“Papa, this tastes really nice!” Leah, hands covered in honey on bread, ran up to me and enthused.
I took a piece from Leah and had a try. I then scrubbed her head. She happily hugged my thigh, not caring that the honey on her mouth would get on my leg. Achilles, who was next to me, watched us and hopelessly smiled: “You still dote on Leah as always, I see.”
“Leah is my daughter. Of course I like her. And, look, don’t lots of people like Leah now?”
I touched Leah’s head to let her know that she could continue eating. Sisi had yet to appear. The noon banquet gave us time to converse. Leah continued running around the crowd, but nobody dared to complain. Some even wanted to try and speak to her for a smile. They used to ignore Leah, yet they did everything they could to put a smile on her face months later.
I knew that it wasn’t polite to let a child run around between adults, but I had power. Who cares about manners? My sky blue cape on my back was Leah’s protective talisman.
“Heh.” Achilles patted my shoulder: “You do not have any principles. We loaned you money and promised to help Queen Sisi, only for you to turn around and sow discord among us. I did not have my guard up against you, yet you played me bad enough to almost make trouble arise between us businessmen.”
“You should be aware that I didn’t do that on purpose, right?” I had a drink of fruit wine from my glass and then smiled: “I’m just Queen Sisi’s assistant. I do what she tells me to do. Queen Sisi had misgivings about you lot. It had nothing to do with me. In saying that, I’m grateful for your help, though I do know that my gratitude isn’t practical.”
“Is your gratitude not already useful?” Achilles checked out my sky blue cape before carrying on, “They now have to get on Leah’s good side to give you a good impression of them. We, however, don’t need to get on Leah’s good side, do we?”
“Then, you should ingratiate yourselves with Veirya. When we hold our ceremony, we’ll be relying on you a lot for help.”
“You two are set on getting married?” Achilles froze for a moment. He made a toast and finished his drink in one go. He opined, “That is good news. That said, is it really the appropriate time for you to be getting married? They say that marriage is the nail in your career’s coffin. It took a lot for you to win Queen Sisi’s favour; getting married now would not bolster your career in any way.”
“I would argue that we need to hurry and get married so that Veirya would allow me to work here.”
A servant handed over a new glass of wine, which Achilles took. We gave each other a toast. Achilles added, “In that case, I shall say no more. I do not want to be a victim of your fiancée’s sword, so congratulations!”
“You should be getting married, too, Achilles.”
“I will need to wait till I meet the right person, I guess.”
We gave each other a smile then finished our drinks. As we conversed, we heard a lady-in-waiting announce, “Her Majesty has arrived!”
Everyone turned to face the direction the voice originated. Leah froze in place with her fork and meat still in hand. She didn’t know what to do. All that was audible in the silence was high heels tapping the steps. Adorning black gloves, Queen Sisi eloquently descended the stairs of the balcony, sporting her usual captivating smile. Her burgundy hair was splayed onto her shoulders. The purple dress she wore emphasised her voluptuous breasts. She had a black mole on her. It was a blissful feeling, surprisingly, to see such a beautiful Sisi approach. That perfect beauty loved me.
“Ladies and gentleman,” – Sisi gave everyone a gander and smile – “You’ve worked hard.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty!”
Everyone bowed to Sisi. I, too, bowed my head. Unsure for what to do, Leah jogged over to Sisi, while Sisi watched her approach while smiling to herself. Sisi crouched down and questioned, “Is something the matter, Leah?”
Leah lingered for a moment before holding out the piece of meat in her hand: “Umm… Your Majesty… this is for you…”
Sisi froze. It took her a second to realise that Leah was worried she was angry about Leah taking Veirya back. Sisi giggled and gave Leah a hug. She kissed Leah’s cheek and took a fork. She ate the piece of meat in front of everyone without any hesitation. The lady-in-waiting next to her quickly handed her a handkerchief and took the fork.
“All right, everyone. There is no need to say any more. I shall not interrupt your meal time. I just hope that you can remain loyalty and motivated as you once had. So then, please enjoy this banquet!”
