The grand ballroom of the Leorick Castle speaks for itself. The massive castle would easily be herald as one of the majestic houses around Clevon. It makes sense since Marquis Leorick is one of the richest nobles. The castle was boosted with more than a hundred rooms, enough to accommodate all the guests for a month. Expensive items were littered stylishly all over the massive castle. The interior was highlighted with a huge wrought iron chandelier in the expanse of the receiving room. The same chandelier was placed in the ballroom.

The Leoricks house was known for being a humble genteel, however, when their only daughter first debuted last season, and her second season just weeks ago, they went all out with their decorations.

All of it was for their darling daughter, Lady Samantha Leorick. The Marquis and Marchioness wanted to see their only child married the next fall. Lady Leorick is a lady in her seventeen summers. A prime age for a genteel lady to mingle with the ton. It wasn a secret how Lady Leorick was already betrothed once but it fell through in the process, so the Leoricks was giving their all to ensure that the ball would be successful.

Coaches aligned the driveway and countless servants were milling around as the ball inside was in full swing.

One particular lady inside the grand ballroom, Lady Leorick, daughter of the Marquis Leorick, was standing under a tall decorative plant, gossiping. Along with her were her closest confidantes, Lady Sundal and Lady Warrick.

”Ladies, you must have thought you
e discreet in your shenanigans but Im afraid the whole room can hear you all the way to the Clevon Palace, ”

Baroness Krona, stalks in the said trios direction. She is aware of the eyes following her so she made sure to give an extra away to her hips. Her luxurious burgundy ball gown was following every sway of her hips, luring leering stares from the bachelors and the married ones alike in the room. The gown was made to cater her shapely form, with the curves in their right places. One could not help but look at the tantalizing sight.

The Baroness knows shes the fairest one of them all. No one was born to rival her beauty yet. Her name speaks for itself, Baroness Astrid Clermont-Krona. A divine beauty, Astrid. Shes the living personification of her name, and everyone would agree.

Anyhow, remembering the name Krona soured her mood further. The ladies in front of her would receive the brunt of it. She was already simmering in anger earlier with how the loose tongue ladies gossip like they
e the only people in the room. With the ton mingling in full swing, and the soft tone of the orchestra in the background, Lady Leorick made sure to have herself heard by everyone by gossiping loudly. All the gossip was about her exploits, the Baroness exploits.

”Baroness Krona, ” Lady Leorick started with a haughty look in her eyes. She made sure to add emphasis on the hated name connected to the Baroness. One would truly hate it if you went down in the social hierarchy. She was once a Princess, and because of sham marriage, it dwindled her into a mere Baroness.

Astrid smiled demurely, with a hint of mischief in her eyes. ”I wonder if Marchioness Leorick was aware of your actions tonight, Lady Leorick. It was a famous fact that the Marchioness went as far as hiring a dozen tutors to guide you, even surpassing the beloved Princess Belle, ” she gave them another coy smile.

The trio fidgeted in their feet, aware of the eyes already shining on them. They often forget that wherever the Baroness goes, eyes would follow. Even the haughty Lady Leorick starts to retreat to her damsel-in-distress facade.

”Whatever you mean, Baroness Krona? ” The haughty lady just won give up and said her last jab by emphasizing the hated name again.

The Baroness raises her fan, careful to hide her mocking smirk behind it. ”You are well educated but you gossip like a lowly servant, is what I mean. I feel doleful for the kind Marchioness Leorick, hiring those etiquette tutors were evidently a waste, ” she said in an icy tone.

The gasps that followed her words resonated all across the vast ballroom. The whole room fell into silence, the orchestra ceased when they noticed the stunned crowd.

The ladies in front of her reddened in response, eyes quaking as they seek shelter from the wild storm named Baroness Krona.

”Baroness, please excuse our behavior. It will never happen again, ” It was Lady Sundal who offered a quick apology while Lady Warrick nodded in a vigorous manner. It was an unbecoming sight.

”Baroness, I bid you a good eve, ” Lady Warrick squeaked and ran away from her. Lady Sundal went after the scared Lady Warrick, almost tripping over her soft-soled sandals.

The remaining prey, Lady Leorick, was standing in front of the Baroness like a deer caught in the middle of the street, about to be run over by a fast moving carriage. The Baroness is used to this jealousy from the other noble ladies. Its pathetic but they served their purpose of keeping her name circulating around the ton. She loves attention and would have it in any other form. Be it gossip or scandalous hearsays.

