AOH – Chapter 43

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CHAPTER 43: CROSSING PATH

1014 FALLMONTH

I looked as the sail is thrown off and the sailor beginning to sail from the Port. I waved at them. I could see their large and many cargos. I inspect them myself yesterday.

There is a lot of trade product that we are trading.  The merchants and trader all howling orders, while some ship just came from other lands came and brought out their wares from their ship.

Food, salted fish, silk and so many others. While the traders would bring many exotic stuff from worlds away.

My parents will return today with my little sister. I got the letter last night. They said they will bring a surprise guest.

I have just return from the port after checking the ships and the traders.

From the report, battle does not happen that frequently like the beginning but there is still some battles that happen along the border of the north.

Mostly between the nobles that support Alderam rather than Adrian claim. Sporadic battle around the west but in the south most lords have already swear fealty while we in the East is still in relative peace.

I’m now waiting for both Alderam and the King replies. Alderam on the truce, the King on the matters of West.

If Alderam persist to continue with his foolishness, knowing that he would be easily crushed, and still refuse to bend the knee, then I will march to the North with all the troops I can muster.

The King on the other hand, it is my test of him. Would he believe his loyal subjects?

I was informed by some people that there are some sinister forces in court that tried to sour our relation. I will not have that.

But if the King decided to not trust, I have to make preparation for the worst case scenario.

There are also the matters of an agreement with Vern, as my Spymaster informs me, that Alderam is persuading some lords in Vern to aid him.

I, of course do not want to be involved in some of conflict with other nation not when we are already so occupied with this war.

I also planned to bestow Duchy of Derion to Althea house after the war is over.

 It would also help me to have a duchy that loyalty is not questioned loyal to my territory. If anything happen I can quickly raise their banner without scruples.

The South yesterday defeated another lordly house by the Blacktons and the Three Brothers.

While some of the noble house of Manderly to meet another one of his allies, the Blacktons son, the oldest one of them was sent to contain them from ever reaching the other part of the South and gained control.

They clashed and at first the young lord of the Blacktons was in bad shape they even retreat at the evening, but then in the morning with newfound resolve he retaliated.

But then in the nick of battle, the rivers lords arrived where he drew support from his banner men, who have extensive battle experience, especially after also pacifying the rest of the region.

While the Manderly has little soldier, almost little to none experience, an augmented army by slaves clearly bought in Freya.

That is a wrong act, a dishonourable act to use slave to do a free man bidding and not to mention owning slaves itself is abhorred, despised, and damnable offense by the Church.

They fought in a terrain that has three valleys, cutting through the limestone escarpment whose dip slope roses gently from the north of the Soutshire plain, a beautiful place, ill with green grass, as I once pass by that place in my quest.

The superior force of Blacktons and their experience helps in defeating the Manderly, especially because of the congestion caused by the Blacktons with their archers, followed by an infantry charge, the Manderly line broke where many of them were taken prisoners.

I have already sent a letter to him to handle them as he saw fit.

By now surely the South has heard the Manderly defeat and surely now, they will see reason.

Then there is the matter of West Palais.West on the other hand is another matter. Son of Henry, I wished to know his true intention.

Does he have an alternative intention or is his heart true? If he is true, then I hoped him to be mediator.

If not, then he would be a hostage in my castle.

He is a friend but in the war I need to aim for a quick and swift victory, before this war gets any longer.

Then a horsed messenger came and informs me that my parents are already at the city gate waiting for me to come.

The castle is busy today. You could see they are all rushing around the courtyard, even the guards are fidgety.

The preparation is being set up to receive my parents. And my little sister. My little sister.

Her name seems to be Adriana , as a sign of respect for King Adrian. It would be good if she would be betrothed to the King, but I will not force such decision on her.

It would quite deepened our relation with the royal family and may ease King Adrian heart

‘My lord, you returned’ my attendant greets me

The attendants take my coat.

‘Yes, I have. I got a messenger came to me saying my parents is outside the city gate is it true?’

‘Yes my lord’ he nodded

I rushed to the stables and ride Fire Bringer. In front of the city gate I could see a mass of people kneeling.

My parents must have returned

I, overcome with joy jumped from my horse and I could see my father welcoming me with a welcoming smile, my mother is rocking my little sister to sleep in her arms.

‘SON’ my father yelled.

