AOH – Chapter 25

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CHAPTER 25: THE DRAGONS RETURN

1013 AF FALLMONTH DAY 12
The caravans are behind Arial horse.
He ride his red horse, the banner of his family is once again stretched proudly in the castle wall. They have returned.
In the castle walls the common folk are waving dragon flag, and the banner bearer is waving the crest of his family, the dragon.
Today Arial wore a red armor, his armor has black rubies in his breastplate, glittering in the summer’s sun, and it was like he was on fire, blazing, riding the red horse bringing awe to anyone who saw him.
People marvel at him and how strong he looked , for as young as he look they could see that this boy will one day rule in his father lands.
The procession is important. 
To show power unwisely may lead to destruction, but show it to in the proper light, they will revere you. 
Arial now has long hair and his white long hair streaming gracefully behind his neck. His diet has worked.
He is taller than he is from his previous life at this age. 
His blue eyes scanned the crowds, all happy for their family return. Behind Arial back is his lover, Helia wearing her armor with their crest a golden pearl, shining design in her breastplate.
 His parent is in the caravans and they looked out from the caravan windows and waved to the common folks.
The nobles, the minor lords that swear fealty, the guild master all were waiting for my father to enter the castle.
After the news came that the other lords has agreed to called back our family, the rioters empty back the castle, clean it, and wait for us, never to enter the castle again to show their respect
They guard the castle, the guards accommodate the rioters, the common folk held a mini festival of their own.
They will die for us; they believed in us with such vehemence, they loved us. They will bleed for us. 
But I knew such love can turn. 
After all the greater the love, the greater the hate.
My altercation with the Palais family has taught me many things. Some battles are won with brute strength, some with other means, with gold or words.
And we have a lot of gold. And I have a lot of strength. And having both of these, our rise to power is unimpeded.
I will not repeat the mistake of Henry.
If I seemed ambitious I would stir up opposition and envy that would ultimately threaten my family rule and my plan. 
But I need to expand power. I have a new plan now. The time for procrastination is about to end.
I need to face thing aggressively now and make fast decision. 
But if our family kept staying on the sidelines, our family would leave an opening for other family to rise up and once again threaten them.
I will find a way to solve this later.
For now I will enjoy this brief victory. The sound of cheering can be heard
“Hail the Vermont’s” some of the common folk screams
Daniel Lethe was in front of the castle.
“Uncle Daniel”
“My lord” he said. Then I realized we are in front of a lot of people. Hierarchies are important. At least for appearance 
“Yes Lord Daniel. Thank you for your service and loyalty” I said. I recognize the deeds he had to do for our families, orchestrating a revolt a kingdom away could not be done without helper.
“Once again, the dragon banner rises up” Uncle Daniel said
“Yes” I dismount my horse. Helia too.
Then finally my parents went out of their caravans. The nobles kneeled. The common folk seeing this display, also unconsciously kneeled.
I approached my father and I too kneeled
“Lord Father, please enter the castle” My father was awed by this spectacle. While my mother quickly guide my father to the castle.
“THE DRAGONS HAVE RETURNED” a crier screamed. And the common folk cheered.
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1013 AF FALLMONTH DAY 19
It has been a week. 
The traders have begun coming back. 
Ariundus and Vorthy have retuned, bringing their sought goods and like I promised in the letter, for three month, the taxes will be decrease. 
A cheap price for power again
The rioters were compensated for their effort in calling for my family return. 
They were given 46 sack of grain and some gold.
Reconstruction has begun. With our gold the building and public places has begun reconstructing. 
We are also hiring people to make new roads that will connect us to all the major cities and other Kingdoms. 
Trade can be easier and it will help the common folk to easily come here. 
This has created many jobs here in the duchy which in turn attracts many more people migrating here.
Many of the villages now turn into small city. Nobles came back to Acro selling and buying goods. 
The other noble houses are happy with the growth and the profit they get trading here. For now I handle the business part.
My father and mother went to Dented Shield to receive his appointment as Duke of Arandy.
