Volume Three: Challenge of the Substitute Earl
The story started with Mireille back in her hometown, Sangelway. That day, a bread competition between her and Roy was held to decide who will inherit her grandfather's bakery shop. The outcome was, Mireille's total defeat. She fell into despair when she was told by her grandfather that she has zero talent in making bread. The shocking truth left her speechless and she was left immobile that she didn't even hear what Roy was trying to say to her. Apparently, Roy likes her and tried to propose to her when Fred and Richard came into the shop. After greeting all the girls among the audience inside the shop, Fred, who heard the almost-proposal warned Roy saying he has to go through him first for permission before he can court Mireille. Obviously, it was Fred's way to get rid of the unwanted insects from Mireille. After he finished dealing with Roy, Fred informed his mother Julia and grandfather Daniel that he has come to bring Mireille again to Artemaris to celebrate their birthday together this year. Her mother readily agreed saying it will probably be good for Mireille after her defeat. Fred then ordered Richard to pick Mireille up who was crouching on the floor unmoving and they left the shop under the eyes of all the other people. Roy tried to stop him from taking Mireille away, but Fred hinted saying that Mireille was already taken, leaving Roy in despair this time.
After she arrived in Greenhilde, the capital city of Artemaris, Mireille holed up in her room for a whole week before she decided to start anew with her life. During the week, Edward was busy organizing the twins birthday and it was on the eighth day when he was discussing the matter with Fred that Mireille came out of her room. Her unspeakable appearance, the gaudy dress and intense make-up left both her father and brother speechless. She explained that she has decided to seal her bread-making forever, and as a start, she'll go to the palace to ask for forgiveness to people who had fallen vixtim to her poisonous bread before. Fred was thankful to god that he saw Mireille before she left the house for the palace and drag her away for a change of clothes and touch-up.
At first, she planned to go straight to White Lily Palace to meet the White Lily Knights for an apology but somehow, she ended up having a tea with Lydianne instead. According to Fred, Lydianne had been trying to invite her everyday after she heard that Mireille had arrived at Greenhilde. Lydianne, who knew about Mireille's defeat regarding the shop inheritance, consoled her and asked her to knit a shawl together. In Artemaris, there was a tradition where a girl will knit a shawl for their special someone using threads of the same color as the recipient's hair, and presented the shawl to that person on the Holy Birthday, while a guy will present his special girl with something of the same color as the girl's eyes. Lydianne was reluctant to knit the shawl but since Zeke threatened her that he'll run away from home if she didn't give him the shawl, she was left with no choice but to do it. Mireille said that she doesn't have any special person but somehow, Richard's face came into mind, and she accidentally blurted his name in front of Lydianne. In the end, it was decided that she will knit a brown colored shawl for Richard. Since both of them weren't good at knitting, Cecilia was invited to teach both of them how to knit. During the tea time, Lydianne accidentally said something about Richard being busy guarding Princess Marilusha which was new to Mireille's ears. On the other hand, Cecilia pretended not to hear anything regarding the matter.
Mireille was walking down the corridor with Princess Cecilia after they left Lydianne's palace when she picked up a diary. She accidentally read a part of what was written inside, which turned out to be Cecilia's written romance story. She was seen reading it by Cecilia resulting in her being taken away and confined in White Lily Palace. Unable to go home, the next morning, when she woke up in a room in the palace, Rose, Cecilia's lady-in-waiting came in to bring her water to wash her face. While she was getting ready, Rose started to complain about how haughty Princess Marilusha was, adding new information to Mireille. According to her, Prince Marilusha especially asked His Majesty for Richard to be her guard even though Richard is Cecilia's knight. The selfish Princess also seemed to hate Cecilia and even hinted that she is the real White Lily Princess. Rose wasn't able to continue complaining any further because Cecilia came into the room and said she has been invited for a tea with Lydianne and Marilusha. Mireille was forced to tag along for the tea because she was to be under Cecilia's surveillance 24 hours.
