Author: alyalia

“Aah!”

 

Teil’s eyes widened beyond measure.

 

“I’ve been waiting for you inside, are you okay?”

 

Soon the boy bowed his head with a frustrated expression. The boy knew what he exchanged for money. There was nothing free in the world, and the cost of a whopping 1 gold was never light. And now he had to pay for the price now.

 

“Who are you?”

 

The young man who came in with Teil asked me. He sounded very wary, whether it was because there was a stranger coming in or because he could tell that Teil was feeling nervous.

 

I then turned my gaze to the young man. He was a young man with a skinny body, disheveled light brown hair, and wearing worn-out glasses. I wondered if he was so skinny because he couldn’t eat properly in this environment. It wasn’t to the extent that I felt uncomfortable to see, but everyone looked shabby.

 

But that’s it. If you did something wrong, you should take responsibility.

 

“Me? I’m a person who is worth less than one gold.”

 

Flinch. Teil’s shoulders shrunken at my words.

 

“Ha…” The young man sighed. “I’m sorry. I will take responsibility for my brother’s mistake and apologize.”

 

I was offended by his fed up expression and insincere words that you couldn’t find any sincere at all.

 

“Responsibility? How are you going to take responsibility?”

 

At my reply, the young man crumpled his brows and said, “I will pay double for the wrongdoing my brother had done.”

“Really?”

I couldn’t believe he was saying that without even knowing the context… If he doesn't blink quickly, he will lose his nose. [1]

 

I snorted and asked Madrenne. “Madrenne, how much did the dress that boy made dirty?”

 

Madrenne, who was watching the situation, said while doubling the price of the dress. “It’s a new dress with imported lace, so it’s probably about 400 gold.”

 

The young man’s face turned white when she said 400 gold. Perhaps he thought he only needed to pay back twice the one gold stolen by his younger brother, but he chose the wrong opponent. Because Arianne wasn’t an angel.  

 

“Then… double of 400 gold is 800 gold, right? Will you pay me back now?”

 

“I don’t have that much money.” The young man spoke calmly for his embarrassment.

 

I thought he would cry and begged me, but he seemed to have pride. However, pride won’t solve the problem.

 

“Then how are you going to pay me back?”

 

“…I will pay you back 2 gold every month.”

 

I smirked. “2 gold per month, 24 gold per year. It will take another 30 years to pay it off. How can I believe that you won’t run away until then and pay me back?”

 

“I have nowhere to run or hide. I will definitely pay you back.” The young man confirmed in a dry voice. Strangely, this young man’s words seemed believable. Would it be strange if he was more reliable because he didn’t make lame excuses for believing in himself?

 

Still, I had to let this naive young man know the reality. Reality was a hotter fire pit than hell.

 

“By the way, that was just the principal.”

 

“!”

 

“You know, interest is accrued until the principal is paid off.”

 

I was the daughter of the famous loan shark, Count Bornes. I’ve had enough of what to do in this situation, so I was doing my action very naturally. If Count Bornes saw me, he might be pleased that his family member was also well educated.

 

“If it’s interest… how much?”

 

“Well? What is the interest rate these days? I think it was at least 30%.”

 

“30%? You’re not some kind of loan shark. Isn’t that too much?”

 

I raised my shoulders at the young man’s rebuttal and said, “I’m a loan shark though. The famous Arianne Bornes.”

 

“Bornes?”

 

The young man’s white face turned pale. There was no one in this empire who didn’t know the Bornes family. He couldn’t help but notice how cruel they were and how tenacious they were. Right now, many of the people in the slum were people who borrowed money from them and were ruined.

 

The young man closed his eyes tightly. Is this the end… It was a time when he lived by begging bare-faced, learning to write by living a ridiculous slave life, and trying to live like a human being by taking care of two children who were alone like him even though he had no will to stay alive. But all his effort and will to live collapsed by the word ‘Bornes’.

 

According to rumors, he heard that the young lady was an angel unlike her father, but it was at this moment that he realized that rumors couldn’t be trusted. Who said she’s like an angel?

 

Count Bornes never showed a mercy, even to an unweaned baby. The young man’s hand, who was holding Teil’s nape, fell helplessly.

