Alphanovel App

Best Romance Novels

Book cover
Updated

I Am the Countess

  • 👁 0
  • 5.5
  • 💬 0

Annotation

In this dark era, where shadows reign and uncertainty looms, the flames of conflict burn incessantly, casting a grim hue over the land. It's an age where a loaf of bread can be a double-edged sword, offering sustenance to one while becoming the harbinger of doom to another, where the act of bloodletting is seen as a cure-all remedy for afflictions of the body and soul. Legends whisper of vampires stalking the night, and werewolves prowling under the moon's watchful gaze, adding an eerie mystique to the already foreboding atmosphere. Amidst this turmoil, the realm is also painted with strokes of romance, where gallant knights and daring thieves roam in pursuit of their own desires and destinies. Here, survival is a primal struggle, , and fortunes are often built upon the plunder of others. Marriages, too, are transactions of convenience, where alliances are forged through the exchange of dowries and titles. As the bride purchased by the Count with gold coins, her fate hangs in the balance. How will she navigate her way through this medieval land of exotic territories, carving out her own path to survival, and perhaps even conquering this terrain?

Chapter 1

Grey Town

The bodies hanging on the wooden racks by the beach were already beginning to decay, and nearby, freshly turned soil indicated several new graves. The once bustling market had now become desolate and quiet, with boarded-up houses lining the streets. Occasionally, ignorant children would run out, only to be quickly snatched back by their mothers or siblings.

The entire town was on edge, enveloped in an atmosphere of cold tension, ready to erupt at any moment.

Baron Campbell sat in the hall of his castle, dining on stale bread, his eyes occasionally darting towards the castle gates, revealing a mix of nervousness, anticipation, and excitement. Seeing the steward rush in, Baron Campbell immediately stood up. "How is it?" he asked.

The steward nodded. "He's back."

The baron clenched his fists, his forehead furrowing with tension and excitement. But after a moment, he slumped back into his chair, his face pale, as if he had lost all his strength and courage.

"However, you still have time," the steward spoke again, reigniting a spark of hope in Baron Campbell's eyes. "What do you mean?" he seized on the crucial point.

"He won't come immediately," the steward informed his master. "He's getting married, my lord." He relayed the news the scouts had gathered from the north. "It's said that the count has brought back his fiancée and is planning to marry her immediately under the auspices of the Archbishop. This news will soon spread throughout the entire kingdom."

"Married?" The baron was puzzled. "Who is he marrying?"

"A Dubois, my lord," the steward replied truthfully. "The king's cousin."

After ending the conversation with the steward, Baron Campbell walked into the castle's basement, where crates of gold coins were piled up—a considerable fortune throughout the entire continent of Yamei. But if the plan went accordingly, he would gain more, much more...

The baron abruptly closed the chest, a fierce determination flashing in his eyes as he made a decision that would make many people hate him for a lifetime.

Wiltburg

Leah looked at the girl in the mirror, her long golden-red hair cascading down her back, her fair, almost translucent skin. The fullness of her chest and hips spoke of a maturity beyond her years, yet her crimson cheeks still retained the youthful innocence and tenderness. This was her, at sixteen. Familiar yet unfamiliar.

Familiar was the memory; unfamiliar was the soul.

Amelleah Matilda Dubois, the king's cousin, fourth in line to the throne. A true aristocratic lady born with a silver spoon, a royal maiden who could rival a princess in dignity, but who lost her father's title while still in swaddling clothes, becoming a ward of her uncle's household as a young girl. What was more tragic was that just two weeks after her sixteenth birthday, her gambling-addicted mother sold her to the infamous Count Wilt for five thousand gold coins, becoming his bride.

Oh, a bride. Only someone in her situation would call herself that. Everyone in the entire Kingdom of Odin knew that Wilt and Wiltshire were hardly desirable destinations. Despite Count Wilt owning vast lands in the northeast of the Kingdom of Odin, making him the wealthiest man second only to the royal family, his and his family's infamous reputation was far more well-known than his riches.

"Madam?"

Maid Susie gently reminded her from behind. Leah untied the straps of her dress, letting the nightgown fall freely. The bruises on her fair skin became more prominent. With Susie's assistance, she slowly sank into the tub, the warm spring water almost instantly opening all her pores, bringing a sense of comfort and relaxation. At least, it was much better than last night.

"He left the city?" Leah asked. In the early hours of the morning, she had vaguely heard the sound of horse hooves, and in the entire Wiltburg, only one person could cause such a commotion.

"Yes, he left early this morning," Susie replied cautiously, avoiding touching the bruises on Leah's body. After answering, she looked up at Leah with a hint of concern, as if afraid that her mistress would be angry.

