AOH – Chapter 35

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CHAPTER 35: THE OFFER FOR THE SCHOLAR

The University is crowded with scholars. Everyone is wearing robes. There was a young man, his face is a little tan, and his hand shows some veins, showing that he did some labor work in his youth.

His grin is not pleasant to look at but he is also one of the smartest students at the University.

He is walking calmly. Today he will debate with one of his enemies. The man has many enemies.

But here they fought with words and wit, instead of swords and blades.

Caitlin is his friend, a lady from a noble house and a very jealous one. In the University there is the position of Consul.

It is beneath only in power and authority below the Imperator. Being a Consul is a privilege and honour.

And with it come perks. The education fee is free, and is given many opportunity to journey they land with the stipend given by the ruling family of Arrandy.

The University of Acro is the largest university in the Human Continent and populated with many of the greatest mind in the Continent.

Many of whom, now served the Vermont family. The young man has been incensed by the attempt of Caitlin to grab the title from him.

Caitlin is from the military class, her father was a noble involved in the war, related to the Angovins of Vangua, and her mother side is related to the Vorwound noble houses, who in turn related towards the House of Althea.

She was as noble as she could be. Her lineage is illustrious, one of the oldest nobles in the Dukedom.

He is a merchant turned noble, a merchant prince and study in the political class. A New Nobility that sprouted since the Vermont took charge.

His patron is the House of Vermont and to say of his lineage, his was of a pig farmer. His father, fathers are all farmers.

It was his father that decided to enter the trade business and become a merchant and send him to the University for a hope…of a better life.

And he intends to have that life. In the University there is two factions. The Praetorians and the Senates.

Having once run against him for the position and lost in the previous year, she is determined to win this new election by any devious method necessary.

The man is walking while he reminisce the methods his friend has employed to sabotage him all these years.

First she tries to bribe the people of the University to vote for her. It didn’t work. Many of the scholars here are appalled by such high handedness behavior.

Many of the scholars here did not come from the noble family; most of them are funded by the generous family of Vermont…either by scholarship or by meritorious service to the state.

Some came by scholarship, others came by begging, others by showing their talents. Of course such behavior by Caitlin is frowned upon.

But she did not give up. If there is one thing that man admires from Caitlin, it was her tenacity.

A few months after the bribing incident, she tries to poison him but this childish plot is ferreted out by him and the election was postponed.

And when the election was held again, Caitlin was trounced at the polls, remarkably by a huge margin.

She could not endure the embarrassment.

Then as her previous action is not yet enough, she and her co-conspirators, create disturbance throughout the University, trying to get support to not only replace the young man as consul but to denounce the Imperator  as biased and detrimental for the studies of the students.

She even sent a proposal to the ruling families. And it is at this time that the senates could hold itself no longer.

Trying to bring outside influence into the University is a taboo. Trying to tote your horn with your influence outside the University is frowned upon and highly forbidden both by the Senates and the Praetorians.

She even plans for an assassination of the administration Senates. One might ask…why go so far for just a title of Consul?

It is because the power of a Consul or dean in the University of Acro could be likened as the Duke in the Kingdom.

The University of Acro is responsible for supplying the other university with books and teachers.

The University also held fairs, handles related matters in intelligence for the Kingdom, spies on other countries.

Research new ways to win wars; send proposals regarding the state, researching the best way to improve the state wealth and so on and so forth.

The influence of the University could move the ruling families to action.

That is the dark sides of the Universe but also the most profitable. With the greatest mind in the continent congregated in one place…was there anything in the world they could not accomplish if they put their mind to it?

The assassination however was foiled again by the young man.

He discover the plan and called the Senate together for meeting at the Great Hall of Knowledge, a place resembling a temple, only used in time of great crisis.

The young man is a man from the House of Perigord, Silas Perigord. He is coming to the Great Hall because he got word from one of the Consuls that Caitlin is intending to come uninvited.

It is to be a big event since even the Duchess is coming. The matter has become so serious that the Duchess from the Vermont family is coming.

It is known that the young lord of the House is a capable commander and the House that backs the King.

So, her arrival is highly anticipated. It is for this reason Silas believed that Caitlin is crashing the meeting.

