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Chapter 71-80: KISSES OF LOVE
Date Published: July 31st, 2015
CHAPTER 71: KISSES OF LOVE
He opens his eyes. He tried to sleep but his heart is beating furiously. He is worrying about a lot of thing, and sleep doesn’t come easy for him.
He noticed that his sleep come harder each year that passed.
HE couldn’t sleep.
He could not sleep, not tonight. He tried to. He struggle on his bed trying to find that sweet spot but he can’t.
He looks at the ceiling. He looked at his surroundings. His bedroom is furnished and clean.
On the walls were painting, valuable paintings by many artist that came under the patronage of his family, some tapestry by her mother showing him in battle.
There is also some tapestry by Lisa, a talented girl that is not only talented in battle but also in other womanly aspect.
He is rarely in the castle. The beginning of his life has been fill with training in the Knight Academy.
Then the war. And the battles. And the intrigue and plot directed at his family.
His mind somehow flashback to certain moments in his life. The Henry plot against his family, the Bloody Feast, the war, the day he was speared by Alderam, the day he won.
A lot has happened. A lot has change.
And now it seems another war looms ahead. He looks again at the tapestry that his mother made or him, the care she must have exercised in making it.
He had become unaccustomed to these little touches. Personal touches of love and care. He used to hugged her mother and kiss her cheeks.
But rarely now he had the opportunity to do that.
With, his mother is sometimes busy than him, attending to the other nobles and her correspondence with the King and not to mention raising Arianna, she is busy.
He smiles a little.
He sighed. He is conflicted. All these emotion welled up in him and he doesn’t know what to do. He has long…..forgotten how to live.
He did not live before. He survived. But he did not live.
There is a difference between living and surviving and he knows that better than anyone. Arial is plagued with worries and unease.
What should he do now? Is this his mistake? Is this his fault? He seems to be thinking
He could not be sure that this isn’t his fault.
If it is doesn’t this mean that he has doomed everyone? No he shakes his head defiantly. This time it’s different.
The human continent has him now. Something HAS changed he said to himself, willing himself to believe it. Yes, the continent has him now.
And he has turned the region now a state by its own right powerful. The first great city in the continent, unmatched by any other city.
Common Tongue with slight variation is spoken here. Arial have a thought to create the state own language, but he had to delay that for now.
Knowledge from all over the world is here. Silas, his vassal is a great thinker and Arial daresay one of the greatest of this time, a polymath, interested in many fields.
Even Arial himself has delved himself in his spare times to gain better understanding in this area called science a forgotten art by the First Generation and has found itself in revival under the Vermont’s.
The school established all around the region all is encouraged by the policy of his family towards better understanding the world.
It started with the Disc. Arial have corresponded letters with the man called Michael under her mother employs and he has suggested many good things in which Arial quickly employed.
Lisa also hearing Arial is very enthusiastic about the matter of reviving the art, began learning to wrote music and studying geography.
Arial on the other hand started learning astronomy, and he also began creating many inventions many of it is a failure but he is satisfied.
HE also because of his own illness started learning medicine from a famed scholar from Asteros, Dioscorides.
Arial greatly admired the Asterosi skills in medicine. He also taught Arial of the dangers of mosquitoes in an urban life and Arial has done preventative measure to avoid plague to ever enter his city.
The guard at the walls are also loyal to the state and his family. Then the cold wind breezes by. And his limbs feels like a thousand needles is stick onto him.
He tries to walk it off.
He stands up and each step is a perilous task. Night wind burns him.
‘Everything hurt now’ he said gritting his teeth.
‘Every damn thing’
He wince to exit his room wearing a clothes made by a Bear fur. A fur clothes that he has bought to shelter himself from the coldness.
He put it around his body, shivering and he regulates his breathing and the cold recedes for a while.
‘I need to walk this off’ he said to himself as his steps becomes more resolute. He begins exploring the castle.
He took a lantern with him. He could use internal energy to see in the dark but better not aggravate his condition he mused.
He then hear some singing
‘And the Princess,
Until finally her Knight in the shining armour came’ the song can be heard by Arial.
He then approached the balcony because he recognized that voice anywhere.
‘Helia?’ he asked.
The girl turns her face to him and smile at him.
She was wearing a long white trailing gown and she looked like a goddess Arial thought. Her face and her hazel eyes are beautiful like always.
‘What are you doing here?’ He asked.
‘Enjoying the night stars’ she said wistfully. She looks at the night sky, and she looked peaceful and beautiful all at the same time.
‘May I join you?’ he said. She just nodded. Arial looked at her and he could not help but have his worry disappear for a while.
He is now a Prince and many of his advisors have advised him to marry fast. It is not because they fear that he would be alone, for everyone knows he is betrothed to Helia, but mostly because it is political.
Althea family guarded the most area in the south, and also occupied many land there, thanks to their assistance to Vermont family during the trial and their help during the War of Succession and has many influences there.
This I know. Their ancestral home is there and Helve is a compassionate ruler there which is why I took Helia hand gladly. It is fortunate that I also love her.
But his advisor worries are about something else. It is not betrothals they are worrying about.
Until he has an heir, his council will not stop worrying about him, and unsettled in respect to the succession if he died.
Even now the only thing that stops from any nobles claiming this land is because of our family influence. Of course if they ever press such a claim they know themselves that their claim is invalid.
Before the Vermont, only the Alan has authority over this land in such a forest filled only with villages.
But Arial knows in the castle of the King, various nobles are perpetually plotting to put themselves in the good graces of the King.
Silas has reported to Arial but thankfully the King remains steadfast to his conviction. It was obvious to Arial and his council that a great part of the cause of this restless people vying his place will be removed if he had an offspring.
It became therefore, an important matter of stat policy that he should be married and produce an offspring as fast as possible.
In fact many of the friendly nobles, Lord Summersill, Lord Paris, urged this measure upon him, on the accounts which they perceived it would have in settling the minds of the people of the state and consolidating his power in the East and South.
It is to that measure, that all things forgotten that night as Arial look at his beautiful and lovable Princess.
Arial approached Helia and hugged her gently from the back.
Helia blushes a little but she did not resist. Arial hand is at her hips and Helia traced her fingers playfully at Arial arms. Arial grab that fingers and rubbed it with his hands. Helia giggle a little.
She leaned on Arial chest, gazing at the stars.
‘Look at the city’ Arial said.
‘Hmmm’ she nodded.
In front of them the city is still alive, with lights lighting up the streets. People still trading and sounds of people selling wares and people visiting the city can still be heard if they went down.
‘City of lights’ Helia muttered. Arial smile. The wind breeze through them and Helia shivered.
‘Cold? ‘Arial asked and he hugged tighter. Helia smiles.
Arial don’t know what struck him. Was it the atmosphere? Was it the cold? Or was it just because of Helia?
He turns Helia to face him suddenly. Her gaze slid to the side, abashed and flustered. He pulled her against his chest.
His nose tickled her ear. She let out a tiny gasp. Arial closed his lips softly to her slender neck.
He noticed the dragon pendant he bought her a long time ago when Arial stay in the castle or a while. He wanted to tease her and Helia is blushing red, her face heated.
He then lean closer to her ear. “I love you” he tells her. “I love you” and then he kisses her right at her lips.
And Helia is shocked. Because for the first time, she truly felt Arial care for her. She knows he loves her, but she didn’t really let herself believe that Arial really care for her the way she care for him.
But she could feel it in this kiss. Then Arial broke the kiss, their breath mingling.
‘I…thought you didn’t care’ Helia said, a slip of word. Arial look at her like he can’t believe what she just said.
‘I do care. I care’ he said in a trembling voice.
“Even if I am distant at times, and I know I’m guilty of this, and seem as if I do not want to be with you, it is only because this scares me, too.” He said, honestly from his heart.
He always fears what would happen. Sometimes knowing the future can be a curse. Helia look Arial like she sees him for the first time.
Maybe because of the pain. Maybe because of the impending war Arial couldn’t help but say everything he has store inside his heart. Honest and vulnerable for the first time.
He too looked at Helia again and he kissed her again for all the lost kisses. HE cups her face in his hands and kisses Helia so deeply that both of them don’t know who is breathing for whom. Helia thought to herself
“His mouth and tongue taste like sweet wine. Addicting and irresistible. I don't know how long it lasts, but when I let go of him, I miss it already.”
‘A thousand kisses will not be enough’ Arial said under his breath.
“ Hmm” she said gasping for air.
‘With you…’he said ‘it will never be enough.’ Helia is flustered.
Arial is rarely like this. And then like he is embarrassed at himself, he tries to turn away to hide his face but Helia grab Arial hand and force him to look at her.
‘I want to see you Arial. I wanted to see your face, caress my hand in your cheek and see your eyes when I awoke from my sleep.’ she confesses.
‘I wanted to kiss you when I see you, hug you and hold your hands in the streets. But I always thought you care about your reputation as a lord, so I dare not approach you in public decorum. I distance myself and only approached you when we both are alone. But….kissing you’ and she looked at Arial lips ‘the kiss you gave me show me something.’
‘What?’ Arial said his embarrassment turns to curiosity.
‘I was wrong. By Light, I was wrong. I should have kissed you, hug you, hold your hand in the street.’ Arial smile and he said
‘By Light, me too.’
And then holding hands that night they embrace each other, and kissed each other with fiery passion.
‘Come to my bed’ Arial said, his eyes hungry like a feral wolf.
‘You said- ‘She asked.
‘In front of you, I forget any promises, any oaths. And I know it’s not like me but with you….I felt free.’
She smiles mischievously.
‘My dear lord, lead on’ she said. Arial smiles a wide smile with a hint of mischievousness. It’s not like him but that night Arial has never seen Helia more beautiful, and that moment seared in his memories.
And Arial carry her in his arm bringing her to his room.
And that night they make love as they share their souls and bare their worries and cast away their fears, Arial praying for a better future, Helia praying for more days of happiness.
But Arial has a hero’s fate only he doesn’t realize it yet.
He is destined to suffer hardship and only if he endures it, can he find his happy ending. But that is for another time
CHAPTER 72: THE PROVOCATION
The morning sun enters his room. He rubbed his eyes slowly and he could smell her fragrance. He opens his eyes and felt happiness.
An indescribable happiness.
‘It’s not a dream’ he said.
Beside him is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. Just lying there, looking absolutely gorgeous, beautiful and innocent.
“A Goddess” he muttered to himself.He traces his hand on her cheeks and smile at himself.Her naked body is hid by the fur blanket.
The morning air is refreshing and promising new beginning. He should get up now he said to himself. But he can’t.
He was entranced at the beauty of this creature in front of him now. So entrancing, so beautiful he wanted to lay down all morning just staring at her.
She was sleeping peacefully, her cheeks are rosy. There is the smell of their lovemaking last night but that doesn’t bother him. That doesn’t bother him at all.
‘She is mine’ he says as he is hers.
Her hair is …..Perfect. His hand stroke her hair, feeling it tracing his finger.
Even after all that, she looks perfect. He could marvel at her all day, speak of her beauty, sing her virtues and he doubt he could describe how beautiful she look in that moments, so perfect he wanted to remember it forever.
‘This is what life is’ he said to himself.
To capture this moment, this once in a lifetime moment, when it shows itself and never letting it go, searing it to you memory, making the ordinary day extraordinary, filling it with this kind of memories.
‘How could her hair still look perfect?’ he asked himself.
And that is when he promised himself. Through the wrinkles of time, through the mask of years, he will always see the face he loved and won.
HE will grow old together with her, have children with her and one day they will live full with love like his parents singing love song, argue, and making up and taking a stroll in the beach with their children.
‘She told me’ Arial muttered.
Arial remembered when Helia told him stories about when she was a child where her parents will always brought them to the beach during the summers.
She said it is one of her happy memories. One of the many stories she told him, and whther by accident, he remembered every single detail.
Maybe…he wondered….maybe he was attracted to her a long time ago too.
He stared at her and holds her hand, knowing that he can hold hers, that feeling of knowing, that if he wanted to he could hold her hand, that freedom, just staring at her face, wondering, and marveling how he could be so lucky to have her by her side. And suddenly jealousy welled in his heart.
In the original timeline did she ever married anyone else? Did she love any other man? Then he shakes his head.
This is ridiculous he said to himself. It has not happened, or to be precise in this timeline it didn’t happen. She is his.
“I could stare her face all day long and I will not get bored” he said smiling a happy smile.
She then holds his hand. HE could feel her.
‘Still staring?’ she said still not opening her eyes.
‘I could stare you all day’ Arial reply.
She opens her eyes slowly and then she closes the distance between her and Arial.
‘My prince’ she said, her face is radiant and shiny, her smile traces around his lips and love marks mark her neck.
‘My princess’ Arial said.
And she giggles. Arial kissed her forehead, more like peck.
‘Suddenly you are meek?’ Helia said surprised.
‘There are times to be daring dear’ Arial said.
‘Like last night’ she said and she laughs. Arial doesn’t like being teased so much so he closed his lips to her and said
‘Yes, like last night.’
His lip is so close to Helia that Helia suddenly to surprise at the sudden attack is at loss for words. Arial let the moment hangs.
He just looks at Helia as she unconsciously gulped.
‘You’re going to kiss me’ she asked.
Arial grinned. ‘I’m working up the nerve’ he said playfully.
‘You-‘ Then he is kissing her.
She yelped surprised and she is smiling. It is paradise for them. During their kiss, he said it again, those words, which sound like song, whisper into her ears
“I love you’ he said
‘I love you back’ she said.
Tears of joy fall down her eyes. She could feel his kisses, the feeling of his muscly body against hers, his breath against hers, and the touch of his hand on her flesh.
She could feel every single thing and she likes it. Then Helia broke the kiss.
‘What? Is it bad?’ Arial asked.
‘Your mother. Will she come here?’
‘No she is in the mansion.’ Arial said confused and he hugged Helia back.
‘I better get out’ Helia said.
‘Words’ she said ‘are mightier than sword.’
Helia doesn’t want rumours that they have make love with each other outside of marriage.
Arial may not care, but his relation with the Church may suffer, and no matter how approving Helia father on the marriage Helia don’t think his father would like hearing that before marriage that they got together.
He wouldn’t like that at all.
She quickly wears her gown, a fur clothes from one of Arial wardrobes and approached the dazed Arial still lounging around on his bed.
‘Kiss me goodbye’ she said.
Arial look at her and said
‘I didn't want to kiss you goodbye — that was the trouble — I wanted to kiss you good night — and there's a lot of difference.’
In any other day this would make Helia happy but she fear about Arial reputation more. She gives him a peck on the cheek
“Meet me tonight at our balcony” she said and she rushed off the room.
Arial look confused at the whole scenario.
‘Just my luck’ he said smiling and then he prepared himself for the dull affair which is his job as lord of the castle.
After he has clothed himself, he went out of his room and walk to the council. Every morning unless there is an emergency he will check himself at the council chamber.
Mostly his council would be in the chamber discussing everything about measures that can be undertaken to enrich the region, or certain news that he needs to hear but sometimes according to his whim he can check the council authorities.
After all, left unchecked who knows what they will do?
He heard Massey drinking problem but at least he is a functional drunkard, Arial mused. Oliver told him in one of their wine tasting session, where mostly they talk about each other and more about them then the wine.
Arial did see some of the behavior display in one of the mock battle the military is obligated to do.
He was instilling confidence in his men while keeping a flask of ale of his own close by. He even toasted at their enemies but when his toast were interrupted, when Oliver at that time leading the opposition got annoyed and released dull arrow at them.
He then yelled
“That was ungenerous. I’ll take every single arrow you have!” he said and then his army hearing this yelled mistakes his outburst as a charging rally.
They stormed up Oliver troops with the seething Massey himself on the fornt, and while Oliver is a learned man in the art of diplomacy, he is not well versed in warfare and seeing this unreasonable anger from what Oliver describe as a prank, he fled in panic.
Well anyone would run when they see how crazed Massey look at that time with bloodshot eyes and with real sword he is waving around when even his own troops only used wooden swords.
On the way of the pursuit, Massey seem to forget that he was in a mock battle and he was in fact the only one in the battlefield still chasing the frightened Oliver until he realized it, or probably sobered up.
Probably he also runs out of ale by that time and finally realizes what he has done. But still, that quirk aside, he is a smart leader of military.
Then he finally reached the Council. He opens the door and every single eye in the chamber is directed at him.
Their chatter stopped as they look.
‘My lord’ they said in unison. Arial just nodded as he takes his place at the end of the table. Every single of his vassal is standing waiting him to take his place.
Actually there is something he needs to do today that is why he wants to come to the chamber. Arial has been thinking to share the news with his council.
When everybody is seated Arial relayed them the news.
Shock and fear can be seen in their eyes. Oliver on the other hand is very calm, one of his asset and why I chose him to be in the Council.
‘What do you think of this Oliver?’ He asked his spymaster for guidance.
“Hmmm” he said contemplating his answer and after a while he voices his opinion
“We must send a formal letter to the Empire asking them to release the Princess or we will be facing a great interstate calamity here. If the army of the dark lands reaches here then surely calamity will befall our region considering our proximity with the Blessed Lands.’
‘True’ Arial said, nodding and he understand the grave situation they are facing right now. But no one understands it better than him.
The Invasion of the Human race, here, in the Human Continent. If the Demon King believes that his fiancé really is killed maybe the same tragedy will happen again.
But if I can somehow convince him that his bride is safe and I can deliver her to safety then maybe the invasion would never happen.
‘But can all of you risk war with Vern?’ He posed his own question to his council.
They fell silent. This is a matter of great importance. Can they really risk a war with an Empire as long as millennia?
‘Massey what is your opinion?’ Massey looked at his lord and utters his words carefully.
‘My lord, our army is without a doubt is the strongest, ehem’ he coughed ‘but forgives me for saying this, but Vern is bigger than us.’
‘And is more divided than us’ Oliver said. Then quickly he takes the chance to present his opinion.
‘My lord’ Oliver said
‘It is better to risk war with Vern then war with the demons that inhabits the dark lands. We do not know their capabilities, or how many they can muster troops.
It is unwise to fight an enemy with so little information. Vern right now is in precarious position, rebellions from the Blood Brotherhood, Austen plotting and many other myriad of problems.
And if we could strike a diplomatic agreement with the Dark Lands than it is better because we can ask their armies to fight with us side by side. If my lord information about the kidnapping of the Princess is true, then we could use that to rally the Demon King support to us.’ Arial nodded.
It is smart solution.
He will not lose anything and at the same thing he can stop the invasion. But can he really do it? Won’t some divine punishment will befall him?
How many things have since change since the beginning of this quest of him? How many people he has saved? How many people has he killed?
If the theory holds that any change even a ripple in a pool lake could disrupt a time continuum, then he has trampled over all the rules.
He denied it. Surely not.
‘Then what is your suggestion, Oliver?’
‘The Church.’ Massey said eager to give some suggestion. ‘We can ask the Church to help us.’
Oliver shakes his head, while rolling his eyes at Massey. Massey looked miffed with that.
‘The Church may have an amiable relation with us but even they will not try to rescue a dark Land Princess. You know how the Church is.’ He said looking at Massey.
‘He is right’ Arial nodded.
‘Then, I guess I just have to send a letter to the Emperor.’ Arial said and the other vassal nodded.
‘Oliver.’ He said
‘Yes my lord.’
‘Try to find out if the Dark armies have begun marching. Send some spies to the Blessed Lands. And….find some of these Blood Brotherhood followers and see if they can be persuaded.’
‘What are you thinking my lord?’
‘I’m thinking to support them with gold…if the Emperor is stubborn.’ Oliver nodded.
‘Other news?’ Arial asked.
‘How about Edward affair?’ Arial asked.
‘The Church has agreed to help’ Massey said. ‘They have sent their decree to the Orleans’
‘And their response?’
‘Their council is disbanded’ Massey quickly handed Arial the reports. Jean is dead. Harald is the new lord of Arleans. That is what the documents tell Arial.
‘Hmm’ Arial said. ‘Will they retaliate?’ Arial said.
‘Unlikely’ Massey said.
‘Defense on the South? ‘Arial inquire.
‘Top shape, my lord. Lord Helve has strengthened their forts and I have sent about 5000 troops to add to the forces there.’ Arial nodded.
‘Great job Massey.’
‘Thank you my lord.’ Maybe he should meet Edward and tell him this good news.
Arial believed that Edward is treating him like a brother and he too treated Edward like brother. He sympathizes with Edward fate and will help try to help him.
‘The Renasian movement?’ Arial asked.
‘They are advancing to other states.’ Massey quickly answered
What is their objective? Arial asked himself. It never happens before.
