AOH – Chapter 46

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CHAPTER 46: THE WAR COUNCIL

1014 WHITEMONTH

ARIAL

WAR TENT

‘I welcome you, my lord’ Lord Henry Summersill bowed his head

‘Yes, enough with the pleasantries.’ I said

I need to cut his word short. We are in a war. Henry looked miffed but I have many things to care about.

Well, considering my age, he has every right, but he is not that stupid to voice his opinion so openly.

‘How are the men? ‘ I asked.

‘Tired, but they will manage my lord.’ he answer

‘Good, tomorrow I will move to North Fort while your army will go to the Gorge Pass and help the Lord of Northcour.’

‘My lord?’ he said clearly puzzled by this order

‘Didn’t you hear me? ‘

‘But then who will help you?’

‘Look outside’ and then he looked and I could see his face change.

I know he couldn’t see very clearly before in the skirmish that is because it was not the main army.

It was only the cavalry. Now he could see. Mercenaries from Asteros, sellswords from Ariundus and my troops and my bannerman.

And not all the entirety of my army is here yet. The infantry and many of the archers are still marching here.

The cavalry and mounted division of course reached here first. For the first time since ever, the land of Alan will see a real war.

‘I understand my lord. But, if I may ask, why this many?’

‘So Alderam might learn and it will be beneficial to serve as a warning to the other lords if they wish to rebel after the war ended. I wish to end this war, and extinguish any intention from other lord to rebel. Total domination’

The lord nodded but inwardly he shuddered. Such a young man, but such vicious personality. No wonder , time after time, he managed to defeat his enemies and gained such a fearsome reputation among the lords.

This is Lord Summersill thought when he look at the young lord.

King Adrian faced a number of challenges to his place on the throne because he was not the natural successor to his father.

Though his father was never a King and so was his ancestor, for Alan did not want to over stage his brother accomplishment.

Levitia is a Knight Prince and King, though it was awarded to Levitia posthumously.

Alan in the memory of his beloved sworn brother, remain a Duke in his first year and even though he rule in the Dukedom like a King yet he never declare it or ask anyone to crown him so.

As the Defender of the Realm from the Dark Lands no one dare invade unless they dare faced the anger of the Church.

But after his death, and years go by, the Dukedom become separate with noble families with marriage ties to the descendant of Alan grew more powerful and given lands.

But Adrian was the first among the descendant of Alan to crown himself King and many it seems have warmed to the idea.

It would create a more centralized government and uniform laws. And many other policies can be implemented to create a strong country

Yet this war started because of a matter of inheritance.

The right of the lands of Arouen, which is held by Hadrian, the former Duke only to grant it to his son, his younger son, instead of the accepted laws which is the eldest son inherits all.

And all this, all this battle is to keep Adrian at the throne and keep Alderam away from it. And to further my plan for repelling the first wave of the invasion from the Dark Lands

‘My lord will you rest for a while?’ the lord of Summersill asked me.

‘Yes.’

I will rest here while my men pitch my tent. They have already started as I could hear the men are singing their working song outside

‘Is there anything else my lord?’

‘No. And you can move in the morning’

He nodded, perfectly understanding his army will have to move through the Gorge Pass while we distract Alderam forces to North Fort

‘Thank you my lord.’

The lord excuse himself from the tent.

‘Ser Kyle!’ I yelled.

And Kyle quickly enter

‘Lord Arial’

I looked around and order the messenger to call my war council.

‘My lord won’t you rest?’ Kyle said

‘No delaying. We need to take the lands of the North as fast as we can.’

‘You should not force yourself’

‘I’m not’

‘You look like you are. Baggy eyes, pale complexion, rou-‘

‘My complexion is always pale.’

‘Then the baggy eyes?’

‘Maybe I can’t sleep hearing you nagging me so much. If not you, it will be Lisa. If not Lisa, then it would be Helia.’

‘We are all worried’ Kyle said

‘There is no need for concern. When you are still protecting my parents in Seren I was already in the thick of the war. This is normal’

‘War?’

‘No. The pressure. The men need their leader strong, and to their eyes I need to appear invincible.’

‘Share the burden then’

I chuckled a bit

‘I would have…if I have anyone I trust in my court.’

‘Then how about me?’

‘You are too naïve’

‘I am not.’

I sighed and I looked at Kyle face as I impart him the wisdom that I learned about the noble’s politics.

‘In the game of politics, they do not use swords and shield, or spears and pike, or a longbow and throwing knife. Their swords are words, their shield are information, their spears and pikes are slanders. That is not your place, nor would it be me that would be responsible sending you to such a world.’

Kyle looked at me and then the curtain is opened. It looks like Kyle is about to say something but he stopped himself.

‘My lord’ my war council each one entering the tent. The table is also prepared for us.I signaled Kyle to talk about it later.

For now the Council takes precedence

‘The map’ I said I gestured to West

West approached me and hand it to me. I lay it on the table.

