AOH – Chapter 140

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CHAPTER 140: WAR ON MANY FRONTS

OUTSIDE THE ENCIRCLEMENT

SOMEWHERE ON THE XENOS DESERT

Two figures emerge from the ground, dusting off the mud from their faces.

‘Jurgan, finally after a millennium we are free’ the figure said looking at the open blue sky.

He looked to his friend a man of seven feet tall, bald and muscly with purple eyes, and wearing nothing but a loincloth while his body is brown because of the earth.

He has a red complexion and a short horn on both sides of his skull.

‘Astiel we are both free’ Jurgan said and he wipe the dust of Astiel shoulder. The dust of the yellow sand sway gracefully in this land full with sands and violent winds.

Both of them are looking at the opening expanse of the wide and unforgiving deserts.

Astiel have a purple hair and purple eyes, with long flowing beautiful hair and his body is lean, cut like marbles, a handsome face that could melt any woman he met if not for the color of his skin which is red which would certainly invites some suspicious glare if not outright fear.

‘Why do you think the seal weaken Jurgan?’ Astiel said curiously as he sit on the open ground of the yellow sand and look in front of them, boundless scenery of sand with no life to be detected.

Jurgan look back at the hole and then he inferred his own opinion.

‘Levitia trapped us with his sealing magic and he sealed it with his own blood courtesy of the Lady of the Lake teachings. It is one of the most binding magic….blood that is. For people like us that can’t procreate it is not only binding it is lethal. And he uses it against us to trap us in that tight enclosed space with no foods and water. If not for our immortality and not for your brilliance using the Memory magic to erase the knowledge of our weakness then we surely would have died under his hand.’

‘I know he use blood magic but why did it suddenly weaken?’ Astiel asked.

After all he is also present in that battle. He could remember it like it was yesterday. Mountains crumbled, lakes evaporates, cities fall, the day both of them fight with the greatest hero of that era, the strongest man in the world as he Levitia was touted during that era.

It was an era of man Astiel had to admit. It has no room for those who live in the Age of Gods.

Jurgan continued his explanation.

‘For centuries we have been digging our way out of that infernal hellhole and there are times when that blood magic weakens. A thousand years ago, there is that one time when it weakens. And since then they are a lot of times when it weakens. Each time it weakens we attack the pocket dimension with all we had trying to crack it, to form a hole big enough for us to escape. I believe that Levitia when he use blood magic he bind the magic to his blood.

‘I know, his blood.’ Astiel said rolling his eyes in frustration. How much time Jurgan need to repeat himself?

‘No, you don’t understand Astiel. His BLOOD. Not blood in the literal sense but in the figurative sense.’

‘You mean-‘ Astiel began to understand as understanding dawns on him

‘Descendants. Sons and daughters, grandson and granddaughters. He binds it to his lineage.’

Astiel nodded in understanding.

‘I always wondered how that seal could stand so long. If it’s this, then it all make sense. It makes sense how a hero like Levitia that has no magic, could make that seal and how it could seal us for so long’

‘Yes, me too’ Jurgan said.

‘If my opinion is correct the last weakening that happen before and now this time must be relate to the wellbeing of his descendant. He might have die….or die for a moment enabling us to find that weak spot in that magic encirclement and break through.’

Astiel then look outwards.

‘Now, the world is open up again for us brother. What do you want to do?’

Jurgan look at the opening expanse and said

‘Everything…….but first we must release our brethren from the Jar. Then we will once again reign supreme.’

Astiel grins and Jurgan laugh.

The Old Legends…of Old Gods, of Old magics, of dark and terrible things that once roam the earth, surfaces again but this time will it have a hero in it?

And hearing his brother plan, Astiel get up from his rest and together they traverse the desert searching for their lost brethren.

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ARRANDY

When he return to the castle after spending some time in Ariadne garden, trying to calm down his heart and believes himself to be ready to take the great undertaking that will seal the fate of Arrandy, he walk straight to his Great Hall, the large beautiful hall decorated with his family coat of arms, showing the splendor and might of the Vermont’s to those that attended.

The great dragon statue in the courtyard is portrayed majestically filling people with a feeling of awe of the Vermont every time they passed the yard.

Almost all of the great nobles is present. Lord Massey, Lord Paris, Lord Robert of Montaiu, Count William of Asbor, Richard of Evrex, all of the great men and great families of the realm of Arrandy.

They are all waiting for Arial to say…to declare what is on his mind.

They all knew why they are summoned. It is because of his conflict with Harald has reached a tipping point.

It seems there could be no reconciliation. They all knew how the Duchess has tried to seek a diplomatic way for the relations with Vangua not to sour; after all, the duchess land is just bordering the northern border of Vangua.

