Chapter 1

Lucia Chapter 1

translated: eseul

edited: lili

Lucia hated opening her eyes every morning

‘Ah…this damn migraine. Why must I go through the same pain twice in a lifetime?’

Lucia held her aching head and got up. Her life followed the exact path of her dream. Once she started menstruating at age 15, she began suffering from massive migraines at least once a month and at most about three to four times a month. Though it wasn’t serious, it would turn out to be a chronic illness tormenting her for the rest of her life.

By the time Lucia turned 18 years old, she truly believed she had seen her own future in her dream. She had put in a lot of effort. Many things about her future had changed already.

But sometimes, the future was inevitable and nothing could be done to change it. For example, in the summer when she was 13 years old, there had been a heavy downpour of rain, which had flooded the whole first floor of the royal palace. The following winter, a cold spell due to the flood had caused a shortage of firewood. She had spent the entire winter shivering with cold.

When she turned 15, she began menstruating and suffering migraines. Such was the power the future held. Even knowing what would happen next, it wasn’t possible to change it.

When she turned 19, the King would die. Lucia would be sold to the piggish Count Matin. That was part of the future Lucia couldn’t change. As she realized this, she fell in despair. What was the point of knowing the future? It felt like the heavens were pulling her leg, turning everything into a big joke.

She confined herself in her room in hopelessness, but she let it all go only a few days later . ‘Even if I starve myself to death here, nobody will know.’ It was like a breath of fresh air, she no longer felt the heavy burden of sorrow weighing on her heart.

Lucia opened her windows. The cold morning air flooded into the room. She leaned against the window sill and let the icy wind blast against her entire body. It was as if she was facing against her own cold destiny.

She was now tall enough to place her hands against the window sill and lean out to look at the outside world. She took after her mother, so she had a small body frame. Her hair was reddish brown much like the rest of the population, but she had pumpkin orange eyes that glittered like gold and stood out from the rest. Other than that, she looked like any other person one could find on the street.

Even so, it wasn’t like she didn’t have any appeal. She had a pale but glowing complexion, so dressing up a bit let her display her charm. Usually, her allure remained dormant. She never needed a corset due to her thin waist. Her frail frame could incite most men’s protective instinct. However, she didn’t belong to the upper aristocracy, thus none of her charms could be appreciated.

“Let’s see. I’m out of firewood and I’m running low on potatoes and eggs.”

She was currently standing besides her creaky old wooden table, taking inventory of her life necessities. She had carelessly tied her long hair into a ponytail, and her plain poplin dress looked almost identical to the royal palace’s maid uniform. In her current state, nobody would think she was a princess.

“I should go request for the necessary goods today.”

It was improper for Princess Lucia to do this herself, but it had become natural after a few years. There wasn’t a single official maid residing in her palace at the moment. Thankfully, the place wasn’t that big, so it wasn’t too much trouble. The top floor of the palace had been blocked off for safety reasons ever since she had first arrived here. Currently, part of the first floor was also closed off. The only living spaces she could use were her bedroom and a few other rooms.

At first, she had five maids waiting on her. But they were crude and could not be considered palace maids at all.

The royal maids had their own pride. The servants who attended to the esteemed nobles were all called ‘maids’, but there were different ranks among them.

A royal palace maid looked over the chores and miscellaneous tasks completed by the labor maids. Officially, Lucia, who was part of the royal family, had to have a housekeeper, royal palace maids, labor maids, and three attendants.

The problem was that there were too many royal descendants. The main problem being Lucia was ranked the lowest of the low among her brothers and sisters. No matter how hard the maids worked, there was no hope for any promotions and there was nobody who would go out of their way to volunteer for the position. There was no way for the servants to receive additional pocket money, so all the maids avoided her. As the years passed, the maids retired one by one and soon Lucia didn’t have a single one remaining by her side.

Originally, once a maid retired, a new maid should have been hired. However, her palace had no hopes of good earnings, so any royal palace maid or labor maid would steer clear of this place. Royal palace maids received enough salary for their daily life. However, it was difficult for labor maids to survive on just their wages.

The maids hired to serve Lucia would quit after a few days or bribe high officials to be reassigned to a different place. Soon, maids stopped coming into the palace once and for all. The servants’ names were recorded into the registry and received their wages, but they never showed up to do their jobs.

