AOH – Chapter 22

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My father has been summoned by the High Lords. They already began moving. Chess pieces of Palais.
The decree has order us to exile ourselves from the dukedom under the charge of treason towards the Dukedom, and harboring intention to become King.
We are given 2 weeks to clean out our belongings from the Castle. The new ruler of the land is Henry himself.
Henry was ready for a retaliation from the Vermont but contrary to his expectation, no retaliation is levied upon him.
Instead Aries Vermont captivated the commonfolk on the day he was exiled from his domain.
It’s not the sight of Henry army marching to Aries land  that held the commonfolk in awe it was Count Aries humility that makes them in awe.
He did not fight the punishment, no yelling, no screaming, and no curses.
He just takes his punishment willingly and left quietly and his word at the end when he said 
“All I do, I do for love of this Dukedom. If I am unworthy and my intention seems unhonourable then I will leave the Dukedom” he said sadly and leaves the Palace.
The people of the new county of Acro and the city of Danoba love their ruler for Aries is kind and just, a jolly person and an unselfish person. 
Her wife the Countess is gentle, warm hearted and care about the people and always thinking about the people of the County.
His son Arial is also famous in the Dukedom, solving many quests that helps many cities and villages with his Order of Knight.
To those who met Aries son he is describe as active, charming and brave, talented in leading his Knights to battle, and clever.
So when they heard the news many protest the family exile. Henry vassal took the Vermont banner from the wall.
It was stripped from the castle and burn in the field by Palais troops.
This blatant disrespect almost incite the people in Acro to take arms. But Aries remain calm and urge the people of the County to accept the Palais rule.
If not for his word there will be riot in the street.
So today Arial and dozens of caravan containing goods and their gold left the Dukedom of Alan and headed to Seren.
They are seeking the help of Arial father friend’s, a great noble from the House Eren ,Will Eren.
Arial also knew his daughter which is Lila Eren, because she is in the Purple Fairy and they met when they were solving quest for the Academy.
We ride and rest in the city and rest for a while in Castle Villion belonging to the House of Villion where we are treated courteously and then continue our journey and we see many things in Seren that I never had the time to see before.
I saw the Fire God Temple up close. The flames burn bright. 
The Fire God temple with a flame that is said, never will be extinguished, every day the faithful will help make sure the fire never go out.
And we traverse across the Many Hills cross the Liana River and stop in Lelia town, see the Sharp Mountain said to be manmade a golden brick that reach the heights of a  mountain and finally we arrive at Fierce Stone the Castle of House Eren.
It is different design from the design in the Dukedom. That is one thing I recognize when I see their architecture.
The moment we arrives the servants came and takes our luggage and we store our caravans in the storeroom and the Keep.
My father went and greets Will Eren.
“What bad luck you have my friend” Will said, as he sahkes my father hand and give him a pat in the back
“That is life.” My father reply.
“Honor to meet you Duke of Athere” my mother said bowing slightly
“No, no the pleasure is mine” he said.
Then we were led to our rooms by his servants. And my plan begins. My parents have trusted me to do what I have planned before.
I quickly open my bag and bring out paper and parchment. Then with pen set to paper I write.
This couple of weeks the city and the county of Acro are in a state of unrest. The man he appointed to the position of the Count there has sent him report that dissatisfaction is high.
The Port has no ship that docked.
Not from Vorthy nor Ariundus or other lands like Anjou Horde, wine from Ranoa that usually come with dozens of ship to trade in the Port all did not come.
The people of the County that is used to luxury items and extravagance food and great wines at first was disgruntled.
The new Count says he can solve this. And with great persuasion the people back off and give the new Count a chance
So he sent letters to the trading families, and even sent some expedition to cross the Sea to ask the people in the other continent to come trading back.
But they all say they will not trade with an unknown person.
The trading families, the foreign traders all made their business in the Port not only because the County of Acro has many trade items from all the Continent but also because they trusted the nature of Aries.
His trustworthiness became his weapon.
