CHAPTER 148: THE WINTER COLD
The wind blows and Helia took the blanket near her and snuggle around it. She is laying on her bed room while Ariadne is being accompanied with Liselle to the park.
Ariadne has been happy these few months since she could see her father.
From her birth to her early childhood, her father is rarely there so it could be understandable her happiness when her father spends some time with her.
But since a few weeks ago, Ariadne begins sulking again since her father has left her again. Ariadne knew that her father always like to spoil her and when her father left, Ariadne once again sulking and sometimes getting angry at the maid.
Helia on the other hand is burdened with the responsibilities with managing the household.
Lady Julia and Lord Aries on the other hand is peacefully resting on the villa near Dagur Hill with all the luxuries that could be afforded to them.
Helia knows she must not disappoint Arial hope for her.
Arial has spent a whole year in warlike preparations, using lavish expenditure to keep his own knights and armies in readiness and to attract those of others.
How many gold have been used, how many words have been spoken to convince the people to aid him? Helia knew all this, her husband efforts.
At first Arial did all this for Helia but now Helia suspected that Arial is also doing it to ensure war will never reach Arrandy.
‘Prepare for war, if you want peace’ Arial once said to her in private during they discuss the matter of Vangua.
Thankfully many heed Arial call.
The prospect of sharing in the riches of one of the most prosperous kingdoms in Human Continent draws supporters from far and wide.
‘Men’ Helia sighed.
Men with a lust for war flocked to her husband cause and made ready their weapons for the fray, no doubt panting for the spoils of Vangua and they will gladly threw themselves into the perils that awaited them.
Such is the power of temptation that the land of Vangua has on men, nobles and warriors alike.
Helia also has accepted her responsibilities and since Arial have decided not to blame her for events turning out this way, Helia is also eager to add the crown of Vangua to the family.
His husband asked of her to pray for him in the upcoming days before the Invasion. And Helia is full with enthusiasm to grant it.
The Church of Diana was built as a show of grace during her marriage with Arial, a gift to the common people for them to pray and give service to God, and it is not completed but it can be said it is nearing completion.
It is commissioned in Acro, a few hundred meters from the Church of St Asisi, but Helia has already sent word to the other ecclesiastical order that she would like to dedicate the church to her husband safety and luck in the war.
Then suddenly the wind blows again and Helia shivered again.
‘This will not do’ Helia said. She got up from her bed and order the servants to bring her a thicker blanket.
After Arial departed for Aroeun, Helia came down with the Mild Winter cold and has been unwell for the past few days.
Still she force herself to attend the council meeting to supervise the preparations.
She has been given herbs by the healer and her cold is slightly better but she still feels the cold in her body.
Even though she uses her internal energy to dispel the cold, the cold still persisted. She didn’t have enough strength, if she has to admit it herself.
After receiving the blanket she keeps laying on the bed, sniffling and coughing. But still her mind wanders.
The ceremony she was thinking. She has sent the invite right? Yes she did as she remembered.
Nobles from every kingdom were invited, senior churchmen, Prince Articon of other churches, and the head of almost every monastery that the Vermont families have as its patron.
The reason why Helia did all this is not only because of her religious belief, but also because Helia decided to lend her husband campaign religious legitimacy, or rather strengthening the story that they have created.
Helia once floated the idea to offer their daughter to the church as a novice of the church but Arial was very opposed to the idea and threatened to even burn every church in Arrandy if Helia go through with it.
Of course Helia was also angry to think her husband could say such blasphemous words but Helia knew of her husband affection for their daughter.
But Helia still think it is a good idea. Many stories in the book of Light echoed such stories and tales.
Stories of people making the ultimate sacrifice to God, offering their children, animals, or precious possessions as a sacrifice.
If Arial had agreed, the fact that Arial and her should choose to do so at such a time is profoundly significant.
They are in the eyes of the church effectively striking a bargain with God: they had given Him their daughter, now He should give them the Kingdom.
Given the pious nature of Helia, it is not surprising she could think such thoughts.
‘Uhuk, Uhuk’ she coughed.
Commission for the statue she remembered. And she smiles. Arial would be surprised if she sees it.
‘For today, I might have to cancel my schedule rounds’ she said as she call her servant and order her to inform everyone she will not be attending today to attend to her health.
And then she sleeps. Yet her body feel like floated like she is falling as her body and senses failed her.
