AOH – Chapter 82

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CHAPTER 82: THE THOUGHT THAT STARTED IT ALL

EDWARD MEROVICH

DARC

BALCONY

‘The stormy sky’ I said looking from the balcony.

The clouds pile slowly since the morning I noticed them after I finished my court. In a very short period of time they have piled up.

The sky turns gray and thunderheads that looms above.

Then with a booming thunder, the rain falls and then another lighting shoot itself from the clouds, producing a white hot and blindingly bright, dispersing shadows for a split second.

After the agreement is signed a week ago, I have finally returned to the Palace in Darc.

Arial quickly depart that night after in my drunken state I forced Harald to swear fealty to him. It must have been uncomfortable for him. But maybe it’s not such a bad thing.

Of course anyone would regard such promise as void but maybe not to the eye of the common folk.

Anyway, it has been done. And maybe it is fitting. After all, the dragon has done much for me, more than the other lords of my Kingdom ever did for me.

One year at the castle of the dragons taught me much. I had to rely on my own wits as some of the nobles plotted against me and I even emulate the style of Arial, a dear friend.

I have learned at least some tricks of survival and diplomacy from my years as a relatively insignificant figure at a foreign court.

The exchange of status from refugee to king is rather sudden, but at least I had some experience of the game.

I also received the blessing of the Church, and both the Prince Articon of Vern and Cori were present at my coronation thanks to Arial great relations with both churches.

The anointing by both Bishop from both Church also strengthened my claim to the throne.

Considering Arial is patron of many churches his relation with the church has always been good. That is how Arial plays with power.

From what I know of Arial he is not deeply religious. But that isn’t meant to say he is someone that doesn’t believe in a higher supreme power.

He believes in God but he is not sure whether the Church god is the real god. His decision to back the church is more about political means than a religious one.

He takes advantage the influence that the Church have on the masses instead of making the Church his enemies.

The recognition of Vangua throne passed to me is also underlined by the presence at the ceremony of representatives from the king of Dostov, and king of Cori, King of Zettel but Renasia had to decline because of their ongoing campaign on Cora after annexing Tuca.

I also brought some Caelum born nobles from Arrandy with me to assist me after seeing Arial govern his region I must admit I impressed and I wanted to build the same kind of region in my country.

There is also some Priest and Bishops that Arial had hoped would be promoted to a good position in the vacant churches of Vangua.

The Central Church is of course overjoyed and this is how he maintained control of the Church approval.

Living among Anglais-Raxons people, I was utterly happy when reunited with my Caelum brethren in Arrandy as they teach me our customs.

They accept me and protect me.

Arial, especially.

I brought Massey cousin, Robert to serve my military, Silas cousin on his wife side Aleph who were granted some lands around my region to help fortify my position if the Orleans ever decided to mount another attack on me.

Arial advice on me does not fall to deaf ears. Some received lands and some received appointments in the Church.

This would certainly create conflicts with the Orleans and the other nobles but if do not do this I would be overwhelm with the Anglais-Raxons lords that will surely pressure me to do their bidding.

As per Arial suggestion, I married Amelie Orleans, the younger daughter of the deceased Lord Jean.

We talked about this in Arrandy, when the young lord advise me, to seek a common ground to satisfy Orleans and their ambition.

At least with this measure, a stopgap measure admittedly, the Orleans will wait for an heir while I can plan for my steps.

I was older than her seven years her age. She is crowned as queen. No one is in a position to make me marry.

Not with the dragons backing me as Arrandy grown more powerful and wealthier with the trade route that is open between Zettel and as news come to me that several noble houses in Vern is rebelling. Something is happening there and if my intuition is right Arial have something to do with it.

The marriage is clearly intended to seal an alliance between me and Lord Harald, the lord of Arleans.

I am content with Amelie.

I never consummated my marriage with her. Why should I? I know what Harald and his wife is planning on marrying me with Amelie.

I may want their alliance but even I’m not that stupid. They want the throne to pass to my offspring.

I would not consummate marriage with the daughter of the man who killed my father. And Amelie is content to sit at my feet, a loyal companion.

Rather than a wife, I treated her like my own daughter.

And Amelie herself does not loathe me. We usually spend some time playing cha’tur and reciting poetry.

But I never touched her and she didn’t hate it either. Today another conflict between me and the Orleans arose.

The bishopric of Prodence fell vacant after the unfortunate death of Bishop Ordolr, when he falls into a deep ravine on his way back on a stormy weather.

Harald promote one of Lord Bascogne son, but I favoured Bishop Paul, a Caelum and someone who is very close to Arial.

This is the reason why I so want to elevate Paul to the position.

I have never forgotten his kindness towards me and this I hope can please the young lord of Arrandy.

The other Anglais-Raxons lord protested to the appointment and resented it.

The reason I did this is not only because I want to improve Vangua relations with Arial in Aetehrland but also to show to the other lords that I am independent enough and have power enough on the court to break away from the Orleans, now that I’m well established.

I have done this deliberately and after thinking about it seriously.

Political alliances between Vangua and Arrandy though never written in paper are recognized by many nations and the hostilities between Cori and Vangua governed much what occurred in my country.

The Corian new King seems aggressive and so is his expansionist policy.

I of course paid heed to these threats and look to whoever that might counter these threats.

Freya is useless.

They supplied many slaves to Cori which is why I turned to Arrandy and their army for help. Like I said, I learned many things in my years at Arial court.

I kept connections with others who might be useful against Cori, such as the Dostov, Renasia and Danoa Republic beyond the South Sea.

