Viewing as Guest
Chapter 31-40: ALL CHAPTER( 31-40)
Date Published: March 30th, 2015
CHAPTER 31: PLANS
The trees surrounded my castle like great armies defending their fortress.
The towers stand majestically. The banners of my family waved in the wind.
Then I saw the people bustling through the market.
Even in war, at least the people in the East it is not affected badly. Well, most of the East is under our family control, so it is relatively peaceful
The turrets guarded the walls. The arrow lops can also be seen. Some were big, some were small.
My horse neighs.
“Calm down. We have return” I said stroking his mane.
The guards of my household silently walked on the walls and keeping the peace, watching for dangers.
All the towers have a steeply spiral staircase, making it awkward for invaders, if they ever decide to invade to fight upwards, the steps uneven giving the defender some advantage
Trebuchets stood mightily on the towers ready at any moment notice to unleash an attack.
And in the castle I knew what inside it.
There is a great hall for feasting, with artwork from Vangua and Vern adorned the walls, tapestries of events that is laid on the glass stained windows, and rich tapestries of red hung on the walls of the other rooms, suits of armour standing guard to induce fear to those who wish us harm, a central huge open air courtyard and the dungeons and many more rooms all house their own secret.
There are also the baileys. There are the west, north, east and south bailey and there are many more in the castle.
“MY LORD” some of the guard yelled when they see me from the top of the barbicans. I waved to them.
“Congratulations for your victory” they yelled
“THANK YOU” I yelled back
I could see the Dragon Keep when I look in the distance. I once go inside the Keep. It was a complex structure and larger than any Keep in the Kingdom.
It is also the last line of defense during siege or attack.
The horseshoes shakes the ground.
With 5000 troops I returned back home. All in horseback. All looked intimidating.
My return is met with a celebration since I brought victory to the King.
I am in horseback leading all my other vassal to enter the castle. One of my vassal approached me.
‘My Lord, should I assemble the council when we arrived at the castle’ one of my vassal whispered to me
‘Not yet’ I reply
My vassal nodded
I need to rest for a while before marching on.
Instead of keeping this war that will empty my gold chest, I should try to reach a settlement with Alderam.
After all gold doesn’t fall down from the sky
Maybe I will persuade the King to make peace with his brother.
What he did in the Feast is unforgivable, but if we keep going into battle, then even when we win the war, the people will suffer, our economy broke. And my family mone will be wasted on this war instead of the real threat beyond the sea.
For now, at least as a temporary solution we will let him stay in the North while I will firm my base in the West and South.
East is already under control considering the East has always been under our family after we turned it into a successful and profitable cities and counties.
The King and his trusted man is at Rockstill, holding court there in the castle that use belong to Arwin Rodan.
I arrived at the city gate
‘My lord’ my vassal that I left in the city greet me kneeling
‘Yes, how is the city? More importantly about our trade’
‘Your city is doing fine, my lord. Traders and market function normally. Our trade with Vern has been blocked on the north, but our trade with other nations and continent is moving smoothly
The lord seem hesitant
‘THE LOSS’ I said raising my voice
‘About 5 million gold my lord’
Vern is one of our trade partners, and now that the North blocks our caravans then we could not trade with them.
Even though compare to other Kingdom, 5 million gold is not that much it is still a lot.
I must open back the trade route.
I will send letters to some of the northron lords to open back the trade route maybe even share it with the northron lords. But I also need Alderam permission.
Maybe a truce?
Surely they will not reject my gift.
Not if they wanted to meet my army.
‘We will discuss about this when we sit in the council’ I said
The lord nodded
Then I entered the castle.
IN THE CASTLE
I already told my vassal to assemble the council.
There are many things to discuss.
The opening of the trade route, letters to be sent both to the King asking for his permission and letters to the northron lords to ask them to open the trade route again.
There is also the matter of the new law and the legal system that needs to be established.
I’m now choosing what clothes to wear.
I recently learned the importance of appearance.
Sometimes appearance or the reputation itself is enough to make your enemies to bow to your orders.
Many lords submit after I defeated the whitetree, and many common folk is happy when I become their lord.
That is because our family reputation that is known to be very generous which is the reputation of my father, while I was feared by my enemies. Reputations are important
First I choose my clothes from Vangua made by Jacques Arrendelle, a famous tailor in Vangua.
This elaborate and stylish jacket is made from high-quality red velvet and features laroque decorations rendered in attractive damask brocade.
I tried it.
It has a luxurious and soft feel that makes it exceedingly comfortable to wear.
The jacket is approximately knee-length and features attractive damask brocade decoration o both of the front and back, these decoration modified for my House, now red and black pattern detailing and feature additional gold trim.
The jackets full-length sleeves are fitted to the arm and end is damask brocade cuffs, the shoulders are slightly raise, creating a circular ridge that adds a level of depths to the jackets, and the interior of the frock-styled jacket is fully lined for comfort.
The tailor really is talented.
Well, considering this cost a fortune no wonder so much detail is put on this jacket
Slowly but surely, I become like them.
Playing their games. I despise them before and I still feel the same but maybe…just maybe…I could try to understand them a little bit more.
This is all they know.
They were born to a world full with deceit and no surprise they too become unable to believe anyone else. That was my impression of nobility
But I was wrong. I met some of them.
Not all of them is evil.
Not all of them are greedy.
Some nobles are honorable.
Some are good. But that’s the problem.
And not all. Maybe…maybe.. it’s not about the title, or the nobility, or whether their upbringing. Maybe it is as simple as choosing a path.
Become good? Become evil? Do good? Do evil?
Every day we are faced with a choice and every time we make a choice we became the embodiment of that choice.
We are what we decide to be.
I slipped another clothes.
I wear the jacket with a dress and gold breeches.The shirt is padded shirt in a lace up cotton gambeson style shirt that cab be worn as a stand-alone garment or as an undershirt with leather jerkin.
I chose to wear it with the jacket
The shirt is traditional cotton fabric, and the sleeves are bit thicker, featuring a quilted fabric design.
Then I wear the bracelet carved by Wen Tianxing in Vern Empire. The cuff styled bracelet features intricate dragons decoration, the most impressive of which are the dragon scaled bands.
That scale cost me a fortune, to buy from the royalty of Vern.
But it is worth it
It adds to the mystery and splendor of my House which makes the people revere us, the nobles respect us and awe our enemies.
Then I began walking to the House Council a room that is as big as the Great Hall in our castle. I open the massive oak doors.
‘My lord’ my council stands seeing I entered the room. The court officials are not present. Only my House Council can enter the Council
They were already there waiting for me to come and preside the meeting. All of them are either talented men my father and mother scouted, some hold influence, some hold military power, some are a son of noble family that has contributed to my family rise.
‘At ease’ and they sit back down.
I move to the center chair at the head of the long oak table.
I sit down and I looked at them. They are all wearing dragon brooches, a badge of office for being in my Council.
After calming myself down, I am ready to start the meeting.
‘Let us commence the council’ I said
“YES, MY LORD” they reply enthusiastically
First my Treasurer gives me the reports of our gold chest, expenses for the war, supply that we have and provision needed. I give him permission to do anything that he see fit to make my realm more prosperous but any drastic changes must go through me first.
Then my Lawkeeper, Derwin Watertree, present me the laws
‘My lord we need to change the laws in our kingdom.’
He said clearly implying that I need to speak to it with the King.
Even though Adrian is technically King, I doubt he would refuse me. After all, I did win him battles. And I’m his strongest supporter.And I’m doing all this for the greater good.
‘Why?’ I asked
He cleared his throat and looked at me.
‘Feudal laws and custom differed dramatically even within countries like ours or Vangua and Dostov from one major county or duchy to the next.
Though of course there are some uniformity because of the Empire governance a long time ago, but when the Empire was divided my lord, the practice of feudalism grew more different every passing year.
And that includes in our Kingdom. Laws are not the same. In our Duchy it’s different, in others it’s different. Our duchy is one of the places in this Kingdom where most free men came here, to live, to work, to trade and we can boast that our duchy is the most prosperous and rich.
Our laws are also lenient and I think we should unified the laws under the King instead of each duchy deciding their own degree of punishment which will incite revolt and rebellion”
“The other lord will not like that the King curb their power” Ser Massey spoke addressing a valid concern
“True. But it needed to be done for the royal authority. How can people believe in a King that can’t even rule or make the other noble lords submit? Sometimes, I think it’s better if our Lord is on the throne”
‘ENOUGH, DERWIN.THAT IS TREASONOUS” He shrinked and quieted
“I’m sorry my lord”
I ponder his advice.
It is true that our style of rule is not that quite different from other countries but some of them are not unified under the same laws much like even our Kingdom. Especially in our Kingdom, where the laws each blurs. There are no codes for formal laws. Each lord has their own authority to judge those under their land.
I want to field massive armies of infantry, cavalry, and archers.
Complex logistical systems maintained by efficient government bureaucracies were needed to supply, train, and control such large forces.
Maybe if I followed the Three Ancestors way it will work.
But bureaucracies will diminish the power of the nobles in the Kingdom.
Even though the Vern Empire is kind of like a feudalist system but they have officer’s usually second sons, sons that is not poised to inherit lands which become officers in the court, helping the administrative duties of the emperor.
It is kind of semi feudalist kingdom.
And then my thoughts turned to our weapon.
Asteros Iron is also needed which is why our trade with Asteros is important.
Their iron has some qualities that make it special than normal irons.
This is the reason why my armies are undefeatable.
Most armour and weapons of my troops are made from Asteros iron. I know that sailing the Black Sea, even though it’s dangerous to trade with them, is a smart move.
Before in my timeline we did not have this kind of strength, neither did we have an organized army. Even though every troop are under their own respective Houses, my troops are a little different. It is trained and taught.
And not to mention the Asteros Iron
It’s not Enochian steel but it’s good enough.
Though if I have an Enochian steel it would be very good and dangerous for my enemies. Extremely rare and only a few in the world. Extremely sharp and powerful
I called the Commander of the House before addressing the law issue
‘Yes my lord’ he said bowing slightly seating beside me
‘I want you to start producing crossbow en masse.’
No objection, no nothing. At first when I took the leadership in the House when the war began, he always disrespected me, telling the people of the House I’m incapable of leading my House vassal. So, I challenged him into battle. He lost. And since then he follow me loyally.
“ Crossbow my lord?” some of my council spoke
“Yes. We need to prepare”
“But the East did not yet enter the war…If we..”
“THAT IS MY ORDER!” and he quieted
“Yes, my lord” he said meekly
Crossbow will be needed if a huge scale war were to happen.
The crossbow is the preferred long-range weapon, due to several reasons.
The crossbow could be mass-produced easily, and mass training of crossbowmen was possible.
These qualities made it a powerful weapon against the enemy.
Then I turn to my Treasurer.
‘For you I have another work’
‘Yes my lord’
‘I want you to create an irrigation system, called it Arlianes irrigation System which will controlled the Argan river near my vassal castle’
‘Why my lord?’
‘This will turned the former backwater region there, which has many villages of peasants, into a major logistical base for my house, and a Canal in Goodlad which will irrigated large areas of land in the empty Plain, again increasing our agricultural output.”
‘That is very brilliant of you my lord’ he compliment me
‘Can you do it?’
‘I will try my best’
I glared at him
‘I mean…. I surely will do it’
I can also create ministry.
No, it’s too soon.
I also ordered my council to start building schools and university a haven for books and collection of knowledge that our kingdom could find.
My dream once flashed to one country, people coming all over in some place called Cordova, learning and gaining knowledge
I want to create the same thing.
A center of knowledge here in our Kingdom.
A centralized state and centralized army under one rule will make it easier to repel an invasion instead of relying on the oaths and promises of noble class.
But I could not change it drastically, if I do, then all the nobles would be very angry and their target will be me.
In the East the nobles might agree, because our way is different than the other nobles in the Kingdom, mostly because most of the nobles in the East under our rule learn from the schools that my father created and peasant child can learn in school, only they have to pay 10 gold for a year of learning.
But since our land is prosperous there is not that many peasants, many of them become trader and school helps them find their talents.
Some become craftsman while other become artist, inventor, some become apprentice, master craftsman, and some become peddler who came from town to town supplying the backwater region with many items they could not find or have in their villages.
And we are the supplier, the trader, the sole economic power in the Kingdom.
Our gold funds Adrian expenditure.
“Call the herald” I said
The herald came. The herald is a title for a messenger. He arranged tournaments, announced challenge and marshaled combatants
I give him two envelopes
‘Send this to my parents in Seren. You must not be tracked. And this one sent it to Lord Alderam. ’ I ordered
‘Yes my lord’
He went outside
‘Is there anything else?’ I asked my council
The Ecclesial spoke
‘The wedding my lord. When will the wedding be held?’
‘My wedding? What does it matter?’
The Bishop and Priest shrinked in their seat
‘My lord we know that you are not …’
‘Conventional, my lord…but the wedding must follow protocol, especially for your House reputation’
I don’t really like them. But it is necessary. After all nothing good ever happen defying the church. The Grand Papnoticon might even be more powerful than Kings.
‘Fine! I’ll follow protocol Are we done?’
My council looked at each other and nodded
‘Derwin, send me your proposal later. I will retreat to my room. For now I want to take a rest.’
They all nodded and I exited the room.
I walked to my room while all the time thinking about my next steps. Somehow taking a rest does not come easily for me. I stopped at the spiral staircase.
Maybe I should go to the city today, looking at my people. My family will be returning and then I would be very busy so maybe I should take a little break, resting my mind ad my body.
I walk back down and get out of the castle and ride my horse to the city.
CHAPTER 32: CONFLICTING EMOTIONS
A messenger came bearing a letter for me. Under the raining atmosphere he came banging the castle door. His clothes are wet, his hair is messy but he did his job.
Combined with the night it is cold outside. The messenger came in the blackness of night. The guards spotted the messenger. And then they quickly report it to me. Then the messenger quickly disappeared without even telling who sent the letter
Since Alderam is not here, I was made Regent while he is away
Alderam and his son Harald is in other region of the North fighting the rest of the other noble houses.
We have blocked Vermont trade to Vern so he block our trade to the rest of the other nation.
Considering they control the West, South and East it’s not that hard to do. That shows how many influence the Vermont’s have.
This is their strength
The wind blows and my room window smacked each other with wind and water. I shivered slightly
I have underestimated the cold tonight.
It is cold.
So cold that it almost burn.
But at least this is not Vorthy, the Land of Eternal Winter. That place is white and snow,their people are hard and relentless, living in such harsh condition, and the cold burns like fire, never to see the summer or feel the autumn kiss, extinguishing life like it buried the flame of the Sun Emperor.
At least not like that, I mused
I ordered my page to come enter my room
“Ales, bring me the letter” I ordered him
Ales nodded. He is a page from a peasant house here in th North.
‘Yes my lord. I will retrieve the letter’ He nodded
The night is wicking my heat faster than my body can replace it. At cold night like this I’m reminded of my son.
Is he safe?
Has he found refuge in Adrian territory?
I know we could not trade letters but my heart is always with him. I hope Adrian forces will not execute him because of my decision
West, my son.
I light the candle. The letter must be important because of how the messenger insistence to send it even in this kind of weather. Thunder boomed outside, each sending a sound so loud that it even startled me.
‘My lord permission to enter?
Ales come and bring me the letter. He handed it to me and I recognized it the moment I saw it. A letter embossed with a dragon seal.
I took my knife and carefully open the letter.
To: Duke of Arouen
From: Arial Vermont, Regent of Duchy of Arrandy
I’m proposing a truce. For a year we will not war against each other and stop each other from doing any aggressive move.We can negotiate if you want the Duchy of Arouen.
Sent me letters to show your willingness. Reject this gift, and I will come for all of you with no mercy. This succession war will bring ruin to this Kingdom. See reason, Alderam.
Count of Acro, Regent of Arrandy, Arial Vermont.
The Succession war.
That is the name given to this civil conflict between these two brothers.
Adrian and Alderam
Both of them wanted the Duchy of Arouen. Now that Adrian proclaimed himself King so now the stake is higher.
All Dukedom under one rule.
Adrian derives his claim from his father last wish, but many of those who know of Lord Hadrian will is either killed or missing.
Alderam derives his claim from the law that decides the oldest child will inherit.
The Adrian forces is known as the Spearer and Alderam is known as Alanist
I sighed. I never thought it would be this big of a scale. I did it to save my relatives but now…Now…
The door creaked open.
‘Dear are you in here?’
She looked at me and she immediately recognized my expression. Surely I did not show a good expression
‘What are you worried about?’ She said standing beside me. She know me. One glance and she can already tell something is wrong
‘A letter? From who?’ She asked glancing the letter in my hand.
She sit on the bed. Her face contorted to a look of pain. Then slowly she utter a question
‘H…How is our son?’ I looked at her and I too felt it.
‘I believe he is alright’
‘I have told you that….’
