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Upon the death of Samsu, it was still unknown who would be in control of the kingdom, but Prince Benut obviously had more advantages, and if Princess Sissila was smart, it would be better for her to choose to cooperate for the sake of self-preservation.
But the situation changed so quickly when the Assyrian army suddenly invaded and the kingdom of Bablon was routed for thousands of kilometers. The six cities ceded were also spheres of influence that supported Princess Sissila, including her enfeoffed territories there, and it was a devastating blow for her. Although Prince Benut was defeated, he took control of the kingdom’s army in the process of resisting the foreign enemies and had now become the pillar and backbone of the country.
However, the catastrophe did not end, and Sennachi unreasonably issued an order to the kingdom of Bablon to marry her. With Princess Sissila’s intelligence, how could she not guess what purpose the ambitious emperor had in mind, and what fate she would face? As long as she married Sennachi, the Assyrian Empire would certainly support her ascension to the throne.
And after she becomes the Queen of Bablon, she would either be completely under Sennachi’s control, or Sennachi would simply force her to surrender her throne. This time she was truly kidnapped, and it was in such a noble and public way that she could do nothing but sing alone in despair.
The singing was interrupted, however, by the sound of footsteps, and Peri, the supreme mage who had been following her, came in unannounced. Princess Sissila sat there and turned around, looked up, and asked: “What do you want, Peri?”
The man with white skin and bright red lips, looking ever so charming, narrowed his long, thin eyes and said: “Your Highness, why is your song so full of sorrow?”
Princess Sissila looked at him without any tears in her eyes or any expression on her face, and replied indifferently: “You will not understand my situation.”
Peri smiled. “Beautiful princess, of course, I know what you are worried about. Sennachi the Great asked you to marry him, but I do not think it is a bad thing. You eventually have to marry someone, and which other famous heroes on the continent today can match you? Only the invincible Sennachi the Great. And with your beauty and wisdom, why would you not be able to win the heart of the Assyrian Emperor? If you are together, you will become the most illustrious monarch, the most outstanding beauty and hero in the history of the continent!”
Princess Sissila remained expressionless and said: “Peri, I didn’t expect you to become a lobbyist.”
Peri shook his head: “Your Highness, I am thinking of you, this is not only about the fate of countless people, but also your fate. The Assyrian Chancellor Arlfa sent a secret letter promising that if you marry Sennachi the Great, the Assyrian Empire will fully support your ascension to the throne and henceforth conclude a permanent peace, and both countries will be happy.”
Princess Sissila couldn’t help but raise her voice and say: “Peace?”
Peri bowed his head and said: “Your Highness, don’t be angry. When you rule Assyria and Bablon with Sennachi the Great like a family, it is a way to achieve peace.”
Princess Sissila finally showed her anger. “The people of Bablon contribute food and goods, and the Assyrians become warriors who plunder, and this is what you call peace? Not to mention the brutal slaughter!”
Peri remained smiling. “If you marry Sennachi the Great and become Queen of Bablon, there will be no more massacres in the kingdom. Your Highness, I have been following you for many years, and you had the desire to become a queen in your early years. Now is the best time to do so. Because of this failed war, instead, Prince Benut has taken control of this declining kingdom. Only by relying on the power of the Assyrian Empire can you ascend to the throne, and as for what to do after ascending the throne, I think everything is not without a turnaround.”
The angry look on Princess Sissila’s face faded away, and she asked without expression: “Are you suggesting that I make a false deal with Sennachi and marry him first?”
Peri nodded and said: “It is the best choice for you and the kingdom.”
Princess Sissila waved her hand a little tiredly and said: “I understand what you mean, go out.”
Peri bowed and said: “Please take care of your health, Your Highness, I will guard nearby and will be at your disposal in case of any unexpected situation.”
After Peri left, Princess Sissila looked at the empty house and finally could not help but reach out to wipe the tears from the corners of her eyes, her expression looking so pitiful and helpless. She had realized something, that she was being watched. The private house she lived in had been surrounded by a detection magic formation, and the person watching her was the supreme mage Peri who had been following her, hoping that she would ascend to the throne.
Peri could have been watching her out of concern for her safety, in case she did something unthinkable, but it could also have been for other unknown reasons. She knew the skill of this supreme mage, and when planning the “kidnapping” incident involving the highlander giants, the trap that tried to frame Prince Benut was designed by Peri.
Sennachi’s desire to control the entire territory of the Bablon Kingdom was a disaster for many, but it was also an opportunity for others. The brutal monarch wanted to take control of his empire and naturally needed a group of nobles who knew the kingdom to exercise power. That was Peri’s purpose for following Princess Sissila all this time, and now Sennachi could give him what he wanted.
When he arrived at the front courtyard of Princess Sissila’s residence, another person was waiting for him in the side room, and it was none other than Qayin, whom Amon had once taught. When Qayin saw Peri, he stood up and asked: “How is the situation, has Her Highness figured it out yet?”
Peri sighed softly: “Her Highness is still a bit worried, but please don’t worry, I have set up a detection magic formation to keep a close eye on her movements, so she won’t have the chance to make a wrong decision.”
