The city that had existed for some unspecified period of time opened its doors for us. I led just my guards in. My guards wore on their formal clothes and cleaned their horses, ensuring not a blemish was in sight, while their black hooves shined brightly. Their straight trousers didn’t have a single wrinkle on them, while their sabres for combatting cavalry on their belt had glimmering gold and jewels. The White Deer King raised its head up proudly and bestowed everything in front of it a condescending glance. It resembled a victor more than I did.
It was freezing inside the city. I virtually couldn’t feel any warmth. The snow that came down from overhead had covered three quarters of the city, so countless buildings were buried beneath the snow. The fortunate survivors had nowhere to go and were, therefore, forced to curl up and use all sorts of things they could get their hands on to wrap themselves up. They also burnt all sorts of rubbish for warmth.
The wooden fragments had been buried underneath the snow. Wet snow couldn’t be burnt. The other fortunate people, who didn’t lose their homes to the snow, were struggling themselves and, hence, had no means of helping the refugees outside. As a matter of fact, they were worried that their families might be robbed by the refugees. The population in the city was much denser than what it was previously, yet they lacked food and materials to burn.
It was the same as the Leningrad on the Eastern Front in World War II. The city was slowly dying. If I continued to lay siege to the city, then there would only be starving prisoners left in the city.
I once wanted that. That way, the citizens would open the doors for us in order to survive. Now, however, I didn’t want a dead city. The citizens of the city didn’t do anything wrong and shouldn’t become sacrificial pawns in our war. War is a fight between soldiers. If citizens die for soldiers it’s called slaughter.
I looked at the people around with their terrified, yet eager, gazes and I gently sighed. I had no means of helping them at present. My guard unit didn’t bring food along. I could only get my soldiers to clear the snow, distribute food and repair buildings after I occupied the place. Everything had to wait until I occupied the place. The anthropoids had agreed to surrender. I came to see the Queen and the elder of the winged race today.
The palace had already been buried in a large volume of snow, so we headed toward a building that was still intact. Presumably, the place was a noble’s residence that was currently occupied by the imperial family.
When we arrived, a team of elven guards holding long spears stood on two sides of the street. They waited for us dressed in shining armour. Their spear tips had a colourful triangle flag. I frowned.
‘That’s their sign of surrender, so why were they so happy? They aren’t ceremonial soldiers facing the victor who conquered them. They should be the team welcoming back to Troy City. ‘
However, I thought that they were likely to be people the Queen arranged for after I noticed their long ears. All of them wore expressions showing celebration and relief.
‘What’s going on? Isn’t the elder of the winged race the true ruler of the North? Why is the surrender ceremony in the Queen’s hands? This is an important negotiation to acquire the most rights possible for one’s race. How can a fellow who’d do anything for his tribe not participate in it? Could he be ill? Well, whatever.’
Leah, who dressed in splendid clothing, walked over to us with a bright smile. Her smile was so bright that I suspected that they were the victors. But it was considered a victory for Leah and company. They had been trying their best to let me enter the place, and they had done it.
“Welcome, Grand Commander. We finally meet here. My Queen has been waiting for you for a long time. Please follow me.”
Leah made an invitational hand gesture. I dismounted. I brought Tanya and Shusia with me into the building. Leah looked at me with a smile and said, “Grand Commander, today’s talk will not be very long, so would you like to stay for dinner tonight? My Queen is looking forward to having dinner with you.”
“Let’s give that a pass. There are people waiting for me to return. Moreover, I think it’s a little too inappropriate to be treating me to dinner in your current state. Look at the people outside.”
Leah smiled helplessly, “You must be saying that Miss Ling Yue is waiting for you… Mm, we cannot help it, either. We do not have food to share with them. If you did not come, they really would have had to wait for their death.”
“That’s why I came. Let’s not make this talk too long. A shorter talk will be better for you, us and the people.”
Leah nodded and entered the conference chamber with us. The chamber was very large. The walls were massive floor-to-ceiling windows. The sun shone cold rays through the snow and onto us. The rays weren’t supposed to have a temperature, but the sunlight reflected by the snow made even my bones feel chilly despite the fireplace inside burning intensely.
Inside the chamber was a beauty dressed in a purple dress, sitting quietly. She had nobody else around her other than two servants waiting behind her. Leah and my footsteps alerted her. She stood up and smiled at me. I spaced out a little. If it wasn’t for her golden eyes and different hair, I basically would have thought I saw Mommy Vyvyan smiling at me.
“Welcome, Grand Commander. If you prefer, you can call me Galadriel. I am a Galadriel, as well, after all. If not for my lineage, we would probably be relatives now.”
I sat down to one side. I watched the Queen gracefully sit down. My response was, “You are my relative even now. I do not place an importance on mana purity. For me, what my ancestors have decided on are not measures by which I use to evaluate somebody. My wife has very low mana purity, after all.”
The Queen smiled, “I hope that you can make a trip back, then. Perhaps they have not done anything to your wife out of respect for you, because otherwise, the Galadriel tribe would never accept your wife. You have not received news from your wife for a long time now, correct? If I were you, I would definitely return.”
My voice suddenly stopped in my throat. I looked at the Queen’s expression. I knew that she wasn’t lying to me. She wasn’t utilising a diversion tactic or trying to stall for time. She was simply sharing her experience as a victim with me. I hadn’t known the Galadriels for a long time, but she was somebody the Galadriel tribe exiled. She knew very well what the consequence of being exiled by the Galadriel tribe would be and how vicious they were. Further, I, indeed, hadn’t received a letter from Lucia in a long time. I heard from her before, but she seemingly vanished into thin air more recently.
“There is no way the Galadriel tribe will accept your wife.”
After a while of silence, I replied, “Thank you for the warning. I will return right away. However, we need to decide on the future right now.”
“It will be very quick, Grand Commander. I have no conditions. I shall pass you everything in the North and make a public announcement about this. I will not miss the throne. I do not have any requests. I just wish to return to the South.”