I was sprawled out across the chair and table on the terrace by the beach.
I could not sleep the entire night, tormented by nightmares about my half-siblings and Maria’s death.
“That was truly a horrifying dinner.” A sigh escaped as I recalled yesterday’s events. There was no way in hell I would want to be part of that nightmare ever again.
‘Well, it’s not like I had no profit at all…’ Seeing my half-siblings, the central figures, in person was a significant gain. Meeting them and having conversations with characters who never appeared in the original story was a valuable experience. Furthermore, feeling in my skin the atmosphere of the household that was briefly described in the original story was also very helpful. It served as a reminder of just how twisted this place is.
“But why is she such a villain? She’s so pretty that it’s impossible to look away.”
I happened to catch sight of my reflection in the terrace window and examined myself from different angles. Long, dark-bluish hair with sapphire-like violet eyes. A dreamy appearance reminiscent of Eastern mystique and the conceitedness of a black cat. Prejudice aside, she was undeniably a fatal beauty.
‘So what? I’m a walking death flag.’
The mastermind who defies her fate but ultimately perishes at the hands of the returnee male lead. Yet, she perfectly fulfilled her role as the villain who resurrects the Demon Lord.
Kiana, the embodiment of an antagonist, was now me.
‘Let’s stop shaking at the thought and better figure out how to live.’ After all, I had no other choice but to live as Kiana. It was better to accept it quickly and find a way to survive.
‘In that case, first…’
I reached my hand into the air. In plain sight, there was nothing there, but in my eyes, I could faintly see an unidentified window shining.
Click. I pressed on it with my finger, and a folded-up scroll suddenly unfolded.
『 Tutorial Quest 』
『 Classification: Survival 』
『 Description: Conflict is escalating as the successor of the Brunak family is about to be chosen. Face the dangers ahead and survive until the beginning of the original story 』
『 Remaining Time: 131 days, 14 hours, 47 minutes, 36 seconds 』
『 Reward: ?? 』
As I gazed at the system window unfolding like a hologram, my brain raced. Just surviving in this damn household was a tutorial difficulty level? I already felt overwhelmed thinking about how hellish my future would be from now on.
‘What can I do? I’ll have to suck it up.’
But why was the status window—a unique feature of the male lead in the original story—visible to me as well? Was it some meager consideration for the transmigrated soul brought into the novel without a clue? From my perspective, it was much better to have it, as it warned of the risk of death and promised rewards for success.
“It’s me, miss.”
Creak- The glass door leading from the bedroom to the terrace was now slightly ajar. Through the partially opened door, a maid carrying a tray entered the terrace.
“I’ve brought your meal. Shall I set it up on the terrace?”
I gave my consent, and the maid gracefully began to set the table. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She had short, wavy sky-blue hair, an expression that revealed no emotion whatsoever, and restrained movements that made her seem like a lifeless doll. Even at a glance, she didn’t appear ordinary. Her name was Tia. She was not just any maid, but a maid who had served Kiana since childhood…
‘And an assassin.’
She had earned notoriety in the empire as the ‘Silver Assassin,’ expertly handling thin threads of silver as weapons. I discreetly watched as her hand, which had been carrying a plate of food, moved it to the table. Imagining those delicate, white hands committing murder sent shivers down my spine.
‘Don’t be scared. She’s on my side.’ Tia was Kiana’s unparalleled confidant. In the middle of the original story, she assassinated nobles and led the chaos on Kiana’s orders. Eventually, she met her heroic end while protecting Kiana from the male lead, when he invaded the Brunak family. For this reason, Tia was the most trustworthy person I could rely on in this insane household.
Once the meal preparations were complete, I scooped up my late breakfast. My stomach was uncomfortable due to yesterday’s events, but I forced myself to eat the soup. I needed strength to plan my survival, and for that, I needed to eat.
By the time I had emptied about half of the soup, a yellow butterfly fluttered over the terrace railing and circled around the table. It might have looked beautiful from a distance, but up close, it seemed quite eerie, making me wonder if it was really a butterfly. My expression soured.
“Shall I remove it if it bothers you?” Tia lifted her sleeve slightly, revealing her wrist with the silver thread coiled around it, glistening coolly in the sunlight.
“No, there’s no need for that.” I quickly waved my hand to shoo away the butterfly. I didn’t want to see the butterfly ripped apart by that silver thread. When the butterfly flew away beyond the railing, Tia lowered her sleeve once more. I was relieved that I didn’t witness a gruesome scene.
Knock. Knock. I heard a knocking sound from outside the room.
“I will go and see.” Tia bowed and left the terrace.
