AOH – Chapter 23

Like Don't move Unlike
 
2
Previous Chapter
Next Chapter

CHAPTER 23: TIMING

SEA WORTH CASTLE
1013 AF LIGHTMONTH DAY 46
A girl could be seen is showing an old man an angry and dissatisfied expression.
“I’m not going to marry him, Father!” I couldn’t believe what my father is saying.
The wood in the fire place crackle. The wood-fire, blazing cheerily in the ample fireplace, sent its warmth in this cold night.
“But he is your betrothed” my father said uncertainly.
“And from the moment I can think for myself I have told you I did not want to marry him. He is arrogant”
“Was” my father said “Was arrogant. He has changed. You knew him when he was a child, eager to show off. Young and folly”
“Still the answer is no” I said “If you only want to discuss about marriage why do you call me back?” 
I was already preparing to leave. Even though the outside is dark, it is not a problem for me. 
I have travelled in the dark before, at night, navigating only by the moonlight. 
Arial taught me. He taught me many things, obscure knowledge, survival tips and much more.
How to rely on the other senses. 
God does not just give us eyes. He also gives us the sense of touch, of hearing, of smelling. Use it. Master it. Night? It’s nothing but a simple obstacle.
“No, you must stay” his voice is desperate and there is nervousness in his tone.
This is weird. Though to be honest this month my father has been acting weird. 
He did not allow me to go out of the castle wall. For almost a month she didn’t get any word from outside.
It was like somehow her father is obstructing her from knowing what happen outside.
“What happen?”  She ask, feeling there is something wrong that has happened. There is something wrong here
“Nothing Dear. Nothing happen” he said, sweat can be seen forming in his neck, his eyes darting left and right. My father has never been a master deceiver. 
Maybe to other people….but to his family he can’t.
“Something happen. Something that you don’t want me to know. Spill or I will leave the castle gate by myself and found it the hard way” I began walking away.
“Guards!” my father yelled
The guard is in front of me.
One of them tries to grab me but even before his hand ever reaches mine, I unsheathe my sword and held it at his neck.
The other guard stopped. I knew they couldn’t hurt me. I’m a lord daughter. THEIR Lord daughter. I looked at my father. He didn’t want this any more than I do.
I thought of reconciling with him. At first he appears to be open to reconcile our differences and he is once again kind. It was her father again. 
The father she loved. The father she respected. He did not urge me to get married again neither did he force me to stay.
The idea of marriage is not what drove her away. It was the thought that she as no choice in the matter.
And for a brief while, it was like her family united again.
But she noticed. Was it 2 weeks ago? Or was it a month ago? He ordered the people in hushed tones, speaking in whisper in his hall, and conversations with his vassals stopped when she enter the room. 
I thought it was nothing. Then I remembered.
My father during my early years he would always whispers like that ordering people to cover some of his unsightly deed. 
Usually hiding it from my mother and me. The mother that loves him. My mother that suffer for him.
My mother, death, leaving their family to meet the Lord Above, nothing but a speck of memory now. 
And that feeling then is the same as the feeling now. He is lying to me. Why? Did he think to force me to marry with West? Or is there something else I don’t know?
“Helia, enough!” He said looking at the blood dripping from the soldier neck. I too began realizing it.
Oh God. 
I didn’t realize I was putting pressure on the sword. Quickly I lowered my sword. My hand is trembling. It’s not like I never killed people before. But I never killed innocent people before. 
And I’m not going to start.
“Tell me Father” I said this time my tone is gentler. 
I don’t want to fight again. I’m tired of fighting with my father. Years and years of fighting. I want to return home happy and feeling safe in my home. 
Not constricted and being choked with all the untold rules. I wanted to have …..a family again
“Just tell me. Let me understand. Let me share it with you. Your burden”
My father look shocked. 
We have so long never been honest either with our words or with our hearts. Maybe honest word should be spoken more often instead keeping it in our hearts
There are many lies in this house that a word of truth seems so frightening to consider. To even be heard.
