This is a fast-paced story about a certain Count with the blood of a tentacle demon, and a young lady who aimed for such a Count in her previous life.
The incident happened at a party hosted by Crown Prince Ottmar of the Kingdom of Hitzlsperger.
“—Thearesia Brenstorm, I hereby annul my engagement with you!”
In a sonorous voice that resounded throughout the spacious party venue, Crown Prince Ottmar—the host of the party—declared.
As the peerless beauty of a man, who had silvery, pale blond, hair, stared at a young lady in red, his face was distorted with wrath. In Ottmar’s arms was a delicate and innocent-looking girl with light pink hair and ruby eyes—a baroness called Clara. The sight of Clara, whose eyes were brimming with tears as she fearfully leaned against Ottmar, was picturesque.
The one who just had her engagement annulled was none other than a certain daughter of a Count, Thearesia Brenstorm.
With lush golden hair and clear blue eyes, the 18-year-old daughter of Count Brenstorm was also an exceptional beauty.
However, in contrast to Clara’s kind and reassuring features, Thearesia had a courageous and dauntless look to her. Thus, others would often speak ill behind her back, referring to her as ‘a woman without any charms, who also doesn’t know how to behave around a man.’
Considering the environment of that country’s aristocratic society, it was an undeniable fact.
That was right.
For example, let’s say that the crown prince, Countess Thearesia’s fiancé, had been having a tryst with the Baron’s daughter Clara. By the way, that was the unspoken, cold, truth.
At times like that, a normal lady was supposed to silently endure everything. After all, that country favored men. Even if one were to make waves, in many cases, it wouldn’t benefit the women.
Thus, when a man played with fire and got singed, it’d lead to a discussion of compensation between the families. Since marriage between aristocrats was also considered a contract, compensation was necessary to null it. According to the law, the person who requested for the annulment should bear the compensation.
Hence why, most men seldom made their mistresses their fiancées.
As for how the aftermath of playing with fire was usually settled…
…Actually, it was quite a common occurrence amongst men.
At that time, once again, their fiancées were expected to silently endure everything. To turn a blind eye to his mistress, holding her head up while acting as if everything was fine.
Such was the typical action of a typical noble lady, regardless of what she actually felt within.
But of course, Thearesia couldn’t stand that.
Seeing how intimate Ottmar—her fiancé—was with Clara, Thearesia refused to avert her eyes from the truth, and expressed her honest opinion.
“Considering that we’re still engaged, I don’t think it’s a good idea to commit adultery.”
“Why are you escorting her to the party instead of me, your fiancée?”
Everything Thearesia said held water.
Nevertheless, in that country, a lady wasn’t supposed to act out like that.
…As a result, her engagement was annulled.
Fed-up with his old-fashioned and inflexible fiancée, Ottmar moved on to his meek mistress, Clara, and made her his new fiancée.
Clara was a baron’s daughter. Blinded by his feelings towards Clara, which he considered as true love, he didn’t even consider whether or not she could actually become the fiancée of a crown prince.
Thus, he hosted a party, at which he proceeded to annul their engagement in public. Perhaps, it was as a token of gratitude for all the humiliation she had caused.
Ottmar must have expected Thearesia to get upset. Instead, Thearesia was the definition of calm.
“Your Highness, may I ask you the reason behind the annulment?”
As calm as the sea on a windless day, no turmoil could be felt in her tone.
In response, Ottmar frowned at her in disgust.
“…Had you cried and begged, you could’ve at least been considered cute.”
“After being engaged to me for ten years, you should be the most aware that I’m a far cry from that. Besides, even if you did feel that way, what are you going to do? I’m a woman you’re about to discard.”
“…Moving on, I shall tell you the reason why.”
Ottmar proceeded to explain the basis of the annulment. But of course, not before clicking his tongue.
Apparently, it was because she had humiliated him. Not only that, but also because she had criticized Clara, and that her actions were unbefitting of a fiancée. Then, as a cream on top, because she had bullied Clara out of envy.