The Princess never did engage in this annexing of state before, he thought to himself as he reads the reports.
But it amazes Arial that the Princess is smarter and wiser than he ever expected. She left the local ruling families intact.
This shows she is not planning to just rape the cities she conquered but rule it under her rule. Something like I would do. He mused
Consolidating power. After reading all the reports he wanted to excuse himself
Then he wrote the letter to the Emperor and wait for Oliver reports.
He then excuses himself from their meeting. Arial walk to the courtyard where he sees Helia is speaking with his mother.
‘Mother’ Arial said approaching the Duchess.
‘Dear’ she said to Arial
‘Prince’ Helia said and he blush red like the Corian wine.
The Duchess glances between Arial and Helia. “Did something happen?” she asked.
‘Nothing happen’ Arial said still blushing.
‘Nothing happens, my lady’ Helia said to the duchess. Her cheeks are blushing, rosy red.
‘Mother why did you come here? Is there something wrong at the mansion?’ Arial asked.
‘No, nothing is wrong. I just wanted to come and look at my son. Your father also long for you. He wanted to meet you.’
Arial just nodded.
‘Adrianna?’ Arial ask.
‘She is fine.’
‘She is cute’ Arial said, remembering the last time she visit her little sister in the mansion. Everything she did looks cute to Arial.
‘And a crybaby’ his mother said.
‘Unlike you. I think we never quite appreciate how easy it was to raise you his mother said. Maybe you have the Blood of light in you after all.’
‘Mother don’t jest like that. You’re the one who always say that I’m not divine.’
‘In times of great chaos and war, a step toward divinity isn’t that hard, son.’ She giggled.
‘2 years old’ Arial said suddenly, trying to change the subject
‘Adrianna?’ his mother said.
‘Yes. 2 years old’.
‘Maybe I should visit her more often else she will not know her brother.’
‘Maybe you should.’
After that they talked about other things and laugh until the evening.
That night Arial and HElia met again in their balcony and sings love song while Arial listen, and sometimes teasing her and at the end of the night he would take her and cradle her to his bed as they love each other until morning.
The winter has come. The winter cold has come to the castle and people outside holed inside their home, with their family.
The cold sets in. The snow has fallen and envelope the courtyard. And today news has come from the Empire which alarms the entire council.
The moment the messenger informs that he has received the letter, the whole castle is abuzz.
Arial has preside the council all his council member is present. Only the Ecclesiastical is not here.
They are sensitive about the Demons not to mention because of the matter of their faith. And mostly they irritate Arial, always preaching to him.
‘Give me the letter.’ Arial said. Quickly the messenger handed him the letter.
The letter is seal with a griffin holding a scepter.
TO: LORD ARIAL, PRINCE OF ARRANDY, DUKE, COUNT OF ACRO, AND BARON OF DANOBA.
FROM: EMPEROR GEORGE, FIFTH OF HIS NAME, RULER OF THE EMPIRE.
YOU DARE DEMAND OF ME! Come and I will kill your army before they even reach my land. I guaranteed it.
If you dare take what is mine, I will kill every single one of your family and I will take your head and put it up in a pike.
I will rain your state with arrows. I will come to your state and pillage it’s cities and rape its inhabitants I-
And Arial throw the letter to the brazier. His face is red with anger. ‘The arrogance of the Emperor.’ Arial has written politely in his last letter.
To think it will be received and reply in such lack of civility angers Arial. His vassal seeing this trembled. The dragon is angry.
‘BRING me something to write with’ he yelled and Oliver in his fear dropped his bag. He quickly brings a paper for his lord to write. Quickly Arial write
TO: EMPEROR GEORGE, FIFTH OF HIS NAME, RULER OF VERN.
FROM: THE DRAGON
It is you that don’t know your position. I will give you a few guarantees of my own.
I guarantee that even if you came here, even if you win, even if my cold, dead body is lying on the field, you will rue the day you ever set foot in my state. For every inch you advance I'll exact gallons of your people blood. Your Empire will be washed in blood and fire.
I guarantee that there will be not one family of the Imperial descent will be alive the day you decided to invade us.
They will mourn and they will weep and cried their hearts out seeing the blood that I will spill if you dare marches against me.
I guarantee that even if you are triumphant the fruits of victory will taste like dust in your mouth, tasteless and bitter, rotten.
I guarantee that if you fail to kill me the day you march here, you will meet me again. You will meet me at every city, town, village, and hamlet.
You will meet me on every crossroad, on every hill. I will fight you with every sword at my command, with every arrow, with every dagger.
I will fight you with pitchforks. I will fight you with the very rocks of the land you try to conquer.
And in the end I will prevail and your throne will be nothing but ash, your palace will turn to rubble of stones, your descendants will be no longer.
So, I dare you. Come and I will show you fire of the dragons. Because I tell you this. The Dragon is coming.
And with that he gives the letter to Oliver and tells him to send it to the Emperor. Under his breath he muttered, ‘The Emperor doesn’t know the repercussion of his action.’
If he have to war against the Empire he will.
Better than fighting the Invasion horde.
Oliver seeing his lord so enraged doesn’t dare say anything. The whole castle tiptoe around the lord that day, fearing he would lose his temper.
Actually Arial is very lenient to his people, but because of his widespread reputation, people always seem to fear he would get angry.
That day they all waited in anticipation whether the provocation will be retaliated through force of arms.
CHAPTER 73: HOLY LAND ENCOUNTER
The sand blows with the help of the wind, but luckily the veil on his face prevent the sand from entering his eyes. He still remembered it vividly.
He was in the front with Elkar leading, while behind him was the 8 Kings. The sky at the time was blue, calm and serene.
Looking to the horizon, as he glance at the back of his armies, reveals a wall of brown air stretching up high.
At that time he knows this instinctively that is not a smoke.
A dust storm.
It was his first time seeing a dust storm. The Negevian tribe that lives at the desert knows how to hide from this particular natural occurrence but for the Arakathian, it is something new for us.
It is like a 4 story building rushing to us.
‘RUN!’ I yelled as the armies behind scattered, the cavalry sprints trampling the infantry running from this storm.
Azrael use his hand to protect his face and eyes from the sand. Seeing the storm gaining on his army and him, he cast magic to protect Elkar and sprint while the other 8 Kings followed.
The Fairies use magic, so does the Elf, the Kobolds skilled horseman overtakes the other Kings and ride in front.
The Orcs on the other hand use their stamina and strength to try to endure this storm. The sky turns to a brown dusk and anyone that is unfortunate enough, get swallowed by the storm.
The breathing of the armies becomes labored with the dirty air attacking their lungs. How many of his army screamed for help.
The rear division got swallowed up, engulfed in the dust clouds. After half an hour the worst of the dust pass.
About 7568 troops died, their bodies lost in the desert , the air remain choked with dust and hazy.
For that day, we tasted dust all day. The Elves is lucky in that they can cast magic and creating a protective barrier among themselves.
For the Dwarves their eyes sting and water, while the fairies giggling at the Dwarves appearance.
The Orcs face which in any normal days is scary enough, but after the sand storm the grimy streaks on their faces only add to the ferocity of their face.
I need to bath after this he said to himself. The coating of the dry grit cover his clothes, skins and fill the nose.
For some there is nothing odd with the occurrence but for him it was like the universe is hinting on him of something sinister.
He could not shake that feeling.
They are approaching the Holy City but just before they enter they are attacked with sand storm? Dread fills him.
Thankfully they found shelter in one of the caves in a low hill nearby or else they will lose a lot more soldiers during the sandstorm.After the sand storm subsided they continued their journey
And now…a few days after that.
They have arrived at the Blessed Land for a couple of days now. Holy City of Aralam. One of the Holy City in this small island.
‘The Blessed Land’ he marvel, forgetting the arduous journey that they have undertaken to reach here
The cruel sun beat down, it's one malevolent eye unblinking from the heavens, torturing him with its fiery heat.
‘Hot’ he said while taking another gulp from the flask.
He is sweating all over his body. He is sweating because of the heat. The sand is hot, and he reckons that it can roast eggs.
There are hardly any shades large enough for this massive armies to take shelter so they built tent but no tent is higher than The God Hill near Dome of Salvation.
He is strolling outside looking at the Holy City Aralam. Each of his steps into the sand stunk into the searing sand. The air is thick and hazy, each breath is laborious.
The uniqueness of the Holy Land is that it is geo-theological. There is no land here that is fertile for agriculture other than near the Eternal Well.
Even the land is not that large.
There is no strategic value other than it connects to the Human Continents and that it was the place of administration for the First Generation in the past.
To many, this is the land which faces the entrance of the spiritual world, that sphere of existence that lies beyond the physical world known to us through our senses.
This is the key to the land's unique status with regard to prophecy and prayer. It is also forbidden to spill blood here for whatever reason.
Even Levitia spare demon blood during his rest here. And he is known to be merciless against demons. Of course his act was well received in that time
It was a different time. Even the scholars in the Capital despise the acts of the Demon Lord back then. Fortunately the Treaty was sign or maybe in this era, it is the demon race, that is enslaved by humanity.
This is also where he signs the Treaty with the Demon Lords. Thus the importance it holds among the heart of many, both humans and demon.
Azrael keeps walking, marveling the city while complaining about the heat in his mind.
There is maze of mud houses, and stalls crowded the market place and dark-skinned children play. Mostly escape slaves.
Ariundus is heavily reliant on their slave trade, which they sell to Vorthy and Asteros but not to Davarus and Arakath.
The Treaty in Aralam states that no child of Arakath or Davarus can enslave one or the other, buy slaves or engage in the trade that involves selling anything that has a soul to another.
It also states that if they were captured and brought to become a slave, then it is their highest obligation to release himself or herself from the chains that bind them.
Of course that doesn’t mean it is follow very strictly after more than 900 years. For example Principality of Freya, a nation which engages in slave trade, with the other continent.
They are frowned upon by the Church but they can’t do anything considering they have a large slave army and their trade is more bountiful then Acro or any other trader’s family.
After all the slave trade is profitable.
However there is a few laws that need to be observed here, a Holy Law, that help escape slaves to thrive as a community here.
The provision, word of God, that states no soul will spill blood in the Holy Land serve escaped slave very fondly.
The former slaves greet him with dazzling smiles, hoping the disguised King will buy their wares. They tried to persuade Azrael but Azrael turn them down gracefully. Their stalls are covered with magnificently bright cloth.
They sell browned fish, hard bread, shimmering jewels, shining metals, crisp, pristine linen, and juicy figs.
A dancer, veil in her face, dressed in a gauzy white tunic, twirls in the streets and the crowd tosses golden coins to her. Azrael toss a few coins, hoping that the dancer could buy a few bread for her to eat.
‘Life’ he said, pondering the meaning.
This is also the city where Levitia is bind before he was stabbed with Redflash, an Enochian steel now disappeared.
No one knows who it belongs to.
What is known is that he was stabbed by that steel and died, his body disappeared and the Church of Light hails him as the Blood of Light, which meant God has sent him as a Saviour for the Human Race and people flocked to convert to Lucellian faith.
Azrael could see the caravans filled with people.
The caravans of pilgrims fill the blessed Land. They were all praying around the God Hill chanting Hymms.
Former slaves, rich, poor, all equal here. Then he returns to his realities. He sighed contemplating his situation.
He has tried to persuade the other races to abandon this endeavor but they insist on fighting. War and killing.
Blood and sacrifice.
He knows what that brings. He never fought in a war but he knows that it is nothing good. He loves his Arianna but he also knows that war isn’t the answer.
He has summoned each of the Kings to his tent in the Blessed Land; none have any intention of going back.
The Orc King, the Faeries King, Oberon, The Elder Council Alyn Shirr, Merman representatives Dorr Vine, One Giant from the many tribes of the giants, Slathor son of Balthor, the King of Giants of the Arathor tribe.
The merman could not offer their armies but they supply the elves with precious herb only they have.
‘Lord Mila’ he sighed again, a deep and long sigh. Mila is his father in law, not yet but he will be. Because of that the problem he faces now is quite complicated.
The war is supported by both faction and even his father in law is supporting this war. He is angry.
He believed that Arianna is killed.
Blinded by his emotion and his thirst for revenge, he encouraged his banner man and the other noble families. But somehow Azrael feel something is out of place here.
But he also wondered maybe he don’t want to believe the story. He believes that Arianna is not killed.
Maybe she is hidden, kidnapped or something along that line. He could…don’t know what he would do, if Arianna is killed.
‘I don’t.’ he muttered under his breath, willing himself to believe it
I know there is some sinister force in my castle that tries to create this war. For what purpose I don’t know. He mused
But one thing is certain, that Aleister Crow one of the Heavenly Noble Protector is one of them. This Azrael have no doubt.
He has always been the proponent to destroy the Human Race and every time he will end his speech with ‘Davarus must be destroyed under our foot’
The Heavenly Noble Protector includes House Devonhurst , House Crow, House Vor, and House Arathorne.
There is no proof but if he found any proof he would execute them under treason. But he also knows that the populace is generally favorable towards the war.
They believe that we can defeat the humans. They are also the matter of hatred between both race, the Human and the Demon Race.
And he never underestimated the stupidity of the mass populace when in a group. It is their special skill of both factions, to incite such stupidity
Their special skill consists in knowing what passions can be most easily aroused, and how to prevent them, when aroused, from being harmful to themself and their associates.
And since, they are divided into rival groups; they aim at similarly dividing the nation, unless they have the good fortune to unite it in war against some other nation.
And here it is an imaginary threat the common folk can rally to. A cause they all can believe and stand behind.
They are easily incited by the selfish and nobles that have their own selfish agenda. I doubt the Faction is really doing this for the land in Davarus.
Arakath when compared to Davarus is smaller in size but still, there are still many lands here.
The Elves, The Fairest Folk, have enough forest, the Kobolds, great horseman have enough grassy plains to ride their horse, the Orcs, The Hardened Blood, have enough land to occupied, caves and caves that is more than enough.
The Fairies, The Fable Creature, has lived in their fabled forest and is not disturbed under the law, the Dwarves live under a complicated series of cave under the ground which makes it very economically suited to save land.
The merman lives in lakes and water and the dragons soar the skies and the people know enough not to go to any are that has their sightings.
And Demon Lords, blood of Angels, have enough power and authority and land that doing this, inciting this war is hardly profitable.
And not to mention risky in every way possible.There is no need for more land and risk for war.
So, clearly now, when all possibilities and their justification for war is examined under scrutiny, Azrael comes under the conclusion that, these two factions, they have other intention, other objective on why they want to wage this war.
That is the question. If he have Mikael, he mused surely Mikael could at least give him some ideas.
Maybe he should summon him. But he doesn’t know where Mikael is right now. And it doesn’t help that Lord Mila kept supporting Aleister.
Lord Mila effort in flaming old wounds and hatred towards the human race can be hear in his speech, can be heard in the barrack, promising, believing that they are doing this to avenge their fallen princess, his fallen princess, Azrael mused.
But unless he saw her cold, dead body in front of his own eyes, he will not make rash judgment, not when all the facts don’t match. There is something afoot here.
Mila is blinded. Any sane man could see that he is hurting by the news and he want to laid waste to the human continent to avenge his daughter. Everyone knows how he love his daughter.
With ferocious love.
After the tragedy that befalls his wife and her cheating that ultimately lead to her death, Arianna is his salvation.
He cared for her because she has the same qualities that his late wife had. Beautiful, graceful. And if he lost her too……
Surely this is not something that Arianna would want me to be doing? She always hated war. Peace is a virtue she once told him.
And then the King, exhausted, walk to return to his private tent, no progress is made today.
I return to my tent that night feeling defeated, exhausted. There is no one in my tent. Some book to keep me company and some dishes to stave off hunger and tomorrow I have to try again.
Try and try and maybe they will listen. If only the factions don’t meddle too much then maybe I can make headway in persuading the other King.
Then suddenly wind rustle around my tent.
There is movement, I concluded. The sound stopped and silence dawns. The silence lingered in the air, thick and heavy.
My eyes try to see.
Sound of slow footsteps, so stealth I almost could not hear it, if I did not concentrate my hearing.
Quickly I unsheathe my dagger and point it at the sound. In the Holy Land you may not kill. But it didn’t said anything about hurting.
‘Who’s there’ I asked.
For a moment there is only silence but I know there is someone out there. Assassins? Spy? I was about to try to capture whoever it is but then a voice startled me
‘I come in peace’ the voice said, he said his voice is calm and the tone reassuring.
‘Let me enter’ he said.
I know I should have been suspicious, should yell for the guards but somehow I let him in.
‘Come inside.’ The man opens the curtains of the tent and I look at him. The man wear a veil around his face, his skin color is white, not a slave, since there is no collar on his neck, and there is a dagger in his hips but he doesn’t seem like he is about to use it.
Elven design I mused
The front and shoulders of the cloak is undoubtedly is elven design. The cloak is black and blue in the inner part of the cloak.
Bold embroidery. It can be ties at his neck and lined in a contrasting color. But he is no elves. That make me believe he stole that cloak.
His hair is black, his eyes are blue and he moved gracefully like a noble.
‘Do you know who I am?’ I said.
‘Demon King’ he said not at all fazed.
‘Who are you?’ I asked.
‘Please Your Grace. I am not the enemy. Let me sit before you interrogate me with question.’ I am surprised with his calmness even when I am pointing a dagger at him.
Feeling stupid I sheathe back the dagger and we sit on the ground.
There is no chair in my tent. This is the Blessed Land, desert, sand and only wells around here that provide water here.
Then he takes off his veil that covers the lower part of his face. His face is considered beautiful but his smile looks like he is hiding secret.
‘Let me introduce myself Your Grace. I am Silas Perigord, one of the vassals of the Vermont. I came here bearing grave and terrible news.’ he said.
I am alarmed by this revelation and he could see it.
‘Ouch, your grace. Don’t look at me like that. I came here with great pains, hiding from your army, and mind you that is no easy task, stealthily enter your camp and sneak myself around your tent. It is not easy, difficult and harrowing experiences for a diplomat like me.’
‘Why do you come here?’ I said my tone slightly hard.
He then got up, took one of the goblet in the tent, pour some water and sit back down on the cushion, gulping the water while his eyes dart all over the tent.
And for a while the sound in the tent is only the sound of him gulping the water, slowly but calmly. It was like he makes himself quite at home.
‘First, I have a story to tell you. Your Grace.’
‘Yes a story. My lord, amiable and good he is, relay to me this story and he told me to tell it to you and ponder his meaning’ His line of explanation baffles me.
‘Can I tell you the story?’ he said. I nodded.
‘Ehem’ he coughed a little bit.
‘Long ago, as many story began’ he began his story
‘There is this one King. A wise, strong and lovable King. The common folk worship the ground he walked, the nobles would follow him to any battles as this story will attest.
One day he met a woman and it was love at first sight for both of them. The girl is beautiful and he was handsome, so he takes her as his bride.
A very beautiful bride, every noble, every bard, every minstrel praise her beauty. The most beautiful woman in the world people called her bride. But as you know Your Grace, beauties life is rarely easy for one da-’
And suddenly I think he is talking about me.
‘You-‘ I said getting up from my seat and pointing my finger at him.
‘Please your grace. Do not interrupt my stories.’ He said calmly at my sudden outburst. I relented and let him continue his story.
“CONTINUE” I said my tone slightly harsh but I became curious of his story
‘One day, when the King is busy in his castle, holding his court like usual, her bride is kidnapped, under the guise of midnight, for the dark beckons. And no one but Night, with tears on her dark face, watches in dark places.”
“But dawn is coming” I reply. After all Darkness Fall is one of the Gospels of the Dark Book.
He just smiles.
“She is kidnapped by a rival noble who is infatuated with the beautiful bride. After all, in old stories rarely beauties are not kidnapped.
The King at first believes his bride is just hiding from him because to enhance his love for her but too much time passed.
The King began to worry about his bride. So he sent some of his spymaster to search for his bride. Then suddenly he was informed by his spymaster that his bride has been killed by the noble.’
I stand up. Did he know I asked myself? I pointed my dagger at his neck.
‘You! Tell me! Do you know something about my fiancé?’ He grinned, no fear in his eyes.
‘I have not finish the story didn’t I, Your Grace? Be calm and let hear the story until its conclusion. It is my task after all to relay you the story until its conclusion.’
There was this intense silence as I decide to lower the dagger. I calm myself and sit myself back down.
‘Fine, continue the story.’
‘He then, in his anger, order that war be declared. He was furious. The one person that gives his life meaning is taken away from him. One can only imagine the pit of despair, the hours and hours, days and weeks of lamentations, the suffering that the noble have inflicted him, the burden of existence weighing on him.
