Chapter 2:

A Murder of Crows

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

On another hill, not far to the west of the spice cart, under the cover of woodlands, a troop of cavalry were waiting and watching. The red headed commander was watching the patrol as they interacted with the spice cart through an extremely fine-looking spyglass.

She lowered the spyglass and licked her lips while considering how to proceed.

She made her decision and silently signaled her troop to turn and follow the patrol north.

The troop of cavalry followed the wooded ridge towards the north and parallel to the patrol.

The troop consisted of several different kinds of soldiers including Beastkin, elves and even twenty centaurs.

The ridge they were following slowly closed on the north road as the patrol their quarry continued on.

The troop of soldiers finally outpaced the patrol and paused at a point where the ridge abruptly turned east. This brought them to within a hundred yards of the road.

The redheaded commander looked through her spyglass again and tracked the patrol until they were at the point closest to the ridge.

She turned her head towards the centaur right next to her and nodded abruptly.

The troopers let out a war cry and swept down upon the patrol while the commander waited behind among ten of the centaurs and a Tigris Felinean.

The troop quickly overwhelmed the patrol of red clad soldiers. Three of the red clad soldiers attempted to resist and fell quickly while the rest gave into the superior numbers.

The lead centaur said, “You are under arrest in the name of Crown Princess Katrina and the Emerald Kingdom!”

The Subaltern leading the patrol smiled and said, “No, it is you who are under arrest.” And he pointed his hand up in the air and sent a flare up.

Within seconds the woodlands were spewing forth red clad soldiers and cavalry. At least a thousand of them.

Back in the woods, the redheaded commander swore, “Damn!” and started to spur her horse forward but the Tigris grabbed her reigns and said, “Highness, you can’t help them. You must flee!”

She looked at the Tigris man, then looked back at the melee of combat. She saw that the red clad soldiers were giving no quarter and cutting down even the wounded.

She whispered, “I’m sorry.” And she wheeled her horse to the south west. Her centaurs and her second followed her.

A troop of red clad cavalry detached themselves from the battle to charge after their enemy’s commander, Princess Katrina.

Katrina followed the ridge to the other side in order to leave the woodlands and gain a greater advantage of speed unencumbered by the trees.

No sooner than she left the tree line, she realized it was a mistake. There were a dozen Wyvern Riders swooping down at her.

Two of the centaurs were taken out in their first attack from above and the Tigris suffered a gash on his head removing his right ear.

Several of the centaurs used their heavy composite bows to fire up at the wyverns.

One wyvern rider was picked off and fell from his mount. The riderless wyvern went wild as they are known to do and bolted to the south where it knew its roost was.

Princess Katrina clung closely to her horse’s neck as she rode him at his fastest speed continuing to the south west.

Suddenly there were black shapes darting out of the woodlands to her left passing over her head and the heads of her remaining troops.

These black shapes were moving too fast for the eyes to follow. They quickly moved among the wyvern riders and started to remove the riders from their airborne mounts.

Within seconds, eleven more wyvern were returning riderless towards their home roosts.

That left about a hundred cavalry on her heels.

They made their way around a large, wooded hill and across a river.

Princess Katrina paused her horse and held up her hands and mumbled a spell, “…water elementals.”

Suddenly there were several white wisps of some kind forming over the river. They seemed to be embodying the water of the river.

She started to turn her horse again, but she noticed that her second and the remaining centaurs were standing still.

She said, “Let us move.”

The Tigris said, “No Highness! We will stand here. They will be channeled, so their numbers won’t mean anything. We will buy you time to escape!”

She opened her mouth to protest, to order, but her words died on her lips, looking at the fierce determination in the eyes of her remaining troopers.

She reached up her hand and caressed the Tigris’ cheek and said, “I won’t forget you, Triarrg!” and she wheeled her horse and turned back to the southwest course.

Rowen and Xyarra heard the sound of the flare spell going off behind them. Xyarra stood up on the bench of the cart and looked out behind them, her golden eyes flashing.

“Row, there’s a battle going on back there!”

Rowen said, “Jade!”

Jade appeared from underneath the cart and said, “Yes Master!” and began running in the direction of the battle.

Rowen reached into his pocket and took out a small crystal orb with fine angelic runes etched on its surface. He empowered the runes and looked to see and hear what Jade was.

