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The bitter north wind constantly howled across the other side of the thickly frozen river. Every time the bare branches knocked on the shutters of the window, a loud rattling sound would echo throughout the mansion, as if an uninvited guest was knocking on the door.
The warmest place in this eerie mansion was the drawing room, which had a large fireplace. Firewood was constantly being put into the fireplace which was large enough for six or seven children to lie side by side in it.
The Duke of Periot leaned back comfortably on the large comfortable leather sofa in front of it, silently rifling through a thick pile of papers.
He looked a bit more languid, unlike he normally was, with his sleeves rolled up and several buttons that had always been buttoned to his neck were left loose.
Thanks to that, his subordinate, who was always by his side, noticed that Periot was in a considerably good mood right now, but unfortunately, the guest who had his head bowed on the other side, was completely unaware of that fact.
“Is it… to your liking?”
The guest who had set foot into the duke’s residence, which rarely had guests, was an interior designer. He wiped the sweat from his forehead. It was due to the constant cold sweat that was sweeping through his whole body.
He was widely rumored to be able to transform an old mansion into one that seemed completely new, no matter how old it was before. Thanks to that, he has dealt with all kinds of nobles who were known as the best in the empire, but it was the first time in his life being this nervous.
He thought he had already experienced all sorts of hardships, but his voice trembled just from standing in front of him.
It was probably all because of the Duke of Periot, who was still looking at the papers with an expressionless face.
Although he was also surprised when he had received a commission from a duke who was more notorious for being a hero who had led the war to victory, it wasn’t as much as when he had confirmed the bizarre request he had entrusted to him.
At first glance, it was a seemingly ordinary request to change the interior decoration of the Duke’s mansion that had been neglected for a long time. The problem was with the details in it.
It said that it wanted him to build a mansion so beautiful that once you set foot in it, you’ll never want to leave again. It was such an obscure request, he didn’t know what the hell he should do.
Although he couldn’t really understand it anyway, his safety was at risk. So he had really done his best as a contractor.
First of all, starting from the exterior, he had decided to decorate the interior in a beautiful and luxurious way, to the point where it could even be seen just from a quick glimpse outside the window. Where your gaze is stolen from just a glance.
He had also put a lot of effort into filling the mansion with a warm and gentle feeling that could suppress the atmosphere of the barren northern territories.
That wasn’t all. Next, a sofa that was rumored to feel as if your body was melting just by sitting on it, a bed that was widely praised to be as soft as if it were made from clouds in the sky, and a legendary pillow that could make even the most insomniac patients snore in their slumber the moment they lay down on it; he planned to change all the furniture in the whole house. All so that no matter where you lean your body against, you’ll never want to get up again…!
As a result, a luxurious and beautiful interior that was comparable to that of the imperial palace, a house that was like a comfortable cradle, second to none in the world was created. Of course, the price was also beyond imagination too.
However, the long silence made the contractor uneasy. His shoulders continued to droop under the weight of the pressure.
He cautiously attempted to call out, but Periot’s eyes were still on the papers. He swallowed dryly.
Maybe he thought it was too expensive. But he only did it according to the Duke’s instructions…
The longer the silence, the more complicated his mind was, filled with all sorts of conclusions.
At that moment, Periot’s mouth opened after a while.
“Is this sofa the one that’s written here?”
Only then did the interior designer, who had been frozen by the tension, finally exhale the breath he had been holding in.
“It’s definitely comfortable. Alright, let’s proceed like this then.”
“Yes! Just leave it to me!”
The contractor, who had bowed to 90 degrees, retreated from the room as if he were fleeing.
After the door of the drawing room shut, Periot slowly got up from his seat, moving the thick paperwork to one side with an indifferent hand.
“That should be enough for the maintenance of the mansion… Is there only one more thing left to do now?”
A knock sounded on the door, as if in response to his mumbling to himself. The door swung open as soon as he briefly gave his permission.
The knights who entered immediately saluted him at once.
At their feet was a woman who had sunk down onto her knees.
Her shrill voice echoed in the quiet drawing room
“H-How could you do this to me…?!”
It was none other than his mother, Emma Chambers, who was wailing loudly with bloodshot eyes.
Periot stared vacantly at her, and asked in a horrifyingly calm and indifferent voice.
“Why did you lie?”
“I did it all for our family…!”