Leah just curled her lips slightly, no need to be angry. Although it was only the second day of their marriage, her husband left without a word of tenderness, seemingly expressing his dissatisfaction with his wife from a certain perspective. However, Leah didn't care about his satisfaction. In fact, she was more dissatisfied herself, okay?!

The cleaning supplies at this time contained no chemical additives. After taking a bath, the whole body exuded a fragrance extracted from plants. Leah pushed open the door, carefully observing the medieval-style castle. Dim corridors, damp walls, narrow high windows, and sparse sunlight filtering through them.

From a health perspective, such a castle was not suitable for human habitation. Because the entire castle was desolate.

But at this point, did she have any other choice?

"Madam!" The steward received a notification from Susie and hurriedly came to greet his mistress. He was a white-haired old man in his fifties, wearing a clean robe, respectful but not servile, and said to his mistress slowly, "The count has already left the city early this morning. He went to the coast first, then headed south to inspect the southern territories. He will return at the soonest in five days."

Then he paused, pondering whether he had already conveyed the count's intentions clearly, and then bowed to ask, "Madam, do you have any other instructions?"

Instructions? How could I have any instructions?

As a bride bought back for five thousand gold coins, Leah was well aware of her status in this castle and even throughout Wiltshire. The steward's question was just a formality. Could she still have any instructions for a husband who left on the second day of their marriage? Moreover, as the second-largest landowner in the entire Kingdom of Odin, his first priority upon returning from his travels was to inspect his properties, lands, and subjects. Did she have any opinions on that?

But speaking of opinions, she did have a small matter that could be compromised with the steward. "My maid, Ruby!"

Strictly speaking, Leah didn't marry Wilt without any dowry. After all, she brought a personal maid from her natal family, which, according to the law, was her personal property.

However, this maid, Ruby, was currently locked in a storage room next to the side door of the castle, hungry, tired, and covered in dust and dirt. Well, as a maid who assisted the bride in escaping the night before the wedding, not being immediately beheaded or sold off randomly was already giving herself face, right?

Leah touched her cheek, feeling that her face was really thin.

But no matter what, the steward complied with her request.

After letting Ruby clean up and have a hearty meal, ignoring Susie's resentful eyes, Leah closed the door to the bedroom tightly, leaving only her and Ruby—the only person who could be considered her ally.

"Alright!" Leah clapped her hands, sitting in front of the dressing table, taking out a quill and a roll of parchment. "Let's start planning."

As soon as Ruby heard this, her eyes immediately reddened. "Oh, Miss..."

She rolled up her sleeves, wiped her face, rubbed her eyes with a swipe, and then clenched her fists, her face full of determination. "This time, where do we start? The windows, the side door, or the tunnel? Oh, the windows are too high, the side door has too many people, and I don't think they'll let us into the church again, so, only the tunnel is left. Miss, oh, Miss..."

Ruby suddenly pounced forward, half-kneeling on the ground, grabbing Leah's hand that wasn't holding the pen, and said emotionally, "I will definitely help you, Miss. Even if I have to sacrifice my life, I will help you escape successfully!"

Ah, ah?

Leah twitched her lips. "Escape? Are you crazy?!"

With a confused look, Ruby released Leah's hand, incredulously asking, "Aren't you planning to escape?" Then why did you leave Susie outside the door and do everything so secretly?

Leah rolled her eyes without good humor, waving the parchment roll in front of Ruby. On it was a line that read "Count Wilt."

"I need him to like me!" she added.

Fall in love at first sight with the antique man? Unconditionally obey marriage? Please, don't challenge the intelligence limit of modern humans too much, okay?!

Leah shook her hand, indicating that she couldn't accept such a plot. She was just a diligent office worker who was brought to this embarrassing situation by the shameless god of transmigration.

It's terrifying to transmigrate even when you sleep, you know?

Transmigrating while sleeping, and waking up with a naked man pressing on top of you, isn't it even scarier?

Leah cursed the god of transmigration to get hemorrhoids and bleed to death.

But what's the use? She was still Amelleah Matilda Dubois, the fourth in line to the throne of the Kingdom of Odin, a penniless noblewoman who was sold to Count Wilt by her own mother for five thousand gold coins.

What else could she do besides accepting reality?

Well, let's just treat it as a role-playing game. The medieval background is so popular! And she is just an NPC in the game. Facial features, no choice; figure, no choice; skills, also no choice.

The save number is zero, the goal is simply to survive, and the final boss of the dungeon is the cheap husband Count Wilt, who leaves after spending the night and can't even remember his face. As for the clearance reward...

Leah picked up the parchment roll again and waved it in front of Ruby.

Although in this era of illiteracy, being able to recognize a few words was considered a high degree of education, Ruby still looked confused at the messy doodles, wondering if this kind of scribbling could be called writing?

