The blowing wind brings down the breezy wind of a new beginning.
A woman was looking out of the window, sitting on a recliner admiring the snow, her face was naturally outstanding, and each move she make is graceful.
Her eyes was like the ocean, the scenery in her eyes was majestic and when she walks it was like she was dancing in the wind possessing such breath of elegance and poise befitting of a great family.
Her right index finger was tapping on the chair armrest. Beside her was a book. It was the Spring and Autumn Classic.
It has been a year.
It is now Dawnmoon, the first month of the year. 15 Dawnmoon 1501 Afterfire, 13 Year of Julian Era.
Today is Frieday and many people who live around the sea near the Lindberg Harbor would go to the Temple of Frieda especially those wives of sailors.
Goddess Frieda is the Goddess of the Sea and as such for people who depends on the harvest of the oceans, they usually go to the Temple of Frieda to leave some offerings and pray for the safety of their loved one when travelling the unpredictable sea.
For the people of Midgard the Seven Gods faiths are still prevalent here in the Western part of Midgard.
Considering most people in Midgard is Northmen, it is no wonder even after Eresian culture assimilate with the culture of Northmen some things does not change.
On the other side of the room is a chair with many opened letters.
It is letter from her son Charles.
From the letters, Charles explained that he has met a teacher in Jianghu and is now training to master his martial art and when he returned he also planned to enlist himself in the Prince of Lindberg army and gain merit.
By now Charles must have reached eleven of age. In four more years he could be considered an adult.
This woman looking out of the window is the mother of Charles Martell, the Low Consort of the Prince of Lindberg, Lady Joana Wellham.
She closes her eyes as she remembers what happens a few weeks ago.
A few weeks ago, her brother returns with a woman in white robe and a veiled face.
Making introductions, her brother introduces her to Charles teacher. Messenger was immediately dispatched to inform the Prince.
When her husband heard that the teacher of his son has come to the Household he rushed home from the Harbor to see what kind of master that Charles has acknowledged.
When he first arrived and saw the white robed woman he was disappointed to say the least. The First Wife also sneers saying that Charles only acknowledges those that are same as him, fragile and weak.
The Prince hearing this was not pleased and also holds terrible opinions for the white robed woman after being egged on by his Side Consort and his First Wife.
And he scoffed even as so much insulting the white robed woman to break the ties of master and disciple relationship between her and his son.
That was a big mistake.
That woman in white robe kicks the stone chair where the Prince was sitting and the stone chair exploded.
The Prince fall to the cold wet ground and his face was flushed red. He was after all a General of the Army, a Prince that holds the region of Lindberg.
The ten guards of the household were incensed and attack the white robe woman.
The white robed woman then slit the guard's hands making them unable to hold a sword or weapon ever again and hold the Prince at sword point alarming the entire household.
They were shocked because the ten guards were all powerful and officer of the Prince army and rarely they were defeated in the battlefield or in one on one duels.
This time they were not only defeated but they were crippled, making them unable to hold a weapon for their entire life, this is worse than being killed.
She then declares
'I am Lady Lin Ziyan, Lady of Changan, known in the Jianghu as the Purple Fairy, the successor disciple of Old Immortal Li Wentian.'
Her voice reverberated through the courtyard suffusing the entire household with thick and suffocating killing intent full of anger.
'I have never been disrespected and not take that person lives. Today, you insulted me and I forgive you for the virtue of my disciple. But your guards attacked me. So, I cripple their hand as their just punishment.'
Then she said to the Prince
'Prepare me accommodation and food and do not meddle in my matters and I would not make it hard for your household.'
It was then that the whole household knows what kind of malignant star this fragile looking white robed woman is.
The Prince was not knowledgeable about the matters of Jianghu but he knows the name Old Immortal Li Wentian.
After all the previous King, King Rheonius once wanted to know the secret to eternal life and heard rumors about a martial artist that has lived for more than a hundred years and is still healthy.
He wanted to send an expedition to Aeropa and summons that person to the Westhold court.
But this proposal was blocked by the Patriarch of Wellham's, Lord William Wellham citing that many emperors and kings of the past searched for elixir of immortality and each one of those monarch leaves bad names in history.
Jolted awake by the remonstration of Lord William, the King cancels his thoughts but the Prince of Lindberg at the time still managed to know the name of the martial artist that was mentioned.
And knowing that the woman was the disciple of that Old Immortal how could the Prince attitude not change?
