Achilles was still tense by the time we returned to Queen Sisi’s door. I inhaled and stated, “This is as far as I can escort you. I am not responsible for what transpires or the results of your negotiation. Her Majesty will be irritable upon waking, so I advise you don’t challenge her.”
“I know. I’m also her subject.”
“Break a leg, then.” I knocked and quietly reported, “Your Majesty, Achilles seeks an audience.”
“Let him in.”
Strangely, Queen Sisi didn’t sound bleary. I faced away from the door after letting Achilles in. Upon having an epiphany of sorts, I approached a lady-in-waiting to inquire, “Is there a map, a world map?”
“Mm… There is one in the conference room…” From the perspective of a lady-in-waiting, the imperial palace was the entire world, so world geography was trivial knowledge, at best.
I had never seen Queen Sisi hold a meeting in the conference room. I had to stand on a chair to have a level view of the big world map hung on the wall.
Queen Sisi’s powers were gradually emerging from the north. The chapel was purportedly preparing arms. What was taking place was beyond me, and I couldn’t trust my judgement given how jumpy the topic was. For any conclusion to be valuable, the mysteries needed to be explained. Queen Sisi wanted to keep the matter away from the public eye. She also didn’t want to publicly voice her hostility toward the chapel, or march on them, which would provide them with time to retaliate. She needed a justifiable excuse to send her forces to the north. I had an idea; however, it would require Queen Sisi to personally toil. In other words, success or failure hinged on her competence.
Achilles and Queen Sisi were on their way out of her room by the time I returned. Their countenances didn’t provide much information to evaluate the results of their discussion. Queen Sisi had her usual dimples, while Achilles still had weight on his shoulders.
“Ah, Little Doggy, perfect timing. Prepare some tea for me. I want to take a stroll outside. Achilles, you busy yourself with what you have to. It’s unfortunate, but I don’t intend to chat over a cup of tea with you.”
“It is unfortunate, indeed, Your Majesty.”
“Go on, Achilles. It’s my current priority, and I want to see a peaceful resolution, understood?”
“Understood, Your Majesty.” Achilles bowed out and gave me a goodbye nod.
Queen Sisi sensed my approach and pivoted around: “What’s the matter, Little Doggy? Didn’t I tell you to prepare tea? You best have interesting information for me, otherwise.”
“Your Majesty, I have a strategy.”
Queen Sisi was doubtful. Even so, she turned to face the flowers and commanded, “Let’s hear it.”
“I know you want to bring the chapel back from the north but lack justification to send your force there. As such, you require a reason.”
“I like the fact that you can tell what I need. If you were a traitorous minister, I would be in danger.” The corner of Queen Sisi’s lips was tugged up.
“… I was thinking… how about we use the elves and dwarves. As they are close to the north, we can pass Veirya’s territory to the elves, turning it into a commerce zone for our two races. We can offer the small town to the dwarves, converting it into their intelligence centre. That will stoke the flames between the two races. The key is that their conflict arises in our territory. That provides us with a reason to send our forces north under the guide of maintaining peace. Most importantly, the two races will seek out private audiences with us to vie for our support. That provides us with more reasons to obtain what we seek.”
“You’re suggesting I give the elves and dwarves land we fought tooth and nail for?”
“How much value does the poor land have? We are not giving away land for free but turning it into a commerce zone for three parties. All of a sudden, we will have legitimate excuses to keep surveillance on both races. They will seek out our assistance to settle their dispute. The chapel will lose their income since they do business with elves. The dwarves will refuse to supply weapons to the chapel to fight the elves. As a result, the chapel will lose their footing in the north. I also heard the bishop has a child in the imperial capital. Why not… borrow her?”
The smile Queen Sisi showed upon turning around was hard to read. My hairs stood up just waiting for her response.
“I think it’s a viable plan. As a matter of fact, it’s to my liking.” Queen Sisi turned back around to the flower garden outside and elaborated, “I can have my tea now, right? I deserve a break. Little Doggy, what do you want for a reward if your plan is a success?”
“I will not ask for anything in advance because I know penalties and rewards are different sides of the same coin.”
“Haha.” Queen Sisi turned back to caress my face: “You’re always providing me with refreshing ideas, Little Doggy. Perhaps my initial evaluation of you was wrong. You are dangerous as a subject. If you are loyal, however, my kingdom will be safer, won’t it?”
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