AOH – Chapter 145

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CHAPTER 145: PROCLAMATION

1 SEEDMONTH 1023

It was the beginning of the year as the last snow melted disappeared from Arrandian soil and Arial problem has lessened.

It was a morning like any other only to be shocked by the delegation form the Office of the Holies.

The attendants ran to the chamber and knock it with such urgency that someone might think the attendants is attacking the huge and heavy door.

‘Enter’ Arial command.

The attendant enters the great chamber and look as he sees the great persona of the region.

Lord Barden Whitebush, the Chief Treasurer of the Council, Derwin Watertree, the Lawkeeper, the Knight Commander of the House, Ser Massey Errol and his cousin Lord Robert Errol sitting beside him with a gaunt face, his counselor, Fenwick Arant, a great friend of Silas Perigord, and the Spymaster of Arrandy, Oliver Crom and beside him his son, Leander Crom fiddling with the pen.

There is also the ecclesiastics bunch, people of the church from both Faction of belief, one that will surely feel overjoyed by the news that the attendants will bring them.

‘What are you looking at boy?’ Massey barked.

‘Say your message!’ Massey ordered.

‘Yes…y..es my lord’ the attendants stuttered intimidated with the yelling of Massey.

‘There is a delegation from the Office of The Holies waiting outside the castle gate with 5000 thousand of them waiting for permission to enter.’

He said still stuttering surrounded by this many great men of the realm. The pressure of being around them is enough to make any lowborn like him feel small.

‘Speak calmly courier’ Arial order calmly trying to ease the nervousness of the courier. The courier nodded.

‘This is his letter to you, great lord’ the attendants said as he approaches the duke which is block by Massey.

‘I will take that.’

‘Yes, my lord’ the attendant said.

Massey took it and presents the letter to Arial.

‘Thank you, Massey.’ Arial made a gesture to the attendants to exit the chamber and the attendant quickly obey, and release a relieved sigh.

Arial open the letter and read it. In it, it describes the Supreme Papnoticon intention to support Arial effort and presented Arial a diploma from the Papnoticon which gave Arial formal authority to take possession of the Vanguan crown and in it the Papnoticon office also have more gifts to be given.

Knowing that this gift, whatever it is, must come from the delegation on the front gate Arial order the council to be dismissed as they rush to the castle gate.

The moment Arial arrived there is murmuring among the soldiers and they anticipate what the delegation would do.

‘Lord Arial, you have come. We are honoured.’ the delegation leader of the church bowed his head towards Arial.

‘Yes? Who are you? State your intention’ Arial order the leader, his presence imposing and majestic.

‘I am Prince Articon Josh and I came here bearing the banner of the church to aid you cause as I have been instructed by the Office of the Church.’

Arial looks at the long and flowing banner.

The banner was of costly and elegant workmanship; its value, however, did not consist in its elegance or its cost, but in a solemn benediction which His Holiness pronounced over it, by which it was rendered sacred and inviolable.

The banner, thus blessed, was forwarded to Arial by Josh with great care. Arial now know that this is a great honor to be presented with such aid, kneel as it was respectful, not to the banner or even to Prince Articon but to the Church itself.

This itself shows to the people of Lucellian belief that Arial is a very pious man, at least that is what they believe about the character of Arial Vermont.

Arial kneel as his lord, Massey took it for their lord behalf.

‘I, Arial am thankful for the church aid. I am filled with admiration and gratitude.’ The Prince Articon seem pleased.

‘This is His holiness gifts towards you, O great lord of Arrandy. An army of 5000 thousand people dedicated to your cause as intended by God. And His Holiness also wanted me to give you this, one of the many, churches treasures.’

As Prince Articon Josh gesture some servants to bring him a big box which is then laid in front of him.

He then open it and retrieve a few things from the box. Arial took it while kneeling as this is clearly the churches treasures.

Arial rarely kneel but now watched by all of his subjects, whose main belief is the Lucellian belief, showing respect to the greatest authority of the religions shows that Arial is a humble and pious person….a personality play he has mastered.