She wanted to gain some face or maybe influenced the Duchess. The mater of the University could not be used for the politics of the state.

This has been stressed by the young lord when he funded the University. It will be built for the pursuit of truth and knowledge and the betterment of mankind.

Great words……but to how much degree the young lord means it…only the young lord will know.

After all sometimes there are things that the ruling families ask the university to research. Silas was in front of the door.

He cleaned himself, check his appearance and he pushed the door.

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

SENATE HALL

Duchess Julia is walking inside the hall with her attendant.

‘Milady, here is your seat’ one of the attendant of the University gesture her. She waved her hand and the attendants exited himself.

She was leaded to her seat, just beside the Imperator.

‘Imperator Ulferth, it has been a long time.’ She said but there is no joy on her voice.

Ulferth got up from his seat and bow.

‘My lady, it is an honour.’

‘Your….place is troubling’ she said coldly and Ulferth gulped.

‘My lady..I’

‘Excuses.’ she said cutting Ulferth explanation.

‘Are you going to give me excuses Ulferth?’ Her gaze was cold, her tone was challenging. If Ulferth speaks, then maybe this patropon of his, would see that as a sign of insubordination.

The University has always been free place to express ideas….but one must not forget who constructed it and from whose gold that the University could maintain their scholars, consul and their reputation.

Ulferth was silence, not daring to say anything other than a pathetic whimper. The Lady was charismatic, much like her son.

The other Consul on the Senate Hall all gulped and keeps their silence. Then The Lady continues

‘My son….is fighting a war and my family is occupied with the deed of the new King. And now you bring this headache to me?’

‘My lady..if you would let me explain mys-‘

‘Enough’ she said as she sits down.

‘I am here to hear of the problem and the cause of this disturbance. Consul poisoned and death threats. If this problem were allowed to fester, then people would no longer come here. My son has great concerns on the matter of the University. I would hate to see that he overextended himself by coming here, which is why I take the burden upon myself.’

Then she waited. A few moments after that the large door opened.

‘Consul Silas, my lady’ Ulferth said gesturing Lady Julia gaze toward the young man. Many of the Consuls greeted Consul Silas, getting up from their seat and send salutations.

His popularity with the Senate and Praetorians is remarkable.

He is one of the people implicated in this event she mused. Lady Julia nodded and she kept her gaze at the young man.

An unremarkable young man she mused. She came here because it involves the daughter of the Angovins.

The Angovins is not a powerful family….but they are related to Helia and most of the Southern Noble Houses.

At least she has to give the appearance of listening. She does not have any power in the Senate ruling but she does have her influence.

Anyway, she comes here to listen to the cause of the event and who is to be blamed for the subsequent tragedy.

A consul from the House of Roland was poisoned. It was fortunate that he survive the poison.

But there is some consul who did not survive

Lady Julia was about to summon Silas to the center of the Senate Hall to explain himself when suddenly a booming sound could be heard and she was startled.

‘What is that?’ She said holding the handle of her chair. Ulferth was as shocked as her. A woman can be seen entering the Senate Hall, armed to the teeth.

Some of the Consul in their seat get up and leave their seats, fear in their eyes. Some shows an utter dislike expression directed to the young woman.

Lady Julia coincidentally looks at Silas and she sees him….smiling…no….smirking more like it.

‘What is the meani-‘ Lady Julia was about to bellowed when she stopped her words. Silas is walking towards the center of the Senate hall and then he stood and looks at the Senate.

He look at Caitlin, smirked and then he returned his gaze to the Senate

Then suddenly he began his Oration.

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

CENTER OF THE SENATE HALL

‘When, O Caitlin, do you mean to cease abusing our patience? How long is that madness of yours still to mock us? When is there to be an end of that unbridled audacity of yours, swaggering about as it does now? Do not the nightly guards placed on this sacred ground of learning—do not the watches posted throughout the city—does not the alarm of the people, and the union of all good men—does not the precaution taken of assembling the senate in this most defensible place—do not the looks and countenances of this venerable body here present, have any effect upon you?’

He said, his word was clearly pronounced, the whole Senate could hear him. His voice was booming with conviction, his eyes betrayed none of his words.

Lady Julia look at the young man is awed. He did not stutter, nor did he falter in his word. Resolute and firm.

