14.Lucifer’s Law
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“Great strides have been made in Arria since my father’s coronation. The roads of Arria have been reconstructed and improved but I believe there is still more work to be done. We shall not only continue to improve our over land trade routes but our sea trade routes as well.” I continue on with my speech. While trade and the economy are nice benefits of these policies my real goal is to increase my ability to spread authority farther away from the capital. “I have decided to let Giovanni undertake this task. May his efforts benefit all of Arria.” 

This is merely ceremonial. Giovanni had been building Arria’s infrastructure since being crowned chancellor, him being officially ordained by the crown does let me influence his decisions a bit more. Not that he could refuse. 

“I thank you, your majesty. Your wisdom is limitless.” He bows and accepts the decree. With this merely civility out of the way the rest of the morning court goes by rather slowly. I could bring up William Asherton De Allonia but I doubt they would actually heed my warning. 

His progress against us has been slow but that is mostly the fault of the Aveven military. They constantly take fights where the Arrian military is in a defensive position. Perhaps charging a castle isn’t the wisest decision. 

I should probably send some money to Cerva so they can fortify and give me time to build up a properly trained military. Yes, I think that is what I shall do. William will have to attack through Cerva as it is the only pass between Arria and Aveven. 

Only one Aveven castle left before William starts sieging Arrian castles. Vino, in the middle of three cities it overlooks the Fialiano lake. I give it three months before they surrender. 

The other option is that William takes the worn-out roads to Scando on the eastern most border of Arria. I am willing to give up those cities, I do not have the money nor the supplies to effectively defend two areas. 

“Luca, grab the chess board. We are going to play a game.” 

Luca brings out the board and we set up our pieces. I need to get into the mindset to understand what he will aim for. Luca moves his pieces first. He is aggressive and quickly attempts to take control of the center of the board. I slowly build up my defense. I don’t need to rush to meet the enemy, I need to wait for a mistake. I am at a disadvantage in momentum. 

I move a piece forward. A bait for him to attack. Luca immediately takes the piece and starts a chain momentum as I slowly take piece after piece. After everything is done and over with we have traded a similar number of pieces but he has lost far more valuable pieces. 

“I concede defeat, you are much too good at this game.” I smile at Luca. This was one of the few things I enjoyed about Giovanni’s lessons, everything else I skipped and avoided. I will fortify Cerva, if William attacks elsewhere the forces there can still move to intercept. Whether they win or lose doesn’t matter. I simply need to tire down William’s forces and thin out his ranks. 

The major issue will be his cavalry. While Arria wasn’t simply one large plain it was fairly open once its borders were breached. I have two options, a larger military force armed with pikes to ensure they could not outflank us or take a battle in an advantageous spot. 

“Do you think the Yanzhou will attack us?” 

“They will not let this opportunity slip by them. We should send a letter to Monza asking for them to pledge to assist us in the case of an invasion.” I nod my head. That would allow us not to worry about our backs as we deal with the Allonians. 

“We shall do this. I will also task some scouts with determining the Allonian army makeup. I know they will have heavy cavalry but I want to know how much.” I say before getting to work on that letter. I don’t expect them to beat the Yanzhou but merely by time for us to beat William and swing our forces around. 

“I shall have it done as you wish.” Luca bows and sends out a homing pigeon. Now I need to wait for the good news from Matteo. While I do not particularly care about the pretender in Ante he has caused some minor issues. The nation cannot risk a civil war to put that idiot on the throne. 

I may not have been a good student but I did read the textbooks given to me. “Antonio De Ante...” I have so few family members left in this world. My aunt and her children in Monza, and then my cousin. Funny that family is so important for Arria and yet the imperial family is required to keep the number of heirs low. All other candidates for the throne must be killed upon succession. 

Lucifer’s law was the name. The first Emperor of Arria set this policy up. His greatest fear was losing power and thus he often executed potential threats. Often claiming the people were supporting the Yanzhou invasion of Arria. 

As far as I was concerned this policy was equal to taking poison for the nation. The role of a ruler was not to hold power, that is merely a tool to achieve this goal. The goal of a ruler is to serve the people. 

And I will use whatever tool I see fit to see Arria to glory. 

A/N: How many of you guys guessed his name? I am about to leave for work so this will be short. Thank you guys for reading and your support, I hope you are all enjoying the story so far. Just got finished writing my long await chapter from Matteo's POV, he kinda dropped out but it was an important task that couldn't just be trusted to anybody.