Hardcore: Qi Worlds

Chapter 83

Chapter 83: Loctris 4

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  Ventiry started by asking Benzhi to add any additional stipulations before he was done, but he suspected he would have it covered.

 Ventiry’s listed demands.

            All articles in the treaty are unconditional

            All articles in the treaty are enacted as a royal decree

            It is recognised this royal decree is authorised by the Governor and both Justicar’s of Sandstone in the Crown’s absence

              (Ventiry explained the first three items meant the King could not subsequently veto any of the articles or the entire agreement. They could not end any clauses either, unless both parties agreed.)

            The Alpine Forest is recognised as a foreign territory by the Kingdom of Loctris

            All the lands north of the Midaensia Mountain Range, not including the Mountain range itself, are recognised as the territory of the Alpine Forest

            (The Midaensia Mountain Range is the one where the old dwarven stronghold used to be. The pass is where the yetis were located. It is the name the kingdom of loctris has for the mountain range. This is a significant increase in size compared to the actual domain. But it is land the kingdom is not using and would give the two adjacent borders)

            The central pass of the Midaensia Mountain Range is considered dual occupancy territory and no tariffs for passage shall be charged by either Kingdom

            The Alpine Forest is recognised as an official Royal Trading Partner of the Kingdom of Loctris

            As a Royal Trading Partner, no tariffs or taxes will be imposed on Goods imported by or exported to the Alpine Forest. Normal taxes for operations in the Kingdom of Loctris will apply.

            All past conflicts, from the date of this treaty, involving the Alpine Forest and its citizens are pardoned with no tribute or recompense owed by either party.

            The Land owned and occupied by the Alpine Forest Trading company, inside the Kingdom of Loctris, will be considered foreign soil.

            The Alpine Forest and the Kingdom of Loctris will enter a formal military alliance where aid is given in the circumstance of war. (this article is wishy-washy, but it is too difficult to qualify in a short amount of time, Ventiry added it as a positive relations article given the circumstances.)

            Any crimes against citizens of the Alpine Forest by citizens of the Kingdom of Loctris will be treated the same under the law as crimes against its own citizens.

            Land owned by the Alpine Forest cannot be confiscated by Royal decree or any other legal method.

Ventiry was done stating the articles requested, and he looked at Benzhi, “anything else?”

 Benzhi thought about it for a moment, “do the guardians or trade leaders need recognition of their status?”

 Ventiry shook his head, “that is covered by the statutes of Royal Trading Partner and Military Alliance. They have significant legal meaning to the principals of the Alpine Forest,” Ventiry was careful not to name Benzhi the leader, it was one point they had not established. Yes, they agreed not to pretend he was just a bodyguard, but the leadership of the Alpine Forest was still open for discussion. Benzhi was officially known as the Protector of the Alpine Forest, and in truth, that was his only official title.

 “Then these are our demands,” Benzhi pushed the paper across to the Governor.

  “The need for expediency outweighs quibbling over details, these are all reasonable terms in my eyes, in fact, you have asked for no reward,” she looked directly at Benzhi.

 He shrugged, “I do not fight for rewards, I am the Protector of the Alpine Forest, I fight for my people and my land.”

 Sigwurd considered Benzhi for a minute. “You are similar to a Whitecloak Paladin,” the Governor observed smiling, “it is no wonder you destroyed the five blackcloaks who invaded your land.” She turned looking at Lonis and Kyandre, “Justicar’s are these terms acceptable to you,” she had made it clear by the Paladin association she expected approval.

 Lonis nodded, “I agree, I do not see any need for amendments.”

 Kyandre, “I agree in principle, but,” everyone reacted physically to the but, “it is not clear what is being pardoned. We have not had a full account of what happened, only hearsay. We have not spoken directly to this, Master Gilford. The Baron, the king's cousin, was killed in this battle. I am not convinced the King would agree to a full pardon if it were murder or conspiracy.”

 Before the Governor could speak, Benzhi launched into a tirade.

 He stood and paced around the room, not exactly threatening he was passionate and animated, “I will tell you what happened little girl. Your fucking Baron and his fucking nobles invaded our lands and took whatever they wanted. The treated the people of these lands like animals, beneath their consideration. And the crime, I and my people committed? We defended ourselves. This Baron killed the first group to come and parley with him. They came in peace for talks, and they were impaled on spikes out the front of the city as a warning to others.”

