πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️ Lucia Chapter 76 - 80 Part 1&2 Full Chapters πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️

PHYSIENTS WILL ALWAYS OFFER BEST STORIES AND LIVE STREAMING ALL TIME


LUCIA
C76 [part 1]

< — Meeting People — > (3)


Translated by: Miss Ruby


Edited by: ShadowDog


The effects of the alcohol simmered down quickly. Lucia came out of the break room. As she walked along the hallway, a handmaid approached her with hurried steps and bowed her head.


“His Grace the Duke sent this servant out of worry that the Duchess’ absence was long.”


It had only been 30 minutes since she left to rest. Lucia felt embarrassed because she thought that the people around would see his actions as unusual, that he couldn’t wait and sent a handmaid for her.


“Go ahead and tell him that I’m on my way.”


The maid bowed and quickly went back the way she came from.


“Master always looks for Milady.”


The maid who was following her added.


“Are you poking fun at me?”


“No, Milady. I wouldn’t dare. I say so because it looks good. If I get married later, I want to live like Master and Milady.”


Lucia didn’t mind hearing the maid’s flattery mixed with envy. She wondered if they looked that good in other people’s eyes and felt a little elated. Her relationship with him these days was definitely good.


Even though she had less time to see his face compared to when they were in the north, they had gotten closer. She tried to consider what exactly was different from when they were in the north but there was nothing specific she could point to. But strangely, anything he said would sound so sweet.


Lucia was walking in high spirits but as soon as she saw a group of men that were conversing some distance away, she paused her footsteps.


The maid who was following after her called out, “Milady?”


Lucia squeezed the shawl in her hand as though it were a shield. She regulated her breathing and began to walk again. When she drew close enough to verify the face, she sucked in her breath. She hoped she could just pass by.


After a couple of steps, one of the men discovered Lucia and his eyes shone with greed. Goosebumps rose all over her body.


“Ooh. Are you not the Duchess? I am more than glad for the opportunity to greet such a beautiful personage.”


Lucia couldn’t ignore the over-dramatic greeting of the man. The Duchess being rude at her first official social debut would only become the target of gossip. She was forced to stop and look at the face of the sickening man. She focused on controlling her gaze so that her expression would not distort.


The man was barely taller than Lucia. He had a tubby figure with a stomach like a pregnant woman’s and his greasy face was thickly covered with greed. His grinning mouth was filled with servility. His cunning eyes showed his anxiety to sponge off someone in power one way or the other. It was Lucia’s husband in her dream, the man that she didn’t even want to see in her dreams(1). Count Matin.


“I am the head of the Matin family and successor to the Count title, Horio Matin. Alas. I saw you from afar earlier but now that I’m closer, your beauty shines even more. I have great respect for His Grace, the Duke of Taran. It is a great honor to be able give my greetings the Great Duke of Taran’s wife.”


Count Matin wagged his tongue and rubbed his palms together like a mean merchant.


Lucia could identify her current feelings. Disgust. And fear. In her dream, Count Matin was a wall of despair. Her marriage life was darkness. Nevertheless, the reason why Lucia had been able to endure was because ironically, she had married without knowing anything. If she had known even a little bit about how a normal marriage was, she wouldn’t have lived so resigned and in suspense. If the memory of her dream was a nightmare then her marriage now was an illusion she didn’t want to break.


So when she came across the Count of Matin, her back broke out in terror like her illusions were broken. Lucia rarely had dark feelings towards others. She was the type to shake off slightly saddening or uncomfortable things. However, with the Count of Matin, she hated him terribly. Which was why she ate mugwort, brought infertility upon herself, and found her husband to propose. All of it was a struggle to get away from the shadow that Count Matin cast on her.


‘This man…was he always so small?’


Lucia was prepared to face the Count of Matin at any time. Even though she had become a Duchess, there was a faint fear at the bottom of her heart. However, the Count Matin that she faced in reality was so crummy. He was a dwarf compared her husband whose build outclassed knights.


Her anxiety faded away as she remember his broad chest and his firm embrace. If he were to give this man one kick, he would fly far away. Somehow, the man in front of her seemed very pathetic and her fear gradually faded away.


“Duchess. Would you please give me a chance to give my greetings to His Grace the Duke? There are very distinguished people at his side so a worthless person like myself may not enter his eyes but I am prepared to become the hands and feet of His Grace the Duke. If you just give me the chance, I will never forget this grace.”


Often times, Lucia couldn’t understand the Count of Matin’s abnormal obsession with power. The Matin family had a territory of its own, the family history ran deep, he had enough to live and be satisfied with his current circumstances.


‘He is still the same. Indeed, people don’t change easily.’ (Lucia)


The Count of Matin had wandered back and forth as if his feet were on fire but he was an empty grain that both the Crown Prince and the opposite side didn’t really want. Indeed, he made no difference to either side. Whether it was his power, wealth, or his own capability, they didn’t amount to much.


Count Matin didn’t want to admit it but he was at the end of his wits. No matter how hard he flung his body out of the water, he couldn’t get to the other pond he wanted.


“This is our first meeting but you are being rude. If you have business with His Grace the Duke, talk to him directly.”


Lucia spoke with a serious look on her face. Even if she was the Duchess, her opposing tone to an elder noble Count on their first meeting was rude. Lucia did not want the man to ever talk to her again. She hated to even see his shadow.


Her terrible fate with this person no longer existed in reality. So she purposefully spoke in a rude manner.


Lucia could see embarrassment and annoyance flash in Count Matin’s dark eyes. In her dream, Lucia would tremble in fear every time the Count’s eyes became like this. It was the day when her insides twisted and his viciousness came out.


Lucia straightened her waist. She hoped to look arrogant and she walked past him. Her heart was little nervous but she felt extremely delighted, like something pressing down on her chest had been lifted.


Lucia bit her lips because she felt like she was going to laugh. She realized that from now on, she was truly free from the nightmare in her dream.


‘Even if I slap him for no reason, he can’t do anything to me.’


Behind Lucia was the Duke of Taran. A reliable husband that held her up as though he would protect her from all the storms in life. He may not be invincible, but he had enough power to get rid of such trash. The person she was in the dream, the person that shook in fear of that man no longer existed.


Translator’s Corner:


1. I was gonna say Lucia’s dream husband…but that just sounds like the complete opposite meaning.


2. Crummy: She means he’s of poor quality. Bottom of the barrel.


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__________________
LUCIA
C76 [part 2]
< — People to Meet — > (3)


Lucia suddenly wanted to see Hugo and quickened her steps. Even if she couldn’t explain it to him, she wanted to share her joy with him.


‘That man will eventually die miserably like in the dream.’


Lucia’s steps slowed down.


‘…He may not die. The future is changing.’


It was around the time when their marriage was in its fifth year. The King had been keeping a silent watch over those who opposed him then he finally drew his sword. It was the beginning of the ordeal that was later known as the 100 days of blood.


At first, Count Matin tried his hardest to join the royalist party but when he failed to join the ranks, he dipped his feet in the opposing party. There was no way the cowardly Count Matin would have truly planned to revolt. He had neither the guts nor the ability. His intentions were just to ingratiate himself to those in power one way or another.


The opposing forces were also aware of Count Matin’s obvious intention. Their relationship was one where they used each other. In such a relationship, the weaker side had no choice but to be eaten up.


Count Matin got caught up in it as if he had actively participated and was unable to pull out. No one knew of Count Matin’s false accusations. From the King’s point of view, they were dregs that wouldn’t be missed even if they were eradicated together. And the people in power that the Count believed to be his backing had all just lost their necks.


The Matin family with its deep history was exterminated overnight. The Count was caught by the soldiers and beheaded without a proper trial. The members of the household were all taken away and not long after, they were sentenced to decapitation. A long while later, it was heard that the youngest son of the Count, Bruno, who was in the Academy had fled to another country to escape the fire.


As Lucia remembered her memories from the dream, her body trembled. The memory of the night when the soldiers came was fear in of itself. She had heard that the one that spearheaded the 100 days of blood at the time was the Duke of Taran.


‘If I was caught that night, perhaps I might have died at his hand.’


Lucia didn’t know if the Duke of Taran had led the soldiers on the night of the attack on the Count of Matin’s residence. She did not see him personally afterall. For her, that night had symbolized oppression and liberation. It was a night of horror, but Lucia had been able to obtain her freedom. She was able to return to being Lucia by abandoning Vivian, the Countess of Matin. The heavens had helped her. If not for that incident, Lucia would have spent her entire life in the dream, suffering until death as the Countess of Matin.


‘Forget it. Whether that man dies or not, it has nothing to do with me.’


She didn’t have to keep reminding herself of that trash. It was not worth it.


‘…Still, it would be nice if he died. Very miserably.’


Although Lucia didn’t want the innocent Countess and other household members to be embroiled in the conflict and die, her dark mind hoped for the Count’s death to happen like she saw in the dream.


“Duchess.”


