Surprised by this sudden question, Roland fell silent for a moment and then asked with a smile, "You seem to have something else to say?"
Pasha replied, "As this united front is related to the survival of all human beings, we hope that every decision we make here can be given full consideration. To this end... we the survivors of Taquila suggest we adopt a co-governance mechanism for the united front. Under such a system, all decisions will be jointly made by the heads of the most powerful groups after negotiation. By doing so, we'll be able to avoid misjudgment and ensure an equal interest of every party."
"Uhm... it sounds like the Union's Three Chiefs system."
The ancient witch further explained, "A triumvirate can ensure a quick and well-balanced decision-making process, but it's not the only choice. Regarding the current situation, we'd better build a system to include the Four Kingdoms and all the witch organizations. In the early days of the Union, there were 11 leaders planning our military campaigns at the roundtable."
Hearing this, Roland had to admit they were quite clever in this matter since this co-governance mechanism they proposed would surely guarantee their own status in the united front. At this moment, except his Graycastle, all the kingdoms and witch organizations such as the Witch Union and Sleeping Island could hardly compete with the Taquila survivors who had taken over all the magic power instruments left by the underground civilization and owned over 100 God's Punishment Witches. They had accumulated rich fighting experiences during a decades-long battle against demons and were overwhelmingly powerful when fighting with other witches and common armies.
Roland believed that if he agreed, the Taquila witches would naturally become one of the policymakers of the co-governance system. They would further ensure their own interests by stressing their identities as witches to gain recognition from and establish good relationships with the other witch organizations.
He thought that they made such a request probably because they wanted to protect themselves not because they were planning something like restoring their rule over human beings or overthrowing the kingdoms. He understood that every group would be prudent and want such a self-protecting measure before joining in a large organization. If he had been the old Prince Roland who had recently become a lord of Border Town, he would have accepted this suggestion of the Taquila witches, but now he was different.
With an air of authority, he said, "An interesting suggestion, but the united front won't adopt a co-governance mechanism. It'll have only one leader. That is me. This is the most efficient and reliable way of managing it."
He agreed that modesty was a virtue but also knew that now was not the right time for him to be humble, since he was clear that the Three Chiefs system might be a good choice for the Union but not for him.
He was the only one in this world, who knew what industrialization was and how to make the best use of all the resources in his domain.
To see rapid industrialization, he had to make all his administrative departments do what he said and work together like a set of machines toward the same goal. He wanted that every order issued by his City Hall to smoothly reach all his subjects and all the resources within his domain to be allocated and managed in accordance with his plan. Adopting a co-governance system under which he would have to explain and convince all the other policymakers to carry out a policy obviously would slow down the process of industrialization.
Seeing Roland reject Taquila's idea outright and bluntly, all the people in the meeting was fell into an awkward silence, including those ancient witches.
Roland cleared his throat and calmly continued. "The united front is built to guarantee that we'll work together to fight against demons, but I don't require you to join in it at the very beginning. I want you to move to the Western Region to build mutual trust first. As compared to some oral agreement, the facts you'll see here will be more convincing."
"What... are we going to see?"
He explained, "You're going to see our strength and determination to fight against demons and the current situation of some other organizations, both those that are a part of the united front and those not. After that, you can make a decision to join in or not. Even if you don't join in, we'll still be able to cooperate on many other projects, such as experiments and the search for the Chosen One. I promise I won't interfere with your internal affairs."
Celine interrupted, "You won't mind if we don't give you the relic and the magic core?"
"No, and in fact, I've never planned to depend on those instruments in the ruins of the maze to defeat demons. Regarding the relic, as long as it's kept in a safe place, I won't have a problem with it. Like I said, working together to look for the Chosen One and protect the relic is the first step to build our mutual trust. As for further cooperation, we can take it slow."
The cold voice which remained silent for a long time appeared again. "I've got to say you're very uncommon, you common man, but have you ever thought that controlling the united front on your own can be very risky. If the Battle of Divine Will lasts decades and during this period of time you inevitably become old and weak, how can you ensure that your successors will follow your will to lead us in the war? Only a co-governance mechanism can effectively prevent such a problem."
"I don't think it'll be a problem at all. I'm not sure how long will the war last, but I'm afraid my life will be longer than all of yours combined." At this moment, he felt he needed to bluff, although he was not sure whether he had got Zero's lifespan as he obviously did not get her magic power. He knew that to convince these ancient witches, he had better explain his decision with some incredible power rather than persuading them that a special system which they had never heard of would guarantee that his successors would carry on his work.
He described to them the Soul Battlefield in detail and many witches chimed in. After that, there was a long silence.
He saw that the tentacles of the blobs knotted together again and the scales on their bodies turned from grayish brown to reddish brown, which indicated that they had a heated discussion now.
After a long time, their tentacle hang down.
Pasha said solemnly, "I understand, but we need at least a month to move all the things we need. I hope you can offer us some building materials as one cave isn't enough for all our things. We need to build a palace and a laboratory inside the western mountains."
Roland was surprised and asked, "Wait a minute, how can you build something like that underground?" It was not easy to conduct an underground construction, for the environment below the earth was wet and dark. As such he had planned to ask Lotus to connect some underground caves in the western mountains for the Taquila survivors since their bodies would not require very comfortable living conditions. However, they seemed to have mastered better construction skills than him and even planned to build a new palace underground.
Pasha explained, "Our devouring worm will do the job. It's a big shell looking like a wild beast. We've got one in the ruins. That was the shell we used to sneak into the City of Glow in the Kingdom of Dawn."