Silva Laverna POV
Damn. I had overslept again. This was starting to become a habit, ever since Auda left to play with the new soldiers. Maids used to assist me in my daily necessities, but the duties had been taken over by her since coming here. I hadn’t thought that I would miss her much in her absence, but I guess the years we had spent together had allowed her to carve a space for herself in my heart.
Mornings always start with using keer root for brushing my teeth. It was a common plant, with barely any mana in it, but it allowed ones teeth to be free of any imperfections. It was one of the must haves of anyone of status. Today, just like any other day, I had to face one of the biggest issues since coming here... What to wear.
In our rushed escape from my uncle’s castle, I had managed to bring only half a dozen clothes. They were all the highest of quality that could be made in this world, but the numbers weren’t enough! I had once thought that I could have more dresses made here, even if their quality were to be lacking, but that turned out to be impossible. The local seamstress had nothing but leather, and inferior cotton that couldn’t be used for anything but lining.
“This blue one is too slutty. This one’s arms are too short. Black is too formal…”
In the end, I had to choose the short green dress with no shoulder straps and a slit on the left leg that went a couple of inches above the knee. The dress also padded my breasts, drawing attention to them. This wasn’t suitable for certain activities during the whole day, but it was perfect for the first one. It had been years since I last had it on, when I had bought it for the boring tea parties at the Capitol. Considering the fact that the dress that had been enchanted with low friction and auto-clean had been used no more than a handful of times, it surely had been a bad investment. At least, I was okay on which shoes to pick.
By the time I got out of my hastily built ‘mansion’, the Sun had been up for an hour already. Here goes my hopes of putting him on the back foot by catching him unprepared.
Yesterday, after I came back to the village, Gala, his assistant, had informed me that he had asked to meet me, and as far as she could tell, it wasn’t for a joyous meeting.
After a short walk lasting no more than 3 minutes, I reached the self-lowering gates of his dwelling. Usually, Horst and Auda would have waited for me here, but both of them were busy.
I allowed myself in, and made my way towards the small room, where he would teach me about the wonderful ideas his people had come up with. Some of them were eye openers, but most of them were things only people as mad as them could imagine.
He was pouring red wine into glasses when I came in, which was a bad sign. With his supplies self-admittedly running short, he had started to become much more reserved with the wonders he had. Pulling out the alcohol meant that whatever he had in mind was important, at least to him.
After I took my usual seat, which had shifted from being across him to next to him, he slid a glass full of wine towards me. I took a curious sip, while waiting for him to start.
“Finally, here you are. I had been waiting for a chance to speak with you, you know.”
Huh. Not the best start, but at least he wasn’t back to calling me ‘lady’ again.
“I am sorry, master. I had been busy with setting up a system for the village, one that can operate somewhat reasonably. And as you know, guards at the limestone quarry are slowly getting overwhelmed. I had to help them deal with a rogue orc party that managed to cross the delta.”
His face, which had an expression of mock anger due to the title I had given him turned into one of curiosity. At first, Lloyd had been hard to read, as he didn’t have the normal reactions with his shorter ears, but in exchange, his facial contortions were magnified. It just took some time to get used to.
“Oh, yes. You had mentioned that attacks had stopped your grandfather’s ambition to establish a town here, but not how. Also, as far as I can see, a couple of Tier 4 warriors and small band of Tier 3 ones can easily deal with the aggressors.”
“If only it had been so simple. The delta is too shallow compared to the rest of the river. And any ship that can survive the open seas, can’t pass the delta. So, we had to build a town past the delta, on the southern shores. Only place that was viable lay at the lower tip of the western forest. It had stones good enough for the walls, and lumber perfect for ships. Yet, every time my ancestors tried to build a town there, the damned goblins started to rage. Goblin tribes, which rarely grow big before splitting, merged, and almost all of them attacked.”
I could feel my ears curl. Thankfully, Lloyd didn’t know about elven ears to spot the sadness that I had shown to him.
