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Saturday, January 05, 2008

3.2.12.3. Between Love and Peace (Part 3)



As scheduled, Rael’charon comes in the morning meeting with Emperor Sage and his ministers for his diplomatic mission. The two princes, Alexis and Cristophe sit on the left and right side of the throne. Advisor Talbot du Bois stands near Alexis, and Father Bernides stands near Cristophe. Robert, Carolyn, Ney, Iris and Andreas stand neatly far away near the exit.

‘Greetings from the Ruler of Lore to the esteemed Sovereign of the Empire of Arcadia. May the Emperor live long and prosper,’ says Rael.

‘We acknowledge your wishes and also wish the best for your King and country,’ says the Emperor. ‘Now tell me, what matter brought you here, far from home?’

‘I have here a letter from our King, a proposal for peace and mutual relationships between two great nations in our beloved realm.’

‘Peace? Peace, you say?’ says the Emperor with a mock grin. ‘That’s the word I’ve never heard from a Lorean for years. And you, saying that word so plainly right now, not in the best time and place, make me wonder: Is this the great Rael’charon I know, the cleverest being in Eternia?’

Rael’s expression is unchanging.

‘And yet, as this is a matter of great importance, I shall read this letter and confer with my officers. The Envoy and his companions are to wait outside until we reach a decision.’

Emperor Sage then opens the sealed letter and begins to read it with a grim, serious face. Seeing that, Rael bows as low as ever and withdraws from the room with Rob and Ney.

They wait outside for about two hours, during which they hear unclear commotions from inside. The commotion subsides finally, and then ten minutes later comes summon for the Envoy.

Back inside, the throne hall is quiet and orderly once again. But this time all eyes are turning to the Envoy and the Emperor, waiting anxiously for the decision. Sage’s face looks grim, and then after seeing Rael’charon standing with his head down in the center of the hall, he gets up and talks with a thunderous voice.

‘Now hear me, Envoy of Lore! WE have conferred, and we have decided. The Kingdom of Lore belongs to Arcadia! Ever since Emperor Sage the Third married Princess Galewyn of Lore, our claim of the Kingdom of Lore was sealed. We tried to realize that claim for years, but you Loreans wouldn’t admit it and resisted us all the way.

Now you come here, bringing your King’s proposal to re-enact our claim to the Kingdom of Lore by arranging yet another marriage between our Prince and your Princess. So, tell your King to come up with other ideas: surrendering, that will be best.

As for peace, you can say “peace” when Lore is safe under Arcadia’s wings. The Sovereign has spoken, and his speech is law.’

Hearing that, Rael’charon puts a smile on his face instead. Robert, however, gets the most disastrous shock in his life. All his hopes are shattered in pieces right before his eyes. Chris sees all this and he knows what to do instantly.

‘Your Majesty Father,’ says Chris. ‘Pardon my insolence, but as an envoy has the right to present his speech and view, right? He came here not just as a messenger, but as a representative of his King for diplomatic talk and conference. Let us hear him out first. If our decision stays, so be it. But at least we don’t violate any code of diplomacy and smear our name in front of other nations.’

Without looking at Chris, the Emperor says, ‘Guards! Arrest Prince Cristophe and let him spend a night in the dungeon, second level without food. That’ll be his lesson for talking without asking my permission first.’

As Chris walks to the exit with two guards escorting him, Sage talks on.

‘However, he did remind me to follow the protocols of diplomacy. So, Envoy Rael’charon, what is your say?’

Chris walks past Rael’charon with a smile. Rael nods slightly at him, looks towards the throne and delivers his argument.

‘O’ Exalted One, my King seeks peace and only peace for the people. With mutual relationships and trade, both our countries will prosper. Moreover in the eve of the Heir’s terrors, all Aurelia must unite, not weaken and destroy each other. Only that will overcome the threat. Peace is the only answer, not conquest, not expansion.

The Heir wishes us to fight each other, spreading terror and strife, making as though the murders in Lore were done by Arcadians and the other way around. He made scapegoats out of Robert Chandler, Prince Cristophe and few others. When we are all weak, he will strike, and his victory will be certain.

Therefore, let us put aside our differences, our rivalries and our claims, at least until we crush our common enemies, the Dark Forces and the Heir. For that, we offer you our Princess, Eloise Galford’s hand in marriage to seal the bond between us. You may choose which Prince to marry her; we are content with either.

If you have conditions and terms for peace other than this one, please do tell. If those are within our power, we would gladly fulfill them. May the Emperor long live!’

Emperor Sage pauses in his thoughts for a while, then responds with a very serious face.

‘A good speech, Envoy. So fitting for your intellect. You did make your point, though. We’d better set aside our differences and focus on eliminating the threat that once plagued our lands and is now putting on efforts to do so again. According to your points, we hereby state our conditions as follows:

First, this peace treaty will last until we eliminate the Heir and keep the Dark Forces at bay in Sylvania for centuries to come. After that, we shall renegotiate with renewed conditions.

Second, whether we strengthen our bond with another marriage, Arcadia’s claim over the Kingdom of Lore still stays. Whether the claim stays or doubles, it’s Arcadia’s right to choose, which we shall decide later and inform your King, and you will accept that decision without question.

Third, you must verify whether Robert Chandler is the Heir or not. Prove it in the Trial in Valanis. Cristophe, Carolyn, Iris and Andreas will go with you, so they’ll be the first ones to eliminate Robert if he turns out to be the Heir.

Only under such conditions we accept the treaty.’

Rael’charon is ready with his answer.

‘By the powers bestowed upon me by the King Sovereign of Lore, I hereby accept those conditions, with note that we shall renegotiate the terms for peace if we happen to destroy the Heir once and for all in Valanis.’

‘Good,’ says Sage. ‘The scribes will prepare the documents. While waiting for them, let us celebrate this historic moment, the beginning of a new era for Lore and Arcadia with a royal feast. We shall sign the treaty then. May Vadis bless us all!’

While saying so, the Emperor thinks. This is all too easy. Either way, Arcadia will get all: the beautiful Princess Eloise, the claim of Lore, pawns to fight the Heir, and most importantly, more time to prepare for war after the treaty expires.

Rael’charon walks to the exit with a smile and a thought. You think you have won, Arcadians? We are also preparing for war behind your back. With this treaty, we shall be able to predict your attack easily and ready to kick you out from our kingdom, thus conquering your land instead.

Even Alexis and Talbot show the same kind of smile, looking at each other. Robert, on the contrary, is in despair, though he never shows it on his face. Part of him regrets the success of this treaty, hoping if only they used other terms than marriage for peace talks. The other part, however, trusts Rael’charon that this is the best way to gain peace for the People of Lore: A great sacrifice for a worthy cause.

==oOo==

The peace treaty was signed that night during the royal feast. Prince Cristophe is out from the dungeon the next morning, joining his friends. He returns Robert’s horse, Paeldagrin to its rightful owner.

Ney’varíth parts with the group to return to Lore with the treaty document, and the rest begin their ride to Valanis.

Peace is one step away...

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