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Allies & Enemies
Goddya, Rasanova 30th;
It has been a week since the Yamato army and navy, along with Hawaikians Nai'a, Lani and Manu, arrived in Markaydia. Now that Transylvania and Yamatai were allied, Zelda had her entire fleet and army moved to the southeast island in preparation for the joint invasion of occupied Soleil. Combined they had a total force of over 170,000 men, but the Silver Arrow Armada, hired by Yamatai, were still nowhere to be seen yet. However, leaders of both forces were still worried that their numbers still wouldn't be enough to combat Umdar in Soleil, which had over 300,000 men stationed in Soleil alone, and couldn't rely on Markaydia, as they were targeting a different occupied country.
"I should've asked a while ago, but why do you want to strike Chateaux Rock first?" Zelda asked as she, Voivode Heinrich Bayer, Tenno Tatsuhiko, Marshal General Osaragi and Suguha, currently with rank of Major General, the met in the Oda residence.
"Our spies confirmed that Umdar is amassing troops on that island," Tatsuhiko explained as they looked at the map in front of them. "They're clearly planning to invade Markaydia. If we take that island, and capture the army stationed there, it will severely hinder Umdar's future exploits against Markaydia, and leave us clear to invade the mainland."
"Father, did you ever stop to think that maybe they want us to attack Chateaux Rock?" Suguha asked, to which her father gave an uncomfortable look.
"Her Highness is right," said Heinrich. "it smells like a trap. Further, they don't actually have the manpower to invade Markaydia, especially since they're still occupied with the remains of the Soleilian Royal Army."
At that moment, Nai'a and Lani both walked in the room.
"Pardon the interruption," said Nai'a as she passed a note to Tatsuhiko.
"'Ten miles out to sea, Markaydian and Yamato ships engaged a group of Umdari Frigates attempting to break the blockade.'" Tatsuhiko read off the note. "'Umdari ships were turned away, sinking six of them but suffering damage to three allied ships.' Looks like they're trying to provoke us."
"You're Majesty, if I may speak," said Osaragi.
"Go ahead, Osaragi."
"Instead of Chateaux Rock, I suggest we attack the larger island to the west, Clairiere Island, which holds Clairiere Province," said Osaragi, pointing to the said island. "Like Chateaux Rock, it holds a fort in the center, but is surrounded by three small towns. The island entire is guarded by a force of 2,000 Umdari soldiers. We could surround it and take this one easily."
"You're saying that we take the three towns around the island and lay siege to the fort?" said Heinrich. "We'd be stuck there for about a month."
"Not if we don't commit all our forces. We have a tenth of our forces siege it, and then send the rest to invade the mainland."
"We'll hold onto that plan for the moment," said Tatsuhiko.
"Let's adjourn here for today," said Zelda as she got up from the floor. "I have someplace I need to be. Suguha, Nai'a, can I ask you to come with me?" Suguha and Nai'a exchanged confused looks, but left with Zelda.
"So, what's this about?" Nai'a asked as they walked with Zelda.
"Earlier this morning, two Edeners captured an Umdari spy and, after I had a few words with him, put him through interrogation. I'm going to see if he'll talk, and I'd like you two to come as well."
"Interrogating a spy? Now you're talking my language," said Suguha.
They needed to go to the coastal village of Godran six miles east, but they soon arrived at Transylvanian headquarters. Zelda was the first to open the door. What they saw was two Knights of Eden, Zelda's friends Leonardo and Clorthel, holding the spy, who was bound to the chair, upside down facing the door. The spy was looking severely red in the face
"Now that's just cruel," said Nai'a and Tiki mewed in approval.
"Yes, I'm an elf," said Clorthel in response to Suguha's stare.
"I can see that, and there are plenty of elves living in Yamatai too," Suguha replied.
"Th-three lu-luna-... culi?" The spy gasped.
"How is he?" Zelda asked.
"I think he's ready to talk," said Leonardo.
Leonardo and Clorthel turned him right-side-up and put him down hard.
