Ciara guarded the door with her sword in hand: “I don’t know what exactly you’re talking about, but I won’t allow you to take Her Majesty and me. We are not his assets; neither will we just let you take us away. Try if you wish. Let’s see if my speed can surpass your numbers!”
The men weren’t afraid of Ciara’s blade. They didn’t need weapons for the possessed a power which couldn’t be opposed – credibility and the law. Based on what I had been told, it was a fact that I had gone bankrupt. Since I was bankrupt, it was lawful and rightful for them to confiscate all of my assets, and they certainly would do so.
“Lin Dongqing, don’t make things hard for us,” demanded Achilles, giving pats on the shoulder all the while. “We are only here to confiscate your land and assets. They are not our business. The elves can be sold off, but we won’t touch Leah. Don’t worry. I’m your friend. I can’t deny your bankruptcy, but I can protect Leah for you. You will no longer have your freedom. You will be dealt with accordingly, and where you will be sent will be decided. I will protect Leah properly, though.”
“Ciara, lower your sword,” I ordered.
After something major as Veirya being wounded so seriously, bankruptcy didn’t disappoint me all that much or rattle. Rather, I had predicted as much. They dared to come knocking and confiscating my assets precisely because I was bankrupt. I didn’t care about bankruptcy anymore, nonetheless. I just wanted to kill those who crossed me with their deceit.
Ciara didn’t want to lower her sword. The Elven Queen gently pressed a hand on her shoulder from behind. Ciara remained reluctant. The Elven Queen chuckled and shook her head: “It’s all right. I trust Lord Lin. He won’t abandon us. Let’s not add to his problems. He has his own designs. Ciara, lower your sword.”
“… Yes, Your Majesty.” Despite her reluctance, Ciara lowered her sword in the end.
“Achilles, you need to know that the elves aren’t my assets. They’re my family. I can give you my assets but not my family because they’re not my assets. I won’t accept you selling them to anyone. To add, I’ll be back. I was deceived. There’s no way I can’t make my comeback. I want to go to the imperial capital. I refuse to accept that I’m bankrupt!”
“It matters not if you accept it or not for it is fact now,” disputed Achilles. “I sympathise with you. Sadly, there’s nothing I can do. The best I can do is protect Leah for you. I can’t do anything else for you. It’s not me that you owe money to but the various banks. They aren’t a charity, and they aren’t your friends. There’s no chance of them showing you mercy.”
“Yes, they and I aren’t related in any shape or form. In saying that, since they came together with you, that means that you and they are connected. I hope you can help me out. Give me a few more days; make that half a month. Let me go to the imperial capital to sort this out. You trust me, don’t you, Achilles?”
I interpreted Achilles silence as deliberation time. Neither of the people around budged. They knew I couldn’t escape. If I wanted to escape, I could only flee to the elven lands or even further North. Their banks branches were found everywhere else, most likely. While there were no airplanes in this era or ID inspections, there was nothing more pragmatic than a network of people. I had lost credibility and gone bankrupt. As a consequence, all I could do was run somewhere without human habitants and a place where selling and buying were non-existent concepts. I didn’t have money, though, having said that.
“Take some stuff with you, and then head to the imperial capital,” stated Achilles, breaking his long silence. “Nonetheless, you can’t take the elves with you. They will be considered hostages. If you can resolve your issue, there won’t be any issues. If you can’t, on the other hand, these banks will be allowed to do as they please with the elves.”
“All right, thank you, Achilles.”
I was extremely grateful to Achilles. He had done his best. That level of leniency was a sign of trust. Under normal circumstances, a bankrupt individual loses his freedom. Achilles was the only one who trusted me enough to let me roam free, not to mention even allowing me to take some stuff with me. I could take everything worth money and then run off to live in seclusion. Moreover, he didn’t confiscate all of my assets immediately.
I still had a chance to reverse the situation. I had to. If I couldn’t, then neither could I enact my revenge. If I couldn’t get revenge, then who would be responsible for Veirya’s pain? I couldn’t care less what mistakes I made before. You dare touch my family and loved one, and I’ll end you whether you have two heads or four arms.
Achilles nodded. Then, he whispered something into the ears of the few with him. They discussed among themselves before turning around to make way for me.
I patted the Elven Queen on the shoulder and assured, “Don’t fret. I’ll come back for you. I’m going to need to sort out a few problems now. Wait here for me. I promise to be back.”
“I know,” responded the Elven Queen, visage void of fear or suspicion. She touched my face and expressed, “What a frightening night. Although I cannot see, I can feel your angst. I understand that anyone would get emotional if they saw their loved one in such a state. Sadly, I do not even have the chance to comfort you now. Lord Lin, I cannot help you with anything this time. As such, I will wait here for your return. I will always wait for you no matter how long it takes.”
The Elven Queen then tried to go up on her toes and gave me a light kiss on my cheek. I silently nodded in response; I didn’t care if she could see or not. I headed inside. Leah, who had transformed into her adult form, ran up to me to tightly hug me and sobbed on my shoulder. I hugged her, sniffed her scent and relished her warmth. My body also began to quiver slightly. I had calmed down. Howbeit, I started to feel fearful after hugging my Leah. I was genuinely worried. Had I been back just a little bit later, I might never have seen my Leah again.
“Papa… Papa… I’m scared… Leah… Leah is scared… How did this suddenly happen…? Why…? H-how is Mama Veirya?” whimpered Leah, as she tightly gripped my clothes and quavered.
I stroked Leah’s head with firm strokes. “It’ll be okay, Leah. It’ll be okay. I’ll protect you, Leah. Veirya is also fine. Don’t worry. Leave her to Lucia. I trust Lucia. Still, we need to leave this place. Let’s go to the imperial capital to resolve this first. By the time we come back, Veirya will have recovered. It’ll be all right, Leah. It’s not that serious. Trust Papa.”
Leah wiped her tears on my chest. As she did so, I saw Ross descending the stairs with several sheets of paper in his hand. I rushed over and grabbed his wrist, frightening him.
“What are you trying to do?! They sent you here, didn’t they?! You’re trying to take my stuff, are you?! You’re trying to steal my stuff, aren’t you?!”
“No! I am not… I… I… These… these…” stammered Ross, who shrunk and brought his limbs in.
Leah ran over and grabbed my arm. “It wasn’t Ross’ fault. Ross… Ross has already done his best. Several men barged into the house to snatch Papa’s stuff. Ross… Only Ross was able to snatch some back. This is all he managed to get back… Papa, it wasn’t Ross’ fault!”
I froze in place. Seeing the documents in Ross’ hand, I slowly released my hold on him. Frightened, he retreated a step but didn’t dare to utter a word.
“Sorry. I was impulsive,” I apologised and dropped down to the side. “Those documents are meaningless. Those are the bits of the contract I made with Francis in the past. It’s for the land far up north. It’s useless now. One, because this land no longer belongs to Veirya. Two, even if I sold that land, it wouldn’t be enough to repay my debt of fifty-thousand gold coins.”
“Sorry… My Lord…”
“It’s fine. It’s not your problem. Regardless of what you grabbed, it wouldn’t have been enough.” I got up and scrubbed the two kids’ heads. “Whatever the case is, I need to go to the imperial capital. I can’t give up when Veirya is in that state. Leah. Ross…”
“Leah will always be together with Papa!”
“If… If possible, I will also stick with you, Lord Lin… I will do my best to help!”
Despite turning his fingers into steely clamps and sounding serious, I could detect the hint of nervousness and fear in Ross’ tone.
“All right, let’s go to the imperial capital and collect some debts!”
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