The morning of Veranis is calm. People opening their stalls, people praying to the Temples, kids playing and hunters went to the wilderness to hunt for monster.
The birds sing and the wind always blows gently here in this part of Veranis. Today is a clear day with not a gray clouds could be found in the sky.
It seems today, like yesterday, would be peaceful. Young mothers sings the Hymns of the Gods towards their young child as they smiles and be grateful for these peaceful days.
While this is the scenery of the capital city, the scenery inside the court of the King right now is starkly different by contrast.
In the court right now, a momentous decisions is about to be made.
The sound of arguing and spit flying could be seen inside the court. The ministers of Veranis vehemently argued with each other, weighing the pros and cons.
‘We must not involve ourselves in the battle between these two powerful nations else we will invite war to our borders’ one of the minister trying to calmly calm his opposition.
‘Vetten has always been our enemy and Vanheim has always been our allies. Now, in their darkest times, should we abandon all propriety and forget the help Vanheim have bestowed upon us? No to mention, Vanheim is fighting our enemy, the enemy we both hate and despise!”
They debated and argued about many things. Like the impact of this towards the economy, the trades routes, the political ramification and many others.
The King of Veranis also notices something. He notices that some of the staunchest opposition of the war yesterday, they were different.
Now, they seem more receptive to the idea.
The King knows that these staunchest opposition is amongst his most loyal officials so they would not do something that would be detrimental to Veranis prosperity.
Thinking of this, he could not help but cast his gaze toward the ambassador of Vanheim and ask himself
‘What did she promise them?’
Sarah was just standing there on her position, closing her eyes. All she can do is wait and trust in Aero plan.
The King also closes his eyes, the wrinkle on his forehead creased as he thought about the proposition.
He heard all of his minister words and soak it in and thinking about the prosperity of Veranis and pros and cons of declining Vanheim plea for help.
After intense debate they finally agreed with a common consensus. Vanheim has helped them all this time.
It is not honorable to not help them now. That was their consensus. The King pondered but did not say anything.
The court is silent. The King kept his silence, and Sarah open her eyes.
But she did not urge the King. She waited for the King to address her.
Sighing the King then said
“Your Highness. I assume you have made your decision?” The king nodded and then his eyes shone with determination.
“Yes, I have. We decided we will send troops to help George with his effort” the other ministers in the court nodded.
Though there is a certain minister who is wearing a glum expression.
“Good. Now that is settled we can move to the rewards” said Sarah happily. The first phase has succeeded.
Now on to the second phase.
Everyone on the court was perplexed. But some of the politicians that Sarah visited last night smiles like they were anticipating this moment.
These loyal ministers are all Philip people.
They looked towards nodded Philip and nodded.
Philip now knows, that the reason why his loyal minister did not reject the idea of the war was because the proposition that Vanheim proposed will aid in the prosperity of Veranis.
Usually it is a matter of course when Vanheim ask for aid. That is because Vanheim provide them protection.
But a reward? This is the first time. But Aero knows this rewards must be given because Aero did not want to keep this gift.
Nor would he would like to let this gift set upon by his enemies.
“Yes, rewards. You don’t think King George will ask you to deploy Your Highness troops without promising rewards?”
“What rewards?” An old minister asked
“Erdanis state.” Sarah announced. And with that statement the whole court was silenced as they looked shocked
For a while there was only silence then they were all murmuring to each other.
“Seriously?” the King asked.
Philip couldn’t believe what he just heard. Erdanis is one of the nine states in Vetten.
“But can that really be done” One minister chimed in.
‘I thought you need our army to defend your territory” the minister was questioning Sarah. It seems too good to be true.
“Who says we’re defending? We’re attacking” Sarah corrected with a smirk on her beautiful face.
“Does Your Highness know Strategist Aero?” Sarah asked. Philip nodded.
The famous strategist of George. His name is mentioned a lot these days. He also heard that Fjord in Asgaro is asking this Aero to help him with something.
