AOH – Chapter 52

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I’m here in Dostov with my mother.

My father sent me here when the dragon forces break ground in the North. More like hidden us here, far from the reaches of the dragon.


My rival in school and now he is marching to the North to fight my father. Who would have thought that we have such bad blood?

And to think he is the one leading the army.

My heart is furious but my father ask me to protect mother so here we are in Dostov in the House of Ancona territory

We are living near Lake Canter one of the largest lake in the continent.

While my father is trying to repelling the attacks by the dragon forces in Alan, here in Dostov, they is a civil war brewing for many years and this year it has broken out.

Unrest everywhere, plots spoken in hush tones, and alliance created and broken. No matter where we go, it seems there would be no peaceful life for us.

And here? A rebellion. The Josephite Rebellion. They are the supporters of King Joseph III of Dostov.

King Joseph I ruled Dostov from 870 to 890 from the ruling House of Sable but because he was a Vern Lucelian he was replaced by House Quinn.

Those who continued to support the exiled King Joseph I and his heir became known as Josephites

The House Quinn began creating their own dynasty vowing their dynasty would last. While the deposed King vowed to return and take back his throne.

The Josephites were opposed by Terrisemites or Terrisite, people of Anglais who supported the Cori Lucelian cause and would not tolerate a Vern Lucellian Kingdom.

There are many battles fought but this year the battles flared up again.

Joseph II once led an army to Dostov from Bardent but it was quickly quelled. And many Loths died that day which make the most of Josephite supporters.

And House Ancona for better or worse is a supporter of the Josephite cause. Though before our support is secret.

Even my mother didn’t know.

If not for recent event, then my mother would never have known. This must be grandfather plan when he decided to back my father to become the sole power in Alan.

To help him restore the line of Kings under House Sable.

The glorious revolution began. I am a native of Alan, the race of Caelum but I have a mixed blood from my mother side.

In the Dukedom, Caelum dominates everything. Rarely there are other races other than some outlander that came for a visit.

In Dostov there are many races.

There are the Anglais, the Raxons, the Loths and many and many more. Those who intermarried with other native inhabitants whose blood is not pure Caelum.

To my eyes the complex web of religious and political loyalties which underpinned Josephitism can seem alien and unsympathetic.

Which is why I’m reading the book right now.

Because it matters to my mother side, that I know of their history and what at stake here. What my family has fighting for all these years and why and how the conflict came to be.

The whole movement might be said to span the decade from the deposition of Joseph I.

He was Lucellian devote but his faith was of Vern doctrine.

Joseph I decided that by promoting edicts of religious tolerance, he would be able to surreptitiously re-establish Lucellian Orthodox as the official faith of Dostov.

This notion produced near-hysteria in Joseph’s Lucellian Liberate subjects – who had been taught to abhor this doctrine of faith.

When a son was born to the King and Queen, Dostov Liberate were faced with the prospect of never waking up from their worst nightmare: an Orthodox Lucellian dynasty.

They turned to Joseph closest friend, Lucellian Liberate William of Quinn. William of Quinn come from a powerful noble family and very influential in the land.

In 890 AF he led a successful invasion of Dostov supported by many of Dostov Liberate nobles. Joseph I panicked and fled the realm.

Many of the nobles declared for William. It was an easy victory and William rose to the throne.

The Quinn dynasty was established and since then battles were fought between these two factions of ideologies.

And so begins the sporadic battle which was thought to be crushed by Terries Quinn during his reign in 1002AF.

Then I heard the door creaked


‘Mother’ I reply

‘Still reading?’

‘Yes. I need to gain some knowledge if we are to live here.’

‘Do you think your father will be safe?’ my mother asked, there is worries on her tone, and I could see the dry tears on her eyes.

She worries about him.

‘Surely, my father will beat the dragons.’ I said confidently

‘He didn’t seem so sure son’ My mother said, her hand is twitching. One of my mother habist when she is nervous.

