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Dragon314

KingSlayer

2 posts in this topic

Hey Guys.

It's been forever.

I'm sorta back. Some of you might remember a story I started a long time ago- The Conifell that story has evolved a lot, and I've changed the story to Kingslayer. Please give it a read and some criticism. Thank you all for your time!

Spoiler

Prologue

 The man in the brown coat was quiet. Alone on a windswept plain, not a soul in sight, he strode through the relative darkness of the evening. He kept to himself, even among other Gifted. He alone had the Gift of foresight.

He saw everything.

No one else had a Gift like his. He could see all that would happen in the next five minutes, and visions came from time to time, foretelling the far future. They were always right.

Now, however, he was not alone in his intelligence, nor his power. He was alone in his fear, the fear that a man who knows he will die feels moments before the jaws of death snap down upon him, ravaging. Uncaringly.

For a rare vision had occurred.

And this world would burn.

Chapter One

“It's time for the connefell.”  Conroy said quietly.

“Alright.” Essrod said the word, concealing his glee under a forlorn facade. Just a few more minutes.

The deception of many years was ending. Soon he would be in a position of power like no other Osturlor had ever possessed. The family name would have honor.  

The flame lit walls towered above every living thing. They may be intimidating to the common peasant, and in Essrod’s mind they declared the Lords’ power over laymen. Essrod strode through, barely containing his confident walk. Red banners, some aged by millennia, hung from the ceiling, proclaiming the longevity of every stone in Luix castle. Essrod crossed the hall and ducked into the small inlet, the cabinet.

There, the strongest and most influential lords met. It had taken Essrod years just to get here. The noise of bickering filled the smaller but still grandiose room, a large rectangular table, surrounded by chairs sat, the twenty seven seats made for an unequal number. The wood of the table was worn from many a knife thrown in to make a point. Essrod was particularly proud of the one in the bottom left corner. That had won him seventy farms.

The arguing abruptly was cut off as a man in red walked in flanked by four men in differing colors, yellow, green, blue, and white. “This is the Connifell.” They announced in unison, a rather unneeded comment in Essrod’s opinion.

This was common knowledge. Indeed, all but two of them would be running their own lands without this special convention. Here, the crowning of the king would occur, and then he would appoint his advisers, making them the most important people in the world.

Essrod Ostular intended to be one of them.

Not just intended. He had thrown every aspect of his adult life into getting this appointment. He had tried to appear innocent, with no plans whatsoever.

Because advisers took over if the king died.

If there was an heir, they were only interim. But, if the king were to die young… idle speculation, of course. For now.

 The room sat still, silent, hesitating to breathe. “We will now coronate the king.” Essrod watched with little interest. The ceremony had much pointless traditions. “We, the priests of Summreest do bestow on our king the five divine attributes, love, wisdom, power, justice, and holiness. May each patron look on him with grace and….”

 The man spoke in a monotone droll. Essrod took the opportunity to observe the other lords. He glanced in distaste at the Baron Loran who sat directly to his right. The man was overweight and too generous to the men under his reign by far. Once Essrod was an advisor, things would change in this kingdom. To his left sat the knight Eclet. Though the youngest and least influential at the table, he had Essrod’s respect. He conducted himself well. He showed a mind for battle and commerce. This was a man that could go far in the world that they lived in.

Essrod broke his observations toward the end of the coronation “..and acting King. May your reign be long.” Then came the part that a man such as Essrod disliked, even hated.

“I pledge my troops and my loyalty to King Charles the 3rd.” The first lord uttered.

 “I pledge my troops and my loyalty to King Charles the 3rd.” The next lord repeated.

 “I pledge my troops and my loyalty to King Charles the 3rd.”

And on and on. Then Essrod offered, with great difficulty:  “I pledge my troops and my loyalty to King Charles the 3rd.”

Then it was over.

Charles rose. “I must appoint my advisers. The first is William Gaut.”

This was to be expected. Then, the very earth held her breath.

“And the second is a Prolk Wentox.”

Essrod reeled. Anger flooded through him. How DARE Charles do this? He was obviously the next in line, even an ignoramus could see that.

The meeting was over. Several lords adjourned. Essrod himself swept swiftly out of the room, down the flame lit halls, and into his quarters in the castle. Slamming the door shut, he contorted his face in thought.:

He had tried playing nice, doing things legally.

But now?

Now he was going to burn Charles’s reign to the ground. And he didn't care who it affected.

*

Charles thanked the last lord, then sat back in his chair. He had done few things more exhausting. This, however, was far and away the most stressful. He hoped he had chosen well with his advisors.

William was a necessary choice. The man’s family had supported Charles’s own since the Connifell had first occurred. But Prolk, well he was an enemy of Charles’s family. But he was a good man, and allies must be formed. This particular ally may be able to help him bring the kingdom closer together.

