AOH – Chapter 152

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CHAPTER 152: SOUND THE HORNS!

LIGHTMONTH 1023

Today the troops have assembled after vigorous preparation since last year as they are all ready to march.

The speech has been spoken, the goodbyes have been told and now the men with valiant heart are marching to the onset of the battle.

The assembling of the troops on the outside of the city along the city formed a very grand and imposing if not frightening spectacle.

The fleets of people covering the surface of the territory—the long lines of tents under the cliffs on the land—the horsemen, splendidly mounted with the dragon banner behind their back, blown by the wind, in their right the papnoticon banner of approval held by the most illustrious personage of the Church, and glittering with steel—the groups of soldiers, all busily engaged in transporting provisions and stores to and fro, or making the preliminary arrangements for the marching.

There is also the thousands of spectators who came and went incessantly, and the duke himself, gorgeously dressed with his armour, a crested dragon blazingly emblazoned on his chest plate, mounted on his war-horse, that fiery horse that invites fear in the heart of men, his long flowing white hair gives him the air of a majestic King immense in power and authority, with the guards and officers that attended him—these, and the various other elements of martial parade and display usually witnessed on such occasions, conspired to produce a very brilliant, as well as magnificent scene.

‘Mother, look! Look! There is the Duke’ some kids watched the parade with awe and admiration and even the adults look with envy at the vigor that the duke possess.

‘That is our lord’ they will say.

‘May the Light protect these men blessed by the Church’ some would pray.

‘Lord Kyle, look here. We wish you victory’ Some girls look and shouted encouragement at the famous lord of the House of Lethe.

Noble ladies would line up for a chance to be look by one of the most prominent lord of Arrandy.

Not to mention Kyle himself is handsome and has a way with words and very gentlemanly. And still unmarried

Lord Kyle just smiles his most pleasant smile and wave to the ladies and people could see them swooning over the lord.

Lord West on the other hand can be seen talking with his wife, but one could surmise their conversation just by looking at their expression.

Lord West is worried about his wife pregnancy and his wife is worried about his safety.

Arial had even suggested for West to sit this war out considering his pregnant wife and it is better for him to be with his family but his duty towards the dream of his liege lord comes before his family.

He insisted telling the Duke that his vassal would guard his area and surely they would guard her wife the same way they would guard his area.

With great care.

It is well known the unbending principle of West, his belief in truth and honour, and the Knight code.

Such qualities might make him a bit of a boor in the court but as an ally, there is no one you would rather trust.

It is for these reasons Arial very much fond to West.

Of course, the assembling of so large a force of men and of vassals, and the various preparations for the march, consumed some time.

It was during this time as Arial waited for all his vassal to come that he received the most joyous news.

He has received the letter a few days ago, and he has already sent the men moons ago and finally his effort bore fruit.

‘They have begun their move’ he said when he received the letter.

Suddenly this unmoving great army of the duke sends a detachment to Vangua as spy and trackers.

Why? Diego Botticelli, one of the Princes of the Four Families, one of the rulers of Freya has reply to the letter that Arial has sent him.

So, finally after month of persuading, he has received words of acceptance from the Botticelli that Diego would sail from Ranoa Republic and will attack the southernmost point of Vangua.

He told Arial that he himself had more influence in former Freya, and that if Arial would supply him with a small fleet and a moderate number of men, he would make a descent upon the coast and show what he could do.

Arial on receiving the letter consulted Silas and Oliver and has decided to help Diego not only for Botticelli benefit but also because of Arial own purpose.

Arial acceded to his proposal, and furnished him with the force which he required, and Diego set sail with that confirmation that has been confirmed since two months ago.( the army is send beforehand by sailing to Ranoa)

Arial had not, apparently, much confidence in the power of Diego to produce any great effect, but his efforts, he thought, might cause some alarm in Vangua, and occasion sudden and fatiguing marches to the troops of Harald, and thus distract and weaken King Harald’s forces.

Most of the people he sends is mercenary companies, as Arial would not waste his people on what he deemed a fool errand.

Arial would not, therefore, accompany Diego himself, but, dismissing him with such force as he could readily raise on so sudden a call, he remained himself in Arrandy, and commenced in earnest his own grand preparations, waiting for the auspicious occasion to march unhindered on Vanguan soil.

In Arial mind, if Diego could turn Harald gaze from his northern border then Arial could come without much complication.

It is waiting game between Harald and him. It’s not like he couldn’t anticipate Harald move. He must have set some measures in Arleans and Borveaux.

On the other hand, Diego did not think it is prudent to attempt a landing on Freyan shores until he had obtained some accession to the force which Arial had given him.

He accordingly passed through the Anjou Channel, and then turning he sailed along the shores of the Anjou in search of allies.

He came, at length, to Anjou Isle near the Anjou horde. He entered into negotiations there with the Anjouian king, whose name, is Baeral Son of Sareal.

