The Duke’s parents, the marquise Vygod and his wife, were famous for being profligate.
And nasty people.
One sign showing the humanity of Marquise Vygod was when he transferred his land and title to his son, the current Duke.
Originally, the marquise had two territories.
The poor territory of Wilhelm he ruled as a marquise.
The rich territory of Vygod he ruled as a count.
The Duke’s father named himself a much higher noble, the Marquise of Wilhelm, and quickly and without notice he raided Wilhelm.
He sold off parts of the region to this person and that, in addition to numerous lumber rights.
He also put a high tax on the region which created many refugees, though he allowed the waterways to go foul and the roads to erode and crumble.
He squeezed the rugged land of Wilhelm, and after it had become poor and difficult to maintain, then tossed the region to his son. So all the complaints from the people of Wilhelm were now voiced to the son and not him.
Then the father moved back to Vygod, into a nicely furnished mansion all of his own, calling himself Count of Vygod again.
He had lost the title of Wilhelm, but gave nothing worthwhile from the region to his son.
That said, when he relinquished the realm to the son, he acted as though he had done so in an act of grace.
Well, he had given his son the name of Marquis of Wilhelm.
And a large, empty mansion with no furnishings.
A land nearly dead, full of holes, and rebellious men that could rampage at any time – the worst land one could get.
And from that day, he was known as Marquise Wilhelm.
Eventually, the young Marquise was promoted to Duke due to his exemplary military service.
This was the birth of the “Crimson Duke.”
The Kingdom of Hydrangea had no land available to pay him for the service, and were quite poor.
There was no reward to be given, so they attempted to marry him to the princess, which he refused.
The embarrassed Hydrangea crown and the parliament then tried to raise the Marquis’ rank to Duke – another sad story. And the rewards were paltry compared to what was expected.
And thus they also raised the status of the father, who was the Count of Vygod.
It was quite too much of a bother on their part.
So, what happened to him and the son, Duke Wilhelm?
The current status of the father as Marquise of Vygod was established.
When that happened, the father descended into profligacy and spendthrift.
The rich land of Vygod couldn’t cover the amount their ruler spent, so he started to borrow from the Shylock Company, without realizing that is what the Shylocks wanted badly.
The company offered a deal to the father, Marquise Vygod, something to cover his enormous debt. Simply recognize the eldest daughter of the Shylocks, Ambrosine, as the mistress of your son, Duke Wilhelm. Then, the debt will be cancelled and he will receive more financial support.
The Marquise, it goes without saying, jumped at the chance.
So, the supposed sly old fox, the Marquis of Vygod, was actually just a little pawn on Desmond Shylock’s chessboard, used for various schemes and gambits.
Thus, this “concubine contract” was signed without any knowledge of the Duke, who was leading a secret mission in a neighboring country. Even said, the marquis and his wife felt absolutely no regret. They hated the son’s wife and were happy to engage in this scheme.
Compared to the wife of the Duke, a woman with little etiquette and social stance, who grew up in the mountains and whose marriage resulted in no dowry, was a far worse choice than Ambrosine, who was well-educated and had endless supplies of money.
It was only a matter of time until the commoner Shylocks found a way into the nobility. When that happened, the duke and his poor bride’s home would mean nothing. At least they thought so.
When they had first met the Duke’s wife, she had brought them a beast she had personally slain herself in the mountains as a souvenir with her formidable bow and arrow skills, for which they mocked her as a barbarian. Country fools like her have no place in the nobility.
They were hoping that their son, the hero of Hydrangea, would find a wonderful, wealthy, and honorable bride. So it is clear why they had such anger for the wife of their son.
Seeing the cool reception that they gave the girl after expecting to be greeted warmly hurt the woman deeply. She was raised in the mountains, so she wasn’t prepared for the pretentious actions of others. But, she thought if she abandoned the bow and arrow and took up the social affairs and actions of the nobles, she would surely be accepted by the Duke’s parents. She was just too good a woman.
The Duke tried to stop it all. He knew about the sanctimoniousness and affectatious ways of the upper crust. He knew what would happen to her. He begged forgiveness for his parents’ actions and for not telling her ahead of time. He also told her she didn’t need to show her face in social circles.
But alas, that made the bride more determined. She joined the social circle of nobles thinking painfully that she was hindering her husband’s affairs. While her husband was away dealing with public issues she was invited to the mansion of the Vygods.
The bride was innocently overjoyed. She thought the Duke’s parents were acknowledging her social standing and giving her a chance to restore her honor…but again, it was simply a trap set by the viscount.
…and the result was horrific. Enough to make you cover your eyes.
One can’t learn about how to be a proper noble from a pamphlet.
Also, the Vygod’s took the initiative to mock the girl roundly. No manners, ability to dance, understanding of art, music…all of it. They then insulted the girl by stating they were quite unhappy that such a bride was forced upon such upper nobles as they. This exacerbated the ridicule from the nobles that had come to see the girl. The noble ladies acted as if the girl was to be pitied and laughed at her with contempt. Every move the new bride made was met with scoffing and derision.
