I gently shut the door and hung my cloak up again. The house was a lot quieter. Anna had probably turned in. Veirya sat at the table by herself again. She maintained her usual demeanour and quiet behaviour. She set her long sword by her side. Leah was still standing silently in the kitchen. I wasn’t entirely sure if it’s her talent as a succubus or what, but not even Lucia noticed her presence.
When Leah saw me return, she looked at me with a befuddled look. She gestured for me to come over with her hand. I smiled, and then went into the kitchen. I quietly said, “Leah, did you hear about it, yet? Papa is going to take you to the imperial capital.”
Leah solemnly caressed my face with her hand and softly replied, “Leah doesn’t mind where Leah goes as long as Papa comes with me. Papa, don’t leave Leah again this time. You must stay by Leah’s side this time, Papa.”
I responded with a firm nod: “I’ll protect you properly this time, Leah. Papa promises Papa won’t let you be in danger this time.”
Leah tightly hugged my arm and leaned onto my chest. She had yet to revert to her child form. I could tell she didn’t sleep all night. She couldn’t sleep in such a squishy and cold kitchen, after all. I was quite aroused, as she was in her adult form and leaning on me. However, the more gently she leaned on me, the more scared and worried I was.
I didn’t know how big and widespread the issue with Queen Sisi was. Thus, I couldn’t determine if getting involved with her was a good or bad thing. The first impression she left me was still frightened me. She saw everyone as people she can do with or without. They were mere prey she could hunt as she pleased. Queen Sisi wielded more power than the chapel and had the ultimate military.
I began to think: “Was it really a wise decision to get such a powerful person involved? If I don’t rely on her, though, who can I rely on? Seeing as she’s the main financial backer behind Achilles and the chapel can’t hurt her subordinates without her tacit consent, I should ally with her to get at the chapel.’ In saying that, I know what she’s done. If she’s not pleased with me and wants to eliminate us, what can I do? Do I have another choice at the moment, though?
If I want to take on an enemy that’s more powerful than me, I must work together with another powerful party. I must work with Queen Sisi and ensure she’s interested in us. The best outcome would be for us to be able to associate ourselves with her. At the same time, I need to ensure Queen Sisi doesn’t step on Veyra’s dignity and her dignity as a lord.
So, what do I need to prepare? What do I need to do? What are the possible scenarios that I may have to face? I have no answers to any of these questions. I need to infer what the chapel’s scheme is and the reason for their financial struggle using the information provided the merchant provided.
By the sounds of things, Queen Sisi and the chapel are having a conflict over a tax issue. The chapel has no reason to oppose Queen Sisi’s decision. If they’re going to collect money in spite of knowing full well she’ll have misgivings about them, what are they planning to do with the money?
Logically speaking, the war is already over, so there should be no reason for the chapel to collect money. What are they using the money for? Their purpose is integral to the equation. Only by figuring out what their aim is, can I figure come in between and obstruct them. Damn, I can’t figure it out. I need to find out more.”
Leah apparently noticed that I was absentminded. She gently touched my face, and I gave her a small nod: “Leah, wait here. Papa will head up and pack.”
Leah wondered what I was up to. Nevertheless, she let go in the end, albeit grudgingly. I left the kitchen. Just as I went to head upstairs, Veirya suddenly spoke out from behind in an absolutely serious, yet calm, tone: “You. Scared?”
Startled, I turned and coincidentally met with Veirya’s eyes. She repeated herself, “You. Scared?”
I believed it was best to be honest with Veirya. She didn’t need lies. I didn’t know how she could tell that I was afraid. There seemed to be neither loathing nor ridicule in her gaze; her gaze was emotionless as usual. She gave me a small nod: “There’s no need to be ashamed. Of feeling scared. Fear. Is a kind of strength. But. What are you. Scared about?”
“I’m afraid we’ll lose everything we currently have if I fail,” I answered. I sat down opposite Veirya and tightly clenched my fists. In a soft voice, I explained, “I know I must avenge you, which is why I have to go to the imperial capital. I don’t understand Queen Sisi or the chapel, however. If I fail, I won’t be faced with just the chapel’s vengeance, but also Queen Sisi’s fury. If I f-”
“Didn’t you say. That you might succeed?”
I paused for a second before answering, “Y-Yes…”
Veirya: “Isn’t it fine, then? I’ve always believed. I could win. That’s why. I’ve won until now. I believe in you. So, you can succeed. Besides. If you fail. I will. Go save you. I will go find you. Don’t be scared.”
I softly chuckled: “I’ll do my best.”
Veirya gently pinched my face. With a hint of envy, she said, “You will. Succeed. I. Like your smile. So, smile more. In my presence.”
I was startled when Veirya said that she liked my smile. Her hand on my face was as cold as ice. Maybe it was because my face was burning up from shyness.
Veirya gently and delicately ran her hand across my face. My heart sped up again upon feeling the supple sensation of her fingers and palm. I looked down, as I couldn’t bring myself to look her in the eye. I felt as though her eyes set me ablaze. My entire mind was filled with images of her. Every nerve on my heart expressed its love for her. I really wanted to grab her hand on my face, but I didn’t dare to. My entire mind went blank.
“I will. Go find you. So, do what you want.”
Veirya gently pulled her hand back. I muttered under my breath with my head down. I wasn’t trying to entertain her. I just knew my face would look as red as if I had a fever if I looked up at her.