Chapter 4491 Answer From His Heart
Chapter 4491 Answer From His Heart
Ves closed his eyes and tried to formulate a proper response to Lady Aisling Curver.
Normally, he would have tried to avoid this topic at all cost, but he was tired of running away from this issue.
The specter of Aisling was hardly the only person who questioned the wisdom of hooking up with Gloriana. Plenty of clansmen and outsiders had asked the same question, and he never managed to form a coherent reply.
However, now that he was being cornered by four female ghosts, Ves had no choice but to process his feelings on the matter and supply an answer that came from his heart.
"Gloriana… is an intense woman." He began. "She is a passionate woman. She knows what she wants and is decisive in her actions. I admire all of those traits. Sure, you have shown the same qualities, but there are differences."
"Like what, Ves?" Patricia asked as she adopted an expectant expression.
He glanced at Iris for a moment. "We had chemistry, for one. Something just clicked between us in a way that never happened when I met you. My impression of you was that you wanted to use me for your own ends and that your obsession towards me is only skin deep."
"And how is Gloriana any different?"
"Gloriana is more willing to respect my demands and readily agrees to compromise with me on many matters." Ves retorted. "She truly treated me as an equal. Sure, there are times when she behaves as if she is better than me, her heart is in the right place."
"That's not enough, Ves."
"I know. I wasn't finished, Aisling. Look, my impression of Gloriana was fairly bad at first, but she steadily addressed many of the points that I objected to the most. She didn't always succeed in that, but she had been nothing but earnest in her attempts to change herself for my benefit. What happened over the years since we started our relationship has largely matched my expectations."
Neither of the four women looked convinced as of yet. They still stared at him with the judgemental eyes that seemed to be intrinsic to females.
"Go on." Aisling urged.
"I never got the impression that you would ever get better, Aisling. You were like a force of nature that would not bend to anyone's will. You wanted me for my design philosophy, but you also looked down on me as a poor and powerless Brighter, isn't that right? My status would have never been able to measure up against yours. You were the proud direct disciple of Master Huron of the most powerful coalition partner of the Friday Coalition. That boosted your ego to an insane height. Please tell me the truth. Would you have ever respected me as your equal or your superior once I became better at my job?"
The woman who was supposed to be dead in reality became troubled all of a sudden. She clearly wanted to defend herself, but she wasn't really allowed to cover up her faults.
If a specter couldn't be honest in this mysterious dream sequence, then why should Ves be held to a higher standard?
"Exactly." Ves pointedly said. "I don't know whether I properly figured this out at the time, but my instincts have never led me astray. For one reason or another, Gloriana vibed with me. Her forceful actions appealed to me in a strange way. While I like a gentle woman like any other man, I cannot deny that I have an attraction to more assertive women as well. Not everyone has the same tastes, you know. We all have our quirks, and I suppose my attraction towards a woman like Gloriana is one of my many strange traits. I can't help it. This is just who I am. Is that enough for you, Aisling?"
The stubborn specter still refused to give up. "Gloriana's actions directly led to numerous confrontations between you and your former allies. If she hadn't meddled with your relationships behind your back, you wouldn't have lost so many friends. You would have still been able to remain on friendly terms with the Bright Republic, the Ylvaine Protectorate and the Friday Coalition. Instead, you allowed Gloriana to mesmerize you with her Hexer charm to the point where she played a principal role in provoking conflicts that has led to the death of many Larkinsons. She has blood on her hands."
Ves vigorously shook her head. "I reject your assertion. Gloriana did not set out to spark hostilities between me and the rest. She could not foresee that others would react so strongly to her actions given that I was just a third-class mech designer back then. Besides, the main fault lies with the Brighters, the Ylvainans and the Fridaymen. They did not act out against me because someone forced their hand. They targeted me because they were consumed by greed and never had my interests at heart. They betrayed me, Aisling. I trusted them and valued my friendships with them, and they did what? They violated their own principles in exchange for naked benefits!"
"You can't fault them for that, Ves." Aisling responded. "States regularly operate this way. You of all people should know about the hard choices that leaders must take in order to serve and protect the citizens that are depending on them. Back then, I too acted on behalf of the interests of the Gauge Dynasty and the Friday Coalition, but that doesn't mean I would have treated you poorly because of their say so. We would have become a great couple if you had just given me a chance."
Ves didn't take her answer seriously. "Huh, really? Didn't you tell me you would bring me straight towards the Clarion University of Mech Design where Master Huron resides? How do you think all of those Fridaymen would have treated me? They would have treated me as a prisoner instead of a guest of honor! Don't tell me that you don't know what could have happened! Your fellow Fridaymen might not resort to outright brainwashing in order to preserve my talents, but they would have definitely applied all sorts of pressure and indoctrination on me until I became more acceptable in their eyes! Knowing that this would happen to me if you dragged me back, can you truly claim to respect my wishes and care about my well-being?"
