CHAPTER 56: MORTAL OR DIVINE?
IN ONE OF THE CHAMBER OF THE CASTLE
Spring has come yet the war still rages on in the North.
The young dragon march is unstoppable, as they conquer cities and castles and fort, all for the crown.
His name inspires fear and awe, and victory is all but certain now. A new Kingdom is without a doubt will be established after the war.
The fresh spring air breezes through the window as the curtains waves and bring the scent of spring.
I am here in one of the chamber overlooking the small pond in front of this tower waiting for Silas and Lady Julia of House of Vermont.
Silas and I have been taking, discussing about the proposal that the young lord has put forward for us.
And many other issues after the war that will serve the Kingdom interest and also the reward for those lords that participate in the war, punishment to other lords that surrendered and many other thing that require my attention as the courtiers wage their own war in the Court.
If not for Silas wise advice and counsel, navigating the complex web of plot in the castle would prove impossible for me.
I must thank the kind lady of House Vermont for sending me such an able advisor to serve me.
And another thing that plays an integral part of our discussion is the identity of the Kingdom
The identity of our nation, our Kingdom.
They is also the proposal to include diversity from other race.
This comes from the young lord who sees that having many more races in our new Kingdom might attract new talents and knowledge.
Not to mention the Vermont’s are a patron for knowledge and have built many library and education institution in their city.
I also heard Duchess Julia has approved a plan of creating one library that almost rival the Grand Library of Vern fill with books and knowledge of all kinds, from our continents and other continents who also came to Acro to learn.
You can say that Acro is emerging not only as a trade hub but also as a lantern of knowledge in the Continent.
From what I her of Duchess Julia when she came into one of my meetings, she once said that his son imagined that their city will be the most civilized portion of mankind, guarded by renown and disciplined valor of the dragon private army, conducted by the abilities of genius mind and impeccable virtues.
Like the Anglais-Raxons in Vangua, the Darnes from Cori who are very talented in the matters of architecture and not to mention the Etrushk who are an even more genius than the Darnes in architecture.
Patriotism is integral for the Kingdom survival. The way to create a patriotic love as coined by Arial. Patriot is one who fights for the Kingdom.
Arial want to bind the loyalty of the lord to the Kingdom itself and it’s crown which will make my Kingdom strong and united.
Truly, the young lord is not only genius in the battlefield but also a genius administrator. My wariness for him is within reason but his intention is well received.
He wanted to make this Kingdom powerful. For what?
I don’t know.
There is also my marriage with Zettel royalty who is situated in our west. It is a political marriage, but it will serve this Kingdom.
My advisors advise me to marry royalty from Vern but Silas advise me to take a bride from Zettel which will secure alliance with the West.
Thus ensuring that the West is safe for us and profitable for the Vermont families who have much dealings there, trade roads can be opened and the one who will reap the benefits, is not only the Kingdom but also the most prominent and wealthy family in Alan, chiefly, the Vermont’s who have many connection there.
And yesterday a momentous decision was decided.
Seren and Kingdom of Alan have signed an alliance of military partnership.
Seren does not believe in the Lucellian faith, which is the Church so usually Vern would try to send an army every 5 years to try subjugating a part of Seren.
Usually, in the past some High Lords allowed the Vern troops to pass through their lands, while some in the South disagree with such acts.
But now the Dukedom is united then Seren propose us that they will hinder any movements of Dostov who have always been their enemies to ever reach Alan while we will deny Vern troops to pass our lands.
And yesterday, I inform Seren emissaries that the alliance is accepted. West and East is secured. Only north which is Vern, and Vangua which is in the South has no alliance with us but the Vermont family network is ever reaching.
Vangua will not make sudden moves on us, not now that their King disappeared as the noble lords there descended into a domestic war.
Neither will Vern, which owes lot of money to the Vermont’s if my information to be believed. They may not like our people, Caelum all of them, but they do like Vermont’s gold.
There are many things to be discussed. The sun rays shines to me. I was surprised, startled even. It has been so long.
The hope for this spring is that the war will be over, and peace will finally dawn. The birds can be seen, flying across the courtyard, happy and free, soaring high above the sky.
The clouds, a puffy white shape amid the blue horizons.
Spring is my favourite season. Promising a new beginning.
‘YOUR MAJESTY, INFORMING THE ARRIVAL FOR LORD SILAS AND DUCHESS JULIA’ the announcer announce their arrivals.
‘Let them in’ I ordered.
The door is open.
Silas bow his head slightly and so does the Duchess.
‘Your Highness’’ both of them greets me.
‘Please be seated’ I said and they each take a seat in the chair while I sort out the documents in the table.
