That was the name given to her. Or at least, to this body.
She was the only daughter of the Louis Aydin, who had the title of Count among the Imperial Yansgar aristocrats. She had lost her mother when she was nine and was now a 20-year-old young woman living alone with her father.
The face in the mirror was unfamiliar. Her stature, which was very tall for a woman, had shrunk, and her uneven short gray bob had turned into long, covetable black hair. Her two eyes had turned silvery blue, like snow falling in the winter sky.
If Estelle had known about this woman, she would have thought she was one of the common, pretty, aristocratic women.
Her face was so stunningly pretty that she would probably be remembered for quite a long time. Her body was thin, her breasts - the symbol of a woman - were small before but now voluptuous, and her waist was slender. In other words, it was a body that had never seen a day of physical training.
When she took over this Lady's body, Estelle lost the precious sword bestowed upon her by the Kingdom of Ersha and became too frail to even lift a sword.
When the doctor examined the daughter of Count Aydin, who seemed to have become a different person, he made the diagnosis that she must have been so mentally and physically traumatized that she lost her memory.
That was probably for the best. Even if the priest were to come, no one would be able to explain what had happened to her. Rather than explaining that the person inside the body had changed, losing her memory served as a good excuse for behaving so erratically.
As if the original owner of this body had had a fierce temper, her maids took an excessively subservient stance toward Estelle. For example, when she asked them to bring her a history book, they delivered it within moments.
She had now acknowledged that she had inhabited the body of some Count’s daughter, and she didn’t hesitate to take advantage of it. Originally, Estelle was that kind of a person.
Picking up the historical record of the Yansgar Empire, she opened the book. After finding the part of the fall of the Ersha Kingdom three years ago, she began reading the page.
―The great army of Yansgar, led by Emperor Baidu, swept through Ersha like a hurricane. All the nobles of Ersha knelt before Yansgar's army.
Weren't they the bastards she had defeated who ran away like dogs with their tails tucked between their legs?
―The Knights of Ersha resisted. In particular, the resistance of the 3rd Unit, the Knights of Sitora, was the strongest. Estelle Superit, the commander of the unit, was very ferocious, rising to the rank of commander even though she was a woman. The people of the Ersha Kingdom called her Ishtar, the Morning Star. However, intoxicated with victory, she insisted on futile resistance in battle. Her defeat was inevitable due to her characteristic irrational judgment, and in the end she was killed by her own lieutenant. Her men presented her neck and surrendered to Yansgar, trying to save their own lives. That was the last day of the Kingdom of Ersha.
She bit her lip and threw the book. Her maid, who had been watching her carefully, let out a startled scream. Estelle's face turned red with anger.
“My lady, if you breathe fast like that, you will faint again!”
As per the maid's warning, Estelle's breathing became more rapid and her vision became hazy. Her face was fuming with anger, her temperature rising. If she had a sword, she would leave immediately to behead the author of that book.
The author pictured her as a typical irrational woman. What the hell was he talking about?
All Ershan Knights swore to protect the country. Even if they were to die, it was an honor to be reborn as a star in the sky embraced by the Goddess Astra. They vowed to show the enemy Ersha's pride until the last breath.
She had known that Ersha would be defeated from the beginning, but the knights who had been protecting the country had wanted to make their final stand. Was that an unreasonable and irrational judgment?
At the same time, she felt her heart sinking. Estelle had been real, and it had been confirmed that she was dead. She was pretty sure since their record stated that the Yansgar forces had identified her body.
Khalid had betrayed her. She had never doubted that her men would follow her, as they had promised to fight the final battle together, but it had been her men who had submitted her neck.
Tears welled up in her eyes, but she kept them wide open to hold back her tears. She kept trembling, shaken in front of the unbelievably cruel truth.
The maid once again urgently called for the doctor.
The revelations catapulted Estelle into a repeated cycle of throwing up. She had thought she would never once resent her Goddess, but she resented the Goddess Astra now. If only she had died and been done with it, she would not have had to see all this shit.
“We will be the stars in the night sky.”
Estelle was smiling brightly. Her short, gray hair shone like stars reflected in the moonlight. On the battlefield, the tides of war beckoned to break the transient calm before the battle began.
