Chapter 1:


Tales of the Eternal King: The Heretic King Part II: The Springtime of Our Discontent

Early morning. Though spring, winter’s chill still had a grasp on the lands of the Northern Territories of the Five Kingdoms.

A lone figure flew through the dark skies headed towards the lone campfire on the side of the road, her black wings beating against the cold air.

The Black Crow Harpy settled silently outside the halo of light projected by the campfire.

Two individuals appeared to be clinging to the warmth of the fire as they prepared breakfast and…coffee.

The harpy slowly and silently crept forward, scanning the area for mana sources and other signs of life. Now abundantly sure that there were no others detectable she approached more confidently to the backs of the couple by the fire.

Suddenly, she found a blade of some kind at her throat.

Someone said, “You still haven’t learned how to detect me.”

“That is because you do not radiate even one iota of mana, Jade.”

Rowen, who was by the fire said, “Dalilah, are you going to have coffee with us this morning?”

“Of course, your majesty.”

Jade released her grip on the harpy, smiled and disappeared back into shadow.

Rowen scolded, “Now remember, we’re not in the palace right now. My name is Roe. A simple spice merchant.”

“Right your…I mean Master Roe.” She said as she entered the warm halo of light.

As false dawn began to lighten the sky and the nights chill made an effort to cling onto the lands, the trio ate breakfast and drank coffee.

The third individual wore the traditional clothes of the nomadic people of the Great Sand Sea to the far south. However, she did not veil her black skin as of yet, in order to enjoy her breakfast and coffee.

Rowen said, “This is the last time we’re going to get to enjoy coffee for a while. Considering that coffee goes for a silver talon an ounce, it’s going to be obvious that we’re not simple spice merchants.

The black skinned individual said, “Oh poo, you’re no fun Row.”

“Now, now Escah, you were able to get along without coffee for the last hundred some years, more or less, so a little while longer won’t kill you.”

“Escah” scolded, “Now, now Row, you never discuss a lady’s age.”

“Right, sorry. So, Dalilah, what do you have to report?”

“Well, the Legions of the Ruby and Amber Kings are being tied up with harassments from the Emerald Kingdom. Queen Sarah is still firmly ensconced in power. As a matter of fact, there’s a cavalry troop of raiders not far from here, to the west.”

“Is there a chance that they might harass us?”

“No, si…I mean Master Roe. They are not molesting civilians at this time. Only military patrols and encampments.”

“Okay, we can’t have any slip ups from here on in. So, I’ll pluck a feather for each slip up in the future.”

“Right, Master Roe!”

The black skinned woman with draconic eyes said, “Now you best get out of sight before dawn. When we’re in towns and cities, you’ll have to contact us via Jade.”

“Yes, Mistress Escah!” and she disappeared in the remainders of the night.

Rowen said, “I’m going to take one last chance to use the mirror to check on some things. We won’t have any other chances in the near future.”

Xyarra said, “You dote on your pregnant wife too much!”

“Don’t you mean pregnant wives? Remember that Elli is expecting too.”

“Yes, but you still seem to spend twice as much time with Kit than the rest of us.”

“Are you jealous? That’s not like you.”

“Yes well, so what if I am?!”

“You have no room to complain. You’re the only one who’s going to have all my attention for the next few months. I won’t be able to go back unless there’s an emergency from now on.”

“Right, and I’m gonna make the most of it.” She said in heavily accented English.

Rowen sat on the bench of the spice cart along with Xyarra who was fully veiled at this point. Her black veil was decorated with several copper conchos that had the symbols of the desert people stamped on them. There were also some lesser runes mixed in with the symbology to enhance protections. Mostly meant to lessen the mana aura of the draconic individual.

Rowen, in preparation, made brown contact lenses for Xyarra just in case a patrol were to force her to unveil. However, she made no small point that she detested the feeling of those contacts.

Rowen almost got away with not bringing her along but she, of course, insisted.

He continued to drive the cart and scan the countryside. He was thinking, “In medieval literature and fantasy games, you never get how boring ancient life can be at times. But I’m thankful for the boredom.”

He was thinking over the last month and a half he spent back at the palace trying to hammer out his ideas for a regime.

The constitution took about three quarters of his time because no matter how plain he made the language and how obvious the “Bill of Rights” he instilled into it, people, mostly nobles, all had their own interpretations.

One thing made obvious was the term “citizen” had a different interpretation here in this day, age, and world.

Citizens were the nobility. The rest were subjects. So, in the language he had to write, citizen/subjects of the kingdom.

Language lessons aside, he found that, even though the nobles and commoners spoke the same language, they understood it entirely differently. It was a wonder how anything got accomplished before.

He knew though that he had to initiate his reforms in phases because to push too quickly would possibly result in a noble revolt.

Even though the former Duke Vielle had advocated per his agreement, he still remained a perpetual thorn in Rowen’s side.

He had been tempted to make the former duke go away but after a disturbing discussion with the Duchess Arial and the Dalia of the Black Crow Harpies, he knew that Vielle was only a pawn in the major scheme of things.

No one really knew who the real mastermind behind the eroding factors within the court was. But he knew that Vielle couldn’t be eliminated because he was a possible link that could be followed.

Duchess Arial was apologetic that members of her dominion were involved with the assassinations of the five duchies. She was especially apologetic for the targeting of Kit and Dana.

