AOH – Chapter 39

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CHAPTER 39: BEFORE I MET HIM

1014 LIGHTMONTH

THE RUNAWAY PRINCESS, RHYSA RENASI

The horse tries to turn around. I tightened my rein and the horse obeyed.

‘Princess, are you fine?’

‘Don’t worry. Let’s keep moving’

It had been a month since I left the Far East. Behind me is Arturo holding the supplies. My Knight Guard.

Since he couldn’t persuade me to stop, he then decided he needs to accompany me. Duty and honour and all that.

After I learned martial art techniques from The Eastern Devil, I yearned to fight and fight. Not to mention I was good enough to be acknowledged as his disciple.

From what I gather I have one Martial Art sister, and two Senior Martial Art brothers. But why did I decide to wander around the martial art world?

I wanted to prove to the world that a woman can also be the strongest. That is my intention.

To be the strongest. Why aim low? Aim high to the sky! My Grand Teacher always says. In the story of old heroes, usually the men get the fame and glory.

Levitia, Alan, Zhu Ar Zur even Duvan.  But what about Leliana? The Divine Archer?

The one who saved Levitia during his early years adventuring and saving him many times over from the Dark Lords before he became the mighty hero he’s destined to be.

What about her? Where is her Song? Where is her story?

Instead history remembers her as the lover of Levitia, and the First Empress of the Vern Empire.

Her strength, her exploits, her contribution forgotten.

I want to prove to my parents I need no man, especially not a weak man. They could not stop trying to pair me with eligible man, sons of noble houses and prince from foreign lands.

I’m reminded of my Grand teacher. My teacher, the Devil is strong beyond imagination. Too strong.

And since I learned from him, I have this desire to pit myself against the people of the martial arts world, to scout other nation strong fighter.

Which will someday prove to be, surely viable information when I ruled Renasia.

I intend to unite back the fragmented region, to do what Alexander the Divider and his descendant after that fail to do.

A Unifier. A great Uniter

I began my journey to Cora challenging the people there; the reward is my hand in marriage. Many men came forward and challenge me.

No one could defeat me there so I moved.

By now certainly the Palace is in uproar searching for me. And sooner or later Pedro and my parents will find me.

So, I wander around to Dostov and then Seren. No one can defeat me whether the man are old or young. This just shows how powerful my teacher martial art really is.

And not to mention the fight teaches me many things. What moves I should execute how to handle attack and how to defend.

But my temper is the problem. It made me rash. Made me vulnerable and exposed. My target is Vern.

From what I hear from my teachers there lived many legions of exceptional martial art expert in the Plains.

I too wanted to make a name for myself in the martial art world. I like this kind of life, wandering around the martial art world fighting and gaining respect.

Today enemies can become tomorrow friend, today friends can become tomorrow enemies. I understand.

Allegiances shift. But I like it. I enjoyed it.

There is exhilarating freedom to it, solving thing with your fist and understanding each other with your fist.

Every time you fight someone you can sense something about them, each time you traded blows.

I like that. I love the world of the martial arts. I like the fighting and the people I meet, the bonds I forged during my journey.

There is one that I met a few weeks ago that left an impression. He was a scholar journeying finding relics and searching for knowledge. His name is Michael.

I still remember my conversation with him during we make camp and he borrow our tent to rest.

And my mind remembers that scene again

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

‘What do you think about Levitia death?’ The man asked that night trying to make conversation

‘Levitia? He is killed by his cousin right? A Tragic death’ He shakes his head.

‘Yes tragic…but whether he is killed by his cousin…….is another story. Many historian believes that the culprit of his famous assassination was not done by his cousin but someone else.’

‘What do you mean?’ I said curious

He cleared his throat clearly excited.

‘You see, many historians believe that the one who killed the great hero was his own sworn brother and not his cousin and there are even some that theorize maybe even the church is involved’

‘What! Why?’ I asked.

‘Alright let me explain. First theory said that Levitia is killed by his sworn brothers. The suspect? Alexander and Duvan.”

Duvan is my ancestors. It intrigues me.