“Helia…I…I” I came closer to my father and hugged him
“Tell me. Make me understand” And I could feel his tears dropping to my clothes. And without realizing it, I too drop some tears. 
How long has it been since we hugged each other?
Too long, too long.
“You’re my princess, Helia. I just want what is good for you”
“I know. I know you want me happy. But…I’m happy now.” My aftehr nodded and smiles bitterly
Then my father sits down and tells me the story. 
The moment he tell me what happens, I rushed out of the castle grand hall, almost stumbling in the stairs, reached to the stables, took my horse and rides through the cold night air.
I’m level headed. Among the 4 Greats I’m the joiner. I mend what is broken. I hear them; bring them to solve the conflict. 
Lisa and Kyle always fought together but their heart is true. They loved each other like any normal sibling would do. 
She remembers Lisa word after Kyle nearly got killed in one quest.
“No one tries to kill my brother and survive. Only I can do that” before she charged with Arial and slice the criminal that tries to kill her brother into two. 
Lisa loved her brother. And her brother loved her. But Helia? She is level headed and calm. She needs to be.
Kyle is the one that is always charge ahead, while Arial and Lisa is the smart one. Being a part of their group, she sometimes felt that they didn’t need her. 
Kyle……and she remembered him. In a way, she remembered the night when they…when she thought that he likes her…and she almost embarrassed herself.
But it happens a year ago and she gave up on him. She was so close to being in love…with her best friend. 
But seeing that….remembering that moment….she knows she is not meant to be. 
She knows that Kyle does not like her like that. In a way, it is because of that night, that she found comfort with Arial. 
Arial is cold and a private person but he is also very understanding. He is stoic. He does not whine. 
He accept and embrace the things that happened to him, always chasing this…..dreams of his…whatever that is. And being beside Arial, she felt….she belongs.
She found her place in that group. The horse whinnied. Helia looked at her horse.  
“Sorry, but I need to go fast” she urged the horse to ride again.
She is their joiner.
 She is level headed and calm. She is the soother, the conflict resolver. Either because of Kyle hot headedness, or Lisa domineering personality, or the cold logic of Arial, she went and solve their conflict for among the 4 Greats each of them have very different personalities. 
Lisa even though is very smart but when it involves her brother she couldn’t stop braving any dangers while Kyle is rash but usually his heart in the right place and he is talented in battle.
Arial is the cold one. To solve a quest, he sometimes did things that the siblings couldn’t agree with but usually it turns alright.
It was almost like he could predict certain events. There was one killer that Arial refuse to kill, while Kyle was already brandishing his sword, and Lisa was already preparing to release an arrow to the killer. 
Yet Arial refuse. Two days later the killer got caught by the nobles in the land that he was killing, and was sentenced to die by drowning.
And sometimes there are certain things, certain decision he make that the rest of us never comprehend, saying it was all for the Greater good.
But if she is level headed and calm why can’t her heart slow down. Why does she felt so angry and wanting to rush to meet Arial?
She is his companion. One of the closest. But she felt something more. And she thinks Arial felt that too. And hearing of the exile, she worried.
Worried for him. Thinking about him. Her heart cannot stop beating. She wants to see him. To make sure with her own eyes that he is fine and safe.
And she realized at that moment. It is not brotherly love like she felt for Kyle or the feeling of friendship like she felt for Lisa.
It’s love. The word that is sung by the minstrels and bards, in the stories of Knights and great heroes stretched across the starry sky. 
A thousand, and a thousand more, and a thousand more, glimmers of their battles, of hope and love and their struggles, she mused
And admitting that to herself make her half excited, half scare. Excited to see him. To tell him. 
Fearful of the rejection.
And the horse keeps galloping while the stars and the moonlight shine her way.
