CHAPTER 89: THE MARRIAGE ANNOUNCEMENT
A year has passed. Many things have changed.
I have got news from both Silas and Lord Helve. Silas has said in a month, the King of the Dark lands will come to Acro and I am to receive him courteously.
For now, the King is still hunting his enemies. And his enemies are many.
With the factions abolished and the demon lords that are involved in the conspiracy executed, now they are hunting this demon called Elkar.
It seems that this Elkar is the one who instigate the rebellion and flame the fire of sentiment among the zealots to invade human continent but Silas has clarify me on the matter.
A conspiracy involving a relic of enormous power. I don’t know whether to believe the story or not.
Searching for the Spear? Almost like a tall tale, story told in campfire.
It seem the end objective was the Spear which this Elkar believe is hidden somewhere in the human continent.
And Silas also said the King is busy organizing the administration in his palace but it is necessary to make sure when he brings back Arianna to Arakath, her life will be safe, never again to be used as pawn in political game.
Hearing this I am finally assured by the promise of the Dark Prince. I have heard what has transpired in the Holy City.
Michael on the other hand, regularly comes into the castle now.
After all when he heard that his sister in my castle he rushed back to Aetherland, abandoning his research and telling me of his true identity.
I was angry of course. But not for long. I could never be angry to him for long. My affinity with Mikael is one I did not expect.
A scholar that I highly admire, and his research on the relics of the past generation has greatly helped me and as such I could not punish him.
And I do see him as the perfect ambassador of the Dark Lands which Azrael eagerly bestowed to Mikael.
He is after all, his brother in law in a couple of months from now, so no wonder he readily agrees.
But this appointment will also make dealing with the dark lands beyond the sea more comfortable.
The news of my contact with the Land beyond the sea has taken the Continent by surprise.
The Church at first is furious and threatened to excommunicate my family until I sent Cromwell again to persuade them otherwise.
They agree but they requested that when the Treaty is sign that they will be present. Of course, this is the first time of its kind since Levitia sign the Treaty a thousand years ago.
The first time a demon kind comes from the Dark lands their arrivals from the Wall. I agree and so the matter is solved.
Arianna is spending time in one of my mansion guarded with the greatest security I have ever offered.
She usually spends some time with Lisa and West and sometimes Helia invites her to one of her balls.
Though after so many people tried to seduce her, I reprimand anyone who would bring her to the ball.
She came a month ago, in disguise, delayed by some assassin attack but thankfully she arrives here unharmed.
But it is true what the rumors said. She is truly beautiful. I could understand why the Emperor tries to make her fall in love with him.
In Vern however the Chu has managed to charge Chongyang and has occupied the Imperial Place.
The Chu have declared themselves as Hegemony Ruler of Northern Chu and the other Kings, have bow and Chu Hua Guai won the support of the other states after his victory.
He served as de facto leaders of all the forces. Each of the Kings swear fealty to the House of Chu and each of their region is governed by vassal King.
How long will this peace last. It does seem like peace has dawned in Vern but I’m not so sure.
Now Zhang Liao Bao task is to capture the Emperor that is still hiding. The Chu gives him every support he will need.
It also helps that Vern trade center is filled with my men and I send many of my merchants to open trade center there and flooded the market of Vern now called Northern Chu with Arrandy goods.
Before only Taiyuan region have traded with us but now with the support I have given the new ruler of Northern Chu, this is an unprecedented opportunity for me to expand my family influence and wealth around the North.
The Emperor capture on the other hand serves another purpose.
I need to present the Emperor to the King of the Dark Land. Surely Azrael will be overjoyed. On the matter of Chu, as hegemon Ruler of the Kingdom is not something I have to worry about.
The Northern border is secured and now with a new rule, surely they have to reorganize themselves.
They have no time to plan any invasion else their own border will be attacked.
Aetehrland is in the best position compared to other Kingdom. Eastians have never had this kind of power before in politics.
And if there is one thing I know about power, it’s this…..it corrupt even the noblest King. How long will the peace last….this I don’t know….But I know this.
Rebellion will occur. It is the nature of men to want more than what he is given. All the better for Aetehrland.
The more divided they are, the more beneficial it is for me. This state of divisiveness is what I have expected and hope.
Now they are divided, Aetherland do not have to worry that they will attack us.
Vern, now has crumble, lost all their influence, the MontBlanc dynasty scattered all around the Continent running from persecution.
I put down Silas report and took another letter. A pearl embossed seal. Althea. Then I opened Lord Helve letter.
Duke Helve has agreed with the marriage. The personal desire of mine seemed to have merged with political strategy.
He remarked in his letter that he is very pleased with the proposal. Music to my ears. Of course, this also proved beneficial for Althea.
