Chapter 11:

The Plan

Hated by the Evil Lady

The first thing Lucien saw when he opened the door was Giselle standing behind her desk glaring at him. It made him take a little step back—did he do something wrong?

But when he noticed her sighing in relief immediately after, he realized that she was just waiting for him to come.

He smiled at the thought.

Lucien walked over to Giselle's desk and gave her a bow as usual.

"Good morning, Your Highness," Lucien said. Giselle stood still for a moment before she nodded and sat back down.

They both stayed quiet for some time before someone knocked on the door to the office, prompting Lucien to turn towards his own desk.

While the other person was making their report to Giselle, Lucien decided to just focus on his own work.

Maybe, just maybe, Giselle wanted to pretend nothing happened yesterday. In that case, Lucien would happily comply.

After the guest left, silence once again enveloped Giselle's office. Lucien was unconsciously trying his best to not take a glance at Giselle.

"About yesterday…" Giselle said.

There goes Lucien's hope and dreams.

He turned his head to Giselle with a pale face. Giselle didn't seem to notice it, as her eyes were fixed on her desk.

What was she going to say again now?

"I know you probably find it hard to believe, so I've organized the details about this whole thing in this paper," Giselle said as she pushed a piece of paper forward. Lucien was reluctant, but he ended up standing up to make his way to her desk anyway.

He picked up the piece of paper and began to read it.

[ Culprit: Cheshire S. Nomal


- Kidnapping

- Human trafficking

- Felony murder


… - Disappeared a month before the ball

… - Disappeared two and a half weeks before the ball

Cecile J. Renand - Disappeared on the day of the ball, Day 29 Month 03 Year XX. Dead upon discovery ]

Lucien closed his eyes when he read that. He frowned as his head throbbed. Reading that sentence just made it feel all too real, all too possible. All too frightening.

The kidnapping date was certainly the date of the ball. It was supposed to be a ball to welcome the spring.

However, all of this information could easily be fabricated by Giselle. The other two commoner ladies on the list above Cecile had apparently disappeared since the past month. As the princess, Giselle would have been privy to such info.

That was what Lucien thought until he saw the name under Cecile's.

[ Alicia H. Mondia - Disappeared within 3 days before the ball ]

Lady Mondia… Cecile's biggest rival as well as the one she met just yesterday.

Lucien widened his eyes and blinked a few times in case his sight was deceiving him. No matter how many times he reread it, it still said Lady Mondia's name.

"This… Lady Mondia…" Lucien said as he looked up from the paper and properly looked Giselle in the eyes.

"Oh, yes. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure when exactly she is supposed to disappear. I contacted the Mondia estate this morning to schedule a pretext visit, but I have not gotten a word back yet," Giselle said.

She then explained to Lucien that she remem—no, 'saw' all of these details after he went home yesterday and that she hadn't been able to see anything more.

"Your Highness, my sister met Lady Mondia yesterday," Lucien finally said. "My sister was with Lord Nomal when she met Lady Mondia."

Giselle blinked in surprise. She then covered her mouth with her hand and casted her gaze downward, looking like she was deep in thought for a moment.

"...The news that we will get from the Mondia estate today should help us determine what we should do next," Giselle said.

Lucien stared at the paper in his hand with a complicated expression on his face. He wasn't sure yet. He still didn't know whether all of this was really necessary.

Right on time, someone knocked onto the door to Giselle's office. It was an attendant that Giselle had sent to the Mondia estate early this morning.

"Your Highness, I have returned," the attendant said with a bow.

"Good job. What about my request for a visit?" Giselle asked. The attendant looked reluctant and concerned for a second.

"About that… They might not be able to welcome you since Lady Mondia has apparently been missing since this morning…" the attendant said.

Lucien's eyes widened. He stole a glance at Giselle and their eyes met. Both of them knew exactly what that meant.

"The Marquess and Marchioness told me that it was not something for Your Highness to be worried about, but…" the attendant trailed off. He was being wary about the Princess's reaction, seemingly afraid that he wasn't able to complete his task as ordered.

