AOH – Chapter 86

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CHAPTER 86: THERE BE DRAGONS

1016 LIGHTMONTH

ARIAL VERMONT

LINZI TEMPLE

The chirping of birds and the breeze of the hot air breathe life to me. The air around here is fresh, the mountains and hill create one of the most beautiful scenery I have seen during sunset.

The monks are outside. Some in the inner temple chanting and praying, trying to understand and learn from the Elder Monk.

Some recites the Analects.

Some senior monks is practicing the Calming Movement, while some are practicing their martial arts technique in the Hall of Strength

A month has passed since my journey from Arrandy. Summer has arrived. Usually in summer my father would go the beaches and spend time with my mother.

It is his way of spoiling my mother and my mother usually oblige.

Maybe they brought Adrianna with them too. My sister. She would be three years old by now.

I rarely visit the mansion because of many matters in the castle.

I would like, of course, to spend more time with her. How much has she grown? I wondered

Heat is rising. Summer heat. Sunny days and intermittent showers sometimes occurred. Even the monks can sometimes seem to be sweating mostly new monks.

For the experienced monks they meditate in their chamber and regulate their Qi, their term for internal energy.

Here they do not makes festivities as my people usually do when summer came.

My people spend their times outside their house, kids playing and running around the city, the people plays in the beach.

It can only be achieved because of the peace, so rarely happens, because of strength of Arrandy protector.

My army.

And this kind of season reminds me of my friends and family that I left in Arrandy.

I hope they are doing well. By now, Kyle and West must have arrived at Arrandy and they must have told my family what happen.

Lisa is probably miffed I didn’t tell her, and Helia…..and at this I smiled….she must be furious

The sunny days reminds me of what I always do with them in times of summer. There is a lot of course but certain memories are stronger than some.

In times of summer, and peace I always spend it with Helia, Kyle and Lisa making bonfire and roasted ox meats, and camping around Arrandy, under the clear sky, watching the stars and tell our stories.

It seems a century ago. It seems such innocence is no longer afforded. No longer can be reached.

Time takes it all. Time takes it all, time bear it all. And in the end there is only darkness.

Now we have grown up and responsibilities are weighing on us. Kyle as Lord, Lisa as a lady, and I as their liege lord, a prince and duke, holding power instead being enslaved by it.

I’ve been accustomed to hate nobles but in this timeline, I’m the nobles and I’m determined to make sure this time it is different.

Better.

Outside I can hear the monk is chanting their prayers.

Today I sit in the bench around the gardens, admiring the book I got from Southern Healer. Admiring and learning.

I have learned many things but these book I held on my hand is one of the most profound teaching I have ever encountered and just goes to show how isolated with I am with true knowledge.

To think such books exist in the Human Continent.

Even the library of the Imperial family didn’t have this. To think the Demon Army during the Invasion burned this during the Invasion.

That itself is a crime to knowledge and human history.

The fact that the temple has this kind of book just shows how it is full with many martial art tomes, preserved from Levitia persecution.

The Abbot, thankful I have lent him such precious medical text has lent me the Library for me to peruse.

After all, the cure for Seven Worm Poison is a big deal, one that might help other people inflicted with it.

I almost hope the Abbot will make slow work of translating the text. The Book I hold in my hand and currently reading is the Eight Channels of Power.

Beside me is the Divine Sword Finger technique.

It is one of the unique techniques of the Temple and the Abbot allowed me to see it only for today.

I am not allowed to copy it or bring it home.

He must have thought that I must not understand the intricacies of the technique and lent it to me, not believing I could master it but I am all too familiar with this technique.

Its difference with Levitia technique is not that distant. However right now I’m reading the Eight Channels of Power that explains about the intricacies of internal energy practitioner.

Considering I am more adept at internal energy than other division of study in martial art world, I focused and trying to learn as much as I can.

It is a translated Lost generation books which detail the position and how to regulate the internal energy.

Since I never learned the normal way, this is a great revlation to me.

Levitia technique, most of them illustrated the progression of internal energy, where to channel it and from where I need to release it and no classification or at least one that I can understand.

In the Temple they called the internal energy Qi.

Qi means extraordinary, wondrous. Then there is Jing. A channel, vessel, meridian. Ba which means eight, I noticed translated from another Lost Generation text.

It is no wonder the Temple of Linzi is also called the Temple of Scholars.

