The Villainess is Retiring
When I opened my eyes, I realized I was in a different body. I won’t go into detail about how stunned I was to find myself in this absurd situation. I’m sure no one wants me to blab about how I was feeling at the time anyway.
To put it simply, I became Everia Oberon.
She was a run-of-the-mill villain in the novel Lady Kathryn. In other words, she wasn’t a real person, but a fictional character inside of a book. It was already shocking enough that I was a different person. On top of that, I was a person who only existed between the pages of a novel!
I paused and thought for a moment, What the heck is wrong with my life?
Lady Kathryn is a romance novel. Kathryn is the only daughter of a poor baron, but her family is affectionate. The story revolves around her as the female lead with a unique and cheerful personality. She captures the heart of the top five most eligible bachelors in the kingdom:
Crown Prince Cassian who later becomes king and rules the kingdom.
First Prince Lydon who, despite being the eldest, tragically gets pushed out of the line of succession.
Elle Loites the captain of the Royal Guard and best swordsman in the empire.
Mason a genius scholar who was born a commoner and later became the prime minister.
And Luke the connoisseur of the information guild that rules the black market.
All these men pour their hearts out to Kathryn. She does a great job juggling her relationships with all of them, but in the end she marries the crown prince and becomes the queen, as is typical in romance novels. The four remaining men who were in love with her quietly backed off and wished her well.
Sounds like a beautiful world, right? Everything in the novel is set up to ensure Kathryn’s happiness. In that world, Everia Oberon is the duke’s daughter, and she’s engaged to the crown prince. However, she’s jealous of Kathryn and bullies her in all sorts of ways.
Her bullying was small and petty in the beginning. She would spread gossip about Kathryn, throw wine at her during balls, blatantly talk down to her in front of others, and so on. However, the more popular Kathryn became, the more Everia hated her. Eventually, Everia made a plan to kill her.
Naturally, her plan failed. Kathryn had the head of the information guild on her side, and he had ears everywhere in the empire. Besides, the duke’s daughter lived in a bubble of ignorance, so her plan was very sloppy. Can you imagine? Anyway, the outcome was fairly predictable. The villain’s plans are always like this, no?
What makes villains endearing is that their plans always go awry no matter what. Everia was no exception.
In a stereotypical fashion, she was caught red-handed before her plan even got off the ground. Although her plan was laughable, the consequences of her actions were grave. The duchy had the power to brush off minor incidents of bullying, but attempted murder was a delicate matter. It was even more serious because everyone in the kingdom loved Kathryn.
Kathryn’s five suitors came down on Everia pretty hard, so even the prestigious Duke Oberon couldn’t protect his daughter. Because of this incident, Everia’s engagement to the crown prince was called off, and she was permanently banished from the social world.
As the duke’s youngest daughter who was engaged to the crown prince, Everia’s life was glamorous until that point. She probably thought her life would be like that forever. Instead, her world came crashing down in ways she never expected. She had a hard time accepting it, so after a long period of suffering, she took her own life. That was the end for the villain, Everia Oberon.
But then I thought, I don’t have to end like that, do I?
I’m not Everia. I mean, I am Everia, but what she did in the past has nothing to do with me. If someone actually died, maybe I’d feel guilty, but Kathryn is fine. The world still revolves around her.
There’s no reason for me to atone for Everia’s sins. Regardless of what I choose to do with my life, Kathryn will live happily ever after. No matter what, the female lead is destined to receive love from everyone.
The real Everia didn’t know that and ended her life tragically, but I already know I don’t have to live that way. So what if people call me the villain? Everia is the duke’s daughter. She can live in the lap of luxury without ever having to leave her family’s mansion.
What more do I need in life? My life doesn’t have to be miserable just because fictional people aren’t giving me any love. My conclusion is, “What’s done is done.” I’m going to live freely and not care about what other people think.
“I’m disappointed in you, Everia. I thought you were a sensible, considerate woman. But murder...? I never imagined you were capable of such a horrendous act.”
Ah, it’s one of the suitors Kathryn has wrapped around her finger. Why should I care about what her men say?