“What does lying about Lorella having an affair with another man have to do with our family?”
“Because I wanted you to do better! Any mother who has children would understand me-!”
“And, you’ve also pocketed the Duchy’s fortune. Even firing and changing out employees for no reason. Do I need to continue?”
At those words, Emma’s mouth closed like magic. In the freezing drawing room, the only things that were furiously moving were her eyes which were darting around, and her heart, which was beating like crazy.
When had her son, who had left for the battlefield, become like this…?
But Emma Chambers’s thoughts weren’t able to continue. Because at Periot’s brief nod, the knights then forced her to stand up.
“Let go of me! How dare you do this to me…! Periot, Periot!”
Emma called out her son’s name in a pitiful voice the whole time she was being dragged away.
But he didn’t even bat an eye. It had been a long time since he had heard something like his mother’s voice.
Instead, there was only one voice in his ear.
“In any case, m-maybe it’s not that I dislike being by your side, but rather… maybe it’s because I dislike that house…”
The sight of her blushing without being able to finish her sentence was extremely vivid in his mind. Each movement of her kicking the ground sheepishly with her toes, perhaps because those words had been difficult for her to say, rushed freshly into his mind.
This decision of his to transform the Duke Mansion on a large scale was because he had taken her words literally.
Periot stared out of the window expressionlessly, as if nothing had happened.
Since the mansion was on a hill, the particularly harsh and barren state of the territory was able to be seen at a glance. He frowned momentarily.
…He almost forgot that she had to go through the territory in order to get to the house.
He ordered his subordinate to call for Baron Ketton immediately. He was an administrative noble who was in charge of the overall facilities and maintenance of the northern territories. The subordinate withdrew, replying that he would bring him right away.
He had been negligent in managing his territories since he had been restricted to the battlefield. However, even the desolate and barren North would be able to come back to life after several repairs.
It was only then that the figure of Lorella, who had returned to the completely transformed mansion of her own free will, was vividly appearing before his eyes.
A deep laugh escaped his tightly shut lips momentarily. The shoulders of his aide, who had been standing at a distance from him, flinched in surprise, but Periot paid no attention to him.
He just murmured to himself in a low voice.
“Let’s see who wins, Duchess.”
After a long time, a faint smile appeared on his lips.
* * *
pls do not share this anywhere or the transmigration gods will transport u into boku no pico !! this translation has been stolen from mioscorner.com, pls only read there i’m begging u :kneels:
Ever since the day Periot had left, I had been so busy I didn’t even have enough time to eat.
The first thing I did was find a list of people who had been present as guests on the bride’s side at my wedding. Then, I contacted everyone who I could technically call my relatives.
Although I didn’t know what Periot would do with Louis, in any case, I would have to be in charge of the Mayred household while my brother was away. I didn’t know if there would be people who held animosity toward me, so I had to check it all in advance.
I had the thought that they might harass me if any of them were in cahoots with Louis.
However, the results were rather unexpected. None of them even brought up the syllable ‘Lou’ in Louis, and I didn’t discover there to be a particularly close relationship between us during that time, so the standard sentiments to maintain the relationship and get along well were politely gifted and returned.
Although they tried not to make it obvious, everyone seemed to feel uncomfortable… no, they seemed to feel a bit scared around me. Even though I didn’t really know why, in any case, it still seemed to have taken some of the burden off me.
However, the situation surrounding me was still grim. It was because of the second ordeal that followed.
As I sat in Louis’s study reading the list of names, I tried to hide my trembling hands as I looked up at the butler standing in front of me.
“There’s… this many?”
“My apologies, Miss Lorella.”
The butler bowed his head, as if it were his fault.
But how could it be his crime to shoulder? I forcibly pulled up the corners of my lips to comfort him.
“It’s alright. It’s what I expected anyways.”
…Damn it! Even though I had said that, I actually wanted to cry!
What I was actually holding was a list of the people who wanted to retire from the mansion’s employees.
From now on, I hadn’t wanted to spend a lot of manpower on a mansion where I’d be living alone. I didn’t have the money for that either. So I had just told them that if there was anyone who wanted to quit, to just speak up comfortably, but…
I didn’t know that the majority of them would want to quit!
Wouldn’t I go bankrupt from paying for their severance pay?
But a promise is a promise. Even if the road ahead seems hopeless, I had no choice but to keep my word.