“If I’m ever reborn a star, I refuse to be next to the Commander. Even when I become a star, the Commander will be telling me to get onto the Milky Way in winter.“
Estelle looked back. Behind her, a knight stood in a relaxed position. He was talking about last winter's training and was still quite salty about it.
“Before entering the Milky Way, would you like to swim and croak first in that river over there, Liam?” Estelle asked as she pointed the tip of her sword at him. The man's face turned pale, and he shook his head desperately. Still, the man grumbled over his hurt pride.
“Wow, what kind of speech is that as the Commander of Knights? Only a wandering swordsman would use those kinds of words.”
“If you say one more word, I will kill you on behalf of the Commander,” a blonde woman said sternly while raising her dagger. Then, she turned her head to look at Estelle and smiled. Estelle also raised the corners of her lips.
She turned to change the subject and saw the men lined up behind her. All were her followers- the members of the Knights of Sitora, their precious lieutenants, and colleagues. She could see the soldiers fighting for Ersha with eyes full of trust, united by one goal. With them, she would not fear death.
Then someone put a hand on her shoulder. She glanced over to see Khalid, who had been by her side.
Khalid was smiling gently as always. Estelle nodded her head, placing her own hand over Khalid's.
“I’m not good at saying nice things. You guys also seem to be very anxious, so I’ll just say one thing and be done with it.”
Aligning her and her horse's head forward, she raised her sword. The golden sword she had received from the kingdom flashed brightly.
Before the battle, she reared her white horse on the hilltop and stood loftily under the night sky. Shining white against the silhouette, she was already like a star.
“For Ersha!” she shouted.
The thunderous sound of war cries resonated through the ground, and Estelle led the vanguard. It was the first battle against Yansgar.
Khalid followed beside her. Estelle and Khalid looked at each other and smiled. Then, they turned serious as they stared directly at their advancing enemy.
Sword against sword collided. Standing at the crossroads of life and death, no carelessness was allowed. Estelle's sword, close to being magically divine, dropped the enemies' necks like falling leaves. On that fierce battlefield, Estelle felt alive.
“God, please do not take my daughter. Please take me instead.”
Estelle heard the Count's words and opened her eyes. Just moments ago, she was on the battlefield.
‘Where am I?’ After her chaotic memories subsided, she recalled that she was now in the body of some noblewoman of Yansgar.
Even though she was conscious, she kept her eyes closed. She didn't even have the energy to open them.
In her head, she was recreating the scene that she had seen in her dream. At that time, it would have been so great if she had just died in that battle. Back then there had been no betrayal, and if she had just died there, she would never have had to feel so many emotions.
All their twinkling eyes were still fresh in her memory. Khalid's trusting smiles, too.
In her dream, he was still beautiful, warm, and strong. So, she was even more heartbroken.
After hearing the news of Ersha, she had utterly abandoned food and drink for three days. She had lost her will to live, and she resented the Goddess even though she knew she had given her a new life.
A knight who had lost her country, a knight whose own comrades had betrayed her, had no right to live. It was better to just die, even if life had been given back to her. That was what she thought.
“Please, please, don’t take my daughter. Dear Goddess, please.”
When she was young, she hadn’t had a father, and her mother had abandoned her during her early childhood. Therefore, she had needed to learn to survive alone while living in the back alleys. She had never felt the warmth of any adult.
“Lucy, please don’t leave your daddy.”
He was Yansgar nobility from the enemy country. Despite her repeating those words to herself, strangely, she felt guilty when she looked at the Count.
Like now. She had lost consciousness from not eating anything. Estelle had given up her will to live.
‘But why is this man crying like that?’ They were connected merely by blood; however, he was giving her infinite affection without any reservations.
‘Is a father supposed to be like that? Khalid's father did not have a friendly relationship with Khalid.’
‘Khalid's father, Duke Ilkai, was a sword fanatic, and their relationship was more like roommates. This person is special; he loves and adores his daughter, the original owner of this body.’
As far as she knew, this Lucifella had jumped into the water on her own. Putting aside her own circumstances, she wondered why she would have done that. Even when she asked the workers, everyone kept silent, and she could not find out why.
Estelle closed her eyes and continued to listen to the Count’s sobs.
What should she do?