If Lucia formally registered a complaint, things would have been resolved. Although she had no power, she was still considered a princess. Inside the dream, she had personally gone to the maids and fixed the problem. This time as well, she had decided to go find the maids and straighten out the problem. However on the way there, she had bumped into a royal palace maid who had mistaken her for a labor maid and had assigned a simple chore to her.

A bright idea had popped into Lucia’s mind and she had fulfilled the task without complaint. She had decided not to file the complaint, and had returned home to organize her thoughts instead. If she pretended to be a maid long enough, she would gain the chance to go out of the royal palace.

Lucia’s last maid had left her at the age of 15, and what followed was her dual life as a princess and a maid. As a maid, she had to go request for daily necessities and do manual labor, but she had earned the freedom to leave the royal palace.

Lucia had been living alone in the palace for three years. It was probably still documented that Lucia was living together with five other maids.

No palace officials would bother to come and personally check whether the documentations were true or not. The complaints of the countless children of the king were enough to make the officials’ heads burst with pain. The officials had no time for Lucia who never expressed a word of complaint.

Lucia was returning home after she had requested for daily necessities this morning, while also receiving tips for a job well done. Whether it was the royal palace or the dirty back streets of the city, humans were all essentially the same. Money enticed people to to continue struggling forward.

There was a different door maids used to leave the palace. They were all standing in a long line waiting for their turn. The line gradually shortened until it was finally Lucia’s turn. She showed the guard her permission to leave pass. It was a pass issued by Princess Vivian. However, even if Lucia showed her face to the guard, he would not recognize her. He quickly confirmed the authenticity of the pass and nodded.

“Are you taking anything out of the palace?”

The guard had already confirmed Lucia was empty handed, but he still asked anyway.


The guard nodded once again and let her out of the palace.

Lucia inhaled a deep breath of fresh air. She turned her head around and looked up at the giant palace walls that surrounded the place.

It was safe inside the palace walls. Outside the walls, it was hard for a young girl to safely walk around on her own.

The status of a low ranked princess worked in her favor to allow for a lot of freedom. The Lucia of her dreams had never realized that fact, but she had come to realize it now.

Still, the future made her unable to breathe. She wanted to escape that place as soon as possible.

‘It’s strange that there are so many people today.’

People were crowding the street in masses. Whenever she managed to squeeze through, the crowd of people would sweep her into another direction, making her run in circles.

After toiling through the crowd, she arrived to a small two story house, where a middle-aged woman opened the door. She had her eyebrows and eyes creased like she was mad, but that was actually her natural face.


“Hello, Ms. Phil. Is Madam Norman home?”

“She’s always home. She’s still sleeping sprawled on the floor after a long night of drinking. Hold on a second, let me go get some tea for you.”

“Thank you, Ms. Phil.”

The comforting fragrance of the tea filled the living room as Lucia sat patiently with a gentle expression, enjoying her tea. The sound of Ms. Phil clattering around drifted over from the kitchen, but this addition seemed like music to her ears. Lucia’s dream was to purchase a small house like this and enjoy her life. She would hire two people and let them do the minor chores, and she would enjoy life while peacefully drinking tea. She would do things like taking small walks or passing time while reading books. Though she didn’t know when that dream would come true.

A gentle smile could be seen on Lucia’s face. A skinny woman was clumsily stumbling down the stairs from the second floor, barely able to hold her own body up while her eyes looked glossed over in a haze. She let out a creaky voice.

“Ms. Phil, water~!”

Norman sat on the sofa across from Lucia and leaned down on the armrest. She had a thin body and a face which gave off an unfriendly atmosphere. She looked well over her 30s, but was actually very young. Norman chugged down the glass of water Ms. Phil had brought, and sighed as if she wanted to die.

“Aaah, my inside hurts.”

“You should ease up on your drinking, tsk tsk.”

Ms. Phil muttered in her unique blunt tone and returned to the kitchen. Her speech and attitude was always brusque, but Lucia knew Ms. Phil’s kindness – she was going to the kitchen to prepare some food that would quell Norman’s hangover.

“Why did you drink so much?”

“I thought I would be able to write one more line if I drank, but I couldn’t control myself. I’m sorry. In this state, I can’t properly take care of my guest. Thank you for coming all this way.”

