Chapter 10

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There lived in the City of Crestonia a Mage named Samuel. He was an overseer of the future, so the King would summon him for advice and wisdom, often.

However, Samuel woke up that morning from a most disturbing dream. In it, he saw a woman dressed in black, with a heart gripped in the palm of her hand. He sprang up in bed. Blinking profusely from his slumber, a wrinkle formed upon his forehead. Samuel rose from bed as quick as his old bones could move. He wrapped his brown cloak around his shoulders, picked up his staff, hurrying out the door.

-

"We're starving!" The townsfolk cried in his ear.

"Mage Samuel, summon the Great Spirit for a new Queen!" They did all but pull at his cloak and demand an answer. Somehow, it still felt as the suffocating crowds of people clawed at him with their demands.

"Hasn't the King helped you?" Samuel asked among them. Many scowled and hurled insults. A few spat on the ground.

"He'd sooner let us starve than feed us properly!"

"What's happened to the food from your livestock and crops? Sell them, and earn wages. What's stopping you from selling amongst yourselves?"

Many shut their mouths as his reply. Samuel frowned at them.

"Try trading or bartering. And do not even let a bird overhear you speak badly about your King."

He walked past them, the crowd parting for him like the Red Sea. People knew not to get to close. As peaceful as he was, the magic in his staff was nothing to test.

As much as he would like to address the concerns of the people, he'd have to ignore their needs for now. He was on a mission: he urgently had to speak with the King.

He rapped on the Castle gates with his staff.

"It's Samuel!" A soldier cried from his post.

"It's the mage! Quickly, open the gates!"

The wooden gates cracked, Mage Samuel emerging through leaning on his staff with each step.

Samuel continued down the cobblestone pathway, hardly acknowledging the guards standing at their posts...they knew who he was. Samuel respectfully asked for an audience with King Markson, who would rarely drop any duty or obligation for anyone but Samuel. Markson was still laid in his chambers, faint in his heart and tired in his bones. This is how Samuel found him.

"Samuel," The king spoke softly, but in slight surprise at the visit. He adjusted to lean against the headboard. "You may leave us in private," He assured the guard posted at his door. He quickly shut the doors behind him.

"Old friend," Markson smiled, "To what do I owe this visit?" 

"Markson..." Samuel spoke, but stopped to take in his appearance. "You do not look well." He spoke unabashedly.

"No," Markson looked down as he exhaled from his nostrils. "I am sick, Samuel."

Samuel peered into him. "Yes...you are sick in your soul. You long for something deep."

King Markson's longing eyes look pained. "Clarice." He managed to utter. 

Samuel sat in the chair at his bedside, resting his staff nearby. "This may explain why I am here, today."

"Oh? What is your news, Samuel?"

"I received a vision, one showing that you should take great precaution when selecting a new Queen. If we do not show great discretion, she could be your demise, either to you or this Kingdom."

Markson blinked profusely. He did not know how to receive this news. His greatest longing was met with a potential adherence to its execution. "Old friend...I've always trusted your counsel. How should I go about selecting a new Queen?"

"We should inquire of the great Spirit to help you selecting a Queen."

"...I should have always left this task in your hands. Yours, and no one else's." Markson gently folded his tired hands in his lap. "Will you help me select a new Queen?"

Samuel closed his eyes, and listened. Upon opening, he received revelation. "The people want a Queen, and you want a woman by your side...but are you sure that selecting a new Queen for companionship is really the best choice right now?"

"Why? Samuel, it's been a year."

Samuel knew exactly what he meant. He didn't want to dismiss the King's personal need for companionship, but there were risks associated at this present time, as was shown to him.

"I would never advise you ill, but I cannot stand in the way of the King's decree. Please consider my warning, though."

Markson grunted as he cleared his throat. Telling him 'no' to his greatest longing was something he did not like. Surely, if the people wanted a Queen as much as he did, he could just operate for the needs of the people.

"The people want a Queen...who would I be to deny them?"

Samuel sighed tiredly. "My King, I implore you, now is not the time. But, if this is what you desire, I will search for the purest heart in the land to avoid the darkness I saw in my vision."

Markson barely gave him a nod. He would get what he wanted, this time. 


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