It’s several days travel back to the Kingdom of Rosemador from Goldell. The two remaining soldiers injured at Kova II’s hands make their way back to Rosemador to report what has happened to them in Goldell. Meanwhile back in the forests, Kova II lets both Rose and Rendu know that he exposed their presence to the army of the three emperors.
They must leave before the forces of the imperial army unleash upon the citizens of Goldell. They go to their emergency prep plan and remove all of their essential possessions including the scrolls that are the “Nine Deadly Arts” and leave their home of the past 15 years behind them in mere moments. Rose and Rendu split up on separate paths while Kova II goes to a neighboring land to wait out the imperial army regiments that will be sent to investigate Goldell.
Within days two generals of the emperors hear of the presence of a man in the forests of Goldell who has displayed extraordinary fighting skill and killed several of their men. Intrigue among the infantry grows as does the legend of this so called “Son of Rose.” Rose had long been forgotten as the empress. When the imperial forces arrive in Goldell they immediately begin interrogating the locals for information about this mystery man calling himself the “Son of Rose”.
Goldell Village Center (Day)
General Shumagi “Where is heeeeeeeeeee!? Where issssss…”The Son of Rose”!!!? Who will tell meeeeeeeeee… who he isssssss!? “Who will tell meeeeeee… where to find him?!!! “Inquiring minds would like to know!”
General Shumagi has a gut and long black beard but is not one to trifle with. He has been taught under the tutelage of Rayke the deadly art of the “Alligator”. For all his eccentricity this man didn’t become a general by being stupid or misunderstood. His ruthless nature made him the perfect candidate in the eyes of Rayke and Kem who affirmed this with Atrius.
“Bring me some peasants!” General Shumagi yells. At once his soldiers go into the homes of some of the locals and drag out men young and old while their families look on in horror and plead for their release. “Now tell meeeee! Who isssss this “Son of Rose”? An elderly man speaks. “My lord we don’t know of any “Son of Rose” we are poor tillers of the earth. Please release us we beg of you. We’ve done nothing against the throne. If we knew of any “Son of Rose” we would tell you.”
General Shumagi “I don’t believe you for a second. Not a solitary second. Which is about as much time as you have left to live. The old man cries out “my lord!” and is dealt a blow from a whip held by one of General Shumagi’s lieutenants. He howls in agony and is struck by another blow from the whip which has a heavy leather ball the size of a grapefruit on its end. General Shumagi turns to the townspeople on looking the whips the old man is enduring. Shumagi “Surely someone here cares for this old man. Surely someone here will tell me what I want to know and prevent the further suffering of this poor wretched man. Tell me, tell me the name uhhhh!!!!
One of the girls who was spared by Kova II knows his name through rumor only as Esoteric. She comes forward. “Please my lord, I beg you stop this torture. I’ll tell you what you want to know.” General Shumagi raises his right hand and points to the heavens. The whipping of the old man is ceased. General Shumagi “Yessss, yesssss…you see this is a gladnesssss! Come forward child and speak to me. Who is the “Son of Rose?” Girl “My lord we don’t know much about him other than it is believed that he lives deep in the forests.
“How do you know this child?” The girl hesitates to say how she knows he lives in the woods. General Shumagi grabs her by the wrist and begins to squeeze. She cries out in pain. “Now then how do you know that he dwells in the forests hmmm? “My lord I heard from some girls in the town that they’d been taken by imperial forces for questioning and were about to be raped when they were rescued by a mysterious man who descended upon the imperial soldiers killing several of them.
General Shumagi asks “His name? What is his name?” She replies “Esoteric my lord. His name is Esoteric. General Shumagi scoffs. Where are the girls who told you this? My lord they fled the town. Shumagi’s temper flares as he raises his arm to deliver a blow when the girl blurts out “but I can show you where they said they’d seen him.” A wry grin comes over Shumagi’s countenance. He jerks the girl close to his face. “If you’re lying to me this entire village will pay for your deceit. Girl “I swear it my lord I’m not lying I’ll show you. Shumagi “Lead the way.”