Since then the Prince treated the woman incredibly good as he was entirely convinced of the woman ability to instruct and guide his son.
The ten guards were compensated and were given land so that they could live peacefully.
It was later that night Lancel explains the importance and fame of this white robe woman to the Prince and her.
Hearing her exploit and her background in Jianghu make the Prince very happy as he is now relieved that his son has met such a formidable master.
Then she opens her eyes and a smile formed on her lips as she hopes that when Charles returns, the Prince could trust him with many things.
To Joanna there is nothing more important to her than her son. Her son is her hope.
Then that woman took back the book she put aside before, looking at it briefly before sneering and throws that book into the cold ground.
'Nothing in this text is correct. The words of the Great Teacher and the Wise Master are both wrong. Politics and justice are one are all false.'
The woman said in a mocking tone
'If politics and justice are one how is it possible for my family to be purged by the so called Wise King Julius? People praise King Julius for strengthening the nation but they forget what he had done. Wildflowers were trampled because he only sees the forest.'
There is also a problem in the household now.
Lady Morrigan after seeing how formidable Charles teacher in martial arts, she once again fear what the Prince thinks.
The prince has always favored his Third Son; showering Charles with all the luxuries he could give and his treatments of Charles is almost as equal as his treatment for his first son.
So, Lady Morrigan once again began plotting to harm her and her son. But this time she was even more cautious.
That Lady in White was formidable and her training in martial arts is high.
A few days ago, snakes managed to find itself into her courtyard. The snake was big and venomous.
The Lady in White snorted and only need to flick her finger before the snakes exploded into mass of gore.
It is reasonable to find snakes since Lindberg is close to the large forest near the Merciana Mountain range but to find it in her courtyard?
That is impossible unless someone put it there.
Not to mention the Prince was at the harbor, negotiating with the Guilds about this year taxes and improvement and many others business relating to the harbor.
No one to help her. If not for the interference of the Lady in White she would have been poisoned.
She would survive but she will be weakened and when eyes are closed, who knows what schemes would Morrigan do?
Too many threats and dangers here in the Prince household.
It was the reason she sent her own son into exile. Thankfully, this exile did not break her son heart and instead he strived to better himself.
Joanna knows that what she did was a little cruel sending her own child alone into some unknown places and forces him to rule a village but there is no choice for her.
The household has too many secrets and too many dangers that her heart could not calm down and the only way she could preserve Charles life is in Windhill where she has Steward Errol who she trusted completely.
First Young Master Jon is now sixteen of age and has begun following the Prince touring the province but he did not enter the military.
This is because while Jon is diligent in his studies, he possess next to nothing in his talent regarding martial arts.
He could incite internal energy but he could not understand many abstruse concepts that require softness and comprehension of the skills.
He is also stubborn making his teacher feeling helpless. People of Jianghu rarely teach people of nobility even more so when they are despised.
Most of the famous martial arts experts live across the Merciana Mountain range in Aeropa where martial arts studies are flourishing.
Northmen also possess some martial arts expert but compared to Aeropa it was the difference of a lake and the ocean.
Since Midgard is at peace and cultivate cultured personality, there are even some scholars that views martial arts as relic of a violent past.
Not to mention Northmen is usually engaged in large scale warfare where individual power rarely have meaning in the battlefield.
So, not many Northmen are experts in martial arts.
But to dismiss martial arts like this is also wrong and to reject martial arts just because it was founded by Eresian is also wrong.
Guilaume Bourbon when he founded the Bourbon dynasty, he takes the beneficial aspect of the Ancient Han and throws out which is bad.
If martial art is not important in warfare then why is it that the Black Dragon, General Rheon Shone remain undefeated.
From the first year he took the Dragon Pass the Western Barbarian could not pass the Mountain and attack Westhold.
With his martial art prowess he awe the Western Barbarian and defend the Pass from external threat, making the people of Midgard all praise him and admire him from the bottom of their hearts.
The scholars were filled with gratitude, the rulers were full of admiration and the generals view him as a paragon of warfare.
If not for his astounding powerful martial arts how could he gain worldwide gratitude?
With what miracle that he would be able to jump from the Pass and glide through the air taking the heads of many barbarian leaders when they tried to invade the Pass during King Julius rebellion?
She is hoping that after her son return, Charles could also help her….in exacting her revenge and hope her son would share her dreams.
Even till now, she could still hear the cries of the little ones and remembers the face of his Older Brother and her father.