After the meeting, the Dahlia said, “Sire, I want to tell you that you were the one that may have ordered the death of my only egg daughter, but you are not responsible for her death.” She laid herself on the floor at Rowen’s feet and said, “I am the one responsible for her death. As am I responsible for accepting the contracts for the death of the other duchies. I submit myself to you. Please take my head and spare my daughters and sons.”

Kit then reached down and pulled the Dalia up by her shoulders saying, “Your head will not be required. As long as you serve the kingdom from now on and use your talents for King Rowen alone, I will take that as blood debt for my aunt’s life.”

The Dalia cried and said, “Thank you my Queen!”

So, Rowen had tasked both the Black Crow Harpies of the Black Aviary and Dame Kiri of the Royal Guard to find out who was really behind the assassinations and attempts. He also tasked the Black Crow Harpies to support him in the next phases of his missions.

Xyarra said, “Row sweetie, there are soldiers approaching.”

Row nodded and said, “Put your contacts in.”

“Those are an abomination. You are cruel and unusual to make me wear them.”


“Tyrant!” and she began to put her contacts in.

The soldiers rode up on Rowen and Xyarra and quickly surrounded them. An officer of some kind demanded, “What is your business here!?”

“Greeting sir, my name is Roe and I’m a humble spice merchant. I have some exotic spices from the south and eastern lands that I might share them with the Holy Five Kingdoms.” Bowing his head.

The officer said, “Pull over there and we’ll see what you have in your cart!”

“Of course, sir.” And he directed his cart over.

Two of the soldiers dismounted and then climbed up into the back of the spice cart and began rummaging around.

Rowen said, “Sir, I have some samples that I would gladly share with you good soldiers of the Five Kingdoms.”

The officer looked distractedly at Xyarra and said, “What could you have that would interest me?”

Then without warning he reached up and ripped away Xyarra’s veil and demanded, “Show me your ears woman!”

Xyarra shyly lifted the side of her headkerchief to show her human looking rounded ears.

The officer’s scowl was replaced with a mocking smile and he said, “Your spice trade must not be successful if you can only afford this black ugly thing for a wife. I almost thought that she was a tainted. We can’t be too careful these days you know.”

The two soldiers left the back of the cart and one of them said, “Nothing out of the ordinary Subaltern!”

The officer said, “Right, good.” He then turned back to Rowen and said, “Now how about those samples. You wouldn’t happen to have any cinnamon, would you?”

“Of course, your excellency.” And he reached behind his seat and took out a prepacked pouch. “There’s two measures of cinnamon and one measure of peppercorn as well as a few other spices in there.”

The subaltern looked at the pouch briefly then looked at Rowen again and asked, “Have you secured your license to travel and trade yet?”

“No sir. We haven’t made it to any cities within the kingdoms yet.”

The subaltern continue to look at the bag with an intense look in his eyes. Rowen sighed and reached back behind him and took out two more such bags and handed them up to the subaltern.

He took the bags and sniffed them and said, “Very good. Tesserarius!”

The Tesserarius answered, “Yes, Subaltern?!”

“Please prepare a travel and trade permit for Master…”

Rowen answered, “Roe, Sir.”

“Master Roe.”

“Yes Subaltern!” and he took a scroll out of his saddle bags and a quill and inkwell.

The Tesserarius filled out the permit language and handed the scroll to the Subaltern. The officer then took his stamp out of his bag and sealed the permit and mumbled a cantrip on it then handed it to Rowen.

The officer then said, “We’ll wave the five Shek fee this time.”

Rowen smiled a self-deprecating smile and said, “Thank you kind sir!”

The subaltern then said, “By the way, you haven’t seen any signs of other soldiers hereabouts, have you?”

“No sir.”

He nodded and looked off towards the north then he turned back to Rowen and said, “If you do. Try to steer clear of them. They are brigands posing as soldiers to the court of the Emerald Queen. She still is pretending power even though she was excommunicated by the Pope himself no less.”

“We’ll be sure to keep an eye out sir.”

After the soldiers rode away a good distance, Rowen was thinking, “Good, we got through that easy enough” but then he turned to see Xyarra’s gaze following them as they rode away. There was such an angry intensity in her eyes that Rowen knew something was wrong.

Xyarra mumbled, “Ugly, am I? I’ll show you HOW ugly I can get.”

Rowen said, “Now take it easy X. We have to bide our time here. We can’t go flying off the handle at the tiniest insult, now can we? Besides, what does he know about beauty. I’ll bet he only has eyes for his Tesserarius.”

She looked at him for a moment, her anger threatening to overtake her. But then she smiled and said, “You’re probably right. Either that or he only pleasures his horse at night.”

Rowen chuckled and said, “Yeah, right.”

Off in the distance, from concealment, two sets of eyes examined the travelers. One with ash gray hair and the other with jet black hair.

The black haired one said, “Why do you think he’s doing it? He’s a king. What do you think drives him to risk his life like this?”

The other shrugged and said, “After all we’ve heard of him. Do you think that his life is truly at risk?”

“You have a point there, sister. He is protected by a dragon no less.”

“Yes, and that woman is with him too. The one we marked.”

“Oh, right.”

“Well, Father did tell us we should look after him and be ready to help Ebon if she needs it.”

"We owe her that much." the dark-haired one mused.

"We owe her so much more. The rune of our Wyre would be on the Roll of the Fallen without her intervention during the Time of Ash and Sorrow."

"I just hope she knows what she is doing." after long moments of silence.

"So do I, so do I."

They continued to watch the wagon roll forward.