He heard this from one his spies. People describes him as very smart and sly. He would raise hell just to put one man on the throne.
That requires not only bravery but also wits and powerful mind.
“Well that’s good. He will act as bait for our plan to work.” She said.
‘Ambassador, please explain?’ One of the minister ask politely and at the same time excitement could be seen gleaming in his eyes.
If Veranis could really conquer Erdanis, then….this…means, they might even be able to reach the Old Dreams of their ancestors.
So, his excitement is understandable.
Then after taking a breath she continued explaining
“Vetten will not expect that Veranis know about their deployment of troops to Fort Vars. Aero believes that Vetten will bet everything on this invasion. Every state of Vetten will be called upon to give troops for attacking Vanheim. Erdanis will be left undefended. That’s your chance” explained Sarah.
The ministers were paying attention to every of her word.
“How do we know that the time is right?” Philip asked.
“There will be a signal. From what Aero told me, it will be a sound so loud it could be heard all the way from Erdanis.”
Then Sarah explained Aero plan. Aero will bait Vetten troops to follow him to Zantleaf. Then they will make a final stand there.
Then during the time Kyle was busy sieging the Fort, Veranis need to quickly take Erdanis. They will then attack Vetten from the back.
Vetten will be trapped with the front facing the Vanheim troops and the retreat path will be blocked by Veranis soldiers.
King Philip was thinking this is not a bad deal and the plan is feasible. And at the same time, if Erdanis state becomes one of Veranis dominion then maybe the Old Dreams can be fulfilled.
Maybe George knows this and why the strategist Aero was confident that Veranis would agree with Vanheim proposition.
That’s the only reason George would offer him Erdanis. King Philip smiles bitterly. He didn’t like feeling being inside someone else palms.
In Veranis every child, every citizens dreams the Old Dreams.
It was coined during the split of Veranis. It was the dreams to unite back the Old Kingdom of Veranis.
All this time Veranis could not make a move against Tian and Gerad because of Vetten military strength.
But if they succeed and George really gives Erdanis to him then it would serve as strategic place for him to strike to the heart of Tian dynasty.
Philip is not naïve.
From what he heard of this plan, he finally guessed the intention of George strategist. That strategist of his has grand ambition.
He wants to swallow Vetten.
‘The young…they truly are remarkable aren’t they’ he said in a whispering voice.
If George did not give him rewards like Erdanis probably he would not risk his army to make Vanheim stronger.
And conferring a state? Only emperors of Old did that. George is trying to show his intent to all the Kings.
The intention to rule.
But this is also one of a lifetime chance for Veranis. There is no reason to refuse. And so with 230 thousand troops he handed the responsibility to lead his army towards his son Alexander, the crown prince of Veranis.
Alexander is a very ambitious young man. He is still young about 16 years old but very talented in using weapons and leading army.
Sarah will supervise his son and tell them the entire plan. After all she is the ambassador of Vanheim.
So after preparing them they start marching with the ferocity of a lion. Morale was high, and supplies were abundant.
Everyone is marching for different reason, Alexander for recognition from his father. The troops for an old forgotten dream, and Sarah, to show to Aero how capable she is.
Sarah was overjoyed in the morning the day there were about to march when the King as a sign of goodwill gave her a present which was full set of the Red Armor.
Wearing an armor that has a full set gives a lot of bonus. And she was also thinking how formidable she will look wearing this.
She almost forgot her job to report to his boss about the progression of the quest. Then with all things settled, they began their march, hopeful of the future and the beginning of a new era
MEANWHILE AT FORT ELKEN
A FEW DAYS AGO
Bradheim has decided after he finished reading the letters. He sighed before nodding his head to no one like he has accepted the lot in his life.
He decided that he will follow Aero plan. Just like Aero predicted maintaining the siege and attacking from a distance has worked very good in repelling the Orcs.
He also heeds Aero advice to avoid fighting with main units which consisted of Gruk and his trusted commanders.