So with all his might, and anger, furious, furious anger, he came to the noble land and burns and pillage, and wreaks vengeance upon his land. Then he pursues the noble’s family, the noble’s people, and the anything the nobles have, he destroyed, he burns, he slaughters. Blood flowed like rivers; land scorched leaving only ashes, cities turns to desert as he plowed his way to satisfy his anger.
Until one day, he stops.
And he looks on the wreckage on his wake. It is now he who kills. It is he who gives suffering. And he looks himself in the mirror and he can no longer see the man he used to be.
Vengeance changed him. The killings make a mark upon his soul. And whether he can admit it or not he knows he is not the same that he used to be. He knows he have gone too far to turn back.
‘What are you trying to say?’ I ask him.
‘Ah……..your grace, but the story is not over’. He said.
‘Finish it then’
‘He despair on his current condition but he justify himself now, using his vengeance. “For her” he said. “For her” he convinced himself. Years go by as he conquered every land in the area, killing and pillaging until one day one woman came to his castle.
The wise King, the kind and lovable King, who is no longer wise,and no longer kind and lovable, looks and realizes the woman is his bride. HE found her. But she has lost her husband for she look at the King and all she sees is a monster.
And so ends the story when his bride sees the destruction that her lover has wrought under her name. And the girl died stricken of grief leaving the King alone and sad’
And then he said no more.
‘What is that supposed to mean?’ I said.
‘I don’t know. This is the story my lord say to convey to you.’ Then he gives me a letter.
‘Open it Your Grace’ he ask.
I open it. Only a few words were written
There is someone lying to you. Your fiancé is alive. Ask Silas. He will tell you all you need to know.
I looked at the letter and I look back at Silas. And then I remembered the story. Is that what I would be? What I could be? I asked myself.
Is he conveying this to show me what path could I choose? Then I quickly ask him to tell me what he knows.
“Gladly” he reply. He tells me all that he knows; that my fiancé is being held in Vern that she is still alive.
That the young lord beyond the sea is trying to mediate her return unharmed by the Emperor.
That he would appreciate that if I could help him.
‘A grave mistake is almost levied upon the innocent!’ I exclaimed to myself. I hold my head as I ponder the big news that is relayed unto me. ‘Almost started a war’ I said to myself. Then Silas tell me of the young lord warning and hope.
That he wanted to create a peaceful relation with Arakath and hearing that the action of the Emperor in Vern, he is disgusted by such acts that he would help me, and if need to, exact revenge to the Empire.
But he also informs that no armies of the Demon race will pass the wall without his permission. That if we mount an attack at the wall, he will see it as a declaration of war, and he would retaliate.
He would gather every single King, every single man in the continent he could employ, and employs devastating strategies and I will rue the day that I ever came to Davarus.
‘You can leave. Tell him I would accept the young lord help and I will persuade the other factions and the Kings in my court to return back. Tell him if he need any help, financially or military I would be happy to assist. ’
I said to Silas as I wanted to think about this. It is also safer if I accept the help of the young lord.
He knows the region and he is respected and revered. Maybe he could persuade the Emperor to release her.
Of course, I’m furious at the Emperor but for now Arianna safety takes priority. Who knows if I march to the Human Continent the Emperor would kill Arianna.
I couldn’t risk that. Knowing that her blood is on my hand. One day I will give what the Emperor deserve but for now, I am happy knowing, certainly that she is still alive. And I need to make sure she stay that way.
Silas shakes his head.
‘No your Grace.’ He said. ‘The Vermont’s sent me here to help you.’
‘Help me in what?’
‘Someone is trying to start a war in your administration. This much is clear to me after I spy on your nobles. There is something foul in your court. As long as they exist rift will be created.
Maybe not now. But someday. Years or month from now, even if we successfully save the Princess new issues will be created, issues that inevitably lead humans and demon race to the battlefield of war. We must cut the root of the problem for peace to be everlasting.
My lord, Arial, does not like to go to war, whatever his reputation might suggest. He would like to establish trade relations with the dark lands, a peaceful relation of non-aggression, but he doubt it will ever happen if they are obstacles in your administration.
This is a grave matter for it involves not only your peace but our peace. Someone is trying to start a great war between humanity and the 8 races. And they are highly influential and they may even have spies in your closest circle Your Grace.
And this is a matter of concern for Vermont family who live along the wall. He offers me to help you. If you want to deny this help then I will return and spoke of your intention.
If you believe peace…..peace can be achieved between human and demons, then accept my help. Let me be your eyes and ear.
And I guarantee this. I guarantee that I will catch this rat and I will swallow them like the rats they are’
I stared at him, and he looks at me and he waited. With a whisper, with many thoughts in my head I utter yes.
SIDE STORY: SILAS IN THE HOLY CITY
I have arrived at the famed Holy Land. Just barely survives the storm in Deriachalchis. It is not a bad storm but it could put me in dire straits if my quest is delayed because of the storm.
The Holy City of Aralam.
The reference points for many people and races, even for people with different beliefs.
This is the charm of the Holy Land, contested during the reign of the First Generation and then the Lost Generation and ended only in Levitia time. The Great Savior.
There are Lucellian devotees, Water Maiden, Fire Priest and many other religious people from all over the continent. Even some monk of the Three Teachings could be seen meditating in some of the Temples.
Mostly Lucellian comes here searching for God grace, while people who revere the Three Teachings come here to find enlightenment.
Lucellian devotees come here to pay respect to Levitia last moment here and also because this is where the First Church is built by the First Holiness.
The other races came here mostly because of the history that is attached to this place, while for the Sky People it is because this is where the First Generation fall when they were sent down from the heavens.
I could see people selling wares here from one of the salira, an open inn in the Holy Land. The Holy City of Aralam.
Aralam is a city rooted in ancient history, on the Blessed Land, this simple island that connected both the Human Continent and the Dark Lands.
There is also the bridge created by Levitia that enables pilgrim from the human Continent to come here easily. And another bridge in the Arakath side for his invasion.
Of course now it is used for pilgrimage. The Bridge that was made by Levitia is made not from Enochian steel but something else.
It does not rust like any other metal but it is steady and has remained standing for a thousand year.
It is said it only took him 1 year to complete the building of the bridge with the Help of Three Wise Men from the Sea and Lady of the Lake.
Well, when Levitia created the Bridge I don’t think it was his ambition for the Dark Lands to invade the Human Continent.
It was the contrary.
It was mostly because he is the one who want to invade the Dark Land. The heat attacks my skin and once again I took another gulp of the water.
If only there is calming tea from Vern then maybe his body temperature wouldn’t be this hot.
He called the inn boy again and inquire if he has any tea.
The inn boy informed him that they have Lornian tea from Asteros, so quickly he ordered that and once again siting waiting for his tea while contemplating the journey he have encountered during his journey here.
For this past few days he was travelling with the Negevian tribesmen, were helped by a Ledoiun famers when he was chased by sand bandits.
What amazes Silas the most is the striking mix of people here in the Holy City. Land of diversity, which is almost the same with Acro.
The difference is their economical difference with Acro and the holy status this holy city has achieved.
The land is contented by the Demon race and Human until Levitia create the Treaty which enables all people with any religion, regardless of their race, to pray here, with no harm inflicted upon them.
Even though this city is of religious importance and historical importance, it is not necessary to have an advanced grasp of history to appreciate the magnificence of the region, ancient cities, monasteries, churches, temples, fortresses and many others can be appreciated.
There are many historical places here.
God Hill where it is said that Levitia is bind with iron made of Enochian steel to stop him from escaping.
He sipped his tea again while recounting his crazy adventure.
‘Arial expect too much of me’ he sighed.
He was perfectly happy serving the King.
Great house, great food, great bed and great rivals. Well, the court life may not suit everyone but it suits him perfectly
He knows the plot, the secrets other nobles try to hide and most importantly it was exciting.
He is also trusted by the King and while he did many things to help himself but he also help the King on his way.
After all, while he may wage war against his fellow courtiers but even he knows how to express gratitude.
The Vermont’s save his family life, the King trust him. Everything was going great until Arial summoned him and say that he need to go to the Holy Land to establish contact.
‘Haaah’he sighed again.
Silas looked at the Holy City and remember the things he learned from the book in the Private Library of his Lord.
Even though Aralam is the Holy city it is not the only one. There is also Derilachalchis, a city near the bridge.
Much of the knowledge of the advancement that humans have achieved as a civilization begin with the Fall, when the First Generation descend from Heaven and bring great knowledge and while the First Family fall in Aralam, the Second family fall in Derilachalchis.
In 589AF excavations by the Scholars in the Imperial Court discover many metal, weird metals that suggest that the First Generation really did live here.
While humans at the beginning of time are mostly slaves of the Demon Lord, the fall of the Sky People mark a revolution, divinely preordained if the story of the Church is believed.
Even though there are differences between Corinian Church and the Vernian Church, at least in this they both acknowledge it.
At the time, the city of Aralam and the other cities around it were ruled by the Fay, a race of similarity with the fairies and were organized in a series of city states.
At first, unaware that the First Generation is not normal humans they try to enslave them.
Of course they could not have predicted how resilient, how smart or how strong of an enemy this Sky People proved to be.
And how vengeful and protective they can be when one of their people was abducted to be sold as slave.
Many of them were scattered all around the Human continent but the First Family fall here and in doing so, spark for the First Time a war between human and Demon race.
With their godly weapons and cunningness, the First Generation, one by one they conquer every cities and in doing so, bring a race so rare, the Fay almost to the point of extinction.
Of course, destroying a whole race just because of one person seems a bit …….macabre but that just to show, how powerful they really are and from there their exploits began.
The name of the great leader that lead the attack is not known to the history but if the disc in the private library can be believed then his name would be Aero Carlingian.
The decisive battle according to myth were fought in Derilachalchis, where the First family united with the Second family and the Fay was defeated at Harelwas and all the city states in this tiny island were then subject to the Unified Land.
It is from here where this leader systematically fills Davarus with his people and hearing this seafaring Kingdom like Vorthy in the far north, makes contact and through them the First Generation establishes contract with other continent.
Their map even now help sailors and traders, and gives us the sense of Earth, a term coined from one of their map, translated by an unnamed translator in 107 AF
Most notably Asteros and Ariundus where in legend it says they ride a black monster with a horn, with incredible speed to traverse the Great Ocean
People called it Iron Whale for it was said during their visit to Asteros people believes that they were encountering a monster and tried to spear it but none of their weapons work, nor their attacks.
It is also said that the Iron Whale eat the sailor and when they reach their destination, the whale will open it’s horn and people will get out of the horn, perfectly healthy with no injury.
Seeing this Asteros fear the First Generation so much, that even if at the time if the First Generation decided to conquer the world they could have done it.
But they are content to spend their time in Davarus.
They developed the world first alphabet and teach it to Asteros and Ariundus and then to the immigrants that came to Davarus.
The story of the First Generation is long and so is their descendant, the Lost Generation. This place is revered and its attraction is stills strong.
Kings comes here, Emperors, beggar and slaves, the virtuos and the sinful. And thinking that Silas almost laugh, recounting his job now.
These have all the making of a great theater play. A gallant King trying to avenge his wife, a noble lord trying to stop him and one that get stuck in the middle, and he know who he is.
He is the man stuck in the middle. And usually people that are stuck in the middle will get killed in the Second Act.
I hope tomorrow I can infiltrate the Demon Army camp without being spotted. Thankfully no one can kill here.
With that he sipped the tea and release another sigh while looking at the sun and smiling a crooked smile of bravado.
CHAPTER 74: HOPE
He looks around the bookshelves. This is his own personal libraries where he put all the rare books he acquires from all the book traders, scholars and any book of importance.
There is no dust collected, no spider webs wove loosely around the books, or dirtied shelves can be seen.
The lantern illuminate the library, candles are all prepared if anyone need to do a bit of midnight reading.
The ground is clean, sweep by the servants. Their work ethic is commendable.
‘Maybe I should give them some gold ?’ he asked himself, looking at the clean library. He strolled around the room.
This is not only his personal library but his sanctuary and a place of great nostalgic importance for him.
It reminds him of the place he died. This library also can be used by family members and close friends. Silas, Oliver were given permission to read the book here.
Arial look upon these two vassals of his, as very important. Both are very talented and fiercely loyal like Lisa and Kyle.
West, on the other hand, because of duty and honour. It seems there is….something between Lisa and him, Arial notice that.
Helia seem to know about those two relationships but she refrain from saying anything. And Arial is too shy to ask Lisa what really happen between those two.
Lisa also sometimes comes here, reading warfare stratagem and music instrument and how to play it. His mother, the Duchess is also usually could be found here. Arial could not count how many time he bump into his mother when he wanted to read here.
New books are all around him.
Mostly from Asteros where many of the original text of Lost Generation survive ‘’the burning of books and killing of scholars by Levitia.’’.
After all, most of those acts is done here, in the Human Continent and Arakath.
He looks again and his eyes shine.
His own private library with thousands of book. But it is more than just a library for Arial. It might have a cure to his salvation.
Then suddenly his eyes were turned into the disc that is hanged around the wall. It is the first thing he always do when he enters the room or when he is stumped with some problem.
He look at the disc depicting a man wearing crown, one that Michael said name Aero Carlingian, King of the First Generation.
Probably the first King of the First Generation.
He is said to be presented the Kingship twice before finally accepting it in the third time.
How does he know this?
In the back of the shield Michael has took the pains to translate this momentous moment of the Sky people.
Every 15 disc have their story, only this has been translated fully. Some have only short inscription, some have stories written, some only have the depictions.
For some reason he liked seeing the picture of this King called Aero. He doesn’t understand it but he felt a familiarity with the picture.
There is many of such scene depicted, the man slaying a Giant Lion, one of them show he is forging the famed Enochian steel.
Recently, Michael has found about 10 more discs around Aetherland and text from the Lost Generation. Michal has been busy and it seems Michael said he is onto something big.
He has asked for more money and writ of passage to explore Zettel area. The fact that Michael shows result make Arial invest more in him.
Arial also gladly write a letter to King of Zettel, to allow Michael to pass his border.
Of course he promised that anything that Michael found will be given to the royal family of Zettel but Michael will be given permission to record what he sees, or the text he found there can be written in other parchment.
It is because of that Arial also send many scholars from the University to help him copy the words, many of whom is learned in translating the words of the Lost Generation.
There is a reason why Arial keep funding Michael expedition.
Not only Arial found Michael extremely brilliant he also found him very useful.
Whether by God intervention or dumb luck, Michael has excavated a trove of treasure around a cave near Summersill estate, a complex series of house underground with books detailing many information.
There are many information in there mostly about Lost Generation belief, their religion and their way of life.
Contrary to popular held belief the Lost Generation did not worship the Lord of Light but instead they are polytheistic.
They worship seven Gods.
The Gods are Aero, Arianna ,Deus, Michaela, Kyle Callidus , Amanda Domus, and Dan Virtus
Aero, the Allfather, King of the Gods, Arianna the Virgin Goddess also known as the Goddess of Wisdom, Deus the God of War, Michaela Goddess of Art, Kyle Callidus ,the God of Trickery, Amanda Domus, Queen of the Gods and Goddess of Household which translates to Goddess of Marriage and Dan Virtus God of Kind Endeavour.
These are the seven Gods they worship but from what Arial could tell most of them were elevate to the status of God.
Arial doesn’t know the story about the other Gods but if he is right Aero the All father must be this Aero he said to himself looking at the disc.
Probably because what he did seem so impossible his later descendant believes him to be a god.
Then he looks back at the dozens of book he is reading today and smiles a satisfying smile.
Like he said there are many information in the countless of text and manuscript that Michael found.
And one of the information that is in there is medicine.
He has been scouring and consume the book knowledge for a few days now, looking something that might cure his poison and after about a week of constant reading, perusing , he finally found the Passage.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t know how to read it.
Which is saying something.
Arial rarely found any language he could not speak or read, owing to his experience cooped up in a library for years.
Pure Tongue all the way.
Of course there are some words and phrases he can understand, but to understand the full context is impossible for him unless he begins learning Pure Tongue in entirety and with his busy schedule he could hardly add that to the list of things he need to do.
He put down the book with a sigh but at least he has hope now. Hope that he can see the end in a way that doesn’t end with him bleeding from every orifice.
He knows where to find the information needed.
Not in Aetherland.
He knows he won’t find it here.
But he knows where he can find answer. From one person. That one person. If it’s him, maybe he would understand this book. He went out from his personal library to take a fresh breath.
He ordered his servant to bring him the letter he left at his bed stand. Quickly the young boy ran to his room bringing him the letter.
On receiving the letter, he looks at it. Adrian letter embossed with the seal of a spear and a broken shield.
‘An opportunity presented itself’ he said to himself
Arial look at the letter and smile. He opens it again and read it again. Adrian letter addressed to him after he report what happen, relaying everything that has happen.
The King has given his permission and he already has sent Silas on a diplomatic mission to the Demon King.
A lot has happen in this few weeks.
Harald who is the Lord of Arleans right now, ruling Aquitania and Arleans with his wife, is now being pressured both internally by the rebellion of the people of Vangua and externally by the Church.
Either way, he has received the letter from Harald just at dawn.
He has agreed to sit down and negotiate but he will not come to Aetherland.
‘Smart’ Arial mused smiling.
He want Arial to come to Vangua where Harald is surely safer than if he come here. After all, here, he is a traitor. In Vangua he is a High Lord. A powerful and formidable High Lord with tens of thousands under his command.
Arial looked at the sunset, the sun begin its descent bringing darkness to the land. Helia is at the mansion with his mother so he is busying himself with the matter of his court.
He has also sent ravens to the South urging them to once more fortify the defences at the border.
‘With my troops there, I doubt there would be anything unexpected happen.’ He said to himself.
There is still great enmity between Harald and Arial.
Arial and Harald had never had a great relationship. They are in a way rival. They never like each other, but at least Arial know to respect Harald tenacity, even his stubbornness, a quality that both of them shared.
Tonight, once again he has summoned his court to see him to discuss the matter of Harald offer.
Looking at the sun, he smile .
“One step at a time” he said and he walks back to his room for a quick nap. His body is weaker these days.
It is not surprising considering the poison that he is afflicted with is no ordinary poison. A quick nap he said to himself and he hope h will rejuvenate himself.
There are not many present in the Council today. The usual chatter and scream of disapproving can’t be heard today.
Usually Massey and Oliver would have their famous debate, in this room both are stubborn in their ways but both unexpectedly respect each other.
They just don’t admit it to each other.
Since I always drink wine with both of these influential figures in my castle, I know that both of them have profound respect for each other.
Massey is busy doing a secret mission in Vern contacting the rebel in the Empire and providing them with military training, Oliver is in Vern petitioning the Grand Papnoticon , Silas in a secret mission for the sake of dispelling the misunderstanding between us and the demon race.
Oliver before going to Vern is in contact with a few of influential figure of the Blood Brotherhood and has set their meeting with me in a couple of days, on 1 Seedmonth 1016, the first day of the year.
I also give a job to Liao Bao as a sign of gratitude and give him the job of a diplomat sending him to Zettel to improve relation and for him to gain experience.
A few days from now he will return back and at that time I will have him accompanied the Blood Brotherhood representative as the Supervisor to the North.
Thinking about it, I do not have to join directly to destroy Vern. I can just elevate one of the factions vying for power there by creating a discord among them. I may be angry at the Emperor but it is no reason to blindly charging in and destroys myself. After I calm myself that day, I found other ways to solve the problem. I can use the conflict in the Empire to my advantage. I have many things to handle.
Silas on the other hand, has a very terrible responsibility on his shoulder, to persuade and convince the Demon King of our story.
And from the letters I received from him at least the Demon King is receptive to the idea and has agreed to cooperate with me.
This alleviates many of my worries. But Silas has mentioned of me of a secret alliance one that is bent on creating conflict between humans and demons.
This is humanity true enemies.
And this alliance must be destroyed for humanity to have peace. As long there is no confirmation of their destruction I couldn’t lax my guard.
But at least with the Demon King I could be at ease that he would not try a large scale attack. Not now, when he knows what is at stake.
If he really march to Human Continent, the Emperor of Vern, might think his involvement in the kidnapping of the Princess will be uncovered will kill the Princess and hide her bodies.
I hope the Princess is still alive.
If she is dead….then maybe war with the demon race is inevitable. But at least this time, I could see hope. Hope that humanity will go out of the other side, unscathed.
