Chapter 7:

Is It Worth Your Humanity?

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

Three moonrises Later:

Rowen woke up feeling cold and stiff.

He was laying on a soft bed looking up at a vaulted white ceiling with dark brown beams across it.

He looked to his right to see Midori curled up asleep holding his upper arm. To his left was Xyarra looking back at him.

She said, “Welcome back to the world of the living.”

“Thank you. What happened?”

“It would seem that the crossbow bolt that hit you was coated in poison.”

“I kinda figured that. I thought that I was going to lose you there. Somehow, they knew to use a dragon lance on you. Is Katrina and the Queen okay?”

“Yes, they’re both fine, but the Second Prince, Katrina’s brother was badly hurt, but expected to survive. We used one of your wonderful healing sticks on him.”

“Well, that’s good. Has anyone figured out who turned on the Queen?”

Xyarra nodded and said, “It was Lord Bethel, the Baron of Bridgewell. It would seem that the Church and the Ruby King had been using their influence on him and his family.

“There’s to be a public execution tomorrow morning.”

He looked over at Midori and said, “Looks like little bit here has gotten over her distrust of me.”

“Yes, I could barely move her from your side. She wanted to be here when you woke up. Although she seemed to be worried that you wouldn’t.”

“This child has had too much loss in her life. I don’t blame her for mistrusting.”

He then reached up his hand still tingling with pins and needles and touched Midori’s cheek and said, “Midori.”

She stirred and opened her eyes. She saw him looking at her and then her face lit up and said, “Pappa!” and hugged his arm tightly.

He gently patted her head and caressed her horn absentmindedly and said, “You see, I’ll never leave you Princess.”

He turned back to Xyarra and asked in English, “What were those remarkable looking beings that saved you? Were they the other naturals you were talking about?”

“Yes, they were. By the time the fight was over I turned to thank them, but they had disappeared as quickly as they showed up. They are like fighting a thunderstorm. Suddenly they are there, all fury and destruction, then as if the sun came out, poof! all that's left is the wake of their devastation. They try hard to leave no other trace. This time they were too desperate in their mission to be complete." She held up a single magnificent deep grey feather as long as his forearm.

Rowen's eyes went wide then he nodded asking, “Well, I’m thankful for them saving you. I will do everything I can to keep their secret. It stays between you and me. It's not mine to share. Did you fill Kit and the others in on everything else?”

“Yes. It would seem that as of yesterday, the rumor mill has been churning out that you have been successfully assassinated. The Church has been sending the news out via criers, broadsheets and from the pulpits across the Five Kingdoms, all declaring the Heretic King is dead. Of course, Kit and they were responding with an official, ‘No comment’ but pretty much downplaying things.”

“Well, actually that’s good. Them thinking I’m dead may make our job easier. Let Kit know to continue to respond with a no comment attitude. That way they will draw their own conclusions.”

He turned back to Midori and said, “Now, pappa needs to use the bed pan. Why don’t you and momma go get something to eat, and maybe bring me back something too?”

He handed her off to Xyarra and kissed both of them.

Midori did shy away from the kiss a little. She apparently wasn’t entirely over her innate mistrust.

After they left, he said, “I know that you are here. Come out, or manifest or whatever you angelic beings call it.”

Dawn shimmered into view at the foot of Rowen’s bed and said, “You have learned much since we last met.”

“I would bow and give you proper respect but I’m a little bit limited in mobility right now.”

“That is fine, dear Rowen. I know that you want to, how do you say it, oh yes, ‘cut to the chase’. I’m here because I sense that something has strongly upset you this time that you died. What can I help you with?”

“Right, not like dying by itself isn’t upsetting enough, but I almost lost several people I care greatly for this time. So, what I want to know, being that you are indeed divine beings, why didn’t you make me truly immortal and omnipotent? Why take the risk that I may be out of commission with one of these deaths during a critical time?”

Dawn appeared to be considering her answer. Then she said in a loving voice, “Would true immortality and omnipotence be worth your humanity? Are you willing to give up your humanity completely?”

This reply hit Rowen like a sledgehammer to the gut. He had been arguing keeping his humanity to Xyarra this whole time and he didn’t appreciate his own arguments being used against him.

Rowen snapped, “If you won’t make me truly immortal and omnipotent, then why not at least give me more information to go with here? I feel like I’m flying blind and quite frankly I don’t like it. Or does that too make me some kind of divine intervention?!”

“That is correct. Doing so would also be a mark of violation of free will. A divine being taking direct actions in a matter of humanity is the primary thing that we, us guardians are supposed to be guarding against. So, we have made you as powerful and immortal as we could without violating the very rules we are supposed to enforce.

