Chapter 02: Past Event
It was evening when I returned home after work.
I lived in the lowest section where many outsiders and thugs stayed.
This was the kind of place where danger was commonplace if you walked outside, even at dark.
My current residence was a dilapidated house that could barely block out the wind and rain, but I wanted to take refuge there as soon as possible.
No matter how much of my face I hid with my hair or how tattered my clothes were, it remained dangerous for a young girl to walk around by herself.
My room was on the third floor of a building that looked like it could collapse at any moment.
In order to avoid aggravating the loud landlord who lived on the first floor, I slowly climbed up the creaking stairs.
I opened the door that didn’t fit the frame, and a putrid stench hit my nose.
A woman with dead eyes was inside. She didn’t greet me but muttered gibberish.
She had been banished from the duke’s house together with me. She was my mother.
Ever since losing her position as the duchess half a year ago, she changed into someone with whom you couldn’t hold a proper conversation.
There were no signs left of her former beauty.
“Mother, you didn’t eat any bread again.”
The hard rye bread I left on the table this morning remained untouched.
As if she lost the desire to live, my mother began to even detest eating.
My mother had grown up enjoying endless meals of delicious food since birth, so I could understand why she was reluctant to eat this hard rye bread that tasted sour.
But the white bread she used to eat wasn’t sold on the streets and the few bakeries that did have them sold them as luxury items for the rich.
It was certainly impossible for a mere seamstress to get her hands on one.
“Your health will worsen if you don’t eat anything. Please try to eat it.”
I said, tore a piece of bread, and brought it to her mouth, but she pushed my hand away as if telling me to keep that nasty stuff away from her. I was surprised by how much strength was left in her thin, weak arms.
Taking this opportunity, my mother, despite being as lifeless as furniture before, began to scream something in a shrill voice.
I was fluent in several languages native to the neighboring countries, but I couldn’t understand what she was saying.
Nevertheless, I barely picked up the phrases “your fault” and “if it wasn’t for you” that occasionally came up.
I picked up the fallen piece of bread and ate it as a simple dinner.
Why was the daughter of a duke living such a life?
The start of it all was due to my father’s recklessness in bringing his mistress and their daughter to our main residence in the capital.
While it wasn’t uncommon for nobles to have lovers, it went beyond conventional levels of rudeness to have your lover live together with your spouse in your shared townhouse.
Naturally, both my mother and I advised my father to reconsider, but our words fell on deaf ears.
Before long, a plain-looking woman with light brown hair and eyes and a young girl with the same hair color but the same blue eyes as my father were brought to our residence.
It was evident that this young girl was my father’s child.
This could be declared with certainty as the color of my father’s deep blue eyes—known as royal blue—was a regal color that only appeared in those who had royal blood, as my father had inherited it as well.
On the other hand, I inherited my lavender-colored eyes from my paternal grandmother, so I didn’t possess that royal color.
The girl, Ann, changed her name to the more noble Angelica and immediately captivated those around her with some incomprehensible tricks.
She started with Leon (my younger brother and heir to the title of duke) before capturing Christoph (the son of the powerful Count Linden and said to be the next prime minister), Bernard (the son of an excellent swordsman and general), Albert (the prince of a neighboring country), and Lionel (the crown prince and my former fiancé).
These five were particularly smitten by Angelica.
Just like the knights of fairy tales who serve the maiden, they protected Angelica from all malice and strove to judge Angelica’s enemies they declared as evil.
I had warned the five—my younger brother and my childhood friends—that they shouldn’t be so enthralled by her, but they never heeded my pleas.
On the contrary, they began to suspect that I was being shameful in my attempts to deprecate her out of jealousy.
Now that I thought back on it, it was a mystery why those five supported her so vehemently.
For better or worse, they were untrusting noblemen, so they weren’t the type to easily open their hearts even to their own blood relatives.
In any case, our arguments continued until I was criticized for bullying my younger sister out of jealousy.
Even the servants began to support Angelica like a parent to a child suddenly one day. My position within the household became worse and worse.
But it never occurred to me that Lionel, who was betrothed to me at birth, would actually annul our engagement.
On top of that, I was suspected of being the result of my mother’s infidelity, leading to the two of us being thrown out onto the streets.
Even now the hushed whisper from Angelica echoed out in my ears: “It’s your fault for being the ‘villain’.”