Then the young am continues his word, clearly incensed and anger could be felt in his speech against Caitlin.

‘Do you not feel that your plans are detected? Do you not see that your conspiracy is already arrested and rendered powerless by the knowledge which everyone here possesses of it? What is there that you did last year, what the month before that—where is it that you were—who was there that you summoned to meet you—what design was there which was adopted by you, with which you think that any one of us is unacquainted!”

He said as he pointed an accusatory finger at Caitlin. Caitlin was dumbfounded; her hand is trembling with anger and embarrassment.

She keeps looking at the highest seat in the hall where she could see the Imperator and the Duchess.

She is intending to plead her case with the Duchess.

The Imperator wanted to expel her from the University. The Senate Meeting was supposed to be the ruling deciding whether she would be evicted or not and punished by the University laws.

Who would have thought the moment she enter, she was driven into a trap created by Silas.

Silas on the other hand is smiling triumphantly. The Senate was actually divided on the matter of Caitlin.

While the damage that Caitlin done to the university is substantial, her father is one of the highest personages in the land.

There is fear in offending such a great person.

Silas is using the pretext of the meeting knowing full well, that Caitlin will barge in and tried to stop the proceeding from happening.

Silas know his enemy well.

Caitlin is rash and impulsive. This is why he concocted a plan with the Imperator to invite one person from the ruling families.

He knows if he could use his word to persuade the ruling families that the risk of having her in the university is more harmful than her staying, he could achieve her objective and rid out his most hated nemesis.

Silas did not know that right now the Duchess is looking at Silas with renewed interest. Silas taking a breath and looking at the face of the Consul then yelled loudly.

‘Shame on the age and on its principles! SHAME! The senate is aware of these things; the consul sees them; and yet this woman lives. Lives! aye, she comes even into the senate, staining the marble tiled with her evil!’

Some of consul looks down in embarrassment. Caitlin could not even speak. She was standing frozen in place; the Duchess is looking at Silas as her mind begun spinning.

She remembers that the new King needs a new courtier and people to help him in his administration.

The Duchess intent to know more about this young man called Silas. Silas on the other hand keep his speech, denouncing Caitlin.

‘She takes a part in the public deliberations; she is watching and marking down and checking off for slaughter every individual among us. And we, gallant men that we are, think that we are doing our duty to the state if we keep out of the way of her frenzied attacks. You ought, O Caitlin, long ago to have been led to execution by command of the consul. That destruction which you have been long plotting against us ought to have already fallen on your own head.’

‘That is too much!’ one consul shouted.

Another chimed in.

‘Aye, that is too brutal for her!’

She is a noble, not like you, son of pig farmer!’ another person shouted. Silas smiles coldly and pay no heed.

This is merely a dissenting voices of her supporters. Consul inside her pocket, bribe by gold, enjoying the authority of Caitlin power in leading the Praetorians.

She is a girl so what! He likes to shout back but he keeps his tongue. He has planned this for a long time, there is no need to debate with the other consul.

He only asked back at the Senate.

‘What? Shall we, who are the consuls, tolerate Caitlin, openly desirous to destroy the whole world with fire and slaughter? There was—there was once such virtue in this state, that brave men would repress mischievous citizens with severer chastisement than the bitterest enemy. For we have a resolution of the senate, a formidable and authoritative decree against you, sanctioned by the very power of the King, to pass judgment upon our kind.’

And the Consul quieted. Some can be seen nodding, agreeing with Silas word.

‘O Caitlin; the wisdom of the King is not at fault, nor the dignity of this senatorial body. We, we alone—I say it openly,—we, the consuls, are wanting in our duty. The senate once passed a decree that, that the consul, should take care that the Kingdom suffered no injury. We were given power by the king, given responsibility to safeguard the Kingdom. We are the Knight of mind, our mind are capable of great destruction….and yours are the most destructive of us all here, Caitlin. One day, we might even be entrusted to protect this Kingdom. Is it not the Praetorian class that teaches arms and weaponry? Is it not the Consuls who research every day to supplement the strategy of war by the Praetorians? Are we not all, to be the backbone of this new Kingdom? We will one day become the sword and shield of this new nation. We are shield….but we are also the sword. But we, for these past years, have been allowing the edge of the senate’s authority to grow blunt, as it were.’

