this chapter is brought to you by mio
as translator, proofreader and editor!
The rays of the afternoon sun seeped over the massive mahogany walls.
Basked in light, the dragon that had been elaborately carved into the wall seemed to be able to come to life at any moment now.
Among the many drawing rooms in the Berhardt family’s mansion, the walls of the most luxurious drawing room of them all was adorned with ‘Dragon’, the legendary monster that had been defeated by the Order of Ecrestus’ first Holy Knight Commander.
The carving in the wall was also a symbol of pride for the Berhardt family, who had always led the Order of Ecrestus.
There, for the first time in a while, the Berhardt family gathered together and raised their teacups affectionately.
Long fingers that were so elegant it was hard to believe they belonged to someone who wielded a sword, tapped the table steadily. The teacup in front of that person had already become cold without ever having touched his lips once.
At that time, an older woman who had her beautiful thick blonde hair in an elegant twist said quietly, “Your tea has already cooled, Leonon. Rita, could you get us another cup?”
“Yes, if you’ll excuse me.”
With a deft hand, the maid that had been standing by their side brought the cup that had been placed in front of him over to the tray. Only then did that person lift their head up.
An awkward cough followed the end of his sentence. It was because he had finally noticed that all the eyes of his family were now on him.
“Are you waiting for something in particular?” Eliore, who was staring at her younger brother’s neck that had turned red without his knowledge, blinked her eyes mischievously.
“It’s almost time for the postman to come, so it must be the place where the letter’s coming from? You do that a lot these days, you know? Sticking out your neck as if you’re waiting for something, then sinking into depression again.”
Leonon’s older sister, Eliore, was second only to their mother in terms of tact and sensitivity. She quickly noticed his reaction, which wouldn’t have been easy for anyone else to pick up on.
“That’s never happened.”
However, Leonon shook his head resolutely. His formidable acting was also thanks to his experience of suffering from such an older sister since he was little.
Sure enough, seeing as her younger brother wasn’t moved at all, Eliore quickly became interested in something else instead.
“Oh right, I overheard this when I went to the boutique this morning. Apparently, the day before yesterday, Duke Periot’s marriage was finally declared invalid.”
At that moment, Leonon’s fingers twitched.
“Apparently everyone was worried about how it would cause a huge problem since Duke Periot also stormed the place without having an appointment, but surprisingly, he headed back obediently without making too much of a fuss.”
“It’s definitely because he was in the imperial palace as well. No matter how powerful he is as a duke, he still wouldn’t have been able to act recklessly.”
When Viscount Xavier, who had a gentle look in his eyes, shook his head resolutely, Eliore took the back of her husband’s hand and kissed it cutely as if she depended on him.
Then, holding her husband’s hand tightly, she stuck out her tongue and continued to speak, “The fact that she fled and turned the wedding vows into ashes, how formidable. But just how in the world did she burn it?”
Her eyes sparkled with curiosity. It was a natural reaction since the news had long made the normally calm high society noisy with gossip. No matter where you went, everyone had been buzzing about the Duke and Duchess of Chambers.
“How distressing must it have been. I’m sure she searched for every possible way out,” Duchess Florette Berhardt quietly added, leisurely savouring the fresh tea that was added by the maid. “What a determined and courageous young lady.”
“…Mother,” Leonon opened his mouth quietly at the same time.
“What’s the matter, Leonon?”
“Have you ever… thought about wanting to burn your marriage vows?”
The Duchess answered her son’s question immediately without a moment’s hesitation, “Of course I have.”
His father, who rarely lost his composure, spat the tea from his mouth at that moment. However, Leonon was still serious and did not waver.
“What does it feel like?”
Handing her husband a napkin with a nonchalant face, the Duchess continued, “When you want to kill someone but can’t?”
The face of Duke Gale Berhardt, who was a symbol of bravery and was renowned throughout the whole continent but was also known for being clingy to his wife, finally turned pale.
Nevertheless, Florette merely raised her cup gracefully, “It’s a hundred times better to burn your marriage vows than to become a murderer.”
