CHAPTER 138: OF CHOICES
When I return to the castle I was greeted with great fanfare. The castle decided to throw a banquet in the commemoration of my return.
My parent have waited for me in the Great Hall and I could see them waiting for me. It seems the story of my exploits in the Martial Art Meet is not yet spread around.
My mother hugs me on my return far from the prying eyes, while my father beamed on me with pride.
‘You should visit your sister this weekend; pay a visit at her mansion. You rarely seen her’ my mother said.
‘She would be delighted to see you. You rarely see her and she is longing to see her brother. She respect you, do you know that? Sometimes I fear that she respect you too much’
I nodded. I have to admit it has been long since I have visited her. She must have turned into a lady by now.
And I have not bonded with her like I bonded with my parents. I never had a sister before or siblings to familiarize myself with this kind of situation.
In my timeline I was the only child. So, it is kind of awkward for me to act like a brother, mainly because I don’t know how a brother supposed to act.
And my goals and my near misses with death requires me to think about other matters, thus making me unavailable to be beside my sister
From what I heard she is beautiful and kind, graceful and pious in her nature, courtesy of my mother beauty and my father graces.
It is also from hearsay that I hear she frequented the church, garnering the common folk adoration and mostly the church approval.
The church must view our family with gratitude seeing that my mother and father lavish them with gifts.
But in years that followed our rise, most of the church officials have been trying to appease us.
They may have influence via faith, but we have gold. Faith does not give you a bread to eat in the cold hard winter, gold does.
But I know better than to underestimate the power of blind faith in the common masses.
Not to say that the Church teachings is evil, after all it promotes justice, truth and all the cardinal virtues but as long as human is the leader of the church…..he is not infallible.
He is liable to mistake. Man…..not god.
It is because of man that sits on the top I could never truly throw my absolute belief on the faith of Light.
The teachings itself is beautiful even though it is full with contradictions if you read the Book of Light.
But I do not dislike the church. Far from it.
I respect those priests and Bishop that try to promote love and hope, to spread kindness, what I hate is those who uses the name of God to commit atrocious plots, to use God name in vain, to raise their own selfish desires.
Fanatics like the Church of the Dark god in the Dark Lands are one example. Not to say that the Church Of Light is faultless in this matter.
After all the Church has a dark history by itself.
Mikael once tell one theory that perks my interest. Lost in my thought I look back at my mother face and realized I must look like I am thinking something terribly hard.
I smile a little to ease the complicated expression that my mother wore.
‘I will, mother. I also have wanted to see Adriana. There are many things I need to talk with her and many more things to share. It is my duty that prevents me from visiting her too often but surely now I have time to spare.’ My mother nodded satisfied.
‘How about Helia, mother? I asked with my heart beating furiously. Did she decides? Have she decided? Did she choose….me?
All this question and more pervaded my mind. Will she tell me? Will she hides it? Will she forget it? All of this question is swirling in my mind.
‘She is fine, Arial. She has waited for you patiently. I think she is on your room, knitting some tapestry. Her new hobby. Try not to anger her this time. It took me and your father every ounce of diplomacy and tact to convince her to let you go the last time when you go to the Martial Art Meet and before when you go to the Dark Lands. You should treat her nicely befitting of her status dear. Her family is no longer. She has you and ours as her family and she did her duty for this family marvellously. So treat her well, treat her great. She is a lonely woman and not to mention a strong woman. A bad combination. Lonely and strong, that is.’ My mother said.
My father nodded. He then looked at me.
‘You have been an absent lord….and husband for these past few years. It is time you settle down and start putting your roots, son. Spend time with your wife and daughter, less your daughter doesn’t know the warmth of her father embrace and your wife doesn’t know your heart. You are a reclusive man, my son, and secrets are your forte, but not all secret must be kept away. Sometimes it has to be shared. I know you to be a warm hearted man, a man with compassion and great love for the people, a caring disposition, and one that you regrettably rarely express. If there is one thing I would like you to do, is express yourself more to the people who love you. Your reputation does no justice to your true self. ’ my father said giving his wise opinion, an opinion Arial keep to heart.
‘I know, father. I know this better than anyone. But you must understand my difficulty. I could not be weak hearted in my dealings, not to appear weak in front of our numerous enemies, those who would pounce and devour us if they see a chink in my armour, I must remain unpredictable and mysterious, else they predict my intentions, my heart must be kept tucked away, else they see right through me and that will spell doom for most of my venture. But your words father, Arial will clearly remember this to heart and try his hardest to do.’
