Chapter Ten: Beneficial or Harmful?

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Time is unstoppable. Change is inevitable. After Uken's departure, Raelia started to become more and more interested in high society. Around that time in the past I had let Raelia take all the etiquette lessons thinking she would be more social than me, helping the family's image go up. The lack of confidence I had was thoroughly exploited by Raelia. However, I was no longer the same. I let father choose Raelia's etiquette teacher, not because I was going easy on her but because my teacher was going to be better than hers either way. In the near future after Lady Irene has her social debut, she soon becomes the flower of high society competing with the social butterfly Raelia. The one who had taught her manners and etiquette was none other than her own mother Countess Pria. Although her lessons were strict, I could endure it for the future that awaited me.

Uken also visited frequently, maybe forced by Duke Orion because to him it looked like we got along all fine and dandy. However, that was also beneficial to me. If he believed we got along, so would Raelia. I eventually introduced Raelia to Uken but he didn't really spare her a glance and continued to pay attention to me. Raelia's face which was flushed red as she was blushing turned into a deeper shade of it, with embarrassment. It was truly a sight to behold. This was also caused by Duke Orion who must have told him to pay more attention to me. Duke Orion was a strict father to Uken who used harsh words but he cared about his well-being more than anyone.

I also planted some spies around the estate who would act as my eyes and ears. Raelia was too young to plan anything but I didn't want to underestimate her because last time I did, I had to pay severely for it.

After I turned fourteen, Uken stopped visiting me. Following that came the rumours surrounding the mysterious Countess, Uken and Zenos. The rumour went like this: The Countess was a noble from the countryside and she was quite a beauty with blonde hair, hazel eyes and a voluptuous figure. Her family although in name noble, did not possess any wealth so they sold their own daughter to the Count who was twenty years older than her in age. She was constantly abused by her husband throughout the marriage. She then committed adultery with both Uken and Zenos which led to a fight between them and suddenly the Countess disappeared from high society. It was an affair engulfed in secrets.

Regardless, Raelia was heartbroken when Uken stopped coming by the estate. A lot of other things made her furious, like how father showered me with attention and love and my good relationship with the people of the estate. She was envious of my extraordinary embroidery skills which I didn't really know I had as I never tried doing anything lady like previously. That one time when I had gifted father a handkerchief I had embroidered on, her face was quite the sight to see. It was twisted with hate. The only thing different from before I time travelled was that this time around, I noticed her hostile expressions and the dirty looks she threw at me from time to time. They were enjoyable to witness. Just like this, time flew by and came the year of my coming of age ceremony.

And right now, I am in the middle of my etiquette lesson.

"Perfect! You have mastered all the manners required to enter high society with this," Countess Pria shouted cheerfully, as I gently put my tea cup down.

"That's great, Lady Eliza!" Irene exclaimed.

For these past two and a half years, Irene had been my practice partner. The Countess also started opening upto me as time passed. I couldn't have wanted for more. I have built strong connections necessary for my survival in the future.

With a grateful expression, I said, "It is all because of your helpful teaching, Countess Pria," and turned to Lady Irene to add, "Didn't I tell you to address me informally, Irene?"

"How dare I..." Irene said, hesitantly.

I lightly touched her hands and replied, "You are my closest friend. I consider you my family so it's okay."

Touched by my words, she whispered, "Eliza..."

The warm atmosphere was interrupted by the Countess's statement, "You will be having your coming of age ceremony in a few days. I have taught you all the manners but are you prepared mentally? It will be a big event."

"Yes I am. I will not let you down, Countess Pria," I responded, confidence surging through me.

"I am sure you will do great," Irene said to which the Countess nodded in agreement.

Although I initially only thought of them as disposable pawns, they have grown on me. I honestly consider them family now.

I gave my goodbyes to the Countess and Irene and headed for my room, exhausted from the lesson. Mariah followed behind me, worried about my tired reflection.

As Mariah was about to open the door to my room, a sweet voice reached our ears, "Sister! Are you returning from your lessons?"

Raelia walked towards me as I replied, "Yes. What about you Raelia?"

"I was returning from a stroll around the Rozen Garden," she answered.

A terrible memory linking Raelia and the Rozen garden filled my mind. To torture me, she had once cut off all the flowers of the garden which was dearly loved by my mother. I will never forget that horrifying day or the satisfied smirk across her face.

"Ahh, I see," I said, controlling my emotions.

"More importantly sister you look so tired. Are the lessons too hard on you? Your coming of age ceremony is around the corner, yet you look like you are drained," she asked, faking concern.

To translate her words: You look horrendous. Are you so incompetent that you can't handle even this much of studying? If this continues your coming of age ceremony will go awry.

Raelia, we both are aiming for the saintess position but too bad there is only one throne and I will be taking it for myself.

"Oh no, now I have even made my little sister worry about me. How pathetic of me..." I replied, miserably.

The entire corridor occupied with servants burst into encouragements for me, "Miss, you are doing great. We have all noticed how hard you have worked for the ceremony. You will be the star of the evening."

There goes your chance of brainwashing the servants against me, Raelia. This is just the beginning. Like this, I will ruin each and everyone of your plans.

"All of you, thank you so much. For all of you, I will do my best," I responded to their warmth with a warm smile on my face.

Everyone was pleased to see my smile, except for Raelia who was trying very hard to hide her sour expression after all she was just a twelve-year-old child.

"Well then sister as you are tired, I will leave you to rest," she mumbled with a forced smile and rushed down the corridor.

I jumped onto my bed and closed my eyes shut. My mind was filled with thoughts of my coming of age ceremony, not whether I would succeed in making an impression on people as a Saintess but whether I would be able to see him.

I had sent an invitation to him but he rarely attends events. All I can hope is that he will come. Since the moment I saw him in town he was always in the corner of my mind. No matter how hard I tried, I could not forget him. His image was imprinted in my mind. His jet-black hair and red eyes bewitched me. I wanted to drown in those blood red eyes once again however above everything, my future depends on his arrival...the contract must be formed.

This coming of age ceremony may end up either being beneficial to me or harmful­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­, but what I know for sure is that it will be life changing.

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