Chapter 6:

The Emerald Queen

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

Rowen had Baldy’s reigns as they rode out the western gate of the City of Polk. As he was riding, he was thinking about what Father Chambery said:

“The Guardians told me about you and your mission, Sire.”

Rowen was surprised. He said, “I see. So, what do you think about what’s going on?”

“I think that it’s about bloody time something was done. There are some seriously unholy things being done in the name of the Creator. There is an eventual goal to make humanity the only sentient race on Twalling Cade.”

“I kind of doubt that that will ever happen. They would have to eradicate the dragons for that to be the case.”

“Right, not bloody likely. So, Sire, what do you wish to know from me?”

“I need a run down on what’s going on in the church. Internal politics and anything else you might think is relevant.”

“Of course, Sire…”

Rowen had spent the rest of that day, well into the night getting a rundown on church politics. Who was still dedicated to the Guardians and who were just in it for their own power’s sake?

However, the most important piece of information and quite frankly the most disturbing was the fact that the Pope and several of the Cardinals were using something called, “The Elixir” to empower themselves and lengthen their lives.

Father Chambery had some suspicions that the elixir was connected with the rampant slave trade with the Nordac Empire.

Father Chambery had come across this information quite by accident when he was doing some supplementary studies at the Grand Cathedral in Verdenka City.

He had examined the fact that Pope Eustis had not appeared to age any in the last fifty years since he was ordained as Pope.

As were several of the Cardinals.

The official story about their health and longevity was accredited to their “Holy” living.

The Church had been heavily involved in the slave trade with the Nordac. Yet the financial gains on behalf of the Church was negligible compared to the number of tainted that they had “cleansed” from the land.

Needless to say, this didn’t sit well with Rowen.

Father Chambery made a point to tell Rowen that Elevant Samuel Chambers, the Pope’s personal attendant and secretary was said to have a magical key made of bronze that unlocked both the storage areas of the “elixir” as well as the books that tracked the traffic thereof.

If Rowen could somehow lay hands on this key, he would have the proof needed to break this unholy cartel within the Church.

While Rowen was revisiting this information in his head as he was driving Baldy through the gates, he said to himself, “Oh it’s just a simple matter of stealing a key away from the Pope’s right-hand man. That’s all.”

Xyarra said, “Too bad we don’t have a master thief and assassin to pull that off.”

“You mean Jade?”

She looked at him with a mischievous look in her eyes and said, “Oh yeah, her.” And she winked.

“X, did I ever tell you how much I value you and your advice?”

“Yes, but that doesn’t mean that I grow tired of your praise. So, praise me more!” and she made a motion with her fingers as if she were beckoning something towards her.

Rowen was thoughtful then said, “The problem is, when they find out that the Key is missing, all hell is gonna break loose.” He said this in English.

Xyarra nodded.

“So, we’re going to need some sort of diversion when we get the key and get the evidence. Do you have any suggestions?”

Rowen looked at the reason why he was using English, being the adorable little girl who was greedily eating a funnel cake that they bought from a vendor on their way out of the market grounds.

It would seem that every time Rowen and Xyarra would converse telepathically nearby her, she would be able to eavesdrop. Not intentionally mind you.

She didn’t appear to be able to read internal thoughts. Only projected thoughts like the kind that Rowen and Xyarra shared.

Rowen found Midori’s story both fascinating and heartbreaking. This poor child had gone through her own kind of hell over the last year. Let alone the fact that she and her family had lived their entire lives worried about being found out.

The Morgaranth were a fascinating people. Unlike elves, they were not immortal, but they did live very long lives. Some have been known to live as much as a thousand years. Yet their average life expectancy was in the negatives these days.

Xyarra shrugged and said, “I need you to go through everything that the good father told you, so that I can maybe come up with a plan. I’m sure between the two of us, we can come up with a killer plan.”

Rowen nodded.

He then said, “Well, first things first. We’re going to have to meet with the Emerald Queen, Queen Sarah.” And he looked back at Katrina who was sitting in the back eating her own funnel cake.

She looked back at him and asked, “What?!”

“Oh, nothing. I’m trying to decide who looks like they’re enjoying their funnel cake more. By the way, you have some on your cheek.”

