Chapter 9:

Dark Precipice

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

Down deep in the bowels of the Grand Cathedral in a forbidden library of records kept, an older woman was staring into her augury bowl.

Molarra couldn’t remember when her ways departed the “normal” ways of sooth seeing but she had always been a woman of curiosity. Yet she had been called to serve the Pope and his…minions and so she had been encouraged to reach beyond the limits of propriety.

Her latest efforts to seek sooth or the truth of things had shown her that there were ancient powers being wielded upon the lands of late. Yet, she couldn’t tell exactly where and how.

She saw two mysterious warriors, one of gray and one of black and yet she couldn’t discern anything more.

She had also begun to see the symbols of the Magedi rising in prominence, but something also blocked her to finding the source of that information as well.

She felt a familiar chill run down her spine as Samuel approached her from behind.

She said, “Why lurks thee in my domain foul demon?”

“Careful woman, if not for your usefulness, I would sup on your soul.”

She looked at Samuel with a jaundice eye and said, “It couldn’t be any more miserable than staying here in these damp and dark stacks.”

“So, do you have any more guidance for our master?”

“You say master, and yet you make him your marionette. But who pulls the puppet masters strings I wonder?”

Elevant Samuel Chambers’ eyes began to glow red and he said, “You WILL fear me woman!”

“Oh, just relax. I shall act properly terrified if you like, but you won’t believe me.”

She shrugged and said, “There are ancient powers at play here. Even the use of angelic runes as of late. But I fear that even the Guardians are blocking as to whom, where and why.”

“That information is hardly useful. What can you tell me?”

“I do see that it is important that you bring the seer that I mentioned earlier directly into the chambers of the Pope.”

“Sister Millicent?”

“Yes, she is a powerful and most gifted seer, and all signs show that she is significant to the next ascension of our master.”

“The opacity of your visions as of late are befuddling. Perhaps you have outlived your usefulness after all?”

“Yes, well perhaps that is why the Fates are showing me Sister Millicent as an important addition to the master’s chambers? Either way, I desire to see the sun again, even for a short time. Maybe then I can see clearer sooth?”

“You continue to refuse the Elixir and yet you complain of your age and aches. You are indeed a paradox.”

“I’ve reached one hundred years without that foul stuff. I would think that one as ancient as you would understand.”

Samuel shook his head and said, “I doubt I would ever understand one such as you. Continue to do the best you can and perhaps I’ll let you get some sunlight during the upcoming spring festival.”

“Promises, promises.”

Samuel turned around and left.

She turned back to the augury bowl and said as if to herself, “Now my mistresses, I have done your bidden. Please release me from these old bones.”

Sister Millicent knelt in prayer before her vision journal where she had written that morning’s dreams and visions as she was guided to annotate per her Guardian.

The Arch Seer entered the room with a man in black robes by his side.

She looked to them briefly and went back to her prayers.

She heard in her innermost self, “Now’s the time.”

She rose and turned as the Arch Seer and the man she knew to be Elevant Samuel approached her.

The Arch Seer said, “This is Sister Millicent your Eminence.”

She bowed her head and asked, “What may I do for you, oh great attendant to the Pope?”

He smiled and said, “You are to come with me. Your future duties are to be the seer for His Holiness’s chambers.”

She nodded and said, “I would be honored.” And she grabbed her things, and journal, then looked to Samuel.

He asked, “You don’t seem to be surprised at your new station, Sister?”

“What kind of seer would I be to not see my latest duties as they are laid out for me?”

“Yes, quite.” And he turned, then bowed his head to the Arch Seer and they left.

Rowen was thoroughly impressed as they entered the main archway to Verdenka City. It looked very much like the Arc de Triomphe in Paris as he had seen in many photograph.

However, the one photograph that came to mind at present was the one when the German soldiers were marching through it during the fall of Paris in WWII.

He looked beyond the arch and saw off to the right about halfway down the main thoroughfare a complete looking Coliseum and beyond that a rather large looking palace that had no equivalent to Rowen’s memory.

