“For the Alliance” is no Longer a Slogan (Part 7)
Hilles City conference hall.
The day was no ordinary day for the vassals of Hilles City. After all, Empress Elizabeth, who hadn’t been back in a long time, had finally returned. When she rode her battle steed through the streets of Hilles City, the entire street was ecstatic. They couldn’t see the Empress’ expression behind the black veil, but their cheers were akin to raging waves. The entirety of Hilles City was wild all night because of her return.
Of course, the citizens on the lower end of the hierarchy were just looking for a reason to drink to their heart’s content all night and skip work the next day. The vassals, however, were kept up all night, not because they were elated, but because the Empress had just returned. Since she had returned, she would have new requests to make of them and new jobs to assign them. They were wondering what new requests or ideas she had in mind with her return. If they could figure out what she wanted and offer appropriate gifts the next day, she’d spare them a glance of glory, which would be the equivalent of boosting their standing.
Nobody was permitted entry into the inner court; thus, the only chance Elizabeth’s vassals had to see her was on her way back in addition to information from the ladies-in-waiting by her side. The ladies-in-waiting could acquire crucial information from Elizabeth and the conversations of others. They could find out what Elizabeth missed and wanted to eat. Fulfilling those desires wouldn’t aggravate her, and they could do it legally.
Last night, the vassals forewent their sleep, but Elizabeth stayed silent all night. She didn’t ask for anything. All she did was ask Castell to provide her with a simple meal late at night, her sleeping medication and then she went to bed without a word. The lady-in-waiting couldn’t read Elizabeth’s mood, either. The only difference was that she wore a different cape. As such, all of the vassals were nervous. They were completely unsure if their Empress returned in a happy or angry mood.
When a voice came from the direction of the throne, all voices immediately died down, and the conference hall was plunged into silence as though nobody was present. The conference hall was designed to allow the voices of those below to be heard by the people above as well as accommodating the ruler’s voice, allowing her voice to be heard by those below. Despite that, though, it was silent down below. Not even a breath could be heard. The people below were even afraid that their clothing would make fluttering sounds.
Soon, careless footsteps approached. First was Castell. He arrived before everybody and made a small bow. He then walked over to one side. Immediately after they heard his footsteps, everybody felt as though their hearts were being stepped on. They couldn’t help but shiver; they wanted to look up, but there was an imposing pressure that frightened them too much to do so.
Elizabeth walked to her throne. She brushed the black curtain aside, walked in and sat down. She then crossed one leg over the other and looked at the people below. They then heard the sound of metal shifting around. It sounded as if Elizabeth removed her sword and tossed it aside. The people below were on the verge of exploding, but they didn’t dare to raise their hands.
“What’s wrong with all of you?”
Elizabeth’s imposing voice was finally heard after a few seconds of silence. Everyone below shuddered. A few younger nobles, who came to experience life after just becoming an adult, almost collapsed to their knees. Elizabeth’s tone contained strong displeasure and anger. She stomped on the ground with her foot that went over the top. She coldly exclaimed, “I asked you a question. You are my vassals. I came here today to discuss national matters, so why are none of you speaking? Castell travelled a great distance to bring me back. I left my son and grandchild behind to return, yet none of you are going to utter a word? Are you trying to humour me?!”
Elizabeth’s fury could turn an open field into a field of corpses. Castell once went to an enemy city as an envoy to tell them to surrender. They, instead, tied him up and hung him on their city wall. Once their city was captured, Elizabeth, who was furious, tied up all the prisoners of war and ordinary citizens on crosses in the ground. She then released hundreds of violent hunting dogs. The wild beasts nearby also smelt their scent. In the end, the entire vast field was drowned in the scent of blood. Black crows shrouded the sky. Countless wild beasts down below ripped the living and dead apart, and then dragged off their dismembered corpses.
If an individual who could commit such an atrocity were to get angry in the presence of the vassals, they might be on the receiving end of it again. They’d either die or be tortured.
