“Lift her head.”
You feel something yank your head backwards and find yourself staring into the contemptuous eyes of your stepbrother Cain.
The bastards kept beating you as though you were a pig and your whole body is now covered in bruises. You barely stop yourself from fainting.
“Are you aware of your crimes?”
You don’t have the strength to answer. Even if you did, your scarred, salt-covered tongue wouldn’t oblige.
As you are dragged to the podium, you hear, “Brother, please let me say one last thing to Aria.”
It’s your stepsister Mielle, the benevolent lady you bullied for many years. Her smile radiated kindness, as though she were ready to forgive you.
“Please, I must do this.”
With this, Cain shrugs and lets her pass. As Mielle wipes the tears from her eyes, the crowd quiets down, impressed by her mercy.
She comes face-to-face with you, as though to give you one last private message.
Then a sickly smile spreads across her face…
“Stupid, lowborn bitch. Did you enjoy playing the noble?”
“The maids who told you to do all those things worked for me, to make you into a villain for this moment.”
“I’ve always hated you and your miserable slut of a mother, so I promised myself to give both of you the most painful end you deserve.”
Mielle barely holds back a mocking laugh. You feel your heart sink.
“I thought about poisoning you as I did your mother, but it’s more amusing this way, don’t you think?”
You feel rage building within you. You’d scream, but could only manage a weak, hacking cough.
Mielle turns toward the crowd, putting on her usual gentle expression once more.
“Farewell, Aria. I shall miss you.”
You are forced to the ground and you hear a sword being drawn.
You are too tired to feel pain, grief or even anger.
As your vision blurs, you somehow see an hourglass.
You want to go back…turn everything back…just like this hourglass…you’ll stop…being the fool…and save your mother…
You blink and find yourself sitting in the dining room of the Roscente mansion. Sitting at the table with you are Count Roscente, Mielle, Cain and…Mother?!
Why do they all look so young?
Your mother sighs and tells you, “You haven’t learned proper manners yet so how could I expect you to go out?” She then turns to a maid and says, “Please clean the floor.”
Your eyes fall on the concerned Mielle.
Did you really go back? If so, it’s only right to use this opportunity.
If it’s a villainess she wants, then that’s what she’ll get…
The Villainess Reverses the Hourglass (악녀는 모래시계를 되돌린다) is a webnovel, light novel series and webcomic written by Sansobee (산소비).
Born the only child of a poor prostitute, Aria lived a hard life until her mother married the Count Roscente as his second wife. Suddenly propelled to nobility, Aria quickly grew spoiled with her new luxurious lifestyle. For many years, she thoroughly enjoyed her new station in life, but gained a reputation among the local nobility as a beautiful, yet ill-tempered and vulgar, woman. At 24, Aria was accused of poisoning her own mother. Moments before her execution, Aria was approached by her stepsister Mielle Roscente, seemingly to argue for mercy. It was then that Mielle privately confessed to poisoning Aria’s mother and deliberately sullying Aria’s reputation for years, having hated her stepfamily since the very beginning. Shocked and enraged at this horrifying revelation, Aria saw hallucinations of an hourglass as her life came to an end…
Suddenly, Aria found herself having dinner with her family in the Roscente mansion, as though nothing had happened. Realizing that her soul was taken thirteen years into the past, Aria vows to ruin Mielle and the rest of the Roscente family for her unjust death. Having neglected her noble education during her first life, she now takes to learning with a newfound passion, quickly becoming skilled in ladies’ arts such as embroidery, music, courtly manners and conversation, as well as history, politics and literature. She also works to make friends, such as her tutor Sarah Loren (the future Marquess Vincent), and build her own social reputation in order to fight the preconceptions of her as a prostitute’s daughter and vicious rumors spread by Mielle. Aria also works to hijack Mielle’s relationship with her fiancé Oscar Frederick, just to make her stepsister squirm.