Arrandy is as useful an ally to him as his own duchy was to me. A union with his powerful neighbor would greatly enhance Althea growing status.
Moreover, he was particularly in need of support at this time because the Vanguan force is threatening his frontiers, and King Edward of Vangua had assembled an army to help serve against Althea if necessary.
It is ironic but I understand that Edward might not have a say in it.
He might be pressured from his people to launch some expeditionary move. But of course I am not going to stand still.
That is for sure.
But I also have faith that Edward will try to keep the damage to minimum if he even attack the South.
He will risk a full out war unless he want to engage with my army. My army is now well rested and in top condition.
Any threat, if exist, will be eradicated.
Lord Helve therefore must have eagerly grasped the opportunity to put relations between the two duchies on a better footing.
Though I have always look at him as untrustworthy father in law, he is Helia father, and if by this virtue alone, I must show some modicum of respect befitting of the title.
And it helps that he shows quite the favorable attitude towards my people.
I heard that Helve gave my envoys a courteous reception when they arrived at his court.
That day I ride to my mother mansion.
The mansion is big and a symbol of prestige for my family if the castle is any indication.
I enter and greeted by the room majestic height and the water in the central pool helped to diffuse incoming light and to ventilate the surrounding rooms.
The surrounding rooms are bedroom decorated in Zettelian style. A curtain of Renasian artistry separated the high room from the main reception room.
Beyond lay the large courtyard, the colonnaded garden around which other rooms is grouped including open recesses and the dining room.
The maid can be seen doing their task showering the gardens and sweeping the dust. The bathroom is connected to the main waters.
There is an elaborate fountain in the huge courtyard to display my family wealth to those who came for diplomatic business.
The walls is brightly painted following the style of Renasian house which gives it a unique and exotic feel, and the floors is covered with mosaic.
‘Beautiful’ I said though I have been here countless times.
My architect has already been rewarded for creating this mansion but I could not help but marvel at it every time I came here.
Because of the axial layout, which created a vista from the entrance passage to the large courtyard, entering visitors would have been dazzled by strong sunlight alternating with deep shadow.
In the summer, it is pleasantly cool and airy. In winter, it will be dark and chilly with oil lamps shedding feeble light.
The windows is glass, expensive but necessary to show off to the other noble house. This is my parent’s mansion though there is another mansion near the border of Arrandy which belongs to me and another simpler style where I usually put some dignitaries if they ever need rest.
My mansion on the other hand is guarded though not use regularly which is why many dignitaries and nobles of renown may spend their time there if they ask me for permission.
I could see Helia is playing with my little sister. That makes me feel happy somehow. I yelled from outside the large courtyard.
Helia looked at me in puzzlement and give my sister to my mother. My mother also look puzzled at my appearance here in the mansion
‘Arial’ she said walking calmly while glancing at my mother, to the courtyard.
‘Why the yelling?’
‘We will get married. Your father has approved.’ I said relaying the happy news.
And slowly that smiles surfaces. That beautiful smile. Arianna may be the most beautiful woman, but I doubt her smiles make me feel like this.
I unconsciously smile and Helia ran to me and hugged me, wrapping her arms around my neck and I spin her around and kiss her cheek.
‘Truly?’ she asked.
She is starting to get very excited now. I could feel her heartbeat. She touches my cheek with love in her eyes, those beautiful, beautiful brown eyes, looking at me.
I am trying to choke the feeling of happiness I felt now, trembling, but her touch ……and I feel like my heart taking over, like I discovered something I didn’t even have a name for.
‘Yes.’ I answered.
She lock eyes with me and kiss my lips, her eyes bury on the back of my neck.
Then she released herself from my hug. She glances at my mother and blush. I also blushed. In our inebriation of joy we forgot that my mother is watching. My mother just smiles a knowing smile.
‘Then I must get ready.’ She said trying to maintain her composure.
‘The wedding preparation. Call your council, Arial’ she said. More like ordered.
I was shocked
‘Of course. But…why?’
‘I need to prepare.’
She said and then she quickly run inside the open courtyard and tell my mother the happy news. My mother smiles that motherly smile and Helia giggle as my mother hug her.
Then the woman suddenly getting busy all of a sudden.
‘This wedding will be the greatest in ceremony and honour’ she promises me.
I was flustered and puzzled but I couldn’t help but smile. After all that happen finally I will get my happy ending.
Though one thing still is nagging…the dragon….And I promise myself. That after the wedding and signing the treaty after all that is done, the matter settled here I will venture to the Land of the Dragons and obtained the heart.
It might be selfish….. I might even die and left Helia a widow….but…..I couldn’t let her go. The moments I spend with her, the smiles and laugh, the kiss and her touch, the playful glance….I know now.
I’m addicted to her. Like a drunk that could not let go the pint bottles, I could not let her go.