They were calm and unrelenting even when death is approaching, they do not fear the royal condemnation and knows they do not shame the people and was not ashamed to face the Heavens.
Nobody could have such stalwart determination in front of death unlike her father and brother. Other people begged.
Other people apologized.
But even as the swords and spears pierced the body of her brother and father, their face was calm, spouting blood but not uttering a single word of complaints and Joanna knew that her father only hope Westhold could remain strong.
His brother died under the sword of Julius killed on the steps of the Throne Room, his blood shower the Throne Steps.
Red blood dripping the tiles of the Royal Palace, virtuous officials lives were sacrificed all because Julius wanted a throne.
They were loyal. They were paragons of virtue. They were honorable. And they died.
Her heart hated. Her heart despaired. And her heart broke. And a flame ignites in her heart. She will not be loyal!
She will not be a paragon of virtue. She will not be honorable! She will survive and she will exact her revenge.
By the sheer force of her will, she will displace the Heaven and turn down this world belonging to the House of Loraine upside down.
This hatred will not be sated until everyone that has anything to do with the purge of her family could be sent to the Afterlife.
But when Charles was born she learns to love again. In him, she sees the hope of revenge. He will be her protector and her tool of revenge.
But even an ice mountain could melt how could her hatred remains the same after all these years.
The hatred is still there….an ember now comparing to the blaring flame when she saw that scene years ago.
And as her hearts loved, she slowly grew attached to her own son. Even though Charles was of Martell blood, he is also her son.
And slowly she truly loved her son and does not wish any harm befalling him. She could no longer bear to see his son be merely her tools of vengeance.
Her heart could not bear it now.
And when her son was diagnosed to be weak and always ill in winter in one part of her heart, Joanna was relieved.
At least if he was weak and ill, I would have no intention of making him a tool of my vengeance. She thought at that time.
He was useless if he is weak and as such I could love him without any reservation. So, it was not only Morrigan that was worried of Charles master incredible martial arts and how he would grow, she was also worried.
Being outstanding too much is not good.
Charles master praised him possessing high intelligence and natural talent in understanding martial arts.
Lancel, her brother praises her child saying Charles intelligence would outstrip his peers and to be an official and rendering merit in service of the Kingdom will not be hard.
The more praises heaped on her son, the more uneasy she felt and the more her ambition is being fanned.
The sweet whispers of revenge once again resound in her ears.
Then the sound of rushing footsteps startled her and brings her back to her surroundings.
The servants all bowed their head and Joanna looked up and saw a mature man looking at him full of joy.
He is tall and of good posture, wearing a white robe edged in black red, with a green jade coronet.
He was a giant among men, standing tall almost reaching seven feet tall, looking very imposing and was feared in the battlefield.
This man is the Prince of Lindberg, Arthur Martell
'Prince has finished meeting the Guilds? Is there a need for nourishment that Prince has come to this humble consort courtyard?' Her words were biting and her eye is full or mirth.
The Prince flinched but he resigned himself to her verbal abuse as he believed he deserved it this time.
He gesture with his hands for the servants to go away so he may speaks without reserve with his Low Consort.
The servant immediately went out bowing and thinking among themselves that this pair of lovebird really makes the lives of their servants always walking in needles.
Meanwhile, inside the room, looking at Joanna his heart is hurting. She looks like she would break with a touch, fragile and innocent.
But out of everyone in Westhold only he knows how ferocious this woman really is.
When Arthur met Charles teacher and knows her exploit in Jianghu, Arthur nodded in his mind. It is true that a lioness will not beget a dog.
His son was always weak and fragile, always suffering cold bouts in winter, always pale but as beautiful as four seasons.
His son was a man but he possesses such a beautiful face, pleasant to look at, and enchanting. One could lose a day just looking at how beautiful he is.
For Arthur who came from a general family this kind of son could brought mocking. How could a general son possess such a girly face?
It is thankful that while his son was beautiful he did not engage in illicit relationship with other men like the people of capital which regarded it as the sweets fruit and force servants and little boys to satisfy their perverted desires.
The Capital is decadent and full of promiscuity and Arthur has never like going there.
'Are you still angry with me, my dear?' the Prince asked as he wanted to come closer and hold her hand. She did no reject his touch but she also did not say anything
The fact that the Prince disregarded Charles master and almost losing such expert has made his Low Consort very angry at the time.