‘Why Alexander? Because he is a young emperor at that time, yet the one that people respect and fear is Levitia, his exploits make him loved by the common folk, the demon lords tremble in front of him and he has much more charisma than Alexander himself.’

I nodded at this statement. It is known at that time, even though the emperor of the new empire was Alexander, the one people revere and wish to be the Emperor was Levitia but he always reject the crown.

Then Michael continue

‘And not to mention even among the brothers everyone knows both of them vying for the hand of Leliana the most beautiful woman at that era. He has many motives to kill Levitia. To bolster his rule, to win the heart of Leliana, to rid him his greatest obstacle. Don’t you agree?’ he said smirking

I nodded

‘You give a good argument but what about Duvan?’

‘Well, as history shows, even though Levitia and Duvan are sworn brothers, their way of thinking is highly different. And not to mention, both of them have many bitter memories with each other.’

‘I heard of this but to asssianate the evry man who have saved him….that is not Renasian way’ I said

‘True.’ He said.

‘Nowadays, many historians believe that that theory sprung because Alexander the Divider planted it in the first place, when Renasia secede from the Empire so it’s authenticity is doubtful. But one must agree, even in the stories, their disagreement and differing opinion always make them clash with each other.’

I nodded again. One of the famous one of their disagreement must be the Three Princess. The Seduction of Duvan, a chapter in the Saga.

Then Michael spoke again more enthusiastically seeing that I listen to him.

‘Not to mention that actually in the Last Dinner the cousin that is said to poison him, did not even attend that dinner’

‘But…I swear I see the painting of the Last Dinner and Alvira is there.’

He smirked, clearly enjoying himself.

‘Yes but in history book he is not there. It is because the Church portray in their Light Chapel that is why that image so distorted. Yet in the original scene only his sworn bothers were there including Leliana. No trace of his cousin anywhere’

I was shocked.

‘I didn’t know that’

‘Not many do’

I laughed.

‘To think I could meet such a scholar here in the middle of the woods.’

He laughed back

‘And to think someone who fight in such unpredictable moves like yourself is a refined lady’ Michael travel with us in the evening and we saved him from bandit and that is when he saw my moves.

I held up my hand

‘What about the church? You said Levitia death is theorized to also come from the hand of the church’

‘Ah yes. The church.’ He said it like the church is a curse word

‘You see, there are many who does not know this but even before Levitia was hero, he was a royal blood, like his father and his father before him.’

‘Royal blood? What do you mean? Which King?’ I asked, curios. I never heard of this. All I know, is that Levitia is a great hero of his time.

‘The Enochian.’ He answered.

‘ You see, Levitia hair is not described in any book but strangely enough every other feature of his body is explained in full detail. Why do you think that is?’

‘They forgot or something?’ I offer

‘Or maybe they hide it?’ Suddenly Arturo also enter our conversation. Michael looking at Arturo smiles.

‘Yes, I believe the church tries to hide his hair color, erasing it from every book.’

‘Why? For just hiding the color of a hair. Why would it be so important to hide that one little detail?’ I asked, not understanding.

And this time he flashed a triumphant grin

‘Because you see the people that came from the Enochian Empire royalty has a different hair color, a dominant trait, like Alan who their descendant always get black hair, Zhu Ar Zur who’s descendant always have green hair and green eyes, and Duvan Renasi who his descendant always have blue hair and blue eyes’ and he stared at me.

‘You knew?’ Arturo tighten his grip around his sword

Michael holds up his hand.

‘Not that I care but I could not help but notice.’

‘Stop being so tense Arturo. I trust him’

‘Thank you for your confidence my lady.’ He said bowing his head a little, smiling all the time. He is calm even though Arturo is so close to him.

‘Continue your story’ I said

He nodded

‘If the church is hiding it why would they hide only about that feature? That is because he is royalty, survivor from the sinking Empire. Which is why in the prophecy, he is referred as the Child of the Fallen Land. If his descendant is the royalty, you could understand how dangerous it is for the church.’

‘How so?’ I asked still not understanding.

