Home Post 924-chapter-4


However, contrary to her thoughts, the fall did not last very long. It wasn’t the icy-like seawater that greeted her as she fell, but rather, it was a chilly yet dry sensation akin to spread-out laundry left outside on a wintry night.

Diana cautiously opened her eyes; the sea still lay beyond the terrace.

“Did you hate it that much? Enough to choose death instead?”

A mellifluous voice whispered above her. Due to the dignified tone, Diana failed to realize that he was reproaching her. Only after blinking a few times did she barely grasp that she was nestled in the arms of a man.

Carefully raising her head, she saw the face that had such a pleasant voice.

The morning star that hid during the day was nestled in his eyes.

As their eyes met, Diana recalled the amber brooch inside the Countess’ jewelry box. The gem, bathed in light, gleamed as yellow as gold and sparkled as transparent as glass. His eyes bore that same light. Even the beauty mark beneath his slightly raised eyes seemed like a trace of a cold winter.

After being mesmerized by his eyes for a short while, Diana quickly regained her senses.

“I, I…”

“Don’t try to pretend.”

Trapped in a cold gaze devoid of any warmth, Diana’s shoulders involuntarily shrank.

“To think this is the Grand Duchess. It seems like the Phenril household has fallen from grace.”

Muttering in a tone that was hard to decipher, whether it was self-deprecation or sarcasm, the man put Diana down.

Just like when he pulled her from the railing, there was no hint of gentleness in his rough movements. Having finished his task, the man pressed the corners of his mouth and looked down at Diana, his arms crossed. The loosely braided black hair that had been draped over his shoulders now flowed down beneath them.

Only then could Diana discern his identity.

Jarl Erno Larson Phenril. The young ruler of the Phenril household and Grand Duke of the Norbert Principality.

The owner of the ominous rumors that labeled him as a man who devoured his wives. And the man who was to be Diana’s husband.

As Diana realized the meaning of his words, her face turned pale blue in an instant. Amidst the confusion that felt like her head was about to explode, one thing was certain: the grand duke had a grave misunderstanding.

“It’s not what it seems.”

“What do you mean it’s not what it seems?”

“I just wanted to see the sea. I swear!”

“In the middle of the night? If you’re going to make excuses, at least show a bit of sincerity.”

Though his tone seemed gentle, his eyes showed no intention of hiding his contempt and his willingness to ridicule her.

“If you don’t want this, say it now. I’ll annul this marriage and pretend as if it never happened. It was a union you didn’t want anyway. Let’s handle it like adults through conversation.”

As the words ‘annulment’ came from the grand duke’s mouth, Diana froze, swallowing hard.

Annulment? She felt like she could foresee the future ahead, and every single hair on her body stiffened like a scale.


◇ ◆ ◇


Veronica’s words, “Don’t tell me, are you expecting this bride to be different?” echoed in his head long after he returned to the castle.

To him, this marriage was also dreadful.

It was clear that this place, with its harsh climate where winter consumed more than half of the year and never-ending nights, would be an extremely cruel land for a woman raised in the warm South.

“Her Highness was looking for His Highness.”


It was unexpected. Her homeland was undoubtedly on the southern outskirts. She must be tired after such a long journey. Yet, if she was willing to meet him, Erno felt it would be impolite to refuse.

But the moment he opened the door, Erno had a premonition. This marriage, too, would end in disaster.

Hanging halfway on the railing behind the partially opened glass door, something white and fluttering caught his eye. Upon closer inspection, it was a person.

At the moment Erno saw the slender ankles revealed beneath the white hem of her clothes swaying more than a foot above the ground, the color drained from his face.

‘Is she really trying to jump?’

Below the terrace lay rocky cliffs. If luck were on her side, she might just crack her skull and die instantly. But in the worst-case scenario…

If she chose such a method, it was her will. However, what crime had those who would have to deal with the gruesome corpse at dawn committed?

