Volume 17: The Prenuptial's Trip of the Substitute Earl 2
Nerawareta Hanayome; The Targeted Bride
After enduring the long journey which includes evading the assassins, visiting the Mirelle’s hometown etc, Richard and Mireille finally arrived at Artemaris Royal Palace. As their objective coming to Artemaris was to celebrate Artemaris Crown Prince’s wedding, Mireille, as Xiaran’s Grand Duchess-to-be had to uphold her official position and stay at the palace as one of the royal guests. On the next day, after arriving at the palace, Mireille was abducted by the Red Rose Knights on her way to go and visit the White Lily Knights by Zeke’s order. Upon meeting the Crown Prince and his bride-to-be Lydianne, Mireille tried her best to keep her place and grace in check as one of Xiaran’s royal member but failed miserably when Zeke started teasing her like usual.
Zeke then demanded her to report everything happened between him and Richard on their way here, while exposing one or two of the couple’s sweet moments, thanks to his information network. Mireille didn’t have to wait long before she found out about the culprit who had been leaking the information to Zeke as the person himself turned up out of nowhere and joined Zeke in teasing Mireille. It was Fred, who had been in hiding after coming back to Artemaris. Because of some circumstances involving in him being as Mireille’s substitute in Xiaran, he hadn’t been able to appear in the public eye and had taken refuge temporarily at Zeke’s place. During their ‘talk’, Richard barged in and scolded Zeke for playing the bad joke in kidnapping Mireille. Because of the recent events involving assassins and kidnapper, obviously it Richard would be alarmed by Zeke’s way of inviting Mireille to meet him. Lydianne then asked for Richard’s forgiveness and explained that there was a reason for inviting Mireille. Entering the main talk, Zeke then asked Mireille to perform as one of the Rose Maiden during the wedding ceremony because the original person who was supposed to take up take post had fallen ill. As per Artemaris tradition, a Rose Maiden, which is basically a bridesmaid, whose task is to hold the hem of the bride’s wedding dress must be someone who would be married soon and currently Mireille was the only one who can accomplish the task. Actually, Sylfreiya also should be able to do the task but considering she her status as a sovereign, it wasn’t proper to ask her to be a Rose Maiden. On the other hand, while Mireille is to be the bride of a sovereign, she herself doesn’t govern over the country so there was no problem in asking her to be the Rose Maiden. She happily accepted the task and promised to do her best. After the talk about the Rose Maiden was done, Mireille, Lydianne and Fred moved to another room for a secret talk leaving only Zeke and Richard alone in the room. Zeke continued to pester Richard shoving a mountain of paper on his face demanding him to report everything happened between him and Mireille in Xiaran.
After leaving the Red Rose Palace, on their way to White Lily Palace, Mireille and Richard met one of Richard’s subordinate, Ashvick Arvin who has stayed in Artemaris to look out for Cecilia after Richard left for Xiaran. Richard asked him to come back to Xiaran with him after the celebration is over but he refused saying he’ll stay at Artemaris and continue to look after the princess and will return to Xiaran after Cecilia is safely married.
Upon her reunion with the White Lily Knights, she was greeted by the familiar scenery, the half-naked knights. During their happy banter, Mireille’s underlings, members of Xiaran’s Fifth Knight Platoon led by Teo came in and somehow rivalry born between the two party. However, friendship between the knights of the two country suddenly bloomed after they found out that both party had the same painful experience of being poisoned by Mireille’s bread.
In the mean time, informed beforehand of Fred’s visit, Cecilia prepared her heart to meet her dear prince. Filled with nervousness and longing in meeting Fred, Fred’s usual teasing failed to anger Cecilia which in turn caused Fred to fell into despair after Cecilia fled the room blushing after saying a few words welcoming him back to Artemaris.
Fred’s earlier visit to Cecilia Palace was actually to give her an invitation letter to a tea party from Lydianne. The party participants, Lydianne, Mireille, Sylfreiya and Cecilia were then joined by Richard halfway and with a cheap acting, leaving only Richard and Cecilia, the other three left the two alone for their long-awaited siblings reunion. It turned out that Mireille had requested for Lydianne’s cooperation the other day to bring the two together. Cecilia, being kept in the dark of the plan was left in shock after Mireille, Lydianne and Sylfreiya left leaving her with her dear real brother. At first, she was hesitant but calling out all of her courage, she asked Richard to allow her to call him Onii-sama and cried her heart out embraced by Richard when he agreed.
