CHAPTER 31: DEVELOPMENT
THE BLACKTREE HOLD
1014 AF SEEDMONTH 78
The door opens and they entered. The sound of his footsteps is clear since there is only silence in the hall.
The young lord came with his vassal into the rooms, with 10 guards all wearing a golden armour, with dragon design.
The young lord himself looks intimidating with his armour, breastplate that is encrusted with red rubies, his hair long and white, flowing gracefully, off his back, tall for his age.
He looked charismatic and he exudes authority.
I understand why so many lords bend their knees to this young lord. He emits the air of a king.
He walked, strut to his seat, prideful and powerful, domineering in the most natural form. His eyes doesn’t view this like a glory, more like a trifle
“Gerrick, see that?”
I whisper to my son who is standing beside me also watching the young lord with awe
“Look at his eyes. That is a man with a purpose. That…is a man with a will.”
I could see it from his eyes. This man has a purpose. And such will is usually accompanied with greater cause.
Whatever the consequences he would thrive…at least that is what I feel seeing him. We are the Blacktons and we are a prideful family.
But, more pride will only destroy us like it destroys the Whitetree. Whitetree and we raise our banners when the dragon marches here to the South for we are relatives, boded by blood.
But now that the Whitetrees are dead their castle occupied by people that is loyal to the Vermont’s.
Of course, we can claim revenge but dead people do not rise. What is dead, stay dead? Is it wise of us, to tread the same path as Whitetree and perish by the anger of the Dragon?
Was it worth it incurring such anger? This is what I am determined to know. Is Arial Vermont, worthy of my fealty?
“Lord Derrick” the young lord says looking at me after taking his seat, calmly. His eyes were cold and everyone is bowing towards him, unconsciously, no one dares look him in the eyes.
His Knights stand beside him, their swords were not confiscated. They stand like a mountain that could not be budged.
A show of trust by letting them keep their weapons. Unwise….but maybe necessary. The young lord is hardly a trustful person, cautious and very selective on the people he chose to trust.
“Lord Arial” I nodded and then I offer him some food as per the customs.
“May I offer you some salt and bread?” The young lord look annoyed and none pleased.
“I have no time to spare for salt and bread. What is your reason calling me? Are you going to swear fealty or not?” he said directly
Arial the Dragon, I reminded myself……And like a dragon, he is impatient. Impatient but able, I reminded myself again
“You truly are like what the rumours say of you. You hate people twisting words.” I said offering a compliment
He did not look impressed
“Yes, my lord. And right now you’re delaying and twisting word. Precisely the things I hated. I have been in the South for far too long. Give me word, my lord. Will you fight us and perish or will you spare your family the fate that befell the Whitetree?’
“No dinner?” I said trying to change the subject
“No” he replied his voice hardened.”
“How about a feast?” I said trying to make a joke, smiling
His face turns red, with anger.
The young lord jump and like lightning he arrived in front of me, his blade on my neck, blood dripping from the cut
Suddenly the atmosphere turns tense.
My knights and guard quickly pull their swords, so does the Vermont’s Knights and bodyguards
“Lord Derrick, say it again, and I swear by all the Gods, I will sever your head from your neck” his eyes look vicious, feral. His voice is laced with anger.
No, not anger. Regret. I forgot. He was at the feast. I noticed my son unsheathe his knife and he rushed to the young lord side, aiming the knife at the young lords vitals.
“No Gerrick!” I yelled and Gerrick is startled, and drop the knife.
Arial didn’t even bother looking. Does this means he already knows that my son was behind him?
His cold blue eyes look at me, like a hungry wolf in winter, vicious.
“Lord Arial…I..I..was only jesting”
A dragon I reminded myself. His eyes slowly revert to the blue calm sky and the fierce look disappeared from his eyes.
He removes the blade from my neck
“Never jest about the life of men. Many died that day. Good men. Men who have their family crumble, their houses destroyed. Their wife and children wept for them.”
The Knight seeing their young lord, calm and sheathing his weapon also does the same and sheathe their weapon.
I signaled my knights to also sheathe their weapon while Arial seat back at his seat, like nothing happened.
The countenance of a King, that is what I thought when I see him. Not caring about anything but pushing through with his own ideals, carving his influence to this land by the strength of his will.
He will change this era.
If I fight him in battle, I will surely die. My family will perish, my house will be forgotten by time.