Leah shook the parchment roll in her hand again, explaining to her only ally.

"I need a child," she said. "Count Wilt's heir!"

The country where Leah resides, called Odin, is situated in the northwest of a landmass known as the Yamei continent. In terms of temperature and climate, it should fall under the subarctic zone.

Unfortunately, despite the attire customs and architectural styles here closely resembling medieval Europe, Leah has never heard of any of the country names in this era. However, fortunately, although the original Amelleah has disappeared, she left Leah with all her memories. Despite the original owner of this body being a destitute nobleman with a tragic background, who may have barely left the boudoir a few times, Leah is still a noblewoman. She did not lag behind in the education that a noble young lady should receive, or perhaps due to the lack of social activities, she even read more books than other noble girls.

This allows Leah to make a relatively accurate assessment of her current situation.

She cannot divorce, Leah is very clear about this. Not only is this behavior not allowed in the religion widely believed by the local people, but even her mother, the lady who would sell her own daughter, would never easily relinquish ownership of those five thousand gold coins.

The only one who could help her and had the ability to help her is her guardian—after her father's death, according to the law, this responsibility fell to the king, her cousin Richard. This was also the method Rubi once helped her with to escape marriage, by sending her handwritten letter to the king through the bishop of Wiltshire, pleading for his help.

The result was obvious, they failed.

Now, she has become Wilt's legal wife. But this is not the end, or rather, for a noble girl, marriage is just the beginning of life.

Like the world Leah is familiar with, for most of the history of the Yamei continent, women have been subordinate to men, and it remains so now. Although traditionally, Wilt cannot divorce her either. But within his territory, he can do a lot to his wife, who is his subordinate. He can neglect her, mistreat her, or even humiliate her, and worse, he can beat her.

The territory is like a mini-country, within his own territory, the lord's rights are supreme, no one can resist or question them, not even the king most of the time. Of course, this includes his wife.

But this is not the only reason Leah is trying to please her husband.

In this feudal and dark age, there is a corresponding law that is more detrimental to women—even if Wilt dies, Leah, as his wife, will not inherit all of his property.

Yes, if Wilt dies within five years of their marriage, she won't even get half a piece of land from his vast estate, only some gold or silver coins, and then she has to return to her mother's house with her dowry—considering her dowry is zero and those five thousand gold coins, she might even end up paying.

Even if Wilt's marriage to her lasts more than five years, after his death, Leah can only inherit one-third of Wilt's land. And as a widowed woman with no support, how to protect her property under the watchful eyes of Wilt's vassals and neighbors is undoubtedly an extremely difficult problem.

Of course, there are solutions to all of this—if she has a child, even if it's a daughter.

In the kingdom of Odin, in the absence of sons, daughters can also inherit their father's title—as long as they are not as unlucky as Leah was when she was born.

So the plan to have a child was meticulously written out by Leah on a large parchment, listing her strategic goals.

Of course, you might ask, why doesn't she run away? Since Wilt is so rich, wouldn't it be better to take some gold, silver, and jewels from his castle and sell them, and become a self-sufficient middle-class ?

However, no matter how unfamiliar the names of the countries may be, it cannot deny the fact that this is the Middle Ages, known as the Dark Ages. The stone-built ancient castles, towering arrow towers, barbaric customs, and dreadful sanitary conditions, all unmistakably conveyed to Leah what kind of background environment this was.

In an era where human flesh might be less valuable than pork, being a noble girl without a title or dowry might not be as miserable, but being a penniless runaway widow would be truly miserable, wouldn't it? All the tragedies that women could face might happen to her, especially since she still carries the aura of a royal member on her head. Don't think that this status is so noble and dazzling. In an era where nobles have almost absolute power within their own territory, the royal family is just a slightly larger landowner than others. But even with that slightly larger land, there is not even a square inch belonging to her. Isn't that just painfully pathetic?

So, no matter how resistant she might be, after a comprehensive assessment, she could only come to one feasible conclusion—cling to Wilt's thigh and try to have a child. By then, if her husband died, she would pass the level successfully!

However, all of this wasn't as simple as imagined. Although having a child as a wife was both a responsibility and an obligation, looking at the typical pale complexion of a noble girl in the mirror, Leah had to admit that having a healthy child was quite challenging for her now.

Therefore, the first plan she executed wasn't about taming her husband, but about getting fit.

But this plan was terminated the moment her hands touched the castle gate— the steward respectfully but sternly announced to her that the Count prohibited Leah, as the lady of the house, from going out.

Yes, she was grounded.

As a widow with a history of attempting to run away, Leah dared not complain too much. After repeatedly explaining to the steward that she just wanted to take a stroll in the garden, only to be firmly refused, she temporarily gave up the idea of outdoor activities.