And Silas stopped. Everyone also suddenly take a long breath. They were entranced, hypnotized by his word, a true master of oration.

Silas walk closer to Caitlin, smiles and then he turned his back to Caitlin. If Caitlin wanted to slash him down right now, it would be the easiest thing.

But whether she dare is another question.

Silas is not as illustrious as Caitlin but right now, if she slashed him, she would fall into his trap.

The Senate would ask for expulsion…no…she might even be executed. The University has its own laws…not that different from the laws of the new Kingdom.

For the first time since last year, she felt regret. She have nothing else to do other than to listen to Silas.

‘My fellow consul!’ Silas said and he opens his arm

‘We are in possession of a similar decree of the senate, but we keep it locked up in its parchment—buried, I may say, in the sheath; and according to this decree you ought, O Caitlin, to be put to death this instant. You live,—and you live, not to lay aside, but to persist in your audacity. I wish, O Lord Father of Heaven, to be merciful; I wish not to appear negligent amid such danger to the state; but I do now accuse myself of remissness and culpable inactivity. A camp is pitched in Alan, at the entrance of the border, in hostility to the Kingdom; the number of the enemy increases every day; and yet the general of that camp, the leader of those enemies, we see within the walls—aye, and even in the senate—planning every day some internal injury to the Kingdom. If, O Caitlin, I should now order you to be arrested, to be put to death, I should, I suppose, have to fear lest all good men should say that I had acted tardily, rather than that any one should affirm that I acted cruelly. But yet this, which ought to have been done long since, I have good reason for not doing as yet; I will put you to death, then, when there shall be not one person possible to be found so wicked, so abandoned, so like yourself, as not to allow that it has been rightly done. As long as one person exists who can dare to defend you, you shall live; but you shall live as you do now, surrounded by my many and trusty guards, so that you shall not be able to stir one finger against the University and the state; many eyes and ears shall still observe and watch you, as they have hitherto done, thou you shall not perceive them.’

Hearing this Caitlin is in despair. On the highest seat, Julia has already decided. This man….has the power to turn black to white, white to black and white to be whiter, black to be blacker.

His power with words……is extraordinary.

On the stage Silas continues, his breath is uniforms and stable, sometime rising and enthusiastic, other time it was grave, reminding the Senate of the danger of keeping Caitlin in the enclosed walls of the university.

‘For what is there, O Caitlin, that you can still expect, if night is not able to veil your nefarious meetings in darkness, and if private houses cannot conceal the voice of your conspiracy within their walls—if everything is seen and displayed? Change your mind: trust me: forget the slaughter and conflagration you are meditating. You are hemmed in on all sides; all your plans are clearer than the day to us. You do nothing, you plan nothing, you think of nothing which I not only do not hear, but which I do not see and know every particular of. Listen while I speak of the night before. You shall now see that I watch far more actively for the safety than you do for the destruction of this institution. I say that you came the night before into the Old Street, to the house of Marias; that many of your accomplices in the same insanity and wickedness came there, too. Do you dare to deny it?’

And Silas turned his face to Caitlin. Caitlin was silence and her face was pale white.

‘Why are you silent? You were, then, O Caitlin, at Liam that night; you divided the class and the factions into sections; you settled where everyone was to go after the deed was done; you fixed whom you were to leave here, whom you were to take with you. My assassination my dear fellow consul. This lady here, plotted my demise just a night before and she dares show her face to me!’

Hearing this, the Consul gasped in shock.

However Caitlin was shocked beyond belief. A year ago, she did tries to assassinate him but yesterday she did nothing, only wait for the Senate decision and planning to silence the Senate either by killing or bribery.

It was the arrival of the Duchess that threw her insurrection plan to tatters. Silas is right now spinning lies, like a seamstress spinning a yarn.

He then continues this time his face shows a slight devious smile.

‘All this I knew almost before your meeting had broken up. I strengthened and fortified my residence with a stronger guard; I refused admittance, when they came, to those whom you sent in the morning to salute me, and of whom I had foretold to many eminent men that they would come to me at that time. As, then, this is the case, O Caitlin, continue as you have begun. Leave the university at least; the gates are open; depart. That camp of yours has been waiting too long for you as its general. And lead forth with you all your friends, or at least as many as you can; purge this place of your presence; you will deliver me from a great fear, when there is a wall between you and me. Among us you can dwell no longer—I WILL NOT BEAR IT!’