“Yet, this wasn’t the biggest problem, since our army could easily defend against them. The worst time was when a dozen or so hobgoblins attacked with a rare goblin chieftain as their leader, who happens to be a Tier 4. They could still be dealt with by a fifth of our army, however the problem back then was the Halberd Kingdom, who has been renamed to a duchy at the time of being. Every time we moved our army there, they would put pressure on our northern border. They couldn’t capture the Riverpass fort easily, but it wasn’t a chance we could take. They would also raid our supplies heading south by ships, to hamper us. If we tried to protect them with our navy, it would leave the eastern borders open for hostiles to land, invalidating the protection that the enchanted fortress gave us.”
I took a sip while looking at his calculating eyes. His face had softened too, perhaps he had managed to spot the sadness on my ears. Finally, an opening. I straightened my back and sat straight, which also had the advantage of attracting attention to my breasts, to show him that it was all in the past, to show him my resolve.
“Since we are at the north of the delta, all we have to deal with are the lesser goblins that the tribes are kicking out to save food, as well as rare monsters that cross the delta to eat those weaker goblins.”
He nodded, clearly waiting for me to continue.
“I think I told you all that I can. Why were you looking for me?”
I said, with a smile. His face, which had softened a lot suddenly took the neutral position, before returning to the half-smug mellowed face that I recognized.
“Tell me Silva, how many people that you employ are working on the things I taught?”
Why was he asking this? Does he want a reward? No, there was nothing neither I nor the village could give him. What could he be after?
“Right now? There are 40 workers at the Limestone pit, and another 20 at the Niter mine. Also, 10 or so are working for the ammunition of the weapons. Well, there are 20 elves at the boot camp, making it livable and the kitchen supplied. If we were to exclude the recruits, it’s about 90. Rest of the population is busy with building houses, cutting and shaping wood, cooking food or working for the government. There are also jobs that require less workers and more expertise, such as smithing or tailoring. Why do you ask? Your secretary could give you this information, if it’s what you seek.”
He put down the glass he was drinking from, and poured himself another one, slowly, as if he wanted the silence to drag on.
“I don’t like the situation of the village, Silva. At first, I had decided to give my assistance to a couple of helpless refugees who had nowhere to go. But now, the situation has changed.”
“How come? Are we still not the same refugees that ran from the war? What is so different now, for you to say so?”
His help, what he had done for the village was indeed invaluable, but why did he bring up the subject? Why has he changed his tune, when he had been giving his assistance freely until now?
“Is it not different? They used to be refugees, refugees that had nothing on them. I took pity and gave them cement. I thought they would have a hard time in winter, so I gave them weapons. But perhaps I shouldn’t have done as much. Now, they are a part of a kingdom. Your kingdom. Don’t deny it. I can tell when you lie, remember? We both know that you will ask for more grain than necessary when contacting that merchant friend of yours, to increase your population. You want more power. Now, I am teaching knowledge that your people are not ready for. I am running my reserves dry to give them currency, I am giving them weapons that can help them kill above their strength. Tell me, why am I employing almost half of the working population, when I have nothing to gain?”
Obedience. If what he desired was obedience, then he would get it. It was a small price to pay, for the Laverna family to have a chance to rise again.
“I don’t understand, Master. Why are you reluctant to teach, to give to your own?”
He understood what I meant. His eyes, which had been locked to my face, swam downwards. It returned to my face, but not before hanging an extra second on my bosom. Perhaps I should have worn the blue dress, rather than this one.
“They are not my people, Silva. For one, while similar, our races are different. They are your people…”
I needed him. I needed the ideas his people had, I needed the knowledge of his people, hidden between his ears. For me to escape my destiny of being locked in a golden cage, to be nothing more than a showpiece to be toyed with, I needed him. For that, I interrupted him.
“Yes, they are mine. And you have me, Master Lloyd.”
I got up, and watched him swallow the last of his wine, as he said the last words he had to.
“That is only in name, Silva. I don’t own you”
I shortened the gap between us with a last step, and spoke, while kneeling in front of the still sitting man.
“That is because you don’t take what is yours, Master.”
Yes Votes: 13 12.0%
No Votes: 67 62.0%
Maybe Votes: 28 25.9%