*************************************************************************
DENTED SHIELD CASTLE
1013 AF LIGHTMONTH DAY 56
The situation in the County of Acro worsens. They people have begun rioting. The atmosphere in the Dukedom was in gloom. 
To think that Aries has this much effect in the Dukedom. The warm summer air is a month for resting in their thatched house and a season for fairs and festivals.
But not in Acro. The citizens there is used to luxury goods, great food, good entertainment, and fairs and festival and feast that will last for days in the Dragon castle of the Vermont Family.  
Especially in the summer. Since the exile, the traders stopped visiting. And this has created a shortage of goods. For the guilds it is a problem. 
And the nobles that once make their business there, bought and sold things in the market place of Acro have begun feeling restless. 
And yesterday finally riot has broken. They stormed the Count office, thrash the office and burn his building. 
Some of them even rid of the Count family from the castle wall of the Vermont’s. 
And they raised the dragon banner of the Vermont family once again, the peasant stitches dragon flag and waved it inside Acro.
A throng of common folk wearing tunic and normal garb, stitched in their clothes a dragon, came with their pitchfork and spears and make all the guards surrenders. 
The guards themselves don’t put that much resistance. Most of the guards are the people who once serve the Vermont’s.
Even in exile his friend has influence.
The atmosphere in Acro right now is terror. Their demand is the return of the Vermont Family. They have taken the castle as their defending grounds.
They got supplies secretly from the Guilds that supported the Vermont’s. And from some noble houses, and some from the Low Lords.
Weapons and goods, and water. The Vermont castle is one of the largest castle  in the Dukedom. It can stand siege for up to 6 months maybe even a year.
And with the Keep full, the mob of common folk will not be worried about starving even though Henry Palais come with his army.
It was weird when Aries leave all the supplies in the Keep not even taking one bit of supplies from the Keep, but now he understand.
Or is it their son that orchestrates all this? He didn’t see Arial to be a schemer. But maybe he underestimated the boy too much.
Adrian knows of the boy prowess for he himself witnesses it, but strategical thinking or tactical thinking, that he would never expect of him.
He is a Knight. He should be honorable and just. But maybe that is his perception. A Knight Arial is, but who’s to say he is honorable. If Arial did orchestrate this, maybe he is even more dangerous than Palais. 
The sound of coughing can be heard again
“Father, are you alright?” I said began attending to my father.
For this couple of weeks my father has been ill. The last time he is ill, Aries is in the castle when he said that he knows a healer that can ease my father illness. 
So Aries brought his friends from Asteros, the Land of the Brave, a continent so far away, that they didn’t even trade here.
But luckily his friend who called himself Haler is in the Dukedom for he is an adventurer that wishes to sail the whole world. 
It was by chance and he heals my father illness but he said that it is only a stopgap measure. Now his illness is acting again.
“Bring me water, Adrian” Quickly I got up and took the jug in the table, pour the water into a goblet and give it to my father.
“How is the situation in Acro?” My father asked
“Father,you should be res—“
“HOW IS THE SITUATION IN ACRO!” he raised his tone and coughed again
I relent.
“Worse than ever. Some of them begun making Vermont family castle as their encampment”
“Their demand?” my father asked though I think he already knew the answer to that.
“The return of the Vermont”
My father sighed. Then he spoke
“You know I have always an eye for picking people. I pick the Vermont believing them that they will rise to wealth, but I never thought they would be so influential. Their exile has caused this Dukedom headache. And with rumors flying all around the Dukedom, the nobles sit in their house plotting. The common folk sharpened their pitchfork and all the while sellswords came waiting for their chance to be hired.”
“Then why did you exile them?” I said. If he has foreseen this why my father didn’t heed my advice the first time?
“Did I have a choice? Henry army is stronger than us, and even though the nobles swear their fealty to us, that doesn’t mean they always will. What if they decide to march here?
“Uhuk, Uhuk” 
“Father!”
“I’m fine” he said trying to be strong.