And then there is Mai….Movements. Circulation. Pulsation in the channel. It is based on resonance.

Connection between human and nature is everlasting. It is inseparable. Heaven, Humanity and earth which represent three aspects.

The physical, emotional and spiritual.

A system of correspondence brings forth from the Three Teachings and undoubtedly inspires Levitia to create his art.

But this just shows that the Lost Generation also knows this art no doubt owing to the First Generation knowledge.

There is The Three Pure Ones which reflect the interaction of these three forces.

There is white energy, Yang and the black energy Ying and the spiraling center Yuan and represent the three force energy.

Ying, Yang, Yuan.

What interest me are the Yin point, cold energy and black energy. The Ghost point. After reading this book I know my technique is mostly Yang technique.

Hui Yin is the meeting of Ying and has profound influence on the Ying in the body.

That day I read and I read and then after understanding it though not all, I quickly read the Divine Sword finger technique.

Because its familiarity and I have the appropriate internal energy to learn it by 2 hours I have learned 1/3 of the technique and understanding the internal energy makes it easier for me.

Two hours later, I have begun shooting invisible internal energy concentrated in my finger and releasing it like I was shooting an energy beam, and make the vase around the yard blow up.

I could not believe the power it has.

And that is how I use my day until that night where I have learned in haste 2/3 of the books and by night I returned back to the Hall of Tomes and give it back to the Elder Monks and return to my room in the temple.

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1016 LIGHTMONTH

ARIAL VERMONT

LINZI TEMPLE

INNER CHAMBER

The next morning I am summoned to the Abbot Chamber. He must have made progress with the text I assumed.

He greeted me and he asks me to sit down

‘How are you doing this morning?’ he asked.

I nodded and tell him that I am fine. He then looks at me and said.

‘I have good news and a bad news. First I will tell you the good news. The Good news is that there is a cure’

‘The bad news?’ I asked.

‘The bad news is that this cure is not easily obtained.’

I smile 

I have never imagined it to be easy. He said that the treatment it describes is a heart swapping.

‘Heart swapping. How can that be?’ I said.

‘The only way you can survive is if you rip out your heart and swap it with another heart’ He said calmly.

I am flustered.

‘How can you rip your hearts and still be alive?’ I asked

‘There are ways.’ He said

‘All explained in the text. It seems the Lost Generation usually did this in the past.’

‘It can be done?’ I asked in incredulity.

‘Yes.’

‘How?’  Then he explained to me the procedure in detail. Believing the Abbot I then asked

‘So with whom?’

‘Not who. But what? You see any normal human heart subjected to such taxing work will make the heart rotten the moment it enters your body. The poison will infect it.’

‘Then what?’

He almost smile ‘this is ironic but it detailed one treatment they did when one of them were inflicted the same poison.’

‘A dragon heart’ and with that my eyes widened.

‘A dragon heart?’

‘Yes.’

‘A dragon heart?’ I repeat back my question and he nodded. My world spinning. Who would have thought?

If it dragon then…the Dark Lands. Only the Dark Lands still have dragons. And I try to remember with what I know of dragons.

But I know my task here are finished and the Abbot have helped me tremendously. There is no doubt.

‘A dragon heart’ I muttered.

That I certainly understand but even though it looks like a tale only in fairy tales this is my only choice.

And I choose to have faith

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AZRAEL MOURNSTAR.

IN THE WAR TENT

1016 LIGHTMONTH

All my loyal vassal has assembled.

We are in the tent and I have told all of my loyal vassal of what has transpired and the conspiracy that is involved.

There are shocks. Gasp. Anger and disappointment. And now with heavy heart I enter the tent with Silas, the man who made it all possible.

He will be given his honors and gold and many other things but now there is the pressing matter which is the truth.

I can tell the other lord vassal of the agreement I have made with the Vermont across the Sea after tonight.

Silas enter the tent and in his most ceremonious tone

‘I present you…rats’ he said and he chuckled at his own private joke.

I sit down as I stared hard at the two prisoners in front of me now. Their hands and feet are chained, guard posted near me.

If they even try to move, they will have their limbs cut off.

‘Who is Ba’yang?” I asked the moment I look into Aleister eyes.

He spit on the ground and Lord Zenla sock him in the face with a powerful punch and Aleister were thrown back, blood flowing from his lips.

I held my hand and Lord Zenla stop.