But for now I intend to rule and the Orleans still a threat. But I will endure. I sighed as I look on the moon. Jean is dead yet a new enemy arose, younger and stronger bolder and smarter. I sometimes envy Arial.

Arial was already a ruler whose fame had spread far beyond the borders of his own duchy,and revered by his own people and rule unchallenged in his duchy, and whatever people said, he has been influencing the politics in the Continent.

His reign began at 14 years old, and the events that happen after that could not corrupt him in the way in which so many princes have been corrupted.

His whole position, political and personal, could not fail to have its effect in forming the man.

Aetherland and Arrandy though Arrandy lies in the Kingdom, they are uniquely not part of the Kingdom.

In turn for their help in securing Aetherland crown, they were given a special status, in the Kingdom, almost like a Kingdom in a Kingdom, each owning a precarious supremacy.

I could not help but feel that someday, this two forces will battle it out.

The reigning king, Adrian Alan the First, owed his crown to the help of Arial father Aries Vermont, the Kingmaker.

And while the Vermont family deeds on securing his throne is a noble endeavor , surely Adrian will feel pressured by his court to match the vastness of Arrandy influence.

Even when they redraw the Duchy, Arrandy become bigger swallowing the smaller counties under his rule and after Arial marriage with Lady Helia, then his influence would extend from East to the South.

While Arial may have few allies in the North, that is not saying he has none.

This is the complicated relation of Aetherland and Arrandy, a precarious balance between the great duchy and the Kingdom crown.

Arial shows no sign of rebelling, and even his most staunch opposition could not accuse him of wanting to sit on the throne, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t envy the power that Arrandy holds over them.

The fact that Arial can very well, take the throne but did not, may become a sore point for Adrian.

While the King harbors no resentment to Arial, his court dislike him and the influence he has on determining the King action invites discord of the worst kind

The mutual dislike between the people of the two courts is strong.  Considering I too live there for a time I know how intense it can be.

Not to mention even though they are in the same Kingdom, their culture is different.

Acro, the great city situated at the heart of Arrandy, is different in that their organization and the fact that many courtiers in Arial court is filled with talented people instead of people that is descended from good lineage.

This doesn’t mean that all of them are not noble but only the most talented noble can serve on his castle.

And the fact that the people of Arrandy enjoy freedom that no other part of the Continent has ever seen.

And, as the fame of Arrandy grew, jealousy was doubtless mingled with dislike.

Arial, in short, inherited a very doubtful and dangerous state of relations towards the king who was at once his chief neighbour and his overlord.

The young duke reign and ascend to power is something that many lords of the Continent talked about, believing that the new duchy would be weak led by a young boy, but he dispelled their notion that Arrandy grown weak after he took over.

Successful in battle and genius in his political maneuvering, I could not help but be awestruck.

And he was lucky in that he has no other contender for his duchy.

His father Aries cultivated an area of mud and forest to become one of the greatest city and since Arial is his only son and the land never belong to any lord before and was given to Aries by Hadrian, when he inherit it, no contender dare claim the land.

He is still young, but no longer a child or even a boy, this I have to admit while looking at the setting sun.

No one could deny he is a wise and valiant man, and his valour and wisdom are tried to the uttermost.

It was on the War of Succession between the Spear and Shield that marked; truly, I believe the true strength that the Vermont showed, that made them one of the most influential families on the Continent.

The battle that is started because of the succession of Arouen to Adrian marks the series of battle that make the Dukedom to a Kingdom, united in a single cause and all of it is orchestrated by the Vermont family.

Picking Adrian as the winning side is a risky move but he prevails and in prevailing, putting himself and his family into the forefront of the politics of Aetherland.

And then his father abdicated in favour of his more talented son, and now he is the lord of all Arrandy, the vast land, and able to put down any plot or disturbers of peace in his region.

‘He has been schooled for the rule of men’ I muttered to myself.

I could not help but feel someday he is going to do something so great that his name will be remembered a thousand years from now.

He has a gift.

He had the gifts of a born ruler, something not every lord son have, and he was in no way disposed to abuse them.

He made Arrandy peaceful and flourishing, more peaceful and flourishing perhaps than any other state of the Continent.

He is everything, a wise and beneficent ruler, the protector of the poor and helpless, and the patron of commerce, art and knowledge, and of all that might profit his dominions.

He is cold and calculating, that I do not deny but he is an able ruler, he did justice, to visit wrong with sure and speedy punishment, whoever was the wrong-doer.

And Paul unknowing to his lord attention once suggested the thought of succession of Arial to one of the duchy here in Vangua.

I just laughed it off but maybe it is a fine idea. He is after all a great ruler. It even crossed my mind to give him the throne. I laughed it off of course.

By Vangua custom the king was chosen out of a single kingly house, and only those who were descended from kings in the male line were counted as members of that house.

Arial is not descended, even in the female line, from any Vangua king, or any nobility .Such a kindred, could give no right to the crown according to any doctrine of succession that ever was heard of.

It could at most point him out as a candidate for adoption, in case the reigning king which meant me should be disposed and allowed to choose his successor.

Though if I have no heir I could choose him……I shake my head.

I should not be worried about this. When I have gained power I will expel Orleans from the Kingdom and then I will marry a woman of my choosing.

But that would cost me the alliance of the other Vanguan lords and nobles. But the effect will only be for a while. I smile looking at the dark clouds.

With that thought and the thunder booming behind my back I started climbing the staircase to go to my chamber and sleep.

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