And hearing what happen to that family, they no longer wanted to trade there and instead they go to Vern in the North even though the journey would be longer
And after the wealthy family heard that, their disgruntled attitude turns into frustration while the guilds turn to anger.
Everyday protest is held in front of the city quarters. But the Count dare not use military action.
The city and the county are used to freedom more than any other parts of the Continent because the way Aries set up his rule.
If the new count uses military powers he worried that the people would rise up.
With the city boasting one of the largest populations in the Dukedom, angering so many people would not be wise.
And then everyday gossips can be heard in the tavern, and meeting places. All of them saying the same thing “Bring back the Vermont family”
“This is a headache” Henry sat on his chair. Pinching his forehead.
Every day the report makes his headache more painful. Today is no different.
There are some story tellers that spread rumor that the Palais family is determine to conquer the Dukedom for himself
Little did he know that even in exile that Vermont family has many connections, from worlds over and has many connections with the trading families.
Even in exile the Vermont family continued to exert influence in the affairs of the Dukedom with their massive wealth.
Stories inciting fear that the Palais family is setting up their own Kingdom here in the Dukedom.
Every day the story will get more and more audacious and bolder. The nobles and the noble houses, the minor lords, the low lords and even the High Lord of Alan fear that the stories has basis.
The story teller says that it was because that the Vermont family uncovers his ambition that’s why they were accused of treason.
And day by day many more people believe the story. They will whispers in secluded places.
Dark whispers and dark thoughts
And day by day fear crept in the hearts of Henry. His son is in the Order of Alan so maybe he hadn’t heard yet.
Now it’s important to solidify his power. The marriage between his son and the daughter of Zephyr must happen.
Then the attendant comes in
“Milord, Helve Zephyr has come for an audience”
Then the lord enter
“My lord I have come” he kneels in front of the chair that is almost like a throne.
Not even before the lord has time to catch his breath Henry ask him
“I will go straight to my question, Count Helve. How is the betrothal between our children?”
Helve looked uncomfortable but after taking a breath then he said
“My lord, my daughter refuses to marry”
“So! Aren’t you her father?”
Helve reply
“She is a Knight my lord and a Knight Sister at that. She has signed her name in blood and she is a part of the brotherhood. She need not answer to her father if she decides not to. Filial piety to parents is second before duty to the Continent. If she decides to marry it will be of her own volition” Helve explained.
Henry knows that. He has heard from his son West. His son tries to court Helia at the academy but he said that she did not respond.
Then suddenly he remembers. Helve daughter, Helia is said to be close to Arial the son of House Vermont.
Could it be?
“Or maybe, you have another suitor, perhaps?’ Suddenly Henry eyes stared hardly at Helve.
Helve face turns pale.
“I do not understand my lord. What do you mean?”
“Could it that House Vermont sues for your daughter hand in marriage?”
With that his face turns even paler.
Helve did not receive any proposals from Vermont family but he did think that her daughter and Arial Vermont could get married and even his relationship with House Vermont is good.
And if they unify their House they would probably become a strong force in the Dukedom.
But now the Vermont family is in exile and he did receive a letter a few days ago stamped in a wax seal with the sigil of a dragon.
The letter only has three words for him 
“Choose a side” Three words. But carry a great consequences. In the end, he has to bet. Bet on the current power which is Henry Palais or bet it on the rising power of the Vermont family?
Aries Vermont  is fond of Helia when he met her the last time. There is a chance for that favorable impression to be turned into a solid alliance. 
Uniting the declining House of Zephyr and the rising power of the Vermont’s could create one of the strongest alkaline of House in the Dukedom. 
Alliance that could even rival that of House of Alan.
But….if he choose wrongly, then he who knows Henry temper, might not survive an execution. 
While her daughter might be spared, for she is too precious to be executed, but he knows what lies ahead if his choice didn’t pan out. 
Helia will marry West. Henry could then claim his family ancestry with the Vangua royalty and most of the southern lords.
“No my lord” Helve said then.
