CHAPTER 143: SHEEPS
As Silas had plan the Duke has call the opposing lords in private chambers in different time talking with individually.
Each time the duke will ask them what they were individually willing to do for the Duke.
The situation now is different from the previous situation because of what happens to Robert.
Everyone heard by now. The machination of Arial plot worked flawlessly and now people are anxious to get on the good side of the Duke.
Those who were first invited made large offers, and their offers were immediately registered in form by the proper officers.
Each one who followed was emulous of the example of those who had preceded him, and desirous of evincing as much zeal and generosity as they.
Then, besides, the duke received these vassals with so much condescension and urbanity, and treated them with so much consideration and respect, as greatly to flatter their vanity, and raise them in their own estimation, by exalting their ideas of the importance of the services which they could render in carrying so vast an enterprise to a successful result.
In a word, the tide turned like a flood in favor of granting liberal supplies to the Duke unreservedly.
The nobles and knights promised freely men, money, arms, provisions—everything, in short, that was required for the venture; and when the work of receiving and registering the offers was completed, and the officers summed up the aggregate amount, Arial found, to his extreme satisfaction, that his wants were abundantly supplied.
But how did all of this happen when they were so opposed to Arial plan about a few weeks ago?
A FEW WEEKS AGO
For the next few weeks Silas would go to the coalition lords that opposes his lord plan and began his plan.
He browbeat the lords by hinting by hinting darkly at the duke’s capacity for savage reprisals if his will were thwarted.
All of this said in private rooms, during dinner and breakfast with his clients. Fear and anxiety crept inside the heart of the noble lords hearing such scary estimation of Arial character.
They all fear the repercussion of angering such an unpredictable man.
Finishing this first part of the plan, Silas return to Acro with the excuse that he will try to persuade the lord again.
THE CASTLE OF VERMONTS
There are footsteps coming from the spiraling staircase, going up, to the tower. He takes his time in walking like thinking something hard.
Sometimes he smile, sometimes he crunches his forehead.
The pace of the man is neither rushing but nor did he walk slowly. His steps are marked with a definite purpose.
And then the man arrived at his destination, and he prepared himself, his mind began playing all the possibilities, remembering all he should remember, forgetting none of the essential things he needs to say.
He knows how important this is for his lord and as such, mistakes are unforgivable and untolerable. And for this man to not prepare…it is unthinkable.
He will only enter when he is ready. Then taking a deep breath, he knocked the door handle, a door handle of dragon.
The library of the Vermont is knocked.
‘Silas enter.’ The voice orders.
Silas pushed the unlocked door. The door open and the man entered.
Arial realize today Silas is wearing his robe, a purple robe and Arial notices his blonde hair waved gracefully over his shoulders, his eyes is wistful as ever and he address Arial with the utmost respect.
The wind from the nearby window brushed past this two men like welcoming, signifying something will happen.
‘Dispense with the formalities. Come. Tell me what you have discovered. What have you heard? What have you seen? What have you felt? What plot you uncovered? What plot you foil?’
Arial attack him with a barrage of question.
Silas take a seat on one of the chair in the library, while at the same time marveling at the huge libraries that his lord possesses with many books from many different languages.
He always is amazed every time he is here, in this private library of his lord.
‘So tell me’ Arial said as he takes his seat.
‘That is a lot of question my lord. A lot have been discovered. A lot have been heard, a lot more have been seen. You would have thought that after all this year, I would have been accustomed to the treachery but some people disgust me. Treachery and lies and secret all in good variety my lord. On foiling them however….I still have no definite way. Give me time, and surely I will find a foolproof plan. Though there are some things I could report to you. On the matter of the letter…I still have no definite answer but on the coalition lords, I could give a few opinion of my own. The lords is still unsatisfied, though my persuasion did sway a few lords to your side, many still have ardent objections.’
Arial reflected on this matter. It seems to him, the noble lords have been ensnared by Robert words of fear, the lord of Auster, a sizeable chunk of land in the southwest of Arrandy.
It is still under the region of Arrandy not Aetherland. He is an influential lord, and a brave lord, generous and pious, also a family that swear fealty to his family.
However Robert has gain many allies by his extensive network of family and goodwill he have done to the other noble lords and forging relations with his neighbors lords by extending help during time of distress.
The Vermont’s also do this but what the Vermont does is view as generosity of a high lordly family, an obligation to guard the other houses under him, sometimes it is also view as an act of superiority over the other houses, an arrogant but accepted act by the other noble houses, while Robert act is view as an unselfish act of unbounded generosity and charity when his land is not that huge nor bountiful.
It’s like the difference between a rich person giving one gold to a wandering beggar compared to a poor man who lives in a hut giving his rice to share with that same beggar.
Same act but different in terms of sincerity.
For the rich man, one gold is nothing. For the poor man the rice might be the most important to him.
So obviously, the poor man is respected more than the rich man in the story. It is not how much you give, but what is the importance of the thing you give.
The sincerity of a poor man or the noblesse oblige of the rich?
Which one resonates more in the heart of people? Surely the poor man would gain support.
This is a matter of delicacy that needs to be handled wisely, Arial decided when he knows his opponent is Robert.
Arial could fly to Robert castle and slaughter his entire household but what benefit he gains?
And what does that makes him? Isn’t he as evil as the villains in the old stories? Strength rules everything.
True, but true strength is not violence. It is the heart to abstain from violence, to be patient during anger, to be calm during chaos.
And Arial had no heart to kill someone he views not as a bitter enemy, but a vassal he once protected.
If there is one thing he hates to do, it is the killing of children and woman.