Helia turn back home to her father. She said she left thing unresolved. Giving her some supplies and sending some guards to accompany her, she rides home at dawn.
My father takes his seat again and his title restored.
This means the title of my father will be Baron of Danoba, Count of Acro, and Duke of Arrandy.
My father now controlled a large part of the Dukedom. 
And with it the fealty of all the minor nobles that ruled the city of Valais, Skaldruk, Shadow Sound and Hexham and also the fealty of House Zephyr. 
The House of Rodan also swears their fealty towards our family considering our good relations with him. 
It was after I persuade him in the letter. My father has become a High Lord. The same status as Hadrian himself. 
Arial has heard that Duke Hadrian has fallen sick. A looming war. The Succession War. 
If the event from my timeline still exists, then Alderam will surely wage war against his brother one week after the funeral. 
But in this timeline only now, I heard that the Duke time is running out. Time has become a little messed up.
It happens a lot later than I expected but in the end it happens. I have been preparing for that war since the beginning. 
And now I implemented something new, another thing I saw in my dreams.
Now that my father is Duke, no one have any say what he do in his realm not even Hadrian. And Hadrian is too weak now. 
I have heard he has coughed blood. Must be at his deathbed by now. Now is the time to implement it. 
I create banks. 
The first of its kind has been created near the market square guarded by many Knights that sworn their sword to my father.
This could be created because the increase in trade with foreign traders from all over the continent.
They all have their own currency. Many things were bought from other places by ship from Vorthy or Ariundus or caravans that came from the North, from Seren and Bardent, from Dostov and Renasia.
These merchants and traders need someone who would exchange their money for the currency in the Dukedom which is the pennies, the copper and the gold. 
And I created a new job for the clerks and the sons of the merchant families. Money changers. 
We will charge for the currency exchange. Which mean the bigger they spend the bigger the profit.
Before if we got Vorthy currency we will store it then when we want to buy Vorthian goods we will use their currency 
But by creating this, trade will become easier. I also created the job moneylender. Usually nobles would pledge their land which to me sound pretty idiot.
But the nobles want to live a life luxury so many of them have begun using this service of moneylending.
The nobles have a hard time to get used to the ideas that they need to pay back anything that they borrowed.
Usually they just take what they want. A new class of people will be born from this creation of bank.
We could tax the nobles, the merchants and we own the moneylenders. Our profits will be multiplied. 
For now this is the change that I implemented. Now I wait and ready my troops. War is coming.
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1013 AF FALLMONTH DAY 24
“Father, be strong” I said my father is breathing hard now.
“Uhuk,uhuk” he coughed blood again. Alderam is standing beside me.
My older brother.
“All of you get out except Adrian” suddenly my father said
“Lord Father!” Alderam said clearly not satisfied with father orders
“I have given my order. Now get out!” the attendant, the physician, the servant all went out of my father bedroom. 
“Father” I said weakly. His life is about to end
“We don’t have much time, Adrian.” I nodded
“I have chosen you to be the Duke after my death. I have sent a letter to all the nobles including the Vermont for your appointment. Any day now they will receive the letters.” 
“Father!”
“Hear me speak, and do not interrupt” my father said. I nodded
“Do you know why I raise Aries to the title Duke? It is because I knew that Alderam will not sit still, if he knew I chose you as King. Alderam is too rash, with lofty ambition but he will achieve it by bankrupting this Kingdom. Conquer and conquer, that is all he talks about. Talks of war and battle. Adrian you have no heir, neither are you married. All the nobles girl presented to you, you reject. You are twenty and nine now. I worried about you. But you have help the Aries family a lot and Aries Vermont has been given a large land to rule with the army that Palais once had, 10 thousand strong and with their gold they are the strongest force in this Dukedom. I give you this gift before I depart. If your rule is challenged, called upon the banner of the dragon to aid you.’ My father said, in his eyes, that fire still burns. This is his gift to me.
‘They are grateful to you. This is my final lesson to you. Pick the right person to side with.’ Then he coughed blood again. I quickly wiped it with a clean towel.