With tears threatening to overflow and trembling hands, I stamped dozens of resignation letters, one after another.
The reasons for their retirement were mostly the same. Habitual overdue wages, excessive amounts of overwork, an excess amount of profanity directed at the character and personality of the previous employer…
Louis, you dog shit bastard, bastard not even worth killing!
A constant slew of swear words kept coming out of my mouth throughout the stamping. The more the amount of severance pay I had to pay increased, the more the level of insults increased.
In the end, I cautiously called out to the butler who was next to me, diligently helping me organize the paperwork.
“Excuse me, butler…”
“Yes, Miss Lorella. What’s the matter?”
“That over there, sell it all.”
The old butler, whose gaze followed my fingertip pointing at the wall, asked back in surprise.
“You mean the decorations on the wall? But gems like that will be hard to find again. Besides, there will be an ugly hole in its place once you’ve taken it all off…”
“Well, we don’t have enough money, so…”
The butler quietly shut his mouth at my tearful words. Then, he nodded silently, his white eyebrows drooping.
By the time the paperwork for the employees was finally concluded, the contractors that had been called in by the butler had arrived. Like a swarm of locusts sweeping through a grassy plain, they swept away everything that shone, leaving nothing in their wake.
Looking around at the interior which had become devoid of color in an instant, I rubbed my eyes that were prickling with tears.
Despite that, the only reason I was still able to laugh against my will was thanks to the large decorative cabinet occupying one side of the drawing room. It was filled with expensive ceramics, crystal fountain pens, and even gold tableware.
That’s right, it’s fine, even if there’s only this much left! The peeling walls could be covered with wallpaper. And I can just commission a painter to paint a mural over the really unsightly places.
How about titling it, ‘The Consequences of Greed’, or ‘Consumption Within One’s Limits’?
It was when I was hiding my upset feelings with trivial thoughts. Another ominous knock rang out.
The butler, who looked like he was going to die compared to earlier, had come to see me again.
“Wh-What’s the matter?”
“The contractors who built the mansion came to visit.”
“They’ve come to ask for the overdue payment…”
He quietly held out the paperwork to me with both of his eyes tightly shut. It was an estimation of the construction for this mansion.
My mouth dropped open as I counted the zeroes in the number written at the bottom. It was an amount that I had never seen in my previous life, nor even when I had been in the wealthy Duke’s residence.
The latter part of that harsh swear word was replaced by my fist hitting the table. A numbing sensation spread from the edge of my hand to my elbow, but I didn’t notice it at all.
I ended up collapsing in a corner of the sofa, as if I had passed out.
The face of the butler, who had rushed toward me in a flurry from the shock, was blurry, as if it had been obscured by fog.
Heavens, he hadn’t paid for even half of the construction costs yet.
There’s actually a lunatic who starts interior work before he even pays off the construction price!
My whole body trembled as tears of anger filled my eyes.
Damn it, Louis, you bastard. Even though I had hit him on the head several times, if only I could wring his next for the last time! I even regretted that I might have handed him over to Periot too obediently.
But what could I do? Things had already happened like this, and it was my job to fix them.
I pointed to the cabinet with a shaky hand.
“Then we should sell all of that too…”
The butler didn’t question me this time. He simply quietly opened the cabinet door, carefully packed the luxurious items into a box with his white gloved hands, and retreated from the drawing room.
At some point, the beautiful sunset seeped to the empty decorative cabinet. As I gazed at the golden sunlight that quietly spread over empty glass, a single line of tears slid down my cheek unknowingly.
However, I quickly raised my head, suppressing my short bout of muddle headedness. Then, I shouted in a brave voice.
I still have a lot of things left! For example, this luxurious sofa in the drawing room! Antique furniture that’s been made by famous craftsmen! Vintage antiques!
That’s right, the walls that were plastered from top to bottom with glittering gold or the decorative cabinet that was lined with all sorts of jewels seemed too much like a nouveau riche.
Although there were no ornaments, an antique mansion with an elegant style would suit the main character much more.
As I tried to console myself, with another knock, someone else cautiously poked their head out from behind the wide opened door.
“What is it now!”
I screamed unconsciously, the sound of a knock on the door almost provoking neurosis.