Upon hearing that, Thearesia narrowed her eyes.
…Well, she had indeed rebuked Clara.
“Are you aware that you are embarrassing yourself? How unsightly.”
“Ms. Clara, I heard that you’re also intimate with plenty of other men. Do you think someone as slovenly as you has a place in social circles?”
Towards Clara, who was lacking as a noble lady, she merely reprimanded her.
“—Look, Lady Thearesia is at it again. She always has to argue with what she thinks is the ‘correct argument,’ isn’t she?”
“—If it’s me, I wouldn’t even think of crossing His Highness, especially in this place. Well, this is Lady Thearesia we’re talking about.”
Listening intently to their exchange, the surrounding onlookers narrowed their eyes.
If they were lucky, they might even be able to witness the tears of the woman without charms. From everyone’s faces, such anticipation could be felt.
“Understood. I respectfully accept the annulment of this engagement.” After the annulment of her engagement, neither anger nor grief could be seen on Thearesia’s face, or even a single droplet of tear.
Instead, there was a smile—one so enchanting, anyone couldn’t help but fall for her.
“Well, since Your Highness is the one who brought up the annulment, please discuss the compensation with my father.” Saying that, Thearesia quickly turned around. With unladylike, hasty gait, she followed after the back of a certain man, who was about to leave the venue.
—Finally, finally, finally…! I’ve been released from His Highness Ottmar…!
When she glanced at the astonished surroundings, all she could feel was a torrential of joyful emotions.
I was Lady Thearesia Brenstorm, a villainess from a certain otome game. In that game, regardless of the route, my engagement would be annulled by the crown prince. Nevertheless, I had finally been freed from the role of Prince Ottmar’s fiancée!
With such overflowing, heartfelt, joy, she couldn’t help but smile. Her surroundings had begun to eye her warily, but she didn’t care.
After all, to chase after a certain person was her prime goal at the moment.
Why, if it wasn’t the back of her bias.
I’m the so-called reincarnator.
True to that title, I had been reincarnated into the otome game I played in my previous life.
However, I had only realized such a fact when I was 15-years-old. Ever since that day, I had been waiting earnestly—
—waiting earnestly for my fiancé, Crown Prince Ottmar, to annul our engagement.
In my previous life, I was an otaku office lady in her twenties.
Not just otome games, I played a variety of other games, as well. Moreover, I also watched anime, read a fair number of the so-called ‘villainess light novels,’ and mangas. I could be said to be your stereotypical otaku.
One of my favorite games in my previous life was a mature otome game, ‘Will Love Bloom in the Royal Palace?’
The story was about the heroine, the daughter of a baron, in a fantasy world with magic. As she developed a bond with high-ranking aristocrats and royalty, she’d also overcome the difference in status, along with many trials and tribulations.
The graphics were excellent, and the characters weren’t bad, either. However, in the world where the concept of chastity for women was rigid, some of the scenarios were so skewed, I couldn’t help but wonder—
—What will happen to the heroine, Clara, who has affairs with numerous men?
Such was the game. Regardless, in my previous life, I enjoyed it a lot.
…Especially because of the existence of my bias—
—Count Hugo Lidholm.
In the game, he was nicknamed the ‘Demon Count.’ Albeit, the reason wasn’t because he was particularly cruel.
First of all, in this world, demons did exist. It was an evil entity so powerful that it threatened humans.
About 28 years ago, Count Lidholm’s mother was impregnated by a demon.
As a matter of course, the people around her wanted to kill the child. However, the inhuman power possessed by the baby was proven to be too much for them to handle.
Hence, they decided. ‘If we can’t kill him, let’s take him in and make him work for the kingdom.’ Thus, the people of the kingdom eventually come to terms with it. Rather, they had no choice but to do so.
Although he was told to live for the sake of the kingdom, he ended up being shunned by everyone around him. Be it fear or contempt, he had to endure it all.
