She stood up slowly and was about to raise her glass to propose a toast before she realized that her hand was shaking. She clung to the table.
“Everyone here are remarkable individuals who have made major contributions to the kingdom. As the candidate of the Juan family competing for the throne, I, Diana Juan Gomez, would like to sincerely welcome you all to today’s banquet. You have honored us with your presence. Please relax and enjoy yourselves…”
She quickly noticed herself drawing a blank, and the lines she had memorized were slipping away. She took a deep breath. Fortunately, Idnan reacted quickly and touched the girl’s fingers, signaling that she sit down. Everyone clapped sensibly. Although this was not a touching speech by any stretch of the imagination, everyone could feel her nervousness, prompting them to respond warmly and encouragingly.
Only the Haliph family head chuckled mockingly. Although nobody noticed it, the girl, who had been watching him, did. She was taken aback by it and felt uncomfortable.
—She knew that Diana was merely the key for the Juan family to claim the throne. It was the Juan couple who would control all throne-related affairs afterwards. Everyone in attendance knew this and were thus tolerant of her awkward speech. The Haliph family head was clearly chuckling at this fact.
Seeing the warm response from everyone, Carmelo raised his hand and said, “Let’s continue to enjoy the meal, and those who are dancing can continue—”
“Wait. Please allow me to interrupt,” saying a businessman who sat close to Carmelo as he stood up. He was a thin, brown lizard who wore interlaced white and gold clothing and ornaments; the outfit stood out more than he did. The girl remembered that he was the owner of the largest aqua tree fruit plantation.
“Umay,” Carmelo bowed politely.
“You are welcome. I think everyone here knows that I have a close relationship with the Juan family. A victory of the Juan family is a victory of ours.” He raised his hands, almost stepping on the dinner plates under his feet. “I know that some people have visited here for the first time and are still observing the different families. That is normal. Nevertheless, please be sure to show the most basic etiquette and sincerity. Soon, you will understand that you have made the right choice.”
“Calm down, Umay, your speech has made the food unappetizing,” a big lizard demihuman sitting across from him spat, laughed loudly and tearing open a drumstick before swallowing it.
“Well, I cannot help it, Shaquille. I am telling it like it is. However… if their solemn looks are because of the fact that they are mourning for their loved ones, then please forget what I have just said.”
It turned out that others had also noticed the Haliph family’s unfriendly attitude. The girl broke out into a cold sweat because Umay’s speech had caused everyone to whisper. The Haliph family head looked calm and collected.
“Since when do little businessmen point fingers at guests?” asked the head of the Haliph family, sneering.
“Since I am here! If I wanted to, I could point fingers at you too!” Shaquille, a big lizard demihuman said, grinning, showing his fangs and nodding at the Haliph family head. “The claws of the Suha family welcome you any time!”
“Ah, so you are a member of the poor Suha family… it is funny how a distant relative who does not even qualify to compete in the throne war dares to mention his family name,” said the Haliph family head, turning his head away, not even interested in arguing with Shaquille. “We have offered you ten boxes of gold coins today as a sign of our sincerity. I believe that should be enough.”
“Ha, if it is money you are talking about, I, Jharif, can offer more. A family who chose the wrong side and now wishes to form a new alliance must offer something more attractive,” a lizard with gray scales who sat in the middle uttered, cleverly and noticeably chiming in with a soft tone. He stretched out his hands from a plain white robe, revealing numerous gemstone rings.
“Do you want to fight?” The Haliph family head looked back again, standing up and gnashing his teeth. The courtiers behind him took a step forward.