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D.T - King Abaron: Chapter 3

The final Feature chapter for King Abaron.

King Abaron: Chapter 3

Abaron was bordering his limits of control and was ready to go berserk and tear Jeremia and Cecilo apart with his bare hands. Bethany was enraged too, but she managed to keep her composure better and wrapped her hand around Abaron's and squeezed strong, yet gently. Abaron managed to keep himself in check after that, but the fury was evident on his face none the less. So he said, "Your avarice is insurmountable, however, how do you plan on getting into Evercain to climb the tower and get that wish? No doubt king Aldon already sent his troops up there and has a great lead, assuming if what you said is true and all of Grimnar had the same dream as us.

"After all, we both know that without the others help neither of us has the power to invade Evercain. Dorgal made it perfectly clear to you they will, as they always have, stay out of all this. So tell me Jeremia, what makes things any different now for you than they did five years ago?"

Jeremia and Cecilo finished their glasses of wine then stood up, Abaron and Bethany stood with them; glaring them down. "It seems I overestimated your intelligence Abaron," Jeremia said. "The tower's arrival itself changed everything, and I don't need to 'invade' Evercain in order to enter those lands or the Devil Tower."

With his final words said, Jeremia and his wife boldly turned their backs and left. Abaron was unmoving for a short time waiting until they would be far enough not to hear. He brought his hands up into tightly closed fists above his head he slammed them down on the table with such great force it broke in two from the impact. He bellowed with rage and kicked one-half of the table across the room and into the wall.

"This whole time I knew he was up to something and he was just fucking with us!" Abaron yelled. "That impudent pudgy fuck he comes to my home and feasts on my food and drinks my wine, then has the nerve to insult me through it all."

"The roads back home could be dangerous for him with only a dozen guards," Bethany said as the dark nature of her meaning cooed in Abaron's ears.

Abaron took some time to cool down before saying anything more, "No, I gave him my word. And my honor is worth more to me than his fat head on a pike...at least for the time being. I'm going to go train, I need a good fight to settle my nerves."

Jeremia took his leave not long after the false talks of an alliance with Abaron and Bethany. His smug look however transformed into a scowl as he went to retrieve his daughters and found Abaron's second son, Rathel, riding Curina like a horse. He wore that scowl on his face all the way out of the castle and probably for a few good miles down the road too.

When Abaron finished beating up his guards in what he called 'training' he heard the news about Rathel and Curina and confronted his son about it. Rathel had his head hung in shame as he said, "I'm sorry father I know you must be disappointed I didn't mean to-"

Abaron cut him off there, "Disappointed is an understatement. If Jeremia or anyone of them found out about this if we had an alliance it would have shattered it then and there. At best we would have salvaged it by having the two of you marry. Otherwise the damage you would have caused today would be reprehensible."

"I'm sorry, father."

Abaron then burst into laughter, "Sorry? Don't be, that fat bastard of a king had been playing us all along this is a nice payback for all that. Bethany will make sure all of Grimnar hears that his daughter lost her maidenhood before marriage. Good luck marrying her off to someone worthwhile now you fat fuck Jeremia."

Rathel looked up to see that his father was genuinely in humor about all this and joined him in the ironic laughter. Then Rathel said, "I should fuck more noble girls then huh. Maybe one of my younger brothers found their way into Lecil's bed too."

The two of them laughed even harder after that.

Three weeks passed since King Jeremia had left Aladorn and traveled home. Abaron heard no word from Kantor since then and still had not thought of a solution as to how they would enter Evercain borders. At this point, Abaron was ready to start smuggling him and a few men at a time across trade ships until they had a decent force to ascend the tower.

Out of ideas and for fear of running out of time, Abaron began the preparations for the smuggling until the day Sir Toby Lee showed up as an envoy for Evercain; delivering a message directly to Abaron. Sir Toby was a notable knight of Evercain, his appearance was less than average and in person Abaron could see why. Toby was a well fit man but had the look of someone thirty years older than himself and some nasty scars on his face and neck; trophies of battle as Abaron called them.