On the other hand, the three brides-to-be were enjoying themselves in another room discussing about their dilemma. Sylfreiya with her rivalry with her fiance, Cain’s cats, Mireille, trying her best not to embarrass Richard, and shouldering the most heavy problem at the moment Lydianne talked about her concerns regarding Gael, whom without a doubt will definitely try to target her again. With the ceremony just around the corner, she didn’t want to drag the problem any further and caused Zeke to worry about her again. The wedding ceremony had been postponed once before because of her so obviously she would want to avoid the worst case scenario from repeating itself again. Mireille then consoled her saying she’ll do what she can to help her as well, and not to worry too much because she believes Fred will definitely take care of the matter before it got any worse. She cheered up and said she believes in Fred as well.
Night came and the reception party started. Escorted by Richard, Mireille made her grand debut during the ball as the fiancee of Xiaran Grand Duke, Ezelbert. During the ball, Mireille was greeted by a lot of royalty and noble. In the middle of the reception party, Mireille saw a glimpse of the boy who helped her and Richard on their way to Artemaris before and took a temporary leave from the party to go and find Richard to inform him about it. She found out that Richard was talking with Fidelio, his cousin on his father side. However, she couldn’t tell Richard about the matter regarding their saviour as she was asked to return to the party first and he would hear what she wanted to say later. Fidelio, misunderstanding Richard’s dismissal of Mireille made a remark about how Richard was treating Mireille coldly, unknowing that him that Richard only wanted to keep him away from Mireille as far as possible because of the incident from before.
Richard was asking Fidelio about what he was doing in Rizeland before after they were separated from the main party during their trip from Xiaran before Mireille found them on the balcony. Fidelio explained he was visiting the grave of his mother and further explained that it won’t be easy for him now to go back at Rizeland again if not for a special circumstance. Richard accepted his explanation and dropped the matter altogether.
Far from where the reception party was held, in White Lily Palace, Cecilia happily enjoyed the night chatting with Elmiana as both of them have the same hobby and taste in reading the books. During their talk, Elmiana said that she was dating Fred for a while in Xiaran, which left Cecilia in shock. However, she further explained that they were just playing prince and princess for a limited time only and almost blurted out to Cecilia about Fred big secret of him having a fiancee in Artemaris. She managed to cover that up and said that she found out another prince and asked for Cecilia help to find the person. She explained about the person’s features and how she met him to Cecilia in which Cecilia had no trouble at all guessing about who was that person. It was Artemaris second prince, Wilfred. Wilfred was acting as the Earl of Bernhardt during his stay in Xiaran which made Cecilia hesitant whether to reveal about the person Elmiana was searching for because of the delicate situation regarding the matter. However, Elmiana being a very understanding person said she didn’t have to tell her about who he is and only asked Cecilia to help her contacting him. Moved by Elmiana’s decision, Cecilia accidentally called Elmiana Onee-sama during their talk and started to panic because the truth about their true relationship as siblings was supposed to be a secret. Elmiana however didn’t mind about her mistake and even suggested that they formed an oath to be sisters.
The next morning, Mireille woke up early only to be greeted by a new problem. The Blue Jewel which will be needed during the ceremony to formally form an alliance between Artemaris and Xiaran was stolen. Because the jewel was kept under one of Richard close aide, Earl Feathal’s wife, Mireille decided to solve the matter herself, with help from Roxion, Angelica and Relcinsca to prevent Richard from having to punish his trusted aide himself. Considering Richard’s current situation in Xiaran government, there was only a handful of people that he can trust and Earl Feathal being one of those people. If she reported the matter to him, Richard will surely have to take some unfavorable action toward the earl which will result in him losing a trusted subordinate. Using Relcinsca secret technique, they managed to find out that Lady Sophie, Earl Feathal’s wife was put to sleep by a drug and the key to the jewel’s safety was stolen when she had fallen asleep. Furthering the investigation, Relcinsca managed to find out about the person responsible, a man with a big scar on the face.
In order to carry out her plan to search for the missing jewel without raising Richard’s suspicion, Mireille asked Cecilia to lend her a room at the White Lily Palace. Changing her attire into that of a lady-in-waiting and wearing a wig and glasses, Mireille walked around into another palaces to search for the scarred man accompanied by Angelica. However, during her infiltration mission, she was discovered by Fred, who was crossdressing and also appeared to be looking for something. Mireille was forced to reveal the matter about the missing jewel to Fred and begged him not to tell a word about it to Richard. Fred reluctantly agreed to her request, while leaving her an advise to think about her position more clearly.