Hope that my armies are enough. And that hope lets me keep fighting. It keeps me to walk and stepped onto the path I’ve dedicated myself since…..I’ve been given this second chance. The path of humanity survival and peace.
Silas also acts as my eyes and ear. And from his reports he has write the number of the enemy’s troops.
100 thousand soldiers comprising of Orcs, Fairies, Elves, and about 20 Giants and variety of other races only heard in Old Stories during the time of Levitia. Thank the Light that the Wall is high enough that even a giant will not be able to cross it.
This mission if successful can even stop the Invasion entirely and the Great War may never will happen.
Now that I know what really happen and how it diverged from the timeline, I am calmer and I have my own theory on the vent that is happening now and the event that happen before.
In the original timeline it happens 2 years from now, the bride of the dark lord is pregnant, and then killed.
Now I might make some conjecture why she was killed before. Now that I’ve known some part of the story.
Probably she was killed because she rejects the advances of the Emperor. However this time it is different. 2 years earlier
And the supposed tragedy is that she is killed turns to she is kidnapped. There is a difference of behaviour here.
Why? There are many variables but the most important I believe is because the time of her encounter with the Emperor plays a big part in changing her supposed fates.
She is not pregnant, due to not yet marry the Demon King, so they never consummated their wedding, so no babes, and very young which I think contribute to kidnaping instead of killing her.
The Emperor must have thought that with enough time he can make the Princes his, and believes that if he shows her his love she would accept him.
And I also believe that this alliance not only involves the demon side but also the human side. There is someone in the Imperial Palace that urged this conflict.
In the original timeline this person might have urged the King to kill the Princess and in this timeline maybe he urged the King to kidnap the Princess.
If this is true then that means in my original timeline, the destruction of humans in the Human continent is also comes from a selfish person for whatever motive, doomed the Human continent to years of persecution and slaughters.
And from the report I received from Silas it seems the King Azrael is receptive to the idea of joining hands with me to eliminate the opposition he have on his court, have a kingly demeanour and a wise head. He is calm and listens to reason.
He seems sensible and calm, betraying the image I have of him on my head as a bloodthirsty King.
Maybe in the original timeline his wrath is because he lost his child and his wife at the same time.
Even I could go crazy. Who wouldn’t?
For now, I will take the risk.
There is no progress without some risk. With this I could focus on the problem brewing on the continent and solve the instability in Vangua.
Not to mention this problem of poison that every day I felt the pain more and more destabilising to my daily work. Headaches and heart pains strikes me daily.
The poison is getting stronger and it takes me more time to replenish my energy. That is why I summoned them again. I must settle everything before going to meet him.
Tonight we will explain the preparation on going to Vangua.
After a long and gruelling intense discussion I decided to bring 5 thousand strong soldiers with me to Vangua with Kyle and West both leading 2 thousand troops while I will lead a thousand troops.
I am bringing the army as a precaution if somehow Harald decided to ambush the King and me. A necessary precaution.
After all, his father did such thing. It is not a ridiculous assumption to believe that Harald may imitate his old man.
We also have informed Edward in the mansion that he is invited back. Edward expressed his joy by holding a banquet at the mansion tomorrow and asking me to attend tomorrow.
The pressure we put on the Orleans is working.
Edward will return back to Vangua as a King. Then I also started a new construction project, Acro Grand Library.
After Argan Dam that helps the people in the backwater region now I decided to build a Grand Library here at Acro.
Near the dam is Arial fountain which is supplied by Argan. Arial believed it is an essential aspect in building a civilization, aqueducts and sewers.
After all aqueducts and sewers flush the filth of the city.
Water….clean water is brought to the city through the Argan Aqueducts and the most famous Acro aqueducts, clean water that flow through the city and it sewers.
It is such display of essential structure carrying so much water compared to the Triangle Tomb of Radiant Rulers of Seren.
It also shows Arrandy confidence in its own power.
Such highly visible and easily disrupted water supplies were only possible when no enemies closely threatened Arrandy. With the other region belonging to King Adrian and the South secured, Arrandy is a state, a law unto itself.
The Argan Aqueducts, the second Aqueducts after Acro are built to supply the growing population.
The water around that region had previously been supplied by Argan River or the nearby springs near the region.
Fed by a spring around the Fountain of Stillver, the aqueducts ran underground for 10miles; water is only carried above ground on arcades for about 100 yards inside the city of Rockstill.
For the most part, the aqueducts were stone limed channels carrying water underground or just above it.
There is also the construction programme. Of course, construction of new building is every day, giving the Guild a lot of work and profit but also revenue from the immigrant.
If they have money, they can spend it and the economy will be healthy
I also sent emissaries to Adrian informing that if anything goes wrong with the matter of King Edward, Aetherland will not be involved with the political fallout.
Adrian will surely agree.
His grip on the throne is not yet stable with the nobles trying to pressure him.
But Silas is gone now, the slick tongued politician that the King love and adore so much, so right now it is up to Adrian to prove he is a real King.
That he need not hide behind dragon scale or wait for the snake to strangle his enemies.
He needs to own up to his responsibilities.
Few days from now, after the preparation is all completed, I will depart to Vangua and hopefully my other plan will not be found out. With that I ended the meeting.
CHAPTER 75: AGREEMENT
HOLY CITY OF ARALAM
The Holy Land at night is a peaceful oasis. Waves after waves, the wind blows the sand to the tent.
The night sky is black, dotted with white stars lining the sky. The moon is partially covered by the clouds.
The breeze smell of sand and dust. I remembered this morning when I take a stroll around the Holy City.
In the morning, I visited the Church of St Salivari. One of the beautiful churches erected in the Holy City. It was built to represent the Church of Light here in the Blessed Land.
It is a simple building, a rectangular shaped building, with a flat timber-beamed ceiling supported by colonnaded naves.
I almost chuckle at myself.
I have deep extensive knowledge in architecture, because I have always liked it. Well, I like how the angles complimented each other’s and marvel at the creation.
The Church has a transept placed between the apse and the nave to allow the circulation of the faithful who came to the Church.
Outside a central fountain is provided for the faithful to clean themselves before entering the church.
I also visited the Church of St John which is built during the Divisive War between the Church of Light Papnoticon which splits them into Liberate and Orthodox.
It is built of brick made in Seren, with 1 gold altar and 6 normal altar, hundreds of chandeliers and 70 gold candlestick to illuminate it’s mosaic.
Many of these beautiful churches were built during the lifetime of the Pious Emperor and George the Wise.
There are also the Temples which are to represent the Gods and goddesses of the Continents. I see the Temple of the Water Princess built at the time of Rayniss.
It was of Renasian design. Their design is slightly different and unique unto itself.
It stood on a podium made of Ariundus block about 13 feet high and measured 203 ft long by 174 ft, making it probably the biggest temple of the Water Princess I have ever seen.
It had 7 inner chambers with the water Princess in the Central holding a golden Jug, and the other chamber feature her maiden.
It’s overhanging roof is decorated with bright painted ornaments and statues some full size, mostly of monster that the Water Princess fights during her early years.
Then there are the Temples for Three Teachings, Fire Temple and every single belief in the Continent is represented in the Holy Land.
Then from the stillness of life the curtain cloth that guard the entrance of my tent ruffle. I was a little startled but his arrival is expected.
It took my mind of my strolling during the day as I focus to the entrance of my tent.
‘I will come in Your Grace’ he said, his words sound like a whisper.
From it appeared a man with black garb. There is also his knapsack, fill with documents. He has a little sweat on his forehead.
‘Any news?’ I said.
He cover back the entrance and the quickly sit down. He opens his knapsack and brings out a flask of water and began uncorking it and started drinking from it.
‘My informant has got valuable information your grace’ Silas said his mouth is trickling with water.
‘As you know my lord I have employed many people, and bought many slave woman, an act if ever reveal to my lord Arial will amount a very harsh punishment from him, but without these means I would not have found out all these. Terrible , terrible news’
‘Tell me’ I said.
‘I put my slave woman to work in the pleasure House, the young boy I purchase, I set them up as thieves and spy, reading letter, stealing important information, while the slave girl worm “their” secret out by sleeping with them.”
“Their” refers to the nobles of the demon lords as we have uncovered. It seems Crow is in the heart of this alliance.
“And finally this few weeks after Your Grace halted the army movement, impatient and thirsting for glory, exhausted and frustrated, many of the nobles spend their time in the pleasure house, drinking till morning, and my pleasure girl found it so easy to worm information out of them in their drunken state. And finally we have got credible information.”
I nodded and gesture him to continue.
”After comparing the information I got from the pleasure girl and the spy I came into a conclusion. There is an alliance your grace headed by Aleister Crow, like we suspected and joined by many nobles “
‘Alliance? Of what? For what?’
‘That I don’t know but there is a sinister force in your court your grace that is determined to bring a great war between humans and demon race. Their objectives still remain obscured from my knowledge.
Many of the letter detail that they are pleased that their plan is working exactly as they wanted to. Their letter also mentions Ba’yang which seems to be their mastermind and someone unexpected. Even they themselves don’t know who this person is Your Grace.’
‘Shadow’ I said.
‘What Your Grace?’
‘Ba’yang means Shadow. It is one of the dialects of the Demon race.’ I explained. He nodded in understanding.
‘I believe this Ba’yang person is the one who orchestrates all this conspiracy. Whoever he is he is shrouded in mystery and very careful.’ Silas said holding his chin as his expression turns serious. He is thinking of something.
Then I too took a gulp of water. The tense atmosphere in the tent and the dry environment is not good for me.
Silas look at me and asked.
‘Did you tell anyone about our arrangement’ he said his eyes suspicious
‘No.’ I said.
‘Good. Good’ he said but somehow I don’t think he is convinced with my answer.
Then I heard footsteps.
‘Someone is coming, Silas. Hide yourself.’
Silas also heard it and quickly he went out from the back wearing back his veil and disappeared in the dark of night.
‘Your Grace’ the voice shouted from outside. I know that voice. Old friends. One of his trusted friend.
‘Elkar come on in.’
Then he enters.
He wears a white garb a little sand is ticking to his clothes. A few sweats on his forehead and he quickly swipe it with his sleeve
‘Sit down’ I said as I pour water to the goblet and handed it to him.
“You must be thirsty”
“Thank you Your Grace.”
Elkar then seated himself upon the cushion. He looks around the tent. Then he hesitated to say something but I noticed it.
‘Anything you would like to say Elkar?’ I said.
‘I don’t know how to bring this up to you, Your Grace, but I don’t think the military is content to just lazing around here in the Blessed Land.
I believe even the generals and the noble Houses is all raring to go to attack the wall. There are already been fight that broke out between the Elves and the Orcs, Dwarves and Faeries. They are…..unfortunately too enthusiastic.’
‘What about trying to contain them here like you suggest last time?’
‘I was short-sighted Your Grace. It seems even the chanting and prayers in the holy land could not calm their hearts your grace.’
I look at Elkar exhausted face.
I know this war means something for him but the fact he is always by my side supporting every single one of my decision is an act of loyalty.
‘I know it is hard for you to persuade the other lord not to war against the human when you also once suffer under the hand of humans.’ I said.
‘Your Grace!’ He said clearly surprised.
‘I know what happen to your family Elkar.’
I heard the story where there are stranded around the Principality of Freya and killed by the mob of angry humans.
‘I know how you feel and I know you yourself want to release that anger but your decision to stand by my side is an act of loyalty that I appreciate and a gesture that I surely will not forget’ I said.
The fact that he can remain calm and supportive of my decision only strengthened my belief I have found a loyal subject I can talk to.
‘Such words are wasted on me Your Grace’ he said.
‘Dispense with the formalities Elkar. In this tent there is only you and me.’
After that we drink wine while I try to staunch my worries about this alliance I heard from Silas.
I will make it my priority tomorrow to find this alliance and crushed it and then after this is done, I would try to trust the young human lord promise on saving Arianna.
Here’s to promises.
I am in my grand hall hearing the general report of the state when a messenger came into the Grand Hall and informed the Hall that the representative of the Blood Brotherhood has come after our invitation being received.
Many of my vassal is here, knowing of my plan to supply the rebel of Vern. Of course this will remain a secret to other foreign powers, even to Adrian.
This is to help Adrian from not being implicated if my plot is discovered.
‘Liao Bao!’ I called Liao Bao.
He has just returned from Zettel yesterday after meeting the royal family of Zettel. I manage to talk to him in the morning, and he said he have quite the crazy adventure in Zettel.
Liao Bao came in front of me and kneels.
‘You know your task.’ I already spoke to him, informing him that he will be elected as the Supervisor to the North if today meeting is favourable.
‘Yes my lord’ he nodded in understanding
He stands beside me as I sit waiting for them to announce their arrival. The herald came and shouted
‘ANNOUNCING THE ARRIVAL OF THE REPRESENTATIVES OF BLOOD BROTHERHOOD, FROM HOUSE OF CHU PRINCESS ZHENGPING AND HER GUARD ZHAO LU.’ I nodded.
‘Bring them in.’
I look at Liao Bao and his face is shown that he is shocked.
‘Yes my lord’ he said looking at me dazed.
‘Are you fine’ He shakes his head.
‘Yes, my lord. I am fine. Fine.’ He said like he is convincing himself.
Then the representatives enter and they bowed their head. They consist of a man and a woman. Both seem to be from noble descent.
‘We are the representative of House of Chu and the Blood Brotherhood’ the girl said.
‘I am her guard my lord’ he said cupping his fist ‘Zhao Lu’ he said. I nodded.
The girl look young but she is clearly older than me by 2 years. She has beautiful blue eyes, a long hair and an appearance of a noble upbringing.
She is wearing a regal dress that has an intrinsic simplicity. It features an attractive dress and a matching headpiece.
The brown dress is vertically gathered and has an almost ruched appearance. The neckline and center of the brown section have an elegant golden trim.
Lacing fastens the dress over her bust and torso which I realized Liao Bao is staring at intently. It is covered by a ruffled chemise-styled collar.
Her sleeves are slit and tied at her shoulder and end in a wide cuff just under her shoulder. Her headpiece matches her dress gold patterned trim. It is a high quality works and without a doubt I know she is a daughter of great noble house.
The man beside her look refined but I can sense his internal energy. He is wearing a leather armour, and is built for flexibility.
His internal energy I also noted it in my memory. While it is not the strongest I’ve ever encountered for his age that is formidable enough.
They looked up to look at me but suddenly the girl yelped, looking at Liao Bao with…longing?
The man on the other hand looks shocked.
‘Liao Bao!’ the girl shouted a scream of excitement.
‘Princess!’ the guard admonishes her.
‘How have you been doing my lady?’ Liao Bao asks his face is blank of expression.
‘You know this people Liao Bao?’ I asked.
‘They are the acquaintance that I’ve met during my journey my lord.’
‘Is that so?’ I said.
It seems there is something more between them. I see that the Princess keep stealing glances at Liao Bao.
Anyway to the matter at hand.
‘Do you know why I invite you?’ I asked the Princess.
‘My lord wanted to supplies us with training and gold’ and speaking about this suddenly her eyes changed, more resolute, the naïve appearance disappear.
‘Yes, I am, my lady. But…I too want something in return.’ And the expression of the guard change.
‘What could our family give that would satisfy the rich family of Vermont?’ he said being defensive.
‘Before I give you any assistance I would like to ask a few questions. Can I do that?’
‘Please ask away my lord.’ The Princess said.
‘Why is the House of Chu tangling with the rebel? Answer this and depending on your answer I will decide what to do with my offer.’
The Princess nod.
‘As you know my lord, my father is one of the general of the Empire. However he lives far away from the south and at the most northern border of the Empire.’
I nodded. I know this. ‘I know this’ I said.
‘Yes, I suspect you do.’ Then she continues her story
‘The Emperor receives intelligence that the House of Austen is having a thought to rebel. Since the Emperor doesn’t believe the Qin family or Han family by Imperial decree my father is asked to march to the South, to Shanhai Pass to bring the Austen family to Chongyang the capital.
However anyone with even a little bit of acumen or knowledge in warfare knows that if my father ever reaches Austen he would be decimated.
Combined with the tiring march, it does not help that the Austen family is all great general, defending the Pass for thousands of years.
So, my mother send us to join the Blood Brotherhood and seeing as our position and wealth supplied the rebel, my father has been halted from marching to handle the rebel attack in Qin.
But now my father has been supplied with 30 thousand troops from the imperial Capital my father has no reason to defy the Imperial decree anymore.
If he marches he will die. If he does not march he will be branded a traitor and he will be executed. And in Vern the mistake of the Head of the family extend to his family too.’
‘Does your father know about your involvement?’
‘No, but I think he knows. He just pretends not to.’
‘So….what is your objective here. I know of the charge of the Blood Brotherhood. To enthroned an Eastian ruler on the throne. Is that your father?’
The Princess looks at Liao Bao and nodded weakly.
My vassals all whispered among each other
I laughed and the Hall quieted. They are all waiting for my word.
‘Is that your plan? Fine. Good plan. Great plan. I approve’ I said.
‘You will give us assistance, my lord?’
‘Yes’ they looked overjoyed
‘But……if your father succeeds in his rebellion then Vern will be a protectorate of Aetherland. Can you accept that? If you can accept that then I will give you all the assistance you need.’
The Princess glances around looking at her guard.
‘I will discuss this with-‘
‘No! Decide now. We are accomplice now my lady. If people know I actively seek the destruction of Vern Imperial family they may wage war against Aetherland, and I have no intention in engaging in another war.’
‘What will you do if we refuse?’ The guard said.
‘Then I will make the Emperor my hammer. I will send him a letter detailing your involvement with the Blood Brotherhood’ I said.
The Princess hesitated.
‘My lord’ Liao Bao said suddenly, his face is full of concern to the girl, almost like a lover, but he holds his tongue.
After a few moment of silence she nodded.
‘We will accept the conditions my lord.’
‘Then our deal is made. Please topple the Montblanc Dynasty.’ I said smiling my most pleasant smiles to the Princess.
She nodded weakly.
‘And to make sure that the training of the rebel army is done in a diligent manner and to make sure there is no embezzling of the gold and goods we will supplied to the rebel army I appoint Liao Bao as the Supervisor of the North’ I said and suddenly Lord Daniel quickly come into the front of my chair and kneel.
‘My lord, please reconsider!’
‘Lord Daniel! Why are you doing this?’ He looked at Liao Bao.
‘We know exactly to nothing about this man and your trust to him is something I do not understand my lord. Choose other people to go supervise the rebel army and I shall have no objection ‘
‘I trust him Lord Daniel.’
‘How can you trust him my lord?’
‘How can I not? He has risked his life, walking thousands of miles, experience many dangerous adventure to fulfil his promise to a maiden in danger, risking everything even execution. What if he were caught by the Imperial army?”
I asked to the vassals who are all beginning to lean towards Lord Daniel proposal.
I know that if Liao Bao succeed in his work certainly I would grant him a title which he certainly deserves and other minor lords also want that opportunity. To gain glory and riches.
I continued my words.
‘He would have been tortured before dying. His deeds in informing us what happen have made us ready to face any opposition from Beyond the Sea. His deeds must not be forgotten, his suffering must be repaid.” I said as I look at my vassals.
Some avoid my eyes, some nodded. Kyle and West just remain silent
“If it’s not for him then maybe we would not have strengthen our defence on the Bleeding Wall. Maybe we will lax our guard on the Wall, and remain in the dark about the impending danger. So my decision is final.”
Lord Daniel looks at me and can only sigh.
‘As you wish my lord.’ He said and he returned to his seat. I know he said it because he is worried about me, but I trust my judgement.
“Is there anyone else?”
The Hall is quiet.
‘Then it is settled’ I said.
Liao Bao then rushed to the in front and kneels in front of me.
You have honoured me my lord. I will not disappoint your trust. I nodded.
‘You will be accompany with 10 captain. They will be your guard and the one responsible making the rebel army a trained military. It will be your job to supervise them.’
‘Yes my lord’ he said enthusiastically.
I then said to the representative to go to the banquet hall since I have prepared a small feast for them. Hearing this they excuse themselves to prepare to the banquet.
Liao Bao quickly insinuate himself with the representatives. The fact that they are acquaintance is also an added benefit.
Liao Bao will be my eyes and ear at Vern, reporting the progress of the rebel army. I have cast my lot and I hope I have made the right choice.
I will also tell the representative tomorrow before I depart to Vangua to save the Princess when they stormed the capital.
Finally the matter of Vern is solved.
The vassal all excuse themselves seeing the meeting has ended. When all the other have exited the Grand hall, I sit myself down on my chair as I clutched my chest.
The pain is getting stronger by day.
