AOH – Chapter 47

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CHAPTER 47: A DREAM

1014 WHITEMONTH

ARIAL

IN THE VICINITY OF NORTH FORT

We have reached North Fort. The winter strike hard but the cold does not burn. Not like in the land of Eternal Winter.

Snow has fallen yesterday and the wind rages without stopping. My troops make camp not too far from the Fort.

Enemy troops did try to sally an assault on us but they are easily crushed so now they take protection on their fort, trying to hold out waiting for reinforcement.

I would like to see the look on their face when they realize that reinforcement won’t come for them.

Sending reinforcement here means they can’t send reinforcement to North Court which Alderam is fighting now.

And they still have not decided whether to split their reinforcement to three or two. One in North Court, one in Penrose and one in North Fort.

Three pronged attack. An ambitious move but an easy decision because I have full control of the West, South and East.

Only one I need to conquer. The North. Will they save only one or try to save all of them, only to risk losing all three? This is a great dilemma.

Thankfully it is not my dilemma to worry about.

We are creating the siege equipment now. The hammering and the nailing is being done right now.

The assault ladders, the ballista, the battering ram, the catapult, some even make mangonel, a catapult that used twisted rope as the source of power to launch projectiles.

The projectile would be in a bucket at the end of the throw arm mostly because we have a lot of people to work, and onager, from the Asteros sellswords, who uses it in their war back home, a catapult that used twisted rope to power the launching of projectiles.

Differing from the Mangonel in that the end of the throw arm would have a rope and sling. In this sling would be the projectile.

This is all not only to attack and siege the fort but also for the preparation to siege Dented Shield.

If my calculations are correct then I believe that when Alderam found out he is being encircled he will retreat to the safety of his castle, and we will greet him with such a force that he has no choice but to choose surrender.

Kyle and his men are building a siege tower while Lisa and Helia, being the only girl in the expedition are making the trebuchet with their banner man.

But it does seem that they did not dare orders Helia to do anything.

Kyle is also enthusiastic. I could hear him barking orders, telling the troops to hurry up with the construction

Lisa is a noble, but she is Knight first.

And her father is a low lords that is why the other lords dare belittle her, but the most important reason she is belittle is her gender.

That is all. But I’ve seen many things in my timeline.

They are the weaker sex.

That is what uneducated men will say, men who have never seen the ferocity of a woman determination or ever felt in love with such a domineering soul that they make their own assumption by hearsay, and old thinking, never once, entertain the idea, that woman are so much more than just weak lady or some maiden that needs to be saved.

To call a woman the weaker sex is libel, slander and misperception. An injustice done towards their genders. An injustice since time immemorial

If by strength is meant by brute strength, then, indeed, woman is less brute than man.

But even then, that is not entirely true. Raynis prove that.

If on the man side we have the Mad Emperor than in the woman side there is Rayniss the Mad Queen in Renasia.

Her story is sung as a reminder but while Charles is blamed for insanity, Rayniss was blamed by the other rest of the continent merely because of her gender.

The Bloodthirsty, insane woman they call her. Never elect woman to become your leader they warn.

If by man referring to woman as the weaker sex, in intellectual prowess then that is also a libel.

For if we have George the Wise in the man side, we have Rhaessa on the woman side.

George is wise but so is Rhaessa, bringing her country, peace and wealth, strengthening her country military, creating and maintaining amiable relations with other countries and in her rule, they have excess in her Kingdom.

Who will dare say woman is stupid? Who will dare say woman cannot be wise?

But if by strength is meant moral power, and love, and good things, then woman, though, embarrassing to admit, woman is immeasurably man superior.

Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater power of endurance of this unfair world, has she not greater courage to protect what they love?

Without woman, man could not be.

Who but woman, can soothe the heart not quite the companion of man can do, and who can, I dare, make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman?

There isn’t one.

But changing a long held belief is hard.