"Have you had time to think about what I asked?" Zelda asked the spy.
"I have," said the spy.
"And?" Zelda asked but the spy hesitated.
"If you know it's good for you, you should speak up," said Suguha. "Tell us what you know, and you might be spared the Juwgi-kea. [gallows.]"
"Peace, Your Highness," said Zelda before turning back to the spy. "Well?"
"(sigh) Alright, I'll talk," the spy relented. "My name is Gilbert. I'm actually a Soleilian native that was hired as a spy in exchange for my freedom. I'm due tonight to learn of the Allied Invasion Point from the mole in the inside."
"Well you would've been out of luck," said Zelda. "The invasion site has yet to be officially decided."
"Never mind that," said Clorthel. "Who's the mole?"
"I'd like to know that too," said Suguha.
"Easy, Princess," said Nai'a.
"(sigh) General Shigekazu Osaragi," said Gilbert, and the name rang throughout the room.
"Uh... Isn't he one of your father's most trusted generals?" Nai'a asked Suguha cautiously.
"He was also my igniteering master when I finally conquered my fears. That, that... that ILEHALAMUNU [TURNCOAT!]" Suguha roared.
With the spy's word that General Shigekazu Osaragi was a traitor, Suguha, Zelda and her two Edeners returned to Tronoka and allowed Gilbert to go to the meeting that night so they could catch Osaragi red-handed. Suguha and Zelda also stationed a few men nearby so Osaragi couldn't go anywhere. Nai'a, meanwhile, had returned to the Oda residence per Suguha's orders.
"Why didn't you just let me inform my father and confront him?!" Suguha demanded in a whisper as they waited for Osaragi up on a rooftop.
"Because this requires proof," Zelda replied as they heard owl hoots that turned out to be Leonardo. Zelda replied with some bat-like chirps before turning back to Suguha. "Even if we've yet to decide where and when to invade, he could still give Gilbert some other information, like our troop strength. Something like that we can use as proof of his treachery."
"Fine. But when I get a hold of him, I'm not bothering with a court-martial. No trial for traitors. But what do we do with Gilbert?"
"We're going to have him report to Umdari agents as usual, but only what we want him to report," Zelda told Suguha. "He's agreed to help on the promise that we'll free his homeland. Here comes the general."
Osaragi walked into the ally where Gilbert was waiting. Suguha couldn't hear the exchange, but Zelda used her vampiric ears to listen in and told Suguha what was happening.
"What do you have for me?" Gilbert asked the general.
"Regrettably I still don't know where the invasion will take place," Osaragi replied. "You're going to have to be patient longer. Oh, don't worry. The alliance will fall apart when the invasion happens, and your loyalty to Umdar will be rewarded."
"I don't think so. NOW!"
At Gilbert's exclaim, nine Transylvanian and Yamato soldiers burst out of hiding and held their weapons at the ready, while Suguha and Zelda lightly descended from their rooftop, Zelda with her Vampiric agility, Suguha with her caeliteering.
"We heard everything you said, Osaragi," said Zelda. "Mister Gilbert has defected to us, and you're in big trouble. General Shigekazu Osaragi, for treason against both your country and the alliance, we're placing you under arrest! His Majesty's not going to be happy with you."
"Xgaxga tu betewga be enete u wganlea wgamewgate! [Father and I trusted you!]" Suguha yelled in Yamato.
"I'm ever so sorry, Your Highness," Osaragi said with a sneer. "But one must take sides with the winning team." Osaragi then threw down a small pellet, which burst, engulfing the area in smoke, and ran. But Zelda's vampiric senses made it almost obsolete and told the others exactly which way to chase him. They then chased Osaragi all over Tronoka before ending up at the docks. Osaragi ran to the end of an unoccupied dock and stopped to catch his breath. He was not so young anymore. "Looks like the gig is up."
"Yes, it is," said Zelda as they cornered him, she and Suguha in lead of the men.