Mireille’s busy days continued in between her attending the rehearsal for Rose Maiden and searching for the scarred man. During that time, noticing that she had been frequenting the White Lily Palace everyday, Richard asked her about what she had been doing there and asked her to join the activity as well. She was saved from being exposed with Jackson’s appearance, bearing news that both Mireille’s mother and grandfather had safely arrived the Duke of Bernhardt Villa in Artemaris. Cain, who accidentally saw her in disguise the other day also almost expose her in front of Richard but she managed to seal his lips about the matter in the nick of time.
The next day, Richard who had promised to play piano with Cecilia the other day headed to White Lily Palace escorted by a few other people. On his way there, he was surprised to see Mireille crossing the garden near the palace together with Fidelio. Mireille was actually invited by Fidelio to go to a bazaar held at the Blue Rose palace. At the bazaar, Mireille got an incense from one of the merchant. It was revealed that some bad guys was hiding among the merchants at the bazaar and Mireille getting that incense was a part of another grand plan which will unfold soon.
That night, Mireille was once again prepared to go to White Lily Palace and continue her investigation when Richard suddenly visited her. Straight to the point, Richard asked her what she had been doing by going to the White Lily Palace everyday but Mireille stubbornly kept her silence about the matter. Failed to found out about what she was hiding, Richard dropped the matter and left the room.
After the incident with Richard, Mireille started to doubt about her actions. She was thinking about the matter when a man with a scar on his face showed up in front of her. Mireille, Angelica together with Roxion and Relcinsca who had been hiding nearby almost attack the man before they found out that he was actually Fred’s subordinate. The man, claimed to be Yusis’ comrade brought Mireille a message from Fred telling her to hide herself and lend him her clothes. She asked the man about how did he manage to find her because she was disguising herself and the man told her it was Fred’s instruction to find Angelica first because Angelica won’t be in disguise. Deciding that the man was to be trusted, Mireille readily agreed to stay hidden and told the man where she had left the clothes she was wearing before disguising herself. The man then asked them why they almost attack him when they saw him. After explaining that they were searching for a scarred man, Fred’s subordinate then said if that was the case, then he had seen someone with a scar on the face in the palace the other day.
On the other hand, in Waterlily Palace, Lydianne was waiting for Fred after reading a letter she received from him earlier. When her lady-in-waiting announced that the Duke of Bernhardt’s young lady had come, she cleared away the area and asked Fred, who was disguising as Mireille about the matter written in the letter. It turned out that Fred had asked her to act a bait to draw Gael whom he sure was hiding somewhere in the palace at the moment and solve the problem for once and all. Lydianne agreed to the plan and keep the matter among themselves while excluding Zeke’s involvement in the matter. If Mireille appeared to be together with Lydianne in a place with loose guard, one way or another Gael would definitely show himself up and fall into the trap. Acting the part, both of them headed toward a cleared area and stand there appearing to be talking to one another. At that time, two unexpected guests came, and they found out that the enemy had taken one step ahead of them. The guests were Cecilia and Elmiana, coming into a room which supposed to be cleared away led by an enemy disguised as one of Lydianne’s lady-in-waiting. Gael also showed himself, and the four was sealed inside the room. Fred’s quick decision managed to let Lydianne and Elmiana escaped from the room, however Cecilia was stuck with him inside. It appeared that Gael had managed to get himself a forbidden weapon, a gun so he had to be extra careful as to not let Cecilia getting injured. When Cecilia almost being shot by Gael, he jumped in front of her and was shot instead. However, as Fred is in fact a brilliant tactician, with a few acting, Gael was caught in his trap and finally was arrested for sure.