Arthur after finishing his talk with the Guilds near the harbor quickly went home and instead going to his First Wife courtyard debase himself and went to his Low Consort courtyard to plead guilty.
It could be said that Prince Arthur feelings for Joanna of Wellham is sincere.
'Tell me the problem. Prince come here for me, this lowly person to solve Prince problems or why didn't Prince meet Older Sister Morrigan first?' Arthur smiles sheepishly hearing her words.
'It is true I have some problems but that is the secondary compare to your forgiveness. If not for you dear Joana how could I live this long?' He said and Joana closes her eyes like she was thinking.
In Arthur mind he asked himself but never dare to ask this question directly towards Joanna.
You hated my family but does it mean you hated me too? After all this time, could you not forget your revenge?
Did you think I do not know why you helped me all these years? My love towards you…does it means nothing to you?
He did not dare ask this question because he feared to hear her answer. Joana looked at her husband and sighed.
She closes her eyes.
She knew her husband loved her dearly but that kind of sins….could it be easily forgotten? Hundreds of lives were lost that day.
Her servants, her friends, her relatives her family not one of them was spared.
She was spared because she was married to the Martell and the Martel inaction during Julius rebellion was integral in him snatching the Throne from his brothers.
He could not offend the Martell at the time. Not only because he could not afford to, it is because he can't.
His army at the time was small, the Prince of Lindberg on the other hand possess large lands and have large military.
If at the time he offends the Martell and the Martell retaliated and brought down the entire Northern Part of Westhold to siege the Capital with what Throne would Julius blustered about here in Westhold?
His brother was spared because Prince James Arhan values him and Prince James has always ruled his region with almost complete autonomy.
Even the Previous King was respectful towards him. His family has guarded the Westhold Western Borders for a long time and has never rebelled.
In the past one King has done something that humiliates the House of Arhan so they siege the Old Capital and sacked the cities surrounding the capitals.
The House of Arhan could have taken the country and establish a new dynasty under name of Arhan but they did not.
They killed the King as just punishment and went to find the closest kin of the King and restored back the Loraine house as the ruling dynasty and return to their region.
Since then, the Kings of Westhold dare not to offend the House of Arhan and let them have full authority in their region.
The King was satisfied with these arrangements because the House of Arhan did not want kingship only to maintain their ancestral land and guarding the Western Border.
Since the Kings do not have to worry about their loyalty, they were given free reign and was trusted by many Kings of Westhold owing to their reputation of loyalty.
If not for all the protection of Arhan and the Martell, his brother would be hunted and her head would roll already under the executioner feet.
She knows that her husband wanted to wear her down with love, knows that he did and heed her counsel because he knew what she was planning but if he did not have any ambition, how could he followed her plans?
Sending troops to the Dragon Pass and the Gorge helping the Vicious Tiger and the Black Dragon this is training the troops.
What is the reason of training troops if not for preparing for external threats? But Lindbergh is the most northern part of the kingdom.
Behind it was the sea, on its west is the Dragon Pass, and on its east is Bourgnon.
What external threat is there?
There is only one reason why a Prince of Lindberg would train his private troops without external threats on his border.
It is to rebel. To displace the current King from his throne
And Joanna knew what he values the most. Not beauty. But talents. If he is the kind of man that care for beauty then Morrigan is even more beautiful than her.
Even his Side Consort was even more beautiful than her, her face is the kind of face, the more you look, the more you fall in love.
She is not a peerless beauty, then how could she entranced and bewitched him that he even heard every counsel she has ever given?
This is because he recognizes her talents. She opens her eyes and sighed.
'Prince should not say that. This is my fault. I am too sensitive.' She said as she opens her eyes and the Prince shakes his head.
'How could it be that? This Prince only wished for your forgiveness and did not wish dear to be more upset.' Saying this he quickly sits beside Joanna and holds her hand tightly.
'Tell me about the problem, Prince. Let see whether this Side Consort can help ease Prince trouble'
'Today weather isn't bad, Prince. Let us walk outside and enjoy the winds of the New Year.' The Prince only nodded.
The Seven Gods faith stressed the importance of appreciating nature when the New Year comes.
Let the winds of dawn enter your home as to drives evil spirits and brings prosperity into one home.
The yard has been cleaned and it could even be said cleaner than the other courtyard. The Prince has always made Low Consort Joanna receive the best treatment in his house.
And the servant's acts accordingly with all the best gifts and food were prepared here in the Blossom Peony Courtyard.