‘Your Grace’ he said.

‘That is enough Lord Zenla’

I look at Aleister face.

His hair is messed up, his eyes is swollen no doubt Lord Zenla has punch him before. There is blood gashing from his left arm and a few stiches on his eyebrows.

His noble feature is no longer, replaced with a tired face, tired but still prideful in front of me. It almost unnerved me, the conviction of his pride.

Gruk Vor remains silent. But even he has the same kind of face. Bloody and beaten…but determined

‘Vor, Crow’ I said with a reminisce tone.

‘Two of the Four Heavenly Protectors and you betrayed the Mournstar family? O, what sin! O what indignity to such an illustrious name.’

I would like to end his without torturing them. But they are stubborn and prideful. My threats fall to deaf ears maybe because I am known to have a kind heart.

The questioning leads to nowhere.

Then suddenly Silas spoke.

“There is a story I remembered Your Grace” he said, suddenly his voice startling all those that are present, circling around the tent and the prisoners.

‘Story yes, a story’ he said. Then without any preamble he started his story.

‘There is a courtier in a King court a long time ago, when dragons soar the blue skies, and Gods walk among Men. A courtier of the nobility stock. And they live in this Kingdom ruled by this one King. This Kingdom was in the Western Sea. This King is powerful and wise but he is temperamental. The name of the courtier is Axe and Bar. They are close with each other and counsel each other. Bar is stout, strong and brilliant. His influence is in all directions. He has spies all over the land, woman of every exotic beauties, and riches beyond any noble lord. When he throws a feast, it will last for months, his wealth is said to be stored in a warehouse, where even the key has to be hold by 40 strong men to open the warehouse. Axe on the other hand is different. He sways and ebbs with the flow. But he is very smart in choosing the right people to ally himself with. One day Bar said to Axe “You are very docile. Why do you dance to the tune of the King? Stand up, my friend; hold yourself erect, as I do. Tell the King that you are not at its command. Show some heart and bravery. This world is for the strong.” Bar believed for he is strong and his heart is full with treacherous intention. Axe did not say a word. Silence, is golden. “Did you not hear me? Why don’t you reply?” his friend growled. Clearly unsatisfied with the lack of response from his friend. “What can I say?” Axe said.“You are strong and sturdy. I am weak. But listen to me. The King, if it gets really violent, and we know he can be, else why else he has this many lands, can be very dangerous. When the King blows with fury, for as we know he have fire in his heart, show it respect. Otherwise…”

His story is spoken with the right intonation and everyone in the tent could not help but be mesmerized.

He is a human yet even the Demon Lords hear him, with such attentive ears and their eyes could not leave his mouth, spellbound by his stories.

We do not know why he is telling this story…but we want to know how it ends. Because somehow, I believe his story will make sense in the end.

‘Axe did not complete the sentence, hoping his friend would heed his advice for he worried that pride take hold of his friend heart. Bar thundered, fearing nothing, for his influence reached all places and he is sure of his invincibility “neither nobles, nor King can do anything to me.” He boasted. One of the loyal noble to the King overheard the hubris of this courtier and quickly informed the King. The King is furious as Kings do, and as King does. The King came with his loyal lords and the small fire in the King hearts turns into an inferno, a storm of fire. And fire does what fire does best. It burns and will burn everything. Axe which seems to be implicit in this conspiracy bent his knees, and prostrate himself and the other noble are moved by his repentance and his humility, and he got a pardon and he advise his friend to the same. But Bar won’t budge for the pride in his heart is as high as the sky, as deep as the deepest valley, and as wide as any river.  So the King once again, enraged, pressures his attack and weakened this courtier mercenary. The other nobles turned from Bar and join the King for never before they seen such hubris and vanity. For cardinal virtues are, humility, and as such, prideful as he is, Bar did not realize he has broken a cardinal virtue, every lords and noble try to strive away from such indignities for this was an age of honor and chivalry, age of heroes and gods, where magic is in abundance, and Gods and monsters roamed the Earth. For that pride, the King responds with vicious anger and terrible wrath were inflicted upon the courtier Bar. In the process of this battle, Bar lost his pregnant wife, raped and killed; his unborn babies were ripped apart from the pregnant mother stomach and thrown into the castle. Bar when he sees his unborn son, not yet fully formed were thrown into his castle wept with blood, howling such grief never before heard, that if God heard in his High Heaven, even He would weep, holding the smashed head of his baby, raving like a mad man. His beautiful and innocent  little daughters died mauled by the King tigers, when some lord manage to kidnapped them, their cries would rend any man heart, and his 2 years old son, died trampled by a horse outside Bar castle when the King took hold of Bar castle. The King sent Bar the remains of the flesh one by one. Giving first Bar his son teeth and then ears and then fingers. His lands and friend were burned to death, some were buried alive, their screams can still be heard in the Shrieking Bay, his land were torched with fire, leaving it scorched, no plant can be planted, his village and city were put to the sword. “

