CHAPTER 161: LINCHPIN
That day the ravens came to inform the news to the lords in Arrandy.
‘- And the Duke has now called himself Emperor Arial Vermont and his wife is now accordingly will be referred to as Empress, and his mother will be Queen Dowager and his father is titled Archduke of Benevolent an honorary title. Arrandy will be merged with the new empire with Eden as the new capital of administration a region in former Arleans which is now called Eden. The name of the empire is Edenian and as such every subjects that lives under the rule of the Vermont family will be referred to as Edenian’ the crier said announcing the shocking and joyful news.
At the same time in the castle, the Duchess is now finally relieved after finding out nothing happen to her husband, her friend Kyle and Lisa husband West.
Silas is now standing face to face after relaying the news to the Empress.
‘Where is my husband now?’
‘Your Grace. The Emperor advanced to Arleans, change the name of the city and he occupied the castle and fortified himself there, and made excursions from that region as a center until he has reduced the region to his sway.’
‘Has he been crowned?’ Silas nodded and elaborate on the matter.
‘He is crowned at length, at Eden in one of its great churches by Prince Articon of the Holy See, with attendance ranging from great nobles and knights, and even people from the rivers and lakes attends and the ceremony has been described to be with great pomp and parade.’
Then Silas ordered on of the attendants to bring him something. The attendants rushed and give an envelope to Silas.
‘And this is the letter the emperor has addressed to you your grace.’ Silas said as he handed the letter to the Empress.
Helia received the letter and open it.
‘I have won the throne. We can enter our Kingdom. Come to me at once.’
He writes with short message. Helia just sighed. She knows her husband. He is rarely known to writes too many words, preferring simple and concise orders and message.
‘What else did my husband do Silas?’
Silas nodded and he said.
‘He confiscated the property of all the Vanguan nobles who had fought against him, excluding those that aided him like Alsencon and Montberry and divided it among the Arrandian lords who had aided him in the invasion. Massey and me and some of the inner council member has already receive the letter of appointment. He also has begun the Edenian Calendar to replace the Old Empire Calendar. The Emperor is being received everywhere throughout his new dominions, with the most distinguished honors.’
‘What about Cori?’ Helia asked
‘Cori has surrender your grace’
This shocked the Empress.
‘Why? How could they surrender almost immediately?’
‘The Inquisition has made their move.’ Silas reply. Helia is in a puzzlement. Silas then elaborate on the matter.
‘As you know Cori has three factions in their royal court, Your Grace. The Merchant faction, the noble faction and the religious faction. Considering that Arial had the papnoticon approval and even the supreme Papnoticon banner itself, the inquisition court seize the royal court taking control of the Kingdom, slaughtering the royal line in favour of God heavens. Some say that the Supreme Papnoticon order this. This is worrying in so many levels. Never before the church has this much power. And never before the church intervene in the matter of human continent till now.’
‘How cou-‘ Helia is stunned
‘Religion is very powerful your grace. The emperor knows this.’
‘Then how about Freya?
‘They surrender almost immediately.’
‘Why? They have no religious faction right?’
‘Freya might not be as developed as us in military, in science as us but they are I reckon the most flexible citizens in the human continent. Remember when Harald invaded them? Did they rebel?’
‘They did not’ Helia said
‘Is this because they are a coward? No. it is because they are smart. They know they are defeated. Why incur the wrath of someone superior? And what happens to them? They were left alone, many of the lords that rule there is Freyan blood, their administration is not intervene by Harald government. They may believe that the same thing will happen again if they obediently kneel like before. Freyans are survivors. You may call their way of acting is cowardly but the weak have the weak way to survive.’
Silas said smiling.
Helia nodded in understanding.
‘Though I do not like that Lord Arial proclaimed himself emperor. It is not a wise decision if I have to say so myself’ Silas said.
‘Why would you not like it?’ Helia ask.