…He’s Count Hugo Lidholm, my favorite character.
Count Lidholm was the Demon Count—literally. The blood of the demon coursed through his veins.
By the way, Count Lidholm was a handsome man with black hair and golden eyes. The only thing that made him look different from humans was his slightly pointed ears.
In addition to that, he also had one more unusual trait, but I’d leave that for later…
As the player cleared the routes of the love interests, bonus tracks would be released little by little.
In the bonus track, one could enjoy the idyllic scenarios of the characters, including the sub-characters.
However, in Count Hugo Lidholm’s case, he only starred in the bonus track ‘Theresia’s Aftermath,’ which was set to happen after her annulment.
Such was the aftermath of Theresia—
—after the annulment, Thearesia would live miserably in the count’s household.
Of course, Thearesia herself had feelings for Prince Ottmar, despite their engagement being done out of convenience. At the same time, she also believed that he didn’t reciprocate her love.
But he did.
However, she only realized that after the annulment.
—If only I had been more supportive towards him…
—If only I had been more reticent…
—If only I had acted like the other ladies…
Thearesia’s maidenly regrets tormented her heart every day.
But of course, from the perspective of an OL, she was just reeling from the breakup.
In reality, Ottmar was an arrogant man. Despite Thearesia’s supposed shortcomings, he was clearly the cruel one. Moreover, he cheated on her.
Being the otome game’s ‘Ore-sama’ character didn’t make Ottmar a good person. If he was a decent guy, he wouldn’t have ditched his fiancée. After all, what was her advice if not for his sake?
…Oof, I said too much.
At the same time, for the Thearesia of the otome game, Prince Ottmar was all she had.
With that gone, she had the illusion of a broken heart.
Anyways, at the time of her heartbreak, an offer of marriage from Count Lidholm reached the Brenstorm County.
Not only did her engagement get annulled by the crown prince himself, Thearesia’s ‘flaws’ were just too much to be ignored. As such, it was unlikely for her to receive an offer of marriage in the future.
In such a situation, Count Brenstorm had no choice but to hand over Thearesia to Count Lidholm.
The heartbroken Thearesia naturally disliked the new engagement, and continued to bitterly reject Count Lidholm.
Then, the first night while her former love left unprocessed, Thearesia was subjected to an outrageous humiliation.
…The opening of the track is simply breathtaking.
It was so amazing that when I recalled it, my chest inadvertently constricted.
“…You’re mine, Theresia.” The still of Count Lidholm—love and hatred burning within his eyes—as he pushed Thearesia down with a look of desperation was truly good. The same could be said about the R-rated scene which followed.
Truth to be told, Count Lidholm had a crush on Thearesia.
In the past, during a certain ball, Thearesia had accepted his dance invitation without the slightest hint of disgust.
Meanwhile, the other ladies were dead scared of the Demon Count, and refused his invitation to dance. Even if they did accept it, they’d do so reluctantly, and tremble the whole time.
However, because Thearesia was a strong-willed lady, she was careful to not show even a tinge of fear or disgust.
As a matter of course, after being reincarnated into that world, I accepted his dance invitation. Wholeheartedly, at that.
After all, after being stood up by His Highness Ottmar for God knows how many times, I was bored—!
Nevertheless, to the eyes of the onlookers, it’d seem as if I was forcing myself to smile.
…Which isn’t true, by the way.
I was delighted from the bottom of my heart.
In my previous life, I was considered pitiful as a single woman, because I had to rely on fictitious characters to give me happiness.
Well, not wrong, because I remember being desperate to make Count Lidholm happy in my former life…
Thus, in this life, I followed the storyline of the otome game and managed to dissolve my engagement. However, the rest would be different from the ending of the bonus track.
All I have to do is push forward towards a happy married life—!
First, I’d surprise Count Lidholm, before confessing to him.
However, even after I waited at home, there was no marriage proposal to be found.
