AOH – Chapter 9

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CHAPTER 09: ONE STEP AT A TIME

1007 AF WhiteMonth Day 67
Today, is the day we will depart for the Knight Training Academy. The Academy is just behind Dagur Hill.
200 years of history.
The Academy was built by one of Alan descendant a second son of Avar Alan.
His name was Adranius Alan.
In history and paintings of him he is depicted to have a just stature, extraordinary corpulence, and fierce countenance; his forehead has a lock of hair that close his right eye, and is describe to have of such great strength of arm that no one was able to draw his bow, the Luminest Bow which he himself could bend when his horse was at full gallop and when he is at his heyday.
He was not eligible to have lands for all the lands belong to the successor of the House of Alan.
Instead of the other brothers who chose to follow his older brother, Adranius stormed off the castle and wander the land.
After all his adventure he returned back at the age of 40 and constructed a school to teach the code of his forefathers, of chivalry and heroic endeavors.
Help the people and vanquish evil. That is the motto.
Some said he once sailed the Dark Sea and stranded on the Land of Shadows and it was during that time he has the idea to build an academy of Knights.
Why he did it remains a mystery but people reckoned that he experienced many things in Land of Shadow or most famously call by the scholars as Novus Gaia, the term coined by the first generation.
Year after years many join. Soon the name grew.
Then any noble sons who have no claim to the lands, unlanded sons, began joining the Order of Knight.
All over, the sons of nobles came and went, signed their name in blood and pledge to help the people and vanquish evil.
There is Fareon the Brave, Greta the Gallant, Selia the Fool and many more Knights that is famous that came from the academy.
Those that are deemed strong and talented will be sent to serve the Emperor of the Vern Empire.
Of course this would only happen if the Knight also consent to the arrangement. Because the Knights of the Academy swear no fealty towards any Kings.
They protect all, whether the Blonde Hair Emperor of Vern, or the Blue hair princess of Renasia, or the voluptuous Zettel royalty.
When they finished their training they will have to make a choice.
Whether to serve Kings or return home as a Knight.  A Knight at least has the respect of the people.
Rather than live in the shadows of their older brothers or serve them, many nobles son join the Knights order but only a few is acknowledge to be a true Knight of the order.
Arial respect the Knights very much.
During the Slaughter, hearing what has happen the Knights take charge and tries unsuccessfully to drive back the Demon Army.
Many of them died. But many lives were saved. Children, elderly, young man and woman.
It is the nobles and the Kings and Queens, their drama of betrayal and trickery sent this world into blood and death.
And today I will join those illustrious names, signed my name in blood and return home and protect the Wall. It will also help if I make some allies in the Knight Order.
My father has bought many items from the traders from Central. There is a breastplate, gloves for Lisa, there’s greaves, new cloths swords, blades, dagger and bow.
“Father did you buy all the weapon in the weapon store? This is too much. It’s not like we can all carry this.” Arial said when he look at the amount of weapon his father has purchased.
“My son is becoming a Knight. It’s alright” He beamed.
“Father, I really think you should be careful of your spending” I said shaking my head. My father can be very excited sometimes.
Lisa and Kyle is in the cushions sitting politely not knowing what to say.
They also were accepted to the Knight Training Academy following my recommendation.
“Kyle, come here” I waved my hand gesturing him to come closer.
“Yeah, mil- Arial” He almost said it. After the announcement ceremony, Kyle begins calling me and my father milord which I despise.
Though I couldn’t blame him. This world has strict hierarchy. Nobles are lord while the peasants and the slave bow their head.
I told him that nothing has change. He can address me like before. His father was reluctant at first but after I argue with him some more, he relented.
“Which one do you like?” Arial said showing him the weapons.
“Whichever you choose, Arial”
“No, no that could not do. Choose.”
Kyle begins looking at the assortment of weapons and shield, of bows and arrows, of dagger and hidden weapons.
“I think I’ll choose this” Kyle choose a blade and a shield and he also took one dagger.
It is a good choice. I have watched Kyle trains before. He is more suited to a blade than a sword.
A blade and sword technique seems the same but it is very different. Only high level swordsman can use freely both weapons without confusing the technique.
The fact that Kyle chooses the shield must be because he couldn’t quite use internal energy that proficiently.
I handed the weapons to Kyle.
“Thank you, Uncle Aries, Aunty Julia”
“It’s fine. I’m proud to see that even Danoba will have its own Knights” my father said while stroking Kyle head.
“Now it’s your turn Lisa” I said.
Quickly Lisa got up from the chair and begins examining the wares.
She chooses a long blade for her size and another short dagger. Then she slings a bow and arrow behind her back and chooses her own defensive equipment.
