CHAPTER 141: SILENT WAR
It is a calm morning in Arrandy and the castle of the Vermont’s. It is cold and winter is coming slowly to Arrandy.
The Vermont’s is spending their time doing their usual routine.
In the morning Arial would accompany his wife to the gardens playing with their daughter and then return back near the noon but as the land become colder, they began playing in the castle walls.
Arial would accompany her on her morning strolls across the gardens and the lakes sometime playing with her daughter.
This moment of bliss passed slowly.
In the noon, Arial would then visit Adriana in her mansion, conversing in the matters of knowledge and speculation of history past, in the evening Arial would visit his parents, fulfilling his duty as their son.
Still, the tension is visible in the young lord behaviour. He is waiting the letter to arrive and with every passing day, his anxiety grew.
Then a few weeks after he sends his letter, his council got a reply from Vangua. Quickly they informed their lord, and Arial with haste, get up from his bed and rushed to the council chambers.
The letter arrived and the news spread all around the castle wall of the Vermont’s. Tension is visible in every person in the castle.
From it the emissaries send the letters to the council so that they could relay the reply to Arial of Harald decision.
Oliver first read the content and then relay it to the people present in the chamber; his clear voice reverberates in that large hall.
He is not interested in the offer of marriage, and as for Arial claim to the throne of Vangua the answer is the same as always.
Edward had named Harald his successor on his deathbed, this had been ratified by a representative assembly of the entire nobility of Vangua and only this Council of Lords had the legitimate power to make kings as the laws of Vangua dictated.
The council informed their lord as Oliver read te content of the letter to the member of this council of war.
Arial is now at his Council chamber, still even though the reply of the letter is unfavourable, Arial is not angry or displeased, it was like he has predicted.
Harald had rejected his offer and his reason for rejecting is all within Arial estimates. So it is hardly surprising for Arial.
‘So my lords as this happen exactly like you predicted what should we do now?’ Oliver ask, once again in admiration in his lord astute political sense.
‘Aralam church’ Arial reply without any explanation, like the word itself will reveal its meaning to the people in the chamber. Silas looks at Arial and is shocked with a hint of admiration.
‘You are cunning my lord. Truly cunning. Was this the plan all along? Hah…to think I miss the subtle hints you were dropping’ Silas said.
Arial just grins.
‘What do you mean my lord?’ Massey said clearly not understanding.
‘Alas it seems only Silas understand my cunningness.’ Arial said laughing heartily. Silas just chuckle.
‘Massey do you not understand what our lord is implying?’ He said in a mocking tone clearly liking the fact that Massey is one step behind him….or maybe ten steps behind him in terms of intrigues.
‘Our lord is trying to appeal to the Supreme Papnoticon of Aralam, in the cities of Holies. Now I understand why our lord asks me to investigate the Aralam Church of Light when I was there the last time. To think our lord has been thinking of this for a long while, and to plan it with such great attention and details, I am fill with admiration’ Silas said.
Arial just nodded, clearly pleased with Silas compliments.
Arial on the other hand believes that the Supreme Papnoticon would hear his case with care as his family is known to be very pious at least according to the churches standard.
Arial realizes that the nuances of Vangua law and custom were unknown at the Aralam, the office of the truly High Authorities of the Church, and, by presenting a case couched in the kind of the Davarus continental terms the pontiff would understand, he could easily make a weak case appear a strong, and even unassailable, one.
‘Then who will be the envoy?’ Oliver asked.
‘I am willing to volunteer myself for this task’ Oliver said.
‘If not Leander, my son could do this as his penance for that last mista-‘
‘Send me my lord’ Massey cut Oliver words while Oliver glares at him.
‘I know some of Bishops and Priest that has owe me some favours. I will sway the general opinion of the church to our noble cause.’ He said confidently.
Arial on the other hand is looking at Silas.
‘Will you not volunteer Silas?’ Silas is looking outside the windows, looking at a bird in the ledges with great attention.
‘I will not, my lord.’
‘Is it hard for you, this task?. He shakes his head.
‘On the contrary, my lord. I hardly think this is a hard task for me to complete comparing it with all the task you have saddled me with over these years.’
‘Then why not volunteer for the task. Surely you know I reward those who is capable?’ Arial said, his tone is clearly persuading Silas to go.
There is no other candidate that is most suitable for this task, Arial had decided.
With Silas knowledge of the inner conflict in the Office of the Holies, he is the perfect candidate comparing him with the others on the council.