‘Enough!’ Lord Mila said. And the other lord begs Silas to end his story but he shakes his head while still smiling.

Some Demon Lords are disgusted with such vivid imagery that Silas portray such cruel punishment.

But most important it was that, fear crept in everyone heart for we all wondered how can Bar the Courtier endure such torment?

It was at this that everyone in the tent pay attention to Silas story, more than the beginning, some tremble trying to imagine such scene in their heads, his words filled the tent with tension, and I could see Aleister eyes.

It wavered. Fear I see.

And from that I will pounce. Gruk began feeling unease hearing this story. But Silas made no intention to stop his stories. He continued.

“For the King as Axe has warned is stronger than Bar. For there is always someone higher, stronger. But it fall to deaf ears. Pride and vanity blinded Bar eyes and now he is paying for it with blood. Seeing all he had loved, disappeared and polluted, the shock of losing his wife and children’s he jump from the highest tower of the castle, his head splashed to ground. The King found his body and laughed, for finally this treacherous courtier, doomed by his own lips is finally rid of. His brain were fed to pigs for that was the most insulting thing the King can do to this prideful courtier of his, his flesh were grinded and fed to dogs and the others parts of his body were eaten by his friend, forced by the King as they puked in disgust, yet none dare disobey, for a King is a King and a King at this era are clothed in immense power. For a King pride, does not often offend people as pride often does. For a King there is always an excuse. He has a right to be proud.’

I nodded at this and the other nobles in the tent also nodded.

‘Axe seeing how far his friend has fallen and the tragic end it meet said “There goes the life of the great and noble Bar. Prideful noble Bar. If only he would listen. Wish it had listened to me and showed some respect to the King and cast off his pride”

And then Silas said, his tone cold and threatening, his eyes staring at Aleister

“Pride hath its fall,” the noble Axe murmured to itself sadly.”

He then stopped. He ended his story. Then suddenly like we are broken from a spell we take our breaths.

For a while there is only silence. The spell, the story, captivated our ears and we stand still. The Orc King just looks at Silas his eyes….unreadable but I notice a hint of trepidation.

 Silas stopped his movement and then suddenly he approached Aleister, his eye looking at the wavering eyes of Aleister and he said in a chilling tone

“I heard….you have a family Aleister. Three wives and three daughters. And one son. Correct me if I’m wrong” And he smile a very disturbing smile like his word meant something.

And sweat stream down from Aleister brow and he nodded. His eyes show fears, and I finally understand the reason Silas told this story.

To induce fear. Fear is a great weapon if administered wisely I once remembered, Silas spoke during our discussion.

Silas came closer…..and he said.

‘Who are you Aleister? The prideful Bar? Or the wise Axe?’ Silas look straight at Aleister eyes, his eyes had something akin to threat.

‘It would be a pity to see your family-‘ And even before Silas finish his sentence, Aleister was sweating and then he said

‘I will tell you what you want to know.’ Aleister said suddenly. Then he proceeded to tell me who is Ba’yang and I couldn’t believe it.

The motive of their conspiracy and their mastermind. I know this man…Ba’yang….he couldn’t be… I wanted to deny it, to refuse it….while Silas didn’t even looks shocked.

He knows it all along I presume.

I almost yelled lies to Aleister face but as he tells his story there is no denying who Ba’yang is. Even Lord Mila who is present in the tent could not believe it.

‘It is him’ Silas said nodding his head. He knows from the very beginning. Or maybe he had his suspicion.

I…I….could not believe this as my grip around my sword weakened. My friend. My trusted confidante.

‘Ba’yang is him, there is no denying it. He is the only one who could inform Aleister of your fake plan.’ Silas reiterate

I know it’s true but I couldn’t nod in agreement.

Ba’yang is Elkar.

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