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By:Jordan Silver

“Let this be a lesson to the rest of you. If you, or anyone belonging to you betrays me, I will destroy your entire line. I will not hesitate and there will be no mercy shown to my traitors. One more thing and hear me well. The friend of my enemy is my enemy. Choose your loyalties wisely.”

“Your majesty I do not think...”

“Lord Chancellor.” He turned to his last remaining enemy as the men were dragged kicking and screaming from the room where they were to be taken to the gallows and hung forthwith. The birds were going to enjoy a mighty fare this day as they feasted on the blood of nobles.

Julian refused to have even one of his father’s enemies see out this day. They will all suffer the same fate as the man who had shown them only kindness, only to be betrayed by his own.

“I’m very pleased that you saw fit to interrupt your king. You sir, have held the wool over my dead father’s eyes for a very long time, as has your predecessors before done to many a king I’m sure. But it all stops here, with me.”

“I’m not sure what you mean, the church...” The blustering old fool thought to hide behind the patronage of the church. Did he know nothing of his new king? Julian had long held with the belief that the church was nothing more than a corrupt harlot who sold her wares to the highest bidder. The church held no sway with him.

“Do not interrupt me again lest I take your lying tongue from your head.” The other man stepped back in shock. As the Vatican’s representative he was due a certain respect.

Everyone knew that it was he and not some savage king who had run the country. Why, he had the most beautiful palace in all the land because it was his right. How dare this upstart think to speak to him in such a dishonorable way?

No one ever questioned him, though they may question the king from time to time. But as the head of the church in this land, the pope’s mouthpiece, he was virtually untouchable.

“The creator makes kings of men, not men and their politics. A king’s greatest enemy is that great divider you call religion. Why should I need the word of some stodgy old reprobate such as your leader to tell me how to run my kingdom, my people, did he put me here? Did he secure me my throne? I think not.” There was no answer forthcoming so he carried on.

“Then why in the putrid bowels of hell should I pay homage to him? No thank you I will seek my own counsel, as is my right to go before God on my own behalf. Seeing as how He has seen fit to make me leader of the greatest nation on earth.”

He knew because of men’s superstitions that there might be a great divide following his speech. He didn’t let that sway him. The church’s reign of tyranny was at an end. All the church had brought him, and his lineage was wars and calamity.

“But, my station, my home...”

“Your home? Are you referring to that monstrosity you built with monies from the king’s coffers? I think we both know who that really belongs to. As such you will be relieved of those holdings forthwith, and please advise your servants you must be gone by night’s end.”

The old man swallowed whatever words were on his tongue once he realized that the son differed from the father when it came to religion. Where the old king had feared the hierarchy, had despaired of his soul being destroyed in hellfire at the words of one man. The son chose instead to take his plight directly to the highest power in heaven or earth.

Who could withstand such beliefs as this? He feared the worse but the king’s next words gave him some reprieve, some but not much. How could he face his superior in Rome and tell him he’d lost their foothold in the greatest kingdom known to man?

“You will be afforded safe passage to Rome and I suggest you take the time to contemplate how lenient a king I have proven to be in your case since I haven’t slit your lying throat but spared your life instead. Go”

“As to the rest of you, learn from this day; I will show you the kindness of my father, but I won’t be so soft of heart as he. I will seek to keep the peace here at home so that we may live in prosperity and enjoy the fruits of our labor.”

“There will be some changes made but not much. Just know this. There will be no tolerance for traitors here. There will be no second chances given to anyone who is caught in the act of treason and please remember, it’s not only your own life you endanger. I will destroy your entire family down to your great grandmother if she’s still alive.”

With that the dashing young king left the hall and went in search of sustenance, leaving the room in a flurry of activity behind him.

Six Years Later

Chapter 4

King Julian

“Who are they?”