The place where I was reborn was a world that seemed like something out of a fantasy novel. It was a strict medieval society with royalty and nobility, and even a world where magic, elves, and dragons existed. That is, according to the book Serin unnie read to me, it was, but there was no way to confirm whether it was true or not.
After entering this orphanage, no child could go to the outside world. There was only one window hanging from the high ceiling. Still, according to Jake and Theo, who entered the orphanage at a later age, most of the statements in the book seemed to be true.
“While selling flowers in the capital, I even saw His Majesty the Emperor!”
Whenever Theo told the stories he had seen and heard in the capital, all the children of the orphanage gathered together and listened to his fairy-tale-like stories, regardless of whether they were real or false.
“How could you tell it was His Majesty the Emperor?”
Theo replied proudly at Serin’s inquiry.
“He was wearing a cloak engraved with the pattern of the Greffin Imperial Family. There! He was His Majesty!”
Serin added, looking at him rather pitifully.
“All knights can wear cloaks with the Imperial Family pattern.”
“Oh, is that so? No wonder there were too many emperors…”
At Theo’s words, Serin sighed and looked down at me lying on her lap.
‘Greffin? I’ve heard that somewhere…’ As if reading my mind, Serin pulled out an old golden button from her pocket and showed it to me.
“Leah, you haven’t seen the royal emblem yet, have you? You see, what’s engraved on this button symbolizes the empire.” As I glanced at it while hearing her voice saying “I picked it up on the street a long time ago,” a sense of uneasiness began to crept inside me.
The two lions with black manes inside the red emblem engraved on the button reminded me of the crown prince depicted in the novel I read before I died. The lion’s eyes, engraved with small jewels, were a creepy crimson. Descriptions about black hair and red eyes, which were major setting values in that novel world, only appeared in the royal family, flashed in my mind instantly.
‘And if my memory is correct, the name of the imperial family is… Greffin.’ Crazy, suddenly, things were going very wrong.
Looking back on my memories, before coming to this world, I was a normal girl who liked to read web novels and had an accident by bus while heading home. I think I lost consciousness laying on the snow even before the real pain could begin to creep in, and when I opened my eyes again, I had the body of a child! Although I had read a lot about ‘reincarnation and possession’ in novels, I rationalized myself by saying that it was a very different thing and that falling into a long dream for several weeks was much more realistic.
‘Isn’t it called a lucid dream?’ I thought that kind of definition I heard somewhere could explain this new kind of dream but…
‘It’s so long…’ I gave up trying to wake up from the dream because it was too long! I’d rather just accept this as reality. Instead, expectations arose as to whether or not I might have become a pretty heroine of some roma
‘First of all, it might sound presumptuous coming from my own mouth, but just looking at my face, I think I hit the jackpot.’ Even though the high-cat-like eyes had a rather pensive look, the face below had a truly brilliant future. The silver hair with a light pink hue,1 and the fresh green eyes like summer greenery made me seriously question if the parents I had lost in this world are ordinary people.
However, such expectations were completely shattered and vanished after a few months at the Troi orphanage. Miss Raiolla shouted her lungs out every day, the little children were busy crying, and I really started to think I had reincarnated into an impecunious world with no dreams or hopes.
‘But then, Greffin Empire?’ It was the creepy setting for the novel《The child loved by villains》that I was reading until just before I died.
Perhaps feeling my heart beating loudly, Serin looked at me asking what was happening, but I couldn’t afford to reply at that moment.
‘Leah…! I knew I had heard it somewhere! Wasn’t that the pseudonym she used before being adopted by that Duke? Villainess Ravelia.’
《The child loved by villains》 was a novel written solely for the heroine, Senia, from start to finish. ‘Senia,’ the youngest daughter of the Kavlos Duchy, a villainous family that dominated the underworld of the Greffin Empire, had an angel-like personality that contrasted with the rest of her family, so the Duke cherished and worried about her deeply. The Duke and her older brother, with whom she had no blood relationship and were known to be cold and ruthless; the so-called villains in the novel, were tamed by Senia’s lovely appearance.