Even as a neutral party, Abaron respected a knight such as Toby, skilled and battle and hardened to the core. So it was with little consideration at all that he invited him so openly into his castle (under watchful eyes of course). Abaron took Sir Toby to his new, temporary, council room to discuss his visit in private. He offered the knight a mug of ale but Toby declined and Abaron asked, "So what brings a renowned knight of Evercain all the way west to my kingdom; and alone at that?"

Toby raised his left arm and carefully started sliding out a piece of well-folded paper from his slightly loose gauntlet. The wax seal on it was a little damaged from the travel but still unopened. Abaron recognized the seal right away; it was a golden bird, king Aldon's seal.

"A very special letter from my king," Toby said. "He did not reveal the contents at all to me and made sure I knew that it was imperative that it be delivered to you and you alone. For this reason, I was tasked with the delivery of this letter but in a manner so private that it had to be hidden away safely in my gauntlet.

"I am also tasked with sending him whatever answer or message you have given to my king in regards to that letter. I am not to leave here until I have an answer so if you wish it I shall seek refuge in the nearest town and wait there until your summons."

Abaron stared down Toby trying to find any more info from his face but the knight's look was impassive; he had either had no more to do aside from what he said his reason for being here was, or he was excellent at concealing emotions; probably both. Abaron broke the seal and unfolded the letter, pouring over its contents while Toby sat there quietly, un-moving even; like a statue.

After reading the letter Abaron glanced up at Toby then back down to the letter, reading its content once more but slower. When he finished the second read Abaron placed the letter down on the table and sat quietly in thought for a short time. Then he called out to his guards and told them, "Find sir Toby Lee a suitable room to stay in and bring him a warm meal." He then turned to Toby and said, "You have permission to walk around the castle as you like but only under the escort of my guards. They will also be stationed outside your door."

Toby stood up and gave a light bow to Aldon and said, "Then I shall await for your message sire." And as the guards escorted him out Abaron said, "And go fetch my wife while you guys are at it."

*

Bethany read over the letter from king Aldon twice, just as her husband, and then asked, "What does this mean exactly?"

"I must confess that I'm not entirely sure," Abaron said. "King Aldon is not someone I know all too well, still he has been very upfront to me about his intentions in this letter."

"He said he is willing to let us in with a small battalion, of no more than thirty men to grant us access to ascend the tower as we see fit." Bethany said. "But on the conditions that we bring this force to his castle and leave most of the men outside the city, 'in a neutral state of arms'."

"He was more specific that I go, not us, he wants to speak with me mostly it seems. And the grant of tower entrance is just a show of good faith to us in the negotiations of an alliance and union between our two kingdoms." Abaron said, partially absent in thought.

"It could be he wants to lure you and some of our best men into a trap and kill you all." Bethany said grimly. "After all he stated he knows that we tried to unite with Kantor, by word from that fat bastard Jeremia, so that would be opportune motive to write this letter."

"The timing is suspicious," Abaron agreed. "But he already claimed that he had sent some of his own best men, and son into the tower to ascend it many months ago. It proves that we were right that Evercain has a serious lead on us for climbing the tower and they might have a shot at obtaining that wish.

"But I feel king Aldon is sincere in his desire to broker an alliance, a true alliance, with us. After all Evercain had very little need of our resources in comparison to our needs of theirs. And even after our invasion attempt he generously kept open a limited trade with us and without absurd rates like ten pounds of iron for twenty gold coins. I believe he has honest intentions."

"It could still be a trap, Aldon has some wise councilor's I'm sure one of them, or all of them, combined could have orchestrated this devious scheme to remove you as a formidable threat."

Once more Abaron agreed with Bethany, but still he believed in this opportunity. "It's a great risk, but I'm running out of time so I will let the gods decide my fate. Go tell the guards to bring sir Toby Lee back here, I have made my decision."