A servant approached. “My liege, do you wish to return to your rooms?” Charles closed his eyes. No response was required by the traditions of Borilla.

Charles hated the traditions. “Yes, I would like to return.” He announced to the servants that stood behind him. He stood up crossing the room. The servants opened the door, and Charles Strathcott strode through the doors. He went through the brightly lit room, magnificent red banners catching his eyes as always. He strode through an arched doorway into a long hallway.

He turned right and then left, each hallway looking different. Some were long and tall, with large, imposing tapestries that screamed wealth, others less used hallways, dimly lit and humble. A servant walked past him, then opened the door to his room. He walked in, turned, and nodded to the servants. They bowed, closing the door and retreating. Charles turned his attention to running the kingdom.

Walking over to his bed, Charles knelt. His bed was large and imposing. Everything was imposing, from his living quarters to his duties. To the right a desk loomed. Made of fine oak, the wood was handpicked and crafted specifically for a man the height of Charles. The money put into that desk could feed a family for months. Charles shook himself. He was letting himself get intimidated, and worse, sidetracked. He had the aforementioned imposing duties to attend to.

There were three main political factions, near as he could tell. The faction for him, led by his own family. There was one firmly against him. Prolk belonged to that particular faction, but he wasn’t the leader. That was Tuathol Orgaise. The Orgaises had once controlled the throne, but Charles the First had out-maneuvered them and forced them to turn over the kingdom. They still claimed the kingdom was theirs, albeit in less obvious ways.

Then there was the neutral faction. This was headed by, by his calculation, Essrod Ostular. It was hard to tell, however, due to the nature of the faction. Charles had almost chosen him to be an advisor. He hadn’t-something had held him back.

All together, there were twenty-seven lords, each having two to three lords below them. That wasn’t including alliances they held with well respected and influential merchants, priests, and magicians.

 His father had grown lax. The lords thought they were bigger than they were, and the merchants were smuggling like there was no tomorrow. It was going to be hard to keep this kingdom unified.

He sat down and began to try to put it back together.

The Summrests were pushing him to execute magicians. He couldn’t do that now. There were at least five hundred of them in the kingdom, each proclaiming themselves to be the most powerful. The Summrests, however, claimed that they worshipped a plant, which was downright ridiculous. However, as the official church, they held sway, and there was nothing Charles could do about it. He wrote down a rough plan to reduce the ability of magicians to use magic in public.

Charles glanced at the large pile of letters to be returned. He could have his advisors handle them, but that’s what his father had done. And without the watchful eye of a Strathcott, the kingdom had grown into a worse position. He wouldn’t let that happen, especially when one of his advisors was an enemy to the throne.

 

My liege,

Lord Cordoroy has made advancements on my fief. He threatens all that we as a kingdom do not tolerate. I have made it clear that there is to be peace in the kingdom, and he shows that he disagrees by attacking my lands.

You must stop him.

                       Sincerely, Lord Buxtembourg

 

Charles leaned back on his chair. This was common enough that he couldn’t make a scene, or even address Lord Cordoroy. Most likely he had simply sent troops into the area for this very reason. To pass the time. To play political games.

He made a note to talk about respecting each other’s territory, generally speaking, at the next gathering of the lords.

Another letter opened. This was a scouting report from a land across the sea, written by Kolworn Dock. It mentioned a warlike nomadic people that he had steered clear of, with vague descriptions of armor and appearance. They had discovered new seedlings, named by a local tribe as The Osage Polkweed, the Creeping Poopy, and the Deciduous Raven.

King Charles the 3rd fell asleep in the next page of the report.

 He abruptly gained consciousness as a servant gently woke him up. “Sir, it is time for you to meet with the council.

Despite only being king for less than an hour, Charles was extremely exhausted. He felt like someone was running from a pack of wolves using his energy. Walking through the hallways of his own castle, Charles felt uncomfortable and worried. How could he manage the Lords? What if they didn’t like him? Charles was also concerned that he had picked wrong. One wrong step, one false note and they could take control of the kingdom.

He walked through the wood double doors to an ovular table. All of the needed Lords were there. Taking a seat in what was effectively a throne, albeit a simple ashwood one, he turned his attention to the council.

Charles Strathcott the Third, king of Borilla, sat before his counsellors for the first time. The representative from the Summrests, Lord Wentox, Lord Guat, General Griffen, and Gideon Porti. General Griffen, a grizzled man in his mid forties, controlled the armies. Charles was unsure of what General Griffen thought of him, and so had treated him as ambiguously as possible since his father had died. He looked fantastic, though, in the non combat military garb. It was red, for the patron God of power, one of the five divine aspects of Summreest.