‘I know Liana. I know. I should have listened to you. But what’s done is done’
‘True. It is done. Your words, your laws. And now you take away from me my son.’ She lay on the bed
‘I will sleep first’ she said her tone sulking
I separate her from her son. She is in pain worrying about him. But did she think I did not feel any pain? West is also my son.
“I will go to sleep a bit later
‘Whatever you say’ she said and she laying on the bed covering herself with the blanket. Thunder boomed outside.
I began collecting my thoughts
Alderam promised me he can end the war fast. He was confident of his victory when he planned the Bloody Feast in his mansion. He was convinced there are no other forces in the Dukedom that can stop him….he was wrong.
The Vermont raises their dragon banners and rally to the newly crowned King and won him battle and lands, fealty from noble houses in the South and the west and sooner or later if Alderam is stubborn they will march here.
The young lord is smart. He consolidated his power base before making any march to the North.
The thunder boomed again, the winds blows harder and the candle flame flickered.
The War they called it. But it’s not really like the war in the past like the Subjugation or the Bastards War that lasted ten years or a war that sacrifice many of innocent people.
It is mostly sporadic battle all around the Dukedom, in the North, South and West. The East on the other hand did not even affected by the war, mostly because all the noble houses I the East is controlled by the Vermont, or their vassals.
There is also unrest most of it in the North and the West, alliance created and broken, resistance from the common folk, rebellions from lords wishing to make their family the strongest and gain glory.
Foreign policy also intruded and inevitably tension with neighboring countries also affected. Dostov support Alderam while Seren who is bordering Dostov supports Adrian but that is mostly because the Vermont supports the King.
This could escalate and brought the Dukedom into other military conflicts though unintended.
The candle flickered and I sighed again. I looked again at the letter.
He is proposing a truce.
Even though, Alderam is the sole force for this war, but Alderam itself is not the strong one here.
It is because my family and my connection with the noble families in the North that Alderam has almost full and complete control of the North.
But Arial Vermont, the Dragon is a talented leader and a unifying force this Dukedom has not seen in many years.
When the war begins instead of wasting time trying to fight in the North, he quickly moved his army, as young as he did, and unify the noble houses in the East under his complete control.
That shows leadership.
Considering the East is loyal to his family, it is no surprise, that they so easily listen to the Vermonts. But even after unifying the east he did not attack the north.
He sent letters, messages, and ravens to other noble house in the west and south. All asking , persuading to swear fealty to the new King.
Some swear fealty some did not. Those who did not were subjugated. Vanquished. Destroyed by his army. Those who bend the knee were treated graciously.
I was right that the Vermont is a powerful family. I’ve seen the danger. I have felt their power. Their power of gold, yet I never did expect that the Vermont have such an able commander.
Quickly the young lord pacified half the west and sent the other noble houses loyal to the crown to subjugate it.
His victory against the Whitetree, only serve to consolidate the Vermont’s position in the South and quickly the young commander of the family, Arial,his reputation soar. There is no one in the Dukedom who did not know who he is.
Arial the Dragon. Merciless to his enemies yet he treats his companion with respect
What should I do?
I looked back at the letter.
Alderam will not accept a truce. He wanted the Dukedom to remain separate. At least when it was separate Alderam can find more allies to his cause.
But since Aries crowned Adrian as King under the blessing of the Grand Papnoticon in Cori who reside is Roma, on the Mirror Tower of Light.
All the noble lords have sworn fealty. They have chosen their side.
Not long now the Vermont will control all he South too. And then, I suspect they will march here with all his force, led by the young boy that subjugates them in the first place.
Aries the Kingmaker and Arial the Dragon
Who would have thought that the Vermont can be so influential?
The winds blow again and some water sprinkled to me. It almost like storm. The windows are creaking.
I hastily closed the door, the col creeping in. I looked at the bed. My wife is already deep asleep.
Either way I need to show it to Alderam.
Whether he like it or not, hat is another thing.
And then I lay on the bed, hoping, praying that tomorrow will bring me solution
THE CROWNED KING ADRIAN
“Your Majesty, the messenger came bearing news” my attendants came and informed.
‘Bring him to the throne room. ‘ I ordered
I went to my throne room.
I sit and I fiddle with the handle. Still not familiar with it, I mused
The messenger came
‘What is it?’
The messenger report
“Your Majesty, Arial has returned to the East bringing 5000 troops with him. He has won his campaign and he has got the Blacktons fealty.
Now the Blackton and the others will continue his work in the south. The Three Brothers, Ales, Lonne and Trouts also raise their banners and help the Blackton. In probably a year, the South will be completely subjugated.’
I nodded and smile.
‘Is there anything else? How about the west?’
The West also has no problem your majesty. Lord Sumersill has also successfully began gaining the House fealty using his connection.
I nodded satisfied with the progress.
The Vermont has really been helping me greatly.
‘You can go’
The messenger excused himself.
Then the rest of my court entered and each one of them present me on what I should do.
“My lord we should built another castle.” One of my courtiers Baldwin spoke
‘This castle belongs to the Rodan family, vanquished in the bloody Feast. It is a bad omen to live in a place like that and not to mention it is laughable abode for a King’ Baldwin explained
‘Laughable!’ Some of my courtiers protested
‘Remember you’re speaking to the King here’ Silas countered.
‘I know. That is why you should built a new castle, bigger, grander to show to the common folk you are the King. ‘
‘I say bigger than the Vermont castle’
Suddenly the court turned tense.
‘Are you implying something, Baldwin?’ Silas said, his tone cold and accusing
‘I imply nothing’
Silas glared at Baldwin. Silas hail from a farmer family, turned trader.
He live in the East under the Vermont family. Arial sent him here to help me with the matter of the Court.
‘Fine. You want to build a castle. Do it! But your majesty where will you find that money?’
He looked at me.
‘The Kingdom treasury? Your rule has not even stabilized and you can only collect taxes around the West and the East. And guess what the East is under House Vermont. You want to build a castle Baldwin? Where’s the gold?’
He once again turned his attention to Baldwin
‘The King can order the Vermont to give him the money’ Baldwin answered
‘Order? Order the Vermont?”
He laughed again.
‘You think the Vermont listen to order. The Vermont are dragon, Baldwin. They do not take orders. They are the ones that will order. You want them to keep helping you? After ordering them?
Our King is in a precarious position. The Vermont is the backbone of the formation of the Kingdom. You want to doom our King, go ahead. Try to order them and see how they react. They can easily switch allegiance to Alderam, Baldwin and then our own heads will be hanging outside the city wall.
They will not help us if you persuade the King to order them give their money. That is an insult to their family.
And what do you think they would do when the King disrespect their family. The King is lucky to have a loyal supporter. But how loyal would they be when you anger them?’
‘ENOUGH of this,’ I yelled my hand balled into a fist
‘I have no intention if disrespecting them. And Silas do not make your own assumption’
“Forgive me your majesty but Baldwin here is trying to counsel you in the matter of the court, yet I fear he would counsel you wrong and ill.
‘I will decide whether his counsel is ill or good. Not you.’
‘Of course, Your majesty’
The castle,… Baldwin is a good idea, but maybe after we stabilized.’ I could see Silas is smirking to Baldwin
Then they spoke about laws, expenses, expenditure, the economy here and our effort on the war. They also spoke about whether Alderam will accept the truce
I say it like it was my idea but it is not.
Arial decide without my permission. I agree it was a good idea but he should run it by me first before making the decision unilaterally by himself.
Somehow I felt that he that fight this war not me. I actually felt pricked when I know that the Blackton swear fealty to him and not to the crown.
And many lords also swear fealty to him instead of the crown. I rested my hands at the handle.
My face become rigid, jaw clamped tight, my teeth grinding
‘Your majesty?’ My courtiers asked
‘Go on with your report’
So they keep explaining, reporting and talking about what happen in the Kingdom.
I need to calm myself
I feel used. I’m a King yet I feel like all I do is listening to the Vermont. At first I was welcome to their support, not to mention they are my strongest allies but now the realm laughed at me.
I know what the Blacktons say about me.
It is not I that fight. It is not I that battles. It is the Vermont. I should feel grateful but all I could feel is unsatisfying feeling and anger.
Anger at who? I don’t know.
At myself for not being brave? Or to the Vermont who has taken all the glory? I don’t know
I must keep calm.
Then Silas said
‘Your majesty, don’t you think you should greet the Vermont in the East?’
‘Why should the King greet him? He should greet the King!’ Baldwin said
And that it’s. The last push.
‘Am I the subject? Or am I the King?’ I said my eyes red, my fingers trembling in an uncontrolled anger
The throne room quieted.
I rise up from the throne. My throne. Or I believed it to be.
‘I will rest in my chamber. Inform me on anything important. You all can go now.’
They exited the throne room while Silas just stare at me
‘No your majesty’
He began moving out but then he suddenly stop in front of the door.
‘Your majesty if I might offer an advice?’
‘Yes, your Majesty’
‘Fine. Let me hear it.’
‘Power corrupts the soul your Majesty.’
‘Just remember that Your Majesty.’
He then went out smirking. While I was left with a question.
CHAPTER 33: THE BLUE HAIR GIRL
1013 AF LIGHTMONTH
The palace is in chaos. Attendants scurry around the place, shouting and screaming. Isabelle the handmaiden of the Princess is also looking anxious.
The Knights were also mobilizing but only inside the castle.
What happens in the Palace stays in the Palace
Even the King and the Queen is rushing around the courtyard, looking.
The Princess is missing.
I was in my office, accepting the report and deciding whether I should tell the truth.
The office has a cushioned chair, courtesy of Luis, a fabric so smooth that I almost send it back for fear of envy from the courtiers in his court, another is a bed chair inlaid with a fine green silk, leaves embroidered so delicately, which I imagine took hundreds to sew.
In the corner of the room is a rack full with books, a sword and a shield hang on the wall and the portrait of Luis and her wife beside it.
I shake my head. Luis trusted me so much. I could not do this to him. I need to tell him the truth.
That actually the Princess has been missing for quite some time now.
That I lied for her and tell her handmaiden that the Princess just going out, playing, wandering like her usual self.
Then a knock. Surely another report. A knight enter. Quickly he reported
“Knight Lord Pedro, we searched every nook and cranny of the palace from the gardens to the basement, yet we could not find her….Maybe she did really…?”
‘Keep looking!’ he nodded and went back searching for her.
I stuck my hand inside my coat.
I know her to be rebellious, but I didn’t thought her to be this rebellious. Who would have thought she really would run from the palace?
It all started about a month ago, after the army successfully repel the Mountain Tribe raid. She was sulking she didn’t get to join the expedition, even though I have told him how dangerous that is.
The King returns with his wife and he decided that Rhysa needs to get married to reign on her behavior. The freedom loving princess did not like that. She didn’t like it one bit.
So she makes a counter offer to her parents. If any of her potential candidate for her hand in marriage can defeat her in battle then she would acknowledge that man as her fiancé.
Not husband but fiancé.
The King believing that her daughter is not that proficient in martial arts accept. And how wrong they are proven.
The noble lords sons who came for her hand were badly beaten, humiliated and some even have broken bones.
In a way there is some fault in me considering I was the one who kindle her spirits to learn martial arts not to mention when she visited the Blossom Island with Arturo, her Knight Guard to meet the famed Eastern Devil.
I do not know the full story but it seems the Eastern Devil, one of the 4 Immortals have taken a liking to her and for 2 months he teach her martial arts, swords technique and then she return back.
Of course she did not finish the training, but even so I knew something changed the moment she came back.
She was more confident.
And to learn under one of the 4 immortals?
What an honour!
When she returned she did no show it to me, but her aura felt different, her eyes are fierce and she prove what she learn during the battle with the noble lords sons for her hand.
Her attacks were brutal, every single attack is aimed at vital organs, and her stance is ever changing, a fluid move that confuses her enemies.
Too brutal, too cruel. She needs someone to teach her, that there is always someone stronger in this vast world.
I have always known her to be a prodigy in martial arts but to think that she can achieve this kind of mastery of technique in just two months only reinforces my opinion about her.
At least in the area of martial arts.
I rarely seen someone man or woman who shows that kind of prowess or have more domineering personality more than she showed at the Marriage Battle.
Charismatic and all conquering.
Then suddenly I hear the footsteps. The King barge in, his step are rushed, his breathing are uneven.
Worrying about her daughter.
‘I heard…’he said panting
‘She left a letter didn’t she?’
‘Yes’ I reply
‘Why didn’t you tell me?’
A heavy sigh
‘Your majesty, I thought we could find her before you realize what happen’
‘PEDRO!’ he balled his fist
I held my hand up
‘I’m sorry, old friend. I thought I could handle it. I thought she is just joking’
What did the letters say?’
I give him the letter.
He looked at it read at it and his face was like mine.
Amazement and disbelief I know what he saw.
The wily princess only leaves 7 words on her letter.
‘I’m going to go outside and play.’
‘What does this means Pedro?’
‘Arturo is missing so the only explanation that makes sense is that your daughter is out there exploring the world with him, finding someone who is qualified to become her husband.’ I guessed
‘You mean because of the battle?’ he said disbelief shows on his face.
‘ Yes but I don’t think she is really looking for husband’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I think she just see that using gimmick such that to attracts people to fight with her she is a woman so most people don’t take her seriously. i think she realized during the battle if you dangle a bait especially if the bait is her, people would respond more fiercely’
‘Why?’ he shake his head
‘Why would my daughter do that?’
‘Because…I don’t know how to say this to you, Luis but….your daughter is not like you. She relish in fighting and I believe she wanted to be the strongest in the whole continent.’
Dreams of every those who learn martial arts. To gain fame and glory instead of protecting the weak and defend good.
‘You didn’t know did you that your daughter learn from Eastern Devil did you?’
‘Wait, Eastern De…that Eastern Devil!’
His voice rings alarm
‘He’s dangerous’ he said
‘So is your daughter. Dangerous to herself and to others. She believes that no one could fight her , stop her, beat her. And sooner or later she will be proven wrong. I only pray that the Water Princess will spare our little Princess from her tears’
‘So what do you suggest Pedro?’
‘I believe your daughter is right now on Cori probably. If I am right, she would go to each nation major city and offer her marriage as long as the spectator can defeat her. This makes it easier for us to search her.’
‘Are you sure?’ He asked
‘Yes old friend’ he release a relieved sigh
‘Then find her and bring her home. She is the heir of this nation. Nothing must happen to her of course.’
He exited the room with the letter on his hand. I heard him mumbling
Just wait until she gets home.
I go outside and quickly order my men to send letters to other nation to find the princess. Of course we dint say it was the princess.
That would make certain faction in other countries might plan to kill off the princess
And I suspect that Rhyssa will use a fake name.
Other nation would relish the opportunity to kill our princess so I just sent letters asking for the cooperation to inform us of any girl that started a battle for marriage in big city.
Then after all day coordinating the search effort I retired to bed.
Rhyssa, Rhyssa where did you go?
KINGDOM OF ALAN, DUCHY OF ARRANDY, ACRO CITY, MARKETPLACE
I was strolling around the city and smelling the city air.
The crowds and the conversation flowed in the marketplace.
The crowds were endless. Many speeches can be heard, shouting their products, from textiles to food, to luxury items, each trying to sell their wares. More people, more money, I mused.
Voices overlapped each other.
Everywhere people are conversing, the entertainers open their stage and perform in the middle of the market and well received by the people, cacophony of applause fill around the center. Te performers perform Levitia Lament.
The stamping of feet of people all rushing making business, selling things, buying things, palpable excitement buzzed through the charged air.
I saw a bard and mistrel in the crowd singing songs for a penny.
I looked at the dancing common folk.They weren't some polite crowd from the rich end of town.
They were hungry for excitement after a day of grind in the farm and thei fields, a day of toil and sweat and all they wanted to do is forget about it.
They all jostled for the best position, cheering and singing a few of their favorite lines from Levitia March to Victory.
“In the yesteryears, In the Ancient years, In the Lost years
We obeyed the demon Lords, We bent our necks to their Emperors
But today and the day after that will be different,
For today we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty and obey only love
And Levitia march continues”
They sing and dance. Some sang the Song of Battle, the others sang Alan Glory.
I walked and smile.
The city is prosperous. And happy. And how large has the city become. I ponder all this while walking
A large city.
People trade here, migrates here, and seeks education here.
Libraries are constructed, schools and university.
I will make it a center for learning here in Arrandy and this city is the first step.
Vern and Vangua have long since not contribute anything on the content in the matter of knowledge instead relying on ancient wisdom to guide them.
That will not be enough for the coming years.
I realize this during my years alone in the library how important knowledge really is.
Knowledge can change the world, broaden your horizon, teaches you things to guide you to a better future.
The future might not be so messed up if people were a bit more learned. Peasant should be peasant. Nobles should be nobles. How can we grow?
I look at the people in the market again.
Infectious grin and smiles, strangers shaking hands, patting one another on the back, all this spontaneous outpouring of emotions in this crowd.
People who were once slave, peasants who have to work hard every day, the common folk, now free men, each moving to a better future.
