CHAPTER 108: TILL WE MEET AGAIN
He was in his room after returning, playing around with Helia and her daughter when the announcer announce outside his room that there is something important.
He clothed himself and leaves the room.
‘An extraordinary message has arrived from King Edward the Saint,’ Oliver exclaimed when I arrived at the council room.
Ah this, he muttered under his breath. Helia has explained to him last night after the feast of what Edward has sent for her before my departure to the dark lands.
The king of Vangua, Edward the Saint as he now known throughout the Continent, sent a letter with an invitation and a gift.
Invitation to his throne and gift rarely ever given, the nomination to the throne of Vangua. I took the letter and see that it has been open by Oliver.
It is his job to check dubious letter and Oliver must have his reason for doing this. Arial experience with poison makes him extremely wary.
He read the letter and he is still shocked. Even though the content has been relayed to him, the shock still comes.
Edward is promising the throne to him. And with the letter he entrusted the cousin of Orleans to prove the integrity of his promise.
While at the time Arial is not here in the court, his wife reading the letter decides to house the cousins in the castle dungeon.
They are treated with honours and their well-being is cared for.
But Arial if he is at the time presented with the same choice, he would have declined but what is done, is done.
Arial almost get angry at his wife, but he understand his wife ambition for him. She wanted him to be a King and now from the South an offer for such is handed to him.
It is not like Arial is an idiot.
Edward must have promise his throne to many other people and his position, as Edward has no heir, no wonder people will salivate on his offer and will do anything in their power to appease and please the Vangua King.
Arial has no intention to do so. It is more of a practical matter instead of the matter of ambition.
But his wife insists him to attend to the letter and to take the offer seriously.
In this case, Arial believe, Edward had an ulterior motive, for Edward is only too glad to rid himself of members of the overweening Orleans family.
They may be friends but even friends betray each other. And Edward while he does not possess strength like Arial, his cunningness is not to be underestimated.
‘HAHAHA’ Arial laughed.
And his council just stares at their lord, not understanding. Many in his council only wait for him to make a decision.
It may seem perplexing that the Vanguan king should promise his crown to a foreign prince with apparently little connection to Vangua and whose origins hardly bore scrutiny.
But there had long been an affinity between Vangua and Arrandy.
For a start, there was their geographical proximity, which made it a politic of great importance for the rulers of each domain to maintain a close interest in the other.
The two lands or to be more precise, the two rulers of this prosperous region, also shared a similar heritage, as both of these men, Edward and Arial respectively is Caelum and probably which is why Edward care more about Arial , then his vassals who are mostly Anglais-Raxons and who have incessantly try to denigrate his rule more than once.
Edward the Saint had also spent much of his troubled rule in Arrandy, together with his lords and loyal Knights.
They had been cared for by Arial and the lords of Arrandy, but mostly Arial, young and brave, who prominently play a part in securing the King safety during his stay.
As a result, Edward had grown to be with strongly pro-Caelum sympathies and admiration for his kinsmen.
After becoming king, Edward married Amelie, daughter of Jean Orleans, but they were childless.
This is why people readily believe Edward promise. And why Helia push very strongly on this front.
It was said that Edward refused to consummate the marriage but Arial believe this is because of his antipathy toward the Orleans family.
His suspicion onto the Orleans family might also play a part in his decision.
And there are many things Arial has done to aid his brother in arm to gain Edward pleasure and grace though unintentionally.
For their relationship is like a sworn brother, all those months spending time together.
Arial also know the power players in Vangua. The two houses, Orleans and Merovich is in a path of war.
In order to counter their influence, Edward began to build up a faction of Caelum retainers at court.
It is no secret there is resentment between Orleans and Merovich.
In the days preceding Arial wedding, before that, a most changing event happen in Vangua lands, as both of these family burst into open conflict.
Edward sent Amelie to a nunnery with all her rights as Queen revoked. The effect is startling.
It might even plunge the country to a civil war.
It was this that cast the Vanguan succession into doubt and prompted Edward to name Arial his heir.
In his letter Edward asserts that Arial is well worthy, a young man of high spirit who had reached power by strength of character and of a pure Caelum heritage like him which greatly enhance Edward opinion on Arial compared to his Anglais-Raxons lords who always conspire to kill him.
But the reason why the Vanguan throne is now a possibility for Arial to grab is because of his marriage.
While Arial knows that Helia come from a line of noble families he never truly understand the enormous influence or renown he has achieved by marrying Helia into his family.
While Arial Vermont claim is rather distant, if not an improbability, his wife’s is not.