I need to be quick to meet him. Thankfully he is always there, waiting. But I need to make my journey there in secret. Else my enemy know about it.
He is in Vangua.
That man may have the answer to my affliction. He may be my last hope, probably the only one that can translate the full text other than Michael.
Tomorrow ,I will depart to Vangua and hopefully my hope will not be dashed. With that, I stand up and open the door of the Grand Hall as the light of the candle cast my shadow.
CHAPTER 76: HARALD OATH
The sun rises and the castle gets brighter.
The servant began their days, the market open their stalls and I….started going down to the stables, my troops already waiting for me.
I enjoyed the brisk morning air as I walked to the stables from the second floor. Descending the stair I began thinking about what has happened and what is about to happen.
Today Supervisor Zhang Liao Bao has started his journey with the representatives to Vern at dawn.
With 10 captains they depart in small group.
According to the plan they will stop at Shanhai Pass and try to win the Austen family approval. This is crucial if I want a total victory and peace secured in the Northern border.
The enmity between the Emperor and the Austen family is at its height. In my original timeline even when the demon army attack the Austen still at war with the Emperor with no victory at sight for both of these enemies.
Their enmity all started like any story would.
Because of a woman.
It is ironic that the greatest war at that time also started with a woman. Thinking about it, most of the war that George the Fifth has started most of them is because of a woman.
The story goes, that one of Nigel Austen sister was drunk in one of the palace of the Forbidden City.
The Emperor saw this and raped her. Of course Jeanne Austen, the girl in question kept quiet until of course Nigel found out.
Considering they are at the South they quickly take control of the region there and do not answer to the central government anymore. In other words they rebelled.
So, started their war of attrition with each other. But there is no marching involved. Austen stay at their fort and Central government sent battalion of army every month but in all sense Austen control the region near Taiyuan and rule it like a regional Overlord.
And so there is this sense of stability between these two forces. Of course it started after the Succession War between Adrian and Alderam.
Even before then Austen and Montblanc has never been in good terms but raping Nigel sister is the last straw.
Maybe the Emperor raped Nigel sister because he knows he can’t defeat Nigel if he tries to attack him directly.
Maybe it is because of his lust. Who knows?
So that is how their enmity started. Gaining Austen as an ally would be beneficial to the rebel if they decide to rule.
However today I am busy preparing to depart to Vangua. Harald invitation has been received and I have informed him I would accompany Edward back to seat on his throne.
He has also received news that I will bring a few of my troops to accompany the entourage. 5000 troops are a few of course.
He has agreed to the request. I don’t think he has a choice. With unrest every day and rebellion springing up in the Kingdom, Vangua needs a ruler.
And majority of the people in the Kingdom of Vangua is of Lucellian faith. The Church now that is a hammer that need to be used carefully and prudently, the help which that the Church exerted on their family must have shaken their ambition.
For now they must acquiesce to the common folk outcry. Harald, whatever his fault, is an able ruler and brilliant in sensing where the wind is blowing.
To be honest I have no enmity to Harald but I do not know how he thinks.
I did kill his father after all. I hate the father but I don’t hate the son. But I know that Harald will not show his displeasure with me so openly, one aspect that differentiates him and his father.
He is smarter thus making him more formidable. If he is not capable why would people die for him? If he is not capable why would people follow him?
King Edward on the other hand, will be entrusted to Kyle and West who will accompany and guard him to Vangua. Of course I will also follow this entourage
Helia will accompany my parents and Lisa will also take care of my parents.
Edward will be accompanying by his lord and some Priest and Bishop to fill the Church in Vangua. MY Bishop and Priest that will act as my spies and fight for Arrandy interest in Vangua court
The sound of the horse neighing can already be heard.
The stable master sees me and nodded. He opens the stable and I whistle. Firebringer sauntered slowly to me.
‘My lord’ the stable master greets me. I just nodded as Firebringer approached me. I stroke his hair.
Even till now, no one can ride it unless it is me. This is a loyal steed that has accompanied me to many battles.
I jumped to Firebringer and he neighed happily.
‘Ouit’ I yelled and I took the reins as I ride him outside the castle where outside my entourage already waits for me.
Edward is seen in the carriage with his trusted Lord. I pass them by and join Kyle and West in the front.
‘My lord’ they bowed slightly when they notice me. I looked behind me and I could see the army and I yelled
“Let us go” With that I tightened the rein and urged Firebringer to sprint and he ran like the wind. With that I began riding to Vangua.
OUTSIDE THE CITY OF VERGEL
We arrived at the city of Vergel at sunset.
The sun lowers beyond the horizon as I sighed. It has been a long journey. It has taken a few weeks to reach Arleans.
Thankfully we have not encountered any difficulties during our journey. The sky is orange with red hues. The clouds appear back lit with the vibrant colors. The hills look like a silhouette of a giant.
‘The fading warmth of daylight will bring darkness. And darkness beckons’ I recite
The sound of the vigilark birds is slowly disappearing, only the sound of the leaves rustling around the campsite.
I have arrived outside of Arleans, pass Darc, the former region of the king. The coronation will be held at Arleans and we have camped outside the city of Vergel.
I have approached Edward tent to see how he is doing. Outside we are waiting for the Orleans to invite us to the city.
‘Will it be long now Arial?’ Edward asked me.
I have prepared my army with great training if somehow Harald wish to attack us. Caution and vigilant I reminded myself.
‘It will not be long now, Edward but I fear for your throne and in that sense I would like to urge you caution even when they put the crown at your head. Always be vigilant” I advise.
‘The state of preparedness that Harald has prepared his armies shows how much he wanted your throne.’
‘What made you say that?’ he said more inquisitive than shock.
Edward is no idiot. Of course he knows Harald is eyeing his throne.
‘I believe Harald has formed some elaborate plan to take the throne if he had not been pressured by the church. That is of course, only my assumption but the way he carried himself during your absence only strengthen my belief of his unwise ambition.’
He might even have poisoned or assassinate the King if he has perfected his plan.
‘Any basis for that assumption if I may ask, Arial?’
‘I say that Edward, because my spies here in Vangua have informed me of some mysterious meeting that Harald has schedule for himself. After he were named Lord of Arleans, Harald made a tour on the Kingdom, reaching as far as Cori but also including Freya and Southern Cori respectively. He made arrangements for receiving help from certain foreign powers if he should need it at any time. This to me strikes me as a pre-emptive attack, an open declaration, though a subtle one, hinting that he wants your throne. To me, he looks like he wants to usurp your position.’
‘Hmm’ Edward said contemplating.
Then Edward said.
‘If that is true then Harald may have tried to find allies who would hamper the movement of his rivals to the throne. And he might even plan for my assassination after his plan in place. He may have changed the nature of Vangua throne if he only you did not help me’ Edward said.
Like I thought. He is no idiot. No….he is smart. But one of his words I couldn’t quite grasp the meaning. Change the nature of Vangua throne? And this time it was I that is perplexed.
‘What do you mean?’
‘Elective’ he said.
‘Of course it has its limit but Harald is trying to revive an ancient council when I disappear. The council of nobles was once practiced in the Vangua Kingdom but abolished when it gives too much power to the nobles and even created some shadowy alliance of nobles creating a puppet King.
Of course even so they are limits of power of the council, the process involves in the act of election and the body which exercises the elective right. A king should always be chosen from a Kingly stock and this idea is far older than any sentiment of patriotic love. It is more of recognition then an election when all nobles recognise the man as King.”
I nodded in understanding.
An elective monarchy I wondered.
‘Rest for a while Edward while we wait. My troops will guard you’
I said as traces of tiredness began to set in. Then I was about to go patrolling the woods with Kyle and West but Edward yelled wait.
‘Yes Edward’ and then he look at me. He hugs me.
‘I have never met any man more dashing then you are my lord. Your help have been a huge boon for me and your treatment of me has filled my heart with great awe.’
Arial also felt the same kinship from Edward. They are like brothers. Not to mention their blood. Blood of Caelum.
‘I deserve no such words Edward.’
‘No’ he said determine.
‘You deserve something more than this’ he said. And he nodded to himself ‘and I got the perfect way to express it to you.’
I just smile not knowing what Edward has planned. If only I knew at that time…
CASTLE OF ARLEANS
We have been received with warm welcome into the city with all the nobles from all parts of Vangua is here to once again recognise the sovereignty of King Edward.
There are 22 lords here at the castle excluding the King. Vangua is a huge Kingdom divided into 22 region rule by a Duke that governs the lesser nobles and the King rules the duke.
However the difference between Edward rule and my rule is that the land of the Duke is theirs and it is their fealty that becomes the backbone of his strength for the throne.
Me, on the other hand, the land is all mine and I rent it to the lord under me, which meant if they displeases me, I could take back my land and instead of a noble army for any noble house the state of Arrandy have a state soldiers, obeying only my orders.
Which is why none of my nobles lords dare defied my orders. Their life and livelihood depends on my grace.
The coronation has begun with the Bishop of Lysander that came from Cori Grand church and Vern Bishop also came to bless the King while the nobles even Harald kneel, recognising Edward as their King.
The Vernian Bishop anointed the crown. The Crown is plated in sterling gold with red diamonds going completely around the crown.
The design of the full crown is lower in the back than it is in the front.
The Cori Church anointed the sceptre and both of the Bishop present both of these items to the King as the King kneel and the Bishop crowned Edward head and the Cori Church hand him his sceptre and the castle cheered.
The recognition of Edward as King is also watched by King of Dostov Terris Quinn, King of Zettel, and King of Cori, but Adrian has sent a letter saying he sent me as his representatives, while Renasia had to decline because of their on-going campaign.
Even though I do realize that Harald expression is not at all happy. How could he be happy when his plan is destroyed?
The nobles that once so resisting of Edward rule now accept him because of the pressure of the Church and the rebellion of the common folk has become a headache for them.
With the return of the king, they are convinced that peace will dawn again in the Kingdom and they are willing to move past old resentment. So does Edward. But I doubt he would or could forgive the Orleans.
Then the feast began.
Roasted and boiled meats, rich stews, platters of buttered root vegetables, sharp welcome greens and sweet fruits and nuts means a rich feast and full bellies.
Large amounts of mead and ale were brought up from the cellars for the feast.
The house of Orleans has set out long trestle tables with benches to accommodate the lords and pork, oxen, horsemeat, poultry, beef and huge variety of fish were served along with vegetables.
Poets, minstrel, bards would recite sagas of Levitia and poems of Leliana and the long history of Vangua formation.
The bards would get the lord dancing and some of the lords took to the tables and dance while the other lords encouraged him.
Every single one of the lords wears their finest clothes and jewellery.
Edward himself looks kingly today. Wearing his crown, he looks more charismatic and his clothes also help him to look more formidable.
Noble and robust is the word I describe Edward appearance right now.
He wears a blue tunic with attached chainmail sleeves and gauntlets, as well a detailed emblem that depicts his crest symbol a rampant lion on a gold and black shield with golden wings.
His red lion hide cape with the medallion on his neck, hanging for all the nobles to see just enhances his appearance of nobility. It makes a noble impression.
Usually this kind of feast went on for days but I don’t think I will have time to join them. Tomorrow I have to go to my objective.
I n the other hand is more preoccupied for tomorrow plan when I depart. It has been a few weeks since I began my journey to Vangua and tomorrow I will depart . To meet him. To seek him.
And this is when it happens.
The moon light that illuminates the hall suddenly dimmed. We all look outside and see the moon covered by the sun as many believe.
Scholars from Asteros called this occurrence lunar eclipse. It is said that when moon orbits our world which proved the heliocentric ideas of Emperor George the Wise, it falls into the world shadow which will turn the moon dark.
Then the lord’s gasped and I had a foreboding what will happen.
There is unease in the hall. After the coronation something like this happen. Sign and omens. And common folks, noble lords, priest and bishops believe omens and signs. Afterall there are some magic older than time itself.
They all look at the moon, awe and transfixed as slowly the moon show itself again.
And now the Hall whispered, while the noble lords began trying to find meaning on such occurrence just after the coronation of Edward. I need to dispel the worries.
‘HAHAHAHA’ I laughed.
The tension suddenly tense up Harald who is near me said
‘Why the laugh’ Lord Arial he said.
‘God has given us a sign’ I said.
‘A sign?’ Lord Prodence asked
‘Yes a sign.’
‘Are you a moonsayer?’ Lord Ahelia asked
‘I could see some’ I said
‘What sign?’ Lord Prodence
‘A new beginning’ I said. ‘Light after dark. Peace after chaos.’ And with that the lord nodded. They are not hard to convince. After all people believe what they want to believe.
‘He is right. The fact it happens after King Edward coronation only strengthen the fact.’
‘You are quite a knowledgeable man Lord Ahelia.’ He seems to be pleased with the compliments. Seeing this, the other lord agree.
‘Yes, Lord Arial is right’ the other lord chimed in. Then once again with a laugh, the feast continues while Edward looked at me with appreciation. I just nodded. After a while the Agreement signing had begun. an alliance between Aetherland and Vangua and recognizing the rights of Edwards as King. With that the peace can be uphold.
Then suddenly in the long table while the lords and nobles singing bawdy songs and drinking ale and wine a yelled can be heard.
‘Lord Arial!’ The yell called me.
I look at the person who yelled for my name. Edward seems to be in a happy mood. I got up from my seat when the song and the chatter stopped.
Everyone knows who I am.
My exploits has already spread to all the continents. The Dragon, they called me.
‘Yes, Your Highness.’ I said formal in front of his lords. I could hardly call him Edward in front of his vassal, else it may show disrespect, no matter how close I am with the King.
Then he called Harald and this only make more whispered.
I just wait in front of Edward with a tight face. What is he doing?
‘Kneel’ he said
So I begin to kneel.
‘Not you friend.’ I am puzzled.
‘You!’ he pointed his finger to Harald. Everybody seems shocked. Harald especially. Harald with no other choice kneel.
‘Swear your fealty to the Lord of the great Duchy of Arrandy ,Lord Arial Vermont and I will forgive your transgression right here right now.’ The lord’s all gasped in disbelief.
‘This could not be done, Your Highness. Lord Arial is of foreign state’ some of the lords began to advise the King.
I look at Edward and said
‘Please reconsider Your Highness’ I said.
‘I have made my decision. Your family bear treasonous thoughts for the crown. If not for my forbearance I would have you executed the moment the Bishop put the throne on my head. In front of all these lord swear your fealty to him’ he said
‘My protector and friend. He has sheltered me when I’m in danger, fed me and protect me when my own people tried to harm me. It is only right that I repay him. I could not give him land here, nor could I give him a title, but I could give him a vassal.”
I was flustered, standing there not knowing what to do.
And the look of the other nobles is piercing. I am not a coward but I know of their envy to Arrandy and now for one of their lords to bent their knee and kneel on a foreign lord.
It is not unusual; but it is usually done if that lord has gained many approval from the other lords.
And this might also create problem between me and Adrian. Even though the King owed his crown to my father, and did not have any ground of offence against me personally, I know there is some machination from the King’s Court to try to meddle in the state of affairs of Arrandy.
He may be afraid that I would secede from the Kingdom, creating a Principality.
It is not ridiculous to think that Adrian is insecure of Arrandy power as a self-governing state, even though that power had for much more than half of that time, acted more than a friendly part towards Aetherland and his rule.
It was not unnatural that the Vangua people should cherish a strong national dislike to the Caelum lord like me.
After all, combined with their envy and racial distinction between Caelum and other race is also a part of their reason for disliking me to be given such honours.
Harald on the other hand suffer no such slight.
That is because he is not pure blooded Caelum, like me. My father and mother might be farmers before they become lords but they are pure blooded Caelum.
But such motives were not openly avowed then any more than now. The rivalry between the Vermont family and Alan is famous.
My involvement in killing Alderam is known to all. My father involvement in making Adrian King is famously told in songs and poems all around the Continent.
And here Edward asks the son of that man to kneel under the feet of his father killer, the family who exile him from Aetherland, never to smell Aetherland air again, watched by Alderam allies.
Not to mention they viewed Arrandy as a menace fearing that I would set my sight for the land south of Aetehrland.
Everyone knows that House of Vermont and House of Althea will be bonded in marriage. Since Althea rule around the South then it is only right that they fear Arrandy strength when united with Althea.
With gritted teeth, Harald kneel to my amazement and the other lords.
Everyone watch him as he uttered his words. I know he speak of the word for fearing his own life.
‘I swear to Lord Arial Vermont my fealty. I am his shield and his sword. I will shield him from harm, and avenge him if he were to die. I will not harm him or his family.’
And with that Edward laughed
‘That is good.’
He is drunk I mused but what done is done.
‘I accept your fealty. Rise’ I said. Standing there I don’t know what to do, so I began thinking that I need to get out of this Grand Hall as fast as possible.
‘I will excuse myself Your Highness’ I said while I walk to the door Kyle and West following me from behind.
‘This is dangerous. I have no doubt Harald will not let this slide.’ I whispered to Kyle and West. West understand the graveness of the situation and he nodded.
‘What we are going to do now?’ Kyle said from behind.
‘We will leave tonight” I declared
CHAPTER 77: THE THOUGHT THAT STARTED IT ALL
‘The stormy sky’ I said looking from the balcony.
The clouds pile slowly since the morning I noticed them after I finished my court. In a very short period of time they have piled up.
The sky turns gray and thunderheads that looms above.
Then with a booming thunder, the rain falls and then another lighting shoot itself from the clouds, producing a white hot and blindingly bright, dispersing shadows for a split second.
After the agreement is signed a week ago, I have finally returned to the Palace in Darc.
Arial quickly depart that night after in my drunken state I forced Harald to swear fealty to him. It must have been uncomfortable for him. But maybe it’s not such a bad thing.
Of course anyone would regard such promise as void but maybe not to the eye of the common folk.
Anyway, it has been done.
And maybe it is fitting.
After all the dragon has done much for me, more than the other lords of my Kingdom ever did for me.
One year at the castle of the dragons taught me much. I had to rely on my own wits as some of the nobles plotted against me and I even emulate the style of Arial, a dear friend.
I have learned at least some tricks of survival and diplomacy from my years as a relatively insignificant figure at a foreign court.
The exchange of status from refugee to king is rather sudden, but at least I had some experience of the game.
I also received the blessing of the Church, and both the Prince Articon of Vern and Cori were present at my coronation thanks to Arial great relations with both churches.
The anointing by both Bishop from both Church also strengthened my claim to the throne.
Considering Arial is patron of many churches his relation with the church has always been good. That is how Arial plays with power.
From what I know of Arial he is not deeply religious. But that isn’t meant to say he is someone that doesn’t believe in a higher supreme power.
He believes in God but he is not sure whether the Church god is the real god. His decision to back the church is more about political means than a religious one.
He takes advantage the influence that the Church have on the masses instead of making the Church his enemies.
The recognition of Vangua throne passed to me is also underlined by the presence at the ceremony of representatives from the king of Dostov, and king of Cori, King of Zettel but Renasia had to decline because of their ongoing campaign on Cora after annexing Tuca.
I also brought some Caelum born nobles from Arrandy with me to assist me after seeing Arial govern his region I must admit I impressed and I wanted to build the same kind of region in my country.
There is also some Priest and Bishops that Arial had hoped would be promoted to a good position in the vacant churches of Vangua.
The Central Church is of course overjoyed and this is how he maintained control of the Church approval.
Living among Anglais-Raxons people, I was utterly happy when reunited with my Caelum brethren in Arrandy as they teach me our customs.
They accept me and protect me.
Arial especially. I brought Massey cousin Robert to serve my military, Silas cousin on his wife side Aleph who were granted some lands around my region to help fortify my position if the Orleans ever decided to mount another attack on me.
Arial advice on me does not fall to deaf ears. Some received lands and some received appointments in the Church.
This would certainly create conflicts with the Orleans and the other nobles but if do not do this I would be overwhelm with the Anglais-Raxons lords that will surely pressure me to do their bidding.
As per Arial suggestion, I married Amelie Orleans, the younger daughter of the deceased Lord Jean.
We talked about this in Arrandy, when the young lord advise me to seek a common ground to satisfy Orleans and their ambition.
At least with this measure, a stopgap measure admittedly. The Orleans will wait for an heir while I can plan for my steps.
I was older than her seven years her age. She is crowned as queen. No one is in a position to make me marry.
Not with the dragons backing me as Arrandy grown more powerful and wealthier with the trade route that is open between Zettel and as news come to me that several noble houses in Vern is rebelling. Something is happening there and if my intuition is right Arial have something to do with it.
The marriage is clearly intended to seal an alliance between me and Lord Harald, the lord of Arleans.
