This has to be a dream.
It’s a dreadful nightmare, and a predictable cliché.
And yet, it’s also one of the most beloved scenes of mine.
 


“Execute the tyrant Nicolai and the villainess, Elisabeth!” cried Claudia, the heroine of ‘’The Platinum Swordswoman.’

She possessed the silver hair that glimmered like the sky and stunning, clear blue eyes, just as described in the novel.
Claudia was the reason why I had read this so-called third-rate female lead fantasy cover to cover countless times.
She was exquisitely beautiful and naturally strong, my ultimate favourite.

I idolised her.

Whenever I read Claudia’s adventures, I momentarily forgot about my mundane existence.
How would it feel to be Claudia? Even being a supporting character would be fine if I could be by her side! I harboured an unrealistic wish of being transported into a book, but I never expected it to actually happened in such a manner.

 “I’m innocent! It was all orchestrated by Nicolai!” A hair-raising shrill cry burst out from Elisabeth, the heiress to one of the largest merchant groups and the villainess who led the empire to ruin.

Yup, that’s me.

 “Are you not sorry for the people who died because of you?” Claudia stares at me with an expressionless face.
I clapped back like the true villainess that I was.

“Who did I kill?! Bring me the body!”

“I see, you’re not repentant in the least.”

“Are you doing this out of jealousy, Claudia? Because Douglas chose me over your unrequited love? How is that my fault?”

A blue flame flickered in Claudia’s eyes, but it was only for a moment before they reverted to their usual clear calmness.

“I’m simply carrying out the will of the empire’s citizens, who want the sinners punished.”

She remained resolute and cold, truly the strongest and upright female knight.
I’d be screaming her praises until my mouth ran dry if I wasn’t already kneeling before the guillotine.

 “You’re guilty of manipulating many men, including the Marquess of Nettleton, of leading the country into chaos alongside the tyrant, of squandering the state coffer, and of assassinating several of the imperial consorts.” Claudia listed out Elisabeth’s wicked deeds.
The crimes of the villainous emperor, Nicolai, were also enumerated.
 

“You’re guilty of abusing your position as the emperor to kidnap women.
You’re guilty of treating them like toys, abandoning your imperial duties, and tarnishing the reputation of the Hartman Empire with your debauchery……”

Even if it hadn’t been for Douglas, Claudia would’ve upheld justice by executing the villainess and the tyrant.
Elisabeth and Nicolai have committed far too many crimes.
However, I’m innocent and this isn’t how I wanted to die.
Regardless of my will, I’m doomed to repeat this dream over and over.

“Everything’s ready!” The crowd erupted as the knights fastened both of us to the guillotine.
Finally, Claudia issued a solemn command, “Execute them!”.
Instantaneously, the tightly pulled rope was severed, and the sharp blade fell on my neck.


“AAAAAAGH!”

Screaming, I woke up from my sleep.
With trembling hands, I gingerly touched my neck to confirm it was still intact.
It’s still surreal that I’m alive and that I’m Elisabeth.
In my past life, I was Kim Yena, a twenty-two-year-old from South Korea.
I had died while I was volunteering abroad.
Despite being on the verge of death from a deadly epidemic myself, I gave up my respirator to a child in need.
In the swamp of death, a glimmer of light emerged before me and said,

“Those who died of noble deaths are granted a privilege.
Do you wish to enter heaven? Or would you like to reincarnate in another world?” 

Naturally, I thought it was a dream.

“Another world, please.
It’s something that everyone would choose once, right? If possible, I’d like to be reincarnated into a work I enjoyed.” I replied with a smirk.
That was a month ago.

