Chapter 12:

Foundations Lain on Sinking Sand

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

Rowen woke up from one of his dreams that was just a recap of his time spent on Twalling Cade. He was getting used to these dreams, so his disorientation upon waking was only momentary.

Something occurred to him over the last week was his vivid dreams were indeed of his recent adventures, yet he had no dreams of his life before. Not a single one since he awoke those months ago in that cold cave.

He looked around and realized he was in the back of the spice cart. Jade was doing an important task the night before, so he stayed and watched the cart.

This was the first time in several months that he woke up alone. In truth, he had not woken up alone since that first night Kit laid with him. Even when they were traveling with Midori, Jade had been there to wake him up.

This thought brought about an ache in his heart as he was missing Kit again.

He rose and stretched and did some limbering up exercises as he started his day.

Early morning in the market grounds was relatively quiet compared to the rest of the day. No customers were permitted on the market grounds until midmorning.

He looked around for a few moments, closed his eyes and did a quick scan. There was a great deal of foulness to the flow of mana since that delegation arrived at the Grand Cathedral the afternoon before.

He was thinking about Jade’s report last night and how the Ruby King was assassinated. Yet, there were no criers calling out the news, nor obvious security increase that would accompany such an event.

Life went on as usual.

His neighbor in the cart to his left, a lovely woman in her mid-thirties said to him, “Good morning, Master Roe!”

“Good morning, Widow Gwyneth.” He responded passively. He was uncomfortable because she was obviously on the prowl for her next husband and she seemed to believe that it was going to be him, despite the looks she received from X and Kat, meaning, “Stay away, you’re not welcome.”

Libido, “An affair might be fun.”

Consciousness, “I don’t much feel like having my manhood handed to me by either X or Kat, thank you.”

“Well, if that happens you need only off yourself and come back whole in three days.”

Conscience, “You know we’re not built that way. We could never cheat.”

Consciousness, “Right, and what’s with this WE crap? It’s just me here!”

He never used to have such discussions with himself. Yet, since his first…first? Since his second death by the black wolf, he had several such discussions with himself. This too had him questioning his mental health.

“Master Roe, would you like to join me for breakfast?” Widow Gwyneth asked.

“No thank you. My wives are bringing me breakfast this morning.” He replied graciously.

“Oh well, I hope that we can have a meal together sometime while were here. Your wives are welcome too of course.”

He just nodded in response and went back to the tent behind the cart to do his morning ritual.

He heard Xyarra in his head, “Do you really want to have an affair with that?!”

He thought back, “Hell no! And it’s not my manhood that I’m worried about either, well not entirely. I have such wonderful wives that I couldn’t want for more. You know that my libido needs some serious help, that’s all.”

“Uh huh, good answer. So, I guess we’ll bring you breakfast after all.”

“Thanks X, you’re the best.”

“And don’t you forget it!”


Cardinal Malachi was doing his morning absolutions in his office. He always rose early in order to get ahead of the day’s business. Yet, no matter how early, he had always seemed to be swamped by midmorning.

He always prided himself for being one of the few of the twenty-five Cardinals that took his position and duties seriously.

He had been especially busy since Cardinal Mallow, who was a friend and compatriot of his, died in the freak carriage accident. The fact it was declared an accident was perplexing to him since it happened within a few days from when he called for an investigation into the treatment of Demi Humans by the Church. Cardinal Mallow was in charge of the region that also included the Emerald, and Sapphire Kingdoms as well as the Kingdom of Tier before the Pope ordered all ties cut with that region.

Since the Emerald Queen was also excommunicated this as well has caused him several more headaches. He had to coordinate with the Priests and Priestesses in the “defiled” lands in order to still tend to the necessary business of the flock within.

Now, as of yesterday, the Sapphire Queen has declared her wishes to support her sister, the Emerald Queen.

This on the eve of the Spring Festival. This is why he started especially early that morning because he just knew that there was going to have to be a conclave in order to advise the Pope what to do about the Sapphire Queen.

He already knew what the Pope was going to do, so why waste the time having a conclave. All in order for the Pope to announce that he was excommunicating the Sapphire Queen and declaring her lands part of the defiled.

Which meant more paperwork for him.

He knew there was a rot within the Church, and he felt it was beginning to spin out of control. Not for the first time did the scripture about building a foundation on sinking sand came to mind. However, he knew he couldn’t do anything about it. The moment he tried; he knew that he would be joining Cardinal Mallow. He would need some concrete proof to convince the fence sitting Cardinals before he could move forward anyway. Otherwise, it’ll be just a lone voice crying in the wilderness.

He closed his eyes and rubbed his temples saying, “If only I could find some proof.”

He opened his eyes and was startled to see a Priestess wearing the uniform of a Novice standing there in front of his desk.

He was startled for a couple of reasons. First, he didn’t feel her presence. Second, her appearance was breathtakingly beautiful. She had the exotic look of an easterner from the Eastern Empire.

When he was a young priest, he was posted to the Eastern Empire in order to “Spread the word”. He grew fond of the appearance of eastern women during that time.

Now he found himself looking at an exquisite example of one of them, holding a cup of coffee and a package.

