In a grand corridor adorned with all sorts of jewels, showing just how much money was spent on it,
The man who ruthlessly slapped me across my face was none other than my fiancé, Damian Keane Daeus, the Grand Duke.
His emerald green irises went along well with his sharp eyes that angled upwards.
They seemed to stare at me, not as his fiancé, but as a complete enemy. The deep animosity towards me was clearly visible in his eyes.
“You dare make Lilian cry?”
I tasted the bitter blood in my mouth and felt my cheek begin to swell. But I, the one who had just been slapped, didn’t feel anything.
There was once a time when I believed that the man in front of me, who was currently convinced I had done something I hadn’t, was my destined soulmate.
But not anymore.
The only feeling left in me was not love, hate, or resentment but mere annoyance.
Without saying anything, I slowly shifted my gaze to the slender woman Damian was holding, Lilian.
Lilian, a woman with lovely, long orange hair. Her large and beautiful, deep pink eyes were filled with large, round tears.
With an appearance so beautiful that one would think of her as a painting, she gently lifted the corners of her mouth while holding onto Damian’s arm and said,
“I’m alright, Damian.”
After saying so, Lilian gave me what was clearly a mocking smile. As if she were the victor.
I looked at Lilian expressionlessly and shifted my gaze back to my fiancé.
Then I called his name softly,
With his jet-black hair, distinctive nose, dazzlingly white skin, and bright emerald eyes, he was undeniably handsome.
Just a few years ago, there were days when I would follow him around after falling in love with him at first sight.
But, of course, he never spared me a single glance. So in order to attract his attention, I used the healing ability that had been passed down through the Earl Serkia family and cured his long-term illness.
After witnessing my ability, Damian proposed to me, and despite knowing that he was using me, I foolishly accepted his proposal.
I was just a nominal fiancé, but I thought if I put in the effort, he might look back at me at least once.
The only times my fiancé called me in a sweet voice was when he had injuries, but to me, those were the only moments I could touch his body.
His treatment towards me was somewhat bearable until one day, after continuing to delay the marriage through various excuses, he suddenly brought a woman named Lilian.
“Aren, heal this woman. Please.”
At the request of my fiancé, I saved the life of a woman who was on the brink of death with my healing abilities.
“Where is this…?”
“Are you awake now?”
When the woman, who seemed to be on the verge of death, opened her eyes, Damian was overjoyed.
Naturally, all of Damian’s attention shifted to Lilian.
Well, I’ve witnessed Damian and Lilian sharing love in my own bedroom, so she was essentially the true mistress of the duke’s house.
With that, all my emotions began to fade away.
I had lived with Damian in the duke’s mansion for three years.
Through the three years that could be considered a long yet short period, I realized that all my efforts had been futile.
Why did I only realize this now?
No. In fact, I had known this for a long time.
It was just that I loved the man before me so much that I chose to turn away and deny the truth.
Damian. If that is what you wish…
…I’m giving up on everything.
“Let’s break our engagement.”
Upon hearing my words, Damian made a dumb expression, as if he had heard something he shouldn’t have.
“The intruder will now take their leave, so the two of you can now live happily ever after on your own.”
Damian shouted my name in anger. I could see a reflection through his green eyes.
It was the reflection of a platinum-haired woman who was devoid of any emotion.
I briefly gazed at my reflection in his eyes before removing the engagement ring from my left ring finger.
It was the diamond ring that I had never taken off since I got engaged to him. Pulling off what I once believed to be a symbol of our love, I threw it onto the floor without any regret.
The cold metal made a sharp sound as it landed on the floor.
Damian looked at me and at the engagement ring in disbelief as he held Lilian in his arms.
Likely surprised that I would dare propose to break off the engagement, Damian had a dumbfounded face, and as he pursed his lips…
“Well then, I’ll leave the two of you alone.”
With those as my final words, I walked past the frozen couple.
Or rather, I tried to.
Damian aggressively grabbed my wrist as I tried to leave the scene.
“Break off the engagement? What is… Why are you acting like this all of a sudden?”
“Just as I said.”
“The stupid woman of the Serkia family that couldn’t help but love you no longer exists, Damian. So this is the end of our engagement.”
I slowly reiterated to him every single word.
Perhaps not thinking I would utter such words, Damian’s hand trembled faintly as he held onto my wrist.
And I used that opportunity to shake off his hand and try to leave that hellish place. To discard the garbage that I once believed to be love and find my true life.
But there was one thing I had overlooked.
Damian Keane Daeus, the Grand Duke, my ex-fiancé, was a much crazier man than I thought.
Something sharp flew from behind, piercing me right through my heart. I looked down at the blade that pierced my heart as I was trying to leave.
Caught off guard by an unexpected assault, my body lost balance and swayed.
I collapsed on the spot, clutching my heart.
The last thing I saw as my consciousness faded away was a man with pitch-black hair and emerald-green eyes, a man whom I once loved.
“I thought you were a nice, obedient girl.”
“I can’t let others use your abilities, can I? Isn’t that right, Aren?”
He looked down at me, writhing in pain at his feet, with a cold gaze. There was no emotion in his eyes.
No, even after stabbing a sword into my heart, his face was utterly dry.
Ah, right. You were that kind of person.
Why did I so foolishly love someone like you? Someone worse than garbage.
If I could go back in time, I would never do something so foolish again.
Just as you’ve shredded my heart and feelings to pieces, I shall do the same.
