Lucia left early the next morning. She said she needed to begin preparing invitations. The last thing I wanted her to do was invite Veirya, but if she didn’t, it’d be strange. Veirya was Lucia’s friend, so Veirya would definitely attend the wedding, and it would be very awkward, no doubt. Veirya might bring her sword along. I’d be willing to bet she might charge at us with her sword unsheathed… I guess I had to do my best… to finish up my job beforehand.
After I left the place I stayed, I needed to greet lots of elves. They were all ordinary elves living nearby. It was surprising they initiated greetings upon seeing me, but, hey, that was perfect. I needed more elves to see me. Lots of them knew of my existence but never saw me before. After seeing me, they would know who Lucia’s husband is. I wanted them to remember me. Why? No matter what I did in the future, no elves would get in my way. Lucia was my magic key.
I did a lap but didn’t see Lucia anywhere. I surmised she must’ve been writing invitations at home. Elves had gone off to collect a variety of things from the forest. The elves raised chubby birds that couldn’t fly and let them out to run. The elven children, armed with small bows, chased said birds. They put the children into training from a young age.
I refused a few guards’ offers to bodyguard me. After I entered the forest, I did a lap before returning to the river to sit down by the edge. I focused my gaze on the moving water and mulled over my next step.
It was the time of the day when elves were most active. If Lucia’s brother had surveillance on me, he would’ve just seen me sitting at the edge of the river in silence the entire time. I couldn’t take the initiative to go and see the elf across the other side of the river. She was part of the faction that opposed Lucia and her brother, after all. Lucia’s brother would most likely have given me grief, if not kill me, if I got involved with the elves’ affairs.
The damned sis-con hated me to the core. He’d take any opportunity to kill me. His hatred would only increase the more intimate I was with Lucia. As a matter of fact, I suspected he might choose to forego any excuse and just off me… You can’t put anything past a sis-con.
Where exactly would Queen Sisi be, was the key question I required an answer for. Queen Sisi was too far away from me that day. As a result, I didn’t get a clear view of what she had on her. I saw Queen Sisi for less than ten minutes. In those few minutes, I did my best to try and collect as much information as I could from what I could visually notice on Queen Sisi. Honestly, I didn’t pick up many leads. In saying that, I did notice one thing. Queen Sisi was covered in wounds. The wounds weren’t from being beaten. Man didn’t inflict those wounds, and they weren’t bite marks, either. The wounds were tiny and closely located together. They were traces of rodents.
I began my analysis: “Now, where would I find rodents? A cellar? There were no rodents in the cellar the banshees resided. Rodents wouldn’t be fond of such places because there’s no food in a cellar. That, in turn, means they won’t be able to feed many rodents. They choose places with food and are damp. I can conclude Queen Sisi isn’t in the cellar of some building or the house across the river. Where else could she be? A food warehouse? No, no, no. They wouldn’t possibly put Queen Sisi in a food warehouse. That said, she must be underground somewhere.
Where could Queen Sisi be? She must be underground, but where? Would it be some place along this river? If I continue along this river, I should be able to find her. That’s too wide of an area to search, however. How long would it take me to search the entire area? It’s best if I can figure out a more precise location. I don’t know what’s in store down below, and I don’t have time to go down to check.”
What did I need from the peculiar elf? I hadn’t decided or figured out what was possible. Either way, Lucia’s enemy was still useful. Not only did I have to rescue Queen Sisi but I had to do it stealthily. I also had to leave the elven lands, and do it without Lucia bearing a grudge against me. I had to obtain something from the elf to achieve those goals. I did have a plan in mind, but it sounded outlandish to me. I had a method in mind – albeit an immature one – that could allow me to take Queen Sisi, not make Lucia hate me, and even nullify our marriage. Said method was to make Lucia the Elven Queen.
Elven Queens weren’t allowed to marry. As long as I could enthrone Lucia as the Elven Queen, she would be forced to dedicate herself to her role as a Queen in the elven lands. As she couldn’t marry, our wedding would have to be cancelled. In the end, she’d be forced to be the Queen, while I could leave with Queen Sisi due to the cancellation of our wedding. That was the perfect conclusion.