This is the world I want to protect. A world of smiles and a world where everyone tries their hardest and get rewarded for it.
Raggedy shamble of peasants with dirty smudged faces unholy stench of body odors and pig manure, son of pig famer once filled this city.
Sons of a pig farmer in Acro might be more educated than some of the sons of nobles in the North.
The North might have the Academy, training the nobles sons and daughter, in the use of arms and leading men, but here in Arrandy we teach the people to sharpened their minds, a Knight of an order of rational argument and logical conclusion
A Knight of the minds.
Their weapons are books and words.
My vassal once asked me why I never request an Articon from the Church. I said to them, we do not need Articon.
Their reasoning is faulty; their logics are so far from the truths, relying on myths and half-truths.
Their knowledge are superficial, their opinion is shallow. They believe in superstition.
I need no superstition in my family. I need cold hard facts.
Those who like one emperor in Vern in ancient past who believe in omens and superstition nearly kill his own family.
Charles the Mad they call him
I did not bring my guards. The merchants that recognized me bow slightly and then resume their business. Many of the guild masters also greet me, those who have known me since I was little.
I enjoyed this kind of days to.
Just strolling the city. Not to have to worry about anything. I need this kind of days. In the castle I have to remain cold and calculating and hard.
Because my people respect strength. I’m young so I need to convince them I can lead them. Show one weakness and they will attack. I need to be forceful. Here, I can ease my guard, greet and enjoy the simple pleasure.
Suddenly I heard continuous cheering, and saw a large crowd in the distance massed around something
A flag? I saw a flag
I thought it is another stage of entertainers but somehow the feeling is different.
I was curious
I approached the mass of people and slipped among the onlookers. Finally I saw a huge banner at the center of the stage.
‘Fighting to find a marriage partner’
It was an ornamental standard embroidered with words
The crowds looks to be muscled, many young men, some old man.
People of the martial art world?
Why are they here?
Then I saw the girl. She stand on the platform looking charismatic.
The girl is lithe and graceful, a nobility surely, from the way she carried herself, she has blue eyes and her blue hair waved blow by the wind.
She hails from Renasia no doubt.
Maybe even a part of the royalty, cousins or distant relative of the House of Renasi. After all only the royalty and their relatives have the trademark blue hair. She looks a little tan which only further prove she is from Renaisa
Why did a Renasian woman traveled so far way from home to find a marriage partner?
She looks beautiful and her tan only makes her more beautiful and mysterious. She was dressed in blue cloth
I refuse to believe no one would reject her.
Her eyes are fierce and her olive skin just adds to her exotic feature.
It’s true what they say about Renasia, the woman’s are goddesses
On her hand is a white spear, with weird inscription and looks very sharp.
‘Anyone else’ she yelled she smirked. Confidence ooze from her posture.
While the crowd looked at her, some with admiration, some with amazement, some looked fearful while some of them smirk and smiles.
The World of the martial arts.
Then a fat man, in his probably ten and thirty hold up his hand.
He smile a greasy smile
‘How about me?’ the girl laughed an infectious laugh
‘So old and yet desire such a young wife?’ She asked playfully
‘Come then. I always liked a challenge’ the girl said confident
The fat man jump into the stage.
I heard of this
This must be the battle for marriage.
It has long not been practiced. Only the people in the martial art world practice it.
So, maybe she is not a royalty? Or maybe a royalty that wanders in the martial art world.
Certainly that is the only logical explanation.
I looked at their battle.
They begin an unrelenting combat, each one attacking each other. For an old man, his grabbing and holding technique is not bad, but the girl is graceful in her movement.
Her movement is ever changing, fluid like water.
I was shocked.
I learned every book in the library…alright, not every book, but books that matter but I never see this kind of movement before.
It was ever-changing, fast and unpredictable, her movement are meant to confuse and uncontrolled like madness.
The fat fellow certainly holds no candle to her technique.
The fat fellow tries and press his attack, using Wolf Chasing His Prey projecting his internal energy to deal injury to the girl, but the girl she moves quickly, change her direction in the middle of the attack and instead of attacking suddenly she stepped back fluidly, her left arm pivoted and struck the back of the fat fellow who fly outside the stage, vomiting blood.
‘Hahaha’ the girl cried with laughter
The crowd also laughed and jibes the old man.
‘Know your place, fat man’ he got up covering his mouth, blood on his cloth and quickly with an embarrassed look he disappeared from the crowd
The crowd cheered and applause.
I look at the girl. What move did she execute?
I felt something.
During the war and battles I did use my martial arts but I know most of the martial arts experts usually roam the martial art world and they rarely interfere with the normal people daily life.
And it was kind of boring fighting with the noble’s troops.
They are mostly noble’s lord son that lead people who came from peasant child who knows nothing about martial arts and easily defeated.
My victory is not because of my strength, it is mostly because of their weakness. In my troops I left to them manual of martial art technique appropriate to their level and some sword technique which I teach the captains and Knight Lords.
Why did I not teach everyone?
Because in martial arts there is no martial arts that is used to fight in a group.
This is why an accomplished martial art expert can be defeated with an army
Because martial arts used in the military is for attacking, not defending. You can unleash an expert into the battlefields and order him to kill as many as you can but in the end an army needs to finish the job.
There is the sieging, the battle and the formation.
Martial art is selfish.
The cheer brought me back. I looked at the girl more attentively.
A man is beside her. A knight? He looked handsome
The women’s are like goddesses, the men are like Gods.
The wind blows and the standard flutter. She planted her spear on the stage and challenges the crowd again.
‘Is there no else?’
I approached the stage. I would like to test this girl and my martial arts.
But I also sense she is dangerous. Why else would a Renasian far away from home come here in Alan?
‘What is your intention coming here to Acro?’ I shouted and the crowd makes way for me
The young man stepped forward. He then saluted at me and with a loud voice. He then addressed the onlookers.
‘My named is Arthur. I hail from the distant lands of Renasia.
Visiting this big city my young mistress seeks neither fame nor fortune. She desires a husband, and she did not care whether he is rich or a noble one, only that she wished her husband is someone whose strength exceed her, his martial arts are unbeatable.
My mistress herself is a very powerful expert in martial arts. She has defeated Cora men, Seren men and now we come here to Alan. We’ve traversed from the South to come here, but yet we still could not find anyone who can defeat my mistress’
‘Maybe I am’ he said smirking
‘Dukedom of Alan’ he continued
‘Kingdom of Alan’ I corrected
‘Kingdom of Alan’ he corrected himself ‘is the place where the Great Hero companion is born and where Levitia himself was born. There are certainly great man and heroes here to take up upon the offer. If my and my mistress action seems presumptuous I beg your kind pardon’
‘Enough talking, Arthur’ The girl said.
‘Let me fight this man’
I hold out my palm
‘I will fight you, but I do not wish your hand. All wish is if you lose you will return back to wherever you came from’
I don’t know who she is but she clearly did not know a war is happening in Alan right now.
I wish no harm to a lady like this.
Men turn to beast during time of war.
‘You spoke like you will win’
‘Of course I will’
‘What is your name?’ she asked
‘I will only tell you if you won’
‘Well, me too.’ The girl frowned, smirked and then laughed
‘Fine, I will take pleasure beating you into submission.’ I remove my jacket.
Then she charge.
CHAPTER 34: EASTERN DEVIL DISCIPLE
She was fast, I mused
She threw a blow with her fist.
I avoided it using Snake Slither the Ground moves sidestepping and quickly positioned myself behind her before returning the blow using my elbow.
I recognized her fighting style.
The Linzi style from Linzi Temple though it is heavily modified making her attack ooze with killing intent.
This is not the Linzi style, I mused
She is a practitioner of external martial art it seems.
She tries to punch me again but my lightness technique is not one to be underestimated. I quickly dodge again.
‘Stay in one place, you jerk’ she said clearly annoyed that I managed to dodge every single one of her blows.
‘And let you punch me? I don’t think so’
She looked more annoyed.
Her attacks are ferocious but what good does it do if her attacks are not connected?
In terms of internal power, I don’t think that the girl will surpass me but in technique the blue haired girl surely surpasses mine.
After all I only learned only a little martial art technique, most of it memorized, and a lot of swordsmanship technique.
But external martial art I didn’t learn that much because the Vern Imperial family took focus on the internal side of the martial arts so most of my technique involve the use of internal energy.
She attacked again this time her hand was like a claw, I barely dodge it as I felt wind swooshed against me.
Eagle Snatching Snake technique.
Heh, I smirked. That is a high level technique. And it effectively stop my movement in the track making me use my other technique.
The crowd cheered and in awe.
I distance myself.
She looked at me, puzzled
“You are…fast” she said puzzled, like she could not believe it
“Thank you my lady, but you too. Pity such a young woman learn such a vicious technique”
‘I didn’t, I mean it’s not that vicious’ then her face turned to red realizing what she just said and then she yelled
‘… SO WHAT! She yelled.
‘Why are you holding back!’ She yelled
‘You noticed?’ Now it’s my time to be surprised.
‘Yes. Why didn’t you use your internal energy?’ She asked now angry
‘Are you looking down on me?’ The girl said this time her nostril flared.
Her eyes flickered for a second. But the pure anger flared believing I make light of her.
Whoever this woman is, she has a lot of pride. That is…a fatal flaw.
‘Because I’m a woman?’ Her eyes didn't widen, they unhurriedly formed into unnerving slits as she directed her lethal glare at me.
I looked at her movement yet I still didn’t recognize the technique she uses.
This excites me.
An equal match. Or as equal as it could be.
I didn’t want to spoil this feeling by using my internal energy.
I have no intention of looking down on her.
In fact I’m amazed of her technique. If it’s in my original timeline I would have never imagine taking it easy with this kind of opponent.
But I want to know how much I improve and the extent of my technique. And I want to know her technique.
She attacked again, flying towards me, with such intensity of killing intent, showing herself to be of great agility, where I made use of heaviness and power to counter her piercing attack.
She, with fluidity, move like water, and stealthily struck 2 blows at my stomach.
Luckily I reinforce my body with internal energy and instead the blue hair girl was thrown back.
‘What was that!’ She yelled and then a look of fear for a second flashed her face
‘How can you have so much internal energy?’ she clearly sense my internal energy when she struck me then
The crowd seeing the girl losing cheered more.
‘I train my lad-‘
Even before I finished my sentence she quickly close the distance between us and perform the Piercing Spear with her hand, a technique that luckily I knew and fear and learn thoroughly, even though I only learn it in theory and not the perfect form of it.
Even though with my internal energy I fell in the stage, dazed.
The crowd let out a cry of surprise.
Quickly I regained my sense and moved back.
The crowd seeing that I regained my senses cheers and applauds.
‘You…are fine?’ she looked more confused than before
I took light of the danger this girl possess.
I only use a quarter of my internal energy to protect my body thus rendering me to have this painful sensation in my stomach. If I didn’t have it I would have immediately died, my stomach will bore a hole.
This girl is dangerous.
‘You…you are Eastern Devil disciple right?’
The moment I said it the cheering crowd quieted. Everyone knew the Eastern Devil, or at least the stories about him. Some backed away
‘How…did you know?’ she said
‘Piercing Spear is one of his techniques that is known widely as his trademark. No wonder your attack is vicious and cruel, so you are his disciple.’
She puffed out her chest
‘Yes I’m his disciple. DO YOU FEAR ME?’
‘No, now it just get more interesting.’
I once met one of the disciples of the Western Serpent, but I don’t think he was really a disciple, more like one of the few lucky ones that the Western Serpent teaches a few techniques.
‘Your Piercing Spear had a lot of flaws. The force and the stroke are all wrong. Even the intensity. It is an internal energy attack. AN internal martial arts.’ I said giving advice
She looked shocked to see I know so much of her technique
‘Who are you?’ She said
One of the crowds yells, who I recognized is one of the sons of merchant that frequented our family castle, always taking about textiles with my father.
‘HAHAHA…girl it is a bad day for you. That boy is the Regent of duchy of Arrandy, ruler of this city, House Vermont, Arial the Dragon’
The crowd gasped. They looked at me again this time more attentively.
I hear the whispers
Shhh, he is a lord.
The dragon? Look the white hair. An equal match. A young handsome lord and a beautiful feisty girl. A match made in Heaven. They whispered
I understand their shock. The girl blushed. She heard it too.
After the war began I rarely set foot in the city and not to mention I spent many years in the academy.
Most of the people that know me are usually the people from the village, the merchant association, the guild master or the administration official.
The new settler of course did not know me.
The Knight also looks at me with renewed shock
The young muscled Knight, the one that accompany the girl. I suspect he is not who he says his and neither does this girl.
‘A lord?’ he ask
I snorted ‘What does it matter?’
The blue hair girl nodded.
‘Yes, what does it matter? You certainly are a part of the martial art world. There is no doubt considering your technique’
Then the fight began again, her attack become more dangerous, more reckless.
A desperate move.
I used this opportunity to try to memorize her movement.
It is really hard.
Unpredictable like the clouds, elusive as the wind.
She began employing internal energy in her attack, releasing powerful blows. I responded. Gale and wind fill the wooden stage.
The spectator moved back a little, fearing injury by straying blows.
She attack, I parry. She pierces, I dodge.
It was a dance.
It is a dance. A dance of Sun King and Water Princess.
Renasian and their unique fighting style.
“Hurry up.’ A cry came from the crowd.
‘Defeat her Lord Arial, marry her and make babies’ the audience burst out in laughter. We both blushed. I look at her and she looked at me.
‘What you’re looking at?’ she said yelling at me trying to hide her embarrassment
‘Nothing’ I said also blushing
The crowd is right.
I had enough.
I already know who she is. I will defeat her and ask her to return to her homeland. If she really is the disciple of the Eastern Devil, then maybe she will invite chaos wherever she goes. It is a pity of cours, I like to know her but I couldn’t afford for her to make a mess in my region.
The disciple of the Four Immortals is regarded very dangerous. At least that is how the rumours goes.
‘Are you ready?’ I said while maintaining a safe distance from her.
‘Ready for what?’
‘Ready to be defeated’ I said and I quickly close my distance with her with flashing speed towards her shoulder.
She looked surprised.
I use a palm attack; she ducked, thus escaping the blow.
The nearby wooden pillar explodes because of the force of the internal energy.
I moved back.
Alright, I said panicked. I didn’t mean to use that much internal energy.
Luckily the girl dodged
The girl looked at the wooden pillars. And then she looked at me.
‘You..you are an expert, an exponent. Who did you learn from? Northern Badger? Western Serpent?” She asked completely flustered
‘I teach myself’ I said
‘Pah.’ She spit to the ground.
‘Lies. That is impossible. Most of your attack is Northern style. You learn from Northern Badger didn’t you?’
That may be true since Vern is in the North. Of course their technique is the Northern Style.And I did learn from their imperial library
‘Like I said, I didn’t learn from anyone.’
But she didn’t seems like he believed me. She attack me more ferociously than before, brutal than before.
Then I advanced.
I must not give her time to settle on her feet.
The girl moves fast like an arrow, trying to land an attack on me, twisted her hand in a piercing motion and kicking in the direction of my vital organs, each one deadly.
Truly, this is the core of Eastern Devil technique.
Brutal, cruel and unwaveringly fast.
This time I increase the use of my internal energy.
The air changed.
Common people under the stage suddenly kneel to the ground, some have trembling in their hand. The pressure of my internal energy chokes those around the stage.
‘Get away’ I yelled.
I still couldn’t control the internal energy that well.
This time I will end the fight.
She looked alarmed, so does her Knight. The Knight began to move
Her Knight jumped into the stage, flying in the air, and landed in front of me. Quickly he threw a fist at me.
I use Palm of Wrath at him, and send a palm attack at his rib and I could hear the bones broke. He flew far away from the stage an unconscious down the stage.
‘ARTURO!’ The blue hair girl yelled
So that is his real name.
The crowd all had their mouth agape. Some of the people in the crowd are people from the martial arts world and I hear them whispered.
Some of the crowds were already running away, no doubt calling the guards. I was distracted, trying to make sure no one get hurt from my attack. I scan the surrounding.
Thankfully no one get hurt.
This time she takes the initiative. The battle started again when she attacked. I parry and counter.
This time it is her time to defend.
This is no longer a dance. This is a storm.
‘TAKE THIS’ she yelled
She employed a palm attack. While jumping in midair the full brunt of the internal energy is fully directed at me.
With one hand I channel my internal energy at my right hand and stop the force. The force collides in midair and she is trying to push my energy with hers.
I’m sorry girl. But if it’s internal energy fight, you can never win against me.
Then I put a little bit more of my energy into the force and the colliding force dissipated, the girl thrown outside of the stage
‘Uhuk, uhuk’ she vomited blood.
Oh, God did I overdo it? I don’t meant to hurt her.
I flew down and try to check the girl.
Suddenly a flying projectile flies towards me.
I use my internal energy to deflect it and the flying objects were stuck at some tree near the stage. Suddenly the tree leaves turn black.
