AOH – Chapter 33

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CHAPTER 33: PLANS

ARIAL

1014 LIGHTMONTH

The trees surrounded my castle like great armies defending their fortress. The towers stand majestically. The banners of my family waved in the wind.

Then I saw the people bustling through the market.

Even in war, at least the people in the East it is not affected badly. Well, most of the East is under our family control, so it is relatively peaceful

The turrets guarded the walls. The arrow lops can also be seen. Some were big, some were small.

My horse neighs.

“Calm down. We have return” I said stroking his mane.

The guards of my household silently walked on the walls and keeping the peace, watching for dangers.

All the towers have a steeply spiral staircase, making it awkward for invaders, if they ever decide to invade to fight upwards, the steps uneven giving the defender some advantage

Trebuchets stood mightily on the towers ready at any moment notice to unleash an attack.

And in the castle I knew what inside it.

There is a great hall for feasting, with artwork from Vangua and Vern adorned the walls, tapestries of events that is laid on the glass stained windows, and rich tapestries of red hung on the walls of the other rooms, suits of armour standing guard to induce fear to those who wish us harm, a central huge open air courtyard and the dungeons and many more rooms all house their own secret.

There are also the baileys. There are the west, north, east and south bailey and there are many more in the castle.

“MY LORD” some of the guard yelled when they see me from the top of the barbicans. I waved to them.

“Congratulations for your victory” they yelled

“THANK YOU” I yelled back

I could see the Dragon Keep when I look in the distance. I once go inside the Keep. It was a complex structure and larger than any Keep in the Kingdom.

It is also the last line of defense during siege or attack. The horseshoes shakes the ground. With 5000 troops I returned back home.

All in horseback. All looked intimidating.

My return is met with a celebration since I brought victory to the King.

I am in horseback leading all my other vassal to enter the castle. One of my vassals approached me.

‘My Lord, should I assemble the council when we arrived at the castle?’ one of my vassal whispered to me

‘Not yet’ I reply

My vassal nodded. I need to rest for a while before marching on.

Instead of keeping this war that will empty my gold chest, I should try to reach a settlement with Alderam.

After all gold doesn’t fall down from the sky. Maybe I will persuade the King to make peace with his brother.

What he did in the Feast is unforgivable, but if we keep going into battle, then even when we win the war, the people will suffer, our economy broke.

And my family gold will be wasted on this war instead of the real threat beyond the sea.

For now, at least as a temporary solution we will let him stay in the North while I will firm my base in the West and South.

East is already under control considering the East has always been under our family after we turned it into a successful and profitable cities and counties.

The King and his trusted man are at Rockstill, holding court there in the castle that use belong to Arwin Rodan.

I arrived at the city gate

‘My lord’ my vassal that I left in the city greet me kneeling

‘Yes, how is the city? More importantly about our trade’

‘Your city is doing fine, my lord. Traders and market function normally. Our trade with Vern has been blocked on the north, but our trade with other nations and continent is moving smoothly’

‘Estimated loss?’

The lord seem hesitant

‘THE LOSS’ I said raising my voice

‘About 5 million gold my lord’

I sighed

Vern is one of our trade partners, and now that the North blocks our caravans then we could not trade with them.

Even though compare to other Kingdom, 5 million gold is not that much it is still a lot.

I must open back the trade route.

I will send letters to some of the northron lords to open back the trade route maybe even share it with the northron lords. But I also need Alderam permission.

Maybe a truce? Surely they will not reject my gift. Not if they wanted to meet my army.

‘We will discuss about this when we sit in the council’ I said

The lord nodded. Then I entered the castle.

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

IN THE CASTLE

I already told my vassal to assemble the council.

There are many things to discuss.

The construction of the trade route, letters to be sent both to the King asking for his permission and letters to the northron lords to ask them to open the trade route again.

There is also the matter of the new law and the legal system that needs to be established.

I’m now choosing what clothes to wear. I recently learned the importance of appearance.

Sometimes appearance or the reputation itself is enough to make your enemies to bow to your orders.

Many lords submit after I defeated the Whitetree, and many common folk is happy when I become their lord.

That is because our family reputation that is known to be very generous which is the reputation of my father, while I was feared by my enemies.

Reputations are important

First I choose my clothes from Vangua made by Jacques Arrendelle, a famous tailor in Vangua.

This elaborate and stylish jacket is made from high-quality red velvet and features laroque decorations rendered in attractive damask brocade.

I tried it.

It has a luxurious and soft feel that makes it exceedingly comfortable to wear.

The jacket is approximately knee-length and features attractive damask brocade decoration on both of the front and back, these decoration modified for my House, now red and black pattern detailing and feature additional gold trim.

