AOH – Chapter 68

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CHAPTER 68: HIS STORY II

BATTLEFIELD

What happens to Arial is something no one could expect. It was shocking, unexpected and unprecedented.

Maybe because he look so capable, we didn’t expect this. No one thought he would be attacked in such a sneak attack.

I could see it from afar as he slid down his horse and fall into the muddy ground, holding and removing the spear from his chest, blood spurting out.

The sound of him falling from his horse, Firebringer almost halted the entire battle. The soldiers stopped and look at his falling bodies, their heart thumping and fear crept into their hearts.

Arial the Dragon!

The pillar of the invasion army, the great commander of the Northern expedition. If he falls in battle, the morale will plummeted.

Even though he just defeated the enemy’s lords the joy is short-lived after the attack to Arial succeeded.

The troops gasped in shock. Some was so distracted that they forgot to push the attacks.

Seeing their young lord fall reduce the morale of the troops greatly. As high as the reputation that the dragons have, so does the fall.

“FETCH HIM, WEST!’ Kyle yelled from the other side of the battle.

I rush with my horse, my knight behind me helping me advance, stomping on the dead corpse to get as fast as possible to my lord.

I quickly brought him back while Kyle and the other lords held back the enemies troops. The troops open a path for us to safely transport the lord. I could hear Arial is whispering.

‘Pain’ he whispered, his face contorted into the most indescribable torment.

I could see from afar that Lisa face is worried, a face that she surely would not have shown if it was me that is inflicted with such fate.

Using some of the knowledge I have I quickly apply some medicine to his wound. My pouch has some herbs, thanks to Agnaris training in Survival lesson.

Always brought healing herbs and powdered moonstone enchanted by Archmage. Though that one is hard to get, but my father give it to me when I was ten and two.

His blood that flowed out from the wound is pure black. And it wouldn’t stop bleeding. I have some suspicion of what ails him…but I pray I was wrong.

I try to channel my internal energy but it is blocked somehow. Quickly I rubbed the powdered moonstone but he screeched in pain but at least the bleeding slowed down.

‘Hang in there, Arial’ I whispered

He is poisoned.

But what kinds of poison that have such an effect like this? I have never seen a poison like this. But whatever poison it is, it seems Arial is in a terrible pain.

There is no other way of saying it. This is unhonorable conduct to attack someone sneakily like this.

That unhonourable Alderam. That coward! Hiding behind his castle walls as he returned to his hiding after finishing his deeds.

I glance at the castle wall and I did not even see his shadow as their troops cheered.

‘The dragon have fallen’ they yelled

Not only he attack his opponent in such a despicable manner but also even using poison.

Then Lisa went to our path while my troops formed encirclement around the area to deter any attackers from coming here.

In the way of her coming she slashes anyone on her way. She knows what happen. But she could not be sure. And she is coming to make sure.

This I know.

Lisa came and she jumped from her horse and quickly rushed to Arial side and felt his pulse. Her face turned pale white.

I heard her whisper

‘No,No,No…don’t leave me’

‘He has no pulse’ Lisa said stricken with worried and she hugged Arial, her eyes filled with tears, her cheeks which are red because of the blood that cover her face is washed away as she cried there, right in the battlefield.

It reminds me of a painting of Leliana grieving over the death of her lover.

‘No, no, no’ she cried and her expression is bewildered

I separate Arial body from Lisa. Then for confirmation I felt his pulse and I feel it. It is faint but it is there. I turned my attention to Lisa who is frozen there.

‘Calm down. His pulse is erratic but he is still alive’ I said

‘Really?’ She said and her eyes finally become clear and her colour returned and hearing that Arial is alive thankfully, that calms her down. I ordered Lisa to open a path for us

‘Open a path for us to return to Headquarters.’ I said, ordering her. Lisa nodded.

‘Take care of him, West’ she said. I nodded

With a last glance she led her banner man to open a path as I jumped to my horse with Arial on my back and sprinted to safety.

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

ARIAL TENT

‘How is he?’ Lisa barges into the tent.

Her armour is red with blood and her eyes are red. Bloodshot and swollen.

She had cry. Horribly, if I were to hazard a guess. I looked at Arial. She cried for him. She smiles for him. She worried about him.

She…..loves him. How lucky to be him? For one moment, I felt envy towards Arial. I have neevr felt envois of Arial.

