AOH – Chapter 21

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CHAPTER 21: ENVY

1012 AF WHITEMONTH DAY 90
Arial in the Great Hall in the castle after waking up from his nap. He could see the long tables and the chairs for his family.
The banners in the wall, and the tapestry near it, portraying the scene from Levitia laments.
Helia also has dressed up to meet my parents. She dress impeccably, and elegantly. My father is on another city with my mother to supervise the people there and collecting taxes.
They rushed here to meet me. They are in the dining room with the foods has already prepared for us.
“Father! Mother!” the moment I saw them I hugged them
“My son. You have grown well” my mother said
“My prince” my father said
They hugged me back. It has been a long time since I have seen them. I have missed them so much.
Knowing that they are safe and happy, that makes my heart warm. It strengthened my resolve to save the Human Continent.
Helia is on the back a little shy.
My parents realize Helia. It was my mother who gestures her to come closer.
“And who is this?” my father said his brow raised
“A friend” I said
“HAHAHAHA..a lady friend” And my father wink at me, while patting my back.
“It’s not like that” I said
“Is it really?” my mother said.
Helia come in front of my parents and curtsy
“It’s an honour to meet you Count Aries and Countess Julia”
“OH, us too” my mother said
“What is your name, dear?” my mother asked
“Helia Zephyr, my lady”
“Zephyr? House of Zephyr?” my father said clearly knows the name
“Yes, my lord.” Helia nodded.
“I know your father. A little shrewd but he is a very nice man” my father said
Then my stomach grumble
My parents laughed
“Let us eat, dear. They must have been starving.”
My father nodded and we began walking to the dining room.
Then we began eating.
Tonight there is sweet and sour rabbit, it includes sugar, red wine vinegar, currants, onions, ginger and cinnamon (along with plenty of “powder of pepper”) to produce a sticky sauce, a bowl of candy, a dish that combine pine nuts with sugar, honey and breadcrumbs to give the candy a chewy taste, almond milk, honeyed goat roast, my favourites, and a whole lot more with dessert a pudding after the main dish, and mushroom soup.
We munched every dish taking a bite of everything and Helia really shows her upbringing as a noble’s daughter.
After dinner I talk and tell the stories, the funny ones, the harrowing ones, the inappropriate one while Helia sometimes fill out the details I forget.
The quest I explained in great details while my father hears with amazement.
My mother and Helia seem to hit it off pretty well. A charmer like always. She may have more of her father in her more than she wanted to admit.
In these 5 years her father and her seems to reach some kind of understanding. But Helia still didn’t want to go home. But maybe this year she would.
I urged her to make up with her father.
My father was sitting on the cushioned chair carved by a famous carver Roix Cheventes just beside the fireplace.
I came near my father and began discussing how the business is doing and how is he doing.
My father look healthier than before, his physique become stockier but I could still feel strength, his complexion is a little tan probably because he had many businesses in Renasia.
He informed me on his letter.
“Father, let me help you” I asked
“Help with what?” my father asked sipping the tea that the servant just served
“Your city. I know you have trouble on supervising the cities”
“Yes. After becoming Count the responsibilities becomes bigger. So does the city”
My father sighed.
“Now I have returned I can help you”
“But shouldn’t you return to the academy?”
“It’s alright. Now I’m a Knight Brother. I can stay at home while still solving quest.”
“THE YOUNGEST” Helia yelled from the back
“What do you mean?” Aries asked
“Arial is the youngest Knight Brother ever in the history of the Academy.”Helia said complimenting me
“You too” I said
“Not without you” she replies and smiles. Aries rub Arial head and kiss his forehead.
‘That’s my boy!’
“Father, can I invite Kyle and Lisa tomorrow?”
“Of course you can. And it will be good. The fair also began tomorrow. Take some gold from the Treasury”
I nodded.
Once or twice a year huge fairs were held in Danoba. These fairs could last for days and even weeks.
The range of goods available was much larger than the local markets and included goods from other Kingdoms. There are fine clothes, wines, spices and many more.