The jackets full-length sleeves are fitted to the arm and end is damask brocade cuffs, the shoulders are slightly raise, creating a circular ridge that adds a level of depths to the jackets, and the interior of the frock-styled jacket is fully lined for comfort.

The tailor really is talented.

Well, considering this cost a fortune no wonder so much detail is put on this jacket. Slowly but surely, I become like them.

Playing their games. I despise them before and I still feel the same but maybe…just maybe…I could try to understand them a little bit more.

This is all they know.

They were born to a world full with deceit and no surprise they too become unable to believe anyone else. That was my impression of nobility

But I was wrong. I met some of them. Not all of them are evil. Not all of them are greedy.

Some nobles are honorable.

Some are good. Some think for the people they ruled and they uphold their nobility a an ideal to strive towards.

They are superior, so they must emulate a noble attitude. Helping the poor is their nobless oblige.

But that’s the problem. Only some of them share that sentiment. Not many. And not all.

Maybe…maybe…..it’s not about the title, or the nobility, or whether their upbringing. Maybe it is as simple as choosing a path.

Become good? Become evil? Do good? Do evil?

Every day we are faced with a choice and every time we make a choice we became the embodiment of that choice.

We are what we decide to be. I sighed. I slipped another clothes.

I wear the jacket with a dress and gold breeches. The shirt is padded shirt in a lace up cotton gambeson style shirt that can be worn as a stand-alone garment or as an undershirt with leather jerkin.

I chose to wear it with the jacket

The shirt is traditional cotton fabric, and the sleeves are bit thicker, featuring a quilted fabric design.

Then I wear the bracelet carved by Wen Tianxing in Vern Empire. The cuff styled bracelet features intricate dragons decoration, the most impressive of which are the dragon scaled bands.

That scale cost me a fortune, I buy it from the royalty of Vern. But it is worth it

It adds to the mystery and splendor of my House which makes the people reveres us; the nobles respect us and awe our enemies.

Then I began walking to the House Council a room that is as big as the Great Hall in our castle. I open the massive oak doors.

‘My lord’ my council stands seeing I entered the room. The court officials are not present. Only my House Council can enter the Council

They were already there waiting for me to come and preside the meeting.

All of them are either talented men my father and mother scouted, some hold influence, some hold military power, some are a son of noble family that has contributed to my family rise.

‘At ease’ and they sit back down.

I move to the center chair at the head of the long oak table.

I sit down and I looked at them. They are all wearing dragon brooches, a badge of office for being in my Council.

After calming myself down, I am ready to start the meeting.

‘Let us commence the council’ I said

“YES, MY LORD” they reply enthusiastically

First my Treasurer gives me the reports of our gold chest, expenses for the war, supply that we have and provision needed.

I give him permission to do anything that he see fit to make my realm more prosperous but any drastic changes must go through me first.

He nodded.

Then my Lawkeeper, Derwin Watertree, present me the laws

‘My lord we need to change the laws in our kingdom.’

He said clearly implying that I need to speak to it with the King.

Even though Adrian is technically King, I doubt he would refuse me. After all, I did win him battles. And I’m his strongest supporter.

And I’m doing all this for the greater good.

‘Why?’ I asked

He cleared his throat and looked at me.

‘Feudal laws and custom differed dramatically even within countries like ours or Vangua and Dostov from one major county or duchy to the next. Though of course there are some uniformity because of the Empire governance a long time ago, but when the Empire was divided my lord, the practice of feudalism grew more different every passing year. And that includes in our Kingdom. Laws are not the same. In our Duchy it’s different, in others it’s different. Our duchy is one of the places in this Kingdom where most free men came here, to live, to work, and to trade and we can boast that our duchy is the most prosperous and rich. Our laws are also lenient and I think we should unified the laws under the King, instead of each duchy deciding their own degree of punishment which will incite revolt and rebellion”

“The other lord will not like that the King curb their power” Ser Massey spoke addressing a valid concern

“True. But it needed to be done for the royal authority. How can people believe in a King that can’t even rule or make the other noble lords submit? Sometimes, I think it’s better if our Lord is on the throne”

‘ENOUGH, DERWIN.THAT IS TREASONOUS” He shrinked and quieted

“I’m sorry my lord”

I ponder his advice.

It is true that our style of rule is not that quite different from other countries but some of them are not unified under the same laws much like even our Kingdom.

Especially in our Kingdom, where the laws each blurs. There are no codes for formal laws. Each lord has their own authority to judge those under their land.

I want to field massive armies of infantry, cavalry, and archers.

Complex logistical systems maintained by efficient government bureaucracies were needed to supply, train, and control such large forces.

Bureaucracies. Maybe if I followed the Three Ancestors way it will work. But bureaucracies will diminish the power of the nobles in the Kingdom.

That would incite rebellion and left a festering wound in the nobles that followed me and the King.

