Chapter 10:

A Market of Souls

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

Pope Eustis rubbed his temples as he looked down at the numbers. They had been able to round up thirty-five hundred prisoners from all the prisons in his and his cousins’ control to make up for the loss caused by the heretic king.

They were able to do this by flushing out all the prisoners, including the ones that were there for minor offenses. Even some that were due to be released soon.

So, where to get the remaining five hundred that were needed?

They had to be healthy enough to make the trek to the northlands and the Nordac Empire.

If only he could figure out how the former High Lord Magedi had used his mirror gates that now occupied his office and the office of Emperor Triquiris, Dark Lord of the Nordac. Then he could send what he had and somehow make use of them quickly.

He shrugged and called out, “Samuel?!”

Elevant Samuel Chambers entered the Pope’s office and said, “Yes, Your Holiness?”

“Send a regiment of legionnaires with the sacrifices to make up for the difference in numbers.”

“As you wish, Your Holiness.”

“Oh, and Samuel?”

“Yes, Your Holiness?”

“Were you able to find any Beyers Root for the catalyst cubes?”

“Yes, I was able to obtain eleven measures this very afternoon.”

“How fortunate.” And he made a dismissal motion with his hand.

He shuffled the papers aside and turned to another report. This one three weeks old.

It showed that the attempted assassinations of Queen Sarah and Princess Katrina had failed but the reporter was confident that the Heretic King had fortunately been killed instead.

Well, this gave him a small measure of comfort. He truly believed that the Heretic King and the Magedi Knight from his dreams of late were one in the same.

“So, why does he still haunt me in my dreams?”

He called out, “Seer!”

Sister Millicent knocked on the door after a few seconds and asked, “You called for me, Your Holiness?”

“Ah, Sister Millicent, is it?”

“Yes, Your Holiness.”

“I need for you to tell me, if you can, has the Heretic King, King Rowen of Tier been truly killed during the incident three weeks ago?”

She nodded and closed her eyes. Then after a few seconds she opened them and said, “I see that he definitely died from poison on the tip of a crossbow bolt, Your Holiness.”

“Very good. You may return to your duties.”

She bowed and left.

Sister Millicent went over to her desk and sat down. She was shaken because she did not tell the Pope the whole truth of her vision that she just had. She did indeed see the Heretic King fall to the poison from the bolt. But what she didn’t say was that she also saw that he was resurrected three moonrises later and that he was indeed the High Lord Magedi that she saw in her visions of late.

Elevant Samuel was sorting through some papers and trying to see to certain arrangements before the upcoming Spring Festival.

He had to make sure that every detail was properly taken care of for the Pope’s personal appearance to bless the beginning of the Spring Festival.

He looked over to the large sack of Beyers Root sitting on his desk and he called out, “Brother Patrick!”

A few seconds later, Brother Patrick entered the office and said, “Yes, Elevant Samuel?”

Samuel reached to his belt and took off the large bronze key and handed it to Brother Patrick and said, “Please put this bag of Beyers Root in the large black vault. You can return the key to me tomorrow morning after morning prayers.”

“Sir, tomorrow morning I will be out at the palace doing an errand for His Holiness.”

“Oh yes, I almost forgot.” He looked thoughtful then said, “Just give the key to Sister Millicent to return to me in the morning. In the meantime, I’ll be attending to His Holiness’s person the rest of today and night.”

“Of course, Sir.” He bowed and took the Beyers Root and key with him.

Later that evening:

Sister Millicent looked at the bronze key in her hand, realizing that it was the very one that she was supposed to give to the spice merchant as she was told by her Guardian.

The question was, how to get it to the spice merchant, give him enough time to do what he needed to with it then return it to Elevant Samuel in the morning. All this without that demon being none the wiser.

Yes, she knew that he was a demon by her first glance at him earlier that day. She also knew that her path was clearly that of purging the holy offices of the foul stain that inhabited it for the last fifty years.

She said to Brother Patrick who was putting his things up on his desk for the day, “I’ll not be joining you for dinner tonight. I want to look around the market grounds some. I’ll buy something there to eat.”

“Do you want me to go with you?”

She looked thoughtful then shook her head and said, “No, thank you. I want to spend some time feeling the energies of the people without your familiar presence. I only want to ensure the safety of His Holiness’s appearance. I’ll be doing the same the day before the beginning of the Spring Festival.”

He smiled and said, “As you wish. The ways of you seers are a mystery to me.”

She smiled shyly and said, “Sometimes they are a mystery to us as well. We only respond to the guidance of the angels and sometimes the Creator Himself.”

As Sister Millicent walked the Market Grounds, she felt such a tumult of conflicting energies from the people in attendance.