She just sighed and smiles. Then my mother leaves the room once again to talk with grandmother I presume.

These days they are always talking. I maintained my manner in the castle befitting the behaviour of a High Lord.

Then I resume my readings. I know how it started but how does it reemerge? I set the book aside and look at the outside.

The reigning King

The new King from House of Quinn, Terris Quinn is characterized by government tactlessness and economic disasters.

With Renasia on the south began expanding their powers and the bad relations with Bardent because of the strict religion code that forbid a Lucelian to trade with people of other religions and the souring relationship with Tuca, there is no trade partners that is truly willing to negotiate with us.

And not to mention the threats that Seren posed. There is always fighting around the borders and the frontier towns.

Thus, to the die-hard believers in the hereditary right of Joseph were added, to the dissatisfied lot.

Josephitism became a pull for almost anyone with a grudge against the government. The Union of 1010 then produced what was for many Loths the grudge to end all grudges.

The Union was something that gives a lot of freedom to traders and religious freedom and lifting certain banning from the church of Liberate

The ink was hardly dry on the treaty before it was being widely denounced, and the lands were ripe for sedition.

The Bardenian, who were at war with Dostov a few years before, suddenly saw an advantage to be gained here.

They would land the new heir, Joseph III ‘The Pretender’ in his ancestral kingdom and start a rebellion.

It was an excellent opportunity to unite much of the nation, even many Anglais and Raxons, on the Josephite side against the Union.

Why am I so concerned about this?

Because a month ago the King, he sacked my grandfather George, Duke of Lannover because of his insistence on helping my father gain the throne of Alan.

And a few weeks after that my grandfather retaliates by raising the standard of House Hannover, on one side he put the banner of his house, House Ancona, a lion biting a deer while on the other is the twin Lions banner the symbol of Josephite banners.

Thousands have heard. Thousands have flocked. Thousand have come with spear and sword, offering fealty to the cause.

And right now my grandfather is trying to take the west of Dostov and he gained many successes.

And sooner or later, I too will be in battle here, helping my grandfather. But there is one mistake.

He did this without even bothering to warn the Josephite court. And I also heard disturbing news that came from Vangua.

Their young King is in hiding after an assassination attempt is uncovered. Right now no one knows where King Edward of House Merovich is hiding.

He is still not married at his age, and right now the only heir to the throne.

Why am I worried? Because Vangua is a major player in the Continent now that Vern is in decline and Renasia and Alan begin baring it’s fang

Soon if not sooner, the entire west of Dostov will be my grandfather. This is something that the crown should be worried about.

I have already prepared myself training every day. My father is on Alan fighting the Dragons and Spears while here we fight against the Crown.

If we fail in both endeavors, who would know what will happen to my family. But if we won? Now… that would send my house to unprecedented heights.

And this conflict in Dostov is unique

This was not a phenomenon of a backward rural people rising for archaic notions of loyalty to the deposed king.

There was strong support for the Josephite cause in the trading burghs of south of Dostov, as well as in the highlands in the North.

The Patriotic Loths and disgruntled Dostov

From the reports it seems Duke of Argyl did try to advise the King regarding my grandfather sacking from his title, warning that Beyond the Lands of the Fire, the rebel have thousands spears to ten at least against the crown.

My grandfather did try to take the land around the East but repelled by Lord Argyll which seized vital ground around Virling, but he was heavily outnumbered.

Then at the battle of Serifland, when all seemed lost, my grandfather lost his nerve and suddenly withdrew.

The belated landing of the Pretender couldn’t retrieve things, and the leaders of the rising fled. Now rested and our morale replenish my grandfather tries again.

The moments have passed and now the exiled House of Sable now became no more than useful pawns in foreign hands.

But one family need to be at the forefront of this battlefield if it was to receive rewards.

And that would be our family. I have planned this by myself. Grandfather has a strict believe in the divine Right of the King but I don’t.

If what Arial do is any indication, the divine Right to rule came from your own strength.

