Chapter 20: THE THREE KINGDOMS OF CONSEQUENCE
There was nary rhyme or reason why Kingdoms became as popular as they did, or why the books only mentioned three in particular of being the most important to learn. Seemingly, there were only these to consider when it came to what kind of Kingdom one would want. For it was a world filled with many people, many different villages and smaller kingdoms, much like the Village of Fortis in the area of the Kingdom of Springborough. These were smaller areas, of little significance to the bigger ones, except that these smaller ones were susceptible to attack, and to being taken over by any more ruthless. Villages could fall, making the Kingdoms weaker, so everything was important in the grand scheme of things.
It was important to learn about the other Kingdoms, in case you so happened to run across one different than yours. Or found yourself getting attacked by one.
VALLEY OF CHERRIES
The first Kingdom held the greatest amount of respect, and that was simply because it did not intimidate any of the others. On a great land mass east of Springborough called Delfia, there were many Kingdoms, cities, and castles, but none more important than the Valley of Cherries. Created by the Nobles after taking notes at the Valley of Merchants, the Valley of Cherries spread out amongst an entire region and became one of the largest marketplaces ever recorded. Everyone in the world knew of this marketplace, and everyone in the world longed to one day go there, to walk its many streets, to talk with its many merchants, to sample its many foods, feel its many hand-made goods and to take home a souvenir or a wagon full of newly minted supplies.
The Valley of Cherries was still run by the Nobles, and because they offered nothing but listening ears and advice, it did not seem like they would be overthrown any time soon. As a matter of fact, it was an unspoken rule of the land that there was to be no violence at Valley of Cherries. It was a melting pot where anyone could come, take up a station, and sell whatever they felt they could profit from. There was no competition, one sold what they could carry in, and then off they went.
In response, to be a peaceful Kingdom, everyone also knew that one could never call on Valley of Cherries to fight in any wars. It was suspected the Nobles had a Kings guard, and had an army and a navy that was merely set up to hunt or fish for large meals when hosting foreign dignitaries, but that the Valley would never get involved in disputes of International turmoil. It was not a Kingdom that had been taken over by force. The Nobles, centuries ago, set up their community, and it had simply grown, like the cherries in the valley in the Spring, into one of the greatest Kingdoms ever.
This was the Kingdom, as Kyrstin had read about them all, that she most wanted to emulate. And although her father, King Daniel, always said that with proper planning anything was possible, it was very unlikely Springborough, which rested on a small island, would ever have the amount of foot traffic one would need in order to become a large merchant community.
That, and the fact that the Valley of Cherries was perfectly positioned in a valley that produced cherries, a sweet berry that they cultivated, collected, and passed out to travelers in exchange for goods. Princess Kyrstin, on her trips through the woods to her grandma’s house, couldn’t find one berry bush, or coconut tree, or tall grass that could be fashioned into skirts. There was nothing on Springborough that she could make a banner of to tell sailors to stop by.
It was with the Valley of Cherries in mind that Kyrstin believed if she had built up the docks, if she, as Princess, took control over the sea front property of their island, then maybe she could entice more people to stop by and trade their goods. Or maybe open more Inns, and Springborough would be known as an island Kingdom where people could rest their heads, dry their feet, and remove the mussels from the underside of their boats.
The biggest problem with her plan was that the castle resided on the North side of the island, surrounded by precarious cliffs that no sailor would want to ascend should they arrive below. So, Kyrstin would have to build up the Southern side of the island, and to do that- there would have to be negotiations with the people of Fortis, something her father was hesitant to do. So, Kyrstin sat during her lectures, doodling childish drawings of marketplace driven plans for the land south of the castle walls.
Springborough was going to be known for something, Kyrstin thought, and it was her mission for her family’s Kingdom to be mentioned, somewhat, in the same breath as the Valley of Cherries.