He took a moment to silently ask for forgiveness. Even though it wasn’t required like some other religions, he still took a vow of Chasity when he was elevated to Cardinal.

She smiled, bowed, and said, “Sorry to startle you your eminence.”

“No, that’s quite alright my daughter. How may I help you?”

“Well, Your Eminence, I bring gifts from the High Lord Magedi.”

"I really don't know if this is the greatest of ideas, dear sister. I'm the bold one, remember?" Belyanna said, a seriously questioning tone to her voice

"We have to be somewhere nearby in case Ebon needs us." Karas countered, laying out her bedroll and pack.

"The top of the cathedral though? Really? What if we are spotted?"

"The only ones who come up here are the guards, and they only circle the perimeter wall up here. We are two levels higher. They haven't used the aviary up here for probably fifty years and the door is firmly locked leading in. Even if someone did come into the aviary, they would be on the inside and wouldn't look on the roof of it. We are safer here than any other route or location I could think of and still be close enough."

As Karas spoke, she pulled off her cloak and mask, reveling in the feel of the sun on her face as she started combing her fingers through her long grey hair. Her sister joined her on the roof of the aviary, stretching out beside her. They would raise an obscuring blur about them so none would see them there while they ate and rested. For some reason they knew tonight they might need all the rest they could get.

While eating, Karas looked around. She had read the history books and knew of this place, but never thought she would actually be here. For centuries, this was the aviary, but in the before times, it served a much different purpose. For someone like her, who could see the signs and runes, they were still there. It made her weep at all they had lost.

At the sight of her sister's tears, Belyanna got angry. Not at her sister, at the ones long ago who all but destroyed them. Now, they weren't even safe among those they had saved and sacrificed for. If it wasn't for Ebon, they wouldn't have come to the city, this center point of humans. She longed for her mountain keep and their home, where she could take off the cloak and the armor and the mask. Where she could stand on the cliff and feel the clean air blow across her body. Here, all she could feel is the choking stench of foul, poisoned mana, oozing below her.

The two women warriors lay atop the cathedral roof, the center of man's corrupted religion, and wept.

Sapphire Palace:

Queen Esmeralda Magna sat on her throne looking down at the envoy from the Diamond King with displeasure clearly in her face.

She asked, “So, his Majesty refuses to even investigate why the Ruby and Amber Kings are violating centuries of tradition, custom and treaty?!”

The envoy, a meek, bookish looking man with a balding head said nervously, “Your Majesty, he has yet to see enough reason to defy the Church on this matter. He says that he understands your concerns about your sister, niece and nephew, but he feels that it would be unwise to defy the Pope and the Church at this time.”

“Does he fear the Church, or does he fear the Guardians?!” she said rising to her feet, her freckled face turning red with her anger.

She went on, “The Church has left the Guardians’ teaching a long time ago! I cannot abide this foulness any longer!”

She made a motion to one of her attendants who was holding a box and she stepped closer.

She flipped the lid off the box, reached in and lifted a human head out of the box saying, “Right after I announced my intentions of supporting the Emerald Queen my own priest tried to kill me. The very priest that attended me since I was a child!”

She put the head back into the box and motioned it to be taken away.

Another attendant gave her a damp cloth to clean her hands with.

The envoy nervously brushed the sweat from his brow and said, “I understand your Majesty, but my instructions are specific. My King will only call for an investigation on the Ruby and Amber Kings if he sees some convincing evidence that they are acting…unholy. As long as they have the blessings from the Church, or the Pope rather, he will not be able to do anything.”

“Will not be able or will not be willing? I think that man is more worried about his power and kingdom than the will of the Guardians, and the Church and Pope along with them! The day is coming and soon, when he will rue the day, he decided the church over the Guardians and his people. If he isn't careful, that day will be a lot sooner than he expects!” She then made a dismissal motion.

The envoy bowed and hurried out of the throne room.

After he left, she said, “Garland, bring me the astral orb.” An old man in blue wizardly looking robes approached with a clear crystal orb about the size of a fist in his left hand and a cloth in his right.

She took the orb and cloth from him and rubbed the cloth on the orb while closing her eyes and mumbling an incantation. Within seconds the face of a young woman appeared to float above the orb in some sort of greenish mist.

The young woman’s mouth moved then about a second later her voice sounded in a slightly hollow, metallic, and distorted way, “Yes, Your Majesty?”

“Clara have you been able to find any evidence that we can present to the Diamond King?”

“Your Majesty, it just so happens that I am meeting with a representative of the newly appointed High Lord Magedi at this very moment. She has brought me a ledger and a sample of something that is called the elixir. She says that duplicates of this evidence have been presented to Cardinal Malachi about half an hour ago. She also says that within the journal are many entries that are evidence of the Pope’s and Six of the Cardinals’ unholy union with the Nordac Dark Lord.”

“The new High Lord Magedi?! Are you certain?!”

“Yes, your Majesty. She has his signet ring as her bonafides. I’ve verified it myself.”

Queen Esmeralda slowly sat down on her throne with a stunned look on her face. She shook herself and said, “Take this… representative and evidence to the Diamond Palace at once!”

“As you wish, your Majesty!”