AOH – Chapter 58

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CHAPTER 58: TEMPUS FUGIT

ANVALI

THE YOUNG DEMON KING

AZRAEL MOURNSTAR

My reign has just begun.

A young King, I am, as the law dictates when my father abdicated and spend his life outside the palace, resting and no longer he is entwined in the politics of the court, no longer he has to fend of plots and intrigue.

Every day I have to administer the 8 great clans as the Protector of the realm.

The Orc King, the Fairy King, though the last time it was a fairy queen, the Elves Council which rules in place of their King, and the other prominent race of Anvali.

My father abdicated and as the sole heir to the Kingdom, naturally it falls to my shoulder the heavy responsibility of governing this Kingdom.

And how heavy it is the task of governing and ruling.

Scuffles between the 8 Great Kings are common place but as the King that sits on the Arakath Throne, it is my duty and my responsibilities to end their discord peacefully and with civility.

One of the most essential ingredients of great statesmanship is trust, and especially expressing trust.

And though I know some of them are not confident of my rule, I must and have to trust that in time, the Kings could and will follow me.

It has been many moons since Ariana left the capital. She did not send any letters and I’m beginning to worry about her.

She was not tasked to act as an envoy but she insisted, saying that she want to help the royal family. My father is overjoyed of course but I was not.

I worried for her, and for her peerless beauty, because I know how her beauty can mislead men, weaker men with weak hearts and flawed morale and honour, and the rumour I heard about the Vern Emperor is that he is lecherous.

But Ariana convince me that surely the emperor will not do anything untoward to the future Queen of Anvali.

So, she takes upon a great task of once again establishing trade with the Human continent. Even now there are ministers in my court that is insistently asking me and actively campaigning to me to mount an attack to the human continent.

Of course I argue to them that the human Continent have the Bleeding Wall created by Alan and Alexander the First Emperor of Vern Empire, who has fallen 500 years ago, who even now still stand and remain an impregnable Wall that keep our race from ever again penetrating into the heartland of the human continent.

But I know the issue of the Human continent is a sore subject for some.

Especially for the people of my court and those who romanticize the good old days, where Demon Lords prospers and have full authority over the human, a view which me and my father detest and speaks in derision.

But why is it that it is a sore subject? It is because we were defeated and humiliated both in history and in our conduct of that time

After all even in our history it prominently display how once, our Kingdom is so prosperous, and it is thought that no one can defeat us, but Levitia, a human, change the rules.

He showed that humans might be fragile and weak…but they can learn from their weakness and the year of persecution only led them to the inevitable conclusion where the Demon Lords are rid out from Davarus, humiliated and badly defeated by a human so great of virtue and human might.

And with it came their vengeance, a vengeance wroth upon the demon lords for all the sins we have done to the human population.

Levitia who acts as the hammer that dole out his justice, even as far as to incite such terrible fears among the Demon population.

If that is not enough, he march to the Blessed Land intending to, as many Demon Lords believed at that time, the one known at that time as Levitia the Scourge, the Great Hero and Avenger came to annihilate every single Demons in Anvali, to ease his vengeful heart and showed the power of human might.

If the history is correct, and the old stories is true, it is said that every Priest of the Dark God weep and cry in their Dome, pleading, praying, to God that dwells in the shadow to hide us, to deliver us from the darkness and the impending doom that looms ahead, Levitia the Avenger, the Undefeated Hero, the Liberator, who came with his army, strong and mighty bent on his vengeance towards the demonic race.

Even now, many of the common birth tells the story of Levitia the Avengers warning that if they act naughty, that Levitia will come for them.

It is interesting.

In Human Continent, he is loved and in some region he is even deified as a God, revered and respected, while here, he is feared and regarded as the Scourge of our Kingdom, an Avenger sent by God for our sins, our greatest regret and mistake when we underestimate him.

But the march?

But of course his famous march, and whatever he intended to do…never happened. If not, not even a shred of our civilization might survive his anger.

So great his strength and the threats he posed against the Kingdom at the time. The march. Which even now is a matter of debate among scholars and historians.

Some say, he find mercy in his heart to spare the population of the demonic race, which is one of the most popular theory, because it is said that in his later years he is a little bit peaceful.

Some say, he gained some great knowledge in the Blessed Lands and decided to hide this knowledge to fall from anyone so he stop his march.

This theory is propagated by a group of men, who in the library of the Royal family, noted that they no longer exist.

He suddenly stops his march after the Three Wise Men from the Sea speaks to him and he makes a truce and an agreement with the Demon Lords of that time.

The winds blows and the smell of the spring can be smell. Fresh and….calming. I looked at the tables, with the bulk of papers and parchment and scrolls, messily in the table.

So now here I am, in one the chamber in the castle overviewing expenses and reports, complaints and land scuffles from the 8 Kings.

But even though our Kingdom has Kings our rule are controlled by two factions, the Cha’haya and Ge’laer.

Most of the Kings belongs to this both of the faction and I as the full authority between these two faction acts as their arbiter.

My power is immense whether in enacting new law or waging war. Which by all laws of Anvali, they must and will provide support.