“What do you mean by guest? It’s no trouble coming to visit you at all. Even if I didn’t have to come here, I would have gone out for a walk anyway.”

“There is something in the table drawer there. Open it, my latest book is there.”

Madam Norman was a writer; she was a famous romance author. Norman’s books were all about love, but people considered these books classy and intelligent. They were fun but educational; her books that killed two birds with one stone, had caused a sensation. Due to the many books she had released these past years, she could live comfortably without needing to earn a cent more.

When Lucia took out the book, she gasped.

“It’s finally done! I’ve been waiting for a long time.”

Lucia hurried to the last page of the book.

“You’re already ending it? Why? This series is very popular.”

“It would get boring if I add too much filler, this length is just right. My editor was on my tail, ordering me to lengthen the series by two or three more books. Hehehe.”

“It’s such a pity. I feel like it would have been alright if you followed your editor’s advice.”

“Look inside the book as well.”

Lucia flipped through the pages and found an envelope hidden within the book. Inside, there was a receipt confirming that money had been deposited. Lucia’s eyes popped out when she saw the amount of money.

“Norman, this is too much….”

“Take it. You deserve it.”

“But I’ve already received a lot of money…”

“This is a bonus since I’ve completed my novel. If you still don’t feel right, you can consider it a fee for helping me contribute ideas for my novel. The ideas for this novel mostly came from you.”

In the past, Norman was not a popular writer. She was a poor author who had trouble buying her daily meals. Her usual topic was a romance between a female commoner and a noble man. It was impossible for it to happen in reality, but people could always daydream about it.

However, what the readers wanted was not a female commoner, but an elegant noble woman. Commoners wished to experience a noble’s life through these books, while nobles didn’t bother picking up books about commoners. Even so, Norman had no way to write about a noble woman, because she didn’t have the tiniest idea about how they lived.

Norman, a commoner with no money, would have no way to take part in a social event hosted by nobles. She would either need to extensively read other people’s books, or interview maids who have served nobles before. However, she hadn’t had any money, so she couldn’t do anything.

Her books wouldn’t sell, so she couldn’t even pay her rent. Although her only talent was writing, she couldn’t see a way to break through into the novel industry. While Norman had been sitting in the empty streets of the central plaza, Lucia had appeared out of nowhere and had given her a loaf of bread. Norman believed that meeting Lucia had changed her life around.

Norman had never known, but Lucia had been keeping an eye on her for a long time. Norman hadn’t seemed like a homeless beggar, but she had looked so hungry. She had been sitting by the roadside, but never begged for food. Lucia couldn’t help but go up and talk to her.

That was how the two of them had met.

“The reason I’m here today is all because of you, Lucia.”

Lucia had taught Norman everything she knew about high society. Lucia had attended many social parties inside her dream. Her words could not compare to the simple maids who simply served the nobles by their side. Norman could set up a strong foundation to her novels through Lucia’s extensive tales of the noble women in the high society.

“It’s because Norman’s novels are amazing.”

“If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have been able to write a single sentence, so it’s all thanks to you. I can continue earning more money now.”

Lucia visited Norman once a week. They talked for a few hours and through this, Lucia had earned quite a bit of money.

Norman had paid her a hefty sum. Of course in the beginning, Lucia had to go visit her with a basket full of bread, but as soon as her books started selling, Norman had not been shy in expressing her thanks through money.

The roles had changed now. Numerous people, including widows, were coming to visit her. She had stabilized her footing. Norman could now collect as much information as she needed even without Lucia. But Norman could not become an ungrateful human being toward the person who had helped her when she most needed it.

Norman wanted to continue sponsoring Lucia and help her get married as well. They were not only connected through money. Norman regarded Lucia as her little sister.

“Thank you, Norman. My greatest luck was meeting you.”

“That’s what I want to tell you.”

Lucia’s eyes shook as she confirmed the amount of money she received. With the amount she had saved so far, she would be able to safely run away and smoothly begin a new life.

‘No. The risk and danger is too big.’

No matter how little interest she garnered from others, she was still a princess. If she were to disappear, the palace guards would be deployed to track her down. Not out of worry for Lucia, but because their prestige would be tarnished. If so, they would find out about her past with Norman. It was very likely that Norman would suffer some injustice or punishment.

