“… If I were you, I would not give up on my life so quickly,” Shaquille stared at the girl in surprise and sighed slowly. “Even at a time like this, you are still trying to find out the truth from me. That is very brave of you.”
Her heart sank.
She realized that he knew everything.
He knew that she secretly left clues along the way, that the Juan family had mercenaries monitoring them from a distance, and that the mercenaries were all human beings who regularly reported to Lazer. However, despite all this, Shaquille showed an unwavering attitude.
“Your goal is to simultaneously create confusion among the Juan and Yamin families. By collecting a ransom, you can weaken both families together, regardless of whether or not I actually die.”
He tilted his head and thought for a moment. “My business partner does not care about the things you just mentioned,” he said hesitantly. “Although I am a warrior, I am not as noble as you think… The Desert Kingdom has changed; some things have become more important and practical than blood and knives. It does not take a genius to figure that out.”
“Are you denying the significance of the throne war?”
“The throne war has its historical significance. If we are only talking about killing each other, I will obviously side with the Juan family. However, my business partner has helped me see further than that.”
“Who? What did he see?”
Halfway through her questioning, she was overwhelmed with a sense of fear.
Her sense of fear was caused by Shaquille grinning and speaking in a de-emphasized and ruthless tone.
“I will not tell you who it is—but he sees this kingdom contributing to its own demise.”
“Nonsense!” She was not acting this time; she was really refuting out of fear.
“It is true. If the throne war goes on, it is only a matter of time that this kingdom runs out of resources and perishes. Many people are already preparing backup plans. Do not tell me that your family is not doing the same. Stop acting morally upright.”
She opened her eyes fiercely, as if something in her mind snapped.
She remembered herself—and more children—begging on the sides of the streets for money every day just so they could have some food to eat. They had no dreams, aspirations, and opportunities to acquire knowledge. Meanwhile, people who had most of the kingdom’s resources were thinking of fleeing it?
On what grounds!? She wanted to yell. On what grounds!?
“Yes, while the public is exposed to constant hunger and poverty, the law still praises how power can overcome everything. The royal family and merchants, who possess the majority of the resources, are using them to leave the kingdom comfortably while the rest suffer. Shaquille, you do not even know how sarcastic your words sound to the public that has been sacrificed!” she bellowed in anger.
“That is why you should not compete in the throne war.”
“That is exactly why I should compete in the throne war. By competing in it, I can change all of this. I do not need you to remind me of the lives that I have sacrificed to be standing here!”
He glanced at her then reached out and patted her on the head out of pity and appreciation.
“You are right,” he said hoarsely, moving his claw down her hair and stopping on her pointy ear. He then proceeded to play with her ear and said, “It would have been nice to know this about you earlier. Maybe I would have taken a different approach… one that did not involve antagonizing you.”
“Shaquille, stop,” she said in a very cold voice.
He stepped back obediently.
“Shaen and I will trade in a region southwest of the Oasis tomorrow afternoon. The region contains an area of wild aqua trees… It is not the place for a royal family girl to die. You still have one night to consider my proposal. Good-bye,” he exited the tent with a faint smile.
She went into deep thought.
It seemed that Shaen, one of the candidates competing in the throne war, had already discussed the matter of Diana with Shaquille before the banquet. Nevertheless, if that was the case, Shaen would have asked Shaquille to kill Diana rather than kidnap her.
In other words, there was another mastermind behind this, and this person was the person that Shaquille referred to as his “business partner.”
The “business partner” used Shaen as a cover and convinced Shaquille to bear the charge and risks of kidnapping Diana. No. 3 was unable to guess who the mastermind was and felt that she probably had run out of time to find out.
This was all the information she could gather. Now, she must think about herself.
She sat on the ground. Seeing that no one would come in again, she exhausted her last efforts to issue signals. A few minutes later, the same type of signals came from afar, telling her to keep waiting.
—Did this mean that the Juan family had not completely given up on her, or was simply asking her to sacrifice herself?
The whole thing was confusing to her. Shaquille’s thoughts, Lazer’s sudden change of attitude, Diana’s thoughts, and her own thoughts—which one of them was real? Which one of them was fake? Was she playing the role of Diana, or was she speaking her own mind?
Who could tell her whether she had been doing everything correctly… Did it even matter?
She wrapped her body with her arms and closed her eyes. Finally, she stopped thinking.