“You’re loyal to me and my family yes?” Henry said
“We swear our fealty. Our House has always sworn loyalty towards the House of Palais”
“Fine. You can go”
With that Helve went out of the room. So now what? 
He had no alliance right now with the other houses. The other Houses swear loyalty towards the House of Alan.
What will he do now? Should he force Helve?
On the other hand, Helve outside the room is walking away. And in his mind there is only one thing.
He has to make a choice. And he has to make it today.
Arial plan worked like he intended. 
Misinformation, propaganda, feeding on fear and uncertainty, on the distrustful nature of the nobles and fanning the flames of hate in the merchant family towards their new ruler.
This is all achieved perfectly.
He hires story tellers and bards, minstrel, troupe of entertainers to spread rumour and incite fear to the the House of Palais.
He then sent letters telling the other families and trading partners from Vorthy to Ariundus to the other Kingdoms saying that House of Palais do not know how to trade and their families wanted to exploit and change the price of products.
It takes great persuasion and he also negotiates with a few influential merchant family to achieve the desired effects.
And the story spreads like wildfire just the way Arial would hope. Any day now riots will broke out.
He also sent to the other Houses a letter to choose a side. Vermont family will return stronger than ever.
And those who is not on their side at the end of the day…..will not prosper.
Henry Palais chose a wrong family to mess with.
He will not let his family trampled but he also did not want to destabilize the Kingdom by amassing forces and attacking Palais family.
Their family can amass great force. 
Force that can be used to drive back the Invasion. He will let the common folk to force Henry hands. It seems cowardly but it is all for the greater good. For some reason…the word the greater good could be justify for anything.
Arial sighed bitterly. 
I hope I am not wrong he mused.
The invasion is near.  Any more instability in the region must not be tolerated. For now he will wait.
The dust settles from the book as a man took it and sit down near the rack.
Mikael Devonhurst is the younger brother of Ariana, the princess that is betrothed to the Prince of Arakath.
He is named Mikael for the King that ruled both Davarus and Anvali in ancient times.
Today he is here again in the darkness of the library and the smell of books. Unlike his beautiful sister, he did not dabble himself in arts. 
He is a fan of history, of myths and of ancient knowledge, of the obscure and hidden knowledge, buried in the annals of history.
Particularly about the First Generation. The First Generation is a mysterious race of people. Their background and origin is still debated today.
They are strong and smart enough to force the Dark Lords at the time to concede to them and sign the Accord.
Suddenly after a period of peace and prosperity, they disappeared leaving the Sky people, their descendant in Davarus.
He always wondered why the Dark Lord concedes. And he might just have found it. This would be the 4375 time he has successfully entered the King Private Library.
Thankfully he knows the secret passage or maybe he would be executed for seeing national treasures that is kept in the library.
But the treasures meant nothing to him. It is the book that held answer for him.
And this might be the answer. He found it after scouring years after years, always in the disguise of night.
Day after day, he came hopping to find some answer. The titles are almost fading. Translated by Uviel
This new book he found spoke of a weapon that the First Generation had. 
It describes the weapon in great detail, detailing the destruction it brings.
It was a gigantic spear, tall as a hill, though some are high as the mountain itself. It was a divine weapon. When the First Generation release this weapon, from the back of the spear there are fire so massive, so hot and fatal,  that anyone near the spear will be melted, and when the spear has reached its target, the land around it disappeared into ash and smoke, the ground splintered and collapsed on itself, hole so big, that the sea water came and drowned the surrounding territory, the air become so poisonous that whoever inhale it dies almost instantly and with great pain, the blazes so hot and hungry that not even plants can be planted, melting temples, villages, cities, and Kingdom.
Then it described what this weapon did to the environment at the time.
Dust covered the world for 40 days and 40 nights. So many races were driven to the point of extinction while the First Generation wears some strange looking mask and strange looking cloth and there were unharmed. 
The air does not make them sick, the fire didn’t hurt them. And when the dust settled they remove their garments and fled from the Empire now turned dessert.
Fear struck the Demon Lords and they tremble in their palaces and castle fearing this enemy of Gods.
