Better the Devil You Know

Meeting between Kohatuan and Oan government officials
3 August 2021

Opal Lazuli, the Chief Minister of the Kohatu Isles, was sitting in the board room of the office building where the government of the Kohatu Isles worked. She tested the audio and asked her colleagues to remain standing as they waited for the Oan Prime Minister, Maui Uye-Ahua to get on the screen. She had a meeting with him every week via video conference to report on updates and discuss issues affecting their nations. Although the meeting was meant to start at 6pm, the screen remained blank. A minute past and then another as Opal and her team waited for Maui’s face to appear. After 7 minutes of standing awkwardly like children at their desks waiting for the teacher to arrive, Maui’s face filled up the screen. Sardonyx, the Minister of Internal Affairs (who was also in attendance), shifted uncomfortably. He disdained this little ritual. 
“Kia ora, Opare”, Maui said. His tattooed face filled up the monitor like a sun filling up the day with light.
“Kia ora, Prime Minister”, Opal replied. Maui insisted on not only calling Opal and her team by their first names, but he insisted on using the Oan translations as well. Although he said he was trying to make them feel like “one of [them]”, the Kohatuans felt like Oan culture was being imposed upon them and their identities were being sterilised to be more suitable for their new overlords. 
Maui proclaimed, “We may begin”. 
Opal and her team took their seats. They were visibly uncomfortable but there existed a subordinate relationship  between Kohatu and the Oan Isles and by extension between them and Oan government officials. Although grateful for their support in liberating their country from a dictatorship, there were some doubts and resentment about being annexed by the Oan Isles. 
Sardonyx stated, “Mr. Prime Minister, while I understand that the Commission for Institutional Reform is playing an integral role in helping us build capable institutions, I feel that the Commission is not paying due regard to Kohatuan candidates”.
Maui responded, “Nonsense, Harareka! How can that be? The Commission has shown itself to only consider merit when making appointments”.
Sardonyx, swallowed and continued, “For instance, an Oan was appointed as the CEO of the Kohatu Sovereign Wealth Fund”.
Maui replied, “I think you mean the most competent candidate! Mr Timoteo Huinga is the only candidate to have headed up a multi-billion kirib organisation”.
Sardonyx continued, “But, sir, just because he has headed up some big firm does not mean he is suited to running our fund!”
Opare gave Sardonyx a death stare, signaling him to stand down, and proceeded to intervene, “While we recognise Mr Huinga’s experience, we feel that a Kohatuan candidate such as Dr Jade Michaelson would have been closer to the Gemican - I mean Kohatuan - way of doing things”.
“If the Kohatuan way of doing things was adequate, you wouldn’t have needed us to liberate you”, Maui barked back.
People in the room gasped in shock.
Maui realised what he had done, and tried to correct the situation, “Look. I understand your sentiments about Oans seemingly crowding capable Kohatuans out of opportunities. But look at it like this, the Oan brand has confidence and stability, and these are the key ingredients to making Kohatu strong and self-sufficient. The way we do things has proven itself time and time again and it will continue to do so. Have faith in the process and be proud of the work that you are doing - that we are doing”.
The meeting ended and the monitor became black again. Sardonyx looked disgusted, his face thick with lines of annoyance. Opal turned to him and tried to get him to calm down while chiding him for his actions.
“Listen, Sard”, she said, calling him by the term of endearment she had made up, “I understand that this is frustrating, but we need to face the facts: there’s a big wide world out there and needs a little more heft. The time will come for Kohatuans, you’ll see”.
“When, Opal?” Sardonyx spat back, “The Oans don’t respect us! They don’t see us as equals!”
“That’s not true, and even if it were, losing our cool and being blinded by our emotions won’t impress them”, Opal replied.
“I don’t want to impress them”, Sardonyx barked, “I want them to respect us and let us run our country as we see fit!”
“Look”, Opal replied, “Tomorrow is the opening of Malachite Palace. I want you on your best behaviour”.
“Of course”, he said. As she left and went out of ear shot, he whispered, “mom!”

[spoiler]Hey all. This RP is closed until further notice. I plan on making it open, but I want to use the first few posts to create context around what’s happening.