After a few days fighting Bradheim also realized the Orcs in the main units are not only stronger but they are also smart like the adventurers.
It baffles Bradheim to no end. This is the first time he had such a hard time repelling the Orcs.
It is good that he listened to Aero advice.
After few days they have been able to annihilate about half of the Orcs horde. Now the Orcs are mainly consisted of division led by Gruk and his commanders.
The units that seems to be very formidable and smart. Their attack patterns are deadly and they are smart enough not to overextend from their formations.
Then it is time for the second phase. In the instruction that Aero has sent him, he instructed Bradheim to ask for a negotiations with Gruk.
Bradheim reluctantly followed the instruction and sent a letter to Gruk.
Usually Bradheim experience with Orcs has taught him that Orcs cannot be brought to the negotiation table but Aero said Gruk is not your average Orc.
He will understand and will be delighted to meet you in the negotiation table. Aero writes in the letter.
But Bradheim was not convinced.
Still he did it.
If Aero plan work it will save many of his troops lives. Then Bradheim was sent a reply from the Orcs.
Gruk wanted to meet. It was unexpected.
‘An Orc that can read.’ Bradheim mentioned when he got the report from his subordinates before smiling.
And so they prepared a venue for this meeting.
Of course both of them did not know that this meeting would determine the conclusion of the war between Vetten and Vanheim and opens a new era.
Like Sarah didn’t know that her diplomacy has also help opening a new era of warfare and at the same time people vying for the Imperial Throne.
His trusted companion also accompanied Bradheim as a precaution if something goes wrong.
Then they departed to meet with Gruk in Larda Hill near the battlefield. Gruk was wearing an armor made of Griffin skull while riding a large warhorse
Bradheim does not show it but even he felt a little intimidated.
“Bradheim, you look good” Gruk said in a hoarse voice.
Bradheim was shocked. An Orc that can speak human language. Even though he is not supposed to be shocked.
The fact that he could reply his letter means that the Orc knew their language. But before this he had no indication that Orcs can speak their language or even have strategic thinking.
That’s why Bradheim was not too worried about the Orc invasion like George. But after fighting with Gruk these couple of days he had to acknowledge it.
Some of the Orcs are evolving. They are becoming smarter. Aero plan might be Vanheim salvation.
If the Orc is evolving to become smarter, then repelling Orc invasion will not be as easy as before.
“Yes, you too” replied Bradheim.
He was not sure if Orcs have etiquette when conversing with each other. The only thing he ever heard was grunting.
“Don’t tease me. I’m an Orc. I never look good” It seems to be a joke.
The commander behind Gruk laughed. Even Gruk laughed.
“I’m sorry then” Bradheim said.
Even though he said sorry he still looks dignified. Gruk was looking curious why Bradheim wanted to negotiate.
“I’m curious, Bradheim. You totally have the advantage in this war. Why suddenly stop and ask for negotiation?” He asked.
Bradheim swallowed and began to explain truthfully following Aero instruction.
“To be honest this is not my plan, but it is Strategist Aero plan. He said you would know his name”
Gruk was shocked before nodding.
How can he not know? Kyle wouldn’t stop speaking about it. Kyle is entering the war because he wanted recognition.
Gruk entered the war because his tribe needs supplies. Even when he was the leader of 1 tribe it was burden enough.
Now the leader of 10 tribes, the burden just get heavier.
“Yes, I do know. So he set this meeting. For what?” Then Bradheim handed a letter to Gruk.
“This is from him. He said this is the offer he will make if you would accept to stop attacking Fort Elken”
Gruk took the letter and hesitated before he finally decided to open it. Then he jumped down from his horse and read.
His expression first was a complicated expression like he was being found out then slowly his expression becomes happier.
He then laughed boisterously
The content of the letter explains that Aero knows about the Vetten plot. He also explains to Gruk if he kept this attack, the Orcs will all be annihilated.
The Orcs tribe will never accept him back if he failed. But it is not all sticks. Aero also offer some carrots.