“My liege, if we could begin?” He asked, impatient.

“Of course” Said Charles, a little embarrassed. It was his duty to call the meeting to attention, but he had just sat there, like he was still a spectator, brought along by Charles the Second to see how the big men did things.

“Are there any issues that must be brought before the crown?” Charles asked expectantly. He had practiced this line in front of the mirror for hours to get the right inflection. He glanced around, a little nervous. He had to focus to keep those nerves out of his appearance. One must appear strong as a king.

“As a matter of fact, yes.” Said General Griffen. “We need to attack Ubresh.”

Charles did as best he could to keep the annoyance off his face. General Griffen and the entire army, really, had been advocating war with their southward neighbor since around the time Charles was born. He obviously let some through, however because General Griffen rushed to explain more.

“Ubresh has burned Tusseto to the ground. About three hundred borillans were dislodged and there is about four hundred flomudors in damage.”

“Four hundred flomudors? What did they do, burn the town down to the ground?” Four hundred flomudors was a great deal of money. The royal treasury, the largest collection of money on the planet, had just upwards of fifteen thousand flomudors.

This was going to be a problem. A big problem. Charles couldn’t avoid this. He was going to have to make Ubresh pay in one way or another. “Lord Wentox, what should I do?” He said expectantly.

“My liege, you should send a delegation to Ubresh to demand appeasement for damages incurred. I would be willing to lead the delegation.”

Lord Wentox’s idea was a good one, but he wasn’t about to send someone who was likely still his enemy to a foreign country, representing him and Borilla. “Thank you for the offer, but, as my first advisor, I believe Lord Guat should lead the delegation. Lord Guat?”

“As you command, my liege.” Lord William said. Charles thought he saw a hint of annoyance on his features, but was unable to deal with it right now.

“Now that that is settled, are there any other issues to be brought before the Council?”

Silence.

Here we go. Charles thought. It was time for him to take the biggest gamble of his young monarchy.

“I have thought long and hard on how to keep the people of Borilla in the front of our minds. I have decided that it is time to add another member to this council-a peasant. Seeing the looks of skepticism, Charles quickly barreled forward. “A King designed and implemented this council, so I find that I can change it as well. So, we will vote. All in favor, say aye. “

“Aye” Said Wentox.

“Nay” Said Guat.

damnation it. Thought Charles. He had known that Guat had a strong sense of propriety, but not this strong.

Gideon Porti, garbed in fine silk derived from who knows where, had been silent up till this point, but he rose and said “Nay.”

General Griffen opposed Charles with a resonant, “Nay”

The priest, who only voted or spoke on matters considered religious, rose and said “Aye.” to the shock of everyone. How was this a religious vote?

They were still behind a vote and needed a majority to win. Charles had hoped it wouldn’t come to him having to use his power, but he stood and said, “I Charles, king of Borilla, use all three of my votes to ‘Aye’. A common person will be part of this cabinet when we next meet. Council dismissed.”

He then strode out of the council room confidently, leaving five very shocked members behind.

 

Chapter Two

A woman in a brown robe walked through the manor of Lord Essrod slowly. She had a purpose. One may mistake her for a servant. However, she was on of the most trusted agents of Lord Essrod’s. But most importantly, she was Gifted. The woman in brown’s name, at least her real name, many did not know. Everyone called her Memento, since she had16 the Gift of remembrance. At least, that’s what he called it. He could touch an object, any object, and know almost its entire history in the blink of an eye. This made him an excellent spy.

There, lying on the table, was his an assignment. It was a letter. After their first meeting, this was the onky way he and Lord Essrod had communicated. Letters addressed to his pseudonym. The seal on this particular letter had been broken, but he didn’t think it mattered much.

-Memento, lady Codoroy has some nice words, don’t you think?

That was all. This meant, to Memento, that Essrod wanted to know what the Codoroy’s had been saying, writing, and doing lately.

A faint grin graced the man’s face. He touched his heart, where the tattoo of a seedling lay.

This’ll be fun.

*

Memento strode through the crowd with a purpose. She was going to collect a few choice materials from The Dark Bear, a highly used and highly illegal shop.  She walked in and got the distinct feeling she wasn’t safe. However, Memento knew that was the owner of the shop’s Gift. Apparently before he got the Gift he had been an assassin, but because of the Gift, which the owner couldn’t turn off, he could no longer perform that function. So now he used his knowledge of the underworld to sell equipment.

Today Memento was looking for getting close to Lady Cordoroy- dress clothes, some fake certificates, that sort of thing. Momento shivered, the fear still creeping her out. She bought what she needed as quickly as possible so she could leave that ...feeling… behind. She walked into the crowd and disappeared. Memento was going to find a wagon or something likewise untraceable to get to Vilzen, the town where Lord Cordoroy’s lands lay. He- Memento quickly became aware of someone following her. Just the footsteps sounded different, even in this hubbub of people.

