AGE OF ADVENTURE CHAPTER 31: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO

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For a while there is silence in the court before the minister present all finally let that statement sunk into their minds. 

“I intends to make you the ruler of this entire Eastern Continent.” This statement is still resonating inside everyone mind. 

Then the ministers gasped. Then like being startled they look at Aero in disbelief. It is not easy to declare such statement. 

But it is not in their best interest to shot down his statement. After all, the King has always wanted to expand the land and bring honor to the name of his family. 

While the ministers was skeptical of Aero statement and analyzing his motives, the King on the contrary held a different emotion. 

George was overjoyed.  

It has always been his dreams and the dreams of his predecessor to rule the entire Eastern Continent and bring glory to the name of their House.  

It used to be just a dream that he did not dare to say. Because he was weak and he see no way for him to fulfil such dreams 

Not to mention his grip on the kingdom was weak at the time, there is many other powerful nations that could threaten Vanheim. 

His kingdom and his rule were plagued by internal and external problem. 

But after Aero appeared, it doesn’t seem like a dream. It becomes possible. Aero is his wing.  

Before, George was a toothless tiger. Now he has sharp fangs and a wing attached on his back. His vigor and will has returned.  

He possess the bearing of a Great King that oversee the world. 

Now he is fiercer than anyone and more ambitious than anyone. And with Aero by his side, he is soaring to the sky. 

“We(Royal We) must thank Nicolas for introducing you to me. After seeing what you can do, We shudder to think if you serve any other King” George said in a joking manner.  

But Aero clearly could sense that hint of worried tone. 

‘Clearly, he has heard about King Fjord’s letter asking me to aid him in his crisis.’ Aero thought to himself 

“Is this about King Fjord, Your Grace?’ Aero asked innocently. The King put on his most calm expression and said. 

‘We heard about His Royal Grace towards you and must admit, I fear that my greatest strategist would be tempted’ King George said still with that smile on his face.  

Aero see through the tough front. 

Aero of course will not leave George now.  

Not when his position in Vanheim is firm and stronger than ever.  

He is trusted by the King and while his position is still unclear in George government, he already held many authority only second to the King thanks to his trust towards Aero. 

Compared to the uncertain grace of a foreign King Aero decided George was the better master to serve. 

‘Do not worry, Your Majesty. It is just better to have some connection in the West so we will not be caught unaware” Aero said trying to ease George uneasiness. 

“Really? So that’s how it is” George sigh of relief can be heard in the Throne room. The other minister also heard it and some of them frowned.  

They all understand that from today onwards, this young strategist would have a seat in the inner circle of the King. 

Most of the minister in the room was old minister that used to serve the Old King and was deemed unreliable by the new King.  

Simply because they did not endure the same hardship like those who accompanied him to his meteoric rise. 

All that followed him in his self-exile all were awarded with nobility titles and position in the government. 

King George look at Aero from the throne he is sitting and he release his hidden clenched fist.  

He was truly anxious after hearing the news that a foreign monarch tries to snatch the talent he has found. 

George will not let anyone take Aero from him. Aero has proven himself to be indispensable to the Kingdom.  

If he falls to another Kingdom, George fears to think what would happen. 

He did not want to harm his benefactor.  

If Aero really went to another kingdom, how could George sleep at night knowing there is a brilliant wise master plotting the downfall of his Kingdom?  

The most effective and obvious solution is of course to eliminate the trouble as fast as possible.  

But King George would not, on his honor besmirch the reputation of his house by harming his own benefactor.  

But by not killing such trouble it would be harming his Kingdom.  

Thus, he truly hope that Aero would not make him choose between two worst possible choices.  

And thank the gods, he did not have to choose. As George was looking at Aero, Aero was explaining about the post war preparation. 

“Now, the second is about the peace treaty with the Orcs” Aero continued. Then he looked toward George and implore 

‘This strategist would like Your Majesty to invite Gruk as a guest of honor in the victory ceremony. This would appease him and convince him to our dedication to partner up with him.” 

Then without stopping Aero continued. 

“This strategist also would like Your Majesty to give contracts to Merchants Company to facilitate the construction of the trade route.” 

“Who do you have in mind, Advisor Aero?” George asked 

“Your humble subject will write Your Majesty a list in this week about Merchant company that can contribute and be loyal to the Kingdom” Aero replied 

“Alright then Advisor, you will handle the contracts.” George declared. 

