It was very quiet inside the tent, not because there was nobody inside, though, as there were four people inside, four very serious people.
I originally planned to have the three of them sit down together during the day, but Tanya and Shusia came up with excuses to leave, so I had to resort to infiltration to have the three meet at night.
Shusia had become very haggard recently. Her eyes never focussed on anything, always looking around. Her pretty smile vanished. Philes’ sacrifice was a big blow to her, and she had to guard me in his place now, so she didn’t get a break. I really wanted for her to have a rest, but I didn’t think she’d know what to do even if I did give her a vacation, since she was once a Valkyrie. Moreover, the situation on the frontlines was tense, so I needed everybody present.
Shusia’s grudge for the anthropoids ran bone deep after Philes passed away. She wanted to shred the head of every anthropoid she came across, especially the heads of those huge birds. I saw the way she stared intently at the huge birds. She wanted to kill them, but there was nothing she could do. That gaze of hers was terrifying. It was a gaze seething with anger, showing she wanted to squash them to pieces and gobble them. Those birds should’ve celebrated the fact that Shusia didn’t have wings.
Tanya was basically born to hate them. They were the executioners who killed her family. Her anger for them could never be erased. She went through so much and gave up so much all of these years to sharpen her blade, so that she could behead the anthropoids. Subsequently, there was no way she could forego her resentment for the anthropoids and be close to Ling Yue. Her not going after Ling Yue was good enough.
The four of us sat around a small square table. On the table was a bottle of fruit juice. I didn’t choose wine, because I took Tanya’s age into consideration. My initial intention was to reduce the tension between the three. I would say that the three of them were calm, but they were definitely not friendly with each other, as the two of them didn’t spare Ling Yue a look, causing Ling Yue to appear as though she did something wrong.
I cleared my throat and smiled. I asked, “You don’t need to be so cautious. Ladies, are you not going to drink for our victory?”
Shusia looked at me and smiled. She raised her cup and Tanya obediently followed along. Ling Yue looked at us, and then raised her cup, as well. We clinked our wine cups filled with fruit juice and then finished them in one go. Then we fell back into silence.
The two of them don’t have a trace of a positive feeling for Ling Yue. In fact, there were no signs they had warmed up to her. Tanya may not have known know my intent, but Shusia should’ve! They were now both my personal attendants and Ling Yue was with me, so they were responsible for protecting Ling Yue, as well as me. Ling Yue wouldn’t have anyone to protect her if I didn’t speak up. I have to avoid letting that happen.
I looked at the two of them. Shusia was a little easier to speak to about it compared to Tanya, as Shusia was actually friendly toward Ling Yue initially, but she now strongly resented Ling Yue due to Philes’ death. Her resentment wasn’t directed at Ling Yue, but the anthropoids, and therefore should’ve been easier to speak to her about it.
“Hey, uhh, Shusia, I’m not in the tent every day these days, so you take responsibility for Ling Yue’s safety, okay?”
Shusia nodded, “Yes, Your Majesty.”
I tested the waters with Shusia, “Besides keeping Ling Yue safe… She tends to feel lonely, and she has lost her family and friends, so I hope that you can comfort her when you’re with her. You know, like eating together, taking strolls together and the such…”
Shusia looked at me. Her lips trembled before she replied, “Please forgive me for refusing, Your Majesty.”
“Because it violates your first order.”
Shusia shifted her gaze to Ling Yue, but I noticed that Ling Yue shuddered with fear.
‘Just how frightening is Shusia’s gaze…?’
Shusia swept her cold gaze over Ling Yue, and then turned to look at me and continued, “Because if I spend too much time with Miss Ling Yue, I will be unable to resist the urge to kill her.”
“Shusia, I didn’t ask for your opinion. This is an order.”
I paused and softened up my tone, “I’m very sorry about Philes, and I condemn myself, as well, but Philes’ sacrifice has nothing to do with Ling Yue. You can’t hate her just because she’s an anthropoid. Ling Yue has been by our side for a long time and has gone through so much danger with us. Do you still insist on being angry with her just because she’s an anthropoid?”
Shusia looked at me and tightened her grip on her cup. I heard her cup cracking, and I soon saw several crack marks on the cup. She looked at me as though she was desperately suppressing her murderous intent and urge to shout. A moment after, she responded in a shaky voice, “Your Majesty, those anthropoids killed my fiancé; they killed the man I love, the only man I love. He has been at my side for even longer than Ling Yue. I love him the same way you love the Princess. If your Princess died there and I told you not to hate other anthropoids, would you comply?”
I looked back at her and solemnly replied, “I’m angry, too! I’m angry over Philes death, too! Everything I’m doing right now is to avenge him. I’m not asking you to forsake your resentment or asking you to forgive them. I just don’t want you to direct your anger at your own comrade…”
“Comrade?! Her?!” belted Shusia, as she stood up and pointed at Ling Yue. “She is not a comrade! Your Majesty, please forgive me for being blunt, but you may have been led astray by this fox’s appearance and body! She was never our comrade. She buried the anthropoids and even went as far as to beg you to spare her lover. She is not on our side. She has continued to try and acquire special privileges from you as an anthropoid. Do you know how much she has led you astray with her wilfulness?! Your determination has been put out by her tail and ears!”
I didn’t speak and neither did Ling Yue. We just kept our heads down in silence.
Shusia sat back down and huffed and puffed. I played with my cup and sighed, “I’m aware of everything you said, Shusia. You’re absolutely right. I admit that I’ve shown her too much partiality. I admit I was wrong. I accommodated her too much. I’m sorry for upsetting all of you.”
Shusia looked at me. She stood up and gave me a deep bow, “I am very sorry, Your Majesty. That was rude of me just now.”
“No, you’re right. I pampered her too much.”
I nodded, and then waved my hand to indicate for her to sit down. I then grabbed Ling Yue’s hand gently and placed it on the table. I looked at Tanya and Shusia. I solemnly said, “I shall change my orders, then. Tanya, Shusia, you must protect Princess Ling Yue in the coming days. You’re right, I shouldn’t pamper an anthropoid excessively, but she is the next Princess you must respect. You must respect her the way you respect Lucia and Nier.”
The three of them exclaimed in unison as if they had fantastic chemistry. I looked at Shusia and Tanya, who were both worked up. I continued, “However, I promise you, Shusia, I won’t show the anthropoids kindness. They killed my Philes. I will let you see me kill all of them in two more days. Tanya, I promise that I won’t make you spare a single anthropoid nor will I show them kindness regardless of what Ling Yue says. I won’t. Can you respect Ling Yue here in front of you with that promise?”
“I never said I wanted to marry you!!”
“Maybe so now, but that may change in the future.”
I held Ling Yue’s hand tightly, not giving her a chance to slap me. I looked at Shusia and Tanya. I solemnly added, “So, you must protect Ling Yue in the future and take care of her. I promise that I will avenge your past and present. I swear that on the honour of the Galadriel and Rosvenor families! I’ll make sure to collect every blood debt owed!”