So ingrained in their belief and the custom, it would take hundreds if not thousands of years before men can forget their pride….and prejudice.

Something…and I know this in my heart, when I returned back through time, with some knowledge, of what?

I don’t know. But somehow when I return my world view change. I see the world in different light. I too once believe the same about woman,

They are the weaker sex, the cursed sex.

They are weak. They could only be saved and be protected.

For that is what I was taught and what I suspect the noble son are taught, what men were taught by the church, by their ancestors or acquaintance.

A culture, a custom, a long held believe.

I have, and always before, in practice, though not in principle believe that. Something returned with me that day I travel through time.

Some glimmer of memories, something in my heart tugging this sensation that there is fundamentally something wrong about this world.

Whether it be my view on slavery, or the treatment of woman, this is something I felt and believe are cause worth fighting for.

That it is wrong. But that it is. A tugging. And I can choose whether to close my eyes or act.

But none shall take importance than my noble work of preventing the dark days that is ahead, and if that failed, fighting the invasion.

There is something rotten at the root of our world, and it stinks to high heaven.

The situation required not just a new King or new laws, but, an extreme measure, an uprooting of the old order, the customs, the long held believe, the introduction of a new kind of society, a new kind of world, where things…..are better, kinder.

But that is only possible through bloodshed and war. In this time of savage era, that is the only thing can be done.

And if that is the only way, then someone must do it. If that is the way to go, then I must go. To create that new path…someday.

If we survive what is coming.

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

Men screamed in pain clutching their grievous wounds as bows twang sending death into my army.

‘Keep on moving’ Kyle said ordering the troops to push the siege tower while the troops in North Fort have sent 1000 troops to hold us back.

The siege weapons sent flying stones to fort wall and each time the stone reached the fort a sound of explosion can be heard and the world shakes.

But still, the castle walls stood high, tall and proud, defiant in our rigorous assault.

The siege towers lumbers on slowly at snail pace.

Lisa went ahead and intercepts the force of the enemies with her cavalry division, slashing the enemies and I suspect she want to prove herself to the other lords.

After she asks permission, I consented. Now she is bringing hell to the enemy force.

The other lords look in awe, most of all Ser Hugh who is slack jaw.

I understand why the noble sir, was so adamantly resisting Lisa to take on the battlefield, and I hear this through the grapevine, but it seems the Ser, has a fondness for Lisa.

He is merely worried that Lisa would be hurt. Of course the other lords see Lisa presence as an insult.

Lisa, who is hot tempered, and easily provoked, and so oblivious to the kind sir feelings, of course views the Ser as someone who belittles her.

I was on the back watching. I will not enter the battle this time.

I am gauging the troops experience, their strength and weakness.

But I still supervise them and if somehow the enemies force reached here then I will enter but that is unlikely.

Lisa can handle the small punitive troops that the commander of the fort sends. And I don’t understand why people would enclose themselves in a Fort.

It only makes thing easier. I know where they are and I have also the means to destroy the Fort.

If it was me, I would gamble and attack with my remaining forces and maybe I could very well escape and plan another strategy.

A fortress is a military mistake in a way. A symbol of isolation. An easy targets for the enemies. Designed to defend, fortresses actually cut you off from help and you lose your maneuverability.

They may appear impregnable, but once you retire to a fortress everyone knows where you are, and a siege does not have to succeed to turn the fort into a prison.

With small and confined spaces, a fortress are prone to plague and contagious disease.

In a strategic sense, the isolation of a fortress provides no protection, and actually creates more problems than it solves.

Enclosing myself in Fort? Sacrificing my maneuverability and flexibility? Inconceivable. The fortress.

High up on the hill, the citadel becomes a symbol of all that should not be done. Isolation.Cut off from communication and information, the citadel will fall with ease.

Fort is meant to delay while the reinforcement came. But face with an army who have a lot of supplies, fort are merely a standing stone.

Ser West is in charge of the sieging division this time.