Then Silas said
‘Build high walls, stock up rations, and don’t be too quick to call yourself a king.’ And then he remained silent with Helia not understanding. Then Silas broke the silence
‘Your Grace, since my lord has won a great battle he requires me at his side and has already summons me. I will move first to Eden waiting for you.’
Helia nodded and she dismissed the courts.
Arial, now truly the Conqueror is still far from having full possession of his conquest in the bountiful land that he claimed his right.
He had military possession of the northern part of the country only; he had to look for further resistance, and he met with not a little.
The lord of the west and east, minor lords, vassal of the great lords that follow the doomed King tried to stop him first by negotiation by trying to ask Arial the dragon to concede the west and east to the nobles of Vangua and not to claim all of vangua.
But who doesn’t know the dragon temper?
He have won the battle, defeated his enemies and now these lords that sit on their castle walls when their country is in dire peril dare dictate him?
At least Harald and his lords that die with him on that battle, Arial could respect, even admire.
But these lords that has been calculating gains and loss is not one that Arial could trust.
At least Arial cowardice in his past lives come from powerlessness. These nobles have power but does not exercise that power with wisdom, thus dooming their Kingdom.
How could they not be conquered? When their alliances are fragile, and their lords all have different allegiance.
At least in Arrandy, no matter how fierce the fighting in the court there is only one figure that stands among the top. Arial.
But did Arial came to Vangua unprepared? Of course not. The moment he declared himself King and Emperor, as King of Kings he put on the form of full possession before he has the reality; he could treat all further resistance as a rebellion against an established authority; he could make resistance desultory and isolated.
Arial know that he have to subdue Vangua in detail; so he will never again to fight a folk-fight.
When he sits on the hill and proclaimed himself Emperor this shocked even his vassal and quickly West and Kyle send emissaries to Cori and Freya.
Freya surrenders immediately while Cori, was devastated by the Inquisition, the dark enforcer of the church and the leader a Prince Articon and leader of the religious faction is appointed temporary ruler under the rule of the Emperor.
But it is ironic that Arial still faces rebellion in Vangua itself.
Arial has thus far been driven to maintain his rights by force; he was not disposed to use force any further, if peaceful possession is to be had.
His course is therefore to show himself stern to all who withstood him, but to take all who submitted into his protection and favour.
He then went to the east and west seeking submission from the survived lords. Many people, common folk, noble lords, believe that the Emperor is blessed with divine grace, blessed by the church and God, and they believe in it all the more after the issue of the battle.
God, Arial had said, should judge between himself and Harald, and God had judged in Arial favour.
With all his clear-sightedness, it seems he has a flaw as Arial hardly understand how differently things looked in the Vanguan eyes.
Some indeed, especially churchmen, especially foreign churchmen, now began to doubt whether to fight against Arial is not to fight against God, and to be damned into Seven Hells.
But to the nation at large Arial is simply as Alexander Montblanc the first, in past times.
Vanguan had before now been conquered, but never in a single fight. Past Kings had fought battle after battle with the Caelum Emperors, and men had no mind to submit to the Arrandians just because Arial once victorious.
But the past Kings, great and valiant king of the past that protected the Anglais Raxons community in Vangua against the tyranny of Alexander the Divider, in alternate defeat and victory, lived to fight again; their people had not to choose a new king; the King had merely to gather a new army.
This is where the scenario is in Arial favour.
Harald was slain, and the first question was how to fill his place. The Council of lords, so many as could be got together, met to choose a king, whose first duty would be to meet Arial the Conqueror in arms.
The choice is not easy. Harald’s son is just a baby. His cousin, great warrior and lords, of whom Girth at least must have been fit to reign, had fallen with him.
So the council of lord degenerated into shouting matches with the great houses of the south and west.
The church on the other hand did not agree; they hold that God has declared in favour of Arial the Dragon.
The local resistance which Arial had met shows that, with any combined action, the case is not hopeless.
Vanguans is eager to fight; so doubtless are others; but there is no leader that they could rally behind.
Meanwhile the Conqueror is advancing, by his own road and after his own fashion.