Then the Prince Articon present Arial the ring.

Bishop Paul and Priest Luke, the ecclesiastic from Vern Orthodox look in awe and with gaping mouth as Arial received the ring.

The ring is of pure gold, and it contained a diamond of great value. The gold and the diamond both, however, served only as a setting to preserve and honor something of far greater value than that.

It is because of the next gift.

They look and they gasped. A treasure has been given from the church to the Vermont family, one that none of the royalty in the Human continent ever receives before.

Everyone knew this from the common folk to the noble birth. Everyone knew the story. Everyone at least has heard about it in the Book of Light sermons.

This choice treasure was a vial of blood encased in clear glass, a blood from the wound of the Apostle Diana.

A sacred relic of miraculous virtue and of inestimable value. This and the church approval of the war, with the banner, the ring and the vial of blood, produced a great and universal excitement among the people of Arrandy.

‘Our lord is blessed by the Heavens’

‘Praise the Light’ the other yelled. Some come from the common folks some from the noble lords.

‘The Blood of the Apostle. What honour!’ another exclaimed.

Most of Arial council member is delighted with this open endorsement by the church. Arial understand how significant this endorsement to his war effort.

To have bestowed upon Arial enterprise of conquest, emphatically given the solemn sanction of the great spiritual head of the Church, to whom the great mass of the people looked up with an awe and a reverence almost divine, was to seal indissolubly the rightfulness of the venture and to insure its success.

There was thenceforward no difficulty in procuring men or means. And this makes Arial smile from cheek to cheek.

He understands the limit of relying on his reputation which is why he borrows the Church reputation.

Everybody was eager to share in the glory, and to obtain the rewards, of an enterprise thus commended by an authority duly commissioned to express, in all such cases, the judgment of Heaven.

Who wouldn’t want forgiveness from the Lord Above? Who wouldn’t want glory and the fame and the piety they would gain from the Church?

Arial still kneeling and then he spoke without vanity or pride

‘I, Arial Vermont am honoured to be presented with such gift from the Holiness. The Church and the Vermont’s have always been close and with this gift certainly there is no one that could cast doubt on my claim upon Vangua territory anymore.’

Hearing this Arial inner circles loudly cheer, agreeing with their lord statement.

‘Yes, my lord. This is the intention of the Holiness. Please get up now my lord. Your devotion fill me with admiration.’

Arial get up, not dusting the soil and dust that dirtied his knees and order his Commander

‘Please escort these man of God to the barracks.’

Massey nodded and quickly he brought them to the barracks escorting them while Arial return back to his council for his next plan.

***********************************************************************

THE SQUARE

The square in the center of the city is crowded today, more than usual.

There is the chattering of the crowds, the idle chatter of senseless dialogue filling the area but in time the square is fill with people who resembles soldiers, and noble lords, some who come on horseback some on caravans filling the empty square and in an hour it become crowded.

There is a small house in that square and a man enter the house, a man of great renown who is known to the people of Acro as the duke spymaster.

The man enters the room and hears that his lord is humming something; his face was of pure calmness, like nothing could disturb his peace right now.

Oliver quickly rouses his lord.

‘My lord all has been prepared. We only await you to make your entrance’ Arial look at Oliver and nodded as he was waiting for this moment and has made all of his preparation to address his audience.

‘Have all the lords, knights and the nobles taken their place? Have my words relayed to the other part of the region? Have the city know my orders’

‘Yes, my lord’ Oliver answer.

‘I hope the scribe could jot down what I said and then we will let the crier to announce it through all of Arrandy and beyond. Certainly such measures will help in bolstering the recruitment process’

‘Yes, my lord. I will order some scribe to jot down the content of your speech and I will surely send criers and couriers to relay your intention to all of the Human continent. You do not have to worry about it’

Arial nodded in understanding.

Arial get up from his seat and climb down the spiraling stairs from the short tower in the middle of the city to reach the high podium that is constructed in the middle of Acro, the proud city of Arrandy region.

