CHAPTER 162: THE DOMINOES KEEP FALLING
The blood dripped near former Arleans in a forest just a few miles from the castle of the Emperor, on 1 Aria 1 Edenian Era, which sets in motion a series of events that will shaped the world.
The subjugation of Kingdoms, the Union of Empires, the Great Empire formation and the Edenian Peace, the war that followed, the mighty war between the allied forces of humans and the 8 races against the Dark Ones and its conclusion all trace their origins to what happens in a carriage that spring day.
The targeted victim, Empress Helia Vermont of House Althea, is riding with her daughter in a carriage to meet her husband in Eden city to join him in the castle.
The assassin was hired by the former King of Vangua, to dispose of Arial Vermont if he were to die under the Dragon hand.
It is also joined by Lord Phillip and Ser Roland one of the loyalist of Harald forces which burned with the fire of sentiments of Anglais Raxons defeat to a Caelum Emperor.
Ser Roland and Lord Philip envisioned the death of the Empress as a vengeance for their departed King and would destroy the emperor calm and maybe shows that the Emperor isn’t as invincible as he claims.
A third party, Zettel, figured prominently in the plot. They provided the arms, and training that made the assassination possible.
The Human Continent is a cauldron of seething political intrigue needing only the slightest increase of heat to boil over into open conflict.
The events that day in Eden pushed the cauldron to the boiling point and beyond.
The spring air whooshed by the carriage as the carriage slowly ride in the forest. They will reach the temporary castle of the Imperial family in about 15 minutes.
‘Ariadne be still.’ Helia and her daughter is in the carriage.
‘I want to see mother. Can I? Can I? Can I?’ Helia just smiles.
‘Fine, look out the window.’ Helia nodded.
‘Whoa!’ Ariadne exclaimed when she looks outside. The green lush trees and she even spotted some colorful bird fly on top of tem and she takes the scenery.
Ariadne rarely went out the castle in Arrandy. For her this is like an adventure. Both of them is waiting happily to reach Eden.
Then after Ariadne is bored looking outside she lay her head down on her mother laps. And Helia sings to her.
Let the sky shows you the Light,
Fly and soar to the opens cloud and let fate writes,
Write the stories in the starry skies.
Look into the skies and the starry night,
Let them show you the stories of old past,
She sang and she smiles as she looks at her daughter and thinking of her husband. I will come to you, dear.
They are also that accompany them. Lord Massey Errol, Liselle her handmaiden and some knights.
It is truly a carriage of the Empress guarded with great care. Helia on the other hand contemplated about another matter.
He knows Helia mused. He knows. And that…..that scares her.
Then suddenly the carriage stopped in the middle of the woods and Helia could hear rushing footsteps from afar.
‘Mother why are we stopping?’ Ariadne said as she get up from her mother laps.
Ariadne looks nervous as her eyes become wide as even the young child sense the tense situation.
Helia was about to get out of the carriage and ask about the reason why they are sopping when suddenly she heard Massey voice loud and clear.
‘IT IS AN ATTACK! PROTECT THE IMPERIAL FAMILY!’
Philip and Roland with other 50 strong men are waiting for the carriage of the imperial family.
They have been informed by the hooded woman of the Order of Death. Harald before his death has made some deal with the Order of Death putting a death contract a long time ago for Arial Vermont loved ones.
Of course this is made a long time ago, when their rivalry might have pushed each other to battle.
And after that Harald forget about the knife he puts under the emperor bed. Contacting the Order of death is not easy as there are rituals and rites but once the contract is accepted they will never broke it, no matter how long.
Harald contract states that if he dies by the machinations of Arial Vermont than he want Arial Vermont most loved one to be vanquished.
Harald did try to order the Order of Death to kill Arial but Order of Death will not accept.
The reason being is that Arial Vermont power is off the charts and they do not accept jobs they knew they couldn’t achieve.
But killing the one that duke love is a different matter. Arial might be strong and vigilant but he can’t be vigilant all the time, neither could he be everywhere at all times.
So the Order accept Harald contract and lie in waiting. It was Liselle that informed the conspirators to help her finish his task so she could return to the Land of Shadows.
These conspirators hide in the forest; each took a different position, ready to attack the royal carriage if the opportunity presented itself.
Then when the Empress reached the ideal spot they attacked. Massey who was in charge holds off the attack and orders the carriage to be sped up while the carriage is jumping up and down because of its speed.
‘Your Frace are you fine?’ Liselle asked. The empress is white in her face and nodded, hoping that the attack will be repelled.
She holds tight her daughter. Ariadne has begun crying in fear.
‘Shussh. Don’t cry Ariadne. Don’t cry.’ Helia said rubbing Ariadne head while holding her tightly.
Behind the carriage is Massey riding alongside the carriage yelling faster, faster while the other Knights is fighting with 50 men of Philip and Roland.
Helia also heard that Massey orders some squadron Knights to break off run off to the nearest village or towns and brought reinforcements.
