The Most Beautiful Challenge
a piece of fiction by The Overlord Bear
beta-read by TheOtherGabby
with special thanks to Inthretis
cover illustration by The Overlord Bear
Summary: A marriage between a typical noblewoman and a strange nobleman happens, and the woman wonders why she actually fell in love with the man. The man is happy to explain that, too.
In a certain city during a certain time, there lived a very prettyfaced noblewoman in her prime.
Of course, if a noblewoman were that prettyfaced, it would be no surprise to the smart citizen that she would be as blinding as the rest of typical nobility. And of course, she did as her fellow typical noblewomen did: She dressed with blinding whites and yellows for her strolls, she swung and pierced her blessed lights upon the masses she would stroll by, and then she would lock herself in a chatterbox with her imitations.
Oh, and her fellow typical noblewomen were imitations to her, with second place only being the best that they can ever reach. Imitations they were, imitations they are, and imitations they will be in her vision, but their efforts inspired her to teach them and develop them to their full potential, and so she did those things by example.
And as expected, they all stopped imitating her. They lost all their stolen money, they lost all their imitators of a lower scale (and she didn’t expect them to be any lower!), and they lost all their scraps of reputation, which she considered good, but what was annoying was how they complained afterwards.
Her fault? Clearly, they are the true fools! Who were they to claim that they could not learn from her? Certainly, they would never be as high as her, but still, her education is an honor to be bestowed upon fools like them! They should just enjoy being blinded by her blessed whites and yellows!
Still, though, their complaints were already a form of enjoyment, considering how servants also did the very core noble behavior that is blinding fools with blessed whites and yellows, showing their superiority to those lower than them.
And yes, indeed, like typical nobility, she learned how to live nobly through the guidance of her beloved parents, who flourished with their own spectacularly blessed and blinding nobleborn whites and yellows that only nobleborn eyes like hers and her parents could handle. She imitated them so well, so well and so easily that her parents died with ear-stretching smiles on their faces and straightforward ornaments sticking out of their chests.
Cruel deaths? Oh no, her parents’ deaths extended her life along with theirs! Their blessed and blinding whites and yellows left such burning marks on society that their deaths would make them even more blinding! And yes, she thanked God very much for that!
Still, this God-believing woman felt some emptiness in her heart. She was already the brightest in the world, even the priests depended on her and her fortune! Indeed, they were like how the moon at night needed to be lit by the distant sun for it to be seen!
But why…why does her full daily schedule, her full social circle, her full house – Wait.
“My full house!” she shouted with realization. “It is not full yet!”
And by “full house,” she meant a husband and children. Oh, and no, she would not call herself like the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom she honestly considered unbelievable, and in all her honesty, she wondered: “How can such a cliche and ordinary woman be considered ‘Mother of God’ and ‘Queen of All Saints?'”
Yes, she was one who would elevate her fellow women, particularly those who choose to endure and flourish like her under the hands of foolish men. Even her mother had quite a hand on her father’s ear, even though her father had nobleborn eyes, and her low whispers chilled nerves and shook souls, hypnotizing them into peaceful sleep in her hands…
Indeed, her mother was a woman she considered above her, and in fact, she was the only person she considered above her.
So yes, for the sake of becoming her mother’s equal, she would find herself a handsome man worthy to be at her beck and call.
And as if – no, when God had heard her plea for the perfect husband, he literally knocked on her door, standing at the entrance of her grand mansion.
But when he first saw her, she began to question God.
Not like he was not handsome and without nobleborn eyes, but although he was now wearing a clean-shaven chiseled face and a dark-wrapped buff body, she could still recognize the identity of the strangest nobleman in her city.
The handsome stranger before her was a man who usually wore the rags of the peasants, those tameable animals whom the nobility had to bear cross to get them all to Heaven. He seemed to have a messiah complex, and one that the peasants loved for some reason!
That “some reason,” though, is something that she did not bother to know, as insane people like him brought madness to those who tried to understand them.
Still, she considered insane people merely peasants of a different breed, and so she was confident that she could have him serving her like a rare breed of dog (and what a rare breed insane people were!), one she would have equipped with a strong leash as she went on more blessed strolls upon the city and the world beyond.
And to her surprise, his peasant behavior combined with his noble blood and upbringing made quite a pleasing combination! He opened the door for her, he served chocolate to her lips, he spoke only when she ordered him to speak, and he never complained back! And since he couldn’t be blinded by the noble’s whites and yellows, she could still participate in intelligent spars with him, showing her such scientific AND artistic ways to shape up and cause more enjoyment within the masses they held power over!
And so, she started giving him time to himself, considering herself such a merciful master of such a loyal servant.