Meanwhile, the heroine learns about the crimes her father and her older brother have committed in the past as villains, and as she digs through it, she meets the male lead, Luka, who is imprisoned in the orphanage. With her help, Luka, a year younger than the heroine, finally escapes from that hellish place. His true identity is revealed, he was the lost crown prince who disappeared and left the Empire in turmoil in the past. It was a novel about how Luka, who fell in love with Senia after receiving her help, became an adult and married her despite the opposition and sabotage from Duke and Young Duke of Kavlos.
[tl/n: ‘young duke’ is the title received by the heir to the duchy]
Had it been such a neat development, this novel might not have reached the ranks of a masterpiece. As in any novel, the axis of evil was bound to appear. Some people call them sweet potatoes,2 and some said that novels become fun because of their mere existence. Often referred to as MSG,3 frustrating villains that keep readers stuck to their back seats appeared continuously.
And that very villain was me, Ravelia.
“At this point, I’m scared, Mister writer… How could that sweet potato pop out of Senia and Luka’s closet on the first night…?”
“Luka, are you running again, falling for Ravelia’s fake illness? How much more do you want to regret later? I think the keyword was regretful man,4 I’ll just trust and watch.”
“Is she really time-limited? I think it’s all fake.”
Ravelia was the male lead’s ‘sibling’ at the orphanage. As a result of being beaten and punished on his behalf, who failed to escape the nursery home, both her legs were injured. Then, because she was born with silver hair, she was adopted by Duke Rayes and left the orphanage before Luka. By the time the lost crown prince finds his place with the help of Senia, Ravelia, who was treated as a substitute for the Duke’s missing daughter, turns her loneliness into a manic obsession with the male lead. He, who was guilty because she couldn’t walk properly because of him, couldn’t ignore her and would rush to her call, even if he was with the heroine.
Readers were grabbing the back of their necks due to the pain produced by such a male lead and looked forward to seeing him transform into a regretful man. Later, as the author also lived up to those expectations, he drew a scene where the male lead had to choose between the female lead and Ravelia, adding a subplot where she eventually suffers a mental illness. When I read the novel, I cursed at her for being a villainess who made me suffer enormously but…
I can’t believe that’s me… what’s this?! Of all things, I became a petty villainess, who was crippled at a young age, lived with a sense of inferiority to the heroine who was loved by the villains, and died from an incurable disease after going insane at the tender age of twenty-one?!!
“Hiik-! Wooh” Such a hapless fate made me tear up.
“Oh my, Leah is suddenly starting to cry…!”
“Serin unnie, give her this. Leah must be hungry.”
‘I’m not hungry. It’s just that my life is already exhausting!’
As I ate the cookies they gave me, I burst into tears.
* * *
Even if the development of the novel was like that, I had no intention of recreating the original story. For a few days after I found out about it, I was afflicted and worried Serin a lot, but after realizing that nothing would change if I lived like that, I did my best to eat my meals and grew up healthy.
As a result, time flew by and I became one of the elders in the orphanage, turning thirteen years old. It had been five years since Serin left this place. I knew for the novel she was sold to the underworld led by Duke Kavlos. Many of the children who lived here left one after another. Each time the people I had grown up with and raised with left, my heart sank. I vowed dozens of times that I would definitely save them later.
“Leah unnie, Henia woke up and is crying again.”
I held Terry’s hand, who clung to my skirt, and went to the little children’s room. Just as Serin did with me when I was young, I held the crying child and sang a lullaby.
Still, I did not forget the fate of the original story, which will begin soon.
‘Since I turned thirteen, Luka must be twelve by now. I’m sure he will be here soon. Senia must be thirteen like me, and she’s probably taming Kavlos’ villains by now.’
And, not surprisingly, Miss Raiolla, who hadn’t brought in a new child since Kallik two months ago, entered with a boy.
A week later after I secretly stole the monthly newspaper she had thrown in the trash can and read the scoop about the missing crown prince.
1. [I checked several times and it says pink, but I see it rather light purple? Am I color blind?]↩
2. [‘Sweet Potato’ is a slang word used a lot in web novels. It basically refers to a frustrating or impatient situation -like eating sweet potatoes without any water-]↩
3. [MSG is also a slang word that is used to describe something exaggerated or someone that adds too much drama into a story. But I might be wrong with this, so if anyone knows it, let me know]↩
4. [Regretful man is also an idiom used in web novels when referring to a character who will regret their actions after falling in love. Usually used as a keyword to describe the male lead]↩
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