And like the Vermont’s backing of the family of Uncle Adrian, I too will do the same thing here in Dostov.

We might not have money but we have a just cause, which many of the nobles lord flock to and an army that at least can help the Josephites wins while the others join.

The Northern and Eastern Dostov had settled and won under the Terris regime, which is unloved, but did not move to outright revolt.

They need a little push.

And now word came from Bardent, that Joseph III has put together his own tiny invasion force with the help of Tuca and Bardent to land in Dostov.

The Prince came with an army, aye, he did, but not with supplies and money.

It is up to the western noble houses to aid him when he came from the East from Bardent and South from Tuca.

One is led by a military soldier from Tuca while from Bardent the army will be led by the King himself.

The king has sent letters to my grandfathers, guaranteeing that even if the uprising failed, that my grandfather will be highly rewarded.

Words are winds my father said. Give them steel and let see which is more powerful. Swords or words?

And the rebellion is beginning to intensified and even though my father still struggle North of Alan, I can do nothing but pray to the Light above.



A week have passed. The rebellion is a remarkable success. The South nobles have joined our cause and yesterday the Execution in Crown Hills happened.

The noble lords that swear fealty to the crown was executed in the Crown Hills in the manner of beheading and quartering.

Their body scattered among the hills as an insult.

Many of the Crown forces was too late in responding, after all they are divided and withdrawn to the invasion force from Tuca and Bardent both belong to King Joseph.

Not to mention, the reluctance of the general population to martyr themselves for Terris, allowed Joseph to occupy Cumberland quite easily.

And then he marched to Gowrie and meets his forces from Tuca, unite and occupy Gowrie virtually unopposed.

To whip popular support he sent a letter to the Grand Papnoticon in Vern to assert his claim as the rightful King of Dostov.

Lord Colt tries to take him on, in an attack to reclaim Cumberland, a surprise attack but thankfully because of the extensive spy network from Bardent they were the one being surprised by the Josephite attack at dawn and torn apart in the span of not more than 15 minutes.

The Josephite army now possessed Cumberland, Lannover, and Gowrie.

There is nothing else stopping Joseph to march to Queens and take back the castle that once belongs to his ancestor.

My grandfather beg and after my insistence even though many other lords thinks that Joseph should march straight to Queens

I see the dangers posed by their suggestion. Is this a wise decision? Not if it is based on unfounded rumors.

Lord Eddard assured the King that Bardent forces would join him, and that massive Tuca military aid would be forthcoming.

Promises are words. And words are wind.  My grandfather tries to delay the march and, thankfully the King listens. So now we wait.



I have leave the Imperial city. Though it is certainly not by choice that is for sure.

The palace guards and their troops are all looking for me. All were ordered to capture me if they found me.

Thankfully, Prince Articon Alfred hides me for a while during their first search. I’m indebted to him for his hospitality

Prince Articon Alfred is one of the great people in the Church of Vern, and because I once help him with one formula of magic that seems to be about some runic writing, he felt that he is indebted to me.

I know of his talent in magic in a world where magic are rare and the bloodline diminished every decade.

Though he thinks I was the one who solve the problem but the truth is it was Alexander journal that help him.

There are many theories in there, about many of most, Levitia theory which Alexander studies. Some he has found the solution to, some are just scribbles.

I, on the other hand did not even understand it very much

I just take the credit. And thank the ancestors, I did. If not I doubt the Prince Articon will help me, hiding me, even though he might be implicated.

But even his protection will wear thin.

So right now, I’m disguising myself to get out of the Imperial city guarded and patrolled by thousands of troops belonging to the Emperor.

It is all my bad luck.How unfortunate I was.

My plan was to rack up some achievement in the Imperial city and then return to my home, with splendor and wealth.

What a pity! A pity!

But I did not regret it. All for the sake of beauty. And I remembered her face again and her pleas, and I know I might die doing what she ask of me, but I will die a content man.