 “We did not invade or attack Vaugend, they came into our land, and we killed the invading scum. I would do it again in a fucking heartbeat. And perhaps next time I would not be so forgiving as to let the cowards, who ran during the battle, live. Perhaps next time I will march on to the city and finish each and every one of them. Perhaps next time I would not save those left in the city from the portal spawn and give them a new home in our land. Perhaps next time I would not bother saving a noble who mistreated his people and mine, ran like a coward after losing the battle, and then ran like a coward from Vaugend leaving its people to fend for themselves. It is not my people who need a fucking pardon it is yours.”

 With the last words Benzhi emitted a qi aura of dread, he had not planned it, he had meant to put her in her place, the aura spontaneously pulsed out and all in the room felt it. Benzhi did not maintain the aura, it was a flash, a pulse, it was over as soon as it had begun. He was in no mood to apologise, he merely sat back down in his chair, put his hands behind his head and his feet back up on the table.

 Everyone stared at him for an indefinite amount of time, the scribe had dropped his quill, even Ventiry was affected.

 “Well,” Ventiry tried to calm the situation, “I think that answers your concerns over what happened during the incident from our point of view.”

 The Governor had regained her composure, “it answers my concerns, I want him fighting for us and if you cannot comply, little sister, I will be forced to take drastic action to protect my city.”

 “Little sister?” Benzhi asked as if they were at a social gathering.

  “Her husband is my older brother,” Kyandre explained, “which, in Sandstone, does not make us sisters, whatever your ways are in the capital.” Kyandre looked pained, she was principled, and it was not in her nature to give in to pressure, she would always follow her conscience. “Give me one moment and allow me this,” she asked the Governor.

 The Governor nodded, she must know what Kyandre planned.

 Kyandre turned to Benzhi, “if your words are true, you will not fear a reading. Will you allow me to read your aura?”

 Benzhi’s interest was peaked, he had forgotten the reason for the request. “Do you mean my qi core? What do you see?”

 “It is an old technique which I have experimented with and evolved, I do not read your mind, it is like reading your heart. I promise you it is non-invasive, I can do you no harm other than discovering if you are deceitful or evil.”

 Benzhi laughed, “everyone is deceitful in some way, most are not even honest with themselves. But I agree, I have nothing to hide.” On the contrary, he was going to watch her with qi sight and study exactly what she did.

 Kyandre turned Benzhi’s seat to face her, much to his disappointment he had to take his feet off the table and place them on the floor. She sat opposite to him so their knees were touching and they were facing. She took his hands in hers. Benzhi was tempted to imagine banging her brains out the entire time she read him just to see what happened, but, that was childish, so he dismissed the idea almost immediately.

 He closed his eyes and enabled qi sight, he watched her closely. She sent qi streams out, sprouting from her circulation pathways, not from her core. Her streams touched onto his circulation, but unlike when he linked, they did not enter and merge, they flowed along his circulation pathways.

  Benzhi could see she had an issue already because he was always improving his manipulation his circulation. He had continued to develop, and they became more and more complex and intricate as he improved. When he viewed a peak master the greater their manipulation ability usually coincided with a more complex and intricate circulation. The same was true for him.

 Kyandre, was woefully short of streams to assess his circulation pathways. He heard her intake of breath when she first realised this, she did not panic, she became intrigued. She did not have qi sight, it was as if she was blind and explored with her streams feeling around in the dark.

 He almost chuckled as he was watching everything. But what intrigued him the most, was she was using her streams to sense him. It was not something he could duplicate, he could create those streams and touch her circulation, just as she was doing to him, but he got no sense from it. The streams told him nothing.

 For all his telepathic ability, she was able to do something that he could not. Perhaps this was, what was meant to have an affinity, this was her affinity. He really needed to see Kebo before the Myrkalfar arrived, what was taking him so long?

 Just as his qi sight was superior to others, and his telepathy was more advanced, could that be something to do with his affinity? He had put it down to that his skill was greater than Gisael, Reyas and Anastasia. He figured once their skill improved they would match him, but maybe this was not the case.