Lots of greed and avarice. Lots of hunger and wanton thoughts. Very little thoughts that could be called pure or even proper.

She did sense the two warriors that she saw earlier. She had a desire to seek them out, but she also felt a foreboding. She knew that it wasn’t the time.

She turned down the main thoroughfare of the Market Grounds and looked to the left and right taking in the sights. She was still young and thought that she should be excited about what she was seeing. But the overwhelming flow of energies were just too wrong to let her give herself into the childish desires.

She finally saw her desired destination on her left. A spice cart with a man and two vailed women. The man had his back turned to her at the moment, but she was sure that this was the one who was told to her by her Guardian.

It looked like the man was discussing something of intensity to the women and even though she couldn’t see their faces, she could sense a feeling of frustration coming off of them.

She approached the man’s back and said, “Excuse me…”

She was shocked to see the man’s face as he turned. It was indeed the countenance of the dragon riding Magedi. She was equally stunned to see that the taller of the two women was also the dragon in question.

He asked again, “Yes, may I help you Priestess?”

She realized in her mind that she hadn’t heard the first time he asked the question. She shook herself and looked left and right then said, “We need to talk, Sire.”

Rowen was talking to Xyarra and Kat about how they were going to orchestrate the stealing of the key. They were in no position to create any kind of diversion at that point.

Jade had already infiltrated the holy offices as a minor housekeeper and she currently lost track of where the key presently was.

This wasn’t a big deal since they weren’t in the position to do anything about it yet. Especially in light of what Xyarra had told them earlier that day that there was a high-level demon involved here.

It wouldn’t be a simple matter of killing the Elevant who kept the key because he probably couldn’t be killed by anything currently in Jade’s arsenal.

“Excuse me…”

He turned to see the priestess trying to get his attention and noticed that she froze.

“Yes, may I help you, Priestess?”

She just looked at him, blinking her eyes.

“Yes, may I help you, Priestess?” he said a little louder.

The priestess looked to her left and right then said, “We need to talk, Sire.” In a barely audible whisper.

Rowen was momentarily stunned. He looked to Xyarra who nodded knowingly and then he turned back to the priestess and said, “Right this way.” And he motioned to the back of the cart.

He tried to read the priestess’s surface thoughts, but only got mental white noise back.

Kat stayed out front while Rowen showed the Priestess to their tent in the back of the cart. Xyarra followed her behind. Rowen knew that she could handle anything that needed to be handled if things turned ugly, so he gave her his back as he opened the tent flap to lead her in.

The Priestess looked nervous as she entered the darkened interior of the tent.

He activated one of the lamps hanging from the tent’s ceiling and turned to her and asked, “What is it that I can do for you, Priestess?”

She seemed to compose herself and said, “My name is Sister Millicent, and I was told by the Guardians to give you this.” And she held up the bronze key.

It was Rowen’s turn to just look and blink.

Xyarra broke the momentary silence by asking, “Where did you get this?”

Millicent turned to her and said, “I am currently the seer for the pope’s office. I just started there today. I was told by the Guardians, more specifically, Dawn to obtain this key and give it to you in order to cleanse the Holy Offices and Throne.”

Rowen said, “You have no idea how fortuitus your being here is. We were told to obtain that key because it unlocks proof of all the foulness that the so-called pope had been doing in the last fifty years.”

Sister Millicent looked thoughtful and said, “The problem is. If I don’t return this key to Elevant Samuel by tomorrow morning, it could cause our whole mission to be compromised.”

Rowen thought about it a moment then said, “Let me see that key.” And he held out his hand.

She handed him the key that felt weightier than it should by appearance.

He examined the key on the magical level and was relieved to see that, although it would be difficult, he could replicate the key in a fairly short time.

He continued to stare at the key and began the replication process. He vaguely heard Xyarra say, “Sister Millicent, is it? Let us have some wonderful tea while he does his magic…”

Off in the distance, Karas turned to Belyanna. “This could be troublesome.” As they watched the priestess, they saw earlier approach Ebon and the others.

Belyanna pointed out her observations to Karas.

“She has some of the metal on her. Perhaps we shouldn’t be alarmed. She has the smell of The Blood about her as well.”

Karas nodded cautiously, “Yes, but she also has a great deal of power to her as well. Perhaps we should get closer and find out more.”

“Is it worth the risk?” Belyanna asked.

“So, we have a choice?” Karas quipped.

“I wish Father was here.” Belyanna mused.

To this, Karas almost choked as she sputtered. “I don’t! I love Father but I don’t feel like swimming in that much blood.”

The sisters stood watching, silent as they considered their options.