 “Should we go,Helia?”
“Lets. Lisa and Kyle would also probably like that”
Then after that we went to sleep.
*************************************************************************
 After we wake up, we went out of the castle and went to Lethe house. His father now lives in a mansion.
His father after having many success following my father, was given money to start his own business and now he is a merchant and live in a mansion, a baron that swear fealty towards my father handling one of the village, House Lethe.
This happens 3 years ago. Their sigil is a white raven speared by a sword. White raven is an omen of fate.
Defy fate,huh. Talking about fate, it seems that the succession war didn’t happen. Neither did Hadrian Alan die.
That puzzles me. Supposedly he should die at 1010AF but he didn’t.
Maybe it will happen a bit later. Even better if he didn’t die at all until the Invasion.So then the Dukedom will not be weaken.
After we said that there is a fair Lisa and Kyle quickly changed their clothes and ride with us to the fair.
There are performances everywhere. And many great crowds attended the fair.
The people have had an insatiable love of sight seeing they came great distances, from all parts, of the Dukedom to witness any amusing exhibition.
They would suffer any amount of privation or fatigue to indulge this feeling, and they gave themselves up to it so heartily that it became a solace to them in their greatest sorrows, and they laughed with that hearty laugh which may be said to be one of their natural characteristics.
And there are many things to be seen in the fair, to be sold and bought and to be traded.
An experience not many people can experience. No wonder so many people came. There are the minstrel and bards.
The cleverest of them played all sorts of musical instruments, sung songs, and repeated by heart a multitude of stories, Levitia Lament, Leliana Marriage, Alan Oaths, Duvan Renasi and the Burnt Castles, Zhu Ar Zur and His Trick, George The Wise, this story of great man and their adventures.
The jugglers threw wonderful somersaults, they leaped through hoops placed at certain distances from one another, they played with knives, slings, baskets, brass balls, and earthenware plates, and they walked on their hands with their feet in the air or with their heads turned downwards so as to look through their legs backwards.
And the crowds loved it. Laughter fills the city. And then there are the dancers.
It alternates. There are the Courts of Love Dance, Dance of the 8, Bright Steps Dance, Water Maiden Dance, the mesmerizing fierce Dance of the Sun Emperor, the terrifying Dance of Death.
So many dance, so many songs.
Some are lively and solemn, some frivolous and some severe. Some join the dancer and dance while some did not.
The common folk just feel happy that they could join the festivities.
And we all enjoyed ourselves that day, eating and dancing, singing and laughing, jumping and running all over the fair, Kyle and Lisa still the same teasing each other.
Kyle also whisper something in Helia ears and she laughed. Helia and Kyle have become great friends these past few years.
I was intending to go alone to the market. I will check the armourer or the smith to forge some weapons or to craft me some armour.
‘Wait, Arial!’ Helia ran to me.
‘It’s fine. Talk with the siblings.’
‘You promise me you would bring me sightseeing and buy me some accessories. Are you intending on breaking your promise?’ She said, with a sulking expression.
I laughed.
‘My word is my bond. Of course I would fulfil my promise. Then follow me. Kyle, Lisa, I will accompany Helia for a while.’ Lisa and Kyle nodded.
Helia and I went around to a stall that sells accessory. I buy her a necklace in the shape of a Lion.
“Lion, not dragon?” she said
“What do you mean?” I said looking at the necklace.
“I see your sigil. A dragon in a blue sky”
“My father likes to jape. He heard about the Seer words from his connection and decides it would look good on the family crest”
“Hmm, but it looks fierce doesn’t it?”
“What is?”
“Your banner. A dragon” Then she looks at Arfial and then at the banner. She smiles.
‘Prideful and powerful, the traits of a dragon’ she said and she could see that Arial posses these qualities.
Arial looked at the big banner in the wall of the castle, a banner stretched across the wall, a dragon.