But of course these faction functions as advisory capacities. And if one of them feels too slighted by my rule they may not help me in certain task.

Tomorrow I will meet the Ge’laer faction and in that very evening I will meet the Cha’haya faction to discuss about our economy.

We do not trade with the human continent but we do trade with Asteros in the far south and Vorthy in the far north.

Then a knock came

‘Who is it?’ I asked

‘It’s me, Elkar, your courtier your Grace’

‘Enter’ Elkar enter the room

‘Did you bring the tax report?’

‘Yes, Your Grace.’

He opens the bag and began placing the documents and parchment in the table. I quickly arranged the other parchment so it will not disturb this new batch of reports and ledgers.

I rub my forehead.

‘A little tired, Your Grace?’

‘A little bit. Sit down Elkar and do help me with my load.’

‘As you wish your grace.’

So we work in silence reviewing reports and overseeing any errors in the expenses and the treasury. Elkar look uncomfortable with all the silence.

He was my attendants and he usually does not like to speak but we have known long enough, for me to treat him more a friend than servant.

‘So your grace, you will meet both the faction tomorrow.’ He said trying to make a light conversation, not knowing he just touched upon one of the most complicated and sensitive subject in the palace court.

‘Yes.’ then I sighed

‘Your Grace?’

‘Cha’haya and Ge’laer.’ I said, sighing again. They are…..highly divisive and both of them is a pain.

‘Ge’laer ……is an insurgent outlier.’ I said, as I began my ranting of both of this political faction in my court.

Not like the time of days past where they are the champion of justice and the one who advise Mikael Mournstar the King who Lost to seek peace with Levitia.

But now? So different with their extreme views

Which would only anger Levitia, if  Ge’laer faction at that time acted like now, and might even bring Anvali at that time to his great and terrible wrath.

‘How so, Your Grace?’ Elkar asked.

I looked at him. My trusted confidante.

Elkar is the one who help me in many things regarding rumors in the palace and the plots that even I am not aware of during my early years and Elkar is there beside me telling me all of this vital information, plots and intrigue, protecting me but of the faction even he did not have that many influence to know about them, so I promote him to a courtier position so that he might best serve me.

I always share everything with him.

‘Let me tell you’ I said and I began my explanation and my feverish ranting of the dangers that this faction posed.

‘It has become ideologically extreme and violent, contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime that I try to enact for the good of our race; scornful of compromise usually about the Lost Lands and their unyielding hatred to humans; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and morality;that humans are capable to live peacefully and they are not a subspecies of the Demonic race, which evidence by Levitia feats, and dismissive of the legitimacy of its faction opposition, all but declaring war on the throne. If there is even a hint of their treasonous thoughts I would not tolerate them even for a second.’

‘Then Cha’haya is better?’ Elkar said

I smiled a bitter smile.

‘Cha’haya, while is no paragon noble virtue, is more diverse and flexible, protective of the throne, a loyalist through and through, open to changes and they did try though unsuccessfully to try to compromise with the Ge’laer faction. This asymmetry and rivalry with faction that sometimes could lead to war among the 8 Kings, is protected by many lords, in what they believe is a balance of power and equal voice in my governance but actually the factions constitutes a huge obstacle to effective governance.’

‘So both are not good?’

‘Yes, but it is the customs of my father, and my father before him, and his father before him. And Elkar, if there is something I learn…Tradition dies hard.’

‘That is true’ Elkar said.

And then we sit in silence as we poured over the documents.

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

THRONE ROOM

‘Your Grace I have a disturbing new to report to you’ a messenger I sent to monitor the lord movement come to the throne room after all the minister have dismissed themselves after the meeting in the morning.

‘Yes? Tell me’

‘Mila Devonhurst has raise his banner, and begun marching’

‘What!’

Father in law? Why?

‘Why?’ I asked the messenger.

‘He believes that something has happened to her daughter in the Human Continent after so long he lost contact with her. Many of the other Lords and the Orc King persuaded Lord Mila that his daughter might be killed, and the human is responsible for it.’

I smashed my hand into the stone table.

‘DOESN’T HE KNOWS HE IS RISKING WAR WITH THE HUMAN CONTINENT?’

We could not afford to engage in war or even the appearance we are preparing a war against the humans.

If he did this, the Ge’laer faction might pressure me to aid him and also goes to the Human Continent.

even though we only intended to search for Mila daughter, which is what I believed what Lord Mila is trying to do, it will undoubtedly be exploited by Ge’laer faction, and the Old Traditions.

It will probably not received in such warm feeling from the humans who still, even after a 1000 years treats us like we are so evil.

I will not deny that what the Demon Lords did is not honourable and the cruelty is beyond human understanding, but it has been a long and arduous journey and even though my father did try a reconciliation path with the humans their immediate reactions when they encounter a demon race in their land, they will immediately killed them, no trials, no question.

Is it fears that governs them or prejudice? I bit the edge of my lip.

This needs to be handled with great forbearance.

‘Elkar’ I yelled

Elkar who is in the next chamber heard and rushed.

‘Your Grace!’ His voice is urgent no doubt he felt the feeling in the throne room.