As Arial walk to the podium the soldiers, the noble lords, all give him way, part their ways fearing hindering the duke steps.

Slowly but surely Arial reach the podium and he climb up the podium with no difficulty.

Then he reached the highest point of the podium and he looked down upon his subjects, hundreds and thousands of them from every walks of life.

Merchants, traders, peddlers, warriors, scholars, builders, masons, carpenter all of them congregate around the podium anticipating the duke speech.

Two days ago, it was announced that the young duke would deliver a speech to the entirety of Arrandy and he decide to grace Acro with the honour of first listening to his speech, the city where the dragons live.

Then all eyes is focused on him as he stand majestically on top of the podium surveying the people beneath him.

Then he coughed a little and the crowds began perking up their ears as the duke seems ready to begin his speech.

‘ARRANDIANS! CAELUM IS OUR RACE! BRAVEST OF PEOPLE!’ Arial roared and his word fills the city squares, the dark alley, the merchant quarters, the administrative quarters, like a thunder that split apart worlds.

Arial decided to rouse racial pride because that is the easiest sentiment to be roused among a group of people who share the same blood.

To Arial he too feels a little pride about his race but not to the point of degrading other races.

And the word Caelum race invites pride as they are the descendants of the Sky People. But Arial need to rouse a feeling that their proud race is being trampled on by Anglais and Raxons.

They need an enemy, a target to direct their hatred and Arial knew how to direct nefarious intention to suit his need.

The simmering hate and enmity between Caelum and Anglais-Raxons are famed since the time of the Thirteen Tribes, as rivalry and hatred that surpasses Caelum rivalry with the other races of the Human continent.

Since the Caelum race is not the original inhabitants of the Human continent before the time of Levitia they were treated badly and marginalized by mostly Anglais people and Raxons the original inhabitants of Davarus.

It was not until Levitia rise that the Caelum could raise their head up high and occupied the most advantageous position in the Continent, as bloodline of Kings and Emperors are all from Caelum race lords.

It is because of this long span rivalry and hate not yet forgotten by their descendants, a war that have been fought by their ancestor but renew almost instantly by their next kin, that there is this point of contention between who is better between the two.

Is the Caelum, a race who is famed for conquering everything that stands in their way is superior or is it the Anglais who have maintained order even during the time of the Dark Lords reign?

Which is better? Which is wiser? Which is stronger? It is this sentiments that Arial try to evoke, a feeling of racial pride, to evoke the sense that their pride is being threatened.

Arial himself felt no hatred for the Anglais people but he needs an army that would die for his cause and what is more potent than a cause they would believe in, bonded by a cause greater than just the benefit of gold and land?

‘Our courage is famed across the sea, our might resound to the entire world. I have no doubt of your courage, and none of your victory which never by any chance or obstacle escaped your efforts.’

Arial begin and the soldiers cheer with great enthusiasm.

‘If indeed you had, once only, failed to conquer, there might be a need now to inflame your courage by exhortation; but your native spirit does not require to be roused. All of you know why I stand here today! To seek redress from the false King that sit on the Vanguan throne, a seat meant for me for I am heir to the throne, a throne promised for me by their late King, Edward the Saint!’

‘HARR’ they yelled and cheer. The square erupted into a deafening sound of support, a yelling of pride. Arial made a gesture and the cheer slowly stops and then Arial continues.

‘Let me ask. Are the people of Caelum fear the Anglais people for I see little that join my venture? Are you afraid! Let me tell you why you have nothing to fear from the Vanguan King. I will tell you a story of a hero of our Blood. Shall I tell you his story!”

‘Tell us great Duke’ some yelled

‘Yes, tell us’ the other yelled.