Having taken a new direction in life, Aria inevitably changes history as she knows it. As her reputation grows, Mielle’s hatred of her surfaces much sooner. As a result, Mielle secretly tries to harm or murder Aria several times, such as arranging a carriage accident and poisoning her tea. Unknown to Aria, the Crown Prince Franz Asher takes a growing interest in her after a chance meeting with her. Behind the scenes, the ambitious Isis Frederick plots to seize control of the royal family.
With a determination and passion fueled by vengeance, Aria is on the path to becoming the greatest villainess of all.
Aria Roscente, stepdaughter of Count Roscente through his second wife and Mielle’s elder stepsister. Neglected by her permissive mother during her early years, she was once spoiled and ill-mannered, but is now calculating, patient and vengeful. Learning from Mielle’s example, Aria cultivates the image of a kind, thoughtful noblewoman in contrast to the bad rumors about her. Disillusioned by the unjust end of her first life, Aria has hard time accepting genuine kindness from those who offer care and love without expecting anything in return. At the end of her first life, she somehow acquired a magical hourglass that gives her limited control over the flow of time, which enabled her to go back more than a decade before her death. After she has the hourglass repaired, Aria discovers that she can use it to turn back time by five minutes once per day whenever she flips it over.
Mielle Roscente, daughter of Count Roscente and Aria’s younger stepsister. Although known in the kingdom as a saint, she is actually a crafty manipulator who secretly disdains all commoners, especially her stepfamily. During Aria’s first life, Mielle tricked her stepsister by encouraging her worst traits and spreading bad rumors about her, while enhancing her own reputation as an innocent victim. In her second life, Aria is now quickly outshining her stepsister, resulting in the younger girl’s humiliation at times. With each disgrace and failure she suffers, big or small, Mielle loses a bit of her sanity and social standing, just as Aria intended.
Oscar Frederick, heir of the Frederick dukedom, Mielle’s fiancé and younger brother of Isis, the Crown Prince’s fiancée. Honest, sensitive and shy, he has a habit of being kind to those obviously in need. In an ironic twist, he is the polar opposite of his sister Isis, who is ambitious, cunning and utterly ruthless. As one of her plans to humiliate her stepsister, Aria has started to court Oscar’s favor despite actually having no romantic feelings for him whatsoever. Because of this, Oscar is torn between honoring his vows to Mielle and maintaining his supposedly platonic friendship with Aria.
Franz Asher, the kingdom’s Crown Prince. Decisive, meticulous and brave, he personally leads soldiers on special missions to protect his own kingdom. Prince Asher meets Aria several times throughout the story, but never reveals his identity to her. While Aria sees him as little more than an unwanted distraction, the prince becomes increasingly intrigued with her, having mistook her for Mielle at first. He later sends a representative, Rain Pino, to court the girl anonymously.
This story is an example in which one protects oneself by “playing the game” better than their enemies. When violence is out of the question, one can learn how to be ruthless and cunning in order to build up their defenses. If taken too far, such people become no different than those who have hurt them. Modern-day examples of such people are politicians and businesspeople in high positions that often start off idealistic and carefree, but learn hard lessons in people’s selfishness later in life.
One lesson in this story is how nothing should be taken at face value. Suddenly catapulted into the wealthy world of nobility, Aria learns too late how cutthroat, hypocritical and shallow a noble’s life could be. An example of this is Mielle herself, who liberally manipulates people while maintaining a good public image. Most of the courteous nobles in the story are rather shallow, easily taken in by rumors and sensitive to the slightest chance of social disgrace, such as the monetary value of compared gifts, appropriate clothes or one’s loss of temper.
Another lesson that Aria learned is how ruthlessly selfish people can be. Once concerned with only enjoying the comforts of nobility, she learned the harsh price of being at others’ mercy, especially that of her stepsister. Now determined to stand on her own two feet, Aria uses her new life to learn useful skills and knowledge and build her own circle of allies. In this way, she not only becomes useful to other nobles (making them less likely to want her dead), but she can carry her own weight if she needs to.
Sometimes, it’s necessary to learn from your enemies so that they don’t take advantage of you.