Aero offers to join hands with him instead of Vetten and Kyle. If Gruk promise not to attack Vanheim, Aero will ask the King to open a trade route to the Orcs.
This will help in strengthening the Orcs under Gruk control and this can also supply the starving Orcs that live in barren lands belonging to Gruk.
The right where the trade route will set up will be the exclusive control of Gruk. Aero will ask the Merchants to supply some of their people to open stalls and shops.
Aero also promise the stuff will be cheaper by 30% for 3 years, only for the Orcs. In the letter Aero also explains how it will benefit Gruk.
With peace formed between Vanheim and the Orcs and with the trade routes established, players will be tempted to choose Orcs race.
It will also help Gruk solidify his power and if he does this his fame will resound everywhere.
Gruk was also thinking that this expedition of his is doomed. His supplies are almost empty. If they keep fighting here there is no doubt that he would lose.
Then after thinking, finally Gruk has made his decision.
‘I’m sorry, Kyle. But I joined you because you gave me great offer. Aero has just outbided you. Don’t blame me.’ This was Gruk thoughts
And so after agreeing to the terms of agreement they signed a treaty of peace. That night Bradheim opened the stockroom and held a feast with the Orcs.
Gruk controlled the other Orcs as to not cause any trouble.
Everyone was happy and enjoying themselves. Music can be heard everywhere.
There was dancing. There was laughter. The soldiers were frightened at first but after seeing how rowdy the Orcs were they also began to enjoy themselves too.
A treaty of peace is a joyous occasion. This means the soldiers no longer need to risk their life and the citizens can be at peace.
That night Gruk also chatted with Bradheim about strategies and other things. Bradheim was delighted and amazed.
He didn’t think the Orcs could hold an intelligent conversation. The next day Bradheim needs to go out of the Fort and head to Zantleaf to assist Aero armies.
Aero instruction is not over. There is still one deception left. Aero believes that Vetten will send spy to watch the progression of the Orcs.
With Gruk help, when they realized that Vetten spy is spying they acted like the Orcs has already occupied Elken.
It was not hard to do because after the feast many of the Orcs were still not waking up.
So, Bradheim troops simply hid themselves.
After confirming that the spy has gone, Bradheim thanked Gruk for his help and shook hands.
Gruk and his horde departed in good mood.
Now there will be a chance for advancement in culture of the Orcs, Gruk was thinking.
“Bradheim, this is a beginning of a beautiful friendship” Gruk was smiling.
Though Bradheim didn’t think it was a smile. Orcs do not excel in making face expression. Then after seeing them out of the Fort Bradheim left about 20 thousand troops in the Fort.
Before he marched to Zantleaf he will need to ask about 30 thousand troops from his brother personal army.
Actually this is the choice Aero was talking about. Now that Gruk is no longer a threat Bradheim can march to the capital with all of his army and take the throne for himself.
And without Aero and George soldiers, it will be an easy throne to take.
But Aero must have foreseen this.
After all he bothered enough to investigate about Bradheim personality. Bradheim is strong. Bradheim is smart. Bradheim is charismatic.
And most importantly Bradheim is honorable. He will not kill the King, not when the Kingdom is in dire crisis.
That is who he is.
Duty first. Always. For the Kingdom.
And Aero knows this.
Which is why he knows, that right now, is the moment where Bradheim, the biggest threat to George throne is actually the most trustworthy person to have in George team.
And Bradheim also knows this, and he cannot lie top his own heart. So he will ask for the troops and does his duty.
He will save Aero. He will save the Kingdom. And he will brought his fearsome cavalry to trample upon the enemies of Vanheim like the Vanheim Guardians of Old.
Though he might be a little late.
‘I will just laugh it off when I met him later.’ And as he was thinking of this, his warhorse step forwards and behind him, is his fearsome cavalry squad all looking to be ready to kill and bathe in the blood of their enemies.
First chapter of the week. Expect new chapter a few minutes later