"What's going on here?" came a voice behind them. It was Tatsuhiko, and the soldiers lined up on one side and stood at attention to let him pass.
"Father, you're just in time," said Suguha. "General Osaragi is a traitor!"
"Is this true, General?" Tatsuhiko asked.
"I'm afraid it is," said Zelda, answering for Osaragi. "A spy we convinced to defect to us confessed everything, and Osaragi has made it clear that his allegiances have switched."
"My apologies, my Tenno," said Osaragi as Tatsuhiko walked toward him. "I feel no remorse, but if it pleases you, I will stand trial for this."
At that moment, Tatsuhiko drew a dagger from his sleeve and stabbed Osaragi in the stomach. "No trial for traitors. You forfeited such privileges when you betrayed us." Tatsuhiko withdrew the dagger and sliced Osaragi's neck. "You were one of my best men, but you had to withdraw your faith in us." Osaragi fell back into the water and sank. "Find solace in Jigoku, whatever the Great Dragons give you anyway. Fewileje na nomili. [Rest in Peace.]"
"Wasn't that a little much, Father?" Suguha asked.
"Enete be uneda jutu u ujunei io ko joajeji wgato amewonkowgate je? [Weren't you planning on doing the same?]" Tatsuhiko asked in Yamato, to which Suguha blushed embarrassed.
"He should've stood trial," said Zelda. "At least given a court-martial."
"I couldn't risk the chance he would somehow communicate anything else he knew to the wrong people in such a scene. You saw how willing he was to go to trial, I doubt he was the only turncoat or spy. And speaking of which, you said that you turned his partner to our side?"
"We did. He's also given us the names of all the other spies he knows of. He'll also send false information to agents in Soleil."
"Then have him tell them this: 'Yamatai and Transylvania will invade Caroline Province.'"
"Isn't that on the border with Novarus, Father?" Suguha inquired.
"Woajeji na [Precisely.]"
The women exchanged looks of understanding: Having Gilbert tell the Umdari that the alliance's target was so far away would keep the Umdari far away when they hit their real target. And when the Umdari learned the truth and sent their army after them, Markaydia would then invade Novarus and in turn divide Umdar's attention and resources. Now all that was left was to decide on an actual invasion target.
Two weeks later; late-night Rerudya, Gopaco 13th;
A few days earlier, it was decided that the alliance would invade both Clairiere Island and the mainland directly. A smaller force led by Zelda would invade Clairiere while the main force would land on the mainland itself. The invasion would get underway on Rerudya, Gopaco 20th, and arrive on the shores of Soleil three days later. As their ruse had worked, thanks to confirmation from the best spies, this was to give time for the Umdari to get as far away from the location as possible.
Now, just one week before the invasion, Suguha awoke once again in the middle of the night.
"I can't sleep," Suguha thought as she glanced at Shiira, who had been, at Suguha's insistence, sleeping in Suguha's room since the day Suguha bought her. "The invasion is in a week, and I can't calm down." Suguha then heard a faint rasping sound coming from the room next door; from Nai'a's room. Seeking to know what the issue was, Suguha got up and went to Nai's room. What she saw when she slid open the door wasn't pleasant; Nai'a, who's nude body was only covered by her futon from the waist down, was breathing in gasps, sweating buckets, and tossing and turning. "Nai'a?" Suguha said uncertainly, just as Nai'a opened her eyes and sat up; still sweating and gasping. "Are you alright?" Suguha asked as she placed a sheet around Nai'a's shoulders. "Another bad dream?"
"Something... like that," Nai'a gasped as she wiped the sweat off her face. Tiki crawled across her waist the looked up in concern. Nai'a threw off the futon, picked Tiki up, and marched to the door. "I need some air."
"Put something on first," said Suguha, and Nai'a stopped in her tracks and looked down at her still naked body. "Wuwgato tutwicon, api be, jenudu dawgan gekeje na jakcijamewi, [And suddenly Eve becomes aware of her own nakedness,]" Suguha added in Yamato.
