AOH – Chapter 90

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CHAPTER 90: THE MARRIAGE

AT THE CHURCH

Flower arrangement covered every inch of the church, from lilac to jasmine, emanating a very calmly smell.

Daintily drooping lily bouquets adorned each pew. The guest is whispering in the church, chattering about current event and the couple and what it means for the continent politics.

The nobles are seated behind the royalty and the Kings. Adrian is seen with his wife, holding their baby son, a 2 year old, the Zettel King fixing his long robe, and the Chu’s who have brought a lot of gift for the couple.

There is also the King of Qin, King of Qi, some representatives from the Austen family and some spice prince from Ariundus, and Radiant Rulers of Seren also came to show their respect to their allied partners.

The Four families of the Principality of Freya also send their princes to attend.

The Priest is waiting for the bride and groom, the duke and the lady. Corian King is beside the King of Zettel and anyone could smell that the perfume of the Corian King is very strong with its musky scent and making everyone uncomfortable.

Kyle is seen with some girl, though just another girl in the many girls of the Knight Kyle has seduced for his attitude of flamboyant and as a lover is renowned in Arrandy as Arial renown in the battlefield.

Lisa is with West, their relationship vague as usual.

Some believed them to be lovers, some believed them to be close friends but the truth is only those two knows.

Even so, there is talk that the House of Lethe might soon unite with House Palais, owing to their son and daughter close relationship.

The long table outside the church is filed with gifts from all over the continents. The candles in the church illuminate the design of the beautiful church of St Afael.

The large church is a timber beamed ceiling instead of vaults supported by a colonnaded nave and with a broad lateral transept.

It has a large courtyard in front of a large fountain decorated with carving of Zhu Ar Zur wife and her statue in the open courtyard.

The wheel like colonnade of double columns create an impression of light and air while the mosaic shows depiction of the Great Hero and their companion mostly Zhu Ar Zur and his wife.

While Levitia is mostly depicted in noble houses, and Kings throne room, owing to the Great Hero reputation as leader and great warrior, Zhu Ar Zur is always depicted in Church because of his story, the fidelity of both spouses which is fitting with church that always held weddings.

The smell of the burning candles smells good. The rose petals will be dropped when the couple exits the Church as the custom of the Sky People of Old.

The minstrel and bard play their instrument and sang their love song, singing of fidelity of Zhu Ar Zur wife and the love story of Hippolia, happy songs, happy tunes. For today is a happy day for the region as peace s secured internally and externally.

And with this wedding Arrandy position in the Continent is undoubtedly is as strong as any Kingdom.

Not to mention the elevation of status that Arial the Dragon will enjoy considering that Zephyr family comes from a kingly line which is why even Henry the High Lord during his time of power tried to set a betrothal between his son and Helve daughter.

Then the door opens and the chatter stopped.

A hush that falls when the ceremony is beginning marking the union of two influential family of Aetehrland.

The bride is accompanied by her father while the groom is already waiting for his bride in front of the priest.

The father give his daughter hand to her would be husband. They say their vows. Prayers are chant by the Priest, song being sung. And applause from the nobles and Kings.

And then they kiss.

Sunlight shone through the stained glass and bathed the couple with color, and again another thunderous applause.

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RENASIA

RYHSA RENASI

Today the palace is visited by an envoy of Arrandy. I am in the palace waiting for my coronation.

I hope the Prince of Arrandy has remembered me. In the last letter he said that I am mistaken. Maybe in this letter will explain about his last letter. That is what I had hoped.

I receive the letter

But then I open the letter and my hope is dashed. Suddenly I am out of breath. I shake and tremble.

I thought…I believed that person…that person is mine. A person that I shouldn’t love. Now I understand.

The hurt, the pain is indescribable. I almost rip the letter. I return to my bed chamber after reading the letter and said to the envoy I couldn’t attend.

I quickly retreat to my bed while Isabelle follows me seeing my expression.

I slammed the door and started throwing everything in the room. Some flower vase, the pillows, the books, the candles, all of it.

The noise will certainly alarm the people in the palace but I couldn’t care. All I feel is the pain in my heart.

That feeling of……surreal pain.

‘Princess.’ Isabelle screamed from outside.

‘What happened?’ She then barge in.

‘WHAT?’ I said raising my voice unintentionally

‘Why are you sad?’

I’M NOT! I yelled, a tear does not fall from my eyes. I hold it. I can hold it. I am the Goddess of War. I can hold the tears.

