Anne yelped as soon as she saw Lariette’s condition upon returning to her room. The other maids did not have such a close relationship with her, so they simply stared in surprise. It was a normal reaction. After all, their lady of the house had returned as a complete mess after a family dinner.
“That crazy man! What a jerk!”
“Shh~ What if someone hears it?”
“Please! He is a man without conscience! How could a brother do this to his sister…”
While helping Lariette bathe, Anne swore at Raon with the harshest words she knew. Lariette was afraid that someone might overhear and tell Raon, but she did not scold her. Anne’s hands, which were washing her hair, shook with emotion.
“I’m sure he is jealous of you, since you’re smarter and better off than him… right, Lady?”
I’m used to it, Lariette swallowed her words quietly. There was no need to add anything as Anne knew the truth. It wasn’t until the bath was over that Anne calmed down. Lariette returned to rest, then she was finally left alone.
“Oh, so this was here…”
She mumbled as she went through an old wooden chest full of drawers. Obviously, she couldn’t find anything in it as she never recalled using it in the first place. After a long while of searching, Lariette groaned in frustration. Even having gone through all the drawers, she couldn’t find any spare money. She stared at the bottom of the drawer; something was hanging in-between the deep gaps.
Lariette extended her arms and finally discovered what she had been searching for. It was a small notebook which revealed a luxurious cover as Lariette dusted it off. It was the first gift that she had received from her father. Her father had gone on a business trip and Lariette was so happy to receive a gift from him, even if it was something she hadn’t asked for.
‘Raon received a sword.’
Lariette smiled bitterly, reminiscent of her poor and pathetic childhood. However, she quickly put away her sad feelings and opened the notebook. The reason she looked for the book was not to remember her depressing childhood after all. She needed a memo book, so she chose the most beautiful one in her possession. Lariette lit a small lamp and sat at her desk. Then, with a fountain pen she began writing in her elegant handwriting.
< I was sentenced to a life limit of 3 months on April 3, 732 >
Firstly, she wrote the time and current situation. She thought of the name of the disease, but didn’t want to mention it.
< Bucket List of Things To Do Before I Die >
Lariette tilted her head, thinking intently. What came to mind was Anne’s face. Although it was misty in the bathroom, Anne’s emotional red-hot eyes continued to prick at Lariette’s guilt.
< 1. Gift Anne a cake >
Lariette felt sorry that she was going to leave Anne, so she wanted to repay her favor. It was exciting to imagine Anne jumping up and down while eating the cake.
< 2. Independence (Let’s Save Money!) >
< 3. Engagement to Marquis Segre >
These two items were things she thought of during the family dinner. Lariette no longer wanted to expect anything from the Duke and Duchess, nor stay with them anymore.
‘The shell of a lady is now broken. Before my death, I want to be Lariette first – not a Blanche. I don’t want to continue with the engagement of selling myself.’
But, the main problem would be the aftermath of her struggles. It was clear that her parents would be angry and Marquis Segre would never stand still. Lariette no longer wanted to sacrifice herself, but she also didn’t want to destroy her family and cause their ruin. Therefore, she timidly wrote an explanation next to item 3.
< 3. Engagement to Marquis Segre Kept ( due to good manners ) >
This was the last consideration Lariette would show to her parents. Although it may be deemed insufficient for the costs of raising her, she had fulfilled her responsibilities as a noble daughter so far and worked beyond all the interests they showed. Thus, there was no guilt.
< 4. Dating a Handsome Man>
Lariette underlined the most important part, ‘handsome’. It was a fact that no one knew, but Lariette loved pretty faces. If she was asked to choose between a rich man and a handsome man, she would pick the latter. She was also quite picky. Lariette had never met a man who looked handsome in her eyes. So, she had a small desire to go out with a gorgeous man before she died. However, there were conditions.
‘I’m a person who’s going to die in three months, so I can’t get too serious about it… I’m going to meet someone with lots of experience and be casual in these coming months.’
Lariette was conscious of the fact that she had a clock that was running out of time. So, unlike her usual preference of serious relationships with a stable man; she wanted to find a guy who was really good at dating (womanizer). Fortunately her illness, Lokadura, had no significant symptoms until her death.
‘My heart beats fast, but my body doesn’t hurt nor does my behavior change.’ However, when the time came her mana airflow would burst and cause her death. Lariette bit her lips, terribly imagining how her body would explode. In any case, it was a perfect condition to enjoy life comfortably until death.
Also, the doctor explained that her health was quite good. Hopefully, she could live up to 4 months, maybe even longer? Lariette struggled as she thought about it. Holding the pen, she reached a conclusion.