During the tea party, disguised as one of Cecilia's lady-in-waiting, Mireilly couldn't sit straight in her seat fearing that Richard who was guarding Marilusha will recognise her. From the conversation around the table, Mireille found out that Marilusha had come to Artemaris to ask for His Majesty's support for her to inherit Xiaran's leader post. 7 years ago, Artemaris neighbour country's soverign, the Grand Duke of Xiaran was killed in a conspiracy and the country fell into chaos. The power struggle to decide who will inherit the throne caused Xiaran's crown prince, Marilusha's older brother to go missing. Xiaran's Crown Prince and Marilusha were born from marriage between the previous Grand Duke and Artemaris' current king's older sister, which make them nephew and niece to His Majesty, and cousins to Mireille, Fred, Zeke and others. The previous Grand Duke, had 6 sons and 4 daughters, with Marilusha being the youngest. Marilusha's brother, who was then wasn't the eldest among the sons however sat in the Crown Prince position because their mother was the Grand Duchess of Xiaran by then. The current Grand Duke seat was held by the eldest son, who won the power fight by killing or exiling all the other siblings except for his sister born from the same mother. Marilusha was living in hiding until she heard that the current duke has fallen sick, and left with little time to live. However, since the Grand Duke doesn't have any heir, she decided to come forth and claim the throne for the sake of Xiaran by asking for her uncle's help to back her up. Mirelle almost cry hearing the story of how she lost her only blood related brother, thinking about her own situation when Fred was taken away to Artemaris when she was young before. While she was feeling sympathetic, on the other hand, Cecilia appeared to be in a bad mood with every second passed. Her mood worsen further with Marilusha's next word, asking Richard to come back to Xiaran with her after this since Richard was originally from Xiaran. Richard agreed to her request in front of Cecilia, earning him deadly stares from Mireille.
Two days after the tea party, Mireille tried to escape from Princess Cecilia surveillance to go and find Richard to scold and lecture him about the matter of him leaving Princess Cecilia behind and return to Xiaran. However, she was found out by Princess Cecilia but was saved when Cecilia misunderstood her actions of going to measure Richard's physique to knit the shawl. In the end, both of them went together to find Richard and found him walking in a corridor near the White Lily Knights salon. Since knitting the shawl for him was supposed to be a secret, Mireille secretly shadowed him but was cornered by Richard instead. At first, she planned to scold him about him leaving Artemaris but after she saw Richard's tired face, she ended up consoling him instead. She tried to pressed the matter regarding Princess Marilusha once more, but was stopped by Cecilia who was watching the whole encounter from behind a pillar nearby. Mireille was soon dragged away by Cecilia and returned to the White Lily Palace.
When they were back in White Lily Palace, Cecilia asked Mireille to help her investigate about Eleanor Darlton, Princess Marilusha's lady-in-waiting. Cecilia exlained that Eleanor probably her old acquintance, however since she wasn't so sure she wanted Mireille to investigate about it for her in secret. She didn't want her brothers and Fred to know, that's why she asked Mireille to do it instead. After Mireille agreed to her request, together they came out from the room where they were discussing about the matter to found out Fred and Wilfrid were outside arguing about the content of a romance novel. Encounter between Cecilia and Fred caused the usual occurance, so when Cecilia started throwing everything she could get hold of nearby, Mireille hurriedly took Wilfrid's hand beside her and retreated into the room she was in before. Inside the room, Wilfrid confessed that he had been thinking about her and Mireille started to apologized misunderstanding that it was a side effect from eating her bread before. During the conversation, the battle between Fred and Cecilia was over and when Fred opened the door to the room, he accidentally hit Prince Wilfrid back head with the door. Prince Wilfred was having a nose-bleed, and effect from being too close to Mireille when he was hit by the door so Mireille started to panic when she saw the blood. She wanted to called for a doctor but was stopped by Prince Wilfrid. On the other hand, Fred, who was watching the whole incident came to an understanding about Wilfrid peculiar behavior toward him recently.