‘You are sad, Princess. They may call you the Goddess of War but I knew you. I knew you in ways that even you yourselves don’t know. Tell me.’

She pleaded and she sat herself on the bed, looking at the mess the chamber is in. And then I tell her, and she just listen as she always do.

I tell him of how I met him and my impression of him.

The estimation of my opinion of the boy, the gradual feeling of admiration and the budding feeling in my heart, of the sordid and deradful thing called love, sordid because she is grieving and dreadful for she have been hurt.

I explained to Isabelle that the affection did not come immediately but gradually, and even with the hurt, I could not help but spoke of the prince good qualities.

My cheek reddened recollecting those memories, private memories and thoughts, delusion of a young girl, she knows now.

Isabelle was incredulous.

To think that I have set my heart, and her look shows, she finally understand why I so detest people asking my hand and the question about love I kept asking her.

She looked at me doubtingly and then the look turned into amazement. I again assured her of the truth of the story.

I told her the motives of my secrecy.

I had been unwilling to let people interfere, but my main concern was that I was shy and I don’t know how to handle the feeling that so suddenly enters my mind and heart.

All was acknowledged.

‘I revere him. The dragon the people called him’ I said.

‘The stories about him….you will think it is a fairytale. So noble and powerful. I’ve met him like stories of old. I’ve met him and he defeated me. And I thought he will remember me as most stories always do.’

I said, this time looking at Isabelle, my gaze looking at her as she nods.

‘What I felt for him….the passion I felt for him, though I acted most shyly, and occupied I am with the matter of the military, I did send a letter to him, and even that take me some time to muster up the courage for this is the first time I have ever fell in love. And that passion, the fiery passion I felt for him, hearing his accomplishment and exploits…..I’m incapable of anything less, for no other man’

Isabelle nodded, determine to listen and I began pouring my hearts out.

‘So you could understand the shock I received when I read the letter and it told me that the man I love is marrying some girl.’

I took another vase and throw it to the wall and it broke.

‘Arturo must have hid this from me. He will pay’ I said while Isabelle just sit at the edge of the bed and just look at me.

‘Is that all you feel right now? Anger?’

‘YES!’ I yelled.

‘Anger! How could I not. I’ve never been born with magic but I know this. The moment I fell in love I felt magic. And when I read the letter I felt stricken, gasping for air. The magic lost, the mysteries unraveled’

Isabelle nodded

‘Find another man. A better gentleman. Some king or some other princes. Some spice King or some young King in the continent. I know that will please your father. And will surely endear you to the other noble families who have been incessant in their words and unreserved in their opinion about the matter of your marriage for there is no immediate heir to the throne should you fall in battle.’

Isabelle suggested

‘If only. If only I could fall in love with another man, throw my affection to someone else, if it was that easy, that might help me and surely make this matter less hurtful. But I can’t find a man who interests me. If I knew I would felt this pain….I would have never loved at all.’

Isabelle snorted and that anger me.

‘WHAT!’ I yelled

‘You are a Princess yet you complain of your life as a common folk does. So you fell in love? What? DO you think it will be easy? Do you think it is all sunsets and rainbows? Kisses and Love song? Love. Horrible isn’t it?’

She said calmly.

‘Love. O love. It makes you vulnerable. You open your heart and let someone in. Princess, I’ve seen you since you were babe. We grow up together.’

She said as she pick up the vase, the broken pieces and took some clothes and store it there. Then she continued.

‘You build defenses, wall around you, so impenetrable, that only your closest family could see beyond that wall. And even then, they had to squint their eyes to see through the crack. You shut yourselves, immersing yourself in the study of warfare’

Then she smiled.

‘But one day, one day, you met this boy and like any tale of a young boy and a young girl, you fell in love. Maybe he smiles at you. Maybe it is his laugh. I don’t know. Or maybe it is something dumb he did. Or maybe something heroic he’s done for you and unconsciously you give a piece of your heart to him, unknowingly to him as unaware you are when you give it and he carried that piece away. He didn’t ask for it did he?’

She asked

‘And suddenly your heart and your life aren’t yours anymore. Loves takes you prisoner. It course through you. In dreams and in your waking moment. I know Princess because I have been in love. Many times.’

She said as she looks at the ceiling like she is reminiscing.

“But not all love are requited, especially those that are silent. It leaves you in the darkness. Love. It hurts doesn’t it?”

