Chapter Six: A Game of Survival

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Duke Uken wasn't the only Duke in the Empire. There was another Duke who had royal blood flowing through him, Duke Zenos Ciel Xavier. Although I had never conversed with him before I had travelled back in time, I had heard quite a lot about him. Duke Zenos isolated himself in the Xavier estate until he turned thirteen and finally made his social debut at his coming of age ceremony. Boys have their coming of age ceremony when they turn thirteen while girls have it when they turn fifteen. It is a tradition which requires holding a banquet and inviting noblemen and must be followed by all the noble families regardless of their status. Since then he was a hot topic among woman and the number one most sought out bachelor on par with His Highness the Crown Prince himself. Well, its understandable as they were twin brothers. With his dashing looks and extraordinary strength because of the Spirit of Darkness's blessing, he was always the talk of the town. Aside from his looks however there was nothing charming about him. He showed the cold shoulder to all the woman who hogged over him. His behavior towards woman was so discourteous that rumors started circulating that he held no interest towards woman because he actually liked men. That was until a scandal came to light involving Duke Uken and Duke Zenos and some Countess. News spread like fire that Duke Uken and Duke Zenos fell for the same woman and fought over her. The woman in question was a lowly countess who was known for her seductive appearance and her husband the Count was abusive and mentally unstable. Her whereabouts were unknown when people started gossiping about the scandal. It was said that since then the two Dukes had been in bad terms with each other. They were always at the opposite sides when a fight broke out. It was a sight to see as Duke Uken and Duke Zenos were known to be very close friends. Maybe I can use their rivalry to my advantage.

Ugh I will think about it tomorrow. I am too tired for this today.

Exhausted, once again I fell onto the bed and strangely enough dreamt of those blood red eyes staring at me.

I woke up to looking extremely sleep deprived and had dark circles under my eyes. Mariah had a fit when she saw how pale I looked but after having the chamomile tea she brewed, the complexion slowly returned to my face. My mind was still occupied by Duke Zenos and lost in thought, I didn't notice I had spilled tea on my scarlet dress.

"Miss what has gotten you so spaced out? Should I call the doctor after all?" Mariah questioned in concern.

Coming back to reality, I answered, "I am okay Mariah. Calm down. By the way I had a question for you. Duke Zenos Ciel Xavier, did he by any chance already have his coming of age ceremony?"
"Of course! It was about two years ago. Remember how the entire town was full of excitement to see the heir to the Xavier house finally and almost every noble attended the ceremony, except you Miss. You never attended any social gatherings and were always quiet. Nowadays you smile and talk more often. I am glad," Mariah said with a gentle smile.

If it was two years ago, he is fifteen now. Therefore my guess was right when I saw him at the town. In the past, I was very antisocial while Raelia was a social butterfly with her sweet, sugary words. She used this against me and at the end I had no friends among the nobles. I truly was alone. Just thinking about that time sends shivers down my spine.

"Miss!" Mariah called out to me.

"What is it Mariah?" I asked.

Mariah replied enthusiastically, "As we were talking about gatherings, I had a brilliant idea. Why don't you hold a tea party at the estate? You can make friends of your age!"

It is indeed a brilliant idea. Gaining a few allies will benefit me greatly.

"Okay I will invite about six people. Bring me a list of the daughters of prominent noble men," I ordered Mariah.

After looking through the list and selecting the guests for the tea party I sat down, with nothing to do. Boredom was slowly killing me so I went to visit father. However I was faced with disappointment as I learnt that father had once again gone to the town. I wondered why he was so frequently making trips to the town and wanted to ask him why when he returned. With all the free time in my hand, I decided to play cupid. Mariah, Aaron and I went to the field for a picnic. Under the bright sun I saw their love bloom as they were both lost in each other's eyes. The mood was just right for a romantic date so without them noticing I slipped away, to give them some privacy. The sun rays made me feel warm while the wind felt cool on my skin. I felt free as I walked on the evergreen grass. I was finally without any guards and started to relax, enjoying some alone time. Closing my eyes, I breathed in the tranquility that surrounded me.

When I opened my eyes, a figure stood in my line of sight. I approached it carefully to get a better look at it. Slowly but surely, I could make up the frame of a child. Dressed in rags the child looked like it had been starved for months. She had dirty blonde hair and skin as white as a sheet. I looked into her hollow violet eyes which were robbed of life and it felt like the flow of time had stopped. Once again memories of my future flooded in.

Hahaha sister look at your pitiful state. What a sorry sight! Oh how much I waited for this day when I would see you fall to your ruin. Everyday, I wished to see you devastated and prayed that I would bring you to your destruction with my own hands. After all I can't let someone else have all this fun. Finally, everything is mine. Duke Uken, the servants of this estate and the nobles, they all support me. I am the Marchioness and Duchess hahaha and everyone will bow down to me. A wretched wench like you should have known her place from the beginning. It was your fault for wanting more than you deserve. Now then suffer in this dungeon and look back at your worthless life.

Whenever I was reminded of memories from before my time- travel I was always either overwhelmed by fear or rage but this time was different. Adrenaline rushed through my body and I trembled with excitement. I did not feel an inch of sympathy for the sickly child in front of me because she was the existence I despised more than anything in this entire world.

With a slight smirk, I whispered, "You have finally come, my dear little sister Raelia. Let the game of survival begin."

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