Does exercising have to be done outdoors? Can't I exercise indoors, on the bed, or on the carpet? You bunch of indigenous people who haven't seen yoga!!!

After bitterly mocking in her heart, Leah turned to execute another branch of her plan. She sent her only confidante now—her maid Ruby—to infiltrate the enemy camp, mingling among the cooks, maids, and servants, striving to find out Wilt's dislikes and preferences, and to gather all information about the enemy.

And more importantly, it would be great if Ruby could get a list of Wilt's mistresses.

Just like Leah's understanding of European history, this was also a monogamous era. Their relationship recognized by law was only that of husband and wife. Although in a sense, this was a protection for wives, it indirectly gave rise to another kind of identity—mistresses.

In this era, lords kept mistresses as commonly as noble ladies kept dogs or cats and flaunted their wealth. Not to mention farther away, in Leah's memory, her uncle had a well-known but unspoken relationship with the maids ABCDEFG in the castle, not to mention the countless peasant girls who had one-night stands within his territory.

Saying that Wilt was chaste before marriage was as unbelievable and unconvincing as saying that all countries in the world were territories of South Korea. But as a wife without any emotional foundation, Leah had no interest in how many girls Wilt had slept with before, now, or in the future. The only thing she needed to guard against was him impregnating those girls before they had a legal heir.

This wasn't uncommon; even successive kings had several acknowledged or unacknowledged illegitimate children, and it was even more common among nobles like raindrops.

According to the laws of Odin, illegitimate children did not have the right to inherit their father's property. But there were always exceptions to everything. If the nobles had no legitimate heirs, then after their death, their property would be confiscated by the state or divided among their vassals and other lords. To avoid this situation, there were lords who did despicable things. They would use the illegitimate child as the heir born to the wife. In the almost semi-closed castle, this was not a difficult task.

But not many wives were willing to raise other people's sons. What's more, what if the child you raised grew up to be ruthless? Leah absolutely didn't want to take that risk.

But the feedback Ruby gave to Leah after mingling in the kitchen for three days was far from satisfactory. Well, perhaps describing it as unsatisfactory is not quite accurate; it should be said that there was simply no information at all. As a noble lady's maid who wasn't even well-received in her own home, it was simply an impossible task for Ruby to gather any useful information in such a complicated place as the kitchen!

After circling around several times, Ruby came back with tears in her eyes, telling her mistress with full of sorrow, "Oh, mistress, it's too terrible. You know, he has killed people. If all the bones of the people he killed were stacked up in the square, it would be as high as two floors. He hanged people alive, cut off their tongues with his own hands, strung their bones into necklaces, and even ate the eyeballs of living people... Oh my god, it's too terrifying. You must leave here. I will definitely help you leave here. I will take you back to find the lady."

The lady?

Leah frowned. Would her cheap mother, who sold her off, not know about the notorious deeds of Count Wilt? Yet, she exchanged her daughter for five thousand gold coins.

Leah shrugged, "She doesn't care about me at all, and I can't leave here either, Ruby. I don't even have the ability to return alive to my uncle's territory. So, all I need you to do is to figure out how I can satisfy Wilt."

Ruby blinked apologetically, "Mistress, I, I don't know..."

"Perhaps I can help."

Leah turned in surprise to see that the bedroom door had been opened at some point, and Susie, the maid arranged by Wilt for her, stood outside with a bucket of water. There was a hint of timidity on her face, but her eyes were firm as she looked at her mistress.

"Susie?"

"Yes, ma'am," Susie walked slowly forward, staring at Leah. Like all loyal maids to their masters, she said firmly, "I know the preferences of the count, and I can help you!"

Chapter 2

Dinah slammed the jar of fine flour onto the kitchen's long table, then scooped a spoonful of coarse flour onto the sieve, placing a new container underneath and continuing to sift with a shake of her arms. She had been sieving the bran out of the wheat flour for almost a whole morning, feeling disgruntled. She grumbled to the cook with a hint of resentment, "Who doesn't even eat coarse flour? Even the king doesn't have such a quirk."

The cook shot her a glare. "Mind your own business!"

"Am I wrong?" Dinah pouted in grievance, then sarcastically added, "A countess bought with money, without even half a coin for dowry, yet she insists on eating white bread every meal. Ridiculous..."

Seeing the cook giving her a warning look, Dinah turned her head and found Susie standing at the kitchen door, looking embarrassed. "Hmm, why is the countess's personal maid in our kitchen?"

Susie blushed, hesitating before speaking, "The countess asked me to remind everyone not to

Heroes

Use AlphaNovel to read novels online anytime and anywhere

Enter a world where you can read the stories and find the best romantic novel and alpha werewolf romance books worthy of your attention.

QR codeScan the qr-code, and go to the download app