He did not leave Eden until he had received reinforcement from Aetherland, no doubt the work of the emperor mother, who have persuaded the Aetehrland King to cease the cold war between them and even Zettel send some of their armies no doubt to gain some favour with the new Emperor.
A large part of Vangua is left helpless.
A legal claimant of the crown, it is his interest as soon as possible to become a crowned Emperor now that Freya and Cori are under his dominion.
It is not his interest to march straight onto the council of Lords in Ordon and demand the crown, sword in hand.
He saw that, submission to himself is only a question of time. After a few weeks of skirmishes with several bishops and chief men, lords of west and east, and even from the south all came to make their submission.
They offered the crown to Arial as King and acknowledged Arial claim to the territory of Vangua and acknowledging in length of Arial claim to be an Emperor, and, after some debate
Why Arial turns the matter of acceptance which he seeks into a debate? From the beginning he claims the crown as his right; the crown is offered to him; and yet he doubts about taking it.
Ought he, he asks, to take the crown of a kingdom of which he has not as yet full possession?
At that time the territory of which Arial had even military possession could not have stretched much to the south of a line drawn from Alsencon to Arleans.
Outside that line men are, as Arial is made to say, still in rebellion.
His scruples were come over by an orator that he summons personally from Arrandy, the one that once saved their king, Silas Perigord.
His reputation is well known, a brilliant politician and a great orator.
Arial had try to bid his case in front of the Council of Lords but it was not got up without a motive.
Arial try to seek outward legality, seeking to do things peaceably when they could be done peaceably, seeking for means to put every possible enemy in the wrong, wished to make his acceptance of the Vanguan crown as formally regular as might be.
Strong as he held his claim to be by the gift of Edward, it would be better to be, if not strictly chosen, at least peacefully accepted, by the chief men of Vangua.
And Silas understand his lord thoughts.
It might someday serve the Emperor purpose to say that the crown had been offered to him, and that he had accepted it only after a debate
Listening to the debate and the convincing argument the council of lords who already had decided to give the crown had to watch the farce for half an hour before they give the crown to Arial.
And then Arial is coronated after all parts of the kingdom has submitted to him once again reviving the Caelum Imperial line in Vangua.
Nothing that is needed for a lawful crowning is lacking. The consent of the people, the oath of the Emperor, the anointing by the hands of a lawful metropolitan, all is there.
He promised them peace, blessed by God, that people will live prosperous life, a thousand year of peace and that he declared that Vangua name will be changed when he has found the occasion to change it.
He is now known to the continent as Emperor Arial Vermont, Emperor of Eden Empire while the martial art world gives him the nickname Celestial Emperor.
Everyone now know of his air manipulating technique, killing hundreds thousand by his own power, completely changing the course of a war.
Never before other than Levitia that one man could change the tide of battle alone.
Even now the news spread to other nation and they agree that Arial is a threat. Plots bubbled under the guise of diplomatic trades.
But now everyone knows that Arial is a Conquering king, a conquering ruler. Of course there is some small rebellion but in the might of the military machine of Arial army who could stand in a long war against them, now that they have the approval of the church and most of the northern lords?
In other words, Arial seat as Emperor is secure.
If the men of Vangua should refuse to receive him as their ruler, he could tell them that he is their lawful sovereign, anointed by their own Prince Articon.
It is sound policy to act as king of the whole land, to exercise a semblance of authority where he had none in fact.
And in truth he is king of the whole land, so far as there is no other king.
The unconquered parts of the land are in no mood to submit; but they could not agree on any common plan of resistance under any common leader.
All the great lords of Vangua perished in the battle. If Harald did not bring all his great host during the battle maybe even Arial had a hard time stabilizing his newly conquered region.
If one common leader could have been found, the throne of the foreign sovereign would have been in no small danger.
To rid out the Caelum is not easy but at least if they have one leader they could instigated revolt in the province and continually driving the foreign ruler to fatigue.