He had to intervene. As he came to this conclusion, his body moved instantly. Her body, half floating in midair, was dragged to the ground without resistance.

Her wrist, grabbed in a single swift motion, was slender and fragile, like a thin, delicate twig that would break—unable to bear the weight of snow.

The bride turned dreadfully pale as their eyes met, showing that reality was truly horrific. His stomach churned.

‘This marriage is dreadful for both sides.’

If only he could live alone. The repetitive marriages and disasters, the elders who incessantly reminded him of his royal duties. His family, once in talks to join the imperial family, was now knocking on the doors of lowly-known families in search of a marriage partner. This gruesome reality made his head spin.

She even shamelessly attempted to wriggle out of it, stubbornly clinging to her excuse about the sea. It was such a natural excuse that he could have bought it. But anyone who had eyes could tell that the night sea stretching below the terrace was far from a breathtaking sight to behold.

Seeing her blatantly lying without even blinking, Erno felt not only anger but also a sense of disgust.

“Shall we forget about this marriage? You can leave as soon as the day breaks if you like.”

He naturally anticipated that she would accept his proposal. However, her response gracefully defied his expectations.

“Leave? Where to? I-I’m not leaving. Why should I?”


“Your Highness also called me Grand Duchess. I know well enough that the position of the grand duchess cannot be easily relinquished.”

“What kind of nonsense…?”

Without realizing it, a chuckle escaped Erno’s lips. Was it a glimmer of conscience? Or was she just skilled enough at lying to spew out such falsehoods effortlessly?

‘Or could it be that she’s being sincere?’ No, that couldn’t be. Erno firmly buried the fleeting thought of hope.

Some women honestly asked for the marriage to be annulled, and others deceived him with sweet lies. And less than a week later, they all cursed the winter and snow as they left.

Erno would no longer be deceived by lies.

“I will never leave. I can take an oath if you want.”

Since Erno showed no signs of letting go of the misunderstanding, Diana proposed an oath. She had to do whatever it took to prevent him from annulling the marriage. However, even if she argued otherwise, it seemed unlikely that her words would reach his ears, which were already firmly covered with prejudice.

“What value does the oath of a deceitful person hold?”

Erno’s gaze towards her remained cold.

“How dare you not know your place.” Though he didn’t say it aloud, that’s what he meant.

Diana couldn’t muster a retort. Even she couldn’t see much value in her oath. Still, she couldn’t just back down like this.

“…Then let’s make a wager. Let’s bet on something tangible, not some invisible value.”

“Why should I comply?”

“Regardless of who wins or loses, I’ll stay here. It can’t be that bad of an offer.”


Erno let out a false laughter as if amazed. Leaving aside her attempt to escape the moment, she seemed quite desperate.

“If I win, I will stay here because I want to. On the other hand, if I lose, I will still stay because I must.”

“Instead of bringing in a bride, I brought in a swindler,” Erno muttered with a voice mixed with lament, covering his face with one hand.

He even thought it might be courteous to indulge her to some extent if she was resorting to such desperate lies.

“As you might have heard, weddings here last for three days. If, after those three days, Madam still hasn’t changed her mind, then it’s Madam’s victory.”

With a mixture of desire to see how far she would go with her obstinate lies and half out of mischievous curiosity to see how long her attitude would last, Erno agreed to the bet.

Right now, she might ignorantly rejoice in dodging the momentary crisis.

However, before the three days had passed, that woman would cling to him, insisting that she couldn’t survive in such a dreadful place. Imagining her begging him to annul the marriage, despite her bold claims of never leaving, brought him an oddly satisfying feeling.

“Have a good night, Madam.”

With a deliberate emphasis on ‘Madam,’ Erno forcefully grabbed Diana’s hand and pressed his lips against it.

It was a greeting that seemed affectionate, like one would treat a lover, yet it was more insulting than anything due to the lack of genuine affection.