There was no guarantee she would be able to escape at all. In order to successfully escape, she had to leave the capital and travel somewhere far. She was just a lone girl; nine cases out of ten she would suffer an accident of some sort. She had considered guards or escorts, but she couldn’t trust anyone. Rather, it was likely that the guards would end up stabbing her in the back and stealing all her money.

If she wanted to plan an escape, it would be safer after getting married to Count Matin. She wouldn’t be considered part of the royal palace anymore, so even if she went missing, nobody would care. She could close her eyes and suffer for just one year while looking for someone trustworthy and planning thoroughly, so that nobody would find her when she ran away.

‘But… I don’t want to, that guy…’

A chill ran down her spine just from imagining that person’s face. Was there really no way? A way to escape from him.

“Lucia, do you have a boyfriend?”


“What are you so shocked for? I’m wondering if you have a boyfriend? If you don’t know anybody, then I can look for someone very nice and introduce him to you.”

“How old do you think I am? Aah, it’s okay.”

“You’re only 18 years old. It’s not like I’m telling you to get married. You should get to know a handful of men, so when you’re around 22, you can choose someone among them to marry. Palace maids are very popular, you know. People think they are very modest. They view them differently from women who do manual labor or farming for a living. You guys have pale skin as well. Just go with the flow and tell me. What type of men do you like? Do you like older men who are dependable? Young and cute guys? I’ll find them for you.”

“How about you? Norman why are you still single?”

Norman’s previously sparkling eyes turned bored once the topic shifted back to her.

“Well for me, I’m already too old.”

“What’s age got to do with anything? You just have no interest in it. You’re deceiving your readers. How can you not believe in love when you write romance novels?”

“Tsk, what do you mean deceive? I’m giving life to an everlasting love that does not exist in the real world. When my readers fall into my novel, they live in a dream.”

“Then why are you telling me to get married?”

“Although there is no such thing as everlasting love, I think that when two people’s hearts connect, they can become good friends for each other. Since you’re always alone, I wish you would find a friend who can be with you until the end.”

“Why am I alone? I have you, Norman. Norman, you are my friend and family.”

Norman looked at Lucia with affected eyes and opened her arms wide. Hurry and come into your older sister’s embrace. Lucia burst into laughter while Norman’s eyes shined at her.

“You smell like alcohol, so I don’t want to.”

“Eh? How can you respond that way in this heart-warming moment?”

“I’ll be going now. Norman, you should go and rest some more. You look like you will die any moment now.”

Norman had dark circles hanging below her eyes, making her look like a corpse.

“Aah, I really should return to sleep. I feel like someone is twisting my organs inside of me. If you’re not in a rush, feel free to rest a while longer and take your time going home. Anyway, there is a rush of people outside and it will be hard to get around.”

“Now that you bring it up, is it a special day today? I saw a lot of people on the way here.”

“You didn’t know? I’m always buried inside my house, but you know even less than me. All the knights are returning to parade around the city.”


That was today. It was a rare chance to see the minister of state, so everyone had left their work for another day and had come out to greet the minister.

‘In my dream, I always kept myself shut inside the detached palace, so I never knew these things.’

This was one of the biggest lifestyle changes for Lucia, compared to the past. While Lucia was pretending to be a palace maid, she was able to go out into the world and explore. Thanks to that, Norman had also made a lot of money.

‘The war is over now….’

Compared to the detached palace, that was still, isolated, and without change, the outside world was very noisy. When Lucia was eight, she had experienced her first war. It had been a local war between two small countries. But as time continued to flow, the war had gradually spread, and soon the whole world had been split in two.

In the future, this war would be called the first stage of the continental war. By the time Lucia was about 11, her country – Xenon, had decided to join the war, and had become the main force of the Northeast Alliance. The next five years were the height of the war. The Northeast Alliance had gradually gotten the upper hand, and for the next two years, there had been a lull in battles. Around when she reached 18 years old, the war had ended in a ceasefire after much negotiation. In this war, Xenon was among the winning countries.

Norman, who was feeling sick, didn’t want to be near such a big crowd, while Lucia decided to take a peek on her way back to the palace. It would be a pity to miss such an event.