‘Caelum, Bravest of men, what could the power of the Demon King effect with all his people and might, with his army and magic, from Davarus to Arakath, against Levitia our predecessor? What he wanted of the world he took, and gave to the Emperor only what he pleased. What he had, he held as long as it suited him, whether it be weapons, whether it be land, and relinquished it only for something better. Did not the First Generation our ancestor, founder of our nation, conquer at the Dark land the lords of the Demon lands in the heart of their kingdom, nor had the lords of the Dark lands any hope of safety until they humbly offered their daughter, sons, mother and father, sister and brothers, relatives and friends, lands and sea, every possession of the Empire for their safety fearing to anger such godlike people? This soil, which, after you, is called Davarus were conquered by their hands and might. Are we not their great descendants?’

‘TRUE’ the crowds yelled.

‘WE ARE THE BLOOD OF THE SKY’ another yelled.

‘HAHAHAHA’ Arial laughed.

‘Did not our ancestors capture the King of the Fay at Aralam, and keep him there until he restored Aralam to the Second Family? Have not our ancestor compelled the great Demon empire to submit to us humans, we who share the same blood as Levitia the Savior, OF THE BLOOD OF THE SKY PEOPLE…OF CAELUM DESCENT!’

The crowds roar like a huge roaring of fire, a passion in their heart lighted to form a huge flame of strong will and pride.

‘Did not the same ancestors rule uncontested and unchallenged as long they exist? Are we not a conquering race? Are we not of that blood?’

‘YES, WE ARE’ the crowds yelled,

‘YES, WE ARE’

Arial continue his speech.

‘Blood of conquerors flow inside our vein. But why do I talk of former times? Did us not, in our own time, engage the Anglais at the border every year fighting deadly battle, our relatives die under their steel, our brothers, ours sons, our kin slaughtered by their attacks? But did we retreat? Did we run and shown our back? No, we have shown them our might. And now the Anglais is nothing more than our prey. Did they not prefer flight to battle, and use their spurs now? Did you not see the fear on their eyes when they fight against you? Have we not once defeated the Anglais? Have we not showed them our steel? Have we not showed them how formidable we the Caelum are? We, who conquers and the Anglais who have been conquered. Do anybody deny that we Caelum, the minority of people, yet we are the ruling power of the human continent? Why this disparity in distribution of power? Is it not because we are their superior? Are we not conquerors!’

‘YAHHH’ The crowds yelled in agreement, some solider clanging their shields, like the deafening song of the Orcs.

‘Ah! Let any one of the Anglais whom, a hundred times, our predecessors, both Sky people and Caelum, have defeated in battle, come forth and show that the race of First generation ever suffered a defeat from his time until now, and I will withdraw conquered.’

And another cheer resonated around the squares.

‘TRUE, TRUE INDEED MY LORD’ The crowds answered with great enthusiasm.

‘Is it not, therefore, shameful that a people accustomed to be conquered, a people ignorant of war, fearful of our might, a people even without courage, should proceed in order of battle against you, my brave men? Is it not a shame that King Harald, perjured as he was in your presence, should dare to show his face to you? To me, the man who he dares break an oath towards? It is amazing to me that you have been allowed to see those who, by a horrible crime, beheaded your relations and your people, my kinsman in the south, and that their own heads are still on their shoulders. Raise your standards, my brave men, and set neither measure nor limit to your merited rage. May the lightning of your glory be seen and the thunders of your onset heard from east to west, from north to south, and be all of you the avengers of noble blood.’

And his word ring with finality, like a descending of truth from heaven, that his word is not opposed, that without a doubt that by the end of the war, Harald will no longer have his head, that as surely there is day after night, Vangua will fall to the dragon.

Arial looking at the aroused crowds with cheer behind his back and exited the stage. All of this was done to find aid.

The current is right now set on his favor, the wind on his back, and it is by this proclamation of furious anger mix with racial pride, surely the county, dukedom, kingdoms surrounding Arrandy, knights of every degree, soldiers, and adventurers will join him in his venture.

These proclamations that Arial has spoken awoken a continent wide attention.

The crier from village to village, town to town, castle to castle, palace to palace all announce the duke speech, and great numbers of adventurous men determine to enter Arial service marches to Arrandy.

Horses, arms, and accoutrements were everywhere in great demand. The invasion of Vangua and the question of joining it were the universal topics of conversation.