He quickly headed down an alley, drawing the knife she always carried with her. Hers was a dangerous profession. Memento was reasonably confident she could deal with one man. She had done it before.

A man, shorter than Memento, walked into the alley. He had a large sword.

Memento blanched.

The man was garbed in all grey clothing, and looked, very, very, capable.

He walked slowly, the sword simmering in the heat. But that wasn’t right. Memento cocked her head. It was spring. Why would the blade be-Her thoughts were cut off as the large blade traveled just inches from his face.

Memento held her knife at the ready, prepared to stab her opponent after the next swing. The swing had been large, if she had been ready, she could have darted in as soon as the blade passed by her.

The man abruptly took his hand, which took Memento off guard. Then heat traveled up his arm. She felt everything warming. She struggled as best she could, but the man had an iron grip. The thought that his gift was heating things by touch passed through his mind, but was overtaken by a sudden fever. The fever grew worse, and Memento stopped struggling. Then, she passed out.

*

“And that, my good man, is why Charles is not fit to rule Borilla.” Essrod said.

The merchant nodded, swayed. “But he is supported by the Summrests.”

“He is supported by a bunch of crazies? Don’t tell me you believe in such nonsense.” Essrod  contended. “Don’t you think that we should believe in what is best for our families. Children will starve if Charles passes the acts he is slated to announce, and it will hamper your business as well.”

The merchant blanched. “I will do what you have asked.”

Essrod nodded. “Thank you.” The man left.

This is too slow. Essrod thought. He needed an actual slip-up from Charles. It wouldn’t take long, he knew. That was part of why he wanted to control the crown. Charles was inexperienced, and if like his father at all, lazy. And Borilla needed not only someone willing and capable, but someone great.

Essrod’s many spies had been silent for a while, now. He had sent instructions to three of his special spies, all gunning for the same target. He was sure he could use Lord Cordoroy against the king, anyone could see he was doing illegal things. Except the monarch, of course. And Essrod intended to use that to the fullest extent he could.

Essrod’s manor was three days away from the crown in a carriage, one of the closest fiefs to Keep Borilla, the king’s hold.  His own manor wasn’t especially belligerent, but he had a separate keep that was relatively unknown. He had used a magician to move the earth, creating a relatively small and hard to reach hold.

Essrod reclined in his chair, hands folded, considering his next move to save Borilla. He considered using his best magician to directly assassinate the king, but it wouldn’t work. For now, he was too protected, and his magician’s methods were noticeable.  

There was a knock at the door. “Come in.” Essrod voiced.

The door opened and a man began to talk quietly to Essrod. As he did, Essrod’s face broke into a wide smile.

This was a mistake. Denying one lord was bad enough, but brazenly shutting down the entire council? Charles had given him a pinhole, and all Essrod had to do was stick a wedge in it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Three

 Titus decided that Borilla was magnificent. She had left Lentill, a supremely boring country north of this beautiful country. At least, she thought it was beautiful.

The Diconhandras, or the Dicon as they were called, had tested her. She was Gifted. Titus still had little control over her Gift, and she often noticed little sparks shooting out of her hands at inopportune times.

The Dicon had sent her here, to Borilla, to be trained and then deployed. Nobody really knew what the Dicon actually did, but Titus had been assured that it was noble.

She would be trained by a master, but she was told you had to figure it out yourself, since having the same talent was rare.

The harbor for Borilla’s coastal city Rostca was huge, far bigger than the one she had come from.

The ship docked slowly. Titus bounded across the gap as soon as she could, excited to explore this new land. A hand grabbed her, however. Her escort. Galena. Galena was tall, stately, and apparently very high on the ladder of the Dicon. She had been sent specifically to accompany Titus to the secret headquartears of the Gifted.

Galena strutted ahead, clearly intending Titus to follow, correctly as it turned out. Titus was accustomed to doing as her father expected her, and Galena, it seemed, had replaced her father.

She was by no means bored. Rostca was an explosion of color, with drapes of all shades hung out windows. The city was a confused jumble, in the way that Titus thought that someone who had lived there their entire lives didn’t even know every nook and alley. The city seemed like it had been built to exude friendship, which perhaps it had. It was far enough in a bay and in Corilla that almost no threat towards it Existed. Trade deals were the purpose of this establishment.

However, the people, unlike the city, seemed subdued. The few children that were in the street weren't playing, they were homeless. Old men and women looked distrustfully out their windows.

“What happened here?” Titus asked quietly.