As soon as she saw the man that was blocking her path with a bright smile, Lucia felt her irritation soar. This was the third unwelcome face in a row, first it was the Countess of Falcon, then the Count of Matin and now this one. This was why she hated parties with a lot of people. Unexpected things kept happening and she kept seeing people she didn’t want to see.


“Do you remember me? I greeted you the other day. I am Count David Ramis of Duke Ramis.”


Lucia only nodded her head with a stiff expression. David’s eyes did not see her uncomfortable expression. To him, she seemed to give him a shy nod as her radiance dazzled his eyes.


“In a humble measure, I have put Duchess’s beauty into a simple poem. Please, I would appreciate if you took a look at it.”


Since the day of the rose garden, David had always carried a love letter with him. After the fantastical first meeting of that day, David’s eyes always shimmered when he thought about her. He had found out her name which he was unable to hear from her beautiful voice that day.


Vivian. What a noble and beautiful name.


It was a name born for her. What can be said if she was married? If a man and a woman were sharing their heart, such perfunctory conditions could not obstruct them. Right now, he wasn’t greedy for much. He just wanted to get to know each other a little as he exchanged letters with the Duchess.


Lucia looked at the envelope. Regardless if one was married or not, exchanging love letters was treated as a simple occurrence. There were a few rules. It was okay for a man to give it to a woman, but the opposite case would cause tongues to wag. When receiving a love letter from a man, a woman should not receive it personally, the maid or the person by her side had to accept it on her behalf.


The maid looked at Lucia as though asking, ‘Should I accept?’. Lucia shook her head in return.


“Sir. Ramis. Please take back your heart for I cannot accept it. I have already made a vow to grow old together with my husband.”


David was caught off guard. Because love letters represented a measure of the external charm of a noblewoman, there were very few cases of rejections. For the nobility, it was not dignified to be offended because one’s wife or lover received such a thing. On the contrary, it was typical to be proud of it.


“Duchess. By any chance…I’m saying this in case you misunderstand, but I only wrote a few verses. It will not hurt your virtue as the Madam.”


“You don’t need to teach me about customs. It isn’t a sin if I don’t receive it, is it?”


“…Well that…”


“I do not want to have a private conversation unless my husband is a part of it.”


Lucia spoke bluntly because she was in a bad mood. Unfortunately for David, his timing was bad. David’s gaze followed Lucia as she said her goodbye and went past him. His face was red with humiliation and he clenched his fists, crushing the envelope in his hand. His followers, who were always following him around, watched from a few steps away and they awkwardly turned away their gazes with a sheepish expression.


In the aristocratic society where human relations were complex, one had to be careful with their words and actions, at all times and one had to try not to create enemies. In the aristocratic society that took face very seriously, it was a rare thing for someone to refuse another so bluntly to the extent it was humiliating, like Lucia had done. It was indeed humiliating.


‘Why did such a woman marry the Duke of Taran?’


David’s stomach was twisting with jealousy. Even her heart wanting to maintain fidelity to her husband made her seem nobler than ever.


David had arrived late to the party. The Ducal Taran couple had already arrived and were talking to other people separately. As soon as David saw the Duchess, he couldn’t control his fluttering heart. The Duchess was more beautiful than when he last saw her in the rose garden. If at the time she was like a fairy, this time she was like a goddess.


He could not approach where the Duchess stood surrounded by noblewomen. His sister stood beside the Duchess and had discovered him some distance away. She gave him an explicit gaze and shook her head. David could not ignore his sister’s warning.


Be as it may, he didn’t want to join the crowd of people that treated the Duke of Taran like a protagonist. With no other choice, he aimlessly hovered in the vicinity of the party venue with his followers. But he could not ignore the signs that his followers were bored for very long. He reluctantly entered the party venue and then he discovered the Duchess. He felt happy like he was on top of the world.


But now, he felt like the king of a ruined country that had lost everything. David felt both humiliation and sadness and stood with his head hanging low. It was his first heart-break.


‘The more one cannot have something, the more one is anxious about it. Sir. Ramis.’


Anita watched from a distance and gave a cold smile. A good idea flashed into her mind.


‘A scandal surrounding the Duchess…’


The more unattainable a one’s position is, the more uncontrolled a rumor could be if one was involved. Rumors that spread like wildfire have greater embellishments. If the Madam of the Taran family was at the center of a scandal that shook the social circle, how would the Duke of Taran react? For Duke that took and abandoned women as he needed, he would abandon his wife.


‘One of the many princesses of the previous king became the Duchess and then fell to become the divorced former Duchess.’


Anita quite liked the sound of it. It was a scandal that could be milked for 10 years in the social circle. Anita looked at David and gave a meaningful smile. No matter what, there would be a chance to take advantage of the Duke of Ramis’ heir.


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________________
LUCIA
C77 [part 1]
< — People to Meet — > (4)


“It’s the Mad Dog.”


“Mad Dog Krotin.”


When an eye-catching man made his entrance, the atmosphere of the pleasant banquet hall stirred with unease. Roy walked in with a very crooked expression, looking around slowly like a wild dog in search of prey. People turned ghastly pale and turned away, afraid to meet his eyes.


Roy gradually accumulated notoriety while he was the Crown Prince’s escort and accompanied the Crown Prince to parties or meetings. Now, he had become famous in the social circles. Because he was at the Crown Prince’s side as an escort, he was caught up in the bloody power game whether he wanted to or not. He was not accustomed to the flowery noble way of speaking so, at first he did not even know he was picking a fight. Even if he spoke cynically, most of them were people that would retreat without saying anything. So, in the early phase of escorting, it was rather quiet. And then gradually they began to ignore Roy and ridicule him. His famous name on the battlefield was useless in the social circle. Although the Duke of Taran had given him the title of Baron, he was originally a commoner.


Low-ranking, ignorant and simple-minded Knights were very ridiculous to the aristocrats who didn’t treat people like human beings if they weren’t nobility. And it happened that nobles in opposition to the Crown Prince got into friction with Roy and threw down their gauntlet. And Roy responded by happily beating them to pulp. Roy’s stress was at its peak due to doing to job of an escort that didn’t suit his aptitude. However, once he wielded his sword, his stress was completely relived. Because he had acquired a taste for it, it was now him that went after them first.


Since most of them were from forces opposing the Crown Prince, the Crown Prince just stood by and watched while the Crown Prince’s faction quietly encouraged it. Roy went wild in high spirits and sometimes he had a couple of duels in a day.


At first, those who didn’t know anything accepted his challenge and it wasn’t until their knights were beaten half-dead that they realized that Roy was a lunatic. After defeating the Marquis’ knights, he said Knights are their master’s dog and this utterance turned the social circle upside down. After that, Roy was called the Mad Dog. Even if those that were harmed gnashed their teeth in anger, they had no justification because it was a legal confrontation. Furthermore, behind Roy was the Crown Prince and even further behind was the Duke of Taran. People played it extremely safe in order not to step on the Mad Dog’s tail.


After the previous King passed away, Roy arrogantly bailed on his escorting mission and hid himself for a while because he was afraid of the aftermath. After roaming and playing around to his heart’s content, he got bored. As time passed, the simple Roy had practically forgotten his fear at the time of being scolded by his Lord.


Today, there were a lot of people going to the coronation party so he wondered if there would be anything fun and after wandering around, he came. Because it was a formal occasion, there were no Knights that came to the party wearing armor like Roy did. They should have stopped him at the entrance but the Royal Guards did not stop the already famous Roy.


As Roy was passing, he bumped shoulders with somebody. He turned his head to apologize but suddenly, the middle-aged nobleman lost his temper.


“Are you blind or what! Where do you think this is that you’re wearing armor? Ei. Tsk Tsk Tsk.”


‘Hoh.’


Roy’s eyes narrowed. It had been a while since someone picked a fight with him so it was refreshing. The middle-aged noble man had been away from the capital for a while and it hadn’t been long since he returned so he hadn’t heard of the notorious Mad Dog Krotin.


“Then, what of you? Do you have no eyes? Why should I have to avoid you? If you are blind, then I will apologize.”


“Wha…what!! This rude bastard-!”


The middle-aged man did not see the people around him shrinking away. The likes of a knight insulting him made the heat rise to his head.


“Bastard? Did you just call me bastard? I see you like to run your mouth. How many necks do you have? Hm?” (Roy)


“Wha…Wha…Wha- this trash-like bastard-! How dare you! Do you know who I am! Do you think you’ll be safe after this?!”


“Who are you? And so what?”


Come on, hurry and challenge me. Roy was hoping that someone would pick a fight with him. The middle-aged man was unluckily caught. When he smiled like a delinquent and took a sudden step forward, the middle-aged noble backed away.


“Oh dear.” (Random A)


“Tsk Tsk. Of all people.” (Random B)


People’s attention were drawn towards the commotion. It was terrible to encounter the Mad Dog Krotin but as long as the misfortune was theirs, it was a great spectacle. While people were clicking their tongue at the Mad Dog, they secret wanted him to cause trouble. In the high society that was all about keeping face, there was nobody that provided a spectacle without reserve like the Mad Dog. People felt sympathy for scapegoat of today but at the same time they were excited to watch the spectacle.


