The City On The Seas, Shangri-La

Episode 14

After their reunion on the battlefield, Alice and Faria had returned to the castle in Gloria. “Your brother still hasn’t come back, huh?” “’s already been ten years since he left. But I still believe he’ll come back to us.” “And your sister?”

“If it were just a matter of being alive, I’d say she was fine. It’s just that she stays in the castle sleeping, and hardly ever has the strength to wake up. There are times when she goes a week without stirring.” “I see. It sounds like it must be hard on you.” “You might be right, but I won’t complain. I decided that when I became the queen of this nation. But surely you must have it harder than I.”

“Me?” “Yes. You must have had a reason for coming to this world, right? It’s hard to imagine you came all this way just to help me out ten years ago.”

“Hm? Did my expression give it away?” “Haha. No, no. Nothing like that. It’s just that...over the years I’ve gotten good at telling when someone needs help.” Alice explained the coming of ‘That One’ to this world. “I see. So there are that many worlds beyond here.” “After pondering Alice’s story for a moment Faria began to lecture her on the history of her world.”

“This world is controlled by seven kings. If you wish to oppose ‘That One’, you will need the support of all of the monarchs, without question. The man I fought before is the Flame King, Melgis. He’s...rather stubborn. It’s going to take a lot to convince him with just words. I’ll be putting most of my effort into convincing him. After taking his God’s Art today, he might have some respect for me. 

Arla is an honorable man, and Pricia only ever desires peace, convincing them shouldn’t be too much of an issue. I’ll send a message to them both. 

The trouble is the remaining three. Hmm, Alice, it might be best for you to head to Shangri-La.” “Shangri-La?” “Ah, sorry. It’s a merchant city floating in the ocean. They call it a paradise on the sea. The ruler of that place is Valentina. She can be rather...eccentric. It’s hard to understand what she’s thinking. But if it’s you should be okay.” “Me? Why?”

“Because you’re beautiful.” “Huh? That’s all?” “Haha, yes. That’s all.” …... The ruler of Shangri-La is the Princess of Love, Valentina. “Shion, would you please sing me a song?” “Of course, Lady Valentina. What kind of song shall I sing?” “Yes, what indeed...a song that stirs something in the chest. A song that fortells a new meeting.”

“Yes, my lady.” Valentina longed for a new encounter. Since her birth in Shangri-La. she was always preoccupied with beautiful things. 

To her, collecting things and people were one and the same. To encounter and aqcuire new and beautiful things, that’s all she ever desired. Anything else was quickly discarded. Envy and greed had long since been deep rooted in the woman. Over time, she became known by a title formed from cynicism and spite, the princess of love.

“Lady Valentina, there is something which wishes to meet with you. How shall we proceed?” A servant to Valentina had appeared and announced the arrival of a visitor. “Appearance?” “This one sufficiently clears your requirements, my lady.” “Let them pass.” “Yes, my lady.”

Alice had come to Shangri-La as suggested by Faria. Since arriving Alice had felt the gaze of everyone on her. 

A gaze concerned with appraising her beauty, appraising her life, appraising her being. It was either a custom of this mercantile city, or someone had become very interested in Alice very quickly. “I don’t like this...I’m not the only thing here. There’s plenty of people, why are they all...” “You have been granted an audience, you may pass.” “Alright, thank you.”

Alice passed through the opened gates, coming face to face with Valentina. “Alright, you’re Valentina, then? My name is Alice. Time is short, so I will explain as best I ca...” “Okay, I agree.” “Ehh? I...uh...I haven’t really said anything yet.” “I would never refuse the first request of such a cute child. I find you sufficiently pleasing. Therefor, you do not need to worry.”

“I...see...that’s fine I suppose.” Alice then remembered a warning from Faria. That the ruler of Shangri-La would not refuse the request of one she had taken an interest in. However, she always demanded one thing in return. Faria had told Alice what to say when that time came. “I will not refuse your request. However, in return, you shall be mine.”

“Uhh...that’s..well...sorry. I...have to help Faria and her people, in order to protect this world. Gloria had a long standing trade relationship with Shangri-La. Faria and her nation had become an invaluable source of commerce to Valentina. With Faria backing Alice, Valentina would be unable to aquire Alice as she had originally hoped. At least...for now. 

Faria had told Alice that after this, she was not sure if Valentina would still cooperate. At the very least she would most likely be displeased. However, Valentina’s expression did not change. “Very well. That’s fine. Now, let me hear your request. As I said before, I shall not refuse it.” “Huh? Really? Well...thank you. There’s a...thing that I’m pursuing. 

However, to catch this thing I require the help of the lords of this world. So, I wanted to ask you, and the other monarchs, for help.” “I see. If that’s what you desire, it would be best to hold a conference of all seven kings. I have a trade relationship with Leginus, the mechanical city. I will try to make contact with them. How does that sound? “That...sounds perfect. Thank you.”

Surprised, but satisfied with the results, Alice left Valentina’s court. Though her request had been granted, she still could not shake the feeling of that uncomforting gaze fixed upon her as she left Shangri-La. “Shion, would you please sing me a song?” “Of course, Lady Valentina. What kind of song shall I sing?”

“Let’s see...something...passionate. It starts as lust, and becomes a powerful love. ” “Yes, my lady.” Valentina’s desire had become a deeper feeling. Her desire was only for the meeting. Her love, however... “It’s just as you said. Alice came today.” “So? What will you do?” “Isn’t it obvious? I will rule. As intended.”

“I see...well good luck with that.” A peculiar girl, in twilit clothes answered Valentina. Beside her sat a pitch black cat, with eyes transfixed on something far off. The cat mewed softly.

-------------------------------------------------------------------- The World of the Seven Kings