Land of Terran: Soul Stone Mage, Book 4
By Sarah Noffke & Martha Carr
The Kingdom of Virgo has lived in peace for thousands of years… until now.
The Duke of Terran turned the knob on the old transistor radio until the static-filled music was loud enough to hear. The old device only played one song, but if a radio was enchanted to play something then Phillip was grateful it was this. Earth Angel had quickly become his favorite song. The shady character from the Dark Market had given Phillip a long list of songs but from the beginning this one was the one he knew should be played on the broken device.
He swayed back and forth, gaining the attention of his dog, Rover, as he waltzed through the office. One day he dreamed of traveling to Earth and attending one of the parties like he’d seen on the black and white shows he’d bought from the Dark Market. The devices and entertainment were unreliable, but with his power reserves full from leeching the Dark Forest, he’d been able to make it work, just like the radio. However, he had to be careful, not just because of the rogue dryads hiding in the shadows waiting for him to slip up and enter the forests without a harpy bodyguard, but also because he’d lost the soul stone. Humans on Terran lived longer thanks to magic, but Phillip had hoped the soul stone would make him the longest living human on Oriceran one day. However, that reality had been stolen along with the soul stone. That’s why he’d have to steal more soul stones which wouldn’t be a problem when the fast-acting virus he’d poisoned the streams of Virgo with took full effect.
The Duke stared out the window, humming along with the music. Everything was going according to plan. Now he just needed to execute the next phase.
“Uncle, you called for me,” Frederick said at his back.
Phillip swung around, a fake smile on his mouth. “I did, indeed. I need you to do a few things for me.”
The young man lowered his chin and regarded Phillip for a moment, a great reluctance in his eyes. “You don’t want me to write another letter to the Queen of Virgo, do you?”
Phillip pulled in a breath, looking proud. “I actually do.”
“But Uncle, I didn’t think that making threats was the best idea for getting Father back the first time. If I just spoke with my sister then—”
“Do not call her that,” Phillip boomed, cutting Frederick off.
“But that’s in fact who she is. Queen Azure, as my father’s child, is my sister,” Frederick said, rebellion flaring in his eyes.
“Do you enjoy highlighting the fact that you’re related to a disgusting witch? Because I promise you that you’re better off hiding that rather than dwelling on it.”
“Uncle, those from Virgo are just people like us. I remember long ago Father trying to get you to see that. But you—”
“Know better than him,” Phillip said, interrupting him again. “I also know that we can allow those tattle tales to live or we can destroy them and take their power.”
“I disagree. The more I think about it, I’m convinced that I should write an apology to Queen Azure. We should form an alliance with the witches and wizards of Virgo.” Frederick’s eyes fell on a golf club that rested against the wall. He’d never seen one before, which is why his brow scrunched up tight as he stared at it.
“Do you know, as we speak, the Queen, your sister, is trying to locate a book that will tell her how to find the rogue dryads? She means to have us punished for harvesting the Dark Forest,” Phillip said.
“Oh, really? How do you know that? How am I not made aware of these things?” Frederick asked.
“I didn’t think it was worth bothering you with since your studies are of most importance,” Phillip lied.
“More and more I think you keep things from me, Uncle. Like what’s going on with these harvests? Why is it that the rogue dryads are cutting off our borders in the forest?” Frederick scratched his head and picked up the club. “And what is this?”
“That…” Phillip plucked the instrument from Frederick’s hand. “That is a golf club. Apparently it’s a sport from Earth that involves knocking a ball into a hole. However, we need a lot of grass covered ground to play it, but I’ve found a spot just outside our borders that should work.”
“If we’re already having so many problems with the rogue dryads then how are you going to secure this land?” Frederick asked.
“Good question. I’ve had blue prints set up and think we can wall in this golf course using the magic that protects Terran. However, we are going to need a distraction. A bait of sort that the rogue dryads go after,” Phillip said, strolling around behind Frederick.
“What if the rogue dryads are right? Father used to say it as well. Maybe we do overuse. Maybe we need to discover other ways of living. I’ve been thinking that I should set out and explore other cultures. We’ve walled ourselves away from the rest of Oriceran. There are other societies of humans, like in New Egypt. We know about Earth, but nothing else. And—”
“There’s nothing else to know about,” Phillip said, biting on the words. “We are human. Do you think the practices of the Light Elves will help us? Do you think the customs of the Crystals are befitting for us? Do you think humans on Oriceran know how to live better than us? Or do you suppose that the humans of Earth, where we originated are right for us?”
Frederick nodded, having heard this argument many times. Still there was something that didn’t compute. “It’s just that we don’t live on Earth. I don’t see how having a golf course is going to benefit us.”
“No, you wouldn’t.” Phillip twirled the golf club in his hands, a devilish smile on his face.
“There’s magic on Oriceran. We have groups like the rogue dryads, who I know we fear, but honestly I think they serve to keep a balance. We’ve overused the forest and they believe we should be punished. I don’t think we should build a golf course, but rather negotiate with the rogue dryads. Find out how we can fix things and free our people who they’ve turned into statues,” Frederick said, all his words a rush.
“Yes, you sound just like your father now. Like father like son.” Phillip tested the balance of the club in his hand. Made to swing it at the ground, like he’d seen in the practice videos. He stared off, as if watching his golf ball launch through the air and fly a great distance.
“Well, thank you. I think that father was right.” A great sadness fell over Frederick’s face, one that showed his sentimentality. His weakness.
“Your father was only right about one thing. He always admitted he wasn’t fit to run the Land of Terran and had no interests in doing so. He bowed to my superior reasoning.” Phillip tested his swing again, really getting the hang for the flow of the movement.
“Well, that’s where father and I are different. I want to be emperor. I’m excited to lead my people,” Frederick said, his attention drawn to Rover in the corner who had taken off after one of the loose golf balls Phillip had been putting around earlier.
“And that desire to lead will be your very undoing,” Phillip said, pulling the club back and bringing it across the back of Frederick’s head. The young man’s head swung to the side and he fell to the floor flatly.
Phillip regarded his nephew with a pitiful look, grateful that the young emperor had supplied him with the right motivation to complete the job of knocking him out. He hadn’t thought he could do it at first. But he knew that Frederick with his altruist notions couldn’t be placed into power. Now, as regent, the role of emperor would fall on the Duke. And Frederick, well, he’d serve his people, as he wanted to. He’d sacrifice himself so that the people of Terran could have a golf course.
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