Kwiz felt people’s gazes fall on him and cleared his throat. It was the celebration party for his accession to the throne. If he let the incident play out like this, it would harm the dignity of the King. He couldn’t leave it like this but the question was whether Roy would listen to him if he stopped him. In the past, he pretended not to hear when those that asked him to mediate so his interference now would seem ridiculous.


“Ahem. Taran Gong.”


Why don’t you stop him? He’s your subordinate. Kwiz handed the problem solving over to Hugo and silently washed his hands off the matter. Truthfully, Hugo didn’t really care whether Roy made a mess in this place. His interest was only on his wife who was currently absent. He felt like she had been gone for too long so he sent a handmaid after her. He had just sent the handmaid but he was already grumbling that the maid was slow. Hugo briefly clicked his tongue and began to move. Everyone’s gazes turned to the moving Duke of Taran.


“Can he really stop the Mad Dog?”


“It’s his subordinate so isn’t that obvious?”


“But it is the Mad Dog.”



The Mad Dog was impossible to predict. People’s opinions were divided. People expected the Duke to immediately go to stop Roy but he turned and went to a nearby table. He picked up a knife from the table. It was a blunt knife for cutting salad.


Why that? The crowd questioned in their hearts and for some reason, they watched the Duke with anticipation. Hugo lightly threw and catch the knife a few times with one hand. Then he threw it at Roy’s back.


It happened in an instant.


“Hak!!” (Gasp)


“Kyaaa!”


Short screams broke out from here and there.


Roy was playing with the middle-aged nobleman like a cat playing with a mouse. The middle-aged man could not win against the threat from Roy’s stature and had hesitantly retreated till his back was against the pillar. He could not believe that nobody would help him. Roy pressed his arm against the pillar and threatened the middle-aged man like a scoundrel. The fact that the man was too scared to even think of issuing a challenge was Roy’s miscalculation.


The knife Hugo threw grazed Roy’s cheek and embedded itself in the pillar. Coincidentally, the place where the knife landed was next to the eye of the middle-aged man who was trembling against the pillar. The man foamed at the mouth and fainted.


Just before the middle-aged man passed out, Roy felt his cheek smarting and touched it only to find his hand smeared with red blood.


“Aish! Who did that!”


Roy yelled furiously and turned his head. And like that, he froze. The surrounding was quiet. Everyone was frozen.


Their eyes met and Hugo raised a finger towards Roy, beckoning him.


‘I’m dead.’


Translator’s Corner:


Threw down their gauntlet: issued a challenge.


1. Here Roy asks for his family name.


Support on Patreon for advance chapters.

_______________
LUCIA
C77 [part 2]
< — Meeting People — > (4)


Roy swallowed hard. His eyes were clouded with despair. With a frozen expression like that of an expressionless doll, Roy turned and began to walk to his Lord. Roy’s flexible body moved robotically as if sound would come from his joints. He walked until he was two steps away from his Lord and knelt on the spot.


A hush fell over the crowd at the unbelievable sight. Most of the nobles in this place had heard of Duke Taran’s strength but they had not actually witnessed it. But they had witnessed Roy’s madness quite a lot. There were also many who had watched Roy’s duels. The man’s personality was insane but they all acknowledged that his skill was superior. One couldn’t help but trust what they saw with their own eyes.


Without realizing it, people began to think that maybe Roy Krotin’s skills were better than the Duke of Taran’s. They thought that even if Duke was his master, he would have a hard time taking the reins of Roy who ran around wild, like a crazy horse. However they realized they got it completely wrong.


For a moment there, people had forgotten. The Duke of Taran was the knight called the War’s Black Lion. His martial art’s greatness was acknowledge even more in enemy countries (1). In front of him, the bold ‘Mad Dog’ was like a frightened puppy. The weak-hearted women grew sympathetic, forgetting that they were just accusing Roy of being barbaric.


“In the time I haven’t seen you, you’ve learnt terrible jokes.” (Hugo)


It was a monotonous voice.


“Stand up.”


Roy leapt to his feet. He seemed like a new recruit that was full of spirit.


‘I’m going to get hit.’


Roy had a premonition. Roy’s premonitions were never wrong, even more so when it was a bad one. It was too scary when his master was angry. The aftereffects from one blow in the stomach would last at least a week. If it were a regular person, their internal organs would burst and they would die instantly. Even if it was himself, he wouldn’t be able to eat properly for a week and would have bloody stool. Roy lowered his gaze, waiting for his punishment but when no punishment arrived, he quietly lifted his head.


‘Oh…’


There was a familiar face beside his Lord. It was the Duchess. In the meantime, Roy was thinking, ‘There is something strange about a blue shawl on a pink dress.’


Lucia broke through the gathered crowd and went up to Hugo. She did not see Roy at the peak of his mischief and did not notice the strange atmosphere of the crowd. He was her destination and the only one in her eyes so she didn’t have time to look around.


When she looked into his eyes, the leftover prickly feeling from meeting those unpleasant people melted away into nothingness. Because she was happy, a laugh escaped her mouth. He immediately extend his arm and wrapped it securely around her waist.


It was thereafter that Lucia noticed Roy standing there.


“Sir. Krotin. It has been a while.”


Lucia felt that Roy was looking at her with a somewhat spirit-less gaze so she spoke carefully.


“Umm…the party is fun, isn’t it?”


It was perfunctory greeting.


‘Kuk.’ someone burst into laughter. The culprit was the King. Kwiz guffawed and broke into fits of laughter. People looked at the King roaring with laughter and one by one, they began to laugh too. Soon, the party venue was filled with the sound of loud laughter. Lucia was confused; she didn’t know why they were laughing.


‘Why are they laughing when I was just greeting him? Did I make a mistake?’


Hugo wrapped his arm around her shoulder and pulled her flustered figure into his bosom. He frowned at Roy who was standing funny and gave him a look signaling: Go back immediately and behave yourself.


Roy understood the unspoken command and quickly made himself scarce. Knowing his master’s nature, he wouldn’t call him back later to punish him for a previous situation.


‘I will not forget this debt, Milady.’


Roy praised Lucia to the skies. She was his life-saver. Roy was quickly making his way out of the party venue in jubilation then suddenly, he stopped. He turned to look at the woman he had just passed by. The woman stood alone at the entrance of the party hall where there were very few people. Her face was familiar but he couldn’t really remember where he had seen her before.


‘She gives off a bad smell.’


The women had a dreary aura around her, contrasting the merry atmosphere of the party and her gaze was fixed somewhere. There were many people gathered where she was looking at so it was impossible to tell who exactly she was looking at. Of all things, the ducal couple was among these people. For some reason, Roy had a bad feeling. He took a very close look at the woman then he turned away.


The middle-aged man who fainted was carried away somewhere by the servants. No one paid attention to the poor middle-aged man. People gathered around the pillar where the knife that the Duke of Taran threw was embedded and whispered amongst themselves. Seeing the knife embedded deep in the stone pillar with only the handle left, people looked on with awe and fear. Someone ‘generously’ tried to pull out the knife but it did not budge.


Later on, the construction expert that was called advised that the pillars could collapse if the knife was carelessly touched. Eventually, the knife was left alone, unremoved. In the future, it even became a specialty that foreign envoys visited to see at least once.


* * *


As the afternoon passed and it drew closer to evening, the people in the banquet hall increased. Once the day got completely dark, the crowd would move to the Outer Palace which was being prepared and the ball would begin.


After greeting, talking and smiling with people for half a day, Lucia felt like her facial muscles were in spasms. She couldn’t even remember who she had greeted. Because she had been standing continuously, her legs were sore and she wanted to collapse into a soft sofa and rub her legs.


Lucia’s social debut today was successful. People were practically lining up to greet Lucia. The King and Queen who should have been the protagonist of today, could only tolerate the attention which was focused on the Ducal Taran couple.


“Tired?”


Lucia was about to give her habitual reply of, “I’m fine” but she changed her answer to, “I’m a little tired.” She wanted to complain to him that it was hard.


“Shall we go back?”


For the words, ‘I’m tired’ to come out of her mouth which had ‘I’m okay’ sewn on it, she must really be having a hard time. Hugo grabbed her shoulders and pulled her into his chest. Leaning on him would help her reduce the weight on her legs a little. She was definitely very tired. She was usually uncomfortable with physical contact in public yet now she obediently leaned into his arms.


“But the ball hasn’t even started yet…”


“It’s fine, you’ve already stayed in the banquet hall for this long. It is hard for everyone to attend both events. In any case, I planned to just show my face in the ball and then go. We have tomorrow too.”


“Can we really go home?”


Hugo smiled. The word, ‘home’ warmed up his heart.


“Yes.”


While the ducal couple who were in their own world, people hovered in their vicinity but could not get close.


“…This is not a very rare sight, is it?”


No matter how many time Kwiz saw it, it was still fascinating. It was the Duke of Taran of all people! Expressing his affection in public with no hesitation! Is this an omen?!


