✧ A Very Bad Guy✧
“Lady Erna, have you tried visiting the seaside? The sunset there is really pretty, shall we go see it tonight? No? You haven’t recovered yet so the night air must not be good for your body, right? I’m sorry for getting excited alone.”
Lisa, who was full of excitement, suddenly slowed down her monologue and became worried. This made Erna, who was walking with her while listening to her animated chatter, stopped on her tracks and raised her head to look at the anxious maid.
“I’m okay now, Lisa.”
“Really? With your face still this pale? Err.. Well your skin is originally as pale as a newly fallen snow I guess.” Lisa tilted her head while observing her master and let out a cheerful smile. It was a smile that made Erna also feel happy just by looking at it.
Her lively maid once again continued to introduce various sights to be seen in Lechen with Erna following closely right behind her. It was still early in the morning, so most of the shops were still closed. Thanks to this, the streets were quiet and they were able to enjoy a comfortable walk in peace.
After returning from the royal ball, Erna got sick and ended up being bedridden for three full days. The Viscount, finally realizing her fever showed no signs of ebbing down, hurriedly called over a doctor; it turned out her sickness wasn’t that bad but it didn’t mean that they could ignore it. In the end, her body could not stand the sudden changes in her environment together with the fatigue she just experienced during the party.
Could she even survive for a year living like this?
Everytime she remembered what just happened during the ball, her chest would get uncomfortably tight and she couldn’t breathe well. She tried to consult the doctor about the pain she felt that night, where her vision turned white for a moment while feeling suffocated.
‘You’ll be fine once you get used to it. Just take it easy’ His only response, however, was an indifferent reply that it was just a common neurosis.
It didn’t seem to be the case she thought, but Erna meekly agreed in the end. She had already made a promise, therefore, she had to play the role of Viscount Hardy’s daughter well for a year. She needs to do it to protect the honor of her grandmother and the Baden Family.
“Hello, Miss Hardy!”
As soon as she finished reassuring herself, a loud cry was suddenly heard around her. Erna’s shoulders reflexively jolted due to surprise and she started to look around for the source of the sudden greeting. She soon found out where it was, on the terrace of the splendid building behind the fountain stood a strange man who was waving excitedly.
“Good morning!” The man once again shouted to greet the bewildered Erna and the gazes of the men sitting around the table behind him also turned to her.
Erna, who was looking at them with a perplexed gaze, sighed involuntarily and took a step back. Her eyes ended up meeting the gaze of the blonde man sitting behind, lazily resting his chin on his palm.
The only face that she could recognize from that group, the face of the Poisonous Mushroom Prince.
Look at that!
A new laugh escaped from Biern’s lips as he watched the back of Erna Hardi, who was running around. I feel like I’ve been laughing a lot more these days. Thanks to that strange sale offered by the Viscount who was scammed.
After giving an awkward greeting to Peter, Erna soon hid behind the maid. To be precise, the maid stopped Erna. After struggling for a while, Erna hurriedly turned around and started to run away. Rich frills and lace waving along the staggering footsteps made the desperate getaway look even more absurd.
“That maid is the dog of hell.”
Peter shook his head and turned around.
“Still, the fact that he ran away even after seeing Biern is a little comforting. It’s not about my face.”
“but. That’s it.”
“It seems like nothing really happened, so was Biern being taken advantage of by Miss Hardy? As a means of getting attention at the prom?”
“All of these days are coming, even for the Grand Duke. How are you, Biern? How do you feel about being used and abandoned by a woman?”
The group sitting at the table roared in silence as if the drink they had drank all night had not yet woken up.
Biern, who stopped looking at the corner of the street where Erna had disappeared, responded by groaning and standing up. It was an attitude as usual. The party, who had been looking at them in awe, breathed a sigh of relief.
“I still don’t know him well.”
Peter, who was watching Biern’s back as he moved away, muttered with a sigh. The rest of the party also agreed with the view in silence.
Light and attractive prodigal son in everything. Those who looked at Biern from a distance all spoke unanimously, and that was by no means a wrong view. But, well. Biern Dneister, seen up close, was a person who could hardly understand his inner feelings. The more casually he smiled, the more so.
“Oh, Mr. You were scared!”
Peter’s cry, who was once again unhappy, spread through the morning wind in the square.
‘Would you look at that..’