The roads of the great city near the region of Arrandy from the west of Zettel, to the north of Aetherland is covered with knights and soldiers, some on horseback and alone, others in bands, large or small, all proceeding to Arrandy to tender their services.

And all the while Arial is preparing in his castle.

************************************************************************

THE COUNCIL CHAMBERS

There is a lot of scattered document on top of the huge long table, the sound of jotting document and the sound of scuffling papers.

The wind blows slowly giving the people of in the chamber some coolness to endure their work.

Reports streamed in inside the chamber from the council members.

‘My lord there is 60 armed men from Lord Mortain of Terland. 50 from Lord Sachs and 70 from Lord Austere.’

The report is being told to the Duke. The duke nodded smiling in satisfaction.

‘Accept them all. For the lords, offer them some office if my venture becomes successful. To the unlanded knights offer them some gold. Surely with this kind of benefit they would more inclined to enter our services.’

‘Yes, my lord’ Silas said.

‘How about the North? Did Liao Bao send any report? Will the Austen join us or will they fortify their base at Taiyuan?’ Arial asked Oliver

‘Liao Bao has sent us the report. The situation at Southern Tai and Northern Chu is still volatile. Both of these powers still have their secret wars.’

Arial nodded understanding the situation on the north, which means that they possess no threats to Arial position right now.

‘Liao Bao, my lord has a conflict of interest here’ Oliver interjected.

‘He is married to the princess of the Chu family and as such wouldn’t he is bias towards the Chu family? I would not want us to prepare for an enemy on the north while we are attacking on the south. Then we are truly in great calamity. Attacked and squished by two forces. Liao Bao is not someone we should underestimate. His position might be your vassals but he is the Princess husband. And as such wouldn’t he have some stakes in the Northern Chu or might he be plotting a plot we never knew? This is why Southern Tai regard us like a vague ally.’

‘It is true that Liao Bao has a conflict of interest there but I also meant to call him back later. We will know where his loyalties lie then.’ Arial said answering Oliver worries.

‘If he have thought to rouse the Northern Chu to rebel from the crown of Aetehrland, then we will deal that at that time.’

Oliver nodded in agreement of his lord line of thought.

‘I might have to choose someone else as the Supervisor. This also has been in my mind for a long time, Oliver. But there are many things to consider.’

‘I understand my lord’ Oliver said bowing his head slightly

‘Aetherland also decide to take the matters of the North more seriously and Adrian have been sending me message to pull my people out of Southern Tai and Northern Chu. After all Northern Chu is under their dependency of Aetehrland not Arrandy. But even with these matters the flow is still in our favour. Southern Tai could not march to Arrandy even if they wanted to unless they made an alliance with Aetehrland and I don’t see that Adrian will broker such alliances with the Generals of the Austen family who might prove to be a messier headache if they are let loose on the land of Alan than me.’

Arial explained. It is quite complicated the relationship between the states and kingdoms of the volatile region of the far North

‘Hmm, anyway for that we will discuss in another time. Is there anyone else that rendered their services to my employs?’

‘Priest Coubertin from Zettel and Priest Frois from Great Renasia, dignitaries of the church also send some of their private retinue. For Coubertin, a 100 armed men, for Frois 60 armed men, though they requested to be appointed bishop of a valuable Vanguan diocese should my lord established yourself on the throne.’

‘Hmm’

‘Will you accept their help?’

‘Take them all. For now we need all the help we can give to give Harald pressure. Their army might be numerous but with this enthusiasm to join from many people; surely the gap in numbers will be bridged.’

‘Yes my lord’ they answer

‘And what of Harald movement?’

‘Cori has surrendered to Harald my lord.’

‘Hmmm.’ Arial sighed.

‘Why would they….I don’t understand? And why this has not been mentioned before, this important news. Who filters this news?’

Arial said, there is some hint of anger. If he knew this wouldn’t he make haste to attack Vangua while Harald is occupying Cori?