He has his fame, I have mine. He has his wealth, I have mine. But this? Seeing that she cried for him it made me envious for the first time.

Speared and terminally ill, but to gain her love.

Though I doubt Arial knows. He is after all very single minded. I look at Lisa again. This is tragedy waiting to happen. Lisa can’t have him.

And deep down, I think she knows.

‘What are you looking at me for West? How is he?’ she said raising her voice.

She is worried sick for him.

‘He is…fine, for now.’

Kyle then enters.

‘Where is he?’ Then he saw Arial in the bed.

He rushed to Arial bed.

‘BROTHER!’ He yelled

‘WAKE UP. YOU ARROGANT LITTLE PRICK! I SAID I WILL RIDE BESIDE YOU, DIDN’T I! I SAID NOT TO ENGAGE.I SAID-’ And he got choked up as he try to contain his tear.

‘Brother’ Lisa said in a low tone, trying to console Kyle

The other lord also began pouring into Arial tent. There is silence as Kyle suddenly looks left and right then he looked back at the bandage

‘Who did this?’ Kyle said looking at the bandage

‘I did, Ser Kyle’ he looked at me suspiciously.

‘Did you check the wound?’

‘Not in detail. I just apply some bandage and some herbs to slow the bleeding before a healer could come.’

Kyle ripped the bandage

‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING, BROTHER!’ Lisa yelled.

‘Can’t you feel it little sister. The energy in this tent. Arial is using is internal energy unconsciously. His body is oozing internal energy. Keep this up and he will die.’

He checked the wound.

Lisa comes closer as she looks at her brother searching, looking intently at the wound.

‘What are you looking for brother?’

‘Something. Anything’ he said and then his eyes caught something.

‘There it is! Bring me hot water.’

Lord Paris orders the troops outside to bring hot water.

The basin is then brought before him and he wash his hand and then on the tiny hole that is formed around Arial heart he scratched with his finger until something fell from the wound and Arial face which is contorted in pain before relaxes.

‘What is that?’ Lisa said as I and the other lords approached the bed and looked at the object that fell from Arial wounds.

‘A shard.’

Then what happen before us is something miraculous I never thought could happen. The wound almost like magic, started healing itself, the profuse bleeding a moment ago stopped like it was being plugged and Arial breathing becomes a lot smoother.

‘Can you do the bandages again West?’ he said sounding calmer than before.

I nodded.

‘Lisa, help him’ Kyle said and he rushed out from the tent.

And I could hear his word outside the tent speaking to the other lords that is waiting outside the tent. Lord Paris also rushed out

‘My lords’ he said ‘we need to fortify our defenses and tomorrow we need to sally an assault.’

‘What do you think about that plan lord Paris?’ He asked.

Lord Paris is the regent if somehow Arial fall in battle. It was decided before in the military meetings.

Lord Paris nodded.

‘I agree. For now the safety of our lord need to be protected.’

That night I and Lisa are in the tent helping Arial. Lisa is trying to transfer her internal energy to Arial but it didn’t work.

‘Why do you think that is?’ I asked her.

‘His body is rejecting it or maybe the poison is. Maybe after the healer came we will be clearer on what poison that Alderam put on his spear.’ She said.

I could see her eyes are baggy and her face is pale. She is exhausted and I know transferring internal energy without stopping is not easy.

‘Go rest’ I asked Lisa.

She shakes her head.

‘No, it is fine.’

‘You will get sick Lisa. Let me take care of him.’

‘I SAID I’M FINE AREN’T I!’ she yelled.

Then she went out from the tent again and brought some fresh towel to wipe off Arial sweat. She traces her hand around the bandages wearing an expression only a mourning lover would wear.

 Then suddenly she stopped.

And then she look at Arial with an unreadable expression and she hold her heart and her face turns sorrowful and tears streamed down her cheeks.

Her breathing becomes uneven.

‘A..ri..al’ she cried stuttering as her throat become….parched, choked with indescribable pain. True pain I mused.

This is what she felt.

True pain. I hate to admit it but such pain can only exist if there is…….and this is where it gets hard for me…….only if there is love.

Seeing Arial like this…hurts her more than she could expect. And seeing her like that…..pains me.

‘Arial! Arial! Arial. Arial! What do I do?’ she said as she cried her heart out.

‘I couldn’t lose you. I promise!’ She cried.