“Wife, if you think I’ve done anything wrong… could you please at least let me know first?”
Eliore held her stomach and burst into laughter at the teary appearance of her father.
It was the exact same situation as Viscount Xavier. Unlike their first meeting, where he had been so nervous he couldn’t even look into their eyes properly, he was now completely a part of the Berhardt family.
The Berhardt household had always been harmonious and full of affection for each other. Whenever the family had tea together, the atmosphere was always one that was filled with laughter and joy.
At that time, a polite knock sounded from the other side of the door.
Soon, the butler came in politely with a letter that had been placed on a silver tray.
“A letter has arrived.”
Leonon sprang to his feet at those words. Due to his urgency, the table ended up rattling so violently that the tea was spilt.
“One is an invitation to an imperial banquet to commemorate the empire’s victory, while the other one is…”
He quickly snatched up the letter before the butler even finished his sentence.
Then, a smile that was as tender and beautiful as a flower bloomed on his face upon confirming who the sender was.
His family, who didn’t know what the reason for his appearance was, just stared blankly at the scene.
“Excuse me for a moment.”
“Where are you going?” Eliore asked urgently to Leonon, who had suddenly turned his back and was about to leave the drawing room. In her hand was the other letter he had not touched — the invitation to the imperial banquet.
“I’m going to send a reply.”
There was no answer to her question. Meanwhile, Leonon had already disappeared in the meantime.
“Just what is it?”
While Eliore was in the middle of grumbling, their father, who was staring at the receding back of his son, murmured to himself, “Just when will that brat find someone who will make him want to protect them with his own life?”
Although he had already retired, and Leonon, who was to succeed him, was filling the role of Holy Knight’s Commander splendidly, his father was still worried whenever he thought about his son.
“Don’t worry about those things too much. After all, you know you can’t force yourself to find those things,” Florette Berhardt replied with a subtle smile. “I’m sure a courageous young lady will appear someday.”
* * *
pls do not share this anywhere or u will always stub ur toe when u walk past a door frame !! this translation has been stolen from mioscorner.com, pls only read there i’m begging u :kneels:
“Good, this much is already very good.”
I smiled at the neatly decorated drawing room.
Not only had all the holes in the wall been repaired of course, but the drawing room now had furniture that was classy yet not extremely expensive, and we even managed to bring out a few sets of pretty dishware as well.
Ever since receiving a reply from Commander Leonon saying that he was grateful for the invitation and that he’d even be here tomorrow, the preparations were now all in place.
Now, the only thing left to worry about was…
「Total shares sold: 34,001 shares.」
“Please, tomorrow please…!”
Please let everything go smoothly tomorrow!
I closed the system window and prayed internally in my mind, then prayed again and again. It was because I was afraid that this area’s tyrant, the hype king, would commit some unexpected act again.
Like Winnard had said, it should be okay to not get a bonus cookie reward, but I shouldn’t let my guard down.
“Miss, you should head out now. You’ll be running late at this rate.”
Joy came into the room with a shawl at that moment.
Today was the day I had been invited to a small tea party. Most of the people attending today were regular customers that enjoyed visiting Leah’s store, or nobles who I had the pleasure being acquainted with a few times.
Most of them were from small families that had little to no connection to the centre of high society. Should I say that they were more like nobles who made a living off of the profits from running wineries or raising orchards?
Thus, I was able to accept the invitation without feeling burdened. Since they didn’t know my relation to Periot, nor did they even try to find out who I was either.
I climbed onto the carriage and hummed the whole way to the venue of the tea party.
I had been stuck in the Dukedom without a single friend for two years, so it was hard for me to believe that I was finally able to go to a social gathering.
Although it may be a menial daily routine to some, it was a great luxury for me. It was to the point where my shoulders started to tremble unconsciously from the anticipation.
To think that there would be such a good day in my life. Yes! You’re now an insider, Lorella!
t/n: 인싸 refers to a social butterfly or a popular person. usually attached to people in a certain exclusive circle or who are privy to the latest trends, etc. opposite of a loner and someone who is not up to date with the latest trends
As they were all simple and honest people, I’m sure that we’ll be able to converse over some pleasant topics.
