Chapter 1 - Prologue
He said to the old butler, who was at a loss.
“First of all, keep your mouth shut. Don’t even let Nissos know. I’ll deal with him after all the guests have gone.”
“Yes, My Lord.”
The old butler left with a scowl on his face. The silence in the private parlor was heavy again. Seria said to the Marquis as she watched the steam rise to the top of her teacup.
“Thanks to him, my father might not have heard of my obituary.”
“Seria, that’s not what you want to say to your father.”
“Am I wrong? I mean, as you may have heard, I almost died. Father.”
At that moment Seria realized. The word ‘father’ made the Marquis flinched.
‘What the hell, Seria? What did you call the Marquis of Kellyden? Did you call him Marquis? I don’t mean to blame her, but I was a little disappointed.’
“I want you to give me a reply to the marriage pledge.”
“Wasn’t your marriage to the Grand duke not normal? Well, just say I answered the marriage pledge, is this a long lasting relationship?
I know that Stern divorce is possible only one day a year. Isn’t it a timed relationship that is maintained until that day, before the divorce?”
‘He knew it well.’
“It doesn’t matter if I spend a day or a year there. I owe my life to Grand Duke Berg. So while I’m there, I think I have to repay him. Father.”
The Marquis said, looking at Seria with a battered expression.
“I think you died and came back to life. You’ve changed. You really have. Follow me.”
He stood up and went to the other door instead of the one that led to the parlor and the hallway. As Seria went in, she was greeted by the sight of a spacious office. There were large family portraits of the Marquis of Kellyden and other family members hanging on the wall, as well as Kellyden’s patterned flag.
The Marquis walked to the large desk in the center of the room. There was the sound of a locked drawer being opened, and he seemed to be pulling something out of the drawer. At first glance, it looked like some document. The Marquis, who was writing something there for some time, lifted his head.
“I will send a new letter to His Highness the Grand Duke of Berg.”
“Shall I take it with me?”
“…Do as you wish.”
“Then I’ll take it.”
Seria replied lightly and moved her head. Then she looked at the wall of the office that caught her eye for a while now. The portraits of Kellyden’s family members shone as if the frames were painted with pure gold. The Marquis looked back, frowning his forehead.
“What are you looking at?”
At that moment, there was a knock on the door and a voice sounded.
“My Lord, I have a message from the priest that the head of the family and all the direct descendants must come down.”
Lady Magrus was of unbroken lineage to the Kellyden, and could therefore have a funeral in Kellyden castle. At the end, each of the Kellyden’s direct descendants threw a flower into the coffin.
With the priest’s eulogy, the coffin went to Kellyden’s cemetery on the outskirts.
Once there, Seria suddenly heard a familiar voice as she watched the coffin being covered with dirt. She looked back.
It was Kalis.
He gave her a subtle look as soon as their eyes met. However, he couldn’t stare at her for long. Because the male nobles were gathered round Kalis Haneton in a circle. Kalis shifted his gaze to the voice searching for him.
‘That’s odd…Who invited him here?’
Seria shifted her gaze and looked around. She spotted some noble ladies with appropriate attire, and naturally she walked towards them.
They looked at Seria with their wide eyes.
“It’s the Young … No, Grand Duchess Berg.”
“Thank you for coming to the castle.”
“Don’t mention it.”
After exchanging polite greetings, the ladies looked at Seria uncomfortably.
They were confused to see Seria here because all people knew that Seria and the Kellyden family weren’t on good terms. Besides, she was Seria Stern. Seria spoke as the ladies tried to move away.
“I’m planning to hold a big banquet in Berg. Wouldn’t it be nice if my fellow western noblewomen could come?”
The ladies looked at each other. Since it was a funeral and they couldn’t hold fans, the women lightly covered their mouths with their black gloved hands.
She could rephrase, but she didn’t have a lot of time right now. Quite straightforwardly, the calculation seemed to be done quickly.
The ladies smiled at her.
“It is an honor to meet you, Grand Duchess Berg.”
“It must have been difficult for you to come so far.”
“Not at all.”
Any noblewomen with children would be worried about the Imperial Debutante. In particular, these ladies were simply dressed. Therefore, it was easy to see that the weight of such worries was a little heavier than others.