“It would be a sight to behold” Arial reply
Then we went back to the castle
******************************************************
PALAIS CASTLE
MEETING OF PALAIS
The Vermont Family has emerged as a force to be reckoned with gold beyond even of his family.
Their influence is far reaching all over the Continent.
Zephyr family also doesn’t have that kind of wealth. Their business and trade prospered that they are now probably one the wealthiest family in the Continent….if not the wealthiest.
Vern empire might have gold but their gold is not their private property. It is the state property and they still have many debts after the last war.
The area of Danoba is fertile land but was abandoned before the Vermont’s make their house there.
With lush lands and fertile soil and trades worlds over, they have dominated trade and business.
The Palais house had managed over the years to monopolize the policy that Hadrian Alan set, forging alliances and put their man in the House of Alan, as courtiers, as squires and knights.
But the Vermont family did not fight them on this and instead Countess Julia gives them a tacit support but Henry Palais couldn’t believe it.
While their House is flaunting power the Vermont family seems to be perfectly satisfied to remain in the background.
Are they planning something? Suspicion and doubts filled Henry Palais. But their wealth could not be ignored.
They are a powerful force. I need to do something. So he summoned the Low lords, the minor lords and they have decided on a plan.
They will charge the Vermont family with conspiring to overthrow the High Lords. They use dragons as their sigils showing that they are harbouring inattention to supplant the High Lords since everyone know Dragons are sigil for royalty.
This is a laughable reason and justification. But if everyone says the same thing even hot air could become fire.
And the Dukedom has no King.
They scorn at the thought of a King since it will curb the power of the nobility. That’s why even though Alan family is respected they are not the sole ruler.
If they raise their armies, that doesn’t mean everyone will follow. Only those who swear fealty towards them will answer his call.
Henry Palais is actually feeling threatened by the Vermont family wealth. Some of his vassal wanted the Vermont family to be executed after they charge him.
But some feared if they take it this far, maybe the Vermont family will employ sellsword from Ariundus or Vorthy or from the Black Companies or the White Companies, or even the Dancing Blade Companies.
Their wealth is intimidating.
They decided they will charge Vermont family 1 month from now. First they need to prepare. And he needs to persuade Hadrian Alan to give his consent.
But that would be easy. Hadrian is weak and old. He heard the stories of Aries Vermont son, a talented Knight and one their brightest.
But still a child. And he is not involved in the city administration. Strength sometimes doesn’t solve everything he mused.
No one will stop him.
***************************************************
DANOBA CITY
DRAGON REST CASTLE
1013 AF SEEDMONTH DAY 40
About a month has passed. And now I’m 13 years old. Much new reform has been introduced to accommodate the growing city and to make it easier Arial has divided the big city to quarters to make it easier for people to come here to trade and carry their business.
My father and mother approve. So does the city official.
There is the Clothing Quarters, the Food Quarters, The Construction and Jewellery Quarters, the Horse Quarters and the weapons quarters
In it there is guild. And this guild pays taxes to my father and my family
There’s the Mercers, dealer in the textiles the Drapers another dealer in textiles, Fullers who clean and prepare cloths.
Then there is the Dyers, specialize in Cloth Colouring the Skinners dealer in the fur trade, the Tailors maker of clothing, Girdlers maker of belts, Cordwainers maker of shoes, Pinners pin maker or assistant to dress maker
We also began making shop for cloth and hire talented seamstress and tailor into our store.
Then there is the Food Quarters which consist of these guilds. Fishmongers, Vintners, Cheese mongers, Fruiterers, Cooks, Bakers.
My family has business in all of these.
Then there is the Construction and Jewelry Quarters and consist of 9 Guilds that swear their fealty to my father
The Goldsmith, Silversmith, the Joiner, Founders, Carpenters, Plumbers, Locksmiths, Ironmonger and Coopers
And then there the Horse Quarters
The horse quarters have saddlers who make horse saddles, Corsour who is the dealers of horses, Lorimer makers of metal part for bridles, and Farriers, maker of shoes for horses
And then there is the City Quarters which is where the administration and matter of laws is being discussed or held.
