4. Steps of Love
Buffeg and the others feared the birth of the unprecedented couple—Lydian the Wicked, and a certain villainess. On the other hand, the Bazestilma family as a whole was overjoyed.
Eleonora, the involved party, was so excited that she couldn’t sleep a wink even after tucking herself into bed.
“Aah! What a wonderful person His Highness Lydian is…! To be married to someone like him, my heart is about to burst from the sheer joy!”
Eleonora swooned as she stared at the engagement ring that Lydian gave her.
At that moment, she was just a maiden in love.
Although, that love was a tad insecure.
“Anyway, how did it start?”
Eleonora recalled the tea party where she first met Lydian, and tilted her head.
At first, Eleonora participated with the intention of bagging the prince and ruling this country. But as fate had it, Eleonora fell in love with Lydian at first sight. Unfortunately, he didn’t even know she existed. That very night, Eleonora threw a tantrum and trashed her room.
If Eleonora’d stopped to think, perhaps she’d notice that she was coming on too strong. Unfortunately, she was too self-centered to notice that.
Of course, Eleonora wasn’t the type to give up just like that, so she went to her father. “Please make me His Highness Lydian’s fiancée!” But nothing ever came out of it.
“—I was in a bit of trouble at that time… I went shopping to soothe my heart, only to get caught up in a bizarre explosion. I’m still unsure what happened.”
While she was enjoying her shopping, the store was suddenly blown to bits. Before the five-story store could be razed to the ground, a mysterious crater formed underneath her feet.
Merely remembering got her all riled up. After all, even though she was safe, something equally as shocking happened.
In the aftermath of the explosion, the boy who manned the store asked her.
“…Are you a monster?”
Of course Eleonora would be shocked!
“A-a monster, he said…? A villainess as famous (self-proclaimed) and beautiful as me—!? It’s so frustrating to think about!”
As she gritted her teeth, Eleonora’s face transformed from that of a young lady to that of a monster thirsty for vengeance.
By the way, upon hearing that, Eleonora grabbed the boy by his collar and hurled colorful insults at him. However, even when Eleonora threatened him, the boy remained unfazed. If anything, he stared at her as if she was a rare species of animal.
“Would you like to be my test subject? I promise to treat you well.”
His next words only increased her anger twofold!
“Huuuh!? Don’t be silly! Who do you think I am!? I’m Eleonora, the daughter of Duke Bazestilma! After calling me a monster, you’re now calling me a guinea pig!? I’ll never forgive you! I’ll tell my father to tear this whole place down!”
Enraged, Eleonora tried to punch the boy, but in the next moment, everything went black. When she regained consciousness, she was inside her mansion.
An average person would be confused, “How did I get here?” But Eleonora was too angry to care. In a fit of rage, she barged into her father’s room and yelled at him.
“—Father! I have a favor to ask you! You need to destroy this certain store!”
“Of course, my darling Eleonora. I’ll destroy it right away!”
The duke—a capable vassal, yet a useless father—agreed without questions.
“Okay, so the name of the store is…”
Eleonora was about to announce the name of the store, before realizing something.
The store, Dragon Shrine, was on the military police’s blacklist. A black market that dealt in illegal drugs and weapons.
In the past, a thief had broken into her mansion. He was made to confess the source of his weapons and armor by the knights. Afterwards, exploiting the knight’s weakness, Eleonora threatened him to lead her to that store. Of course, it was a secret from her parents.
…Naming the store would be akin to confessing her crimes.
Moreover, if the Dragon Shrine were to disappear, Eleonora would have nowhere else to shop.
At that moment, Eleonora realized—
—that store had an overwhelming advantage over her. After all, she couldn’t speak a word about it to her parents.
Not only was she powerless against it, she also couldn’t rely on the authorities.
“What’s the matter, Eleonora? Your adorable face is turning into a monster—no, I mean, did that place bring up unwanted memories?”
The duke, who had too much of a sweet spot to his child, inquired of his sweet daughter.
At the royal court, he was a soft-spoken and competent middle-aged man. But at home, he was too much of an enabler.
Certainly, parental love was a sight to behold. But as he watched the entire exchange, the knight who stood behind Eleonora thought to himself. “Call your daughter out on her mistake!”
Tongue-tied, Eleonora frowned.
In her normal state, she’d fall under the category of a beautiful girl, but her current expression was that diabolical face of Satan who’d often appear in the play.
“Never mind, Father. I made a mistake. Please don’t worry about it.”
Eleonora spoke reluctantly.
The duke was confused, but Eleonora ran to her room without saying a word.
Upon returning to her room, Eleonora plopped on her bed and cried a lot.
“How annoying—! If I knew more about the underworld, I would’ve been spared such humiliation! Now that it has come to this, I have to become the paragon of evil, stand at the top of the underworld, and make that shitty brat kneel before me!”
Eleonora wailed in frustration, and from that moment on, vowed to become the ultimate villainess.
—What a depressing and frustrating memory it was.
Even though it only happened recently, every time she thought about it, her anger was sizzling
As the excitement over her newfound love washed over her, Eleonora stiffened.
“Wait! If the newspaper company found out that I frequented such a store, my queen position would be in jeopardy! I have to take swift action!”
Thus, Eleonora summoned the very same exploited knight, and instructed him to find that brat’s weakness.
“Investigate his background. Find out about his family or his lover. I’ll kidnap them.”
However, no matter how much the knight investigated, it was to no avail. At a loss, the knight asked the store owner about the boy’s identity. Instead of answering, the store owner only smiled bitterly.
In the end, the boy couldn’t be traced, and Eleonora became furious.
Even when she was having a tea party with her beloved Lydian, when she was suddenly reminded of that incident, her eyebrows became furrowed.
“Eleonora? Are you alright?”
Lydian asked her with concern.
“Ohoho, it’s nothing.”
She tried her best to gloss over it.
Oh my, His Highness Lydian is as handsome as always…! I’m so delighted that I get to be his fiancée! But, if His Highness was to find out that I frequent that kind of store, he might hate me! As expected, I have to silence the witness!
Unbeknownst to the determined Eleonora, said ‘brat’ was the same boy who sat in front of her.
The heroine we’re all rooting for.
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