The next day, Mireille visited the White Lily Knights salon to apologize for her mistake regarding the bread before. She sincerely apologized and was forgiven but when she tried to give them her home made biscuits, the knights started to doubt her intention again. However, after Hamil, a kind-hearted guy took a bite from the biscuit, they found out that Mireille has talent for biscuits but was forsaken by the god of bread. While the knights were enjoying her biscuits, Mireille asked Ceoras about Richard and when she found out that he was sleeping in a rest room, thinking it was a good chance to measure his size, she visited the room Richard was sleeping in. Inside the room, she accidentally knocked a jar on a stand table beside the pillow when she was measuring him causing Richard to wake up. However, Richard seemed to be half awake. He accidentally hugged Mireille and pulled her down with him as a hug pillow into the bed. Mireille tried to struggle out of his grasp when she thought his grip on her was loosen but only to have her hand caught by him again. During the struggle Mireille heard Richard murmured a girl name, 'Sara'.
Phantom Thief VS The Substitute Earl
Marilusha was waiting for Richard in her room that night when he came. She tried to drag him into her bedroom, but Richard managed to refuse her saying a knight can't enter the master's bedroom. In her outburst of anger, she order the maids to throw away the lily given by an earl before she went inside her room to take an ornament box containing Xiaran's Grand Duke family treasured necklace which she had promised to show him. After she left, the maids made a remark about her saying she hated lily considering lily is Xiaran national flower. After she came back, she showed Richard a necklace with blue jewels and observing the necklace, Richard reminiscence about his past.
Night time. Acting per Cecilia's request, Mireille was following Eleanor accompanied by one of Duke of Berhardt coachman, Johan. When Eleanor came down from her carriage around Greenhilde red light district, Louvern, she did the same and followed Eleanor by walk. However, when a purse snatcher bumped into her, she was distracted and lost Eleanor. Instead of searching for her target, being a kind-hearted citizen, Mireille helped the old man who has just been mugged after she heard that the stolen money was to buy a present for the old man's grandchild. Without wasting anytime, Mireille took off her shoes and started running after the mugger. She managed to get back the money after being helped by a guy called Heath. She seemed to know the guy from somewhere before but before she can ask any further, he disappeared from her sight.
Failed to found out which shop Eleanor visited that night, Mireille decided to wait on the roadside for Eleanor on her way back to the palace. She was following Eleanor's carriage by her own carriage when Eleanor came and asked for her help. Apparently, she was attacked by a thief called Lancelot. After she heard that, Mireille acted recklessly and went to check on Eleanor's carriage by herself. While she was inspecting Eleanor's carriage, Johan came and told her that this time, their carriage was attacked. When she asked Elenor if anything was stolen, Eleanor told her that the thief only asked her about the whereabout of 'Ocean Drop' and that nothing of hers was stolen. However, when Mireille found out her own parcel containing her shawl-in-making was taken, she just couldn't help but feeling enraged.
When she visited White Lily Knights salon that night, Zeke was there drinking by himself. Showing her determination to catch Lancelot, she asked Zeke to let her join the unexisted punitive squad to get her parcel back. Zeke asked her what happened and while concealing Eleanor's name, she told Zeke what happened, and that Lancelot was looking for 'Ocean Drop'. Zeke then told her that 'Ocean Drop' is one of Xiaran's previous Grand Duchess jewelery. The previous Grand Duchess had 3 set of tresured jewelery, a necklace called Ocean Drop, a pair of earings called Moon Tears, and a ring called Blue Lily. Marilusha has returned bringing with her Ocean Drop that's why the necklace existence was known to others. When Mireille didn't say anything more about the incident, Zeke changed the topic and said Richard is worrying about her that she is considering marrying Roy. While he was teasing Mireille, Richard came in to 'save' her from Zeke only to be avoided by Mireille like a plague.
After Mireille fled the salon, Zeke continued laughing and asked Richard what he had done this time. At first, Richard denied ever did anything to Mireille however recalling the behavior of the other knights when he woke up from his sleep the other day, he was forced to accept the fact that he might have done somethingto her after all. While he was thinking about what he should do, Zeke told her about Mireille being attacked by Lancelot while she was together with a lady.
Early next morning, Fred came to visit Mireille and asked her to change place so that she can go home to appease their crying father. Mireille agreed, and taking the chance, that night, she executed her plan to go and find Lancelot to get her parcel back. Disguising as Fred, from the information she acquired during the day, she managed to find Lancelot and while confronting him, Lancelot found out about her true gender. Lancelot was using weird techniques causing her dizziness but Cain who said he wasn't following her came in time to save her but Lancelot managed to get away. Following the incident, apparently she fainted and was brought back to the palace. When she opened her eyes, Richard was arguing with Cain and when he saw that she had regained her conciousness, he scolded her for being reckless causing her to have a fight with Richard. In the end, she stormed out of the room leaving Richard in regret.