He smiles a knowing smile

‘Leliana is an Artagnan, heir of the Kingdom of the Living Isle, descendant of the Thirteen Kings, and the princess of the 13 Great Tribes. If Levitia and Leliana get married, their union would unite 2 of the great empire bloodline.’

‘Kingdom of the Living Isle?’

‘Another Kingdom that sink during the Calamity.’ Arturo piped up in the back

I show him a shocked face

‘Why so shocked? I’m not a brute you make me out to be Prin..I mean mistress”

Michael laughed.

‘Still putting up the charade?’ He said

‘But you must have access to the royal library if you read about the Kingdom of the Living Isle?’ Michael said

Arturo looked shocked

‘How do you know that?

‘I’m a scholar. It is my trade to know things’

‘So what does that mean? If they unite that is?’ I asked, going back to the story

‘That means their wedding would unite everyone under them. The Thirteen Tribe will have a new heir to claim their Kingdoms, an entity to rally again under one person that embodies the nobility of all the Thirteen Tribes. And the Church at that time certainly doesn’t want that. The Thirteen Tribes are pagan. They believe in their Great Pantheon. They supported Alexander because Alexander is a devout to their religion. But Levitia is not. He tolerates them. So many of the scholars also believe that the Church had a hand in Levitia death.’

Arturo nodded in understanding and I also contemplate of this matter. In Renasia, there is a church but there is not that many believers.

Most of the people in Renasia believe in the Sun Emperor. Seeing that I understand, Michael continues.

‘And not to mention since the blame is shifted to his cousin, all of Levitia bloodline died. His cousin is his last blood relative’

I nodded. His word makes sense. It was almost…like it was planned.

After Levitia death, he was canonized by the church, yet Levitia himself is a pitiful man, leaving no descendant, his family exterminated.

He stopped his words and the night wind blows slowly. We ponder at what he said to me.

‘It is…thought provoking’ Arturo said

‘What do you believe?’ I asked curious of his answer.

He looked at the distant night and watches the star and he said

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

‘ Princess, don’t get distracted’

‘OH, you startled me Arturo!”

‘Sorry”

I looked in front of me. Grass and hills.The Dukedom.

Now we have reached the Dukedom. We came from the Far East. We came across a vast field and we know some great battle happen here.

There is large hole in the ground, blood stains marked the battle, fallen armor and swords scattered around the fields.

Massive armies clash here. The forest shows sign of burning; some trees were felled, surely to build a siege castle.

There is a campaign here. It must have been an epic battle. Is there a war here in the Dukedom? I mused

Arturo approached me

‘Princess, it seems that there is a battle that occurs here. And from what happen here, a big one’

‘Yes I could see that. Do you think I’m blind? ‘

‘I did not mean to offend. ‘

‘But you did. I’m not a kid’

‘Well, considering that you run away from your home, only because you want to test your martial arts, that seems pretty childish for me’

I glared at him

‘Of course, you’re the princess’ he said before minding his own business. I look at the open field and smell the summer’s breeze.

The air here is different from Renasia. It’s calmer and soothing. But Arturo is right. It is pretty childish.

But I want to explore the world, to wander around like my teacher in the martial art world, to meet many people.

I’m a princess. The heir of the kingdom. And they never let me forget who I am.

I know my responsibility and what I must do. I was groomed for it. Literature, strategy, arithmetic, courtly behavior, I learned all of them since I was a child.

But for once I wanted to feel how it feels to soar. To soar on this world like there is a wing attached to my back

And I felt it, when I traded blows with martial arts practitioner.

‘Arturo what do you know about the dukedom? Is there any expert?’

Arturo quickly rushed to me and report.

‘From the report that I gathered they are no famous expert in the dukedom. Most of them only know little to none of martial arts. If there is an expert mostly there are in Vangua, Vern and Cori.’

I nodded.

Should I just forsake this nation and went to Vern directly? No I shake my head. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find someone who can alleviate my boredom here in the Dukedom?

‘Is there any large city?’

