THE OBSERVATORY TOWER
"Vanheim sleep in peace and without fear even when they were surrounded by wolves for
they knew a lion was among them"
- The Anecdotes of Gilliard Mason on Duke Bradheim-
A young man was standing looking down from his observatory tower as the wind blows gently on his flowing golden hair.
His face is fierce and manly. He was muscular and he wears a lion armor, a metal white silver armor with a crest of a Lion.
He had a dragon gait and firm tiger steps, with his vigor and prestige that unknowingly overflowed out and with the normal military valor, that it could made many of his enemies frightened
He is the symbol of the military of Vanheim, the defender of the Kingdom and the General that have been loved by the people.
His eyes are clear and full of determination. But, his eyes also have worries.
He then sighed.
The man standing at this observatory tower is none other than the famous Duke Bradheim, one above all, below only under one person.
Bradheim is the stepbrother of King George of Vanheim. Born from a different mother, he has never let that fact bring him down.
At a young age he learned tactics and strategy so that one day he might defend the Kingdom.
In his teen he follows his Royal Father hunting and makes a name for himself in the military. Old Generals cast a lot of support for him.
He fought in the expedition against Vetten and Niovar, making a name for himself in the battlefield as the Golden Lion of Vanheim
Strong and charismatic, he was different from George who is always at the library and spending time with that old cuckoo they called Sage.
He has always see his brother talent as inconsequential in creating a powerful Kingdom.
Everyone believed that Bradheim will be appointed as King. But this belief did not extend to his own Royal father.
His Royal father on his deathbed chooses his older brother, George. George is known to have health issues long before he even took the throne.
He didn't believe that George could rule as King for long and will brought Vanheim mighty reputation to crumble.
But he also could not rebel openly and brought the Kingdom to a civil war which will weaken the Kingdom offensive capability against other threats.
They were too many wolves eyeing Vanheim covetously
So, he endures and compromise. He chose honor above power.
He asked his brother to give him a state so he might rule.
This was unusual to say the least but half of the officials in the court agreed and all the military faction supported Bradheim
George then unwillingly gave him a state to rule not because he wants to but because George himself fears his political clout and military power that Bradheim could exercise in the Capital.
Away from the capital, the King could sleep easy.
But that was a mistake as Bradheim could now develop his forces without the prying eyes of the Capital.
The King was afraid to refuse and concocted a reason to justify his decision.
If Aero was there during that day, he will surely not hesitate to assassinate Bradheim instead letting the Lion get out of the Capital.
He will do whatever it takes to make sure that Bradheim would not step even a foot outside the Capital gate.
He could only leave as a corpse.
That is how dangerous Bradheim was in Aero estimation. Letting him leave was like letting a tiger back into the forest, like letting the fish swimming in water.
Arriving at the area where the King bestowed him the territory to be a state he named that state Bradheim based on his name.
Bradheim settled there and built his foundation defending the borders and pacifying the region winning the hearts of the common people.
He believed his brother will face much opposition to his rule.
And true enough his brother has so many entities that worked against him. The nobles resistance, the neighboring countries provocations, and the Orcs raids.
Sensing that his brother rule will not last long and his dethronement and death would cause chaos to the Kingdom he hatched a plan.
He bided his time and waited.
He trains his soldiers and reserves his strength. Then when just he was about to strike, George abdicated.
It was an unexpected move.
His brother by not naming a successor created a deadlock so he couldn't just march to the capital with no good reason.
The fact that the king is still alive at that time is also what preventing others from naming an heir to the Kingdom.
And the subsequent chaos and instability that followed forces the nobles hand.
Then in not more than a month his brother successfully gained the people support and unlimited power was handed to him.
An absolute monarch in name and in practice.
He pacify the chaotic Kingdoms, gains the people approval and their hearts, forces the nobles to acquiesce to his demands and the Temples to wholeheartedly support him in his endeavors.
Suddenly, from an incompetent King, he was suddenly elevated to a wise king rarely seen through the ages by the people and now become a major headache for the nobles who have been winning the game in the courts all this time
Bradheim thought George was an incompetent ruler. But what happened in this past couple of weeks shattered his perceptions.
After extensive research and information gathering he found out who helped George.
'No wonder, my brother can succeed' Bradheim thought after he reads the report.
He has able advisors to advise him and a terrifying genius strategist that schemed for him. Bradheim couldn't help but acknowledge the person who helped George.
Bradheim did want to try to recruit the adventurer named Aero after that incident but his informant in the capital says he is loyal to George.
Right now in this Kingdom the only one who holds military power is only him and George.
After George uses his edict to forces the nobles to contribute their soldiers to the war effort, the Royal Army is now as strong as it is in the past
But Bradheim could see this is a scheme. It is just the King wanting to put all the military power under him like the Emperors of Old
By now, if Bradheim could not guess the intention of that Strategist beside George, he would surely have wasted his learning all this years.