‘Good, Arial. I know the burden of the head of the house is a terrible burden, which I have passed to you, and I understand your difficulties in the matter of the hearts, but to your family…..I think they deserve more that your usual lordly attitude. Your wife would be happy to hear your heartfelt words and true feeling, this I guarantee. And so does my granddaughter’ he chuckled.
‘The late Helve adores your daughter very much and I could understand why. Your daughter is adorable. Just as much as your sister.’
I was grinning happily. Ariadne is truly beautiful though that is probably my bias since she is my daughter.
‘My lord’ I hear the voice calling me.
Then from the distance I recognized my Council. They walk in crowds and the servants and all give way.
These are the House Council of Vermont’s, a body of advisory nobles to Arial policy and one that help Arial in governing his region.
They are immense in influence of power, a governing committee handpicked by the dragon himself.
‘My lord, thank goodness you have returned unharmed. There are many things to be discussed in the matters of Arrandy. There is threat everywhere’
Oliver said not giving the other a chance to talk while the other nobles especially Massey looks at him with rolling eyes.
It seems he is anxious enough though Arial do not know for what reason he is so anxious about.
I sighed. Of course….problem. Why does the world keep not letting me having a break? One problem after another.
‘Oliver, when was the last time Arrandy never have a threat? It always has a threat. I’ve been dealing with threats since I first take over the region’ I said sighing
‘Later. We can postpone all the bad news for a day can’t we?’
‘I….my lord…yes’ he sighed giving up.
‘For one day…I don’t see what harm it could do.’ Oliver returns to his original position. I released a relieved sigh.
A problem…postponed for a day. Usually I do not procrastinate but after all the life and death situation, I deserve a one day rest.
Then another courtier came asking me about the banquet.
‘Good. Then prepare for the banquet. Order the cook to prepare the greatest dish they could have made, the greatest drinks. Invite my vassal’s lords, my banner man, the army greatest, the lords and nobles, the churchmen, invite them all. Let them feast.
‘Yes, my lord.’ The courtier obey.
It is time I greet my daughter and wife.
It seems the rumours did not yet travel here. The rumour that I won in the martial art tournament and what happen after it.
If it did then maybe the banquet will be even grander. And I have no intention of telling this to the masses.
Let them know it through the rumours and hearsay. It will only add to my mysteriousness and charisma, not to declare it myself but for others to declare it for me, to be the crier of my victory and triumph.
I then step into my bedroom and push opens the door. I open it. In front of me is a woman beautiful and graceful, beautiful as the first day I married her, with smile that matches an angel in the painting Apotheosis of Levitia.
Helia is sewing some tapestry so diligently on the chair, a tapestry that seems to depict a dragon doing battle with a crowned lion, while behind the lion is someone holding a sword and shield.
She is so absorbed in her work that she did not realize the sound of the creaking door, my presence in the room.
And I said.
‘I am home, Dear.’
Her ears perked up. She startled and then like she could not believe her ears, she turn her head and looked at me, smile the most happiest smile, a smile that make all of it worth it and for a moment, I am glad and happy…..that she chose me.
I know…because there is still love in her eyes, the same love, the same look, that she gave me when she first confess to me, and I knew.
And for the first time, I silently believe that the beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, or the figure that she carries, or the way their hair flows.
It is seen in their eyes, the doorway to the heart so unlike my eyes…dark and cold….while Helia has this warmth and compassion, a place where her eyes revealed where her love resides.
True beauty is reflected in her soul…her beautiful soul that give love unreservedly, a trait that she shares with my mother, a propensity to accept love and daring heart to reach her hand for such sacred beauty that life could offer.
It’s the caring that she lovingly gives, the unbridled passion that she shows and her beauty and grace of a woman only grows more lovely with every passing years.
I knew at that moment, knew it from the bottom of my heart, looking at her clear brown eyes that she has chosen.
And all of the things she could have chosen, whether to take an opportunity to tread on the road not taken with Kyle with all the unspoken affection and unresolved feelings, yet she chose me, believing in her future with me, walking, looking at the same direction and that makes all the difference.
Love…..that is what I could see reflected in her eyes.
Love is a temporary madness some minstrel sings. It is like a fire that burns and then it flickered before it disappeared to a swish of smoke.
And when it has release the last wisp of smokes from the charred ashes you have to make a decision.
You have to decide whether your love is so entwined, so interconnected with each other that it is inconceivable that you should part.
Because….that is what love is.