“M-My apologies, Miss…”
In front of the door stood a pale looking Joy. She continued tearfully with a face that seemed as if she were about to run away at any moment.
“The maids who decided to continue working here were wondering when their six months worth of wages would be paid…”
I jumped to my feet and hurriedly walked over to Joy.
In the midst of a series of employees retiring, there were some people who had chosen to stay in the mansion, refusing my lump sum of severance pay.
How grateful I felt towards them. Their words were like a ray of light to me, who was at a loss in a dark reality.
So… drunk with emotion, I made a promise that no one forced me to make. And that was an impulsive promise to pay them six months worth of wages all at once!
“Miss, the only reason we said we wanted to stay was because we like being by your side. So don’t overdo yourself…”
Joy, who was looking around the drawing room which had been transformed into a barren landscape, cautiously suggested. However, I couldn’t make an empty promise.
“It’s fine, Joy. I should keep my promise. It’s alright.”
Then whispered quietly in her ear.
“…We can just sell the furniture.”
I clenched my teeth harder than ever after I finished speaking.
No, but oh my god. To think that the main character would be broke!
However, I didn’t want to show any weakness in front of people who believed in me and would be by my side. Especially in front of Joy, who had been put in such a tough situation just to help me.
* * *
The furniture that was packed away was loaded into carriages lined up in front of the mansion, one after another. The laborers, who had been cautiously handling the expensive furniture to avoid any damages to it, all only returned well past midnight.
All that was left in the study, which had been full of antique furniture and expensive books, was a table with a shaky leg and an old chair that Joy had picked up somewhere in the past.
“This fucking world!”
I let out a gasp and swiftly pulled out a pen and paper. There was only one good thing left for me to vent my fury on.
It was to write a letter about the invalidity of my marriage to Periot.
Thanks to this, a petition filled with anger that made you want to vomit blood was completed. I even had the thought that a princess who was deposed just before taking over the position as queen couldn’t be more angry than this.
I lost all my strength after finishing the matter with lightning speed. All that was left to do now was to receive the testimony of Commander Leonon.
Leonon. That name reminded me of another concern that I had put off due to the urgent situation. I quietly opened the system window in the empty study.
「Total shares sold: 12,900 shares」
Perhaps thanks to all my labor and efforts, the shares had already surpassed 10,000. However, the system window had remained silent during the time when Periot had left and I had struggled alone in the mansion.
I muttered to myself as I alternated between looking at the transparent window and white paper.
“Should I… ask the Commander to meet up with me?”
Right, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to meet up and complain about what had happened to me so far.
The kind Leonon would definitely console me. And I could also grasp this opportunity and sell some shares too!
It was when I had made my decision, sitting down on the creaky chair and grabbing my pen again.
“Although I don’t know the details about anything else, how about you get a new chair first?”
Suddenly, a voice filled with pity sounded from behind me. Although it sounded friendly at first, the somewhat playful voice sounded very familiar.
After looking back in surprise for a while, I sprang up from my seat.
“Nice to finally meet you again!”
Then, I grabbed the collar of Winnard, who had suddenly appeared behind me when no one was there and was standing there as if nothing had happened.
“You pretended you didn’t know me and just walked away when I was locked up, didn’t you?! I begged you so much, and you just ignored it?!”
“W-Wait, Lorella. Because of the regulations, I had no choice-”
“Shut up! You bastard!”
The sight of his brown hair fluttering before my eyes made me even more angry.
“You said you were a guide! You said that you’d help me!
I grabbed him by the collar and shook him with all my might.
“Keok, heup…! S-So, I…”
Winnard began to talk intermittently while choking.
“I came here… to help you, urk… and came all the way here…”
“Help me?! What help? Now you come?!”
“Since I thought you’d be curious… about who your rival is…”
At that moment, my hand, which was about to strangle him, stopped.
Winnard quickly stepped away from me while I was repeating what he said without realizing it.
“That’s right, your rival.”
A sly smile graced his mouth as he readjusted his extravagant silk cravat.
“Isn’t there apparently a saying in some Eastern country that says, if you know your enemy and yourself, you can win every battle? It’ll help you if you know what kind of people the other main character candidates are. Do you want to go look with me?”
In my mind, I wanted to swing my fist at least once at his cheeky face, but my body moved against my wishes.
I had no choice but to grab onto his hand that was stretched out toward me.
3.7k words ;-;
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