A Con Artist But That’s Okay - Chapter 1
Translator and Editor: Frosty and Aki
Inside the drawing room of the ducal estate of House Leviaus, located within the center of Biern, the capital of the Sarte Empire.
The butler’s hand, pouring the tea with a drizzle, was as discreet as the atmosphere of the place.
Over the slowly rising surface of the tea, the flashes of the crystal chandelier scattered throughout the room.
Indeed, it lived up to the honor of belonging to the greatest house in the Sarte Empire. Was it not House Leviaus, allegedly even more influential than the imperial house itself.
Though it was only hearsay based on the words of busybodies, no one could deny this truth.
As a matter of fact, if one traces its origins from the founding of the empire, he would come to know that House Leviaus is the most eminent house, both in name and in reality.
From the power and wealth built over generations, to the famed noble nature of its members, it cannot be fully expressed just how much influence the ducal house holds within the empire.
But what it is famous for the most is…
Namely this man, Karze Leviaus.
From the hand that curtailed the butler with a sweeping motion, one could sense his discipline.
The vivid red eyes shining through his remarkably dark blue-black hair and slightly pale skin accentuated the appearance of the highest ranked noble, who was not readily approachable.
The carved-looking nose and the sharp jawline also made one wonder whether they were really sculpted by a human being.
A divine masterpiece, which made the legend that the goddess Sarte’s blessing reached House Leviaus first seem less like an exaggeration.
Even the black quill pen he used to sign the parchment paper appeared lofty in his hand.
“…Yes, my lord.”
As the butler picked up the parchment paper handed by the duke, he lightly skimmed through it with his eyes.
There is no need to mention his elegant handwriting, even though it did come off a bit stiff when taking into account the nature of this document.
After swallowing a sigh of regret that came out for some reason, he quickly walked towards the edge of the opposite table.
“Why don’t you read it as well, my lady?”
After he lowered the document, the butler glanced at the chestnut-haired woman seated in her chair.
Her emerald eyes, which were fixated on the document, blinked as if she was surprised, whereas her rosy cheeks were flushed to a sorry degree.
‘Of course, she would feel this way.’
The old butler lowered his gaze in pity.
Wasn’t she in a stage of life where people had many dreams?
The content was not something a lady around this age, at only twenty, would easily accept.
Not to mention that she’s on the receiving end of the butler’s stares from the opposite side, which may be too much for her.
“Miss, here it is.”
Presumably, the butler was not the only one who pitied her as the servant by her side handed her a handkerchief.
The hand touching the pale, borderline translucent skin was gentle.
An exchange of tender gazes. In the two women’s countenances, there was a greater degree of intimacy than what would be expected between a typical pair of servant and lady.
‘She must have a warmer personality than I expected.’
The butler’s mouth softened into a smile as he became satisfied with a peculiar detail. But it was also true that the more she seemed alright, the more troubled he became.
A lady who would want to fill out a ‘marriage contract’ like this would not exist anywhere in the empire.
He could not wait forever. As he kept in mind that his master was at the opposite side, the butler cleared his throat.
“Although Your Ladyship probably knows already, before the marriage, I would like to review the conditions of the preceding agreement. I obtained this document from the Archbishop myself. If Your Ladyship agrees and signs the paper, from that moment on, drawing from the goddess Sarte’s power, the contract will be executed.
Her voice trembled slightly. Only after the servant behind her grasped her arm, as if cheering her on, did she produce a weak smile.
Before her innocent, fragile demeanor, the butler willed himself to stay strong.
‘Would she really be okay?’
Her contractor was Duke Leviaus. The most eligible bachelor in the empire, as well as the man who was the hottest topic among high society. But ironically, the reason why he was this prominent was not just because of his looks, wealth, or status.
There was nothing revealed about him.
That was the most evident reason for Duke Leviaus’s fame.
Because he was the heir of that venerable family that laid down the foundations of the empire from its start, it was a given that people’s gazes were attracted to his every word and every step.
However, Karze only made his appearances through his past traces.
When he was young, following the previous duke and duchess, he occasionally revealed himself, but that was all; in accordance with his father’s wish of raising the heir in a strict way, he was sent to an academy across the continent.
He remained at the academy even after graduating, continuing his studies, and only returned briefly when the previous duke and duchess passed away following an accident.
Afterwards, he went back to the academy in the Kingdom of Belcre once again.
It has only been around two months since he returned to the Sarte Empire after three years of study.
Simply put, it would be appropriate to call him a gemstone in the rough, obscured in a veil.
Despite the fact that all eyes were on him more than anybody else, there wasn’t much information known about him, further adding to his mystique.
Some claimed he was suffering from social phobia, and others insisted he was still not over his parents’ deaths.
But in the end, the duke returned to his rightful place.
Thus, it was obvious that his actions from now on would draw the eyes of all of the nobility.