Of course, she never wanted a situation like this. She felt like she was going to die from her despair. But was it right for her to do that now? Even if it was Estelle who would die, it was Lucifella's body. It wouldn’t be fair to this man to take the life of a body that did not belong to her.
The Count took care of her with the utmost dedication. He even refused many attendances required of him at the Imperial Palace and took care of everything for her by her side.
She was empathetic to the weak by nature, and in her view, the Count was a vulnerable person. He was not short, but his body was frail and lacked energy. However, his two eyes, those silvery-blue eyes, were always full of energy and love for her.
If the meaning of Estelle’s life had been her responsibilities as a knight, her friendship with her companions, and the sword, then for this man, his daughter Lucifella was his. Was it not wrong to take away this man’s reason to live?
It was not that she did not hate the Yansgar people, but she knew they were not responsible for the war. Besides, Yansgar's reason for invading Ersha was justified. If Yansgar had done what her own country had done, her forces would have crossed the border into Greenhill immediately.
Suddenly, a warm hand was placed on hers. It was the Count’s hand.
In the end, she couldn't be completely heartless. Her personality, which had never been able to be completely cruel to the enemy, once again could not be harsh. The feelings of betrayal and anger belonged to her, Estelle. This girl, Lucifella, should not embrace them.
No, if she thought about it, there were many ways to take one’s life, not just these passive options.
Even if one couldn't pick up a sword, one could get a dagger or even jump off a building, break a teacup and cut their wrist with broken glass, or hang oneself with a bedsheet. But she didn't do any of those. She didn’t want it that way.
She had to admit it. Admit that even though she may have initially wanted to die, at the same time, she wanted to keep on living.
After three days of tormenting thoughts, she had come to a conclusion. She would not give up on her life. She had to be Lucifella, not Estelle.
It wasn't just because of that man. Even though his affection may have weakened her, he was a perfect stranger unrelated to Estelle.
She had to go and see Ersha now that three years had passed. She needed to find out what had happened to everybody. Thinking like that, she felt that her life, which she had been about to throw away, was now too precious.
She wasn’t the kind of person who would dwell on the negative emotions of killing herself in the first place. Although becoming nobility under the "Emperor" of Yansgar was a grievous fact, what could be done about it? She couldn’t do anything, everything had already happened after Estelle died.
This was her last blessing from the Goddess Astra, to one who died after being betrayed by all. She decided to live for now. With that thought, Estelle, no, Lucifella opened her eyes.
The Count called for her. There was life coming back to her eyes.
“So-, I’m sorry, Miss!”
“What are you even talking about, exactly?”
Lucifella wondered what kind of life the owner of this body had lived.
When she came to her senses properly, her servants were overly servile to her. She knew this. It was akin to the behavior of servants adulating the king of Ersha.
“Um, a drop of tea fell….”
When she looked for what had fallen, she saw a drop on the tea coaster.
She had no talent for elegant tea-drinking, so she opted to gulp it, and with the maid pouring at high speed, something like this was bound to happen.
Was it really that bad to spill a drop of tea? She was genuinely curious about the laws of nobility.
She examined her red tea and looked at her maid, who trembled and knelt on her knees. It was absurd to Lucifella.
Was she on her knees for that one drop of tea?
“Why are you on your knees?”
"Sorry, I'm sorry. Oh, Lady, please....”
‘Please? What usually comes after “please”?’ When she looked at the maid indifferently, the maid looked into her eyes.
“Please don’t whip me. Please!" she begged.
How could a young lady who seemed so weak beat her maid?
"Did I beat you?”
“Did I just beat you? Was there anything else I did?”
“You put our hands on the floor and walked on the back of our hands with your shoes.”
Since the maid was so naively talking about the evils she had done, what would she do if she was still that mean?
Lucifella spoke while resting her chin on her hand.
“Stop bringing the tea.”
“Stop bringing it.”
She thought that the Lady's tone of voice was overly glorified, so she sometimes used an unnatural tone.
Her overly kind tone caused the maid to give her a look of astonishment, but after realizing that she was expressing her forgiveness, she withdrew.
Lucifella looked out her window. The season was transitioning from summer to autumn, and it had only been a few days since she had woken up. For now, she was going to try to live as Lucifella, but it was not as easy as she thought it would be to live as someone else.
