Philo sat behind the large desk in the study off of the throne room. He took a deep breath and shook his head. He was angry. Why was getting rid of Gryphon so difficult? He should have just killed her as soon as she appeared in the forest. He would have been done with her, but he knew that would have been foolish.
If he had killed her, the young king would have still been out there with his full Adalwen blood. He would have taken the place as the rightful ruler of Regventus. Philo wanted that power. He wanted the right to rule over the kingdom. He wanted to have the right to rule over all of the weak folk of Abscon Over all those families that thought they were better than the Quick’s.
Philo gave an angry snort as he thought of the simple little so-called queen. Why was she so important and so powerful? How could she be from a powerful line of rulers? She was a Keene. They had long been a weak-minded family who put too much stock in mercy and helping the non-gifted. They said they stood for peace and prosperity for all, but they actually just stood in the way of the powerful magic users ruling the kingdom as they should.
The Quick family had never made it on the Ring, even when there were openings. The Keene’s had always made sure of that. Philo had spent useless years trying to win Reneweard’s friendship, but he was met with polite suspicion. Philo had hoped his son could maybe find a way to marry Gryphon. Philo wasn’t fond of the girl, but it would have given Marcus a place of power. He should have known his stupid son couldn’t pull it off.
Philo could finally have his ultimate revenge. No longer would the Quick name be dismissed. It would be worshipped as it ruled over Regventus for the rest of time. Philo would transfer the right to rule from the Adalwen line. He would find a way to complete the blood magic ceremony. He would find a way to sacrifice Gryphon.
There was a knock on his door. Philo composed himself, taking deep breaths to calm down.
“Who is it?” he called out calmly.
“It’s Cecilia,” said Philo’s wife from the hall.
Philo smiled. His wife had moved into the palace this week with him. If he was to rule, he would live in the palace.
“Come in, my dear,” said Philo as he stood up.
Cecilia came into the room and walked over towards the desk. Philo met her and gave her a quick kiss. He settled behind the desk as she sat in a chair in front of him.
“I’ve had a letter from Marcus,” said Cecilia showing him the paper in her hands.
Philo felt his eyebrows raise at this news. They had not heard from their son very often. He had written some nonsense to his father and mother after Philo took Gryphon and the young king from the Valley, but since then Marcus had been silent.
“What does our son have to say?” asked Philo.
“He is living in the Quick home in Abscon. It seems he has been reaccepted into magical society,” said Cecilia. “He is concerned about you and your plans.”
“Well,” said Philo sitting back. “He always was weak and foolish. He should know my plans will help rise him above all those in Abscon. He will lead them all if he will just listen to me.”
Cecilia nodded. “He is also to be married.”
“Married?” asked Philo surprise. “Who is he going to marry?”
“Desmona Delis,” said Cecilia. “They will be married after mid-winter from Abscon. She will move into the Quick home with him.”
Philo looked at Cecelia carefully. “Did you say Desmona Delis? As in the daughter of Hector Delis?”
“Yes,” said Cecelia. “I am rather pleased. He was hung up on the Keene woman for so long. I think this will be a better match.”
Philo smiled. “Indeed, you should write Marcus and congratulate him.”
Philo pulled out a piece of paper and picked up a quill.
“Who are you going to write, dearest?” asked Cecelia.
“I have long been friends with Desmona’s mother, Cassia. I shall write her and congratulate her on her daughter’s betrothal.”
“Send her my congratulations as well. I become very close to Cassia after I moved to Abscon when you and I married.”
“I will,” said Philo. “Why don’t you go write Marcus. I have a council meeting in a bit. I will see you after for dinner.”
Cecelia rose and curtseyed. Philo smiled up at her, and she left the room. Philo turned his attention to his letter. He knew Cassia very well. He knew how much she liked power and attention. He had a feeling she would like her daughter to be the queen consort of the King of Regventus someday. She might like the idea enough to even meet with Philo.
After writing his letter, Philo walked to the meeting of the Council of Ancients. He knew they would have many questions, and he would put them all to rest today. Philo would leave no doubt of who was now in charge of Regventus. He walked down the hall and saw three of the leaders of his army nod at him. They were ready.
Helmer met him outside, and they walked into the meeting room together. All eleven council members were standing around the table. The looked at Philo warily as he came into the room and sat in the chair once reserved for the Lord of the Kingdom.
“Have a seat,” said Philo looking at everyone at the table. Everyone sat down quietly.
“Now, as you probably know, Golnar was killed recently by the old magical folk. Kedan is now living amongst the old magical folk, and the false queen came in and stole Kedan’s child.”
“How did Golnar died exactly?” asked Till who sat at Philo’s left.
“We had taken the false queen to a secret location. Golnar and my friend Helmer here had a way to kill her and take away any right to rule she may have. Golnar was killed in the rescue attempt led by the false queen’s protector.”
“And why is our king serving this new false queen?” asked Alis, the Viceroy of the Grasslands.
“He has been enthralled and charmed by the false queen. He is too far gone,” replied Philo.