Richard was having a meeting in a greenhouse with two other people called Ashwick and Leodore regarding Eleanor. Apparently, those two people had served the previous Xiaran Grand Duke family but both of them had no recollection regarding Leonore.
Continuing her investigation from the other day, Mireille was standing in front of a brothel in Louvern when the old guy she helped the other day called her. The old guy was actually Richard's grandfather, and he was tailing Richard with Rudy when he saw Mireille pacing in front of the shop. They found Richard talking with a girl and from their conbersation, apparently the girl's acquaintance has gone missing. Rudy made a ruckus when she saw Richard with the girl causing the three of them to be found out by Richard. Richard was soon dragged away by Rudy and Mireille was left with Baron Radford. From the conversation, Mireille found out that Richard has a sister but was forced to live separately because of some circumstances. Rudy was so protective of Richard because she was the one who picked Richard when he came to Artemaris injured 7 years ago. Edward also had taken care of Richard while he was in recuperation which change some of her opinion about her father. According to the Baron, even though they were grandfather and grandchild, they had never lived together because of his business and Richard always stayed at Moritz Castle, Duke of Berhardt house during holiday from school. He was enrolled in a school for noble under Edward's consideration. Mireille took the chance and asked if Richard's sister was called Sara but apparently she wasn't.
That night, after a whole busy day, Mireille went back to White Lily Palace to change clothes before continuing her way to White Rose Palace to investigate Eleanor. There, she accidentally saw Richard alone with Cecilia. Richard was checking Cecilia's temperature to see whether she had a fever but Mireille who saw the scene from behind misunderstood the situation as Richard kissing Cecilia. She quietly retreated from the room and while walking down the corridor, she met Heath. She found out that Heath was actually her old acquaintance from her hometown and while they were talking, she saw Richard came their way. Noticing Mireille's panicked expression, Heath pulled her into a bush nearby and stare at Richard when he passed by saying he resembles one of his old acquaintance.
In a room inside Zeke's Red Rose Palace where only special people were allowed to entered, Zeke, Richard and Fred were having a meeting regarding Lancelot. Seems like Lancelot had sent a letter saying he'll come for Princess Marilusha. Richard said to disclose the information from outsiders to avoid Mireille from poking her nose into the matter but unfortunately it was too late as the whole palace already knew about it. During the meeting, Zeke asked Richard who he'll save if both Cecilia and Mireille fell into the sea. Richard didn't aswer the question and left the room soon after saying he'll continue with his job.
After Richard left, Zeke asked Fred the same question and without hesitation, Fred said he'll save Cecilia first and come back for Mireille later because he believes Mireille will hang on until he came for her. Before they ended the meeting, Zeke ordered Fred not to let Cecilia fell into 'their' hand, and said he won't let Cecilia become Artemaris pawn because he made a promise with Ezelbert.
On the other hand, Mireille just found out about the news from Rose regarding Lancelot. Thinking that it was her chance to get back her parcel, she started planning on what to do that night. She didn't see Cecilia around at that time and according to Rose, Fred had moved her to another place for better safety ahead of that night's event.
The night when Lancelot would come came. Marilusha was in her room believing she was protected when Lancelot came. She called for help and Richard came. However, instead of dealing with Lancelot, Richard drew his sword against her demanding her to tell the truth. Actually, Marilusha was an imposter but since the necklace she brought with her was genuinely belong to the previous Grand Duchess, as it was presented by Artemaris King for his sister when she marries into Xiaran Grand Duke family, they went along with her deception. They knew she was a fake from the beginning because according to Richard he buried the real Marilusha himself. The fake Marilusha, who was actually a prostitute called Nina confessed that she was approached by a servant of a noblement hiring her to act as Marilusha to buy time until the real princess was found. The information about the real Mariluasha was told by Eleanor and as far as she knew, there were three other accomplices beside her. Lancelot, who was watching the whole encounter said he only came to kidnap Marilusha, so it doesn't matter if she was fake or not, according to his master's instruction. He tried to escape but was punched by Richard and was taken away soon after.
