“Sometimes there is enough time to fulfill all your desires... and sometimes you don't have enough of it.”
***Imperial Flagship – The Emperor’s Fist***
“I still don’t believe that Nova didn’t have a hand in Hesh’s disappearance.” I look around, trying to make eye contact with everyone at the table. To my left and to my right are the Alliance’s ambassador, a beastkin, and Rufus who speaks for the Consortium. On the other side of the table is one of the Sociocrathy’s priests.
I clear my throat and continue, trying to put as much emotion as possible into my voice. “Just imagine what might happen if Nova decides that she wants to get to you? She took Hesh from a heavily defended warship. Can you be sure that she can’t do the same to you? Can you be sure that your families are safe? How long until she decides to get more hostages?”
I am trying my best to play with their emotions, just as father taught me. They followed my invitation, but up until now, the negotiations went badly. They refused to act before the non-aggression treaty is over. “You refused to act while the World Assembly was still ongoing. Now, with Illum’s knowledge about portals revealed, can you really refuse my suggestion?”
The Alliance’s ambassador laughs and shakes his head, tilting his long ears backwards. “We have no direct quarrel with Illum. We aren’t their friends, but that doesn’t mean that we have to help our mortal enemies against them. I don’t even understand why you invited me to this meeting. The Alliance and your Empire are in a state of war.”
I glare at the beastkin. The furry bastard is too sure of himself. Instead of seeing the opportunity to collect favour with the Empire he looks down on me. It’s for a good reason why most of the demi-humans in the Empire are slaves. Only a few are brave enough to choose the path which doesn’t end in their enslavement.
To survive in the Empire, you have to be strong and ruthless.
Looking away from the insolent idiot, I concentrate my attention on the others. “The World Assembly is almost over and Illum has proven to be a danger to the balance of power in this world. Are you really sure that you don’t want to join the pursuit? This may be our last chance to catch the flying island. They have split up with the Mirai fleet. There is no chance that they can face the combined power of our fleets.”
The priest nods and reaches for the amulet around his neck. “The Sociocrathy will lend you some of our warships. Though, I fail to see how we are supposed to catch them. Illum travels far too high to engage them with normal airships.”
Rufus clears his throat. “The Consortium won’t break the ancient laws of the World Assembly. Following a recognized participant of the event with ill intent… that’s far too close to breaking the rules.” He raises a finger and smiles. “But we see the wisdom in your argument. We might be able to help your magical engineers with a little guidance. Let’s say, with some small adjustments to your barriers and environmental enchantments? It would allow you to travel at much higher altitudes.”
Narrowing my eyes, I try to find a sting in this offer. Why would the Consortium help me? Is their financial quarrel with Illum enough to cause such a reaction. Though, Illum is clearly attacking the Consortium’s power base by trying to establish an academy for young mages.
After considering the matter for a few seconds, I nod appreciatively. Every piece of knowledge which the Consortium gives for free should be taken without questions. I don’t want to know what they would charge for such enhancements under normal circumstances. Usually, they trade in finished artefacts and enviously guard all their knowledge on how to create the item itself. When they leaked the information on portal technology, they bled most of the smaller nations dry. “How quickly can these adjustments be made?”
Rufus shrugs. He doesn’t seem to be too concerned about the matter. “Oh, it should be fairly simple. The infrastructure in your ships is sufficient to make the adjustments. The barrier enchantments of an airship are designed to be easily adjusted. Otherwise, it would be hard to react to new offensive spells. Of course, your ships will still be limited compared to ours. They simply weren’t built for the purpose, but your new capability should come as a shock for Nova.”
Finally, I return my attention to the beastkin who looks in disgust at Rufus. Noticing my attention, the beastkin sneers at me. “No.” He shakes his head and crosses his arms in front of his chest. “Fight your own battles. The Alliance will fly home.”
“So be it!” I seal the deal without remorse. The Alliance might be right that the Empire is weakened, but they will never defeat us. Their troops still haven’t engaged our elite warriors. Once they do, they will learn the error of their ways.
It’s not as if we need their airships. The combined forces of the Sociocrathy and the Empire should be enough to deal with Illum. And once I have Hesh back, I will slap a slave collar onto that wench and use her however I desire. She will be an enticing addition to my pleasure house.