Even though the Vern Empire is kind of like a feudalist system but they have officer’s usually second sons, sons that is not poised to inherit lands which become officers in the court, helping the administrative duties of the emperor.

It is kind of semi feudalist kingdom.

And then my thoughts turned to our weapon. Asteros Iron. Asteros Iron is also needed which is why our trade with Asteros is important.

Their iron has some qualities that make it special than normal irons.

This is the reason why my armies are undefeatable.

Most armour and weapons of my troops are made from Asteros iron. I know that sailing the Black Sea, even though it’s dangerous to trade with them, is a smart move.

Before in my timeline we did not have this kind of strength, neither did we have an organized army.

Even though every troop are under their own respective Houses, my troops are a little different. It is trained and taught.

And not to mention the Asteros Iron. It’s not Enochian steel but it’s good enough.

Though if I have an Enochian steel it would be very good and dangerous for my enemies. Extremely rare and only a few in the world. Extremely sharp and powerful

I called the Commander of the House before addressing the law issue

‘Yes my lord’ he said bowing slightly seating beside me

‘I want you to start producing crossbow en masse.’

He nodded.

No objection, no nothing. At first when I took the leadership in the House when the war began, he always disrespected me, telling the people of the House I’m incapable of leading my House vassal.

So, I challenged him into battle. He lost. And since then he follow me loyally. He is a simple man.

“Crossbow my lord?” some of my council spoke

“Yes. We need to prepare”

“But the East did not yet enter the war…If we..”

“That is my order!” and he quieted

“Yes, my lord” he said meekly

Crossbow will be needed if a huge scale war were to happen. The crossbow is the preferred long-range weapon, due to several reasons.

The crossbow could be mass-produced easily, and mass training of crossbowmen was possible.

These qualities made it a powerful weapon against the enemy. Then I turn to my Treasurer.

‘For you I have another work’

‘Yes my lord’

‘I want you to create an irrigation system, called it Arlianes irrigation System which will controlled the Argan river near my vassal castle’

‘Why my lord?’

‘This will turn the former backwater region there, which has many villages of peasants, into a major logistical base for my house, and a Canal in Goodlad which will irrigated large areas of land in the empty Plain, again increasing our agricultural output.”

‘That is very brilliant of you my lord’ he compliment me

‘Can you do it?’

‘I will try my best’

I glared at him

‘I mean…. I surely will do it’

‘That’s better’

I can also create ministry. No, it’s too soon.

I also ordered my council to start building schools and university a haven for books and collection of knowledge that our kingdom could find.

My dream once flashed to one country, people coming all over in some place called Cordova, learning and gaining knowledge

I want to create the same thing. A center of knowledge here in our Kingdom.

A centralized state and centralized army under one rule will make it easier to repel an invasion instead of relying on the oaths and promises of noble class.

But I could not change it drastically, if I do, then all the nobles would be very angry and their target will be me.

In the East the nobles might agree, because our way is different than the other nobles in the Kingdom, mostly because most of the nobles in the East under our rule learn from the schools that my father created and peasant child can learn in school, only they have to pay 10 gold for a year of learning.

But since our land is prosperous there is not that many peasants, many of them become trader and school helps them find their talents.

Some become craftsman while other become artist, inventor, some become apprentice, master craftsman, and some become peddler who came from town to town supplying the backwater region with many items they could not find or have in their villages.

And we are the supplier, the trader, the sole economic power in the Kingdom.

Our gold funds Adrian expenditure.

“Call the herald” I said

The herald came. The herald is a title for a messenger. He arranged tournaments, announced challenge and marshaled combatants

‘My lord’

I give him two envelopes

‘Send this to my parents in Seren. You must not be tracked. And this one sent it to Lord Alderam. ’ I ordered

‘Yes my lord’

He went outside

‘Is there anything else?’ I asked my council

The Ecclesial spoke

‘The wedding my lord. When will the wedding be held?’

‘My wedding? What does it matter?’

The Bishop and Priest shrinked in their seat

‘My lord we know that you are not …’

‘Not what?’

‘Conventional, my lord…but the wedding must follow protocol, especially for your House reputation’

Churchmen.

I don’t really like them. But it is necessary. After all nothing good ever happen defying the church. The Grand Papnoticon might even be more powerful than Kings.

‘Fine! I’ll follow protocol Are we done?’

My council looked at each other and nodded

‘Derwin, send me your proposal later. I will retreat to my room. For now I want to take a rest.’

They all nodded and I exited the room.

I walked to my room while all the time thinking about my next steps. Somehow taking a rest does not come easily for me. I stopped at the spiral staircase.

Maybe I should go to the city today, looking at my people. My family will be returning and then I would be very busy so maybe I should take a little break, resting my mind ad my body.

I walk back down and get out of the castle and ride my horse to the city.

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