And the last one is the weapons quarters .
There is the bowyers who makes the bows, the fletchers, who make the arrow, the armourers who makes shields and armour, the cutlers who makes knives and swords and cutlery, and the blacksmith
This is the six quarters in the city.
Yesterday Helia went back to Sea Worth Castle her father castle. Finally she heeds my advice.
It would be good if she solve her misunderstanding with her father and reconcile with each other.
And today I once again in the office supervising the clerks count the accounts. In the evening I will check the Port and whether our shipment has arrived.
Kyle and Lisa are at Seren now solving a quest right now. I’m on the other hand will help my father. I have also begun my plan.
With the money I supplied Blood Watchers in the Bleeding Wall with food and give them supplies.
We also sent new recruits mostly criminals that are on death penalty as their penance to the Blood Watchers so they could train them to be the shield of the Land from Dark Lands invasion.
Certainly the Wall is stronger now.
The bricks of the Wall have no problem. It has Old magic. The problem is the people. We also sent some request to the Knights to train some of the Blood Watchers.
Anyhow that was has been achieved in this month.
I was begun rising up from my chair when suddenly a servant barge in to the room a parchment f letter on his hand.
“Milord, this is urgent” He said kneeling and presents the letter to me.
The wax used to seal the letter was black. It means urgent. I quickly open the letter.
To: Count of Acro Aries Vermont
From: Count Adrian Alan, son of the High Lord, Hadrian Alan, ruler of Dented Shield and the surrounding Lands, descendants of Alan Gerhardt and the Defender of the Bleeding wall.
Dear Aries, my friend it seems there are dark forces is coming for you. The House of Palais has conspired to accuse you of treason. My father could not stop them any longer nor can I. Be ready for their summons.
This warning is all I can do for you. I hope you think carefully of your move after this.
Your Dear Friend
Adrian Alan.
**************************************************************
My hand tremble. My father accused of treason? How can this be? What did my father do to incur the wrath of the other nobles?
I quickly went outside the building ride my horse and went back to the castle. My father is in Grand Hall when I rushed towards him and give him the letter.
My father read the letter and slumped to the ground. My mother gritted her teeth.
“I know of their ambition but…accusing us of treason? This is….. too much. This is too much!” My mother said after reading the letter
My father doesn’t know what to say. He is just slumped there on the ground shaking his head.
“It’s envy” I said
Envy of our wealth and our growing power.
“We should have escaped the envies of people or else they will strike us down”
Our family appear too perfect and this just increases their inferiority and fear.
“What do we do?” my father finally uttered a word.
“We hire sellsword.Let us fight them. We use our money and we will win this Dear” my mother said she pat my father back trying to console my father.
I never thought my mother would utter the word fight. My mother has changed.
“No. Mother that would lead to a war with House Palais”
“We can win” my mother insisted
“At what cost. The destabilization of the Dukedom?”
I couldn’t risk that. Not with the big invasion in 4 years. They probably would exile us. Taking it too far….no they wouldn’t do that.
Our family have many offices in the continent. There’s even one in Seren. Arial has already have an idea
“It will be alright mother. I have a plan”
Then he told his parent his ideas. After vigorous explanation they finally agreed to it. But not without seriously convincing my mother.
She was determined to fight, to hire every single sellsword our treasury could maintain, and do battle with the other noble houses rather than be in disgrace like this.
It reminded my mother of her family.
Her family might not have been very loving towards her and her choice but that doesn’t mean she did not love her family.
She heard what happen to them when she searched for them when Aries has become influential.
My mother wanted to prove that she did not choose wrong.
Not that she cares about title but to show to her family, that the man she has chosen, lord or not, will always make her happy.
From what I could surmise my grandfather and grandmother may have been betrayed bty another noble family and the house itself feel apart considering that every time my mother talk about them, there is this sadness reflected in her eyes..
But we could  not …no…it is I, that could not afford destabilizing the dukedom too much.
So we wait.

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