World of Crystals > Return of His Magnificence

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(Tagged: Emperor Kai, )

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Return of His Magnificence

By Scen

Great fanfare heralded the return of the Emperor to the Imperial City. For too long his Magnificence had been away in Fa-Bul under the tutelage of the Way of the Empty Hand. Now, in the Twenty-Third Year of Soaring Dragons, a mere fifteen years since tragedy compelled his rise to the Celestial Throne, Kai Tsao Shou Lung Xsia Chin has returned to the center of the world from whence to govern all under heaven.

Court Astrologer Ming Wu Jen was on hand to receive the Emperor's carriage as it arrived deep within the heart of the Imperial City. "Such noise," His Magnificence was heard to say, in response to the drums and horns that brought up a sound to shake the heavens in his honor.

"A pittance compared with the festivities for Your Magnificence's wedding," Ming Wu declared, bowing low as the Emperor's feet touched -- for the first time since his childhood -- the ground of the Imperial City.

In a flourish, the young Emperor was escorted inside the palace. His entourage first passed through the circus of exotic creatures from across the world, whose existence was purely for the Imperial family's delight and curiosity. The Emperor did not command the procession to stop even once, not even at the sight of the great Behemoth straining against its bonds and howling terribly as they passed.

The Emperor and his following continued, through the living quarters of the noble concubines. Here were these women of midling status, who were either bound by agreement to one noble or other, or else were obliged to the Imperial Family and put to the use of all (of proper standing) within the palace. The women came to their front stoops and watched as the Emperor passed, swooning and fawning after him. The Emperor, though having lived his life thus far in a monastery far from the chance to sample the fairer sex, did not spare the concubines a glance as he continued.

The entourage drove onward, between the North and South Barracks of the Emperor's Men-At-Arms. Within each complex of living quarters, armories and training areas were fully twenty thousand men, armed with the finest steel and magic the Empire had at its disposal. Each of the twenty thousand were sworn to think only on the Emperor and his safety and that of his palace before even his own life. The Emperor, having come to know peace and oneness with himself, felt no more or less comforted at the rousing cheers of the men as he passed by.

Finally, the Emperor and his followers came to the Imperial Seat: a gilded tower with broad, sweeping rooftops and a live phoenix (bound by magic to forever light atop the highest point of the Emperor's tower). The Emperor was not filled with awe, nor with pride, nor with any of the other common conceits of such enormous power and wealth. Instead his eye lingered for just a moment on the noble phoenix, and he wondered what its name was.

"I have been away from the affairs of state for very long," the Emperor declared, once he was properly attired and seated at his court. "Bring me the rolls from every province so I might review the last fifteen years of my absence."

"At once, Your Magnificence," Ming Wu said, with a bow, and he waved his fan and several of the ministers scrambled to gather the writings that their Emperor had requested. When the documents had been brought to him, the Emperor dismissed all from the court save for thirteen scribes and the Court Astrologer. He spent a full two weeks going over the rolls, working continuously, pausing only to take food for himself and his scribes and afford rest breaks to those who had need of them. (the Emperor himself took none)

When he had finished reviewing the condition of the Empire, he began to issue decrees. Noting that there had been a shift between the populations of two large cities in the desert provinces of Damkia, he ordered an immediate redistribution of grain shipments to reflect the changes in size that had occured since the time of his late father. He also ordered engineers to immediately depart for Damkia to conduct a survey on the irrigation systems and determine if repairs or expansions were necessary to keep the region secure.

As the Emperor continued issuing such decrees, Ming Wu Jen was overheard commenting to another minister: "The Emperor indeed has rightfully gained Shang Ti's mandate, for he has learned the first duty of the throne: exalt agriculture." The other ministers and scribes were likewise in awe.

Only when the feeding of the vast Xsian Empire was secured did the Emperor bring his attention to politics.

"Your Magnificence," Ming Wu Jen addressed him, "I have found for you the perfect match. Being that it is now your twenty third year, it is long past time you took on wives and concubines and produced an heir to keep the dynasty secure."

"Whom have you found?" the Emperor asked.

"She is Lady Sai, daughter of Lord Wing Xu of Yurang province. As you know, Your Magnificence, the Wings of Yurang are a powerful and noble family. The marriage will bring great boons to both your houses, and the Kai dynasty will be enriched all the more by way of alliance with the Wing clan."

"What color are her eyes and hair?" the Emperor asked.

"I have not seen her," Ming Wu Jen explained. The Emperor ordered the Astrologer away until he could answer the question. Two days later Ming Wu Jen returned with a report: "Her hair is the color of autumn leaves, Your Magnificence. Her eyes resemble unspoiled jade."

"... So, red hair and green eyes," the Emperor said.

"... Err... why, yes, Your Magnificence," Ming Wu stumbled.

"And her age?"

"Lady Sai has just passed the threshold of womanhood," Ming Wu said. "She is a virgin and quite fertile."

"... My question," the Emperor said, growing impatient, "Was how old is she, Astrologer."

Ming Wu looked hurt. "Fourteen years, Your Magnificence," he said, bowing his head.

The Emperor stroked his chin, considering. Finally, he said: "You may tell Lord Wing that I will accept his daughter as my wife."

"Excellent, Your Magnificence," Ming Wu said. "I will see to the arrangements immediately --"

"No," the Emperor said. "First, I wish to convene a meeting between myself and all of the Provincial governors. Here, in the palace. I wish to hear from them, and not only my scribes and documents, what is the status of the Empire."

Ming Wu Jen was taken somewhat aback by this. "Such a thing is... not very often done," the Astrologer said.

"I am aware," the Emperor said, refusing to acknowledge the Astrologer's unspoken protest. "See to it, would you?"

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