As the charismatic knights paraded through the city, people screamed and whistled so loud, one would go deaf in the crowd. Xenon was a combat state, but the war had not taken place inside the country, therefore most of its citizens had not suffered from the war in the least.

However, the war would still weigh heavily on the citizens’ hearts. The happiness of winning the war, and the resulting freedom, had the citizens in high spirits. The uplifting atmosphere was contagious and made Lucia feel very cheerful as well.

The knights’ armors differed between families, with their designated crests inscribed on their chest and back. Certain knight troops styled grand red capes along with their armors, while other knight troops had simple and crude armor. One could judge their nobility and power from their family titles alone.

“Waaah!! Taran!!”

Screams that could not be compared to any others could be heard. Men yelled while stomping their feet, while women yelled on top of their lungs: Taran! Taran! A single knight platoon split the crowd as they made their way through the city. All the knights of this platoon had a black lion inscribed onto their armors. Commoners usually could not differentiate between the different noble family crests, but there was not a single person in Xenon who did not know of the Black Lion crest.


Lucia could see only one thing as the deafening sounds and lively atmosphere dissipated into the background. The knight leading the platoon, riding on top of a white horse and wearing pure black armor as he marched along the city. Although this knight had covered his face with a helmet, she could perfectly draw his face in her mind. She knew this man. Hugo Taran. He was not of royal blood, but still received the respect of the king. And although it was just a formality, he had the right to inherit the throne. The Duke of Taran. It was the young Duke of Taran.

The War’s Black Lion

He was armed with both discipline and strategy. The Northeast Alliance’s victory in this war was due to his fortification and domination. Xenon had engaged in the war last, but was the one to lead the negotiations that had lead to the end of the war. They had lost the least, but had gained the most. To be precise, Duke of Taran’s platoon always won, and it was the greatest foundation for the Northeast allies’ victory.

Truthfully, Lucia was not supposed to know about Duke Taran, or the Duke’s name, or of what he had done for the war. She knew of these things because of her dream.

Count Matin, whom Lucia married, was a very crafty man. No matter where Count Matin stepped into, he would always ensure an escape route for himself. Thus after the war, he was able to stick himself to the crown prince’s faction and live in luxury.

As a result, Lucia had attended many noble social parties together with her husband, or alone as his wife. She had to attend these parties like it was her job, so there were many instances when she had met the Duke of Taran. There was always a crowd of people around that man. It was as though a cackle of hyenas were fighting over a hunk of meat.

Count Matin had tried all sorts of methods to earn the Duke of Taran’s support, but he always failed. Up until that point, she hadn’t known the man very well at all. She had assumed he was just a great knight of some sort. She had only come to know him better quite a long time later.

About two years after Lucia had gotten married, the Duke of Taran got married. His marriage had caused all of high aristocracy to go into an uproar. He had married a young miss from an unknown noble family without any sort of influence. She was just a cute young female. She wasn’t pretty at all, and nobody could understand why the Duke had chosen that female as his wife. The Duke had never responded to anyone, so many rumors had flown around town.

The hottest rumor had been that the Duke of Taran was head over heels in love with the girl, but everyone was suspicious and nobody wanted to believe that was the case.

Lucia had come to know the truth a long while later. The information had come from the back doors of high aristocracy but it had a lot of credibility to it.

Like the rumors had assumed, the Duke was not in love with that young miss, nor was her noble family of rich background. The two noble families had made an agreement of some sort.

Her usefulness lay exactly in the fact that she was a noble without any influence or wealth. He’d needed a wife in name, who could not influence his dukedom. Thus, he had married that woman. The duke had remained unresponsive to the rumors, and soon the rumors became fact.

‘Of course that would be the case.’

‘Why else would the Duke of Taran marry such a woman.’

The noble women were talking with such passion, that they were close to coughing up blood. It was the only way to vent their anger for losing out on such a good deal.

‘What’s wrong with her? Aren’t you guys all the same?’

A man would look for a woman with a healthy womb to continue the family line, while the woman would look for a man with great wealth in exchange. It was a form of strategy bound by contract.

Although the process of the Duke’s marriage was different, it was more or less the same as any other noble in the land. In any case, she was still an official wife of a duke. So what if she was only a wife in name; she was still his wife. The duke had not taken any concubines, and although it was unknown whether he had any secret lovers, no rumors about such a thing had gone around. At least the Duke of Taran was not such a bastard as Count Matin.


