aldersprig: (GIRAFFE!)
[personal profile] aldersprig
My Giraffe (Zebra) Call is open!

Written to @dahob's prompt.

It was the day past the Autumnal Equinox, and the Emperor wasn’t dead.

The Rothenkill Empire, a wide-spanning mass of bureaucrats, generals, courtiers, financiers, farmers, and clerks, waited with their collective breaths held.

The servants of the Emperor moved slowly and carefully, as if their heads might fall off if they went about their tasks too quickly, or if they said the wrong thing.

Everyone was waiting.  Everyone was confused.  And almost everyone was worried.

In the Rothenkill Empire, it was said that the Emperors fell with the leaves.  And, like leaves, it was known that sometimes, the Emperors needed a little push, a helpful shove.

So where was the shove?

“This is nor normal,” complained the Chief Financier in charge of budgets. “What are we going to do?  Someone should do something.”

“Someone has to do something,” complained the Head Bureaucrat in charge of law distribution, re-writing, and deletion.

“Won’t someone do something?” pleaded the General of the Imperial Armies.  “He’s starting to give orders that make sense and can’t be ignored!  What are we going to do if we can’t ignore him?”

The Emperor, snug on his throne, pretended he could hear none of this.  He hadn’t ascended to the Poison Throne by looking or acting particularly bright, after all.  None of his predecessors had, either, not in decades, possibly not in centuries.

“The problem is,” muttered a person serving as a handmaiden, “nobody remembers how.”  Her grandmother had once helped off three emperors in a row, but that had been when you got a class of emperor that sometimes needed a shove.  “And with this one, I’m not going to risk it.”

And the Emperor smiled as the empire - the mass of functionaries that had killed his father, his grandfather, and countless of his various uncles and cousins - began to crumble under its own confusion.


and on wordpress...

Date: 2017-09-08 03:16 am (UTC)
thnidu: gold sculpture of a "thumbs up" gesture (thumbs up)
From: [personal profile] thnidu

Date: 2017-09-08 12:38 pm (UTC)
wyste: (Default)
From: [personal profile] wyste

Date: 2017-09-09 09:28 pm (UTC)
clare_dragonfly: woman with green feathery wings, text: stories last longer: but only by becoming only stories (Default)
From: [personal profile] clare_dragonfly

Date: 2017-09-10 05:50 am (UTC)
kelkyag: eye-shaped patterns on birch trunk (birch eyes)
From: [personal profile] kelkyag
He's smarter than he looks, and starting to let it show, but in this whole big bureaucracy that's "always" worked this way nobody's willing to throw a little poison at that "inconvenience"? Or are they so balkanized that there's no group that thinks they can get away with it and not then be taken down themselves?

Date: 2017-09-10 01:55 pm (UTC)
sauergeek: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sauergeek
If the entire empire is expecting him to fall of his own accord, and there's a well-known history of emperors being pushed, I can't expect that anyone would object if anyone else actually did the pushing. Is there some reason that they can't send a guard in with a gun (or a bow, or whatever appropriate tech-level weapon)? Several Roman emperors were killed by their own bodyguards, and that still happens to leaders in recent assassination and/or coup attempts.

Date: 2017-09-10 07:08 pm (UTC)
kelkyag: eye-shaped patterns on birch trunk (birch eyes)
From: [personal profile] kelkyag
If the official mythology is that the Emperor falls with the leaves and that's just how things happen (and it's only inside the court that pushing is not merely known but known to be frequent), interfering with the proper order of things -- or just good ol' murder -- could be illegal and/or something the court is expected to act horrified by. So either the Emperor's death needs to look convincingly natural (and this Emperor may be paranoid enough to make that difficult), or someone needs to take the fall. Even if it's "an accident" rather than murder, someone'd likely be held responsible for putting the Emperor at risk. It's open season to try to pin the blame on your enemies at court while avoiding being blamed yourself...

Date: 2017-09-10 02:04 pm (UTC)
sauergeek: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sauergeek
Annually replacing the emperor sounds like a fine way to 1) run out of candidates and 2) prevent anyone from ever taking the throne. How is it that they can keep finding some fool to step up? There must be some incredible benefit beyond the obvious usual of being emperor.

Date: 2017-09-10 06:58 pm (UTC)
kelkyag: eye-shaped patterns on birch trunk (birch eyes)
From: [personal profile] kelkyag
Who said stepping up was voluntary? There've been societies that practiced human sacrifice, including of a symbolic annual "summer king". Keeping the emperors in a single bloodline makes the logistics a little more difficult, but if, say, the job of the handmaidens is to bear the emperor children, and their daughters are safe and they don't raise their sons, and the average emperor "these days" is in his late teens and has been cossetted in the Imperial Nursery his whole life ...

Date: 2017-09-11 06:19 pm (UTC)
kelkyag: eye-shaped patterns on birch trunk (birch eyes)
From: [personal profile] kelkyag
The average Emperor stays in the nursery his whole life. The smarter or more curious Imperial heirs get out of the nursery, and whether they learn fast or are caught, are no longer considered suitable candidates. (Whether they wind up dead, or whether there's an official or unofficial placement program for disqualified heirs (saw a girl before ascending the throne, he's impure!), or any of many other options is wide open.) This one got out, didn't get caught, learned something, resolved to Do Something, got back in ...


aldersprig: an egyptian sandcat looking out of a terra-cotta pipe (Default)

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