1. Broken Engagement
—Student council room, when the sun was about to set.
From a distance, the silhouettes of two people could be seen.
The Duchess, Claire Martino, couldn’t conceal her feelings of defeat.
A man with pale gray eyes and jet-black hair was looking down at her with contempt. A few meters away from Claire was none other than Asbert Lucia Nottedame, the first prince of the Kingdom of Noston.
“Claire, for your escort at tomorrow’s graduation party, you can just ask Salomon, right?”
Claire had long seen it coming.
Despite so, Claire still couldn’t utter a word. It was as if her throat was jammed.
The setting sun shining through the window illuminated Claire’s hands. Even though the light was supposed to be hot, her fingertips felt cold—they could hardly move. The same could be said about her mouth.
How many times have I imagined such a scene?
By doing such, she would be able to bear with it when it actually happened in reality—or so she thought.
Contrary to her expectations, instead of being able to speak nonchalantly, her voice was rendered unusable. Her dry throat could only afford a squeak.
“I’ve decided to escort Charlotte. To at least avoid further disgracing your family, you should request Salomon to be your escort. That is, unless you’re prepared to bear with some discomfort.”
There was no trace of warmth in his pale grey eyes—nor was Claire reflected in them. His contemptuous expression was obvious to the eye.
“…Your Highness Asbert.”
“That’s all I needed to say. Excuse me for Charlotte is waiting.”
The name she had desperately conjured out of her throat was ignored by him.
Before Claire could finish talking, Asbert had already turned on his heel and opened the door—as if nothing had happened.
Left alone in the room, Claire helplessly sunk on the sofa.
“…So this day finally came at last?”
Tomorrow would be the graduation ceremony for the Royal Aristocratic Academy.
After the ceremony, there would be a grand ‘graduation party’ which wouldn’t only consist of the graduates and the current students of the academy, but also kings and aristocrats.
It was an important event for the graduates, of course. But at the same time, it was also an important gathering for the aristocratic children to confirm their status in social circles, and also to gather information regarding the inside and the outside of the kingdom.
Every student would participate with their fiancé.
Claire was denied escort by Asbert, the first prince of the kingdom, even though she was his fiancée.
Said gesture of his already foretold what would happen tomorrow—
—her engagement would be annulled.
Asbert and Claire had grown up together since childhood and had a close relationship.
However, their relationship turned into a cold one.
In fact, the relationship between the two had worsened significantly in the last few months—it was cold and terrible.
Asbert not only ignored Claire, he would also spend time with other noble ladies instead of her. That coldness of his also extended to his entourage whom treated Claire as if she didn’t exist.
Sooner or later, she knew that would happen.
It would also help him appear gentlemanly if he refused to be her escort ahead of time and arranged a substitute for her.
“…It can’t be helped. This happened because my power is lacking…”
Sixteen years ago, Claire was born as the eldest daughter of the prestigious Martino family, the second most powerful family after the royal family of Noston.
When Claire was a child, her mother died in an accident. However, she wasn’t lonely because she had a gentle father, two brothers, and a sister—
—the happiness lasted until a year ago.
A year ago, Claire had her fated baptism.
In that kingdom, when everyone reached the age of 15, they would then sign a contract with the spirits and use magic.
Of course, not everyone could use magic. Magical power was inherited through bloodlines, and the qualities of each individual would be laid bare on the table after the baptism.
The Martino family from which Claire originated boasted of its female pedigree. The girls born to the Martino family usually possessed a very high level of magical power, which only made it natural for her to serve the kingdom afterwards.
The eldest daughters would have the highest magical prowess of all. Looking back on history, most of them took special positions. There was also one who rose to the seat of the prime minister.
In terms of academia, her older brothers were excellent, but the expectations they shouldered were nothing compared to Claire’s.
Claire was born one year after the first prince of Noston. Hence, she was destined to marry Asbert from when she was in her mother’s womb.
As such, she never questioned it. Even if said destiny never allowed her any freedom.
Claire’s path in life was supposed to be a natural one. Therefore, it was only the natural course for her to not question anything.
Thus, the day of the baptism.
Claire set foot in the Fountain of Baptism as the royal family and nobles watched.
As far as the remaining records were concerned, the color of the fountain would shine in either white or silver depending on the strength of magic after the baptism was completed.
…Aunt Anne received the color white, while Aunt Florence received the color silver… I wonder what color am I…
She waited for the moment of truth with a pounding heart.
Then, her field of view was dyed in pale pink.
The color of magical prowess, in order from the strongest to the weakest were of such—silver, white, blue, light blue, light pink, red, orange, and yellow.
The color of magic Claire received was light pink.
While light pink was the third color from the bottom, she was the only female in the Martino family who had ever received such a color.
It wasn’t bad, per see, since her brothers had only orange and yellow magical colors.
But, it was bad enough to disappoint both the Royal Family and her family who held such great expectations for Claire.
After the baptism, Claire’s surroundings underwent a drastic change.
Her older brother, Oscar, whom used to be gentle to Claire, became stricter. In contrast, her other brother, Leo, who had professed his resolve to become Claire’s worthy rival down the road, became unnaturally kind for some reason.
Claire was shocked by her father’s—Benjamin’s—attitude, in particular.
No longer would he allow Claire to partake in social gatherings and town events. He begun to hide her existence.
Benjamin must had been proud of Claire, who inherited his excellent lineage and also her mother’s great beauty.
Thus, it was proven unbearable for him to expose his daughter as an object of curiosity—for she was a failure of the Martino family who usually produced female prodigies. To her father, he probably thought he was being compassionate.
As a result of her father’s thoughtlessness, Claire’s position grew even worse—now, she was known as the ‘Defect of the Martino Family’.
From an early age, Claire was always excited to go out to the streets with her father, getting acquainted with her brothers by watching plays and choosing hair ornaments for her sister…
“Before the day of the baptism, I even had a dress specially tailored for the evening after the baptism…”
…It was a fun memory until she turned 15.
Now that Asbert had basically told her that he was dissolving their engagement, she gazed out of the window of the student council room.
The sun had set. She could also see Asbert’s back as he returned to his dorm with his entourage as darkness began to swallow the sky.
Within the group was the petite delicate back of a girl with long, glossy, fluffy hair.
***T/N: Good day, ladies and gents~!!! Your beloved Translator, here, with her new project~!!! I do feel the immense potential of this one~!!! And let’s hope there’s no Asshole Prince™ this time–
–///read the entire banter between Claire and Assbert///
Yeah. I’m cursed guys. Send help.