Chapter 5:

The Independent Principality of Polk

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

The first to arrive at the scene after the battle was a platoon of Polk soldiers who had ran from the gate after being told of the dragon fight.

The Sargent that had checked Rowen and his cart through the gate was in the lead. He appeared to be using the utmost caution in his approach.

There were also a platoon of Ruby Kingdom legionnaires that followed them, with the subaltern that Rowen knew in the lead, but the Polk soldiers turned on them and demanded that they leave.

The subaltern said, “We’re here to help render aid to any of the injured.”

The Sargent said, “Thank you but no. We will handle it from here! You will not annex our lands too!”

This led to a tense moment of the two platoons standing each other off.

Rowen decided to intervein, “Gentlemen, please, we have injured people here that need help. Now is not the time for dick measuring!”

The two leaders looked at Rowen, obviously perplexed by the unfamiliar but obvious term.

The Subaltern then chuckled and said, “You’re right, Master Roe.” He turned to the Sargent and said, “If you are sure that you do not need our aid, then we will take our leave now.”

The Sargent said, “We are sure…Thank you sir.”

After about a couple of hours of attending to injured and otherwise unconscious individuals as well as a brief interrogation by the Sargent of the Polk guards, Rowen had his cart moving in the direction of Polk.

He handed Baldy’s reigns over to Xyarra and said, “I’ll go fetch the princess.”

She said, “Right. I hope that Dame Kiri isn’t interrogating her right now?”

Rowen smacked himself on the head and said, “Oh right! How stupid of me!” and he jumped into the back of the cart.

He unpacked the mirror gate and activated it and stepped through to find Kit, Princess Katrina and Dana sitting at a table by the very ornate desk of his office having tea and getting on like old friends.

They all looked at him as he walked into the office and Kit said, “You could give us a little warning the next time you send a guest, love?”

“Right, sorry.” And walked over and kissed Kit then Dana, “but we really didn’t have any choice at the time. Xyarra and I had to deal with a couple of other dragons…” and he explained what had happened.

The ladies were all shocked at what Rowen had said. Even Katrina wasn’t aware of what was going on because of the alacrity of how Rowen removed her from potential harm.

The four of them briefly discussed a possible treaty but then said, “We don’t have much time right now to discuss the terms. Xyarra should be closing in on Polk here real soon.”

He turned to Katrina and said, “You may stay here where it’s safe for now and discuss the terms with my other wives if you like and I can send for you with the mirror when we get to a safe place?”

Katrina looked thoughtful but shook her head and said, “No, I wish to go with you for now. You may need my help to get over the border to my kingdom.”

Rowen nodded and said, “Alright, but if I think it’s getting too dangerous, I will send you here, no arguments.”

She nodded.

Rowen kissed Kit, Dana and Elli who had entered the office during the last part of the discussion. He then activated the mirror gate and they stepped over into the cart.

Xyarra looked back and said, “It’s about time. We’re almost to the front gates.”

Rowen packed the mirror gate away and said, “Sorry, we had some explaining to do to Kit and the others.”

“Right, how are they by the way?”

“They are doing well. Missing both of us.”

“Well, Kit and Elli may be missing me also, but Dana…”

After a brief inspection and interrogation from the gate guards Rowen and his company were allowed to enter the main gates and given directions to the market grounds near the center of the city.

The guards were especially interested in what had happened with the dragon fight.

Rowen pretty much answered that he and his “Wives” were hiding during the actual fight, just hoping to stay alive.

He was able to fill them in as to what happened afterwards though.

The Captain of the Guards who was interrogating him said, “Well, thank you for intervening between my troops and those Ruby bastards. Leave it to a merchant to find the right words.”

Rowen said, “Just doing what was right, Captain.”

The Captain waved the entrance tax as thanks.

Rowen was enjoying the look of the city as they made their way to the market grounds. When he was a teenager, he had gone on a class trip to Germany and he had especially enjoyed his visit to the walled city of Rotenberg. Polk resembled Rotenberg in many ways.

Once they arrived at the market grounds they were met by some sort of official, a middle-aged woman wearing a yellow and black sash. She asked, “How many days will you be renting a stall for?”

“We’re planning on staying for just a day or two.”

She looked thoughtful and asked, “So, you’re not going to stay for the Rest Day market?”

Katrina intervened at this point and said, “Of course we are. My silly husband is just confused about what day today is, that’s all.”

The official looked at Rowen judiciously for a moment then chuckled and said, “Right, my husband is the same way. All into his work and not keeping track of what day it is. If not for me and my sister wives, he would be lost.”

Katrina smiled and said, “Yes, you have the right of it.” And she nudged Xyarra and said, “If not for Escah and me, he wouldn’t take care of himself. Speaking of which, will there be a bathhouse or inn that we could bathe in?”

“Both are available. The Shining Light Inn is the one that I recommend. They are clean and relatively inexpensive.”

They paid the ten Shek stall fees and made their way to their assigned stall and began to set up.

Rowen said, “Thank you… What should we call you as a cover name?”

“Kat should be fine. It’s a common nickname hereabouts.”

“Right, but remember, you’re not supposed to be from hereabouts.”

“Oh, right.” And she looked perplexed.

