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A Pawn Will Always be a Pawn
“You and your child should sleep in the carriage. We shall set up tents outside. This is a very long trip, so do your best to make yourself comfortable.”
The interior of the carriage wasn’t spacious, but the seat was very soft, and lying down on it was akin to a very comfortable bed. I turned onto my side to hug Leah; however, it might not be so comfortable at night, as adult Leah might just boot me off.
Leah didn’t fall asleep right away. She slept during the day, since there was nothing to do in the carriage during the day. Alternatively, she could crawl around inside. We had just passed the city that we were familiar with. Angelina and company left the city that night. I didn’t know if the chapel was in the city.
Perhaps the chapel seized the initiative and were already headed to the imperial capital. I didn’t know what was going on nor did I want to strut up to the chapel and confront them head on. If I engaged the chapel beforehand, I might cause the entire game board to change. It’s not time to come into the light, yet; I should still be moving about in the darkness. Before I collected incriminating evidence against them, confronting them could result in them capturing me. I had a burning desire to get revenge; however, it was at those sorts of times that I had to stay calm. If you can’t kill your opponent in one strike, don’t strike.
It was very quiet in the carriage. I kept on contemplating what Achilles said. Owing to the fact that I was mulling on the weapons issue, I didn’t speak. Leah rolled back and forth in my arms and occasionally touched my face. She seemed to be very eager to talk to me. However, noticing that I was so quiet the entire time, she couldn’t resist the urge to finally speak up: “Papa…”
I looked down at Leah and rubbed her head. I absentmindedly asked, “What’s the matter, Leah? Did you want to use the toilet?”
“No!!” Leah went totally red in the face when she recalled the event in the kitchen last night. She unhappily pouted and hit me on my chest. She sulked, “Papa, you’re always absentminded when you talk to me now, yet you’re so earnest when you converse with Mama Veirya. Papa, do you no longer like Leah? Leah now knows that Mama Veirya is very nice to Leah, but Leah still doesn’t like for you and Mama Veirya to be so close.”
“Papa did no such thing…”
“You did! Papa is so smart around everyone, but stutters in front of Mama Veirya! Leah can tell with one glance there’s something going on!” exclaimed Leah, wearing a serious gaze. She pinched my face and, in a puzzled tone, inquired, “Why do you act that way, Papa? Mama Veirya doesn’t appear to be as smart as you.”
“The truth is Papa isn’t that smart.”
I pinched Leah’s face with a helpless smile. She firmly shook her head: “Says who?! Lots of people say that Papa is smart!!”
“If Papa was actually smart, you wouldn’t have gone through that last night.”
I apologetically caressed Leah’s face. The pain and despair that Leah suffered last night was more than I could imagine. It was heart wrenching just imagining the fear and despair Leah was subjected to when she, a kid, was surrounded by a violent group of bloodthirsty adults, while she quivered alone in the crowd. The more I thought about it, the stronger my desire to seek revenge burnt. My thought process was simple: the pain you make my daughter suffer will be the suffering I put your family through. As for the bishop’s daughter, I was keen on paying her a visit.
“It wasn’t your fault, Papa…” said Leah, shaking her head after she brushed her face on me. Her eyes met with mine. She hesitated for a moment before hopelessly saying, “Papa, to be honest… Leah now… somewhat misses Mama Veirya… It’s the first time Mama Veirya isn’t with us. There’s only the two of us tonight…”
I nodded and rubbed Leah’s head: “Yeah.”
Honestly, though I was embarrassed to admit it, besides thinking about the chapel’s plans, I thought about Veirya. We hadn’t known each other for long, and she wasn’t a flirtatious woman, yet, to my surprise, I found I really enjoyed my time at her side. I wondered if she was missing me.
I gently rubbed Leah’s head; she began to gradually take slow breaths on my chest. We were out in a barren area, yet it was incredibly quiet outside. Spring in the North was just as quiet. It gave off the vibe that there was never been any life. The horse carriage didn’t move. Outside the window was a candle that swayed. There shouldn’t be any bandits around the desolate area, because the population was small. I quietly looked outside while stroking Leah’s head and thinking.
I pondered, “Why is the chapel teaming up with adventurers? Does the chapel really intend to oppose Queen Sisi to the bitter end? Are they actually planning to oppose the entire empire’s military with their knights and a group of adventurers?
That’s preposterous. At most, the chapel might attempt to usurp her rule in the imperial capital, but transporting weapons and armed adventurers into the imperial city? You think the Queen wouldn’t call back her troops? Also, can a mere group of adventurers really break through, and get into the imperial palace?
Wait, wait. Achilles information was wrong. The chapel would never distribute weapons to the adventurers, and then oppose Queen Sisi. There’s no way they’d do that. Anyone with a brain cell would know it’s impossible. Moreover, according to what Achilles said, the chapel needs money. They need money to distribute weapons. What, they asked adventurers to rob the national treasury? That’s impossible, absolutely impossible. Either Achilles is lying to me or he was lied to. That’s definitely not what the chapel is truly thinking.
All right, let’s evaluate this carefully. What other methods could they use to make money while relying on the adventurers to distribute weapons while keeping their knights intact, yet not angering the Queen?
What methods would they be? I can’t connect the dots. I can’t shake off the feeling that there’s a missing condition. I feel the key component is missing. What is that component, though? The weapons and knights are two separate things, but neither of them are the most important factor. What’s the most important factor? What is it? What in the world is it?”
My mind went blank. I couldn’t find the answer. I had no inspiration whatsoever. I didn’t know much about the chapel. I didn’t have a wild guess for what their plan was. My only choice was to deal with whatever I come across. What I did know was Achilles couldn’t be trusted. The financial issue the chapel is facing, which Achilles told me about, was the most important part of the whole equation. Once I figured out how they were going to earn the money, I’d be able to figure out what the missing component was.
Current time in the city.
“Have they already left?”
The bishop responded with a small nod. In a soft voice, he replied, “That man may be very brave, very calm and very competent at dealing with situations, but he is too young. We just made some small moves, yet we have already managed to ensnare them in our trap. I no longer need to play the retard anymore. However, I think I managed to trick the crafty Achilles with my act. He thinks I’m totally incompetent. All the pieces are in position now. Now then, let’s continue with our plan. Be it Achilles or that man, they’re now just our pawns. Angelina, we’ll do our best to bring Veirya to our side. Actually, she will definitely take the initiative to side with us this time. I guarantee it. Additionally, she’ll be the one who takes the initiative to side with us.”
Initially, the bishop had empty, listless eyes. Then, though, his eyes contained a profound layer to them. There was a darkness that couldn’t be seen through. Nevertheless, Angelina nodded: “I am looking forward to it.”
“Look forward to it, Angelina. God will give them a choice. This time, with God assisting us, Achilles, Queen Sisi and he are all our pawns, and they’re all still oblivious.”