The Lost Prince: Part II – The Seeds of Tyranny
Make sure to read Chapter One of The Lost Prince before reading The Seeds of Tyranny, so you don’t spoil the story for yourself!
The Lost Prince: Chapter Two
The Seeds of Tyranny
As poor as the coronation of King Tamburlaine III might have been, I’m sure my former pupil would have considered it a grand spectacle compared to his funeral. I received word as to the fate of Tamburlaine whilst I was settling down for breakfast. Commander Barnabus, an old veteran of the Vomoran War, relayed the information as to the fate of the new king personally.
The great Baron Midon and Count Lysander had put together a contingent of around two or three hundred troops and laid siege to Tamburlaine’s palace. Although Ashuron by then was more or less under control, the two noblemen had no intention of taking any chances. On the way to Tamburlaine’s palace, they made sure to investigate every tomb or sacred resting place they could find, keeping sharp eyes open for the tell-tale black sludge that foreshadowed the presence of the undead. Aside from one lonely corpse, wandering across the courtyard, the siege was free of any conflict. Indeed, Barnabus took great care to emphasise to Regan and myself how the servants of Tamburlaine had gleefully opened the gates of Tamburlaine’s palace for the joint forces of Midon and Lysander, so much so that I couldn’t help but doubt the sincerity of Barnabus’ words. I suspected – and still suspect – that the moat of the palace was now home to perhaps a dozen or more inconvenient bodies. The toast prepared by Regan’s servants tasted like ash in the back of my mouth.
Lysander had been the second person to discover the corpse of Tamburlaine. The first was a young serving girl who, desperate to avoid contamination by the necromantic plague, had hidden herself away in the palace, even as Ashenmore burned to the ground all around her. Apparently, the King, desperate for company, had taken to consulting with the poor girl, often from the setting of the sun to the pale light of dawn. During these sessions, Tamburlaine had done little more than rant and curse and plead with Ahasathoth, claiming that the arrival of this plague was some sort of divine injustice against his kinship. One night, the King had failed to summon her and so, concerned for his well-being, the serving girl had crept into the throne room, only to discover Tamburlaine’s body.
Lysander, according to Barnabus, had taken the girl away and gotten to work with the disposal of the young monarch. Four of Lysander’s bravest men had plucked the King from where he’d lain and, under close observation from the Count, had taken the body out of the palace and down to the ancient Tomb of Royals, the very same grounds wherein Tamburlaine’s Father had been buried at the start of the cold season. Lysander’s troops had set the King to rest beside the stone casket of his Father, before the four of them had sealed the entrance to the tomb. Commander Barnabus had assured the two of us that, for now, Lysander had assigned a permanent guard to the Tomb of Royals, in case the bodies of our old rulers should see fit to rise again.
Barnabus, a man with a rather silver-tongue for a soldier, ended on a happy remark – the undead were finally under control. Midon and Lysander had taken it upon themselves to burn and bury as many resting grounds as they could find. This, coupled with Midon’s mandatory curfew, seemed to have quelled the spread of the enigmatic plague. Once Barnabus was finished, I thanked him for this information and bid the man farewell. Then I finished my toast and, after a moment’s reflection, told Regan that I intended to pay a visit to Lazrilus.
Regan didn’t seem to hear me. She simply stared at the empty fireplace with cold, unblinking eyes. Although we had always had our differences, and as exasperated these differences had been during the reign of her brother, I still pitied the noblewoman. In the span of half a year, she had risen to become one of the King’s closest advisor, and the progenitor of a new age of enlightenment for the Kingdom of Ashenmore, before falling to become a pitiful, disgraced noblewoman, hands stained by the foul crime of necromancy and her status reduced to little more than a prisoner of Midon’s goodwill. Indeed, though we currently resided in one of Regan’s houses, it was Midon’s men that patrolled the grounds.
As I descended the opulent staircase of Regan’s house, I found myself taking notice of the paintings that adorned her walls. Most of them were curious, devoid of any aesthetic charm. Clearly, she had taken some inspiration from the decadent artistry of the Samarans’. One painting did catch my eye. It was a small, oval thing, nestling just above the ground floor. I remembered it well. It had been painted many years ago, when Regan had been just short of fourteen summers old. It showed the young lady, standing on a golden beach, flanked by her family. There was the old King Tamburlaine, hovering over the back of his daughter’s messy, brown locks. Then there was Tamburlaine’s wife, the late Queen Talia, who’s hazel eyes still shimmered like twin pools of molten chocolate, even after so many years of dormancy in the grave.
In her arms she held a writhing, fat-faced babe.
The recently deceased Tamburlaine was as petulant as I remembered. Beside Regan, his light brown hair covered in specks of sand and salt, was the face of a man I hadn’t seen for many years, Tamburlaine’s III older brother, Santos. As children, whilst Tamburlaine had been the better student, it was Santos that I’d always had high hopes for. Whilst it was evident that Regan was not suitable for the role of Queen, long before she’d abdicated from the throne, and I’d had my reservations about Tamburlaine’s poor temper, even from the days of his earliest infancy, Santos had always demonstrated great potential for leadership. He had been an intelligent, conscientious boy, full of wit and determination, and even the tell-tale hint of budding wisdom. It was clear that my judgement had been impaired, perhaps by my natural affection for the boy. After Talia’s death, Santos snuck out of the palace and vanished from the shores of Ashenmore, on a stolen fishing boat, of all things. He’d left a short note for his Father, claiming that he withdrew his claim to the throne and intended to dwell amongst the Kazorean Priestesses, in search of communion with Ahasathoth. With Santos’ departure, the throne had been left wide open for Tamburlaine and the mess that had now fallen upon my beloved homeland…
I continued my descent, deeper and deeper into the depths of Regan’s house, until I came across a circular, wooden door. One of Midon’s guards stood in front of this door, scratching the back of his neck. I straightened my back and watched with some satisfaction when he did the same. He was a little strip of a boy. I could see by the faint whisps of his adolescent beard that he would not challenge my authority.
“Good morning, Demetrius,” chirped the young man, “have you heard the news? They found the king’s body and have taken control of Ashuron. Wonderful, isn’t it? Things might start returning to normal, now that Midon and Lysander have cleared up all the undead.”
“Indeed, Barnabus told us just now,” I replied. I flashed the young soldier a quick smile, though, inwardly, I grimaced. This nameless soldier, stuck guarding a helpless foreigner below the ground floor, had heard about Tamburlaine’s death before the King’s own sister? How long had he known? Word of the King’s passing was sure to create pandemonium amongst the people. What were Lysander and Midon thinking, letting every common soldier know about the scandalous death of the young monarch? I resolved to ask them, the next chance I got.
“Anyway, I wish I could stay and talk,” I said, “but I have urgent business to attend to. Open this door for me, would you?”
The young soldier hesitated. He leaned forward, close enough that I could see the faint bristle of adolescent stubble on the front of his throat.
“I don’t know if you’ve heard,” whispered the soldier, “I keep out of politics, myself. My job is to stand guard, and that’s what I intend to do, but apparently, Midon doesn’t want you visiting this man anymore. I heard Barnabus talking about it, with one of Lysander’s emissaries. I couldn’t tell you why. It’s not as if you’re up to anything nefarious. I think, and this is just a young soldier’s hunch, sir, but I think the Baron has plans to get rid of the Necromancer, as soon as he can find the time. Of course, you didn’t hear that from me, my sir.”
I nodded once, to show that I understood him. The young soldier smiled and, without further delay, opened the door.