Xyarra chimed in and said, “Kat is a common nickname among the Bedoon people as well, so it should be fine.”

Once they were set up, Rowen said, “I’ll mind the stalls while you ladies go get a bath. Might as well book a room for as many days as we’re here.”

Xyarra smiled and said, “Too bad you can’t unpack your cabin here. Your bathtub is much finer than the ones we might find in the inn.”

“Yeah, I know. Well, I figured out how to unpack the tub by itself, but since we can’t leave the cart unattended…”

“Right.” And Xyarra and Katrina left.

Xyarra was chatting happily with Katrina as they made their way to the inn. However, she was wary because she kept getting motion from the corner of her eyes and she felt like they were being followed.

She would casually look around as if unaware and yet she still didn’t see anyone who looked like they were following. However, there was a presence that felt vaguely familiar.

She let Jade know about her suspicions and continued on.

They were following a street on the border of the market grounds. One side of the street were stalls of the market grounds and the other side were shops, bathhouses, and a couple of inns.

They were almost to the Shining Light Inn when they heard a brief cry behind them muffled quickly.

Jade told her in her mind that she had the culprit following them in the alley behind them.

Xyarra turned around and motioned for Katrina to follow as they went to the alley. She was trying to look unhurried so as to not draw any attention.

The two of them entered the alley and turned past a couple of crates to see Jade holding what looked like a seven- or eight-year-old girl dressed in rags.

The girl appeared to be biting hard on Jade’s hand across her mouth. Jade was unfazed and said, “That’s not going to work. Now settle down, we’re not going to hurt you.”

The girl continued to struggle and tried to twist her way out of Jade’s grasp. In doing so, she revealed a black hook shaped horn on the side of her head.

Xyarra said, “She’s a Morgaranth!”

When the girl heard that she froze, terror written on her face.

Xyarra said, “You can let her go now Jade.”

Jade let her go and she fell to her knees trembling.

Xyarra kneeled down before her and said, “Don’t worry little bit. We won’t reveal to anyone your secret. I have a secret of my own, that I’ll share with you.” And she removed her vail.

The little girl looked at Xyarra’s golden eyes and stopped trembling.

Xyarra asked, “What’s your name?”

“Midori, ma’am. You are one of the great folk?” and she reached out and touched Xyarra’s cheek experimentally as if making sure she was real.

“Yes, I am my dear. Where are your family?”

“Gone. Town guard found out my mother and father were Morgaranth and took them away. I hid.” She started crying and said, “They made fruit out of them from castle tree.”

Xyarra nodded understanding and asked, “How long have you been alone.”

The girl shrugged and said, “Maybe last spring.”

Xyarra’s heart broke for this child.

She gently brushed the girls hair with her hand covering up her horns. She was thinking, of the demi humans, none were more persecuted these days than the Morgaranth. They were driven almost to extinction, like a few of the other 'naturals'. According to the humans, the Morgaranth were thought to be devils, or at least that’s the propaganda put out by the church. This wasn't the first time one of the 'Natural" Demi races have been proclaimed supernatural. Also, not the first time they have been hunted in attempts to eradicate them. She looked over at Katrina and asked, “What do you think about the Morgaranth?” A challenge in her voice.

“My magic teacher was a Mog. Sorry, Morgaranth. She had kept her horns filed down to not stand out. But they always grew back. They are so rare these days because of the confusion of them and demons.”

Xyarra looked back at the girl who was looking at her expectantly and said, “Midori, how would you like to come with me?”

Midori nodded enthusiastically.

She took off her shawl and wrapped it around Midori. She then sent Jade back to relieve Rowen from the cart. Jade had changed into her version of the desert people’s garb that she had just in case.

Xyarra filled him in using her “Wedding” ring.

The three of them went to the Shining Light Inn and booked a room for four days.

Rowen arrived at the Inn and made his way up to their room.

He knocked on the door and Katrina opened the door and let him in. He looked at Xyarra who was tenderly bathing the little girl in a small tub.

The little girl looked at him and froze.

Xyarra said, “Don’t worry Midori, that’s my husband. He won’t hurt you. I have never met a kinder human.”

Xyarra looked at Rowen pleadingly. He just smiled back and nodded and said, “Midori is it?”

She nodded.

“My name is Rowen. You are now under my protection, so you’ll never have to worry again.”

After her bath, Rowen made her some clothes and ordered some food be brought up to the room.

They had spent four days in Polk.

Rowen had made enough money selling spices that it offset all the expenses of the entire expedition. He was very surprised how popular and rare spice merchants were. Especially among the nobility.

However, selling spices wasn’t his only reason for going to Polk.

He had been made aware that there was a church within Polk on the verge of excommunication from the Church. The priest was quite outspoken about the abuse of the scriptures and original tenants of the Church as a whole.

On the second day, Rowen went to visit that priest.

When he entered the Cathedral of Polk, he saw a Priest standing in front of the nave lighting votive candles.

Rowen walked up to him and asked, “Father Chambery?”

“Yes, son?”

“My name is Roe, I’m a simple spice merchant passing through. I’ve heard that you were a good priest and I have some questions for you.”

The Priest appeared to be in his mid-fifties, a little lean but otherwise healthy looking. He looked at Rowen and said, “Simple spice merchant? Hardly.”