At the same time, a woman sneaked into a room where Cecilia had been moved into only to be ambushed by Fred. Fred thought that the woman was Eleanor, who would try to make a move on Cecilia while the others attention was on Lancelot but unfortunately, she wasn't. When Fred found out that the woman wasn't Eleanor, his subordinate came and informed him that Cecilia had gone missing. He thought Cecilia was meeting Eleanor and when he was about to go and find Cecilia, Cain's cat came bringing with it a message from Cain saying Eleanor had been caught as well. When he met up with Richard reporting Lancelot had been apprehended, Fred left to wonder where Cecilia had gone to and decided he would punished Cecilia when he found her for making him worry so much.
Mireille was taking a turn in a corridor when she heard voices of two people. At first she thought it was lovers rendevous but she found out that the voices belonged to Cecilia and Wilfrid. Apparently, Cecilia had asked for Wilfrid's help to sneak out from under Fred's eyes and come to the White Rose Palace to meet her 'friend'. When Wilfrid saw Mireille, he pushed her down, thinking it was Fred as Mireille was wearing Fred clothes for better movement. When he found out that she wasn't Fred, he immediately pulled back and said he'll go on a trip right now to clear his mind. Mireille was scolding Cecilia for being in such a place when Fred came from behind and scold both of them for being reckless instead. Fred told Cecilia that he'll bring Eleanor to her later if she wanted to talk to her and escorted both of them into a room nearby. He left both girls in the room after he told them to behave themselves and went out. After Fred left, Cecilia told Mireille that she wasn't trying to go and meet Eleanor but instead she was going to see Marilusha and steal her away before Lancelot. From Cecilia's story, apparently Eleanor had sent her a letter asking her to meet that night when the guards eyes were focused on Lancelot. Cecilia knew Eleanor was going to kill her using Lancelot as a bait.
In the middle of the conversation, they heard footsteps coming from outside and were hugging each other when Richard barged in into the room. He came into the room, calling 'Mari' and when Cecilia saw him, she naturally went to hug him. While hugging and patting Cecilia's head, Richard noticed Mireille was also in the room and asked her if she was injured. Mireille said she was fine, and she just can't help but to think that the relationship between the two who was still hugging if front of her was more than just a knight and a princess.
When Eleanor was brought into the room after that, she called Cecilia Mariluasha and accused Cecilia for tricking her that night. Apparently, Eleanor was one of Marilusha lady-in-waiting who used to take care of her in Ilzeon Villa long ago. Cecilia then said that Marilusha was dead 7 years ago and Eleanor's existance right now proved that she was the one who betrayed her before because all the other lady-in-waiting were killed that time. Before she was taken away, she said that she was doing it under the Grand Duke's order but was stopped from continuing any further by Cecilia. Mireille was going to ask Fred if the real Princess Marilusha is Princess Cecilia but Fred stopped her question and only wink at her.
The night of the Holy Birthday.
A grand party was held in the Duke of Berhardt Villa to celebrate Fred and Mireille's birthday. That day, Fred was missing from the morning and only came in the middle of the party bringing with him his mother, Julia. Aparently he was away to get Julia to come and celebrate their birthday together.
At the same time, in White Lily Palace, Richard was visiting Cecilia. Cecilia asked Richard what happened to Eleanor and Richard said His Majesty will make sure nothing will go wary for Cecilia. Cecilia also found out that Mireille is Fred's sister and asked Richard if he likes her. When Richard said yes, she drove him away saying he shouldn't be wasting his time with her and go to meet her right away or else she won't talk to him anymore. Before he left, Richard hand her 'Ocean Drop' the necklace. His Majesty said to give the necklace to Cecilia as it was her mother's keepsake.
Back to the mansion where the birthday party was going on, Fred and Mireille were talking on a balcony when they saw Richard walking down the lane toward the mansion. Mireille told Fred that she saw Richard kissing Cecilia but Fred only laughed it off saying it was impossible. Fred then told Mireille to go and ask Richard about the matter and called to him from the balcony telling him to stay still. After Mireille left, Fred stayed on the balcony until his maid came and said a guy is waiting at the gate to hand him over something directly. As a precaution, Fred asked his maid called Erza to bring him his sword and went out to meet the guy.