Helia bloodline was far more closely linked to the Vanguan crown, and the fact that she could claim her descent from many of the great houses in Vangua made her an important asset to Arial in pursuing her and now his, ambitions.
After all, while Arrandy is prosperous, his war with the Orcs prompts him to believe that the human continent will never be truly safe until the continent is truly stable.
And with the North is beginning battle with each other and Vangua seems to be in a brink of a war, Arial begin setting his design on the Vanguan throne.
And the fact that Helia want it, is enough justification for him, to take the throne as a gift for his wife, for he still feel guilty on what he had done in the Dark Lands.
But that doesn’t mean he could forget Velamina either.
But sometimes ignorance is bliss. Telling her would not be for her good. It would be for his selfishness.
To alleviate guilt. So Arial endure it. This guilt is his. He will suffer it as his punishment.
‘Oliver sent Leander to Caen castle to confirm his promise on me.’
Oliver who has already read the letter nodded.
If Edward is true to his words and truly intent to promise the crown to me, he needs to confirm it.
The reason why he is not able to personally visit the King is because there are still many pressing matters in the region and he just got back from the dark lands.
Pressing concerns that need his immediate attention.
If Edward’s promise was genuine, then I am enough of a pragmatist to realize that I am unlikely to gain much support within Vangua should I ever have the opportunity to claim his inheritance.
And this would also put him in the pathway of Orleans and Harald. The political situation remains volatile but in the surface Arrandy and Vangua is at peace.
However enticing, the Vanguan throne it is therefore a distant prospect than a distinct possibility to me.
Nevertheless, it symbolized the remarkable transformation of my position.
It is astonishing that within the space of just 7 years, he had progressed from being Knight and then Duke with a reputation as a greenhorn leader to one of the most feared leaders in the continent and the nominated successor of the king of Vangua.
‘Change one thing, change everything’ he muttered.
Then he order Silas contact the other duke of Aetherland and offer them his alliance.
‘And sent gold and the sword Shadowslasher back to the king and tell the King of my utmost gratitude for lending his family heirloom. Handle it with care.’ Silas nodded.
Then he asks Massey.
‘Any word of rebellion? Plots?’
‘No, my lord. The people and the lords are satisfied with their current position and the peace and prosperity of the region.’ Arial nodded.
‘There is some words, that Adrian court tried to supply Arrandy enemies. If this get bigger-‘
‘Then we will crush it. By now I am used to being on the offensive.’ Arial said.Massey nodded.
Oliver gives him another parchment. It details the movement in the North. The rebellion of the vassal Kings. Finally. Like he expected.
‘It is like we expected’ Arial said and Oliver nodded.
‘Yes, my lord. Like you predicted the uneasy peace is about to break.’
‘Who do you think will emerge victorious Oliver?’
‘Northern Chu or probably Southern Tai. These two factions seem to have the most advantage my lord.’
‘Should we send reinforcement to Northern Chu?’
To send reinforcement to Northern Chu this early in the battle is unwise, Arial thought to himself.
After all, Austen who rules the Southern Tai might even win. The matter of Vern is not really his concern but he knows that in politics to know more is better than to know only half the story.
It will be the ideal situation if Southern Tai and Northern Chu could coexist. It means safety will be guaranteed for Arrandy.
If Southern Tai try to attack the North border of Aetherland, then Northern Chu will pounce.
If Southern Tai try to attack the Northern Chu then Aetehrland can attack from the back and annex Southern Tai.
Anyway if that happens they will create a deadlock among them.
And if, somehow Aetherland is about to attack Arrandy then, Southern Tai can attack swiftly and take the Northern border.
But it is still too early in the conflict to decide if it will happen like that.
‘We will wait’ Arial answer.
‘Summon Zhang Liao Bao to return to Arrandy.’
‘Yes, my lord ‘Oliver nodded, already preparing the letter.
‘What should the orders be, my lord?’
‘Just summon him home.’
‘Noted, my lord.’
Arial then read other documents; one that attracts his attention is the report of the Western Serpent battle with Northern Badger and is injured.
It seems her Martial Art Meet will have to wait. Maybe I’ll join. Hah, he said to himself. I will be too preoccupied to go he said to himself.
But if this is the only problem that I have to solve, it seems Helia did a good job in managing the Council.
Her obvious aptitude for the role of duchess quickly won my admiration and respect. And she has given me a daughter.
Then after listening to the opinion of his courtiers and settle some dispute, give his orders, he dismissed the council and began walking to his secret library.