‘Yes, princess. Acro’

‘Acro? I know that city’

‘Yes princess. That city is a major trade center own by the Vermont family. Since they founded their house they have created port and harbor and open trade center to other continent. Known as one of the wealthiest family in all of the continent, they ruled a duchy here in the Dukedom. It is said that the city is beautiful, the people rich, the citizens are traders and merchants, opening trade route everywhere all around the continent.’

‘Alright then we will set our stage there.’

Arturo nodded and brings his horse forward. So we ride our horse to the city with Arturo leading.

What adventure will I encountered there? I mused with expectant hearts.

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

A dragon banner fluttering in the high city walls greet us.

The patrolling guards can be seen walking in the uppermost top of the observation tower, looking and watching.

The surrounding areas of the cities were hinting that this city is glorious. We came across a bridge on our way here.

The bridge was beautiful, built with skill and precision.

Each brick was perfectly laid, the arches were arithmetically semi circles and along the edges was a balustrade of stone carved into dome topped pillars with inscription and tapestry of carving on the side of the bridge.

I marvel at the ingenuity and the carve works.

Such talents.

And before we know it we finally reached the city. Caravans and oxcart come in and out of the city all carrying trade products and wares.

There is happiness and interaction in the city.

The stalls and shops were loaded with goods from foreign lands, some from Asteros, and others from Ariundus, many more from Vorthy land of Eternal Winter.

Even in the back alley there are traders.

We passed the greengrocer with his window full of apples and oranges, fruits from the west and south, the meat butcher with lumps of meat on display from cow to goat, and naked chickens and so many other shops and stalls, each one have their own unique produce and products.

The face of the people was joyful and happy. Houses and building erected high and mighty. All of their house is polished, clean and neat.

Arturo was right.  There do not seem to be any poor people here.

I could see the schools, and a university being constructed. The carpenter and the builder working together building it. The workers moving bricks and woods to the site.

They are making a hub here for trade and knowledge.

I don’t know who this Vermont family is but they sure have large ambitions. Making a city like this means they want to have power.

At least that how it seems to me. I’ve gone to many of the city in other country during my journey but none surpasses this city. It is almost like a capital city.

The city is always moving, people, oxcart, carriage, caravans. All these people making, becoming a part of the city, the very part that makes this city lives and structure its prosperity.

I was awe in amazement.

They are teahouse, taverns, restaurant selling exotic foods; theaters and entertainment, there are even parks from what I heard from one of the people.

They are also a big chapel constructed by the Vermont’s; fill with beautiful artworks from talented artist, from carvers, to sculptor to painters.

Their culture is high here.

The roads are wide. The streets were busy, conversation overlapped each other, scream and yelling fill the marketplace each one trading, selling and buying.

A prosperous city. A lively city.

That night we spend a night in the inn around the city.

The city was quieter, but even then there were lights everywhere lanterns and candles and entertainment from the troupe stage, the restaurants and the stalls.

A city that never sleeps the innkeeper told me.

Arturo was buying equipment and hiring people to construct the stage.

That night I also go out to watch an actor perform the Last Dinner, commemorating and acting the last moment of the Great Hero Levitia and his Lamentation during the dinner he had with his sworn bother and where he announce that someone he knows, someone at that table will betray him as foretold by his prophecy.

The crowds were crowding near the stage. Each one pays and waits for the actor to begin. Then he emerges from the curtains and began.

I could see that the actor loved the feel of delivering lines. A street performer but a good one, I mused.

His word are clear not stuttering, fluid and the words dance around his tongue and into the ears of the audience, making us feeling the very same emotion that Levitia felt when he realized there is no running against fate.

The greatest hero that ever lives yet destined to die a tragic death.

He didn’t get the girl, neither he get to live happily ever after. Betrayed and killed by his own blood. Or that is how the story goes.

Every line is perfect. And by the end of the act I felt the tears run down from my eyes. I wipe it.

It made me tear every time I see it.

It was good. The actor was a good portrayer; perfectly capture the emotion of one of the last chapter of Saga of Levitia.

I throw another penny into the box and walk back to the inn. Arturo must already been there waiting for me.

Tomorrow I will wander around the city before staging the battle.

Then I reached my bed, throw myself and sleep come to me and I pray that the Sun King will illuminate my days to come.

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