Opening of Malachite Palace
4 August 2021
Malachite City, Kohatu Isles
Today was the opening ceremony of the Malachite Palace, which the Oans knew as Wharenui Marakaite. Malachite Palace was to serve as the official residence and workplace of the Oan monarch when he was in the Kohatu Isles. Additionally, it was to serve as a museum and its grounds as a public park. The building was grandiose and built in the architectural styles of the Oan Isles to project Oan power and showcase the marvels of Oan art and architecture. 
There was a lot of controversy surrounding the building. For instance, many of the leading officials, architects and contractors were Oan. The building was built on land was of historic and spiritual significance to the Hamaate people of the Kohatu Isles. Furthermore, the building did not incorporate adequate Kohatuan art and culture thus it served as a symbol of a foreign nation rather than as something in which Kohatuans could take ownership.
Despite the controversy, the mood at the opening ceremony was jovial. Sardonyx was instructed to have a smile no matter how uncomfortable he was. Opal was basking in glory as she was showered in praise for ensuring the effective completion of the project and for the attention that the Oans were giving her as the First Minister of the Kohatu Isles. Although a small group of protestors had gathered some distance from the venue - other than the jeers and chants - were peaceful. Emperor Oahoanu was seated on the stage with the rest of the retinue which included the foreign minister of the Oan Isles, Arana Marama. 
Sardonyx looked to Opal and told her he needed to take a call before the event started. She excused him and he left the stage. 
Opal stood up from her chair and addressed the crowd from the podium, “Fellow Kohatuans and Oans, we are gathered hear today to celebrate the completion of and officially open the Wharenui Marakaite…”
Before she could finish her speech, the sound of the screeching of tires and crowds yelling and scattering filled the air. Bodyguards rushed to escort the dignitaries to safety. Before anyone could get a sense of what was going on, a large white vehicle rammed into the now deserted stage and exploded. A booming noise rang as a massive cloud of smoke filled the air with horror and confusion…
[spoiler]Hey y’all the RP is officially open. That means you can post your responses and maybe interact with the Oan authorities or whatever else. However, the plot is really only going to move with the first few posts I make hereafter. Just find an “in” as you feel fit, but please ask if you can interact with certain characters or if you’re unsure about whether other characters are aware of certain plot points and details. Usually anything that is in the public domain will be reported on OAN NEWS.  

Investigation begins
5 August 2021
Oan Intelligence Bureau, Tokapa, The Oan Isles

Tipene Rahua, the Director of the Oan Intelligence Bureau, was in his office surrounded by staff and ringing phones and people pulling him in all directions. The intel on the attack had reached his office several minutes before it was executed. The OIB alerted the state protection services present at the opening of the Malachite Palace which gave them enough time to evacuate most of the civilians and government officials. Luckily only one person got injured. Unfortunately, the newly completed building took on the full might of the blast, throwing away months of construction work and hundreds of thousands of kiribs worth of property. Despite averting the attempted assassination of the Emperor, royal family, and senior government officials of the Kohatu Isles and the Oan Isles, the threat had not yet been stopped.

Tipene was well aware that an attempted assassination of the Sovereign smelled like a coup. In coordination with the military and police, government officials were evacuated to safe places and the Council of Ministers ran the country from a bunker in the capital city. This was done both to protect them and to prevent any of them from coordinating a coup without the OIB’s knowledge. OIB made an emergency application to the Supreme Court’s Emergency National Threats Division for a sweeping warrant that would allow law enforcement and intelligence to intercept all communications, arrest any individual and raid private property for 48 hours.

Tipene got a call on the phone from the Customs Services at Kohatu International Airport, “Yes… What? Arrest him immediately!”

Apparently, Sardonyx had gone for more than just a phone call when he left the proceedings earlier that day.

The airport official continued explaining, “Minister Sardonyx Tupuni’s private jet was scheduled to land in Volkia with a stop over in… Packilvania”.

The mention of that name made him shudder.

“We have a fantastic relationship with the Volkians”, Tipene thought, “Surely they wouldn’t interfere in our domestic affairs least of all try to assassinate our government when we’re already in talks to build the Velox Motors assembly plant in our country. No. This stop over flight in Packilvania smells like trouble”.

Somewhere in the Packilvanian desert
5 August 2021

A male feline wore a scarf that covered his head and the lower half of his face. He was standing in the hanger at a non-descript airplane landing strip in Ashura province carrying a black brief case.

A feline man wearing a black suit and black sunglasses ran to him and gave him the phone

He held it to his ears and said, “Yes. This is Abuyin. How can I help you?”

His facial expression turned from semi-calm concern to full-blown rage and fear. In a loud voice he said, “What do you mean the asset didn’t arrive in Bingol?”

Prosecutor’s Office, Mahakatepa, Kohatu Isles
9 August 2021

“We don’t have enough evidence to prosecute”.

Tipene Rahua’s heart sank at the sounds of those words. He replied calmly and firmly to the Prosecutor, “What do you mean we don’t have enough evidence to prosecute? The mere fact that this man may have links to Packilvania arouses enough suspicion to put that man in prison”.