Sir Toby came to Abaron and patiently awaited his message. "Ride out as soon as you can and tell king Aldon that I agree to his terms." Abaron said. "And in three days’ time, starting tomorrow, I will set out with my men to enter through the river gate and meet with Aldon at the city. Also inform him I shall keep most of my men stationed outside the city but will bring no less than half a dozen of them with me to our meeting."

Toby nodded his head then said, "Of course sire, I shall leave immediately to pass your message along to my king. Is there anything more before I leave?"

"No sir Lee, you have done well enough and may take your leave as you see fit."

Toby bowed lightly and true to his word left that very day, even though dusk was swiftly approaching on him.

In the following few days as Abaron made his preparation to leave Torrith and Bethany gave him much trouble as they pestered him about letting them join. He told them no and that in his stead they shall rule Aladorn, he also took a private word with them and said, "If anything is to happen to me over their because of Aldon, then you two have my permission to unleash our full wrath upon them and any who stands in your way." What that meant is that if Aldon stabs him in the back they have his permission to avenge him in whatever way they saw fit for his justice.

On the morning before Abaron and his troupe set out Rathel pulled his father aside to talk with him. "What do you want boy, and make it quick." Abaron said.

"I understand leaving Torrith behind, if you fall then he will be the next king but leaving mother, and the rest of us behind like this, why?"

"Your mother is a great leader and Torrith will need her help in leading the kingdom. And your brothers have no place with me on this mission."

"You took us into battle before how is this any different?" Rathel argued back. "Besides you're not just going to the tower. You're meeting with one of our greatest adversaries in the history of Aladorn; it makes no sense not to bring at least one of your kin along for it. Torrith will inherit the kingdom after you by right, but I am your second son and it's my right to be by your side in such matters, whether war or politics."

Abaron shook his head, "You have no idea what you're getting yourself into."

"No less then you, father if you don't allow me to accompany you then you not only insult me, you dishonor me greatly."

There was a long pause of silence between the two of them before Abaron said, "Every bit the bullheaded and stubborn man I ever was at your age. You got some of your mothers manipulation in you too boy."

"So then that means you will let me join?"

"Aye it does, but you do what I say when I say it. Out there I'm your king and leader before your father and you obey my commands even if you hate them; got it?"

"I will do you proud, my king."

After twenty good leagues of travel, night was falling and Abaron had decided to make camp on the road. As the most of the men began pitching the tents and unloading supplies, small factions of them had been broken off for extra tasks such as leading the horses to the nearest stream or pool of fresh water, or hunting. Abaron and Rathel set out for a small hunt of their own, Vladmor (the captain of the Kings guard) urged that he at least join the two on their hunt, but Abaron was insistent they go alone; for some extra family time.

The two of them were paying very little attention to any noticeable tracks and already knew the chances of catching anything at that hour was slim. But Abaron knew Rathel had something on his mind he wanted to talk about and this gave him a perfect chance for it. So as they walked along, partially careless, Abaron asked, "So what's been on your mind this long trip all day?"

"I want you to tell me more about this mission of ours," Rathel said.

"There is nothing more to tell, we're going to the Evercain capitol city where I will meet with king Aldon to discuss terms of a union between our kingdom. After that we shall go ascend the tower and prove ourselves to the god's by acquiring that wish at the top."

"And if this is all an elaborate trap?"

"Then I will kill the king and as many others as I can before I fall."

"Not we? Am I not joining you inside the city?"

Abaron stopped walking and hesitated before he answered, "No, you're going to stay back with the main troops outside the city. And if you don't see me return to you within a few hours, or at least send one of my own guards to message you, then you will flee with our troops and hide.

"From there, with you and our men inside, Torrith will rally the rest of our kingdom and you will have a better chance at vengeance in my name. However, I don't think for a king, Aldon as such a man to do that sort of thing. He may not be a warrior or a great commander, but good men make good kings. If he were as bad as Jeremia, then our invasion would have turned out successful as half the kingdom would have seen us as liberators instead of conquerors."

"That sounds like a lot of trust and confidence to put into a man you never before met," Rathel said.