"Oh, hah-hah." Nai'a put on a yukata borrowed from Suguha and they went out into the garden. "I can never get over how peaceful this garden is."
"Enjoy it. Because after next week, we won't know peace again. And by the way, is that the fifth time this week you've woken up from nightmares?"
"Every night it's the same thing; I see a battlefield of destruction, a girl weeping over a dead body, and us lunaculi fighting off some force. It happened three times while on the ship coming here. I had hoped they would stop when we met, but...."
"I get it," said Suguha. "And since neither of us can sleep right now, let's go visit Her Majesty. Maybe she'll have some answers."
"This late?" Nai'a inquired.
"Vampires are night creatures. She'll be wide awake."
The two of them got dressed, Nai'a put Tiki in her bag, and took a horse to visit Zelda at her Markaydian residence, escorted by two soldiers.
"I'm First Princess Suguha Oda of Yamatai. This is Nai'a Palakiko of Hawaiki. We're here to see your queen," Suguha told the Transylvanian soldier when they dismounted.
"This late at night?" The soldier inquired, to which Suguha replied with a piercing look. "Go on then."
Suguha and Nai'a made their way up to Zelda's chambers, directed along the way by several soldiers. When they got there, Suguha was the one to knock. "Your Majesty?" Suguha said as she knocked. "We'd like a word with you." Suguha opened the door, the sight they were met with was a surprising one. Zelda was in bed a young girl. Both were naked and their lower bodies were covered by the sheets. The girl appeared to be unconscious while Zelda was drinking her blood from her neck. Zelda opened her eyes and noticed them, releasing her fangs from the girl's neck in surprise. "Your Majesty......"
"I should've told you not to come visit me at night," said Zelda as she sat up and pulled the sheets over her chest.
"Who's she?" Nai'a inquired.
"Just a local girl I seduced," Zelda replied.
"'Seduced'? Is this any way for a queen to act?" Suguha demanded.
"I might be Transylvania's queen, but I'm still a vampire; I have needs too, you know! Vampires drink blood for a reason."
"But you need to learn to control yourself," said a voice behind Suguha and Nai'a. It was a maid, an older human woman, and she had another maid with her.
"Aurelia, just because Bianca sent you along to take care of me, doesn't mean you can't let me have any fun!" said Zelda. "Not that this girl was any fun to tease at all. Take her away."
Aurelia and the maid covered the girl up and took her from the room. "Was she boring in bed?" Aurelia asked slyly. "Wouldn't his highness object to this."
"That girl was only for a meal," Zelda replied matter-of-factly. "I would never betray Lucian, and you know that full well; that's why I seduced a girl." Aurelia closed the door behind her at that, leaving the three lunaculi alone. "So, what brings you ladies here this late?"
"First off, will that girl be okay?" Nai'a inquired.
"She'll be anemic for a day or two, but she'll be fine."
"No. I meant..."
"I know what you meant, and she'll be fine. I'm not a pureblood, therefore I don't have the power to turn humans into vampires by bite."
"Alright then. We were hoping to ask you for advice," said Suguha.
"I've been having bad dreams. But... these aren't normal nightmares!" Nai'a added before Zelda could brush them off. But Zelda did no such thing and gestured for them to sit on her bed.
"Go on," said Zelda as the two girls sat down.
"Since the week before my friends and I left Hawaiki, I've been having the same nightmare. I see a devastated battlefield, a girl weeping over a dead body, and us lunaculi combating an evil force of some kind. It's the same every time."
"Perhaps these visions are of events to come."
"That much I know."
"(sigh) I don't really know what to tell you. In all my studies of past lunaculi, I've focused solely on my own. I've occasionally come across my own past lives coupled with other lunaculi working together to solve world problems, but nothing related to our individual abilities. I do know this much; our powers increase in strength when more of us are together."
"Wait a minute!" said Suguha "That's it!"