As they walked and the winds of the northern region blow refreshingly, he looked at his wife and felt many complex emotions.
There is a reason he always follows her counsel.
People only remember Young Master Gwentyn and Lord William as great statesman and politician that helps previous King, King Rheonius strengthening the royal power but many people do not know the contribution of this woman.
At the time, the King was having a banquet with his ministers and officials and only a few were invited to this Banquet in the New Year and Lord William brought his daughter which is accompanied with her brother.
King Rheonius at the time just assumed the throne and was still young, in his prime of age.
As they talked they touched upon the problem plaguing Westhold. It was then that Lord William proposed that her daughter is given a chance to speak.
The King approve and lady Joanna rises up from her seat, offers obeisance and standing she spoke her mind.
Her words were recorded and then was written by the scribe
'The most damaging institution in this great kingdom is the eunuch institution and the official harem.'
The King did not say anything only urging her to continue with his gesture.
'Eunuch was mainly recruited from the lowest level in society. They are half men; of lowly status only have one objective in their lives. They tried to make the most of opportunities to gain wealth, power and status unbefitting of their lowly status.'
'But they are eunuchs?' The King said
'How could they covet status since they could not enter the Royal Examination? He asked. Gwentyn then look at her sister and smiles as her sister continues speaking
'How could Your Majesty forget about why eunuchs are dangerous? Your Majesty, eunuch
constant presence in the palace and daily personal attendance to the Royal family placed them in the position privy to restricted and confidential information.
The King nodded.
'This information they got is used for their personal gains. But why do the Kings and Emperors of the past trusted them so much? It is because their inability to have children makes them less likely as potential rivals to the crown, and hence more readily entrusted with certain powers. Yet, these lowly people have proven in the annals of history to manipulate their masters. One might ask, how could lowly eunuch be able to influence August Emperors and Wise Kings? How could they not?' She asked speaking more passionately as the King listens to her intently
'Having watched emperors born and grew, they knew the temperaments of the rulers well enough to manipulate their masters. These eunuchs have always been right in the center of authority. As caretakers of imperial scions, their influences were brought to bear when the princes ascended to the throne.'
The King nodded. Even he before rising to the Throne always seeks advice from those eunuchs on the happenings in the Royal Palace.
At the times, King Rheonius had to turn to the eunuchs to know of the power play between court officials and the nobles.
Joana then spoke of one example trusting eunuch cause an empire to collapse.
'During the Hardstone Era, in its last year, Head Eunuch Ferrell turns Emperor Theon into a fatuous ruler. He indulged the Emperor his fancies and thus gained great influence to place whoever afforded his bribes into positions of power. This directly led to breakdown of order in the court, giving opportunity to the numerous sons of the Emperor to fight openly to succeed the Emperor. This led to the Battle of the Nine Princes and topples the Hardstone Dynasty. The Battle of the Nine Princes lasted fifteen years with the end results being the Hardstone dynasty partitioned and Midgard entered the Sixteen Barbarian States period for thirty years leaving many Northmen victims to the Western Barbarian. It wasn't until the Bourbon Conquest that the world finally regained peace. And all of this happens because of a single eunuch desires for power'
She lets her words hang and then she continues as the face of the king grows grave
'What about when Stark rebellion causes the Northern Bourbon and Southern Stark to split the unified empire of Bourbon to fall? Once again, the Bourbon emperor makes the mistake of listening to eunuchs. The eunuch Gwarelyn, who was the former tutor of the Bourbon emperor Damon Bourbon, gained great power due to his influence over the young ruler. His obsession with power caused him to alienate the able ministers and generals, persecuting and murdering many of them, thus fatally weakening the empire, which was unable to deal against wave after wave of rebellions and in the end the Pendragon family crushed both the Stark and Bourbon and thus gaining the world'
'The whispers of these half men, of this lowly people are full of sweets nothings and could mislead wise Kings and August Emperor. Eunuchs should not interfere in state affairs, but the lesson was usually lost on future emperors'
The King unconsciously nodded. He once again reflect on his rule and remember even he took some advice from eunuchs.
And this chills his heart.
'Your Majesty, their lowly and despised status as eunuchs meant there was nothing they could look forward to in the orthodox circles. There was nothing they could look forward to in life. They could never be venerated scholars or respected statesmen; so the lowly people they are, they learned the only thing they could depend to survive in their retirement was money. And the ability to gain money was directly tied to them being in proximity to those in power and that is Your Majesty and the nobles that serve Your Majesty.'