Beth laughed as she listened to her husband’s mumbling.


“My Queen, you already knew so why didn’t you give me a hint?”


“Because I thought it would be interesting. This small thing can serve as a diversion for Your Majesty, can it not?”


Kwiz looked at Beth who was full of smiles and gave a small sigh. His wife was gradually becoming more tough and indifferent as she raised their three sons. These days, when he visited the back palace, he was secretly watched by the Queen. He also had three sons that would flip and pounce on him if he wronged their mother. If he didn’t want to be bullied in his old age, he had to build up his score from now on.


“What does my Queen think? Is Taran Gong being authentic, or acting out a play?”


“Is that important?”


The Queen was right. It was not important. The fact that the Duke of Taran expressed his affection for his wife in an official event was a silent warning to everyone: I am behind this woman so don’t try any nonsense. Of course, as the Lady of the Ducal House of Taran, she was in a position that no one could ignore. However it was on a different level when the Duke proclaimed himself as her strong shield.


“The Duchess will be quite busy.”


“Indeed.”


Everyone who came here knew that the shortcut to attacking the Duke of Taran was the Duchess. Many people were already looking at the Duchess with blazing eyes.


“But, what is Katherine doing that she doesn’t even show her face?”


“She hates this sort of event. Don’t you know? I’m sure she’ll come out for the evening ball.”


Kwiz clicked his tongue when he remembered his sister who always made him worry about when she would mature. They were both his sisters but why were they so different? Because they had different mothers? It was a thought he had had before but here he was, having it again. He had to find a suitable bridegroom for his sister but the problem was, there was no one suitable.


Translator’s Corner:

This isn’t exactly martial arts. I wasn’t sure what else to use. It’s referring to his skill in battle. His fighting prowess, etc.
______________
LUCIA
C78 [part 1]
< — Meeting People — > (5)


The carriage arrived at the Ducal residence. A servant opened the door from outside but Hugo could not get up. His wife was in deep sleep on top of his legs.


She was fine when they were going to the palace in the carriage but this time, not too long after they entered into the carriage, she began to nod off and when he moved to seat next to her, she leaned on him and quickly fell asleep.


‘She must have been very nervous. And tired too.’


She was admirable. She handled herself purposefully on that big stage without making a single mistake. Since he had stuck to her today as if showing her off, no one would dare try to touch her. He could not gather people together and warn them like he did in the north. So today, he warned people using his actions: If you want to touch the Duchess, remember that the Duke of Taran is behind her.


Her hair was pinned well at the party but as she lay on his lap on the way home, a part of it got loose. Hugo enjoyed the feeling of running his fingers through her soft flowing hair. His expression as he looked at his wife was undeniably gentle. The moment was so peaceful that he wished it could last forever.


In order not to wake her up, he carefully wrapped his arm around her back and weaved him arm under her leg then he lifted her into his embrace. He entered the mansion with her in his arms and climbed up the stairs to the bedroom. As he placed her on the bed, Lucia who was in deep sleep a moment ago, blinked her eyes.


“Hugh.”


Hugo took her outstretched hand and pressed his lips to her palm.


“We’re home.”


She blinked a few more times, staring at him vacantly and gradually, her sight became clearer.


“…I unknowingly fell asleep.”


Thanks to the short sleep, her mind felt more refreshed. She began to sit up and Hugo took her hand, helping her up.


“Could I have made a mistake I didn’t know about today?”


“Not at all.”


“Phew…thank goodness.”


Lucia grabbed the robe at the bedside to call for the maid then she came down from the bed. She wanted to take off her weighty dress. As soon as the maid came in, she asked the couple about dinner.


“I’m not in the mood. What of you?” (Lucia)


“I’m not in the mood either.”


The maid bowed and withdrew from the bedroom.


“Earlier…at the banquet hall. Sir. Ramis tried to give me a letter. I refused.”


Lucia rejected the letter but rumors in the social circle were unpredictable. Before her husband chanced upon some distorted rumor somewhere, she told him in passing as if it was a trivial matter.


“What?”


Hugo’s face distorted in a frown. That bastard dared to ignore his warning.


‘What exactly is Fabian doing?’


How long had it been since he asked him to investigate and find out everything?! The innocent Fabian who worked hard day and night was caught in the crossfire.


“Nothing happened so don’t be upset with the Duke of Ramis.” (Lucia)


The Duke of Ramis and the Duke of Taran were both supporting and assisting the King. Lucia didn’t know a lot about politics but she knew that much. It would be problematic if these two powerful men became estranged because of a minor emotional issue.


“I’m worried that your work would be affected because of a minor issue.” (Lucia)


“You don’t have to worry about anything.” (Hugo)


If it was in the past, he would get rid of something once it became an eyesore. He didn’t care what happened afterwards. Even if it was the Duke of Ramis himself instead of the Duke’s eldest son, he would not give a damn. If he caused trouble, someone would have to deal with the aftermath but so what. He didn’t care what became of the family and to him who only lived to kill time, there was nothing in the world that he was afraid of.


However, it was different now. There was an existence he had to protect. In order to protect his wife from all the hardships of the world, he also had to protect his family, its power and its wealth.


“Well, indeed. I dare say you know very well what to do.” (Lucia)


Hugo looked at her, who was smiling lightly, and hugged her from behind, placing a kiss on the back of her neck.


“You don’t have to worry, but you can worry.”


“Huh?”


Even though he wanted to completely protect her so that she wouldn’t have any worries or concern, he wanted her to worry about him. He couldn’t explain his complicated feelings even to himself.


When he didn’t add anything after saying those puzzling words, Lucia just laughed it off.


* * *


After taking a simple bath and changing his clothes, Hugo went into the office. There was always a pile of work to be done. He looked through the couple of documents that he could examine quickly and signed his approval.


There was a light tapping on the door to the office and Hugo could sense someone come in. He still did not take his eyes off the paperwork.


“Master.”


When he heard a voice that wasn’t Jerome’s but a middle-aged woman’s, he lifted his eyes slightly.


“What is it?”


“Milady fell asleep while taking a bath. This doesn’t usually happen…”


If the maids could not wake her up no matter what, they would have to carry their Madam together and move her to the bed. Nevertheless, the maid came to inform Hugo. Her decision wasn’t wrong.


The Duke put down the document in his hand and gave an order, “You may withdraw and rest.”


After a while, Hugo entered the bathroom which was empty because all the maids had left. Lucia was asleep, soaking in the bathtub. Her nakedness shone brightly, submerged in the clear water. Hugo sat on the edge of the bathtub and rubbed her wet red lips with his finger. Even though it wasn’t possible, he subconsciously looked at his hand as if red water would be on it.


His gaze deepened as he watched her sleep like an innocent baby. Even though he was just looking at her, he felt a lump somewhere in his throat. It was a feeling that he couldn’t quite explain.


He rolled up his shirt and scooped her up from the water. He placed her on the towel that was spread on the bed and then wiped her wet body with another towel. In her dimly lit bedroom, her nakedness shone like the moon.
________________
LUCIA
C78 [part 2]
< — Meeting People — > (5)


When he was feeling her soft skin, the heat in his lower body was already rising. He kissed her slightly parted lips. He sucked on her lips a little then he bit her lower lips lightly and licked it. He tasted her lips over and over again then he put his tongue in her mouth. The inside of her mouth was hotter than usual. He swept his tongue over her teeth and traced the flesh in her mouth. At first, her tongue was unresponsive but as it kept touching his tongue, it began to move.


Lucia’s eyelashes trembled and she opened her eyes. She lifted her drooping arms and wrapped them around his neck. His gently moving tongue began to fiercely entangle with hers. Slopping sounds could be heard in the room. A faint moan escaped her throat.


“Hn…”


He kissed her for a long time, changing the intensity, sometimes deep, sometimes shallow, as if rummaging through her mouth with his tongue. With just his kiss, Lucia felt heated up and her sight grew blurry. Even after the kiss was over, his lips did not stop. He rained small kisses on her eyes, nose and ears. He gave her earlobe a light bite, licked the back of her ear, and trailed his kisses down her neckline. The feeling of his wet, soft kisses on her body made the insides of her leg feel tingly and strangely hot.


He grabbed her breasts causing Lucia to flinch and a sigh-like moan escaped her mouth. His fingers painlessly kneaded the mounds of her breasts, distorting them erotically in his palm.


Hugo stroked the tender breasts in his hands and busied himself licking her neck. He bit her round shoulders, licking and kissing the traces of his teeth-mark. The scent from her body was sweet. It was delicious. He wanted to taste everything. He wanted to keep licking her wet, soft skin. He engraved dense red traces on her white skin.


Mine. My woman.


He was seized by a mixture of intense possessiveness and desire. He swallowed her entire body inch by inch like a gourmet in front of a great feast. From the tip of her toe to the top of her forehead, there was no place his lips did not touch. Slowly and without any breaks, his lips sucked and his tongue licked. His large hands kneaded her entire body, at times, softly and at times, intensely.