I believed that we definitely would.
Or at least I had certainly believed that to be the case before finding myself sitting in the private room of a salon that was today’s meeting place, sipping tea.
“Apparently the competition behind the scenes to become Duke Periot’s second marriage partner is already extremely fierce! I heard that a young lady of a high ranking family as well as a princess from the neighbouring family have already sent letters to show their interest in marriage.”
“He’s handsome, young, and sexy. Moreover, he’s done a meritorious deed in the war so it’s understandable that he’d stand out. Although it’s unknown who will be his marriage partner in the end, it’ll still be something to envy.”
“I heard that the Duke likes to wear black leather gloves? Apparently when he sweeps his hair back, it’s super sexy… I really want to see it with my own two eyes, at least once.”
“His Majesty the Emperor said that he’d bestow him a great reward, so the North will only prosper from this moment forward… Just who in the world is the former Duchess for her to even file for a request to nullify the marriage?”
The women sitting to my right continued to talk enthusiastically. I was the only one who couldn’t get into this hot topic.
After a few words of greeting, all they had been interested in talking about so far was the handsome and sexy Duke of the North who had recently become single.
Wait, excuse me. All of you should experience it for yourself first…
But I couldn’t say that. I couldn’t bear to talk and just quietly sipped my tea.
Then, this time, the women to my left shook their heads.
“I heard that the Duke is extremely cold. I heard even the servants who have worked in the mansion for a long time can’t speak rashly. Do you really think a man like that would know how to treat a girl well? No matter how good a man is at this or that, being sweet is still the best. Like a man like Commander Leonon.”
“Of course. Sweet, gentle, and perfect in both appearance and character! How good would it be if every man in the world were like Commander Leonon?”
“I completely agree with you. He would probably even pluck a star from the sky for the woman he loves. Oh, when will I ever get to go on a date with someone like that? I don’t know if it will be possible even in my next life.”
This time, I was choked by the tea in my throat.
After all, I couldn’t integrate myself into either group, so I ended up just tilting my teacup to the point of drinking all the tea on the table.
Someone asked me a question in an interested voice, “What about you, Lorella?”
“If you had to choose between the two, who would you choose? Commander Leonon? Or Duke Periot?”
“Come to think of it, I haven’t heard Lorella’s opinion yet. It’s exactly four to four right now, so the side you choose will win, Lorella.”
“Oh come on, hurry up and tell us! Do you like sweet or sexy men?”
Everyone looked at me with eyes that seemed to be sparkling.
“Well, um… I…”
But I couldn’t answer. No, to be more accurate, it was more like there was no way it could be either.
It was when I was only smiling awkwardly, wondering if there was any way I could avoid the whole situation.
The lady next to me let out a self-mocking sigh, “Haa, it’s my dream to get a request to dance from both a sweet and sexy man at the same time. But in order for that to happen, I’ll probably need to at least go to the banquet at the imperial palace this time.”
Although she seemed to have tried to change the subject since she became bored while waiting for my answer, she now felt like a saviour to me.
“The imperial palace’s banquet?”
It was a golden opportunity to not return to the topic of Leonon and Periot, so I asked quickly in order not to miss the timing.
“Yes, a grand banquet will be held to commemorate our victory in the war. I heard that it’s apparently the largest in the history of the entire Empire? Apparently not only will all the prominent nobles of the capital attend, but also a delegation from the allied nations will arrive as well.”
“Goodness, it must be extremely extravagant.”
“Speaking of that…”
When I showed interest in what she was saying, she turned to me completely and lowered her voice secretly, “Did you hear that countless guards will be mobilised this time? Apparently it’s ten times more than usual.”
“I heard about that too. They’re going to guard the road from the city wall to the palace without a single gap, right?” A young lady, who was listening next to us, also responded and intervened in our conversation.
It was interesting news for me, who had originally thought that I just had to change the topic. Leaning a little more towards her, I said, “They must be particularly concerned about security since it’s such a large banquet. Since nothing unpleasant should happen.”