But Harald insist to seek trouble. He insists to wake the sleeping dragon.

He set up checkpoint and stops Arrandian traders and even at time harassed if not robbed the trading company.

To say it was Harald fault, of course it is highly inconceivable. But Harald play a part on this attack even if it’s not done directly.

By forbidding Arrandians traders to come trading to Vangua it was like the robbers on the northern border of Vangua found courage to attack the traders boldly.

And that is not all.

Sooner or later, the duchess worries that Harald may set his eyes on Aetherland and then Arrandy.

For all that King Adrian had done to govern Aetherland, there are still some secret faction that calls for Alderam banner and who else is fit to hold that banner if not Alderam son.

Alderam can be called many things…greedy, arrogant but he also knows how to instill loyalty.

It is because of this Arial could not afford to end this peaceably because he knows that Harald will one day clash with him.

If there is one thing that Harald share with his father, Alderam, it is undoubtedly was his stubbornness.

Arial take his seat at the highest seat in the Hall and look over all of these great noble families as they are waiting, listening, looking at the young lord with great anticipation the words that will be spoken by their lord and then Arial looking at this anticipating crowd he declared with his usual self of bravado

‘I WILL CONQUER VANGUA WITH ALL MY MIGHT! HARALD WANTS WAR? LET’S GIVE HIM ONE!’

The nobles look at each other and cheered. There are deep seated hatred between the people of Arrandy and the people of Vangua.

Mostly because of their different races and cultures and not to mention their constant clashing around the southern borders.

The north rarely clash with Vangua but the southron lords have lost many men and family to the nobles lords of Vangua.

Most of the people in Vangua is Raxons and Anglais whereas Arrandy and Aetherland has Caelum race.

Then Arial proceeded to explain his plan for the conquest and the assembled nobles listened to Arial’s plans for the conquest of Vangua, realizing the scope of Arial ambitions and the magnitude of obstacles that has to be overcome, and the nobles recommended summoning a great meeting of the entire Arrandy nobility.

Arial hear their suggestion with real care. If this is realized, they will be at war. Who would have thought he who has tried to stop a war has become the man who is trying to start one? The irony.

Arial then said

‘Then it is decided. Summon them all to my castle at which I will ask them to pledge to back me in this war’

The other roar and they are dismissed from the Halls as they all ride back home, kisses their wife, spend time with their family as they are preparing for war, probably the war of their lives.

However on the castle Arial have no such time for that kind of leisure time. Since he is determined to make war…he is determined to win it.

He went to his council immediately after the gathering and Silas and Oliver can be seen waiting for him.

A few moments alter the large door of the council building opens and Massey also enters.

‘My lord. I have come answering your summons’ he said.

‘Sit’ Arial ordered. He sit obediently.

The atmosphere in that large room is full with tension as they all knew why there are here. From what their lord has declared, the war has already begun.

‘Do you know why I called all of you here?’ Arial said, his arm wide open gesturing to all of his courtiers in the room, his face is calm , his eyes showing a burning determination.

Silas look at his lord and said confidently

‘Like all wars, this war has to be fought in many fronts. And this front is a war won with words not steel and blood.’

Arial smile. At least Silas understand his intention.

‘Yes, this is a war that needs to be fought at various fronts. And you are all its proud front lines.’

Silas then said

‘My war is the war of minds and words. If I didn’t know what my liege lord is thinking I will be ashamed to show my face in the court again.’ He said and Arial mused….there he goes again.

‘This is an important war…a war that needed to be won…total control, surely that is my lord intention.’

‘Yes, true indeed. And as such a grand preparation is needed, careful preparations. While I waited for my summons to reach all of the great noble families, we must strike first.’ Arial passionately lectured.

‘My lord, where is it you wish to strike first?’ Massey ask

‘The heart of Vangua. This is a war of words and as such strikes the capital first would be the order of the battle’

‘My lord. It is…..pointless sending emissaries to Vangua. A pointless point of debate as Harald would surely never acquiesce to you’ Oliver said giving his honest opinion.

Arial grin

‘I know. It is pointless but that doesn’t mean it is not useful. It is on the contrary. It is very beneficial for me and my cause.’ Arial said confidently.

Silas smile a leering smile. His lord is truly cunning. While the others in the council questioned Arial decision, Silas understand his line of thoughts.

It could be said only him that could see the path that his lord is treading.

His lord is trying to present himself as a peace-loving sovereign forced unwillingly into war by Harald unreasonable behavior. Why else Arial would send his emissaries to Vangua?

He is declaring to the continent that Harald had forced his hand, his family backed into a corner of war.

Then Silas listen back as his lord is still speaking.