‘Poison’ I hissed
A hidden weapon laced with poison. And considering what it did to the tree, if I have to hazard a guess, the Poison is The Devil Rot poison.
I backed away, taking some distance.
She is dangerous I reminded myself
Who would have thought such a pretty face have such poison? If I were struck by that surely it would take me months to expel the poison from my body.
If a person that does not have my level of internal energy surely they would die even if they only received a graze.
This is not what an honourable person would do
‘Hah, the Eastern Devil would be ashamed to have such disciple’ I said.
She spit to the ground again.
I take back my assessment. Surely she is not a nobility. If she is nobility then it is nobility that I don’t want to be acquainted with
‘Using poison? That is Western Serpent technique. Eastern Devil might not be the most honourable martial art master, but at least he didn’t use poison when he fight his opponent’ I said
‘Heh’ she smirked.
‘Well, I’m not him aren’t I?’
She is bold. I give her that. She looked at me with a straight face.
The crowds already parted seeing our battle from a safe distance.
After that display of poison even they knew enough not to interfere.
What started as just my curiosity turned bigger. Surely the guards will come here soon.
I have to end this.
I raised my left Palm, concentrating my internal energy and sent a blow.
An extremely violent gust of air hit the girl and she was thrown back horribly. She tries to block it with her internal energy but it is futile.
My internal energy are strong. Stronger than anyone.
I don’t want to be seen as arrogant but since I fought in the war, I’ve never met someone who have more internal energy than me.
Though maybe if I roamed the central plains of Vern, I might find someone who can match me.
I trained since I was a baby.
She looked at me in disbelief
‘This level…is like Grand Teacher level’ I heard her whisper
‘Fun time is over.’ I said, smiling
She got up, her eyes determined. I could see she is enjoying the fight. Then she tries again unsuccessfully to charge me, this time she grabbed her spear.
Weapons huh, I mused
Fine, I will use my internal energy to send blows of concentrated energy towards her.
The blows that I employed are powerful, that she could not even approach me. It takes all her strength to dodge my attack.
Then I sensed an opportunity
I use Dragon Regret, and I heard the bones cracked and the screams. She was thrown back to a stall destroying the wooden structure. Then she fell unconscious.
I check up on her still cautious. I quickly use my internal energy and cannel it to her body. At least this way, she will not have internal injury I checked her veins.
I release a relieved sigh. She is not that badly injured. It seems she have an armor hidden in her chest.
Only external injury. Nothing a little rest and sleep couldn’t fix.
I don’t know who she is but she is too wily for her own good.
She must be around ten and six or ten and seven, 1 year or 2 years older than me.
If I didn’t stop her now from her evil ways who knows what she will do?
Using hidden weapons and poison? That is not honourable. Suddenly my House Guard came
“Who is the one doing a mess around here?” the guard shouted. The audience who is hiding inside the teahouse and behind the stage all stared at me.
He saw me and quickly approached me.
‘Are you the culprit for this destruction of city property?’ he asked
Ser Brooke who is also at the scene quickly recognized me
‘Shut up Drake. That is the Count’
He looked again at me and then finally realizing what he had done said
“Sorry, my lord’ he said fumbling on his word.
‘Of course my lord, this is your city. You are pleased to destroy any part you don’t want ‘
Ser Brooke come and hit him on the head
‘Stupid! Can’t you see those two unconscious person? Certainly they are the ones that made this mess. Why would the Count destroy his own city?’
‘Oh..of course. I’m sorry my lord’ he said bowing his head
‘My lord what should we do with those two?’ Ser Brooke asked
I looked at those two.
‘Send them to the Healer, patch them up and escort them out of the city. Tell them I’m sorry how our meeting ended’
Then I exited the scene.
I felt my hand trembling.
I need to try to control my internal energy. They almost died.
I should find a teacher. My internal energy are incredible but I don’t know how to control it.
The wind blows again and the leaves rustle. Thunder boomed in the distance. Droplets of water from the sky fall.
I put back my coat, cast a glance in the direction of the girl and walk away while the rain turn to storms.
‘You’re destined to meet the person that you’re meant to be with even if you try not to meet them.’
CHAPTER 35: BEFORE I MET HIM
THE RUNAWAY PRINCESS, RHYSA RENASI
The horse tries to turn around. I tightened my rein and the horse obeyed.
‘Princess, are you fine?’
‘Don’t worry. Let’s keep moving’
It had been a month since I left the far east. Behind me is Arturo holding the supplies.
My Knight Guard.
Since he couldn’t persuade me to stop, he then decided he needs to accompany me. Duty and honour and all that.
After I learned martial art techniques from The Eastern Devil, I yearned to fight and fight. Not to mention I was good enough to be acknowledged as his disciple. From what I gather I have one Martial Art sister, and two Senior Martial Art brothers.
But why did I decide to wander around the martial art world?
I wanted to prove to the world that a woman can also be the strongest. That is my intention.
To be the strongest.
Why aim low? Aim high to the sky! My Grand Teacher always say
In the story of old heroes, usually the men get the fame and glory.
Levitia, Alan, Zhu Ar Zur even Duvan.
But what about Leliana?
The Divine Archer?
The one who saved Levitia during his early years adventuring and saving him many times over from the Dark Lords before he became the mighty hero he’s destined to be.
What about her?
Where is her Song?
Instead history remembers her as the lover of Levitia, and the First Empress of the Vern Empire. Her strength, her exploits, her contribution forgotten.
I want to prove to my parents I need no man, especially not a weak man. They could not stop trying to pair me with eligible man, sons of noble houses and prince from foreign lands.
I’m reminded of my Grand teacher.
My teacher, the Devil is strong beyond imagination.
And since I learned from him, I have this desire to pit myself against the people of the martial arts world, to scout other nation strong fighter. Which will someday prove to be, surely viable information when I ruled Renasia.
I intend to unite back the fragmented region, to do what Alexander the Divider and his descendant after that fail to do.
A Unifier. A great Uniter
I began my journey to Cora challenging the people there, the reward is my hand in marriage. Many men came forward and challenge me.
No one could defeat me there so I moved.
By now certainly the Palace is in uproar searching for me. And sooner or later Pedro and my parents will find me.
So, I wander around to Dostov and then Seren. No one can defeat me whether the man are old or young. This just shows how powerful my teacher martial art really is.
And not to mention the fight teaches me many things. What moves I should execute how to handle attack and how to defend.
But my temper is the problem. It made me rash. Made me vulnerable and exposed.
My target is Vern.
From what I hear from my teachers there lived many legions of exceptional martial art expert in the Plains.
I too wanted to make a name for myself in the martial art world.
I like this kind of life, wandering around the martial art world fighting and gaining respect.
Today enemies can become tomorrow friend, today friends can become tomorrow enemies.
But I like it. I enjoyed it.
There is exhilarating freedom to it, solving thing with your fist and understanding each other with your fist.
Every time you fight someone you can sense something about them, each time you traded blows.
I like that. I love the world of the martial arts. I like the fighting and the people I meet, the bonds I forged during my journey.
There is one that I met a few weeks ago that left an impression. He was a scholar journeying finding relics and searching for knowledge. His name is Michael.
I still remember my conversation with him during we make camp and he borrow our tent to rest.
‘What do you think about Levitia death?’ The man asked that night trying to make conversation
‘Levitia? He is killed by his cousin right? A Tragic death’
‘Yes tragic…but many scholars now think differently. So does many historian’
‘What do you mean?’ I said curious
He cleared his throat clearly excited.
‘You see, many historians believe that the one who killed the great hero was his own sworn brother and not his cousin and there are even some that theorize maybe even the church is involved’
‘What! Why?’ I asked.
‘Alright let me explain. first theory said that Levitia is killed by his sworn brothers. The suspect? Alexander and Duvan.”
Duvan is my ancestors. It intrigues me.
‘Why Alexander? Because he is a young emperor at that time, yet the one that people respect and fear is Levitia, his exploits make him loved by the common folk, the demon lords tremble in front of him and he has much more charisma than Alexander himself.
And not to mention even among the brothers everyone knows both of them vying for the hand of Leliana the most beautiful woman at that era. He has many motives to kill Levitia. To bolster his rule, to win the heart of Leliana, to rid him his greatest obstacle.
Don’t you agree?’
‘You give a good argument but what about Duvan?’
‘Well, as history shows, even though Levitia and Duvan are sworn brothers, their way of thinking is highly different. And not to mention, both of them have many bitter memories with each other.
But many historians believe that that theory sprung because Alexander the Divider planted it in the first place, when Renasia secede from the Empire so it’s authenticity is doubtful. But one must agree, even in the stories, their disagreement and differing opinion always make them clash with each other.’
I nodded again. One of the famous one of their disagreement must be the Three Princess. The Seduction of Duvan, a chapter in the Saga.
Then Michael spoke again more enthusiastically seeing that I listen to him.
‘Not to mention that actually in the Last Dinner the cousin that is said to poison him, did not even attend that dinner’
‘But…I swear I see the painting of the Last Dinner and Alvira is there.’
He smirked, clearly enjoying himself.
‘Yes but in history book he is not there. It is because the Church portray in their Light Chapel that is why that image so distorted. Yet in the original scene only his sworn bothers were there including Leliana. No trace of his cousin anywhere’
I was shocked.
‘I didn’t know that’
‘Not many do’
‘To think I could meet such a scholar here in the middle of the woods.’
He laughed back
‘And to think someone who fight in such unpredictable moves like yourself is a refined lady’
I held up my hand
‘What about the church? You said Levitia death is theorized to also come from the hand of the church’
‘Ah yes. The church.’ He said it like the church is a curse word
‘ You see, there are many who does not know this but even before Levitia was hero, he was a royal blood, like his father and his father before him.’
‘ Royal blood? What do you mean? Which King?’
‘The Enochian. You see, Levitia hair is not described in any book but strangely enough every other feature of his body is explained in full detail. Why do you think that is?’
‘They forgot or something?’ I offer
‘Or maybe they hide it?’ Suddenly Arturo also enter our conversation
Yes, I believe the church tries to hide his hair color, erasing it from every book.’
‘Why?’ And this time he flashed a triumphant grin
‘Because you see the people that came from the Enochian Empire royalty has a different hair color, a dominant trait, like Alan who their descendant always get black hair, Zhu Ar Zur who’s descendant always have green hair and green eyes and Duvan Renasi who his descendant always have blue hair and blue eyes’ and he stared at me.
‘You knew?’ Arturo tighten his grip around his sword
Michael hold up his hand.
‘Not that I care but I could not help but notice.’
‘Stop being so tense Arturo. I trust him’
‘Thank you for your confidence my lady.’
‘Continue your story’
‘If the church is hiding it why would they hide only about that feature? That is because he is royalty, survivor from the sinking Empire.
Which is why in the prophecy, he is referred as the Boy Who Survives the Great Calamity. If his descendant is the royalty, you could understand how dangerous it is for the church.
‘How so?’ I asked still not understanding.
He smiles a knowing smile
‘Leliana is an Artagnan, heir of the Kingdom of the Living Isle, descendant of the Thirteen King, and the princess of the 13 Great Tribes. If Levitia and Leliana get married, their union would unite 2 of the great empire bloodline.’
‘Kingdom of the Living Isle?’
‘Another Kingdom that sink during the Calamity.’ Arturo piped up in the back
I show him a shocked face
‘Why so shocked? I’m not a brute you make me out to be Prin..I mean mistress”
‘Still putting up the charade?’ He said
‘But you must have access to the royal library if you read about the Kingdom of the Living Isle?’ Michael said
Arturo looked shocked
‘How do you know that?
‘I’m a scholar. It is my trade to know things’
‘So what does that mean? If they unite that is?’
‘That means their wedding would unite everyone under them
And the Church at that time certainly doesn’t want that. They supported Alexander because Alexander is a devout to their religion.
But Levitia is not. He tolerates them. So many of the scholars also believe that the Church had a hand in Levitia death.
And not to mention since the blame is shifted to his cousin, all of Levitia bloodline died. His cousin is his last blood relative’
I nodded. His word makes sense. It was almost…like it was planned.
After Levitia death, he was canonized by the church, yet Levitia himself is a pitiful man, leaving no descendant, his family exterminated.
He stopped and the night wind blows slowly. We ponder at what he said to me.
‘It is…thought provoking’ Arturo said
‘What do you believe?’ I asked curious of his answer.
He looked at the distant night and watches the star and he said
‘ Princess, don’t get distracted’
‘OH, you startled me Arturo!”
I looked in front of me.
Grass and hills.
Now we have reached the Dukedom. We came from the far east. We came across a vast field and we know some great battle happen here. There is hole in the ground, blood stains, fallen armor and swords.
Massive armies clash here. The forest shows sign of burning; some trees were felled, surely to build a siege castle.
There is a campaign here.
It must have been an epic battle. Is there a war here in the Dukedom? I mused
Arturo approached me
‘ Princess, it seems that there is a battle that occur here. And from what happen here, a big one’
‘Yes I could see that. Do you think I’m blind? ‘
‘I did not mean to offend. ‘
‘But you did. I’m not a kid’
‘Well, considering that you run away from your home, only because you want to test your martial arts seems pretty childish for me’
I glared at him
‘Of course, you’re the princess’ he said before minding his own business
I look at the open field and smell the summer’s breeze.
The air here is different from Renasia. It’s calmer and soothing.
But Arturo is right. It is pretty childish.
But I want to explore the world, to wander around like my teacher in the martial art world, to meet many people.
I’m a princess. The heir of the kingdom.
And they never let me forget who I am.
I know my responsibility and what I must do. I was groomed for it. Literature, strategy, arithmetic, courtly behavior, I learned all of them since I was a child.
But for once I wanted to feel how it feels to soar. To soar on this world like there is a wing attached to my back
And I felt it, when I I traded blows with some martial arts practitioner.
‘Arturo what do you know about the dukedom? Is there any expert?’
Arturo quickly rushed to me and report.
‘From the report that I gathered they are no famous expert in the dukedom. Most of them only know little to none of martial arts. If there is an expert mostly there are in Vangua, Vern and Cori.’
Should I just forsake this nation and went to Vern directly? No I shake my head.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll find someone who can alleviate my boredom here in the Dukedom?
‘Is there any large city?’
‘Yes, princess. Acro’
‘Acro? I know that city’
‘Yes princess. That city is a major trade center own by the Vermont family. Since they founded their house they have created port and harbor and open trade center to other continent. Known as one of the wealthiest family in all of the continent, they ruled a duchy here in the Dukedom.
It is said that the city is beautiful, the people rich, the citizens are traders and merchants opening trade route everywhere all around the continent.’
‘Alright then we will set our stage there.’
Arturo nodded and brings his horse forward.
So we ride our horse to the city with Arturo leading.
What adventure will I encountered there? I mused with expectant hearts.
A dragon banner fluttering in the high city walls greet us.
The patrolling guards can be seen walking in the uppermost top of the observation tower, looking and watching.
The surrounding areas of the cities were hinting that this city is glorious.
We came across abridge on our way here.
The bridge was beautiful, built with skill and precision.
Each brick was perfectly laid, the arches were arithmetically semi circles and along the edges was a balustrade of stone carved into dome topped pillars with inscription and tapestry of carving on the side of the bridge.
I marvel at the ingenuity and the carve works.
And before we know it we finally reached the city. Caravans and oxcart come in and out of the city all carrying trade products and wares.
There is happiness and interaction in the city.
The stalls and shops were loaded with goods from foreign lands, some from Asteros, and others from Ariundus, many more from Vorthy land of Eternal Winter.
Even in the back alley there are traders.
We passed the greengrocer with his window full of apples and oranges, frits from the west and south, the meat butcher with lumps of meat on display from cow to goat, and naked chickens and so many other shops and stalls, each one have their own unique produce and products.
The face of the people was joyful and happy. Houses and building erected high and mighty. All of their house is polished, clean and neat.
Arturo was right.
There do not seem to be any poor people here.
I could see the schools, and a university being constructed. The carpenter and the builder working together building it. The workers moving bricks and woods to the site.
They are making a hub here for trade and knowledge.
I don’t know who this Vermont family is but they sure have large ambitions. Making a city like this means they want to have power.
At least that how it seems to me. I’ve gone to many of the city in other country during my journey but none surpasses this city. It is almost like a capital city.
The city is always moving, people, oxcart, carriage, caravans. All these people making, becoming a part of the city, the very part that makes this city lives and structure its prosperity.
I was awe in amazement.
They are teahouse, taverns, restaurant selling exotic foods; theaters and entertainment, there are even parks from what I heard from one of the people.
They are also a big chapel constructed by the Vermont’s, fill with beautiful artworks from talented artist, from carvers, to sculptor to painters.
The roads are wide. The streets were busy, conversation overlapped each other, scream and yelling fill the marketplace each one trading, selling and buying.
A prosperous city.
That night we spend a night in the inn around the city.
The city was quieter, but even then there were lights everywhere lanterns and candles and entertainment from the troupe stage, the restaurants and the stalls.
A city that never sleeps the innkeeper told me.