The King nodded and slowly he too began to see the fault in such institution but these are not enough for him to abolish it.
The Classic mentions the deeds of the Past emperors and as such the scholars would have opposed him if he tries to change such a long time held traditions.
Joanna continues her words saying
'But these are not what made them dangerous. What made them dangerous is the fact that they did not develop lofty ideals of service to the country or aspire to be well-versed as a gentleman of noble character because of their castrated bodies. Therefore, as unofficial advisors to the rulers and the wives of the rulers, their primary interest was to themselves, to keep themselves in the good graces of their patrons, and to keep their patrons in power.'
'Eunuchs also abetted the establishment of elaborate protocols and rules to keep a distance between the royalty and his officials. Some eunuchs even encouraged the King to be in contact only with officials approved by the eunuchs, or rather, discouraged contact with the officials disapproved by the eunuchs. Even the most senior officials often found themselves helpless against the bad eunuchs. This institution was a vicious cycle that perpetuated harmful environment in the palace. Since your Majesty wanted to centralize the state then the power of these eunuchs will also grow.'
the eunuch institution itself was fundamentally unsound. The institutions of officials in Bourbon bureaucracy, at least had the noble purpose of assisting the monarchs to rule the country. These men were appointed to positions of authority and power based on individual virtues and talents. Various mechanisms invented by many great thinkers were put in place to prevent abuses. As such, one can say the theory had sound basis, but the implementation varied with the integrity of the people in the system. In contrast' she said with disgust in her tone
'The eunuchs got to their positions through their very base background, and yet the system is such that these people, despised for their very office and disfigurement, got access to the very center of power. There is absolutely no incentive for them to be noble in conduct and character, to behave and to perform their duty dutifully but there was every tempting opportunity for them to abuse the confidence they gained by their proximity to the Royal household.'
She then said about the abolishing the Harem but the King was rather uncomfortable with the notion so Joana did not push the matter.
Finished hearing the Lady explanations the King was impressed and praise the lady and give her the title Lady of Virtue.
Lord William then said the reason why he brought his daughter is precisely because his daughter wanted to convey her thoughts on these matters and Lord William even said that her intelligence is on par with Gwentyn.
The King also wanted to destroy the eunuch institution but he needs someone to convince the scholars and the nobles.
Lord William met with the great nobles and scholars and persuades them to let the King pass the law.
The eunuch institution has always been looked down upon but still persist because of the Classic that exalted the great old days of the etiquette of Bourbon and because it was the tradition of the Emperor of the Past.
Lord William Wellham is descended from a noble line and as legitimate descendant of the great hero of Northmen; his word carries weight in the noble circle.
As his status of a great scholar, his influence among the scholars was also outstanding.
In a week, he managed to convince the nobles and the scholars to support the King decision.
Since then castrating was outlawed in the land of Westhold and the current eunuch in the Palace was forbidden from speaking about state matters of rendering any opinion whatsoever.
It is said, because of this law eunuch will disappear from Westhold in a generation.
One day, King Rheonius asked one of the eunuchs serving his Palace about who he should promote.
The eunuch answered and gives his opinion. King Rheonius draw his broadsword and cleave the eunuch into two.
When the other eunuch hear this they knew that the eunuch institution and the power they hold over the Palace is over and they turn their anger and hatred towards the Wellham's who proposed this idea.
Since then, the eunuch was as good as mute.
They could only debase themselves and only spoken when spoke to, unable to render any opinion.
Those who dares render any opinion regarding any matter that pertains to the state was immediately executed.
The eunuchs and the harem cost the Royal Family coffers a tremendous amount of money. The eunuchs could number into thousands while the harem into hundreds.
Even though the King managed to get rid of the eunuch institution he could not get rid of the Harem.
This is because he has many concubines and as such he could not bear parting from them which disappointed Lord William and he refuses to come to court.
It wasn't until the King visited him three times that he finally relented and once again shows his face again in the court where he was joyfully greeted by the King.
But in hindsight, Joana might have regretted she said anything in that banquet.
It is because if not for the persecution of the eunuch, then King Julius would never have the opportunity to rise in power.
Assisted in large part by eunuchs mistreated by the King and the nobility who favored the scholars-bureaucrats, King Julius made an alliance with eunuch and was given many inside information which he used to his greatest advantage.
