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In this Journal, I write stories, and I make updates about my life. Feel free to subscribe, comment, or just read!
Story Update | 3.3

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Ardid and I were two of a kind at one point. I remember the days when we used to run around the Palace, shooting our wooden bows at each other. Our arrows would be featherless sticks and the bowstrings would be made from the Palace rugs. What children we were!

All that time, I never once asked my childhood friend what his plans were in life. Perhaps it was because I already had a hint as to what they were. Especially after I witnessed that sight. What a grand sight it was! Perfectly fitting for the likes of him.

Ah, yes, when I saw him up against those thugs, I couldn't imagine him in any other environment. He would run around the Palace with such a rowdy and dauntless attitude that I couldn't see him as a royal. At some point or another, I recall, Ardid had refused to sleep! He would eagerly run straight past his room, and he would continue running until he had found a place to hide in the Palace Gardens.

What a time it was to be alive. Arvur, however, was never that type. He was more timid and simplistic. His values did not revolve around causing a scene or being pain. He was scholarly and reserved, which was obviously in stark contrast to his brother! Strange, though, how the twins were nothing alike. I believe that the only thing they shared was their compassion for each other.

Now, when my father died, I remember seeing the two boys at the funeral. They were dressed in their finest clothing, but we could all tell that they were not at their best. For me, my father's death was a symbol of my rise to power. For them, my father's death was a symbol of their fall from grace.

I remember seeing them in the crowd. They were seated close to the front, and when the crowd stood for a moment of silence, I looked them over. Ardid stood proud and tall, but he was holding back his tears as he did so. Arvur, stood shakily from his seat and wiped the tears from his eyes, but they would not stop flowing.

I was seated farther away, closer to the front, and I faced the audience. My mother was next to me, and she stood, ready to give her speech. I think all three of us tuned out the entire thing. It was quite a lot to bear at the time, you see.

My father was a wondrous leader and an even more wondrous father. He was father not just a father to me, but he was a father to them as well. My brother had adopted the two into the royal family, but then died shortly afterwards when sailing to the Yellowdale Kingdom. My father took them in. "For your sake," he would tell me when I asked about them.

By Aias, when I first met the two, I could not stand them. Well, not Ardid, at least. I remember treating them quite badly, making fun of their heritage and their peasant background. How close-minded I was! As the years went by, however, I remember growing closer to the two boys, and, eventually, we bonded. We mourned for my father together, and they supported me during my coronation.

However, I suppose that was when things began to fall apart. My father passed, and I became the next emperor of the Lelantos Empire. I became much too busy and far too symbolic to play in the Gardens as we once did. Ardid confronted me once, asking if I would like to play with them, but I was forced to decline. This happened several more times. And then it happened several more times after that. Ardid and Arvur grew frustrated with my position, and Ardid came to speak to me.

We were teenagers at this point, and we did not understand how much of an impact we could have on each other. At some point, I recall Ardid punching me. What a good punch it was! It was the punch of an outsider -- a warrior, even! It was most definitely not the punch of a royal.

Despite what a wondrous punch it was, that punch sealed Ardid and Arvur's fates. They were exiled from the Palace and even from the city of Lelantos itself because of their violent acts against me. I had a bitter hatred for Ardid, and I watched as he and his brother followed the path down the Palace Gardens. It was the same path that we had run down several times in our childhood.

Looking away from the two, I began to huff and puff. I had difficulty holding it in, and eventually I couldn't anymore. I sobbed hard that day, and I refused to leave my room. I had lost my two closest friends, and it was my fault. Ah, what a troublesome young emperor I was.

However, I cannot imagine that Ardid would hold a grudge against me. Nor would Arvur, for that matter. The two were knowledgeable men, and they were tender at the core.

I know that I've mentioned Arvur several times in this journal, despite the fact that I titled it "Ardid of the Council of Virtuous Parley." Well, Ardid simply isn't Ardid without Arvur at his side. The twins have such an unbreakable bond, it's mind boggling!

Anyway, I made contact with Ardid once more quite some time ago. He is in a position of power himself! The Council of Virtuous Parley, Lelantos' greatest trading partner -- and he's its Guildmaster! When he fought with those thugs at the Imperial Plaza, I had always imagined him in such a position. He was tough and strong, unlike myself and the other royals.

Ah, but that is a story for another time. I have adopted a son, just as my brother did before me, and I have been observing him for some time, now. Ardid informed me that the child was trying to recover his brother, who was captured and forced into slavery.

I sent our fastest messenger bird, Ode, to Ardid, confirming that he could retrieve the boy--

Claude slapped the journal closed. The leather spine sat balanced in his palm, his fingers clasped around it to provide support. He shifted uncomfortably on the railing and lowered the journal to his side. "What an eye-opening discovery," he scoffed.

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Lorelis dropped another coin from one side of her desk to the other, letting it fall onto the nearly two-foot high stack. She tossed a couple more coins onto the stack and then pushed the entire stack into a small bag. Tying it shut, she picked up her quill and poked a hole in the parchment before her. She grabbed the excess string from the knot she had made and tied the parchment to the cloth bag.

Smiling at her work, she read the tag once more. "50PP," was written on the tag, and when she finished admiring it, she called one of the apprentices over and handed the bag to them. "Add this to the Defense Division's budget. This has been deducted from the Intelligence Division as Henrik's alternate punishment."

Leaning back in her chair as the young woman at her desk took the bag, Lorelis sighed audibly. She wiped some sweat from her brow and looked at the stack coins on the left side of her desk. Grumbling, she pushed the coins back into the safe from which they came. She stood up from her desk and picked up the safe.

Placing it on a wheeled table, she pushed the heavy safe out of her office and out into the Financial Division's indoor plaza. It was a large area, complete with marble floors and stone pillars that reached up to the ceiling, which was lined with chandeliers to light the area.

The room was shaped like half of a pentagon, with just three sides and the exit, which was a hallway at the end of the semicircular wall. On the right side, when entering the Financial Division's plaza, one would see the offices, where Lorelis and others kept to their work. On the left side was the banking area, where members of the guild could come for loans or deposits and other business of the like.

However, in the center of the far wall was a staircase that was guarded by Defense Division troops and a large steel door. The staircase descended into the Guild Vault, where all of the guild's funds were kept.

Lorelis' dark blue dress waved as she stepped in rhythm with the cart's wheels. She hummed a tune as she grew closer to the vault, and she stopped to confirm her identity with the guards, who saluted to her as she continued to the steel door. Drawing a heavy key from around her neck, she placed it in the keyhole on the door.

Turning it until she heard a loud click, she gripped at the door's handle and pulled it open. A rush of wind came from within the vault as the door created a vacuum. Once she closed the door behind her, she pulled the cart along and began to descend the stairs carefully. Once she reached the bottom, she again withdrew the key and opened the door to the Intelligence Division's vault, which was the second one to the left.

There were four doors total. One door for each of the Divisions. From left to right were the Archiving Division, Intelligence Division, Financial Division, and the Defense Division, just as the Seats in the High Council Hall were ordered.

Stepping into the Intelligence Division's vault, she picked up the safe from the cart and placed it on a high shelf. There were several other safes in the room, all lining the shelves. They could only be opened by a senior official's Financial Division key, which belonged to roughly five members of the entire Division. The same went for the doors in the entirety of the vault.

Turning back to the cart, she picked out her quill and began to write her record of returning the safe and the transfer of funds from one Division to the other. She was just finishing her record when she heard the loud creak of the vault door behind her. She turned to face it as the door creaked shut and locked into place, stopping all of the light from the vault chandelier from entering the chamber.

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