I, is there a bug?
I definitely didn’t want that.
I’ll marry him, no matter what.
At last, I managed to catch up to his sturdy back.
Then, Count Lidholm abruptly stopped.
He turned around in horror.
…Then, Count Lidholm’s eyes widened in shock.
Even though you’re nine years older than me, why are you so cute!?
I couldn’t help but grin widely.
Seeing me like that, he tilted his head.
Perhaps, there were many underlying circumstances as to why I fell for Count Lidholm. But in actuality, I was also fond of his appearance. His tall, lean body. The genuine look of sincerity on his face. His thin lips. His straight nose. His beautiful, golden eyes, which was akin to the full moon—I loved everything about him. Even those pointed ears, which were said to be the proof of a demon. But to me, they were adorable.
His personality, which I could infer from our brief contact, was also preferable.
He was serious, kind, and didn’t seem like the type who’d cheat.
Yeah, he’s truly wonderful. He’s truly different from His Highness Ottmar.
For the wonderful Count Lidholm to be shunned just because of his unfortunate upbringing…
“…The daughter of Count Brenstorm?” While I was in daze, Count Lidholm called out to me with a hint of puzzlement.
Oops, no good. First impressions are important. “Indeed, I’m Thearesia of Count Brenstorm. I apologize for calling out to you in such an uncouth manner.”
“N-no, I don’t mind at all—!” As I bowed, Count Lidholm shook his head. The words, “What is this, a miracle?” Spilled from his lips—which I didn’t fail to hear. Apparently, the Count Lidholm of that world was also fond of me. Said fact alone warmed my heart.
“Then, Count Lidholm, may I have some of your time? Please? I’d like to talk to you.”
“Hold on a second. If you were to be caught speaking with me, it won’t bode well for you…”
How kind of Count Lidholm—! However, it wasn’t like my reputation could get any worse. After all, my engagement had just been annulled by the crown prince himself. “My engagement was annulled earlier, remember? It can’t get any worse than this.”
“Or, could it be… you’d rather not converse with me?” I pleaded towards him with my gaze. Even if I were to be criticized, I didn’t care. I was desperate to be loved—even more so by my bias. The corridor was a slight distance away from the party venue. The passersby in the corridor were looking at me with great interest, but I couldn’t be bothered about that. While staring at me, Count Lidholm’s face flushed. Then, he nodded slightly.
“Then, shall we go?”
“D, daughter of Count Brenstorm—!”
I took his hand and started walking away. In response, Count Lidholm let out an impatient voice. Towards him, who was dripping cold sweat, I smiled. “Count Lidholm, won’t you call me ‘Thearesia’?”
“But that would be—”
“—I’m begging you.”
“Uu…” When I stared at him, Count Lidholm was at a loss for words. “Then, if you’re willing to call me Hugo, I will refer to you as Lady Theresia…” In a voice basking with low self-esteem, he murmured.
“Understood, Lord Hugo—!” Upon receiving his permission to call him by his name, I immediately called him that.
Aah, how happy I am—! To be able to call my bias using his name—!
“Why would you… treat a being such as me so kindly?”
“Don’t say that. The reason is because it’s you.”
I pulled the hand of wide-eyed Hugo and proceeded to a more deserted place. Then, we settled down in a corner of the garden, basking under the gentle moonlight.
…Although, there might be lovers hiding in the shades of the trees and bushes. Well, there was nothing embarrassing about what I was going to say.
“Lord Hugo, will you listen to my request?”
“What is it, Lady Thearesia?”
While holding the hands of Hugo, I could hear him grunt. …I’m actually nervous, as well. My palms were sweating—no, they were soaking wet. I, I don’t want Lord Hugo to notice…! After taking a few deep breaths, I went straight to the point. “—I don’t feel anything towards His Highness Ottmar!”
“Eh…” Hugo’s golden eyes became as round as the full moon behind him.