“This is Henry doing. Now the nobles that supported him have begun abandoning him.  He has incite the fear that he is the one who wanted to rule” And I could swear I see my father smirking
“Do you think he wanted to rule?” I asked
“He wants power. He has it. Rule? He is ruling. But he fears the Vermont’s. Probably more than he fear us. He is too cautious for his own good. I have seen the Vermont. They are nice people. They didn’t like the game that the nobles play which is why probably Julia gives Henry tacit support. I don’t like that the Vermont is doing nothing to help me but neither can I resent them. They just want to live a peaceful life. But now….it’s different. Henry has made an enemy. A terrible enemy. With all the might of their gold and influence, how can the Palais stand a chance?”
“So what do you want to do now, Lord Father?” my father smile
“Summon Henry to the castle.” Then he coughed and spoke again staring intently to me.
 “Son, remember this. Wait for the right timing. Surely, time will be your ally if you manage to guide its way. And here is the perfect timing” And he smiles. Even though my father is old his mischievous smile remains the same.
*************************************************************************
RENASIA
1013 AF LIGHTMONTH DAY 56
Today many of the Kings Army went to stop the Mountain Tribe raiding. After long time of inactivity suddenly they attacked again. 
They always attacked usually raiding the town near the border to get some supplies or just for the fun of it. We rarely interact with them.
“Pedro, why can’t I go? I’m tired of being sidelined .I too wanted to fight.” The Princess said
“You’re too young” I said
“I’m ten and five. People younger than me join the battle”
I sighed.
“Fine. You want to know the true reason? You’re the heir apparent or the Kingdom. If you somehow fall in battle, then who would succeed you? Your father has no other descendant other than you.”
“Easy. Then I don’t have to fall in battle” I chuckled
This young girl has grown to be quite audacious and brave. I almost regret teaching her swordsmanship. 
Of all the people that I have trained there is never one so bold or more talented.
The Princess are proficient in the use of swords, blades and bow. But her most familiar weapon is her spear. 
White Tiger Spear belonging to her grandmother Rhaessa is claimed by her the moment she learned how to use the spear. 
The White Tiger Spear so called name because the King before Rhaessa, King Jahera fought the Arati Tribe one of the influential tribe among the mountain men at the time.
Their Chief Adrok ride a white Tiger to battle killing and mawing, clawing his way among the troops.
So many of Renasian troops died such horrible death
King Jahera can no longer bear such sight, known as both strong and proficient in the use of spear gallop in horseback with full speed and with his strength threw his spear so far, but even though his pose look domineering and powerful, no one  thought that it will reach Adrok but King Jahera proved everyone wrong.
The Spear pierced Adrok heart and not only that the spear didn’t stop, it then penetrates the fur hide of Adrok and the spear hit the white tiger. 
The white tiger and the Chief of the Mountain Tribe died there instantly
The battle stop and the Mountain Tribe retreat back to their mountains and hill. When it is the time of reign for Rhaessa who is known to have weak and frail countenance, the spear was kept in one of her treasure rooms.
But Rhyssa went into the treasure room, unwrapped the cloth on the spear, and bring it out from the Palace and declare that the spear is hers.
And no one dare defy her for she looked so dashing and charismatic. Neither the nobles, nor the royalty dare tell her off.
She is a Queen. And by my honour a queen she shall be. Not dying in some battle as insignificant as this.
“My decision is final. Let the army handle this. They are accustomed vanquishing the Mountain Tribe”
“I’M THE SOVEREIGN OF THIS NATION” she screamed toting her spear
I couldn’t help but chuckle
“Not yet, Princess. Not yet.”
She sulked. She is too young. Too bold. Too reckless. Too eager to prove herself. Not yet Princess. 
You have to learn patience. You have to be as manipulative as Rhaessa, as strong as Jahera, as wise as Rhaella and as cunning as Duvan.
Then you can be the greatest ruler Renasia has ever seen.

Previous Chapter
Next Chapter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *