The Imperial Palace in the North was Freya’s pride. It maintained the unique characteristics of anthropoid architecture, while adopting the unique things that gave humanity and elves their unique identities. The star at the highest point shone light down on the people before the sun did. However, if the massive statue of Troy made from gold and inlaid diamonds was to be created, then that structure would probably be the pride of the North. With that said, it would only be their pride if it didn’t impact their lives, for it required massive amounts of manpower and funds. The enormous structure would only be an extremely heavy burden for the North at the time.
Ying was blown away when she saw the Imperial Palace. She wasn’t too interested in anything and seldom revealed any emotions on her face, yet she was so stunned that her mouth was slightly open as she admired the grandeur palace. She had never seen such a sturdy and grandeur structure before. She had no concept of things related, but she had to praise the structure in her sight. She really wanted to bring Xia over to see it, because there was no way she could describe its magnificence to Xia.
The guards approached Ying respectfully and saluted her before speaking: “Miss Ying, please head in. Princess Freya is waiting for you.”
Ying nodded. The two guards pulled open the main doors of the Imperial Palace and welcomed her inside. While the majority of the guards had never met her, there was a rumour going around that Ying had an ambiguous relationship with His Majesty, so the guards were cautious. They were careful when they stepped into the palace grounds, but all of the guards treated her as though she was the most esteemed guest, showing her their utmost sincerity and etiquette.
The guards looked at Ying, who had a different air about her. Ying brushed her long black hair, and then walked to the palace with her held high and chest up. The scent she had on her spiced up the clear air. Her elegant, charming face and body had the guards making double takes. Nier had warned them many times before that they couldn’t let a woman’s beauty charm them, but they couldn’t overcome their instincts as men, subsequently raising their heads every now and then.
The guards watched the beautiful Ying enter the Imperial Palace. They didn’t know what she was doing, but they were all certain of the authenticity of the rumour. If such a pretty woman entered the Imperial Palace, she had to be His Majesty’s mistress. His Majesty had lots of women around him. Stories of heroes and beauties coming together were hot topics with the guards and maids, nonetheless. The people didn’t mind His Majesty’s private life, either.
“Uhm, it appears that we have one more in the Harem now. We’ll be calling Miss Ying, Princess in the future,” thought the guards.
Freya looked at Nara, who was in front of her and obviously somewhat angry. She hopelessly sighed and placed her pen down. In a soft tone, she beseeched, “I am very sorry, Miss Nara. I sincerely apologise. To be frank, we cannot immediately repay the money, gold and treasures we loaned from you… and we have no means of collecting enough to pay you back in a short timeframe. The reason is that we are currently in a tight spot financially…”
“Miss Freya, you have already repeated that in your letter countless times.”
Nara could tell Freya was in a weak position and was unwilling to say anymore. She was already aware Freya couldn’t pay her back right away. What Nara wanted, of course, wasn’t the money. As long as the accounts existed, there was no fear of Freya delaying it. What she was attempting to do was turn the money into a bargaining chip. She wanted to get what she wanted from the North. She reasoned that Freya would have to take it into consideration regardless of what it was she asked for.
Nara took in a deep breath and sternly said, “I loaned Karnashun’s money to you, because His Majesty helped me in the desert, so I was very grateful and trusted him. When I heard the North was short on finances, I provided a large sum of money and gold from the desert without any hesitation. I am aware you are not in a position to be able to pay back your loan at the moment. However, you have to at least let me know what you did with it, right? I loaned money because of His Majesty, yet he is not here when I have come, and I do not see where my money has gone. I am now very concerned. Where exactly has my money gone?”
That question was the main problem. Freya could think of countless ways to delay their repayment, but she had no way of facing the questioned posed… It was a nightmare she never wanted to recall. She was so sluggish that she couldn’t say a thing. Seeing the young sharp-tongued and smart girl was speechless, Nara was so delighted that she almost laughed aloud.