Unlike his brother, Lisa is not shy or timid. Lisa is one of the smartest kid he has ever had the pleasure of meeting.
In his previous lives he never met Lisa because she died in the winter in 1005 AF.
But in 1005 AF my father give many foods and distribute many blankets to those who is suffering from the cold.
At that time, I who knows what will happen to Lisa always come and check her and whenever she felt cold I would transfer hot energy to stream the energy in her.
She is my hope. Saving her was a proof. That things and event can be changed.
Arial knew why she chose both of the weapons.
Lisa was proficient in dual handed techniques. Arial notices it when teaching her. So he thought her the dual handed technique.
She is an all-around fighter, if Arial has to describe her.
She could use daggers, swords, blade, a bow and many other varieties of weapons. She also understands the basic principle of internal energy cultivation.
Between her and her brother she is stronger and talented. She can already use the internal energy to strengthen her body.
Though it’s still at a low level it’s still an achievement.
“Thank you, Uncle Aries, Aunty Julia” She said bowing joyfully
My parents just smile.
We were about to go to stables to choose our mount. But before that I need to said something to my father
“Dad, you should hire some attendants to take care of the house, a maid to clean the house, a cook to cook the food, an ewerer would also be good”
“Why? Are you sick of your mother cooking?” My mother said jokingly.
“No mother. I just worry about your health. Now the bakery has workers you can cut back and enjoy life, mother. Help Father govern the city from the house.”
“My cute little son” She pinched my cheek “You worry too much. Be careful. Don’t anger the Senior Knight and don’t pick a fight” she lectured
“I know, I know” I said slightly annoyed that I was treated like a child.
But then again, I am a child now.
“Arial come on” Lisa said grabbing me to the stables.
After we picked our horse we ride to the city gate. The guards bowed their heads. My parents and Kyle and Lisa parents was already there waiting for us.
Kyle and Lisa go to their parents and hugged them I could see Aunty Alissa is crying while Uncle Daniel is giving advice while Kyle is nodding.
“Here’s some food for the journey” The food is wrapped in a box. I smell it.
This smells familiar.
“Bread?” I asked
“With meat fillings. Your favourite” My mom said smiling at me. I took the box and put it in the knapsack. The knapsack rattles.
It seems more like we’re going to enjoy ourselves rather than training. The knapsack is full with food and miscellaneous item.
“Arial, behave yourself there alright? Don’t be naughty and wander around too much.” My father said sternly
“I never wander around” I said objecting.
“Oh, really? I remember when you were five, you wander around the village in the creek, in the hill, in the river and the villagers could swear that you even went to the forest”
Oh, that. I did go to the forest to test my swings. I also killed some wolf but of course I could not bring it back. That would raise a lot of question.
“Alright, father. I will not wander around.” I promise
Then I kissed my parents cheek and we got up on our horse.
“Son, may the Light guide your way”
“So it shall be” I reply
My last image of my parents is they were standing side by side, waving at me smiling joyfully and my determination burns again.
That smile, I’ll protect it.
****************************************
There is a thick forest before we reached Dagur Hill.
We departed since dawn and now we finally arrive at the Forest. The sun has set.
Darkness beckons. No one but Night, with tears on her dark face, watches beside me in this dark place.
Arial remember one of the prayer in Dark Book of The Dark God. And the moment the sun sets lights disappears from the forest.
The forest has little dangerous animals because usually the Knights in Training would always kill them in their test.
Still to underestimate dangers because of one assumption usually doesn’t bode well.
Night is watching. And Darkness beckons. It is at night evil emerge and desires stir, so give light
“We’ll camp here” Arial said commanding the siblings. The horse whinnied.
We all tied the horse rein to the nearby tree while we open up the tent
“Not that way! That way Lisa” Kyle admonishing his sister on the position of her tents.
“Why do you care? It’s my tent. So annoying, Brother”
“I’m your Brother. It is my sacred duty to be annoying. Now turn the tent”
“Fine!” Lisa said clearly doesn’t like it when she is lectured by her brother.
I was in charge of making dinner. I open the knapsacks and there is a lot of food and ingredients.
What should I whip up for dinner? There is onion and eggs and apples and a whole lot of other fruits and herbs.
Did our parents think we’re going to go camping? I chuckled a bit. Then I spot it. Pumpkin.
“Hey, guys, how about pumpkin soup for tonight?” I yelled to the siblings who now argue about other things.
Kyle face brightened up. So does Lisa.
“Do you have salt?” Lisa asked
“Wait a minute” I looked deeper into the knapsack and found it. “Yeah, I have it”
“That’s perfect” Kyle shouted. So, I started make fire and begin making the pumpkin soup.
 Maybe we’ll arrive in the afternoon at the Academy.Then after the tent was finished we eat dinner.