At the same time, in one of White Rose Palace’s separate building where Xiaran’s party was staying, Richard was in a meeting with a merchant regarding Xiaran royal family heirloom, a ring named Blue Lily. Upon inspecting the ring, Richard noticed that there was some black spot on the ring inner part and asked the merchant about it. The merchant claimed that as the ring belonged to the previous Grand Duchess, it wasn’t in his place to touch the item so it was left as it is. Urging Richard to take time and take a better look at the ring, the merchant wonder in the room and found a book that Richard was reading left on a table . After confirming that Richard’s attention was still fixed on the ring, he sneakily took a bottle out of his pocket and was ready to do something when an unexpected person barged in from the window. It was Mireille, who was walking outside and clearly saw what the man was about to do. Apparently, the merchant also was the same scarred man she was looking for. After she jumped into the room from the window, the scarred merchant almost poisoned Richard with the content inside the bottle however he was one step late as Richard was already in the defend position thanks to Mireille. The man was arrested in no time when the knights came. The man then was taken away after he spout out nonsense saying he was working to return the grand duke position to it’s rightful owner, and that Richard’s father had taken usurped the position during his time before. Apparently, Richard’s father had succeed the position as the Grand Duke despite him having an older brother during the previous reign. The older brother, which was Fidelio’s father appeared to have a weak body and that was the reason as to why it was Richard’s father who had succeeded the position as the Grand Duke before.
Mireille lost conciousness soon after the man was taken away. After the incident, surrounded by his aides in an office, Richard was hearing a report from Jackson regarding the missing weapons from Xiaran found in Artemaris. As if waiting for the right time to come in, a doctor came in to give him a report about Mireille. As it was a secret that Mireille was the woman who had jumped from the window, using the long journey as an excuse, Richard had ordered a doctor to take a look at Mireille after she fainted. Surprisingly, Mireille only fainted because she had a cold.
After finishing his duty with a speed of light, Richard headed toward Mireille’s room with an intention to nurse her back to health. He had heard everything from Roxion about the missing jewel after Mireille had collapsed and found out that Mireille was reflecting herself about her actions when he entered her room. After having lovers sweet talk, the matter regarding the missing jewel was solved. Richard said, he had ordered the Earl Feathal to search for a similar jewel in case the original one wasn’t found in time and if he manage to do so, his wife’s mistake will be pardoned. He said, he must be fair, but to keep everything, he can’t afford but to be cunning as well. He also said that Mireille’s action had won her absolute loyalty from the Earl Feathal and his wife so not everything she had been doing was a waste of time.
The Crown Prince’s wedding day.
Zeke and Lydianne finally safely joined in matrimony. As the next maiden to be married, Mireille received the bride rose bouquet from Lydianne and happily imagine about her own wedding with Richard. After that, during the celebration feast, Mireille sneaked out of the banquet to go and find his brother, Fred. She was thinking to console Fred because she knew that her brother was in love with Lydianne. However, Richard came and stopped her saying she should leave him alone today. Mireille was surprised to found out that Richard also knew about the fact that Fred loved Lydianne because she was so sure that she was the only one who noticed it. Cancelling the plan, she decided to talk a breather and walked through the garden outside the party revenue together with Richard.
Up from a terrace, Fidelio was watching the whole interaction between the couple with a serious face. He actually thought Mireille and Richard were actually forced into the engagement but judging from the couple’s face, it must have been a misunderstanding. The mystery regarding Richard’s attachment to a guy named Michelle also was cleared when he found out that the woman who jumped and saved Richard the other day was actually Michelle. To cover the whole incident regarding the missing jewel and the disguised Mireille, Richard had explained to the knights who had come in after the merchant incident that the woman was his spy doing some undercover work. While contemplating the whole thing, a man suddenly came and introduced himself as an accomplice to Andrew, Earl Walter. After handing Fidelio a bottle or perfumed oiled and giving him a message from the man he soon went away. Left by himself, he continue thinking about what the man had said. The man told him about the hypnosis done on Mireille when she was caught by Oswald, and explained that even though Mireille and Richard thought that the hypnosis was broken, the truth was it was just sleeping deep inside Mireille. With the oil and the incense Mireille got the other day, the effect should be back and Mireille would lost her memory about Richard again. While thinking about what to do with the small bottle, he was again interrupted by a boy who turned out to be his younger brother. Commenting about the conversation between Fidelio and the man from before, he made a remark saying it was worst of him trying to take away the memory from his own cousin’s fiancee. After that, straight to the point, he said that their mother wanted to meet him.
End of the volume.
Seems like this series still have a lot of space for development and I won’t have to worry about the series ending soon. Too bad the same can’t be said about Hakuyou though. It was obvious that Fidelio involved with the conspiracy as well. But I couldn’t decide whether he is the devil or angel. It was hinted in the novel that he has feelings for Mireille. And his mother is supposed to be dead! Hmmm… The never ending conspiracy!