He looked to his right to see his two wives, Xyarra and Katrina sitting on the bench next to him. He was thinking, “It’s been three weeks since my wedding and yet Kat seems as natural a fixture in my life as X is.”

He looked longingly to the back of the cart to see the space in which his daughter was playing not long before.

He knew that there was no way that he was going to bring little bit with him on this mission because of the dangers involved but it still didn’t mean that he couldn’t miss her. She too became a part of him so quickly.

She wasn’t happy when he and X told her that she needed to stay at home in Tier with Mommas Kit, Dana, and Elli while Momma Xyarra and Pappa went on with their mission.

He wanted to leave Katrina behind as well, but she wouldn’t hear of it.

Instead, she challenged him to a duel with wooden swords and the winner would have final say on the matter.

He thought that his imbued martial arts would give him the edge, but the fight was over in a matter of seconds.

She was like him, she did what it took to win and win quickly.

His nuts needed healing after that.

He looked back to the city that they were entering at the pristine buildings and clean streets but instead of pristine, the word, “Sterile” came to mind.

The people walking along the streets looked healthy, clean yet they lacked a vibrancy that he had seen in other cities.

This was the seat of power for the now Diamond Kingdom and five hundred years ago was the capital of the Grand Empire before it was divided into the Five Kingdoms. For such a grand city, it felt… lacking.

He drove Baldy along heading towards the Market Grounds near the Coliseum.

Kat and Xyarra were oohing and aahing about this sight or that and Xyarra was adding perspective of the last time she had been here, some 900 years before.

Kat on the other hand was there two years prior for the last Council of Kings a year before her father was assassinated.

He wondered what he would feel about this city in 900 years from now. This brought about another ache in his heart. He was seriously missing Kit. He missed the others of course but Kit is and always will be his first and foremost love.

Kat was no replacement for her, yet he too would have to value his time with her as well because of her mortality.

He shook himself and reminded himself to live in the moment. The sooner he completed his mission, the sooner he could go back and spend time with Kit.

Traffic was heavy but it still flowed smoothly. He drove Baldy up to a traffic rotary where he was told would lead him to the Market Grounds. So, instead of turning right to the Coliseum he went left to a wide-open area that had multiple booths and even some permanent buildings that were the Market Grounds.

There was a festive air to the grounds as everyone were preparing for the Spring Festival supposed to begin in three days. As he entered the grounds, he was met by an official who said, “What are your wares that you wish to sell?”

“Spices from the south and eastern lands.”

The official looked at Rowen and his ladies and asked, “Do you plan on staying for the full festival?”

“Yes, of course!” Rowen said with a smile.

“If you want a stall on the main thoroughfare then that’ll be one hundred Shek, fifty Shek elsewhere.”

“We’ll take the main thoroughfare thank you.” And he reached into his purse and took out the appropriate amount of coinage.

The official handed him a slip of paper and directed them to their stall.

After setting up in their stall, Xyarra said, “Jade and I will stand by the cart for now, you and Kat should go find us an inn. Even though it’s comfortable, I prefer a real bed.”

“Spoiled.” Rowen said with a wink.

“Yes, and you’re the one who spoiled me.”

“Yeah, yeah, guilty as charged. I’ll even set up the bathtub when we get our room.”

“That’s why I am sending you ahead.”

Rowen rolled his eyes and said, “Of course!”

As Rowen and Kat made their way towards the exit to the Market Grounds where the inns were, he sensed that they were being followed. Or rather, he sensed that there was an empty place in his peripheral vision obviously occupied by…someone?

He casually reached over to his gauntlet and cast a couple of spells that he had for just such a situation and he turned and pulled Kat with him to wait around a corner.

They waited there for a few seconds then two young girls holding baskets of shopping walked around the corner and stopped, staring. The blonde one spoke in a quiet, almost whisper.

"Sorry , mister." and the two walked past the alley.

He thought he might be mistaken or overly paranoid, but then he saw their shadows on the ground as they disappeared around the corner. Bigger than the two small girls. Just the right size for two cloaked women.

