Chapter 1 - Prologue
The next day, after lunch, Seria had a cozy afternoon, and as announced, a merchant came to visit her in the main hall.
“Good afternoon, Grand Duchess Berg. I am truly honored to be here.”
The merchant bowed deeply and smiled. It wasn’t a sales smile. He seemed sincerely happy to be here.
“The butler contacted me beforehand. He said the Duchess is going to do extensive work on the garden of the main castle. I have brought some samples from my shop.”
He seemed to have brought a tremendous amount of samples with him.
Naturally, there were no cameras in this world. Perhaps because of this, realist painting was very well developed. The painters could capture things in the paintings as if they were photographed.
Then Seria was naturally waiting for a book of samples, but what was brought in the parlor was unexpected.
She was at a loss for words when she saw the huge number of pots. There were dozens of potted plants that were all bonsai.Their weight wasn’t out of the ordinary, but did that many just now come all the way from his shop?
“Isn’t it a bit too much work to bring all these trees?”
“It’s an honor that the Grand Duchess called us, so we must show our sincerity. Please don’t feel pressure and take your time to look around.”
It was understandable that the merchant would do this. Considering the area of the garden of Berg’s main castle, it was not a sensible size, especially when one had to ride a horse to get from the garden to the gate of the castle.
Seria calculated that if she chose a single tree, the merchant would be able to sell enough trees to form a forest.
She explored the small forest of bonsai trees. In fact, to her eyes, they looked very similar.
“Are there any garden styles that are in vogue these days?”
“Yes, Grand Duchess. Of course.”
The merchant hurriedly took out a booklet. It was an extraordinary book, with gorgeous gold leaf painted on the cover.
‘The book is very fancy.’
At a quick glance, it seemed to be a book that was made separately for an important client. As Seria flipped through the good quality thick paper one page at a time, she suddenly heard a knock at the door. The door opened and Ben walked in, politely announcing that O’Bron had arrived.
Unlike yesterday, he came fully prepared with his servants and a lot of papers. O’Bron glanced at the booklet Seria was holding and gulped. Seria said to him,
“One moment, please.”
“Yes, yes. Take your time, Grand Duchess.”
O’Bron’s demeanor was so different from yesterday’s that he even became a tea fetcher himself. Seria was surprised, because she thought he would be rushing to sign a contract as soon as he arrived. O’Bron also served the tea to the merchant, and spoke cautiously, pointing with his chin to the booklet.
“You’ve taken great care of your business. Only elegant decorations to match the Grand Duchess’s new garden.”
“You have eyes, sir!”
The merchant was delighted with O’Bron’s praise.
“Actually, this booklet is not meant to be shown to any guests.”
“Yes. I’ve heard of the Chamber of Commerce’s gold leaf booklet as well. That’s a good choice. The Grand Duchess might order fifty of them.”
The merchant’s eyes widened at the figure of fifty. Seria cut him off in a cold voice.
“I didn’t say I was going to order that many. Berg’s warehouse is filled with beautiful sculptures.”
How could she when she had already talked to Ben about retrieving hundreds of pieces of marble from the warehouse.
“Who would have thought you would decide for me as if you’re the Grand Duke?”
O’Bron became downright quiet, as if he knew Seria was displeased. The merchant scowled and hurried off.
“Of course, using existing sculptures is a very good idea. However, since the main garden is as spacious as a plain, and since it is to be newly constructed, I would recommend adding new decorations. Regularity and uniformity are necessary elements to decorate the garden beautifully, aren’t they?”
“How much do I have to purchase?”
“Sure, the more the merrier! How about we order 25 pieces each?”
Seria figured if he said fifty, she would drop him too. But twenty-five…
She put the book down and pondered. It seemed like a sensible quantity, perhaps because it was down a good half from the previous number.
‘But it’s all very expensive.’
Of course she had a huge sum of money, enough money to cover the entire garden with colored marble and crystal. In fact, even if she was to decorate the garden with the decorations in this booklet, she would still have plenty of money left.
But is it right to order 25 each? Seria had no knowledge of the garden. Even if she wanted to study in advance, there was no book that could tell her how to handle a garden this size
‘Damn it, Seria, why didn’t you make a friend of your age and pick it up from her?’ She had a hopeless idea. Of course, with Seria’s personality, her friend’s mother would have told her not to hang out with her.
Seria flipped through the book in silence, then looked at the merchant and asked.
“Do you have any recommendations? I’d like to have an overall sketch.”
“If that’s the case, I think the opinion of a nobleman who knows more about gardens than I do would be better…”
The merchant slurred his words.
O’Bron, who was looking at the booklet, hastily broke the conversation.
“As someone who has been delivering goods to the garden, may I add a few words?”
“You may try.”
“My idea is to dig a pond in the middle of the garden, set up a top quality crystal fountain, and then put a magic crystal with light magic on it. Since the garden is large, I would recommend dividing it into sections from the beginning, each with a different theme. In the east, pure gold fairies are set up in a fountain, and on the southern edge, there is a dragon lake with 99 tails made of magic crystals. It’s truly limitless.”
Seeia looked at the booklet again. O’Bron wasn’t talking nonsense. The decorations were all mentioned in the booklet, but it was recommended for an average size garden, not this spacious land.
“Wouldn’t that be too expensive?”
“Of course, not on a small scale. But since you lived in the capital, you know better. Where else has a garden this size? Moreover, I heard that you haven’t done construction for a long time. Then how important would it be to open the first shovel?”
“I recommend forty-eight themes to match the Grand Duchess’s glamorous appearance.”
“What? Forty-eight different ones?”
The merchant was surprised as well. His mouth dropped open at the unexpected number, and when Seria stared at him, his expression changed hastily. Well, he’s a merchant anyway, so the more he sells, the better for him. Seria thought that O’Bron had been very aggressive, but that was not the case.
‘It seems he’s done some research on me.’
O’Bron, who has been delivering goods to the Berg garden for over ten years, so it wouldn’t be hard for him to gather information.
‘Of course he knows Seria Stern.’
It was easy to find out that Seria Stern was a very extravagant person. She bought jewelry and dresses from a famous shop in the Capital every month. The fact that she didn’t get along with her family was also easy to find out.
Putting these two pieces of information together, he could come to this conclusion.
An awfully wasteful Grand Duchess who wouldn’t know much about the internal affairs of the noblewoman’s life. (Old socialite’s great disappointment)
With the right money, Seria should be able to keep up with some of this, but this was too much money to use. Most importantly, it was not her money, but someone else’s. As soon as she thought this, her expression stiffened.
The merchant’s and O’Bron’s faces hardened simultaneously. O’Bron quickly recovered his smile and asked.
“Grand Duchess? Did I offend you in any way?”
“48 themes, are you crazy?”
O’Bron gulped and pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his forehead.
“Because I only want to recommend what is best for you. …. Or if there are any other garden sketches that the Grand Duchess wants…”
Of course Seria didn’t know anything about it. In any case, it was O’Bron and the merchant who knew more about gardens. Even though she felt a little embarrassed, she expected to sign a good contract that would last long. So Seria decided that after studying and gaining knowledge about the garden, she would call the merchant back.
Not wanting to decide on something she didn’t know about, Seria quickly stood up and pulled the rope. Susan, who was standing outside, immediately came in and bowed politely.
“You wanted to see me, My Lady?”
“Bring me the Chief Aide.”
“I will summon him at once.”
Glaring at O’Bon, Seria sat back in her chair and folded her arms.