Sisi didn’t say anything superfluous. Noticing me approach, she flustered as she wiped her mouth and tossed aside the handkerchief. She placed her hands behind her and gave me a smile. I handed her a glass of wine: “You look gorgeous tonight.”
“I specifically dressed up for you, “replied Sisi, with a smile. She spun around in front of me: “I’m fulfilled to hear that from you. If we weren’t in public, I’d give you a kiss.”
“I think we should give that a pass.”
I was worried about having Sisi’s scent on me. I’d be hard-pressed to explain it if Veirya detected the smell. We had reconciled, but I was still conscious of my interactions with other females.
Sisi looped her arm around mine: “That being the case, as my favoured vassal, you can make a lap with me, right? While we’re at it, I need to see the military and people’s representative. At night, I’ll help you kill that young man. Would you like to send him off on fire as last time?”
“I have no opinion.”
I thought you were kind.”
“I never have been. As long as Leah doesn’t have to see it, then I’m fine. I don’t plan to watch, either. I want to go back at night.”
“I see. I guess I won’t be able to keep you, then.”
“You’re right about that.”
I didn’t intend to give Sisi any chances. She shook her head with a laugh. The two of us addressed the vassals one by one to put them at ease. They were in panic due to her absence. It was nice enough that they could remain loyal in the face of the challenges.
I was busy all afternoon. Sisi’s job wasn’t a relaxing one. Unfortunately for her, I couldn’t take over the jobs on her behalf. I could only watch her busy herself all the way until night time, when I could finally leave. Sisi was exhausted. We gave each other a kiss on the cheek and then went our own ways. Sisi watched me go, waiting for me to vanish out of sight before returning. It pricked my heart to see her small silhouette as I rode off.
I dropped Leah off prior to collecting the ring the dwarves had just finished. I must admit it was absolutely worth the price tag. The golden letters were fabulously carved on. It read, “I love you.” The gem on the ring was akin to a bright flame. The six small gems were collected around the largest one. As long as there was a source of light, you would see seven lights.
The Elven Queen and Ciara had come back. Queen Sisi didn’t do anything to them besides having them kneel before humans. I bought them some elven jewellery as an apology, though. I wasn’t sure if the elven jewellery in humanity’s lands would cheer them up a little, but it was the best I could do.
At dinner, Veirya conveyed, “I have something. For you.”
“I’m the one who should’ve given her a present. Why is she giving me a present? She shouldn’t have money. She can’t afford a ring, so what is she giving me?” I pondered.
Veirya took out a ring from her pocket and gave it to me. Nervously, she told me, “I… I exchanged my sword for it… I thought. This ring. Looked nice. They say. That you have. To give the person you love. A ring. So I’m giving you one.”
Veirya placed the ring in my hand. If you ever touched a real ring, you’d realise something was off about the ring she handed me. If it was a gem or some sort, it wouldn’t be so light. I scanned it then I knocked on the table with it. The so-called gem cracked.
“This is glass.” I sighed: “Veirya, you were scammed.”
Veirya was shocked. She lowered her head and didn’t say another word. I glanced down to her empty belt. I was quite sad. She didn’t have money, so she used her only possession to exchange it for a ring to give me. Sure, she was conned, but it was everything she had. Her sword was the one thing she’d never throw away as a soldier, yet she exchanged it for a ring for me, only to be conned.
I grabbed hold of her hand and took out a ring from my pocket, triggering a subtle jolt from Veirya. I knelt down on one knee and carefully wore it onto her left ring finger.
“You’re right. You should give your loved one a ring. I lost the other ring, so this one is to make up for it.”
Veirya’s body gently quivered. I picked up the fake ring and, voice serious, pledged, “It’s fine. A ring is just an object. It’s the thought that’s most important. Don’t worry, Veirya. I’ll help you. I’ll find that scammer. As long as I’m around, I won’t allow anyone to fool you!”
MYSD Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/wjzmysd