This Anjouian King is a wild and adventurous soldier and sailor, a sort of sea king, who had spent a considerable portion of his life in marauding excursions upon the seas.

In a way, he is a pirate king that terrorizes people around the Anjou channels and the Dark Sea.

He readily entered into Diego views. An arrangement was soon concluded, and Diego set sail to Freya.

All this took place moons before Arial begin marching as Diego got the letter and already accepted it but made the Duke waited on him.

Of course Arial did not sit tight during that time and called many lords to help him. (It is referenced in the previous chapter when Arial talk about the “letter”)

At the same time that Arial threatened invasion is gathering strength and menacing Harald’s northern frontier, a cloud equally dark and gloomy, and quite as threatening in its aspect, was rising and swelling in the south; while the new king, King Harald himself, though full of vague uneasiness and alarm, could gain no certain information in respect to either of these dangers.

However all this preparation has consumed a lot of time in Diego part. The equinoctial gales came on, and it was found impossible to leave the port to fulfill his promise to Arial.

There is, in fact, a continuance of heavy winds and seas, and stormy skies, for several weeks.

Short intervals, from time to time, occurred, when the clouds would break away, and the sun appear; and for a while the army cheered in happiness but these intervals did not liberate the fleet from its confinement, for they were not long enough in duration to allow the sea to go down.

The surf continued to come rolling and thundering in upon the shore, and over the sand-bars at the mouth of the river, making destruction the almost inevitable destiny of any ship which should undertake to brave its fury.

The vessels furled their sails, and drew in their banners, and rode at anchor, presenting their heads doggedly to the storm.

The men on the shore sought shelter in their tents.

The days wore on as Diego and his officers watched the scudding clouds in the sky, day after day, with great and increasing anxiety.

The duke on the other hand will not move from the border of Aetherland until he hears word of Diego attack.

He intended this to be a two pronged attack.

And as the time wore on there is stories of dreams in Diego army that wore on the morale of the army.

But then one day like the Maiden Princess herself blessed their journey, the clouds clears, the wind became calm and Diego smiling set sail with his army.

Diego armament crossed the Dark Sea in safety, and is joined by Baeral on the coast of southern Freya

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IN FRONT OF CITY OF ORBOUGH

‘Diego, what are you waiting for?’ Bareal said sitting in the war tent.

‘The men are exhausted. Shouldn’t we wait?’

‘If we wait Harald may march here from Vangua with his royal army. Better pillage them, raze the city, rape the woman and then take what we can.’

Diego just shake his head. Pirate he mused.

‘The reinforcement from the other 3 families does not yet come.’

‘So what!’ Bareal yelled.

‘My warriors follow me because I promised them woman, promised them gold and glory. What is this cowardly act of waiting? I will not wait! If you want to wait then wait. I will attack the city tonight.’

Saying that Bareal stormed out the war tent as he ordered his warrior to take position.

Diego rushed out of his tent and approached Bareal.

‘My lord please listen to my explanation.’ Diego could not lose the support of the Anjouian King.

‘My lord, the inhabitants has retired within the walls, shut their sturdy gates, and bid us defiance. And the town is situated under the hill, which rose in in a steep acclivity upon one side. Why should we attack the gates and risk death of our warriors when they are still so many lands yet to be liberated by Vanguan rule?’

‘Are you saying you have a strategy to not sacrifice any of my warriors?’ The King asked, his tone is still impatient

Bareal even though he is a brute he would not like to see his warriors die meaninglessly. Their ways have always been brutal and merciless but even they know the sturdiness of the wooden and brick wall of the Human Continent.

Anjou land have no brick walls, not even wooden walls and for himself who traverse the sea earning him the nickname the Sea King fighting such gate with axes and hammer is uncommon for his warriors.

And the dreams that pervaded their mind before the sailing has shaken the morale of his warrior.

‘I do have a strategy my lord if you are inclined to listen. There are still other cities to be plundered so we need to conserve man power.’

‘Tell me this strategy of yours’ the Anjouian King said.

Then Diego told him of the plan and the King nodded and agreed to use Diego plan. They went upon the hill up from the city.

And then they began preparing it from the night until dawn until once again it reaches night.

Until that night where the wind is windy and Diego said

‘It is time.’ Diego is not that of a genius in warfare not like the lord of Arrandy for he was what some would say trader prince.

His family is more traders then noble and Diego himself is a trader and merchant blood run in his veins.

But this idea does not come from his brilliant mind but from the same tactic of the Art of Battle by Zhu Ar Zur.

He remembered the teachings because he once read it as it also contains advice on how to battle in the business frontier.

Diego has tried diplomacy but it proved ineffective and the Anjouian King is losing his patience.

Not once the city gate is open neither did they send any envoys to express their surrender. Diego said this is not his fault.

And then it happened.

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THAT NIGHT

That night the citizen of the city Orbough screamed in terror as their city gate is attacked mass of fire rolling from the hill.