They have nothing to do with the war, for children the hatred of their father is not theirs to carry, for woman the hot headed decision of their husband is not theirs to blame.
But Arial knows someday they might be a decision that will force his hand.
And for some reason Arial remembered his dream that he got during his unconscious state in Heaven Mountain.
He was alone…in a desolate area with graves all around…alone…utterly alone surrounded by unmarked graves.
Arial then said after thinking for a few minutes, as his hand is pinching his forehead, showing that he has thought about this with great care.
‘Strike the stubborn shepherd and the meek sheep will scatter.’ He declared as he found his solution that is plaguing his mind this past few weeks.
Arial believe this plan will work. It has to work he determined.
Silas look at his lord and nodded.
‘I guess that is the only way.’ Silas understand his lord thoughts since they once considered this plan.
But Arial try not to use this because of what will happen to Robert.
Even Arial had a little heart and truthfully Robert did not antagonize Arial to the point Arial would view Robert as an enemy he has to destroy.
However Robert is an obstacle Arial have to solve.
This objection, this one obstacle that Arial have to overcome is traced to one single person. Unfortunately for Robert of course.
Always one person. Every problem always is.
And it is always in a form of a single strong individual, the arrogant underling, the poisoner of goodwill.
Arial could not let Robert let the problem multiply and let the wound fester, neither could Arial negotiate with him, since in Arial eyes, Robert is irredeemable in the matter of his venture, and Arial decided to neutralize his influence.
He needs to cut the festering wound before it became rotten.
If he is let go, then he will poison the other lords to oppose him. But neither could Arial just execute him without compelling reason.
And Arial don’t want to execute such person. Just trying to teach him a lesson. Trying to neutralize the danger.
If he did execute without reason, then Arial will be accused of tyranny, and will certainly bite Arial back one day.
‘Isolate him’ Arial decided.
He meant to banish Robert or at least isolate him while he wins over the other noble lords. If only he had a pretext to lure Robert form his domain, his coalition would crumble.
Then Arial spoke again, a slight smile formed on his mouth.
‘Fire in the left hand, water on the right hand.’ And thinking of his plan, he chuckle a bit.
‘Silas, I have a plan. Tomorrow I will depart to my mansion outside Acro. A week later summon Robert to my mansion there while you do this’ as he whisper what needs to be done.
Silas nodded in satisfaction.
After telling Silas his plan, Silas excuse himself as Arial keep sitting on the chair, smiling. Arial understood one of the principal precepts in the game of power, one strong willed person, one disobedient spirit, can turn a flock of sheep into a den of raging lions.
He knows because he has the same aptitude. He is strong willed and he is disobedient. But Arial know the solution for such problem.
Isolate the problem.
Without the backbone of the person who have become their pillar, their rock, to keep them together…the sheep….they will scatter and they will crumble.
Arial learn his lesson early.
Do not waste time by lashing out at all the noble lords and creating unnecessary enemies. Do not attack at what seems to be a many headed enemy.
Never attack the wind for you will attack nothing, only tiring yourself to the point of exhaustion.
Find the one head that matters, the one with the smarts and willpower, and lure him away, for once he is absent, his power will lose their effect.
Root it before it became a problem so big that it will be a mess to handle it. Now he needs to inform Helia that he would spend a few weeks of his time in the mansion outside the city.
Helia is now busy using her connection asking her relatives in the North, persuading them to join Arial is his battle and even some letter to the northron lords of the Vangua Kingdom, one that share familial ties to the Althea family.
Helia has addressed his cousin, Lord Baldwin of Norrey, on the north of Aetherland to join in Arrandy venture.
With all this going in the background Arial plan began to move to its conclusion.
A WEEK LATER
The assembly convened again this time without Robert leading them. These are all the noble lords that is strongly disposed to favor the plan.
For the lords that support Arial, they have their reasons.
They were more ardent or more courageous than the rest, or perhaps their position and circumstances were such that they had more to hope from the success of the enterprise than they, or less to fear from its failure.
But for the opposition parties, there seems to be chaos.
For now Robert is absent in one of the meeting that the young lord has scheduled and their opposition grew restless and uncertain.
The scene or uproar and confusion which permeated the first meeting is only replaced with confusion.
Robert can be said to be their pillars, they were attracted to his earnestness and eloquence of argument, and they approve of his the sentiments which they heard him expressing.
A few weeks ago, Arial has inquire the other noble lords, and the guilds and trade and merchant companies around the region to contribute to his war and the response is what Arial expected.
From the quiet and peaceful citizens who inhabited the towns, the artisans and tradesmen, who wished for nothing but to be allowed to go on in their industrial pursuits in peace, were opposed to the whole project.
They thought it unreasonable and absurd that they should be required to contribute from their earnings to enable their lord and master to go off on so distant and desperate an undertaking, from which, even if successful, they could derive no benefit whatever.
Many of the barons, too, were opposed to the scheme.
They thought it very likely to end in disaster and defeat; and they denied that their feudal obligation to furnish men for their sovereign’s wars was binding to the extent of requiring them to go out of the country, and beyond the borders, to prosecute his claims to the throne of another kingdom.
The meeting is then gone to a recess. It was during this recess that they have learned terrible news and the lords all turn blue in the face hearing it.
After the meeting reconvened the lords show their willingness to work with lord Arial while Silas and Arial could be seen smirking with a hint of superiority.
Their plot worked and by now the lords must have found out what happen to Lord Robert. While Arial is getting a lot of offers ad nobles volunteering Arial recall back that moment a few days ago in his mansion.