“Quiet.” Galena replied.

That woman is not helpful. Titus thought angrily.

Well, if she wasn’t going to tell Titus, then she would figure it out herself.

 She looked around. The shop windows bragged incessantly, but from the much of the food and cloth she could see, which was a plethora, trade had not been awesome recently. However, that did not explain why curtains were drawn in nearly all the private dwellings. It did not explain why the merchants looked haggard, though their shops were fully stocked. And it did not explain why everyone in the city of Rostca looked like their favorite pet had died.

No, the diminished trade was a symptom, not a cause. The cause was something deeper than that. Something loomed over the city of Rostca, and perhaps all of Borilla. Titus frowned a frown of concentration even as she followed Galena through the apparent splendor, albeit tainted splendor, that surrounded every corner, every alley, every shop, every home, and every street.

Despite the overcast gloom of many of the residents, Titus was excited. Beyond excited, actually. She felt that every turn held a new surprise that denied and belittled her childhood back home. And she loved it.

Galena and Titus passed through a low gate, where a Galena hailed a ride from a farmer and his mules pulling a small cart.

“You there! I’ll give you a flumodor for a ride northward.”

The farmer gave a grin as wide as his beard and agreed. As Titus understood it, Galena had just offered the farmer more than he would make in his life.

And so it was that Titus and Galena began the long journey northward, with Titus’s mind a flurry of thoughts and emotions.

I love Borilla. she decided exuberantly.

 

I‘m going to die. Memento thought, not for the first time. Her back hurt, and bile had a permanent residence in her mouth. She was sure she was in a wagon, with inconsistent bumps and turns. She couldn’t figure out who had kidnapped her, which was impressive. Whoever it was both knew her power and was incredibly careful. The wagon had been constructed by a carpenter in rural Borilla. Purchased by a shady figure, transported to the spot where she was snatched. All after that was unremarkable country roads. She was hanging from the ceiling, dangling in ropes, but she had managed a lucky touch on the wagon.

They had blindfolded Memento, but she had it off the second she was awake. However, inside the wagon was nearly pitch black, so it didn’t help any. Memento thought it must have been less than a day, as she felt parched but wasn’t yet hallucinating from lack of water. She knew her best chance of escaping was as soon as they stopped to transport her.

A thought occurred to Memento again. What if they were just trying to kill her?

She shook her head in the darkness. It was unlikely.

But still.

To distract herself, she turned back to the query that had haunted her since she was kidnapped. Who were her kidnappers? Her line of work was a dangerous one, and she could think of no reasons anyone would steal her except for leverage against Essrod. One of his many enemies in court? Essrod was powerful, and powerful people have enemies.

Despite this, Memento had made it a point to not to look into politics much. It would be dangerous for her, and she wasn’t really interested in them anyway. Now, though, she wished she had.

The wagon abruptly stopped.  Memento closed her eyes, trying to focus on the sound from outside. Strangely, there was almost no sound entering from outside the wagon. That meant that they were simply stopping for the night, or they planned to kill her in a place with no witnesses. Wonderful.

Either way, memento had to escape immediately. She groaned softly as she attempted to loosen her bands. No one had come to get her, and she heard footsteps growing distant, walking away from the wagon. The fools were going to leave her unsupervised.

Granted, the setup was brilliant. The ropes that held her prevented her from escaping had she lived an uneventful life. However, Memento could tell that they were not that strong. If, she applied enough pressure in the right place, she could spring herself out of captivity. The next few seconds she spent in utter concentration, trying to determine which ropes were the weakest. There were three sets of ropes, one across her midsection, the other on her legs and another around her head.

After some deliberation, Memento decided that the ropes tying her legs together would be the easiest to break out of, considering she the most power in her legs and that they appeared to be the weakest ropes. She then listened for a few minutes, patiently waiting. No matter who had her, if they caught her trying to escape, it would not go over well.

Then, finally, she began to sway slightly from side to side. Memento knew that this would take a while, but by the nature of her job, she was extremely physically fit.

The next hours were spent in agony as Memento twisted, turned, and wrenched her legs apart, side from side, up and down, until at last the rope gave out. With that, the intricate setup fell apart easily. Memento was free.

She made her way over to the door and, with a grunt, pushed it open. The doors were heavy oak, finely carved. She pushed them, and they groaned open. Memento winced at the noise. Then, she slipped out into the night.

Chapter Four

Charles was still not used to being a ruler. He controlled the largest and most powerful country in the world with few checks on his power. He found that the easiest way to deal with this weight was to talk to his people. They were the most important thing, really. So, once a day, he spoke with a randomly selected citizen. Today, he spoke with a man named Corgan.