The Prosecutor looked at him and took of their glasses. They replied, “Mr Rahua, with all due respect, you are talking nonsense. This is why OIB should not get involved in law enforcement. The paranoia cultivated by your line of work makes sapient rights a secondary priority. Well, sir, here we do not deal with suspicion. Come back with some proper evidence. I order you to release Mr Tupuni by the end of business today. Am I clear?”

“Yes, Mx”, Tipene said begrudgingly, “You are clear”.

Tipene Rahua sent an instruction to the police to release Mr Tupuni. He struck his fist on his desk in annoyance. There was a lot of people in higher echelons of power who want the situation resolved. The OIB’s reputation was on the line and the government needed to project that it was in control and could protect its citizens.

As he worked at his desk, there was a knock on the door.

“Come in”, Tipene beckoned.

Chief Whip of the Kohatu Soc Dems in the Kohatu Legislative Assembly walked in. Jasper Ray was a shrewd politician, but suffered from arrogance and over zealous ambition.

“I trust you’re having a good day, Director Rahua”, Jasper said with a smirk.

“I am not”, Tipene replied dryly, “Can I help you or will you be writing more letters to foreign press”.

“No, I just came to warn you, that your campaign against Mr Tupuni will fail”.

Tipene was annoyed and deeply offended, “How dare you accuse us of getting involved in politics?! You are self-righteous and pompous, if you dare spread those conspiracy theories in our country I will have you arrested for spreading disinformation and propaganda. Do you understand me?”

Jasper gently put their long fingers together. The slow smooth motion resembled the tentacles of an octopus around a doomed fish. They said, “Well, Mr Rahua, you don’t scare me”.

Jasper walked out of the office and left the door open. Fury rose in Tipene such that he got up from his desk and banged the door closed.
12 Madagen Road, Akas Akil, Ashura, Packilvania
9 August 2021

Prince Abuyin  wrapped his paws around a warm cup of Packilvanian coffee. The strong almost smoke-like flavour rose in the air and filled the room. Abuyin was seated across his associate, Ludik Achtan. Prince Abuyin was the Deputy Crown Prince of Packilvania. Although this position did not guarantee that he was the third in line to the throne, it did provide him with power and access to position himself as Sultan Noi’s successor.

Ludik started, “Well, sir, our contact states that the asset was released”.

Abuyin replied, “That’s fantastic. We need to strike while iron is still hot”.

Ludik said, with trembling in his voice, “Do you think this is a good idea? I mean this will all respect sir, but should you become Sultan, would you want your reign to be overshadowed by…”

Abuyin snapped back before he could finish, “Shut your mouth, infidel! I am Prince Abuyin. I am not scared of anything. Move to stage 2 of the plan”.

Abuyin put his paws on the armrests of the chair that Ludik was sitting on and put his face centimetres from Ludik such that their whiskers touched, “If I sense cowardice, hesitation or wavering, I will kill you. There is no place for weakness in my Sultanate. Am I clear?”

Ludik could barely breath, “Ye… ye… yes, sir”.

Kohatu Government House, Mahakatepa, Kohatu Isles
9 August 2021

Opal Lazuli sat at her desk, trying to get back to work after the traumatic bombing of Malachite Palace. She also oversaw the reconstruction of the palace. With the panel of experts and architects, it was decided to add barriers to control foot and vehicular traffic and to move core building structures away from the edges to the center of the site.

Opal also had the difficult duty of dealing with the political fallout of the attacks. The suspicion on Sardonyx made it untenable for her to keep him in the government.

Opal called him in.

“I’m glad to see you’re well, Sard”, she said.

“Thank you, Opal”, he replied.

She continued, “The incidents of the past week have been difficult on all of us. I can imagine that after this distressing ordeal you need some rest”.

Sardonyx’s eyes opened wide. His hands tightened around the armrests of the chair he sat on. “What do you mean? I didn’t ask for some rest”.

Opal replied, “I have decided to give you leave with pay for the next 30 days”.

Sardonyx yelled, “What?!”

“Yes”, l she continued, “I also think you need some rest from party activities”.

“You know what”, he said, “Keep your leave. I quit”.

He stormed out. Before he got to the door, he said, “My secretary will send my letter of resignation by the end of the day!”

She sat shocked at what had happened and shuddering for the storm to come.

Kohatu Socialist Democratic Party HQ, Mahakatepa, Kohatu Isles

The Chief Administrator Firestone Rekai of the Kohatu Socialist Democratic Party (KSDP), the leading party of the Kohatu Isles, read the letter from the Chief Whip with shock. Chief Whip Jasper Ray had sided with Sardonyx Tupuni and mustered enough signatures from KSDP members of the Kohatu Legislative Assembly to launch a leadership challenge.

