“What on earth have you been doing?!”
That day, outraged scolding could be heard throughout the comital Crester Manor.
Amongst the aristocrats of the Kingdom of Elgrand, not one individual was unfamiliar with the House of Crester.
They were, after all, said to be the ‘sovereigns of evil, rulers of the criminal underworld’.
House Crester had held its peerage for more than three hundred years. Throughout that time, they had amassed an overwhelming fortune via countless crimes, although none could prove that they had done so. Their network of connections and villainous methods had endured the succession of generations, and by now their roots had spread throughout the Kingdom.
Even if by some freak of fate one did manage to find a hint of their wrongdoings, a ‘hint’ would never be cause for their concern. It was no skin off their back to abandon a catspaw, and never had their bottom line been touched.
Moving against them came with great risk, so any who believed in upholding justice could only watch on in impotent rage.
Well, at least that was what the rumours said.
“Is this not your fault to begin with? It would never have come to this if you had handled things properly! The palace, now, of all times?! This is the one time your stupidly intimidating face could have been good for something, but now this!”
“I-I’m sorry, Ellie. I can explain! I can explain so please put down that vase…!”
“Mother, please calm down!”
In the midst of the chaos were a man and woman in the prime of their lives. To the side, a paling young man was trying to mediate. It was what was commonly known as a family argument.
All three of them bore fine clothes, and every movement was taken with grace (so long as you ignored what they were currently doing). They looked like they were from the upper class, and they were indeed.
These were Count Dualis Crester, his lady wife Elisabeth Crester, and the eldest son Edward Crester. Indeed, this was the infamous House Crester.
“Do not stand in my way, Edward! I cannot abide this, not this! Anything but my daughter!”
“Your anger is justified, Mother, but if you keep hitting Father he’ll…!”
“Then let him! That stupid face looks like it could survive anything!”
“His face might look like that, but he might still actually die…” muttered Edward.
(And in truth, that did look like the face of a man you could never be rid of.)
Dualis immediately sensed Edward’s sentiment because he shouted at his son from beneath the table.
“Ed, you traitor~!”
It was hard to reconcile this pathetic sight with the term ‘Sovereign of Evil’, no matter how you spun it.
Naturally, the talk about being the ‘rulers of the criminal underworld’ was nothing more than a rumour. For those who knew his true self, it would be a challenge to describe any part of Dualis as ‘evil’.
Unfortunately, the rumours did not persist without reason. And that reason was—
“What part! Of this stupidly! Cruel-looking face! Dared to tell me! That you ‘made a’! ‘Little mistake’?!”
In what could only be explained as the mysteries of DNA, House Crester was full of evil-looking people. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that members of the Crester line could only be born evil-looking. No matter how innocent the mother might look, the blood of the Cresters would inevitably win out, and her children would all look like little villains.
The current generation of Cresters were a good example. Count Dualis Crester was born looking exceptionally cruel and cold, a rare ‘talent’ even for House Crester. He did not look like some brutish ogre. On the contrary, he was exceptionally handsome, but that face could only be described as ‘inhuman’, ‘pitiless’, ‘merciless’, and the like. Expressionless by default, even his rare smiles were said to be sinister and frightening. All in all, the kind of person who would make one think, ‘Whoa, no way that guy isn’t with the mafia or something.’
Uncommon for the nobility, and even more unthinkably for Dualis, his marriage had been one of love (pay attention to this part). His partner Elisabeth, at the time just the daughter of Viscount Rialah, had been well known for her golden blonde hair and ocean blue eyes. With her gentle smiles and soft features, she was practically a fairytale heroine brought to life. Put next to Dualis of all people, she was the very image of a princess being sacrificed to a Demon King.
In spite of others’ worries about her well-being and treatment at the ‘Demon King’s’ hands, the two lovers had got along splendidly after marriage, and a year later Edward had been born. It was at that moment that Elisabeth knew her genes had lost the battle.
“Mother, please just calm down. Even matters that could be resolved won’t be unless we sit down and talk it out,” Edward said carefully, like someone trying to calm down an agitated horse.
The twenty-two-year-old firstborn had gleaming chestnut hair and emerald-green eyes. The colour had been his father’s, while the way their corners gently sloped down had been from his mother. Described this way, one may wonder how exactly Elisabeth’s genetics had lost.
“Brother. When you say those words with that face, you look like a conman,” his younger sister casually dropped.
“You don’t need to say that because I already know!” Edward retorted aggrievedly. “Also, I’m doing my best, okay?!”
Indeed, even Elisabeth’s famous angelic looks had been twisted by Crester genetics. Even though every individual feature was a dead ringer for his mother, together he was the very picture of ‘a handsome man who uses tender smiles to trick girls, only to cruelly toss them away after toying with and exploiting them for everything they have’. Edward had more or less looked this way since the moment he was born, so it was little wonder that Elisabeth felt so defeated that day.
One other person was in the room. When they realised this, the married couple froze. Elisabeth with the vase still raised, and Dualis whose face was a mere 30 centimetres from being hit.
Finally noticed by her parents, the daughter of the house smiled brightly at them.
“Father, Mother, I’ve boiled some water. How about we put off cracking Father’s head open for the moment, and have some tea together, hmm?”
“How about we put off cracking my head open forever!”
Despite the lingering threat to his life, Dualis cheerfully made for the couch. Elisabeth returned the vase to its rightful place and sat down beside her husband. Edward sat opposite the pair, and made an inquisitive dip of the head.
“You’re making the tea? Where’s Lita?”
“Did you want her to serve us while Mother and Father were like this? The help were all frightened, you know?”
“Besides, I like making tea. That’s why I told her to leave it to me.”
“I see… Thanks, Diana.”
The girl gazing fondly at Edward was none other than the root of Elisabeth’s anger, Diana Crester, seventeen years old. Edward’s only sister, and Dualis and Elisabeth’s only daughter. It would be a lie to say that she wasn’t spoilt by them, but things were never so simple with the Crester bloodline.
“My sweet Diana!” Elisabeth suddenly sobbed. “Why has it come to this, even though you’re such a gentle, kind-hearted girl? Forgive your useless mother for losing to the Crester bloodline!”
“…Let’s calm down, Mother. I don’t mind the way I look. Aren’t I blessed to have been born beautiful?”
…Trying to persuade Elisabeth was pointless.
The siblings shared a look and promptly gave up on trying to console their mother. Elisabeth wasn’t truly, truly upset, but when it came to the matter of Diana’s face, Elisabeth could go on and on for a long time. Her mother would eventually calm down on her own, so Diana decided to just move on.
“Well then, what has Mother so angry?”
“Ah, well err… Try to stay calm, Diana. Basically…”
Her father’s next words would cause Diana’s clear, almond-shaped eyes to shoot wide open.
“A decree has come, declaring you as one of His Majesty Sieg’s concubines…”
That day in spring, in the early afternoon, the only thing that was calm was the skies.
TLN: Something like four other people have translated this chapter already, so I wanted to give it a try too. Also her name is read ‘Dee-Ana’, like the Latin.