A silent laugh escaped from Bjorn’s lips as he watched Erna Hardy’s back, who was now running away as if she was fleeing for her dear life. He felt like he was laughing more than usual as of lately, and it seems that he had to thank Viscount Hardy whose life savings got stolen and brought about a new source of entertainment for him.
After giving an awkward greeting to Peter, Lady Hardy ended up hiding behind her maid. Well to be more precise, it was the maid trying to stop her from running away. However, after a brief struggle between them, Lady Hardy ended up victorious as she hurriedly turned around and started to run away. Rich frills and lace waved along her frantic footsteps, which made the scene of her desperate getaway even sillier.
“That maid is the famous watchdog of hell.” Peter shook his head and turned around.
“The fact that she ran away after seeing Bjorn is a little comforting. I guess in the end it’s not about my face.”
“I guess there’s really nothing between you and Lady Hardy. So, did His Highness get taken advantage of by Miss Hardy? Did she use you as a way of getting attention at the ball?”
“Such a day finally arrived for the Grand Duke! How are you, Bjorn? How do you feel about being used and abandoned by a woman?” The group sitting at the table roared loudly as if they were still drunk from last night’s alcohol.
Bjorn, who stopped looking at the corner of the street where Lady Hardy had disappeared, responded by groaning and standing up. His actions were still his usual attitude, not giving any words as a response. The group, who had been looking at him with bated breath, breathed a sigh of relief.
“I guess I still don’t know him that well.” Peter, who was watching Bjorn’s back as he moved away, muttered with a sigh. The rest of the group also agreed silently while looking at the same view.
An attractive prodigal son who treated everything with a light attitude, ethereal and empyrean. Those who looked at the Grand Duke from a distance all agreed unanimously and they were by no means wrong. However, Bjorn Dniester when seen up close was only a person who could hardly understand his inner feelings in the end. The more casually he smiled, the more lost and helpless he became
“Oi, great Grand Duke! You were scared!”
Peter’s shout which was filled with indignation once again spread through the morning wind in the square.
Bjorn’s carriage quickly left the club and started going towards the Schuber Palace. He languidly leaned back in his seat while staring outside the window. After the carriage passed through the busy street with various shops and government offices, the scenery now changed into a wide road along the riverbank filled with the shadows of tall trees that lined both sides of the path. His eyes, full of drowsiness and fatigue, watched the scene where light and shadows flickered as the carriage passed by quickly. Seeing the dark green forest, he realized that summer was approaching, which also meant that these peaceful days would soon come to an end.
The royal family was due to visit Schuber during the weekend and the summer palace where they would stay was located inside the residence of the Grand Duke. Even though the two buildings were far enough that they needed a carriage to travel back and forth, they would still end up living inside the same territory. Thanks to this, Bjorn had no choice but to get caught up with a lot of troublesome work whenever it was summer.
It was one of the duties assigned to him as the Grand Duke.
With his tired eyes resting shut, the carriage soon crossed the bridge across the Arbit River and entered the entrance to the palace. An expansive garden lined with geometric patterns unfolded after they passed through the large ornate entrance decorated with the royal coat of arms. Soon, the clear sound of water flowing from the fountains which were installed in various places was transmitted to their ears together with a gentle breeze.
Bjorn slowly opened his eyes as the wind brushed away his messy hair. Their carriage continued towards the southern end of the city where the Arbit River and Schber Bay meet. This is where the Grand Duke’s Mansion, which was also known as the Water Palace, was located. The mansion got its name thanks to its location where a clear view of both the river and the sea could be seen. Additionally, the place had various gardens that were decorated with numerous fountains and waterways connecting to the streams.
“Are you here, Prince?”
The door of the carriage, which had arrived at its destination, eventually opened. For some reason Mrs. Fitz’s greeting, which was unusually not mixed with reproach, was heard. He lazily got off the carriage and looked at the odd maid with questioning eyes.
“A guest has visited and is now waiting for you”
Mrs. Fitz breathed deeply and continued speaking with apprehension.
“Well… … It is Princess Gladys. She is currently waiting for you in the library.”
Her added statement stopped Bjorn, who had just entered the central hall, on his tracks. He lifted his head slowly and put his hands in the pockets of his trousers. The lights of the huge chandelier that never goes out sharply pierced his eyes with irritation.
“I’m sorry, Prince. We… … .”
“I know.” He cut off Mrs. Fitz’s words, which were insignificant for his current situation. There was hardly any emotion in his eyes as he slowly started to climb the carpeted stairs.