It was in the evening when she is woken up by a very enticing aroma. She smells ginger. And her nose twitches.
And then she opens her eyes. And she looks on the face in front of her, smiling and relieved seeing her.
That blue eyes stare Helia hazel eyes and they stay like that for a moment.
‘Kyle’ she said a little shocked and the moment broke as she look at the blue eyes of Kyle staring at her, sitting on her bed just a few feet from her and he distance himself from her.
Behind her is Kyle sister, Lisa Palais and her husband West Palais.
‘Have you regained your strength, Helia?’ Lisa asks, her voice is full with her concerns. Then she shakes her head.
‘Helia you have forced yourselves too much. This is the problem with you. You should have taken more care of your body. You know Arial would complain if he knows of this’ Lisa said as Helia began regaining his strength.
The blanket is being smothered to her by Kyle.
‘Keep that on.’ He said his voice is comforting Helia as he pushes it to Helia and Helia, smiling and happy for the concern, took it with open hearts.
‘You must stay warm.’
‘You don’t have to worry this much. I was only sleeping.’
‘No, you fainted’ Kyle reply, and there is a hint of anger in his voice.
‘The servants try to rouse you from your slumber but you did not reply to any of their pleas so some servants went inside and confirms that you have fainted.’ Lisa supported.
‘How could you not think of your own health!’ Kyle said almost screaming.
‘Arial would have……worried. I…. I would have worried. They are people worried about you’ he said as he begins to fluster at his own words.
‘Are you sure? I think I was just sleeping. I did have some cold and some sniffles but I don’t think that I would fainted’
Lisa rolled her eyes.
‘The healers have diagnosed you to be very tired. Certainly you have overworked yourselves busy with the invasion preparation.’ Lisa said.
‘This is true my lady’ West said. Helia just bowed slightly towards West. West might be Lisa husband but Helia is not well acquainted with the Count too much.
There is the matter of her once rejecting the Count offer of marriage before.
‘It is rare seeing you here in the castle Lord West. It is a delight to see you here. I thought you would have stay at Valais since your wife is expecting.’
‘My wife long to see her old friends. Her whim is my command’ as West look at his wife and Lisa just blushed.
‘Dear’ she said.
Quickly West change the topic.
‘I could not stay still in my castle not when the lord is going away on an important mission in Arouen. And it is a good opportunity for my wife to meet her old friends so I came here to Arrandy. I wish that Lord Arial would bring us good news from the King.’
‘Your enthusiasm towards the welfare of the region is always commendable my lord.’ Helia said bowing again.
‘Stop it West’ Kyle said.
‘You are encouraging her to work when what she needs now is rest.’
‘Brother In-law, I was jus-‘
‘Brother why are you yelling at my husband. He did nothing wrong.’
‘Arial should have been here.’
‘There is no need to blame Arial in this matter brother. He did what is good for the region. It is not like he left without reason. His reason is reasonable enough for him to leave Helia for a moment.’
‘And what of his family?’ Kyle said.
‘Shouldn’t he be here protecting her? Shouldn’t he be here!’ Kyle said.
Helia grip Kyle arm.
‘Kyle….’her eyes look at Kyle and Kyle could see that’s he is begging him to stop.
‘I just…You know that I just…’
‘I know, Kyle. I know. But it is fine. I am accustomed to it. And Lisa is right. It is not like he will leave me that long either. He’ll be back’
‘You should not have to be accustomed to it’ Kyle said, his voice is full of regrets.
‘You should be treated like a princess.’ He added
‘I am…a princess.’ Helia said smiling a bitter smile.
‘In tittle.’ Kyle shot back.
Helia just smile.
‘You really like to rile against me don’t you Kyle?’
Kyle seeing that Helia has begun regaining her strength is overjoyed and nodded.
‘I do like to spar with you. Remember old times?’ Helia said smiling remembering old memories during their days as Knight in the Academy
‘Battles of arms? I prefer words.’
‘Why not in weapons or battle? Are you underestimating me? Because I am a woman.’
‘How could I dare, to the Princess?’ Kyle said jokingly and Helia chuckles.
‘Then why? Surely you are armed with great strength, friend.’ Helia said
‘I don’t have the heart to hurt you. It is better if you hurt me instead. And so it certainly would be dull for you, because surely you would win every time and I know you. You hate dull things. Probably the same reason you chose Arial.’