Arturo was buying equipment and hiring people to construct the stage.
That night I also go out to watch an actor perform the Last Dinner, commemorating and acting the last moment of the Great Hero Levitia and his Lamentation during the dinner he had with his sworn bother and where he announce that someone he knows, someone at that table will betray him as foretold by his prophecy.
The crowds were crowding near the stage. Each one pays and waits for the actor to begin.
Then he emerges from the curtains and began.
I could see that the actor loved the feel of delivering lines.
A street performer but a good one, I mused.
His word are clear not stuttering, fluid and the words dance around his tongue and into the ears of the audience, making us feeling the very same emotion that Levitia felt when he realized there is no running against fate.
The greatest hero that ever lives yet destined to die a tragic death.
He didn’t get the girl, neither he get to live happily ever after. Betrayed and killed by his own blood. Or that is how the story goes.
Every line is perfect. And by the end of the act I felt the tears run down from my eyes.
I wipe it.
It made me tear every time I see it.
It was good. The actor was a good portrayer; perfectly capture the emotion of one of the last chapter of Saga of Levitia.
I throw another penny into the box and walk back to the inn. Arturo must already ben there waiting for me.
Tomorrow I will wander around the city before staging the battle.
Then I reached my bed, throw myself and sleep come to me and I pray that the Sun King will illuminate my days to come.
CHAPTER 36: THE DAY I MET HIM
The crowd and the bustle of the city woke me. I can hear people hollering outside, already beginning selling their stuff. I peek at the blinds from the comfort of my bed.
Still early, I mused
There is no light struggling to get past the windows but I know the peddlers, the merchants, the traders all have set up their stall, open their store and their door offices.
Last night was….good. I rubbed my eyes. A city that never sleeps, I mused in my bed and began waking up.
I need to shower, breakfast then head out to center of the city. That is where you will get the most attention and many men surely confident in their abilities will swarm like bees.
But from what I hear there is no great master here, or martial arts here but who knows? Maybe some wanderer from the North is passing through the city. After paying the nice innkeeper for her kind service, I packed up my bag and ready to go meet my opponents today.
And once again I’m awed with this city.
Any longer and I’ll fall in love towards this city.
Yesterday we came here at evening, the sun coming down so I could not really appreciate the beauty but now I could see in perfect clarity.
The street was glorious in its inception. The sidewalks were smooth white stones probably brought from Seren, joined with such precision that the joins were almost invisible.
The walls are sturdy, like they have in the rural of Renasia, sharp edges and corner.
The buildings stand tall and proud, like a bastion, marking this city as a trade center. The street is clean and well maintained.
I was enjoying the view. This is what I want for my city, for my Kingdom.
A city like this invites envy. And if that is not enough, the city is flooded by sea of people all heading in different directions.
The nobles and the lords strutted down the white street with their exquisite clothes, with intricate design and color fill their garments.
The traders and the other merchants sell things to the nobles, the common folks buy things. On every corners, there are minstrel, bards, troupe of performers.
Some sing. Some dance. Some act.
The food stalls, restaurants, taverns which sell food and drink is highly frequented either by new visitor or the people of the city.
Restaurant like Long Prosperity has many kinds of food which made many people mouth water.
Finally I arrived at the stage
‘Then lets begin’
The crowds have come, massing around the stage. Many people have tried but all of them is defeated.
‘Anyone else’ I yelled. I smirked just beating another person.
It seems that no one could defeat me here. I was confident of this.
The people looked at me with amazement, fearful and some just smirk at me and smiles.
This is the World of the martial arts.
Then a fat man, probably ten and thirty hold up his hand. He smiles a greasy smile. I felt disgusted seeing his smile. He must oil his lips every day. I mused.
‘How about me?’ I laughed.
I couldn’t even imagine him become my husband. Not that I would really become anyone wife even if I did lose.
Well, other than martial arts I also learn cunningness from my teacher.
So I said playfully ‘So old and yet desire such a young wife?’
‘Come then. I always liked a challenge’
I don’t think this old man can defeat me. The fat man jump into the stage.
The moment he stepped inside the stage he began an assault at me. For an old man, his grabbing and holding technique is quite good but I’m too fast for him.
My movement is ever changing, fluid like water. I remember my teacher words.
The fat fellow tries and presses his attack, using Wolf Chasing His Prey, clearly a technique from the South, projecting his internal energy to deal injury to me, but I change my direction in the middle of the attack and instead of attacking suddenly I lull him into a false sense of security, and that is when I strike. I stepped back fluidly; my left arm pivoted and struck the back of the fat fellow who flies outside the stage, vomiting blood.
‘Hahaha’ I laugh so hard tears are forming
The crowd also laughed and jibes the old man.
‘Know your place, fat man’ I said. He got up covering his mouth, blood on his cloth and quickly with an embarrassed look he disappeared from the crowd
The crowd cheered and applause.
‘Thank you, thank you’ I said.
The wind blows and the standard flutter. I planted my spear on the stage and challenge the crowd again.
‘Is there no else?’
Then a boy younger than me, I presume approached the stage.
He has clear blue eyes like the sky, and his hair is white, white like snow, not that I ever see snow living so far east, and his hair is exceedingly long covering his left eyes.
And he is tall for his age and have broad shoulder, his eyes has a certain ferocity in it, powerful in appearance, a son of noble lord probably. He looks charismatic and commanding. And I was a little awed.
He was…beautiful. And the melancholic looks only add to his mysterious feature.
‘What is your intention coming here to Acro?’ he shouted and the crowd makes way for him. His voice is like thunder, a force that comes from confidence.
Arturo stepped forward and explain it to the young man.
‘You’re bragging.’ He said chuckling
‘Maybe I am’ Arturo said smirking. Then Arturo talk again.
‘Enough talking, Arthur’ I said ‘Let me fight this man’
He hold out his palm
‘I will fight you, but I do not wish your hand. All wish is if you lose you will return back to wherever you came from’
The arrogance. I don’t not wish your hand? Like I want him to be my husband?
‘You spoke like you will win’ I said seething in ager.
Like I said. My temper is a problem
‘Of course I will’ he said almost like it is a sure thing
‘What is your name?’ I asked
‘What’s yours?’ He asked
‘I will only tell you if you won’
‘Well, me too.’ And he smirked while I frowned, smirked and then laughed
‘Fine, I will take pleasure beating you into submission.’ I said and then I quickly charge.
I threw a blow with my fist. He avoided using Snake Slither the Ground moves sidestepping my attacks and quickly positioned himself behind me before returning the blow using his elbow. I blocked but I was forced to take distance from him.
Then I try to attack him but he was too fast and elusive. My blows only hit winds.
‘Stay in one place, you jerk’ I said annoyed. He laughed
‘And let you punch me? I don’t think so’
He is confident. I want to wipe that smile of his face so bad. I used Eagle Snatching Snake technique to stop him from using the Snake moves, and I almost had him but he dodge it by a hair breaths.
The crowd cheered and in awe, seeing both of us perform and attacking each other.
This boy is…who is he?
All that I employed against him is a high level technique but he did not lose his cool and dodge every one of them.
I try again but he was fast. Too fast. Who did he learn from?
Arturo said there is no one to note here. Not to mention I noticed when we were exchanging blows he did not channel his internal energy in his attack
Is he looking down at me?
I looked at him, puzzled
“You are…fast” I said
“Thank you my lady, but you too. Pity such a young woman learn such a vicious technique” My face flushed red.
‘I didn’t, I mean it’s not that vicious’ Then suddenly my temper take over.
‘… SO WHAT! Why are you holding back!’ I yelled
‘You noticed?’ He said and his face is surprised that I notice it.
How much you want to insult me, young boy? I mused.
‘Yes. Why didn’t you use your internal energy?’ Now I’m angry
‘Are you looking down on me? Because I’m a woman?’ I glare at him. But he did not offer any answer so I attacked again, flying towards him with killing intent, using my agility while he used power to counter back.
Finally I saw an opening.
I struck two blows at him and I have perfect confidence that the attack connected and this boy will stumble and fall in the stage but instead I was thrown back from the sheer force of his internal energy.
I felt fearful. This is an expert in internal energy. I could sense it the moment his internal energy collided with mine.
‘What was that! How can you have so much internal energy?’ I said flummoxed and a little fearful.
My teacher advice me to pick my enemies carefully as one would do when picking friends. Did I pick the wrong enemy? But how could that be?
He’s younger than me, clearly, but how could he have such internal energy?
The crowd cheered more. Like a carnival is happening. Then he answered
‘I train my lad-‘
Even before he finished my sentence I must find some opening and take the first initiative. Maybe my agility will caught him off guard.
And the moment I did that I quickly employed Piercing Spear one of my teacher famous technique, which could leave a hole in a man body.
I have no doubt that the boy in front of me is one of a kind prodigy. There is no other way to explain his internal energy.
He fell in the stage, dazed.
But yet his body is fine. One of the most fearsome techniques that my teacher has, and the boy has only become a little dizzy?
This boy is a monster.
The crowd let out a cry of surprise.
He regained his senses and moved away from me, maintaining some distance.
‘You…are fine? Impossible’
This is just impossible. The words of my teacher rang into my ear. “The world is vast. There are many people that have great martial arts”
The word rang truths. Truths that I did not understand until now. Younger than me but….
‘You…you are Eastern Devil disciple right?’ he asked
The crowd quieted. Some backed away
‘How…did you know?’
‘Piercing Spear is one of his techniques that is known widely as his trademark. No wonder your attack is vicious and cruel, so you are his disciple.’
‘Yes I’m his disciple. DO YOU FEAR ME?’
I try to get out of this fight. Who knows if he would back up and leave me alone using my teacher’s name? I understand. I could not defeat him.
Instead he smirked
‘No, now it just get more interesting.’ Then he proceeds to tell me the flaws of my technique. I was shocked. How did he know teacher technique so well?
‘Who are you?’ One of the crowds yells
‘HAHAHA…girl it is a bad day for you. That boy is the Regent of duchy of Arrandy, ruler of this city, House Vermont, Arial the Dragon’
The crowd gasped.
A lord son? The count of this city? This means he is a high lord son.
How a noble son could know so much of the world of martial art technique?
Most of the noble sons in my county don’t even try to learn martial art anymore since it became so peaceful and no great war has ever happen for hundreds of years.
An equal match. A young handsome lord and a beautiful feisty girl. A match made in Heaven. They whispered
I heard what they say. I look at him and I blushed. He is handsome after all.
‘A lord?’ Arturo ask
‘What does it matter?’ I nodded
‘Yes, what does it matter? You certainly are a part of the martial art world. There is no doubt considering your technique’
Then we continue
The spectator moved back a little, fearing injury by straying blows.
It was a dance. A dance of Sun King and Water Princess.
“Hurry up.’ A cry came from the crowd.
‘Defeat her Lord Arial, marry her and make babies’ the audience burst out in laughter. We both blushed. I look at him and he looked at me.
‘What you’re looking at?’ I said yelling at me trying to hide my embarrassment
‘Are you ready?’
‘Ready for what?’ I said
‘Ready to be defeated’ he said and he quickly close his distance with me with flashing speed towards my shoulder.
He use a palm attack; I ducked, thus escaping the blow. The nearby wooden pillar explodes because of the force of the internal energy. I couldn’t believe my eyes. If that struck me, I surely would die by now. He must learn from someone powerful
‘You..you are an expert, an exponent. Who did you learn from? Northern Badger? Western Serpent?”
‘I teach myself’
‘Pah.‘Lies. That is impossible. Most of your attack is Northern style. You learn from Northern Badger didn’t you?’
‘Like I said, I didn’t learn from anyone.’
He is still denying. So I’m not even worthy to hear his venerable teacher name? This just make me more angry I attack him again, moe feocius than before.
Then suddenly the air changed.
Common people under the stage suddenly kneel to the ground, some have trembling in their hand. ‘Get away’ he yelled.
This is his doing. His internal energy. I’ve never seen anyone have such internal energy that is capable of making people feel pressured apart from my teacher.
Arturo began to move and threw a fist at him and he send a palm attack at his rib and I could hear the bones broke. He flew far away from the stage an unconscious down the stage.
‘ARTURO!’ I yelled
Some of the crowds were already running away, no doubt calling the guards. I need to get away from this maelstrom. I have to take the initiative.
I employed a palm attack. While jumping in midair the full brunt of the internal energy is fully directed at him. With one hand he stopped me. His internal energy is highly profound. I was thrown down the stage.
‘Uhuk, uhuk’ I looked at my hand. Blood? Blood!
He flew down .Oh my God, he is going to kill me. For the first time in my journey I felt fear.
I throw the spinning knife laced with Devil Rot
He uses his internal energy to deflect it and the flying objects were stuck at some tree near the stage. ‘Poison’ he hissed
‘Hah, the Eastern Devil would be ashamed to have such disciple’ he said. ‘Using poison? That is Western Serpent technique. Eastern Devil might not be the most honourable martial art master, but at least he didn’t use poison when he fight his opponent’ I said
‘Heh .Well, I’m not him aren’t I?’ I have lost any wil to argue.
He then raised his Palm, and sent a blow. I tried to block it but it was futile.
‘This level…is like Grand Teacher level’ I whisper
‘Fun time is over.’
This time it’s do or die. So I got up take my white spear and once again I charge but his internal energy attacks are relentless.
The last thing I knew I hear my own bones crack. Thankfully I wear the armor or I surely would die instantly.
And then my eyes were shut but I could still feel the wind blowing, now harsh and …cold. And I could feel the water falling to my cheeks.
Then I feel like I was carried off. And there I learned my errors
There are legions of exceptional men in the Continent.
This young noble boy has a lot of palm style technique with sophisticated variations. I was too full of myself.
Too confident. Too reckless. And headstrong. I need to be wiser. Need to be stronger. And with that last thought, I lost my consciousness.
CHAPTER 37: LOVE CONQUERS ALL
OUTSIDE THE CITY GATE
‘Well come back again …or don’t’ says the guard escorting us out.
After the healer heals us we were escorted out of the city, and we are also given some money and supplies. The young lord must think of us as a wandering martial artist and give us some money.
I looked at the guards posted in the city tower. They look at us, watching us if we try to make a scene outside the city.
The old me would shouted outside the city gate demanding another fight. But I know what I promised. I will return home
I will return back.
For the first time I learn how to admire and respect someone other than myself
‘Not going back there princess?’ Arturo asked his hand is still trying to adjust to the crutch.
In a few days he will heal but for now…the crutch
He knows me. I’m stubborn. Headstrong. He must be worried that I try to enter the city again when we have been given a warning
‘No Arturo’ I shake my head. ‘Not today’
The city has begun their busy day and the sun has shown itself after the storm yesterday.
I look at the mighty city wall and the largeness of this great city and I turned to Arturo
‘Hear me Arturo.’
‘One day, I will come back here and I promise I will find him, Arial the Dragon and beat him’
And with that I formed a smile.
The young handsome lord.
HE is what I want and someday I will come here again to claim both my win and his heart.
I never felt that excited or scared before, or the level of attraction I have ever felt in….ever.
Who says that only man can make a move?
Grandma Rhaessa once said to me sometimes you just have to take what you want because the world will not give it to you, unless you really, really fight for it.
And I’m sure I will fight for it
‘Why are you smiling Princess?’
‘Nothing Arturo. Nothing.’
And I jump into my horse and began riding home.
Wait for me, dragon. I will be back.
‘What are we doing here sister?’
The sea breeze and the windy that smells the smell of the ocean washed us in the comfort of the Seaworth castle.
‘You heard what Lord Aries said. He wants to make a surprise for Arial.’
‘And the surprise?’
‘Oh, the surprise? It is, I don’t know maybe HIS FIANCEE!’ Lisa yelled at me
‘Alright, fine. Don’t yell.’
‘I mean can you be that stupid? Why else would we come here?’
‘The food? The entertainment?’
My sister just rolled her eyes at me.
‘Like you had in Seren? That tanner’s daughter?’ She said at me
‘Alright, let me explain. First of all, it wasn’t my fault. How should I know her heart has already been spoken? And..’
‘Shut it. I’m too young to hear your dirty stories brother. ‘
‘Seriously? What do you think of your brother?’
‘Not anything good’ she replied
‘You will be pleased to know I treat her like a gentleman.’
‘And how is that?’
‘I bed her, give her a charming kiss in the cheek during the night and sing her love song’
‘And disappeared’ she said ‘and how is that gentlemanly?’
‘Of course it is gentlemanly’ I said
‘You realize you broke her heart’
‘Why would she be? I told her I had to go trading in Vorthy, facing dangers an-‘
‘I told her’ I couldn’t believe what she said. She told her?
‘OH MY GOD! I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY WITH YOURSELF.’
‘You broke that girl heart.’ I said
‘Me?’ She said puzzled
‘Yes, you. She’ll probably never trust a man again’
‘You’re blaming me?’
‘Yes of course you. You should let her believe what she wants to believe’
‘Fine, I’ll tell mother’ she threatened
I quickly kneeled to ground.