‘I have a proposition for peace to Vangua and their new King. Dangle the offer of Adriana marriage with the nephew of Orleans in a dynastic marriage. Let peace reign and Harald to step down from the throne and put my claim to the throne of Vangua to good use on the count of my wife relation to the great nobility of Vangua and his oath of fealty towards me’ Arial declared.

‘They wouldn’t accept. Surely you know this, my lord. Knowing Harald and his utter dislike to you my lord, this negotiation of yours is a foregone conclusion ended surely with his adamant refusal’ Oliver and Massey both spoke in unison, though not quite the same sentence but the same meanings.

That Harald would surely reject the proposition because of the person sending the emissaries is Arial, and as such Harald would surely distrust the negotiation.

‘I know. It is precisely because of that. That’s the only reason I offer it. I know he would reject it. I hope he reject it with all my heart. I would find it my greatest dishonor to be related to the Orleans’

And this answer shocks the rest of his council. They are all thinking why offer the request if you knew it will be rejected? But none dare say it boldly to the lord.

Arial smile a knowing smile.

‘And it’s not like Harald would like to make two enemies. Accepting means he is also offending King Adrian. Everyone knows the bethrothal between Adrianna and the King son. They are promised to each other.’

Oliver on the other hand has a complicated expression on his face.

‘But wouldn’t this send some worries to the King of Aetherland? My lord, forgive me for saying this, but if this venture of yours is successful, surely there will be a rift formed between you and King Adrian. You are right now his man; under him but if this succeeds, then you are his equal. Even right now Arrandy is a sore sight in his court.’ Oliver said, after all he is frequent in the Aetherland courts and as such know many of the hidden secret behind the castle walls.

‘It should, as I no doubt predicted.’ Arial said.

‘But he is the King. He is this region King. Even though Arrnady is autonomously rule by your family, in the eyes of all the ruling families Arrandy is still under Aetherland, under its protection and grace’

‘Yes……he is the King. The King of Aetherland…not Arrandy.’ And with that words the people in the council is stupefied.

‘My lord…you mean you are ready to-‘ the other began understanding their lord true intention while Silas even though he has suspected of this development even he is slightly shocked.

‘I am. Arrandy will secede itself from the Kingdom and create its own Kingdom.’ He said bravely.

He has been planning this for a long time even if Vangua did not precipitate this crisis. Arial feels that the King would no doubt be furious but he could hardly do anything.

And actually the reason why Arial want to secede is also because of her sister not withstanding all of his other motives.

As long as Arial is under the King even his sister is liable to be treated as a political tool but it is a different case if he is an equal.

Adrian will no doubt have to exercise great caution in the matter of the betrothal of his sister.

Arial does not express it readily but Arial is a family man.

After all his motivation for stopping the Invasion is mostly because his family and for the people that he sees suffer under such fates, family torn apart, blood of humans washed the land of continents.

And also because Arrandy itself is a political identity that could stand on its own, their trades with the dark lands have given the people of Arrandy great wealth and many of the richest person of the continents originated from Arrrandy.

With its 5 years of peace, Arrandy compared to the other region of the continents is like a miracle story.

A region hardly threatened with war, guarded by the Vermont’s with great valor and renown with trades spanning across the continent and beyond the sea, no wonder Arrandy grew at such a frightening pace.

With laws and order that protect its citizens and a trade practice that is forward thinking then the rest of the continents, Arrandy is a hub of trades and knowledge incomparable to the other Kingdom

The council smiles a proud smile. They all know that their lord will someday secede from the Kingdom but they never could have thought it would be this soon.

In other words Vangua crisis could be their stepping stone.

‘Then this letter will also include the order for explanation for Harald accepting the throne when it was promised to you my lord’ Oliver said now passionate.

‘Yes’ Arial nodded.

‘Ask him. Let him answer. And listen carefully. Let me see how brave the new Crown King really is.’

‘The question is hardly simple, my lord’ Silas interjected. Arial nodded.

‘Yet, it is worth asking’

Oliver looks at his lord and sighed a small sigh, one that is barely heard. If the Duchess will is strong, then Arial on the other hand could be describe to be cunning.

Even though his reputation portrayed him as an upright figures his inner circle knows that he could be cunning if he wanted to but usually honour prevent him from doing so.

‘Then I will send this letter to Vangua with haste’ Oliver said taking the letter. Arial nodded.

‘The other is dismissed’ Arial declared. The other lords began getting up from their seats, and began clearing out the room. Silas also started getting up

‘Silas, stay. I have something to say to you. An important thing to be discussed with the utmost secrecy’ he whispers that last words.

The other exited the room but Silas stay and people could hear they are talking about something but they never knew the content of the conversation.

On the inside, the two great men is still talking. And with this meeting begins the first step of Arial legends.

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