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Castell stood before me and said with a laid-back smile on his face: “Your majesty, what did you call me for? If you were intending to invite me to your victory celebration banquet, please allow me to pass on it. I cannot attend such an event as the food and drinks at banquets are not suitable for one with a heart condition like myself. I have had some warm milk and was preparing to turn in, but your guards called me out when I was having my second smoke.”
I called for him out of the blue, but he’s still dressed very adequately nonetheless. He said he was about to turn in, when to the contrary, he looks completely awake and full of energy. Of course, I wouldn’t have woken him up in the middle of the night for nothing. If I wanted to thank him for his suggestion, I would’ve rewarded him tomorrow.
I pointed to the Earth Dragon head on my table and said: “Greetings, Mr Castell. I wouldn’t have disturbed your rest if I didn’t have an important matter to discuss with you, however, as a human, I suspect you would know about the small problem I’ve just discovered.”
I had an Earth Dragon head placed on the table. There were blood marks on it from where the head was cut off. The veins and tissue were visible. Castell frowned as though he didn’t want to approach the stinky and blood-tainted head. To be honest, I don’t want to get close to it either, but I made an unbelievable discovery from when I fell into the corpse with Lucia.
Castell walked up to me, removed his glove, touched the head and asked with a smile: “What is it that you would like for me to see? If you would like to celebrate your victory in my presence, then I would be very honoured. Would you happen to have any fine wine, your majesty?”
“No, if I wanted to brag to you, I’d treat you to our finest wine. However, I’m quite unhappy at the moment. As a matter of fact, I’m actually in a very bad mood. You should know that one should be at peace when trying to sleep, so I’d like for you to help me get rid of this oppressive feeling.”
I tapped the head, looked at Castell, stopped smiling and said: “Please take a look inside the Earth Dragon’s nose…”
“Your majesty, I am a human, so my eyesight is not as good as yours at night. Further, this green light is very dim to me. May I ask what it is you would like me to see?”
Castell didn’t bow to me. He looked at me with his unchanging smile. I wore my anger like a coat, but he maintained his demeanour.
I pointed at the head and shouted: “Lucia!”
Lucia appeared swiftly with her dagger on her. She neatly sliced the Earth Dragon’s nose off to reveal the inside of its nose. A disgusting gooey liquid oozed out like human booger. Castell frowned at what he saw and asked: “May I ask if you are trying to make a fool out of me?”
“No. Look carefully Castell. I want you to see what it is. Look here. Look at this. What’s this? This is a mark left behind from a nose piercing.”
I used a wooden stick to swipe up some of the mucus, and then pointed to a small hole and said: “Don’t tell me you can’t see it. This is a nose piercing you’d use on cattle. This is used to tame and control them. Now that you’ve seen this, you know what I’m trying to get at, right? If you still don’t get what I’m trying to say, then let me show you something.”
I didn’t give Castell a chance to speak. Instead, I swiped up a small amount of the mucus with a small wooden stick, looked at Castell and said: “I won’t ask you anymore. This mucuous stuff was secreted from the Earth Dragon King’s body. His body secreted this mucus, and then he rolled around in what’s called “Bull-head Flowers”. The combination of the juice from the flowers and the mucus here create a scent which brings the Earth Dragons together. I discovered large amounts of this mucus in their nose. It also just so happens to be that at the plain to the West of the capital is a large field of Bull-head Flowers. It’s no wonder I felt it smelt similar. I came across the smell when I passed through those plains on my way back. There I saw a massive amount of Bull-head Flowers.
I placed the stick down, kept my eyes still trained on Castell as I smacked the table hard and then snapped at him: “Who else but you humans could tame Earth Dragons and stuff this mucus into their noses?! You humans knew that to our city’s west was a large number of Bull-headed flowers, which was why you people deliberately forced the dragons there. What they ended up breathing in was that scent the Earth Dragon King was exuding, which attracted them to him. That’s why they all came here. It wasn’t because of their habitat being destroyed; it was your scheme! The last war ended ten years ago, and you people still want to instigate another war?!”
The room fell into a silence as Castell analysed everything in front of him. He then smiled again and said: “Please calm down, your majesty. As you know, I am just an envoy. Back home, I am just another insignificant official. If this was her majesty’s idea, then I would not even know of it. If I knew, I would not have given you any advice to mess up her majesty’s plans, right? And please do not worry. As long as you are alive, and as long as you uphold the agreement, war will not break out between our two countries.”
“How do you explain this then? Shall I personally report this to her majesty?”
I sat in front of him and crossed one leg over the other. I glared at him out of the corner of my eyes and coldly said: “I believe you’re aware that I’m a prince over there as well. I have the power to order an investigation into this matter. This is a serious matter that could ignite a war. This is a plot you humans set up to destroy our elf capital! If I hadn’t discovered this mucus by chance, I’d still be in the dark!”
“Please allow me to apologise, your majesty. I believe this was not her majesty’s idea because you are here. She would not want to start a war and certainly would not employ such a dangerous method with you here. If you could discover it by chance, would her highness not also notice it? Given these circumstances, I firmly believe it was not her majesty’s idea. You will soon be our prince. And when you do become our prince, you can investigate the matter as you will… But you should keep in mind that since somebody did this, they are trying to instigate a war… Surely you understand humanity.”