Her voice is full of concern. I look at Isabelle face and she is sincerely trying to console me and I nodded weakly.

“It is more painful than your scars Princess, the many scars you received during your battle, if I have to assume. It rips you apart. Your very own core shakes. It stands to reason people should hate love if love brings them such pain.”

I nodded again …..and the tears flowed as my throats become…parched, the pain…so visceral that only now it manifest.

Isabelle closed her distance with me and hugs me and pats me in the back.

‘Princess…..but love is one reason live is worth living. It is the ultimate outlaw, I tell you. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice.’

And her words are drowned by my sobs and she waits until I calmed myself down and she continued.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. This is the truth”

She then continued

‘If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one. Wrap it carefully and avoid all entanglements. Can you do that?”

She asked and then she continue

“Then you must hide it up in iron box of your selfishness. But in that iron box dark, motionless, cold airless, it will change. Oh, it will change. How can it not after you subjected your heart to such torture? It will not be broken; this is true for it is protected heavily, it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable. And such….the pain. And the tears. Life will always find a way to break you, Princess. Nobody can protect you from that, not me, not your Knight and surely not your parents. There is no force in heaven and Earth that will help you with that. The Gods is after all, playful and sometimes mean. But living alone, isolating yourself won’t help either. Solitude will break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, tell yourself you at least tried.”

‘How about you?’

I asked, remembering that she said she has many times fell in love. How did she deal with the pain?

‘Hmm’

She contemplated and then she smile.

‘I no longer believed that there is only one man for me, if that is what you are asking. Or if there is only one destiny for me. But, I am beginning to believe Princess, that a very few times in your life, very few, if you are lucky, you might someday meet someone who is exactly perfect for you. Not because he is perfect, or because you are, but somehow, your flaws and his flaws complement each other. And maybe someday I’ll meet that man. And maybe someday you will. So, cried your hearts out today Princess. Tomorrow is a new day. Hopefully this pain will pass.’

Isabelle said, while patting my back and I am determined to forget him. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But someday. Someday I can forget him.

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“The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories that it has come to be disbelieved in. Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is in this way that love begins, and in this way only.”

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HELIA ALTHEA

I am waving at the crowd from the carriage while Arial is in front riding his famed Firebringer and wearing his rubies armour waving to his subject smiling.

A grand spectacle to impress the common folk and to show the wealth of the Vermont family to the nobles and Kings.

I kept waving while looking at my husband in front and thinking what this marriage will bring to our duchies.

I love him, this I am sure.

But I am a lord’s daughter and as such the people of my father duchy are my people too. Arial knew as I knew that our union will strengthen both families, politically, financially and militarily.

It is good that the desire of our hearts coincide with political strategy and he said to me before we stand in the church a few hours ago.

My parent are Helve Althea formerly Zephyr now Duke Helve Althea ruling the region of Althea and daughter of Adeliza daughter of a common lady.

My father was the vassal of Henry Palais before the formation of the Kingdom and now the vassal of the King of Aetherland.

While my mother is of common stock, my father demotion of status from rightfully inheriting a duchy was hindered by the fact he married a common folk which is why he was denied the rest of the South by his father, Duke Herlia.

The South then divided into many of the relatives of the Duke, the Blackton, the Whitetree, Ormont,Aldness, Lonne and so many others.

My father, then through conquest took some land near the west south of the border and then expands from there.

During the incursion of the House of Palais my father backed wisely the House of the Dragons and were reinstated by my father in law, Aries Vermont to majority of the lands in the South, creating a duchy of his own called Althea.

Even though there is a taint in reputation my father have proved himself to be an able ruler, and his bloodline stretches to King of Vangua rulers of Old.

King Philip the great ancestors of King Edward and Edward father share the same bloodline of the House of Zephyr who rebelled and exiled and accepted by the House of Alan at the time.

But my family has never forgotten of our kingly line. The ancestor in question is King Philip who has been blessed with numerous progeny of gifted sons and daughters.

Which resulted in the divisive land in the South at the current state only to be united when Aetherland formed a Kingdom.

I could trace my descent from impressive stock. This would surely help my husband, who came from a merchant family to not lose out in front of Kings.

I know what nobles of great nobility descent, true nobles as they termed it, for I am also a part of, said about my husband in secluded corners and in dark places.

They might not dare to say it in front of my husband face for his temper and might is acknowledged by all, but they always undermine my husband for the inferiority of my husband position which in no way related to any nobility of any renown and owed much of their title to King Adrian appeasement policy to the dragon family.