Firestone asked Jasper a simple question as his hand hovered over the “enter” key on his keyboard, “Are you sure?”

“Yes!” Jasper proclaimed, please with their work.

At that moment a communiqué was sent to registered representatives of the KSDP’s branches notifying them that a challenge had been lodged to Opal Lazuli’s leadership of the party and that they were required to gather in Mahakatepa in a few days to vote on the challenge.

The terms of the challenge stated that Opal Lazuli be removed from the leadership position and Sardonyx Tupuni replace her. This would not automatically result in Sardonyx becoming the Chief Minister of the Kohatu Isles. Should he win, it would make that prospect more likely.

Angry, Opal rang Sardonyx. Without preamble, she bellowed, “How could you do this, Sard ?”

“Don’t call me that, Mrs Lazuli”, Sardonyx said, formally. “We are not friends nor are we political allies. Our usefulness to each other has expired and you have lost my confidence in your leadership. I do not owe you an explanation”.

She laughed and ran her fingers through her hair, “Yes you do! I have led this party and I was at the forefront of the Liberation War”.

“Shut your mouth”, he spat back, “This movement was started by Moissanite and I. You only got involved because of Lazuli. You’re at best à tertiary contributor. While you were giving speeches, we did the real working of fighting in the streets and cultivating a movement. We shouldn’t have trusted you to lead this brave new nation. It’s time I correct that mistake and take charge”.

The phone dropped and all that was left was a quiet buzzing sound. Opal slammed the receiver on the telephone body in annoyance.

6 September 2021
Kohatu Legislative Assembly

“Order”, yelled the speaker, as he struck the gavel onto the wooden plate. It’s resonant sound was flooded out by the yells of shock of the members of the Kohatu Legislative Assembly.

“Yes”, Jasper Ray said as Sardonyx sat quietly beside them, “I hereby reiterate my motion that this house pass a motion of no-confidence in the ministry of Opal Lazuli”.

A nondescript backbencher, got up and yelled “Here here! I second”.

With that, the Speaker was forced to call for a vote. The motion appeared across the screens on the member’s desks. They each settled at their desk and entered their unique password. The options were yes or no. Members selected one option.

The Secretary sitting at the foot of the dais got the stats of all the votes cast. It was official, the Opal Lazuli Ministry had come to an end.

Now it was up to Opal whether to dissolve the KLA or tender her resignation to the Emperor of Polynesia. She sat with shock and awe while Sardonyx smuggly sat calm and almost harmless-looking in his seat.

Meanwhile in Packilvania.

Deputy Crown Prince Abuyin was sitting with members of the Packilvanian Cabinet. The discussion was boring as always and he had not been given much to do.

No matter. It gave him time to think.

A brief look at Prince Abuyin Bedon.

Prince Abuyin Bedon is the second son and third child of Sultan Namdun III of Packilvania. He was educated in Bingol at prestigious schools and lived at the Rashahad Palace with his mother, Sultan Namdun III’s Consort, Sultana Mebri Bedon.

Like the rest of his family, he was of the Shirazi race. He had a black snout and white-gray fur and black ears. He was considered handsome among Felines. He was smart and ambitious. The latter trait had been difficult for his parents to wrestle with because it made him restless but eager. Unfortunately, they could not find him anything to do that would keep him excited as they did not want Abuyin to overshadow Crown Prince Thumim.

Unfortunately for them, Abuyin wanted to do more than overshadow Thumim.

After the dreary meeting with the rest of the Packilvanian Cabinet, Prince Abuyin took a walk in the gardens of the Bingol Royal Palace far from the prying eyes and ears in the building. He room out his Primrose phone and dialled his contact in the Kohatu Isles.

“How did it go?” Abuyin asked eagerly.

“The vote went according to plan”, the androgynous voice reported on the other side of the line.

“Good”, Abuyin said, “You have redeemed yourself. This makes up for your earlier shortcomings. However I am still watching you and should you fall short, I will not be as forgiving”.

Pilgrimage to the Jovian Gate
Akas Akil, Packilvania
18 August 2021

The Royal family of Packilvania known as the House of Bedon were adhérents of a branch of Paxism known as Madvinism. It was a highly intolerant sect that promoted Feline supremacy. This was ironic given that the House of Bedon under Sultan Amhoud I had armed and funded the Carriers of Mercy an organisation’s that rescued millions of humans from genocide at the hands of the Communist government in the mid to late 20th century CE.

