“…Ironically, it was only when death really came upon me that I realised I wanted to live.
I don’t want to fall back into that damned darkness again.
It’s been seven years.
That’s enough of a waste of time already.”
A ‘rose gold’ colour flashed in Ashmia’s eyes.
No matter how much I hide behind the death of my mother, if the world won’t leave me alone just because I’m a cub of a black lion… I’d rather become a black lion according to the goddamn world’s wishes.”
tl/n: in case there’s confusion; black lion = negative & dangerous.
Ashmia got up from her seat and reached out her hand to Claudia.
“So Claudia, help me.
Until we shut this world up.”
‘Be my strength so that I can survive as a ‘black lion’.’
“…Why don’t you order it?”
‘Swear allegiance to me.
Otherwise, you’ll die.’ Ashmia could’ve said it that way without further explanation.
“I don’t want to win over my men that way.”
Claudia looked at Ashmia with a smile, and slowly rose from her seat.
She took Ashmia’s hand and kissed the back of it.
“My loyalty will always belong to lady Ashmia.”
Hearing Claudia’s answer, Ashmia nodded.
Michael was not Ashmia.
However, ‘Ashmia’s memories’ were also ‘Michael’s memories’.
It meant that she had to live with the painful, terrifying, and discoloured trauma of a poor girl who had to hide in the dark until she reached the sweet age of seventeen, only to eventually die a horrific death.
Ashmia looked at the girl in the mirror and said—
‘I’m going to embrace all of you.
However, I will choose the path I want to walk on from now.
Even if I use your memories and pain like I did today, I won’t ask for forgiveness or understanding.
It’ll just be a reminder of commitment.’
The next day.
Ashmia explained to Claudia what she had been doing, and told her what to do.
Claudia immediately gathered all the maids in the mansion and said—
“From now on, one person should go to ‘5th Avenue’ every day.”
The maids looked puzzled by Claudia’s sudden command.
“The time should be after lunch until sunset.
Go to the store frequented by the nobles and collect rumours.”
Only then did the maids realise it was a mission, and their eyes widened when they received a stack of bills from Claudia.
“A-Are you giving me this much?”
“It’s a reserve fund.
Make sure you don’t stand out, and wear clothes that are in trend these days.”
No matter how small the teahouse was, the prices were high.
So, it was burdensome for others to enter a shop for nobles.
‘I can’t believe I can enter such a place!’
‘Even buying clothes that are fashionable among the nobles.’
In fact, the ladies couldn’t hide their smile.
The mission felt like a vacation or a reward.
“And when you return home, don’t forget to bring a copy of the evening newspaper and extras if you have one.”
“Then, go to Matilda this afternoon.”
When the order was placed, the maids walked out of the room with excitement.
Ashmia, who was watching the process, spoke,
“How are you going to do it?”
“I’ll do it myself.”
The long-awaited came three days later.
In addition to the newspaper that the maid who went to the 5th Avenue that day brought back, there was an article titled ‘The Imperial Guards Arrested a Large Number of Families and Merchants That Distributed Large Quantities of Marijuana’.
Perhaps tomorrow’s newspaper would be a picture of the—
‘There will be an article stating that Pendragon vehemently denies any connection to this case.’
Ashmia took a deep breath after putting the newspaper extra on the table.
It was a small step, but the effort put in to change the future emerged as a visible achievement.
But, Ashmia didn’t have time to celebrate it.
As she received the sealed letter from her maid, her eyes widened slightly in surprise.
“I thought it’d come, but… As expected, it’s big.”
It was an invitation to a ball hosted by the Duke of Pendragon.
At the bottom of the invitation letter, written in what Ashmia believed to be Francesca’s handwriting, was a message urging her to attend.
Vanessa tilted her head as she read it.
“Are you going to a ball in this kind of situation?”
“It’s all the more necessary because of this situation.”
Now, an unprecedented situation had occurred in which many nobles, known to the public as the Pendragon Line, had been arrested and even deprived of their titles.
The Duke of Pendragon needed to put on a performance to fully deny their connections and renew their image.
“For that, there is no better event than a charity ball.”