‘I promise Helia. I promise Uncle and Aunty that I will protect you. That you will return home. That we will return home together’

I know why she is worried. Arial is……inflicted with something no one knows. Whatever the poison is, it is rare. And coupled with his injury, not many people survive.

I moved to her side and hugged her.

‘Let me go’ she cried.

I gripped tighter.

‘Stop it Lisa. He is going to be fine.’

‘IS HE?’ She yelled

‘Because he doesn’t look fine. He is pale and the energy that is emanating from his body is unnatural. What if he die-‘

‘HE will not. But you can’t cry like this. I understand’ I said.

‘YOU DON’T!’ I gripped her tighter and force her to look at me. I then said, with sincere words, hoping for her, to stop torturing herself.

‘It hurts doesn’t it? I know why you cry. Believe me, I know. Maybe not the same way in what you are feeling now but I know. Because no matter how hard you try to change something or how bad you want to escapes from what is happening now, you can’t. That frustration, that knowledge that whatever you can do will be futile, that pain just stays in one place. In there!’ I said as I pointed at her heart

‘Then one small tear escape from those eyes that water constantly. That tears is a means of escape. It is the heaviest thing in the world. And it doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change anything. So stop. Stop it. Because I couldn’t bear seeing you like this. Because seeing you like this is breaking my heart. So please…stop. And I hate it’

‘Why do you hate it?’ she said, trying to stifle her own tears.

‘The fact you are crying for him. I hate it. I hate it when you cry for another man in front of me’ and that shut her up.

It takes me a while before she calms down herself.

‘It will be alright.’ I looked at her and she have calmed down.

‘I’m sorry’ she said

‘It’s fine.’

‘No, it’s not.’

‘I know what you feel for him. I understand that.’

‘But even so-‘

‘It is alright.’

‘Thank you’

‘Go outside. Go to your tent and sleep. Let me take care of Arial’

‘But-‘

‘No, but.’

‘Go.’ she nodded.

I looked back at Arial.  He is lucky. And he doesn’t even know it

Arial are a lot of things. Formidable warrior, a smart strategist and very capable lord but he is dense.

I still remember the time in the Academy together. Many girls drop a lot of hint to him but he never got it.

Maybe because he is always outside solving quest and dedicated to his quest. But how could he not have realized Lisa loves him?

Even Kyle as dense as him realized it when Lisa is crying and screaming for the enemy’s blood after Arial fall in battle.

And as the night turns to dawn a new day welcomed us.

I help in the following days changing his bandages and sip water to his mouth. The energy in the tent is weird.

Unnatural. Sometimes it is extreme cold, sometimes it is extreme heat. In the morning of the fourth day, I could feel Lisa is beside me.

‘Up all night?’ she asked when I open my eyes. By God, she looks beautiful, illuminated by the morning sunlight.

‘Did you sleep?’ She asked again

‘A little before dawn’ I said.  And then she looked at me and our eyes met and she blushed and then she said.

‘I….never thank you for what you did for Arial’

I smile

‘Now could be a good time’ I said.

She smiles a little. It is beautiful. She rarely smiles for me. How I wished her smile is mine.

‘Then…thank you Ser West. I will repay you someday.’

Lisa then approached the bed and looked at Arial again. She leaned to touch him and I stooped her.

‘You want to transfer your energy again?’ She nodded.

‘That is enough don’t you think? You, yourself said it didn’t work.’

‘Maybe…….. But maybe today is different.’

She releases herself from my grip. I just shake my head

Then Lisa tries to channel her energy and she felt it. She quickly removed her hand as she looked at Arial movement.

‘He has return.’ And her face turns to joy

I realized what she means.

‘I will call the other lords here.’ I said as I rushed outside and called and assembly to Arial tent.

The troops also heard the news and waited outside the tent to pray for Arial joining those who were already her the first day of Arial fall.

We waited until slowly Arial open his eyes, still weak from what I see but he clearly knows where he is.

‘My lord you are awake’ some exclaimed. Lisa moved away from the bed and went outside to call her brother.

‘Praise the Light.’ Lord Sumersill said. Lord Summersill is summoned yesterday by Lord Paris with the news that Lord Arial is hurt in battle. He quickly rushed last night to come.

‘Lord Arial’ I said bowing while I see Lisa rushed towards his bed and hugged him tightly, tears streaming down her eyes.

I felt a little jealous

‘WHY DID YOU LET ME WORRY! I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD!’ she said while looking at his chest with apprehension.

