You Are Not Worthy
There was a noticeable increase in the number of soldiers I encountered as I neared the imperial palace. I didn’t bring my cane with me. I had gotten used to using my cane, and so I struggled with walking without it. If I had to describe it, I was basically dragging my left foot along the ground. I did my best to lean on the wall for support and prevent myself from falling. It took a while, but I eventually habituated to walking with a left foot that I couldn’t feel. After all, I was genuinely worried that soldiers would impede in the middle of my journey.
I arrived at the main entrance of the imperial palace. During Queen Sisi’s reign, people could enter and leave as they pleased, and they could stroll through the lawn at the front as they pleased. The only out of bounds areas were Queen Sisi’s residential palace and the main hall for work. That day, however, not only was there not a single commoner in any corner of the palace but not even officials. I suppose there would be no need to work for or devote their loyalty to a non-existent Queen.
I was the only person standing at the door. I raised my head and told the guards, “You don’t need to stop me. Go in – no, forget your chief, and go straight to Alfor or Veirya, either will do.”
“You are… Lord Lin, correct?” A guard exchanged glances with another guard: “You may enter. Lord Veirya told us that you can enter if you came.”
It was strange; in the past, my heart rate wouldn’t pick up no matter how tense I was. Even when Lucia and her brother simultaneously watched me, my heart didn’t race. As soon as I heard that Veirya allowed me passage and realising that I could meet her again after such a long separation, on the other hand, my heart began to race. In fact, I even felt flustered. I couldn’t allow myself to be flustered. I was in the exact same situation as I was in the elven lands. Any of the soldiers could’ve killed me at the drop of a hat as the elves could’ve. I had entered the military’s most dangerous place. I had to stay calm.
Once I entered the imperial palace, a guard guided me. The place belonged to Queen Sisi, yet it seemed empty and lifeless. If I didn’t come across soldiers, I came across officers. They didn’t look as though they planned to join hands with anyone; they looked as though they planned to act as the sole administrator of the nation alongside Veirya.
I had to give them credit for their confidence. Not even Queen Sisi would choose to rule without any allies. She relied on both the military and businessmen. When she eliminated the chapel, all she did was take their right to preach. She still relied on their doctrine to convince her people to respect and worship her. Relying on purely military might will only allow one to occupy a nation, not govern it.
I was led into the largest palace. I sat down in a room that resembled one reserved for discussion of national affairs. The only thing in the room was a circular table. The young man I was familiar with was waiting for me. While he was panic-stricken in Veirya’s presence, I detected the hint of smugness from him in front of me. He didn’t even sit up straight; he leaned sideways in his chair. If I was his father, I’d slap his face around to the other side to teach him what manners were. Greatness was a word that would forever elude him and those similar to him.
I sat down opposite him.
“If you have something to say, come out with it. I’ve never liked businessmen, especially one who swindled our food from us before.”
I sat still. No, I didn’t grant him my visual attention, either. The two of us kept silent. Several minutes later, he stated, “If you don’t have any business, let’s not waste each other’s time.”
I still didn’t utter a word or stand up. The guard he summoned with a knock stood next to me and made a hand gesture: “Please leave, then.”
“I still haven’t seen who I came to see, buddy.” I then turned my head to indirectly say to the young man, “I wanted to see Veirya, not a stooge who only knows how to act as a poser. Can I bother you to let me see Veirya? Our argument is our family business; it has nothing to do with a maggot.”
Seeing the little man slam the table aggressively gave me an urge to laugh. He jumped to his feet with ire and pointed at me: “You are in our army’s grounds. You disrespected and insulted our field military chief and hurt our hero. What right do you have to see her?! I am now Lord Veirya’s representative and assistant officer. If you have something to say, tell me; otherwise, get lost.”
I leaned in and questioned, “Who. Are. You?”
The guard next to me drew his long sword and held it up to my neck. Next, a sequence of quick footsteps encroached upon the room. Within an instant, the room was packed full of fully-equipped soldiers. If there was one thing I learnt that day, it was that my neck could fit so many swords. Nevertheless, not even ten swords could pressure me the same way Veirya did.
“Say one more word, and I’ll take your head. Now, get out.”
He seemed to think that his swords could beat my strength. He was a little puppy smugly barking at a pack of wolves that left due to boredom, mistakenly thinking he won. Actually, scratch that. The owner of the puppy came over and drove off the pack of wolves, yet the puppy thought it scared off the wolves.
“Imbecile,” I inwardly said. I leisurely sat there and taunted, “Whatever. If I don’t see Veirya, I won’t leave. You guys can save your energy. I dared to go to the elven lands; you think I’m scared of your swords on my neck? Also, you don’t dare to kill me.”
“How about we test that?”
The young man’s gaze was violent.
“Pfft, I could just lean back an inch and save you the trouble; however, I have a ten thousand gold coins IOU attached to me right now. Unfortunately, I owe every businessman in this city money. If I die or disappear, help me repay the ten thousand gold coins, okay? Additionally, once the businessmen find out that you dared to kill another businessman, they’ll all leave. The prices of goods will soar through the roof; the people won’t be able to continue living here. Tell me how you’re going to protect everything you’re supposed to protect again? Kiddo, this is the last time I’m repeating myself: my fight with Veirya isn’t related to you in any capacity. It doesn’t matter to me if I die, but do you think Veirya wants to see me die?”
The young man froze. He gave me the death stare but didn’t have a single argument.
“I just want to see Veirya. You don’t need to do this. Incompetent fool trying to act as if he’s someone. You’re a walking punchline. You want to assist Veirya with your quarter of a wit? Use your brain for a moment: are you worthy? Sorry, you’re not. I’m the only worthy one!”
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