There is no other choice. I have to kneel. Kneel or die, I contemplated
But not before I know his intention
“Yes” he said waiting from my word
“I will kneel if I’m satisfied by your answer”
Suddenly one of his Knights shouted.
“You old man. Our Lord is generous enough that he did not kill you. Kneel fast so we could return home. If I have to waste another day in the South I-”
“I don’t think he will kill me” I said cutting of his word
“Your Lord is an honorable person. He might be angry but he will not kill me, not when I have already provided shelter and food.” I said
“I don’t know if you heard, Lord Derrick, but laws of hospitality is not practiced on this Kingdom” he said hinting to the feast. One of his Knights spoke
“Yet, I’m sure your lord is not like that.” Then I continued my words.
“What is your play here, Lord Arial of House Vermont? You wielded more military power than this so called King of yours and you want me to believe you are doing this for the sake of the Kingdom. Are you really? Or are you installing a puppet King with the Vermont as the puppeteers” I said
“Your accusation is groundless” said a man who is wearing a dragon brooch stuck on his shirt
Arial lift his left hand to the air and his Knights quieted.
“Will you bend your knee or not?” he said his voice rings with finality
Bend or die that is the implication
“I will bend my knee” the other Knights of my house gasped.
“Father!” Gerrick said
“BUT!” I yelled
“But what!” the young lord began feeling slightly annoyed
“I will bend my knee to you. I will not swear fealty to the crown, I will swear fealty only to your family.’
This surprised the young lord
“Why?’ he asked his look is suspicious
“I do not bend my knee to weak people, and certainly not to a King that doesn’t win battle. It is you that war. It is you that battle. By my honour, then only you deserve my fealty. Let it be said that we lost to the dragons, not the sword and shield banner. We, the Blacktons respect strength.” Then I kneeled and speak the words
“By God, I will protect you from your enemies” I ended the oath.
He looked at me
“Are your oaths true?” he asked
“Yes, my lord”
“Hugh” he called and the noble came rushing
“Yes my lord”
“Called the banners of your brothers and pacified the rest of the noble Houses with the Blacktons. It must be done by the end of this year. I will return to the East. Many things need my attention, thing to prepare, things to govern. Fail me…and” he let his words hang.
Hugh Ales nodded and went outside of the Grand Hall no doubt he is ordering his men. Then he gestured another noble or probably lord also wearing a dragon brooches on his shirt
“Give the Blacktons 10 thousand gold and order some supplies from the Keep to be sent here. The Blacktons must be battle ready.” The man nodded
“My lord” I said not expecting this kind of generosity
“I’m not worthy”
“You are under my protection, it is only natural”
The young lord is merciless towards his enemies, yet generous to those who bend their knee.
“In a week can you deploy your troops?’ He ask
“Yes my lord”
“Good. I will leave 5000 thousand troops here to help you subjugate the other Houses. Either by negotiations or force, by the end of this year I want the South to be completely under the Crown”
“Where will you go my lord?”
“I will depart for the East. I need to govern the city. It has been so long that I left the governance to the large House Council”
Large House Council. Another term I did not understand. So, I just nodded
Then after finish ordering and saying what he wanted to say, he leaves the hall, while his guard followed him.
He kept his words short, precise and then he moved to his next objective. A young lord that I felt without a doubt will rose to fame and greatness.
I would rather swear fealty to such a lord then to swear my fealty to a Northron noble.
The Vermont’s are from the East, while Adrian no matter his quarrel with his brother he is still a northron lords.
And not only that.
It is not Adrian that fights me, it is not Adrian that strikes fear to my hearts, or awe me, it is that young lord.
In order to judge a person, you need to meet with him. And I met the young lord. There is no doubt of his leadership.
He is strong. But being strong doesn’t guarantee that you will win. Leadership. Something that inspires loyalty
That is what important. Strength fades like beauty. But leadership? Now, that will last for a long time.
If the strong governed the world, why was it that Alexander the First becomes the Emperor while Levitia is only a commander?
When it was Levitia that is hailed the strongest? Because the strongest doesn’t governed the world.
Strength alone is not enough.
1014 AF SEEDMONTH 70
The water moved smoothly. The wind rustles the leaves. The spring air can be felt. The smell of flowers blooming and the bird chirpings.
Spring is here. Spring is here, I remembered Lisa use to sing when she was a child. No longer a child I reminded myself.