Qayin lowered his voice and said: “I want to remind you of another thing, there is someone from Prince Benut’s side who proposed to assassinate Princess Sissila, and after it is done it will be announced to the public – the princess will not submit to Sennachi, so she killed herself.”
The muscles in Peri’s face twitched twice. “I can think of someone who might do that. Have you heard who Prince Benut is planning to send and when?”
Qayin replied: “Prince Benut is still hesitating, but sooner or later, some of his men will not be able to resist. I will inform you as soon as I have news and assist you in protecting the princess, and it is best to eliminate that group while you have the chance. Don’t forget the Assyrian Empire’s promise to us, this matter must not go wrong.”
Peri said with hatred: “Those people attempted to assassinate Princess Sissila, and use her death as an article. But we can use the fact that Princess Sissila is married to Sennachi the Great to proclaim her virtue, as she did so for the sake of the people of Bablon Kingdom. In this way, there will naturally be warriors who will follow the princess and protect her, and we also have the hearts and minds of the people.”
Qayin also instructed: “There will be warriors from within the kingdom who will rush to protect and escort the princess, but you must be careful to identify them and not allow assassins to mix in.”
Peri: “Of course I am aware of that. I have followed the princess for many years and know which people are trustworthy. They do not think like you, and are sincere in protecting the princess’s safety, believing that she is marrying Sennachi for the sake of the Bablon Kingdom.”
“They do not think like you”, these words made Qayin a bit embarrassed, but in order not to show any dissatisfaction, he said a few more words, then hurriedly left the princess’s residence. Amon probably did not expect that Qayin, whom he had once taught, to achieve a high position in the kingdom. He had also been bribed by the Assyrian Empire and became a person who helped Sennachi’s cause in the capital of Bablon.
The Assyrian Chancellor Arlfa had sent a secret envoy to promise Qayin that if the Assyrian Empire took full control of the kingdom of Bablon in the future, the high priest Qayin would enjoy unprecedented status and power, and Arlfa had made the same promise to Peri.
Qayin left the residence of Princess Sissila, crossed half of the city, and entered a brothel in Bablon City, where disguised men were already guarding the entrance. He waited in a small flower room for an unknown person, but not long after, a henchman reported that his guest had arrived. When the door opened, the one who walked in was Prince Benut’s trusted subordinate, Gekait, who was also Prince Benut’s teacher in the Bablon Academy of Magic.
When Amon and Metatro met Gekait in Arcade, he was only a sixth-level mage, but now he was already an eighth-level supreme mage. With the rise of Prince Benut’s status, Gekait also became a significant figure in the Bablon Kingdom. This was a time of chaos, a time of constant conflict and opportunity on the continent, but also a time of great talent. Some people had roughly counted that in the last ten years or so, more high-level achievers have emerged on the continent than in the past decades as if the geniuses that were usually buried had gotten a stage to sharpen themselves and show their worth in the chaotic times.
As soon as Qayin saw Gekait, he lowered his voice and said: “Has His Highness already decided?”
Gekait sighed. “Princess Sissila is innocent, and there are many warriors in the kingdom who adore her. His Majesty was forced by the pressure of the Assyrian Empire to agree to marry the princess to Sennachi. But His Majesty also told the prince to handle the matter by himself, so the implication is already very obvious. But His Highness has not had the heart to decide to get rid of this aunt who is even younger than himself.”
Qayin said anxiously: “How can a man of great importance have such a soft heart like a woman? If we really let Princess Sissila marry Sennachi, the fate of Prince Benut and the whole Bablon Kingdom will be buried in the hands of this woman. Besides, the prince himself should know very well that Princess Sissila had once tried to frame him.”
Gekait sighed again and said: “I also advised His Highness as such. As far as I know, Princess Sissila had framed His Highness more than once. Once, she claimed to have suffered an assassination attempt and tried to link the mastermind of the assassins to His Highness, but in the end, His Majesty suppressed that incident.”
Qayin reminded: “His Highness probably hesitated for the sake of his future reputation after ascending the throne, as he does not want to carry the charge of assassinating Princess Sissila, but you and I should know how to share the worries of the country.”
Gekait nodded. “Yes, that’s why I came to you to discuss this matter. We will do this ourselves, and after it’s done I’ll privately ask the king for forgiveness.”
Qayin frowned and said: “This matter must not be made known in public, do you have a plan?”
Gekait nodded again and said: “I have already made a complete plan. The first step is to assassinate Princess Sissila and claim that she killed herself in defiance of the brutal Sennachi. This will ignite the anger and fighting spirit of every faction in the kingdom. In the second step, His Highness will take advantage of the situation to rally the people. The third step is to persuade the aged King Samsu to abdicate voluntarily so that His Highness can ascend to the throne and the kingdom can have new hope.”
Qayin also nodded silently, and after a while had passed, he said: “If we make the first step, Prince Benut can only act according to this plan, but first of all, we must ensure that there are no mistakes in the first step of action. It will create too much commotion if done in the capital, so the best place to do it is after Princess Sissila leaves the capital and is on the way to the territories occupied by Assyria. When you are ready, let me know immediately, and remember not to leak any information.”