I am content with Amelie. I never consummated my marriage with her. Why should I? I know what Harald and his wife is planning on marrying me with Amelie.
I may want their alliance but even I’m not that stupid. They want the throne to pass to my offspring.
I would not consummate marriage with the daughter of the man who killed my father. And Amelie is content to sit at my feet, a loyal companion.
Rather than a wife, I treated her like my own daughter. And Amelie herself does not loathe me. We usually spend some time playing cha’tur and reciting poetry. But I never touched her and she didn’t hate it either.
Today another conflict between me and the Orleans arose.
The bishopric of Prodence fell vacant after the unfortunate death of Bishop Ordolr, when he fall into a deep ravine on his way back on a stormy weather.
Harald promote one of Lord Bascogne son, but I favoured Bishop Paul, a Caelum and someone who is very close to Arial.
This is the reason why I so want to elevate Paul to the position.
I have never forgotten his kindness towards me and this I hope can please the young lord of Arrandy.
The other Anglais-Raxons lord protested to the appointment and resented it.
The reason I did this is not only because I want to improve Vangua relations with Arial in Aetehrland but also to show to the other lords that I am independent enough and have power enough on the court to break away from the Orleans, now that I’m well established.
I have done this deliberately and after thinking about it seriously.
Political alliances between Vangua and Arrandy though never written in paper are recognized by many nations and the hostilities between Cori and Vangua governed much what occurred in my country.
The Corian new King seems aggressive and so is his expansionist policy.
I of course paid heed to these threats and look to whoever that might counter these threats.
Freya is useless.
They supplied many slaves to Cori which is why I turned to Arrandy and their army for help. Like I said, I learned many things in my years at Arial court.
I kept connections with others who might be useful against Cori, such as the Dostov, Renasia and Danoa Republic beyond the South Sea.
But for now I intend to rule and the Orleans still a threat. But I will endure. I sighed as I look on the moon. Jean is dead yet a new enemy arose, younger and stronger bolder and smarter. I sometimes envy Arial.
Arial was already a ruler whose fame had spread far beyond the borders of his own duchy,and revered by his own people and rule unchallenged in his duchy, and whatever people said, he has been influencing the politics in the Continent.
His reign began at 14 years old, and the events that happen after that could not corrupt him in the way in which so many princes have been corrupted.
His whole position, political and personal, could not fail to have its effect in forming the man.
Aetherland and Arrandy though Arrandy lies in the Kingdom, they are uniquely not part of the Kingdom.
In turn for their help in securing Aetherland crown, they were given a special status, in the Kingdom, almost like a Kingdom in a Kingdom, each owning a precarious supremacy.
I could not help but feel that someday, this two forces will battle it out.
The reigning king, Adrian Alan the First, owed his crown to the help of Arial father Aries Vermont, the Kingmaker.
And while the Vermont family deeds on securing his throne is a noble endeavor , surely Adrian will feel pressured by his court to match the vastness of Arrandy influence.
Even when they redraw the Duchy, Arrandy become bigger swallowing the smaller counties under his rule and after Arial marriage with Lady Helia, then his influence would extend from East to the South.
While Arial may have few allies in the North, that is not saying he has none. This is the complicated relation of Aetherland and Arrandy, a precarious balance between the great duchy and the Kingdom crown.
Arial shows no sign of rebelling and even his most staunch opposition could not accuse him of wanting to sit on the throne but that doesn’t mean they didn’t envy the power that Arrandy holds over them.
The fact that Arial can very well, take the throne but did not, may become a sore point for Adrian.
While the King harbors no resentment to Arial, his court dislike him and the influence he has on determining the King action invites discord of the worst kind
The mutual dislike between the people of the two courts is strong. Considering I too live there for a time I know how intense it can be.
Not to mention even though they are in the same Kingdom, their culture is different.
Acro, the great city situated at the heart of Arrandy, is different in that their organization and the fact that many courtiers in Arial court is filled with talented people instead of people that is descended from good lineage.
This doesn’t mean that all of them is not noble but only the most talented noble can serve on his castle.
And the fact that the people of Arrandy enjoy freedom that no other part of the Continent has ever seen.
And, as the fame of Arrandy grew, jealousy was doubtless mingled with dislike.
Arial, in short, inherited a very doubtful and dangerous state of relations towards the king who was at once his chief neighbour and his overlord.
The young duke reign and ascend to power is something that many lords of the Continent talked about believing that the new duchy would be weak led by a young boy, but he dispelled their notion that Arrandy grown weak after he took over.
Successful in battle and genius in his political maneuvering, I could not help but be awestruck.
And he was lucky in that he has no other contender for his duchy.
His father Aries cultivated an area of mud and forest to become one of the greatest city and since Arial is his only son and the land never belong to any lord before and was given to Aries by Hadrian, when he inherit it, no contender dare claim the land.
He is still young, but no longer a child or even a boy, this I have to admit while looking at the setting sun.
No one could deny he is a wise and valiant man, and his valour and wisdom are tried to the uttermost.
It was on the War of Succession between the Spear and Shield that marked; truly, I believe the true strength that the Vermont showed that made them one of the most influential families on the Continent.
The battle that is started because of the succession of Arouen to Adrian marks the series of battle that make the Dukedom to a Kingdom, united in a single cause and all of it is orchestrated by the Vermont family.
Picking Adrian as the winning side is a risky move but he prevails and in prevailing putting himself and his family into the forefront of the politics of Aetherland.
And then his father abdicated in favour of his more talented son, and now he is the lord of all Arrandy the vast land, and able to put down any plot or disturbers of peace in his region.
‘He has been schooled for the rule of men’ I muttered to myself.
I could not help but feel someday he is going to do something so great that his name will be remembered a thousand years from now.
He has a gift.
He had the gifts of a born ruler, something not every lord son have, and he was in no way disposed to abuse them.
He made Arrandy peaceful and flourishing, more peaceful and flourishing perhaps than any other state of the Continent.
He is everything, a wise and beneficent ruler, the protector of the poor and helpless, and the patron of commerce, art and knowledge, and of all that might profit his dominions.
He is cold and calculating, that I do not deny but he is an able ruler, he did justice, to visit wrong with sure and speedy punishment, whoever was the wrong-doer.
And Paul unknowing to his lord attention once suggested the thought of succession of Arial to one of the duchy here in Vangua.
I just laughed it off but maybe it is a fine idea. He is after all a great ruler. It even crossed my mind to give him the throne. I laughed it off of course.
By Vangua custom the king was chosen out of a single kingly house, and only those who were descended from kings in the male line were counted as members of that house.
Arial is not descended, even in the female line, from any Vangua king, or any nobility .Such a kindred, could give no right to the crown according to any doctrine of succession that ever was heard of.
It could at most point him out as a candidate for adoption, in case the reigning king which meant me should be disposed and allowed to choose his successor.
Though if I have no heir I could choose him……I shake my head.
I should not be worried about this. When I have gained power I will expel Orleans from the Kingdom and then I will marry a woman of my choosing.
But that would cost me the alliance of the other Vanguan lords and nobles. But the effect will only be for a while. I smile looking at the dark clouds.
With that thought and the thunder booming behind my back I started climbing the staircase to go to my chamber and sleep.
CHAPTER 78: STRIKE THE WATER
SOMEWHERE IN VANGUA
The sky lightens as I look at the city in front of me. I have been riding for days now. A week has passed by my calculations.
The sunrise intensifies, growing brighter, the sun showing its face, as dawn is replaced by the revealing brightness.
The mountain huge and mighty appears black as the sun rises. Mount Di’llion. Maybe that is where it is among the Churches, and temples and fire Temples.
The smell of the earth emerge, the smell of the grass and flowers releasing their scent while the sun touches my skin and warmth seeps in.
It has been long since I enjoyed such….peaceful morning. In the castle there is always some tension and unease.
Plots and intrigue need to dismantle, battles that need to be won.
It is pleasing this kind of morning. The birds coo and sing and call their companion to spread their wings and fly. The movement of people began.
The City of Tryon.
The cities near the mountain where many temples are built. Surely one of them will know where the direction for Linzi temple is.
After all to seek Linzi Temple here with so many temples and churches here would be hard if I don’t ask the locals for help.
I reached Bayern border and the mountain around Lorai’ne is where I need to go. That is what I gather from my short conversation with the people I meet.
I need to ask for some direction so I dismount from my house at an inn, pay them gold, to look after Firebringer and went into the marketplace to restock and seek information.
This city is quite lively.
I could see the wooden stalls, selling and bartering their products, vendors with bright fabric roofing where they hang their merchandise.
The wares are laid out on cloth while the sellers calling out to the passer-by, selling food, vegetables, jewelry, weaponry, books, bright bolts of cloth and silk, spices, fruit, alcohol, ale, clothing & shoes, elixirs and so many other stuff.
I could see children working the crowd and stall; some are begging, merchants in their wagons creaking as they pass me, beef meat sizzling on a grill.
There is also the troupe, the same one I once admitted to my state. I remembered they once performed a play during Levitia Homecoming in my region. Remembering the Festival, reminded me of Lisa and Kyle.
So they are still performing I mused.
I had to avoid some people while walking. There are so many people walking, talking, running over the market and the noise is lively.
This is almost as busy as Acro I muttered to myself.
But not busy enough. In Acro smell of spices, people of different race and religion, people from Distant Lands all traded there. In liveliness this city is the same. In trade it is far from Acro.
But I had to squeeze through gaps of people just to reach a stall. At least that part is the same, though in Acro they would open a path for me, but since I’m here in disguise they view me as just another traveler.
The bread stall seems popular. Maybe it is delicious and tasty, I guessed. I could eat at the inn but who knows? My destination is near. Better to have some supplies of bread.
I stopped at a bread stall and smell the yeast from the baked bread and bought about 5 of them.
Then I bought a few vegetables, some potatoes, leeks and eggs. It reminds me of my mashed potatoes with smashed egg the type of dish I always serve Lisa ,Helia and Kyle during our quest.
I am their lord but in our quest I’m usually the cook with Helia helping me slicing the onion while the siblings always choosing the patrolling job.
After buying some of the breads, I begun going to the taverns to find some information. Usualy the tavern is full with people and a hot bed for miscellaneous information. Surely the tavern keeper would know the famed Linzi Temple.
On entering, I quickly ask the tavern keeper and he said that Linzi Temple is on the top of Di’llion Mountain.
Thanking his service I bought an ale as a sign of gratitude, rushed out of the tavern and return to the inn, took my horse and ride to the mountain before night comes.
Firebringer has ridden speedily like he always is. The path to the mountains is steep but not impossible and Firebringer can do it.
West and Kyle right now must have departed to Aetherland. Kyle has reservation with the plan but I convinced him saying that I need to establish contact with some Vanguan lords to help Arrandy influence here.
But of course that was a lie. I have no intention of meeting the other lords but mostly to cure the ailments that ills me.
After a few days, of constant vigilance, I am finally convinced. No one seems to be following me. No one knows I’m here.
No one knows what I’m doing here. My plan worked. I just hope the second part of the plan also worked.
West is disguised as me as per my order, and to inform the people of the castle to keep up the ruse among the House Council.
He is riding the carriage while Kyle is guarding him like he usually guards me to avoid suspicion. Now that Edward position in the Court is secured I can go to my real objectives of coming here to Vangua.
Maybe not entirely secured but still safe enough. He will have his problem. Plots and intrigue to fend off.
I have my problem to settle. The Linzi Temple, I muttered, reminding myself of the destination that may hold an answer, a cure to this poison that grows stronger every day.
It will not be long before I succumbed to the pain. This is why this measure is imperative for my survival.
The famed and Great Linzi Temple, revered among the people of the martial art world, and a trove of historical and precious documents from the Lost Generation.
It is the abode of the Abbot of Linzi Temple, the Southern Healer one of the Four Immortals. Abbot Montesquieu of Frank descent is the Souther Healer.
The reason I came here is because beside the Church, the only one who have text on Lost Generation that survives the burning of books is the Temple which make them one of the rare places that have countless of precious book from the Lost Generation.
The protection of Levitia serves them well during his purge.
I am sure Montesquieu would know how to translate the book and give me some definitive answer on what I have to do cure my poison.
With the text I got from Michael, I am at high hope.
Then night came. Looking at the mountain, I surely will arrive at the morning if I ride at dawn. For now I camped around one of the trees, setting up fire.
Alone, I look into the clear moonlight, after finished eating the bread. I whistled to alleviate the loneliness.
The sky is clear today, and the moon appears among the starlight.
“It cast shadows, while dark things roamed” I recite.
I always wondered while I always quoted the Book of the Dark god. To me it stark difference with the book of Light always leave me puzzled.
The Book of light which always focus on good fighting evil and always prevailing is not so interesting compared to the Dark God testament.
In the book the story begins a little different though it almost sound the same.
“In the beginning there is darkness. And then light came and shower the world with it Grace. The One created many creatures.”
That is how it usually goes for the book of Light. The book of the Dark god beginning is like this
“There is great wisdom here for those who are enlightened. Open the pages, read the verses. There are words veiled and obscure meanings hidden beneath small and great shadows.”
That is how it started and in the end of the book it ends with
“O look at the stars you Ignorant fools. Look towards the moon. Look towards the sky. Look and be awed”
“Forbidden energy, shadows forms and predator comes to hunt. This is the peril of darkness The Maid said to her companions”
Thinking about it the Maid in the Gospel of the Dark God may refer to the First generation.
No one knows how this organized religion is formed but anyone knows they have long existed before Levitia.
Though there is some chapter added later like Levitia Quest and Alan Gospel, the other stories in the both book of Church and Light refer some things that happens thousands of years ago, Journey of the Maid, reunion of the Tribes, The Trials of Family.
It is the story of people with great morality and great strength, where the God is vengeful and swift in his judgement.
I look back at the moon and marvel at its beauty, remembering the many times I met Helia under it’s light.
I smile to myself.
For a moment I forgot all the things that worried me and just…look. Still in the cold night air, illuminated by the shining moonlight, breathing, feeling the peaceful serenity of the forest and just look.
My quest of gaining some information for my disease would hopefully be fruitful. Then the pain strikes again and I quickly clutched my chest in pain.
‘Arghh’ I winced labouring under the pain.
Quickly I regulate my breathing and slowly regulate my tangled internal energy. I could feel it fighting against each other.
‘I have to bear it.’ I said gritting my teeth.
At least for tonight.
Then the cloud covers the moon and with that I feel the weight of my tiredness weighing on me.
I should sleep and with that I lay my head on the ground, under the starry skies and with hope in my heart I close my eyes.
NEAR THE LINZI TEMPLE
I just reached under the Temple.
One more hill and I will arrive at my destination. Since morning I noticed many people is going to the temple.
I first encounter them at dawn. They are all resting at the forest, and from the looks of it seems they all camped at the same place.
They all looked like the people of the martial art world. During my quest I sometimes meet some people of the martial art world and my spymaster informed me of such movement. After all, I too learned many martial art.
I just didn’t interfere or meddle in the affairs of the martial art world. I’m too busy with ruling and preparing that I never learned formally from any teacher.
It is lucky that I learned the Levitia technique and the technique hidden in the Imperial Library.
I have been, trying to create new technique combining the technique of the Imperial family and Levitia technique.
One technique emerge from this.
Dragon Palm. My own unique technique. Now I’m trying to create a feet technique utilizing the swiftness of Wind God technique and the force that the feet can employed in an attack.
“Ouii” I whistled and Firebringer slow his step.
They all seem to rest around this open establishment under the Temple Hill. I am curious. So ,I tied my horse to the tavern.
I notice the people looking at my horse no doubt curious about the colour of my horse. I take a seat and order some tea while I open my ears to listen.
‘I wonder what is happening around the martial world, Brother? Why we are here in the Temple Hills? So many people from all around the martial art world?’ someone with a sabre in a weird design talking to someone who is very thin but also had a sabre almost similar to the person.
The thin man just sipped his tea in silence.
‘I heard the Western Serpent has come from the West asking for a duel with the Southern Healer.’ One man chimed in
‘Is that so?’ another man said. I recognized the man pendant. Sun Moon Sect. I looked around and saw the Blinding Sword Sect, Ermeishan Sect, house of Knives Sect all in the same stall, looking at each other.
I sipped my tea as I tried to listen to what they are saying, the tension intensifying. I could feel it, the unease with so many people of different sect is here, with longstanding feud, chains of hatred and enmity.
‘Yes, that is true.’ The thin man replied.
‘Who knows who will win?’ The Blinding Moon sect disciple asked
The Ermeishan a sect of martial art that only accept woman yelled “surely the Western Serpent will win.”
Western Serpent is said to always cover her face with a golden veil so no one have seen her true face but it said that her eyes are green and her obsession with poison is feared among the martial art world.
Not to mention her strange moves and prodigious talent in martial arts made her the youngest of the 4 Immortals and very dangerous.
She rarely let the people who challenged her be alive and she is known never to spare anyone who stood in her way.
Her bitter rivalry with Northern Badger and her hatred towards the Eastern Devil is famous. Though her relationship with Southern Healer is a little different. It is said among the 4 Immortals, the Southern Healer is the only one she respected.
So, the story of why she would challenge the Abbot is weird indeed. Weird but interesting and may well hinder my sole reason for coming here.
Maybe I will know more stories if I hear them bickering. There is something afoot here.
‘Hmph!’ A man from Blinding sword Sect said spitting his spit to the ground.
“Western Serpent defeating the Head of Linzi Temple? High is your dream” he said and his companion laughed.
“Why not? Western Serpent must be really strong and bold to challenge the Linzi Temple” the girl shouted.
‘Like I said Linzi will win!’ the man shouted
‘Is that so? Then why are you here. Is it not to support Linzi Temple if somehow Southern Healer loses to the evil sect?’ she said mocking the man.
‘YOU!’ He said almost bringing out his sword but fortunately he is stopped by his companion.
‘Hmph, the Linzi Temple has maintained their reputation around the martial art world for a reason. How many times Linzi Temple has been challenged by how many sects and they have never lost.’
The debate started getting intense until one man of the man that have the weird sabre looked at the crowd and said
“Should we bathe in blood or should we watch the gathering in the Linzi Temple and watched the conclusion?” He asked and everyone turns quiet.
Who is this man? I asked myself.
Then it hit me.
Weird saber, two people, one muscly, one thin, it is the Arathorne Brothers. I don’t know why I didn’t recognize them sooner.
They are a duo in the martial arts world, fear and respected. No I mused. More feared then respected.
They once studied in Yilin but commit adultery and when they are brought to the Hall to be punished they refuse, fighting the 3 Elder Monk and won and cut their relationship with Yilin.
Since then they have been roaming the martial art world and have made quite a reputation for themselves. Then quickly they all pay for their food and ride to Linzi.
I then went to the owner ,pay for my tea, took the reins and ride to the Temple, with unease filling my heart.
It seem today will not be a good day to meet the Abbot. But I need to see hm fast ebfore my illness becomes more grave.
After hours of silently following the martial arts people, I finally arrived at the temple.
We have begun moving away from the Holy City. The huge and long bridge of Levitia. Today we began crossing it.
The wind that passed by is terrifying but the sturdy bridge hold us steady. After the lords all protest that we should began moving I have no choice but to continue marching
But it will be long before we reach the Wall. Maybe 2 to 3 days. I have explained it to Silas and he understands.
He also said to proceed as he has created a new plan. He has sent letters to Arrandy and notified the Commander of the Bleeding Wall.
He is close. So close he can smell the rats squeaking….His word. He is dramatic, that which Silas is.
Silas said he just need a few more days. He said that Aleister is the one heading the meeting so he said he will need some time to determine when he will hold the next meeting.
I must admit, Silas is a great spy and manipulator.
His connection with the beggars around the Holy City and the thieves he train from one of the many slave boys he purchased has shown their usefulness.
The slave girl on the other hand has been given their freedom and 1000 gold each to start a new life.
It seems that even though Silas can be cold at times, he has his heart at the right place. Now I must wait until Silas got the date.
He said for a few days he needs to disappear for a while to confirm his suspicion about something.
Today he has returned, hiding behind his cloak again.
He enter the tent in the middle of the night undetected and look into my eyes, smiling a crooked smile and said ‘I have a plan’ he said.
‘Say it!’ I said eager to know his plan.
He then laid out the situation for me.
‘I have been waiting for a long time, employed many means, and send many thieves but this mastermind, is as elusive as a shadow.’
‘His code name is aptly given’ I said
‘Yes’ Silas nodded but he is still calm.