 Kyandre seemed to be lost in him, she had spent an indefinite amount of time exploring his circulation pathways, finally tracing it all the way back to his core. He had seen enough with qi sight, he opened his eyes and slyly checked on everyone in the room.

 The Governor looked bored, she was reading some documents. Ventiry looked concerned the old worrier. Lonis looked intrigued he was watching Kyandre and Benzhi closely. Before enabling qi sight to inspect Lonis, he turned back and saw that Kyandre had been crying. Tears were streaming down her cheeks. What could this mean? Benzhi forgot about Lonis, closed his eyes and enabled qi sight.

 Kyandre’s streams had reached his core, they encircled it and caressed it. Benzhi’s core had not grown in size over the last six months, it had reached a certain volume and never grew larger. But, it had become more concentrated, the qi within his core was more abundant because it had highly concentrated pockets or currents as he liked to think of them. His core or pool was constantly moving, swirling mass of qi, as was everyones. They would differ in size, concentration and movement. Some qi cores barely moved at all, these belonged to people who never exercised the qi they had.

  He heard a gulp from Kyandre. She had cried so much her airways had clogged up. He wondered if it was always like this. Opening his eyes, he saw now even the Governor was intrigued with her sister-in-law’s behaviour.

 Kyandre stood, “I am finished,” she could barely speak. She wiped her eyes and ran from the room.

 “Um,” Benzhi looked at Lonis and Sigwurd, “is that good or bad?”

 Lonis cracked the tiniest of smiles, “I think it was a pass. Although I have never seen her like this.”

 The Governor took charge, “I think the approval from Kyandre will come, I do not need to stay any longer. Hasard, you will escort and host the Alpine Forest Contingent until Kyandre is herself and then she will be the Justicar assigned to them and the Paladin. Lonis you will be with me, I am in need of your wisdom.”

 “Ah, Sigwurd,” Lonis squirmed, “do you think that is wise? Would it not be better for me to oversee these people and for Kyandre to assist you?”

 Sigwurd did not like being questioned in front of subordinates, let alone foreigners, she glared at Lonis, “No. She can fight and you cannot. You are much better suited to assist me. If she has any issues, too bad, she is a Justicar for Kingsake,” the Governor said harshly.

 Lonis visibly winced at the words, especially when she said he could not fight. That was not entirely true, but compared to Kyandre he was ineffective.

 She turned to Benzhi, “We will honour the treaty, two copies will be signed and sealed, and since you are in the Kingdom of Loctris, your part will be to follow the orders of the Paladin Alejo, while we are at war. Do you have a problem with that?”

  Benzhi stood and fixed his gaze upon the Governor, “Not at all, as long as those orders do not put the Alpine Forest in jeopardy, we will follow them.”

 She held his gaze, “does that include your lives? I would expect there to be mortal danger in any battle, and that would not be a reasonable condition.”

 Benzhi shook his head, “the Vanguard fight to protect, we do not need protection.”

 The Governor bowed to Benzhi in acknowledgement and left.

 Ventiry put a nervous hand on Benzhi, who turned to look at his agent. He had done well, Benzhi smiled at him.

  Hasard approached Benzhi, he had been standing the entire meeting, “let us collect your companions and present you to the Paladin.”

 Benzhi was reunited with Reyas, Gisael, Anastasia and Carney.

 ‘We felt most of what happened, what did Kyandre do to you?’ Gisael asked through the link.

 “Kyandre used a qi technique to ascertain my quality or truthfulness, something like that. We think I passed, but her reaction was quite strange. Was it not Ventiry?” Benzhi informed the entire group, only Carney would be somewhat in the dark on what he was referring to.

 “It was,” Ventiry agreed, “Carney and I should head back to the warehouse. We will inform everyone what is happening.”

 Benzhi nodded, the pair were non-combatants and would not be needed for the meeting with the Paladin.

 “We will be back when we can. Hopefully, the workers get enough done before word spreads, it would be nice to have a place to sleep at least,” Benzhi said.

 Carney leaned over and gave Benzhi a tight embrace before leaving with Ventiry.

 “Thanks for waiting Hasard, we are ready,” Benzhi informed him.

 With Reyas flanking his right, Gisael his left and Anastasia behind the Vanguard took up their usual formation.

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