First of all, she had no aristocratic etiquette or dignity at all, so she sipped and drank everything as served to her. Even though she went to the bathroom often, the diagnosis of her amnesia surprisingly served as a panacea to avoid any suspicions.
But she couldn’t stop sighing as she didn’t know how long she would have to lead such a life.
The door opened, and the Count entered. Lucifella hesitated about what to do and smiled politely. That alone filled the Count's face with happiness.
"Lucy! You seem to be feeling a lot better.”
"Yes, that’s right."
“Ah, no, I am.”
She sometimes slipped up and her Ersha dialect or a soldier-like tone would escape her lips. The Count smiled contentedly and handed her a present.
“What is this?”
Again, she made a mistake, but the Count didn't seem to be alarmed about her manner of speaking, overtaken by his joy of being able to give a present to his daughter.
She untied the satin ribbon from the small box that was luxuriously wrapped in paper. It was arduous for her to force a look of anticipation when she never had before. Inside was a set of blue earrings. Well, they did really sparkle.
“Among the new lines, I bought the best.”
She had heard that the Count owned a tiny gem mine on his estate. So, selling jewelry was his source of income. However, other than the fact that this was a blue gem, she didn’t know much more. She just smiled awkwardly and said thank you.
“I don’t know when we will go to another banquet, but if we go again our Lucy should stand out the most. Of course, you would still be the most beautiful even without these earrings.”
Well, that was probably so. She knew that this face was beautiful.
A banquet. Was that something she had to participate in? She supposed it was something anyone who was part of the aristocracy had to do. Just the thought of seeing the faces of the nobles of Yansgar was horrible.
“Since you look happy, I am happy too.”
“I am happy.”
At that, the Count smiled brightly and seemed happy. It was pleasing to see a handsome middle-aged man with such a face.
However, it was still disgusting and burdensome to be hugged. After a long, terrifying hug, the Count spoke.
“Oh, I have good news. I was going to tell you when you woke up, but I didn't get around to it."
Understandably, he couldn’t have told her anything when she was in that condition. Good news? She became curious.
“What is it?” she asked.
“Fiancé. You have a fiancé. Can you guess who it is?”
Fiancé. Come to think of it, Lucifella was 20 years old, and she should have started a family long before. But when it came to getting married at a time like this, things were getting more complicated.
“Who is it?”
She spoke in a dull tone, but the Count still seemed excited.
“The Duke of Heint has asked for a marriage!” he exclaimed.
Heint? She had heard of the name. When she recalled that face, she frowned.
Heint, Heint. How could she forget!
“Jedder Kyle Heint!”
"Yes! You guessed it right. Our Lucy is so smart. That is the name of your fiancé. Unfortunately, the Duke of Heint passed away, and he took over the title immediately. Ahhhh, you're so smart,” he praised. As he was rubbing her cheeks, she wondered if rubbing the cheeks of a 20-year-old daughter was a proper thing to do.
Jedder Kyle Heint, wasn't he the black lion on the battlefield? He was the Yansgar commander, a cruel beast that seemed to burn everything in the Ersha Kingdom. He decimated any place he passed through, turning it into nothing but a barren field.
Besides, he was even acquainted with Estelle.
Of all people, why that guy! She couldn't believe that the enemy general was now her fiancé. In this unbelievable situation, she finally realized that she was now a Yansgarian and that she was in the body of a woman named Lucifella Aydin.
“I received a message that he will visit you in two days.”
“… … .”
“Are you surprised? It seems that the late Duke of Heint really did what he said he was going to do.”
“… … Huh?"
At Lucifella's question, Count Aydin shook his head as if it was nothing.
"Lucy? Are you not happy? Have you still not forgotten His Majesty the Crown Prince?”
His Majesty the Crown Prince? Now, what did that mean?
When Lucifella looked at the Count, he shut his mouth.
He seemed to be hiding something.
Could it be that the owner of this body had had an affair with the Crown Prince, no, the First Prince of Yansgar? She must have been a hopeless woman. Lucifella let out a sigh. She was often sighing these days.
The Duke of Heint’s visit took place two days later at noon. It was not necessary for her to dress up as it was supposed to be a get-well visit, but still her maids put all their hearts into decorating her.