‘Look. Where will we strike?’ I ask

‘Where did you decide my lord?’

‘North Fort. Lord Henry will assist the Northcour’

Some of the lords nodded, some held their tongue scrutinizing the map

‘Hmm, I also agree but how about separating our forces. One should attack North Fort while one of us attacks Penrose.’ Said Lord Paris

‘Can we do that?’ Lisa said and every face turned to Lisa. Many of them looked uncomfortable, and avoided Lisa like a plague

‘My lord’ Ser Hugh said his voice seemed displeased

‘This is not well for a girl to meddle in the work of a man’

Lisa looked at him and snorted.

‘Got something to say ugly head? Let’s take it outside and let see who the girl here is!’ Lisa said ferociously

‘I am Knight Sister of Order of Knight of Alan. Better than you retard’

Some of the Lords just shake their heads looking at Lisa behaviour. Though Ser Hugh looks like he is hurt by the barrage of words that Lisa uttered

‘My lady, I did not wis-‘ Ser Hugh tries to calm Lisa

‘Oh, shut up!’ Lisa said her eyes were feral like she wants to kill the Knight right there.

Kyle also looked to Ser Hugh, and I could see anger is rising from Kyle, and that is not easy. Kyle is hard to anger but once you anger him there is a hell to pay

‘It is true what Ser Hugh said my lord. I never understand why you chose a girl to follow in our expedition’ said Lord Eustace a minor lord that also follows the expedition

In the Knight Academy there is no discrimination between gender, only strength. Here however, outside, in the real world, discrimination and prejudice are all existent.

‘I am here’ Helia said trying to defend Lisa

‘You are different my lady. ‘ the lord said in unison

‘How so?’ Helia asked

 The lord exchange glances with each other, each one dare not offend, the daughter of a new High Lord and my betrothed.

‘You just are’ Lord Tuchet said diplomatically. I chuckled a bit.

But as their lord I need to stop them before somehow, this argument turn to enmity

‘Enough!’ And the bickering stopped.

‘Do you doubt my choice?’ I said, my tone threatening

Some of the lord shrinked back looking at each other.

Then Lord Paris spoke

‘My lord we did not ask this to anger you, only to advise you, but to bring a lady,’ and he looked at Helia, ‘a lady of questionable birth to join our expedition is a little, you know….’

‘Oh, do I now? Are you also insulting my family, Lord Paris?’

And quickly his face turns pale.

He finally realized it. Saying that Lisa comes from a questionable birth is like saying that I too came from of questionable birth

‘No.No,No my lord I mean no such thing’

‘Then it’s better to keep your mouth shut don’t it?’ He nodded vigorously, shutting his mouth.

‘I will hear no more word about this. All I care is whether you can fight in battle. A woman or a man, I care not of these things. If she proved useless in battle I will remove her from the battlefield but the same apply to you.’ I said, my words are clear, and the lord listen in understanding.

‘Do I make myself clear!’

‘Yes my lord’ they all said in unison

I turned to the map. There are still grumbling but they know better to pursue this topic in front of me again. And I know Lisa is strong, both physically and mentally

‘Now, Lord Paris idea is brilliant.’ He look pleased being complimented.

‘Considering our massive number we can do that. Then when I manage to gain the North Fort you will gain Penrose and then our concentrated attack will be on the Dented Shield. Me from the front, Lord Paris from the right side and if Lord Henry Summersill manage to attack and destroy the Shield forces in North Court then Lord of Northcour and Lord Summersill can attack from the left side. They may call from some help from the Stallford and the Mercia but if we take Dented Shield then it is as good as we won the war.’ I summarize the battle plan and the best scenario I could think of.

Then we all talked about the provision and supplies and suggestion from the lords and we all agree to march tomorrow at dawn.

I also began informing Lord Summersill on the plan.

The rest of the southron lords will stay and consolidate our power bases on the South with the Three Bothers guarding the home of the Althea family considering they followed me to battle.

The East forces and West forces will take the North that is what has been decided.

I also sent a letter to the King reporting the battles and the situation. West looked a little sullen.

No wonder.

The duchy of Palais belongs to his family before but now it belongs to Lord Henry Summersill. I will not claim to understand his bitterness, but I sympathize.

All the lords, the knights, the military leader has exit the tent.

Only one remains.

‘Dear, are you not tired’ Helia looked at me, her eyes shows that she is worried about me

‘I’m fine.’ I realized we are alone in this tent

‘Do not tarry in this tent too long. People will talk, Helia.’

‘Let them’ she said her tone challenging.

‘Everyone knows we are betrothed’ she said

‘Well, betrothed, yes. Married, not.’

‘Do you not plan to marry me?’

‘I do’

‘Then what is the harm?’

‘You know that better than I do’ I said and she comes closer

‘Words are sometimes sharper than swords.’ I continued

‘Yes but words couldn’t kill like sword.’ Helia said, confident. But I know better. Words have certain power and hold over the hearts of man.