My sister is cooling herself in the lake while I was just dipping my foot on the lake. We are here in Seren, land that has weird culture, their house different, and their belief is weird.
We are here to protect Lord Aries and Lady Julia, Arial parents.
At first we were here to solve a quest by the Knight Academy, not a very hard quest just some quest about helping some nobles sending their package to some other noble in Seren.
And I accept it because of what happen with Helia. She….misunderstand….what really happen that night. She…..was mistaken about what happen between me…and Hilda.
And now I heard that Helia and Arial is together. And…I don’t know how to feel. It was not like there was anything between me and Helia. ]
It was not possible considering our status at the time and I have always known she like Arial…or was she always in love with Arial?
I don’t know….that night was still so confusing to me. But the reason me and my sister stay here in Seren is because of Arial orders.
A war broke out in Alan, the Dukedom…no, the Kingdom. We were sent letters from the messenger of the House Vermont, from Arial.
He ordered us to protect his parent here, and he already sent letters to his mother to stay in Seren.
All we have to do is protect his parents.
Not that there is many threats here. His parent lives in a house provided by Will Eren, another friend of the Vermont’s.
Our family is a noble family after Lord Aries gives some lands to my father a few years ago. House Lethe is a direct vassal of the Vermont’s.
In other words our family serves the Vermont’s. Our symbol is a white raven being speared. Our motto is Defy Fate.
We heard from the letters and the rumours, Arial leads the House now, acting as Regent, taking the control of the governance of the duchy and the troops, and that it was Aries that orchestrate Adrian to become King, a kingdom away.
But I knew better. This is Arial plan. I have known him for a long time. Arial is the one that orchestrates all this.
For a long time I have always been amazed the way that Arial think and his ideas.
It was like he is not a kid like us, his thoughts mature, his action are planned, and he always diligent in his studies whether it be the art of the sword or the art of the mind, like he is preparing for something.
Right now the Dukedom is fighting a war, war of the Brothers, the other Kingdom dubbed the war, war of succession.
A war between King Adrian, who declare that Alan is a new Kingdom and demand that Duke of Arouen, his brother who usurped that title to retun it back to the crown.
A war that is spearheaded by Arial, a King backed by the Vermont family influence. It is also dubbed the War between two hosues. The House of Vermont and House of Palais.
The New Nobles and the Old Nobles.
I should have been there by his side as their family direct vassal, with him going to battle. Lisa also complained that we are not part of the war.
But yesterday I got another letter from Arial.
In the letter he said that he fears for his parent’s safety and he would trust no one else with the lives of his parents.
Far from the war, far from the battle, his heart will be at ease, knowing that his parent are away from the war that is ravaging the Kingdom.
A letter to console us. He said that right now there are some families in the South that still are not pacified.
After they are pacified, he will send a letter to his parent inviting them home.
The wind blows again.
I release a sigh and walk into the sky above. The clear sky greeted me. How is Arial now? We are here, playing at lakes, enjoying the spring, watching the blue sky and at night we watch the stars.
Why do you have to bear all burdens by yourself? I am his friend. Almost like a brother to him.
His matter with Helai…bother me…honestly….but he is still my brother. There are other girls…other woman. I can find another.
But for some reason….why can’t I believe that word?.
“Brother, are you done?” I looked to the voice direction.
Lisa hair is damp, no longer wearing her armour, but instead a dress. A dress that she bought during Levitia Homecoming festival 4 weeks ago.
“Are you done?” she said to me.
I got up from the ledge, wear my greaves and reply
“Let us return. We have been outside for long”
We have been too long. Maybe Aunty Julia needs our help with the baby.
Last year at the end of the month, Aunty Julia safely delivered a young baby, a girl, white hair, blue eye.
It is kind of the trademark of the Vermont.
But unlike Arial the baby is always crying which sometimes makes Aunty Julia lost on what to do. She said it has been too easy raising Arial.
“When will we be going home, brother?” suddenly she ask while we are walking back
“When Arial ordered us to return home”
“I hope he let us return before his wedding” she said hoping.
I of course understand. Helia is not only Arial betrothed but she is also our friend. Our closest friend.
The 4 Greats.
Helia is like a family to us.
“Maybe by then, the war will end” I said hoping that it’s true. Lisa nodded.
The wind blows again.