It is said in the books that the First Generation display this weapon of theirs in a nearby island in Anvali. 
But what is the reason they unleashed this weapon? That is proably te most important question. Why did they release such ungodly weapon, and damning the entirety of countless of race?
The answer?
One of their families has been killed. In the beginning they have only 30 families. 
After one of their families being killed by one of the Demon Lords, they swore vengeance. Below it described the feeling of the First Generation.
Sick and tired of the constant harassment, they release their mighty spear to one of the lush plains in Davarus, whict at that time was ruled by the Xenos Empire. The Xenos Empire is  a great Empire, with many green soil and hills, even mountains, with buildings that almost reached the sky, with all of the luxury that even Anvali could not match and gold mines abundant with treasures. People believed that the Xenos Empire is a sun that will never set, an everlasting Empires that is destined to ride out the ship of history, until the stars fell and the heaven torn asunder.  It is once said there is no other place more prosperous or more heavenly. But in one day of vengeance the Kingdoms of the Empire turns to ash, it’s people burn in fiery blaze, not even have the chance to scream, their cities and village turn to sand and the surrounding Kingdom around it disappeared and fall into the Dark sea. Their history ended, so is their Empire. 
No trace whatsoever that their Empire even existed. No ruins or anything that can prove of the once mighty Empire. 
If not for the Anvali royalty that kept the records maybe people don’t know that Xenos even exist.
For 200 years after that no one could go to the area around it without something evil happened to them. Those who were living near there can only live for an extended period of time. Some say it is the curse of the First Generation that they give when they release the Spear of Doom. Others become cursed with mystifying sickness and become ill easily. Seeing this display of power and might so unfathomable, rivaling of Gods, the Demon Lord in Arakath trembled in fear. They felt no safety in their wall castle, or the high and tall towers for the Spear of Doom obliterate everything. If they can destroy an Empire what good it is to hide behind wall towers? What good to hide behind castle wall? Every day they live in fear for what if the First Generation meant to unleash the weapons of Gods unto them? Until finally one of the leader of the First Generation call up a meeting. There they agreed to an agreement. They will never attack Davarus again unless the Demon Lords violate their rights. And the fearful Demon Lord agrees. And for a time there is peace in the land. The Demon Lord rules and the humans obey. The Demon Lord does not violate their right, do not try to harm the human without probable cause, nor rape their daughters, or terrorized them. 
Xenos is their reminder. If their rights are violated maybe even Arakath will be lost in a fiery blaze.
So, the First Generation lives their lives peacefully. 
And the other humans who heard about the Demon Lord in Davarus began migrating to Davarus where they interact with the First generation.
Most of the other humans are not strong like the First generation. The First Generation hardly fell sick; they can even fly some say, riding some metal type looking thing
A long book, I mused. 
But an interesting one. Better continue reading before the guards make their rounds and notice something suspicious.
Most of the Humans do not know how to write or read so the First generation teaches them. 
Soon, they learn enough to create their own language more refined than the sound of guttural.
When they are sick, the First generation would pierce something sharp in their bodies and few days later they are healed.
The First Generation is, some say the Children of God, for they bring miracles. 
And before long the First generation intermarried with the humans that come and born the Lost Generation… and then years not known later the Sky People and then the Caelum race.
The Lost Generation. I’ve read this before.
He heard the footsteps. I have no time. I’ll resume tomorrow. I quickly open the latch between the floor of the biggest cupboard in the library and one candle is light up and a sound can be heard. 
Quickly I ran to noise and the hidden door is in front of me. I rushed and press my hand to one of the unusual looking brick there.
Then I slid down and the stairs is in front of me.  In that darkness I walked again, happy that I got some new information. 
This will one day prove useful.
 The Demon Lords need to reclaim back the Lost Lands from the Human Kings. One day I will have a chance to make a name for myself grander than Mikail the King Who Lost.
But the King and the King son is too peaceful. Surely one day the prince will see the error of his ways. For now I will gain knowledge.

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