Home Post 282-chapter-21


The maid’s expression changed distinctly.

“No, that woman is insane!”

The Duke leaned forward slightly.

“Go on.”

“That woman is a devil. Insane! She threatened to kill me. Twice, she told me not to be noticeable in your eyes….”


As Ashley spoke, the bitterness and sorrow of that time resurfaced, causing her to tremble.

“What reason could there be? She’s a monster in human disguise. She always harassed and threatened us just because our status was lower. Save me, please, save me, my lord…”

Tears streamed down her face. Despite her pleading, her desperate appearance made even the most unfeeling person sympathetic.

However, the baron’s attitude remained unchanged.

“How did she torment you? Be specific.”

“That…” Ashley, who had been answering without hesitation, hesitated. The deliberately squeezed tears stopped abruptly.

After a moment of contemplation, she awkwardly asked, “Don’t you, my lord, know well enough? Since you must be a high-ranking person. I heard rumors… mistreating servants, harassing innocent Miss Helena, abandoning the estate, and such things.”

But when the baron didn’t affirm, Ashley added nervously, “No, not just the nobles. Isn’t it true for all imperial citizens? Don’t you know that we are cursed, just like her wretched father? It’s exactly as everyone thinks.”

“That’s not the kind of answer I wanted.”

For the first time, discomfort appeared in the baron’s demeanor.

“I asked for specifics. Not ‘everyone knows’ or ‘committed a wrongdoing.’ Tell me about the woman you lived with, experienced things with. What kind of torment did she suffer in detail!”

Even the tone that seemed respectful to her changed. The dominating aura of a master pressed on her.

Ashley lowered her head, hiding from the baron’s view. Her eyes, squinted tightly, struggled to find an answer.

‘What should I say? I have to think, think carefully.’

Once asked for specific details, recalling them became unexpectedly challenging.

‘What did she do exactly?’

Her mind felt empty.

Ashley realized that this was the first time she had thought about it.

In truth, except for the last few days when Khalia went mad and poured curses on her and the masters, she had only glared and stared at her as if she were a dead rat whenever Ashley spoke.

So, aside from ‘just,’ ‘of course,’ and ‘because she resembles her father,’ there was nothing concrete to say about the previous Khalia.

However, speaking when the attitude changed became difficult.

‘There are facts that are better left unsaid.’

Ashley bit her lip.

For example, on the day she was driven out, the words Khalia said to me as I kneeled and begged, like…

She nervously trembled her legs.


In her desperate contemplation, a solution suddenly struck her like lightning.

‘Flip it around!’

“Well then, I’ll tell you everything. First, the first thing is… false accusation. We were falsely accused of theft. Suddenly, she accused us of stealing jewelry belonging to the young lady and the mistress. As if she herself didn’t have a bad habit of stealing! Just baselessly accusing and turning it around on a simple servant.”

In reality, they fabricated it as if it were the maids’ wrongdoing.

‘But she’s still cheap.’


“When she was in a bad mood, she would pick any of us and lock us up in solitary confinement, subjecting us to beatings. There were many times when she locked us up all day without giving us food or water.”

This was Ashley’s doing.

How delightful it was for the offspring of nobility, especially the heir of a grand viscount who owned vast estates, to be able to punish and discipline as they pleased.

“Anything else?”

“And… And yes. She would humiliate us by placing us in the halls or corridors where people passed by, making a big fuss over trivial things.”

‘My masters did the same. I wasn’t wrong.’

It was a method favored by the mistress and Miss Helena.

‘Enough. Perfect!’

In Ashley’s eyes, filled with fabricated justifications, a glimmer of hope emerged again.

‘This should be enough. Was it a satisfying answer?’

Perhaps the reason this person called her was to hear how much worse and wicked the devil’s daughter was within the walls of the mansion than people roughly knew. To inquire about every detail beyond common knowledge.

‘For condemnation! To deliver righteous punishment!’

Yes, she had lived for too long. It was time for her to die, before she grew even more, before the seed of malice sprouted.