The Anjouian listened to Diego idea where they go to the hill, and where they piled up an enormous heap of trunks and branches of trees, with the interstices filled with stubble, dried bark, and roots, and other such combustibles, and then setting the whole mass on fire, they rolled it down into the town, attacking it with fire thus increasing the panic that people of the city felt as they pray to their Gods and goddesses.

The vast ball of fire, roaring and crackling more and more, by the fanning of its flames in the wind, as it bounded along the hill bumpy surfaces attacking the city gate like a siege weapons and burning the surrounding forest when the ball of fire strayed.

The area burned.

The trunks of trees are framed together, some are fastened with wet thongs or iron chains, after being made in the form of a rude cylinder or ball, and filled with combustibles within, so as to retain its integrity in such a descent.

The area was bombed all night and the bombardment appear successful. Like thunder they hit, like earthquakes they shake, as the city prays.

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ON THE HILL

‘HAHAHAHA. YOU FREYANS SURE HAVE SOME PECULIAR STRATEGY. Who would have thought?’ the King roared in laughter seeing the destruction these ball of fire has produce.

And finally the gate could stand no longer and it burned, and fell. The invaders then rush through the door.

At first there is chaos but then a man from the crowd went in front with nice clothes that could only mean he is a noble or maybe the Mayor of the city.

Then an elderly man can be seen kneeling in front of the gate, his hand is trembling in his knees, looking at the fierce Anjouian warriors in front of him.

‘Who are you Old man?’ the Anjouian King asked.

‘My lord, I am this city Mayor. My name is Mayor Siegfried.’

Behind the Anjouian is his warrior all fierce and terrifying with war paint on their faces and their eyes leered to the ladies while their hand is playing with their war axes.

‘So?’ The King asked.

‘This city surrenders to your might. Please do not harm us.’ He said pleading; his eyes darted to the people of the city.

The king smirked and then he looked at his warrior.

‘WHAT DID HE SAY, MY WARRIORS? LET HIM OFF? LET THE CITY OFF? HAHAHAHA’ then suddenly with his long war axes he swing it and his arm vein showed spectacularly, showing to everyone that this swing is fill with malice and hatred and the head of the mayor flew into the air as his decapitated neck spurted red blood and slowly the body dropped to the ground.

‘ARGGH’ the people screamed as some of them run away from the scene while other is too stunned to move and look at the headless body of the count, tears in their eyes.

‘Dark things’ they cried as they all run and the warriors of the Anjouin King laughed. Diego just close his eyes.

This King is brutal. He mused.

‘My warriors. Hear my order. Pillage their home. Loot their treasures. Rape their women and then we will feast. HAHAHAHA.’

‘HAHAHAHA. Son of Barael is a true man’ the other warrior cheered as they chased the common folk and slashed the men, the kids and even the babies.

Some babies were smashed to a puddle of blood by their big hammer while the mother cried in despair.

Diego could not stomach such cruelty but he could not rebuke the King for he is the one that ask for his help.

So with his army he returned to his tent, puking when he reached his tent remembering what he has seen and heard.

The Anjouian warriors kill people like they were cow meat and they rape maidens in the middle of the street before choking them to death as their religion dictates.

The Religion of Anjouian horde is various and this Anjouian King worships the Three Ladies of Furies.

They do not accept impure woman that is raped so like their interpretation is that they have to kill those that they raped.

Yet they chose to choke them. Diego still remembered the eyes of the girls, helpless and full of despair.

The babies on the other hand are smashed and thrown from the city wall. Diego could still smell the flesh of a one year old baby whose flesh stuck to the castle gate after the baby was dashed to castle wall because it won’t stop crying.

He could still see the image of hundreds of baby fall to the ground from the city wall, splashes of blood filled the entrance of the gate, like a rain of blood just passed the area, as the blood flows to the nearby rives.

This is madness. Diego mused.

It is unmanly of him but Diego shivered with guilt. He once ruled Freya so in a way the city of Orbough once under his family rule.

The reason why Diego seek the help of the Anjouian King is because he wanted to liberate the Freyan from Vangua hold.

But….this is madness.

Shivering and sobbing with his eyes filled with tears of regret, he sleeps unconsciously.

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That morning, the city was like the city of the dead.

Smashed head, wailing woman holding smashed meat which might have once been her baby, flesh sticking into the hard ground as the color red washed the soil, the smell was revolting.

The city then with no hope left is set to fire, its inhabitants become the sacrifices for the Three Lady Of Furies as they are all put to the steel, while some are choked to death.

The woman’s and maidens usually receive that torture as they are choked while being raped, tears sliding from their eyes before their final breath.

Diego could only watch helplessly.

He chose power. He chose this path. One day he will pay back the people of this city by becoming a better ruler.

But can such sins be removed? Such question did enter his mind but he ignores it. And that is how it starts.

The temptation of sin and power. The things that made people cruel and hard, cold and unyielding.

And then with this thought on Diego mind, they continued to the next town.

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