From a very young age, Lobelia thought she was the hero of the world.
With a family so loving, she had nothing to envy.
Her father, James Evelentia, with his impeccable skills and sharp wit, managed to turn his family into the wealthiest house in the empire, all the while not forgetting to be a loving father.
“Lobelia, our princess,” he would often say.

In Lobelia’s memory, the image of her father smiling brightly at her with outstretched arms was as clear as day.
Even though she had forgotten everything else, she couldn’t forget that one scene.
She still remembered the feel of his frizzy beard against her cheek and the sound of her own laughter.

“Our darling.
Whatever my daughter wants, this daddy will give you.”

Her father would always look at her daughter with admiration, as if he was staring at the most precious thing in the universe.
Growing up, Lobelia was constantly surrounded by beautiful lace dresses and sparkling jewels and delectable puddings with butterfly decorations.
Her home overflowed with the love of her parents.
She believed her joy was eternal.

Little did she know, it was all a trick of the world to turn her into a villain.

When Lobelia turned three, her father was found dead.
With only the suspicion of murder and no significant evidence found, the case was inevitably closed without resolution, and disputes arose within the family over the distribution of land.
Money calls for blood, they say. 

At the death of his father, many coveted the wealth of the family.
James had written a will prior to his passing, but it was unofficial and did not have much effect as it was not notarized.
Because of this, even relatives who did not bother to attend his funeral began to pester Julia, his wife.
Some even forced her to remarry. 

Julia, the sole heir in his will, tried to protect her family’s fortune and Lobelia, but there was little she could do, as she was a gypsy with ethnic blood, and was subtly despised by the nobility.

One day, Marlon, James’ older brother and Lobelia’s uncle, came to visit her.
He had said, “I will save you.
marry me.
You wouldn’t want to marry a rogue, do you?”

Julia felt as if she had no choice.
As a woman, she could not protect Lobelia, nor could she allow the hyenas to constantly prey on her family for their selfish greed.
Eventually, she agreed to his proposal, but with one condition: everything left behind by his late husband must be inherited by his daughter, Lobelia.

“Of course.
I promise, in honor of the dead,” Marlon had said, his words as sweet as honey. 

As soon as the wedding was over, Marlon unleashed his true nature.
He was a greedy maniac.
He beat Julia every day, starved her, and threatened to kill her daughter if she didn’t listen to him.
If Julia rebelled in the slightest, he locked the mother and daughter for three days in a tiny room without a single ray of light, giving them only water to share.
In the end, Julia inevitably signed a memorandum to surrender Lobelia’s inheritance in order to survive.

But the memorandum alone could not satisfy Marlon’s greed.
Lobelia’s birthright remained a threat to him.
He’d point his finger menacingly at the three-year-old child, who cowered behind the shadow of her beaten mother.  

Julia feared that Marlon would harm Lobelia, so she lied that her child did not have Evelentia’s blood running in her veins, naming herself an adulterous woman who had given birth to an illegitimate child through an affair.
It was humiliation worse than death, but death wasn’t an option in the first place. 

After that, Julia and Lobelia were exiled to the countryside, where they lived in peace and unspoken regret.
Though incomparable to the luxurious lifestyle they had enjoyed in the capital, Julia was content.
Though her hands were full of calluses and bruises, her life was not in constant jeopardy.
She was never beaten, never locked up in a tiny room without light, and never starved.

Ultimately, Julia learned how to accept defeat.
That was what she taught her daughter as well.

Until the thirteen-year-old Lobelia suffered a mysterious fever.

In the countryside, where there were no proper doctors or medical facilities, Lobelia’s fever could not be cured.
After debating for several days and nights, Julia finally decided to go to the capital.

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