When Mireille came down to meet Richard, the first thing he said was to let him take responsibility for what he has done. His misunderstanding caused Mireille to go red, and when she said she only pillow-hugged her and called her Sara. Richard then told her Sara was his cousin, and she was already dead. After that, Richard gave her a pair of earing as her birthday gift. At first she refused the gift saying he should give it to a more suitable person but Richard urged her to accept it. Left with no other choice,she accepted it and confessed that she actually was knitting a shawl for him but the parcel containing the shawl-in-making was stolen by Lancelot. Hearing that, Richard said he should have given Lancelot another punch the other day. After he was done putting the earring on Mireille, Mireille said he should be going back to see Cecilia because the Holy Birthday was supposed to be a day for lovers. Richard cleared her misunderstanding regarding his relationship with Cecilia saying he was only measuring her temperature. The continue to 'flirt' until Mireille notice that her mother Julia was watching the whole thing from the balcony above.
In the mean time, Fred was off to the main gate to see the man. The man gave Fred the parcel, and tried to get close to him thinking he was a girl only the be striked down by Fred. He fled, and Fred ran after him with a bow. During the chase, he stumbled into Richard and Mireille and hug both of them saying he'll definitely revenge her. When Mireille got the parcel from Fred, she told him that the man was Lancelot and rushed to go after him only to be stopped by both Fred and Richard. Lancelot was supposed to be in jail right now and Fred said as he was on his way to the palace he'll go and check it out.
In the palace, Princess Cecilia was thinking that if everything goes well and Mireille marries Richard, he probably will stay in Artemaris. While contemplating the matter, Fred came and asked her for his birthday gift. At first, Cecilia pretended not to know what he was talking about but when he made a sad face she handed him the shawl. Seems like the same encounter also happened the previous years but this year, Fred actually gave her something back. He gave her his cuff button which is coincidentally the same color as Princess Cecilia's eyes.
Back with Richard and Mireille, after one hour explaining that there was nothing going on between him and Cecilia, Mireille finally came to an understanding. Richard asked if was it because she misunderstood about him and Cecilia that she was reluctant to receive the gift but Mireille said it was because she rarely got any present from a guy that she didn't know what to do. There was only one other time when she got a present from a boy before. The boy who was good at playing violin made a song just for her and specially come to visit her on her birthday to play the song. Because of that, she came to learn violin from him but the boy was in a wandering troupe and he was gone before she could learn it. Richard then said he can't help her with violin but he can teach her if she wanted to try piano. He said, it was his father's hobby and all his family member can play specific instrument. Mireille then asked him if he is still seeing his sister and Richard said he even saw her today but was driven away. Mireille said he can treat her as his sister's substitute but Richard said he never once thought of her as somebody else's subsitute. Richard confessed he couldn't afford to increase any more important things and Mireille will probably hate him because he was lying about a lot of things to her. Mireille assured him that she won't easily came to hate him. Richard hugged her until Mireille run into the house.
At the palace, Zeke was in a bad mood because his date with Lydianne was interrupted by a priest from Xiaran, Heath Sherwood. According to Heath, he was instructed to come at this time that night to give a letter to Zeke. Zeke then asked him if Earl Walter is holding grudge about him getting engage to another girl other that his sister Sara Walter. Heath said it wasn't true and Earl Walter was very happy with his engagement. After taking the letter from Heath, reading the contents, he asked Heath whether what was written inside was of Earl Walter's will or of Grand Duke's? Heath was playing poker at first but when Zeke told him about the content of the letter, he couldn't help but to break his expression. The letter said; Xiaran Grand Duke wishes to betroth to Mireille, daughter to Duke of Bernhardt.
Finally done with this chapter!!
A lot of hints were given in this volume regarding Richard's background. Can you guess who he really is? LOL
At Lydianne was actually proposed by Fred to marry Zeke! I just love the scene when the cousins having their meeting. Come to think of it, everyone was actually a family centered in Artemaris. Love them!!