 

Teil’s eyes wavered aimlessly. He was still young, but he knew how things were going. The fact that he touched the Bornes family, and the Bornes family would never forgive. He was scared and felt sorry. To his older brother who took care of him and to his younger sister whom he loved more than anyone else in the world…

 

“Because of me…”

 

His older brother would have to work hard, and his younger sister will be sold.

 

Heuk. Heuk. Teil began to cry, and as he cried, his sister began to cry with him.

 

“Brother~ Brother~ Heeung.”

 

However, they only cried, but they didn’t cling to me or beg me.

 

It’s weird. A normal human being would get down on their knees in a situation like this, ask for forgiveness or to reduce the amount, beg, cry, or else shout out loud and resist, but why did these kids just cry?

 

“What is this? It thought you would beg me to reduce the debt, but all you do is cry? Like you and these kids, why do you have so little guts?”

 

At my reproachful words, the young man opened his closed eyes and stared straight at me. “Because it’s useless.”

 

The young man knew. That crying and begging won’t change anything. That it was just useless and wasteful actions. He simply just accepted the situation. Even if it was unreasonable, there was nothing he could do.

 

“Right… it’s useless.”

 

But why? I was angry. It was only natural to get frustrated and give up on an unchangeable reality. Why am I so angry?  I was so angry, but I didn’t know the reason.

 

Then I suddenly realized. That I was like this young man not too long ago. Yes. That’s right. I was just like them.

 

In the past, when the owner of my life was held by others, not me. The memory of the helpless and miserable old days came to mind. I hated it so much that I felt unfair, resentful, horrified, but I couldn’t get out of it. How many years have I endured and gritted my teeth to regain my life?

 

At least I had a chance, even though I’m a woman and a noble.  But what about these kids? They were not nobles, rich, or even have parents. They could be regarded as the weakest in society.

 

Do these kids have a future? Right now, when you see that young man, there was no hope left, and he’s burned out. It won’t get better no matter what he do, so he gave up and just live for today. Even in the harsh world, he was only moving his body that held on to the end, and his heart was already dead.

 

“It’s annoying.”

 

Just their attitude, this situation was upsetting and irritating. And what I was going to do now was the most annoying.

 

Obviously, I am not an angel. Having lived as someone’s property for a long time, I had no time to be considerate and understand others. But not now. I lived on my own will, and I have the opportunity and ability to plan for the future.

 

Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten better? I wanted to give these children a chance too. However, there was no way their situation would get better with just clumsy one-time sympathy. A few pennies would only relieve immediate hunger. Would they be able to keep it completely even if I give them a large amount of money? Do you think the world is so easy?

 

Under the Count Bornes, I learned how cruel humans could be. When they couldn’t pay their debts, selling their family was common, and I’ve seen a lot of humans kidnapping children without guardians to get the ransom. 

 

In order to protect these children, I should either find someone to take care of them or find a sustainable, high-quality job, but I have no place to leave them now. If I leave them to Bornes family, they would be used as back alley workers and eventually abandoned.

 

Then as servants? There was also a way to hire them as servants of the mansion. But I hadn’t become the duchess yet. I couldn’t arbitrarily hire servants when it wasn’t even my own house. Something suddenly flashed in my mind.

 

“What can you do?”

 

At least I wish he knew how to write. The young man crumpled his brow to my sudden question, but he answered calmly.

 

“I know how to do everything. Accounting, bookkeeping, ghostwriting, contract writing…”

 

Fortunately, the young man knew how to do more than I thought.

 

“That’s enough. Why don’t you work as my aide?”

 

The young man asked again as if he didn’t understand. “Aide… you mean?”

 

“Yes, aide. I’m getting a title soon, but I haven’t found an aide yet. Ah! Of course, I will pay you for sure. Except for the cost of living, the rest should be used to pay off the debt. It wouldn’t be a bad deal for you. What do you think about it?”

 

The young man’s eyes narrowed. He looked at me wondering why I was doing this. But he didn’t have a choice.

 

“Yes, great. I’ll do it.”

 

I smiled contentedly at the young man’s cool answer. “What’s your name?”

 

“Bein. My name is Bein.”

 

It was the first meeting with Sir Bein, Arianne’s strategist. 

  • 1. It’s a proverb with a meaning that the world is harsh, so even if you keep your eyes open, you could still lose your limb.
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