There was no sign of war based on the atmosphere in the imperial capital. Perhaps the news didn’t reach them. Perhaps they weren’t interested in the indigenous people. The elves were a frightening race, but humanity’s indigenous people weren’t, apparently. Having said that, the atmosphere in the imperial capital was suffocating. The aristocrats were clearly they were helpless as they were stuck in between the militaries. The noble ladies could still enjoy tea and chat away in the palace, but they didn’t discuss jewellery or their children. They discussed war.
As I walked through the palace grounds, I heard whispering; it was as if my appearance was the equivalent of a flower blooming to them. I had no time or energy to waste on their drivel. I hastily crossed the flower garden and hall to reach Queen Sisi’s rear palace, where I told the ladies-in-waiting to open up. There was a war taking place outside, one serious enough to have her ride a long way to the North to ask me to go and help. Howbeit, Sisi stayed true to her word and refused to handle national affairs. There weren’t any guests in her rear palace.
Sisi, adorning a plain white dress, lied on her bed and read a report with a frown. I admit to being stupid for thinking Sisi was troubled. Her smile was as bright as the sun. Ever since I accepted the job, she stopped bothering with it. She cheerfully hooked her arm around mine and kissed my cheek: “Ah, Dongqing, perfect timing. Come and think about this with me. What should we name our child? These are the suggestions I’ve received, but it’s tough. You’re their father, so take a look.”
“Sisi, did you receive my letter?”
“Oh, I did. It was nothing special. What, you want me to go and congratulate Veirya? Or did you want me to give her share some knowledge pregnant women need to know?” snarked Sisi, still happy despite not being a fan of the topic.
I ended the topic there since I didn’t visit to brag about Veirya’s child anyway.
“Assassins attacked us on the way here from the North.”
Sisi checked my body with her hands: “I’m glad you’re not hurt. What sort of imbecile attacked you, though? Don’t they know who your wife and mother-in-law are? If they knew and still dared to attack you, they must be overconfident in their assassins. It wasn’t people from the imperial capital, was it? Anybody who knew the ins and outs around here would know that assassinating you is impossible.”
I figured Sisi would reach the same conclusion did. Conversing with Sisi was simple for she could instantly pick up what was next.
“Was it the South’s people? If it wasn’t their businessmen, the indigenous people wouldn’t know of your existence. Can I safely presume that the situation in the South is completely out of control? Have the businessmen in the South given up on me and chosen to revolt? If that’s the case, then can I justify anything I do to them?”
“In theory, yes.”
It was fine for Sisi to just mow them all down. If Sisi didn’t penalise treason, others would begin to oppose her. Sisi wanted to just squash the South with military might. Her military’s main army was no longer the indigenous people but the traitorous businessmen in the South. Furthermore, now was the best time for her to march over. The South had yet to form a military. Hence, marching there now would allow her to carry out a massacre. Again, that was all hypothetically speaking.
“But if you do that, all of the accumulated wealth in the South will be reduced to nothing. The South will become desolate land. Where would the empire make the money to sponsor your current needs?”
Sisi nodded. It wasn’t as simple as going over there and slaughtering the enemy. It was imperative to keep in mind that the foundation of the South would be destroyed along with it. The businesses in the South paid Sisi huge amounts of tax annually to support her lavish lifestyle and military expenditure. Destroying the South would mean having hardly any tax income for, at least, a decade. Sisi couldn’t feed her military that she relied on without the South’s income.
“In other words, you want to personally go there?” Caressing my face, Sisi opined, “It’s not just you who is reluctant to go. I can’t bear to let you go, either. Sadly, I don’t have anyone else I can trust. I know it’s precious; we don’t know anything about the indigenous people in the South. If you end up captured or killed, what do Veirya and I do? Are you going to leave behind two young widows?”
“Wait, weren’t you the one who wanted me to go?”
“I wanted you to go together with Veirya! She’s pregnant now, though. How is she supposed to go with you? Is it somehow not dangerous for you to go alone?”
You know what? I gave up trying to read her mind. She abandoned a tonne of luggage to ride to the North and plead for my help. Then, she wanted to stop me from going… I surrender.
Sisi, insisting she was right, caressed my hand and added, “If you’re going to talk with them, we can have them come here. The imperial capital can provide a better environment than the South. In addition, we would be safer. They’re barbarians; there’s always the risk of them harming you, but we wouldn’t do that.”
“The prerequisite is having someone trustworthy deliver the message. In my opinion, they don’t have plans to stop a war they waged. We need a spectacular win first. That’s the only way they’d be willing to sit down for peace talks. Sisi, let me go. I’m sure they can be reasoned with.”
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