< 5. Travel >
A native in the capital, yet she had never traveled. It was not easy because of her status and identity.
‘Of course, Raon went several times.’
The only difference between him and herself was their gender. It was a very different life. She remembered Raon asking her parents to buy a countryside villa because of how heavenly his trip to the West had been. Though she doubted that’s where he had been since their business trips always ended up in ruin. It wasn’t reliable to hear Raon’s opinions, but she had wondered how good the West truly was. She added a small caption next to the item.
< 5. Travel – What the Hell is in the West? >
It was so small that you couldn’t read it without focusing.
Lariette, who was in a hurry, read the contents of the notebook for a while before closing it. For now, these agendas were all that came to mind.
It was bright as the morning sun shone through the windows of Lariette’s bedroom. She woke up and dressed herself as if she were in a daze. As the door slowly opened, Anne stared in amazement to find her master already awake and prepared.
“Lady, Are you feeling unwell?”
“Good morning, and no.”
“What is that outfit?”
Anne’s eyes narrowed as she checked Lariette’s attire. Unlike usual, it was too plain and simple of a dress.
“Do you have time today?”
Lariette asked the question with an open smile like a flower in bloom. Anne nodded with a silly expression on her face.
“So, let’s go.”
“I’ll know when I am there.”
Lariette hurriedly grabbed Anne’s hand and led her away. The time she had was too short to accomplish everything she wrote in the bucket list. They arrived at Pienche, one of the most famous dessert shops in the capital.
“A-ah, my lady, no way…”
The maid seemed to want to cry over Lariette’s answer, it was worrying.
Pienche was a high-end dessert shop that only nobles could enter. The maid, Anne, was also of noble lineage but Pienche required high-ranking aristocrats not lower noblewomen like her. Also, Lariette and Anne’s outfits were too shabby to be considered a noble’s conduct of dress.
The waiter, dressed in a suit, greeted Lariette. Upon seeing their clothes, his glance turned into an unpleasant look.
“I’ll show you to your seats.”
The waiter spoke slowly and led them into a corner. It seemed that they couldn’t sit in a place where all the other nobles gathered and their outfits would be seen.
Handing over the menu to them, the waiter wanted to turn away. Lariette rejected the menu.
“You must look at the customer menu to order.”
“No, actually I don’t have to.”
Lariette smiled proudly and replied to the waiter. The smile was so disarming that the waiter became frightened at his lack of grasp on the situation. However, what was more surprising was the following…
“I’ll take one of everything on the menu.”
“Why am I not qualified enough to order a cake?”
His face became flushed at the cold voice and he immediately understood the situation. She was one of the three dukedom nobles in the empire, therefore not the kind of person to ignore.
“S-sorry, I shall bring it immediately.”
The waiter bowed deeply and apologized, leaving with a shaking menu board in hand. Anne looked at Lariette with a startled look.
“Lady! Is everything alright? That’s too many!”
“Take one bite of each and throw it away. Even a fallen noble would have enough money to buy you this.”
“Didn’t I teach you about not being wasteful?”
Lariette listened to Anne’s nagging with an unfocused, lazy look. Anne stopped only after having enough cake to fill her stomach. Lariette was glad to escape her long speech. The coachman was puzzled to see the return of the exhausted young lady from the cake shop.
On the way back to the mansion, Lariette and Anne chatted happily about the taste of cake. However, suddenly the conversation stopped.
The wagon tilted with a dull sound. Lariette’s body was held firmly by a trembling Anne.
“Sorry, Lady. The wheel seems to be amiss. I’ll change it soon.”
When asked to open the door of the carriage, the coachman wore a difficult expression. Then, he whipped the horse to go faster a few times. The wheel seemed risky. When Lariette put her head out the window to inspect it, she saw a black wagon trailing behind. Due to the Blanche family carriage, the road was blocked off.
Lariette sighed slowly and wanted to get up. It was time for a direct confrontation. However, Anne resolutely stopped it with all her might.
“Miss! Just sit down!”
“That black wagon belongs to the Duke of Kandel! It’s better not to get off.”
Hearing the name Kandel, Lariette’s body hardened like ice. The Duke Kandels were the most powerful Dukedom in the empire and served as a home to the Duke deemed a ‘Monster’. In other words, as a lady of the Duke of Blanche, she was an opponent who had to protect face. Thus, in the end Lariette sat calmly without getting off the carriage.
The coachman struggled to pull off the wheel when a man came up behind him.
“Who’s coming from the black wagon? I’m afraid the driver needs help.”
Instead of Lariette, Anne poked out her head and explained the situation. Lariette was aware of her shabby outfit, so she stayed away from the window and only listened.