So as I continued to regret loving this man deeply, I closed my heavy eyelids at the end of my fading consciousness.
“My daughter, Aren.”
I shot my eyes open at the sound of a sweet and familiar voice calling me.
Upon opening my eyes, I found my father, who had surely passed away two years ago, firmly holding my hand as I lay in bed.
I must have died and gone to where Father was.
But if I had died, what was with this nightgown, and why was the texture of this blanket so vividly real?
Just as I felt something was off, my father opened his mouth.
“It’s your birthday. How could you have been sleeping until now? Do you know how worried I was when I found you asleep as if you were dead?”
“…It’s my birthday? What do you mean, Father?”
“Hahaha. Our daughter is still half-asleep. Now, get up quickly.”
I snapped back to my senses after hearing Father’s voice. If I’m not dead, then what on earth was happening?
With a skeptical mind, I asked my father,
“Is it… Is it really you, Father?”
“Of course, I am your father. My Aren. Huh? Did you have a bad dream? Why are you crying all of a sudden?”
Hearing Father’s warm words, tears welled up in my eyes without me realizing it.
My beloved father.
He always cared warmly for me after losing Mother early.
Because of his stubborn daughter, he had given every sort of gift one could give to the Grand Duke, but then went to the battlefield and didn’t make it back.
But my father, who should have passed away two years ago, is well and alive before my eyes right now.
Even forgetting that I was still in nightwear after just opening my eyes, I jumped into my father’s arms, and his body stiffened in surprise.
“Father… Father… This isn’t a dream, is it?”
I continued calling out to my father. Although startled by my sudden behavior, Father soon patted my back with his big hand.
“My beloved daughter.”
“It seems like you had a scary dream.”
My father’s warm voice reached my ears.
Those painful memories were all just a dream?
It couldn’t have been just a dream that I lost my life at Damian’s hands.
The miserable days at the duke’s mansion, the pain of being stabbed in the heart, his cold face looking down at me as if I were a mere slab of meat, my final moments as I collapsed and writhed on the floor–they were all so vivid.
I slowly loosened my hands from hugging my father and held his hand instead, then asked,
“Father, you said today is my birthday, right? What year is it now?”
“Huh? Isn’t it Imperial Calendar Year 829?”
“Imperial Calendar Year 829? Not 833?”
“Hahah, Aren, it’s the Imperial Calendar Year 829. You’re still half-asleep. Hurry up and get ready, then come to the dining room. I told the chef to prepare all your favorite dishes.”
After hearing what Father said, I was at a loss for words.
The year 829 in the Imperial Calendar. June 15th. My twentieth birthday.
By some twist of fate, I had come back to the past. Back to my birthday four years ago.
Was this an opportunity given by God, who felt pity for me being thrown away after being used?
Whatever happened, I couldn’t miss this opportunity. I needed to make sure I didn’t die at Damian’s hands again.
One fortunate thing was that ‘at this time’, Damian had a disease that even a renowned doctor couldn’t cure, and he didn’t know that I was the only one who could cure it.
‘Can I use this to lead him to his downfall?’
However, there was nothing more foolish than approaching Damian without any preparations. If so, the one who would be at the wrong end of the blade would be me.
So in order to bring Damian down, I must prepare thoroughly.
‘I need someone strong enough to protect our family and go to the battlefield in place of my father.’
Then a person who met all these conditions flashed through my mind.
Among the people I knew in the empire, there was only one person stronger than Damian.
Despite being a slave, he became the Commander of the Royal Knights after being chosen by the Crown Prince. It was also a name I had often heard when I stayed at Damian’s Duchy.
The God of War, the closest aide of the Crown Prince, beauty blessed by the Gods, the Genius of Swordsmanship that only appears once in a millennium…
There were countless words that described Cassadin, but that was in my past life.
During this time, Cassadin was neither the Commander of the Royal Knights nor the closest aide of the Crown Prince, but just a gladiator slave.
‘I can’t lose my father to the war again.’
In the Seville Empire, it was a national law that, regardless of social status, one man from each family must go to battle when there was a war.
There was an exception if there were no men in the family, but otherwise, regardless of age, they must go to war. Violation of this could result in the loss of nobility, confiscation of property, and even death.
In this sense, I decided to make Cassadin a member of our family.
He would be the one who would go to war in place of my father and return alive, and he was the only person in the entire continent who was stronger than Damian, the man who killed me.
I would snatch him before the Crown Prince could get his hands on him, raise him well, feed him well, and tame him, then make him a blade to protect me and my father.
After leaving a message that he would be waiting for me in the dining room and that I should change before going out, Father left my room. I changed my clothes with the help of a maid and stared at myself in the mirror on my dressing table.
Wavy platinum hair, blue eyes just like my father’s, and skin without a single blemish or wrinkle.
My twenty-year-old self, looking much younger than before, had regressed and was clearly reflected in the mirror. I once again realized that I had returned to the past.
“You’re so beautiful, my lady.”
My personal maid, Sasha, admired my face. Eyes curling into crescents at Sasha’s words, I smiled at her.
I always had high self-esteem when I was living in the count’s mansion with Father, but that self-esteem plummeted after I got engaged to Damian.
My three years of engagement with him were hell. I was like a puppy wagging its tail to get affection from its owner.
Back then, I continuously craved his love, even as I was constantly used by him like a tool.
However, that old me is now gone. If it’s to protect my father and me, I would thoroughly use others.
Gazing into the mirror, I made a vow to myself.
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