Giselle turned her head towards Lucien and asked him, "What do you think?"

Her face, as usual, didn't betray any emotion. He wished she wouldn't throw this on him, but he guessed that meant that he could join her.

Lucien clenched his fist before he finally answered, "Let us go."

Everything happened so fast that day.

When they got to the Mondia residence, it was in a lot of chaos.

The Marquess and Marchioness were so upset they didn't notice Lucien was there with Giselle even though they had been acquainted with House Renand for a long time.

They told Giselle about all that happened. Lady Mondia apparently bid them good night before retreating to her room just as usual last night. She didn't show any unusual sign, yet they couldn't find her in her room the next morning.

The Marchioness kept wailing that it was her fault as a mother, while the usually-strict Marquess comforted her by her side despite looking worn out himself.

"I will bring your daughter back safe and sound. You have my word," Giselle said to the worried parents. The Marquess and Marchioness's problem wasn't solved yet, but they at least looked relieved to have Princess Giselle by their side.

She told them about her speculation that Cheshire Nomal was involved in all this. She brought out some papers that included a detailed investigation on him (Lucien widened his eyes at this) in front of the Marquess and Marchioness.

In it, it was said that Lord Nomal used to court four ladies at once. However, not a single one of them knew of the other ladies' existences. Three out of four ladies, including Lady Mondia, had been disappearing one by one. The first two disappearances weren't reported widely because they were commoners, and one of them used to be a maid in Nomal house.

The Marquess and Marchioness were enraged. Rightfully so. They thought that he was a good man. They had seen him escort their daughter back and even welcomed him in their house for a dinner. Above all, their daughter looked very happy with him.

The Marquess was about to stand up, looking ready to storm into the Nomal residence, when Giselle stopped him.

"Please calm down. Blowing this up at this stage will just give him the chance to slip out of our grasp," Giselle said. The Marquess still didn't look completely convinced.

"Moreover," she continued. "It will damage the Lady's reputation if this were to go out."

Only then did the Marquess loosened up a little. However, he still argued that their daughter's safety should be the priority.

"Do not worry, I have a plan that would crush his puny plan for sure and bring back your daughter at the same time," Giselle said with a smile that didn't reach her eyes. Seeing that, Lucien felt like he just saw an illusion of a snowstorm behind her.

Giselle then described her plan to the Marquess and Marchioness in detail. Right now, she was waiting for her investigator (the one who compiled the document on Nomal earlier) to come back with the location of the ladies. Once she got that, her plan would then be to catch him red-handed in location.

Giselle reassured them that their daughter would definitely not be harmed in the meantime. She told them about how Nomal's plan was to sell the highest quality 'goods', as much as it disgusted her to say it.

The Marquess and Marchioness then decided to trust Giselle on this. They had no other choice, their daughter's safety was at stake. They also didn't want Cheshire Nomal to get off easy.

On the way back to the Imperial Palace, Lucien asked Giselle about the investigation papers.

"May I have that? I think I might need it to convince my sister," he said while pointing at the papers. Giselle took a glance at it before nodding.

"Sure. The copies should already be in my office," she said while handing the papers to him.

Lucien skimmed through the thick pile of papers.

"When did Your Highness get this? I would have been convinced faster if you had shown this to me," Lucien said. Giselle then raised an eyebrow at him.

"I just got them when we were about to get on the carriage to the Mondia residence. It was happening right before your very eyes," Giselle said. She looked annoyed to be accused.

"Oh…" Lucien vaguely remembered a guy stopping Giselle from getting on the carriage for a moment this morning. Could it be then? In his defense, he was too stunned that time to even notice anything in his surroundings.

Giselle opened her mouth looking like she was about to say something, but then sighed and rolled her eyes before crossing her arms and leaning back on her seat. She looked kind of pissed, so maybe Lucien shouldn't say any more word.

He needed to focus on how to convince his sister to break up with this rat of a man, after all.