Corgan was tall. Taller than Charles, at any rate. He was a member of the city guard. Charles estimated the man to be in his forties, a very respectable age for a man so fit. As Charles had grown accustomed to after weeks of meeting with the poorer people of the metropolis, Corgan looked supremely uncomfortable.

Charles finally looked up from the dry legislature he was penning. It was more than a little boring, so it was a relief to have some human life to. He grinned at Corgan, who returned his smile a little uncertainly.

“So, Corgan, how are things in the city guard?”

The man looked as if he was going to bust an artery. “They are passable, my liege.” He said hesitantly, looking fearfully as if he expected lightning to strike him from above.

Charles sighed. This was the problem. Everyone who was not royalty wasn’t able to hold a conversation with their king without terror. It was probably a mix of the fact that he could legally execute them with no explanation, and the fact that his ancestors had actually done that. Recent ancestors.

“Tell me a bit about yourself, Corgan.”

“I serve in the city guard, my lord.”

Charles sighed again, exasperated. That was the wrong move. The man sputtered an apology.

“Tell me something that I don’t already know, please.”

“Of course, of course.” Corgan said, the asking a moment to compose his thoughts. “I was born when your grandfather ruled. I have a vague memory of when he died. Very sad day.”

Charles snorted, inwardly remembering that his grandfather had nearly bankrupted their country, as well as reducing their population quite a bit.

“As a child I worked as a Smith’s apprentice. I met the first magicians, but I left them almost as soon as I joined. Actually, they kicked me out because I didn’t have the ‘gift’.”

This shocked Charles awake. This man had actually been in the magicians clan. He immediately began planning for this man to join him. He had a nagging doubt that the magicians would be the plague of his reign.

“Corgan, do you have any family?”

The man looked abruptly nervous. “Yes my liege.”

“Well bring them and tell the master servant, her name’s Helena, that you are to stay in one of the guest rooms. Corgan, should you be willing, I’d like you to be an adviser of mine. Not in the court, but informally.”

A look of disbelief flaunted on Corgan’s face, but, nevertheless, he said, “My lord, your will be done.”

He left, leaving Charles alone to his thoughts. The more he thought about it, the more worrying the magicians appeared; they could challenge his church, they could possibly perform a revolution. Charles really didn’t know any of their capacities or their ambitions.

With this thought in mind, Charles called for the Red Fist, one of his agents. It was time for some reconnaissance.

It took only a few minutes for his agent to appear. Red Fist was obviously a code name. If Charles remembered correctly, his name was Farrus. At that thought, he appeared, striding confidently through the door. Farrus was slight, but Charles knew better than to judge his ability based on that. One did not make it into the royal spies without being incredibly strong, nimble, smart, and most importantly, deadly.

Farrus’s long black hair matched his light black coat that hung well past his waist, approaching his knees. In fact, his entire uniform was black, with the sole exception of a blood red sash that would be worn in battle but removed most the time. All things considered, the Red Fist was probably the best agent Charles possessed.

“Red.” Charles said. That was the only thing they were ever called by, their color. Each agent had a different color assigned to him or her.

The man nodded once. For the most part, these agents were the silent type.

“I want as much information as possible on the Magicians on this kingdom. I want to know where their main base of operations is, their leaders, what they want. I want everything.”

The man nodded once more, than made for the exit gracefully.

“And Red? Be careful. We don’t know what they’re capable of.”

The man turned, a wry smile on his face.

“We always are.”

*

The hours between Essrod learning of Charles’s blunder and him acting on it were some of the longest of his life. First though, he had to gain the information from a reliable source.

He finally got the information secondhand, rather than the fourth and even fifthhand reports he had been receiving, new traveled like wildfire in the upper reaches of this country’s government. Luckily the first reports he had heard were correct. Charles was disregarding tradition in multiple ways, and traditions carried power in Borilla.  Essrod penned another letter and expertly convinces some minor barons to quietly oppose the king. He would win.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Five

 Titus smiled triumphantly in the cold morning air. She had finally convinced the farmer to give her a turn holding the reins of the workhorses. She was a little disappointed at their pitiful speed, but she enjoyed trying something new all the same.

Galena was sleeping for the first time in their two day trip. Titus still wasn’t entirely convinced that the woman was human. Galena would have a nervous fit if she knew the farmer had let her drive. She certainly had an odd sense of propriety.

The farmer, whose name was Milo, watched her distrustfully. He probably thought they were going to rob him. They were overpaying him by far, and if Titus had looked her years, he likely would not have agreed to letting them have a ride. A seventeen year old woman and a full grown woman was a lot more threatening than a mother and her thirteen year old daughter.

In actuality, Titus was 16 years old, but she added a year to compensate for the supreme uninteresting time she had growing up, which she figured had aged her quicker as life moved slower.