“Remember, you are not the only one assigned this mission. Xyarra is one, but there are also others that have parts to play in this. Father Chambery is another. There are a few more that you’ll meet along the way.”

“Rules? Free will? You make this out to be some sort of a game!” and he slapped his hand down on his bed.

She looked saddened and said, “Unfortunately there are those who do. You and I both know that it isn’t a game. Yet, it has stakes higher than any game ever in history.”

Rowen bit his lower lip and bit back an unwise rebuttal. Instead, he nodded and said, “Well, I’m tired of this game. But I know that I can’t just walk away. Not for that little girl’s sake out there. Nor for my children that my wives are carrying either.

“Let me ask you one thing, are you responsible for my wives coming into my life?”

“That would be an attempt to manipulate your free will if that were the case. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not pleased with the results of your…unions. They give you stake in this world.”

Rowen shook his head and said, “Well, it’s not like I can go back to Earth, now can I?”

“No, you can’t. You have no body to go back to.”

“I figured. Can I call on you again if I have questions?”

“Yes, you can pray to me anytime and I’ll manifest for you if it won’t violate the rules.”


That evening, Rowen and his ladies were invited to dinner with Queen Sarah. He took the liberty to make a nice set of formal clothes for Xyarra, Midori and himself.

The three of them were escorted to a side dining room that looked like it was very ornately decorated. Fine crystal chandleers, fine silver wall sconces and a mahogany table and chairs.

Queen Sara was standing at one end of the table, while Rowen, Xyarra, and Midori were escorted to the other end.

Rowen was told that the protocol of two monarchs sitting at a state dinner, a light bell or gong would signal the time to sit so that neither would feel slighted.

There were a couple of other nobles around the table, but Rowen noted that Katrina was no where in sight.

He waited until the chime of a small bell then sat in unison with Queen Sarah. Then the other nobles sat down too.

As finger bowls were circulated and the servants were respectfully laying napkins on everyone’s laps, Rowen said, “Thank you for the invitation for dinner. If you don’t mind my asking, where is Princess Katrina?”

Queen Sarah smiled and said, “I am sorry, but I thought you would know. It is our tradition that the bride and groom are not to see each other for a week before the wedding.”

“Oh, I see…” he cut himself off before he could protest that the wedding was going ahead without him ever consenting. He decided to let it go. Besides, he wasn’t totally displeased with the prospect. Instead, he said, “Where I am from, the tradition is that it’s bad luck to see the bride on the wedding day, until they walk down the aisle. I often wondered about that tradition, myself. I was told once that it went back to arranged marriages where the groom would only first see the bride when he lifted the vail to kiss her and after the marriage was already consecrated.”

“Yes, there is that about our tradition but also it is a time when the bride and groom have a time away from each other to cool their passions. Makes for a better wedding night.” And she winked.

Rowen nodded and asked, “By the way, how is your son, the prince doing?”

“He is recovering nicely. Although his eye wasn’t able to be recovered. But it could have been a whole lot worse. I understand that you are responsible for the healing mechanism used on him to save his life. For that, I am truly thankful.”

“If you will give me some time, I can make a restoration spell for his eye. I would be more than happy to if you want.”

Queen Sarah’s green eyes lit up and she said, “You are able to do that?!” excitedly.

“Yes, I have done that before, so it is not that difficult.”

“We would greatly appreciate it.”

Dinner was then served starting with an appetizer then several courses of fine food. Conversation was formal and polite and had Rowen on pins and needles because he was afraid to say the wrong thing.

Also, at the table was a Duke Reinhardt, a Baroness Wellesley and a couple of other minor nobles that Rowen didn’t remember their names.

Duke Reinhardt pointedly asked at one point, “Why were you traveling in disguise in our lands? Was it your intention to spy on us?”

Queen Sarah said, “That is awfully rude to ask our guest. Especially after rescuing our daughter and helping thwart our assassination!”

Rowen smiled and said, “No, that is quite alright. I am here to spy, but not on the Emerald Kingdom. It was the Ruby Kingdom who invaded our lands and killed or enslaved our people and they did that on behest of the Church. It is my goal to get to the bottom of this, heresy from all involved.”

The Duke looked puzzled and asked, “Heresy? How can the Church be guilty of Heresy?”

“Let me answer your question with a question. Which is more heretical, to go against the Church or to go against the Guardians?”

“Isn’t the Church supposed to be upholding the will of the Guardians? If that is the case, then they are one in the same.”

“Supposed to…yes, but it is my understanding that the Church has long departed the will of the Guardians for some time now. The scripture promotes mutual respect for all living beings and especially for all sentients, and yet the Church is actively promoting persecution of any who are not human. That is just one example.”