I had found the most valuable asset for the plan, namely the faction that sided with the Queen –I’ll refer to them as the Queen’s faction going forward. The Queen’s faction was never going to be able to bring the original Queen back. A blind Elven Queen wasn’t going to be able to act as the administrator for elves. Lucia was the elves’ hero and, therefore, must’ve been credible. I was of the opinion that it wasn’t a bad thing for the elves to return to those days. I didn’t think life at present was any different for the ordinary elves. With that in mind, the next step was designing a plan to instate Lucia as Queen.
While I was in my own world, Ascilla appeared to fetch water again. I approached her and crossed over with her again. Running into Ascillia and crossing over with her was totally different to crossing of my own volition. Since I went with Ascillia, I could brush off the accusation that I went to speak with the Queen’s faction and lie I went to chat to Ascillia. Moreover, it was unlikely anyone besides me could sit there.
“What will I be able to acquire this time?” I eagerly pondered.
As soon as I entered the peculiar elf slammed a map onto the ground. She lied down on the ground and told me, “So, I did try my best to search using our information network. This is a map of our area here. According to our predictions, this is the only place Queen Sisi could be located.”
There was only word one to describe the map: ancient. In the centre was a building situated along the river, which was the place she pointed at.
She didn’t mince her words: “Correct. It’s where we slaughter animals for poultry. It can also be used to hide people. The animals’ excretions are stored underground as fertiliser. Queen Sisi may be there. What’s your plan, though?”
I pinched my chin: “Can I just strut in there?”
“Of course you can go in and out at your leisure. If you take Queen Sisi with you, however, that’s another story. Of course, we can’t go in and out as we please. It’s their faction’s territory. Unfortunately, we lost in the faction war. That bitch, Lucia, assassinated most of our members. I escaped here, but I’m essentially under house arrest here. That bitch is waiting for me to die, and it’s frustrating that she’ll eventually win this war of attrition..”
I understood what the elf implied.
“Lucilia is an idiot, a fact that I know. That idiot is still the same as always. She’s a good girl deep down, but her brother is always tricking her into doing things. She kills because of her brother, but I can’t do anything about it, as she trusts him too much. I can’t understand one thing: her brother let you marry his sister? That’s just perplexing.”
“You knew Lucia long ago?!”
“We’re childhood friends. Well, not anymore. I doubt Lucia has any intention of acknowledging our friendship. To be fair, neither do I.” The elf shook her head: “You saved our Queen; therefore, I will help you rescue your Queen. That is our duty as guards. We didn’t protect our Queen with our lives last time; we are now in anguish as a consequence. I won’t let myself experience that anguish again this time. Lucia killed too many of our friends. I believe she isn’t feeling good about it, either. Needless to say, we don’t like it. What can we do, though? Our scripture dictates that we can’t thoughtlessly kill our own kind. We won’t kill our own kind.”
I nodded to indicate that I understood. I proceeded to contemplate what the elf just said: “Elves can’t senselessly kill their own kind. Lucia kills her own kind because of her brother. This group is willing to give up everything for their Queen.”
A vague plan surfaced in my mind. I stood leaning on the wall and sorted out my thoughts. Ascillia, in a soft voice, cut off the elf, who was about to continue speaking, “Do not interrupt Sir Lin. He is currently thinking.”
“How do I put all these pieces together? This is all I’ll have. I don’t have anything else. I’m in the heart of the elves’ territory. Not to mention I’ve got a sis-con, one who might kill me on any whim, watching me. How do I do this?” I pondered.
I came up with a good idea, except that it was brutal. I proposed, “Let’s say you have a large batch of black cloth but nobody is willing to buy the batch. And, you’ll go bankrupt if you can’t sell it. How will you sell them?”
“What?” The elf had no idea what I was on about.
“In other words, nobody wants to buy your black cloth because it’s ugly and nobody likes it. How, then, will you sell it?”
“I’d… switch it for another batch of something?”
“What if it was your final asset and nobody was willing to exchange it for anything else?”
“What should I do, then?”
I first cracked a smile. I sauntered over and whispered in her ear, “Kill the King. That way, everyone will need to buy the black cloth as they need it as part of their mourning apparel. The value of goods is never fixed. A brilliant businessman can determine the value of a commodity. Be it humans or elves, we’ll all die. The majority of deaths are meaningless. However, tactful humans and elves can give infinite value to their deaths. You know what I mean now, right?”
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