First, she had to bathe in warm water sprinkled with flower petals. Then powder was blown onto her face to the point of making her cough, and her lips were lightly dabbed with flower water to make them look lively. To her, her hair was shiny enough, but her maids continued to apply oils on it and kept brushing.
She hadn't even gotten up from the sickbed yet and they still made such a fuss. How much of a headache would it be if she participated in a party? And how did women endure such hard work?
Lucifella felt distant. Her stamina was fading away.
If her stamina was going to fade just from sitting in bed, she might have been better off wielding a sword. Swinging her sword, she would feel refreshed. Besides, she would get stronger from it.
How good it would be to train in swordsmanship. Of course, she knew well that doing so now was unreasonable. This body had no fat, let alone muscle, so it was not suitable for carrying a sword. Her resilience was so terrible that the harmful effects of drowning and fasting still had not gone away.
She had to sit on the bed and wait for the Duke of Heint with makeup on her pale face. If one of her lieutenants, Liam, had seen her like this, he would have convulsed from laughter.
The names of the knights she had commanded came to mind.
Liam, Balder, Annika, Oyigen… what would they be doing now? Would their lives have been spared in exchange for giving her head?
Lucifella thought in melancholy, hugged her knees on her bed, and buried her head between them. Next to her, her maid was waiting nervously.
“My lady, your hair will be ruined!” the maid blurted.
“Should a patient even care about her hair?”
Just then, a polite knock on the door was heard. Her maid, who was waiting by her side to attend to her, gave her a slight glance. It seemed that the much-awaited Duke of Heint had arrived. Despite everything, he was punctual.
The sound of heavy footsteps echoed through the room. The door opened, and their eyes met.
It was obviously disrespectful to enter a woman's bedroom, but it seemed acceptable because he was her fiancé, and she was ill.
The tall man looked at her and stepped toward her. His gait was that of a soldier, but his movements were as slow like those of a wild beast, and every step felt overpowering.
Jedder Kyle Heint was taller than Khalid. His hair was bronze, and his eyes were reddish-brown. His face was fairly handsome, with a firm mouth and masculine lines. He looked comparable to Khalid, who had delicate features.
Well, looking at him again, it was undeniable that he was a very handsome man, but for Lucifella, he was just a distasteful general of the enemy country.
She frowned slightly. She didn't like the fact that she was facing her enemy so leisurely on her bed right now. Wasn't he someone that needed to be beheaded?
Put simply, her psychological state was similar to the kind of occupational habit where an employee at a bakery goes to another bakery to buy bread, and out of habit organizes the display when they see that the arrangement on the shelves is different.
The maids bowed to their waist and fled. Then, there were only two people left in the room, Lucifella and Jed. Unfavorable glances went back and forth, akin to exchanging hostile glares with the enemy rather than between those betrothed.
“I’m sorry to greet you so late, My Lady.”
A fiancé, no, even just an aristocratic man in front of a lady should show respect by kissing the back of her hand, but he didn't. Moreover, he should have either sat on the chair provided or kneeled by the bed, but because he stood still, she had to look up at the Duke.
“I am sorry about Your Highness, the Duke of Heint.”
Lucifella decided to throw out the words as a courtesy. She wanted to say, ‘why should I care about the Duke of Heint,’ but she said the shortest and most appropriate words she could think of.
Then there was silence. When she looked up, wondering if she had made some sort of mistake, the Duke had a firm expression on his face.
She wished that the Duke would leave on his own as soon as possible, since he saw that she was okay. It was still hard to believe what had happened to her, and having to see her enemy's face was too harsh. She had a hard time not sending a deadly gaze toward the one who was once her enemy.
“Even though it’s a forced engagement for both of us, you are acting really badly,” the Duke growled.
Lucifella struggled to resist saying, "You’re being rude to me as well." Lucifella stopped hiding and looked up at him with a look of animosity for her enemy. She got out of bed and stood in front of him. Even standing, there was a height difference, but she didn't want to look up at the cost of her bending her head.
“You even put on makeup? Saying that you were sick must have been a lie?" the Duke asked sarcastically.
“Are you talking disrespectfully now?”
