Author: alyalia

At the same time as I entered, the ballroom became dead silent. After a moment of silence, soon a murmur filled the space.

 

“Who is that? Didn’t you see her coming with Count Bornes?”

 

Everyone made a fuss about my identity. Not to mention, this was my first appearance in the social world, which is full of rumors.

 

“I guess the angel of Count Bornes that is rumored is that lady. She’s so dazzlingly beautiful.”

 

“Like the rumors, she is a beautiful lady.”

 

The voices of men were heard praising my beauty, and…

 

“She’s pretty. But her image is different from what I heard.”

 

“That’s right. Her dress, makeup, and hairstyle… aren’t those a little vulgar?”

 

“Oh my gosh… so vulgar.”

 

I could hear the voices of women who were undermining me.

 

Hey, covering your mouth with a fan doesn’t mean I can’t hear you.

 

I glanced through the women who had cursed me. They were shameless people who insisted that they were cultured if they covered their mouths with fans even if they spoke rude words.

 

To make the matter worse, Count Bornes disappeared to do his own business, leaving me alone in the middle of wildness that was staring at me as if to devour me.

 

I knew this would happen.

 

My father’s heartlessness almost made me curse, but I looked around in a relaxed manner as much as I could. I shouldn’t have shown a foolish appearance. Because it will make me look like delicious prey to them.

 

I didn’t care for those hungry beasts. Only one person was important to me.

 

Black-haired man… black hair…

 

Duke Kaien. He has black hair, which is rare in the Empire, so I searched the heads of the people in the venue to find him, but it seemed he hadn’t arrived yet. Then, my eyes went to a place that was especially crowded. At the center of it was a middle-aged man with a relaxed, bored expression.

 

Is that Duke Krow? The head of the crown prince’s faction…

 

Duke Krow. The crown prince’s maternal uncle, in other words, he’s the Empress’s older brother. An outstanding figure who helped the current Emperor to the throne and became the second duke in the Empire.

 

That is the man my father wants to hold on to so much.

 

And as expected, Count Bornes was approaching him and talking to him with a friendly face. Indeed, Duke Krow looked disinterested.

 

Huh?

 

While looking at Duke Krow, I suddenly felt a blatant gaze focused on me. Until a while ago, the gaze was glancing carefully, and now that my father wasn’t near me, the gaze was staring at me openly.

 

These are!

 

I managed to hold back what I wanted to say because of the displeased glances that were looking at me from all directions. I shouldn’t create unnecessary disturbances now. Because there’s a goal I must achieve today.

 

Hold it. Be patient.

 

As soon as I took a step to move to a corner seat to avoid people’s eyes, two men approached me as if they had waited.

 

“Greetings, Lady Arianne. I’m finally seeing you. I was fascinated at first sight by your alluring beauty. I’m Drude Merionus, the second son of Count Merionus.”

 

“Greetings, Lady Arianne. I’m Hulteban Wales, the second son of Viscount Wales. You’re… really a fascinating figure.”

 

The men’s gazes ran down from the top of my head, then fixed on my chest again.

 

Ha! They are openly scanning my appearance in the first place! And when you speak to a person, look into their eyes!

 

Ah, I can’t hold it because I feel so dirty. Let’s take them to the corner and teach them a lesson…

 

My face, which looked around with a sideways glance, was filled with frustration. But there were so many eyes around me. Eventually, I couldn’t teach them a lesson, and while I was thinking about how to get them off, a group of women approached me.

 

“Oh my gosh~ Lord Drude and Lord Hulteban seem to have already greeted Lady Arianne~ Now that you have said your greetings, would you please move out the way so we can say greetings to Lady Arianne?”

 

A woman who appeared to be the group leader gave the two men those words. Although the men didn’t want to do that, they quickly backed away because of the woman’s fairly high status.

 

Thank god.

 

I thought that if they kept looking at me with those sticky eyes, I might even poke their eyes with a fan. But I didn’t have any intention to cause any trouble until I met Duke Kaien.

 

By the way,

 

What’s going on with these women?