‘My lord it is an honour to be here’ the duchess said her eyes scanning the room
‘No, my lady. It is mine.’ I said.
The lady looked beautiful, a motherly nature about her. I heard that she borne of another child, a daughter.
If somehow my wedding and union with my bride would result in the birth of a son, I have an arrangement to betroth my son to her daughter, ensuring not only their alliance and house supports but also my position and their position in this Kingdom.
But that is a log time from now.
‘My lord, why have you ask for me?’ Silas said
‘Did you explain everything to the Duchess?’
‘Yes, my liege’
‘Then that is why. We are here to discuss the letters by the young lord and to settle and agreed on some of yesterday discussion that almost makes us argue against each other. First would be our race.’
‘Ah yes. Our race.’
‘The Caelum’ the duchess said.
‘Yes….but your son the young lord, have half a mind to unite this country in their own new identity. And that could not be done if we still use the old terms to identify ourselves’
‘So what do you suggest?’
‘Change it my liege. We are Caelum but also the citizens of this great Kingdom. We need to change how we identify ourselves. Not Caelum but a different kind of race. But we are Caelum yes, Caelum which comes from the ancient tongue, means Sky People. But have we reached the sky my liege? Are we flying to the great beyond? We need to differentiate ourselves with Caelum in Vern, disassociate ourselves from Caelum that has always been ruling the continent.
‘Why? We are a proud race.’ I asked.
‘It is quite simple. Race emergence and race sentiments. They, which I mean, the other race said now, that while it is true that Caelum race gives us freedom from the Demon Lords, it is also true that for the past 1000 years, our race has dominated everything, from administration, politics, economy, and even religion. We once the most predominant race in this continent but no longer. The other races that sail here, some stranded in this continents, some who sail here in making of their new home, intermarriage with our race and so born this other races. Anglais, Raxons, Loth, Darnes, Etrushk,Gaul,Franks, Cathigia and many others and there are more them than us and they are here to stay. Not pure blooded like us, who have from the very beginning intermarried with the rest of the other Caelum race descended from the Lost Generation, who in turn descended from the First generation. And they are an unsatisfied lot, my liege. In our rule, we never did care much about them but to create a strong Kingdom, racial divide might plunge us into a war like what happen in Dostov right now.’
‘But in Dostov their war is a religious one?’ I said, pointing one flaw in Silas arguments.
‘In Vangua then’ the Duchess interrupts
‘My mistake. It is true. Dostov war is mostly motivated with their disgruntled attitude toward their own government, more than the feeling of racial divide. But, in Vangua there is no denying that racial sentiment is growing as Caelum race is portrayed as the very same way, as we have portrayed the demon lords of the past.’
‘So your solution?’
‘Change our name.’
‘Change our name?’ said the Duchess shocked by such a simple solution.
‘Yes, my lady. It is as simple as that. Instead claiming that we are Caelum race , and the land and all above is our dominion, we simply said that we are Caelum but we are also tolerant. We have many races living here now, mostly because of Lord Arial and my lady House achievement in making Acro a hub for trade. Some….no, no, many of them even stay here to evade the wars that happened in their own continent but it also spur because of your son recruitment, which give them pay, handling the military like it is a business and the soldier is his workers. But in nationalism, as your son, so wisely, termed, it is even cheaper to get troops if they are all fighting for the safety of our Kingdom. Organized and discipline, trained and deadly.’
‘That I could not deny Your Higness’ the Duchess nodded an approving nod to Silas while Silas blushed
‘Well, then what is the name you wish to put forth’
‘I have been thinking and I decided in Aether. We are of the Aether race, descended from the First Blood, yet we do not share the same sentiments of the other Caelum race opinion. We can declare ourselves as an offshoot if not, more purer of Caelum blood, in the sense that we pursuing the ideological principles of the Caelum race, which is to understand each other. And it is not the first time our race change the terms. We are known as the Sky People when our ancestor first arrived; it is only a thousand year ago that Levitia declared we are Caelum. Who said we can’t declare ourselves different?’
The Duchess nodded
‘Tolerance can be a powerful weapon, that is true your highness. Look at Dostov and their rigidity, and look at Vangua and their civil discord, all propagated because of intolerance’ Duchess said supporting Silas
‘Then I will write a decree and sent it to every other lord. But will they obey?’
‘They will my lord. Most of the lords, mostly in the South have many dealings with other races but maybe it will be harder to accept in the north where old sentiments die hard.’ Silas said.
So I prepare a letter and write, phrasing the words as polite but firm as possible. Then we talk about other matters.