“Fire” I heard he yelled.

And the catapults unleashed waves of stones, bringing death and pain burning stone, destroying some structures in the high fort and burning the archers in the arrow slits and the men stationed at the top.

The skies were blazing with flames. Anyone whom sees this battle from far away would have think flaming stone is falling from the skies.

The enemy troops scream of agony can be heard to here.

Catapults and trebuchets, onager and mangonel and a variety of other siege weapons fired from all sides of the battlefield assaulting the fort and it was like thunder strikes the Fort.

Explosion that shakes the earth, stones walls cracked and debris fallen, fire forming into a vine of unstoppable madness surrounding the forts, smokes billowing to the skies, blocking the noses and sight of enemies and allies alike, smell of charred corpse, the voice of the tormented could be heard.

Fires everywhere and the sound of the crash can make a person heart fell. The winter cold can be felt no longer.

Lisa is almost done routing the assault force and she returned back letting her troops to contain the rest of the enemies.

‘How did I do?’ she said a little blood decorate her white cheek. She smiled

‘Good, though you almost overreach your sphere of attack. Do not let them extend your unit to far from the main unit.’

‘I need to do such thing to gain the approval of the other lords, or their incessant nagging and disapproval will be all I hear during this expedition.’

I nodded.

‘If you’re fine with it, then it’s fine for me.’ And I turn back my view to the battle that is raging in front of me.

Then West quickly bring his horse forward and orders the man to bring the battering rams and with incredible force they ram the fort front door.

“AGAIN” West yelled

“You traitor to the North!” the commander yelled from high on the tower to West.

West expression was blank.  I know this would be hard for him but West endures.

For what? I know the answer. Honour. Honour without a fault. Then suddenly oil ran down the fort wall.

‘OH GODI!’ I said

‘What Lord Arial!’ Lisa said shocked that I yelled

 I yelled to the troops who I could see battering the fort door not knowing what awaits them. I yelled using my internal energy to amplify my words

‘RUN!’

West realizes it and also orders the same thing. The troops also realized. They ran in anguish. Some slips and then the fire came for them.

Fire stones and burning arrows were shot to the oil that drips to the bottom of the walls and the fire danced and licked the body of my armies.

Their screams and shrill were signs of great unspeakable pain. The flame rolling creating smoke from the bodies of man.

Those who tripped get swallowed by the unrelenting fires.

An inferno happened and we could see some of the troops the fire all over him, and he drop to the ground, only screaming, so painful that it brings fear to my troops.

I could see it in their eyes. The heat was oppressive even from this far. It seems the commander of the North Fort is not totally incapable.

The howling wind only makes the fire more ravaging, and smokes are raining down on us. The fort door is fine.

They must coat it with something before the siege begun. They have planned this all along.

‘Do we retreat my lord?’ some of the lords asked

‘Retreat? We press on. The end of the war will come after we defeated and occupy this fort and marched to Dented Shield. The road to peace is so close now and you expect me to retreat?’

‘Then we press on,’ says the lord. I nodded.

It was chaos, with the screaming and the people running from the fire but still our siege division is safe because they are far.

West is heading back, safe from the archers arrows. The troops who were on fire screamed until they turn to charred corpse and rest on the ground.

The battle continued.

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

HENRY PALAIS

The news of the dragon attack has finally been relayed to me.

Arial the Dragon has brought his claws to the North, bringing fear and fire to the North, vowing to conquer it in this expedition.

But that is not what is in my mind right now. The letter in my hand. I have read it. It seems Arial is asking my cooperation. To end this war in a swift manner, betray Lord Alderam.

Should I? Should I not? What should I do? This is a dilemma.

Betrays him and branded a turn cloak or resist and I may very well be executed by the dragon forces when they win the war.

By now, there is no doubt that the dragon will win.

Even with this rumoured help from Vern, it might not stop the dragon advance. They are committed to win this war.