The desire for revenge against Khalia and the tempting sight of gold before her eyes paralyzed her reasoning and clouded her judgment. Ashley’s vision became blurred.

‘A reward… I’m going to receive a reward. I’ll get 500 gold.’


The duke, who had been listening with his elbows on the desk and fingers intertwined, leaned forward.

She had been lost in her thoughts and snapped back to reality.

The reality she faced was different from her imagination. The duke’s face was stiff.

“Did Baron Barden not intervene?”


Ashley’s words were stuck at an unexpected question. To avoid exposure and weave another excuse, she bowed her head deeply.

An angry voice soon erupted.

“Raise your head. Look at me and answer.”

She, who had turned pale, lifted her head.

When her cold red eyes met his directly, it felt as if each lie she had told was being laid bare.

Her tongue stiffened as if she had swallowed poison.

“Uh, uh….”

With a throaty croak, she forced out lies, as if rolling a lump of clay.

“… Baron Barden and the mistress are so kind and weak-hearted that they couldn’t easily control her. That’s why.”

“That’s strange. Someone with such a good character allowing unfounded harassment against you?”


The mismatched words made the duke’s face express displeasure.

“What is the meaning of ‘atonement meal’?”

At that moment, a man who had been quietly standing in the shadowy corner behind Ashley stepped forward and spoke.

“I, I am!”

Ashley hadn’t seen him as she entered with closed eyes and shouted in surprise. She was so startled that she almost jumped out of her chair.

Sensing his master’s displeasure, Obert interceded on his behalf.

“…..That day, I saw Miss Estelle offering you a ‘meal of atonement.’ What does that mean?”

‘No, no!’

The housekeeper was there with her that day. She witnessed her kneeling, confessing her wrongdoing to Khalia, unable to say a word about the ‘meal of atonement,’ and wailing.

Ashley pleaded desperately.

“Nari, it can’t be…. Just once, please.”

“She said if you begged for forgiveness, she would allow your children to have the ‘meal of atonement.’ Why couldn’t you say a word and instead gave it up?”

“No, it’s not that. It’s just that, I…”

“Stop thinking about lying, Ashley Minker. If you continue to deceive the noble, I will make you beg for death in front of your children.”

The old servant silently became angry. The polite and dignified gentleman disappeared, leaving only subordinates ready to make those who don’t obey pay the price.

“…It’s all a scheme she concocted!”

Ashley shouted hysterically. Frightened by the lack of an escape, she lost her composure.

A man, who had stepped back while she jumped around, approached and grabbed her hair.

A sharp dagger approached from behind.

“Don’t make a commotion, just answer the questions.”

The blade touched her cheek slowly. Blood trickled down.

Ashley, seized by the man holding her hair, only murmured with her lips trembling in the terror of death. The man asked,

“What is the ‘meal of atonement’?”

“Rotten food! She gave me rotten food! To atone for my father’s sins!”

The man put away the knife and stepped back. Ashley, who had revealed the secret like thunder, screamed.

“Bugs in the soup! Moldy bread! She only chose dirty and disgusting things that even dogs wouldn’t eat. It’s all the Marquis’ doing!”

Blood, tears, and saliva splattered in all directions each time she screamed. Ashley’s eyes flickered in madness. Her pupils rolled in all directions.

“Just once, just listen to me once. Nari, your Grace, my Lord! I only committed one sin as instructed. That woman is still unpunished! That wench is a cursed child!”

The Duke’s spine chilled at the desperate revelation. He spoke with a cold mouth.

“…Start over from the beginning, and tell the truth this time. Depending on your words, I might spare only your family.”

Gold flew away. The faces of the three children seemed to fly far away.

Ashley had tried to convince that she had done nothing wrong and had only followed the orders of the Marquis’ family, and now instinctively realized that such phrases were futile in the Duke’s attitude.

Having given up on everything, she slid off the chair and knelt. Sobbing with her face on the floor, she cried indistinctly, unheard and incomprehensible.

The Duke’s complexion darkened. His heart beat uncomfortably, and his stomach sank heavily.

Perhaps he, or rather the entire empire, had misjudged Khalia.