“Thank you for your faith in me, Your Majesty.” Aero had already expected that George will give him the task.  

Aero tried to hide his smile. 

The other ministers just watched silently. Aero knows he has made enemies today, simply just by gaining the King trust.  

But when was he afraid? After all, he could not avoid the trouble if he is to rise in ranks amongst old minister. 

Then Aero began to move on to other agendas.  

The Orcs Peace Treaty. 

“We also need to send some negotiators to Gruk to ask for the right to build shops and supply centers. And it would be good if we can outsource to the Orcs in Gruk tribe to help our Kingdom.” Aero suggest to George. 

“But, is it worth it making this treaty with the Orcs?” a minister asked doubting Aero plan. 

Actually the ministers in the court is beginning to become envious of Aero relationships with the King. 

Now that Aero has won the war, the King just become more trusting towards Aero and this makes some of the ministers beginning to scheme to undermine Aero plans. 

Aero of course, noticed this. But right now the ministers still didn’t take action, so they are not a threat.  

Yet. 

But Aero decided to address this matter later. He might need to send a few birds and let a few snakes roam across the deep tall grass. 

Only then he could hear and moves one step ahead from his enemies. 

That is also the reason he needs to ask for vacation.  

He needs to settle a few matters and lower the resentment giving a chance for the old minister to render contribution so they will not feel left out. 

But for now Aero answer the minister question. 

“Yes, it’s worth it. It will not only improve our economy it will also enable us to construct supply lines for our troops. “ 

Aero is trying to explain this to the minister that is objecting to the plans. 

“We are trying to swallow Vetten. Supply lines are important. Even though we can bring merchants as our supply division but they can easily be killed.”  

Aero said convincingly to the minister. 

“After this, war will be in a large scale. More than the war with us and Vetten. I believe the world will be in turbulent times, but this is the chance for Vanheim to be major player in Vilajeri continent.’ 

George nodded.  

What Aero said makes logical sense. The opportunity for his people to become more powerful is with this treaty.  

Orcs are knows to be powerful warriors. If they can take advantage of that, then it would be easier for Vanheim to truly conquer the Eastern Continent. 

They can also trade exotic meats with the Orcs.  

Nairhell has many creatures that don’t roam in Vanheim. 

Other than that, they can also trade plants with the Orcs which would bring new medicines into the world since many of the herbs there remains a secret before because of the restricted access and no one dares to venture to deep into Orcs settlement. There is untapped economic potential in Nairhell. 

“Your plan is approved. Is there another thing you would like to suggest Advisor?” George accepted the plan. 

Aero nodded, like he was waiting for the King question. 

“The third thing I would like to suggest to Your Majesty is to start encouraging neighboring citizens to migrate here. Hire the minstrels to sing songs about Vanheim prosperity and might. Lower the taxes. Open a few granaries and be benevolent and righteous in dealing with matters. That will encourage people to migrate here.” 

Then a minister coughed and come in front before pointing his finger at Aero and ask. 

“Why? We don’t need them. Our Vanheimnian people are strong and proud. Why do we need to encourage the other Kingdoms’ citizens to migrate here?” said a minister adamantly 

Aero coughed and then he looked to the King and said. 

“By encouraging people to come, they may have certain talents that are useful to you. I have one word of advice, promote economic growth through innovation. With new talents comes innovation. With more population there is more mouths to feed but it also encourage growth if we adjust accordingly with economic development. Austerity measures must be taken but it must not be taken by sacrificing the lives of our citizens. A kingdom is made of its citizens. Without any citizens, there is no kingdom. Without forgetting this simple fact any Kingdom can be a strong one” 

The minister that objected to Aero plans just nodded blankly. He could not object after Aero has raised such a convincing point.  

The other ministers are also the same. The King nodded, beaming a smile. What Aero said was in line with his thought. 

“Alright, your plan is approved.” 

After that Aero asked for a vacation detailing what he will do after the victory ceremony to George.  

He also promised he will return home after he helped King Fjord. 

The King has readied a residence for Aero in the palace. Aero gladly accepted the offer. The minute he’s about to log off, a messenger came bearing news. 

‘Three of the most influential Merchant Companies are requesting a meeting with me. It seems the rumor has spread.’ 

“Tell them I’ll meet them in Tiger Gate Inn at the evening.” Aero said to convey the message. 