The girl leads General Shumagi along with fifty imperial soldiers deep into the forests outside of the town to where the soldiers were attacked. General Shumagi yells “Search every inch of these woods. I want him found!” The girl looks on helplessly as the soldiers and the general search for Kova II. Within the hour they find the home that used to belong to Kova II, Rose, and Rendu. One of the soldiers comes to the general to report their findings.
Soldier “My lord we found a small home built deep in the forests not far from here. Clearly someone was living there for some time but it appears abandoned now. General Shumagi “Search everywhere I want him found. Put a price on his head so that even his shadow will turn him into us.” Soldier “And the townspeople my lord? General Shumagi “let us make an example of them to the rest of the empire, clearly they were aiding this fugitive “Son of Rose”. The soldiers set fire to the home that once was that of Rose, Rendu, & Kova II. They then head back to the town and begin to set fires to the homes of the townspeople and destroy their crops. Some of the young men try stop the fires being set and are mercilessly slaughtered by the soldiers and General Shumagi whom they are no match for. General Shumagi tells the surviving townspeople to spread the word the “Son of Rose” caused this.
A day ahead of General Shumagi and his soldiers, Kova II is making his way to Rosemador traveling alone and incognito in villagers clothing while keeping his head covered with a hood. The fires and destruction of the little town in Goldell has reached the ears of a neighboring town as Kova II is passing through. Tears flow down the cheeks of men and women who escaped the destruction or heard from relatives of what General Shumagi had done to them.
Kova II detours his travel plans from heading to Rosemador and sets his sights on the forces of General Shumagi. His blood boiling, Kova finds them a day after hearing of what they did in Goldell the place that helped raise and nurture his childhood. General Shumagi and his forces are crossing the territory of Ovadri six hours from Goldell. Some of the soldiers are mounted on horse back others are marching in formation pairs of two. On the pathway that they are marching on the soldiers see a rather large bonfire burning in the middle of the road. General Shumagi demands that the soldiers at the front of the procession go and check out the bonfire. One by one as they approach the fire they are attacked in a blur of movement and tossed into the bonfire.
General Shumagi shocked at what’s happening to his forces dismounts from his processional chair to observe the scene. The remaining soldiers visually search the perimeter on their flanks but don’t notice anything out of the ordinary. They are surrounded by trees on both sides of the pathway they are walking on. The soldiers with their swords drawn, and with bows & arrows continue to comb the immediate area.
They find nothing which incenses General Shumagi. The general screams for his soldiers to fan out on both sides of the path and search the surrounding woods. As they do, half fall into a covered pit that has sharpened wooden spikes at it’s bottom and are impaled and killed while the other half meets the same fate on the opposite side of the path way. This leaves just the immediate soldiers who carry the general and General Shumagi himself.
Kova II appears from seemingly out of nowhere and removes his hood. His eyes are narrowed and piercing. His hair is that of an orange red flame and falls at his shoulders. Kova II stalks up the path way. General Shumagi “Seize him and bring him to me!” The remaining soldiers run towards Kova II. The first of the soldiers to reach Kova II attempts to stab him with his sword and has his arm gripped tight twisted snapped then shoved point first through his torso before being cast aside. The next soldier that attempts to attack receives a crushing blow over the top of his head that crumples him at the feet of Kova II who then darts off the path out of sight.
General Shumagi is left with one remaining soldier at his side the two look at each other with concern. From behind the general and his remaining soldier, Kova II appears out of nowhere. He throws a projectile with a curved shape from his right side as if he’s discarding it. The object arcs through the woods around like a boomerang and comes from the opposite side of the woods and strikes the remaining soldier in the side of his neck lodging there killing him. The soldier falls to the ground dead beside the general. General Shumagi turns around slowly and is face to face with Kova II.