‘It is a bother to leave my family again. And the Dark Lands, though I have to admit have some beautiful places and scenery, the Holy Cities is truly a forlorn places to be.’
‘So, you do not volunteer merely because you find the work to be unrewarding and the place dull?’
‘It is reward itself to serve for you, my lord…..but dull is what dull is. The place is full with people who have no humor and they are so easily swayed that it is hardly a challenge to persuade them.’
Arial laughed hard.
Silas and his weird quirks. Yet, Arial could not muster in his heart to scold him. It could be said even though Silas is seen to be slightly rude, Arial had to admit it was Silas charm.
‘Then accept this as your punishment then.’ Arial order, showing a grinning face.
Silas looked at his lord, Arial and sighed. He knows his lord is trying to force the job on him. It’s not like his lord make his intention subtle.
He had to admit out of all the people in this room he has the most experience with the Office of the Church and thus making his the most perfect candidate for the task but the reason Silas rejected the first time is not only because the leave he has to take from his family but also to curb the jealousy that the other courtier have for him owing to his good relationship with the young lord.
Silas could already see the ugly expression on Oliver and Massey faces. They are clearly displeased by the favoritism shown by the lord to him.
‘My lord there is no need to send Lord Silas. I could-‘
Arial then glares at Massey and Massey shuts his mouth. Oliver knowing that his lord has decided. Just watch the appointment! He silently scolded himself
Silas look at Arial and then he said
‘This Silas is a loyal vassal of the Vermont’s. As such I will not refuse. I will go and be an envoy for the Vermont and I will win the Church sympathies and make our cause, their cause.’
Arial nodded with satisfaction.
‘I will wait the good news from you Silas.’ Silas nodded.
Arial then turn his gaze to Massey and Oliver.
‘Oliver, go and make sure the intention of the other lords. Will they be with me or do they have some plots that will endanger my venture. This will be your task. I expect your news in a few weeks.’
‘Yes, my lord.’
‘Massey, your job is here. Train the army and let them prepare for the war to come. Things are calm now, but it will be brief. I am keeping in contact with some people that will surely tip the scale of the war in our favour. It is your duty to make sure that our army is prepare to fight when the storm is coming.’
‘Yes, my lord’ he replied with an enthusiasm that Arial has always admired.
‘The council is dismissed.’
It was a calm month in Arrandy and Vangua but these will not stay long. Plots and machination of war has started the moment Arial declare to his vassals lord that war is coming.
Harald also has been preparing himself and his army waiting for Arial strikes as his spies has informed him of the lord intentions.
On the other hand Silas is returning from the Holy Land with great news concerning the petition that Arial had made on behalf of his claim to the land of Vangua.
The report has been sent to Arial and Arial is satisfied with Silas work with the Church in convincing them of their stance and rights..
Silas made a general case based on notions of hereditary right and the Arrandian system of bequest and then introduced the irrelevant matter of Harald’s perjury in 1021.
The Church in the Holy Cities quickly takes this opportunity assert their power.
The matter of the perjury on the other hand is irrelevant because, even if Harold did actually swear the mightiest oath of vassalage, this neither bound Edward in his bequest nor the Council of Lords in its ratification; whatever Harald said or did not say, it had no binding power in the matter of the succession.
Arial and Silas of course both knew of this matter. But they also have a counter argument prepared for the church to convince them to take Arrandy sides in the conflict to come.
Silas produced a turgid olio of arguments, in which the oath that Harald had allegedly swears on the day of Edward coronation, the behaviour of the Orleans family in the past, the suspicious murder of Edward father and the rumour surrounding the Orleans family in that particular matter and the role of Harald in the scheme of things and his father crime to the people of Aetherland are all featured in the worse perspective and rumour mongering on the city wall of the office of the church.
And Silas being Silas, his argument become the major opinion in the church.
He may not be a Bishop or a Prince Articon but his way with words made his word carries weight in the Holy Church of Light.
However that is not all Silas did for his lord. It was the last proposition that interested the Supreme Papnoticon Justinian.
Arial pitched his proposal and appeal to the Papnoticon largely on his putative role as the leader of the religious and ecclesiastical reform movement in Arrandy and as a man who would clean the stables of church corruption in Vangua.
It is known to the other rest of the continent that the church in Vangua is plagued with corruption, office passed down instead of being elected from the central authority of the Church; and this weighed heavily with Justinian, who, thought the churches of the Human Continent is far too remote from papal control.