He yelled his voice thundered inside the Senate reverberating and send shock to the heart of all that was present.

‘I WILL NOT PERMIT IT, I WILL NOT TOLERATE IT! The safety of this institution must not be too often allowed to be risked on one person. As long as you, O Caitlin, plotted against me while I was the consul-elect, I defended myself, not with a public guard, but by my own private diligence. When, in the next consular comitia, you wished to slay me when I was actually consul, and your competitors also, in the Campus grounds, I checked your nefarious attempt by the assistance and resources of my own friends, without exciting any disturbance publicly. In short, as often as you attacked me, I by myself opposed you, and that, too, tho I saw that my ruin was connected with great disaster to the institution. But now you are openly attacking the entire institution. For if I order you to be put to death, the rest of the conspirators will still remain in this institution; if, as I have long been exhorting you, you depart, your companions, those worthless dregs of this sacred place, will be drawn off from this place, too.’

Caitlin was about to speak but then she hold her tongue. Silas did not give her any opportunity to rebut; accusation to accusation she has endured.

But she did not have anything to deny him with.

Her reputation in this institution was never good. So she kept her silence while gritting her teeth.

‘What is the matter, Caitlin? Do you hesitate to do that when I order you which you were already doing of your own accord? The consul orders an enemy to depart.’

Caitlin then spoke

‘Am I to go be expulsed from this place?’ She asks. And then she sneered.

‘Am I to go into banishment if you order me! How mighty you are, Silas! Is this Consul so mighty!’

Silas only smiles.

‘Do you ask me, are you to go into banishment? I do not order it; but, if you consult me, I advise it.’ And the Consul laughed.

Even the duchess, high on her seat, chuckles. Silas is also chuckling. Then his face turns hard once more.

‘For what is there, O Caitlin, that can now afford you any pleasure in this place? For there is no one in it, except that band of profligate conspirators of yours, who does not fear you,—no one who does not hate you. What brand of domestic baseness is not stamped upon your life? What disgraceful circumstance is wanting to your infamy in your private affairs? From what licentiousness has your eyes, from what atrocity has your hands, from what iniquity has your whole body ever abstained? Is there one youth, when you have once entangled him in the temptations of your corruption, to whom you have not held out a sword for audacious crime, or a torch for licentious wickedness?’

‘YOU SLANDER ME!’ She yelled in anger, her finger pointing at Silas, her eyes were fiery with anger.

‘What?’ Is Silas respond.

‘How often have you endeavored to slay me, both as consul-elect and as actual consul? How many shots of yours, so aimed that they seemed impossible to be escaped, have I avoided by some slight stooping aside, and some dodging, as it were, of my body? You attempt nothing, you execute nothing, you devise nothing that can be kept hid from me at the proper time; and yet you do not cease to attempt and to contrive. How often already has that dagger of yours been wrested from your hands? How often has it slipped through them by some chance, and dropped down? And yet you cannot any longer do without it; and to what sacred mysteries it is consecrated and devoted by you I know not, that you think it necessary to plunge it in the body of the consul. But now, what is that life of yours that you are leading? For I will speak to you not so as to seem influenced by the hatred I ought to feel, but by pity, nothing of which is due to you. You came a little while ago into the senate; in so numerous an assembly, who of so many friends and connections of yours saluted you? If this in the memory of man never happened to anyone else, are you waiting for insults by word of mouth, when you are overwhelmed by the most irresistible condemnation of silence? Is it nothing that at your arrival all those seats were vacated?’

Hearing this some of the consul nodded. This action is unnoticed by the Duchess but when Caitlin enters, the other consul did not do their proper respect.

The Duchess began understanding the general feeling of the Senate. Silas on the other hand did not stop his attacks.