‘Did it hurt?’ she said

He smiles

‘It is fine, Lisa.’

‘YOU SCARED ME TO DEATH!’ Kyle said entering the tent. While Arial smiles like he is amused at the spectacle.

‘You smile?’ Kyle ask incredulous

‘How could I not?’ Kyle just shakes his head.

‘How is the battle?’ Arial asked

‘THE BATTLE! You almost lost your life, dear friend!’

‘The battle’ he said more forcefully and this time he turned to the other lord.

It seems Arial ignored Kyle and this only makes Kyle fumed with anger. Arial is Kyle lord but he is also friends with him, an unusual relationship to say the least.

Lisa grabbed his hand and looked at him with worried all plastered on her face. I envy that look she gives him.

A look of love.

And once again, I’m amazed at the dense Arial. Even with such look, can he not see?

‘Rest, Arial! Please just rest, Arial!’ She said looking at him with her red eyes.

‘I don’t think I can’ Arial said while smiling a faint smile. She cast her glance downwards as a sign of resignation of Arial stubbornness.

‘Lord Paris, give me the report’ He said and quickly Lord Paris startled quickly give him the report

‘We are still fighting my lord but for this past few days it has turned into a stalemate, our troops low on its morale while the enemies is still waiting reinforcement from the Verman which has been reported engaged in battle at Shanhai Pass in Vern. So right now we have the advantage of number because the castle seems like it will succumbed to our sieging in any moment but the lack of morale and fighting spirit among the troops will prove to be difficult. Praise the Light that you have woken up my lord. Surely the troops will regain back their fighting spirit.’

‘Are they outside waiting to hear whether I die or live?’

‘I….yes my lord. They were waiting. And surely their morale will soar when they hear that you are alive and well, my lord’ he said with joy in his tone

‘This evening I will do some round around the barracks. Tell the other lords. I will not forgive lack of discipline.’

‘But my lord…, this could not do. Not in your condition’ some lord pointed out

Lisa nodded then she tries to persuade Arial

‘You just woke up, literally from death. I felt your pulse when you were thrown off your house and I can’t feel your pulse. You were dead for a few second.’

‘And now I’m back to the world of the living. And, dear Lisa, I want to keep it that way. Is there no healer here?’ he gestured to Lord Paris again

‘Some were called from the nearby cities my lord and by the evening surely he will come here, after all I sent some of our best men to fetch the healer.’

He nodded.

Healers are in scarcity in the North. After we called the healer in the first day of Arial incident, we got a report that many have moved to the South so the riders were ordered to go and fetch some of them.

After Battle of Berth, many fear that the battle in Dented Shield wills involve many more loss of lives so all of them chose to migrate to the other part of the Kingdom.

He looked at his bare chest now scarred but bandage by poultice, and it seems it stopped the bleeding and helped with the healing.

‘Who did this then?’ he gestured to the herb poultice and the bandage around his heart.

‘Ser West did.’ Lisa said, her eyes glanced to me, an expression of gratitude. My face turned red and I nodded

‘Knowledgeable’ Arial compliment.

‘Survival, my lord. Knight Agnaris teach me that.’

‘Ah yes, Agnaris’ he said ‘Tomorrow I will lead the battle myself.’ he declared to everyone assembled.

‘No longer’ he said. ‘I will take that castle tomorrow.’ he said and some of the lords were whispering

‘Tell them to rest today for tomorrow they will be led to victory. Now go do your duty’ he asked

But the lord hesitated to get out of the tent.

‘Do you all doubt my words?’ he said more like a statement than a question

‘But my lord….wouldn’t it be better to rest’ some lords advice

Lisa nodded. So does Kyle and me.

‘I will rest when this war is over. But enough of your words. Go. Eat. Sing. Be merry. Because tomorrow some people will not be here anymore. Tell them, for some of them tomorrow will be their last days and tell them that they will be remembered. Tell them that. Give them comfort. Give them assurance, that they will return home. Go. Tell them. And tonight if you still do not tell them of such thing, I will tell them’

The other noble lord nodded. We all know how headstrong Arial really is.

‘Get well, my lord.’

‘Keep strong’

We all said words of encouragement.

The rest went out but Kyle and Lisa is there. Waiting to talk with him. They are not a lord, but a Knight but none of the other lord dare reprimand them because they all know their relationship with him.

I went outside the tent and return to my tent.

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