‘Alright dear sister, sorry.’
She glared at me.
‘How about really, really, really sorry’
‘You know brother, you should be careful. I am curious brother, why among the 4 of us, you, me, Arial and Helia, you turn like this’
I looked at her.
‘I wonder about that myself’
‘Hmmph. Alright brother. I will meet Helia in the garden in the evening. Would you like to join us?’
‘To tell about old stories?’
‘And new stories.’ My sister said
‘Fine. And don’t go around the castle seducing the handmaiden or the maid.’
‘What if they seduce me? Is that allowed?’
‘Don’t flatter yourself, brother’
‘Why not? You clearly won’t flatter me and Arial is always brooding so it is up to your poor brother to flatter himself’
My sister exit herself from the room. And slamming the door really hard. She really is annoyed this time.
I looked outside the window.I could see the shores of the beach.
The waves roll back and forth from the shore, crawling slowly. I sniffed and I could swear I could smell the salty air like the very water of the ocean.
I stare down at the lonely shore. The pebbles and the small stones at the shores sparkled in the sun, emitting light and the small waves till hit the shores, almost like beating it down.
I spoke her name like it is a whisper, a dream I could never achieve. I sit at the window edge feeling the air.
This is where she lives.
Surrounded by beautiful beaches, and fresh air, living in a castle, a lord daughter.
I love Arial.
He is my friend first, lord last. And my family is sworn to him. But that is not the reason I am friend with him.
His character was as nearly perfect as it is possible. Honorable and kind. A son of a farmer, but now a son of a High Lord, a military commander, and lord of a city.
He inspires, he commands. He is a hero
I have never encountered any man that possesses his bearing that is the same age as him. He looks far and high.
Where? To the highest mountain? Or beyond it?
Or is it the sky and stars he is aiming for?
I do not know. I never did know. And I fear that I will be left out.
One can’t gaze too long at the sun else I be blind and burn
Helia, I said her name again like a chant
I still remember the first moment I met Helia.
She was beautiful, her eyes sparkle, her voice was like a song, her laughter is like joy itself.
And she was nice to me and my sister.
She respect us, make friend with us.
And join us in our quest and sooner, and inevitably I might say, I fall in love with her. How could I not? She was the perfect girl.
But I could, no, I have not the courage to let my heart, my deepest wish and desire to be known.
For I was a son of a hunter back then and so I treated her kindly and hoping, praying someday she would open her eyes in the morning and felt the same emotion that I felt.
But alas, that is a dream.
I did not hear whispers of love.
Was it because of my undeciveness?
Or maybe, she always knew who she loves.
I blame not the beautiful lady for she has done me no wrong.
It is not her predicament that I fell in love with her. It is mine. Imagine my shock when I heard she has accepted the betrothal of Arial.
She will be my lady and I will love her as such.
As the lady that my family swear fealty towards.
But I need time. The feeling is bitter. Regret fills me.
Question of time whether I should have ask her, try to make a connection with he in those time we spent together, could it be, will it be that I might have a chance to win her heart?
But time has decided for me for I was too late in deciding.
She chooses him.
And what a great choice she makes. I…am no match for Arial, either in prowess or the minds. He was the perfect choice.
I turn back to see the shore.
Lord Aries and Lady Julia seem to be strolling around the shores and smiling.
A perfect embodiment of love. I’ve been accompanying them for months now and I could say with certainty, their love is the kind of love I want.
They respect each other, help each other, they argue yet they forgive, and they will always have a kiss in the morning and night, whispering song of love.
My sister always complained to me that I like to play around. I don’t like it.
I try to forget Helia but I could not. My head is filled with her, my heart beating uncontrollably seeing her.
She grows to be more and more beautiful each passing year ….but I could not bend her will to me. I could not make her fond of me the way she is fond of my friend.
She love Arial. And this…what I’m feeling…is like a betrayal to my brother. Will this pain fades? Will this feeling disappear? I hope so.
And then the door creaked
‘It’s me, Kyle’
I know that voice. Helia. She entered the room. And by God she looks beautiful
Her white skin glistened like the pebbles I saw in the beach, emitting light and her gentle brown eyes look at me. She is wearing a blue gown, hand stitched, seeing her in address is a rare occasion for I always see her donning her armour.
‘Kyle will you not join me having an evening tea.’
She smiles ‘Even if it is me asking?’ She said her brown eyes look at me
‘Won’t Lisa be there?’
She chuckled ‘Yes. Why? Does she bother you that much?’
‘Come on Kyle. After the wedding I would not be so free anymore would I? I will have to help Arial govern and give him wise counsel’
‘Would you not miss it?’
She chuckled again. ‘Why do you think my freedom would be lost?’
‘You said it’
‘I said I will not be that free. Responsibility is not a prison though I suspect that Arial is not like that. He treated like his responsibility cannot be shared, like he is the only one fit to bear that burden. Arrogant isn’t he?’ Helia said looking outside the window
I did not answer her question
She continued ‘I want to soothe him, heal him for he looked like he bears a heavy burden and every time I see his melancholic look, my heart ache for him. Had any man look so beautiful?’
‘Do you love him?’
‘I mean really love him?’
She looked at me. Staring intently.
‘I do. I could not explain it to you but I do love him. I could drown myself in his clear blue eyes, but one day I will heal his wound and scar when we are wed. Really’ and she smiles
‘Then it will be fine.’
‘I hope so. After all Love Conquers All doesn’t it?’
‘Yes. I do sincerely hope so.’
She pulls my hand and brings me out of the room like she did so many years ago.
And I could not help but pray for her to be happy, for her eyes when talk about Arial was full of hope, longing and joy. Such love. Such affection.
When will it be my turn?
The gate was wood, big and ivy vines cascaded over the fence, growing in every direction. On the side of the stone path are flowers. The lawn is ill with beautiful green grass and a huge tree is in the center of that garden with a swing under it.
Rich colours fill the garden, the scarlet and saffron hued primroses, the iridescent blues and greens, and the whites and orange.
Just beside the big tree is a canopy, and here I am talking to my friend and with my brother.
‘Remember the quest we had in Salisbur?’ My brother said
Helia chuckled ‘the Missing Hand Quest? Remember that Lisa?
‘Yes, that was hilarious’ Helia said still chuckling remembering our days in the Academy.
Helia still did some quest but that was before the Knight Academy closed it’s door.
‘Who would have thought that that man tries to disappear from his wife and cut off his own hands?’ Helia continued
This time my brother laughed out loud
Then we talked about other things and finally the topic turned to Arial
‘What do you think? Will he like the surprise Lisa?’
Arial parents decided to bring Helia back with them to Acro, to live with them for a while.
Lord Helve has agreed, after all it is common practice It can also strengthen the bond between the betrothed.
‘HE would love it’ I said
‘Do you think Arial love me? I love him so I hope he loves me too.’
‘He loves you. He would be stupid not to love you’ my brother said. Helia chuckled nervously.
Though his smile are bitter. Why?
‘Truly?’ Helia asked
‘Yes, truly.’ My brother answers. Helia smiles again
A young handsome lord and a beautiful lord daughter.
A match made in heaven, I would say.
I look at Helia
She is the perfect girl for Arial
She is kind and clever, with a gentle heart and a sweet wit. He would be a fine companion for Arial. Arial parent is also very fond of her, Helia even started calling both of them as father and mother. They are pleased of course, to gain such a beautiful daughter in laws.
Helia speak with my brother and I looked at the huge tree in front of us.
Helia and Arial.
From my childhood, Arial is my friend and our leader. HE would play soldier and we follow him in his mischief, in the jungle, in the creek, in the river and we hear his order.
I was born a hunter daughter, we liv by what my father caught. And in my childhood I was weak so nobody really plays with me.
But not Arial.
He plays with me, guarded me, teach me, accompany me and protect me from the village scoundrels.
He is to me, a prince like in the old stories.
Handsome and charming, honorable and strong, commanding and inspiring.
By the time I could know the feeling of like, I like him.
It is not that surprising. The 4 of us is always together. It is normal some of us developed feeling towards each other. Not to mention, he always help me.
But Helia beat me to it. But I’m not complaining. I was late. Helia was fast.
And in the end, Arial make his choice. He chose Helia. I’m happy for both of them.
They’re both my friend, so I could not help but be happy. Arial always complimented me saying that I’m a brave woman.
Forget it, let it blows by the wind.
I am not a brave woman. Killing people? Now that’s easy.
Yet confessing my feeling? Now that’s hard.
I could not tell him, tell him I love him too, and I do not have the courage to tell him to be mine. We’re just friends.
I will not ruin the friendship I had because of some lingering feeling.
‘Lisa, what are you thinking about?’ Helia question brought me back
‘Oh, nothing. Old memories’
‘Which one?’ My brother asked
I smile and said ‘the good ones’
I look at the garden and the flowers and the vegetable patch and I looked back at Helia and my brother teasing each other.
This is good enough.This friendship.
I still remember when we go hunting together and messing around with Arial, the brooder one in our group, pranking my brother and sometimes even pranks Helia, the kind and gentle Helia, who never did get mad at me, though sometimes he plotted with Kyle to prank me back, the flour falling in my hair the second year in the academy comes to mind.
I also remember Arial and me stuck in a forest behind the school, and he saved me, though that was a long time ago, Arial the the most mature one in our group.
He is smart and capable, the strongest actually in our group of four but he also felt distant sometimes. Like he is older than us.
Like he sees more than us, his eyes always looking at the future. For what? We never know. He rarely participated in pranking.
I also remember our rest in this beautiful river, though I don’t know what the river is called because it was in the middle of nowhere, just sitting there laughing and singing and dancing, a river so still that the moment seems so precious.
I felt a little jealous but that would not mean I would try to steal Arial from Helia. Not that he would respond. He is too clueless sometimes.
I think if I've learned anything about friendship, it's to fight for them, make an effort in it and let them fight for you.
Don't walk away, don't get distracted, and most importantly don't take them for granted. It is a powerful bond, not to be ignored or underestimated. And then we got up and began rushing to the beach, and I smile. There will be many more days like this.
A day of love and peace.
CHAPTER 38: SUMMONS
ZHANG LIAO BAO
It has been many months since I escape the attack at the pleasure house, attacked by some bandits who came down from the hill and wreak havoc in the small city.
I now work at the Palace of Happiness, one of the many palaces in the Forbidden City.
I sneak here posing as some scribe after one of the people that try to catch me for stealing his knife is searching the city upside down from me.
He seems like a great master in the martial arts world.
I work here as a scribe for some nobles officials. I write their contract. This is all thanks to Drunk Wei. If not for his teaching….
Wherever he is now, though I suspect he is in Hell right now, he surely would be very happy to know what h taught me is not wasted.
In the palace there are many interesting thing.
Women, gold and entertainment all around.
There is the palace maid, beautiful and slutty palace maid, the princesses, most of them slutty the other is a sadistic bunch, the mistresses of the Emperor, though of course I knew my boundary so I didn’t approach them. I don’t want to get killed.
Though I do approach the palace maid mostly for gossip and as companion in a cold night, huddled in my room and fucking until morning. It is a secret of course.
Today I just got to my room after finishing writing some contract of trade between some people from Dukedom of Alan, someone from the faction of Alderam.
I heard about the war in the South of Vern.
The Spear and the Shield.
In Vern itself there are problem.
The Blood Brotherhood an organization that tries to install an Eastia Emperor into the throne is moving silently and stealthily, gathering allies.
In Vern to be honest, there is a lot more Eastia people than Caelum
But for thousands of years it is the Caelum that rules. The bloodlines remain strong.
I’m an Eastia but what do I care? As long as the people are happy and the country is prosperous I don’t really care.
There is also Lord Bradley who is a commander in the Empire, a noble lord of some great noble Houses who is stationed and watching the border who I heard is planning a rebellion but since there is not any proof not even the Emperor can do anything.
Tomorrow the Princess from the Dark Lands Arianna is coming, a secret meeting to try open back relation between Human Continent though from the rumours I heard from the palace maids it’s more like the Emperor want to see this famed beauty.
It is a lesson that Kings, Emperors and great heroes apparently never learned.
How many great beauties has ruined nations, pit friend s against friend, making brothers killed brothers, bring an entire Empire to crumble.
Like Leliana relationship with Levitia or Igrayne with the 4 brothers of Dragon slayer or even the story of Alexander the Divider and her Empress Catherine.
They never learn.
How dangerous beauty really is.
It is not wise to worship beauty.
You can admire it, love it, fuck it but you must never ever worship beauty or romanticize it.
I do not know the Emperor personally but I know his attitude.
If he likes the Princess he might even ask her for her hand.
And that wouldn’t serve the Empire benefit at all. But it is not my problem to worry about.
I was about to go to sleep when suddenly I hear the commotion
Then I heard chasing and suddenly the whole Palace is in an uproar.
I stay in my bed of course.
Even if I go out what could I possibly do?
Then in half an hour after that it seems like everything settled. Calm come again, and the uproar quieted, the guards began making rounds again.
The intruder must have escaped or captured.
I was about to resume my sleep when suddenly I heard a creaking sound at my door, then I could swear a shadow passed by me.
The candles went out.
‘Silence!’ He whispered. I felt the cold knife at my neck
I was itching to grab my own knife, an Enochian steel I stole from the pleasure house when I was running away from the bandit attack
‘Fine, fine. Calm down’
‘Who are you?’ I asked
He breathes hard and panting clearly tired and exhausted.
‘Silence’ he said
I silenced myself. It seems he is checking the environment
‘Let me sit down’ I said ‘I won’t yell for the guard not unless I want to die don’t you think?’
Considering you can avoid the palace guard you must be an exponent of some honorable school so I who am a lowly person who learn no martial art is surely not a threat.’
He is silent behind my back.
He is thinking about it I believe
‘Sit down then but one scream and your life will end’ I nodded and he loosen his grip on my neck.
I try to act as calm as possible and I take a seat.
‘Tea?’ I asked.
I did not look at his face not to mention the night is dark and the candles are out because of his swooshing
He sits in front of me and I lower my gaze.
‘Look at me’ he said.
The moonlight illuminates the room
I look at him.
He has a scar in his left eye, and he has long arm, his left hand is holding a gleaming knife illuminated by the moonlight, and he has quit the long arm, which would give him an advantage if he is a swordsman, his hair are curly, his face complexion is pale and a drooping eyelid.
He has blood dripping from his cloth, though I suspect it is not his blood.
He looks normal….alright not normal.
More like a killer, an assassin
He has a lisp but his words are still persuasive.
‘Tea?’ I asked again
‘It’s fine. Just sit down.’
Then after a brief silence he looked at me again and ask me
‘Why do you serve the Court?’
‘Whatever do you mean kind sir?’
‘You’re an Eastian right?’
‘Then why serve the Caelum race?’
I looked at him again.
He must be Eastian
‘The Blood Brotherhood?’
‘How do you know?’ he said alarmed
I chuckle a bit
‘You reveal much in your tone and prejudice against me, kind sir’
‘I’m not kind. And I’m not a sir. And how do you know?’
‘Ah,’ I said ‘but you are. If you’re not kind you would have slit my throat and be done with it. But no you did not.
Instead you let me live, probably, if I have to hazard a guess it is because I’m an Eastian. Which means you are also an Eastian.
And a sir you are. You escaped those city guard which means you have knowledge in fighting probably a squire and your derision and apparent hate towards the very name of Caelum make it rather easy for me to guess who you are and what you are planning’
He looks amused.
‘Ah, page boy you are very observant’
‘I’m a scribe.’
‘Are you really?’ He said his tone is amused.
‘If you’re so good then please hazard a guess why did I come to the Forbidden City tonight?’
‘Hah, should I? Maybe I shall not’
‘If I guess correctly you might kill me for maybe you will find me a threat.’
‘But if you did not answer I could also kill you’ he said, grinning
‘How about this kind sir? If my guess is right you will let me live, and I will let you hide in this room until you want to leave but if I’m wrong then you can kill me and I will blame no one but my poor observational skill’
He ponders this.
‘You are quit the conversationalist and the talker. You’re very calm too. Pity you work for the Caelum race.’
‘Well, to each their own.’
‘Heh, fine I agree to your term.’
‘Do I have your word?’ I said
‘Yes, you have my word but will you believe a killer word?’ he said posing me a question
‘I believe you to be an honorable man for you fight for our people, sacrificing your life for such a noble cause’
‘You believe our cause are noble yet you still work for the Caelum race’
I laughed a controlled laugh
‘We can argue all day why I work for the Caelum people or I could guess your intention coming here’
‘Hah, you’re right. Fine say it. Speak your mind’
I scanned him.
‘From the black clothes I believe you came here stealthily and in secret, probably pay passage to some Eastian palace workers to let you in, many I knew who would welcome some gold, and correct corruption is rampant’ I said clearly recognizing his shocked face
‘and from that knife carving I believe you want to kill the Emperor and then you will install a King of our people in the throne.