“Well, as King, shouldn’t you be focusing on what is going on within your own boarders? Don’t your people need your rule?”

“I have three of my queens who are actively administering my rule. They, I trust completely and unreservedly.”

“Ah yes, Queens Kitarra, Danara, and Eliarra, am I correct?”

“Yes, you have the right of it. I am in regular communications with them, so it is as if I were there.”

“Ah, I see.”

Queen Sarah said, “You’ll have to forgive the good Duke. He is my head of intelligence. So, he is used to asking questions.”

“Nothing to forgive. It is our hope that we foster a close relationship between our kingdoms. In order to do so, we must have open, honest and frank discussions between us.”

“Yes, but a dinner is not the time and place for such discussions.”

Duke Reinhardt bowed his head and said, “My apologies, your Majesty.”

Queen Sarah then smiled broadly and said, “My daughter is quite taken with you. She is not easily impressed. She has been commanding troops since she was fifteen and her battalion was one of the best in our history.

“It saddens us that so many good men and women were lost.”

“I can imagine, I am thankful and happy that my people were able to rescue her when we did. It is too bad that we weren’t able to come along sooner and save more of her people.”

“Yes, thank you again. When the Ruby Kingdom annexed those lands, she happened to be there with her battalion seeing to an urgent issue in one of the towns in that area. She was cut off from being able to return home, so she did her best to ensure that their rule over those lands were as challenging as possible.

“We had been receiving regular word of her exploits and we have been both pleased and proud of her accomplishments.”

Her eyes seemed to moisten, “We thought the worse when we were told of the fall of the last of her battalion. That is why when your harpy messenger brought us the letter with Princess Katrina’s seal on it, it was almost too good to be true.”

“Again, we are thankful that we were able to help her, and by extension you. It was also my goal to reach out to you and your kingdom in order to request such an alliance.”

Duke Reinhardt chimed in, “I do have another question, if I may?”

“Of course.”

“How did you survive the poison on the bolt that hit you?”

Queen Sarah answered, “That is something that must remain secret for now. Princess Katrina has filled me in on your…secrets as to why you’re still alive.” And she gave a stern look to the Duke.

He seemed to shrink back, “My apologies, Your Majesty.”

After dinner the other nobles were dismissed and Queen Sarah, Rowen, Xyarra and Midori repaired to another room for coffee and dessert.

As the servants poured the coffee Queen Sarah said, “Queen Xyarra, thank you for this wonderful coffee. It has been difficult to get any coffee over the last few months since the trade routes from the south have been cut off.”

Xyarra answered, “You are quite welcome. We will be happy to supply you more on a regular basis if you like?” looking to Rowen as she said it.

Rowen nodded and said, “Yes, of course, as well as some other exotic spices if you like. I’m under the understanding that cinnamon is highly sought after these days as well?”

Queen Sarah said, “Yes, it is. Your wife was also kind enough to supply us with a goodly amount of that as well.”

Rowen smiled and said, “I am happy that we could be of help there.

“I am to assume that there is something that you wish to discuss with us aside from our path forward with alliance?”

Queen Sarah looked at the head butler who then nodded and motioned for the other servants to leave the room.

Once the room was clear she said, “It is about your primary mission. My daughter has also filled me in on that as well. I want you to know that you have our full support on that as well.

“Since I’ve been excommunicated and declared a heretic, I have no reason to support the Church’s endeavors in our lands. As it was, my grandmother, mother and I have been on the verge of heresy for many years. My grandmother chose to ignore the missives from the Pope in regard to the treatment of demi humans. We have continued to choose to make the Emerald Kingdom a sanctuary for them.”

“So, I have been told. It is my hope that all the Five Kingdoms will be brought to the alignment of the Church’s original teachings. Tier shouldn’t be the only kingdom to properly observe sentient’s rights.”

“Is it true that you see no difference between demi humans and humans?”

Rowen reached over and put his hand on Midori’s head who was happily eating a pastry and said, “Yes, this child is a Morgaranth and yet I will see her no different than my children that will be born of my wives, Kitarra and Eliarra. Where I come from, racism, although unfortunately present, is considered an abomination by the majority of people. This is of course after a long history of the worse examples of the evils of racism unfortunately.”

He looked to Xyarra and said, “I even see my dragon wife in no different light than my other wives and she is not what I would call a demi human.

“It is the spark within us, the divine soul, that we should be looking to and not the superfluous skin that contains it. “

Queen Sarah nodded and said, “That is a beautiful ideal. Unfortunately, I don’t see that reaching that goal will be easy here on Twalling Cade.”

“No, I expect not. But it is one that I will continue to dedicate my continuing life to achieve.”

She nodded and said, “Well, as for that mission, you have our support as well.”