Bringing up all sorts of connections, they would try to gain his favors, and families with daughters around marriage age, especially, might practically form a line outside his doors, even now.
If only ‘that rumor’ didn’t exist…
Recalling the rumor, the butler sighed momentarily.
“I will go over the contract once more. If you sign this paper, starting from the upcoming Foundation Day, Your Ladyship will become Duchess Leviaus for a year.”
“…Yes, I know.”
Responding to the butler, who was trying even harder to sound as professional as possible, she nodded, trembling. Her chestnut hair, which appeared so soft that it seemed to be melting, pricked the conscience of the speaker even more.
Wanting to get it over with as soon as possible, the butler’s voice became rather hurried.
“As you have heard, 100,000 rubles will be provided in advance per the contract. In addition, 10,000 rubles will be provided for personal use every month, and if you fulfill the terms of the contract successfully, you would receive 1 million rubles.
10,000 rubles would be on par with the annual salary of a high-ranking official of the imperial court. Therefore, multiplied by dozens, no, hundreds, it would spell, even for renowned nobles, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change their lives.
“Umm, My Lady?”
However, one could not cheer in the face of such an exorbitant amount of money either. Even the most avaricious noble houses—if the parents were sane—would not force their offspring to enter a marriage like this.
“Your Ladyship would not need to concern herself much. What we require is only…”
“I know. Be quiet as if I was dead.”
“And be faithful.”
Listening to her repeat the words with her soft voice, the butler could finally relax. Based on her calm attitude, there would be no need to worry much.
“Then there only remains the final clause.”
Before he could forget, the butler furtively brought up the last clause. Excluding the money, it was the article that would bring the bride the most hope.
“This contract will expire at exactly…”
“How long would I need to wait?”
Why now, of all times.
In response to the duke’s stern voice, the butler, having momentarily forgotten the presence of the family head, turned around.
Considering how he isn’t his usual self, His Grace also could not find this kind of marriage pleasant.
“I will tell her myself.”
With a raise of his tranquil eyes, the duke skipped over the butler and directly faced her.
“Does Your Ladyship have any questions about ‘our betrothal’?”
Over his folded hands, his red eyes stared at her. The strong yet serene pupils looked as if they were hypnotizing her in their elegance.
The only flaw in his otherwise flawless face was a faint scar at the end of his eyebrow that made one of her eyes squint.
As he, presumably aware of where she was looking at, raised the corners of his lips, she jumped in shock.
“That’s a relief.”
What are you doing, not signing the paper?
His curt nod made his wish clear. Hesitant for a moment, she grabbed the quill pen, pressed it down hard, and began to sign her name.
As soon as Seizel wrote her name down, golden light spread from the corners of the paper.
Startled, she flinched away, and confirming this, the duke finally stood from his seat.
She was not short by any means, but he was a lanky man who was a head taller than her, and Seizel was sitting down to boot; her shoulders trembled.
“I’ll see myself out.”
When he motioned that he would be leaving first with his head, every one of his movements was concise.
His blue-black cape fluttered as he stepped out, every step displaying his control.
Seizel, who had remained seated, unable to breathe properly until the moment the door of the drawing room was closed, closed her emerald eyes as if she felt exhausted.
The butler, who had been watching the two from the middle, was even more frantic.
“He’s normally not like this, but it seems like His Grace has a pressing business to tend to.”
“It is the truth. Since he was a man of few words from birth, he does not show his emotions on the outside. He may have acted like this today because he was probably nervous.”
Even if it is through a contract, a marriage is a marriage. Hoping that the new couple would get along, the butler defended the house head as if it was his business.
“As Your Ladyship adjusts to the dukedom over time, he will start to change.
“…It’s fine. You do not need to worry too much.”
“What do you mean by that? I can fully guess how Your Ladyship would feel at this moment.”
The elderly butler’s smile grew slightly more intimate.
All in all, ‘the first duchess’ might just be a much more decent woman than he had imagined.
“Really, it doesn’t make any sense. This House Leviaus’ matriarch would suffer ‘that terrible fate’ within a year.”
The elderly butler’s eyes clouded with sorrow as he recalled the rumor that spread around the North for some time.
‘The woman who marries Duke Leviaus first will perish from a curse within a year.”
It was so horrible of a statement that one could scarcely say it out loud, yet because of its horror, one could not remain silent.
“If, at this moment, we could catch the schmuck who disseminated such a wicked slander, we would annihilate him, even if we have to mobilize all of the estate’s troops. So, Your Ladyship can simply treat it as a year-long vacation. Rumors are rumors, after all.”
Seizel’s lips wavered at the butler’s efforts to console her by any means.
Under the table, her fist met the servant’s, and her eyes fluttered shut as kindly as any pair of eyes could.
“I’m really fine.”
Was spread by me.
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