I heard someone coughing in the bushes behind me, but decided to pay it no heed.
..Since it was the truth.
“I’ve been fond of Lord Hugo for a long time. However, until recently, I was still betrothed to His Highness, so I kept it a secret…”
“Lady Thearesia, if this is your idea of a joke—”
“—I’m not joking!” My feelings were genuine. I wouldn’t allow him to brush them off as a joke or a silly prank. After I passionately stared at him, Lord Hugo became serious.
“…Do you mean it?”
“I am. Therefore, if Lord Hugo doesn’t object, I’d like to become your fiancée.”
“T, there’s no way I’d object—! I’m in love with you as well—!” Hugo shouted out his confession, before taking my hands into his. Be it the size and the firmness of his hands, they were so masculine… Not only that, his confession made my heart flutter.
Since he was quite tall, I had to look up to him because I was short. Perhaps noticing that, Hugo knelt before me.
“…Being honest with you, I was thinking of proposing to you in an orderly manner. In fact, after your engagement was annulled, I had intended to court you right there and then. However, I didn’t want to add to your shame… No, truthfully, I’m far off from being considerate. After all, despite fully knowing how distasteful the marriage proposal would be, considering that it comes from the likes of me, I still planned on doing so… It’s a huge contradiction on my part.” With a sunken expression, Hugo gave me a bitter smile.
Using my unoccupied hand, I gently caressed his pointed ear.
…Then, Hugo’s eyes went round, as if they were about to fall.
“By ‘the likes of me’, were you referring to these ears? Hehe, I think they’re adorable…” It was akin to the elf’s ears I saw in my former world. Maybe that was why I thought of them as a symbol of beauty.
“I’m glad you thought of courting me on the spot. As long as it’s you, Lord Hugo, I’d happily oblige.”
The scene itself would be very romantic, I imagine. I wondered what kind of face Prince Ottmar would’ve made. I was sure that he’d show me the dumbest expression ever. Seeing me chuckling, Hugo relaxed.
“Lady Thearesia, I suspect that you’re presently in a confused state. Even so—even if you do regret it later, I won’t let you go, alright?”
“I understand, Lord Hugo.” The moment I said that, I was enveloped in something huge. Hugo had trapped me within his strong arms. …It smells pleasant, and also very warm. I also reached out and hugged him back. In response, he jolted violently.
“…You, truly are unafraid of me.”
“It’s because Lord Hugo is a kind person.”
“Kind? No way. I want to take you away. Then, I’d strip you naked. I’m the kind of man who thinks of such vile things.” In a low voice, he whispered in my ear. Both the tone of his voice and the content of his words set my cheeks ablaze.
“…I want to become Lord Hugo’s as soon as possible, so please take me away.”
After saying those words, there was no going back. Nevertheless, I had no intention of doing so from the start.
…More than anything else, I yearned to dedicate myself to Lord Hugo.
I wouldn’t run away from that man, who was probably still half in doubt. I’d love him for the remainder of my life, and I’d prove that to him.
“Understood. Then, Lady Thearesia, I shall take you away.” As his golden eyes gleamed, I could feel myself floating. Then, I soared into the air alongside Hugo.
“Wow…! This is amazing!”
“Lady Thearesia, we shall head to my territory.”
Magic existed in that world. However, I could only light the tip of my finger. Surprised by Hugo’s excellent magic, I hugged him so that I wouldn’t fall. In turn, Hugo’s pointed ears slightly reddened.
Several young ladies from the ground stared at us in awe as we flew. Considering the content of our earlier conversation, I was sure that some outrageous rumors would spread. As for myself, I felt nothing but disgust for the gossip-loving people of the aristocratic society. Although, if the rumors were about my love for Hugo, it wasn’t so bad.
“I’m sorry, everyone! Tonight was truly an enjoyable night, wasn’t it!?”
The moment I smiled and waved—
—our figures vanished into thin air and disappeared just like that of a phantom.