15. The Arrogant Man Unaware he is on the Brink of Destruction
Why did it change?
I loathed that woman’s daughter.
That woman, Roxanne Lark, who had twisted my destiny through authority.
I was pleased she had died.
I was certain it was God punishing that haughty woman.
When I thought that, I felt truly excited.
As a result of her death, I became the new duke. Personally, I thought that it was to be expected. I was merely born in the wrong family. Based on my abilities alone, I was already a perfect fit for the position. I was different from those fools who became high-ranking aristocrats merely because they were born to a prestigious family.
However, because of a stupid law, I had to experience the humiliation of being a provisional head until Sofia succeeded the duke family.
Was that woman’s daughter going to inherit my title of duke?
Was she going to rule over me, just like that woman?
That was unforgiveable.
I WAS the Duke of Lark. The title rightfully belonged to me.
“What is it, my lord?”
The butler responded with an ignorant expression.
This useless fool…
Why are there only idiots around me?
“Why didn’t you stop Sofia!? We can’t possibly allow such an outrage!?”
“…What kind of outrage?”
Blood flowed to my head. I was on the brink of exploding from rage.
I slammed my fist against the desk, but Gilmer stared at me with a cool expression.
“She went to His Highness Weiss’ residence! An unmarried woman should never visit a bachelor’s home!”
While I had tried to bring her back, I was driven away by His Highness Weiss’ servants. His Highness Weiss didn’t even bother to show his face.
I didn’t care if those servants belonged to the royal family. They weren’t supposed to take such an attitude towards a duke.
…Is that child going to become his concubine?
“For a member of the royal family to take a liking upon her, shouldn’t you be grateful?”
“Did he, now?”
Gilmer had a cofounded expression. He was competent at his job, but why was he so stupid?
“With Aries here, there’s no reason why anyone should find Sofia appealing.”
“Why is that?”
“She’s neither as cute nor as bright as Aries. That should be obvious by the mere fact that His Highness Wagner chose Aries. The only reason Sofia was engaged to him up until now is because she’s the duke’s daughter.”
Gilmer smiled and put a hand under his chin.
“If that’s true, then shouldn’t the same go for Lady Aries?”
“What did you say?”
“You intend to have Lady Aries become the adopted daughter of the Lark family. She will also become the duke’s daughter. I’m sure she has informed His Highness Wagner of such. Therefore, it’s possible that His Highness Wagner chose Lady Aries because she’ll eventually become the duke’s daughter. Otherwise, there’s no way she could be considered his equal.”
Gilmer looked down on me as I was flushed with anger.
“Does she honestly think that love will solve everything? Can it overcome the difference in status? There are things that even love can’t fix, just as your deceased wife couldn’t acquire your heart.”
“—Gilmeeer! Do you think that just because you were trusted by the former duke, you can insult my daughter as you please?!”
I grabbed Gilmer by the collar and yelled at him. Gilmer was unfazed. That infuriated me even more. It was as if he was looking down at me.
He must had been, because I came from a baron family.
The same was true for my poor daughter, Aries. She was ridiculed by high-ranking aristocrat simply because she was a baron’s daughter. She was a smart and adorable girl. Her low rank was her only disadvantage.
“Your daughter is Lady Sofia, not Lady Aries. But, as you say, you are more of a parent to Lady Aries than to your own daughter. Mayhap, it’s because your circumstances are similar. Or, better yet, because the two of you are similarly thick-faced.”
When I tried to beat some sense into the ignorant fool, Gilmer caught and twisted my hand. Before I knew it, I was pressed against the floor. A strong impact ran through my chest. For a moment, I felt suffocated.
“I apologize, my lord. I’ve neglected to mention a certain fact to you. Truthfully, I’ve been tasked by the predecessor to watch over Lady Sofia. As the predecessor doesn’t have a penchant for socializing, he’s rather withdrawn. However, he still cares about his deceased daughter’s memento—for the time being, at least. Therefore, I was ordered to help her only when her life is at a stake. The predecessor also requested I provide the bare minimum of aid to Lady Sofia whenever she asks for help. That includes her wishing your disposal.”
“What—!? But Sofia is my daughter—!! For a daughter to eliminate her own father, that’s just preposterous—!!”
That was why I hated high-ranking aristocrats.
They didn’t see people other than themselves as human. They wanted to stand above all.
At the same time, they were also monsters who killed people for fun. Their reasons for doing so? Because they didn’t like them. Such were the high-ranking aristocrats.
“Well, while Lady Sofia and you are certainly parent and child, the relationship is shallow at best.”
“Is this how she’s going to repay her parent!?”
“…‘Repay’? Did you raise her? It was a servant hired by the predecessor who provided her with enough food to live. The child support also came from him. Please, do not forget.”
When I tried to argue against Gilmer, the corridor became noisy.
A young man with brown hair and freckles on his face rushed into the office. He didn’t even knock.
“With the investigation concluded, an attorney from the royal palace decided that my lord is suspect of of embezzlement!”
From behind the young man came several knights and men dressed in the uniforms of legal officers.
“Duke Adley Lark, you’re suspected of embezzlement! You shall be detained until the investigation is over. Do not resist.”
Under the command of the legal officer, two knights approached me. I, who was previously pressed against the floor, was seized from both sides.
Why am I being treated like a criminal?
“If you resist, you’ll be arrested for obstructing the settlement of public affairs.”
“I haven’t embezzled.”
“We’re here to investigate that. You’ll be cut off from any external contact while imprisoned.”
“Then, what if my innocence were to be established? To put someone of my stature into jail, do you think you’ll be able to walk free?”
Despite my solid argument, an elderly legal officer looked at me in astonishment. A young legal officer, who appeared to be his subordinate, laughed.
They were making a fool of me again. It was only because I was born to a baron family. Regardless of where I came from, I was now a duke.
I’ll have to let them know.
“It seems you want to be charged not only for embezzlement, but also for national treason. How absurd.”
“…What are you saying?”
The elderly legal officer unfolded a letter and showed it to me.
“The investigation of aristocrats, especially higher-ranking ones, which can affect the country in some cases, always require the permission of the king. After all, some people like you love to hide behind their authority, acting as if they are invincible. To prevent that, we’ve prepared such a countermeasure.”
I wasn’t hiding behind my authority. I merely stated the cold, hard, facts. I wondered if the legal officers didn’t understand that.
“Intimidating me as before is synonymous with slandering the king. Moreover, you’re being suspected of abusing a woman. It’d be wise for you to not extend your list of crimes. Take him away.”
I finally understood everything.
It was all Sofia’s plot.
To take over the duke family, Sofia was trying to get rid of me.
What a daughter! To plot her own father’s downfall!
***T/N: Had she not done that, you’d be plotting on how to make your own daughter suffers every second until her untimely demise.
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