 

The woman lowered the fan that was covering her mouth and introduced herself with an arrogant smile.

 

“Nice to meet you, Lady Arianne. As they say, you’re quite a beautiful woman. Since you never appeared in society, rumors were circulating that you were actually an ugly woman rather than a beautiful woman. Now that you’ve made your social debut let’s get along well. I’m the wife of Count Proud.”

 

“It’s an honor to meet you, Countess Proud.”

 

I greeted her politely first, then greeted the other women as well.

 

“By the way… Lady Arianne~ That dress, isn’t it a bit vulgar for Lady to wear? You’re not a prostitute trying to seduce a man.”

 

“That’s true~ Lady dressed up like the crown prince’s concubines.”

 

Of course. Because this is the place to introduce myself as the crown prince’s concubine.

 

What do they know about me? They would think of me as a brainless lady, but they don’t know I’m a savvy woman.  

 

“Lady Arianne~ As a senior, I advise you to wear a modest dress. Make sure to wear that dress when you serve your husband in bed in the future.”

 

What? Serve in the bed? She’s crossing the line.

 

I didn’t wear it because I wanted to, and I had any intention to only listen to such advice. The moment I wondered how I should take care of this woman who was acting up unnecessarily, a smile rose around my mouth.

 

These women had their backs to the entrance, so they didn’t seem to see them. I recognized them. The so-called vulgar women they speak of are approaching.

 

I deliberately spoke out loud, “Pardon? Dressing vulgarly like the crown prince’s concubines? What do you mean?”

 

Countess Proud continued her advice, not noticing the ferocious wolves approaching behind her.

 

“Lady Arianne, didn’t I tell you already? Naturally, a lady’s attire should be modest. If you dress as vulgar as them, you will be treated the same as them.”

 

“Who is vulgar? Countess Proud, are you referring to me now?”

 

The wolves were the crown prince’s concubines. Countess Proud’s complexion turned white as if she was very startled by the voice behind her. She was also bewildered by the crowd and didn’t know what to do.

 

“Ah… There must have been a misunderstanding, Lady Kotenophen.”

 

“Misunderstanding? Unlike anyone else, I’m still young, so there’s no way I can hear it wrong.”

 

Lady Kotenophen said, eyeing Countess Proud, covering her mouth with a fan.

 

Wow~ That’s so strong. I was purely admiring the scene.  

 

“No… that’s… I was just talking about taste.”

 

Countess Proud replied with a smile as much as she could and hastily covered her mouth with her fan.

 

“Then, Countess Proud, are you saying the Crown Prince’s tastes are vulgar?”

 

“Yes? That! How could it be! You’re mistaken. Please…”

 

Now Countess Proud was on the verge of crying.

 

Did you say she’s Lady Kotenophen? She was such a splendid beauty, but her raised eyebrows and blazing eyes were not an ordinary lady could have.

 

Countess Proud may have a higher position than Lady Kotenophen. Still, her opponent was the Crown Prince’s concubine and one of the influential figures in the ballroom. With her word, Countess Proud might be driven to the outskirts immediately.

 

Countess Proud made only one mistake. She chose the wrong opponent.

 

You shouldn’t have touched me.

 

Of course, watching the fight is fun, but if I get tangled up, I will only get tired, so I should avoid this place.

 

I covered my face with a fan and sneaked into the corner while people watched the fight between them.

 

Why the hell is Duke Kaien still not here?

 

It was then.

 

“Your Excellency Duke Kaien is entering!”

 

Finally, he appeared.

 

After the servant’s shout rang out, he appeared at the ballroom entrance. I gave strength in my hand while holding the fan. The man crossed the ballroom with an indifferent expression on his face, with his neatly brushed shiny black hair, wearing a white uniform that contrasted to it.

 

“His appearance passed!”

 

I clenched my fan in a loud voice. Even if it would be a contract marriage, it is natural that my partner should be a handsome man.

 

Now, it’s only a matter of how to approach him.