‘You have some strange fetishes, Kyle. I heard some nobles like to be hit in their private chambers by other people and they found pleasure in it.’
‘Me, compared to those strange nobility? Spare me the humiliation, Princess’ Kyle said in a begging manner which elicited laughter from Helia.
They keep trading words and laughing and chuckling, a friend that both know each other too well.
On the other hand West and Lisa look at them with puzzlement. Lisa always knows that her brother is close with Helia but he was always shy with her before but now they talk with such familiarity and West on the other hand also feels the same thing.
They then stopped when they realize they are being stared by Helia and Kyle.
‘What is the matter?’ Helia said.
‘Nothing my lady’ West reply.
‘Since you have recovered I will order the healer to watch over you my lady’ West said as he bowed slightly and leave the room.
The moment West leave the room, Lisa sat down on the bed.
‘Did your husband call the healers?’ Helia asked Lisa.
‘Yes, he did. We were around the castle when the servants were screaming about you fainting. West who was in the great hall talking with Oliver hurriedly rushed to your room and call the healers while he try to make you drink the healing water. Your servant on the other hand……They all were fearful that you have collapsed unconscious. One servant even turns blue fearing for your safety’
‘Of course they would. I doubt Arial would not flipped out if he hears that his wife is harmed during his absence.’ Kyle said confidently.
‘She should not have been too worried. I would not have blamed her. It was my fault. I did overwork myself’ Helia said.
‘You were born of nobility Helia of course you don’t know her fears.’ Lisa retorted.
‘What is that supposed to mean? We have been friends since we met that night in the opening ceremony and now you say this. I am hurt’ Helia said joking and Lisa just chuckles a bit .
‘It is nice to see that you still have the strength to jest with me but you must see it from her perspective, Helia. That servant girl was the one who sees you fainting and she must have thought if you have met a terrible fate then she who is the last one that sees you would be punished.’
‘Why would she?’
‘This is Vermont culture seeping into you’ Kyle said smiling a bit.
Kyle out of everyone knew that the Vermont is a little weird in that they give freedom unreservedly to their allies and treat them nicely different from the other noble lords.
It is this quality that endears Aries to the common people. His son on the other hand commands respect and authority.
‘Do nobles need reason to punish a lowly servant? Imagine her fears, her anxiety. Not to mention Arial reputation itself. Dragon is not a tittle you give to someone endearing isn’t it? His title alone evokes awe among nobles but to the peasant, the servants, the title of dragon evokes fear. Imagine that you, not some countess or some baroness but a duchess, wife to one of the most powerful lord in the human continent died and she was the last one who sees your body. Wouldn’t she think that in the lord anger, the lord would punish her?’
‘Arial would never do such thing.’ Helia said defending her husband.
‘He won’t but that doesn’t mean people will believe the same. Reputation is everlasting and is remembered. That is why reputation is everything’
‘Even so, Lisa you speak like I would blame the servant. Is it not right that you should worry about her well-being rather than mine?’
‘You are well aren’t you? But the servant girl is not. She must still fears for her fate. I see the girl shivering with fear, a timid girl working in this large castle, and I could not help but feel some apathy for her.’
‘You have always been the most pragmatic among us. But why the concerns for my servants? You know enough of my temperament to know I will not punish her and you know enough of Arial forgiving nature to not entertained any thoughts of cruelty on our parts so why?’ Helia asked.
‘She reminds me of myself. That timid nature, those fearful eyes. You could say I just worried about her by my own whims.’
‘Rest assured then. I shall do nothing to harm her.’ She chuckles.
Lisa can sometimes be stubborn. Lisa should know that the matter of the servant is a small matter to her but Lisa always manages to turn small matter into a huge matter.
She remembers the Quest for the Disappeared Hand. It was a simple quest but Lisa intends to make it hard by making it an assassination quest.
Of course there is a killer but that killer was unrelated with the quest. Still it was a funny story.
‘Seeing you well I will leave you woman to talk with each other’ Kyle said.
‘Thank you Kyle for caring’ Helia said.
‘Always’ he said, a word that almost signifies a vow spoken by Kyle and Helia notices it even though Lisa is oblivious.
Slowly Kyle stands up and leave the room while Helia and Lisa share their stories after so long not meeting each other.
For that day the Duchess did not leave her room as she is resting accompanied by her loyal friends waiting for her husband to return home.