He noticed Dalilah was hovering near him, so he widened the view so she could see.

At a full run, about fifty miles per hour give or take, it took Jade no time to get there. However, by the time she got there, she saw that the battle was all but over, and the green clad troops were nearly wiped out by the overwhelming red clad force.

Jade saw a troop of red clad cavalry had separated from the main force and was heading into the woods after a small group of green clad troops being led by a red-haired officer of some kind. The majority of the fleeing troops were…centaurs?

Rowen said to Jade mentally, “Help the green troops the best you can.”

“Yes Master!”

Rowen said out loud, “Dalilah, take your murder and help those green troops!”

“Yes Sire!” and she bolted off.

Xyarra said, “Are you sure we should get involved? We are risking our cover.”

“If we blow our cover then we’ll just have to find another way. I refuse to not do anything when I can possibly help!”

Xyarra said, “You and your precious humanity, right.”

Rowen gave Xyarra a sharp look. She just turned her head and said, “Sorry.”

“After this is over, we need to talk. You are not acting yourself.”

Katrina was pushing her horse as fast as she could. She heard the sounds of battle behind her and the sounds of familiar and unfamiliar voices screaming.

She squinted the tears from her eyes and said, “I wish I could have saved you.” She pushed on.

Her present goal was a certain labyrinth of rock formations that she had been operating her troops out of for the last two months. There she could lose her pursuers easily.

She felt her horse’s energies was at its limits, so she took the chance and allowed her horse to slow some.

Then a crossbow bolt whizzed by her ear.

“Damn!” and she pushed her horse back to a run.

She had just made it to a stand of pines in front of the labyrinth she was headed for when she felt her horse disappear from underneath her.

She didn’t know how long she had been laying there. The first thing she noticed was the labored sounds of her horse’s breath. She tried to move but realized that she had broken several ribs and her left arm. Her eyes were blurred by blood and she realized she was bleeding from somewhere on her head.

She wiped her eyes to see that she was surrounded by several red clad troops.

A man wearing the uniform and insignia of a Praefectus was soon leaning over her saying, “Well we have finally captured the Green Snake. Your mother will have to capitulate her king…”

Suddenly his head left his neck and there were several black streaks flying by her peripheral vision.

Her eyes were splashed by the Praefectus’s blood, blinding her. She heard the screams of soldiers and the sickly sounds of bodies being torn up.

She wiped her eyes again to look up at a black masked face and she heard a feminine voice say, “So, you’re alive. My master will be pleased.” Everything went black.

Katrina awoke to the rhythmic sounds of cartwheels creaking. She looked to see a canvas roof above her.

She stretched her neck to see the backs of two people sitting on the bench of the cart that she was riding in.

She heard from somewhere at her feet, “Master, she’s awake.”

She looked to see the black clad woman she just knew was the one who rescued her.

The two people riding on the cart bench turned around to look back at her. One was a man and the other a veiled woman. She was wearing the clothing of the desert nomads from the Great Sand Sea to the far south.

The man said, “Good, you’re awake. I hope that you’re feeling better?”

She suddenly realized that her pain was gone.

She stretched herself and said, “Yes, I feel much better. How long was I out?”

The black veiled woman said, “Just a couple of hours. We shall be setting up camp soon.”

Katrina suddenly realized that she too was now dressed in the traditional desert people’s garb.

The man chuckled and said, “We took the liberty to change your clothes. Your uniform was soaked in blood and quite torn up. I assumed that you don’t want to be found by the Ruby Kingdom’s troops?”

“Yes, thank you. How did you heal my wounds?” she said as she experimentally moved her left arm.

The man chuckled again and said mysteriously, “We have our ways.”

She sat up carefully and felt that her ribs were healed as well.

The man said, “Sorry that I didn’t introduce myself. My name is Roe, I’m a simple spice merchant and this is my wife Escah.”

She looked back at her feet and asked, “And you are?”

The black clad woman said, “I am my master’s humble servant, Jade.”

“Ah, so you’re from the Eastern Empire?”


“Oh, sorry, I only assumed so, you have the look of those from the Eastern Lands.”

Roe said, “Things are not always as they seem.”

He looked over to his right and said, “Now this looks like a safe place to set up camp for tonight.”