West of Springborough, on the land mass of Liphorn, past the destroyed Oak Bridge and further west than Sanbay, was another Kingdom of Consequence called Silevellen. If the Valley of Cherries was known for being peaceful where people could come, be in a land of merchants, trade and sell their goods, and then go back to their Kingdoms, Silevellen was known as the Kingdom where everybody went to become rich, to live amongst the greats, and where nobody was known to return from.
Silevellen had no visitors, and they had nobody that would leave and report the Kingdom to anyone else. In fact, all that was known of it was written in books, taken from writings found that had come from the Kingdom itself. Travelers would see it from afar, comparing what was written about it internally to what they saw from the horizon and everything seemed to check out, so all writings coming forth were taken as fact. Drawings of multiple castles on top of a hill surrounded by Ivy covered walls thirty feet tall were most commonly associated with Silevellen. Other than that, the interior pictures of marble fountains in the middle of town halls flowing with crystal blue waters, an aqueduct system that seemed to give everyone sun-warmed waters for showers and baths, and the imagery that everybody who lived in Silevellen was dressed in the finest robes made of silk, the Kingdom seemed almost like one of the five Heavens, but on Earth.
The only thing that kept people away was the simple fact that nobody came back. It was one of the great mysteries that surrounded the great Kingdom. Surely, not everybody was on the same social class level of absolute power and riches. Not only did they need servants, but to keep such high wealth going, there had to be multiple, no? Is that what happened to all visitors that found themselves entering the great walls? They were taken prisoner, made into servants, never to be heard from again?
And if little was known of Silevellen, even less so was known of its politics. Nobody knew who was the ruling family of the Kingdom, and based on the size of the three castles that could be seen from afar, it was well rumored that it was multiple families.
It was the lack of common knowledge, and the promise of wealth, that kept Silevellen under attack and under paranoia. Another reason why there was never any visitors was because they weren’t allowed in. The history books were filled with conquerers who had tried and failed to take Silevellen for their own. It was written that along the great walls, tied up in the ivy around Silevellen were hundreds of skeletons of people who came to take it and failed. The most famous being a man from Sanbay (the Kingdom that had tried to battle Springborough, not realizing that King Daniel was more than willing to destroy the only bridge leading to Springborough, and thus, effectively ending any chance for Sanbay to attack.) This man, Rosario, was a great general of a small Sanbay army, but he knew that the greatest way to attack a bigger enemy was from within. It was easier to poison a giant than to defeat it in hand-to-hand combat, it was easier to plant explosives on a boat to sink it than to fire cannonballs at it. And so Rosario instructed his army to come to Silevellen in three weeks, while he set off for the journey that should have only taken him one week.
His army did as he asked. They waited two weeks and set off, thinking that when they got to Silevellen, that Rosario would open up the gates, and they would all gain access to the streets paved in gold, the houses built of brick, and the warm showers. They talked of the food they were to eat, the ale they were to drink, and all of the things they would soon be able to do with all of the money. In six days, the Kingdom of Silevellen, rising high in the air, resting on the hill, came into view, and the army could do nothing but admire it. Even the setting sun rays seemed to get trapped in the roof shingles of the building, lighting up the entire scene with a feeling of richness and gold.
When the army arrived at the great drawbridge in order to gain access to the Kingdom, they hollered up at the wall, knowing full well that any place such as this would have guardsman manning the gates, waiting for such visitors. It was almost thought that Rosario would greet them himself, goblet in hand, smile on his face.
Rosario did not greet them.
Nor did any guardsmen.
The army sat at the drawbridge for four days, and in that four days, they never heard a sound from inside the Kingdom walls. They walked up and down the exterior, noting the skeletons in the Ivy, but none of the colors worn by the bones were Sanbay’s so it was ruled out that Rosario suffered this fate, but where could he be? On the fifth day, the army was too hungry, too thirsty, to wait out being greeted any longer, and made their way back to Sanbay. The mystery of what became of Rosario still lingers today, and as it seems, if anybody in Silevellen was the last to see him- they are not talking.
They are not making a sound.