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

TIGER GATE INN 

SECRET BACK ROOM 

The music sounded nice and calming as the people that is in front of the establishment quickly enter the inn. 

The music played by the bards and minstrel was calming but enter the inn, and they were greeted with boisterous sound of people talking and cackles of laughter. 

Tiger Gate Inn is one of the most crowded inns in Vanheim.  

With variety of food and drinks, and boasting great service it is one of the most frequented places by adventurers.  

Adventurers sleep here, eat here and drink here. And everyone knows that it belongs to Thornleaf Merchant Company.  

And the player that is the head merchant is Thornleaf. 

One of the many various merchant companies in Vanheim, Thornleaf started with only ten gold to open up business after conning some naïve adventurers. 

From his vast network of information he heard that King George is opening up a trade route in Nairhell.  

The rumor of course spreads wildly in the Capital city.  

Hearing this, he sent his spies and found out that the famous strategist of war Aero has been tasked on choosing the company that will be given the contracts with the Royal family. 

‘Aero of the East’ he said when he read the report. By now, Aero reputation is at an all-time high 

Unlike Vetten who trust the merchants to make contract with them, King George is the opposite and he even seems to despise merchant as he thought of them as leeches. 

It is why George did not get many support from merchant clans in the city.  

But with Aero bringing up merchant benefits in their discussion, the originally merchant hating King easily heeded Aero suggestion. 

It is true what many people are saying. The King has an almost unconditional trust toward his advisor. 

Now hearing about what had transpired, Thornleaf believe this is a chance for him to make a large profit. 

Anyone who has the contract to open the trade routes will reap many profits in the end.  

Probably they will also be one of the richest merchant in Vanheim. 

Aero, huh 

Thornleaf has prepared the venue for his meeting with Aero. Darius and Reed have also arrived.  

The preparation is not hard to do considering the inn is one of his establishments. 

Reed was another influential figure in the merchant community. He also sent letters to Aero.  

Darius was also the same. It seems three of the most influential merchant company in Vanheim have contacted Aero.  

And Aero decided to meet all three of them at the same time inside the same place like he did not know the friction between these three people. 

Maybe he does know and he just doesn’t care. Or maybe he knows and have other motives. 

Either way, three of them still came here even though knowing who would be here. After all this is a business deal they cannot push away. 

Reed does not like Thornleaf. After all, he was once deceived by Thornleaf. 

When Reed first played Brave World he wanted to be a warrior. But after being conned by Thornleaf he decided to be a merchant and exact his revenge. 

But Thornleaf is too cunning and smart for him. But one day he will have his revenge. For now, he will be patient.  

Darius on the other hand has bitter rivalry with Reed involving territory dispute and poaching big time customers. 

They are all waiting for Aero. All three of them are curious about Aero.  

A few month ago they didn’t even heard his name, but now his name is the only thing people talk about. 

‘Aero of the East’ This is an awe inspiring title. 

They all know Aero would be a formidable opponent whether in terms of mind of brawn.  

After all, it takes no ordinary man to win war on two sides. Darius spies have informed him of Aero tactics and strategies. 

It astounded Darius.  

Zeus is known to charge with brute strength but Aero use of strategy and diplomacy to win the war showed that Aero is a man that excels in many areas. 

All three of them have of course heard the famous poem by Edward a poet in Duvar regarding the two most talked about heroes in Brave World right now. 

Regarded as the strongest, 

Zeus of the North, 

Undefeated and Unchallenged, 

None stand his way, 

If Aero of the East does not come forth, 

Who can be his match? 

It is truly an apt poem describing the two adventurers. Darius wondered who would win. Prowess of mind or brute strength? 

Still the tension in the room is intense.  

They all have done business with each other or tried to sabotage the other. The enmity between Reeds and Thornleaf is famous.  

Darius on the other hand have good relation with both of them business wise…at least on the surface. 

But Reed knows Darius is still sour about that whole territory dispute thing. 

To be honest, Darius doesn’t like Thornleaf more than he doesn’t like Reed. Thornleaf is vicious and coldhearted.  

Not to mention he would lie and cheat like it’s nothing.  

But Darius would be stupid to voice his opinion openly. After all he made many business with Thornleaf Company.  

They were all looking at each other.  

No doubt sizing each other up. Then one of the workers in the inn knocked. 