My family has the most distinguished lineage of any non-royal house in the continent.

My father’s male forebears had been counts of the region near Sea Worth and the south since the ninth century and were descended from the great King Phillip, founding father of the Vangua and who is descended from Hippolia and Aresh both legendary figures.

My grandfather Herlia had married the third daughter of King Dalfred the Great—an alliance with Raxon blood that would prove useful to my family position in both Dostov and the northern borders of Vangua which is populated by many Raxons.

I am related to most great nobility of Vangua, a connection which drove many noble lords of northern lord’s in Vangua to try to win my hand, and even before my betrothal with Arial I have received countless proposals from many suitors.

With my illustrious lineage, I know that I am a great prize in the international marriage market—even more so given the immense strategic importance of the duchy in which I was born.

Althea is thriving center of commerce and culture, owing to the trade with both the south and north and with my marriage with the Vermonts, military power unprecedented in the history of the region.

But in contrast to Arrandy, there is no bustling urban center, and the towns that did exist were small, with rudimentary buildings and not as high as the building in Acro.

‘Wave, Helia’ Arial said as he slowed his horse and came back to my carriage, looking at my listless face.

He strokes my cheek and the crowd cheers. He smile and said.

“Not long now” he gives a kiss to my cheek and ride in front again.

And I looked in front of me. I smile my most charming smile and waved to the inhabitants of the city.

Most of them is wearing clothes that if were sold could feed one family in Althea. Such is the wealth and excess that the people of Arrandy have.

Their common people wear such comfortable clothes and their food is rarely a problem. Even the poor usually will be given donation by the Vermont family wealth and their nobles who mostly came from traders work.

Their law and peacekeeping effort is also praised, thus making Acro safe for traders and visitation.

Their army in peacetime acts as the guardian of the city hunting any bandits and lawless criminals, who by the law of my husband, decree that any  bandits belongings, by law will be divided between the people who managed to dismantle them, thus hunting bandits become kind of a sport among the army.

This invites fear in criminals to come here to Acro.

While Althea passage right which stipulated gold to pass from the border of Althea to enter the South, or the South who want to traverse to the north, Althea in my childhood is a lawless area and uprising among the noble families there, all related with each other is common place.

The Blacktons with the Whitetree, the Ormont with Aldness, The Three brothers of the Stream always fighting against each other for the supremacy in the South.

Of course my fathers at the time have to swear fealty to the might Lord Henry at the time, thus securing his protection from the Ormont and Aldness.

It is at this time my father improve the current conditions in Althea.

Through trade. Almost like the same as my husband way, though my husband is more renown because of his military achievement better than his acumen in trading.

Because of the protection of House of Palais, the textile industry became particularly successful, thanks to imports of wool from Vangua and Vern.

My father, commissioned the building of new roads and canals to stimulate the growth of trade both within and outside Seaworth at the time.

Before long, he had amassed more wealth than any of his predecessors. This dramatically improved standards of living among his subjects, particularly within the major urban centers.

Handsome stone houses replaced the ramshackle wooden dwellings of former days, and the citizens also benefited from the dazzling array of exotic goods that arrived into the county at the time from far-flung corners of the continent.

And then the war came and my father choice has granted him the duchy around the South, vassal of King Adrian, and father in law of the dragon.

Afterward, we made a leisurely progress throughout Arial domain over which I am now duchess.

Arial is keen to show off to me his prosperous region. And I am eager to see the land in which my husband was brought up.

The rivers and the forest where he had his adventures and the gossip of his misdemeanor, stories that Kyle would gladly told me, if I pressed.

I look at Kyle in the back of the carriage. Kyle looked a little sullen that day even though he has brought some girl.

I just advise him to not fiddle around with the girl honour and reputation. Weirdly enough even Lisa is sullen even though accompanied with West. I heard the story from her mouth.

West kisses him during the war in Dented Shield, during that time. And she does not know how to respond.

She said she is conflicted. Which I take as a confession, that Lisa has kept someone in her heart.

I waved again this time more enthusiastically.

Everywhere I went, I am greeted with great level of enthusiasm and tokens of affection by my new subjects and is very well served and I am honoured.

The inhabitants of the city are determined to celebrate my new arrival. The wedding also greatly enhanced my husband’s international profile.

That day we spent the day touring around the city while we are shower with praises and prayers of well-being.

Then we arrived at the castle as we begins our first day as man and wife.

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