Meanwhile all this time, the part that was stimulated the most, was the part that was neglected the most. Her breathing sped up and she squirmed, tormented with sweet pain. Lucia fought for her breath as if she was exhausted. His caresses and licks all over her body were tickling and at times, electrifying but he refused to give any further stimulation. The feeling of agonizing while a sensitive sensation was awakened in her body was ecstatic. It was tormenting but enjoyable. She wanted to continue doing more but she also wanted to hurry up and feel the pressure of his huge member filling up her body.


Sex with him was always unpredictable. The intensity of his caresses or the length of his time inside was always different. There were times where he only caressed enough to get the heat going, and there were times like today, where he took his time and worked on her and sometimes, she got so excited he could just insert it like that. She could not flat-out say that she liked or disliked either methods. No matter how much time passed, she was still unable to stand up to his skillful ways of stirring up her body.


He took one of her breasts into his mouth and sucked on it strongly as if inhaling it. At the sudden strong stimulus after the previous slow stimulations, Lucia couldn’t help but her cry out invitingly. His tongue lapped around her stiff nipple, biting it lightly before repeating again. Her waist shot up uncontrollably and something hot flowed from her already wet lower body. She watched him rise from the bed and when she saw that he was taking off his clothes, she turned away. Sometimes, she was bold enough to surprise herself but at other times, she was embarrassed to see him naked.


He grabbed her ankles, spreading her apart and positioning himself between her legs. Then an overwhelmingly strong force pierced through her narrow path in one go.


“Hk!”


Her pupils dilated and Lucia chose to breath. She felt dizzy. It was just a soft tantalizing touch but her breath was stifled at the sudden flood of intense stimulation. Her extremely sensitive inner walls squeezed tight as if rejecting the sudden invader.


Hugo spat out a sigh.


“Huu…loosen…up. You’re too tight.”


With only one penetration, Lucia felt a weak sense of climax and was filled with satisfaction. Her inner walls were in spasms and squeezed around his penis. Hugo snorted and whispered by her ear.


“How obscene. I just put it in and your body likes it so much.”


Lucia’s face caught on fire. Stimulated by shame, her body tightened on him causing him to let out a suppressed groan.


“Ngh.”


Serves him right. Lucia watched his expression and flexed her thighs. His eyes trembled. How fun. She wrapped her legs around his waist and tightly squeezed where their lower abdomens met.


“Vivian.”


He growled. Seeing her eyes sparkling with playfulness, Hugo’s lips curved oddly. She’s playing with me? He smirked and grabbed her thighs, pulling them apart. He pulled out, and swiftly rammed back in. As if a bell had gone off, her entire body reverberated with tingles.


“Ah!”


“I’ve wanted to do this like crazy since I picked you up at noon.”


It was the beginning of a fierce bout of sex that seemed to want eat up the other party. His strong, erect penis endlessly penetrated her tender flesh, tormenting her excited spot. The creases of her inner walls were lined with sensitive muscles that squirmed as if asking if they still had to endure.


Her white skin was flushed red and moistened with sweat. Sometimes, it was a weak cry, other times, it was a loud scream that rang out through the bedroom. Sweat from his moving muscles fell onto the sheets and also onto her body. Intermittently, a moan also came from his mouth. Halfway through, the two of them lost their senses. They only craved each other’s body and blended into one.


“Hng…Ang!


Her slender legs closed around his waist. His lips stubbornly pestered her neck while the movements of his waist never stopped. Whenever her sensitive breasts brushed against his chest, an electrifying feeling swept through her entire body.


She tried to hold onto his shoulder but her hand kept slipping on his sweat. Every time he thrust into her with his weight, she couldn’t help but scream. Her eyes were so heated up that they grew wet. Tears unconsciously rolled down her face. Just a little bit more! The wave of intense pleasure was about to come surging in.


His movements suddenly stopped. When she opened her eyes to look at him, his red eyes were slightly curved.


“Not yet.”


Hugo leisurely watched in appreciation as her amber eyes trembled in anger. She hit his sweat-covered shoulders causing him slight pain but he didn’t care. Once she had an orgasm, she got tired pretty quickly. He hadn’t yet tasted her to his satisfaction. He swept away the hair on her forehead with beady sweat and kissed her temple.


Lucia was anxious. The peak of pleasure was just a little further away. She tried to grind against where they were connected by moving her waist herself but she couldn’t even do that when his hips were firmly held in place.


What a selfish tyrant!


Even if she struggled, she was no match for him in strength anyways. When he didn’t move and just stayed inside her, the heightened stimulation slowly came down. But then, he shoved his member deeper.


“Ah!”


The stimulation from the thrust was too weak and short. Lucia felt his lazily smiling appearance was hateful and unbearable. He stayed still for a while then gave one heavy thrust and repeated the circle. Her whole body quivered in excitement but it was only up to there. She felt like she was going crazy. Whenever she gasped for breath and slackened her hold, he pulled out and thrust in heavily and every time, she had to squeeze her eyes tightly shut.


“…Do it…”


His eyes hardened when he heard her weak pleas flowing out.


“Please do it. Give me…go harder…”


His red eyes burst into flames. His slightly relaxed muscles grew taut. He placed his arms at the sides of her head for support and plunged into her moist insides. His hard rod roughly pounded her vaginal walls. Every time he thrust in and out, the stimulus from the friction made her cry.


“Ah! Ung!”


The strong stimulation, twice, thrice, three times in a row, brought her to climax in an instant. A pleasure akin to being struck by lightning swallowed her up. She clutched his arms tightly with her trembling hands. From the tip of her toes to the crown of her head, all her peripheral nerves were on edge. She dragged her finger, scratching down his arm. The mark from her nail scratching his arm drew a red line. A whimper-like moan escaped her mouth and her body trembled, her vagina going into severe spasms.


He stopped moving and took a rough breath. As the wave of pleasure subsided, Lucia realized he didn’t cum and made a long face. How much more would they do?


When he pulled out, Lucia flinched and shuddered.


“On your stomach.” (1)


He commanded hoarsely.


“Hugh. It’s hard for me today.”


“I know. I’ll finish soon.”


He made the overused promise that he never kept.


“Then, can we just do it this way? From the back is too…”


It reached too deep inside so the stimulation was too much. In that position, it felt as if she was suspended in the air and falling. That feeling was too hard to bear when she was tired.


When Lucia whined, he gave a little sigh and grabbed her ankles. When he tried to lift her legs over his shoulders, she was on the verge of tears this time.


“I don’t like that either. Today, I don’t want anything difficult. Hm?”


Hugo groaned loudly. His wife’s physical strength was too weak.


Actually, with a regular person as the standard, Lucia’s body was not weak. On the contrary, with the mere fact that she tackled Hugo on a daily basis, her body was healthier than normal people.


However, for Hugo’s standards, this was quite insufficient. He wanted to do this and do that, all night long. There were too many things he couldn’t do. With no other choice, he gathered her legs, placed it at his side and took a flanking position(2). It was his least favorite position because he couldn’t enter really deeply. But it was her favorite position because she liked moderate stimulations.


He settled himself down, found the narrow entrance hidden in her skin and pushed himself inside her fleshy entrance. As he slowly moved back and forth repeatedly, her eyes went red. Although the stimulation was weak, her pleasured expression was so cute that it was charming in its own way.


‘I’m going to have to get a miracle drug that increases physical strength.’


Hugo wondered what he had to do to be able to enjoy more of his wife and eat her up more often. His mind wandered for a moment but he got it back on track. The movements of his waist gradually grew faster. Below him, her body shook with his movements. He grabbed one of her legs, pulling it aside then placed it back to normal. He grabbed her hips and rammed in heavily.


“Aah! Hk…”


The stimulating sight of her reddish, wet eyes caused his waist to stiffen. He gasped for breath. The stimulation wasn’t enough. He lifted her buttocks and thrust in deep to the hilt. He drew out and thrust in deep again. The feeling of her insides squeezing him filled him with thrill. Lucia screamed as the view in front of her flickered. Again, he moved his waist, thrusting into her with strong force.


“Ah! No!”


When her deep insides were stimulated, Lucia broke out in tears. She already said she didn’t want it hard today!


Hugo clicked his tongue, suppressing the urge to penetrate her a few more times and released into her.


A moan escaped through his teeth and his sight grew hazy for a moment. When her body stopped trembling in pleasure, he took her into his embrace. He gently kissed her sniffling figure. He broke out in cold sweat, wondering how to appease his wife who was now glaring at him in anger.
________________
LUCIA
C79 [part 1]
< — Realization — > (1)


[You seem to have fallen in love.]


The king’s words remained like a tenacious afterimage, refusing to disappear. While enjoying the aftertaste of messy sex, Hugo held her in his embrace and gently caressed her back. As he felt her smooth skin with his cold hands, he lost himself in thought.


Love. He acknowledged the connection between blood ties and strong feelings in the light of his experiences. But he didn’t understand the foolishness behind the belief that a man and a woman, who didn’t share an ounce of blood, could meet and have a relationship stronger than blood.