“Reincarnated as a villainess with a death ending. Sheesh, can it get any more cliché than that?” I let out a heavy sigh, wishing for the ground to swallow me.
Excluding the recurring nightmare, Elisabeth’s life was a torment in itself.
I hadn’t even met the tyrant yet, nor had I ever killed anyone.
However, based on my firsthand experience, Elisabeth was such a woman:

A party animal who enjoyed year-round all-night parties. A luxury fanatic who would wake up even while sleeping for the finest jewellery and dresses. An ambitious egoist with a chip on her shoulder due to her commoner background. A sufferer of extreme handsomeness revelation syndrome.

Among these, the last one was particularly problematic.
Surely, it’s impossible for a girl from the ‘Courteous country of the East’1 who was brought up with Confucian values to change overnight, right?

“This isn’t just two-timing or three-timing, wasn’t she practically running around the clock2? Isn’t that too much? Even if she’s a rich heiress, she’s still a commoner.”

Elisabeth was a beautiful woman.
She wasn’t just any ordinary beauty, she was mesmerisingly beautiful.
Her bright crimson hair, as if bleached and dyed four times, and the thick curls that stayed bouncy without the need for a curling iron, were foreign to me.
Only her mysterious black eyes, which seemed to draw in everything in the world, were similar to my eyes in the past life.
However, Elisabeth’s beauty alone didn’t make her the queen bee of high society, nor was it because of her filthy rich parents who spoilt their only daughter.
It’s because Elisabeth possessed a unique ability—just the thing for a fictional villainess.

“The Marquess of Nettleton has come to see you.” Nancy, the maid, announced timidly.
She appeared anxious, fearing the irritable displeasure of her mistress.
  

“I will be down shortly.
Please inform him to wait for a moment,” I replied in a perfectly reasonable manner.
However, Nancy’s eyes widened.
“Miss! Are you feeling sick again somewhere? Perhaps your fever has returned?” she exclaimed.
 

“For the umpteenth time, I’m in good health.”

“But the young miss I know would never behave in this manner! You must’ve lost your mind after being on the brink of death!”  

Nancy fussed at me, pressing a hand to my forehead.
Although I didn’t particularly appreciate it, I could tell she was genuinely worried.
What’s good about having a mistress who treats people like disposable tissues?  

‘The reason why Elisabeth became such a wicked person was due to the novel’s original setup.
People around her constantly talked about her beauty and overindulged her.’


The character of Elisabeth was known as a ‘Fatal Femme Fatale.’ She possessed the power of fascination, and if she set her mind to it, she could seduce anyone.
There were a few exceptions, of course, but in most cases, a single wink was enough.
And what if it’s a deep, wet kiss? Game over.
The other person would become a devoted slave, sitting if Elisabeth told them to sit, and rolling over if she told them to roll.

It was unknown how she came to possess this unusual power.
Nothing I can do about that, it’s the force of the setting.
The problem was, that power was now mine to deal with. 

 “Do you think you could reconsider the annulment, Elisabeth?” Douglas asked in a polite yet cautious tone.
His soft pink hair, which resembled pink muhly grass, cast a deep shadow across his handsome face.
Douglas, Marquess of Nettleton, was Elisabeth’s former fiancé and also the subject of Claudia’s long-time crush.

If this were a romance novel, he would’ve easily been the male lead.
Regrettably, ‘The Platinum Swordswoman’ was a fantasy with a female lead3.
Douglas, the head of a fallen marquisate and an aspiring novelist, didn’t have a significant role.
While Claudia sought her revenge on Elisabeth for toying with Douglas, in the end, she chose the sword over love.

‘Douglas was merely a secondary character who was dragged around by a villainess and only to realise later that Claude was the one who truly loved him.
He’s not a bad person.
Didn’t he genuinely loved Elisabeth, even if their engagement was forced by his old man’s debt? Elisabeth didn’t even use her power on him.’

Shortly before I reincarnated into Elisabeth, she had broken off her engagement with the innocent Douglas.
All because she fell for the provocation of a certain noblewoman. 

“You really want to be the queen bee? Then seduce His Majesty!”

What a childish provocation.
Unfortunately, Elisabeth was not just beyond childish, she was also a simple-minded woman.