She reached up and wiped the offending cake off her cheek then stuck her tongue out at Rowen and said, “I’m allowed. Not like I don’t deserve to revert back to childhood sometimes.”

Rowen was surprised how comfortable he and Katrina seemed to become with each other over the last few days. Almost as comfortable as Kit and him when they first met.

He chuckled and looked down the road that they were on. He enjoyed the scenery with early spring beginning to show its presence.

It had been warming up the last couple of days and winter was beginning to wane in good order. Still no buds yet but he suspected that they would begin soon.

He began to think about the next phase of his mission. He had sent Jade out ahead to tell Dalilah to bring a sealed message to the Emerald Kingdom, specifically Queen Sarah, to tell her that he was bringing Princess Katrina home safely.

Dalilah had returned a message via Jade that they were to meet with a delegation from the Emerald Kingdom in the island city of Bridgewell a day and a half journey by cart from Polk.

He knew that he could push Baldy and make it in half that time, but he knew that they couldn’t afford to bring attention to themselves yet.

So, once they were away from the traffic that immediately surrounded Polk, they settled into a nice sedate but steady pace.

He allowed his thoughts to drift back to the little girl sitting on Xyarra’s lap. Despite several overtures of him trying to make this little girl feel at ease around him, she continued to push him away.

She would always cling to Xyarra and not open up to Rowen in any meaningful way.

Whenever he would try to tell her something to do, she would always look to X before she would obey.

Since he understood her mistrust of humans, he didn’t push the matter.

At least she didn’t totally ignore him like she did Katrina.

One time, when they were packing up the spices in the cart, Katrina had accidently brushed up against her and she let out a yelp like she had been hit and ran to cling to Xyarra.

What he was able to suss out from talking to her via X was that she spent the last year trying to remain invisible as possible to the humans in Polk.

She would use her innate abilities to steal from carts and stalls within the market grounds. She would sleep in the stables among the horses and other draft animals in order to stay warm, but she lived in fear everyday of being found out.

The reason why she was following Xyarra that day was because she could sense her overwhelming power and was curious if Xyarra was one of her own people. She was able to sense this despite the hiding runes on Xyarra’s person.

This impressed Rowen. As a matter of fact, this little girl had already wormed her way into his heart and impressed him in many ways.

So, he had to figure out how to show her that he wasn’t like other humans.

He knew that he and Xyarra were going to adopt this child, barring finding any immediate and appropriate relatives mind you.

Xyarra and him discussed that several times over the last couple of days.

Of that there was no disagreement on the matter.

The only matter of debate between them was that Xyarra wanted to keep her race a secret. Rowen was of the mind that what better way to change the public perception of the Morgaranth than to show that one was adopted by the Royal Family of Tier.

He felt a little guilty that he had an agenda to use this little girl for a greater purpose, but his guilt was outweighed by his desire to save this race of “natural” demi humans.

He had been brought up believing that racism was the height of ignorance. Him being of a mixed-race origin himself.

Although, he didn’t experience many problems with racism himself, he had heard from his uncles and aunts the stories of their personal experiences when they were younger.

He was making the prohibition of racism his personal crusade here in Twalling Cade. However, he knew that he had to do it in a smart way.

He had heard the phrase, “Educate not legislate” in a college course he took to describe the best ways to deal with racism.

If you teach people that racism is ignorant instead of browbeating people into it, you had a better chance of combatting racism in a more meaningful way.

Yes, he had to “legislate” or pass laws against racism, but in the Kingdom of Tier, not a very difficult hurdle because of the nature of the kingdom. The only racism that he had to effectively combat within Tier was that against humans.

But he suspected that there was an inherit degree of racism against the Morgaranth as well.

The Morgaranth were known for their innate abilities with magic. They, like dragons, didn’t have mana crystals under their hearts but rather their whole bodies were conduits of magic.

Much like himself. Not for the first time did he wonder why. However, every time he asked Xyarra about that she was evasive about the matter.

He could tell that she knew more than she let on, but he had also committed to her that he would trust her to reveal the relevant information when it was a proper time.

But that didn’t decrease his desire to know.

