A Con Artist But That's Okay - Chapter 2
Seyzel Aramis was known as a virtuous and kind woman.
Those who had the privilege of meeting the Young Lady Seyzel Aramis even once would unanimously agree.
There was no greater truth that couldn’t have been any different.
The land of Peron, a northern frontier, was the home of the prestigious Viscount Aramis’ only daughter.
The Young Lady possessed all the qualities expected of an aristocratic lady, including exquisite beauty and a warm personality reminiscent of her Eastern mother.
…But if life began so perfectly and was destined to end so perfectly, this tale would never have unfolded.
As is often the case with noble families, appearances can be devastatingly deceiving.
Originally, Viscount Aramis’ family had represented the small northern town of Peron for generations as landowners.
Seyzel’s father, Viscount Edward Aramis, honest and kind, led an upright life, characterized by a humble yet honest disposition.
Growing up in a traditional family, he was unwavering in his role as the family’s head.
He married a woman chosen by his family and led a relatively virtuous life, which remained untouched by extramarital affairs.
His only downfall being that he possessed an excessive sense of duty to be an example to others.
“My daughter should be an embodiment of virtue that everyone can emulate!”
He fervently believed in the notion that his daughter should naturally follow in his footsteps, which led to these convictions being passed down to his only daughter, Seyzel.
Despite not being incredibly wealthy, the Aramis family owned sufficient land to sustain them for generations.
Yet, though they were entitled to luxury, luxury was strictly prohibited in the Aramis household.
They believed that indulging in vanity might lead to relative deprivation among those around them, thus the family’s motto was honesty and frugality.
Even as her cousins, living in the same domain, changed their outfits multiple times a day and basked in admiration, Seyzel preferred simple, tidy linen dresses.
Perhaps things would have been different if her mother had been around, but unfortunately, she passed away shortly after giving birth to Seyzel.
Thus, the family adhered to her father’s wishes.
“Seyzel, we must take pride in representing Northern Peron as nobles. We should not behave like those shallow individuals who believe wealth is everything.”
The words her father would say followed and dictated her behavior ever since she could remember.
Seyzel’s upbringing was marked by relentless indoctrination from birth, and so she naturally accepted her father’s principles as her own.
Her father’s words became her gospel, and she never dared to challenge them.
According to the Viscount’s educational philosophy, it was impossible to question the wisdom of parents.
“Which manner of living will allow me to be a role model? How should I conduct myself to avoid disgracing the heavens?”
The Viscount would hold the young child and recite passages that were usually found in moral textbooks.
Although Seyzel’s personal tastes and individuality weren’t considered, she never protested her father’s doctrine.
She didn’t want to disappoint her father, and, above all, she adored him.
“I hope Father is proud of me!”
As a young girl, her father was her only family, and she wished to be loved as much as she loved.
She was at an age where she yearned for that affection from someone close to her.
“Of course, I will!”
No matter what her father said, she eagerly nodded her head.
She might not have fully understood the concept of being a ‘good successor,’ but her desire to make her father proud never wavered.
To her, her father was the ultimate authority, the source of law and truth, his words would be carried out without fail.
“…Seyzel, don’t you think your hair color is too flashy? It might hinder gaining people’s trust.”
And so, as she prepared for her social debut, Seisel’s radiant blonde hair turned a common shade of light brown with just a passing word from the Viscount.
She couldn’t change the transparent emerald hue of her eyes, but, as her father noted, such striking hair was rare in the North, even with the eye-catching color.
“Be presentable and dependable as the heir, Seyzel.”
Obediently, she did exactly as her father instructed.
Although he was not known for having a friendly personality, the Viscount held immense influence in all of Peron and had numerous followers.
There was hardly anyone in Peron hadn’t borrowed land or received help from the Viscount.
So as the young Seyzel would ride in a carriage with her father down the road, she’d discreetly smile as she watched people bow their heads towards the carriage.
Her father’s words were the law.
Yet her pride, which seemed unshakable, wouldn’t last long.