After Gekait left, Qayin sat there looking at his long fingers while deep in thoughts. This supreme mage discussed the protection and assassination of Princess Sissila with Peri and Gekait respectively, so it was hard to figure out which side he was on. Perhaps he was weighing which side he could get more from.
The city of Salem sent an envoy to Enlil City, and although they were in a state of war, Salem had put forward a request to exchange prisoners of war at this time. This was also a signal, as both sides were unable to start another large-scale battle, otherwise, it would only end in a lose-lose situation, and it would be wise to exchange prisoners and recover from the war.
The document was delivered to Faust, who read it for half a day without saying anything, before agreeing to the request of Salem, and wrote a reply to the envoy, confirming the time, place, number, and manner of exchange of prisoners.
From the past practice, the exchange of prisoners was a signal to end the war, and Enlil City also made a positive response, indicating that this war was over. But Faust knew very well in his heart that this was only a moment of respite, and the real storm was still yet to come.
Sennachi the Great, who had already occupied six cities in the Bablon Kingdom, would not be satisfied with his defeat in the Plains of Duc, and his ambition would not be stopped by the small city of Salem. The cost of the expedition across the Syah Plateau was enormous, but the brutal Sennachi did not care about that cost.
Sennachi’s strategy was brutal but seemed to work. He wanted to take back the losses of the war from the enemy, and the fiercer the resistance of the city, the worse the slaughter would be when it was conquered, with the land taken, the wealth plundered, and the survivors made slaves. Faust could already see the scene of the corpses that would be strewn across the Syah Plateau and the fertile plains of the Duc, which would be filled with white bones.
The envoy from Salem sent a document in Golier’s handwriting, which Faust recognized at once, and read the coded language in the document, knowing that Golier wanted to meet him, and probably knew exactly what Golier would want to talk to him about.
Faust was alone with his thoughts for several days and finally decided to take the letter and go to Naqia. If there was one person in the world that the sage could not let go of, it was the Assyrian queen. Faust did not trust Naqia as much as he trusted Golier, and he was not sure what Naqia would think of this, but he did not want to and could not hide it from her.
Faust told Naqia frankly that Golier wanted to meet him, and he was ready to go to this appointment. Naqia was silent for half a day, staring at Faust with a critical eye as if trying to see through the Sage Advisor, but she finally asked: “Aren’t you afraid that this is a trap?”
Faust shook his head and said: “I trust Golier, and since he has made a promise, he will never take this opportunity to ambush me. People are not the same in this world, and Golier is precisely that kind of person.”
Naqia asked again, “I can think of what he will talk to you about, but why are you telling me? In Enlil City today, no one can restrict your movements or ask you about your whereabouts.”
Faust had a momentary impulse to say something, but finally just bowed his head and said: “Looking into my heart, I cannot hide this from you. My fate is one with yours in Enlil City, and I have to tell you whatever risky decision I make.”
Naqia withdrew her scrutinizing gaze and looked out of the window: “Even if Golier is trustworthy, there is no guarantee that others in Salem will not take advantage of this opportunity when they hear the news. If we lose you, it will be a disaster for Enlil City and even the Assyrian Empire, so I decided to go with you.”
Faust stood up and waved his hands, “No, no, no, my queen, you must not take that risk. I’m telling you about this only because I want you to know that you can also strengthen your precautions if anything goes wrong.”
Naqia smiled faintly: “Honorable Sage Advisor, you are not afraid to take such a risk, do you think I will be afraid?”
Faust’s face turned red and he shook his head. “No, no, no, I would never dare to question your bravery, it’s just that you are the Queen of Assyria, it’s not worth it.”
Naqia suddenly sighed and said in a commanding tone: “Then what else in the world is worth my doing? Since you are well aware that I am the queen, then this is an order! I have decided to go with you, only to protect your safety and not to eavesdrop on your conversation with Golier. You say you don’t want me to risk my life, but what situation in the world is more dangerous than being in the middle of a military battlefield with thousands of soldiers and horses fighting? I am already on the battlefield, can’t I accompany you to such an appointment?”
Faust stepped back and bowed his head again. “That was the order of His Majesty, and I would never like to see you on the battlefield yourself. He has a queen like you, but he does not know how to love and cherish it.”
Naqia looked at Faust again with seemingly deep meaning, and digressed from the topic: “The place where you meet is in the mountains of the Euphrates Valley, which is two hundred kilometers away from Salem and Enlil City. It is impossible to mobilize an army in the mountains, and if there is any movement in Salem, it is impossible to hide it from us. It’s a deal. You shall go back and prepare for this meeting!”
Faust excused himself, but when he reached the door, he asked: “My dear queen, what do you think of the latest news?”
Naqia’s face was expressionless as she asked in return: “What news?”
Faust said stiffly: “The news that His Majesty is going to marry Princess Sissila of the Bablon Kingdom.”
Naqia replied coldly: “That is His Majesty’s own business, he will not ask my opinion. I’m afraid that even you, Sage Advisor, will not be able to change His Majesty’s mind.”