"My powers revolve around the manipulation of the elements, though that's just because I'm a natural born elementeer, but I felt them get stronger the day I met Nai'a. So, the reason she's been having these dreams more frequently, is because she almost never leaves my side. Her powers revolve around seeing the future through her dreams."
"Are you sure about that?" said Nai'a.
"It makes sense," said Zelda. "I can read memories by sinking my fangs into people; although, more accurately, it's their blood memories I'm reading. Normally, it's a power exclusive to narkpior vampires, but I'm a zyorite; I think the reason I have this power, is because I'm a lunaculus like you two, although I'm sure I must have developed it for a reason. But the thing is… the visions are not always clear; the memories I see are usually in bits and pieces, scraps that need to pieced together. But with you two here, I could maybe see peoples' memories more clearly. You could probably do the same with your, uhm, ‘future dreams.'"
"Then maybe we could try!" said Suguha, "lets..." Zelda held up her hand to silence her,
"Not tonight, it's late. As a vampire, I can tolerate, but you both need sleep," said Zelda.
Suguha and Nai'a recognized dismissal and excused themselves.
Later that same morning, as the residents of the Oda residence were having breakfast, a female servant walked into the room and handed the tenno a note;
"Thank you, Ryoko," said Tatsuhiko. Ryoko then bowed respectfully and left the room while Tatsuhiko read the note. "Hmm, it seems the Silver Arrows have shown up at last."
"That seafaring order we hired?" Suguha inquired.
"Even I've heard of them," said Nai'a.
"That's right," said Tatsuhiko "Their fleet won't be coming to shore, but their commanding officer will be coming ashore later to receive his first instructions from me. We should greet him."
Suguha, Tatsuhiko, Nai'a and Shiira went down to the docks, escorted by soldiers, to wait for the Silver Arrows. They were soon joined by Zelda, Heinrich, Lani and Manu, the former two accompanied by Transylvanian soldiers. A fleet of twenty war galleons were floating at least a mile off shore, but a single Silver Arrow ship, a large galleon which had blue sails with the Silver Arrow Symbol on the middle fore-mast sail, was sliding into port. As it did, they noticed the fleet's commander on the middle of the bowsprit, and when he noticed them he cowled at the top of his voice in greeting.
"Seems a little overenthusiastic, don't you think?" Heinrich asked Zelda, to which she nodded.
"How exactly are stateless sailors supposed to help us?" Nai'a asked Suguha, but Suguha was just staring at the man in apparent disbelief "Your Highness?"
"Wuloge wili jutu be kojamewon, [It can't be,]" said Suguha. Tiki, who was sitting at Nai'a's bare feet looked up and gave Suguha a strange look.
"What is it, Mistress?" Shiira inquired.
At that moment, the commander jumped down from the ship and started walking up to the party. "Well, look who's come to greet us!" he said enthusiastically as Suguha began marching up to him. "I knew I was meeting the tenno, but I didn't think-" at that moment, Suguha slapped him across the face.
"The Silver Arrows promised us a fleet beyond measure and a commander without peer!" Suguha yelled. "Instead, we get twenty ships, and my... and my... and my idiot brother!"
"Did she say... 'brother'?" Lani asked the tenno. "Your Imperial Majesty."
"That's him alright. My eldest son, First Prince Hidehiko Oda," Tatsuhiko confirmed. "I never thought I'd see him again. Of all the things he had to be, he's a commander of the Silver Arrow Armada."
"Enete be kujuna ate?! [Where have you been?!]" Suguha demanded in Yamato as she bawled into her older brother's chest. "Enete be gexga-nonjen jaote! Betewgatexga be eneteko be, upeje enete na twiato tutomu wganvea wgato amewgate! [You disappeared for eight years! We were so worried about you, you big IDIOT!]"
"Muwgabejoelamewon, amutu, [I'm sorry, little sister,]" Hidehiko replied as he gently embraced Suguha. Hidehiko looked at his father, and the look Tatsuhiko was giving him told Hidehiko that his reemergence in their lives was not warmly welcomed.
