CHAPTER 109: THE MATTER OF THE CROWN
Arial has just return from the dark land with many new adventures and a broken heart. One that he intends to keep a secret.
Arrandy is undergoing many changes with trade flourishing and libraries and many buildings are built.
And relationship wise, many have changed
At this time, the young lord of Arrandy and young lord of Arleans have always been rivals since their Academy years.
One born of an Old House of nobility whiles the other climbs his way up through strength and perseverance.
The letter that Helia received before Arial went to the Dark lands will change everything. Waiting for her husband to come home, and excited to tell him, to relay to him good news.
But at this point in time, nothing had as yet happened to make the two great rivals either national or personal enemies.
While Arial did kill Harald father even Harald felt no remorse and Harald is content on his territory ruling Vangua in the shadows, forcing the King to comply with his demand.
Vangua and Arrandy are at peace, and the great duke and the great prince had most likely had no personal dealings with one another.
They were rivals in the sense that each looked forward to succeed to the Vanguan crown whenever the reigning king should die.
Harald to claim it for his new family, Arial for his wife who wanted to raise her husband influence on the continent.
But neither had as yet put forward his claim in any shape that the other could look on as any formal wrong to himself.
It was during these years, one year of change that will affect everything on the Continent. The drums are beat, the horns are blown, war is looming.
CASTLE OF ORLEANS
In one chamber a pair of husband and wife is sitting in one of the chair sipping tea but it can clearly be seen that both of this people is not in a good mood.
The dark clouds outside the castle only increase the sense of foreboding for this couple. Both of them seem to be plagued by the same problem and they are discussing it, trying to be calm as long as possible.
‘Edward seems to have decided he is strong enough to seek a decisive settling of accounts with your family, Emilia’ Harald said in the chamber while drinking the white wine.
‘I know that’ she said annoyed
‘It is possible that the presence of increasing numbers of Caelum noblemen, who is very supportive of Arrandy, you enemy, which I do not forget, in Vangua give him a sense of security.’ She said sighing
‘Or he may simply have decided that it was ‘now or never’’ Harald offer
‘That may also be true.’
And she sighed again, this time a long sigh.
‘He fears to be reduced to a puppet King. And I know he still hates our family, still believing the rumours, that my father meant harm and poisoned his father. And now he sent my sister to a nunnery, thus our plan did not work, though that is of little consequence than the happiness of my dearest little sister who must suffer terribly under that conniving fox.’
She said her eyes begin showing a little glint of madness
‘I have sent many diplomats, representatives; gold and precious jewels to make him rescind his royal order but he spurn my representations of gold and men. Edward is determine to make this harder on us, to test our patience to the utmost’ Harald explain
‘And it is not good with that snake that slithers around in Vangua land.’
‘You’re referring to Perigord?’
‘Yes, that little snake, Silas of House Perigord. He maliciously slanders your family, our family, saying that I and you intended to do with Edward what your father might have done to his father.’
‘That is slander’ she cried.
‘Where is this snake?’ She stand upright from the chair, could no longer control her anger.
‘Gone. Return to Arrandy. No doubt reporting to the dragon’
‘Then chase him.’
‘Chase him? And what? Plunge ourselves in direct conflict with the Vermont?’
‘Why? You’re afraid?’
‘I just don’t want to repeat my father mistake. He underestimates the dragon and look at what has befallen him.’
‘You are afraid!’ She yelled
‘Of course I am! Do you not see his army? Do you not heard of his strength? Are you oblivious of his wealth?’
‘That Silas slander my father and you intend to let him go!’
‘For now’ Harald said consoling, no longer interested in the wine.
‘The conflict between Edward and our family is personal, and that what make it such a thorny issue. There is no turning back Harald.’
But Harald know Emilia and he knows what annoy her and frustrates her so.
It was the loss of her sister claim or rather her sister offspring claim to the throne, the blow to her family prestige and credibility and the obvious attempts by the king to marginalize her family.
Edward confined her sister in the a nunnery at Cabern where Amelie had received her education, stripping her of all her land, movables and money, allowing her just one maid and no marks of royalty or even normal aristocratic distinction.
Following his usual instinct to temporize, Edward keep the queen in seclusion until he could come to a final decision about her.
There is no doubt that he was angry at the discovery that, when it came to the inevitable conflict of loyalties, Amelie had unhesitatingly plumped for her family over her husband.
That is Emilia reason for her outburst in such a well refined lady and of considerable calmness in matters of the state.
But Harald has his own dissatisfaction.
To him it is plain obvious to him that the King is pro Arrandy and such sympathies is make clear by Edward foreign policy in trading and even encouraging interaction with Arrandy and by the favorites he had surrounded himself with, Silas, Oliver, Brandon and so many who have their descent in the prosperous region of Arrandy.
Emilia looks at her husband.
And Emilia knows this suspicion of her husbands, that Edward is sympathizing with Arrandians but her husband could not be farther than the truth.
Edward has a cosmopolitan court, which included Anglais, Raxons, Loths, Ethrusk but Emilia would hardly tell that to her disgruntled husband whose anger can be used for her gains.
After all, she knows how her husband really dislike any Arrandians and with Silas who is known as Arial most prominent diplomats, it only fed Harald worst suspicion that Arial is trying to control Vangua court.
‘Edward seems to have developed fangs since his time in Arrandy ‘Emilia said after she has calmed herself and began sitting again.