“You’re a member of a ducal family and on track to become the future queen. You should be setting good examples for others to follow. Do you think that was acceptable behavior?”
Kathryn is alive, so my crime was merely attempted murder, not murder.
“It was not murder. It was attempted murder.”
I was tired, so I corrected him without thinking.
“Finally, here comes the last one.”
The first prince had started things off, then the guard captain, then the genius scholar, and then the information guild’s connoisseur. As if they had planned it, Kathryn’s men came one by one to dish out all kinds of curses and cynical remarks. It was now time for the grand entrance of the crown prince, who is also the novel’s male lead.
Here comes the final boss.
After him, I won’t have to bother with any more of Kathryn’s bastard pet fish.
“How could you ever think of murdering someone?!”
“Yes, I’m sorry I did that.”
Cheerfully smiling, I cut him off in the middle of his reproach.
“As my penance, I’ll never show my face in the social world again and live quietly. And of course, I trust you’ll want to break off our engagement, right? I’ll agree to that as well. Are you satisfied now?”
My declaration stopped Crown Prince Cassian’s incessant chatter.
He seemed speechless. It was as if he wasn’t expecting those words to come out of Everia’s mouth.
“What? Isn’t that what you wanted? I’m giving you what you want. Let’s break off our engagement.”
I know it’s coming, so there’s no reason to delay it. In the novel, Everia was shocked and clung to Cassian, but I don’t feel like doing that. Moving forward, Everia is going to free herself from the nasty villain role she played in the novel. I’m not going to spend my life atoning for someone’s crime just because I reincarnated into her body. My objective is to accept everything that’s happening and exit like a cool villain.
“Okay. We’re done here, right? Well, go on your way. Please don’t stand there blocking my path.”
The fish that was blocking me just wouldn’t budge. It seemed like he’d stand there till the sun came up.
“Fine, I’ll leave first. I can go around you.”
Shrugging my shoulders, I turned my back to him. It was refreshing to have nothing blocking my view.
“Why don’t you go down to Airelle till things calm down in the social world? Nothing’s there, and it’s quiet. It’s the perfect place for penance.”
When word spread throughout the capital that I tried to kill Kathryn, Duke Oberon sent me to one of our duchy’s territories called Airelle. His order came suddenly, but I wasn’t surprised. After all, the duke said the same thing before he sent Everia to Airelle in the novel.
If I’m being nitpicky, the duke did move up the timetable.
In the original story, Everia refused to accept responsibility for her actions. She was kicked out from the social world when the crown prince forcibly broke off their engagement. Everia went to Airelle after that. Instead of waiting for those things to happen to me, I voluntarily agreed to break off the engagement and left the social world on my own terms. Thanks to that, the timeline moved up a little.
Airelle is a small territory located at the northern tip of the kingdom. Since it’s a village in the country with extremely cold weather, it’s a pretty boring place for a refined noble lady. If I were the real Everia, going to Airelle would’ve been painful. Unfortunately for the duke, who wanted his daughter to reflect on what she had done, I wasn’t such a refined noble lady. What’s so bad about a rural village in the north? It’s a rather good place to spend my days leisurely.
I won’t have to deal with Kathryn’s men glaring at me out here, so this isn’t a punishment, it’s a reward.
I certainly thought that at first, but then…
Airelle is cold. So very cold. It’s cold beyond your imagination. The air was so chilly that I couldn't stop shivering even while sitting in my room. Even indoors, I had to wear a thick overcoat and a blanket over my shoulders, but even that didn’t do much in such extreme cold.
At some point, I started thinking that maybe Everia didn’t kill herself. Maybe she froze to death.
No... Not maybe. I’m sure she froze to death. Seriously!
“H-how does anyone l-live in such a c-cold place?”
I couldn’t imagine actually living here, so I asked my personal maid at Airelle castle, Emma. My teeth chattered so much that I could barely talk. In contrast, Emma was calmly pouring tea in her thin maid outfit.
“Drinking hot tea will make you feel better, miss.”
“It’s s-so cold. I don’t think d-drinking tea will do m-much. Aren’t you c-cold, Emma?”