To him, a woman was just a partner for enjoyment. He did not disdain nor despise the women that rushed to him like moth to a flame for his wealth and power. It was a natural and reasonable trade wherein they exchanged with one another. Not only in his relationship with women, but in his life itself, it was continuity of constant trade.


His marriage was also the same. The beginning was definitely an excellent trade with no loss. Physical satisfaction was a bonus. His wife was a satisfactory trading partner.


But by the time he came to his senses, his emotional state was repeatedly plummeting and rising. From the moment he recognized his emotionally unstable state, he began walking a strange equilibrium of stability in instability. Tranquil satisfaction and torturous anxiety were coexisting in his mind.


‘How did it end up like this?’


Hugo looked back, retracing his steps.


‘I was too relaxed.’


Hugo was completely relaxed when it came to her. There was never a part of his wife that he was wary about. She was royalty but she had no relatives let alone ties with the royal family. She didn’t have personal desires like power or greed. In the eyes of a predator like him, she was a small herbivore with no teeth or claws. Her ability to fearlessly enjoy peace at his feet while being so awfully weak was fascinating. There was no one like her at his side until now.


It was a very comfortable feeling, the feeling of relief that he could relax and have no need to be wary. With the cozy peacefulness, his mind and body was at ease and he let down his guard. By the time he detected an abnormality, his feelings for her had already become a flowing stream. The more he denied it, the harder it was to turn back. It was not a stream that could be block off with a dam, it had become a gigantic sea.


In his cursed bloodline, a unquenchable thirst lay asleep within. Whether it was by chugging liquor, getting drunk on women, or even killing people, the thirst was not quenched however she was able to relieve that thirst. And at the same time, she gave him another overpowering thirst.


‘…Love?’


He could not define the tremendous changes in himself with that one word alone.


“…Speaking of me.”


Hugo thought she was asleep but he could hear her small whisper very clearly.


“If there was someone I wished would rather die.”


Lucia kept thinking of the Count of Matin, whom she met at the banquet hall. She overcame her fear of him but in place of that, her anger was pushed forward. The fact that she had suffered at the hands of such a vulgar pig made her feel angry and mortified. She gnashed her teeth at the thought that things might turn out opposite from the dream and he may not die. The fact that he was breathing under the same sky as her was revolting.


After speaking impulsively, Lucia regretted it. It was so abrupt and rash. When he asked her what was going on, Lucia despaired on how to reply. The moment she said those words, his hand on her back stopped moving but it was only for a moment. Her ear was on his chest and she could hear his calm heartbeat.


“How do you want me to kill them?”


He spoke lightly with a soft voice as though appeasing her.


“There are many ways to die. One can die from a disease, one can die from an accident, one can be killed by a suspicious person, one can die from an incident of blind passion, and one can die as a criminal. If you tie in a rebellion, even the family can disappear without a trace.”


“Tch…”


Lucia pouted because he seemed to be making fun of her. But her mind grew relaxed. She felt like a fool for wasting her emotions on reminding herself of that trash.


“Won’t you ask me who it is? That’s supposed to be the first thing.”


“I don’t care who it is but if it’s the King, that’s a little difficult right now. I need time.”


Lucia quickly sat upright. Her face had gone pale in the darkness.


“Are you crazy? How can you say that. If someone heard, you’ll die!”


“Who will kill me?”


He laughed arrogantly as though saying “even the King can’t kill me but I can.” Lucia looked at the man before her. He seemed like he would be confident even in the face of death and somehow, she felt drained of her strength. She felt like an idiot for making a fuss about nothing.


“Huu. Alright. I was wrong. I wasted my breath for nothing.”


As she grumbled and lay down again, Hugo chuckled and took her into his arms. He wasn’t joking or bluffing at all. If she asked him for his heart, he might even dig it out. If she really wanted it, was the King’s neck a big deal?


I’ve gone crazy. Hugo swallowed a bitter smile. He was out of his mind like this.


‘What could it be?’


Hugo’s red eyes shone dangerously. What could have caused darkness in her heart? He had never been reported of anything like that. He asked her what was going on and considered asking her who it was but he refrained. It was better to pass it over like a joke rather than questioning it seriously. He didn’t want her to carry darkness in her heart.


“If you hate someone and it hurts to endure.”


His whispering flowed into Lucia’s ear.


“Be sure to tell me.”


If there was darkness in her heart, he would take it all.


“…What will you do?”


“Who knows. What shall I do?”


He muttered slowly but Lucia somehow felt a very dangerous air.


“Promise me. That you will.” (Hugo)


“…I will.”


“But that won’t ever happen,” Lucia added. Then she went on to talk about how someone took a joke too seriously and how it’s not funny if a person is too serious. Hugo watched her babble on as if he was listening to a song then he kissed her lips and hugged her tightly.


It was dangerous. He knew that. The history books warned with facts as evidence of the harsh price to pay when a man went crazy for a women. How much had he ridiculed the numerous fallen kings that fell for a concubine and drove their country to ruin.


He truly did not know that a day would come, when he could understand their feelings.
________________
LUCIA
C79 [part 2]
< — Realization — > (1)


The next day, Hugo received a summon from the King and left in the afternoon. Knight Dean was decided as her escort/guard for the evening ball.


Antoine arrived just when Hugo was leaving the mansion and bowed in greeting but Hugo’s gaze on her bowing figure was sharp. He didn’t have time right now but he planned on visiting the boutique sometime and informing her on the requirements to take note of when making future dresses. It would be both an advice and a warning.


He considered cutting her off but the dress that Antoine made suited his wife very well. He enjoyed seeing his wife shining beautifully. It was okay to look beautiful and noble. But it should not stimulate lecherous feelings. Hugo found standards within his own contradictions.


For today, Antoine brought a blue satin dress. Today’s dress was more daring that yesterday’s. If Hugo saw it, he would have lost his temper and screamed for it to be taken off immediately. But unfortunately, Hugo was meeting with the King in a very heavy mood.


The top of the dress was crossed diagonally with folds. It covered from the right of the waist to the left chest, stretching to the left shoulder and over the back. Then it covered from the left of the waist to the right chest, stretching to the right shoulder and over the back. The collarbone and round shoulder-line was breathtakingly exposed. Instead of sleeves, jewel buttons with fingernail-sized blue sapphire decorated her shoulders.


Even though the lower back was less exposed compared to yesterday, the breast line was wider and deeper than yesterday’s dress. It was breathtaking even though the cleavage was not exposed. The same fabric was wrapped around the waistline neatly, giving it a seemingly slender effect. The train of the dress was made of multiple layers to give it a rich feel and the back of the dress was exaggerated and drawn long for an elegant feel. The back waist was decorated with a big lace ribbon. Overall, it was a dress that gave a simple yet luxurious feeling. Lucia in the dress looked like a blue rose flower.


Looking at the mirror, Lucia thought to herself:


‘He won’t like it very much.’


He was a conservative husband that covered her with a shawl when her back was exposed. She couldn’t cover herself with a shawl in the ballroom unlike yesterday. Looking at Antoine’s expression, the woman was just thrilled with the dress she made. Lucia laughed inwardly. She had a feeling that a chance would come to turn around the contract that she signed on the first day that Antoine came.


“For the finishing touch, Duchess’ jewelry.”


Lucia had discussed with Antoine about what jewelry would fit the dress. Antoine wanted to know what jewelry the Duchess had, for reference in the direction of making future dresses. Apart from the jewelries he bought from Sepia Jewelry, Lucia only had the two diamond necklaces that he gave her as a present. Seeing them, Antoine looked like she was about to faint and declared that she would make a dress suitable for the two necklaces.


“The white diamond necklace will suit this very well.”


The necklace that had practically been gathering dust since it was received, was put on her neck. The necklace with hundreds of dangling beady diamonds, wrapped around Lucia’s white neck. It adorned her neck that looked desolate because of the deep-cut breast line and suited the dress so well that it looked like it was originally one set with the dress.


‘I thought this necklace was very heavy.’


When she first got it as gift and put around on her neck, she felt like she was suffocating on the weight. But now, wearing the necklace today, it was unexpectedly not heavy. Rather, its moderate heaviness gave her a sense of stability.


Lucia arrived at the event a little while past the beginning of the ball. The noblewomen flocked around Lucia in an instant.


“Oh my goodness. Duchess. You are beautiful today as well.”


The ladies could not take their eyes off the sparkling diamond necklace on Lucia’s neck. The gap was so big that rather than envying her, they were in admiration. The noblewomen that witnessed the affection of the ducal couple yesterday did not doubt that the expensive diamond necklace contained the affection of the Duke.


“The Duchess of Taran?”


It was a slightly high toned and sharp voice. The loudly chattering women shut their mouth instantly. People split apart like dividing water and one woman made her way through the division.


A gorgeous, beautiful blonde with a haughty expression and pride in her stance. Lucia’s eyes quivered slightly.


“I finally get to meet you. You went back early yesterday.”