It is because the information he got from the eunuch he managed to overthrew his father, ambushes his brother in the Southern Gate and take the throne.
Reign of terrors was seen after he takes the throne due to eunuchs settling scores with the Loyalist, scholars and most importantly the Wellham's.
At the time King Julius who just takes the throne did not want to execute the Wellham's and wanted only to imprison them before stripping their noble status.
After all the position of the Wellham's in the hearts of the scholars and nobility are large, not to mention his hold on the Kingdom was not stable yet
Any further punishment could be doled out after he managed to stabilize the Kingdom
But the eunuch in a subtle way managed to overturn the decision of the King and change their imprisonment to their family entire line being exterminated.
If not for Prince Arthur and Prince James, even Lancel and Joanna would have been executed. Ironically, it is King Julius that heed to the teachings of Lord William.
After his rule was stabilized, King James invited all the eunuch into a large banquet to celebrate their victory.
All the eunuch in the Palace was invited.
The King brought his armed soldiers to guard him.
Intoxicated by the appreciation of the King towards them eunuch they dreamed of once again gaining power in the royal place.
Then King Julius drop his wine cup and all hell breaks loose as the King run towards his guarded rooms as rains of arrows rain down on the banquet place taking the lives of almost three thousand eunuchs.
Those who survived the initial rains of arrows were slashed apart by swords and pierced by spears, their bloods flowed in rush like rain on the tiles of the Royal Palace.
Those who managed to get out from the Banquet courtyard was then greeted with cavalry waiting them on the narrow path of the Palace where about fifty eunuchs were trampled into a bloody paste.
King Julius instead of taking the time to slowly peter out the eunuch from Westhold take the direct approach and in one swift decision killed all the eunuch in Westhold.
He even adds another addendum to the laws of his father in which he forbids any eunuch to enter the Palace.
Then he executed all the concubines of his father none of them were spared and closes the Six Palace and he took only one wife.
Many people do not know but King Julius in his youth was once under the tutelage of Lord William and studied alongside Young master Gwentyn and Lady Joana.
It is because of that King Julius also knows how dangerous Lady Joanna really is and as such when the decree passed down to executes the Wellham family, he really could not let Joanna lives.
It was why King Julius wanted to kill her very much that it even took the Prince snatching military control from his father and force the forces of Loraine to return back to the Capital unless they wanted a full out war with the Martell.
Her mind is a dangerous thing.
As they enjoyed the winds of the New Year, Joanna asked.
'So, what is Prince trouble?'
'The King has summoned me.' Hearing this words, Joanna eyebrows creased but she immediately returns to her former calm.
'I think he will ask about my intention gathering so large of an army.'
'Will he dare?' Joanna mused in her mind.
After all this is an infringement of the rights of noble to have private armies after the dissolution of the Empire.
In the past Gwentyn and his father once proposed an idea to centralize an army under one King.
But this idea was not able to be put into the test because his father did not believe that the previous King would be able to do it.
King Rheonius was vigorous when he was young but as he grew older he was too peaceful.
To consolidate the armies of the nobles lords would also means taking away the noble lords soldiers, uniting it under the Kingdom.
One could only imagine the objections and obstacle the King will have to face. King Rheonius was too peaceful his father once lamented.
'The King will ask in a subtle way' she said softly.
The prince nodded.
After all if words spread that he is asking about the armies of the Northern region then the other regions might perceive that the King is planning to do something toward them thus asking their military conditions.
And that would not be good.
The other Prince ruled their regions like King and while outwardly they have to follow the King words when he declare war other than war with other Kingdoms, this princes will rule their land the way they see fit.
'What do you think I should say if he asks?'
Joana was thinking for a while before she suddenly smiles.
'There is a way. This way we could test the King trust towards you and the King trust towards the Black General.'
And maybe pull the Black Dragon to their side but this she did not say loudly.
'The fame of the General in Westhold is even above the King, yet Julius was not suspicious of this General and has always depended on General Rheon to guard the Pass. Is this true?' she ask
'What does wife thinks?' Arthur asked.
'A wise ruler does not envy talents. But I don't think Julius is that wise ruler. I know him when he was young. He is cautious and rarely trusts people. The common people cheered hearing about Black Dragon victory over the Barbarians but the common people rarely have good opinions about the King. The scholars praise the valorous disposition of the Black General but despise the King as they view the King as an usurper.'
The Prince nodded as his head is thinking.