While shivering like a leaf, I drank the hot tea. My tremors did subside a little, but that’s all the relief I got. I still had chills, and I feel like I’ll be stuck in bed with a severe cold before long.
“I’m cold too, but I was born and raised in Airelle. People here are used to the cold. The nights are pretty bad, but it’s still noon, so it’s relatively warm now.”
“This is warm for you? If it gets any colder, I’m sure I’ll die... I’ll freeze to death for real.”
I couldn’t believe I might freeze to death before I had a chance to enjoy my luxurious life. How absurd!
I need to find a solution.
Desperate to survive, I scanned the room. To my relief, there was a fireplace in the corner.
“Why aren’t we using the fireplace? Let’s get a fire going.”
“I’m sorry, miss. The territory is completely out of firewood. We have to save what little we have for cooking in the kitchen. We’re lucky we can even heat the water for your tea.”
How could that be? Although it’s a rural village, it still belongs to the duchy. How can there be no firewood? Emma lowered her head in shame after seeing my confused expression.
“The only trees in Airelle are black steel wood since they can withstand the cold. Unfortunately, they’re also very hard and don’t burn well, so they can’t be used for firewood.”
“Then why not import wood that burns better from other territories?”
“Ocale Company used to provide firewood to our territory. We had a relationship with them for over a century, but they recently ended it abruptly. And it isn’t only here at the manor... The entire territory is experiencing a firewood shortage.”
Emma explained everything with a sorry look on her face.
“Finding a new supplier is not easy, so it might take some time for us to get more firewood. The butler is urgently looking for a solution, so please be patient, miss.”
Trust is at the foundation of all transactions. In order for a long-standing relationship to break, there has to be a legitimate reason. Above all, this is a caste-based society. Maintaining the order of the hierarchy is more important than the logic of the market. Even with a legitimate reason, it wouldn’t have been easy for a mere merchant to suddenly sever ties with our duchy.
“Airelle belongs to the duchy. Why would a mere merchant decide to cut ties with us? What was the reason?”
Emma averted her gaze at my obvious question.
I pressed her until she began to speak hesitantly.
“Ocale Company belongs to Earl Meliore. So...”
When I heard the name “Meliore,” a face came to my mind immediately. It was Lydon’s, the first prince and one of Kathryn’s pet fish. Earl Meliore was a relative from his mother’s side of the family. House Meliore wasn’t comparable to House Oberon, but they had direct ties to the royal family. Even Duke Oberon had to be careful in his dealings with any families who had royal ties.
They have powerful connections, is that it?
I was beginning to understand the situation.
“Did they sever the relationship about a week ago?”
“I bet the first prince had something to do with it.”
I’m sure they cut ties because they were angry about the fact that I tried to kill Kathryn.
What a classic Lydon Geraint move!
He was exactly like his character in the novel, so I wasn’t surprised. Even though Lydon Geraint was the first prince, his brother Cassian Geraint became the crown prince. Usually that seat went to the eldest son, but given the circumstances, it made sense.
Lydon’s mother passed away right after giving birth to him, then the marquise gave birth to Cassian after her death and became queen. The living queen did everything she could to make her son the crown prince. Everia and Cassian’s engagement was also arranged by the queen in her effort to gain Duke Oberon’s support.
I mean, think about it. He was the eldest son in line for the throne who lost his mother early and who only had a powerless earl on his side. He clearly had a target on his back, right?
Fortunately or unfortunately, Lydon was fairly smart. He recognized the danger he was in early on and dealt with the situation. On the outside, he tried to appear flexible and powerless, but inwardly, he was filled with grit and deviousness. A stereotypical wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Given the situation, it was inevitable that Lydon Geraint and the crown prince’s fiancée Everia became enemies in the novel. They didn’t get along well in the first place, but their relationship took a turn for the worse due to Everia’s daily harassment of Kathryn, whom Lydon was in love with.
If I had to pick one person Everia had the worst relationship with out of Kathryn’s five men, I’d say it was Lydon without a moment’s hesitation. But still, severing a business relationship is a bit much!