The first day of travel was uneventful. They camped on the side of the road in a stand of trees near a small pond.

While they were setting up camp, Xyarra had finished putting the spice boxes under the cart to make more room for them to sleep inside.

She straightened and stretched her back then looked around. She suddenly realized that Midori was no where in sight.

She called out, “Midi!”

“Here mamma!”

Xyarra saw that she was walking away from the pond with two large fish in her hands.

“For dinner, Mamma.”

“Aw, thanks.” Xyarra’s heart melted at being called, “Mamma.”

Rowen offered to help her clean and cook the fish, but she refused to let him touch her fish.

Xyarra ended up helping her instead.

Katrina had gathered some roots for cooking to round out the meal.

At one point in the meal, Xyarra scolded, “Midi, you know that you are going to have to start being nicer to Rowen. If you have me as your mamma, then you will have to have him as your pappa.”

Midori looked stubborn and said, “No.”

Rowen said, “Take your time, Midori. There is no hurry. I’ll wait for you to accept me. Whenever you’re ready.”

Midori seemed to ignore Rowen and said to Xyarra, “How can you marry him. He’s a human and won’t live that long?!”

“That’s because, unlike most humans, he’s kind, fair and immortal.”

Katrina who was watching this gasped, “Immortal?! No, that can’t be.”

Midori scolded, “If mamma says he’s immortal then he’s immortal!” with the certainty that only a seven-year-old could project.

Katrina looked at Rowen with the question in her eyes.

Rowen nodded and said, “Yes, there’s a few things that you don’t know about me. Since the cat’s out of the bag, I might as well tell you both more about myself...” and he explained his mission, gifts and more.

Up until then, all that Katrina knew was that Rowen was a very capable rune mage that also was now the King of Tier.

As he was telling his story, Xyarra noticed that Midori was enraptured by his telling.

She sensed that there was a shift in Midori’s attitude in that evening.

After dinner and clean up, Rowen helped the ladies set up their bed in the back of the cart and tucked them in after washing up.

He kissed Xyarra goodnight then Midori shyly kissed him on his cheek then quickly covered herself as if embarrassed.

He briefly looked down at the ladies as they snuggled themselves into bed then closed the tarp over the back of the cart.

After climbing down from the cart, he sat at the fire for a while.

Jade had set up his sleeping bag under the cart for him and said, “If there’s nothing else, Master, I am going to patrol the area. Dalilah and her murder are around as well.”

“Right. Dalilah, why don’t you and your murder come by the fire for now? Enjoy the warmth for a change.”

Dalilah and four other harpies appeared in the firelight from different directions.

Dalilah said, “Midge is flying patrol right now. She sensed that we’re being followed, but she still hadn’t found anyone near.”

He smiled and said, “I believe that we are being followed. I believe that two of X’s acquaintances have been following us all along. They will show themselves when they’re ready, so call in Midge now, so she doesn’t get hurt. Jade’s patrolling should be enough for now. I want to get to know all of you a little better, since we’re going to be working together for some time.”

That night, Rowen learned quite a bit more about harpies. For instance, not all avian Beastkin were called harpies.

The harpies were a sub-class of avian that kept their males out of sight. This was because the male harpies were more susceptible to the changes in their mana crystals during puberty. More of them died. So, whereas most races had an average of five females to one male, harpies had a ten to one average.

Because of this, the harpies had tighter knit aviaries or communities. All the females shared all the males in their Aviary.

Other harpies were the vulture harpies, buzzard harpies, condor harpies, magpie harpies and a few others.

After a lively discussion with the harpies, Rowen went to bed around midnight.

The next morning Jade woke Rowen up. He looked to see that the ladies had already gotten up and were preparing breakfast.

He said, “Morning ladies. I hope y’all slept well?”

Xyarra said, “Yes, and you could have slept better had you not been flirting with the harpies all night.”

Rowen shook his head and said, “Now, now, I was just trying to get to know the other harpies in Dalilah’s murder that’s all. This is the first chance I had.”

Xyarra looked cynical and said, “Uh huh, right.”

“Believe me when I say that I already have my hands full with you and the rest of my wives. I’m not looking to add any more to my harem.”