'I heard that during the banquet in honor of the General one of the scholars get drunk and ask the General whether he wanted to rebel?' She asked and the Prince nodded as one thought entered his mind.
'Yes, I think that scholar was acting under another person instruction. How could there be such a coincidence?' Joanna said as she smiles dangerously
'The scholars all like the General. Where would they find some scholar praising the King unless they wanted to be spit and mocked by those noble literary figures in seclusion?'
'Then what is the reason the King lavish him that honor?' Arthur asks his wife as they walk across the courtyard passing the artificial lake in the backyard of the courtyard.
'To force him to come out from Dragon Pass and met him. Julius also wanted to ensure that the General is loyal to his administration. Julius is not so stupid to summon that Old General to the Capital as this would surely make the Old General suspicious.'
She chuckles a bit before continuing.
'But he also could not march to meet the Old General at the Dragon Pass. Who doesn't know the words 'As long as the General guarded the pass, those who he did not want to enter would never be able to enter, those who enter without permission do not dream of coming out alive'
The Prince nodded understanding the King thoughts. Even he did not dare to meet that old General in battle.
'The General words at the banquet ease the suspicion in Julius heart' she said as she thought to herself
'But I know the worms will always whisper to him. This worm will turns him a monster, like the way he becomes when he hears the whispers and executed my family'
'Not to mention Julius punishing that scholar so heavily wins him the admiration of some scholars who saw how the King values talents. But the Old General must have senses the King distrusts towards him and that is why he immediately departs to the Dragon Pass where he is safe and invincible.'
'I understand now.' Prince Arthur said nodding in understanding as he tries to shield Joanna from a sudden harsh blowing wind.
'This is his normal machinations' Joanna said.
'Tell the King that you enlarge your army because you fear of the growing threats of the Black Dragon in the Pass.'
Suddenly the Prince stops and looks at Joanna weirdly
'This….I could not do this. The Old general is someone I respected how could I accuse him of treason?'
Joana looks at her husband and forgot one thing. His husband may be ambitious but he also wanted to have honor.
He wanted both and this is why Joan thinks of her husband as greedy. He wanted to rebel but also wanted a good name.
This in itself was impossible.
'I did not ask for you to accuse him. I ask you to say that you only wanted to guard yourself. And, look at the King reaction and what he said to you. If he care more about you expanding the army more or whether he cares more about the Black Dragon' she said
'This is as good as saying that the Old General wanted to rebel.' He said his expression turns sour.
If the King truly believes the Black Dragon is loyal why would he believes your word? Instead he would think you wanted to sow discord between him and the Old general.' Joanna said puffing out her chest in anger as she pointed her fingers at her husband
'In the end, this is a gamble. Whether he is truly a wise King or still the cautious boy I met years ago. If he is still the cautious person, he would ask you to inform any suspicious activity and he would only said some small things about you expanding your armies. At this time you must make him the impression you are his most loyal subject and stress towards him that when his rebellion ended the only region that did not resist his rule was Lindberg. If he wanted to trust you he would no longer ask you about you enlarging your army because he thinks you will be his allies. The Black Dragon is a bigger threat to his rule then you'
'What if he did not believe my word?' Arthur asks.
'If he did not believe you immediately after returning home disband your army and train them in a secret place. We can use the tunnels we created under one of the Mountain if such eventuality happens.'
Arthur nodded and smile. This is why his wife is dangerous. In her head there are various plans and stratagems.
'Truly, talking with you always makes me feels refreshed' the prince said as he hold the hands of his wife lovingly as his worries disappeared carried away by the winds.
Joana only smiles and they keep walking and chatting together under the banyan tree, enjoying the sound of the winds and appreciating the beauty of the nature as the pair of lovebirds gauges each other intentions.
In her eyes, a flame was fanned into fire as her eyes were blaring with the flames of vengeance.
In the weeks preceding the Prince conversation with Lady Joana, he went to the Royal palace and when he return he enlarges his armies as the Royal palace gifted him with gold, horses and accessories and the Royal Palace was said to be grateful for services rendered.
The Prince was said to gift all the accessories to his Low Consort thus gaining the envy of many unmarried woman and other consort of other household.
It is true, that a noble still is a noble even after her status were revoked and that is why the prince was so bewitched and entranced with that sole surviving daughter of Wellham's.
In her room, looking out of the windows of her courtyard, her determination did not waver as the whispers resound louder.