Peace Talks Commence
If the enemy didn’t want to kill me, they were most probably anxious. I didn’t think Shishiang would be the type to kill me. On an instinctive level, I didn’t like him. His weird comb over and loose robe bugged my eyes, but I was privy to what sort of man he was. He wasn’t cruel, abrasive or the narrow-minded nationalist who refused to listen to people. To the contrary, my evaluation of him was that he was sagacious. He was eager to interact with our nation. Accordingly, he wouldn’t go off the rails.
I admit to using an awfully risky method. There were two possible outcomes given the status quo. Outcome number one was me refusing to continue peace talks. That would most likely result in me being treated as somebody who came to fool with them or stall them. Outcome number two was understanding my stance. I was forcing them, not leaving. In other words, I, as their only hope, refused to continue peace talks when their fate hung on the precipice. That would most probably kill any final hopes of a peace talk. Nevertheless, I had faith in Shishiang. Being as smart as he was, he should’ve been able to read my stance.
The formerly massive room suddenly appeared tiny to me as I mulled in my chair. Leah clung to my arm, rubbing herself against my body while trying to hear and sniff out information in the surrounding area. I was worried that someone would sneak in, kill us then ship our heads back. If I went and clarified the situation when I first saw the ships, I wouldn’t need to be nervous. As a consequence, I’d be the one to comprise, though.
I went to the island to get Sisi the victory and land she needed, not to bow my head for peace. I had witnessed so many dangerous situations before. If Veirya was with us, I’d feel safer. Relying on Leah alone carried a bigger risk. Regardless, I felt I still had an acceptable degree of control.
We didn’t hear any tragic cries or weapons clashing downstairs, either. They drank, clinked cups, laughed, sang and danced. They behaved as if I conjured up the warships. It was already dark, and the ships’ lights were so eye catching that I wasn’t convinced they didn’t care. Perhaps the people downstairs weren’t. Perhaps the people who actually cared were already making preparations. In saying all that, I didn’t see Shishiang all day.
I wondered what Shishiang was up to. Whoever started panicking first would lose the gamble. My gamble was with my life, while Shishiang betted with his nation. They say that one can’t compare to a nation; however, I was one man up against a nation’s fate.
It was a day worth remembering for Shishiang. He had to spend the majority of his day in the palace. It was probably also the first time he knelt there, while the lords rambled and rambled about taking a team to launch a surprise attack and burn the enemy ships or, alternatively, strengthen their defences, destroy every area they could get to shore on, and then fight them to the death. They also discussed their chances of winning. Some wanted to travel through the night to ask for reinforcements to fight out on the waters.
The Queen never commented. Unlike last time, when she majestically waved her sword and commanded them to attack, she was silent, perhaps too silent. True, the lords held authority, but they used to keep each other at arm’s length. See, if they didn’t obey the Queen, the others would likely accuse them of being an insurgent and try to eliminate them. As such, the degree to which they could control their monarch was limited.
Shishiang never commented until they turned to him. He was also a lord with practical power. Therefore, his opinion couldn’t be ignored. He expressed, “I think we should call for a ceasefire, not attack or defend. If we call a ceasefire, we will have a chance to win. If we put up a resistance, on the other hand, what are our chances of winning? Before you decide to resist, ask yourself if you have a force large enough to resist. Also, I would like to seriously ask you if you would dare to send out all of your forces and fight to the bitter end. Asking another nation for help is the equivalent of welcoming another wolf in. If we have peace talks, we can stand on the same level. If we ask the other nation to help us, on the contrary, we will become subservient to them. That means your ranks would be even lower. I implore you to think carefully.”
The majority of what Shishiang said and they said was pointless tripe. The most important thing he said was when he questioned if they’d dare to send all of their sideline soldiers, who were actually their real elites. Who would send their elites out to die? That would cost them their power; their competition would devour them in the end.
They weren’t lords of the nation but lords of their respective fief. If they didn’t use their main force to form an alliance, sending out a united militia would just be throwing away lives. In reality, they all harboured their own agendas.
As for Sisi, all of the military forces were at her command. Sisi won splendidly again, suppressed the uprising in the South and defeated their invaders. She upgraded their gear and came up with new formations and tactics. Her military was a totally different beast after their last encounter.
Shishiang could’ve drawn out the peace talks before, which had the potential to provide them with relief. Unfortunately, they couldn’t delay any longer. He had no choice but to place his hopes on the negotiation to minimise their losses. At the very least, their nation would still be a nation. If they brought a wolf in and then Sisi decided to sit and wait, their reinforcements might turn around and stab them in the back since there was no war. What would they be able to do then? What sort of logic was asking former invaders to help them?
Before the warships appeared out of the blue, the Queen had the right to consider her options. With their appearance, she had no other options. All she had left was the final shred of honour and dignity that Shishiang could potentially save for her. As for what he wanted to do and could do, that was in his hands.
“Shishiang, I shall entrust it to you. Go and begin negotiations with him. Do a good job. I have faith in you.”
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