”Lady Leorick you must, again, hire a governess to curb that errant tongue of yours. Im certain that the Marchioness would agree with me, ” She smiled kindly, closing her fan in a snap, causing the said Lady to jump a little.

It was humiliating to be scolded in front of a ton, and whats even worse was that Lady Leorick was the celebrant of the ball. She already had her second come out season, a month ago, but today is the date of her birth. The Marquis and Marchioness made it absolute to upstage the come out season last month for their darling blonde daughter. So as anyone could guess, the ballroom was packed to the brim, and that means the humiliation was daunting.

Baroness Krona saw the change in Lady Leoricks eyes. Theres rebellion in there and the way she squared her shoulders caused a sudden thudding in the Baroness chest, a rarity to occur. Shes a daughter of an Archduke, a Princess, and a niece to the King. No one ever attempted to call her out or chastise her in fear of offending the royals, however, it looks like Lady Leorick was out of all of her inhibitions at the moment.

”How dare you humiliate me in my own ball?! ” She screeched, gnashing her teeth in anger as she roamed her eyes around the room, forgetting the honorifics. The ton were already whispering behind their fans, the men clearing their throats from the unusual display.

”Lady Leorick, get a hold of yourself. This is unbecoming of a lady, ” Baroness, though, tense did not show it in her face. She was schooled to hide her emotions since she was a youngling. No one can faze her. Instead, she made sure to sound like a distress lady, concern emanating in waves.

”Unbecoming? Do not lecture me on being a lady when you are nothing but a lightskirt in an expensive ball gown! ” She screamed. The ballroom was shaped like a dome so it wasn a surprise when her scream echoed in the entirety of the room, stunning the whole crowd, and dissolving them into a gasping mess.

The Baroness tightened her grip on her fan, willing the blush to stop from showing in her face. Calling a royal a lightskirt would cause any noble lady to faint but shes no ordinary lady. Her etiquette lessons would not go to waste. She instead curled her eyebrow upward, calming her racing heart. She was out to humiliate the gossiping ladies, not to be humiliated herself.

”Lady Leorick, I would advise you to be careful of your words, ” she said, keeping a faint smile on her lips. Shes used to being isolated by the ton because of her actions but she was never humiliated like these before. This is certainly new to her.

”No! If Im going to be humiliated like this then mayhap you
e going down with me. You have a loose moral! Ive had enough of you gallivanting around like a lady, sleeping around with the gentlemen and is proud of it. Ive never seen a shameless woman like you! You can even put those lightskirts in the gentlemens frequented pub to shame. The only difference you have with them is your money. You seduced my betrothed, and slept with another the next day. If you feel doleful for me then I feel wronged for the Baron. You
e not even discreet about it! Lightskirt, that is what you are! A lightskirt of a Baroness! ” She continued her shouting tirade, causing gasps after gasps from the ton.

Baroness Krona marched in her direction, aiming to slap the woman out of her mind. How dare she?

”What in heaven is happening here? ” The booming voice of Marquis Leorick filled the silence, and stopped the Baroness from advancing forward. Lady Leorick made it her cue to run out of the ballroom, leaving her, Baroness Krona the sole receiver of the tons gazes.

Astrids heart gallops in anxiousness when she sees the man behind the Marquis, the Archduke Clermont. The disappointed look in the face of the Archduke, her father, did a number to her confidence. That man used to look at her in adoration. Now, nothing is left but disapproval and disappointment. However, the fault lies on her own, no one elses.

”Baroness Krona, ” Another voice was added to the mix but this time the soft, mellowed voice of the Marchioness met her cold gaze.

”The air outside would do you good. Come, ” The Marchioness saved her from answering the question of the Marquis. In all honesty, she did not have any answer within her. The sudden turning of tables was not in her hindsight. It caught her unawares.

Glancing at the Archduke one more time, she strode after the erect back of the Marchioness, reminding herself to keep her emotions in check if she does not want the ton to feast with it. She straightened her shoulders and flipped her fan open, fanning herself as she swayed her hips in accordance to her nimble steps.

One would usually cowered in this kind of attention, but she is not the usual sort. Instead of reflecting with her actions, the Baroness was already hatching plans in her mind on how to get back on the wretched Lady Leorick. She was humiliated but the anger burst forth, dominating her mind. No one messes with a royal. No one should ever cross an Astrid Clermont.

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