The Taran Knight Platoon had already passed while Lucia was stuck in a daze, and a different knight platoon were marching past. As Lucia watched the Taran Knight Platoon grow more and more distant, she had been gripping onto something very tightly. She looked to see what she was holding; it was Norman’s novel.

‘A contracted marriage…’

The theme of Norman’s most recent hit novel was contracted marriage. It was an idea Lucia had proposed without much thought. She must have unconsciously thought of The Duke of Taran’s marriage from her memories.

‘Contracted marriage…’

A light began swimming in Lucia’s eyes.

‘A wife in name.’

Her body shook with a sudden realization. It felt like all the blood in her body had drained, leaving only a sinking coldness behind.

‘The Duke’s wife…’

Lucia bit her lips. This plan might be the key to successfully escaping her fate.

‘Should I try?’

First, she needed to meet the Duke of Taran. But how? Just because she wanted to meet him, she wasn’t a person who could do so. Even the King himself could not order him as he pleased.

‘That’s right…a party! There is a victory celebration tonight.’

From the 3rd to 5th there would be a ball every night. The Duke should attend more than one of these balls the first night being the most probable. Getting an invitation was easier on the first night, because the party location was grand, all in order to host the celebration of the victory of war. It was a good thing she was a princess.

Her identity was more than enough to attend a ball, so there shouldn’t be any problems.

There were too many things to prepare for tonight’s party. First, she needed a dress. The time to use the money she had saved had finally arrived. She thought of all the things she needed to do and quickly moved her body forward.

“There’s…none left?”

The female employee nodded her head apologetically. Lucia fell to the floor right there. She had run to this place without stopping; it was her last hope, but it was all for naught.

There were not many dress shops that made dresses with a good enough quality to suit such a ball, yet still within her budget. Normally, the shops would stocked to the brim with dresses, but now was a special case.

It would be an extravagant ball hosted for the first time in a while. Every noble women in the capital would attend, and carriages would be lining up to get in. There were many nobles like Lucia, who didn’t have much money, so buying these affordable dresses was like going to war.

It was too foolish to think that she could buy it last minute. She should have pre-ordered one a month earlier. She would have been able to obtain some malformed or barely passable dress a week before at the latest.

‘What can I do about it, when I only thought of going to the party today?!’

“There is… That one piece…”

The female employee must have felt pity for Lucia, who looked to be in great despair.

“There is one left?”

“Erm, it’s been a few years, so the style is a bit… Well, with a bit of repair work, it will do….”

“That’s alright! I will buy it. No matter what, it’s mine!”

“No, but the dress is a bit too small.”

“It’s too small?”

“If you will be the one wearing it, it will fit. But, you’re not going to be the one wearing it, right?”

“I will!”

Lucia hurriedly replied, but then reworded her response.

“I mean, the person who will be wearing it is exactly like me. She has my exact body frame, so there is no problem.”

“Is that so? Then please come in and try on the dress. Let me see if we need any extra mending.”

The female employee dug very deeply into the storage and came out with a dress. Lucia’s expression brightened up. It was a modest and simple pastel blue dress. Although it was a style from years ago, it didn’t give off a cheap feeling.

She changed into the dress and looked in the mirror. The dress didn’t have a corset or a panier (something that goes under a dress to puff it up), so it looked like a great mess. She had her hair tied in a messy bun and her make up was a mess, so nothing matched at all. The female employee twirled around her while fiddling here and there.

“Young miss, how can you have such a skinny waist? Probably none of our corsets will fit you. It seems we have to re-adjust the hips. The length is a bit short, so…you’ll probably need to cover up with something. The lace here is ripped so we need to cut it off and stick a new piece… We have to refit the dress a bit.”

“Can I do that here?”

“Um… It seems like a lot of work, so I’m sorry. We already have a lot of other dresses waiting to be refitted.”

“If I wear this without refitting it…”

The female employee shook her head with all her strength.

“That must never happen. You’ll only make a fool out of yourself.”

They said once you climb over a mountain there would be another mountain waiting for you. Once the female employee saw Lucia’s struggling face, she offered another helping hand.

“My mother has already retired, but… She has been refitting dresses for a very long time. If you’re okay with that…”

“Of course that’s okay!”

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