The cool breeze slithered through the open window while Lobelia contemplated.
“There are three certificates that prove the legitimacy of a noble,” she muttered to herself.
“Birth, registration, and baptismal.”
When witchcraft was not yet spurned, paternity was confirmed through magic.
However, the times have changed.
Nobles now depended on yearbooks and family registers.
Unfortunately, Lobelia’s registration and birth certificates were already incinerated by Marlon.
In the Original, he had done it when he exiled Lobelia and Julie to the countryside.
All that was left was the baptismal certificate, whose whereabouts remained unknown even to his uncle.
At the least, Lobelia was certain of its existence.
Besides, there were implicit hints in the Original.
However, finding it alone wouldn’t suffice.
Even if she proved herself to be a descendant of Evelentia, if she lacked power, she would only be trampled by Marlon again.
She needed power, and where was power often found?
“In wealth,” Lobelia muttered, her eyes widening.
She needed wealth to be protected and to defend her claim.
But she knew she couldn’t take away Marlon’s riches through ordinary means.
Lobelia looked down at her own hands, whitened by the cold wind.
A thought crossed her mind.
If following the rules wouldn’t grant her victory, then she must deviate from the common way.
Who decided that the wealth of Evelentia shall only be inherited by an Evelentia?
If her blood alone was useless, she shall turn herself into another person to seize Evelentia.
Once power is in her grasp, only then will she reveal her true birthright and impose vengeance upon those who drove her into despair.
Then everything that was stolen will return to its owner.
Lobelia closed the window and sat on the bedside, grabbing a pen and paper.
In order for her to become another person, Lobelia needed a faithful ally to build her power and ensure her safety.
But was there such a person in this world?
Lobelia did not believe in faith.
The reason she and her mother were deprived of everything was because they were foolish to believe in Marlon’s “good faith.” And he knew it, so he easily manipulated the two of them.
Still, Lobelia had no intention of inflicting violence on anyone else.
She didn’t want to become the same person as his wicked uncle.
Lobelia found herself fortunate for seeing the truth.
Otherwise, she would have become a monster no less than Marlon.
Aside from violence, what other means can hold people down? Lobelia wondered.
After Julia signed the will and was banished to the countryside, Marlon no longer interfered with their lives.
Marlon knew she wouldn’t dare to challenge him, and what made him certain was the fact that he knew her weakness.
Julia’s weakness was her own daughter, Lobelia.
Marlon knew that Julia would do anything to protect Lobelia.
Then, Lobelia decided, I shall use someone’s weakness.
To have that faithful ally she needed, she must wield their weakness against them.
On a sheet of paper, Lobelia neatly wrote down the names of the powerful characters in the Original, including their weaknesses.
When she finished her list, Lobelia stared at the names with determined eyes.
“Jade Ferrado,” Lobelia muttered.
He was the rival of the male protagonist.
He was politically and ideologically at odds with the male protagonist, whom he drove to death.
Jade Ferrado was the only duke in the empire and his swordsmanship skills were second to none, making him a great threat to the male protagonist.
Lobelia had only seen Jade Ferrado once when she was fifteen.
It was at a swordsmanship competition during summer.
Originally, it was a competition that Lobelia could not attend, but Aina insisted on her company.
Lobelia had to stand under the scorching sun without a hat as she accompanied Aina until the contest was over.
Jade Ferrado was the victor of the competition.
In the final match, he overpowered his opponent with a grueling sword technique that astonished his audience.
Even as his opponent gushed blood and the referee signaled the end of the match, he did not stop attacking until his opponent finally collapsed.
He merely looked down on the man who had succumbed to his sword with his cold red eyes, like a demon from the underworld.
When it was time for the awarding ceremony, wherein the knight’s honor had to be dedicated to a lady, he was far from a gentleman.
With minimal courtesy, he handed flowers to his sister-in-law, and turned around to leave.
Lobelia fiddled with her pen as she looked down at the list with sunken eyes.
She doubted if she could dominate such a man just because she knew his weakness.
But she couldn’t give up now.
No one met Lobelia’s conditions as much as Jade Ferrado.
“Let’s do it,” Lobelia muttered, mustering her courage.
She tore the paper into several pieces and threw it into the hearth.
What can’t I do for revenge?
When the papers turned into ashes, Lobelia rose and looked out the window.
Seeing her own haggard reflection in her window, she smiled in dismay.
I have nothing more to lose.
* * *
Those were the circumstances that led to Lobelia’s visit to the Duke of Ferrado.
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