"I trust him to act exactly how I have perceived him, as do I trust for all my enemies that I have gotten to know. Understanding your enemy, and friends for that matter, is how you stay king. Know who you can trust to act a certain way, and move the unpredictable ones away from you."

On the rest of the journey to Evercain, Abaron, Rathel and all the men just traded war stories they told a hundred times over before around the campfire. There was no more need for serious talk. They knew what to expect. So now out here it was time to enjoy the calm days of travel and company of your allies; for they all knew that once they entered the Evercain borders there would be no more calm days.

Even if the alliance was a true prospect, the Devil Tower itself was a little frightening. None of the men dared speak about it so openly with the king or the prince nearby but despite that promise of a wish at the top, the tower spooked them; like nothing ever before or since.

When they arrived at the middle bridge Abaron stopped and paused a moment to think back on the the last time he was there. It almost seemed like a whole other life now with everything that's happened since then. Still even now he couldn't help but feel as if the gods were against him during that invasion.

But all that was in the past and a new day was dawning. He wasted enough time in the past and kicked his horse to continue on.

As soon as Abaron's horse crossed the bridge, the great iron-wood gate began to open outward. And from it came a very pretty young woman with blonde hair pulled tight into a ponytail and a company of twenty horse mounted troops. She rode up to approach Abaron as he continued alone to meet her.

They stopped four yards apart and the young woman inquired, "King Abaron I assume?"

Abaron stared her down before answering, "Aye, and you're here to make sure we don't cause any trouble along the way to the capitol, I assume?"

The young woman grinned and said, "I am Commander Lexur Kamber, but please call me Lex. And I am here to escort you to the capitol city since king Aldon doesn't want you getting lost along the way there."

Abaron smiled and tapped his horse's sides with his feet and it continued its pace on, Rathel and the men followed soon as they saw his horse continue. Lex rode by Abaron's side at every opportunity, and she wanted to keep a close eye on him. They made great distance for the rest of that day. Lex wanted to stop long ago but said nothing to Abaron; she didn't want to seem weak in front of him.

The trip to the capitol, which should have taken at least five days, took three. The closer Abaron came to the capitol the harder he pushed to go faster; he was tired of waiting. When they arrived at the city Abaron said blatantly, "I am taking my six kings guard with me to meet with Aldon."

Commander Lex looked back at the small battalion with Abaron then said, "Yes I don't think that will be an issue, so long as the rest of your men remain outside the city at a fair distance. The citizens are still a little uneasy about having your men so close to their city. Of course, we told them there is nothing to fear, that you are future allies to welcome."

"Good to hear, then you don't mind taking your men and riding ahead in the city and giving me a few moments with my own men."

Lex said nothing more but Abaron could tell she was adverse to the idea; still she went along with it and led her men into the city through the main gates. When they were far enough Abaron turned back to his men and went to Rathel to speak with him. "So far everything has gone out as promised and I see no signs of an attack," Abaron said. "Have the men prep camp about a mile away from the city and if you see no sign of me within the next few hours then flee."

"You still distrust king Aldon even now?" Rathel asked.

"I don't know Aldon too well, and always have a plan B."

"I think at first your plan B was legitimate, but now that we have come here and are already through the most optimal situations for them to attack us..." Rathel hesitated before continuing. "Now though I think it's paranoia. At this point even if we do flee, with how exhausted all our men and the horses are, we wouldn't get too far; nor would we put up much of a fight. I think we can afford a little rest."

Abaron's face turned chagrined as he turned away and galloped his horse to the city. Rathel sighed but began leading the men back to set up camp, and give them some rest. His father was so upset he didn't hail his guards so Rathel picked them out and told them to follow their king. The six men then raced their horses ahead to chase after Abaron.

During the entire ride through the city Abaron kept his eyes sharp and carefully glanced around for any signs of organized movement. The streets were a little crowded but they were filled with common folk and a few knights or city guard mixed in here and there. Perhaps Rathel was right, perhaps he was being paranoid; after all if this was a trap the streets would have been emptied and the gates shut with Abaron and his men surrounded by fifty or more men in full plate armor.