Even if he is undefeated in battle how could he administer his empire if he is always pressed for battle?
He could kill all of them but then he will be standing among graves.
But no such leader came: men stood still, or resisted piecemeal, so the land is conquered piecemeal, and that under cover of being brought under the obedience of its lawful king.
So Arial returned to Eden after the great deed is completed, that finally the Vanguan Kingdom truly fell unto his hand, Eden the capital he make for himself and sit on his grand and majestic throne, with a dragon carved design on his throne.
Silas and many of his inner council has already arrived to the capital after the coronation. He is only waiting for her daughter and wife.
They all are waiting for the King to order them for the next move. Silas has merited many contribution, during Robert insistence, and during the church matter, so Arial has promised him the title of Duke in one of the regions.
Arial had to say that the coronation really help him.
The coronation has its effect in a moment after the news travelled all around the kingdom.
It made him really king over part of Vangua; it put him into a new position with regard to the rest.
As soon as there is a king, men flocked to swear oaths to him and become his men, knights and talented men, scholars and ambitious men.
They even came from region where he has no real authority.
After the coronation even the fighting spirits of the lords in the east and west dulled down and probably at last they made their mind to acknowledge Arial instead of fighting a losing battle, and prolonging the devastation.
They became Arial men and honoured by the gifts that Arial granted them as they received again their lands and nobility titles but Arial had said to these lords that he will redraw back the borders and the name of each region to be consolidated into the new Empire.
Other chief men from the south also submitted and received their lands and honours again.
It became Arial policy in his early rule in a region so foreign to him to act as Emperor even where he had no means of carrying out his Imperial orders.
He also granted a county in former Freya, now under the dominion of the Emperor to Pedro Giovanni one of the exiled Four Families who is known to be a close friend of Diego Botticelli to keep the peace and prevent rebellion from happening while Pedro family will act as hostage in Eden.
Arial knew that while he held power in name truthfully it does not mean he yet have full authority and control.
Arrandy is loyal to him, as one entity that remains his backbone but he knows Cori and Freya has their own problems.
They are forcefully included into the new Empire.
Freya kneels because they have no alternatives. Without their slave army which has been given freedom by Harald, Freya is a weak nation militarily but it still has their harbour while Cori is in now the hand of the Church.
It might seem like Arial is the emperor but Arial knows that it is the church country. Arial had to solve this matter later, knowing that right now the church sentiment is on his side but to believe in such fickle alliance between him and the church is not wise.
The church is trying to use him as he used them. Arial is not stupid in this matter. For now Vangua take precedent rather than the distant lands on the south.
Crowned sovereign over the land, he would first strengthen himself in that part of the kingdom which he actually held.
Arial policy is to assert his rights in the strongest form, but to show his mildness and good will by refraining from carrying them out to the uttermost.
By right of conquest Arial claimed nothing.
He has come to take his crown, and he had unluckily met with some opposition in taking it.
The crown lands of King Edward passed of course to his successor. As for the lands of other men, in Arial mind all is forfeited to the crown.
The lawful heir had been driven to seek his kingdom in arms; no Anglais Raxons has helped him when he put forth his claim to his rightful crown; many of them even fought against him.
All then were directly or indirectly traitors.
The King might lawfully deal with the lands of all as his own. The Emperor….all the land in law, a law which he made, in paper all belong to him.
Each land can be taken back by him, the only exception is in the land of Arrnady where they can buy their lands and redeemed it.
Of course even this he would change someday later.
But in the conquered lands, all lands, belongs to Arial and his Empire. Taxes, lands. The King took to himself the estates of the house of Harald save those of Amelie, the widow of his revered predecessor, whom it was his policy to treat with all honour.
From the beginning of his reign Arial begin to make himself richer than any king or emperors that had been before him in Vangua or than any other Human Continent king of his day.
He could both punish his enemies and reward his friends.
Much of what he took he kept; much he granted away, mainly to his foreign followers, but sometimes also to Vanguan lords who had in any way won his favour.