Katherine, blood sister of the King. The real princess and sole recipient of proper precious and noble treatment amongst the overflowing princess. The King truly loved his younger sister. Without selling her off in a strategic marriage, he married her off to a very rich Count that wasn’t corrupted in the complicated political battle. It was an measure taken after grasping the nature of his extravagant, complex and careless sister.


Lucia was fortunate enough to be hired as a maid, without any work experience, by a big noble family such as the Count Alvin house. When she became a maid and greeted her Madam, her memories came to her anew. When Lucia was the Countess of Matin, Princess Katherine married the Count of Alvin. The Madam that Lucia was to serve was Princess Catherine, who had become a Countess.


Princess Katherine was an unforgettable person. Lucia had always looked on enviously at Katherine who was loved by her brother and raised her head high in the social circle. It was not pessimism about why their circumstances were different even though they were both princesses. Lucia did not have time to build her self-esteem as a princess. She was not aware of herself as a princess. Lucia was not envious of Katherine’s life as a luxurious princess but of the fact that Katherine had a family she could rely on.


Katherine naturally did not recognize Lucia. Even if she did, she was in a position to feign ignorance. The Countess of Matin, Vivian, was a fugitive member of a family of rebellious criminals. Even though she wasn’t being chased because there was no trace of her, she couldn’t reveal herself openly.


Katherine was quite a picky master but she was not overly particular. In her own way, private and public matters were distinctly separated. Well-acquainted with the habits of the noblewomen due to her experience, Lucia worked silently and diligently with tact. Thanks to that, she won Katherine’s trust and was placed in charge of waiting on her on everything and following her to numerous parties. Lucia received the jealousy of other maids but she was able to work steadily with high pay.


Katherine, at the time, was the queen of the social circle. There was no one that dared to challenge Katherine who was backed by her husband’s riches and the strong power of her family. Except for one person: The Duchess of Taran. Therefore, Katherine was antagonistic towards the Duchess of Taran. Katherine was the source of the marriage secret of the Ducal Taran couple.


“Greetings to the Princess. I am Vivian.”


Lucia bowed her head in greeting. The noblewomen who were secretly anticipating a fight between the two princesses were disappointed. They didn’t think the Duchess of Taran would easily step down first.


Katherine looked at Lucia with a strange gaze and closed her fan.


“You don’t need to be so formal. In any case, Duchess is a Princess as well. Argumentatively, it’s better to be ‘Duchess’ than ‘Princess’.”


There was no hostility in her cold voice. Katherine sensed at a glance that the Duchess was not a threat to her position in the social circle. Although Katherine could give up the Duke of Taran, she could not give up her seat as the queen of the social circle.


“We don’t even know about each other. But still, we are sisters. To be fair, I still don’t know anyone else. Nor do I plan on finding out.” (Katherine)


“Actually, I also don’t know anyone but His Majesty and you, Princess.” (Lucia)


“You don’t need to know other than that.”


Lucia smiled a little.


Katherine was not that cold unlike how she sounded. In the dream, Lucia had saved enough money to buy a small house and quit her job as a maid. When she told the head maid that she was quitting, Katherine later called Lucia, a mere servant, to think it over again. She didn’t offer it again when Lucia confirmed her intention to quit but on the night before she left, Katherine asked Lucia to have a drink with her. Lucia was really surprised back then.


She sat on the sofa opposite her Madam and received a wine glass personally from her Madam. Katherine had already had a few glasses before Lucia came so she was a little intoxicated. ‘What will you do when you quit, do you have a family, are you going to marry’, she mumbled, asking about this and that. Then she said:


[When I went to parties, there was a child I always watched. I don’t know when it started, but the child that kept coming to parties stood out to me.] (TN: not a literal child, someone younger)


Lucia listened silently to Katherine’s incoherent speech.


[I never shared a word with the child. But every time I saw the child, I felt strange. The child had heavy wooden expression that didn’t suit the merry party atmosphere and it was irritating. I thought I didn’t like the child.]


Katherine’s grumbles grew longer as she tilted her wine glass.


[Then from one day onwards, I did not see the child. When I looked into it, the child was my sister. I heard she was swept up in His Majesty’s cleanup of his political enemies. When I heard she had gone missing with her life and death unknown…How do I put this?]


Katherine stopped talking and gave a sigh-like laugh. Lucia was indifferently listening to Katherine’s words but gradually, her eyes began to tremble.


[I don’t know. I’m also not sure what my feelings were. ‘I should have talked to her’. I had such thought. She isn’t that much younger than me but in my memory, she hasn’t changed from how I last saw her so I end up referring to her as child. If she was alive, she would have been much older. I heard she was found dead sometime after she went missing.]


Listening to Katherine, Lucia realized why no one was chasing after her. She didn’t know how it happened but Countess Vivian was processed as dead.


[Speaking of you. You look a lot like that child. So I keep thinking about her.]


Katherine, who drunkenly closed her eyes, did not see Lucia who was trembling like she was about to cry.


[She had very pretty reddish brown hair….whenever I see your black hair, I think….]


Katherine did not complete her sentence and fell asleep on the sofa. Lucia called another maid and together, they carried their Madam to bed. She cleaned up the mess from the bout of drinking, and on her last day, it was almost dawn when she returned to her bedroom.


Lucia cried until the crack of dawn. It was the first time she cried so much since her mother died. She understood why she could be hired, without any recommendation or work experience, as a maid of the Count Alvin household. It was likely because of Katherine’s interference.


Lucia always thought that she was an abandoned existence, unwelcome anywhere. But there was someone who remembered her and hurt for her. It comforted her greatly.
_________________
LUCIA
C80 [part 1]
< — Realization — > (2)


“Did you come alone? What of your husband?” (Katherine)


“His Majesty called for him so I came first. He said he’d come later.” (Lucia)


“He’s a busy person.”


“Yes.” (Lucia)


Katherine smiled and looked at Lucia who was answering amiably with a strange look in her eyes. Why’s she like this? Katherine was confused.


Katherine was used to people who outwardly bowed their head while they were uncomfortable inside. If a cultured noblewoman was someone who spoke softly and in a roundabout way, then Katherine was not cultured in that sense. The noblewomen were often hurt by Katherine’s blunt manner. However, there was no one that could say anything to Katherine. Even if she didn’t fix it, it was not troubling enough to cause her problems. So Katherine didn’t care whether others were uncomfortable or not. In any case, they were all the same in front of her, bowing their heads and smiling at everything.


‘Her personality is quite mild. Very different from elder brother and I.”


Katherine was very curious about the Duchess of Taran who was a Princess. She didn’t purposely avoid the Duchess but there hadn’t been a chance to meet her. The both of them had different range of activities. Katherine never went to tea parties.


‘The flower of parties is the ballroom.’ (TN: The highlight.)


A tea party where you sit quietly and drink tea in broad daylight did not suit Katherine at all. She thought that she would meet the Duchess yesterday and went with a prepared mind, only to hear that the ducal couple attended only the celebratory event and went back home. Today, she came with expectations that she would definitely meet the Duchess.


‘I’ll control the momentum.’


Katherine came with a determined mood. However, as soon as she saw the Duchess, her burning battle spirit faded away. It was not an opponent to fight. Her fighting spirit was gone.


“Let’s talk a little more. Shall we go somewhere quiet?” (Katherine)


“Yes? Yes.” (Lucia)


Katherine walked ahead and when she turned back slightly, she saw the Duchess quietly following her. Katherine turned her head forward again and smiled slightly. The two of them walked a little further away then they reached a hallway that was scarce with people.


‘My shoes feel a little tight.’


Lucia frowned slightly. It wasn’t obvious when she only took a few steps but now that she had walked a bit more, her foot felt uncomfortable.


“This is my break room. I’m the only one that uses it.”


It was a privilege that only Princess Katherine enjoyed. The break room was comfortably furnished on a smaller scale compared to the shared break room. In the middle, there was a large sofa where one could lay down and even the legs could fit on it. But the two of them could not sit comfortably because their dresses might get ruined so they perched slightly on the small sofa.


“Do you drink?”


“I can’t drink much.”


“Alright. Non-alcoholic champagne it is.”


Katherine ordered the handmaid that followed her inside. After a while, the handmaid brought glasses and champagne. Katherine sent the handmaid away with a hand gesture and the two of them were left alone.


“You stayed in the fief after getting married. Was there a lot to see in the north?” (Katherine)


“It can’t compare to the capital. It was a nice and quiet place.” (Lucia)


“How is the social circle in the north? Are balls held often?”


“I’m not sure, I’ve never gone to one before.”


“Why?”


“It’s not to my tastes. I’m not a very active person.”


Katherine was a little disappointed. It would have been nice to see the Duchess at balls more often. There were cases when a noblewoman’s preference in social activities was very obvious and defined. There were people who only enjoyed the ballroom like Katherine, and there were people who only liked small and quiet meetings like a tea party. Although upon close scrutiny, one could tell that balls were a big part of influencing the social circle.


“So you aren’t agreeable with this party then.” (Katherine)


“I can’t not show up at all.” (Lucia)


“True. You can’t do that. You are the Duchess after all.”