He looked towards their two fleeting shapes and said, “Thank you for before.” to the empty air. He then turned and dragged Kat with him.

He sensed them disappear again, but he had made his point he thought.

Kat just gave him a puzzled look as he pulled her along.

Sister Millicent was conducted to the Pope’s office space where his attendants worked and shown a desk in the corner.

Elevant Samuel said, “You are to keep your vision journal the same way you have been, but all your visions are to go through me and me alone. I will take care to give them to His Holiness.”

“Of course, Sir.”

As she set up, she felt an urge to go outside and look towards the Market Grounds just outside the grounds of the Grand Cathedral.

She asked Elevant Samuel, “May I please go outside for a breath of fresh air?”

“Of course. You are free to do whatever it takes to allow you to get clear visions and sooth. Should you require anything else, all you need to do is ask.”

“Thank you, Sir.” And she went outside.

As she was standing on the veranda of the Pope’s offices, she looked out towards the north and her vision zoomed in towards the Market Grounds.

Her hand went up to her Triume as she saw the two cloaked warriors looking back at her. She sensed that they were wearing the same kind of metal that the Triume was made of and the words, “Blood of my blood” came to her.

This wasn’t the first time that her vision did this amazing zooming thing. She had always assumed that it had something to do with her power to see. But this time it was a bit disorienting because she knew that the two female warriors were looking back at her and they saw her as well.

She heard from behind her, “Sister Millicent?”

She closed her eyes momentarily to allow them to refocus then she turned to see a young man in a priest’s hassock, and she asked, “Yes?”

“Hello, I am Brother Patrick, I will be working with you. Elevant Samuel asked me to show you around and help you get settled in.”

“Of course.”

"You are pushing things too far, sister."

They were skirting along the marketplace. Most would only see a blonde and brunette pair of young girls with baskets of food. The problem was, not everyone saw them that way.

At one point, they felt eyes on them from afar, but they didn't know if their veil held and kept them masked.

This second time, they turned the corner too close to him.

Normally the bold one, Belanna was the one being careful. This was a big warning to the older Karas.

"You're right. We should hang back more. I was just worried for Ebon after everything that has happened."

"Don't dive when you first spot your prey. Strike when you're sure." Belanna said.

"You're right. Let’s find a spot to work from and get some better lines of sight."

They started looking up and around for their next objective. They had to trust Ebon would be safe for a while.

Xyarra had finished setting up the spices for display and she stood and looked out on the crowd. Suddenly she felt a presence that she had not felt in more than a hundred years.

She rubbed her fingers on her bracelet and the runes imbued on it to help cover her presence and power and she silently hoped that it was working as needed.

The source of the presence became clear as she saw Dethlial in its human form as an Elevant of the Church.

The Elevant approached her and asked, “Do you have any Beyers Root?”

“Yes sir. We have eleven measures.” Bowing her head.

He appeared to be staring at her intensely. Then after a long moment he said, “We don’t see many of the Bedoon people this far north. What brings you here?”

“My husband’s spice trade, sir. I married an outlander who is from the northlands. As did my tribal sister.”

He continued to examine her intensely for a few more moments then he shook his head and said, “I’ll take all eleven measures of Beyers Root.”

She turned around and grabbed a sack and upended the bin of white powder into it, tied the sack up and turned and handed it to the Elevant/Demon.

He said, “The Church thanks you for your generous donation.” As he accepted the bag.

She knew that she needed to act like a Bedoon woman, so she said, “Donation hell, that’s two hundred Shek worth!”

He gave her a cold hard look and she could sense the pulse of intimidation energies. She pretended to be properly cowled and bowed her head and said, “Sorry, your Eminence.”

He smiled and turned and left to look at some other booths.

Another priest was walking along in the opposite direction and she grabbed him and asked, “Who is that Elevant?”

He looked surprised but shook himself and said meekly, “Why that’s Elevant Samuel, the Pope’s personal attendant.”

“Ah, so I see. Thank you, sir.” And she handed him a sample bag of cinnamon.