Once everyone was back at the Oda residence, things got to business. Tatsuhiko and Zelda sat at the head of the room, Hidehiko and his second-in-command, a blond 22-year-old male High Elf he introduced as Tolon, sat in front of them, while everyone else sat at the side wall.
"This feels like a trial and we're the jurors," Nai'a whispered to Suguha, who replied with a "ssshhh!". Tiki also took the hint and stayed quiet by Nai'a's side.
"Father," said Hidehiko. "I'd just like to say that it's pleasure to be of service to the Empire of Yama-"
"Let's get one thing straight," Tatsuhiko interrupted, "for vanishing without so much as a word for eight years, you were presumed dead. Though I will inform the government of your survival, because you were missing for so long, though will be permitted to return to Yamatai at any time, you will be excluded from the line of succession, unless you can earn it back. Betewga be lajea wgato amewi je? [Am I understood?]"
"Gea, enete nu ahon, [Yes, your majesty,]" Hidehiko replied.
"Betewga be wulo u wgattoate, [I knew it,]" Suguha muttered to herself.
"Harsh," Manu whispered to Lani.
"Your Majesty," said Tolon. "Isn't that a bit-" Zelda held up a hand to silence him.
"Tenno Tatsuhiko and I prepared your first instructions," said Zelda as Tatsuhiko passed Hidehiko the letter. "You may raid and capture Umdari ships at your own discretion, but we have a larger job for you."
"Yes?" Hidehiko inquired.
"In six days' time, we will launch an invasion of Clairiere Province and the mainland. We want you and your armada to capture Chateaux Rock, and to break the blockade around Soleilian controlled lands," Tatsuhiko told him. "But be sure to rescue the civilian hostages before engaging the fleet."
"Send the latter order to Commodore Windorf by owl at once," Hidehiko ordered Tolon.
"Yes, Admiral," Tolon replied. Seconds later, he was out of the room.
"You're an Admiral?" Suguha inquired. "Impressive."
"What's an 'Admiral'?" Shiira asked, but nobody answered her.
"Not enough to impress me," said Tatsuhiko.
"Father, please," Hidehiko pleaded. "I know nothing I do can make up for my vanishing, and we may belong to different factions now, but I'm still your son."
"(sigh) I know, betewga nu wgunon. [my boy.]" The father and son smiled at each other for the first time since the Silver Arrows arrived. "On a related note, I would be delighted if you and your subordinate could accompany us to Melitropos for the President's ball tomorrow night."
"It would be my pleasure."
"Emea jfiwea, [Sweet relief,]" Suguha muttered.
"Oh, before I forget," said Hidehiko.
"What's this, son?" Tatsuhiko asked.
"Yesterday we encountered a fleet of thirty ships flying the Arabian flag. After managing to communicate friendliness, we learned that they were being led by Prince Salim Al Zayani. As we speak, the Arabians are ten miles offshore."
"The Arabians? What are they doing here?" Zelda inquired.
"If it is Salim, he's looking to strike an alliance for another shot at getting Suguha's hand in marriage," said Tatsuhiko.
"What?!" Hidehiko exclaimed.
"Julo be atema na nelikelui, [This is going to be a pain,]" said Suguha as everyone exchanged confused looks.
Evening the next day; Yuldya, Gopaco 14th;
"This dress is so hard to move in!" Nai'a complained as she, Lani, Manu, Suguha, Shiira, Tatsuhiko and Hidehiko dismounted Hitokage in front of the Markaydian Presidential Palace. Nai'a and Lani were wearing colorful, frilly, dresses from Bohemia, gifts from Zelda; while Manu, Suguha, Hidehiko and Tatsuhiko were wearing kimonos. Shiira was wearing her servant's attire.
"That's how dresses are in most parts of northern Patria," said Suguha.
"And I hate wearing sho-" Nai'a almost fell over before being caught by a newly arrived Zelda.
"Watch yourself," said Zelda as Nai'a got herself straight. "Like the dresses I gave you?"