Even this was within Ashmia’s expectations, but there was also Theodore Pendragon.
It was an unusually fast response, even though it shook her quite a bit.
“When is it?”
Ashmia answered Claudia’s question.
“Three days from now.”
Hearing those words, Claudia’s face darkened.
“In three days… That’s a big deal.”
“We’re running out of time to get the dress the lady is going to wear.”
Ashmia smiled bitterly at her, with a look of absurdity on her face.
“What am I supposed to say? If it’s a dress, we have them in the closet—”
Ashmia and Vanessa were both surprised when Claudia, who rarely raised her voice, interrupted Ashmia.
“The ball is going to be Lady Ashmia’s debutante and you’re going to wear old clothes?!”
“No, you see, they’re not old enough to the point of calling them ‘old clothes’…”
“As Lady Ashmia’s butler, I can’t let this go.
I’ll call the seamstress right away.”
tl/n: i think in the past i referred to claudia as a ‘head maid’, but she’s more of a butler than a maid.
You can say she’s a ‘personal maid’, but she does more of a butler’s work than that of a personal maid.
“In the middle of the night?”
“It’s no problem.
Leave it to me.”
An hour later.
Claudia had indeed brought the seamstress, giving her Ashmia’s pre-measured sizes, and instructing her on the detailed requirements of the dress.
The poor seamstress was sweating after being dragged in with a black cloth covering her face and redrew her sketch several times until Claudia nodded.
“Well, that’s good.”
The seamstress finally looked alive after receiving the final approval.
But, she had no clue that she was going to be imprisoned in the mansion to complete the dress within 48 hours.
“This is a crime, Claudia…”
Claudia spoke towards Ashmia, who had a bewildered look on her face.
“Right now, there can’t be anything more important than the dress.
If you give a reasonable reward, you can cover up anything.
Vanessa shook her head as Claudia led the seamstress out.
“I knew she had that kind of personality, but I didn’t think it would be like that.”
But anyway, thanks to Claudia’s terrifying drive, Ashmia’s debutante dress, which had the seamstress’s soul in it, was ready in time.
Diony Hall, located two blocks away from the bustling 5th Avenue, was famous as the largest banquet hall on the island.
As the host was the Duke of Pendragon, the invited guests were also important figures, so Pendragon’s soldiers stood guard not only in Diony Hall, but also in front of the road.
“We ask for your momentary cooperation .”
The guards surrounded Ashmia’s luxurious limousine and searched underneath the car with mirrors attached on metal rods.
Claudia, who was in the driver’s seat, looked through the rearview mirror at Vanessa sitting in the backseat with Ashmia.
“Vanessa, why are you so nervous?”
“N-Nervous?! I’m fine!”
“You don’t look fine at all.
Can I get you some tranquillisers?”
At Ashmia’s words, Claudia replied firmly.
“Stabilisers affect the activation of her ability.”
“Vanessa, you look as dignified and elegant as any nobleman today.
Escort Ashmia with pride.”
Vanessa’s face quickly brightened at Claudia’s rare praise.
And Claudia’s words were not empty.
Although she didn’t wear a dress to perform the security mission smoothly, Vanessa wore a tuxedo and neatly combed her short hair.
She was exuding a masculine charm that most men couldn’t achieve.
“I hope you’ll have a great debutante.”
I’ll be back.”
As soon as the car search was over, Vanessa got out of the car and reached out to Ashmia.
Ashmia took the hand and got out of the car slowly.
The camera’s flash began to go off crazily, along with the exclamations of the crowd surrounding the red carpet.
“Look at that, oh my…”
With each step Ashmia took, she saw the golden thread embroidered on her ivory dress softly reflecting the lights, along with her silver hair.
Even those who were taking pictures of her appearance that made it seem like light had taken a human shape had stopped and looked at her.
On the other hand, Ashmia—
‘This- this is crazy! Why are the stairs so long!’
She was already sweating while managing her expression, as her legs were already cramping up from climbing the long stairs with unfamiliar high heels.
‘How does a woman run around in these things?’
After she managed to climb the stairs to the end without falling, she saw Francesca running from the entrance of the hall with her arms stretched open.
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