But…there is the matter of my relative in the captivity of Alderam. The young lord already knows.

It seems my son has already told him about our arrangement.

That stupid, honourable son of mine. But no matter, how stupid my decision seems to be, I have made my choice.

I am not a man without determination. I too, have my own honour.

I threw the letter in the fireplace and I watch as the flame lick and swallow the letter turning it into ash.

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

ZHANG LIAO BAO

After learning the Treading on the Wind technique I practiced it every day. My body also felt a little lighter and my fatigue rarely sets in

It energizes the body and makes my mind clearer.

The technique is remarkable.

At night I practice in the palace ground, yet I was never spotted by anyone, moving stealthily like a cat.

In the morning I do my job.

Nowadays in the Forbidden City the talk of the war in the Kingdom of Alan, is the hot gossip among the officials and the nobles.

When I discovered the hidden passage it was not only that chamber I found. It seems the passage is connected to all the Palace in the Forbidden City.

So at night I prowled in the secret passage hearing the plots crafted behind the Emperors back, information that might benefit me some day, with no one realizing anything, while I heard them from the secret passage, peeking on them in a secret hole.

And I also found the creator of the passage though mostly it is conjecture. I intend to find out more about Leliana so I went to the Hall of Literature to find some information.

It seems Leliana did disappear. The Empress that Disappeared, her title is known among the royal families.

After she birthed Justinian, she disappeared, no one know where she run to, and why the Emperor never search for her.

Whatever happens it was, or seems to be, the Emperor fault or he will not wrote that poem to her, hoping she forgive him.

And it seems, though unverified, that this passage is her creation to run from the Forbidden City when she is under heavy guard.

Then there is the matter of the Kingdom of Alan.

In Vern, it seems House of Verman sent some troops to aid Alderam. From what I heard the other nobles is very dissatisfied.

Many believe the new King with the help of the House of Vermont, who from my information said a very influential family in Kingdom of Alan, who even coronate the King on his throne, will win the war.

So, the other noble try not to offend the winning side which seems to lean to the new King. And this disobedience by the Verman family may cause an amiable alliance.

While in the palace, rebellion is brewing, and plots and factions are formed.

With the growing power of House Austen in the border and the threats of the rebellion by the Blood Brotherhood, the Emperor is in tight spot right now.

Emperor of these days has only one job. Not to take more lands or conquest of the other nation but their one and sole purpose is to keep the peace.

Imperial power has long diminished and in decline the moment the other Kingdoms regains their independence.

Now the world power is the rising Kingdom of Alan with its trade and bountiful harvest, and the land of the Sun, Renasia.

After learning the technique I searched again, the chamber and I found another manual. Devil Absorbing Technique.

It is a dark technique of martial art. It sucks someone internal energy.

If their internal energy is weak, I will have an easier time and gain an increase in my own internal energy.

But if someone stronger than me, resist my absorption technique and stronger than me, then I might suffer side effects.

So, you need to have a keen eye on choosing your enemies. But it’s also dangerous.

From what I understand if I want to learn this technique, I need to find a white Scorpion from Cori which there is a lot of White Scorpion, an opal black Lizard, the Seven Colored Bats, the Silver Fox in Vorthy, and the Red Serpent of Renasia and take their venom and mix them in one of the container I found in this chamber, which by my guess, belongs to the first emperor and then added Devil Rot poison into the venom and drink it.

After that I must reverse the flow of my internal energy for 2 weeks every night without even one day missing to do it or I run the risk the internal energy exploded inside me, crippling me for life.

Then only a month later I can begin practicing the technique.

At first I didn’t want to learn it, but realizing this technique can also be useful to complement my Treading on the Wind technique I sought to learn this.

For any normal man….to search for all these poisonous animal is hard and almost impossible but this is the Forbidden City.

Everything is here.

I know where the Emperor hides all this animal. And with my lightness skill I can go in there undetected.

And so begin my days of learning another technique.

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