"Yes," said Lani.
"No," said Nai'a, and Tiki mewed in approval.
"Ajon nu jenela xgahea, [Quite a difference of opinion,]" Hidehiko said to Suguha, to which she laughed.
The party was then directed into the ballroom, where all sorts of Markaydian government officials and other important folk were already gathered. They were almost immediately greeted by President Ridano himself.
"Ah! Your Imperial Majesty, how lovely to see you again," said Ridano as he shook Tatsuhiko's hand.
"Same here, Mr. President," Tatsuhiko replied. "I was disappointed to hear King Frondar wasn't coming."
"Allow me to apologize on his grace's behalf."
"Think nothing of it. Now… I don't believe you've met my eldest son and daughter? Hidehiko Oda, first prince of the Empire, and the commanding officer of the Silver Arrow Armada in these waters. And Suguha Oda, first princess of the Empire, and lunaculus of Aquilonis."
"Pleasure to meet you, Mr. President," said Suguha as she and Hidehiko shook hands with him.
"And you, and you." Ridano then noticed Nai'a. "Another lunaculus?"
"Nai'a Palakiko from Hawaiki, Sir," said Nai'a as she shook Ridano's hand as well.
"But you're just a child. Ow!" Nai'a squeezed his hand so hard she nearly broke it. "My apologies."
"You better be," said Zelda. "Never underestimate youth. And congratulations on winning a fourth term."
"It'll be my final term, but thank you, Your Majesty. Now, may I take you two aside for a moment?" the three politicians then went aside to talk.
"I never asked, but how old are you?" Suguha asked Nai'a.
"Thirteen," Nai'a replied.
Everyone spent the next hour or so enjoying the ball. Every so often Suguha, Nai'a and the others were introduced to various important people, like the Vice President of Markaydia or Galiara's Ambassador to Markaydia. Finally, the man Suguha wanted to see least of all arrived: Salim Al Zayani, accompanied by an Arabian woman on his arm and a man that appeared to be an Arabian General.
"E, juju na aji, [Oh, here we go,]" Suguha muttered.
"Is he that bad?" Nai'a asked, but Suguha never answered; instead, she listened to the conversation President Ridano started with the Arabian Prince.
"Crown Prince Salim ibn Rashid ibn Azhar Al Zayani, how wonderful of you to come," said Ridano. "You came to Markaydia with a fleet, I trust you have an army as well?"
"80,000 men. Ready to serve alongside our allies," Salim answered. "Allow me to introduce my sister, Princess Azra bint Rashid ibn Azhar Al Zayani."
"A pleasure to me you, Princess."
"And you as well, Mr. President," Azra replied.
"And how is your father, Sultan Rashid Al Zayani?"
"Father is well," Salim replied just as he noticed Suguha. "If you'll excuse me, I've just spotted a familiar face." Salim then left his sister with the general and made his way over to Suguha and Nai'a. "Princess."
"Salim," Suguha replied just as her brother, father, and Zelda joined them.
"I heard you tried to get my sister's hand in marriage some time ago," said Hidehiko.
"And I'm still determined to have it," Salim replied.
"You won't," said Tatsuhiko.
"Divorced those other women yet?" Suguha asked.
"I told you; I'm not married," said Salim.
"Regardless, I don't love you, so I won't marry you unless give me an ironclad reason to do so!" said Suguha.
"Then you should just fall in love with me," said Salim.
"You can't command someone to fall in love with you!" Suguha replied.
"I knew that wouldn't work."
"This is turning ugly," Nai'a thought.
"At any rate, I do have an ironclad reason for you to marry me."
"I doubt you have one," said Suguha.
"Oh, I do. You see, usually the Sultan alone has the power to declare war. My father, Rashid ibn Azhar ibn Abdullahi Al Zayani, hasn't officially declared war on Umdar yet. Further, he's been getting ready to step aside and has named me Prince Regent, effectively granting me equal authority with him."