“How is it? Delicious?”
“Superb” Kyle said. “Good” Lisa reply
Then after the dinner we just sat around the campsite. It becomes boring. So to change the mood I brought out chatur from the knapsack.
“I brought chatur with us” I said to the siblings.
I developed a penchant for chatur during my lonely years in the Palace.
“Chatur? What’s that?” Kyle and Lisa both said in unison.
I forgot. Chatur is usually not play in peasant household. Usually only noble child play it.
I showed them the pieces. There are the white pieces and the dark pieces.
There is the Tower which depicted Alan face.
Levitia which is the Gallant Knight, The Councilors Zhu Ar Zur, The King Alexander, Leliana depicted as the Queen, Duvan Renasi depicted as the Thief and there is the assassin depicted in the wood carvings as Shrouded Man and Magenta depicted as holding a bow.
This is the strong pieces, the important pieces. Then there is 4 infantry soldier and 4 cavalry soldier to guard the other 8 of the pieces.
The carving is white while the other side is black to depict the dark lands.
The Dark pieces are almost the same in the non-important pieces but the important pieces is different.
For example the King in the Dark pieces is Mikael Mournstar, the Queen Selina Mournstar, and then instead of 8 pieces of depiction of heroes like the white pieces the 8 pieces represent the 8 powerful races in the Dark Lands.
The Orcs, The Demon Lords, the fairies, the merman, The Giants, The Dwarves, the elves and the dragons.
Though dragons is no longer sighted in Human Continent. A group of Dragon Slayer during the Purge kills almost all the dragons that reside in Human Continent.
“It looks beautiful” Lisa said marveling the carving.
“Yes, it supposed to be”
“So how do we play it?” Kyle asked.
That night I teach them how to play chatur and how each pieces work. They played a few rounds against each other first.
Lisa is a fast learner. She already had beaten her brother five times.
“Again!” Kyle asking for another rematch.
“ I’m tired, already Brother. Let go to sleep. We have to wake early tomorrow”
“I’ll take the first watch” I offered.Kyle was incensed they couldn’t go again but Lisa words are true.
So both of them nodded and they began retreating back to their tent.I was guarding and patrolling the area around the campsite.
After that I used my internal energy to stream energy to my senses to make it easier for me to detect any movement.
Tomorrow, I will arrive at the Academy. I have only heard about it before. I never see it I person.
How the academy would look like?
I heard they have all kinds of weapon there. Well, considering the history and the men that serve the Order that’s not really surprising. Arial could not help his excited heart. He has taken the first step.
I need to quickly be acknowledged by the Knight Master and then I could return. Once I return I will train the men, now surely they are willing to be train by a Knight.
They will then accompany me to the Bleeding Wall and be the vanguard against the Dark Lands.That is the plan.
Mortal plans, but it is God that decides. Suddenly that passage comes to mind.
No, my plan will come to fruition.
Then Arial began thinking about Knighthood and what it means for him and his plan.
Gaining the title of knighthood does not make a man a lord, though many knights become lords.  Considering that my father is already a lord, even though a Minor Lords, I will also inherit the title and land should my father passed away.
Knighthood is a middle-step between noble-born lords and commoners.
A commoner can be knighted for valorous service in battle, but the title is not hereditary.
A commoner who is knighted usually starts out as a “hedge knight”, a poor freelance knight not bound in allegiance to a specific lord.
But if I train at the Academy, I will not be known as hedge Knights. It will be the Order of Alan. That is an entirely different level than normal Knights.
Low Lords and High Lords are always searching capable Knights to guard them from assassination attempts or danger in general.
Who is better than the Order of Alan Knights with their famed Knights of Olds?
The next step up for a prospective knight is to become a “sworn sword”, sworn to the service of a particular lord.
This I would not do. My objectives have always been and will always be the protection of my city.
But maybe Lisa and Kyle could become this. Maybe I’ll tell them if they show that they can handle the stress.
Governing is not easy. Power corrupts and absolute power? Absolute power corrupts absolutely
Beyond this step, a sworn sword may become a “landed knight” if his lord rewards him with land for his service, typically a smallholding, large farm or small manor with servants. 
Well, my family has many lands. Maybe after the training I could persuade my father to grant Kyle or Lisa lands.
But there is a difference between a “landed knight” and a “minor lord”.
The difference is often very subtle, as some landed knights may actually be wealthier and more powerful than minor lords whose families have fallen on hard times.
However, the vital distinction is that only a “lord” legally possesses the power of justice, which a landed knight does not.
After three hours Arial went to Kyle tent and wake him up signaling him it his turn to take watch.
Arial then went to his tent and lay his head on a small pillow her mother knit for him last year.
And he prayed again.

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