The crowd gives way. My parent were just about to step out from their caravan

‘Lord Arial’ they whispered

‘Lord father’ I kneeled in front of him

‘Oh, boy come here and let your father hug you’

I rise up and hug him. It has been so long. He feels a little stocky. The life of luxury has been well on him.

‘Mother’ I then hugs my mother

‘My dear little boy’ my mother said patting my back.

‘Let me hold her, my lady’ I looked and it’s Kyle. Kyle took Adriana and hold her.

He grinned at me and I grinned back at him.

‘Thank you Kyle’ My mother said

Then my mother hugged me

‘How is my little boy?’

‘I’m no longer a little boy mother’ I said

‘You’re always going to be my little boy,’ my father hearing this laugh

Then I hug Kyle

‘It has been hard on you dear friend’

‘More you than me’

We looked at each other and laugh

‘Going to the tavern tonight?’ I asked

‘Absolutely. You’ll join?’

‘Me, no.’

‘Why? Won’t it make such a scene if we both play in the tavern, seducing some maid’ he said

‘Like old times’ he nodded pleading me with his eyes

‘First I never did go to tavern to find a maid. And I never seduce anyone’

‘Yet, all the girl always fawn on you.’

‘Then consider it a favour to you that I will not attend the occasion’

‘Hahahaha.’ He laughed ‘maybe I should consider it a favor. But my friend, I tonight will go to the tavern and as surely as the sun will rises in the morning, I will bed some girls that night’

‘What did I hear you say young man?’ I heard a shrill behind us

‘Countess Alissa!’

‘What did my son just said?’

Kyle looked at me

‘Kyle was saying he has an appointment tonight.‘

‘Really’

‘And this talk about bedding?’

‘He said that then he would go to bed immediately’

My father laugh

‘Let them Alissa. Young boys.’

‘I do not approve such games’ Count Lethe said.

‘Father, mother, wouldn’t this conversation be better served in the privacy of the castle?’

I whistle and Fire Bringer cantering slowly to the caravans.

‘Let me lead the caravan’

Kyle rides beside me.

‘Where is Lisa by the way?’

‘She is with a surprise guest’

‘Who is it?’ I asked curios

‘Someone you know’ Kyle said

‘Some lord?’ I asked

‘Some lady’ he replied

‘A lady?’

‘Yes.’

‘Blue hair?’

‘Blue hair? No.’

I sighed a deep relief

‘Do you know any blue hair lady?’ Kyle asked looking at me

I remember my fight and her vicious way of fighting and I reply

‘No. so who is she?’ I asked Kyle again

‘Some lords daughter. Just…I’m sure you will be surprised when you see her’ he said smiling

‘I would look forward to that then.’

Then we lead to the castle.

The trumpet was blown, songs were played by the bard and minstrel, the people were waving the banner and the cheer.

‘Lord Aries has returned’ some of the kids in the city cried the news to the other part of the city. Soon enough it becomes a procession

Everywhere they were folks in their clothes, the young the old, the traders, the merchants, the shopkeeper, the minor lords, the low lords all were in attendance all welcoming my father back.

The music is pleasant like the warm breeze of autumn, filling the streets with harmonious melody.

And all the way back I could hear them getting my father and mother, all words of praises and good and kind words.

‘You parents are very famous it seems’ Kyle said remarking at the situation

‘They are’

I looked back behind us.

And then finally we arrived at the castle gate.

The guards quickly opened the gate and my parents entered, all the household has already waited kneeling in front of the courtyard

My parents stepped out of the carriage and shouted ‘we have returned’ and like spring that blossoms the atmosphere turns livelier for my mother is loved in the castle.

I was feared, respected but my mother? She is loved for her kind countenance and wise words. My mother makes a gesture to me to come closer

‘Yes mother’

She whispered to my ears telling me to tell the rest of the castle her plans.

I smiled

‘Listen my fellow household’ and the cheer and smile stopped.

Surely, they must look like I was about to break out a worse news.

My expression does not help and I’m also known to only announce about the matters of wars which is why I understand their trepidation

‘Calm your hearts’ I said. ‘My mother has informed me that she is planning something to liven our castle. We are accustomed to feast and dinner party but my mother has suggested us to prepare a ball’ I said and the maids, castle maids, the squire and the knight behind me all perked up.