“No… We dare not… It is just… just… that a nation cannot be without its ruler for a day…”
The people below heard the last imposing and angry voice. Their clothing rustled, while their voices turned hoarse. Only the relatively older vassals, who thought they knew Elizabeth relatively well, dared to make out a few vague words in response. Elizabeth grouchily waved her hand as though she was swiping annoying mosquitoes: “I’ve only been absent for a few days, yet you nobles have already fallen to this degree? Why do you not respond to my question? Why do I hear sobbing down there? What are you doing? This is my conference hall, not a place for you to raise your children! If there’s something to report, report it; else…”
The hoarse voices below stopped. Everyone trembled with fear. Even the older vassals felt that their lives were over. Elizabeth was genuinely very angry. That was an irrefutable fact. It was only natural for her to be mad after coming back to discover that there was no business. They couldn’t help but regret their decision. They wondered why they all wanted her to bring her back. What problem could there have been if they left her in the North?
The Valkyries standing behind the black veil, to the contrary, didn’t budge. Elizabeth switched over her legs: “I, on the other hand, have something to tell you. You should all be aware that the North has been united. Our military was used to capture it, but it was my son, Troy, who conquered it. Therefore, the land there belongs to my son. I believe there is nobody who will argue otherwise.”
A young vassal seemed hasty to speak out. Perhaps it was to stop himself from quivering with fear and embarrassing himself. Hence, he took the initiative to step up. He straightened up his torso, making him appear particularly big and tall among the people. With an angry hand gesture, he agitatedly argued, “Your Majesty! That is land that our soldiers captured. Our soldiers lie in rest there! Additionally, His Majesty is your child, so the North belongs to our Rosvenor Empire!”
It was already mentioned. Elizabeth was in a very bad mood, or rather, extremely bad mood. She ate poorly and slept in poor conditions for five days to return to Hilles City, only to discover that there was nothing urgent, but purely because the people below wanted her to return.
When a monarch says, “I have something to tell you,” it doesn’t mean, “let’s have a discussion,” but, “This is what you’re to do, so go prepare now.”
Elizabeth wasn’t looking for a discussion. She was giving a command that nobody was to question. Thus, the sword flew out from behind the black veil and pierced his mouth, stabbing the innocent individual behind him, too. As a result, the two were pinned to the ground.
The scent of blood dispersed in every direction. The Valkyries jumped into action. They ignored the trembling crowd, dragged off the two corpses and then wiped the blood stains while they were at it. Elizabeth ignored them and went on indifferently, “I believe there is nobody who will argue otherwise; therefore, I think allying with the North is a good choice. I don’t want just a simple military or defence type of alliance. We essentially know of all the areas on the continent. I want to rule the entire continent, including the elves. Hence, we, the elves and the North will establish a government to rule this continent.”
All of the people below looked toward the black veil with dumbfounded looks. They were the vassals of the strongest empire. Placing their nation on the same level as another nation was an insult to them. Furthermore, their Empress said that she could never coexist with the elves, yet she said she wanted to ally with them and rule the continent together? Didn’t she swear otherwise before? Rosvenor Empire had conquered countless nations and cities. Duargana City was their only failure. The alliance was nothing but an insult to humanity’s soldiers. They were supposed to be allies with the elves in the future?
But then, when they saw the two dead men on the ground, the sword marks on the ground and the dark red blood that had yet to be completely cleaned, nobody dared to argue.
“Since none of you are speaking up, I shall proceed with it. Henceforward, you shall all begin interacting with the elves and those in the North. I am sure your negotiations will continue for a very long time, so let me inform you that I want you to wrap up as soon as possible. You can give some special rights to the North, since my son rules it. In saying that, do not make any compromises for the elves. That’s all I have to say. Now, go and prepare.”
Elizabeth stood up. Everybody below lowered their heads. The Empress walked down from the throne. She waved her hand: “All right; that shall be all. I told you to go and prepare. You don’t need to be there quivering like rabbits. Tell the family of the people who just died to pick them up. Castell, give them some monetary compensation. All of you best remember this: you can voice your opinion, for this is where I listen to your opinions; however, pay attention to your manners. He didn’t raise his hand or provide an introduction. His death was not undeserved. Are we clear?!”
“Y-Yes… I understand!” responded the vassals in the hall.