Chapter 3.
What am I groping just now?

Her clothes and tone seemed to be that of a handy maid in charge of cleaning.

“Oh, it’s just that, I think the carpet is not that comfortable.”

She was acting as if she was sitting on the floor to check the condition of the carpet, she tried to smile as naturally as she could and tapped the floor a couple of times before rising up.

“It would be better to change the carpet to a softer and more fluffy one.
Don’t you think so?”

“Right? You think so too, don’t you?”

She quickly made up a question to avoid the awkward situation, but the maid was rather delighted.

She approached Nadia with a twinkle in her eyes and began to say things that were not even inquired.

“That is exactly what I think as well.
Not only carpets, but also curtains, bedding, furniture… no, the whole castle needs to be overhauled! Oh, by the way, my name is Anna, madame! Pavel, oh, Pavel is the butler in charge of the whole castle, and Pavel told me to come and help you.”

The maid kept pouring out the unsolicited words enthusiastically.

It was definitely a rare sight, a maid that talked comfortably with her master, that was yet to include the ungiven permission.
Something as such could not be found in the Vine family or in any other noble family.
Unknowingly, she was listening with her mouth agape in dismay. 

But Anna, the exciting maid, did not even seem to be able to notice her dumbfounded reaction as she went on with her nonstop blabble.

“Anyway, I’ve been thinking that way for a long time, but the lord has no interest in such things, I guess when your heart is as hard as stone, you wouldn’t pay any mind to how important it is to have a decently aesthetic and beautiful appearance, right?”

“I-is that so?”

“Yes! All he says is utility, practicality, and that it is better to get more food for the knights and the people of the estate than to repair the castle, because our estate is poor.”

Anna became sullen for a moment.

Nadia already knew that the Aylesford estate was poor.
If Melissa was not mistaken, then sure enough, Baron Aylesford was not called The Baron Beggar’ for no reason.

The actual state of the castle…

She looked around the room quietly.

An old, shabby room. 

This time, with closer observation, she could now see that the room was too dull to be that of a nobleman, in fact, it was quite rustic, much similar to the peasants’ style.
Maybe it was because she was already used to living an extravagant life, but she felt the room a bit stuffy due to its limited space.
Meanwhile, the wallpaper was quite out of date as its colour had started to fade, the window frame was not of fancy aluminum material but of the low quality wood instead.
From a positive viewpoint, at least it was not to the point of being called ramshackle, the furniture was still usable and at first glance nothing seemed to be damaged…or so she appeased herself.

If it was the baroness’s room, it would be one of the best rooms in the castle, but if the finest room in the castle was like this, it was already clear as daylight how it looked elsewhere.

“But now that you are here, and you come from the capital city, you must have a sophisticated knowledge of beauty, then maybe you can do something about it.”


Anna seemed to be looking for the appearance of a great baroness from Nadia, but she was only thinking of leaving the capital to survive.


If it’s the role of the baroness…

Altair would not have married out of boredom.

Of course, he would have married because he wanted something in return, and it must be because he needed someone to act as the Lady of the house…In fact, she was confident that she would manage it well without getting in his way or tainting his name in any way.

Because she was timid and spent an abundance of time locking herself in her room reading alone, she had a great amount of knowledge in her head, plus, when she once was the only daughter of the marquis, she learned how to make a living on the estate.
With the knowledge she possessed, she would be able to get through the situation somehow.

She might be a hopeless and socially awkward geek on the surface, but she was good at planning secretly behind the public scenes.
After all, the only nature of a worrying and timid human being was always having a thorough plan.

But Altair, the villain in the novel, remained single even after becoming duke.

After she came to the Aylesford estate, everything made sense.
He was so poor that he would not have any young lady willing to marry him if it weren’t for someone with a weird story like herself.

Although after becoming a duke he gained wealth and honor, he appeared in the capital as a ghastly figure, the ladies were terrified and refused to approach him, let alone to marry him.

Therefore, the future of ‘Madame Altair’s wife’ was unknown as it was never mentioned in the novel.
That meant how different the plot would be from the original depended on how she acted.

Of course, thinking of Altair’s face still made her feel like fainting again, but…

Let’s do your best, Nadia!

Although it was not easy to shake off one’s haunting fear, she clenched her fists and tried to erase Altair’s face from her mind while making a firm commitment to herself.


She carefully opened the door and poked her head out.

She went back to rest after Anna had helped her wash up and get dressed.
However, she could not rest in peace because she was anxious to stay still.

There was a bellpull in her room so she eagerly pulled the string to see whether she could get someone to come and show her around.
Since she could not relax completely anyway, she thought she might as well use this chance to look around the Aylesford Castle.
But in the end, no servant showed up.