A ball they whispered

‘Lend me your dress Annie’ I heard one castle maid talk to one of her friend

‘It’s mine and what will I wear if you borrow it from me?’

Excitement fills the air.

‘A ball?’ Kyle said a grin formed in his mouth

‘Don’t think anything unhonourable Kyle’

‘I didn’t’

‘You did’

‘Well…I did’ and he chuckled

And with that merry thought my parents entered the castle with all of the low lords followed them from behind.

The castle maid were already busy, clearly began preparing for the balls.

Our castle is one of the largest castles in the Kingdom and our gold is boundless so in a week surely the preparation would have already been readied.

Well with all the giddiness in the air how could it not?

The messenger will clearly have a busy work ahead of them sending letters to nobles daughter and nobles sons.

It would be good to forge alliances and get to know of other noble lord’s sons and daughter.

‘Arial hurry up’ my mother yell.

I jumped from my horse and the stable master came bringing my horse into his stable while my feet walk slowly to the staircase of the courtyard.

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

MIKAEL MOURNSTAR

After that last encounter, with the blue hair woman there are certainly not that many encounters that will be so titillating.

I have reached finally after a long time, here in the Dukedom.

It has been a hard journey mostly because of the sneaking around, hiding around and all that other stealthy stuff.

If they find out I’m a demon race surely they would imprisoned me, worse, kill me.

Recently I know there is a war that happens in the Dukedom, about a stupid war about some sons fighting over some lands.

I mean, in the end, that is what it all boils to.

Fighting over lands. If not lands, some women. If not women, some gold or magical object or some tournament.

The stories are always the same. The character however is always different. But the ending is always eerily similar.

Do they not learn from the past? History! Does it not studied here? The importance of knowing past mistake, so we could tread on new path, trying a new road?

Ignorance seems to be the suffering of humanity.

After gaining much information I reached here in Acro.

Even from the outside it looked magnificent. Not like Arakath, but it is quite beautiful and it seems many traders frequented here.

I even greets some of them outside the city gate, all coming from all region of the Dukedom,. There are also many scholars, learning in schools or university.

At least the ruler of this region seems dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and I respect that.

But I could not yet enter for there is a caravan in front of me with many Knights escorting the caravans.

Clearly some high Lords here. Trying to ride in front of High Lord could be seen as insulting by the nobility, so I stay behind them.

Then they arrive at the city gate.

The riders in front of me dismount their horses and kneel. So does the people of the city. Considering they kneel, I too dismount my ride, and kneel.

It seems whoever in the carriage is the ruler of this city. It seems like it is waiting for someone.

Then I whispered to a merchant that is kneeling beside me

‘Who are they?’

‘The Duke and Duchess.’  I nodded then I could saw a boy, younger than me jump from his horse and embrace the duke.

‘Who’s that?’ I pointed my finger to the boy.

‘That is the Duke son, Arial the Dragon.’

‘Arial the Dragon? Why do people call him that?’

‘People said he never lost a battle and his strength in battlefield is all-conquering.’

‘A kid like that leads an army?

The merchant chuckled.

‘What so odd? George the Wise leads an army, personally overseeing the battle of the Ragged King. When he was but 12.’

I nodded.

Then the young lord seems to hug his mother and a Knight. Probably his friend. Then they lead the carriage and I too moved.

It was like a parade. Everyone is in joy and the city itself is beautiful.

The architecture and the feeling I got from the city. People singing. People dancing. People singing and dancing.

I could not help but also get swept by their emotion and sooner or later, I too was also dancing joining the people of this city which is in a jubilant emotion.

Then the lords enter their castle but the celebration did not end. I guess Renasia isn’t the only place where their people love festivities.

At the evening finally the mood dissipated so I went to an inn and check myself inn. The beds are comfy, basic amenities are provided.

It’s like I’m in the royal capital. This city is prosperous, that is my conclusion. Then I heard outside like another happy event seeing people jumping and singing again.

So, I went outside. A crier is announcing a ball next week. No wonder, the people are so happy. I looked at all of the surroundings.

Bright lights and the cool night air remind me of Arakath and my home but my quest is not ending yet.

Tomorrow I will go to the library here which is said to be constructed by the ruling House here housing many books from all of the Dukedom.

I felt relaxed and calm.

And then slowly my foot went and joins the dancing.

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