Indeed, she ended up wanting to marry him more quickly!
But he introduced men more handsome than he was, and she was so grateful for him being such a modest and humble servant, so much that she found rejecting his offered men very difficult affairs!
Still, those offered men were imitation noblemen, blinded by her whites and yellows, and although being blinded that way was something she considered a form of blessedness, it was a blessedness which meant that the married life isn’t for them. Well, that, or they just needed to aim lower.
And yeah, that’s how imitations go.
Well, much easier for her to fall deeper in love with her precious servant of a man, then!
Eventually, after one more year of service, a requested time which she granted her overworthy servant that she could not dare remove from her life, they finally exchanged their vows, and the both of them found themselves in the happiest day of their lives.
Still, in her consistent Sunday attendance, she met the repeated reminders of the priests about how all humans on earth are sinners (except her and her family, of course), and she couldn’t help feeling the painful feeling called doubt regarding her dear husband. The doubt increased when she noticed him, in their individual spare times she granted themselves, mingling with the peasants he was infamously associated with, slapping and embracing soiled backs and plain bosoms (and oh, did she feel herself grow greener when he touched those bosoms!), but his years of service for her kept her from turning her whites and yellows into the cleansing fires of Heaven.
Still, she could not settle herself without discussing the matter with her husband. She also realized that she still didn’t know why he returned to nobility and served her. All she knew was that his parents – and they were respectable parents, passed-on souls who were probably accompanying her parents in Heaven now – had set up their marriage, a facet she almost forgot because of how subservient her husband always was to her.
What if he was just another imitation? What if he was already blinded, and was already plotting to extend her life via vertical ornament to the chest? Why was she even worried about these things?
And so, realizing that she had to know more about her dear husband for her troubled heart to become settled, she broached the topic to him one evening in bed.
“Oh, my friends at the farmlands miss me,” he then told her, “But they also encouraged me to go back to nobility, follow my parents, and marry someone like you!”
He told her that with such a bright smile, so bright that she was on the verge of considering sharing her title of “Most Blinding Noble” with him, followed by blinding everyone else who would complain.
Yes, a subservient man like him had to have subservient friends as well. That made sense.
“Though honestly…” he appended, and that made her stomach start feeling knotty, “I plan on using our inherited fortune for our poor friends.”
With that, the fear within her turned into horror, rampaging much like the unbelievably horrible Robin Hood she and her noble teachers were forced to learn and teach about.
And now, with the memories of her husband’s loyal service feeling like she had actually been shot with poisoned arrows disguised as Cupid’s arrows (though frankly, she was having a hard time telling the difference now, considering the stories she had heard and read and watched before), she, with tear-filled eyes, asked him:
“So…am I not beautiful to you?”
His response to that was quite a shocked expression, his eyes and lips quivering, as if the both of them had done each other so much wrong.
“No, you are beautiful, my dear wife!” he then exclaimed.
But she shook her head at that.
“My dear husband, surely, your peasant friends consider me ugly!” she shot back, feeling more like an imitation noblewoman being infected by an imitation. “I have seen them glare at me, and I have seen them pity you in my presence!”
At that, the husband clenched his fists, grabbing the sheets covering their bodies as his face hardened.
“Well, they need to humble themselves some more, then!” he then shouted to their room’s wide ceiling. “They do not see your beauty, and so, would you like to know what makes you beautiful, my love?”
At that moment, she found herself unable to supply an answer to that.
Indeed, that moment was both excruciating and awe-inspiring to her.
Still, she nodded, letting her husband give his answer.
And so, he said, with her face pulled close to his:
“You are the most beautiful challenge in my life.”
And then the beloved noblewoman found herself blind.
Such a horrible imitation’s realization, indeed!
At the same time, it had such beautiful whites and yellows in it!
Now, where’s our Ananias?
Author’s Note: This feels like satire, but I don’t know if I should call it satire. That, and satire is something I’ve been liking less and less lately, considering how venomous I’ve seen it get and/or how sensitive I am. So yeah.
Also, I had a reference to DNA here in a previous version, but Gabby told me that it felt out of place because the rest of the piece felt like something set in the Middle Ages or something, so there.
As for the cover…I tried to use the preset Symmetry Brush a lot in FireAlpaca, I think…
Anyway, honest constructive feedback is highly encouraged and will be highly appreciated, yo~
EDIT 16/01/2018: Inthretis, an online friend of mine with quite an eye for setting and worldbuilding, pointed out my French Revolution references and how out of place they were in my edit after Gabby beta-read the story. I replaced them with Robin Hood and Cupid and tragedy references now, to be more consistent.