Was it because the rope was broken or they intentionally ignored her call?

Eventually, after a long tussle with the string, she decided to go outside on her own and look for a servant instead of waiting idly in her suffocating room.

The hallway was silent, not a shadow of a person was seen.

She left the room and started walking down the hallway.
The path was very dark because the sun had started it’s long descent, yet the lights were dim in the hallway.
Thanks to this, the gloomy scenery of the castle felt even more bleak. 

She guessed it could not be helped when working under a terrifying lord, they must have kept the light low due to the cost issue.
But because of it, she could not walk properly.

She had nothing with her, and no one was beside her, so she could only rely one her senses now, her vision, her hearing and touches to navigate where she was heading.
If she walked like this, sooner or later she would bump into someone who worked in the castle that could be of some help to her.

Are the people of Aylesford good at walking down dark halls like these?

She started moving forward cautiously, pinning her hands against the wall so as not to fall.

Even the wall at her fingertips was not maintained at all.
There were scratches with wallpaper falling off and places with big holes on it. 

She turned her head to look out the window through the dreary surroundings, but it was so blurry that she could not see the scenery outside properly, it was probably because of the low-quality glass inserted.

Anna’s words about the entire castle needing to be overhauled were not a mere exaggeration… 


She suddenly felt an unfamiliar touch on the tips of her fingers as she fumbled against the wall.
It was not entirely soft, and was not very hard either.
And it was neither the hard exposed bricks or cement through the unamended holes, nor the indistinct lumpy patterns on the wallpaper.
It was…silky, almost as if the wall was covered with fabric.

How could this kind of texture be on the wall?

Confused, she turned her head to the wall.
However, it was pitch black in front of her, so no matter how much she narrowed her eyes, it was difficult to confirm the identity of that particular weird spot.

Her eyes could not do their job right, so she had to rely on her hands.
She carefully traced up the wall, trying to figure it out.

Until she heard a somber voice above her head.

“What the hell…are you doing?”

It was a voice she knew for sure.
Once one had heard a voice like this, they would never forget it.

Huh? Altair’s voice?

As soon as she raised her head toward the direction of the sound, she met a pair of predatory red eyes glowing in the dark.
Altair was the only one with such bright red eyes.

Th-that, then, what I groped just now was… 


She was so startled that she screamed.

She was extremely embarrassed and hurriedly stumbled away, but her foot twisted and she began to lean backwards, yet, she never fell on her hips.
It was thanks to a strong force pulling her forward before that happened.

That being said, her body bumped into a huge wall called Altair instead of the floor.

“Why are you roaming around alone? Were you planning to run away?”

“Oh, oh no!”

Her voice rose unwittingly due to the absurd misunderstanding.
It was very important to correct it because if he mistook it for a fact, she might lose her neck.

Altair stood silently for a while, he did not think she would deny his words so quickly and loudly.

She vigilantly parted her lips, examining the emotions contained in Altair’s crimson eyes, even in the dark she felt like she was slowly becoming familiar to them as those eyes were the first and only thing she looked at with full alert whenever she met him.

“I don’t intend to run away.
It was my will to come here.
I will never run away.”

If one made a choice, they must take responsibility accordingly.
Now that she had chosen what she thought to be the best before the adversity she was bound to face, it was time to face the consequences.

She lowered her head because she could not handle Altair’s cold gaze.
Tightening her grip on her dress, she was able to squeeze out the small courage to connect her words together and convey them explicitly.

“Since I first met you at the wedding, I still don’t know what role you want me to play as your wife.
But since I’m married, I will do my best.
If you tell me, I can work hard on anything.
I know a lot more than you think, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.”

Altair remained still despite her prolonged remarks.
She became anxious at the overflowed silence and lifted her head gently to see his reaction.
Of course, there was no way for her to back out now so she continued to persuade him with sincerity.

“So if you could just tell me what I’m supposed to do…My Lord?”

Altair, who was staring deep into her eyes, was covering his face with his large firm hand.

“You don’t even know what the hell I want, yet you said you will work hard?”

It seemed like he was muttering to himself, but at the same time it sounded like a question.

As she pondered whether to answer or not, Altair lowered the hand that was covering his face.
His face reddened as if in anger.

The moment when her eyes were about to go back to glueing to the floor again, wondering if he was dissatisfied with her answer…

“If you want to do something decently, try to start with getting rid of the habit of calling me Lord.”

She did not quite get it.

But everyone called him Lord.

She was certain because I listened carefully so as not to make a mistake.
Confused, she asked cautiously.

“But if it’s not the Lord, how should I address you…”

“You said you know more than I think, shouldn’t you be able to figure that out yourself?”

