Chapter 20

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So Lord Valentine knows where we are all along? Of course, it’s Lord Valentine. He can predict the future. There is nothing he can’t do. 

He doesn’t seem angry at me. What does he mean when he said ‘Are you still angry with me’? He should be the one angry with me! I stole his potion. I betrayed his trust. I ran away without a word!

My head starts to ache. It has been awhile. The same throbbing pain I felt when the mysterious woman in red heels first appeared. Although the intensity is less intense. 

I should get onto work. Lord Valentine even gave me a hint. I need to go to Cathedral Avenue.

It turns out the Avenue is just on the street next to the cafe. It’s a street fills with shops selling luxurious products, quite contradictory to the Avenue’s name if you ask me. The old ladies Caroline saved from the thieves were nobles of Zehan. So I can probably find that lady in one of these shops, but which one? 

There are at least 50 shops on this Avenue, each one as dazzling and opulent as the next one. It’s time I use my divination skills. I cannot foresee the future like Lord Valentine. That’s on another level, but I can divine by using cards. I can predict tiny events. Finding an old lady among the fifty something shops is something I can do with my training. 

First I need to find somewhere safe and quiet. I believe this is a world where every human has a superpower or two. But for some reason, Zehan especially, even though people have their own superpowers, they are extremely frightened of witches. Cordelia has been accused of being one for several times in the novel which puts her in extremely dangerous situations. So what separates the power of witches from their normal superpowers? The ability to perform spells or not if I remember correctly. So I have to be careful. 

I stand in a silent nook around the corner of a shop that sells really pretty leather shoes and take out my cards from my bag. I fan them out. This set of cards is an antique. The cards look old yet well preserved. Lord Valentine dug it out from his treasure room. 

I close my eyes and focus my attention on the cards. I have been informed that my pearly eyes become even brighter when I try to divine the future. I select two cards and flip them over. I take a look at the images, I get my answer. 

The shop I am aiming for is just across the street. I have been hiding behind a carriage across it for sometime after I have divined out the exact location. My divination is correct, the lady Cordelia saved is just sitting inside the shop taking a sip of tea from the teacup in her hand. The problem is the shop is really exclusive. Several people who wished to go in have already been turned down. They are dressed quite decently, but apparently not up to the standard.  

I quietly observe the qualities of the ladies being admitted into the shop have. Perfect hair with not less than five jewels inserted into their hairdo in some way. Check. I have unlimited supply of pearls. Dress in fashion. Check. Disguise spell has been performed in a secret corner. The bearing of a highborn noble. 

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You can do it, Ianthe. You have dined with the King and the Queen of the underwater kingdom (as Lord Valentine) for several times. You’ll be fine. Just pretend to be Lord Valentine and Princess Cordelia. 

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After taking a huge breath, I begin to walk towards the store front. Looking as arrogant as I can. I give the valet a look of disdain (one that Cordelia gives me ever so often) and the valet immediately opens the glass door. I saunter into a shop with dozen of dazzling and shiny…masks. 

I thought it was a jewelry shop when I was peeping across the street. I am sure I saw diamonds sparkling under the sunlight through the windows, so I just assumed it to be a shop selling luxurious jewels. Turns out it is a shop selling luxurious masks. Masks studded with all kind of precious stones. 

Once I entered the store, I was immediately ushered to a seat next to a glass display box filled with stunning and sparkling masks. My target is at the next display box. 

“We dare say our shop produce the best mask in all of Zehan. I promise you will not regret choosing our shop for the mask for the upcoming Masquerade Ball, Lady…”  A man with a mustache says in an overly booming voice under the tiny amplification spell I put on him. The man coughs embarrassingly immediately, definitely confused with his sudden large and booming voice. His voice attracts the attention of nearly everyone in the room.

That’s what I want. I hope the lady Cordelia saved recognizes me. Please do. 

“Oh!” my target gasps in surprise. “Aren’t you with the lady who saved Margaret and I on the road next to Lindin Sea?”

Lindin Sea was where we climbed out after a few hours of swimming. 

I fake a look of surprise. “Why yes! I can’t believe we meet again! What fate! How are you, my lady?” 

“I knew it’s you! Just from the pearls. I will never forget those pearls. Such pearls! They’re definitely pearls of the first rate,” she nods appreciatively. 

Seems like this batch of pearls is better than the ones I gave Madam Crab. 

“Thank you.” 

Now I just have to shift her attention to the ball.

“Are you going to the Masquerade Ball too, young lady?” the old lady asks.

“Why yes! Are you going there too? Then Cordelia and I won’t be alone!” I smile. I don’t even have to bring up the topic myself!

“Are you two new to Zehan?”

“Yes, my cousin and I just arrived in Zehan. Our grandaunt is living here. The ball is just two days away, I’m so excited!” I clap my hands to feign excitement.

“No dearie, it’s four days away. See how excited you are, you even mix up the date of the event.” The old lady laughs good-naturedly.  

“No, I am sure it’s on the day after the next!” I insist stubbornly. It’s actually four days away. 

“Oh, dearie. I am sure I am correct. My own granddaughter is as excited as you and keeps mentioning it. Wait. I think I have my invitation card with me.” 

She takes out a cream yellow invitation card. The words are golden in color, as expected of the royal family of Zehan. I bet the words are written with real gold. She points out the date to me. It’s my time to pretend to be thankful. I have given the card a thorough look. Luckily it’s just a simple card, nothing too intricate. 

We say our goodbyes and I leave the shop as soon as I can. That’s when I see a shocking scene unfolding in front of me. 

Cordelia is slapping a guy on the face. 

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