A few months after Seyzel made her debut in the local society, Peron, her hometown, became embroiled in an unexpected development craze.
The Imperial Family and the capital’s elite nobles had expressed their desire to build villas in Peron, known for its natural beauty.
Given the expansive lands held by the Viscount, it was natural that they’d want a piece of it.
Visitors and would-be buyers arrived in droves, many with money and imploring words. “Please, just sell us the land. We will offer any amount!”
The sums they were offering greatly exceeded anyone’s imagination.
Just the sight of so much gold left Seyzel astounded.
Even her father, faced with this staggering amount of money and jewels, was rendered speechless.
The staggering amount being offered to their family had the potential to transform their lives.
With this fortune, Seyzel and her father could live comfortably without ever working again.
It was financial security that meant she’d never have to worry about money, as long as she didn’t fall prey to swindlers.
Moreover, some of the land owned by her father had been lent out to others for free, following a sense of ‘noblesse oblige.’
Thus, there was no income from it.
If we were to sell the land…
“That can’t be done, Viscount. We must protect Peron’s honor. We cannot sell Peron’s pride to people who only care about money, unaware of its true value!”
The buzzing flies couldn’t be left alone, they feared the Viscount would be tempted, causing them to lose their golden goose.
She didn’t know how they had found out, but their family’s relatives and nobles pressured her father, disguising their request as mere words of wisdom and care, but it was more of a threat.
Selling the land would leave them homeless.
Their desperation was understandable.
…But the offer handed out by the nobles was too good to pass up.
“I agree. This land is not just the owner’s, it’s Peron’s pride and life.”
The Viscount’s tone turned solemn, and his pride shone brightly.
Amid the applause and cheers of the family and nobles, her father stood tall, his shoulders broad.
Seyzel had reservations, but she couldn’t intervene since her father was content with their final decision.
In reality, she had no authority to intervene because she wasn’t entirely sure what she wanted.
“In her small world, her father was light and truth, there was no way he could make a wrong decision.
She didn’t think she could easily forget the gleaming gold nuggets she had never seen before, but as long as her father was alive, all would be well.
The very next day, her father was unable to rise, clutching his chest in agony.
Whether it was the strenuous efforts of the past few days or the pressure from people, for a man with so much pride, his strength had suddenly abandoned him.
Seyzel carefully placed her ailing father in a carriage and journeyed throughout the day to a large hospital in Neulen, located in the northern heartland.
They subjected him to numerous examinations, magical and medicinal treatments, doing every test possible to seek his ailment.
Regardless of the test results, there were no more questions or regrets for the Viscount, except for one.
No one came to visit. No one was concerned over what had consumed the last of his strength.
“Seyzel, you must lead a virtuous life. Stay honest to avoid bringing shame as the Viscount’s successor.”
Her father’s final moments were just like him.
She couldn’t shed a tear at the sight of his seemingly futile death, and even after her return to Peron and after her father’s funeral service, Seyzel couldn’t feel anything at all.
Nineteen years old and alone, Seyzel blinked blankly, not knowing what to do, she was alone.
But just because she didn’t it did not stop the others who gathered around her.
Her uncle, Baron Fersen, her father’s half-brother, welcomed her into the room as she struggled to regain her senses.
After her father’s death, Baron Fersen looked after Seyzel with particular care, and so, touched by his love and care for her in her time of need, she followed his guidance with little doubt.
After all, her father had always told her to trust those around her, who else should she trust if not her father’s half-brother.
They had supported each other, and if they continued to trust and care for one another, someday—
“I must take my leave, Lady Aramis.”
A sharp, abrupt knock on the back of her head startled her.
On the third day of mourning her father’s passing, someone had recklessly entered the room without the briefest knock on the door.
The brazen individuals didn’t blush even when they saw her in her undergarments, startled by their sudden entry into her personal space.
Instead, they chuckled and handed her a piece of paper as if it were all an amusing spectacle meant for their enjoyment.