< — 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.
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?”
“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 one’s position is, the more uncontrolled a rumor could be, if one was involved. Rumors that spread like wildfire had 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 that. 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.