Construction, certain laws that need to be established, line of succession and all this. I could not help but appreciate the Duchess keen intellect and her calmness and wit.
And then finally we are done.
We also decided that after the war is won, the land will be known as Aetherland, not Alan to show and symbolize a nation belonging to the people.
IN THE GARDEN
And right now we are enjoying the evening tea.
‘How’s the tea?’ my lady Silas asked Lady Julia
‘It is very nice’
‘I hope your stay here has been good my lady’
‘Ah, it has. So do not worry that much’
‘I believe your castle is finer than this my lady’ I said
‘It is, your highness but it doesn’t have that many titillating companion to talk with’ She is honest.
‘Hahaha…you flatter me my lady’
‘Does it show?’ she said grinning
‘Like the morning dawn’ I said.
And this time she smiles. She knows how to play this game and she plays it skillfully.
‘My lady, I have your son to thank for my throne.’
‘Is that so?’ I nodded
‘Why?’ The Duchess said more like she asks me to know my opinion of her son.
‘Yes, the sad truth is these. I could not have and as bitterly I have to admit to it, my strength has never been at fighting battles or waging war but your son, whatever his fault, is a godly commander. He has the look of another world with him and that has always intrigued me to almost the point of obsession, and his melancholic look, only serves to pique my interest. What is your son being so sorrowful about? What did he see with those blue eyes of him? What reason does he fight? And what is he? Who is he? Is he a King, my lady? For I see a King when he rides his blazing fiery horse. Or is he a God, disguised in mortal form for I see a god when he battles. No arrows ever struck him, no spear ever reach him, heads fly and limbs skewered as he passed by them? What is he? Which is he?’ I asked. Heaping a lot of compliments for her son.
Her smile faltered. She did not look pleased. Then her smile returned.
‘You have many questions Your Highness and terrible curiosity and quite the penchant for excessive compliment regarding my son.’
I kept my gaze at the lady.
‘My lady, that is because my questions, one rarely answers them, my curiosity excites me for truths, it is said by one wise man to me,’ and my eyes leered at Silas while Silas feigned ignorance
‘ a path of becoming stronger is facing the truth and all truths started with inquiries of great curiosity, and my compliment is true for that is what I felt.’
‘Fine, your highness. I am your loyal subject and I will answer you’
‘When he was a child, he would act in the most peculiar way, different from other child, his eyes sees thing, different things, and as such his view are different, mature, I daresay, wise beyond his years, and he would contemplated it alone while looking at the stars, whispering in hushed tone talking to himself. I even half a mind, to believe he is George the Wise reincarnated.’
‘Truly?’ I said
‘Yes, for I have no explanation of the peculiar thing he does and the way he solves his problem with an intellect that overshadows even me or my husbands or anyone that I have seen. Though he is not a master in every trade but he knows a little bit of everything and that fears me more than him not knowing anything. I see greatness lay in front of him, for he was the most inquisitive children in the village and his words rang with truths, his wit amaze me, but greatness is not what I wished for him my liege. I wished him, to live happy, to love and be loved, an ordinary life, an ordinary death. Yet, years passed and my son, it seems, have destiny of greatness burdened upon him. My husband was happy and still is, to look at his son with pride at all he achieved and continued to strive.
‘And you’re not?’
She shakes her head
‘I have pride in my son, that is a certainty but I fear for him. For never in history, or in fairy tales that heroes ever achieved good ending. My son dreams of glory against something. But I do not know who he is so determined to protect, who he so hold a great vengeance that he will train himself and doing all this, and my husband encourages him with great vitality. But there’s no glory without suffering, this I know. You said he is a King. A King is not born, my lord. He is made. By steel and suffering, by blood and sacrifice he is made from that pain. A King must sometimes hurt those he loves for the love he has for the Kingdom. It is a lonely path. Ask Alexander. Ask Levitia. Ask any of the great man who has suffered through the century, a testament of the lonely road a King must trod. Fate is cruel and she has no concerns for us. No man or woman can be too powerful or too beautiful without disaster befalling them. Fate will laugh and snicker, giggling while holding her stomach when you rise too high and they crush everything you built and protect in a whim. What glory, fate gives, she takes away. Do I wish it on my dear boy? No your Highness. I pray he never be King. Such roads are lonely.’
And her words strike me like swords, cuts me at every sentence, wound me like never before for her words are like Silas words, terrifying words, true words.
Harsh and unforgiving but true and there is nothing that I fear more and so much desired and wanting than the truth.
Then she spoke again
‘My husband always tells my dear son that he is divine. While I whispers to his ear, telling him that he is mortal. Which one do you think he is? Mortal? Or Divine?’