I smiled.

‘That is naïve Helia. Words kill Helia. More than you know.’

‘Fine, maybe you are right, but my brave and strong prince will not let that happen would he?’ She said and she approached me and strokes my face, tracing her hand around my lips

‘Don’t do that’ I said, not that I hate it but I’m a little embarrassed

‘Do what?’ she asked innocently

‘Do this’

‘I love your lips you know that?’ Helia said suddenly

‘No, I didn’t.’

And then with a glint of mischievousness in her eyes she kissed me. But it was too fast for me and short

‘What’s that for?’ I said

‘For you to come for more.’

And with a giggle she exited herself from the tent. I smile. I don’t know if bringing her to the battlefield like she requested is right.

She proved to be more of a distraction then I intended. I smiles a bit before returning to my work.

I looked back at the table.

Outside I could hear my troops sharing their battle stories. On the Kingdom there is only one family who have a standing army and that is mine.

I never trusted the words of lords or their fealty. Trust but verify. And my new policy works smoothly.

Offering them salaries and training, works wonders. Peasant son, poor men and poor women, all flock to the offer.

League of unextraordinary men turned to battle ready troops. And thankfully the lords answer the call.

With the mercenaries and the sell swords, thrown in the amount of the troops, right now reached 80 thousand the largest army ever raised in the history of the land of Alan.

There will be no words exchange anymore. Alderam has chosen his fate.

And I have a score to settle.

The Bloody Feast is still seared in my mind. People who have families, good man, good people died in such tragic way.

I will bring my vengeance and the vengeance of their family, the grieved widow, the mourning daughters and I will wroth it upon Alderam.

Then and then I can begin forming amiable relations with other countries to prepare what’s to come.

Sometimes on nights like this I wonder whether anything I do, change anything. That the course of time has steered slightly from the tragedy that looms ahead.

I don’t know and probably I will never know.

And with all the uneasiness in my heart, and the promise of a better tomorrow, I brace for the night and what will come tomorrow.

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

ZHANG LIAO BAO

Finally I found it. The secret passage in the Imperial place. This is thanks to the Blood Brotherhood.

For hiding him he gave me this map saying he find it when he was sneaking around the Imperial Library. He doesn’t know to read, so it is no use to him.

And he said he owe me.

He said if I ever wander the martial art world and in danger, I can mention his name. He said he is very famous in the martial art world.

Whether that is true I don’t know. But I know this, this map, is something important

It takes me about a month to really pinpoint the location. It is the abandoned alley near the Palace of Eternal harmony.

It is the 13th brick from the right of the alley 15 down and the moment I push it the ground beneath them give way and I fell here.

That is what I remember yesterday. Today I came again.

I could see many books.

Yesterday I only marvel at the chamber but today I will read what it contains. There are many poetry books and history books.

I like history but reading about it always makes me fell asleep. Then one book caught my attention

Alexander Repentance

The first emperor diary. I open it

Dedicated to my fair and beautiful wife, Leliana. She who have left me, after knowing the truth of her lover. Here I dedicate my regret and repentance. If you found this, I hope you forgive me Leliana. I was young and rash, stupid and oblivious.

This poem is for you.

The vast sky belongs to me,

So is the bountiful land

The great empire is mine,

Yet I cannot have you,

Say not that love is without reserve,

Say not that love is without limit,

Why dwell on love, hate and enmity?

Prosperity only blossom for one brief moment

The past is gone,

Dissipating in the wind,

Blowing them all to oblivion

How much love, hate, enmity remains unsolved, untangled?

Aging with white hair,

Here pining for your forgiveness,

Only my longing for you will never die,

With my betrayal, I sever the precious relationship

No reminiscing of the old past can bring either both of you back,

High on my towers,

I look upon the clear blue sky with teary eyes,

Let the bright moon and the pain illuminate my path to a new world.

Leliana.

It’s the First Empress.

What did she know? Lover? Who is? Levitia is dead during that time and he is the only one known to be her lover.

Too complicated.

I closed the book and something fell from the slits of the book. I crouched down to see it. Treading on the Wind Technique.

I open the book.

In it was an instruction to learn the technique. This must be one of Alexander technique. From what I know Alexander himself is an accomplished martial artist but of course when he is compared to Levitia people forget.

It is like comparing a tiger and a cat.

If Levitia is known as to be the strongest than Alexander was known to be very fast which is why he is known as Yellow Thunder because of his blonde hair and fast technique.

I was about to store it back then my memories flashed to the event when I was captured. I never liked practicing martial art, because it is brutal and always used to kill people.

But this technique?

I looked again and read it.

It is for escaping. A perfect fit for my personality. I like running away.

Why not?

So I spend my days learning that technique, and juggle it with my responsibilities to the noble lords, as is my responsibilities as a scribe.

And days passed.

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