Love is not…..losing your breath looking the face of your lover, seeing their beauty like the first time, it is not that giddy excitement and that butterfly in your stomach, it is not the promises of eternal passion and the songs of love sung on a summers day, and it is certainly not the desire to kiss and make love to your lover every second of the day.
That is just being ‘in love’ which any fool can do.
Love…love…..love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is an art…a very sacred art, a different kind of love…stronger…..powerful kind of love.
And this time, seeing her, feeling what I’m feeling right now, at this moment with all the joy the world could have possibly given me, I’m never letting go.
I can’t let her go. Not now. Not when I see that look. Not when I have felt what it felt like to have someone like her…who tries her hardest to understand me and remains my wife as also my closest friend.
With some tears on her eyes, and then she proceeded to run to me and hug me tightly.
What could I say to convey all this feeling? One word that could possibly convey all of this feeling of gratitude, of love and joy?
And I realized I can’t explain it. Some emotions are not meant to be spoken. It must be shown.
‘Don’t say anything’ she said looking at me with that beautiful face and I know she could felt it what I felt at that moment.
And she kisses me. And I grin. She never ceases to amaze me and at every turn surprises me with her behaviour.
I could never predict what she want to do, what she could do. It is her charm that only certain people could appreciate
It seems she have made her choice after all. I will not question her. She has chosen. And she has chosen me. And to me….that is enough.
I break away from the kiss panting….Helia seems to be very….active, her eyes is like a feral beast, looking at me, with hunger which contrasted with her innocent face, that white, cute, little face.
‘Where is Ariadne?’ I said and realizing she is not here.
‘She is on the next room, Dear.’ She said. I grin.
And I smile and I laugh. She is puzzled, looking at me and then I grab her waist and pull her to me and this is her turn to get shocked.
Her cheek reddens and she tries to hide her face.
‘It has been a long time since I….. and your attack on me, just ignite a burning passion in my heart’ And I chuckle looking at the reaction of Helia.
She understands what I mean.
We are husband and wife….how could she not understand. I look at her eyes and I don’t see a wavering woman…I see a determined woman, a strong woman…and I remember my mother words….strong and lonely…
Not anymore…I silently promise
‘Since you what?’ Helia said wiping her tears and then she blushed, realizing that just a moment ago she attacked my mouth, unbefitting a prim lady like herself.
Even when she was a knight, she was always cut above the rest in terms of her noble conduct, reminding you of her noble lineage.
She did not laugh too loud, but neither did she make the mood sour. But just now….she just attacks me…not to say I didn’t like it.
I very much like it. The contrast between her real behaviour and her desires.
‘You….you just got back!’
‘And I’m burning with energy.’ I said chuckling while Helia is blushing red. I grabbed her waist and said.
‘What if we give Ariadne a brother? Wouldn’t there will be someone protecting her when she grows up. And surely she will not be lonely.’
‘You..’ she said coyly and then I kissed her and she made no move to resist me. Slowly I open her corsets and proceeded to lay her on the bed.
‘You look beautiful Helia. Like the moon is in you with all its beauty.’
‘I gain a little weight.’
‘It just makes you look more womanly’ I said and she seems pleased by that compliment.
‘You seem to have improved in flattery.’ She said while she is removing her clothing. It was like a show and I am liking it very much.
‘It is the truth.’ I said as I gulped looking at her matured body after giving birth. It was…voluptuous.
She is beautiful and I don’t think I could hold back anymore. With her eyes inviting and her smooth hand caressing my chest…how could any man resist.
She was naked, and she is beautiful. With her white skin complexion and her blonde hair sweeping on her neck, she looks like a Goddess descended from the High Heavens. And I approached her neck and kiss her there.
‘It tickles, Arial, dear.’ she giggled.
And she remove her dresses showing me her silky white porcelain skin, and I caressed her hair and kiss her nose, slowly moving my lips to her mouth, to her navel and then to her nether region.
She giggled and then she moans. She gasped for air and shivered and then she said with a cute voice.
‘I want you inside me Arial’ and I slowly work myself up until I my eyes look at her eyes.
‘I love you Helia. Like a fire from within.’
‘I know.’ She said.
‘I think I should have said it more often. That I love you that is. I don’t think I really expressed my feeling for you….not the full extent because it fear me….to give so much of myself….to a person.. to share everything’
‘You should but you didn’t…..and I’ll wait. I’ll wait until you ready to share. I will not force you to tell me….I want you to want to tell me.’ she said her face shows a hint of sadness.
‘From now on, I will.’ And for that whole day, those two lovers never leave the bed, though the lady in waiting did hear giggling and moaning from the Duke room.