‘Enter’ The workers entered and informed them 

“Master Thornleaf, your guest has arrived.” 

‘Oh, please invite him in’ the worker nodded and went away before sound of calm footsteps could be heard coming to the secret room. 

Everyone straightened up as they listened to the approaching footstep.  

Creak….the door was slowly pushed forward. A silhouette could be seen and then a man stepped inside. 

The three great merchant instantly stood up as a sign of respect 

When Aero enters he seems like a likable person and has not hint of a great warrior that rampages through the battlefield like a War God. 

They expected to see a regal and dignified person, standing straight like an unbendable steel.  

To see such an affable looking person was truly not in line with their expectations. 

But Thornleaf quickly break from his own thought and come forward to gesture to Aero where to seat 

“Please sit down, Sir Aero” Thornleaf said with respect 

Then the three merchants took turns addressing themselves. Actually before Aero came he had already made his research.  

Thornleaf is not the only one that had spies running around. Not to mention their spies is of lower quality and could not roam as freely as the agents of a Kingdom.  

While Thornleaf is an influential merchant to compare his wealth and the accumulated wealth of the royalty is laughable. 

Using the Secret Corps of Vanheim is one of the smartest move he has ever made.  

Aero also spread misinformation and block a few discovery by the spies of Thornleaf in his business today. 

With their information, Aero knows who the key person in Vanheim is, people he needs to look out for and people who have the potential to become great. 

They then talked for a while before getting to the real question. It was then that the three of them realizes something about Aero.  

He is not an unbendable steel. Far from it. He is different from Zeus. He is water, taking the form of its container, flexible and calm. 

Darius once meet Zeus in the North.  

When he saw Zeus he was awed and pressure by his intensity and his eyes.  

So, when he saw Aero he was disappointed that Aero was so different from the image of the one equal to Zeus. 

But now he understand.  

When a sword meet water, they could slice it but it will rejoin. Aero truly could become Zeus greatest enemy. 

When they talked, they felt that he was a likable and easygoing person. And there lies the trap.  

He makes them, three of the great merchants in Vanheim, who was wary against him to let down their guard. 

This is how Darius understand this Aero has more than meets the eye.  

‘He’s dangerous’ he thought to himself. 

Then finally after twist and turns they finally delve to the real question. 

“Thank you for your hospitality. So what is the reason you wanted to meet me?” Aero feigned ignorance. 

All three of them know that Aero feigned ignorance. He wants to play hard to get. Thornleaf was thinking.  

Then they told Aero to help them get the contract for the trade route that is about to be opened in Nairhell. 

Each one proposes conditions and debated each other explaining to Aero why they were the most qualified to get the kingdom contract. 

Aero only nodded and did a few non-committal gesture. 

“I will decide after the victory ceremony” Aero declared. 

After talking with Aero the merchants realized Aero is actually giving them time to present gifts to him and the deadline is after the victory ceremony. 

No doubts Aero is expecting gold and precious items given to him. In that moment Aero showed quite a horrible expression.  

An expression of greed.  

They all nodded to each other understanding Aero intention. 

People said he’s honorable. What is so honorable about him? He is sly more like it. 

“Then, our meeting today is adjourned” Aero said ending the discussion. 

Then quickly Aero got out of the inn. To the three merchants they thought Aero will only meet with the three of them. 

But to be honest, he had many letters from other merchant companies asking to meet him. And every time Aero meets a merchant he will say vaguely what he wants in exchange for the contracts. 

That day alone from morning to evening he met about fifteen merchant companies. Each believing that if they bribe Aero, he will give them the contract. 

I struck big.  

Actually Aero has already decided which company that will be chosen to establish the trade route. 

He chose Reed and Darius Company. Two of the largest Merchant Company and their records are good. 

The other merchants that give him bribe will all think that those two merchant companies gave me the most money so they will have no complaints even though they lost in this bidding war. 

If Aero chooses small merchant companies people will be suspicious of his criteria.  

However choosing those two will not raise any question. It is also good for the contract to have two people developing it. 

Why?  

Competition.  

They could not afford to slack off. Even if they do, Aero could always change the party if he is not satisfied. 

And every time he met with the other merchants he always chooses secretive places. He went back and log out. 

When he log back in, it was morning. 

The time has come for the victory ceremony. 

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 First chapter of the month. Like always there is four chapter of AOA for every month. The second chapter will be posted  a bit later.

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