It was the abiding dream of the new ‘reformist’ papnoticon to be universally accepted as the arbiter of thrones and their succession; and Arial knew this ambition of the Supreme Papnoticon and exploited it for Arrandy gains.
Arial’s homage therefore constituted a valuable precedent.
And looking at the favorable reply of the Supreme Papnoticon, it is not surprising that the highest authority of the church gives him his blessing to the proposed invasion of Vangua.
Arial is still smiling. Harald had made a mistake.
Why did Harald did not send any emissaries to the holy cities when Arial clearly did it in daylight for everyone to know? It was not like Arial hides his expedition to the Church.
Arial knew why.
Almost certainly, the answer is that Harald thought it a waste of time on two grounds: the method of electing a king in Vangua had nothing to do with the Church authority and it is not a proper area for the Church intervention; and, in any case, the Supreme Papnoticon is now the creature of the Arrandians and would ultimately do what they ordered him to do.
With all this doubt, one that is even voiced out in Harald court, Harald didn’t even bother sending any envoys to the Church.
And Arial admitted Harald is right. This blessing that came from the Church is what Arial need for his invasion to have some weight on the people of the continent.
But although the papnoticon sanction for Arial’s ‘enterprise of Vangua’ is morally worthless, it is both a great propaganda and diplomatic triumph for the Arrandians.
And this is the reason why Arial took the time, with great patience and forbearance instead of raising his banner and marches straight to the northern border of Vangua.
It is a propaganda victory because it allowed Arial to pose as the leader of crusaders in a holy war, obfuscating and mystifying the base, materialistic motives of his followers and mercenaries.
It also gave the Arrandians a great mental and morale boost, for they could perceive themselves as God’s elect, and it is significant that none of Arial’s inner circle Lord Paris, Lord Lisbon entertained doubts about the ultimate success of the Vanguan venture.
Arrandy now seemed like the spearhead of a confident Lucellian, on the offensive for the first time in centuries, whereas earlier Luceliandom had been beleagured by Eastian to the north, the Sun Emperor from the east and The Parents of Life and Death to the west.
Though Arial no doubt admired the Supreme Papnoticon too for his own cunningness. After all Arial also recognize the Papnoticon leader own agenda is mixed with his.
Justinian’s fiat was a diplomatic triumph, too, as papnoticon endorsement for the Arrandian made it difficult for other powers to intervene on Harald’s side.
Arial also pre-empted one of the potential sources of support for the Anglais-Raxons by sending an embassy to the Great Renasia, the Empress Rhyssa Renasi who ruled almost all of the eastern side; and this, too, was notably successful, which sometimes make Arial suspicious after all the empress is known to be a very aggressive expansionist yet she accept Arial proposition rather well removing a possible barrier to a continent-wide call for volunteers in the ‘crusade’.
The reason why the Ethruskan princess is regarded as an Anglais-Raxons allies is because of her recent annexing of Dostov under Great Renasia effectively putting Dostov under the rule of the Ethruskan.
And as such Arial try to avoid fighting two enemies at once. Thus the envoy and gift sent to the Empress.
Arial believe that maybe Great Renasia is trying to consolidate their new territories before trying to expand again which make the empress decisions to back Arial truly a weird decision one that even Silas with all his sources could not understands why the Empress accept it so easily.
But by gaining the Empress expressed agreement, Arial could move more freely and unrestricted not worrying about any other threats.
It seemed unlikely that Arial would encounter any obstacles in the Aetherland, for Aetherland is still a paper tiger, compared to the Vermont’s run by Adrian.
The other lords in Aetherlnad especially two noble lords Barbe and Rechin is still locked in bitter combat this year and this is an opportunity for Arial.
There is something almost supernaturally fortunate in the way Arial became fortuitously free of continental enemies at the very moment Vangua was riven with problem.
Now the only thing left is the meeting with the nobles in Acro as Arial had been waiting their arrival and both their reply on whether they will share Arial enthusiasm.
Arial is also expecting a gambit one that he plan the moment he decided to battle for the throne of Vangua.
Hopefully his letter to that man is view in a favourable way.
If so, then Arial could exploit the hole in that armour of Harald defense and preparation. Thinking all of this plan in place, Arial is certain of his victories.
Looking outside his study room, he smile as his eyes look over the horizon, seeing something others could not….a vision of victory.