Bradheim understand why the war was waged and why it is important to win.
The strategist wanted Vanheim to become the sole hegemon of the Eastern continent, to unify the kingdoms and gain the right for supremacy
Bradheim could have never imagine that the words uttered by his father so long time ago is true
George is weaker than him, thus he knows more how to appreciate talent. He, Bradheim was blessed from young and as such extremely remarkable and a little stubborn headed.
From what he reads in the reports George did not hesitate to follow the strategist plans even though it would have humiliated him
His humbleness while it did not won him the admiration of the military factions it is a weapons most effective to persuade a talent to join him.
After all who wouldn't like to be flattered? Bradheim could never do this. He was prideful since young.
Aero saw this quality in George.
A wise monarch is not a monarch that wins war all the time for so many monarch in the world that is called wise monarch rarely employs war as their grand achievement.
A reason why wise monarch is immortalized as such is because in their reign their kingdom or empire enjoys peace and prosperity.
Whether that peace and prosperity gained through war is unimportant. What is important if the war brings prosperity or not.
In the Chinese history there is Han Wudi.
The Emperor Wu of Han while he did expand the territory he did so by taxing the empire to sponsor his military campaigns that seems never-ending.
There were many peasant revolts throughout the empire during his time. And as such he was looked upon by historian with ambivalence.
Taizong of Tang also expands the territory with war.
But in history he was typically considered to be one of the greatest emperors in China history and even his reign became regarded as the exemplary model against which all future emperors were measured
What is the difference between these two monarchs?
Under Taizong, Tang dynasty flourished economically and militarily.
This era of consolidation and conquest laid the foundation for Xuanzong's reign, which is considered to be the height of the Tang dynasty.
But Han Wudi left a problem for his descendant. What he did was great. That is undisputable.
But it is also because of his expansion without planning that slowly eroded the Imperial authority.
He bites off more than he can chew. There is a story about Augustus the emperor that brought the golden age to the Roman Empire in almost every sense, politically, economically and culturally.
He took interest in Virgil epic account of Rome origins and thus the Aeneid was born. He completed Caesar project the vast Basilica Julia.
In Res Gestae, Augustus claimed to have restored or built eight two temples in one years.
Agrippa his general started Rome first large public bath. He boasted that he had found Rome a city of brick but left it a city of marble.
But the Great Emperor of Rome, the Father of the Roman Empire advised Tiberius to expand the Empire no further.
His descendants clearly didn't get the memo and all try to emulate their Father of the Roman Empire, expanding until the British Isle.
A large empire which has thin perimeter defense of legionary and auxiliary forts could not hold of the vast empire from its enemies and because of overextension, the mighty Roman Empire slowly being chipped away and fall.
What does this teach?
Winning war does not make one to be immortalized as a wise monarch. Making the people lives prosperous is a measure of a wise monarch
And Aero is shaping George to be like that.
A wise monarch accompanied by a wise advisor.
How many rulers in the world desire to possess such beautiful relationship between superior and subordinate?
Because of Aero, George right now possesses such powerful influence that he could take military power from Bradheim and the common people would not bat an eye.
They gave George the authority to do so. But George did not do so. By not taking his military power it shows how smart George really is.
Or is it his advisors that are smart?
If George takes Bradheim military power after the war nobody will complain.
If they win, it would only add legitimacy to his rule. If they lose, then that would be explained as to bolster the forces for defending the Kingdom.
Either way, Bradheim power will be diminished.
To be honest it's not like Bradheim has treasonous thoughts from the beginning. He just wants the Kingdom he loves and sacrifice his youth for to become strong.
If George is really capable, he will gladly be loyal to him….but all the years he saw this stepbrother of his, he never seems capable and fall short of Bradheim own expectations of what a mighty King should be.
Many that are loyal to George see Bradheim as someone who is hungry for power.
But that is not his character or his disposition.
If he was truly hungry for power he would have already rebelled with his legions during that day after the will of his royal father was announced.
Now the Orcs are attacking, backed by Vetten gold. This is probably the gravest crisis that Vanheim has ever faced since the Hegemony War.
And now…..he has a choice to make
He got a letter from Aero, George strategist.
Enclosed in it was the information about Vetten conspiracy and Aero intention to repel the invasion of Vetten in Fort Vars.
In the letter is also a plan written for him. Bradheim knows it's not only a plan, it is a test. A test designed to see whether he is loyal to the crown.
But the plan that Aero enclosed in the letter amazes Bradheim. To think he could form a plan without even seeing the battlefield is an amazing thing to do.
But what is the most amazing than this was that Aero knows who he is. Not his name or other information about him but information about his personality.
Unlike others, Aero did not see Bradheim as a hungry lion but as a proud King of the Jungle.
A lion that did not want to be ruled someone weaker than him. An honorable and prideful person.