I, Zhang Liao Bao do not have many redeeming qualities but save for one. I could not let a beautiful woman cry and leave them alone.

I’m right now in an inn just outside the Forbidden City.

I even see my poster in the city wall so I use some disguise technique I learned during my years in the pleasure house.

And not only that, they even paint my face to be very ugly. An injustice to my reputation. This handsome face of mine, this perfect beauty…and they dare disrespect me such!

Still, I might die if I fight them, and truthfully I hate it to be such a mess.

Usually, someone with my rank would not be hunted this much.

But I know one secret, a secret that might spell doom for the Empire. And it all is coming back to me.



‘Who is that?’

I asked myself, hearing a very sorrowful music being played, the melody is sad, the voice are tantalizing

My journey through the passage leads me to a hidden lake in the palace.

I thought no one is here, because I used to stop by here and played around the Lake because the water is clear and refreshing and not to mention, it is beautiful and it has been a very long time since I visited here.

The sound of the Qing can be heard. The tempo is slow and invite sorrow in one hearts.

The lake was blooming with lotus flower and I can see behind a plateau there is someone who is playing it.

It is still beautiful and mesmerizing just like the last time I see it. And now for it to fill with such a sorrowful music.

How beautiful the scenery becomes, how the most dull and still place turns to…an everlasting moments.

The veil hides the face. The song, this song is usually played in pleasure house but it is not a happy song.

Leliana Sorrow.

Her song when she has married Alexander the Diligent, song that many palace maids heard a year before she disappeared.

One of the palace maids, Claire Moor then sing it and from her song it is called Leliana Sorrow. The theme seems to be about Levitia, her lover, who she sang to come back to her.

Don’t you miss me?

Here I am waiting for you

My hands are cold waiting for your return

My heart is suffocated with longing

Just looking at the distance by myself.

The beautiful sunset

The sorrowful moonlight

None hold the same beauty

Even if in the end my hands are trembling in the cold

But it is only you that I think about

The person that I long so hard that I’m going insane

The words that I want to hear

The words that I want you to say

I love

I love you

Where are you

The person who have engraved memory here in my heart

The person that I long so hard that I’m going insane

The words that I want to hear

The words that I want you to say

I love

I love you

Where are you

The person who have engraved memory here in my heart

And I stepped on a twig.

‘Who’s there?’ she said her voice alarmed but her hands still plays the Qing.

How did she hear me?

I already got out from the passage and hiding behind the bush but I never thought she would realize me

‘To what do I owe the pleasure, what wise counsel you have to come such late at night? If it’s you George, your offer does not appeal to Me.’ she said not once looking back at me.

I approached

‘I wouldn’t dare to give wise counsels.’

And she stopped playing.

‘You’re not him.’

Still she didn’t turn back.I open the veil and I could see her back. And this time she turned to look at me

I was speechless, my heart beats faster, my hands are sweating of nervousness and my eyes couldn’t help but to look at her like I was compelled to.

She had the most beautiful pair of eyes, that blue like the lake of Deities in the Mountains along the North, her skin was white like the first snow that falls, and her hair is black in the most beautiful way.

‘Who are you?’ she asked.

‘I…I…I…I’m Zzhang Liao Bao, my lady’ I said stuttering

Then I try to regain my composure and I recite back the components of the poems.

‘Even if in the end my hands are trembling in the cold

But it is only you that I think about

The person that I long so hard that I’m going insane

The words that I want to hear

The words that I want you to say’

‘Leliana Sorrow. So sorrowful, so beautiful’ I said complimenting on her song. She smiles and it was like the plateau brightened like the sun rises.

‘Lord Zhang is young and knowledgeable, there is not that many who knows this song’

She said and gestured me to sit down. I sit down but my eyes couldn’t help but to stare at her face. She blushed, her cheek reddening to stared so intensely

Looking at her face I could guessed who she is

‘Could it be….you are lady Arianna Devonhurst?’