‘We know that there are some nobles, lords and maybe Kings that wanted to get rid of you, from your throne. They may view this endeavour of war as their own making, searching for something, that is what I believed and that something lies in the Human Continent. But more I believe is lured to the prospect of wealth and glory, maybe even some zealots”
“But you couldn’t punish all of them. You could not execute all of them, innocent and sinners in the same execution block could you?”
“Yes. That would surely bring a lot of opposition” I said nodding again.
“Then they will rebel if you ever do something like that. But how do we force such elusive figures out from the dark to come under the light?” he said reciting a bit of Book Of Light.
“Time has passed and no moves are made from this alliance of these evil lords so…”and he looks at me and smiles a perfect smile of deception, hinting some mischievousness
“We have to draw him out and so that all the little rat come out of their tiny little hole, and only then the snake can gulp them down and the stars could shine light on these nameless traitors,” He said laughing referring himself as the snake considering his family crest is a snake and mine is a falling star.
“And how we do this? I asked
“Give Aleister Crow 10 thousand strong armies of the Orc King.’ He said calmly.
‘What! You want me to give my enemies an army?’
‘Yes’ he said
‘His army alone is 20 thousand. Giving him another 10 thousand would only serve to strengthen him.’
‘It would wouldn’t it?’ He said smiling, like he is seeing something more.
‘What is it that you are planning Silas?’ I asked began feeling curious of this confidence that Silas is exuding from the way he talked.
‘Your Grace, I am not a strategist like my own lord, the noble and virtuous Lord Arial but if there is something I have to admit, it is this, I’m superior then my lord when it is about reading people. This mastermind of this alliance may have a different reason to propagate a war between humans and demon race but Aleister? From what I can see, and what I hear he is greedy and selfish. Anyone who looks closely at him can see that he desires your throne, the power that comes with it and the guilty pleasure it would offer him. Never before I have been so disgusted of a demeanour of a man before. Even Alderam, have certain redeemable qualities.”
“Then, when I give him the army?”
“Then I’ll do the rest” and he sat close to me as he whispered his plan. And hearing it, I have to admit, he is a genius.
CHAPTER 79: ENCOUNTER AT THE TEMPLE
The trees and grass greening up around the foothill of the temple. I could see flowers blooming, daffodils, tulips and buttercups.
Buds blossoms on tree. The warm sun greets me as dawn passed and the sun shows it face. I look at the sky.
The birds began migrating to the North. The scent of flowers fills the path. Spring has come and the sun warmth can be felt in my skin, that fresh touch of the breeze as opposed to the winter cold.
And then after walking along with the people of the martial art world with no one asking anything even though they are curious but they held their tongue and they speak among their own companion. I arrived at the temple
I moved to the entrance of the huge temple, looking at the bald headed monk that guarded the entrance.
The place is very quiet and serene if not for the chattering martial artist. There is something here. The tension is felt. The chatters and whispers fill the entrance while each of them walk to the entrance.
Trees covered the temple and in the yard and a huge tree act as a roof shielding us from the sun.
The shades and the shadows shelter us from the heart of evil men and sinners; I’m reminded suddenly of one verse.
The other martial artist all tells their intention for visiting the Temple when they pass the monk. The monk nodded and give them way.
I approached the monk.
‘Reason for visiting?’ he asked, apparently surprised a boy of so young came here to the temple. Even when I climbed the mountain I’ve never met someone as young as me.
I’m ten and six and still considered a greenhorn in the martial art world though Western Serpent herself is young when she roams the martial art world. I don’t know why my age would puzzle the monk so much
‘To meet the Healer.’ I said confidently. He look at me and from his eyes I know he is curios why is a young boy such as me wanted to meet the Healer.
‘Today there is some big event involving the martial art world. If you could come tomorrow.” he said maybe to warn me of the danger
“I am one of the martial artists” I said my tone is harsh and commanding until I forget no one here knows I am a lord. And this is not my region. But at least that rattle the callous treatment that I received from the monk. He began looking more serious.
He sighed. After all, the Abbot never forbids anyone from coming to the Temple. It is not his job to try to rid of someone whose only sole purpose is just to meet the Southern Healer.
‘Fine but anything that happen to you will not be the responsibility of the Temple, Kid” he said a little warningly.
I enter the temple and see that many have already arrived. The righteous sect and the evil sect have already assembled.
The evil sect is so called name not because they are evil but most of them are considering they use their technique to do what they want instead helping the powerless, they use their technique to help the corrupt and the sinful.
And even though they are called evil, not all do miserable thing, but they are…you can say have a complicated sense of honour.
Not to mention their technique usually inflict certain tortures and very dangerous. After all two of the Four Immortals are said to be from evil sect, but still respected and revered among the martial art world community.
They all seemed to be crowded around one point of interest.
It seem a person is being crowded by the other sect. I could see the Ermeishan disciple, Taojing and Shadow Skulker Sect is huddled up in one corner of the huge yard.
The other corner around the entrance to the main temple is crowded by the disciple of Sun Moon Sect, Blinding Sword Sect, Yilin Temple, Lishan Sect, Limitless Blade Sect and Nanshan Sect that everyone knows their leader is the Northern Badger, Xiang Shun Guai.
So, it seems even the Northern Badger sent some representatives to help his old friend. The friendship between the Northern Badger and Southern Healer is as famous as Northern Badger enmity with Western Serpent and his rivalry with Eastern Devil.
I just sit around the bench near the yard, looking, trying to understand what is happening here.
Then from the Inner temple a bald man with a white long beard, wearing a monk robe, a robe of coarse cloth, his eyes are brown, a sage eye and a calm demeanor. The crowd chatters and whispers quieted.
He is muscly but not like the Arathorne Brother but more like well defined. Fit and I am convinced it is from the internal technique of the Temple. He doesn’t look old but with a calming dignity. He walks with a vibrant energy and his smile calms people. His face is gentle and he looks to be welcoming
The Southern Healer I mused.
Then from the corner of the yard the voice of a woman yelled, a cold voice laced with anger. And the crowd around the person disperses away.
‘You have finally come out from your sleep, Montesquieu! I have been waiting long and you know my temperament. I hate waiting!’ She screamed and the crowd around that person disperses revealing to me the Western Serpent.
After all with the design of her palanquin and the famed Serpent Maiden behind her, 12 woman clad in white all covering their faces, there is no doubt this is the famed Western Serpent
Whatever I imagine of her it is not this. I look again just to make sure. It is not this, I mused again.
She has the look of a mature woman, her mouth is veiled but her beautiful clear green eyes scan the people and her surrounding, her gaze is determined and resolute.
She is beautiful, I have to assume and her attire make her exquisitely beautiful. It is not extravagant or full of accessories.
She wears a full length white dress in the Western style, Zettelian fabric, attached green jade belting and western tribes graphic, printed along the hem of the dress in gold.
On her head is a laurel designed to seem like a serpent. She wears a pair of elegant sandals that complement the cut on her dress and a serpent bracelet on her arms, looking dignified like a Queen.
I put her age to be 20. She is like a rose, Beheld from afar beautiful, touch it and you will be cut. Such is the appeal she possessed, a charm I did not expect that emanated from one of the most dangerous martial artist from the martial arts world.
‘No wonder people called her youngest one of the martial artist said.’ I heard some chatter.
‘She is the son of Poison Lord. No wonder she can be one of the most famous martial arts practitioner.’ another chimed in.
“Beautiful and mystifying” Another added.
I nodded in agreement. It is because of this factor, that she is so versed in poison and her prodigious skills enables her to learn and create many weird martial art technique.
‘Ah, Sharazade. You have come’ he said calmly.
‘Yes.’ She said, the hint of anger is still there.
‘What is this ruckus about then, if you don’t mind explaining?’ the Abbot asked. Surely he knows. He is trying to persuade the Serpent I believe to go down the Mountain ad return home.
Then the movement begins.
The Sect all takes their places on both corners, some supporting the Abbot, some supporting the Serpent. The evil sect support the Serpent, the righteous sect supported the Abbot.
The Serpent looks at ten Abbot with a hurt expression. ‘I have heard what you said of me. I am not the Western Serpent if I do not defeat you today.’
‘What do you mean?’ The Abbot said puzzled. From the looks of it, he really doesn’t know.
The serpent got up from her chair and began to talk about her disciple adventure.
‘One of my disciples Batrisya went to Zettel a month ago. She then encounter a man called Liao Bao’ and with that name my ears perked up.
Liao Bao? Then I remember that I sent him to Zettel a month ago.
“This Liao Bao is the disciple of the Northern Badger and he said to my disciple after defeating her, that the Western Serpent is not the only youngest among the Four Immortals but also the most weakest. He said, he doubts I could even defeat the famed Southern Healer. Imagine my anger when hearing this.’
Liao Bao is the disciple of Northern Badger! Then I remember again. That Liao Bao is crafty and maybe he said to enraged his opponent.
But if he can defeat one of the disciples of the Serpent then that means he is not any normal person.
I recognized his agility because I have once seen him fighting side by side with Helia but his internal energy is not that high. Then probably he excels in techniques.
I will ask him when my business here is settled.
The Abbot shakes his head slowly.
‘So, this is why you came? The deed of your pride?’ And he shakes his head again.
‘Would it satisfy you if I said I’m weaker than you Sharazade?” He bargained ready to exit the scene.
Apparently the Abbot doesn’t care much about his reputation as long as no one get hurts. In my position it is good of course. I could then ask him what I want to know.
‘I want to defeat you in the battle of arms, for the martial art world to see, I’m not weak’ she cried.
To me she looked like a whining child.
‘Then let just say that I lose to you.’ He said and he was about to enter the inner temple when a flying weapon fly towards him with incredible speed.
‘BE CAREFUL’ I yelled while the audience gasps.
But even when his back is turned his hand on his back held the flying weapon hovering in the air making it levitate with his sheer profound internal energy. I must admit that is quite powerful even, probably more than me.
He turned his face back staring at the Serpent, his eyes full of pity. There is something about them both. Some history none of the people here knows.
‘Abbot please take offense’ some of the other sect supporting the Abbot plead.
‘She is intent on making Linzi Temple lose face’ one of them said and this makes the Abbot uncomfortable.
I understand his dilemma. The Abbot may not want to fight her, but he could not let a thousand year of reputation crumble because of him.
I on the other hand feel the utmost respect for the Abbot. During the Invasion, they are they forces that volunteered to fight off the horde.
Them and the Knight Academy.
Thinking about it, the history is changing more rapidly than ever. There are many things that have happen, some key points in history change from my memory.
The Knight Academy is no more, after Orval and the other teachers were hunted down by the Inquisitor. For what, I don’t know. But I must admit that my meddling might have created some effect.
Even though my illness is important, the Abbot is important too.
To me and the Human Continent. Even though I might not be a match for the Western Serpent I am determined to help the Abbot if the situation calls for it.
And I am actually curios what is truly my level of internal energy? I never spar anyone of truly important. Some rogue criminals that come from the martial art world and even then I felt it was too easy.
‘Do you really intend to fight me, Sharazade?’
‘That is my intention.’ She replied
‘Then let us spar a little’ he said reluctantly.
And the energy turns around the yard. Suffocating and heavy with their internal energy swirling around the place, finding a delicate balance. The leaves rustle, the wind strengthen
I use my own internal energy to resist being weak in the knees like some of the disciple from the Sun Moon Sect.
‘YAHH’ With that battle cry the Serpent begin her attacks. I look at them began engaging each other in battle.
Then they fly to each other and employ a palm moves. The Abbot use Calming Palm a technique used to counter strength with softness.
The Serpent uses a weird palm technique, her hands look like mirage trying, undoubtedly to confuse the Abbot and attack his vital points.
Their palm hit each other and the wall behind the Serpent blow up with a terrifying sound while the trees behind the Abbot were cut to countless pieces.
The Abbot does not underestimate the Serpent that is for sure. To make that wall blow up like that….requires a strong internal energy.
I look with open eyes. I have studied Levitia technique and from there all technique arises. SO I could understand the logic of the Abbot attack.
They then exchange blows. Hand to hand, feet to feet, palm to palm. It is extremely fast and normal people surely could not follow their moves, they were like lightning, agile and fast.
Every step they take the tile cracked around them, every palm strike the wind blows a torrent of gust, every blow missed destroy any object around their vicinity.
Western Serpent technique is like the rumours sates. Vicious, cruel and deceiving. And confusing, lulling her opponent to attack her and that is when she attacks.
She tried in the beginning attack to gouge the Abbot eyes, employing her fingers in a scooping motion but thankfully the Abbot avoided that.
The Abbot is also capable, in not falling for her traps and feints. That must be hard to try to see beyond the surface of the intended intention of the Serpent
The Serpent tried to target the Abbot throat this time but with Fire Finger technique, a technique involving shooting an invisible, piercing internal energy attack to one body, the Serpent had to retreat a few step and employs a defensive stance as the Abbot press his attack.
I could see that the Abbot is just trying to incapacitate Western Serpent instead of going for her vitals.
This is not a wise move but one considered to be honorable. After all rarely monks take a life unless they had to. If he did target her vitals I doubt the Serpent can last.
But I’ve been proven wrong before. Maybe she has a hidden secret that could overturn the decision. Who knows?
After all she is not known for her internal energy but for her craftiness. How many times she has fought the Northern Badger and wins with her craftiness?
And this is where I could see how she employs her confusing technique for the first time. She is truly a genius to think of all this.
If you think she will employ feet technique, she will use palm, if you think she will use palm technique she will use strikes.
The gasping of the crowds and their cheers fill the yard while the monk all takes shelter, fearing that they would get caught in the battle. I sit calmly in the bench just waiting, watching.
Around them the tile has turned to rubble, revealing the brown earth.
The torn wall behind the Serpent and the destruction that the Serpent has inflicted on the temple entrance to the Inner temple make you believe that there is just a big battle involving two armies.
They then flew to the roof of one of the thatched house in the yard and resume their fight. Palm against palm, feet against feet as they fight in midair not giving an inch, each blows sounded like thunders. The elusive and confusing technique of the Serpent have almost made the Abbot fall into her trap.
They do not fight using weapon, but even without weapons both of them are deadly.
But I know there is a fundamental difference between the two. When engaged in hand to hand combat between two master, lives is always at stake.
The eyes of Western Serpent show determination. She may respect the Abbot but that doesn’t mean she would not kill him.
That is the twisted honour that the martial artist live by. She is determine to kill, her killing intent can be feel even from here where I’m sitting. The defensive action of the Abbot worries me.
A fight is not won by defensive action. If the Abbot attack, some vulnerable point on the Serpent will eventually be open to attack.
Some of the spectators have dry lips seeing tow of this famous figures fighting. Even the Arathorne brother gulped looking at the battle.
It has not been even half an hour but the yard look almost completely destroyed with the tile no longer exist, the walls, half destroyed, the entrance to the Inner temple look like it would crumble by a breeze of wind.
‘Yahh’ the Serpent yelled and with her internal energy she kicks the roof of the thatched house and by God the roof flew like a flying knife to the Abbot.
The roof. Not the tile but the entirety of the roof.
The Abbot yelled ‘Lion Roar!’
I recognized that technique. One of the unique techniques of Linzi Temple.
It frightens enemies but it is more than that. It allows the martial artist to take a deep breath, which in turn will allow the martial artist to stream and concentrate his internal energy at one point.
With that screaming in midair he releases a strike to the speedily approaching roof and BOOM! The roof split into two in midair while the spectators below quickly run to avoid the debris.
They both landed back at the yard. They quickly look at each other, gauging each other of their capabilities.
Western Serpent. Southern Healer. They deserve their reputation as I watched with awe. There is much to be learned.
Even though the western Serpent has been attacking the majority of time, she is sweating and has loss of breath while the Southern Healer seems unfazed. Even though he is older he is more stable in his pose and he looks at the Serpent with pity.
‘Do you meant to kill me child?’
‘I’m not your child’ she said adamantly.
‘Why won’t you use the Light Piercing Finger Technique?’ She said anger in her tone, clearly angry thinking that the Abbot took her threat easy
‘I have no enmity with the western sea or the Serpent Island. Why should I harm you?’
‘Hmph. Do you think you have won?’ she snickered.
‘The battle is far from over!’ she yelled and she with a leap began using her famed technique The Serpent Bite , a clawing technique that said can ripped apart anything.
The Abbot quickly leapt out of the way and her fingers penetrate the stone brick of the inner temple entrance just behind the Abbot.
He almost got ripped apart by that technique. If he did move away it will be him, that would be him that suffers the fate of that wall.
With a shrug she exerts some internal pressure and the stone brick crumble. And so does the entrance. ‘A miss’ she muttered under her breath.
The people gasped seeing such display of power and began distance themselves. I am alarmed. The Abbot need to advance and take the first initiative.
‘Maidens attack!’ she yelled.
And the white maiden in the corner all sheathe out of their sword obeying the western Serpent and leapt to the Abbot.
Seeing this I could no longer just sit.
‘STOP’ I yelled and I jumped from the bench and the bench were thrown off because of the force of my jump and quickly I enter the battle.
SHARAZADE VELLA DAKRIA (WESTERN SERPENT)
Someone leapt to stop the attacks of my maiden. I look at him. He was a young boy. A very young boy compared to the sea of people here
That much is sure.
‘DRAGON ROAR’ he yelled as he yelled imbued with his internal strength.
He leapt from the bench in the South corner and with one roar manages to incapacitate my maiden. My maiden by the sheer pressure of his internal energy were thrown back and landed on the ground writhing in pain.
The other spectators, even the Arathornes shut off their ears blocking in vain because the boy has imbued his yells with internal energy.
Without strong internal energy, they bled from their ears and nose. Some withstand it while looking at the boy with awe and amazement.
It is profound internal energy, hard, strong and raw. One I did not expect from a stranger. I have never seen him before, and I have seen many noteworthy martial artists before.
I’ve met the Arathorne Brothers, The Mad Scythe and many others in the martial art world. But I have never seen him.
I looked at the young boy.
He is tall, white hair and muscly. He looked intimidating, his white hair flowing gracefully behind his back, his clear blue eyes look at my maiden with reproach. He seems charismatic and exudes authority.
He doesn’t look like a wandering martial artist and there is a hint of nobility that he couldn’t hide. This is a man used to power, I mused
The other crowds shied away from the battle looking outside the broken wall, so in the yard there is me, the Abbot this young boy and my maidens writhing in pain, holding their ears as blood flowed out of their nostrils and ears. They looked at amazement at the boy, muttering and chattering asking if anyone knows where the boy comes from.
Both of us are shocked. The Dragon Roar seems almost like the Lion Roar only it seems the boy technique is a top notch more powerful and the pure energy that emanated from the roar…..is astounding. Such purity of raw power.
I could see the Abbot expression. And since the beginning of battle he was unfazed but seeing this even he is shocked.
He must have known it too. That boy is…something else. I have seen many leader of sect and I could not identify the boy technique. It seems like Linzi Temple influence but seeing the Abbot expression clearly, the Abbot has never seen him before.
So does the boy peculiar amount of internal energy. And if anyone can shed any light on this matter it will be the Abbot.
After all, among the four Immortals he is the one most expert in the matter of internal energy, considering Linzi temple specialty in handling internal energy and broken internal energy center.
Then the boy satisfied looking at my maiden writhing on the ground turn to us.
‘Venerable Abbot, forgive me for interfering in your battle. I just find it hard to stomach the inequality of the fight’ he said cupping his hand to the Abbot while clearly dissing me.
‘Boy’ I said, anger rising.
‘It is fine youngster’ the Abbot replied.
‘Thank you’ the boy said ignoring me.
Then he sits on the ground, right in the middle of the yard, just looking at us.
‘Please do not mind Junior.’ He said. And he looked at me, his blue eyes staring at me, like a predator looking at his prey.
I am alarmed. Rarely in the martial art world people would look at me directly but the impertinence this boy showed me makes me both angry and a refreshing feeling.
‘Who are you?’ I said, feeling angry and frustrated that he did not show respect to his senior. Even though I am only slightly older than him, considering his face look young, I am still his senior in martial arts.
I have been roaming the martial art world since I am ten years old. Though….and it is ahrd to admit….it does feel refreshing not to be feared and avoided.
‘No one important’ he said, clearly obvious he intend to conceal his identity.
‘YOU DON’T RESPECT ME KID!’ I yelled, with a warning tone.
‘Respect needs to be earned’ he said fearlessly.
It is…different. Usually people would be afraid. Maybe he is feigning bravery and I looked into his eyes but there is no trace of fear.
My intention of continuing this fight soured. I have been humiliated enough today. Even though my internal energy is strong, the Abbot is still at least stronger than me in internal energy mastery.