Harald nodded and remark
‘Edward is singularly secretive, so secretive that even your sister never has any reliable information, and my spies never heard of any event of great importance pass his lips, an ambivalent and duplicitous man. He is a man divided, who had pulls both towards the southlands, and towards Arrandy but who also hated and despised both regions: the Anglais-Raxons for their treatment of him in his early years and Arrandian because of the threat it posed to his kingdom.’
‘But this is clearly a persecution to my family’ Emilia said, her anger still is not dissipated and began rising again.
‘We must be patient for a while and then after that we can start our plan.’ And Harald touch his wife hand and grip it, conveying assurance. Emilia smile.
‘Fine, Let us wait’
Harald strut to his court ready to hear the matter of his region and settling any disputes. He sat on the Grand hall and began asking his courtiers of any problems.
Then one of them offered to tell him something.
‘There are some words from our spies, my lord.’
‘Lord Leander of Gerhoun in Arrandy has come to visit Vangua.’
‘So we have reason to believe that Leander is Arial plenipotentiary negotiator.’
Then the spymaster gives a parchment to Harald and he began reading.
‘Arial!’ He said.
Finally he began to move. In the letter it seems there is a report from the palace that Arial has been considered as heir to the Vanguan throne for his association with Helia.
‘He is angling for the Vanguan throne’ Harald said smashing his hand on the wooden table and it shakes.
‘Where did Leander stay first?’
‘In Weover in the north of our borders.’
‘So that is where they will rest on their way home’ he muttered under his breath.
‘Where will he stay for rest after they finish meeting the King in Caen?’ Harald ask to confirm his suspicion
‘Weover, of course my lord.’
Harald is in anger now. That the meek king Edward used to be, is making major foreign- policy decision without so much as a pretense at consulting him and the other lords.
Harald believe this is another attempt to marginalize the Orleans and his family.
In a white heat of fury, Harald order an obstruction.
‘Order our men in Weover not to offer the Arrandians any hospitality or accommodation.’
‘Yes my lord’ his courtiers reply.
He arrived at Weover with 500 troops of Arrandy as his guard. He then began marching to Caen but he could see the face of the residents of Weover.
‘Why they are looking at us like that?’
‘I don’t know’ Mander reply.
He did not know that he gave offence to the people of Weover without even meaning to.
After a few days they arrived at the palace, and treated graciously by the King, and there he confirmed the promise of Edward nomination of their Lord Arial as one that should be reconsidered as a serious heir to the throne.
As a sign of gratitude Lander is given a ring and a few item of great fortune to be presented to their lord.
After confirming the promise they began embarking to return home to Arrandy.
‘Will you not stay?’
‘No your majesty. Surely my lord will be delighted to hear this fortuitous news. It is my duty to return and relay this news as fast as possible’ He said
‘Then, may the Light guide you way.’
‘And yours to, your majesty’ With that they were given some gifts and began their journey home.
Then after a few weeks they return to Weover.
After a few weeks of journeying without resupplying they decided to supply their necessities here in Weover and then they can straight go without stopping to Arrandy.
The city looks well-fed and the last time they are here, Leander could see many necessities here, and shop selling variety of goods.
Surely his feeling last time about the Weoverians is only the trick of his unsettled mind.
‘Go and fetch us some waters and find us some accommodation for the night.’ Leander order to some of his captain.
‘We will embark tomorrow to Althea region.’
His knights nodded. After a few hours these Knights returned with bad news. They are all exhausted and weary from their tour of the city trying to buy the supply and securing a means of an accommodation.
‘My lord, I have a bad news to give you’ the captain said.
‘What is the bad news?’ the captain hesitated.
‘OUT WITH IT!’ Leander said, a little high tempered, now that he is hungry and tired.
‘They will not sell us anything nor will they give us accommodation, my lord. They seem determined, and receive us with the worst possible treatment, unbefitting of our position.’
Leander is astounded with the reports
‘Why? Why would they resort to such methods? What wrongs did our entourage done to them? I remembered no such slights committed to the people of this city’ Leander said, shocked to be treated with such poor treatment.
They explained all the Weover resident hated them and will not service them in any way and the more he hears how his subordinate is treated the angrier he becomes.
He is a diplomat from Arrandy, and is promised a safe travel from the King of Vangua, under the protection of House of Vermont and the Kingdom of Aetherland, to be accorded with every courtesy under Edward rule and domain and now to think that a city is refusing to serve his armed retinue?
Surely his knights will starve on the way back. And how do they expect him and his knights to sleep in the cold?
‘Go and persuade then again.’ Leander said.
‘Probably there is a misunderstanding. Tell them we meant them no harm, that we only need some supplies to refresh ourselves and a place to stay for the night. Maybe there is some misunderstanding’
Another Knight tries to persuade only to return with a broken nose.
Leander is a man that treated his troops like his own brother so when he sees this, his rage has reached its limit.
‘HOW COULD THEY DO THIS TO YOU!’ Leander yell, looking at his troops broken nose.
‘Fine, if this is how they treat us!’ Leander said determined.
Never before he has been humiliated this much and not only that, the citizen of this city trampled on the pride of Arrandians.
Arrandy as one of the center of knowledge and culture in the continent, and he who is born there, naturally felt that such treatment, has test him to his limit, and if he were to endure more, he will be accused as a craven, so no longer can he stand this treatment.
‘DON YOUR ARMOUR, FORM BATTLE STATIONS AND WE WILL FORCE THEM AND PUNISH THESE DISLOYAL SUBJECTS OF KING EDWARD!’