There was a rustling in the wagon, causing Titus to hurriedly hand the reins to Milo. A moment later, Galena emerged, hair somehow immaculate despite spending a few hours asleep on hay. Her face were a worried frown, something Titus hadn’t seen from her yet.

“We are approaching Welegad, are we not?” She asked Milo.

“We are, my lady.”

Titus found it eternally amusing that Milo had latched on to the idea that Galena was a visiting dignitary. If anything, Titus was the visiting dignitary.

“My farm is half a day east of Welegad, so it will be as far as I’ll take you.” Milo continued.

Titus fully expected a dark look to emerge from the worried frown on Galena’s face at this point, but no such thing occurred. Instead, Galena spoke in a soft tone. “Thank you for your service, Milo.”

Milo looked as if he had been expecting the same fate that Titus had expected for him, but at her words his face lit up.

“No, thank you, My Lady. Let me know if you ever need anything.”

Galena nodded. At this moment, Titus felt a large increase of respect for this woman. She had made an ally for life with but a few words.

The rest of their trip to Welegad was rather uneventful. Titus was astonished by the amount of rivers they crossed, most small, ad took yo counting them, tallying twenty one in total. When they crested the final Hill and for their first look at the city, Titus was rather underwhelmed. Welegad was about the same size of her hometown, the capital of Lentill.

The wooden buildings, only two of which were two story buildings, were arrayed around a crossing of two small but not diminutive rivers. They entered the village and bid farewell to Milo. He smiled at them and left at a slow pace.

“We will stay at the inn here today and find a ride tomorrow.” Galena informed Titus. Titus didn’t feel like arguing, as she was just fine with this, but she didn’t enjoy being told what to do without any of her say involved.

The inn was warm, with a large fire crackling and a stew brewing. Galena approached the innkeeper and began negotiating prices and small talking. Titus wandered the room. The room was large, but she had quickly explored the entire room. Several occupants were sitting at tables, eating food prepared by the inn. The stew looked delicious, and the bread smelled wonderful. Titus found a seat and surveyed the people. None of them were remarkable, really.

An older couple sat by the door. A middle age man in black was eating alone was deep in thought. The inn had entertainment tonight, but it appeared as if the musician was taking a dinner break. The most noise came from a group of three men at the bar. Two of them had beards that belied their tenor and alto voices. The third had a tan skin and was clean shaven.

One was recounting how he had fought seven men at once. The others chimed in with good mannered jones and rowdy shouting.

Eventually, Galena came over.

“Come on.”

Titus happily let Galena lead her upstairs. There, she found a passable bed that she fell into immediately.

*

“Your majesty, our neighbors are pushing at our borders again.”

Charles rubbed his forehead absently, trying his best to not be negligent to the petulant voice. As king, his duties were lengthy and included lending an ear to lords, from minor knights to barons to high lords. This knight, whose family name was Jay was complaining for the third time that he had sighted “invaders” along the border and was claiming that this gave him the right to kill them all.

Annoying.

Yet Charles, king of one of the strongest nations on the planet, had to remain civil to even the most contrived, minor complaints.

“This is not too worrying, though I ask that you personally lead men to the border to simply watch. If they actually try to invade, please stop them.”

That ought to keep him busy, at least until I can get my council under control. Maybe then I can sleep.

“Of course, my liege.” Sir Jay said, and left the room.

Charles was lucky that most knights either lived to far away or were sensible enough to not come to him with trivial and, in this case, misguided complaints. It was rarely that men traveled far for these conferences, as Sir Jay had done in this instance.

Charles slapped himself awake.

He wasn’t sleeping much. He rarely had time to sleep anyway, and when he had time, the problems, responsibility, thoughts, guilt, and duties that follow a king made it hard to sleep at night. Add that to the fact that his entire council seemed to oppose him, and you ended up with one very very tired ruge had been king for three weeks, and already it seemed as if the council had a wish to oppose him at every turn. He remembered  from his lessons on the history of Borilla that during his great-grandfather’s reign, there had been advisors, but no council. He had possessed unlimited power.

Theoretically, Charles did as well. The council was there to advise. In reality, however, most lords would not directly oppose him but backed the council vigorously. Had he not been king, Charles was sure he would like the latter scenario better. However, as king, he found it dangerously slow. How could he implement changes on the fly without fully fledged power?

He would just have to play the hand he had been dealt. That meant dealing with the council, forcefully or otherwise.

There was a tapping at the door.

“My liege?” One of his personal guard called.

“Yes.” Charles replied.

“Your mother would like to see you.”

“Of course.” Responded Charles, bolting awake.

 

How could I forget to come talk to her? This is not good. Not good.