He paused for a moment before scanning his surroundings with a devilish smile, and said: “Humans never have moments where they interact peacefully with one another. When her majesty was trying to conquer the world, they were loyal as they shared the same goal. But now that the rulers have been determined, everybody has their own ends they wish to pursue. Generals still thirst for battle, merchants are thinking of ways to make more money and government officials are trying to curry favour with her majesty. Elves just want simple things. All they ask for is a free and simple life. However, humanity asks for too much, and their desires breed selfishness. In turn, their selfishness leads to them scheming. People with similar thoughts band together to find means to advance towards their goals. Some for money, some for power, and some for war.”
I paused before continuing: “Why would someone thirst for war? Wasn’t that war ten years ago enough for them?”
“It’s precisely because of the tragic war ten years ago that they thirst for war.”
Castell smiled and looked at me as he said: “You may not share the feeling, but you should know that the men who died in battle ten years ago, died for your sake. Your two mothers did not hesitate to send hundreds of thousands of men to battle to prove their love for you and their status as your mother. The war ten years ago was very tragic. Both humanity and elves suffered great losses. We lost three battalions, while your people nearly lost their capital. That was the first war our empire did not win. The war also orphaned many children and widowed many wives. People want to achieve another meteoric rise through war, other less fortunate people want revenge, while soldiers want to fight for their country. Those people want war.”
“So what you’re saying is somebody is pulling the strings behind the scenes of this incident?”
I was stunned, but couldn’t retort since I’m human, and was human. I knew the truth behind Castell’s words. That’s human nature. Humans have always lusted for war regardless of the era. War is a dangerous game, but victory promised many benefits.
Castell shook his head and said: “Your majesty, please do not get me in trouble. When you return and investigate this matter, please do not mention me. I serve her majesty out of admiration and have no ulterior motives. If her majesty wishes to wage war, then let there be war. But she does not wish for war, then I think you understand that will inevitably be those who wish to instigate war. I hope you understand this point and avoid getting angry too easily. Furthermore, if you try to investigate this matter upon returning, it will be fruitless. You may be the prince, but unlike here, you will not be given as much power and rights. Humanity does not dedicate their loyalty to you.”
“You people want war? Fine, bring it. We’ve defeated you once, so naturally we have a chance of defeating you a second time. We have his highness, her highness and a highly-trained army. You people may scheme as you please. Do you think we elves don’t feel anger?!”
Lucia was virtually ready to behead Castell.
She stabbed her dagger through the table and shouted: “You people invaded our land ten years ago. Why can’t you humans just keep to yourselves? You humans invade and destroy everything in every direction. When will you all go extinct?! That would be a blessing for the world! If you people want war, then bring it on! I’ll be sure to separate your queen’s head from her body this time!”
“Please do not get angry, miss. As I mentioned, this is not her majesty’s idea. She has never intended to continue the war because her son is with you. So I ask that you please do not curse her majesty. Moreover, last time, you were almost completely defeated. You barely managed to survive. You did not win. There was no victor last time. I believe his majesty will not act impulsively either, correct, your highness?”
Castell did not back down, and retorted everything Lucia said. For a scholar like himself to face off against Lucia who was fully equipped and not be fazed… He truly is talented.
I nodded as I sat silently in my chair deep in thought. Castell was right. The war ten years ago left the elves with a lot of implications. Both rulers want to avoid another war. But for some, every war was a chance for them to be promoted and benefit. I’ve been too carefree here with the elves. Palaces shouldn’t ever have such a harmonious atmosphere. Their political battles would be much more intense. The elves are simple and pure, and wholeheartedly serve their queen. But as a human, I understand the way humans think.
But I forgot.
Money makes the world turn.
Humans will start pursuing selfish goals once they’re freed from the shackles of potential enemies in their surroundings. They’re always pursuing money and power. I wonder what sorts of battles will take place with humanity. But one thing is for sure. It won’t be as harmonious as it is here with the elves. The power balance is extremely important to humans. As someone who moves between the two countries, I definitely don’t have any power. I’m just a prince, nothing more, and nothing less.
“I understand. It’s getting late now, so please head back and rest.”
I waved my hand and took a deep breath in. I was thinking I’d get to relax when I went to the humans, but reality has another story in store for me. If this is their plot to instigate a war then I won’t be able to find out much. Even if I do find out something, I won’t be able to do much given my lack of power.
I’m only able to fully practise my power as a prince here with the elves.
I’m not entirely sure why I feel so emotionally attached to the elves when I’m human. Perhaps it’s because of mom and Lucia. I must protect the elf capital for their sakes. If the humans want war, then I must do my best to circumvent it. I’ll investigate the matter when I get there. Even if I can’t do much, a warning should be somewhat effective, right?
“Thank you for your understanding, your majesty. I too wish our two races can continue living in harmony. I believe we will with you present. I believe there will be no war as long as you are alive. But please be aware that her majesty cannot deal with enemies in the shadows. Please be careful of your surroundings regardless of where you are. Goodbye, your majesty. I shall see you in a few days’ time.”
Castell bowed eloquently and then left, leaving a now gloomier version of myself behind.