South of Springborough, many miles over the Waters of Cornwall, was Baku, the final of the Three Kingdoms of Consequence. Baku’s people were known for their temperament as their land was also known for its temperature. Baku was the hottest place anybody had ever known with temperatures reaching fifty degrees celsius for ninety consecutive days during the middle months of the year. This heat drove people insane, and it was not uncommon for stories to emerge from the land of the south about the town literally tearing itself apart.
King Daniel and Queen Jenniffer were always concerned about Baku, and its people, for as crazy as it seemed, it also was well put together and very populated. It seemed, in the middle of a large area of land consisting mostly of sand and dry riverbeds, the people had very little to do but start families, and work in the armor mills, for Baku’s main export was weapons, and supplies for other Kingdoms’ needs in battle, defense, and armament.
The simple fact that Baku was single-handedly responsible for almost every weapon fighting in almost every war was the main reason for its inclusion in the Three Kingdoms of Consequence. If a well read general or King wanted to take over more lands, they would have to travel to Baku, learn the customs of the people in order not to be attacked, and strike deals to obtain the weapons. One way or another, almost every Kingdom known was paying Baku something or another in order to keep their supplies of weapons continually coming.
Even though Baku was the war supplier, there was very little evidence the Kingdom did much fighting of its own, save for its own people fighting each other. Almost everyone in Baku was armed, and so petty fights and simple brawls usually ended with someone dead or bleeding. Arguments over who cut who in the food line would soon erupt in to a sword fight. Nobody talked back to their parents as billy clubs would smash into kitchen tables, and nobody broke any of the laws on the road as the lawmen were armed to the gills with automatic-loading crossbows.
Baku was a town of malicious intent, and the ability to exert their wills over anybody. But, the charm of Baku laid in the fact that, much like Silevellen, once you were in, you were good. Baku did not like any strangers coming to their parts, but there was a certain bond if one was a Bakuian themselves. Sure, it seemed like they were rough on each other by the way it was written that fights broke out constantly, but if one had manners, one would have nothing to worry about in the hot lands.
Neighbors looked out for each other in Baku. Children could play freely in the streets, depending on the heat. People cooked for each other; they were quick to hand down clothes to the newborns. Yes, as long as one respected others in Baku, it was very pleasant indeed to raise a family. But, egotistical people who thought of nothing but themselves would find their survival rate pretty low there.
What concerned King Daniel the most about Baku was that there was no clear leader. The people would elect a new leader every twelve years, but that kind of rotating leadership was concerning for a King whose land was only a sea away. So, King Daniel would pay extra attention to the elections, hoping beyond hope that the people elected someone just like the last, that the people that would contain the craziness to Baku, and sell weapons for anyone else.
The last thing King Daniel wanted was Baku to become self-aware and realize that they held the most amount of weapons than anyone else in the land, and since they created them, their supply was infinite. If Baku did want to start taking over more lands for themselves, if they wanted to try and conquer everything, they would simply have to stop selling to everyone else, and begin to train for a battle. The first kingdom they would run across in the quest for world domination would be small, susceptible Springborough, set right in their northern path.
So far, all has seemed calm and well.
The Three Kingdoms of Consequence represented how a Kingdom could either be peaceful, be about nothing else other than people coming together to share and go about their lives. Or it could be about the amount of privacy, of being as wealthy as one could stand, but giving up everything they once associated with in the outside world. Or, like Baku, it could be about making a product in one particular area, and selling it around the world; about being a very influential Kingdom over global politics, but not really doing much for its own people. To the leaders, and the instructors, these were the typical three ways to have a powerful Kingdom. All the other, smaller kingdoms did a fraction in each of these areas, but none did them as well as the Valley of Cherries, Silevellen or Baku.
Consequentially, if one were to begin traveling from the Valley of Cherries and head West, traveling across land and then sea, and if someone, at the same time, were to leave (as if they ever would) Silevellen, and head East, passing Sanbay, now with the bridge out, and then a person from Baku, the town on the water, traveled by boat North- all three of these travelers would find themselves at Springborough at the exact time.
But, nobody knew this.
And that was a good thing.