She nodded and she said

‘This woman, Ariana has a favor to ask’

The moment she said she has a favor I was kneeling to give her what she wants. And at this moment I remembered what Prince Articon told me.

“You hate power because it makes you enemies, you like money but not to the point of insanity, but women. That is your fatal flaw, Sir Zhang.”

He once warned me that the only weakness I have is beautiful woman.

‘Tell me of your predicament, O lady. If I can’t help you, I give my life to you as a wager’

She kneeled.

‘Lord Zhang is chivalrous. How can I repay such kindness?’

‘How could I decline? I said.

‘You are angels from heaven, fairy from the fabled lands, Goddess of Beauty reincarnated, I should be the one grateful that I could meet such beauty’

I was saying this without even a hint of pretense because she is truly, of all the girls and woman I have ever met working in the pleasure house and even the Princess in the Palace, they hold no candle to the beauty that is in front of me.

How lucky, how fortunate those who will make her, their wife. How happy and in joy will be their life, even just watching her makes me calm and happier.

‘Lord Zhang, I do not deserve this praise from you’ she said exasperated seeing me.

But this is natural for me. Is it not a virtue to kneel before beauty? And I could saw that tears are formed in her eyes.

‘Don’t…don’t cry’ I said trying to console her. I got up

‘See, I stopped kneeling’

She looked at me and she said

‘I’m grateful for your assistance. Lord Zhang is an observant person. To know and recognize me.’

‘O my lady. If I could not recognize you, then that surely means I have gone blind. How could I not recognized the beauty in front of me, the number one beauty of the world, Ariana of House Devonhurst’

‘My lord flatters me’ she said humbly.

OH how divine, the way she talks, the way she acts. If you are not the number one beauty, who could be her!

If you claim to be the number two, who would dare claim to be number one!

Then she said

‘Lord Zhang if you could help me to speak to my betrothed in the Land Beyond the Sea?’

‘Lord Azrael, the Demon King?’

‘Yes. Tell him that I am imprisoned here, in Vern by this licentious Emperor, that force me to love her, who came here every day, asking me to love him, refusing to let me go home to my beloved. Do this kind deed for me, and I offer you anything you want’

‘Do not insult me so, beautiful lady. I desire none but your gratitude and the hopes that you remember me.’

She chuckled. I too smile.

‘Why did he imprison you here, my lady?’ I said curious

She sighed.

‘I never did any evil, never lead the Emperor to believe that I’m I love with him, neither did I seduce him, or spoke promises of love. Woman shouldn’t mind the country affairs, yet man can’t help but be full of tenderness. I came here to help ease my would-be husband burdens, but the Emperor mistakes that I am his gift. Oh, how arrogant the Emperor. Beautiful woman are the source of trouble like the story of Igrayne, only now I can relate. My father warns me of my beauty yet I dismiss it, but now here I am, imprisoned here in a land I know nothing about with no allies, seeking help from anyone that would listen.’

‘That is wrong, my lady’ I said couldn’t bear to see she’s blaming herself

‘If not for the greediness of men and people who couldn’t appreciate beauty, beauties will not cause harm only enhance the beauty in the world. Beauties are not easily held, for they induce inferiority in the hearts of inferior men’

She looked at me and she smiles a bit

‘Thank you for your wise counsel, Lord Zhang’ Then she handed me a letter.

‘This is a letter detailing my injustice I have received in Vern. Can you do it for me?’

I nodded. Then suddenly someone yells, intruders, intruders

She looked at me nervously

‘Run’ she said


So quickly I ran back to the passage hidden by one thick bush and quickly I press one of the bricks in the path and the passage opened but my face have already been recognized by one of the guards when they try to capture me.

Thankfully my lightness skill is magnificent and I escaped their grasp.

So now here I am, running from the Imperial troops and begins my journey to the dark lands.

If I promise with any other men only to search for some treasures or some hidden gold or secret weapons I will not risk my life.

But a beautiful woman asks me of this.

The most beautiful woman of the world! How could I decline? So I begin my journey

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