The man's red-brown eyes widened slightly and then curved as if smiling at her words, raising the corners of his mouth. He looked at Lucifella with a curious expression and continued with his sarcasm.
“I am the one who took you in. You, who could not get married to anyone else. I can forget your affair with the Crown Prince as a thing of the past, but if you repeat what you've done at the Imperial Palace Lake or behave with a negative attitude in front of me, your future will not be that pleasant. I am not that happy about you, either."
A cold smile appeared on Lucifella’s lips. She crossed her arms and sighed. With it, her bangs went up and down slightly.
In fact, with such a shameful feeling, she wanted to jump again right now.
Was there a 'past thing' with the Crown Prince? Besides, it seemed that it was because of the Crown Prince that this woman had jumped into the Imperial Palace Lake. She was flabbergasted. He seemed to think that her unfavorable attitude had something to do with the Crown Prince.
Why did she have to be part of such a dirty misunderstanding? What's more, the reason that Lucifella threw herself into the water was because of the puny Crown Prince. Estelle didn't know how to deal with the pitiful nature of this body. If that wasn't enough, the Duke of Heint misunderstood and thought that the reason she didn't greet him with a good attitude was that she couldn't forget the Crown Prince. But she didn't want to lose, so Lucifella looked at Heint.
“Since we don’t like each other very much, isn’t there a way without getting married or getting a divorce right after?” she asked.
At that, the Duke let out a small laugh, even though he certainly seemed offended by Lucifella's words. His eyes expressed sharp foresight.
“Unfortunately, I have a damn obligation to continue my family lineage and produce offspring.”
“… … .”
“Still, I like the idea of delaying the marriage. And to divorce right after marriage, so let’s do that. I also don’t want to be with someone like you, My Lady.”
He had a twisted smile. Lucifella knew that she was very pathetic to this person, but it made sense. If the reason she had jumped into the water was because of the Crown Prince, she deserved it.
He didn't like Lucifella, the person herself, from the start. At least the situation had turned out somewhat for the better. She heard that the engagement could not be canceled because the priests stamped it. Instead, it could be postponed, and if he would delay it then that was great. She was still trying to adjust to her new life. Having to get married to this man and sleep in the same bed? It would be better to just die again.
“That’d be great, thank you,” she said with a broad smile. She wanted to bite her own tongue as she spoke in a high lady-like tone.
Heint let out a laugh as he saw Lucifella’s face. Then, he took his hand and stroked her long black hair, smoothing it behind her ear, and placed his hand on her shoulder. At first glance it was an affectionate touch to his fiancée.
“The next time you do something stupid like jumping into the lake, you better be prepared,” he warned in a low, subdued voice. Lucifella gave him a sarcastic glare.
"Then next time, I can jump off from the spire of the Imperial Palace."
When she spoke so triumphantly, the Duke of Heint's eyes lit up with a dangerous look.
‘What, are you going to hit me?’ She wasn't afraid. However, she hated the feeling of his hand on her shoulder, so she hit his arm hard with her other hand to try and get it off of her.
However, she was astonished to realize that her own strength was worse than she thought, and she couldn’t even move his arm. She raised her hand again and tried to push his arm away, but she couldn't. She knew the Duke of Heint wasn’t even holding her shoulder tightly, but this body was congenitally weak, and there was no strength in it because she was sick.
As she looked up at the Duke of Heint, she felt herself fill with shame as he looked down at her mockingly.
“Take your hand off,” she ordered, clenching her teeth, but she had already revealed her weakness. The Duke of Heint took his hand off her shoulder, looking relaxed.
“Well, it looks like you don’t even have the strength to climb the spire.”
The insult hit a bullseye. Seeing her face, Duke Heint's smile deepened even more. It was the same face as back then. It would have been nice if she could have slapped that face, but it was clear that her fragile hand would be broken to pieces.
She had no choice but to only spit out words at him instead.
"Sure, I’ve paid my respects, so there isn't any need to waste more time," the Duke of Heint replied.
He was a man who made one feel inadequate to no end. Without even saying goodbye, he turned his back and left the room.
As soon as he left, the maids came in swarms and examined her as she let out heavy, angry breaths.
Like this, Lucifella was able to get through her first crisis. It was not her first meeting with him, but her lousy impression of him had turned from bad to worse.