“I-I understand.”

Was it some kind of test? A test to confirm whether she was competent enough to take on the role that he had for her…!

If that was the case, then it meant he was willing to give her a chance.
Suddenly, the light of hope within her seemed to brighten again.

“I will definitely find out.
After I have found the right answer, will you tell me what you want from me?”


“I will do my best as promised.”

As she pledged once again, Altair frowned and placed a hand on his forehead.

“…I bet you will never know what I really want.”

“You may be right, but if I don’t know, I’ll study.
I can either read a book or ask someone who knows you well.”

“Asking a person that knows me well…it won’t be easy…”

Eventually, Altair sighed deeply, as if he was already fed up with it, and came closer to her.

“As you can see, the sun has already gone down, so you won’t be able to see anything, it’s best to ask Pavel, the butler, to guide you tomorrow.
No one has used the bellpull so far, so I will tell them to repair it.
And the way back…”

Altair paused for a moment and glanced alternately at the place where she was standing and where her room was, he then wrapped one hand around her waist and lifted her lightly.


Unexpectedly, her legs left the ground and seconds later she found herself floating in the air, she thrashed around restlessly in a mix of embarrassment and bewilderment, making Altair click his tongue.

“You’re the most energetic person I’ve ever seen.”

The thought of being swept up into Altair’s arm and was made to stay put will her body hanging loosely and her legs dangling in mid-air made she feel like she was going to pass out again soon.

“P-p-ple-please put me down!”

Of course he simply ignored her request.

“Can’t you see it’s completely dark? You can’t go back to your room alone.”

“If I can’t see, then the Lord…”

“I can.”

Seeing him moving forward without hesitation, it seemed that he could really see ahead.
She casted her eyes around nervously, trying to make up another excuse.

“Oh, even if I can’t see, I can just walk along the wall!”

“What if you fall and break your bone?”

“It won’t break.
There is no way it would break.
Who would have a broken bone from just a mere fall?”

“Normally, that would be the case, but you are an exception that collapsed just because of fatigue.
I don’t want to see anyone get hurt in my castle, so stop with the useless struggle.”

No… I’m perfectly normal though… it is your common sense that is not normal…!

She swallowed tears inwardly along with the words that she could not bring herself to utter.



Altair, the villain, never wanted to see anyone get hurt in the castle.

As she was contemplating the newly acquired information in her head, the door opened without notice and Anna came in.


“What’s the matter?”

“It’s dinner time, madame.
Everyone is waiting for you!”

Anna approached her with a bright smile.

Her words reminded Nadia of Altair’s frown, telling her to attend the dinner.


As soon as she remembered his face, she jumped to her feet.

He’s going to kill me if I’m late.

Although he did mention not wanting anyone to get hurt, who knew if she could really trust him.
The thing about a madman was that they were quite impulsive and unpredictable.
She had yet to come up with a proper plan.
Before that, she could not have her head cut off owing to the villain’s temper. 

“Oh, yes, we should go.
Can you help me get ready for dinner? Or should I go wearing this? Is it too late?”

Anna tilted her head as she saw Nadia’s sudden panic.

“You don’t have to rush too much.
Even if you are a little late, who would dare to judge the Madame?”

“Evil…no, the Lord…”

“Our lord? What would he have to say to the Madame? That’s nonsense!”

Anna burst out laughing as if she had heard the funniest thing ever.
Anna did not seem to be afraid of Altair at all.

Could it be that she was this carefree because she did not expect him to turn into a crazy villain later on?

But even in the presence, just looking into the villain’s eyes makes my whole body quiver.

At that moment, Anna suddenly became a respectable figure in Nadia’s eyes.
She herself did not know whether the maid was bold or overly dull, but either way she was admirable.

“…I’ll just go like this.”

Nadia gave it some thought and eventually arrived at that conclusion.

I did not think Anna could help her to prepare properly anyway, and looking at the atmosphere in Aylesford, she thought that it was not necessary to do much hair care or make-up.

Let’s not do anything rude.

And so, she made up her mind and moved on.


Is this the feeling of a soldier going to war?

Nadia took a deep breath as she stood at the entrance to the banquet hall, where Anna had guided her to with a lantern.

Now, all she had to do was open the door and enter, but the thought of facing Altair did not allow her feet to move.

It seemed that the banquet had already begun, she could hear the knights chattering beyond the door.
Some laughed and some sang.

I can’t sing very well.

She let out a light chuckle at the dissonant sound that she could not even call a song, but thanks to this, her tension was relieved a little.

After taking one last deep breath, she glanced at Anna to signal her.

As soon as she stepped past the door Anna had pushed open, the bustling interior became dead silent as if it was splashed with cold water.





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