‘It is me, my lord’ Silas said with a bitter smile.

‘Silas…you? Why would you hide this news from me?’ There is a shocked expression that Arial rarely shows.

Why would Silas hide this news from him? Arial could not understand Silas line of thoughts.

‘They are alliances against you my lord. And Cori royalty did marry into Vangua royalty. It is not surprising that they would do this. They are part of anti- Vermont’s alliances.’

‘But surrender? Wouldn’t this mean that their Kingdom-‘

‘Not that kind of surrenders my lord….a temporary federation meant to stop your march to further south. Right now Harald controls all the south. Truly he is the undisputed ruler of the south. This tactic is known as “surrender in war time, dissolving in peace time” is a famous tactic of Zhu Ar Zur.’

‘Which means?’

‘None of the royalty of Cori is harmed, none of their city conquered or sacked, but instead their resources pooled together to fight a common enemy or in your case my lord a stronger enemy. If there is any news saying differently it is news planted by Harald men.’

‘But why surrender? Why not say cooperation.’ Arial asked puzzled by such tactics.

‘This surely meant to confuse you my lord. Zhu Ar Zur uses this tactic to trap the Demon Lord Thunor to attack the city of kingdom of Cercei who Thunor thought is occupy with sacking the Kingdom of Shavarma. The end result was the army of Thunor is defeated with the reinforcement that came from Shavarma who has been waiting since the beginning to exact their vengeance to the Demon Lord.’

Massey nodded as he is seen nodding. Since Massey is proficient in warfare he must have known of this story. Arial also remember this tactic in the Art of Battle by Zhu Ar Zur.

‘I have seen though this tactic of theirs my lord. They must have thought if you have heard about Cori surrender you will make haste to attack the new capital of Vangua at Arleans and then with my lord army tired and exhausted fighting the Vanguan soldiers, the reinforcement from Cori would arrive. From my experience if they won the war they would surely return back their status quo like Zhu Ar Zur did with Shavarman and Cercei kingdom.’

Arial nodded. Even if he is a Heavenly King, if he is trapped long enough and attack long enough even he would suffer severe injury.

Truly Silas is not only a talented politician but also a very brilliant strategist to see the enemies tactic with a glance.

If not for him, if he is presented with this information surely even he would do exactly like Silas said and make haste to attack the capital of Vangua.

It is fortunate that the council filters the news before telling it to Arial.

‘Truly, Silas you have rendered a great merit to me in hiding this news from me. Do not worry then. I will not fall to their trap.’

Silas nodded.

‘ Silas, you may be dismissed now. You all keep up the good work. I will leave the council for today.’

The council member nodded. Silas also get up from his seat and take his leave to finish his task.

‘If there is nothing else to discuss, my council, I will excuse myself. You may continue your work and inform me if something out of the usual happen.’

‘Yes my lord’ they responded as Arial get up from his seat and exited the chamber room.

Behind him the council is hard at work organizing the list of names and their contribution. The road to war is nearing.

Arial is descending the towers and now one last obstacle remains before he could march to Vangua.

Right now he is descending down to the gardens to enjoy a walk with his wife and daughter. It has become increasingly hard to spend time with Helia and Ariadne after the proclamation.

He has put all these people to work under him under the church authority and his charisma of leadership.

However Arial recognize there is one more point which it was necessary for him to secure before finally marching, and that is the co-operation and aid of the Aetherland King, King Adrian.

In his character of Duke of Arrandy the King of Aetherland is his liege lord, and he is bound to act, in some degree, under an acknowledgment of his superior authority.

In his new capacity, that is, as King of Vangua, or, rather, as heir to the Vanguan kingdom, he is, of course, wholly independent of Adrian, and, consequently, not bound by any feudal obligation to look to him at all.

But Arial feel it prudent to retain goodwill and surely he will settle this matter. He has finished descending the stairs and his feet bring him to the garden.

And even before he enters the garden he could hear the beautiful laugh of his wife. And as he put aside the worries of tomorrow he enter the garden.

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