General Shumagi “So we meet at last “Son of Rose”. You made short work of my soldiers but I will not be so easy.” The two men eye each other. Kova II sizes up the general as the general does him. General Shumagi takes a step back from Kova II before doing an impressive back flip onto his stomach landing in the body positioning of an alligator. Shumagi holds his right foot extended behind as if it’s the tail of an alligator. He hisses audibly like an alligator and beckons Kova II to attack him.
Kova steps forward and the two begin their combat. General Shumagi lands a couple of blows and leg whips against Kova II. Kova II sustains multiple blows from the general as if he is daring the general to give him his best shots. He takes repeated punches and kicks as the general darts in and out of attacks against him. Laughing with each blow landed against Kova II the general is feeling good. Kova II doesn’t attempt a single blow until the general launches himself at Kova II from a grounded crouching position. In less than a fraction of a second Kova II side steps the general’s attack and jabs him in the spine with only his finger tips as he passes by. General Shumagi hits the ground and begins to have spasms in his back muscles. He cringes and contorts writhing before laying down paralyzed.
Kova II grabs the general by the back of his neck and begins to drag his limp paralyzed body up the pathway towards the bonfire. General Shumagi “Hearrghh!!! What did you do to me?! I can’t move, I can’t feel my legs! Curse you…you vulture! Do you know who I am you maggot!!? Okay, okay listen, we can work something out. You don’t have to do this. I’ll give you riches, precious stones, fine jewels…eh even all of my finest concubines. You can take them, have them all… they are yours. Name your price.”
Kova II tells the general if he tells him what he wants to know he will spare him from the bonfire. The general agrees and Kova drops the general within a few feet of the bonfire. He listens to General Shumagi as he tells him exactly which house in Rosemador is his and where he can find General Hagetroth his fellow leader of the imperial armies under the three emperors. He also informs Kova II that the Imperial Palace had been expanded in it’s size to accommodate the three Emperors in which each has their own wing of chambers within the Palace. Atrius has the rear of the Palace as his wing directly centered in the Palace formerly Emperor Kova’s wing.
The eastern wing belongs to Kem and the western wing to Rayke. Kova II is told how many guards are on duty for each of the emperors at any given time during the day and how frequent they rotate their shifts. He tells Kova II that during the annual celebratory “Feast Of The Emperors” the security is heightened all throughout the Palace and the town preceding the palace. Kova II thanks the general for his service before stomping on the back of his neck killing him. Kova II “I told you I’d spare you from the bonfire not from death”. He walks past the bonfire and disappears.
Back in Rosemador the town preceding the Palace as well as the Palace itself is scrambling about hustling and bustling in preparation for the “Feast Of The Emperors” the annual celebratory feast that commemorates the crowning of the three emperors with Rosemador as the epicenter of the empire. There is no mention of Emperor Kova nor Empress Rose nor Kova II. All the finest pastry and traditional dishes local to Rosemador are prepared for the consumption of the Emperor’s and their guests consisting of other generals, lieutenants, local lords, and representatives of neighboring parts of the empire under the control of the imperial army of the emperors Atrius, Kem, and Rayke. The affluent citizenry of Rosemador are also in attendance. These citizens have their affluence and status through business that directly feeds the coffers of the emperors, but still leaves them far more well to do than the average citizen working for them.
There are to be dances, drinking and merry making all throughout the day in the imperial palace as well as festivals held in the emperors’ honor in the towns. The conclusion of the celebration begins with the actual “Feast Of The Emperors” Giant glass chalices molded in unique and abstract shapes are placed throughout the lengths of the several feasting tables including the main feasting table where only the emperors Atrius, Kem, and Rayke are to sit.
To be continued…
The Son Of Rose: Feast Of The Emperors
Image is the property of http://www.frozenropephotography.com (c) 2016. All rights reserved.
Image/Photo Credit – Steve Dzaba