Chapter 1 - Prologue
‘A common prank?’
The butler’s story could be summed up like this.
Midwinter ten years ago. Seria and Nissos sneaked out to the lake at night.
Kellyden castle was surrounded by lakes.
It was the middle of winter and the lake was frozen solid with ice. For some reason, Nissos left Seria there alone and returned. Although she was an illegitimate child, the Marquis made her official as Kellyden.
When she disappeared, the castle was turned upside down and the servants hurried trying to find her in the middle of the night.
Cassius was also included.
The problem was that the Marquis of Kellyden was very angry at the time.
When the Marchioness asked why the Marquis was so angry, the chief butler hesitantly replied.
“Young Master Nissos took Young Lady Seria to the lake hoping that she would disappear from the castle…”
“He has been screaming that he doesn’t want to see her, the illegitimate child.”
“It wasn’t bad, but…”
Cassius was the first one to find Seria. However, Cassius was worried that Nissos would be severely scolded by Marquis Kellyden. So Cassius pushed Seria’s head in the snow to keep her quiet and wait for the Marquis, who was out looking for Seria to pass and until the chief butler arrived.
The problem was that the place Seria was buried was a water hole, so she almost drowned.
Of course, Seria didn’t remember any of this from the original Seria’s memories, but the chief butler didn’t know this fact.
He would not know why Seria was questioning this story now. Seria just randomly explained it to him in a cold sweat, coming up with various reasons she could think of.
But the butler incessantly excused Cassius, saying that he was a child and could only think one-dimensionally.
One-dimensional thinking and mistakes.
The story concluded like that. Because Seria didn’t die and Cassius didn’t do it on purpose.
Seria raised her head and stared at Cassius in front of her.
Under the dazzling chandelier lights of the banquet hall, Cassius’s face bore a slight resemblance to Seria’s. The central dance floor of the banquet hall was somewhat empty. Cassius was walking Seria out to the center of the large hall.
It’s funny. Only the dresses and suits that the nobles here wore were darker in color, otherwise it was not much different from any other balls. The more time passes, the more it will change.
Officially, the remembrance banquet could be transformed to this extent at the will of the hostess.
‘I can’t believe the memorial of a dead person turned into a dance ball for the nobles.’
There were many eyes on them. Seria whispered.
“The butler told me all about it. In fact, I’ve forgotten about half of the story.”
“Wouldn’t it be more mutually beneficial if it’s forgotten?”
“No, Cassius, you’d better listen. There is one fact that the butler does not know.”
“What fact does he not know?”
Human’s malice is sharper than you think. Rather than the thoroughness of an accident, people are mentally shocked by accidents that happened because they feel the deliberate malice of others with their whole bodies.
“You purposely stuck my head in the hole, Cassius.”
“No matter how young I was, I wasn’t a fool. How could you not know your sister was drowning when her face was pressed down in the water and struggled for help? You were a big boy, so you must have taken some classes from an early age.”
The blood quickly drained from Cassius’ face.
“If the butler didn’t come, you would have killed me outright. And you would have dropped me in the lake.”
Cassius raised his voice without realizing it.
In the end he was speechless. He just bit his lip hard.
The news would be like the illegitimate child who was not welcomed at the castle, was lost and drowned. No one would know that Cassius gave the child a little push.
“I think I know why you did it. The Marquis brought in an illegitimate child and the perfect atmosphere of the castle was ruined. So….”
“Seria Kellyden….” Cassius’ voice shook.
“You don’t want to erase me from your family anymore, do you?” (Seria)
Cassius’s eyes widened at Seria’s question.
“Is it because I’m a Stern?”
Cassius froze completely at these words.
He was unable to answer anything.
‘To be honest, I wished a little that Cassius would deny it.’
In the original story, Cassius had a fastidious aristocratic tendency. He didn’t have the personality to bully nobles and commoners. He just ignored them completely like they weren’t there. He didn’t even give them a second glance. It’s like touching the air, erasing even their existence.
To erase it completely.
Cassius, such as he was, eventually became one of the side male characters who ended up loving Lina. Even though Lina reminded him over and over again of the fact that she herself was not noble in the original.
