Lucilia silently looked at Veirya. Angelina sat with her arms folded, wearing a perplexing smile on her face. Veirya gracefully placed her hands on her thighs and casually, yet solemnly, took the centre spot with her torso upright. Ciara had her hand on her axe as she stood at the door and watched the four in front of her. The young girl I didn’t recognise was situated behind the four. She watched them with excitement and anticipation. Heck, she was on the verge of tears of excitement. To put it into perspective, imagine those fans who get to exchange a few words with their idol when they catch them out buying groceries.
With all that said, the women sitting at the round table didn’t allow the young girl to approach them. I wanted to know why they weren’t relieved or angry after I told recounted the entire story. To the contrary, they seemed to have something in mind and were somewhat tense. The women gathered to subdue the Demon King, yet it looked as though they were facing internal strife. The atmosphere between them was clearly as tense as it could be. I was puzzled as to why I couldn’t join them when Leah could.
“Ahem,” Angelina started, breaking the protracted silent confrontation. “If nobody wishes to speak, we cannot continue the discussion. As you all have something to say about this, yet the resource is limited, we should discuss how to share the resource. We need to come up with a conclusion everyone can accept. Else, if we were to fight, it wouldn’t be a fight between neighbours but a bloody affair.”
I mused, “What are they talking about? What resource are they sharing? Do they have some resource to share? Lucilia has the elves’ forest to share, but what can Veirya share, her house? Who’s Ciara representing, then, the erstwhile Elven Queen? What would the Elven Queen have to share? What does the Elven Queen want? I’m getting more confused by the thought. Did they discuss something behind my back? What are they discussing in my presence?”
Curious, I sat up from my lying positions. Perhaps it was an occupational habit that led to me getting serious when I heard negotiations. I was eager to hear how Veirya would negotiate without me.
“First and foremost, we must acknowledge Veirya’s status. If you still want to discuss this, you must bear in mind her established status,” stated Angelina, regarding Lucilia specificially.
Lucilia nodded and, sounding somewhat bitter, asserted, “I know she is the only one. I can give her due respect. I know my own place. I knew before this already.”
I still couldn’t figure out what they were talking about. Nevertheless, I was glad as, while I didn’t know what method Veirya used, she, at the very least, had seized the initiative, though I didn’t know what she actually did. As long as you have the initiative, you can get more of what you want in a negotiation.
“Having said that, I always want to make it clear that I can’t be robbed of all opportunities solely based on that. In short, monopolisation is not permitted. The elven side requires a share, too. As the Elven Queen, my reputation and honour must be upheld. As such, I believe Veirya must consider those points and, therefore, not monopolise,” demanded Lucilia.
Veirya nodded: “I won’t. Lucilia. You are my friend. So. As long as. We’re doing so as friends. I won’t. Complain.”
My brows rose, deliberating, “No way, right…? They’re not talking about that, are they…? I’m right here. They aren’t discussing right in front of me, are they…? Please tell me it’s not true… Veirya’s not that sort of woman… She wouldn’t get involved with that sort of thing, would she…?”
“In addition, Her Majesty also put in a fair amount of effort while you were gone,” voiced Ciara. The ‘Her Majesty’ Ciara mentioned definitely wasn’t Lucilia; it was rare enough that she would agree to sit together with lucilia without trying to strangle the latter. Eyes on Veirya, Ciara expanded, “Hence, I respect and give your decision my blessings. In saying that, I hope that we can continue leading normal lives. We have not caused your town any trouble in all this time. I believe that you trust us.”
I thought, “That’s true. The elves never gave us any grief ever since they moved in with us. In actual fact, they helped us on numerous occasions. Does that have anything to do with what Veirya is talking about, though? Logically speaking, whatever it is they’re sharing, it shouldn’t have anything to do with Ciara and company.”
The ominous feeling in me gradually grew… I suspected they… were discussing something not in my favour… I could sense it. They weren’t talking about sharing land or resources… I realised the common denominator between them…
“I… I just want to be with Papa…” quietly expressed Leah, as she watched the adults’ reactions. “So, it does not matter how you share Papa… As long as Papa is with Leah, Leah will be happy…”
“I knew you women were discussing sharing me!! You think it’s nice to discuss me in my presence?!! Aren’t you going to consider my opinion?!”
I inwardly yelled, “Are you people devils?! You’re going to talking about sharing me in my presence?! What am I to you, the withering late Qing dynasty?! Can you not talk about sharing me in my presence?! This isn’t fair! I want to make my own decision!’
Angelina glanced at me then looked away. No, she had no intention of saying anything to me. My opinion held no weight to her! The women all ignored me and continued looking at each other instead to proceed with their, “Splitting Lin Dongqing” activity…
*In the late Qing Dynasty, there were factions, splits, reforms, revolutions… basically, lots of factions. Lin Dongqing is equating himself with the Qing government in its later stages to illustrate how he was essentially being split between the women, each representing parallel factions.
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