Then Helia heard the cry as about 10 men of the enemy rushed forward with their cavalry chasing Massey and Massey with great valour in the lord heart made a last stand to fight with the ten men.
He cut the first four men but later he was overwhelmed by the sheer number and strength but he managed to kill the other 5 even after losing his right limb and die along with his enemies.
For a moment there is only the sound of silence and the sound of crickets in the forest. Helia could see the lying corpse of lord Massey in the ground.
The carriage that is speeding before suddenly stops. Helia was about to get out to ask why did they stop but suddenly the carriage was barged in by Liselle.
‘Liselle’ Helia said in joy looking at her handmaiden, no harm inflicted on her.
‘What ha-‘ then Liselle grab the empress by her collar and threw her into the ground as Helia flew down with a thud into the hard ground.
‘Mother, mother!’ Ariadne yelled, tears welling in her eyes, face stricken with fear. But Liselle quickly came to the carriage.
‘Liselle sister! What are you doing? Why did you do that to mother? Release her!’ Ariadne cried out.
Liselle just look at the child and smile bitterly.
‘Just stay in there. Do not go out for your own sake. I will give you time with your mother later, my little lady. For now be patient’ she said as close the carriage door.
Helia then looked at the coach driver and she realized that the coach driver throats was slit, a look of pain reflected clearly at the corpse eyes while the blood dripping from the hideous gash.
‘You what did yo-‘
‘I’m sorry my lady but today you will die.’ She said remorselessly
Liselle tear her maid clothes and reveal a dress fit for any warrior woman. A long black and red dress accented with mail inserts, with a matched sleeve on one arm.
It has a flared collar, while her arm band shows the crest of a hood with skulls underneath the hood.
‘Who are you? Helia asked shocked with this transformation but no longer she have that puzzled expression.
She knows whoever Liselle are….she is not who she says she is.
In the carriage Ariadne tries to escape but she could not break the right door of the carriage.
It does not occur for Ariadne to try the left door but maybe it is good for her not to know. If she knew maybe she will get entangled with the battle that about to go down.
‘I am your reckoning. The contract requirement has been fulfilled and now my job begins. Unfortunately the forces of Philip die too easily and Massey is truly a strong man.But still your life ends here.’
Helia finally understand.
Liselle is an assassin. Even though she knew now Helia couldn’t admit it. How could she? She didn’t want to believe that all this years, that all of her memories about Liselle is all a lie.
But Helia strengthened her resolve. She may not have any weapons but she could take others.
Instead of accepting her fate, she rolled suddenly catching Liselle of guard as she rolled toward Massey corpse and then near the corpse she jumped and landed near the corpse. Quickly she took Massey blade and maintains a distance with the assassin
They began circling each other. Then Helia yelled
‘Ariadne run! Open the left side’ Ariadne listened to her mother yelled then moved to the left door and push it open with all her might and she jumped out from the carriage from the carriage and run deep into the forest.
Liselle just look at that direction and sighed.
‘You are making this harder for me my lady’ she said as she begin circling the empress.
‘What is your real name?’ Helia asked.
Liselle just sighed again.
‘I guess you at least deserve that. My real name is Titania. Titania Forneus.’
‘Why do want to kill me?’ Helia said her eyes diod not leave every slightest movement of Titania, looking for any blind spots.
‘A contract.’ She said curtly.
‘Anyway enough talking’ she said and suddenly she dashed forward with her black knife and Helia quickly dodge a few centimeters but that attack nearly claims Helia life.
It almost slit her throats if she were one inches off dodging. Then a backhand attack follows but Helia parry it with her blade.
And they both were thrown back a little yet still maintaining composure.
‘I never knew you as a fighter my lady.’ Titania said a slight bitter smile is formed around her mouth.
Helia ripped apart her dress since it become a nuisance is battles. It has been a long time since she has battle anyone.
This time Helia rushed forward first and then she did a slicing movement but like wind, Titania disappeared from Helia while Helia only slice a mirage of shadows.
What is this? Helia mused. She knows this is not some lightness technique. This is something else.
Then suddenly from behind her, she feel a stab of pain. And slowly she fall down to the ground, blood spurting form her right side, a stab.
Then Helia is kicked, knocked down on her stomach, and she beaten with the flat of Titania knife, scraped the skin from her neck with the edges of the assassin knife, tortured her, all but killed her.
Titania then said
‘Forgive me for doing this but the poison will not spread if I do not exacerbate your injuries. The contract wants you to die by the poison of Blood Red Scorpions. But do not worry. For old time’s sake my lady I will give you some time.’ She then kneels down and made Helia drink two drops of glowing liquid.
‘This will give you some time to say goodbye. I don’t think we will meet again, my lady, so this is farewell.’
Then from the distance Titania heard the rustle of leaves.
‘I guess that little knight manage to inform the nearby authorities.’ She said.
‘This is the only mercy I could give you my lady. You have 8 hours before the poison acts up at its fullest. Then you will die instantly. Say your farewell.’
Saying this Titania look at the lady and then with one last glance she disappears into the shadows as Helia begin losing her consciousness.