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"So? You don't expect me to spare her, just because I fought her brother before, right?" Ed shot an inquisitive look at the old man. The last war was a tragedy that affected many people's lives. The fact that it couldn't be avoided made it even harder on the hearts of those that mourned. Ed and all those present understood that no one could be blamed. Yet, it wasn't easy to look past what happened during the war, which was why Jillian attacked Ed.
"If you mean to tell me, that I should let myself be killed because I caused the death of Letif. Then I should kill her because of the deaths he caused." Ed wouldn't budge from his position. Jillian wasn't the only victim of the tragedies of the war, and he wouldn't back down just because she felt that way.
"That's not what I meant!" The old man raised his voice but retreated back after noticing the killing intent protruding out of the eyes of Ed's companions. "That's not what I meant" The old man repeated his words, softly this time, as he clenched his hands.
"Her father, and her older brother; Letif. The only reason this continent managed to escape the wrath of Blood sect was thanks to them" the eyes of the old man could be seen, and regret filled them. "Thanks to Letif joining Blood sect as a commander, and thanks to Adalrik's family giving away all of their precious treasures, Blood sect turned a blind eye on us. All I ask of you is to allow the Adalrik family to live without losing any more. I've already caused them much sorrow just by making them into a backer"
The old man's eyes became cloudy with tears. Jillian noticed this and struggled to try and say something, but only a muffled voice escaped.
"Mehen" Ed called out to his companion while sticking his right hand out. In an instant, Mehen let go of Jillian's body, letting her out of his clutches, and wrapped himself around Ed.
"Cough! Cough!" Jillian dropped down to her knees and started coughing. Although someone at her level could go without air for as much as hours, the fact that Mehen's muscles tightened around her lungs caused her to gasp for air. She could only hold on while he was constricting her body, but when he let go, she could feel the damage he caused.
"Thank you for your benevolence!" The old man bowed his head while thanking Ed. He believed that Jillian was now safe.
"You seem to misunderstand something, old man." Ed's words dropped, like a bomb, on the old man's ears. He stood up and looked bewildered at Ed.
"The fact that they sacrificed so much, the fact that Letif was forced into joining Blood sect. None of them matter to me. What matters is the fact that at that moment, the moment when I stood in front of him, I was attacked. Much similar to how this lady just attacked me." Ed, before anyone knew it, had Shusui pointing at Jillian's neck. "If you want to save her, you need to offer something that weighs as much as her life."
Ed was, in fact, already willing to let Jillian go. From her previous attack, he could tell that she didn't plan to kill him. It was, simply, the anger of seeing her brother's murderer in front of her eyes. However! That didn't change the fact that she attacked him. He wasn't as soft-hearted as to let a potential enemy live for no reason.
"Since you seem to be in a whirlpool of self-doubt, let me help you," said Ed as he gazed upon the sweaty face of the old man. "I need you to become a subordinate of Avalon kingdom."
The old man's face turned grave as he heard Ed. He could clearly tell that Ed wasn't referring to him when he said "you". Instead, he meant the whole continent. Ed only found out about the old man's position after he called the Adalrick family 'Backers'. As such, he decided to use it as a bargaining chip and win himself a continent.
"I cannot decide such a thing on my ownI may be the highest figure of the Central Government, there are still other prominent families that need convincing. I-I" The old man seemed to be stuck right now. He held the key to saving Jillian, but it weighed too much. He thought about lying and deceiving Ed, but he could tell that it wouldn't work.
"Didn't you just mention how her family saved and helped you, and your continent? And yet, you can't offer your assistance to save just one member of that family? I only said that you would become a subordinate, not a slave. If you need to convince someone, then now is the time. You don't need to worry about Blood sect intervening since they suffered such a huge blow lately by losing our continent. I can understand how the Adalrick family is in a weak position due to the sacrifices, but there's no need for you to worry either."
The old man listened to Ed's words, as he waited for a way to weasel out of this situation. Still, the sight of Jillian being held by a sword didn't allow him to focus.
"You don't need to worry, you have the Avalon family as your back-up. You should be rejoicing. With our help, you'll pay back your debt to the Adalrick family, and take back the continent to yourself. So, what will it be?" With no way out, the old man couldn't help but consider taking up Ed's offer.
With Ed's serious demeanor and his Haggling skill, he didn't budge a single inch from his offer. This was a business trade to him, and nothing more. He had nothing to lose from it, unlike his opponents, so he held the higher ground.
"If you will spare her lifeIf you will help this ailing continent, then I yield." The old man got on one knee while bowing his head towards Ed.
"I see. Then, the partnership is official." Ed said as he withdrew his Shusui. Jillian stood up while looking at the old man and muttered, "Uncle".
"It's a bit earlier than planned, but we'll head back to Avalon for a sec. Mister guard, you are not to say a single word of what happened today to anyone. Otherwise, something bad will happen to you! Remember, I have ways to know!" Ed spoke to the guard, who felt so out of place that he started imagining birds flying around his head, as he teleported everyone out of that place.
No one remained there except the daydreaming guard.
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