Katherine’s sharp words sounded cold. It was a tone that made one wonder if they had made her angry. She was a princess that was supported even if she didn’t speak nicely. There was no need for her to fix it. Although her words were straightforward, she just had a lot of pride and competitive spirit but she wasn’t a bad person. Lucia was envious of Katherine’s confidence because she didn’t knowing how scary the world was and sometimes, she felt it was cute.


“What brand is your dress?” (Katherine)


“Designer Antoine made it.”


“Antoine? Hmm. It’s a little different from what she makes…I don’t wear Antoine. It’s not to my liking.”


“The dress you’re wearing suits you very well.”


Lucia laughed evasively. Katherine wasn’t criticizing the dress she was wearing, it was just that she didn’t like the brand so she said so. There was no malice but she said what she wanted to say as if she was thinking aloud. It was this particular manner of speaking that her sister-in-law, Queen Beth, hated very much.


“The necklace is lovely. Excellent taste. Did you pick it yourself?” (Katherine)


“No. I got it as a gift.”


“I believe the gifting person is the Duke?”


“Yes.”


There was envy in Katherine’s eyes as she carefully looked at the necklace. She pestered her brother when she wanted to buy jewelry but she felt bad about it. She couldn’t even think of getting an extravagant article like what the Duchess was wearing. Lucia knew how much Katherine loved jewelry, especially diamonds.


“If you like it, I can lend you anytime.”


“…You’ll lend the necklace? I thought you said it was a gift.”


“There’s no reason not to lend it because it was a gift.”


Katherine felt strange. After her mother passed away, the only person that showed her unconditional favor was her brother. Her sister-in-law was not a bad person but their personalities didn’t go along well. However, today, her half-sister that she was seeing for the first time was showing incomprehensible good will. If it was someone else, she would wonder what they were trying to get but the Duchess of Taran had nothing to get from Princess Katherine. Perhaps it was even the opposite.


Katherine liked the Duchess. She wanted to get close to her. It was the first time that Katherine had such a feeling towards another person.


“…It’s fine. I’m not shameless to that extent.” (Katherine)


Katherine stared quietly at Lucia as she drained her cocktail glass.


“To be honest, I used to like His Grace the Duke of Taran a lot.”


Lucia smiled. She knew. Katherine’s feelings towards the Duke of Taran was like a naΓ―ve young miss who went from girl to woman with a small, cute first love. A part of the reason why the Katherine in her dream was so antagonist towards the Duchess of Taran was because of such delicate feelings.


“Although I know such words are impolite.” (Katherine)


“It’s alright. It didn’t offend me.”


Katherine looked at Lucia for a while then she chuckled.


“You’re an interesting person. It’s my first time seeing someone like you, Duchess. How do I put this? You make one feel comfortable. Did the Duke kidnap you to his fief because he was attracted to that side of you?”


Hearing the rumor that she wished to forget, Lucia had an awkward expression as she fiddled with her empty glass.


“Everyone is curious about the Duke of Taran. Although they’re curious, there’s no one to ask. After all, there was no one in the Taran family that was active in the social circle. However, now, Duchess is here. It’s going to get quite annoying in the future.”


“Yes…”


“As a matter of fact, I’m also curious. What type of person is he? You know the best since you’ve lived together for more than a year.”


Lucia suddenly realized. She had been married to him for more than a year. She had absolutely no idea that her marriage with him would be so smooth. What type of person is he? It was a difficult question. She still didn’t know him very well.


[How do you want me to kill them?]


Why did his scary words from last night sound so sweet to her? His curt manner of speaking was unchanged but listening to him, something in Lucia’s ear stopped working. Lucia’s heart pounded with a trivial phrase from him.


“He is a…caring person.”
_________________
Lucia Chapter 80 [part 2]
LUCIA
C80 [part 2]
< — Realization — > (2)


TN: LMFAO, I didn’t realize I left the dancing bunny up. OMG. ???. Short one. I’ll try to get the next one out asap~


Katherine wanted to tease the Duchess who had an innocent look on her face.


“He’s just caring? Even in bed?”


“Huh?”


Katherine swallowed her laughter as she watched Lucia’s face flush red in surprise. It was a fresh reaction that she hadn’t seen in a long time. Katherine was single but she was a woman that enjoyed the night. Even if she didn’t play around promiscuously, she had a few experiences and didn’t blink an eye at mild dirty talk.


“You didn’t hear this sort of thing at tea parties, did you? There are only stiff noblewomen there.”


Lucia nodded her head. Even though she went to a lot of balls in her dream, she didn’t hear such talk. There was no one she was close enough to have such an explicit conversation with and she usually attended the parties before midnight.


A ball that occurred from late night until dawn was a liberated zone of desire. In particular, a truly wild party began from midnight. Past midnight, the conversation of women who were moderately drunk on alcohol and drunk on the mood were highly inappropriate.


After getting married, Katherine, who was the Countess of Alvin, played her role as a gentle Countess. In the mansion, she held the tea parties she hated so much and did not go out to midnight balls. Even though Lucia attended numerous balls in her dream as a Countess and as a maid, she had never experienced a midnight ball.


“Although, if you don’t stay in a ball till dawn, you won’t hear such talk. Still, just in case of another time. If you hear such talk, just pass it over with a smile. Like it’s nothing. Don’t blush or look embarrassed.” (Katherine)


“Okay.”


“This is advice for the sake of your husband. If a married noblewoman is bashful, people won’t take it as virtuous. They’ll just gossip away as they like. That’s how rumors are made.”


“…What rumors?”


“His Grace the Duke isn’t able to get it up at night.”


“What? No!”


“No?” Katherine smiled in response.


Lucia’s face screamed red. She remembered the night before and her face heated up. He was never a gentleman. Especially in bed, he was both tender and merciless. The more she thought about it, the redder her face got. Katherine laugh cheerfully as she watched Lucia who was unable lift her head.


“This won’t do. Do you want me to teach you a few things?”


“…What things?”


“It’s all helpful knowledge if you listen.”


Katherine’s knowledge was at an expert level compared to her experience in the nightlife pleasure between a man and a woman. Katherine was not thoughtless enough to have such conversation with just anyone. It was just that she felt intimate affection towards Lucia.


They were both in important positions so they could not be absent and chattering for long. After some time, they left the break room and Lucia’s expression was flushed. She had really learned a lot in a short time today.


As they were heading back to the party hall together, Katherine discovered someone and her eyes grew sullen.


The woman stopped walking, waiting for the Princess to pass and when Katherine approached her, she bowed her head.


“It’s been long time since I saw you, Countess.” (Katherine)


“…Yes. Greetings to the Princess.” (Countess)


“Is it that you don’t know who is by my side?” (Katherine)



Her words were sharper than necessary. Sensing this, Lucia secretly glanced at Katherine’s expression.


“…Greetings to the Duchess. I am Anita Falcon.”


Lucia didn’t know she would end up greeting the woman this way. She hid her deep discomfort and accepted the greeting.


“What brought you out? Did you need a man to warm the bed?”


Lucia felt Katherine’s words were too much. She saw Anita’s lips trembling as she bowed her head.


“Are my words unpleasant?” (Katherine)


“…No. Princess. As a subject, I just wanted to congratulate His Majesty, the King on becoming the Lord of our country…”


“Enough. That’s obvious. Go.”


With her head bowed deeply, Anita quickly walked away.


Lucia was unfamiliar with Katherine’s hostility. It was her first time seeing Katherine explicitly dislike someone. In her dream, Katherine confronted the Duchess of Taran but she did not insult her to her face.


“I don’t think there’s much chance of this happening but that woman. The Countess of Falcon. Her third husband, the Count, is dead so she’s an unmarried Countess. Don’t get close to her. There’s no need to even say a word to her.”


“May I ask why?”


“She is a vulgar woman. Just know that there is nothing to gain from associating with her.”


Katherine didn’t think it was bad for a man and a woman to enjoy themselves freely. Even if the person concerned was a married man, she wasn’t one to point fingers at what others were doing. However, for a noblewoman to throw herself at another to get something was unacceptable to Katherine’s standards. It was the act of a cheap prostitute. The Countess of Falcon was a woman who did such a thing.


It was after Katherine’s 18-year-old birthday that her older brother began to allow her to enjoy late night parties. The woman who was acting as queen bee before Katherine began to earnestly rampage through ballrooms was the Countess of Falcon. Katherine was also unhappy with this fact. She would rather have crushed the woman in a head-on collision but the Countess suddenly fell off the surface one day and did not show up in the social circle after that.


The biggest reason why Katherine was antagonistic towards Anita was because of her scandal with the Duke of Taran. She thought that the woman waved her cheap body around and seduced the Duke of Taran. But she couldn’t tell that fact to the Duchess so she vaguely glossed over it.


‘Don’t tell me the Duke of Taran is still meeting with her?’


If so. Katherine couldn’t do anything to the Duke of Taran with her own abilities but she was prepared to embarrass the Countess of Falcon so much that she couldn’t show her face anywhere again.
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