Erin de Briscia was a well known villainess.
She never intentionally killed or tormented anyone.
She hadn’t done anything particularly evil, and she hadn’t harassed her husband’s lover out of jealousy nor was she extravagant and arrogant, like most villainess.
Far from being extravagant, Erin wore plain, unadorned dresses all-year round.
As a duchess, she was now the highest ranking woman in the imperial palace, but she had never been able to act as she pleased nor was she allowed to spend money as she pleased.
She held back all her desires, always striving to be a frugal, gentle, and humble wife.
That way she won’t get criticized too much.
That’s how she lived for the past nine years.
But the only thing left as a result was the stigma of being known as a Villainess.
She dared to take the duchess’ seat and become the greatest lady in the empire, even though she was a daughter of a fallen noble family.
She would torment the poor lady who loves the duke.
She’s a scandalous wench who brazenly commits adultery while wearing the mask of a legal wife.
That was the opinion of the vast majority of Imperial nobles about Erin.
And now her husband, the Duke of Lievensberg, agreed.
“I will divorce you.”
The Duke threw down the papers in contempt.
The dry sheet of paper landed on the table.
It was divorce papers.
Erin looked at Raymond, her husband.
The first thing that caught her eyes were his silver hair, which looked like it had been woven with silver thread.
Beneath the silver hair, the sharp, delicate features unique to the imperial family were well-groomed and beautiful.
His beautiful eyes were a cold blue-gray.
A sculpted nose and well-defined jawline.
Lips that seem to form a sophisticated smile.
He was impeccably handsome.
Sitting in his sumptuous navy blue military uniform, he exuded a natural grace and dignity.
But those blue-gray eyes met Erin’s with a fierce anger and disgust.
Erin read the brief words, summarizing the past nine years of their marriage on a single sheet of paper.
「…Therefore, the marriage of Raymond von Lievensberg and Erin de Briscia is hereby consensually annulled.
Henceforth, the two shall live as.…..」
It was her name that caught her eye among the lengthy letters.
Erin De Briscia.
It was her maiden name, which she hadn’t used ever since she got married.
Erin was the only daughter of the Marquis of Briscia.
The Marquis of Briscia was an old and prestigious family, but now, after two generations of luxury and waste, she had nothing left.
All she had was debt.
The only thing her father had inherited intact was a mansion, and even that was mortgaged and unable to be sold.
Despite her title as a young marchioness, Erin struggled to make ends meet inside a mansion with no servants.
She was a noblewoman, but she was worse off than a wealthy commoner.
Erin became a duchess purely because of her grandfather, whom she never met.
The year Erin came of age, a servant from the palace came to her and said,
“His Majesty wishes to make Lady Briscia the bride of the Duke of Lievensberg.”
It was such an incredible story that she wondered if she had heard it wrong.
The Duke of Lievensberg was the son of the deceased crown prince.
He was the first grandson of the current emperor and the most likely heir to the empire.
The young duke was known to be intelligent and capable.
His swordsmanship was excellent, and his appearance was impeccable.
He was a handsome man, just like the ones in the paintings.
It was an unbelievable stroke of luck.
“Why would His Majesty send our child to……?”
The servant explained the reason for the proposal.
“His Majesty had his eyes set on Lady Erin during the anniversary of his last Victory, and he said she gave him a very favorable impression.”
All the nobles attended the banquet during the Anniversary of the Last Victory.
Erin’s poverty prevented her from socializing as often as the other noble children.
That day was one of those rare occasions when she was able to attend a social gathering of nobles.
It was also the first time Erin met the Emperor as a Young Marchioness.
“When the Emperor heard of the Marquis’ unfortunate circumstances, he was deeply saddened.
He also recalled the loyalty of the previous Old Marquis.”
The “Old marquis” the servant was referring to was Erin’s grandfather.
Erin’s grandfather had been a trusted confidant of the current emperor.
But after his death, her uncle and cousins, who had consecutively succeeded him as marquis, had spent the family fortune and died full of debt.
After that, Erin’s father, who was the second son, took over the family and inherited their debts.
The servant added, as if telling a secret, “And… The fact is, there are no worthy Ladies in the Empire at the moment, who are worthy of the title of Duchess.
There are no Young Ladies of the right age, and all the others have lesser noble titles.”
Her parents were drowning in debt and unable to attend the social gatherings of the nobility.
Naturally, the three of them were ignorant of the current rumors circulating among the high nobility.
So she naturally believed what the Palace servant told her with a grain of salt.
And it came with a sweet proposal at the end.
“If you accept this proposal, His Majesty has offered to support the Marquis financially.”
Her father was conflicted, but Erin was not troubled.
“Yes, I’ll marry him.”
Her parents asked her several times with an uneasy look.
“Are you sure you won’t regret it?”
“Yes, I won’t regret it.”
This marriage will build her family and make her and her parents live comfortable lives.
She thought there was no way she would regret it.
From then on, she entered the imperial palace and studied how to become the future empress, day and night.
When she wasn’t studying, she was training in dance and etiquette to the point where she would have blisters on her feet.
It was brutal, but Erin pushed through the hardships and worked tirelessly.
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