I remember that he came a little earlier than the appointment time before. I rearranged my necklace and adjusted the hat I wore to block the sun.
Soon after, a carriage was coming from afar. However, it was a black carriage, not a carriage with a golden stripe. Bewildered, I took a step forward, narrowed my eyes, and checked the carriage again. No matter how I looked at it, it was like Sir Shubart’s carriage.
Just as expected, it was indeed Sir Shuabart’s carriage. The carriage door swung open as soon as the carriage stopped in front of me.
“Sir Shubart, what brings you here?”
“Bella, get in.”
“Yes?” I asked back at his urgent voice.
Sir Shubart had a firm expression on his face, unlike usual. Before I could even think something was wrong, Sir Shubart reached out and pulled my arm.
“Come on, Bella. We have to go.”
“What’s going on? I already said that I had to meet the second prince today. It was important.”
He urged me to join him no matter what.
“The plan went awry. You have to join Lucellai.”
“B-But… I will follow Sir Shubart as soon as I tell him, okay?”
“There’s no time. Get in!”
Sir Shubart acted hastily. No matter how much strength I used, it couldn’t be compared to Sir Shubart’s strength. I got into the carriage as if dragged by him.
However, perhaps because I climbed in a hurry, the necklace that Valery had given me snapped and fell to the floor. It fell so hard.
“W-Wait a minute!”
I hurriedly tried down again to pick up the necklace. But Sir Shubart didn’t let me go.
“Ah, wait! Wait a minute”
The carriage door slammed shut. I had to watch the carriage depart in vain, without even picking up the broken necklace on the ground. The carriage, which departed in a hurry, was moving away from the mansion instantly.
What the hell was happening?
For the first time, I bit my lips with intense frustration.
* * *
They had already made an appointment, and he went out early in the morning after seeing the morning sun, but the sun was already setting. Soon it would be dark. It was already past time for her to come, but she didn’t appear yet.
The appointment time had already passed several hours. Valery thought he might have seen the wrong date. But he had never made such a mistake. And since he had already sent the carriage, she would have known by looking at the carriage even if he messed up the date. Valery told her to take her time to prepare, but she wouldn’t be late until now.
Unfortunately, the bouquet he had prepared at best, had withered. He wanted to hand her the most beautiful flowers, but it seemed to be a failure. Valery wanted to throw away the bouquet and tried to prepare something else. Still, he couldn’t even throw it away and waited a little longer.
His straight shoulders were gradually losing strength.
Even when it was already dark, she didn’t show up. Her face, which he wanted to see again, came to his mind. There was no way she would be late like this.
“I will see if she’s okay.”
Valery didn’t return to the Imperial Palace but went to Blake’s mansion. Still not letting go of a bit of hope. If anything happened, he would be happy to help her. It didn’t matter how late it was. But her mansion was dark. Not even a single light had been lit.
Valery got out of his carriage. There was another carriage besides Valery’s carriage. It was the carriage he had sent to pick her up, waiting for her as it was empty from the first time it departed.
“Someone has seen the red-haired lady ride the Araindel family’s carriage in the morning.”
‘Blake was a member of the Ariandel family, so it wouldn’t be a big deal for her to ride Ariandel’s family carriage. It would be rather a relief, but…’
“…Your Highness, you must go back now.”
Joanne approached carefully.
Valery thought today would be his happiest day. But it seemed that he was the only one who thought of it. He never dreamed that it would be the first day he experienced frustration.
The bouquet he had prepared fell helplessly from his hand.
“Let’s go back.”
He, who had stood there silently, turned around. Soon after, all the carriages in front of her mansion left. In the empty space, there was only a bouquet of flowers that he had dropped.
* * *
The next day, Joanne handed him a necklace.
“It fell down?”
Last night, Valery asked Joanne to go to Blake’s mansion, and Joanne found the necklace fell there. Until morning, Blake Ariandel didn’t show up.
Valery looked down at the horribly broken necklace in his hand.
‘Did she throw it away, or it fell?’
He thought the answer was clear that it fell, but he couldn’t open his mouth easily, thinking what if she threw it away.
Valery just touched the broken necklace for a long time without saying a word.
When Joanne quickly denied it, Valery’s eyes sharpened. Joanne couldn’t stand it and opened his mouth again.
“Yesterday… she met with the first prince in the weekly exhibition.”
“With my brother?”
“Yes. I’m sorry for finding it out on my own. She had been kidnapped the other day, so this time I was trying to check…”
Joanne went on with his words. Valery, who would normally point it out, didn’t do that this time.
“Why did she meet my brother?”
“I’m not sure about that. I think… It was just a simple meeting. Shall we find out more?”
“No, it would be faster for me to ask my brother. Then, is there anything else?”
“Yes. Other than meeting her friend, I didn’t see anything special.”
With the glimmer of hope of making sure she was safe, Valery did investigation about Blake Ariandel. Even with his subordinates’ advice before, Valery never dreamed of investigating her, but he finally did that.
It was true that Delkian and Blake’s meeting was nerve-wracking, but it was an unproblematic meeting. It was good so far. However, the mansion where he picked her up was originally a mansion without an owner. He couldn’t find any trace of her. Even her name, which she told him, wasn’t her real name. The real owner of that name had already been out of the capital for a year and hadn’t returned. Her existence disappeared like smoke.
Valery has visited her mansion several times since then. He stopped walking in the hope of seeing her red or silver hair. If she was safe, he still couldn’t get rid of the feeling that he was abandoned by her, even though he would also be relieved.
She was the first woman he wanted to express his feelings to. Valery really meant it. He couldn’t understand why she had disappeared without saying a word.
Then he found out. The reason why he couldn’t find her. And what she was hiding.
* * *
I joined Sir Shubart’s carriage with my mother as if on the run. Without asking why, the carriage headed somewhere in a hurry. When I came to my senses, I was in a large villa with tight security.
Sir Shubart and my mother haven’t seen me since then. I felt like they left me in a safe place and went somewhere else, but it was frustrating that I couldn’t go out even one step from this mansion for several weeks.
It wasn’t until a few more days later that I found that I wasn’t in the Kashinev Empire. Although I was in a neighboring country, I didn’t know that we would cross the border.
This place was only a few days away from Kashinev Empire. Still, the Principality of Seserade, one of the roads to northern Liwendel, had a similar climate to the north Siseta where I used to live.
“You have to tell me what the hell is wrong.”
At first, I thought it had something to do with Marquis Raduke, but if it was like that, I would probably be in prison, not here.
Ian spoke out the door.
Soon after, I hurriedly asked Ian who came in.
“How did it go?”
“It was delivered. I think it will take some time because it has to cross the border.”
“That’s fine. All I need to do is get in touch with them.”
All the information was blocked and cut off in an instant, making it difficult to use Nina. Even if Iskar had power, their power was within the empire. It was possible to send someone, but it was over since our transaction had already been completed. Still, just in case, I sent Nina and Ian to the village to write a letter there. According to Ian, we had to wait a week or even a month to get the reply.
I couldn’t believe it took so long, even though this place was just neighboring the empire.