I smiled, looking at Carter, and said, “Carter, dig a shallow pit off to the side as a swimming pool.”
“Yes, Your Highness!” Carter followed my instructions.
I suddenly saw a familiar figure stuck upside down in the loosened soil when it fell from the sky, piling up off to the side. “Hold on!” I told Carter to stop. A person was stuck upside down in the soil, with his legs stretched straight into the air like a pair of chopsticks.
“Zone leader!” The people who got out of the water recognized him at first glance. They then burst out in laughter. “Hahaha! Hahaha!”
The people in Zone 3 were covered in soil, even all over their faces. But their smiles were exceptionally bright under the sunlight, and their snow-white teeth shimmered.
They laughed, surrounding Silver Snake for a long time… They could laugh at what had happened to Silver Snake for a whole year.
The tree leaves sang along with the gentle breeze. Rustle. Their singing was accompanied by the reflection of the rippling lake. As the soil settled, the lake became clear, like the bright blue sky.
Raffles and I, along with Xing Chuan and Lucifer, stood by the charming, tranquil lakeside, watching our reflections. Flurry stood by the Queen, behind Xing Chuan, watching the lake in silence.
“Name this lake,” Raffles smiled, looking at me.
I took a step forward and stepped into the refreshing lake. The wooden tablets appeared before my eyes. Their sacrifices for their family to live, their young brothers and sisters, their friends…
“The lake is guarded by the souls of the children. We shall name it Soul Lake.” I hoped that the children’s souls would return here.
A breeze rippled across the surface of the lake. Silver Snake and his people came back. They brought clean clothes and threw their clothes that they had worn for God-knows how long into the pool. The clothes flew through the air and landed in the pool. Under the clothes were their clean, refreshed, smiling faces.
The women began to wash clothes, while the men continued to dig a waterway for the water to flow toward the plantation and to the village. There was now a water pool in the village, too. The children ran in happily without any clothes on to play with the water, while Gru grew flowers around the pool. The village looked brand new, filled with cheers and laughter.
When the sun set, freshly washed laundry hung on the handrail of the bridges. Colorful clothes fluttered in the air like flags.
Silver Snake and I stood on the highest spot in the village, overlooking the beautiful Soul Lake. His eyes welled up in tears, while his silver hair fluttered along the breeze. When he was quiet, he lost the immaturity he had when he was active. In a way, I thought, Silver Snake’s immaturity derived from his illiteracy.
“Your Highness, we have nothing to repay you with for all that you have done for us…” He expressed his gratitude, wiping his tears.
The ancestral temple was built right next to Soul Lake, so the souls could continue to watch over the source of life that people in Zone 3 relied on.
I smiled at him, saying, “There are many more important tasks to do. Assisting me is the best way for you to repay me.”
Silver Snake became solemn and suddenly stood straight in front of me, saying, Let me join the war! We found the water source and I can go to the battlefield without any concern!”
I replied, “But there are many important things left to do…”
“Let me join the war!” Silver Snake said determinedly, cutting me off. His silver eyes quivered emotionally in the sunset. “These children… I sent these children off. I am responsible for taking revenge for them. No, I should say repenting for my sins…” His voice was quivering, and his tears flowed down his cheeks uncontrollably.
He lifted his hands to wipe his tears off then looked at me determinedly, “Let me join the war! I am not afraid of death! I am willing to sacrifice for you, Your Highness!"
I looked at Silver Snake, who had yet to turn twenty-five years old. He must have been even younger back then, when he’d sent off the young men who were about his age to Queen Town. He must have felt heartbroken. The accumulated sin and guilt over the years made him crave participating in the war to take revenge for the young men, to repent for his sins. He was only too glad to sacrifice himself.
I couldn’t disappoint him, for it was his wish. So, I nodded at him in agreement. He ran hot with emotions, kneeling before me as he said, “Thank you, Your Highness.” The golden sunset poured over his hair, tainting his silver hair with a charming gold luster.
Xiao Ying, your Silver Snake wants to go to war. If there are any accidents, don’t blame me!
“Your Highness, I have informed the zone leaders of Zone 5 and Zone 8 regarding your upcoming visit but… I haven’t received any reply,” Silver Snake said, blaming himself. “I’m sorry, Your Highness. I didn’t manage to make you believe that you were a good…”
A low engine whirring noise suddenly reverberated across the sky, and a huge shadow was cast down. Silver Snake and I looked up and saw two spaceships moving past the sky above us.
One spaceship was painted in brilliant colors like a beautifully tempting cake. Its color reminded me of Zone 8, a theme park-like city that I had once passed by.
The other spaceship was green, flying in the sky like a huge green bird, blocking the entire sky above us.
“It’s… It’s Bei Luo and Inge!”
Bei Luo and Inge? Aren’t they the zone leaders of Zone 8 and Zone 5?
Both spaceships slowly descended outside the stockade. The purpose of their visit was unknown.
Silver Snake immediately became heavily guarded. Raffles and Xing Chuan told me not to head out. But I was their Queen. How could I hide in a wooden house when danger was descending? Plus, they were all metahumans. What could a wooden house block? Flurry could easily flip the village upside down with one blow.
In the end, Raffles only allowed me to head out under the protection of Lucifer and the others. Although Xing Chuan didn’t speak, with just an eye signal, Flurry stood next to me to safeguard me. They reminded me of Ah Zong and Zi Yi.
I followed Silver Snake out of the village. People walked out of the two spaceships. I saw the Prince, and his clown general that had once attacked me. That was Bei Luo and his clown.
The clown general held colorful balloons in a puffy outfit. The balloons left me with a strong impression that they could not be belittled.
A tall, thin man walked out of the other spaceship. He had to bend down when he exited his spaceship. His long hair trailed on the ground behind him. That was Inge.
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