Hidden in his past, not properly described in the original story, was the story of how he tried from the beginning to erase the illegitimate Seria entirely from this precious lakeside castle.
And this was the reality for Seria.
“If I wasn’t Grand Duchess of Berg, would you want to dance with me? Or would you run to your mother and tell her you didn’t want to?”
As soon as the the words were finished, they stood on the empty dance floor looking at each other. Cassius couldn’t say anything. He just shivered, his eyelashes shook.
Seria deliberately brought up the story to Cassius to make sure her thoughts and predictions were right.
And Cassius showed his shimmering pupils and bloodless complexion. That was how Seria knew her guess was right.
A soft dance tune began to play.
With a stiff face, Cassius grabbed Seria’s hand and waist. She felt as if her head had gone cold as she was pulled by his lead.
Unlike most men and women who dance, Seria did not make eye contact with Cassius. She lowered her gaze to her dress. At first she planned to wear pointed shoes, ready to punch at least ten holes in the top of Cassius’ feet, but now she felt like even that hardened will to fight had evaporated.
That’s right. To tell you the truth, I was scared.
I was afraid of Cassius in front of me, of Cassius holding me.
I was not Seria, I was someone who had no memory of that day, but on the other hand I was wearing Seria’s body and had to feel the fear that remained in my body. The boy who tried to kill this body, the hated illegitimate child, the one whose head was submerged in the water with its malice that wished to disappear forever in the lake…
I don’t remember that winter night, but now…
Why do I gradually remember that time? Why do I feel like I’m replaying it vividly in my mind? No matter how much Seria pleaded for help, the answer never came. The young, merciless hand that plunged her head into the cold ice water, hoping that Seria would soon stop breathing…. It was sharp enough to pierce her lungs, and what her wide, young eyes could see was the black, endless water of the lake.
The fear that I would choke and die soon filled my head with a dizzying sense of dread. One moment the light in the dazzling chandelier spread white as if it were burning my retinas.
It was a moment.
I started to shake and shake. I couldn’t control the fear that filled my brain. I couldn’t move, and my breathing became erratic. I felt as if the outside me and the inside me were separated by a thin membrane. It was a horrible feeling, as if they had thrown me into hot, melted wax and hardened me alive.
What should I do about this horrible feeling ….
I don’t know…
Seria could see Cassius’s panicked face as he grabbed her wrist and yelled something. She was sure this feeling would go away as soon as she got away from him, but she hoped he would let go of her. There was no way to tell him how she felt about this, because her lips were frozen and she couldn’t move. Fortunately, the muscles on the side of her eyes were also frozen, and tears did not pour out.
She was hoping that it was either Nissos, who was hovering nearby, watching her, or Abigail, who must have already fed enough candy to that cheeky butler, would come and quickly pull her away.
That was the moment she thought.
Cassius’s face became distant. Then a familiar voice rang.
It was a voice she didn’t expect to hear. Both her shoulders were grabbed and turned. Contrary to what she expected to fall on the floor because of her trembling legs earlier, her body was completely loosened.
For a while, she thought she was dreaming. The blue-white light slowly clears. Under the lights falling into thousands of pieces of crystal on the chandelier, she saw flaming red eyes right in front of her.
“Seria! Seria! Are you okay? Can you see me?”
Lesche Berg, it was him. It was the man. Seria blinked blankly with the thought that he had come to her much sooner than she had asked him to back in Berg.
“What the hell?”
Lesche growled and raised his head. Seria’s eyes naturally followed his angry gaze. Cassius in front of her was completely frozen. His shoulders were rigid. He couldn’t say anything.
Lesche grabbed her hand and shook it, calling her name, but she stayed stiff.
“What did you do with my wife….Seria?”
Tears that had been frozen all along began to burst out like a fountain. She didn’t cry often in front of others. She often tried not to cry. But now she couldn’t think of anything. She didn’t even know what she was crying about. Seria just burst into tears.
“It’s okay. I’m here, Seria.”
The soothing voice was sadly gentle. Lesche’s large hand covered her head. A careful, but forceful hand buried her face in his chest. Warm tears streamed down her cheeks, wetting Lesche’s chest.