The bride initially attempted to laugh and disregard the comments, but soon turned pale, began to sweat, and quiver like a reed in a storm. Even in such a sad situation, the noble ladies hunted every impropriety and taunted them without mercy. People can be the most cruel when they form a mob as they did.
「Look at her. I wonder what odd spectacle she’ll show us.」
「No need for a jester with a tart like her.」
「I can’t wait to relay the story of this wife of the Duke to all my friends!」
「What shall the title be? A mountain beast, masquerading as a duchess, that’s now a social butterfly?」
「She smells like the mountains.」
「Maybe her people’s customs are to avoid bathing.」
「Look at her dress! Maybe I can call my beloved doggie in and I can show her some real clothing.」
「The animals might like each other, after all. Ah, sorry, I’m being rude to your dog to put it on her level.」
「She looks thirsty…come, would you like some wine?」
「I have some bread.」
「Or soup? Can you eat it without using your fingers?」
And so they pulled out food and tossed it at her in attempts to make her look like some kind of uncultured beast. While mocking her.
My, my, what a spectacle.
Even with all the nobles here at the Vygod’s, these degenerate nobles acted in a manner that would make the sluttiest parlor maid blush. They fired a barrage of insults towards her for two hours.
「FOOLS! What are you doing?!」
They were enjoying a short waltz when the Duke barged in angrily.
She was lying there, stunned, in the center. Curled up in a ball, biting her thumb, quivering with an unfocused stare. Around her was tossed food, vegetables, with candlesticks around her body. There was a pig’s head under her face…almost like she was prepared as a dish for the nobles themselves.
In order to further debase her as some kind of garbage to be burned, they had taken pig organs and blood from the kitchen and were in the middle of tossing it on her. This “strange smelling” bride was surrounded by their laughs and ridicule, enduring some kind of punishment game.
Deep in the Duke’s heart a spark grew like a reborn phoenix that burned his insides in a raging fire of fury.
He would never forget this sight.
In the book “The History of Losing a Wife,” this fire would involve his daughter and would create a conflagration that would burn the whole country.
…The bride, on the other hand, became sick at heart that night.
Many times she would suddenly awake, screaming.
After falling again and again into depression, her healthy body became crazed.
The angry Duke was ready to avenge himself on everyone that was there, but she stopped him.
Not only was she roundly met with scorn, but the Duke’s position itself was made worse, thus, the marriage itself was bound to be an unhappy one. She was so despondent that she was unable to take it all.
And so a crack between husband and wife began to emerge.
He said that he was fine as is and no longer wished to be part of the social goings-on of the nobles.
But because she longed to not burden her husband, she wanted to be an aristocratic wife, never giving up her dream to be recognized in social circles.
And with that, the gap between the two deepened out of caring for one another, because they truly were in love.
…that’s why their relationship hasn’t ended. But the amount of sex decreased…in other words, they had nights where they acted as married couples should.
Because they wanted to have a child.
However, the bride was so ill, it became hard for her to have a child.
So she became more mentally disturbed and crazed by it all.
The marquis of Vygod visited when the Duke was away, deliberately sighing and hinting that no successor would be born. They hinted in their aristocratic ways that the duchess should simply file for divorce, but she failed to understand their implication.
She believed that if she could only have a child…
The haste at living up to expectations. The vicious cycle of sickness.
A Duke that is frustrated by his wife’s obsession with childbirth.
The nights of them together weren’t that strange.
He simply wanted the woman he loved back, not an aristocratic wife, not someone that just burned to give him an heir. There was no love in that. It almost felt like an imitation of what married life should be like. The woman that he married was more alive and able to be loved.
His thoughts about this strengthened as the years progressed, and realizing the solution, moved to solve it.
While this was happening, his wife was miraculously blessed with a child.
For Ethelreed, who was familiar with all of this, the work of the Shylocks to abort the child seemed so foul it would send Satan fleeing in horror of how evil the family is.
He could taste vomit trying to escape his stomach, then mouth. He wished to drain every drop of Shylock blood from his veins.
「I…feel ill…」he said as he staggered outside.
There was a girl he loved…a seamstress by the name of Marie.
Although their social status is quite different, one day Ethelreed longed to flee from the Shylocks and start a store with her.
That was the future they envisioned.
He longed to hear her pleasant voice, so it could wash away all the conspiracy and ridicule he had heard from his siblings.
However, he didn’t afford the time to notice it…notice the cold eyes of his father Desmond as he watched his boy walk away.
And so a horrible tragedy would soon strike his beloved Marie.
Those of you that scrolled this far, good job in noticing.
This story has gotten so dark, the author wanted to provide a little extra.
The nobles that mocked the Duke’s wife had their noses bashed in and were beaten to the point where they had no words that could pass from their mouths.
It would be a strange, red-haired, red-eyed genius of a girl that made her social debut at the age of three.
She would point out all the mistakes the nobles made in their dancing, while then lightly and per-fect-ly do-ing the steps her-self.
And while 「pointing out」these mistakes, she would sigh with disappointment.
For her, she had 108 first-class memories of her previous lives, so all this was easy.
And it’s a story that will soon occur.