(WP) For the Greater Good

(WP) For the Greater Good

               “I’m afraid that the Emperor has suffered a stroke.”

               Your voice booms out in the cavernous cathedral, greeted by quiet protests and whispers. You wait until the talking dies down, and continue.

               “However, fear not, my dear people. Shortly before he became ill, he made me his regent. I will be assisting in ruling the kingdom. Our Emperor speaks through me, and I hope to remedy the gaping wounds that our land still bears. The Kingdom will thrive under a new golden age, of prosperity, peace, and wealth, and I hope The Council, nobles, and gentry find it within their hearts and power to assist me.”

               This fine speech hangs in the air like an expensive, rare perfume, and hesitant, scattered applause meets your words.

               “We will meet again, tomorrow, after breaking our fast. For now, I ask that you all keep this to yourselves. It would not do for our enemies and dissenters to know that our ruler is so vulnerable.”

               You know, though, that this will have the opposite effect, and you’re banking on it, because you will right everything that the Emperor has done; you’ve been waiting for such an opportunity since The Divine One came into power at the young age of seventeen. Rash, emotional, and foolish, he has made quite a mess of things.

               If his parents had not been summoned to the sky shortly before he’d been crowned, you are sure that they would be shaking their heads in disappointment.

               You watch to make certain that everyone in the room has exited, already talking amongst themselves.

               Your plan is already working beautifully. You couldn’t do it any better if you tried.

               **

               For your part, you begin your retreat to the far western chambers, where the monarch is being sequestered.

               You find yourself wondering if this event could be the will of the gods, or perhaps the Emperor’s own ancestors. You aren’t one to believe in cosmic events, but this seems too neat.

               You are broken from your thoughts by a servant running down the hall, flat, wooden shoes clacking loudly on the floor, disturbing the silence.

               “Grand Advisor, The Emperor is demanding your presence in his rooms at once.” The girl says, only hastily remembering her manners and curtsying, her head bowed. “Please, sir, come quickly.”

               “Send for some fortifying broth and some green tea, with honey,” you say to her as you walk past her, toward my ward’s chambers.

               You push open the double doors without knocking; if it’s as urgent as the servant makes it seem, there is no need for such formalities.

               “What is it, Your Majesty?” You ask, walking swiftly to the bed and kneeling down beside it, so you are at eye level with your ruler.

               You stare into his eyes, dead and black like lumps of coal, and he reaches toward you with his good hand, the left, to tap out a message on your arm.

               Long before you were ever the Emperor’s advisor, you both came up with a language of taps and clicks in order to communicate without being spied upon.

               His touch is like ice on your skin, and it takes all of your self-restraint not to pull away.

               Tap. Tap tap tap. Click-click, tap.

               Your blood chills in your veins.

               “I know what you’ve done. I know you did this to me.”

               All the blood flees your face, and you know it. You are caught.

               All the scheming, social-climbing, all the favors you’ve called in, exposed.

               But really, who would believe him? After all, the only way he can talk is through you.

               He is your puppet.

               **