The Freedom Assembly was a coalition of consortia united against the Prayer Assembly. It operated in secret, with very few aware of its existence, and remained largely dormant.
As its name implied, the purpose of the Freedom Assembly was to safeguard the operational freedom of consortia in opposition to the Prayer Assembly. It had been established in anticipation of situations where the Prayer Assembly might attempt to gain an advantage over Sang-je or exploit him to dominate the business sector. However, it was an organization that would remain inactive unless such emergencies arose.
In terms of size and reputation, the consortia within the Freedom Assembly were like the moon compared to the Prayer Assembly’s affiliated consortia. If all members of the Freedom Assembly were to unite with a common goal, they could easily destabilize the foundations of the city.
Apart from the Freedom Assembly, Dana had a few more cards up her sleeve for countering Sang-je. Just because she had maintained a low profile for a while didn’t mean she had given up on everything. In her youth, she had dedicated all her strength to reviving the family, and in her later years, she had worked diligently to fortify the family’s position.
“I should also send a letter to Jin. I need to advise her not to be swayed by any news.”
Under no circumstances would she allow Sang-je to use her as bait and lure her child into a trap.
Kasser turned his attention to the attendant and inquired, “Who’s arrived?”
“The envoy from the Lava Kingdom seeks an audience,” came the reply.
Thoughts of the enigmatic red-haired figure immediately flashed through Kasser’s mind, causing his brow to furrow. An envoy’s presence, with only a few days remaining until the active phase, was rather unusual. The two nations had not engaged in significant interactions recently.
Kasser had heard that the previous monarchs of both realms had never met during their lifetimes. Even in the time when the current King Yeom was still a prince, he was infamous for making audacious forays into Hashi Kingdom’s territory in pursuit of the Hwansus. If it hadn’t been for King Yeom’s unprovoked invasions of their borders during that period, Kasser probably wouldn’t have met with Riner either.
“Allow them entry.”
Kasser had a vague inkling of why the envoy had been dispatched. It likely had something to do with the container Eugene had entrusted to Riner.
The original plan had been for Riner to bring the container and hand it over to the Hashi Kingdom warrior waiting outside the city. However, at the appointed time, Riner had failed to show up, and only a short message had been conveyed through a messenger.
[I sense someone following me, so I will hold onto the item for now.]
Eugene and Kasser had received King Yeom’s letter only after returning to the castle, and it was recent. Naturally, they had anticipated the container’s arrival at the castle, so this turn of events was perplexing. Furthermore, the one-line letter provided no details about when, where, or by whom the item would be delivered.
Kasser didn’t count Riner among those he wished to become close to, but he had confidence that Riner wouldn’t resort to any deceit, such as stealing the container. So, for the time being, he chose to wait.
A short while later, the Lava Kingdom’s envoy entered and presented a letter from King Yeom. Kasser accepted it and opened the envelope, discovering yet another envelope within. As he extracted the inner envelope and glanced at the message written on the outside, his forehead twitched in response.
[To Her Highness Anika Jin. Otherwise, do not open.]
A sudden surge of irritation coursed through him. He could feel the words “Is this guy up to some trick again with Eugene?” inching their way up his throat, but he restrained himself. Trying to maintain a positive outlook, he assumed it likely had something to do with the container.
“The journey here must have been grueling. Did King Yeom provide any specific instructions?” Kasser inquired of the envoy.
“He merely stated that delivering the letter was sufficient, Your Highness.”
After the envoy departed, Kasser stood up with the envelope still in hand. There were no pressing matters that demanded his immediate attention, and he was far more curious about the letter’s contents.
Eugene, upon reading the words on the outer envelope and offering a wry smile, proceeded to open it. She unfolded the densely written letter and began reading. Initially, a chuckle escaped her lips as she perused the text, but as she delved deeper into it, her expression gradually turned serious.
Once she finished reading, she handed the letter to Kasser and remarked, “King Yeom is more thoughtful than I had imagined. I always assumed he would charge forward recklessly, but it appears he possesses a way with words.”
Starting from the very first line of the letter, Kasser could feel a surge of intense anger welling up within him.
[It is customary to engage in a face-to-face conversation as a mark of respect, but I hope you will pardon the audacity of conveying my sentiments through this letter.]
With fiery eyes, Kasser read through the letter, which was embellished with a plethora of flowery phrases and eloquent expressions. However, as he perused the message, much like Eugene’s earlier laughter, his anger seemed to dissipate. At first glance, it appeared to be a letter filled with compliments and pleasantries, but upon careful consideration and deciphering the underlying implications, he realized that the entire content revolved around the container.
While the letter did not explicitly mention the container, it metaphorically likened it to a flower or a jewel. Essentially, it conveyed the message that, after the active phase concluded, King Yeom intended to personally visit Hashi Kingdom with the container in tow.
“It appears they’ve become aware that the container may hold something unusual,” Eugene observed.
“Yes,” Kasser replied with a palpable sense of unease. The tranquility that had briefly settled in his heart shattered once more when he reached the last sentence of the letter.
[With respect to your beauty, beloved Fire King Riner.]
He sensed it. This was genuine.
He contemplated the need to sternly warn her about dealing with this eccentric individual. However, when he lifted his gaze, he found Eugene smiling at him, and his heart regained its serenity.
What can you do, Riner?
Inside her, their child was already growing.
Kasser silently muttered childish lines to himself and marveled at the superior psychology of the one who had constructed a formidable fortress beneath him as he looked down.