And because Aero knows that, he dares sent the letter and ask for his help.
George will not dare. Nor his other loyal officials and generals who shares George doubt about his allegiance
If it works this Aero shall be no commoner and will surely be promoted into officialdom and become the King most trusted advisor.
Now he must decide.
Will he take this chance to betray his brother or save his Kingdom only to give the military power to George if he wins?
Bradheim is still thinking in the tower.
He looks down and he could see the villages and his city and then he looks upwards and he saw the blue skies and white clouds as the winds pushing the clouds and reveals the blue skies.
And he sighed.
'Being peaceful in times of chaos is easier said than done. Being cruel is easier. To ride the time or to change the times? Which one is easier and which one could be done?' He muttered to himself
There is not much time. He must decide. And he must decide fast. Then he closes his eyes and crumpled the letter on his hand as a look of determination appears inside his eyes.
'Did you all think the lion is sleeping because he didn't roar?' Then he smiles
The Orcs have almost arrived in Fort Elken. Bradheim has sent his troops to engage them in the distance by employing raids and surprise attacks.
There are not many casualties in the first day on Vanheim side. Yesterday he himself did not lead his men to battle.
Today he will take to the field and this news send the army into a frenzy.
Bradheim is known as a talented commander and a fierce General of War. Today he will lead the army to the front lines to engage the enemy.
The troops' morale has increased knowing that Bradheim himself will personally lead them. It is an honor to fight alongside the Lion of Vanheim.
On the battlefield Bradheim sitting on his warhorse looking dignified and full of majesty quickly analyzed that the enemy that is employing a straight line formation.
The situation in a battlefield could change in a matter of seconds. He needs to do preemptive attack
He then quickly yelled
"Form ranks. Wedge formation!"
Wedge formation is one of the formation Bradheim is most proficient at.
He would thin the lines to provide concentration in the center to break through the enemy lines.
And then he would charge like a fierce lions and pounced on their enemies with speed and might.
With five thousand cavalry they quickly regroup on the battlefield as horses hooves creates dust that covers the battlefield and the drums of war was being pounded to incite battle spirit.
Then with a shout they began their formation attack.
Bradheim army has many elite soldiers nurtured by him and this is proved by how fast they broke through the enemy lines, swinging their swords and piercing their spears through the shields and flesh of Orcs like they were slicing and dicing meat for dinner.
Even as some of them fell in battle, they did not stop their fierce attacks. They keep paving the way forward and preventing the enemy from forming back their lines.
"Search for Gruk. Whoever takes his head will be rewarded handsomely!" yelled Bradheim while he was slashing Orc soldiers splitting the Orc barring his way into two
Blood colors the green grass red as dins of weapons could be heard in every direction and screams and wailing intertwine to create a bizarre sound that could weaken any man heart that has never been to war.
They fight bravely and fiercely, as sweat and blood could be seen in the armor of Bradheim soldiers but there are no signs of Gruk in the battlefield.
The momentum of the battlefield is clearly on Bradheim side as they slaughtered their way and killing in a frenzy like they were possess by the God of War.
This is an advantage that could be used by his soldiers to weaken the Orcs. Morale is at an all-time high.
After that the momentum that Bradheim created is broken by a terrifying roar.
The sound resonate all over the battlefield as the ground trembles and the battlefield was suddenly being overwhelmed by a single shout.
Some troops have their eardrums ruptured and some even froze as the Orcs Horde cheers and cut the enemy in front of them, slashing down the frozen and disoriented soldier with ease as their counterattack began.
Gruk has shown himself on the battlefield.
His horse was only slightly smaller than an elephant, holding a big clubs twice his size he look like the Old Monsters that appeared in the children nightmare stories.
To those who watched him, they finally understood why the other tribes of Orcs followed him and obeyed his orders without question.
The Orcs valued strength and this Orc is undoubtedly is the strongest of them all.
There was no doubt that's the reason. Any troops that were smashed with his clubs died a horrible death.
Faces were smashed leaving a mashed meat on the ground. Bones were broken into dust before they trembles and die because of internal bleeding.
Bloods splattered all over the battlefield creating muddy and sticky soil of red.
The Orcs morale soared. Sensing a change in the tide of war, Bradheim quickly ordered retreat.
He will not try to break the flow when it is easier to dispel the flow by retreating. Bradheim did not become a powerful general just based on bravery.
He also needs intelligence
They changed their formation and started retreating back to the Fort. Bradheim hoped Gruk and his horde will follow them, but his expectation was wrong.
Gruk ordered the Orcs to reinforce their position.
If Gruk had followed, he would face the ambush troops Bradheim prepared in the hills. This Gruk calling himself the Great Orc is not stupid.
That much is clear.
And so the battle turned to a siege battle. The Orc Horde of Nairhell and the Golden Lion of Vanheim has begun collided with each other
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