Abaron allowed himself to relax only after the horses were stabled and he and his personal guards were in the throne room standing just twelve yards before king Aldon. Neither kings met with the other face to face like this and only heard about the other through stories, or rumors, or general info at all.

Aldon looked like a good man, and someone worthy of his title as king; though he was a bit older than he expected. After Commander Lex had introduced Abaron to him, she stepped aside and Aldon spoke, "Well here you are indeed. The scouts told me of your hasty journey here, but I must admit I thought them to be exaggerating. Yes, less than a fortnight you and your battalion are here; you all must be exhausted after the trip."

"I would like to conduct our business as soon as possible, meaning no offense; but time is not entirely on my side," Abaron said.

"I can understand that, however, I want you to be in a healthy and open minded state when we start our early discussions about an alliance. And what better way for that than a good night's rest." Abaron went to refuse or argue more that he didn't need rest, but Aldon beat him to it and continued, "You would be insulting me if you didn't. I have already gotten the rooms made up for you and your men, meals as well. Rest eat, and tomorrow first thing in the morning I will send for you so we can discuss things."

Abaron still wanted to conclude his business here as soon as possible so he could move on the tower and worry about such matters afterward. But he would get nowhere like this and partnerships were complex, if he continued to refuse Aldon, he could look like he had no intention of brokering an alliance with him. So with little choice at the time, Abaron agreed but had to rush out of the city to tell Rathel that all was fine.

Rathel was a bit presumptuous about it when Abaron came back, but he was relieved all the same. Abaron told him to allow the men rest now and then turned around and returned to the castle to eat and rest.

The next morning, early in the hours, Abaron had barley finished his breakfast when Aldon's councilor, lord Tarbeck, had personally come for him. He guided Abaron and his guards to the library where Aldon was, but only Abaron could proceed inside, his guards would have to wait outside. They gave some trouble about it, but Abaron commanded them to settle down and remain at watch outside the doors; he took his sword with him.

At the center of the great library, sat king Aldon, alone with a book and two goblets of water. Aldon could hear his heavy footsteps approaching from far away in the silence of that empty library but waited until he approached to ask, "Are you a literary man, Abaron?"

Abaron took a seat across from him and sniffed at his water before drinking from it. "I'm not one for reading no," Abaron said. "But I can't say I'm surprised you're a heavy reader, king Aldon."

Aldon smiled and closed his book, "With just the two of us here you can call me Aldon, no need for formalities in here." Aldon set the book on the table drank from his goblet and continued, "I understand your eagerness to go to the tower and ascend it. My spies tell me you believe that the wish at the top is a challenge from the gods to reach up there and grab it. Perhaps that's exactly what it is too.

"Anyways I know you're a man relentless to achieve his goals. So I would like just to get the basics out of our alliance today, and when you return from the tower, hopefully, we can have a series of long discussions about the alliance between our kingdoms, and discuss things in more detail."

Abaron relaxed in his chair and said, "You want to know what we can offer your kingdom, and what it requires from you in return."

"Not as blunt as that but more or less in that sense yes," Aldon said. "What I really want is to increase our trade system and in times of war or crisis, additional military troops. You're a very intelligent man, especially when it comes to warfare, I too like to think I'm intelligent, but not specialized in war. But the simple fact remains that my kingdom cannot close itself off forever if it wants to remain independent and strong.

"Part of the reason I kept our trade system open between our two kingdoms after your invasion attempt is because you offer the best metals, and have an abundance of mithiril. We have gold, silver, copper, food, and great lands for farming, hell even plenty of wood; what we lack most is good metal: which your kingdom provides in trades."

Aldon could see the irritation growing on Abaron's face so he moved past the details, "To get to the point our two kingdoms need each other more than either of us may care to admit or realize. I know times in your kingdom have been hard for a while after your failed invasion, and without our trade system you would have lost many people over the winter. And I'm ashamed to admit without your good metal we would have been broken at times of war.