Katrina said with some certainty in her voice, “Well, I believe that you’re going to add at least one more to your harem.” She turned to Xyarra and asked, “Am I right?”

Xyarra said, “Yes, I believe you are. Don’t worry about that dear, he’s never had any say as to who his wives are, so he’s used to that.”

Rowen asked, “What the hell are you two going on about?”

Midori chimed in and said, “That’s because you are marrying Miss. Kat, Pappa.” As she put down a bundle of firewood that she had gathered.

Rowen was stunned. He knew that he had bridged that subject with his inner selves and Xyarra had been eavesdropping, but he had thought it was a dead issue. Just his libido running amok.

He asked, “And when was this decided?”

Katrina said, “Well, it wasn’t decided until last night, but I first bridged the subject with your other wives when I was talking to them over tea.”

Xyarra said, “Now don’t look so surprised. Your libido had already bridged the subject as well. Remember?”


“I can’t help if you think so loudly.”

Katrina said, “If it makes you feel any better then look at it as a political marriage. Something to cement our countries relationship. Unlike most political marriages though, you and I are at least friendly with each other before.”

Defeated, Rowen plopped down on a wooden stool by the fire.

Xyarra said, “Well, I guess that this calls for a celebration. Let’s break out the coffee.”

After they packed up and were driving Baldy along the road, Rowen was chewing on the situation he had gotten into. Xyarra had it right that he had never decided on any of his wives. They all decided on and for him.

Libido, “Yay, another gorgeous redhead!”

Consciousness, “You shut up. You got me into this you know.”

“Yeah and?”

“Shut up, just shut up.” And he proceeded to lock up his libido again in his mind. He then threw away the key, bricked up the door and threw away the bricklayer.

After about half a day of travel they made their way over a hill to look down on a rather large river. One that resembled the Mississippi near where he used to live on Earth.

Sitting in the middle of the river was a large walled in city that covered the entire island. Between the shore and the island was a somewhat wide, white bridge that looked like it was well designed.

From the top of the hill, he could see that the bridge seemed to pass through the city as a main road to go around on both sides of a small castle then to another bridge leading to the other shore.

By the near gate leading to the bridge on their side of the river were what looked like a regiment of soldiers flying the royal emerald banner.

As they approached, he could see activity within the regiment of soldiers. Then a delegation lined up across the road with a redheaded woman dressed in very fine roman plate armor in the lead.

Instead of a helmet, she wore a golden crown.

Rowen knew by looking at her that she had to be Queen Sarah.

He pulled the cart up short of the delegation and proceeded to dismount. He then helped Katrina down and Xyarra told Midori to stay in the cart and she climbed down the other side of the cart.

Xyarra had dispelled her illusion spell on Katrina so she looked herself when she removed her vail and headkerchief.

The three of them approached the Queen and Katrina said, “Mother, I present to you King Rowen of Tier and Queen Xyarra.”

The Queen smiled sedately and opened her mouth to speak but was cut off by someone yelling, “Now!”

Suddenly, half the troops were turning on the other half and crossbow bolts were flying in at Rowen and the ladies.

One of the Queens Guards took one of the bolts intended for his Queen.

Rowen used his telekinesis to deflect several of the bolts headed for him and Katrina.

He looked over at Xyarra and saw she was surrounded by soldiers. One of which was carrying a red scale dragon lance. He was about to stab Xyarra in her back.

Rowen drew out his pistol and yelled, “X, behind you!”

His voice was lost in a piercing shriek!

A ball of mist and.....feathers? appeared among the soldiers. The soldier with the red lance went down, along with several others with him. As the mist cleared, two armored female warriors were standing among the bodies. Xyarra’s flanks were now covered. But by who?

He sensed before he saw another bolt flying in at Katrina, so he grabbed her and spun her away from the bolt putting his back to it.

He felt the bolt hit his back and the tip of it was able to pierce his armor.

He didn’t think anything about it at the time as he shot the offending crossbowman.

Suddenly he felt his lips begin to tingle and go numb. He looked to see that Xyarra was going full dragon and unleashing her fury on the rebelling soldiers. He saw that Jade was now covering Katrina.

Then everything went black.