who were focusing all their attention on this place would think the same thing.
Lina was already on the terrace, and since the bell rang again just now, one could deduce without difficulty that Kalis must have arrived at the door.
From which part, until what point of the conversation did Kalis hear?