"The problem that both our kingdoms face in the future is the constant underestimated kingdom of Kantor. Alone they are not to excessively powerful nor a formidable foe. But if they team up with another kingdom they could be a serious threat to whomever they turn their sights on. Dorgal I have no doubts will remain a neutral party but if you were able to succeed in negotiations with an alliance with Kantor then the might of your two kingdoms would have brought us down."

Abaron's expression went from intrigued to wary for an instant, wondering how many spies king Aldon had back in Aladorn. "Yes well Kantor's king, Jeremia, is a more a fool than I realized and decided to insult and challenge me rather than work with me," Abaron said. "That being said why not team up with Kantor to come invade Aladorn and take our resources for yourself."

Aldon thought about it briefly then asked, "Do you think that fat tomato of a man would be a good ally?"

Abaron grinned a little then started to laugh, Aldon couldn't help but join him. Their laughter echoed through the empty library and as they settled down Abaron said, "He is like a tomato isn't he?"

When the two calmed down from their laughing Aldon returned to a more serious mood and said, "Truth be told, I cannot see Kantor being a good ally, in the near or distant future. And they don't need either of us to survive, they simply need a better king who won't steal all his people's money in excess tax rates. As I said our kingdoms always worked better when in unison, I think it's time that instead of us hoarding our treasures, and you attempting to steal them, that we start working together.

"I want our kingdoms to ally for generations to come. We can both prosper greatly from it. I allowed you and your limited troops in so that you may ascend the tower as you please, as a form of good faith towards this alliance. And here you are, my agreement honored. Now then let us get down to brass tacks, you know what my kingdom needs from you, what do you need from us?"

Abaron thought it over in silence for some time then said, "We need food, meats, vegetables, fruits, all that sort of stuff which is tedious to acquire in our lands. And we need gold, and silver, copper we have plenty of."

"Yes you do sometimes trade us in with copper, you seem fine on linen and silk, but what about leather?" Aldon asked.

Abaron nodded, "I suppose we could do with more leather, though it's not of high priority for us."

Aldon and Abaron then drank from their goblets and then Aldon asked, "And what about militia? I am sure that both our kingdoms can provide our own horses for our troops, but fighting troops are the real, complication at times. If my people are under siege and we call to you for aid... will you answer? Keep in mind it could be long past mine and yours lifetimes but would your people still aid us even then?"

Abaron rubbed his chin, it was naked as he had a good shave that morning before breakfast. "I can't see the future, but whatever agreement we make in the future I can assure you my family will uphold it for so long as it remains in effect." Abaron said. "But now I want to know about you, if Aladorn calls for your aid will you bring it?"

Aldon glanced away briefly but then turned back to Abaron and said, "I don't know about the future but if at the very least we cannot give military support outside our borders then we can offer sanctuary within them for your people; at times of most dire crisis or critical warfare of course."

The two were silent in thought for a time after that until Abaron spoke up, "I think you're right. All of this is something that we need to discuss in many meetings over time and with our councilors present."

Abaron then rose from his seat and Aldon rose with him. "But I do believe that an alliance would be in both our kingdoms best interests." Aldon smiled, Abaron grinned, and the two men shook hands on their mutual agreement for an alliance.

"Come visit after you return from the tower, I'm eager to hear how your travels inside were," Aldon said.

Abaron nodded, "Oh it shall be an interesting journey I'm sure." he then turned and began to walk away but stopped suddenly, remembering something. He turned back to Aldon and said, "Before king Jeremia left Aladorn he told me he doesn't need to 'invade' in order to gain entry into your kingdom. I don't know what he meant by that and he said nothing more, but he seems very, very certain about it. He also said the tower and the dream changed everything, so he might not be full of shit; at least not about that."

"And why are you telling me this exactly?" Aldon asked suspiciously.

"As a show of good favor for this alliance," Abaron replied. "You're doing the same for me and this is the least I can do for you to show I mean for more. Plus if you manage to foil whatever scheme he's got I'm sure that will be funny to hear."

With that Abaron left, he stayed the rest of the day and night in the castle but the next morning he and his men were off to the tower.

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