The Epic: Working Stiff

I’m summing up the next part of Prince Romm’s story, because I’m finding it absolutely impossible to write out. When we last left Prince Romm, he had attacked two mages of the Magnolium Order in order to stop them torturing a rebel wizard. The wizard made a cryptic reference to Lucana’s son, and then died. Romm then ran for it.

News of Romm’s magical ability reaches King Thobis and Cardinal Alabaster. Both are shocked, to say the least. King Thobis is distraught. He wants Romm, his eldest son, to become the next king, but Alabaster reminds him that this will be difficult, now. The law clearly states that anyone with magical ability must enter the Magnolium Order, And the king’s advisors inform him that the nobility would chafe at giving the throne up to the Order, which already places tithes on their profits.

News of what Prince Romm has done reaches the King, as well as the heads of the Magnolium Order. They manage to suppress the part about Romm being a wizard, but everyone finds out that he has run away. King Thobis wants to issue a pardon for Romm and have him come home, but Cardinal Alabaster of the Order won’t have it. All magic users are, by law, required to join the Magnolium Order and submit to its rigorous, ascetic discipline. And as he tells the king, the law is the law. And if Romm is in violation of the law, he cannot possibly keep his place in the line of succession.

Cardinal Alabaster, as the Magnolium Order’s ambassador to the court of the king, realizes both danger and opportunity in this situation. He uses his great influence with the king, and convinces him to issue a proclamation. The king’s younger son, Prince Gared, is now heir presumptive to the throne — he will be the next king, unless Romm can be found and made to join the Order. At the same time, Alabaster puts out a general order to his Magnolium mages to find Romm, and capture him so he can be inducted. As Alabaster thinks, this is win-win. Prince Gared is not unintelligent, but is still weak-willed, even more so than his father. So either Romm will be caught, made into an agent of the Order, and then placed on the throne; or he will avoid capture or die trying, in which case weak-willed Gared will make just as good a patsy for Alabaster’s long-term plans.

Daven, leader of the rebellion, hears of the prince’s flight, but doesn’t much care. His entire platform is that the Magnolium Order is the enemy, not the royal family. He does not hear about why Prince Romm ran away, though. He continues his campaign against the Order, largely attempting to disrupt their recruiting operations. There is also a plan that Daven is working on to raid one of the highly defended Magnolium monasteries, but this will take a lot of reconaisance first.

Meanwhile, Prince Romm is in an unfamiliar city, one which he has only ever seen on a map. It’s still in his father’s kingdom, so he has to lie low to avoid detection. He goes by the slightly unrealistic pseudonym Draco from this point on. Romm, at this point in the story, is an extremely practical young man. He sells any palace fineries he had with him (except the mysterious Coin, which he keeps on him at all times) and that keeps him for a little while, but he spends his money too quickly. Romm has few skills suitable for use in the hustle and bustle of the city, but he is intelligent and as I said, practical. He ends up being a day laborer a while, helping out with odd jobs, moving things and such. This affords him shared lodgings with other day laborers, who are mostly either runaway peasants or people who were unable to get an apprenticeship anywhere. It’s by no means a comfortable life, and Romm hates it.

Romm hears of the Magnolium Order’s plan to find him, and assumes that they mean to kill him. He also realizes he’s building up a reputation as a trustworthy worker, which is dangerous if he wants to stay hidden. So he joins a caravan heading to a city on the other side of the kingdom.

On the way, Romm thinks to himself that he must make a choice. He can either lose himself in his cover, never using magic, never sharing his true name, lying low until they assume Romm is dead. Which in a sense, he would be. Or he could do the only other thing he can think of, which is to seek out Lucana’s son. That wizard had said she had one, and had recognized the Coin. Romm felt it in his pocket, its feel familiar to him now. It must have belonged to Lucana, which meant it should rightfully go to her son. And Romm has been imagining not only giving it back, but apologizing for the generations-long blood feud between their two families that his father, the king, had told him of the day before he left home. Romm is of a practical mind, and he realizes that he has little chance of actually finding this unnamed person with no resources, no plan, no idea where to look. Nevertheless, he can’t get this idea out of his mind.

While Romm is lost in thought about this, the caravan Romm is traveling with is stopped on the road. Magnolium mages enter the caravan and report dangers in this area, and want to accompany them to their next destination. In fact, they insist. And they will also want food and a share of the profits for their troubles.

Suddenly, one of the mages detects powerful magic coming from someone in the caravan. Romm hasn’t noticed that the caravan is stopped, so he’s still sitting in a covered wagon, and nobody else confesses to being a wizard, of course. The mages start threatening. They draw weapons and swear to lock everyone present in a deep dungeon unless someone comes forth. One of the leaders of the caravan offers a bribe instead, but the mages want so much gold that everyone will have to contribute.

The caravan leader goes through the caravan to make sure nobody is trying to avoid pitching in. He finds Romm, and demands that the young man come out and pay what he can. Romm realizes what’s going on, but thinks he can just pay what little silver he has to satisfy the others. Unconsciously he reaches, not into his money bag, but into the pocket that contains the Coin. The moment he touches it, the mages sense another powerful burst of magic coming from the young man. One the mages looks at “Draco” and realizes who he really is. Before he can do anything else, Romm casts a spell of blinding white light, and runs off as fast as he can. The mages pursue, but at a distance, so they can dodge the fire rays Romm is throwing over his shoulder. They chase Romm right up to the edge of a large and forbidding forest, where they stop. Even mages of the Magnolium Order are unwilling to chase him into that place…

I want to point out one thing about this story. Even though I find it hard to write, I very much want to continue it, because I have way more details for this world than I’m letting on. Three examples. One, the name of the kingdom, which I have been withholding, is Gard; I know the names of the kingdoms it borders, and the capital cities, kings, and cultures of each, but won’t burden you with them. Two, Romm’s story is just the first part of this Epic; the next two generations each have stories of their own, all of which I’ve already worked out and would love to share. Three, there are lots of little threads that I’ve been leaving lying around. Two sub-examples: The unnamed servant mentioned in the prologue, who was in the room when Thobis murdered Lucana? His identity turns out to be important… to Thobis’ great-grandchildren. And there were a lot of errors in the family history Thobis told Prince Romm — I know the rest of the prophecy, the part Thobis doesn’t even know exists.

The point is, this is a long story, and I really like it, and want to share it all. It’s just going to come out slowly, that’s all.


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