“You think I can’t do it? In any case, becoming an empress is preferable to being a marchioness!”

Douglas’ reputation suffered greatly as a result of Elisabeth’s public uproar.
There was even talk of removing the Marquess of Nettleton, one of the five great noble families, from the noble circle.
 

‘It must’ve been a real slap in the face for Claudia, who wished for her first love’s every happiness.
Her anger towards Elisabeth must’ve hit the roof when she saw how Elisabeth kept messing with Douglas even after they called off their engagement.’

Unconsciously, my hand moved to my neck.
Being executed every night made me yearn for a real life more than ever.
Even if it was only for a night, I longed to escape the guillotine and have a good night’s sleep.
Will this terrible nightmare end if I distort the original plot? How can I defeat this strongest heroine?

For the past month, I’ve been analysing the original plot tirelessly, pouring all my energy into understanding and familiarising myself with this world.
As a result, I was able to came up with several strategies.

 “Are you still unable to let go of your feelings for me, Lord Nettleton?” Aren’t you sick of being ridiculed?” I asked sarcastically, like a villainess from a novel would.
But Douglas’ eyes on me were as sweet as whipped cream cake.

“I don’t care what anyone says.”

“We have nothing to do with each other anymore.
Nothing at all!”

“Elisabeth, without you and the Amster Merchant Group, the Marquisate of Nettleton wouldn’t have survived.”


“You must’ve forgotten all about my other beaus, such as Nike, Jordan, Adi, Armor, Lance, and so on, in order to protect that worthless empty shell……” I casually mentioned the names of boyfriends that couldn’t possibly existed in this world.
But Douglas didn’t appear to mind and even blamed himself.

“How could I possibly blame you? If anything, it’s my fault for not discouraging the men from approaching you.”

“You’re still as foolish and as frustrating as ever.
This is why I left you.” I could tell he was trying to remain calm even despite his eyes trembled like a sailboat caught in a typhoon.
 

To dodge the guillotine, I must first get Douglas out of the way, then serve as a stepping stone of love between him and Claudia.
If I can make her one-sided love come true, maybe she’ll rethink her revenge plans.
Anyway, from now on, my dream is to be a matchmaker4!

Fortunately, I was reincarnated as a filthy rich and exceptionally beautiful woman.
I didn’t want to be tormented by nightmares every night, but I hate the thought of dying at the hands of my ult even more.

“Even my only sister, Susan, couldn’t accept our breakup.
Weren’t you also extremely fond of her, Elisabeth?”

“Please inform Lady Susan that, while you and I are no longer together, my friendship with her remain unchanged.”

 “Don’t you know that all I have is you, Elisabeth?”

“No, I don’t.
Because the heart’s a fickle thing.”

 “Elisabeth…”

“Enough about me.
How about that lady knight? I’m confident she’ll be able to protect you, who have never lifted anything heavier than a pen.”

Douglas’ expression darkened even further.
The sharp needle of guilt pricked my heart.
It’s not easy to put up an iron wall against a man who’s determined to woo a woman.
Unfortunately for me, I was a #foreveralone, and Douglas was far more handsome than I’d imagined.

‘Snap out of it! My well-being and longevity matter more than some pretty face.
Don’t be swayed by that longing expression! Don’t even waste your time checking out those long slender fingers!’

When I finally managed to calm my trembling heart, Douglas pulled out a book from his leather bag.

 “It’s embarrassing, but please accept it.
It’s my heart.”

‘What book is this? Wasn’t his novelist debut still a long way off?’

Even after their engagement ended, Elisabeth continued to use Douglas like an accessory to draw attention to herself.
However, unlike the original Elisabeth, I didn’t do so, but I wasn’t aware that doing so would’ve fuelled his creativity instead.
He appeared to have completed his best-selling romance novel, ‘The Red Star of the Empire’ much earlier than the original timeline.
What kind of omen is this?