The carving is meant to claim you are responsible, that the Imperial authority is weakening and you want to use it as a plea for the Eastian people to rise with you.
Though, that would be a futile quest.
A rash and illogical decision to barge in this vast city.
Your mission from the start is doomed. Seeing the blood that is dipping from your cloth and seeing you suffer no injuries could only conclude that the friends you brought with you to storm the place is either captured or killed, is it not?
Am I right? Or am I wrong?’
‘You are quite clever, scribe’
‘My name is Zhang Liao Bao.’
‘Offering names?’ He asked
‘You are a great hero for our people, it is only right I pay respect.’
Who knows if I did this he would not kill me when he is about to leave?
The palace guards are so far away from here, so even if I yell now, it’s not like they will hear it.
So belter get to know him, placate his feeling make him feel like a hero then maybe he will spare me.
I knew he has given his word, but if there is something I leaned in the pleasure house, words are winds.
‘My name is Wang Liao Ming. ‘
‘Will you hid me in this room?’
I looked at his knife. Do I look like I got a choice?
‘I will. I have no intention of letting my own people get killed in the palace.’
Or I might get killed myself
HE smiles and he ordered me to sleep.
I went to sleep knowing that tomorrow I will still meet him.My new life began.
‘Should I accept it Silas’
Silas is reading the letter from Vern. His eyes squinted under the candle light.
Silas is in one of the room in this castle. Yesterday I got a letter rom Vern, an offer, a deal.
No one knows about this letter but me. And now Silas. The content of the deal tempt me but I need counsel and Silas is a good counsel, his wit and conclusion serve as his weapon in the court though his apparent fondness for the Vermont’s do make us clash opinion sometimes in the court.
‘What about you my liege? What are your thoughts? Do you want it?’
He said putting down the letter back at the wooden table. He has finished reading it
‘What do you think of it’s offer, Silas?’
‘Tempting but all bad things are’
‘Bad things? Explain to me ‘
He coughed a bit, clearing his throat
‘Vern offer his assistance to attack Alderam from the back and we can then attack him directly marching to the north while they will mobilize their troops to their south thus trapping Alderam forces’
‘Is it a good idea?’ I asked
‘It is. A fine idea. Your victory will be swift and painless’
‘Then how it is bad?’
‘It is bad my liege for after the war. After the war do you not think that the Vern will want something else?’
‘And what do you think he wants?’
‘Our fealty my liege. Your fealty to be exact, enabling him to once again creating Empires of old under Vern.’
‘Would it be so bad?’ I asked ‘We win, and I still rule’
He laughed in the chamber
‘Rule you will. But you will rule in a land filled with rebellion, people plotting your death behind your back more than they are now, friends turns to enemies, faction sprouted like mushrooms, and uneasiness will follow you until you reach death door my liege’
‘Why do you threaten me?’ I said slightly wounded by his words
‘I’m telling you the truth. They kneel to the crown my liege, this crown. Not the Crown of Old. This crown. Force unto them an Emperor than you will endure all this horrors and much more.
‘But if we keep going at this pace the war might get even more severe. The people will suffer’
Silas smile a proud smile
‘Using our forces is wiser. More time consuming but the reap will be joyous indeed. So cast of your doubt my liege. Think not of this offer from the Empire. Stay true to our course and believe in your subjects.’
I looked at him. ‘Are you sure?’
‘I have faith, my liege and sometimes that enough’
‘Thank you Silas for giving me advice. Now I can go to bed with a light heart.’
I rise from my chair and was about to blow out the candle when Silas called me again.
‘My liege’ suddenly he said
‘What about the matter with Ser west?’
We both were arguing about this matter in the court in the morning
‘Will you not cease from this talk Silas?’
‘Not until a decision has been made’
I sit back down
‘Will I have to, always, accommodate the Vermont’s? He asks for Ser West and I have to hand him? The young lord has me at his beck and call.
It is true, oh, how true your words, the dragons order and order they did. 5 words in his letter. Bring West to my castle, the letter said’
‘My liege as you know the young lord is not a man of many words.’
‘But I’m his King!’
‘Aye, but do not forget my liege who seat you in that throne of yours. As easily his family seat you in that throne, he can easily unseat you’
‘Is that a threat?’
‘A reminder.’ I looked at him, glaring at him
He then sighed.
‘My liege I know your opinion of me. You believe me to be an ardent supporter of the Vermont’
‘Do you deny it?’
No, I do not. But my liege that is only because I truly believe he is truly loyal to you. The young lord and his family is only thinking on how to strengthen your rule.
I could not, by my honour and dignity let their names be smear and tarnished by rumours and false words spread by irresponsible people. Can you not see my liege?’
‘See? See what!’
‘Someone is plotting in this castle wall to sour your relationship with the Vermont’s using their tongue casting the Vermont’s as disrespectful, treasonous family. Who whispers these words to your ears?’
‘No one whispers words to my ears!’
‘Are you sure my liege? Or is this sinister forces work so silently, so bold that he is in front of you all this time?’
‘The young lords know manners and etiquette but why did he sent me such short words?’
For he treated you like a friend, my liege.He believes you will understand his intention.
Right now you have not done anything to be regretted about but if you start distrusting the very same family that came to your defense, who gambled their life for you, raise their banners for you, win your battles for you, the very same family that seat you in this throne, then sooner or later he too will no longer trust you.
And then and only then tragedy will happen. More bloody than the bloody feast. Tragedy at it’s best. Oh how that story will be remembered’
Silas has always has a penchant for the dramatic.
I calm myself.
‘Do you then know who is the one spreading the false words and whisper things into my ears?’ He nodded
‘Who is it then?’
‘That I could not tell. You must spot them by yourself for even if I tell you, your hearts will be full of doubts, doubting whether what I tell is not another plot.’
‘Then are you saying you do not plot in my court?
He chuckled ‘I do plot my liege. Hundreds and hundreds of plots, alliance created, alliances broken, promise forge, promise broken, but against you? I dare not entertain such treasonous thought.
Plotting against Kings and great noble is not the level of courtiers. We are here because of you.
Some are task in counseling you like me and Baldwin, some in entertaining you and other for other purposes.
Our life and well-being depends on the King so we do not plot against you, we plot against each other to gain your trust, to gain your affection and attention.
‘Then who would want to plot against me?’
‘People who stand to gain something my liege.’
Then he looked at me. Just looked at me pitifully.
‘Why do you look at me like that?’
‘I pity you my liege. How heavy the burden you bear but not many understand the heaviness of such burden. Acquiesce to the Vermont my liege. Show that you trust them. Do not let doubt and fear creep in your heart.
I have seen you in your throne and I could observe you are very uncomfortable in the throne but I saw this.
I saw that even though you might not possess great wit like your father and even his cunningness, or the charisma like your brother or the bearing of a king like the young lord you possessed something unique and special in these dirty games of politics’
‘And what is that?’ I asked curious what did he see in me.
‘Your faith and kindness. Have faith. Trust and you too will be trusted. You have a making of a great King. In times of these war you cannot shine. But I believe in peace, you shall make a great king, one that is kind and wise, who deliberates his decision who will stress peace and justice.’
‘Why do you believe me so, Silas?’
He looked outside the windows seeing the crescent moon.
‘Do you mind if I tell you my story?’
‘I would not mind’
‘I came from a farmer family my liege. My life is peaceful but we are poor. My sister died of the Winter Cold. My other brother died of consumption. But then the Vermont rule. And they rule wisely.
Settlements turn to village. Village turns to cities. And their family is charitable helping giving cheap education, giving food and gold to the less fortunate and invests in my father ideas and so a few years later my father idea bear fruits and I became a son of a trader.
I am used to lived then, in the small world that felt like paradise, in the city that the Vermont created, socializing with traders sons and merchants, learning foreign language from Asteros sailors and whalers from Vorthy. Acro a city which is peaceful and happy and then the war came.
Duchess Julia, the beautiful fair lady sent me here to serve you for I was one of the most accomplished in the school.
So I halted my studies in the university and came here. But I saw how dirty the game is played, here in this castle walls, the war in the courtroom, of words and intrigue, secret war between courtiers, smiles that hide blades, words that drip poison, so I make allies here, make alliances, collect information and rise here as one of your trusted counsel.
To counsel you from snakes that slithers your court, the one who hides themselves in shadow whispering doubt and fear.
Believe this my liege. You are a King. And one day you will be a great King.
‘You did not answer my question Silas?’ I asked as I saw he is already rising from his seat and about to get out of the room
He turned back and said ‘But I did my liege. You just did not understand it yet. And with that I bid you good evening, my liege’
Then with a knowing smile he goes out of the room
CHAPTER 39: CROSSING PATH
I looked as the sail is thrown off and the sailor beginning to sail from the Port.
I waved at them. I could see their large and many cargos. I inspect them myself yesterday.
There is a lot of trade product that we are trading. The merchants and trader all howling orders, while some ship just came from other lands came and brought out their wares from their ship.
Food, salted fish, silk and so many others. While the traders would bring many exotic stuff from worlds away.
My parents will return today with my little sister. I got the letter last night
They said they will bring a surprise guest.
I have just return from the port after checking the ships and the traders.
From the report battle does not happen that frequently like the beginning but there is still some battles that happen along the border of the north.
Mostly between the nobles that support ALderam rather than Adrian claim. Sporadic battle around the west but in the south most lords have already swear fealty while we in the East is still in relative peace.
I’m now waiting for both Alderam and the King replies.
Alderam on the truce, the King on the matters of West.
If Alderam persist to continue with his foolishness, knowing that he would be easily crushed, and still refuse to bend the knee, then I will march to the North with all the troops I can muster.
The King on the other hand, it is my test of him.
Would he believe his loyal subjects?
I was informed by some people that there are some sinister forces in court that tried to sour our relation. I will not have that.
But if the King decided to not trust, I have to make preparation for the worst case scenario.
There is also the matters of an agreement with Vern, as my Spymaster inform me, that Alderam is persuading some lords in Vern to aid him.
I, of course do not want to be involved in some of conflict with other nation not when we are already so occupied with this war.
I also planned to bestow Duchy of Derion to Althea house after the war is over.
It would also help me to have a duchy that loyalty is not questioned lose to my territory. If anything happen I can quickly raise their banner without scruples.
The South yesterday defeated another lordly house by the Blacktons and the Three Brothers.
While some of the noble house or Manderly to meet another one of his allies the Blacktons son, the oldest one of them was sent to contain them from ever reaching the other part of the South and gained control.
They clashed and at first the young lord of the Blacktons was in bad shape they even retreat at the evening, but then in the morning with newfound resolve he retaliated.
But then in the nick of battle, the rivers lords arrived where he drew support from his banner men, who have extensive battle experience, especially after also pacifying the rest of the region.
While the Manderly has little soldier, almost little to none experience, an augmented by slaves clearly bought in Freya.
That is a wrong act, a dishonourable act to use slave to do a free man bidding and not to mention owning slaves itself is abhorred, despised, and damnable offense by the Church.
They fought in a terrain that has three valleys, cutting through the limestone escarpment whose dip slope roses gently from the north of the Soutshire plain, a beautiful place, ill with green grass, as I once pass by that place in my quest.
The superior force of Blacktons and their experience helps in defeating the Manderly, especially because of the congestion caused by the Blacktons with their archers, followed by an infantry charge, the Manderly line broke where many of them were taken prisoners.
I have already sent a letter to him to handle them as he saw fit.
By now surely the South has heard the Manderly defeat and surely now, they will see reason.
Then there is the matter of West Palais.
West on the other hand is another matter.
Son of Henry, I wished to know his true intention.
Does he have an alternative intention or is his heart true?
If he is true, then I hoped him to be mediator.
If not, then he would be a hostage in my castle.
He is a friend but in the war I need to aim for a quick and swift victory, before this war gets any longer.
Then a horsed messenger came and informs me that my parents are already at the city gate waiting for me to come.
The castle is busy today. You could see they are all rushing around the courtyard, even the guards are fidgety.
The preparation is being set up to receive my parents. And my little sister
My little sister.
Her name seems to be Adriana , as a sign of respect for King Adrian. It would be good if she would be betrothed to the King, but I will not force such decision on her.
It would quite deepened our relation with the royal family and may ease King Adrian heart
‘My lord, you returned’ my attendant greets me
The attendants take my coat.
‘Yes, I have. I got a messenger came to me saying my parents is outside the city gate is it true?’
‘Yes my lord’ he nodded
I rushed to the stables and ride Fire Bringer. In front of the city gate I could see a mass of people kneeling.
My parents must have returned
I, overcome with joy jumped from my horse and I could see my father welcoming me with a welcoming smile, my mother is rocking my little sister to sleep in her arms.
‘SON’ my father yelled.
The crowd gives way. My parent were just about to step out from their caravan
‘Lord Arial’ they whispered
‘Lord father’ I kneeled in front of him
‘Oh, boy come here and let your father hug you’
I rise up and hug him. It has been so long. He feels a little stocky. The life of luxury has been well on him.
‘Mother’ I then hugs my mother
‘My dear little boy’ my mother said patting my bag.
‘Let me hold her’ my lady I looked and it’s Kyle
He grinned at me and I grinned back at him.
‘Thank you Kyle’ My mother said
Then my mother hugged me
‘How is my little boy?’
‘I’m no longer a little boy mother’ I said
‘You’re always going to be my little boy,’ my father hearing this laugh
Then I hug Kyle
‘It has been hard on you dear friend’
‘More you than me’
We looked at each other and laugh
‘Going to the tavern tonight’ I asked
‘Absolutely. You’ll join?’
‘Why? wont it make such a scene if we both play in the tavern, seducing some maid’ he said ‘Like old times’ he nodded pleading me with his eyes
‘First I never did go to tavern to find a maid. And I never seduce anyone’
‘Yet, all the girl always fawn on you.’
‘Then consider it a favour to you that I will not attend the occasion’
‘Hahahaha.’ He laughed ‘maybe I should consider it a favor. But my friend, I tonight will go to the tavern and as surely as the sun will rises in the morning, I will bed some girls that night’
‘What did I hear you say young man?’ I heard a shrill behind us
‘What did my son just said?’
Kyle looked at me
‘Kyle was saying he has an appointment tonight.‘
‘And this talk about bedding?’
‘He said that then he would go to bed immediately’
My father laugh
‘Let them Alissa. Young boys.’
‘I do not approve such games’ Uncle Lethe said.
‘Father mother wouldn’t this conversation better served in the privacy of the castle’
I whistle and Fire Bringer cantering slowly to the caravans.
‘Let me lead the caravan’
Kyle rides beside me.
‘Where is Lisa by the way?’
‘She is with a surprise guest’
‘Who is it?’ I asked curios
‘Someone you know’ Kyle said
‘Some lord?’ I asked
‘Some lady’ he replied
‘Blue hair? No.’
I sighed a deep relief
‘Do you know any blue hair lady?’ Kyle asked looking at me
I remember my fight and her vicious way of fighting and I reply
‘No. so who is she?’ I asked Kyle again
‘Some lords daughter. Just…I’m sure you will be surprised when you see her’ he said smiling
‘I would look forward to that then.’
Then we lead to the castle.
The trumpet was blown, songs were played by the bard and minstrel, the people were waving the banner and the cheer.
‘Lord Aries has returned’ some of the kids in the city cried the news to the other part of the city. Soon enough it becomes a procession
Everywhere they were folks in their clothes, the young the old, the traders, the merchants, the shopkeeper, the minor lords, the low lords all were in attendance all welcoming my father back.
The music is pleasant like the warm breeze of autumn, filling the streets with harmonious melody.
And all the way back I could hear them getting my father and mother, all words of praises and good and kind words.
‘You parents are very famous it seems’ Kyle said remarking at the situation
I looked back behind us.
And then finally we arrived at the castle gate.
The guards quickly opened the gate and my parents entered, all the household has already waited kneeling in front of the courtyard
My parents stepped out of the carriage and shouted ‘we have returned’ and like spring that blossoms the atmosphere turns livelier for my mother is loved in the castle.
I was feared, respected but my mother? She is loved for her kind countenance and wise words. My mother make a gesture to me to come closer
She whispered to my ears telling me to tell the rest of the castle her plans.
‘Listen my fellow household’ and the cheer and smile stopped.
Surely, they must look like I was about to break out a worse news.
My expression does not help and I’m also known to only announce about the matters of wars which is why I understand their trepidation
‘Calm your hearts’ I said. ‘My mother has informed me that she is planning something to liven our castle.
We are accustomed to feast and dinner party but my mother has suggested us to prepare a ball’ I said and the maids, castle maids, the squire and the knight behind me all perked up.
A ball they whispered
‘Lend me your dress Annie’ I heard one castle maid talk to one of her friend
‘It’s mine and what will I wear if you borrow it from me’
Excitement fills the air.
‘A ball?’ Kyle said a grin formed in his mouth
‘Don’t think anything unhonourable Kyle’
‘Well…I did’ and he chuckled
And with that merry thought my parents entered the castle with all of the low lords followed them from behind.
