“Our scouts have reported that they have spotted active human soldiers outside the perimeter of the Imperial City.”
The Queen nodded, and then waved her hand. The local official below raised his head, but didn’t leave. Instead, he looked at the Queen and said, “Sorry, My Queen. Although I know that saying this now would be considered disloyal, you must understand that we, too, have our own family. As such, I must ask to quit my post, now.”
The Queen narrowed her eyes to look at him and asked, “Are you already no longer willing to stay by my side? Do you feel that the humans will kill you once they cross over? Do you think that they will kill everybody around me?”
The local official replied, “Yes. I am very sorry, My Queen. Loyalty is important, but I do not believe that what you have given me is enough for me to sacrifice my life. I only worked as a local official in order to feed my family. I hope you can understand my dilemma.”
The Queen looked at him and asked, “In other words, you want to live, correct?”
She casually responded again, “You shouldn’t leave, then. If you want to survive, then staying by my side is the safest option. A ruler of a nation does not kill the ruler of another nation. The human commander must be aware of that. He won’t kill me, but I cannot guarantee that he will not kill others. However, based off of the fact that he exterminated the panthers, it would seem he really enjoys killing people.”
The local official looked at her with suspicion. The Queen stood up and continued, “The elder will be back very soon. I can only tell you this much. If you want to live, don’t leave my side.”
“I… insist on quitting.”
The local official went quiet. He didn’t believe the Queen. The Queen does hold authority among the lower ranked anthropoids, but everybody in the palace knew that she was merely an insignificant puppet. She held no strength of her own and had no factions serving her. If somebody in such a position told you that you should serve them if you want to live, would you believe them?
The humans they were up against were already outside the palace’s perimeter. It was as though the palace was already in their sights. The humans annihilated the anthropoids’ army; their grand commander was said to be a demon who killed without batting an eye. Why would such a person spare a powerless Queen? For him to be able to conquer the North, he’d have to establish his rule with the blood of the former ruler. There was no hope of survival if he served the Queen. Why would he believe the Queen? Nobody believed her.
The Queen looked at him. The heavy sound of a walking stick hitting the ground came closer and closer. The Queen looked at the local official with a gaze full of hopelessness and sympathy. She sighed, “I accept your request to quit. To be honest, I feel that it’s better for you to leave the Imperial Capital as soon as you can before humanity completely surrounds this place.”
The local official nodded as though he was given amnesty. He got up and headed out. The sound of the walking stick hitting the ground stopped at the entrance. The local official pushed the door open. The light outside was accompanied by a stench of blood that poured in similarly to a wave. The Queen froze. She looked at the local official’s body that stiffened up. A sharp sword was stabbed through his body. His blood ran down his back.
The elder pulled the sword out and placed it back into this walking stick. The local official’s corpse collapsed onto the floor of the hall. His blood spilt onto the smooth floor.
The elder looked at the Queen and panted as he said, “Since you gave me the right to punish those do not fight, I, naturally, must use that right. Cowards who cower before the big fight have no need to live.”
The Queen looked at him. She looked at the corpse for a few seconds. Then, voice soft, she said, “Is there any purpose in that anymore? He’ll die to the humans even if you don’t kill him.”
“But the meaning behind it is different. He won’t get the chance to be a second traitor, either! My Queen, the people around you become traitors and cowards precisely because you are far too soft! If you could be as firm as humanity’s Grand Commander, I can say with absolute confidence that the North would not be in its current state!”
“This war was a mistake in itself! After making consecutive fatal mistakes, you went and angered humanity, and you’re claiming it’s my mistake?! We knew that we shouldn’t have continued with the war after finding out the elves and humans had allied with each other! Why did you exterminate the Moon Fox Tribe, which was the life of the North?! This war was a mistake from beginning to end! You’re the one who led us onto this path of despair!”
“It was a mistake, but that does not mean that we cannot continue! It is because of Marvel’s mistake! He went to fight humanity before we formed our armies. That gave humanity their opportunity!”
“It’s pointless to be bringing that up now.”
Sitting in her throne, the Queen looked at the elder with a relaxed expression. She wasn’t worried about the outcome of the war; or rather, the outcome was the outcome she wanted. She didn’t need to do anything. She only had to wait for humanity’s grand commander. Leah had contacted him on her behalf. Not only was the grand commander a human, but also a Galadriel, which made him her own tribesman. She could finally return home now. It was the closest she had ever been from home.
The elder said, “We must defend this place now. My army is still inside the city. All of our winged race’s forces are here. Although we cannot compare to the size of humanity’s army, we will not have much of a problem defending the city. We have spent millenniums of strength to fortify this fortress. We still have magical runes on the city walls. Not even magic can destroy our walls. We must deal the human army a heavy blow here and acquire adequaate bargaining chips so that we can continue to live with dignity. That is our remaining plan.”
The Queen lingered for a moment. She then asked, “Here?! We have citizens inside the Imperial City. What happens if the enemy catches us in a siege? We need to distribute food from our warehouse, but we have had poor harvests these past years. How are we going to ensure that our people have enough food to eat? If they don’t attack, we’ll be trapped here. How are we going to survive?”
“That doesn’t matter. We have a block of land we can plant crops in, and we have water from a well. We also have a fish pond. Keeping the interior of the Imperial City together is not very hard. As for those lower on the hierarchy… what do their lives have to do with us? My Queen, you do not need to concern yourself with them. We just need to defend this place. We just need to ensure our soldiers are alive. After all, we are not doing this for victory, but purely to increase our number of bargaining chips for our future. We will not be the ruler here in the future, so what do the lives of the people here have to do with us? They will soon serve humanity. Logically, then, it is better for more of them to die… My Queen, you do not need to worry. We just need to defend this place.”
The Queen looked at him with a hint of impatience in her gaze, but she didn’t say anything. She hoped humanity could reach her, but after hearing that, she didn’t want to bring the end of the world to her people…