Seria opened her mouth right away without spinning more.
“All the nobles of the West have gathered here.”
The noble ladies nodded.
“I’ve been away from the West for so long, I don’t really understand it. The deceased…”
Seria lowered her voice with a sad expression and didn’t finish her sentence, but the ladies seemed to understand.
Lady Magrus had not been such a well-liked old nobleman before her death. And she wasn’t a landlord. There was no influential bereaved family that needed to be concerned about.
But, why were there so many mourners?
The noble ladies lowered their voices as much as Seria’s and spoke quietly.
“The Marchioness of Kellyden sent out a large number of obituaries.”
“I was actually puzzled when it came to my husband. I heard it was sent to all the aristocrats in the West.”
“I see. Thank you.”
She knew she had to send invitations to these noble ladies, so Seria put some effort into her head and memorized their faces. The crowd parted as she walked away from the ladies. She walked slowly, pondering.
It was then that she saw the back of the Marchioness standing straight as the hostess of Kellyden before the servants, who were covering the coffin with soil.
It was a name Seria hadn’t heard in a long time. Whether she was Kellyden, the Marquis’s daughter, or the Grand Duchess of Berg, she was still Stern.
She turned around and saw a young nobleman approaching with a cough. She could tell he was nervous, and his face was a little red from excitement.
“I’ve heard a lot about Stern’s fame.”
‘What kind of fame have you heard of?’ If it was the fame Seria had, the infamy was even higher. The man said with a sad face.
“It’s sad for the deceased to have gone like this. But the deceased told me not to be too sad.”
“So… Do you have a partner to dance with at tomorrow’s party?”
Seria raised her head. At the look of what that meant, the nobleman laid out his explanation smoothly.
“It was one of Lady Magrus’s last wills. It was said that her funeral should not lead to a sad atmosphere as she loved plays and theater actors before she died. So she brought a custom from a distant country and ordered that after the coffin was buried, a beautiful ball dance should be held to entertain the mourners. As you know Lady Magrus was a high ranking noble….”
Of course, at regular balls, people decided on their partners in advance. But a funeral was a funeral….
‘But why didn’t you tell me about it? Kellyden is really…’
Seria thought about it. It seemed like she was the only one who wasn’t aware about the banquet with the dress code. She lifted an eyebrow, thinking that Kellyden was really childish.
“Thank you for the good information.”
‘I’m sure I was the only one who was about to make a fool of myself.’
The man’s face reddened slightly at the serious words, and he coughed again.
“If you don’t have a partner for the dance, would you accept me as your partner? I’ve admired Stern for a long time. So….”
“I have a partner.”
The man’s face turned blue when Seria refused nicely.
“Well, if that’s the case, could I have a handkerchief?”
Seria asked back.
“Are you a knight?”
“Yes, I am. I’ve been helping out, but wouldn’t it be better if you returned the favor?”
Seria wondered why he was so attached. The love between a noblewoman and a knight was classic. So it was very romantic for the knights to ask the noblewomen for a handkerchief. Of course, she was pretty sure this man didn’t fall in love with her when he saw her, and he just seemed like a man who was bloodthirsty in collecting handkerchiefs from ladies and noblewomen of renown. So it was a kind of trophy.
It was similar to the original story. There was a group of side characters who were willing to go to water and fire to get a handkerchief from the Saintess Lina…
‘No, it’s a completely different situation.’
The Lina of the novel was delighted but troubled, but that was probably because it was the actions of those men who were really courting her, while Seria was just annoyed by this knight in front of her.
‘Right now, all I have is a handkerchief with the Berg pattern engraved on it, which is too good to give to a stranger.’
It was just when she was about to drive the knight away with a dissipating look, as the original Seria would have done.
“This noble lady had already agreed to give me her handkerchief.”
It was a familiar voice coming from behind Seria. It was also a voice that seemed to be so unpleasant that for a moment, the knight panicked.
“I’m sorry, sir.”
The knight retreated immediately, unable to speak.
Seria looked back. Dark eyes were looking at her.
It was Kalis Haneton. She had no idea when he came so close.