The castle maid were already busy, clearly began preparing for the balls.
Our castle is one of the largest castles in the Kingdom and our gold is boundless so in a week surely the preparation would have already been readied.
Well with all the giddiness in the air how could it not?
The messenger will clearly have a busy work ahead of them sending letters to nobles daughter and nobles sons.
It would be good to forge alliances and get to know of other noble lord’s sons and daughter.
‘ Arial hurry up’ my mother yell.
I jumped from my horse and the stable master came bringing my horse into his stable while my feet walk slowly to the staircase of the courtyard.
After that last encounter, with the blue hair woman there are certainly not that many encounters that will be so titillating.
I have reached finally after a long time, here in the Dukedom.
It has been a hard journey mostly because of the sneaking around, hiding around and all that other stealthy stuff.
If they find out I’m a demon race surely they would imprisoned me, worse, kill me.
Recently I know there is a war that happens in the Dukedom, about a stupid war about some sons fighting over some lands.
I mean, in the end, that is what it all boils to.
Fighting over lands. If not lands, some women. If not women, some gold or magical object or some tournament.
The stories are always the same. The character however is always different. But the ending is always eerily similar.
Do they not learn from the past? History! Does it not studied here? The importance of knowing past mistake, so we could tread on new path, trying a new road?
Ignorance seems to be the suffering of humanity.
After gaining many information I reached here in Acro.
Even from the outside it looked magnificent. Not like Arakath, but it is quite beautiful and it seems many traders frequented here.
I even greets some of them outside the city gate, all coming from all region of the Dukedom,. There are also many scholars, learning in schools or university.
At least the ruler of this region seems dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and I respect that.
But I could not yet enter for there is a caravan in front of me with many Knights escorting the caravans.
Clearly some high Lords here. Trying to ride in front of High Lord could be seen as insulting by the nobility, so I stay behind them.
Then they arrive at the city gate.
The riders in front of me dismount their horses and kneel. So does the people of the city. Considering they kneel, I too dismount my ride, and kneel.
It seems whoever in the carriage is the ruler of this city.
It seems like it is waiting for someone.
Then I whispered to a merchant that is kneeling beside me
‘Who are they?’
‘The Duke and Duchess.’ I nodded then I could saw a boy, younger than me jump from his horse and embrace the duke.
‘Who’s that?’ I pointed my finger to the boy.
‘That is the Duke son, Arial the Dragon.’
‘Arial the Dragon? Why do people call him that?’
‘People said he never lost a battle and his strength in battlefield is all-conquering.’
‘A kid like that leads an army?
The merchant chuckled.
‘What so odd? George the Wise leads an army, personally overseeing the battle of the Ragged King. When he was but 12.’
Then the young lord seems to hug his mother and a Knight. Probably his friend. Then they lead the carriage and I too moved.
It was like a parade. Everyone is in joy and the city itself is beautiful.
The architecture and the feeling I got from the city. People singing. People dancing. People singing and dancing.
I could not help but also get swept by their emotion and sooner or later, I too was also dancing joining the people of this city which is in a jubilant emotion.
Then the lords enter their castle but the celebration did not end. I guess Renasia isn’t the only place where their people love festivities.
At the evening finally the mood dissipated so I went to an inn and check myself inn. The beds are comfy, basic amenities are provided.
It’s like I’m in the royal capital. This city is prosperous, that is my conclusion. Then I heard outside like another happy event seeing people jumping and singing again.
So, I went outside. A crier is announcing a ball next week. No wonder, the people are so happy. I looked at all of the surroundings.
Bright lights and the cool night air remind me of Arakath and my home but my quest is not ending yet.
Tomorrow I will go to the library here which is said to be constructed by the ruling House here housing many books from all of the Dukedom.
I felt relaxed and calm.
And then slowly my foot went and join the dancing.
CHAPTER 40: THE BALL
A week has passed.
The letters has been sent, words has been spread.
Many sent their reply sending theirs sons and daughter to the castle, mostly because it would be seen as disrespectful to ignore invitation from a high lord. The letters seem is not yet reply.
Alderam still did not reply. Is he planning something? The King however has reply. He has sent West to here.
Estimated arrival is tomorrow. Surely, this proves he has chosen to trust our family. With this I can proceed to strengthen the Kingdom.
If Alderam chooses to do anything stupid then I guess we have no choice but to respond appropriately.
I have try to negotiate with him but it seems he make my proposition seems a joke. Peace for the Dukedom and it’s strengthening.
That is what I want.
But enough of that. Today is the ball.
Today, I am very happy.
The surprise it seem is Helia. She has been spending a week in the castle and I couldn’t t be happier.
I am also getting dressed up for the ball. Today I choose a very expensive and beautiful cloth to impress Helia.
An ornate garment
It is a dress that spells regal all over it. It is a three quarter length coat in rich tapestry fabric; it displays velvet collars, cuffs, pocket flaps and lapels.
Thirty three dragon design button fasten the lapels and decorate the cuffs.
The collars too.
And sleek silk lines the entire coat and my dress.
The pockets on the outside and a breast pocket on each side of the interior make the cloths not only beautiful but also make it a useful as also it is fashionable.
Suited for ballroom and any occasion of nobility diner.
It is black and red color.
Surely, Helia would be impressed.
I take a few lessons in dancing from one of the etiquette teacher. Thankfully because of my agility learning to dance doesn’t seem like a very hard deal. In my previous lives, dancing doesn’t take much of what you do.
There is not that many occasion to dance.
The door opened and I could see hundreds of people dancing and clapping, all in joy smiling and laughing.
The nobles daughter speak with other girls and the boys eyes them and smile sending secret signals. In the second floor someone is playing the 2 string melody
There are many nobles daughter who wears dance costumes, all luxurious. Made of finer silks and materials and the colors were colourful and bold.
The manner in which gowns were assembled and created was very dramatic and complicated. Some gowns were strapless and others had long dramatic sleeves.
Various laces were entwined and sewn carefully over gowns. Underneath the richer woman’s attire would be a thick corset and sometimes there would also be a heavily structured petticoat.
This formed a perfectly round, almost cupcake like, shape towards the bottom of the gowns.
Headdresses also played a major part in the formal/dance attire
Numerous headdresses were worn to dances and social occasions; the most common of these for woman would probably be the cone shaped hats which were decorated with lace, ribbons and silks.
Another popular one which was worn by many of the lords daughter is the headdresses which connected to the back of crowns; small round hats, braids or the laced nets which supported the hair which was styled in a bun.
Neat, beautifully handmade shoes wore also worn beneath these gowns. The makeup and grooming of the upper-class woman wore to dance celebrations was very important and also very peculiar.
To prepare for dances, many women would shave their hair in order to attain the elegant expanse that was so admired at that time. Limitless examples of this are obvious in paintings of this era. They would also shape and stain their lips into a rose bud shape and colour them with various substances.
For upper-class men, changing fashion in dance to follow a social trend was just as important and it became a way of displaying one’s wealth, and for men, one’s masculinity.
Men’s clothing was more fitted and tighter on the body. Just like mine that is quite tight but not too tight.
The popular look was long, elegant and youthful.
The upper-class male attire would consist of boldly coloured tunics with knee high hemlines, which continued to rise to mid-thigh length over time.
Some tunics would be decorated with various symbols and emblems while others were quite plain.
I could see Kyle wearing of a doublet with a chemise worn underneath. Many of nobles sons do this.
A sword would also be situated and fitted on the right hand side of his belt.
For this reason, the woman would almost always dance on the male’s left side. Prestigious leather shoes and fine silk and fur hats would also be worn depending on the dance occasion.
But I did not bring any swords neither this ball admit any weapon or permit any weapons to come into the castle. We wouldn’t want the Bloody Fast to happen again.
Then they realize me.
The music stops.
‘Presenting Count of Acro, Lord Arial of House Vermont.’ The announcer announce.
I looked around. Helia is nowhere to be found.
The crowd on the other hand stares at me and bow their head. I still looked left and right
Where is she?
‘My son’ my father yelled.
Their glance turns to my father.
And quickly seeing my father so joyously welcome me, the tension dissipates and the music is played again. The minstrel and the bards believes it is their cue.
They start playing again.
Harmonius melody fills the room.
‘Father.Where is Helia?’ He smiles.
Well, I couldn’t make it too easy for you son.
‘Come with me’ and my father bought me to the balcony
‘Thank you my son for doing the hard job for me.’
‘You have thanked me enough father’
My father then went silence and look at the moon.
‘You know son I believe you have divine blood in you for surely someone as me could not have produced such a son like you.’ He said suddenly
I hold my father hand and rubbed it.
‘I’m your son father. Mortal like you are.’
‘Yet your feat is incredible. To lead an army at your age, what harrowing scene you have seen? But yet your father does nothing to help you.’
‘Father, having you alive and well, happy and enjoying life is what I hoped for you. So do not trouble your sleep with it. I’m happy to do something to fulfill my filial piety toward you.’
I still looked around the ballroom.
I was so anxious that I couldn’t even appreciate the beautiful preparation of the ballroom. I know the workers work hard on this ballroom but now, only one thing is on my mind.
‘So father, my question? Where is Helia?’
My father looks at me and smile.
‘She is in the balcony on the upper floor waiting for you. She is in love with you, you should know that’
‘I do know father’
I leave the balcony and running wanting to see my Helia
And then I reached the balcony and I see her. And by God she looked godly illuminated by the moonlight.
She wears a red dress, high quality fabric from Renasia with lace trim.
Her gowns were made of the most luxurious silk and materials, the colors are bold like the other noblewoman in the ballroom. She has laces all sewn carefully and beautifully but most of all, her beauty complements the dress.
‘What are you doing here Helia?’
‘Waiting for you Arial’ she said looking at me and gestured at her dress.
‘Well what?’ I said
She smiled ‘it is a custom in balls and especially at a lavish balls like these and to your betrothed to praise your betrothed especially when the said lady have spent many time choosing her dress’
‘You look…just beautiful’
‘ Just Beautiful huh? I guess I should have expected it from you’ she smiles a bitter smile
‘Helia I didn’t mean…’
‘I know. It is you after all. Come closer to me Arial. Come closer and hug me. Let me feel your embrace.’
Slowly I approached her and hug her from behind.
‘Perfect’ she said and I could see a smile is formed in her lips.
‘How is your journey coming here? Is it bad?’
‘It’s not that bad.’
Then a brief silence between us.
‘Hmm. Why do you never let me in the secret?’
‘The secret you have been keeping close to your heart.’
‘I have no secrets’
‘Then why do you always brood. I have never seen you entirely happy. It was like you were waiting for something.’
‘I’m happy with you. ‘
Another silence between us.
‘Sing me a song Arial.’
‘Yes, sing a song for me. I heard my friends told me their lovers sing them song. I want you to sing a love song for me.’
‘Is this your heart desire?’
‘Sing a song and I forgive you for calling me just beautiful’
I grinned and smile and then I sang
In days that has passed,
There lived a beautiful girl,
An unmarried virtuous princess,
She was brave strong and bold with no equal,
One morning while riding around her Isle,
With no guard around,
Armed with her bow and arrows,
She heard the most terrible sound,
Or is it a scream?
The sky darkened an she felt heat on her back,
Her horse frightened and went mad,
And a dragon,
Red as blood swooped and grabbed the virtuous princess,
The princess is now out of sight.
Her father yelled and cried, beats her heart until a great hero came,
He asked A knight?
I am he said
Kill the dragons with your swords,
Return me daughter for a reward,
That you may marry her,
For she is beautiful without equal,
The young hero,
Brave and strong and virtuous too,
Declared the maid will be his,
And the dragon will kneel under his feet.
So with a horse white as snow,
He rode off to rescue her,
He climbed rugged heights,
And he reached a cavern,
Or a cave some say and heard no sounds,
The great Knight called and yelled for the dragon to face him
But only a lady voice came back
“I killed the dragon!” the lady shouts
And she stepped into the sun
The princess dressed in scraps of cloths,
Her hair is burned off and had a muddy face,
But the Knight is in awe,
For she never met such a brave woman.
Can you find me a dragon my lady?
What for young knight?
So, I may kill it and win your hand
The lady chuckled and tells him of the story of Galahad,
The red dragon,
The Knight then promised he will return to the lady after he killed the dragon.
The Knight rode lone into the setting sun
And the princess get out of the cave and wait for her beloved,
The great Levitia to come and carry her away.
And the song is finished. Helia just looked at me in awe
‘My perfect man’ she said and she turned around and kisses me in the cheek. ‘Who would have thought your voice are very pleasant?’
‘Now it’s my turn.’ Helia said
‘Oh, please do’
In days of a Kingdom old there lived a fearsome dragon,
Not the red dragon Galahad,
Nor the black Dragon Garazel,
But a massive creature,
Father and Kings of Dragon,
The King is in great distress,
His people in terrible fear, and the countries spirit are weakened
Until one day came a Knight,
Charming and honourable,
As he seem at first
And he slew the dragon with his sword and a smile that was so disarming and with his friend by his side
Said the King I wish to know your name great hero
But the hero said not to bother to know his name
Tonight in my daughter bed you shall take your leisure
Choose he said of my three Princesses
One daughter had a raven hair, a maiden young and chaste, and naked to the waist waiting for him
The other daughter was fair, fairest in the town
And she too, was naked from her waist down
The other daughter is voluptuous and can tempt any man to want her,
And she too was naked from her waist down.
The Knight spend many hour behind the castle wall
But the ending to my story dear, isn’t what it seems at all.
He slept with all three
For this is the story of the cunning Duvan and her conquest
For he deceived the King,
Winning against the dragon using his sworn brother’s strength and his trickery.
‘Sing no more my fair Helia’ I said trying to hold back my laughter
‘What?’ she said incredulous.
I looked at her
‘Helia, you are beautiful, kind and fair but singing is not your forte’
She realized I’m trying to hold my laughter so she hit me in my chest
‘Can I not jest?’ I said
‘Yes, you can but not of my singing. Why tease me so, my dear lord?
‘Dear lord?’ I was flustered
‘Yes, dear lord’ she said and her cheeks blushed
‘Why the endearments?’ I asked also blushing
‘We will be married some day in two years ‘
‘Yes in two years’
‘Yet we did not have any terms of endearment. I think I should call you dear do you not like it?’
‘On the contrary dear Helia’ and she smiles.
‘I very much like to hear it.’
The music on the lower floor can be heard even at here.
‘Shouldn’t we get down and join the ball?’ Helia ask
‘Yes we should but somehow I felt like we have found the perfect spot and I can’t seem to leave.’ I kept hugging her and she lean on me and we watched the stars.
‘Tell me how much you love me, Arial’
‘What would be the perfect words for my love towards you, sweet Helia’
This is common in courtship. I’m not one that follows noble custom but manners are important.
‘Honest words that came from your sincere and kind heart’
I was in silence for a while then I speak
‘Love me and be in merry. You want a song of love, I will sing it for you, I will live in your heart, die in your lap and be drowned in your eyes for I have never but felt what I felt then when I’m with you.
You and I will marry, we will have children and grandchildren and we will live loving each other. And since you have posed me a question I will pose one for you my dear. Tell me how much you love me’
She smiled at me and grinned.
‘I suffer love for you for I love you against my will.’ She chuckled.
‘Will you die without me?’ I ask
‘I will die of thirst for your love my dear’
‘Then I shall have you, my beautiful but ever so teasing lady who spoke wise words and possess one of the kindest hearts I have ever experience. Fair, virtuous and wise. Fair and this is true, virtuous and I have seen no prove of otherwise.
And wise for choosing me.’ I said joking and she noticed it too and she laughed, the sound of her laughter makes me want to dance.
‘And I shall have you, for no other man shall compare to my young and handsome prince. Who accept my tender love, for I fear that day you will scorn my feeling and who have given me so much joy since the day you accept my desperate love for you. And such passionate love you spoke, why it must be requited!’
‘Yes, of course, it must’ I said.
In the ballroom they are dancing but here we are dancing too. Courtship is very important and considering Helia is a noble daughter she surely has been courted before. I will play along with her.
‘Who would have been so blind to reject you, sweet Helia?’
‘That is true’ and she smile a mischievous smile
‘Enough words’ I said. And I kissed her and she received it and come to me. Slowly we hugged tighter and our kissing becomes furious.
‘Ehem,’ I heard a voice from my behind. Quickly I turned around
‘L..isa yes….alright this is awkward’
‘Well, it surely is’ Lisa said
‘Your mother said to bring you to the ball but I guess you are preoccupied’
I look at Helia and Lisa alternating glances.
‘Well, tell my mother I am quite busy handling a very feisty young lady.’
And Helia chuckled
Lisa just smiles though I noticed a tint of bitterness.
‘Will do Arial’ and she quickly disappeared from the balcony
Will you resume your handling of the feisty lady’ Helia said challenging
‘Why yes. I will’
That night will be one of the nights that I will forever remember in my life.
Such happiness, such inebriation of joy I never thought possible.
It was a great night though but next week I am faced with horrible news.