“Miss Freya, if this question makes things hard for you, I shall say no more. In short, I am still willing to trust His Majesty. I trust that His Majesty is not somebody who loans money, and then runs away, because of his ambitions and ideals. In saying that…” Nara giggled: “In saying that, I am the lord of a city, at the end of the day. I loaned His Majesty money, and the money also came from the people of Karanshun in addition to my own. If they find out I loaned money to another city and did not get anything out of it, I may lose my position as the lord. Therefore, Miss Freya, I must take something back, regardless. You would not happen to refuse this request, would you?”
Rendered hopeless, Freya held her hand to her face. She had no viable plan. Nara didn’t do anything illegal for Freya to nitpick. It was all her fault. Her only choice was to bear the torment of her mistake. She knew Nara’s demand was outrageous; alas, she had no choice but to accept it, as she owed them money. Nara respected her brother, but that wouldn’t be a variable in Nara’s outrageous demand. After all, private matters didn’t have a bearing on business. Moreover, she was dealing with an ambitious lord.
“I will not ask for impractical things; therefore, you can rest assured, Miss Freya. I just want one thing, and that is three thousands rifles, the same model that your guard unit is currently using. Three thousand rifles and enough ammunition to use. As long as you can provide me with them, I shall write off all the interest. You can repay the loan whenever. What do you think? Miss Freya, I believe the cost of three thousand rifles and ammunition for it is more of a win for you than paying the interest, right?”
Freya almost yelled. It wasn’t the number that shocked her, since the weapon storage locations were already filled to the brim with rifles and ammunition the factories that finally qualified as factories made. The armies in the North had basically all been equipped with the most advanced rifles. She could pull together three thousand rifles in a matter of days. What shocked her was Nara’s ambition.
Three thousand rifles and ammunition was enough to allow all the elites of Karnashun in the desert to swap out their most advanced weapons. Further, the desert was a place that would allow her to maximise the effectiveness of rifles. That night, Freya’s brother managed to wipe out all the exploration teams with less than a hundred men from his guard unit. Cavalry were no match for repeated firing rifles. If she agreed to Nara’s request, the balance of the five nations in the desert would collapse and Nara, who would have ultimate power, would be able to rule the entire desert.
Nara looked at the astounded young girl’s expression and softly chuckled: “Miss Freya, you have no need to feel worried, do you? The desert is too far from here. We have no way of threatening you. Furthermore, this is a simple matter for you, is it not? Miss Freya, our time for discussions is almost up. Can you give me an answer so that I do not need to come again tomorrow?”
“I am very sorry Miss Nara, but I really will need to ask you to come again tomorrow. Please allow me to deliberate it. You must know that, if the power scale in an area undergoes a change on many fronts, we must take many things into consideration. Our next guest is very important, so I do not intend to be late. I am very sorry, Miss Nara.”
Freya stood up with a troubled mind. Nara didn’t say anything. Nara, instead, stood up with a calm smile and saluted Freya. Nara then pulled open the door. Ying froze. She never expected the door to be pulled open as soon as she arrived. She looked at the maiden with beige skin colour. She didn’t know if she should salute her or not. Nara, on the other hand, scanned Ying then chuckled quietly. She whispered, “The North is a decent place, isn’t it? Warm, gentle, but ambitious. That must be why it attracts people here.”
Ying didn’t understand what Nara said. She didn’t understand her due to the language barrier. Even if she did, she wouldn’t have understood what Nara was getting at.
“Nothing. I am just very interested in you. After all, you are a very important guest for the North. Lions may be my favourite animal, but they cannot please me as a hunting dog can. Well then, good bye, Miss Pretty.”
Nara elegantly saluted her and left a confused Ying behind. Ying blankly watched Nara leave from behind. She tried her best to comprehend what Nara meant, but she couldn’t wrap her head around it no matter how she tried.
“Ah, Miss Ying. It is our first time meeting. I am Freya, Freya… Freya Galadriel Rosvenor… Mm… It is our first time meeting, but I have heard a lot about you from my brother, so you can feel at ease. I heard you had something you wanted to see me about, which is why I made this appointment today. Come, please let me know what it is you need. My brother is not here, but I will be sure to fulfil your request.”
Ying wore a straight face. Freya was slightly frustrated. Freya seemed as though she was repeating pointless remarks. Sincerely, Ying stated, “I came here… to sign up as His Majesty’s bodyguard.”