"So now that you have the same powers as your father, you can declare war at any moment," said Tatsuhiko.
"Yes. Which also means that I can just reject this alliance and side with Umdar instead." this statement shocked everyone who was listening.
"You wouldn't!" Suguha exclaimed.
"How well do you know me?" Salim inquired.
"Allying with Umdar will be taken as a declaration of war against our alliance, a war you won't win!" Zelda declared.
"True, true. But if war between Arabia and the allies were to break out on Markaydia's southeastern island, even if we lose, who knows how far back that would set your war effort."
"You bastard!" Hidehiko exclaimed as he reached for Salim's robe.
"Ah-ah-ah, harming me will be treated as a declaration of war against Arabia."
"I might be a Prince of Yamatai, but I'm not actually affiliated with the Yamato Empire right now, so my actions-"
"It's fine, big brother," said Suguha. "Like it or not we need his army and navy. Alright, Salim, you win. I'll marry you."
"Your Highness!" said Nai'a.
"It's fine, Nai'a. But let me at least say this, Salim. If you do anything to sabotage the war effort, not only will I break off our engagement, I will kill you myself; even if it means going to war with Arabia, mark my words."
Salim then took two glasses from a passing waiter and gave one to Suguha, "To victory over Umdar, and the union of our two dynasties." Salim and Suguha toasted with a clang and drank.
Tatsuhiko then glanced over at the President, who had been listening in for some time, and nodded to him gravely.
Unable to stand being in such an unpleasant atmosphere anymore, Tatsuhiko and Zelda led everyone back to the Oda residence on the southeastern island. Once everyone was back in their normal attire, the sovereigns and Suguha called the three Hawaikians to the meeting room.
"You called for us?" Nai'a asked when she and her friends arrived.
"Yes, Nai'a," Tatsuhiko replied. "We have work for you."
"Anything, Your Majesty," said Manu.
"First, you must understand this; we're moving up the invasion date," Zelda declared.
"Wh-What? Why?" Lani asked.
"To put it simply... the Arabians," said Suguha. "Although my... engagement... has sealed an alliance, thus increasing our numbers, we need to get them away from Markaydia; so, we're moving up the invasion date. We leave at first light. My brother has already returned to his men and set off to capture Chateaux Rock; and when his order reaches is subordinates in the south, they'll break the Umdari southern blockade."
"I get it. You want us to get the word to all your officers so that you can leave at first light," said Nai'a.
"We have other messengers doing that, and we'd like Lani to help too," said Tatsuhiko "But we have a more important assignment for you and Manu."
"We're listening," said Nai'a.
"We will get underway by first light, but it will still take us a few days to get to the north coast. But I assume that you two can get there faster by swimming in your aquatic forms?"
"We could reach the coast by noon tomorrow," said Manu.
"Good. Now hear this," said Zelda. "According to Gilbert, there is a small group of rebels on Clairiere Island and in our mainland target, Henrideaux." Zelda handed letters and maps to Nai'a and Manu. "Nai'a will go to Clairiere Island and Manu will go to Henrideaux. Get these to the rebels in charge so they can prepare for our arrival. These letters will explain everything else to them."
"And guard them well," said Suguha. "Those letters are written plainly, no time to put them in any kind of code. And find the rebels fast, we expect to reach our targets under cover of dark in three or four days time."
"The Umdari still think we're landing elsewhere, but we can still expect resistance at both targets," said Tatsuhiko.
Nai'a and Manu nodded.
Nai'a and Manu then went to grab their bags and set off for the pier. After putting their bracelets in their bags, they dived into the water and swam off.
"Be careful, you two!" Suguha called after them with Tiki in her arms, Nai'a having left him behind due to the danger. "Will they be okay? Will they find the rebels and succeed?"
"Wish for it, as hard as you can," said Zelda. "If you do, that wish will reach them."
Nai'a and Manu soon went their separate ways to their assigned destinations, knowing full well that the success of their assignments could determine outcome of the first allied actions of the war.