“The editor says that the response from the bookstores has been overwhelming.”


“What’s it about?”

“It’s about a woman was destined to be loved and the man who watched over her.” Douglas explained bashfully while also beaming with pride.
Even though he had achieved a long-held dream, the most important thing to him was me.

 “If it made you feel uneasy, I’ll gather them all up and burn them.”

All he wished for was a kind word and a smile.
Suddenly, I was jealous of Elisabeth.

I regretted everything when I died as Kim Yena.
I had to work non-stop to cover the crazy tuition and living expenses.
Dating? First kiss? The hell was those? Even the overseas volunteer work, I only went because they offered to pay for my plane ticket and boarding.
It wasn’t some noble cause or anything.

If I had known that I’d die young in some foreign country, I would’ve lived my life differently.
Since I was now Elisabeth, I didn’t want any more regrets.
There’s no time to waste.
I heartlessly tossed aside Douglas’ debut work—something that he’d poured blood and sweat into, the culmination of the pure love he has for Elisabeth—out the window.
I added an annoyed and bewildered expression to top it off.

“Up to you whether you want to burn it or not.
Don’t bother me with it.”

I gulped down the ice-cold water; my tongue was still sore from spewing such vile words.
But I don’t have time to feel sorry for Douglas because I had to quickly move on to my second plan.

“No matter what I do, as long as that villainous Emperor reigns, Claudia will start a revolution.
To save my own neck, I have to change Nicolai’s character.
I’ll seduce the tyrant and transform him into a righteous ruler!”

What if that Casanova Emperor became a benevolent ruler who benefited the people, while the femme fatale villainess redeemed herself and transformed into a virtuous and dignified lady?  

If that’s the case, Claudia’s justification for a revolution would also disappear.
Seducing a tyrant may be too high a hurdle for a lifelong introverted singleton like me, but if anyone could pull it off, it would be the infamous femme fatale.
Instead of running away from the original story, I’ve decided to seduce the tyrant just as the story intended!  

“Now, to the party, shall we?” I clutched my butterfly-shaped mask with glee.
At the time, I had no idea where fate would take me.
As it turned out, that sometimes ludicrous yet playful, but mostly unpredictable fate would deliver a man who’d turn my life upside down.

To be continued…

Translator’s Notes:

1 동방예의지국 meaning ‘the country of courteous people in the East” Was an archaic description of Korea by China.

2 She was saying “양다리도 모자라, 삼다리, 사다리라니?” Literally (not satisfied with 2 legs, there’s three legs and even the whole ladder?”) It’s from an idiomatic expression “양다리는 기본, 삼다리 사다리도 좋다” that was originally an idiom in Chinese “脚踏兩船”meaning “to stand with each foot on a different boat.” By the way, in Japanese, its “二股” (futamata), the kanji literally means “two thighs”.
(Isn’t it interesting, etymology wise?! This is why I can’t quit languages) All three idioms are referring to someone who’s cheating/two-timing.
The literal translation was also a word pun (phonetically),  “다리 (dari)” means leg in Korean and while “사다리(sadari)” means ladder.
Geddit? If I were to use the literal translation, I think the meaning will be quite lost on readers not familiar with the language, so I went with time/clock instead.
Hope that gets through lol

3여주판 SOMEONE FOR THE LIFE OF ME, TELL ME WHAT’S THE CORRECT TERM FOR YEOJU-PAN in ENGLISH! Non-convoluted ones, please.

4 커플매니저 (literally pronounced as ‘couple manager’) Another one of those Korean-centric English loan word similar to those 和製英語 (wasei-eigo) that the Japanese love.
‘커플매니저’ has the same meaning as the pure Korean word ‘새들이’ (saedeulri) ‘to match a marriage’.
Couple manager sounds odd in English don’t you think? Literal for the sake of being literal just doesn’t cut it sometimes.

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