Somewhat nervous, Edward clasped his hands and thought, “Her Majesty called me here instead of him. They say he’s the only man with the privilege of being granted a private audience with her at night. Does that mean that she also favours me? Maybe I haven’t failed. Who says that a Queen can only favour one vassal?”
“Do you have orders, Your Majesty?” asked Edward, in a courteous tone and with his head down.
Compared to the man she loved, Edward was more humble in her presence. Sisi loved Lin Dongqing’s indifferent attitude, though. That demeanour of his was the only one that could set her heart aflutter.
“With regards to the coal quarry you operate, it’s located at Dongqing’s place, isn’t it?”
Edward’s heart skipped a beat. He had invested everything he had for his career.
“Her Majesty isn’t going to make me hand the rights over to Lin Dongqing, is she? She’s never given me the order before, but she’s no longer the previous Queen. I wouldn’t put it beyond her to sacrifice me for him, and there’d be nothing I can do. I would lose my life opposing her, let alone my mine,” Edward worried. “Your Majesty, Y-Y-You would not happen to b-“
Queen Sisi shook her head: “Relax. There’s no doubt that I really like him, but I won’t interfere with your work. The quarry is yours. I won’t use any underhanded tricks to take it from you. I do know what priorities are; I won’t give anybody your mine.”
Edward was relieved to hear that, but therein lay the problem. Since she didn’t want to hand the mine to Lin Dongqing, why would she call him in? He worried, “Her Majesty has never specifically called me over for this. Does she plan to look into my business now? That’s definitely not good news.”
“What I want to know, however, is if Dongqing wants the mine. I don’t understand your situation over there very well. If he does want it, I plan to discuss it with you.” Queen Sisi gave Edward no room to think. “What I want to say is, I really want to do something. Howbeit, Dongqing is a prudent man. If the profit isn’t sufficiently significant, he won’t take the bait. Accordingly, I must start from your end. If Dongqing wants the mine, let him fight for it. Don’t stop him no matter what. I want to buy the mine, but I’ll put it under your name.”
Edward tried to fight a jolt. Technically speaking, the mine wasn’t entirely his. Everyone he collaborated with had invested in it. They would receive year-end bonuses based on the profits for the year according to their investment ratios. If Queen Sisi wanted to buy out the rights entirely, then she would become the sole proprietor of the mine. If nobody else found out her intention, and Lin Dongqing spent money to buy the shares of the people who were no longer shareholders, and walk off with it all, then he would go bankrupt. Because they no longer had any shares, Lin Dongqing’s investment would be for naught. If it was his money, then there’d be wiggle room. If, on the other hand, Lin Dongqing took out a loan, he’d go bankrupt due to not being able to repay the loan or have anything to pawn.
What happens to bankrupt businessmen? Besides having all their assets seized, not even their wife and children will get off the hook. They’d have no choice but to go to some ramshackle place or be a sailor out at sea. Should they be lucky, they’ll regain their freedom in forty or fifty years’ time. That is provided that they can survive in such places for that long.
“Her Majesty definitely doesn’t want Lin Dongqing to die, so what does she want?” Edward inwardly questioned.
Sisi gave Edward a nod: “Of course, I don’t actually want your mine and whatnot. I merely need to borrow it temporarily. Once I’m done with it, the rights to the mine will be all yours. At present, the right to the mine is split, correct? If I hand all the rights to you, you just need to give me seventy-percent of the annual profit. Call those businessmen involved, and I’ll make arrangements with them.”
I’m still profiting, then. If I can get the right to the mine without lifting a finger, I couldn’t be any more pleased with myself. Even if I have to give Her Majesty seventy percent, the remaining thirty percent that I receive will still be more than what I get now. I don’t even have twenty percent of the shares at the moment. Additionally, this is to help Her Majesty forward her goal. If I handle it well, she might even fall for me. By then, I’ll be able to do even more. This sounds fabulous.
Edward respectfully bowed: “Yes, Your Majesty.”
Everyone at the brothel should’ve been asleep, yet Veirya stood up from her chair, presumably having sat still there the entire time. Even the cup in front of her was still full. Feeling sorry for her, I told her, “Turn in first if I don’t come back at night from now on. There’s no need to wait for me.”
“I’m fine,” answered Veirya. Her eyes immediately drifted to the long sword in my hand. Surprised, she remarked, “You. Got it. Back?”
“Yeah. He’s learnt his lesson, so I got it back.”
I handed Veirya the sword with a smile. She hesitated when she looked at my empty finger. She expressed, “Honestly speaking. I prefer. That ring. You could wear it.”
“It’s not important, Veirya.” I smiled: “Ask Angelina to go buy another one another day. Don’t let yourself be fooled again. I’m delighted to have received a ring from you, though. Seriously. I’m very happy. Thank you, Veirya.”
“Uhm…” Veirya touched her ring on her left finger, cherishing it. She conveyed in a soft voice, “I’m also. happy. With this. It really is different. To the last one. It makes me happy. To wear one you gave me. I don’t want. To take it off. So. I can’t use a sword again.”
Apparently, one couldn’t wield a sword when they wore a ring. Veirya sounded as though she was willing to forego the life she was used to and lead an ordinary life with me.
“So, let’s go back tomorrow. I want to. Go back now.”
Truthfully, I didn’t want to leave yet. I wanted to find out more about the problem with Edward’s business. It would be best if I could meet all of the people involved to enhance my understanding. I was going to make money from it, after all. When I saw Veirya’s gaze, though, I felt that I couldn’t stay.
I lingered, hesitated, yet felt that I shouldn’t be wrestling with the question. After what just happened, what reason do I have to be in a dilemma?
“Let’s think about it after we get back. We should be fine. There shouldn’t be any problems,” I told myself.
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