Then he continued
‘You are lucky that the Vermont really become powerful. They will bolster your rule, so make alliance with them. If only they have a daughter I would betroth you to their daughter. “he finally ended his speech and coughed blood again
Then I called back the attending physician and all of my father court comes into the bedroom to hear my father announcement.
Lying on his bed, weakened but still….my father persist….holding Death just for a moment to announce his will.
“I Duke of Arouen, hereby proclaim that this Dukedom belong to my second son, Adrian” Sounds of gasp can be heard. This shocked many people since usually it is the first son that inherits. 
In other place this might not apply but in the Dukedom, this has always been the case. Alderam face is red, fuming with anger, his hand tightened into a fist.
“FATHER!” he yelled
“My decision is final” My father said calmly not giving my older brother a glance. Alderam upon hearing my father declaration stormed off from the room in anger and frustration.
My father coughed again. And after a few hours struggling with the Unseen One, finally my father takes his last breath.
The funeral will be held in a few days. The letters has been sent to the nobles all asking their attendance. 
The other Low lords have confirmed their attendance. The son of the Duke of Arrandy, Arial also will come. 
The Duke on the other hand is in Seren seeing his old friend.
*****************************************
1013 AF FALLMONTH DAY 31
After the morning ceremonies at Pontder, the coffin and effigy were carried out of the Grand Church of Beth and placed in the funeral carriage.
It was a four wheeled drive with a cage like structure of hoops to protect them, draped in black velvet, with the crest of our family in engraved in the coffin a sword and shield.
The velvet was drawn back so that people can see the effigy.
All the low lords and minor nobles all there. Arial came in the morning with 100 of his troops. 
All cavalry, armed and dangerous.
Seven horse trapped to the ground in black pulled the carriage, some ridden by some gentleman, holding the banners bearing our family arms, while heraldic and religious banner of the Church of Light were borne by other member of the family, relatives mostly. 
There is Joanna of Ancona, wife of Alderam Alan, but Alderam himself is not here. My brother. 
What is he doing on the funeral of our father? This thoughts pervades my mind. Is he still angry? Could he not accept the will of our late father?
Chief Mourner during the journey, Philip, Count of Chouster, rode at the head of my father effigy, followed by the lords of the land, Count of Valais, Lord Stan.
They were to stay with my father body throughout, attend all the services and masses en route, and have the privilege standing and kneeling within the barrier of the hearse.
I looked around and I recognize Arial. He looks commanding for a ten and three. 
With 100 troops behind him, and his red armor, he looked at my father body with sorrow like a dark gloom surrounded him.
His piercing blue eyes and his white hair emits an atmosphere of sorrows and gloom. He offer a few words of encouragement to me and then he joined the procession, marching with his army.
All the mourners were dressed in black with black hoods but the Lords do not. Some wear colourful coats over their mourning habits.
Many of the common folk, 500 of them accompanied the procession. They carried large torches for the night. 
At night sixty men with torches kept guard around the hearse.
We are marching to Alan Tombs where each and every one of Alan descendant was buried when they die.
Each morning the Priest, in their white robes, rode ahead to prepare the church at the next resting place.
At each place local people and dignitaries, lords, minor and low all representatives of     guilds and religious institutions, would come to meet and welcome the main procession, often forming processions themselves
At all these places dirges were sung in the evening and requiem song held in the morning. 
Alms were given to the church, the poor and everyone who attended, whilst     priests, choristers and bell ringers were rewarded for their part in the ceremonies.
And so end my father funeral when we arrived at Alan Tombs.  All in all it takes us about two weeks for all the procession.
And then begin my test. It’s lucky that Arial is here. At least we can talk. 
And I need to discuss with him quickly to ask for his family support, considering when we return to Dented Shield the Priest will announce my father will.
Even though he is ten and three he is known to be a talented Knight and able leader. 
And Adrian knew that it was the idea of the boy that spurs his father rise to wealth. He must act fast before his brother convinced the Vermont.
The Dragons are the key. 

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