‘That all the men of consular rank, who had often been marked out by you for slaughter, the very moment you sat down, left that part of the benches bare and vacant? With what feelings do you think you ought to bear this? On my honor, if my servants feared me as all your fellow consul fear you, I should think I must leave my house. Do not you think you should leave the city? If I say that I was even undeservedly so suspected and hated by my fellow citizens, I would rather flee from their sight than be gazed at by the hostile eyes of every one. And do you, who, from the consciousness of your wickedness, know that the hatred of all men is just and has been long due to you, hesitate to avoid the sight and presence of those men whose minds and senses you offend? If your parents feared and hated you, and if you could by no means pacify them, you would, I think, depart somewhere out of their sight. Now, this place, hates and fears you, and has no other opinion of you, than that you are meditating parricide in her case; and will you neither feel awe of her authority, nor deference for her judgment, nor fear of her power? And she, O Caitlin, thus pleads with you, and after a manner silently speaks to you: There has now for many years been no crime committed but by you; no atrocity has taken place without you; you alone unpunished and unquestioned have murdered the consuls. Repeatedly, secretly and openly, against the institutions, have harassed and plundered the Senate; you alone have had power not only to neglect all laws and investigations, but to overthrow and break through them. Your former actions, tho they ought not to have been borne, yet I did bear as well as I could; but now that I should be wholly occupied with fear of you alone, that at every sound I should dread Caitlin, that no design should seem possible to be entertained against me which does not proceed from your wickedness, this is no longer endurable. Depart, then, and deliver me from this fear—that, if it be a just one, I may not be destroyed; if an imaginary one, that at least I may at last cease to fear. Since, then, this is the case, do you hesitate, O Caitlin, if you cannot remain here with tranquility, to depart to some distant land, and to trust your life, saved from just and deserved punishment, to flight and solitude? Make a motion, say you, to the senate, for that is what you demand, and if this body votes that you ought to go into banishment, you say that you will obey. I will not make such a motion—it is contrary to my principles, and yet I will let you see what these men think of you. Be gone from this place, O Caitlin; deliver this state from fear; depart into banishment, if that is the word you are waiting for.’

Caitlin looks at Silas….not knowing what to do. She could not slash him….she could not attack him, she could only….look.

She look at the Senate, looking at her former allies and each one of them avert their gaze from her.

She felt bitter. She felt….defeated. With words….Silas has brought down the rampaging menace of the Institute.

Silas only said, looking boringly at Caitlin. The Senate was in full silence. No one spoke of any defense for Caitlin.

‘What now, O Caitlin? Do you not perceive, do you not see the silence of these men; they permit it, they say nothing; why wait you for the authority of their words when you see their wishes in their silence? And yet, why am I speaking? That anything may change your purpose? That you may ever amend your life? That you may meditate flight or think of voluntary banishment? I wish God may give you such a mind; tho I see, if alarmed at my words you bring your mind to go into banishment, what a storm of unpopularity hangs over me, if not at present, while the memory of your wickedness is fresh, at all events hereafter. But it is worthwhile to incur that, as long as that is but a private misfortune of my own, and is unconnected with the dangers of the institution. But we cannot expect that you should be concerned at your own vices, that you should fear the penalties of the laws, or that you should yield to the necessities of this body, for you are not, O Caitlin, one whom either shame can recall from infamy, or fear from danger, or reason from madness.
Wherefore, as I have said before, go forth, and if you wish to make me, your enemy as you call me, unpopular, go straight into banishment. I shall scarcely be able to endure all that will be said if you do so; I shall scarcely be able to support my load of unpopularity if you do go into banishment at the command of the consul. O Caitlin, be gone to your own misfortune and injury, and to the destruction of those who have joined themselves to you in every wickedness and atrocity. My fellow Consul, Imperator of the Senate, repel this woman and her companions from your walls of this place,—from the lives and fortunes of all the scholars here.’

And then he stopped his word. Then he walked back to his seat and then a thunderous applause was given to his speech. Duchess Julia smiles from the top of her seat.

‘Lord Silas’ the voice startled him.

‘Ser Massey’ he replies

‘You look distracted.’

He smiles.

‘I was remembering something.’

‘What is it if I may ask?’

‘Nothing important.’ They walked with other attendants to the throne room. He is at Rockstill, as the courtier of the King.

Stopping in front of the throne room, he clean himself up, and look at his appearance …and smiling….he pushed the door.

And he enters.

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