PRIVATE LIBRARY OF VERMONT’S
He is in the library, looking at hundreds of books in his own personal sanctuary. All the cleaners, the bookkeeper has return to their quarters for the day.
He walks admiring, while his mouth is reciting, reading again the letter from memory.
In the library, he opens her letter again and a few tears escape his eyes and then he chooses one book.
Then he began to spoke in a reminiscence tone.
‘I could not stop thinking about your face. You who came to me like thunder in a stormy plain. My heart hurts and if there is any sign that I love you then it is the pain that I endure since you have left me. Every day I look into the stars above, praying that you kept your word and look me in the starry skies. My heart pounded every night you came into my tent, my Elvenan. Starlight follows you and dances around you. Your scent that rides the breezy wind and when my eyes look at yours I get nervous. I will remember you and I will believe you. If your words are true, one day we will meet again. And until that day…. I will be waiting.’
And with those words he put the letter into one of the books; his private book, the Study of Dragons and he walk away and seal the library.
Arial is throwing the little baby up and down, cheering at the little baby, with a look of pure happiness.
‘So have you thought of her name?’ Helia said as Arial is showing faces to her daughter. The baby chuckled.
‘Hmm….I have to think a great name for our princess’ he said and he blow to the baby stomach.
‘Ahh, look at her. She loves it’
‘Stop that dear.’ Helia said shaking her head, looking at her husband. He really dotes on his daughter it seems.
‘What is the name you have been thinking about?’
‘Ariadne Vermont. Isn’t that a regal name?’
She cried again.
‘Shuu, don’t cry, don’t cry, father is here’ Arial sing and hold his daughter in his arm, lovingly and kiss her forehead.
‘My precious, loveliest, beautiful daughter.’ Helia just shakes her head.
‘A fool for his daughter’ Helia muttered
‘Give her your wishes.’
It is a custom for the Sky people, a custom then taken upon by Caelum. In the birth of a child, the father will have to give them wishes, hope and prayers.
‘Hmm, then I will wish you to …hmm, to be mother of Kings. I wish you to have strength of will, a pious nature, and be bestowed by the Light Above a unifying character.’
‘Don’t you think that is kind of a burden, dear?’
‘Ah, ignore it. It is just a wish. An old custom.’
‘Then why wish for such things?’
‘Because who knows? Maybe the Light Above hears and decide to fulfill my request? If not, it is no worse for me. For I have been given a beautiful daughter.’
Then after the crying of Ariadne is comforted she is placed in a crib beside their room and Knights are all at attention, guarding the baby daughter of Arial.
Arial and Helia is preparing to go to sleep then as they are about to go to sleep Helia ask her husband.
‘Do you know about the proposal Adrian have sent to your parents?’
‘The King proposal? Yes, I’ve heard.’
‘And, did your father and mother agree?’
‘My feeling is complicated in that matter.’
‘Surely after this, dear, the King will not doubt our family loyalty.’
‘I have always felt a little aversive on the matter of political marriage.’
‘But her match is of great stature.’
‘Even so. Nonetheless, the promise has been made. Hopefully the young son of Adrian and Marilyn grow up to be a respectable human being.’
‘If not, I would not let the engagement stand. My sister deserves the best of man.’
‘Is not the son of a King a great man?’
‘Son of a King….is he now? Whether he will be King is still in question. Hopefully he grows to be worthy of my sister’
‘Your will is sometime your undoing, dear.’
‘Maybe, maybe so. But it is also my greatest qualities.’
‘I do not deny it.’
‘But since my parents have already decided, I will respect their wishes and adhere to the promises. When they reach the age of ten and seven they will be married.’
‘And Vermont and Alan house will be united. Which will also ally us with the Zettel royalty and most of the northern houses in Aetherland.’ Helia offer.
‘I fear not his house; neither have I sought their approval, Helia. It is they, that want our approval. It is them that fear our house which is what I believe prompted Adrian to suggest this match to my mother.’
‘Will we argue this till we are too tired and exhausted, sleeping in such foul mood dear?’
‘You have started this debate.’
‘And so I will end it’ and she kissed her husband cheek and forehead and her eyes inviting.
‘Is that an invitation?’
‘Yes, my dear lord.’ She said blushing.
‘I have been missing you in your absence. Now you have return and I wish to smell your scent and hold your body, pressed against mine’ she whispered into the ear of her husband.
‘Then I will oblige the lady.’
And they make love, the same way they make love before Arial depart on his journey to the dark lands the last time, with fervent love and a hint of great longing in both of these young man and woman.
And so ended their night and Arial worries are unknotted and Helia love is affirmed by the touch of her husband.