“I can’t see him very well… but he is very tall. Why are his clothes so dark?” (A)
Anne muttered and narrowed her eyes. The blocking of the wagons made the male hard to see. However, even with such rough sight it was clear that he was a tall and broad man. He slowly reached out to grab the Blanche carriage. At that moment, the bottom of the carriage was lifted into the air. Flash!
Due to the sudden movement, the girls in the carriage shrieked. Looking flustered they said,
“Lifted with a single hand….!”
It was an incredible power. Lariette was shocked and forgot to hide her face; she looked out the window immediately. Then, she locked eyes with him – eyes which were as blue as the sea.
Time seemed as though it had stopped. The man, who had lifted the carriage with one hand, was wearing bandages under his eyes. Because of that, Lariette could not figure out what his face looked like. Lariette caught his gaze strangely. He was indeed tall and handsome like Anne described. Over his broad shoulders, a black coat swayed in the wind.
He stared at Lariette for a moment with intense eyes.
Then, he led the carriage to a flat road and left. Lariette kept her stare with a dull look.
“Wow, how amazing is his strength? The Duke of Kandel has great power.”
Lariette muttered with her mouth wide open. With his bandaged face, he looked like a sick person. But, his strength was of no ordinary man. She thought of the blue eyes that she had seen. His eyes had been so beautiful that they were distracting – almost blinding.
However, this was an accident on the road and they wouldn’t meet again anyway. So, she quickly wanted to erase it from memory. Meanwhile, as the Blanche carriage left, the man dressed in black hopped onto his own wagon and ordered with a cold voice,
The Duke of Kandel, who is known as the War Ghost and Monster, Asrazan closed his eyes slowly as he felt the carriage leaving.
Upon arriving at the manor, the sun was already halfway in the sky (afternoon). Lariette had barely climbed the stairs to her house when the doors burst open. The sharp voice of the Duchess was screaming at her.
“Lariette! Where have you been?”
“….. Mother, did you call me? I have finished my duties, so I went out.”
“Don’t say a word! Follow me right now! Oh, my god. What’s the use of having a daughter? You must’ve made up your mind to shame me.”
The Duchess grabbed Lariette’s arm roughly. The long nails dug into her soft skin which made her wince, but the Duchess only pushed her further.
Without explanation, Lariette was dressed by her mother’s maids. They adorned her with the most colorful decorations and sprayed dark perfumes on her body. Lariette clenched her fist and endured the uncomfortable time.
The strict attitude of the Duchess was not understood until after Lariette was guided by the maid to the patronage of the man standing in front of her.
“Lari, it’s been a long time.”
Lariette looked up at the guest with a stiff face and remembered not giving him permission to call her by a nickname. Yet, he naturally called her Lari and kissed her hand with his thick, rough lips.
“….. Marquis Segreb, it’s been a while.”
A man with beady dark eyes, a squared jaw, and a bulging large belly; he was the Marquis of Segre, Lariette’s fiancé.
“I have waited a long time, my legs hurt.”
“If you had sent a message in advance, I wouldn’t have gone out.”
“What requires you to go outside? You should have stayed home quietly. You’re walking around outside like a mangy dog and it causes me concern.”
The Marquis patted his stomach and clicked his tongue disapprovingly. Lariette was furious at his words, but only muttered in her heart what she had promised to herself last night.
‘There’s no need to use manners for a person like this!’
‘I thought it’d be easy to put up with, but after facing the Marquis I realize that’s an illusion.’
He was a man who spoke without thought or consideration. Even his grumpy face and fat, oily body irritated her anger.
‘It’s annoying… but it’s even worse when he’s ugly.’
“There was something I wanted to say to the Marquis. You’ve come at a good time.”
“What do you want to say? It’s useless for women to chatter away.”
Then, with a bored look he stroked Lariette’s hair with his hands. When a sloppy, rough finger touched her neck Lariette’s entire body erupted in goosebumps.
“Don’t be stingy, it’ll all be mine anyway.”
The Marquis laughed and held her chin firmly with his fingers. He touched her smooth cheek, almost as if paying a compliment.
“I really do enjoy your pretty face very much. Though, I don’t like the color of your eyes.”
“It’s a product worth my money.” the Marquis lowered his head and whispered into her ear. Lariette’s face turned red with disgrace and anger. On the other hand, her purple eyes stared at him in sinking cold disgust.
“That’s quite a provocative look. Are you like that in bed too?”
“… That’s it.”
Lariette murmured a few words. Then, at that moment, a huge tree trunk burst through the ground and grabbed the Marquis’s ankle.
“No more proper manners.”