But speaking of it, it did seem a little strange. In that case, wouldn’t they normally need to increase the guards on the town square and the main street? Was there a need to guard the city wall or road?
As expected, the young lady who had brought up the topic, accurately spoke about my doubts and shook her head excitedly, “The security around the Imperial Palace is always secure and tight. That day as well, it’ll probably only be a little congested with a dozen carriages at best.”
“Then why are they even guarding the city walls?”
“Because of the Black Snake Guild.”
“There are rumours that among the tributes that will be delivered on that day, is one that the Black Snake Guild has its eye on. It was originally the property of the Black Snake Guild, but I heard that they were completely deceived by a foreign country’s royal family and it was stolen.”
“Black Snake… Guild?”
“The Imperial Palace dismissed them as false rumours, but if they really didn’t care about the Black Snake Guild, then they wouldn’t have felt the need to increase their security like that.”
“Just what is the Black Snake Guild?”
I was dumbfounded by the name that I had heard for the first time. But on the contrary, there were eyes that were filled with astonishment everywhere, as if there could be no way I didn’t know about them.
“Goodness, how have you never heard of their name?”
“Oh, I… grew up in a foreign country, so…”
Thanks to that, I scratched my nose awkwardly and tried to gloss over it naturally.
“It’s known as the most dangerous guild in the empire. Its very nature is veiled in mystery and it rarely makes contact with people like us, so there’s no way for anyone to verify or check just how dangerous it is.”
“Apparently the head of the guild will do anything as long as it makes money. I heard even placing a hit to kill someone is no problem as well.”
“If anyone gets targeted by the guild leader, that very day is when their life ends. They say that the living hell they put people through is enough to make them beg for death.”
“I heard that even when the Imperial Palace placed a bounty on him, he escaped so smoothly it was as if they were only playing a game of tag. From what I’ve heard, he has a lot of followers, and the people who offer him helping hands aren’t just one or two either.”
Fearsome stories continued to rush in one after the other. Of course, it was also my first time hearing about them too. Since the North was such a remote place and no one had ever told me this sort of information either.
No, but how could a guild leader even have followers?
“Goodness, to think there was such a person in the world. Then I guess he’s some kind of dark lord, right?” While listening to their words diligently, I spoke with considerable strength in my voice, “It’s best not to get involved with such a person for the rest of your life. Isn’t that right?”
Above all, the best way to live life is for it to be simple and long. I also would have liked to live like that, if it weren’t for the shares I had to sell.
As I nodded to myself, I swallowed the resentment that seemed to be rising up inside me again, but then I suddenly sensed something strange.
Up until just now, they had all been talking as if they were competing with each other, yet now they all shut their mouths, as if what happened earlier had been a lie. Not even one person showed even the slightest agreement with my words.
“Everyone… what’s the matter with you all?”
For a moment, I couldn’t hide my curiosity.
“…It seems like I want to get involved with him.”
At someone’s small voice, I replied, almost doubting my ears.
“It’s said that if you catch a glimpse of him even once, you’ll end up squandering your own wealth trying to forcibly make a request that doesn’t exist.”
“I’ve also only heard rumours, but I heard that even his portraits are traded at an exorbitantly high price on the black market… There’s also a rumour that some young lady fell ill with lovesickness and ended up becoming bedridden.”
“If that’s true, I’d also like to get seriously involved, even if it’s just once.”
“To be honest, I do too…”
The cheeks of the young girls, who were staring into space as if they were bewitched by something, seemed to have a strange flush to them.
between a sweet and sexy man, i prefer a sweet and sexy man.
everyone, leonon has a sweet personality and a very sexy body. so let’s give commander leonon to the female lead and we’ll take the rest for ourselves.
i personally thought i preferred obsessed dukes of the north, but i actually think i prefer sexy men who used to be sweet men
i like how their high society gatherings are them discussing who the hottest guy is like twitter stans discussing whose bias is hotter LMAOGLSDKF
next few chapters are mainly focused on periot, leonon and then also explores the black snake guild as well (think imperial banquet arc lmAO)