Yet I also could not tell her the truth. I know her personality. If I told her about my illness and the only cure is fighting a dragon…she will follow me into the flames, and if she knew Lisa would knew and if Lisa knew Kyle will know.
And they…..the loyal friends they are…they will follow me.
But this is my quest. I will not let them risk their life for me, as I know they will not let me risk my life if they are in my position.
One of my objectives has been fulfilled.
The Invasion is averted. In my timeline, 1017 is a year of mourning, the Invasion started but in this timeline…. The continent is prospering; the wedding has stirred feeling of joy.
I look at the banner in the mansion top. The dragon. A crest of my family and now a beast I must slay for my own survival.
The only one who knows about my secret is the Southern Healer who translates the text and Mikael who have told me he can perform the baffling procedure of swapping the heart so I don’t have to go to Vangua.
As thanks for not punishing him, he has learned the translated text and is confident of his technique ad he will be following me to the Land of Dragons and serve as my guide.
‘Arial’ Helia yelled from the mansion. Her innocence smile stirred my heart
‘Come on in. Stay here tonight’ she said and my mother glance at me and grin.
‘I leave you young boy and girls alone. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do’ she said and she giggles.
Helia just blushed, her cheeks reddened. And I enter the mansion and give Helia a smooth kiss and join them that night, playing with Adrianna and waiting for my father to return home.
That night I heard my mother sing song of love while my father sing in harmony with my mother, reminding me of my childhood and that moment, the laugh and the smiles, if only time would stop.
The warm light from the sun in the windows, the winds that always blow in the evening giving the back door of the house a creaking sound, the smoke from the chimney when winter comes, and the sound of my mother singing for my father.
I remember this, before everything change.
How younger she looks when she sang for my father! And then my father tells me the stories of Old Heroes, story of Great men, and Great Kings and Great Heroes.
Even though I’m old enough to be called a man but my father still enjoys telling them and I enjoyed hearing them
For that night, surely will be remembered by me, as one of my happy memories.
The city has heard the story and the news.
The city gave itself over to rejoicing at the entry of this spouse and their news of marriage and this news send waves to all the influential figures of the continent.
In the following month, with peace is all but guaranteed beyond the sea, I even invite Azrael to my wedding and at the same time to fetch his bride.
He sent me letters saying that he will be delayed for he is near to capture the mastermind. The Chu will also attend with Zhang Liao Bao, bringing the deposed Emperor in chains during my wedding.
I have ordered Kyle and West to immediately secure the prisoner and transported him alive to my dungeons.
Adrian sent letters that he will attend the wedding. The other Kings also sent a letter that they will be attending.
Renasia declines for some reason. Their Princess will be crowned the same day I married Helia.
Princess Rhyssa also stopped harassing Dostov to prepare for her coronation.
The conflict with Terris happen because as story goes, it seems that during their meeting Terris try to seduce the unmarried princess even though she have warned the King and because of that she beat the King half death before stopped by her Knights.
Terris on the other hand return to Dostov and send an apology to Great Renasia considering that Great Renasia is the largest force in the south east.
But the Princess has made her mind and launched an attack to Dostov burning Dostov southern villages.
But for the coronation, the Goddess of War has retreat from Dostov battlefield to travel back to Renasia to take her crown.
Now her Knights are in Dostov, the battle is in a stalemate, waiting until their Princess return.
It is unfortunate that she couldn’t attend though I’ve heard the report from my envoys that when she receives the letter she almost rips the letter.
Though I don’t understand what warranted such ill treatment to my wedding announcement.
There will be feasts, festivities, pageantry and many merchants flock to the city and the common folk all wanted to see the couple.
This is also my chance to show the city of Acro to the nobles and kings. My great and prosperous city.
Acro is the foremost city of the province and the source of great admiration among contemporaries.
There is a rich variety of foods and the obvious wealth that result from flourishing trade with other continents and other goods that the burgeoning populace benefited from.
Acro is also a beautiful city, fill with great building, clean with marble tiles, large church and certainly a fitting place to receive the new duchess of Arrandy that is why I chose the Church at Acro instead of the other city in the region.
Actually Helia is much occupied these days on the wedding preparations but I also have something’s to contribute.
My council where we use to debate about war is now debating about the guest of the wedding, the expense of the wedding and such.
I will show Helia, and pared her so my subject could see the new Princess and Duchess of Arrandy for I want to impress her.
I am her man after all.
Such instinct is appropriate. To show her that she has not chosen wrong and to give her some happy memory if I somehow didn’t survive the ordeals that is coming.
Helve is coming and my parents will also attend my wedding, Helve to send his daughter away and my parents to give blessing of the unions.
The Pope has sent blessing form Cori. The wedding is announced and I waited till the day we are join in holy matrimony.