Alis looked at a couple of the other Viceroys at the table and then turned to Philo. “This false queen as you call her has gained support in my land and some of the other lands as well. She has been known to cure the sickness that is running through the people. Kedan is often with her. He is still much loved by the folk.”
“These are all tricks the false queen is using. She must be stopped before she destroys our kingdom,” said Philo loudly
“Stopped by who?” said an older man with gray hair. Philo knew he was the Viceroy of the Riverlands. “What leader do we have? Kedan has defected. Our queen is dead. Kedan’s son has been taken, and Golnar has been killed. Who is our leader now?”
“I was the second in command to our Lord and then king,” said Till. “I should take over until we find a new Lord of the kingdom. That is the correct order of things.”
Philo gave a small laugh, and everyone looked at him. “Why do you think we will be going by the old order of things? We have been trying to remake Regventus. There will be a new way of doing things.”
“What are you going on about, Philo?” asked Till. “The Ancients have laid out how we should do things. We never should have crowned Kedan a king. That was a mistake. We should go back to the way of the Ancients and find a new Lord.”
“Crowning Kedan a king was a mistake,” said Philo. “But we will not go back to the old way of the Ancients. We will have a king. A king who is qualified and powerful enough to lead.”
“You have someone in mind, I suppose,” said Till angrily.
“Of course,” said Philo.
“I think I can guess who you think should be in charge,” said Till staring at Philo. “I will it say now, I will not have it. No one on this council will have it. You will not lead us, Philo.”
Philo smiled. “I believe I can change your mind.”
Philo nodded to Helmer, and Helmer walked over and opened the door. Aurumist soldiers filled the room circling around the Council of the Ancients.
Philo stood up. “I am in command of this city’s army. It will soon be the kingdom’s army as you help me to grow it. You will all submit to my command today. You will swear your fealty to me in this room. If you do not, you will not leave alive, and the villages in your lands will be destroyed by my army.”
“I will not submit,” said Till loudly. “You wouldn’t dare do anything to Aurumist.”
“You are right,” said Philo. “I would never damage the city, but the city is not under your watch any longer. You are banished from the Council of Ancients and stripped of your title as Viceroy. You can stay in the city if you wish, but you will have no power. If you do not agree to this and leave, I will kill you with a flick of my hand.”
Till stood up and glared at Philo. “You wouldn’t dare. I have seen over this city for almost forty years. You will not displace me.”
Philo raised his hand. “I am feeling unusually generous today. I will give you one more chance to leave this room. You will go pack and leave the Viceroy’s manor within a week so the new Viceroy can take his place.”
Till looked at Philo as Philo stared back with his hand still raised. “Fine,” said Till. “I do not want to be a part of this mess anyway. I will leave the manor and the city. I might leave the whole kingdom.” He turned to the rest of the council. “If you are smart you will do the same.”
Till quickly left the room.
“You could follow Till’s lead,” said Philo, “but if you stay, I think you will find I am a fair ruler. I will see that you keep your place of power in your lands, even those of you without magical blood. I will even let you choose if you want to release magical users in your lands or not. All I ask is your loyalty and your help in defeating the false queen and her followers.”
Alis looked at Philo and sighed. “I will swear my loyalty to you, Philo. You shall be our king and the Grasslands will serve as you command.”
“You have the River Valley as well,” said the old man with gray hair.
“The Great Surrounding will do whatever it takes to see you keep your throne and our folk safe from the false queen,” said Viceroy Clay of the Great Surrounding.
Philo smiled as the rest of the council swore their allegiance to him. After all, had their say, Philo stood up and looked at the council.
“I have many plans to make sure Regventus stays in our hands, but there are things you do need to understand. The false queen is a threat, make no mistake about it. She does have power that you couldn’t imagine. I know a way to take that power, but I will need all of you to completely follow my plans without questions. I will send them to you through the rest of this fall and winter.
The false queen will continue to visit your lands to claim to cure your sick and to find new followers. We must find ways to build a kingdom wide army and stop her. You must help me build that army. I will send you potion if you wish to release magical users. I will send you those who can help you identify magical blooded folk. The potion will be made by my second in command and Viceroy of Aurumist, Helmer. If you do not wish to release magical users, build you army with non-gifted, all will be accepted.”
“So, you want us to find a way to kill the false queen?” asked Alis.
“No, I want her brought to me alive. You should kill any of her followers, including Kedan Belles. I will send you information on the false queen, her powers, and her protector. Once we have smashed down the rebellion of the false queen, we will talk of how to remake Regventus. I guarantee you all a say in the matter as long as you serve me well.
Keep in mind though, sacrifices will have to be made. You will lose folk in your lands. There will be those who will be tricked by the false queen, you cannot be afraid to put those out of their misery. The sickness will continue to spread. We do not have the resources to deal with it at the moment. I am afraid that sickness was sent by the false queen. Golnar was working hard to control it and you see what she did to him.
You will go back to your lands and prepare. I will send out regular correspondence and I expect to hear back from you. If there are no questions, we will adjourn so you can all get to work.”