Charles had somehow ignored his mother for two weeks. This scared him. Very few things scare a mostly secure monarch. His mother had always been aloof. She had, after all, been queen. She had all the demands on her time that Charles had now. Now that he had experienced the stress of ruling, he had a lot more sympathy for his mother. There was no comparison he had found for the stress he was experiencing.

His mother was a regal woman in every sense of the word. She was tall, with a strong jaw line and firm features. Her age was beginning to show, however, it was still abundantly clear to the word that she was beautiful, her dark hair providing a backdrop for her features. Her voice was alto, lower than many woman in the court.

“Charles?” She inquired.

He entered. She sat on a rocking chair, a single attendant at her side.

“How goes the kingdom?” She asked uncertainly, more from their new relationship with him as king than at actual wondering at the stage of the kingdom.

“As well as I currently make it.” Charles replied, chin up. He too, was somewhat confused with the new dynamic, but he tried not to show it in his voice as she had.

Her voice dropped to a whisper. “Be careful, my son. There are elements in court that would destroy you, and our external rivals become more daring. They will seek your life, but also your kingdom. Don’t let them have either.”

She proceeded to make small talk, but Charles left pondering these words, more confounded than ever.

Charles glanced at one of the few clicks in the keep and cursed quietly. He was late.

He hurried and entered the council room to find  the representative from the Summrests, Lord Wentox, Lord Guat, General Griffen, and Gideon Porti waiting. It was a moment before he noticed a woman, dressed in garb that was at odds with the majesty of the room. This was his doing. The woman, Jill, was making history just by being here. No person below the rank of knight had ever been allowed in these councils, and no one below the rank of High Lord had ever been given a vote.

Now, however, a woman who had perhaps a single flom in her possession.

The others looked uncomfortable with her being there, but nothing compared to the unadulterated terror on Jill’s face. Charles had to do something to ease her. Take the attention off her. Run the meeting as if nothing were different.

“What issues must be brought before the crown?” He intoned.

He hoped for the usual suggestion of declaring war, but alas, none came. This was not good. Jill was looking pale now, a clear glimmer of sweat amassing on her forehead.

“Surely there must be something amiss in the kingdom? Or am I doing my job far better than I think I am?” Charles inquired much more forcefully than he thought he probably should have.

All the lords looked a little embarrassed. However, none of them said anything. Rage threatened to overwhelm Charles, but he maintained his cool long enough to intone a simple “Meeting adjourned.”

All parties looked incredibly relieved. One by one, they filed out of the council room, quickly leaving only Charles, William, and Jill. “You may leave.” Charles told Jill quietly.

She left, and Charles and William remained, alone. William drew a breath, and said to his ally Charles something he felt needed to be said.

“My lord, I understand what you are trying to do, and I admire you for it, but I don’t think that now is the right time.”

“Then when is the right time?” Charles asked exasperated. “It will never be the ‘right’ time. We needed to take action eventually.”

“But as the first action of your reign? The lords are in silent uproar!”

“Why?” Charles didn’t manage to restrain himself, and the exclamation came out as a roar. “Because they hate change? Because they want all the power?”

William looked a little unsettled, but stood his ground. “I think you should anticipate the consequences of your actions.” He walked briskly out.

Charles, left alone, fumed. These changes were critical to the growth of his realm. The lords were far too rooted in the old ways to see his vision. A vision where there hunger was out of the question. Strife nonexistent. He knew that these ideals were impossible, but steps towards them were feasible. If only he could get William to see that.

*

Memento had no idea where she was. That was unusual. Usually she could tell at least what direction to go in by the memories of the objects around her. Here, though, everything had drab memories, even for rocks and dirt. She had fled away from what little civilization existed wherever she was, and rightfully so. She could be anywhere in the world right now. These people obviously had connections with the Gifted. She could have slept for days, months, years, been instantly transported around the globe, or any other of a host of reasons she needed to get away and asses the situation as fast as possible.

 
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Good plot idea, and the characters could be interesting, but you seriously need to edit it for grammar and such. If you want the chapters to be obviously separate, please put them in separate spoiler tags rather than adding massive spaces. And your grammar could use work.

Also, is that world map (in the old thread) still relevant? Because if it is then you should add it to this thread too.

On the story itself: it could use a tad more description. And Charles needs to be slightly smarter. Right now he apparently has all these great ideas, and plans to implement them, but also lacks the intellect to realize some obvious things. Also, as a prince and heir to the throne, Charles should have learned much more tact and subtlety (diplomacy) than he currently displays. 

Something else: Titus is a boy's name. It does not remotely sound like a girl's name, and the contradiction threw me for a bit.

It has the potential to be a good novel, but you need to work on it. And please continue to update on this thread, 'cause I hate unfinished stories.

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