The doctrine that all land is held by the Emperor is now put into a practical shape. All, of Vangua and strangers, not only became Arial subjects, but his men and his grantees.
Even though Arial find some resistance in taking the crown he is not without mercy.
Vangua is not, like some conquered nations, formally degraded or put under any legal incapacity in their own land.
Arial simply distinguished between his loyal and his disloyal subjects, and used his opportunities for punishing the disloyal and rewarding the loyal.
Such punishments and rewards naturally took the shape of confiscations.
If punishment is commonly the lot of the Vanguan people, and reward is the lot of the Caelum lord that serve the Emperor, it is only because the Emperor treated all men as they deserved.
Most Vanguan is disloyal; most Caelum are loyal. But disloyal Caelum and loyal Vanguan fared according to their deserts.
This revolution, which practically transferred the greater part of the soil of Vangua to the hands of strangers, a foreign leader is great indeed.
Arial, according to his character and practice, is able to do all this gradually, according to legal forms, and without drawing any formal distinction between natives and strangers.
All land is held of the Emperor of Eden, according to the law of each of its kingdom. Of course Arial will change it soon it find stability and he even discussed this with Silas and Oliver to codified a law that will be used by the empire subjects.
And the Vanguan people also begins to accept this new King. A man who declared himself Emperor.
Because Arial, at any rate since his crowning, had shed the blood of no man. Men perhaps thought that things might have been much worse, and that they were not unlikely to mend.
Anyhow, weakened, cowed, isolated, the people of the conquered kingdom submitted humbly to the Conqueror’s will.
The Conqueror the name in which he is known, determined before all things that his kingdom should be united and obedient; his empire should not be split up like the time of Alexander the Divider; he would have no man in his empire whose formal homage should carry with it as little of practical obedience as his own homage to the King of Aetherland.
Arial therefore forsook the old practice of the Vanguan, dividing the whole kingdom into duchy. The Dukedom is one example of the Empire incompetence.
Arial also did not forget to send gift to the church whose favour had wrought so much for Arial enterprise.
Arial also could not used his military all the time. Understanding the limit of military force is an essential consideration.
Arial pursues stability development and exploitation. Stability is clearly important to prevent rebellion or unrest, while the cities will be developed to foster economy, social and political development.
The large aim is to establish a durable empire, constructed from Arial very own mind, a vision of everlasting peace.
And the exploitation. It does not mean to imply that Arial would ruthlessly raped the empire of its riches.
It refers to the fact that Arial often saw the advantage of winning over potential enemies to serve his new empire interest.
One benefit of such actions is the potential for absorbing potential enemies to serve his interest.
Arial had no intention of simply sweeping through Vnagua , plundering as he went. His aim is to become their lord and thereby the people becoming his subjects.
Thinking about all this he summoned the meeting to discuss all this matter and more. And he also planned a construction program to make sure that his own vassal wont revolt someday.
Sitting on his throne he looked into his courtiers.
It was during this meeting that Arial declared to build a palace near the old castle of the Orleans.
‘Located about 10 miles from this very castle lies a modest hamlet. I have a vision for that place. I hereby declare to construct a Palace never seen before, grander and majestic then the rest. The Palace of Vermont’s. I want gardens, hunting grounds, buildings that housed my courtiers and advisors, residence, stables and kennels, painting and sculptures, ornate designs from all over the world, technological innovations, entertainment hall, which could be turn into banqueting hall for my feast. The Palace will be a manifestation of my glory, and of power imposed to a great extent by art, luxury and magnificence.’ He declared
He then put in charge Silas as the head architect and asks him to choose anyone capable to assist him in the undertaking, creating many works for the people near the hamlets and to the unemployed knights for a few years until the palace finished its construction.
Then as the Emperor move to other matters, suddenly the throne room is barged in by one man of scrawny appearance with messy hair and a panting breath.
He look at Arial and then he said, his tone is desperate
“The Empress! The Empress! She-“