Ever since I was born… Ever since my tribesmen appeared, grew and developed… This land has always been mine! Before those stuck up people came here, everything was mine. They ignored me, insulted my traditions and occupied my land. They have not brought freedom and love; this is not a chance to develop. They’re just destroying everything in their path and insulting it!
It’s time I take a stand. Since my father is ill, it’s up to me to lead our people to the real future! I must drive out those invaders! This land protects me, the myriad of gods and the people who came before me and created this land! This land does not belong to those thieves! I shall provide my people with the future that belongs to us. A desolate, yet free, land is better than being slaves to prosperity! I must make a counterattack! I must seize the initiative!
I watched the maids go back and forth to load up the luggage onto the horse carriage scheduled to head North. Veirya’s idea was to leave the imperial capital to avoid the problems in the imperial capital. The tailor also notified me that I could go and see his preparations for our wedding ceremony. Once we enjoyed some time off in the North, we’d be reborn a in our second life, our life as a married couple.
We had so much more to transport back to the North than when we moved to the imperial capital, so our escort was one lavish sight to behold. It would be more appropriate to call the seat inside the luxury carriage a soft mattress that perfectly alleviated the discomfort from the bumpy ride, providing us with a comfortable cradle. Those who weren’t informed would think Queen Sisi was departing. I wouldn’t have opted to leave in such an eye-catching fashion had it not been for Sisi organising the escort for us. The reason for avoiding it was because it was denouncing Sisi’s authority.
With that said, I knew why Sisi specifically prepared such a grand escort for us. It was her way of saying that I was the empire’s Prince Consort, her husband. As her lover, it was only fair for me to enjoy the authority and respect she had. Of course, it could also be interpreted as her way of jabbing Veirya and declaring possession of me. If Veirya was astute enough and wanted to compete with Sisi for my affection, she’d be… furious. Nevertheless, she calmly watched the maids load the luggage, totally oblivious as to the cheap shot.
Sisi, perhaps, was just feeling sulky. She was stuck as my mistress, thereby putting her in a position where she couldn’t oppose Veirya. Moreover, she couldn’t try to steal her friend’s man as the monarch of an empire. As a consequence, all she could do was resort to petty tricks in attempts to rile Veirya up. Unfortunately for Sisi, the craftier and craftier she was about it, the less and less effective her jabs were against Veirya for the latter was oblivious to the former’s jabs.
Angelina, on the other hand, was insightful enough to see through it. She surveyed the escort while wearing a peculiar smile. My mind was filled with hypothetical scenarios of how terrifying it would be if Sisi and Angelina fought over me…
The steward courteously opened the door to the carriage and gestured for Veirya to enter. Veirya turned around and calmly said to Angelina and Ascillia, “We’ll leave. For the North First. When it’s time. Come and join us.”
Ascillia enthused, “When we meet again, I will be able to call you Countess Lin without hesitating anymore.”
Indeed, Veirya wasn’t officially Countess Lin yet. Everybody knew that were engaged, though. Thus, people could officially call her Countess Lin henceforth.
Veirya got onto the horse carriage. A man dressed in military uniform I hadn’t seen before approached me. If I was correct, one of the pouches on his waist was for gunpowder, and the other carried bullets for his long gun. On the other side of his hip was a sheathed anti-cavalry sabre. His clean armour was marked with Queen Sisi’s imperial family’s coat of arms.
“Greetings, Count Lin. I am Captain Harold. I am here on Her Majesty’s orders to escort you to the North,” respectfully explained Harold, bowing with a hand over Queen Sisi’s coat of arms’ symbol on his armour. “With us here, you will not need to worry about safety on your journey.”
“Thank you in advance.” I handed him a couple of gold coins: “Consider this my treat for your team.”
“You are too kind.”
I needed to ensure they were happy, hence the small financial incentive. After my last escort team nearly offed me, I had no trust for this team to speak of… Nonetheless, I decided to trust Queen Sisi’s bodyguard to an extent.
Veirya silently sat by the window and took in the view outside, waving back to those who waved out to her. I held Leah’s hand and watched her giggle as she rolled around on the bed. When I looked at Veirya, I noticed a hint of loneliness. Though her gaze was trained outside, her attention wasn’t on the lush grass. Although I didn’t see anything outside worth my attention, I had a good guess as to what Veirya was thinking after hearing the horse hooves, shouting from the soldiers and weapons clanging.
As an upward curve came to my lips, I asked, “Veirya, did you want to ride a horse?”
Veirya also rode on a horse while we sat in a carriage the first time we went to the North. She had been a noble lady for a long time, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she wanted to ride on horseback again.
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