‘Dispatch General Balefor and tell him to lead a 1000 cavalry to stop the advance of Lord Mila before he reach the Blessed Lands. Tell him the fate of the Kingdom depends on it. Tell him, if he failed to do what I asked, he will be demoted, his property seized. Ask the details from this messenger’ I gestured to the messenger.

Elkar nodded.

Then I ordered them to also inform Lord Mila that this is a royal edict. He must listen if he did not want to brand a traitor.

I was left alone in the throne room.

Not even a yearlong in my rule and there is already potential of war. War it seems excites every male blood, and it was like we desire it.

We know nothing about the human race other than what we learn from the book.

I think that it should be a general rule that before you kill and wage a war against a population, you have to see them, up close and personal and get to know the people you are about to war against.

The burden is heavy. And war is not a burden I want to carry. I would not let my name be indignified, muddy in history as a King who started the Great War.

And at this kind of time, times of uncertainty and doubts I remember of Ariana and her sweet playing, divine paying of the lyre and harp.

Is it true? A tugging sensation gripped my heart. Did something really happen at her on the human Continent?

I felt nervous all of a sudden. Calm yourself I said to myself.

Whatever it is, I need to have a discussion with Mila fist before we really march to the Human Continent. I need to approach this with rationality.

She might meet her brother who is now travelling the Human Kingdom. Thinking about Mikael. I have half a mind of promoting Mikael as one of my advisors.

He is smart and wise beyond his years, a paragon of virtue, and very insistence that though we might rule with military might we must need, essential, he said, to care about the people plight and their burden to create a prosperous and peaceful nation.

I heard one of his opinions on governing. He wanted, wished really, that a philosopher King will sit on the throne.

He said with enthusiasms, that no matter how hard the circumstances might be, a king that is wise and virtuous must tried their best to uphold the virtues of wisdom and moderation in his dealings.

A wise King must surround himself with persons of high literary and knowledge and people of great talents.

A King that is ruled by a mind of virtue and wisdom, dedicated to the enrichment of life.

I smile a little.

Ariana always talk about her brother.

She respect her brother, loved her like any other sister loved their bother, but her brother, she said has sometimes a face he doesn’t show to her, a scar, wound covered so brilliant, that only those who also receive it can see it and felt it.

She always said to me that his brother and his father always spoke of their mother with hushed tones, like some secret she might not heard.

Thinking about Ariana, then my mind reels back to the stark possibilities in front of me right now.

And there is a problem with Mila Devonhurst reasoning.

Any kind of march will alert the human population especially now that we have to pass Alan to go to Vern.

We, of course can pass through the use of ships but the waves around the dark sea is rough and not only that, we are not proficient in the use of ships and if somehow the humans who especially Vern, who have an impressive navy and Vorthy who is most of the time neutral, but not entirely unpersuaded join the human race, or ally with them, then I might as well send my people to die.

And I also heard the family that lives in Alan the Vermont’s have strengthened the wall, recruiting trained soldier to guard the 30 towers along the shore, the towers were maintained, repaired, some upgraded, for what I don’t know, but they served as the defense of the realm and I even sent some scouts there to look at their defense.

And he has reported it to me. They are highly discipline and highly loyal to the Vermont’s.

Whoever this Vermont family is they have strengthened the defense of the wall, which makes if ever, the ambition to reclaim backs the Lost Land harder if not impossible.

I know the stories.

It is said that the wall is created by Alan but in the bottom of the wall it is strengthen with magic by Lady of the Lake, giving it one of the hardest defense to penetrate.

Normal arrows don’t work and even siege weapons could not break such defense.

That is the reason why some of the Kings prefer to pursue a diplomatic relations with them, to open their gates and allow us to come and trade because we need a lot of things from them.

Asteros has stuff but not all stuff.

The hatred runs deep and the blood and sacrifice the human endures gives them a reasonable apprehension toward our presence but 1000 years has passed.

I believe that we can reign in a more beautiful world. At least that is what I learned when I gaze upon Ariana face.

A beautiful woman, with peerless beauty, that makes me dreams a world that is beautiful like her.

Either way I need to talk about this where he got his information. Or is it just his suspicion?

If…and somehow my anger rises, that the Human Continent treats my bride to be horribly, I will lead the charge myself.

And I know its I contradicting of my intention…but I can take so much, then there will be a time when I could not take it anymore.

Because if anything happens to Ariana, my Ariana I will never forgive them. It is the one thing, the only thing I couldn’t tolerate.

There are times when a man must fight and what a reason more justified than protecting the one you love?

Because she is my passion, my life, my sun and the stars in the sky that shines in the morning and glitter in the darkest night, that shines so brightly, illuminating my path for me.

I would not let anything happen to her.

But I need to be calm and rational before I decide to do something so rash as marching to the Human continent.

I know some Kings are waiting for such opportunity.

The Human Continent is in a way is more bigger than Anvali and even more fertile, with foods and trees and their mountains.

They are eager, greedy for what the benefit it will have in our population. But I prefer diplomacy. Until of course, words prove useless.

Then, it will be war. Now I wait as the events are unfolding.

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