 

Frankly, I hadn’t figured out how to approach Duke Kaien. My father, who is in the crown prince’s faction, wouldn’t introduce me to him, but in the noble social world, there was no way for a low title person to greet him first.  In other words, I couldn’t talk to him first.

 

Then, I will have to make him talk to me.

 

Fortunately, I’m confident with my appearance. I thought he couldn’t help but talk with me if I could get his eyes on me. Even now, not only one or two men were trying to approach me.

 

I, who felt like in the radius of his gaze, naturally posed.

 

Now! Look! The alluring figure of mine!

 

I wrapped her hands around my body, tilted my head, and lowered my eyes pitifully. It was a secret technique I learned from Madrenne. Perhaps the effect was multiplied by the vulgar dress I was wearing. Of course, it’s also because I practiced it for a long time in front of the mirror all night.

 

“Gasp!”

 

I could hear the men who were looking at me gasping.

 

Huh, it’s a success.

 

Judging from the reaction of the men around me, I must have caught Duke Kaien’s attention too.

 

How is it? You like it, right? Come and talk to me!

 

But then.

 

Huh? Where are you going?

 

Contrary to my expectations, he turned away and went out to the terrace, as if he wasn’t interested in me.

 

Oh? What is this? My beautiful appearance didn’t work?

 

I have never used her beautiful appearance before, but I never thought it wouldn’t work.

 

No way… was the rumor true? That he married his sword…

 

Of course, the reason could never be because I lacked charm. There must be something wrong with that man. Still, my life was at stake, so I couldn’t give up here.

 

I clenched my teeth and followed him to the terrace. As I entered the terrace, he asked me if he had known this would happen.

 

“What are you doing here? Lady…”

 

“My name is Arianne.”

 

I bent my knees slightly and bowed politely, thinking it was time to do that.

 

“Yes… Lady Arianne. Excuse me, but do you have business with me?”

 

He said with a cold face with no emotion. No, it seems he’s a little angry.

 

What? Is he really not interested in me at all?

 

My mouth opened wide in embarrassment for a moment, but I quickly corrected myself and straightened my posture. No matter what happened today, I had to achieve my goal.

 

I said with a provocative look I had practiced several times in the mirror.

 

“My name is Arianne Bornes. The daughter of Count Bornes.”

 

“…”

 

At this point, he should have introduced himself or said something, but he didn’t respond. Rather, he just glared at me with more fierce eyes.

 

Huh. Do you think you’re the only one who can stare? Me too…!

 

For a moment, I was furious and bit my lips while glaring at him. I gave strength to the hand that held the fan tightly.

 

Hold it. I’m not here to fight.

 

I clenched my teeth and calmed my mind, then opened my mouth.

 

“Tonight, please come to my room.”

 

Duke Kaien looked at me with a frown on his brow as if he had heard something unpleasant. And he sighed as if he had nothing more to say and opened his mouth maybe to drive me out, but closed his mouth as I continued.

 

“I have the secret ledger of Count Bornes.”

 

In an instant, his gaze became sharp.

 

At that moment, I heard voices from outside. Then I spit my words out like rapid-fire guns.

 

“I’m going to make a good offer for you too. Please come to my room tonight. I will hang a white handkerchief by the window. You are genius swordsmanship, so you can find it, right? We will talk about the details then.”

 

They said pushing and pulling relationships between men and women is important. As my business was done, it was time for me to leave.

 

Without giving him a chance to answer, I fanned myself out of the terrace and walked out to the ballroom as if nothing had happened.

 

Some people talked to me when they saw me coming out of the terrace, but I ignored them and walked around the ballroom, pretending to be calm.

 

Now that I had achieved my goal, I had to create an excuse to return home before the Crown Prince appeared.

 

Just then, there was a woman walking toward me.

 

She appeared to be carrying a slice of whipped cream cake and moved towards the corner. Her head was bowed so she couldn’t see me.

 

Good. I can use that woman.

 

“Oh my!”

 

While the woman was surprised, I quickly grabbed the whipped cream cake in her hand and rubbed it on my dress.  

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