The daughter of Count Storm, Camilla Storm, is hated.
The villainess who interfered with the destined love between the Second Prince of the Sonnenlicht Kingdom, Julian, and the daughter of a baron called Liselotte, she was an selfish, treasonous and utterly obsessive witch.
Even after she departed from Grenze and returned to the Montchat mansion nearby the duchy’s biggest city, things hadn’t changed.
The rumours about Camilla continued to swirl, especially amongst the younger servants.
“Hey, did you hear? Apparently, that villainess drove one of the maids in Grenze to tears and even threatened to have her fired!”
“I heard about it. It seemed that the Master managed to stop her being dismissed, but she was still demoted and lost a lot of her pay! I heard that she is assigned to being a scullery maid now.”
“Speaking of the Master, it seems that things have been strange with him ever since he came back. It’s as if he’s eating less food than before… After that woman caused such a scene in Grenze, he must be feeling depressed.”
“Ehh, no way… That Master of all people? Ah, I’m worried, it’s supposed to be my turn to take care of that woman today…”
“Ah, I feel sorry for you. Although, I actually have a good idea…”
-Somehow, things are even worse than before…
A few days after returning from Grenze, in the Montchat manor.
Camilla tapped her foot on the ground as she sat, clutching a letter from Therese in her hand.
The cold and distant attitude of the servants hadn’t changed at all. Actually, ever since getting back, no one seemed to want to meet Camilla’s eyes at all.
It seemed that gossip about everything that had happened in Grenze had managed to find its way back here already. Alois’ number of meals had been reduced from eight to seven, but if anything that seemed to just heighten fears about Camilla’s growing influence.
The servants had become even more fearful and skittish around Camilla than they had before. They made their excuses and escaped as soon as their work was done even more eagerly than they had in the past.
And it seems that misfortune always flows in torrents, symbolized by the letter from Therese she held in her hand.
Prince Julian and Liselotte’s engagement was completed without a hitch. His Royal Majesty and His Highness Prince Eckhart even proclaimed he was happy how ‘After not being misled by a worthless woman of poor character, the Prince has found happiness with a wonderful new woman’ as he blessed them… Isn’t that lovely?
“Worthless woman of poor character”, that could only be talking about Camilla.
Back when she was in the capital from what Camilla could gather, the First Prince Eckhart had always been happy about his brother’s proposed marriage with the daughter from the family of Count Storm. He was a serious person who was more focused on building the power of the royal family instead of caring about love and romance. He often frowned when he heard the stories about how Prince Julian loved a girl from the relatively low ranked Ende family.
In fact, Prince Eckhart and Prince Julian had been known to clash on this issue. There’s no way he really blessed their engagement.
Although she’s sure of that, there’s no way for Camilla to make sure of it as she is now. There’s no way to really tell exactly what’s going on in the Royal Court since all the information she had to go on were the letters from Therese and the newspapers full of gossip that cast Camilla as a villainess.
And what’s more…
“Father and Mother want to adopt Therese…!?”
Since Camilla was thrown out, Count Storm has no heir.
If Camilla were to marry Prince Julian, his plan had been to adopt a second child. If that engagement didn’t come to fruition, he was planning to find a son-in-law from somewhere else.
However, Camilla became the most hated person in the kingdom suddenly, banished to become the wife of the ‘Toad of the Swamp’, hardly a fitting man to be his son-in-law. Her parents were also at an age where it would be difficult for them to have another child.
Naturally, they want to secure the line of succession somehow. That’s where Count Storm’s younger brother Neumann came in. More specifically, his only daughter, Therese.
She understood the reasoning. It was necessary for her family’s social standing to survive.
-But, this still makes no sense!
She crushed the letter in her hand as she chewed her bottom lip.
An image of a haughty Therese laughing in triumph floated through her mind. Her laughter will never stop at this rate. Although Therese had impressive looks, influence and popularity, there was one area where she couldn’t match Camilla until now. That was her status as the daughter of a Count.
-…I was thrown away…
Her parents abandoned the possibility that she would ever return to the capital. Otherwise, why else would they adopt Therese, whom Viscount Neumann dotes on so much?
Camilla’s father Count Storm and her uncle Viscount Neumann were as close as brothers could be.
They had been close as children and even after his brother married into the Neumann family, they always made time for one another. The Count loved his cute little brother and the Viscount always felt he could rely on his older brother.
Camilla remembered that her uncle would always come to visit her father whenever he had a favour to ask or was in some sort of trouble. Camilla, an only child, had been envious of their relationship as siblings.
It wasn’t just once or twice that Count Storm reached into his own coffers to bail out the financially struggling Neumann family. The Count even offered marriage counseling to him about the state of his sickly wife.
The Viscountess was always frail and bearing a child had come at great difficulty. It was stunning that she managed to give birth to Therese at all. To the Viscount and his wife, Therese herself was a miracle. Having seen that intense love for their daughter with his own eyes, Count Storm could hardly be unaware of it.
Yet still, the Count decided to take his brother’s precious daughter as his own.
There must have been some incredible form of compensation.
Camilla sighed as she scrunched up the crushed letter in her hand into a ball.
-I can’t just take any letter she writes as truth.
The letter was written by Therese after all, who makes no attempt to hide her hatred of Camilla. Until she heard it directly from her parents themselves, this letter was as worthless as Therese herself, as far as she was concerned.
-Bear with it! Bear with it for now! Don’t just believe this nonsense so easily!!
“I am not depressed at all! Can you see this!?”
As she yelled that out to invigorate herself, Camilla threw the scrunched up letter into the fireplace.
“When I make Lord Alois into a handsome man, I shall definitely return to the capital…!!”
Camilla remained determined, repeating that vow she had etched into her heart. Then, just as she did…
There was a knocking on the door as if someone had been waiting for their moment.
The knocking continued, but the girl’s voice passed through it very well. Or, rather, it should be said that it overpowered it? It was a shout that came from the depths of her belly, like a soldier’s cheer on parade.
“Maid Nicole has been chosen as the replacement to serve you, Mistress!”
-…..She came again.
The moment she heard that voice, Camilla’s burning resentment faded away into a sigh.
She had come again today as well. The one who had been taking care of Camilla since she returned from Grenze – That problematic maid.