Not to mention, I have a feeling I continue this fight the boy would interfere in my fight and surely the martial art world people will not see it as an advantage after all he is a junior and to their eyes the boy must look inexperienced but I know better.
I would not survive those years if I do not have a discerning eyes on people. This boy internal energy is very profound.
If I fight the Healer alone I might have a chance but if he joined I wouldn’t be so sure. I look at the boy with curiosity.
I excel in external attacks and tricks. One on one is my weakness. Not to mention I don’t bring my tools and weapon. Hand to hand combat with The Southern Healer.
If its weapon I would not be so humiliated.
But I can’t back down either and lose face here in front of the people of the martial arts world. No, that must not happen. There is a reason why my name inspires fear.
The boy looked at me and somehow he could see through me, looking at me.
I know I looked dazed.
He then said suddenly prostrating his head into the ground,
‘I came from faraway land to seek guidance and advice from the Abbot. If the famed Western Serpent block my way and cause disturbance in Linzi Temple how can I seek guidance. Surely there is mercy in Senior heart. I beg of you to seek satisfaction for another day’
‘You demand from me!’ I said.
‘No, Senior. I beg.’
He said a little grin on his mouth.
He knows that I couldn’t keep this up any longer and telling me to save my face before it is too late.
‘Fine.’ I said feigning like I’m the one that has the advantage here. But I’m not going without having the last word.
‘2 years from now I declared’ and my voice reverberates around the mountain and hills ‘I declared I will held the martial Art Meet, to solve the question who among the martial art world is the strongest . Anyone can join. I expect your attendance’ I said cupping my hand to the Abbot.
The Abbot look amused but he nodded. 2 years is enough for me to prepare. ‘We will return to the island’ I said and my maiden tried to get up but they look unbalanced while the young boy raise his face and said
“Thank you for your generosity Senior’
‘Hmph’ I muttered under my breath.
I walk pass him and I could feel even just walking beside him the internal energy that is leaking out of him and it surprised me.
I didn’t say it but I feel like I’m seeing the Eastern Devil when his young. No…this young boy is stronger than Eastern Devil when he is at that age.
One day, he will surely be a great martial artist.
After that I took my carriage and climbed down the mountain while promising that 2 years from now I will reign supreme in the martial Art meet. Surely all the 4 Immortals would join the Meet.
CHAPTER 80: THE RATS SHOWS THEMSELVES
After that spectacle the other martial artist all climb down the mountain while whispering about the implication of what the Serpent has proclaimed.
And the implication of such declaration is diverse and surely by the time the story is told many people would want to join. Eastern Devil, Southern Healer, Northern Badger and Western Serpent would surely meet and settle their differences once and for all. It would be the battle of the century I mused.
It has been many years since the Martial Art world has martial arts Meets. Many, many years. The last time it established the Four Immortals. This time to establish who is the strongest among the four.
The venue is not yet finalized but surely the Western Serpent will announce it alter and send invitations. And with fanfare it will be received considering it has been a long time.
Surely this would be one in a lifetime event he heard people said. I could not help but nodding in agreement.
Usually the martial arts meet is held to solve matter of importance to the Martial Art world. Such as blood debt that involves many sect that might lead a war among the sect and schools of martial arts or some criminals of the Martial Art world that has done many terrible thing to the martial art world but have the protection of their sect and they decide whether some sect will save them or fight to kill him.
And this to the world of martial artist is regarded as important. But this….battle that the Western Serpent proposed….it is interesting.
The strongest martial artist of the era.
However it doesn’t concern him.
He quickly after being offered thanks by most of the righteous sect for helping the Abbot to diffuse the situation get acquainted with Shu Ren Gui, the Arathorne Brothers and many others while hiding his name.
Shu Ren Gui, when I speak with him said that he is searching for someone.Then after it calmed down, he asks to meet the Abbot in private.
The Abbot thankful that no one is hurt and for the timely intervention Arial had exercised agrees wholeheartedly.
He is then transported from the yard by some other monks to the Inner Temple and he looked at the Teachings sarativat, the teaching written at animal skin that detailed the Teachings.
He looked at one of the teachings and marvel at its wisdom.
“A wise ruler should not neglect minority opinions and give a careful hearing. Nevertheless, it would be foolish for a monarch to make decisions based on a single person’s opinion.”
How true and wise the teachings. The Three Ancestors left a lot of Wise saying, this Arial had to admit.
After that the other Monks leave the Abbot alone with him and he began by saying that he want to meet the Abbot with a request.
He then introduced himself to the Abbot and his position in the continent. He tells him everything, shedding his disguise, for honesty Arial believe is the right thing to do here.
The Abbot is shocked but he did not interfere in politics, like most monk and he promise no word will come out of his mouth that Arial have ever come here. Arial express his gratitude for the Abbot cooperation.
The Abbot looks at him and asks what the request is, for surely a noble of such stature does not come here to chat.
Quickly he held out his hand and asks the Abbot to feel his pulse. Once again he stared but the Abbot had already had inkling
He then with puzzlement feels it and his eyes widened.
‘You…you have been poison with Seven Black Worms!’ he said startled and shocked and once again he try to check the pulse and he shakes his head.
He smiled a bitter smile.
‘Yes Abbot I have’
The Abbot looked at him with resignation.
‘It is remarkable that you have endured it this long. If not for your miraculous strong internal energy I doubt you will survive. But it gnawed on your health, this poison.’
Arial nodded. He knows this. After being inflicted by this poison he has made many inquiries, read many medical texts to see if there is any treatment.
‘What do you expect from me, Lord Arial? Even I’m not capable to treat such poison especially one this long exposed. Poisons are not my specialties. The Serpent may have more knowledge about it than me, but considering you have offended her, I doubt she will help you.’
I nodded again.
‘It is regrettable for me to say, when I see such a young promising man have so little time, but this I could not cure.’
‘I know’ I said
‘Then why did you come?’
‘My request is for something else.’
And I open my knapsack. I scrambled around, looking and grabbing, checking the content and handed him the scroll. The scroll is a copy of the originals.
‘What is this?’ he asked.
‘My salvation’ I said and quickly I explained to him my request. That the document is a rare text found by one of my people, detailing many medical conditions. And the inability for my people to translate certain parts of the documents.
For him to translate the document using the many text that is kept in the Temple. Arial explained to him he would appreciate if the Abbot would help him in this endeavor.
He opens the scroll and looked at the Seven Worms illustrated in the scroll and in the bottom his eyes widened.
I know what he sees.
At least that I understand.
‘Then …’he said ‘you have to wait for a few days here while I try to translate this passage’ I nodded.
And with that I began living at the temple.
A few weeks after our discussion, I give Aleister 10 thousand army with ceremony and feast to congratulate him. The feast were filled with Aleister supports, Lord Zorgos among them. There is even Lord Daimon, drunk on the third cup, but a capable general.
He suspects nothing. Of course he must not suspect. This plan is mine and Silas. Mostly Silas but still, my point stand.
Elkar was at the feast and he could not believe what I have done. His eye glare at me the entire time.
That night he came to my tent determine to ask me of such idiotic decision making on my part. He enters my tent, furious and confused. More furious than confused. Of course I expect such reaction.
‘Are you jesting, Your Grace!’ Elkar yelled.
‘To give an army to Aleister. And that big. What are you thinking?NO! You must not be thinking? Or else why would you give him that?’
I already rehearse what I’m about to say. Silas ….even though he knows I hate lying to Elkar he still ask this of me.
‘I wish to rid of him’
‘And how do you do that?’ Elkar asked his eyes return to vitality, curios.
‘I will ask him to attack the wall, and when he is weakened I will return from Arakath bringing reinforcement.’
He looks at me. Not at all suspecting that this is not the true objective. The true objective is far more complicated and would only work if Aleister bit the bait. The bait is gold and riches. The prize is the throne.
‘You mean you want to trick Aleister?’ Elkar ask
‘Yes.’ I said confidently my face did not betray my lie.
‘For today he will rejoice but a month later he will weep. I will go next week. He believed that I have entrusted him to attack the Wall but I know better. The Wall will not crumble, nor would its soldier run.’
He nodded in understanding
‘Please keep this a secret’ I said to Elkar and he nodded.
Then after talking about other things, Elkar excuse himself. A few moments later, from behind then Silas enter.
‘You did what I ask Your Grace.’ I turn to him and nodded. Like I have a choice. I must admit Silas plan could potentially rid me of my enemies in the Court
‘I don’t like lying to Elkar.’
‘It had to be done. To deceive your enemy you first have to deceive your friends.’ He said his hand on his back, looking under the moonlight like a sage, if a sage means a very mischievous person running around in the shadows , looking behind your back and snickers all the time because that is the kind of feeling I get when I see Silas.
A combination of wise and playful persona.
I know what he is planning and it’s not for us to return tomorrow morning to Arakath but something more brilliant. Something more sinister, one that can only be cooked up on his head.
After that we went through the plan again ad after we are perfectly remembering the plan we nodded to each other and wait.
Though that night Silas did get drunk from drinking to many wine and complain about his wife. It seems he has quite the vibrant marriage.
Hearing him talk about his wife, I am filled with longing over Arianna. Be patient my moon. I will come for you.
A WEEK LATER
NEAR THE BERGEIT HILL
We are camped near the Bergeit hill, resting. Silas has warned me, that tonight some rats will go out of their hole and I can shine some light on these nameless and faceless traitors.
That night suddenly there is a commotion outside my tent, the sound of horns blown and gong hits. The screams and the yelling begin, a warning sound ringing in my ears.
I open my eyes.
Like he always is. That playful Sage, as I called him. Silas was right. I didn’t want to admit it but he was right. I wear my armour, clean my sword and sharpened it against the whetstone, donned the helmet and step outside, ready to slay some enemies.
I could see it from the distance.
I see the march, an enormous force of 45 thousand troops lead by Aleister in the front, Daimon beside him, King of the Orc on his left side leading these armies against me.
He is confident I smile. Let see how long that will last.
He has openly led a war to depose me. I smile and I almost laughed. Aleister and his followers do not even realize the trap that is laid upon them,
‘A rat trap’ Silas exclaimed. The voice came from behind and I instinctively turn my head. And there he is.
Silas then appeared behind me looking at the march.
‘What did I say Your Grace?’ he said smug expression on his face. He is calm and collected; the sight of the large army did not even unnerve him.
He is always like this. Smiling all the time. It is like he is playing his own game of his own devising, and likened to playing cha’tur in a dark room with unrecognizable cha’tur piece, for infinite stakes, with a player who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.
‘Your words are true.’ I said, gritting my teeth.
‘As it is always does.’ He said smirking.
Before Silas advise me to put the 10 thousand troops under Aleister, Silas has secured the support of the other noble lords that he is sure not involved in the alliance, under my name, sending them letters to show their loyalty to the throne of Arakath.
And to complete that before this battle, he has planted some spies in the 10 thousand troops sent to Aleister and bribed several of Aleister allies to not show up for battles.
He also said that not all lords know the true intention of Aleister conspiracy and most of them follow seduced by Aleister promise of gold and riches
Aleister must believe that the other nobles did not show up because he needs to show first that he can win this first hurdle.
I look at Silas with trepidation. The planning and the subterfuge he employed….fills me with amazement. I would love to have him in my court. He is not a trustworthy one but his talent in politics is undeniable.
‘AZRAEL!’ Aleister yelled a few miles from my big tent yelled ‘I HAVE COME HERE TO TAKE YOUR HEAD AND PUT IT MY DECORATION PLAQUE’ he said laughing confident of his victory.
I jumped to my horse.
‘Silas will you follow me into battle?’ he shakes his head.
‘Battles, swords and shield are not my specialty. Words, plots, intrigue, that is my game, Your Grace. I’m afraid this is where I part from you. This is your part’ he said to me, standing still at his spot
I rode off and yelled
‘IT WILL BE ME TAKING YOUR HEAD OFF’ and they laughed until suddenly the back of my tent were filled with torches, making the dark night suddenly bright.
Behind me is 70 thousand troops from Arakath. I have long sent letters to Arakath to send reinforcement under the greatest secrecy.
The battle loomed over us as the soldier in Aleister side tremble, drop their weapon and flee. Some run to our army showing their intention to defect, mostly Silas spy and this encouraged Aleister troops to defect to.
‘YOU!’ He screams at the top of his lung, looking at the suddenly reverse situation.
Under my direct command I led the 70thousand troops. Aleister confused and fearful on what he must believe an easy victory startled and very much afraid, and Lord Daimon seeing this, without no other choice, took charge and deployed defensive position in Bergeit.
This battle of nerves begins as dawn is showing. Seeing the sun, and seeing them almost clearly, I believed it is the time to follow them
‘FOLLOW THEM!’ I yelled as I began the first charge with the cavalry.
Lord Daimon protecting Aleister as Aleister retreated with the Orc King. ‘COWARDS!’ I yelled seeing that they are trying to run away. They cannot get away. They must not get away.
Lord Daimon deployed his troops in a strong defensive position, flanked by two streams with high ground on the opposite banks.
On his right flank, an allied lord, Lord Areen, held a position on a third rise, Lord Lar Kor an Orc General, on the far side of the Bergiet River.
Although well positioned, the troops were tired from the day’s march, and their own morale is diminishing.
With such overwhelming force I could understand their fear and uncertainty. I approached them and battle is moments away. I charge and we broke their infantry lines with a cavalry charge as we slash and slash.
I quickly engaged them. “TODAY IS A GOOD DAY FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO DIE!” I yelled and with that my armies followed me.
The resulting charge resulted in many of the infantry lines of Daimon trampled to death; sound of skull crush under the hoof of our warhorses is like the sound of song with their rhythm. CRACK..CRACK every a few second interval. We were slashing away, as head flies and limbs severed.
Lord Mila, my father in law led the advanced guard, holding my left flank, and charged north along the river against Daimon right center.
He has more than enough reason to be angry and furious than most. He is almost used as a tool to start a war. Not to mention Crow and Vor is his friend and both are the Heavenly Noble Protector. One could only imagine his feeling of being betrayed by his friend.
The ground was sodden with the previous day’s rain, so the battle there soon degenerated into a slugging match.
They used clubs as I see head smashed like a pumpkin, punching the enemy an Orc army using their strength to smash my troops head with one punch, the troops head turns liquid mush, blue blood flow, and kick and even some troop uses their teeth all part of the body is used to inflict the most severe injury any of them could do.
It is brutal. It is bloody as red blood, the blood of Orc and blue bloods shower the ground and yelling and screaming is nothing but siren song.
Mud and mud, and the brown earth, the sand surface turn quickly red and blue as blood showers them.
With the battle thus opened, I sensing an opportunity ordered attacks from my right against Daimon left, and my center to support Lord Mila. Quickly my vassals understand my intention and followed my stratagem perfectly.
This left, as I had hoped, Daimon center untouched, and he quickly commanded Arul Forre, another Orc general to come to the aid of his buckling right flank.
I smile. That won’t work.
Arul refused to move. He is one of my people. And for now the fact that he is not moving from his spot is good enough.
It decrease the enemies morale and envelope them in despair, depriving them of hope. And at this time, sitting on top of my horse, looking at the battle I remembered Silas words to me.
There is nothing harder than to win minds and hearts of men. Win it and there is nothing you can’t achieve. I nodded at the time didn’t pay it too much attention. But I guess he is right again.
Some troops past the defensive circle and tried to attack me. I quickly dispatched them as I moved in harmony with my troops, mowing any enemies on my path.
But in the grand scale of thing I need to be planning and wait for the opportune moment.
On Daimon right, Lord Mila attack with its supporting troops was gaining ground, with terrible anger and Lord Mila with his large glaive cleave anyone in his path to be cut to two and this induce fear in their armies.
What Lord Mila doesn’t realize during his attack, is that, at the same time he is focused on his attack, he is exposing their own flank to a force across the river commanded by Lazar Vorm, a dwarven Elder.
Just past Lazar force was that of Bako Verim on Bergeit Hill. Both of these forces were in a position to smash into my exposed left flank, and Lazar acted. I quickly fortified my position as my elite guards encircled my positions more tightly.
Daimon men stabilized the line and repulsed a second attack by Lord Mila. A capable lord I must confessed.
With momentum shifting, Daimon yelled clearly believing he can strike a charge using Bako that is on top of the hill. I am prepared to engage him. I yelled to my troops “BE READY!”
“HAH!” My troops replied
‘CHARGE DOWN BAKO, AND ATTACK’ Daimon ordered to charge down from his hilltop and begin to roll up the army.
Instead, he sat still on the hill, on horseback, just looking calmly at the battle, scanning the situated troops.
Wait? I looked and I sense a possible ally. Look at the winds Silas words suddenly emerges on my mind.
‘ARROWS!’ I yelled as I ordered them fired to Bako. I ordered the shots fired at Bako force to see what they would do. Our eyes meet form the hilltop and he smiles. I smile. And I nodded. I understand.
Bako, realizing the time had come to make a decision, threw in his lot with me. Wise decision I must say. He must have been scanning the battlefield, looking for anyone he would find to be the winner of this battle.
His men did charge down the hill, but into Lazar force.
Unfortunately, unprepared to deal the attackers, a severe blow is inflicted on Daimon splintered division, and the turncoat’s of many men made an impression in their charge, making many more of Daimon troops flee or slay and trample under the weight of Bako charge.
But Bako, they were now exposed to yet another small force on that flank commanded by Kael Verim.
A determined attack could have supported Lazar and turned the flank who is trying to help Daimon, but Kael decided to defect to my army, no doubt following his brother.
I couldn’t believe my luck. With this new surge of men I charge and began chasing Aleister, with many path opened to me.
Finally outnumbered, Lazar had little choice but to retreat. That opened Daimon right flank. With his right flank destroyed and his center being pushed back, Daimon decided to make a run for it, the coward he is.
Daimon army collapsed, running aimlessly only to be slash into two by the large glaive of Lord Mila or trampled by Lord Zardon cavalry and I see an opening to go and end Daimon wretched life.
A traitor to the throne and one of the lords that conspire for the war. It is only right I will end his life.
I am determined to take his head.
‘YOU TRAITOR!’ I yelled and as he saw my blade near him, he yelled with pale face, fright in his eyes and with a slash his head flew and his army collapsed behind him while Lord Mila regrouped his army and quickly take chase on Lord Aleister and the Orc King. I grabbed his head and I hold it up high showing that their commander has been dispatched.
I then threw his head on my path and my horse trampled it and the sound of the crushed skull can be heard again as Daimon eyes bulging out from his head, and his ears excrete yellowy fluid mix with blood red.
But I know the battle is won.
Silas is there in the battlefield after the battle has been won. I look at him again and remembered his plan when he enters my tent a few week ago.
To draw the rats Silas have to see…or more accurately need to see several moves ahead. Silas knew that conspiracy if let to be foster the danger and the severity of such problem will be harder for me to handle, so he let me trick Aleister.
Silas let Aleister know what my plan is, which is to rid of him, the fake plan, and he let Aleister decide the time and place of his revolt, one that is not that hard to deduce.
So by goading Aleister to rebellion, Silas has think of everything to make sure that Aleister rebellion will come to no fruition.
He watches the people Aleister make contact with, and noted who is loyal and who is not. He laid bait for the rat and the rat that Aleister is, he bit it.
And now knowing who are my enemies and my allies I easily persuade the other nobles to fight for me.
A monarch should never launch an army out of anger; a leader should never start a war out of wrath he once said to me.
Then I began moving to the battlefield to see what has happen, and what is left in the battlefield.
NEAR THE BATTLEFIELD
There is a jumble of limbs and skin around the battlefield. The other troops that did not die surrender and lay down their weapon.
Lord Mila with his swift chasing has managed to capture Gruk Vor and Aleister Crow. They are transported into my tent right now in chains.
The fragment of corpses filled the landscape of the sand the yellow sand become a surface of red.
My armor is crusted with blood of traitors. Everything around me smells of death, leads to death or inspires it.
Ghoulish faces all around me looking at me with their cold dead eyes, their blood is still warm. If war erupts with the humankind, then this scene would be the norm.
I strengthened my resolve. I look at this one dead soldier, a deep stain around his mouth and lips, his eyes were wide with shock I presumed. His body was wide open with wide gash, his intestines jutted out and the smell is nauseating.
I look with sympathy. I kneel down in the battlefield, reached out and gently pulled his eyelids over those misty eyes, and how I wish that it didn’t come to this. Looking at the battlefield all I can see…..are people dying. My people. And because of what? To incite another war?
I hold my fist tightly determine to know the real truth. The mastermind of this conspiracy and with that I jumped to my horse and rides to my tent, to hear the truth.