I took another spoonful of soup and quietly set down my utensils. My appetite had disappeared. In the meantime, Tia returned.
“Milady, Young Master Clark is here.”
I stiffened at the unexpected visit from Clark.
‘Why is he suddenly…’ I recalled Clark’s sinister gaze during last night’s dinner, looking as if he wanted to kill me, and my heart raced.
“I don’t want to meet him right now.” Without hesitation, I refused to meet him.
‘Even if I meet him, nothing good will come from it.’ I could sense the unspoken emotions in his gaze from yesterday.
“Yes, I’ll send him away.”
I conveyed my refusal through Tia, and not long after that…
Thud. Thud. With the sound of heavy footsteps, the closed glass door swung open forcefully.
“Oh no, were you in the middle of a meal?”
My breath caught in my throat as Clark appeared there, looking dissatisfied.
“Young Master, what kind of discourtesy is this?!” Tia’s voice, following closely behind, turned sharp.
“Still, your older brother wants to talk; it’s a pity if you were to chase me away, don’t you think?” Clark blatantly ignored Tia and pulled the empty chair in front of me, taking a seat.
“Please leave immediately and follow the proper procedures for a visit,” Tia protested, but Clark simply waved her off.
“Woah, our Kiana has quite a wonderful maid. She’s quite feisty.” Clark’s mocking expression turned cold. “But have you taught her what she should and shouldn’t do?”
“. . .!”
“I feel like killing her right now.” The playfulness drained from his eyes, and they were filled with intensity.
‘What-what in the world is wrong with these people?’ No matter how unconventional the Brunak family was or how much common sense they lacked, they were still part of the nobility. Even among family members, there should be a minimum of decorum to uphold, but this guy seemed to have thrown all that out the window. If not, he wouldn’t have barged into his half-sister’s room in broad daylight and threatened to kill her maid.
“…Step aside.” I gestured for Tia to step back, and she reluctantly obeyed, biting her lower lip.
“What’s the matter?” I asked tersely, trying to hide any tremor in my voice. I worked hard to conceal the fact that I was terrified, even though sweat trickled down my back and my limbs felt numb.
‘If I seem weak, it’s over.’ As an orphan, I received no proper education and had nothing for myself. I learned that the more I bent, the more people looked down on and disregarded me. Showing weakness means being vulnerable. More so in a family where blood ties meant killing and being killed.
“Do you really not know?”
‘Do you think I’d ask if I knew?’ As I kept my mouth shut, Clark’s expression twisted.
“Maria.” An unexpected name came out of Clark’s mouth. “You killed her, didn’t you?”
‘What?’ I blinked in bewilderment at the absurdity of the question. The only connection I had with Maria was an encounter by chance in the corridor just the day before yesterday. On the day Maria died, I stayed locked in my room and didn’t set foot outside. That I, who barely had any involvement, was responsible for Maria’s death? There was no way this could be true.
“I didn’t do anything like that,” I forcefully denied it, putting strength into my voice.
“Aah, right. You didn’t lay a hand on her directly,” Clark chuckled softly, almost mockingly, and continued, “Leon seemed to have contracted a rare disease, and you saw this as an opportunity to prod Maria to take a chance, didn’t you?”
“. . .!” My head felt heavy, as if I had been hit with a hammer. If this were true, it meant I was indirectly involved in Maria’s death.
‘Is-is it true?’ Regardless of the truth, my mind went blank, and I couldn’t think straight. If his claim was true, then all the consequences would be mine to bear.
“What are you thinking?” Clark’s expression turned icy as he looked at me.
“You fully knew she would die.”
“. . .”
“What’s the point of doing something good for that bastard, Leon?”
I kept my lips sealed, despite Clark’s persistent questioning. I wished I had at least some knowledge to use for rebuttal, but I had no idea what the previous Kiana had been thinking before I possessed her body.
“Why are you so silent?” As my silence lingered, Clark sneered. “I thought us siblings would be good partners until the end.”
Clark’s chilling voice sent shivers down my spine. The concept of “survival” that I had only heard about gradually crept over me.
“It seems we’re not getting along, are we?” As he finished speaking, Clark reached into his coat, and in that instant…
An iron cleaver plunged deeply into the table. It was a sickle-shaped (kusarigama) weapon with an iron chain attached to the handle’s end.
‘Psycho!’ Sweat poured down my back, and my body stiffened with tension.
『 Warning! Risk of death increasing 』
『 Warning! Risk of death increasing 』
One after another, warning windows appeared in my vision, tinted in red, unlike anything I had seen before.