"I… that… I was attempting to restore your original life." Lady Aisling Curver said in a deflated tone. "My approach may have been more abrupt and forceful than you would have liked, but the ends justify the means. As long as we managed to convince the public that you have returned to the side of the Friday Coalition again, we wouldn't have bothered you anymore."
He sneered. "After all of the crap you Fridayman pulled, you have burned your bridges with me. You could have employed many ways to bring me back to your side. It was not completely impossible for you to pull me away from Gloriana's clutches. You just needed to show up and competed fairly against her. I would have given you a fair chance to prove yourself if you played by my rules."
"That wouldn't have worked. She already sank her claws too deep in you by that time. Her first mover advantage was so great that the only way I had a fair shot was to break the game."
Ves became more and more disgusted by what he heard. "You aren't helping your case, Aisling. You are making it worse. Just face it. You may have loved me, but your loyalty to your Master, the Gauge Dynasty and the Friday Coalition is too strong. You would have never put my interests above theirs. That is ultimately what makes Gloriana different. Even though she was an avid Hexer, she has readily submitted to my demand of breaking off from every other state so that we will no longer be beholden to any government.">
He felt more comfortable about this situation as he squared his thoughts. In that sense, this confrontation had done a lot of good to him. His arguments might not entirely pass muster, but as long as they calmed the restlessness in his heart, that was enough to satisfy his needs.
This dream sequence was ultimately about resolving his own uncertainties. He had no obligation to obtain the approval of all of the ghosts of his past.
"You get it now." Ketis smiled at him. "Right or wrong doesn't matter. Everything is fine as you are certain about the choices you have made. We are here to help you, even if it looks as if the opposite is taking place."
"I get it." He told her before he addressed all of the women at the same time. "I think I am almost done here. I have one last thing to say to you all. Like you, I am a mech designer. Like you, I care about my design philosophy and my work."
The swordmaster among the women rolled her eyes once again. "Here he goes again. He's about to make another pedantic statement."
"I am being serious, Ketis. My work and my life is centered entirely around designing mechs. Almost every decision I make is at least indirectly related to mechs. I judge my actions on whether it will help me or hinder me in my journey to design a better mech. When I met Gloriana and found out about her design philosophy, I became attracted by the prospect of cooperating with her. It is just so obvious for us to work together, and since we were both eager and willing to collaborate on joint projects, it was a match made in heaven."
That made the women look upset, but Ves didn't care about their feelings.
"Our initial collaborations largely proved how well we were able to work together. The fact that we held opposite design philosophies did not pull us apart. Instead, we recognized and valued each other's strength and worked hard to compensate for each other's weaknesses. The results of our efforts were massive improvements over the mechs that we have previously designed. I became happy. Gloriana became happy as well. While I don't think it is necessary for two mech designers who synergize well with each other to marry each other, I do not object to this practice."
As mech designers, the other women should certainly be able to understand his argument.
"Enough." Ves said with a tone of finality. "Begone, ladies. I appreciate you all for clearing the fog in my heart, but you have served your purpose."
He was tired of getting jerked around by this dream sequence. Since when did he passively accept someone else's arrangements? This was his life! No one was allowed to steer him in a direction of their own choosing. Only Ves had the right to set his own course!
Perhaps the dream sequence listened to his demands, because the scene finally changed.
His four old flames blissfully disappeared.
Ves took in his new environment. He appeared to be hovering in space at the moment. The planet down below looked familiar to him. It took only a few seconds for him to identify the planet he was orbiting at the moment.
Just before he uttered the name, the surface began to change.
Large clouds of sand and dust broke out from the surface. They appeared in various places and began to sweep across the landmasses in a slow but inexorable path.
Cities became engulfed while countless human lives perished during the time the sandman race had broken through every form of resistance and engulfed the economic heart of the Bright Republic!
Ves still remembered the day he witnessed this tragedy. It affected him so much that he even named his factory ship and flagship after the planet where he essentially earned his first pot of gold.
"Beautiful, is it not?" A smooth and elegant voice spoke up from behind.
Even though Ves was floating in space without any obvious footing on his feet, he smoothly managed to turn around to face an individual that he couldn't recognize in the slightest.
"I can count the number of CFA officers that I have met in person with one hand." Ves stated despite the lack of air in his current environment. "Can you introduce yourself, sir?"
? The man wearing a resplendent CFA officer uniform made a shallow bow. "I would be glad to, Mr. Larkinson. I am Captain Zonrad Reze. I have the privilege of commanding the Babylon Excavator, a reconnaissance cruiser operating under the auspices of the Common Fleet Alliance in the Red Ocean."