“A cup of tea, please. Make it strong.” To Mrs. Fitz, who followed with a worried face, Bjorn gave a calm command. Unlike his lips that were softly curved in a calm smile, his cold eyes did not contain any hint of emotion.
“As you wish, Your Highness.”
Swallowing the words she wanted to say, she took a step back and hurriedly went away to fulfill what she was ordered. Bjorn, on the other hand, soon disappeared after passing through the door of the study.
“In the end, I should still apologize.. Right?” Erna raised another question full of caution.
“What do you mean by apologizing?! You don’t have to do that, miss!” Lisa answered more adamantly after she returned from her trip to the kitchen.
Startled, Erna appeared troubled as she fiddled with the teacup she was currently holding. She felt sorry for the mistakes she had made to His Highness during the ball and wanted to personally apologize. In the end, she couldn’t find a suitable opportunity as he was always surrounded by a lot of people and Erna never had the courage to approach him.
‘Perhaps the result would still be the same even if he was alone.’ She thought as she looked down at her trembling fingertips. Just making eye contact with His Highness reminded her of that day which made her heart sink even more.
How could she face His Highness personally with such a shameful memory haunting her?
No matter how hard she tried, she would always end up running away in a hurry when she finally came to her senses. During those times, that embarrassing debutante dress also came to her mind without fail. Together with His Highness’ calm gaze who casually glanced at her exposed body, she couldn’t help but to feel like she would die of embarrassment.
What a vulgar place the metropolis really was!!
“I think I still have to apologize, Lisa. I must have caused so much trouble for him.” After thinking for a while, she still came up with the same decision in the end. She didn’t really have the courage to face him, but it’s rude to make a mistake and continue acting as if she was not aware of it.
“Ugh…. Wait a minute, miss.” Lisa stood up and hurriedly left the bedroom. After a while, she returned carrying a large box in her arms.
“It’s a present for you but you have to return them after reading. If you want them, I’ll give some to you, but they’re shared items that the maids tirelessly saved up for unfortunately.” Lisa seriously explained to the bewildered Erna.
“Is this for me? Why?”
“You must study. I’ve collected and studied various news and gossip when I’m not busy. I now know all sorts of stories.” The maid held out the magazine at the top of the box in front of her. It was a weekly magazine with an in-depth article about the Poisonous Mushroom Prince, Prince Bjorn. Erna, in the end, had no choice but to accept it. After flipping through a few pages, a page filled with holes appeared in front of her.
“This hole… … ”
“Ah! It’s because of those damna- no.. bad maids who cut out pictures of His Highness. Everyone is swearing at him but once a picture of the Poisonous Mushroom Prince was posted, this is what would happen.” Lisa criticized the immoral maids. After a few condemning words, she suddenly became pensive and hurriedly stood up.
“Okay! While you are studying I’ll go run an errand for you, miss!” Before Erna could say anything, the maid urgently left the bedroom.
Erna, who was left alone, looked down at the weekly magazine on her lap with a bewildered expression. Just a quick glance at it could tell her that it was a magazine filled with fairly provocative gossip. Struggling between the thought that it was not right to pry on other people’s lives this way and the curiosity she couldn’t shake off, Erna eventually ended up turning the page to the next article. The photos were gone and there were gaps on the pages here and there, but she didn’t find it difficult to discern the full context of the whole article.
She carefully read the magazines while the tea on the table cooled down. Various scandals and incidents involving Schuber socialites, brilliant advertisements, horoscopes, and even dating counseling; the magazine contained all kinds of miscellaneous news. It was quite a shocking new world for her, a completely different view from the magazines she used to buy back in her hometown.
By the time she put down the last magazine, she was able to get a rough idea of the troublemakers in Schuber’s social circle. The most prominent one was of course the Poisonous Mushroom Prince, Bjorn Dniester.
Not all of the stories in these magazines were true but some of the articles were far beyond Erna’s comprehension, especially those stories concerning His Highness, Prince Bjorn. Information about him disturbed her the most, since he was apparently a father who abandoned his own child. After his divorce from Princess Gladys, the Prince said that he had never met his son. Even when the child died of an illness without seeing his father for several years, the Prince still ignored him even at his funeral.
Erna, who was quietly looking down at the stack of magazines, bit her lips involuntarily. It was considered shallow to judge someone you only met a few times, much more someone who you had not interacted with frequently. However, the pendulum inside her heart had already tilted towards one direction after learning such distressing information.
The Prince seemed to be a bad person. A very bad person.