As part of that belief system they strongly believed that the Sultan of Packilvania was the rightful Guardian of the Memorial of the Jovian Gate, a physical site that had been erected by followers of Prophet Besmali in the 1st century CE to commemorate the Battle between Pax and Borg by which Borg was trapped behind a supernatural barrier known as the Jovian Gate. This Memorial of the Jovian Gate was a physical site for reflection and commemoration that had become the most venerated and sacred place in the Paxist religion. All Paxists regardless of their faith were encouraged to conduct a pilgrimage to the site once in their lives.

As the Royal family of Packilvania, members of the House of Bedon were expected to go frequently as a show of religious piety. Crown Prince Thumim and Deputy Crown Prince Abuyin were sent by Sultan Namdun III to visit the site and represent the royal family at the annual celebration of the Battle of Pax and Borg. This was a holy day for Paxists (although they did not agree on the dates). Madvinist celebrated this day o the 18th of August every year.

The midday sun was hot and the air was dry. Yet Crown Prince Thumim, draped in white ceremonial robes stood steady and unyielding making prayers to the Goddess Noi. Abuyin stood uncomfortably as he chafed and look around distracted. This small subtle display was a big marker of the differences between the two men. Thumim was highly religious (whether this was sincere belief or political pageantry was hard to ascertain) and took his duties very seriously. He barely smiled or laughed or showed much personality. He was loyal to his father and wanted to uphold the traditions of Madvinism. He was liked by the bureaucracy and the clergy and courted much of his support from them.

Deputy Crown Prince Abuyin was the opposite. He was aggressive, impulsive, fun, and worldly. He was unconventional and eccentric. He was a playboy and was deeply liked by the nobility and the military who held more closely to his worldly views. He was willing to drink or smoke catnip with them. He was willing to dance all night with the troops and he fought like a badger. Tough and ruthless. But in the end Thumim was older and was being groomed as the head of state while Abuyin was being groomed as the trusted body guard, the muscle of the Crown.

Unfortunately, Abuyin was not comfortable in that role. He did not want to live in his brother’s shadow. And no, this is isn’t some boring oft told story about jealousy. He deeply cared for and loved his brother, but he had ambitions he was willing to stand behind. It was nothing personal. It was just business.

As they stood praying at the Memorial of the Jovian Gate, Thumim looked at Abuyin and said, “Why are you plotting against me?”

Prince Thumim was in a car in front of his brother’s.

They arrived at an abandoned internment camp outside Akas Akil. These kinds of facilities were used by the government to imprison people for their crimes.

The government was gradually moving to formal prisons. This site had been abandoned because too few crimes were committed in the area for it to keep enough people for its existence to be justified.

Thus, it was closed.

The vehicles stopped at the Center of the facility and all the men got out of their vehicles.

“Look at this place, Abu”, Thumim said, “This is where we used to keep people who broke the law”.

“Why am I here?” Abuyin asked.

“The might of Justice is heavy but it falls on everyone from the lowest pauper to the mightiest Prince”, Thumim said. a

“What are you talking about, Thumim”, Abuyin asked.

“You are my brother, right?” Thumim asked, “And you know that I love you?”

“Why are you asking me these questions, Thumim”, Abuyin said.

“I want to give you a chance to come clean and confess your actions on your own accord”, Thumim said, “I am willing to be merciful, if you are honest about your plans”.

“That’s enough Thumim”, Abuyin declared.

“Let me simplify”, Thumim said, “Why are you plotting against me?”

“I am not”, Abuyin said firmly.

“There are reports that suggest otherwise”, Thumim said, “You know that it is a crime to try to disinherit a Prince unlawfully?”

“This is nonsense”, Abuyin declared.

“Abuyin, I will remind you that I am your brother who was always there for you”, Thumim said, “I am going to forget the plans who have been working on in the Oan Isles but if you attempt anything foolish, I will be compelled to report you to the authorities and a place such as this shall be your new home”.

Meeting of Saboteurs
Akas Akil Imperial Palace, Akas Akil, Packilvania
19 August 2021

“Your brother is a beast”, said Prince Mudwan.

“I meant no disrespect, Abuyin, but Prince Thumim is a monster”.

Abuyin stood up and looked Mudwan dead in the eye, “I agree”.

Mudwan’s breathing relaxed for he had feared that Abuyin would punch him in the face for insulting his beloved brother.

Abuyin sat back down and buried his head in his hands trying to wrap his head around what he had experienced, “I know my brother was ruthless, I knew that he could even be cruel. But this is a different level”.

“And he threatened to have you arrested?” asked Mudwan.

“Yes”, Abuyin answered, “He said that if I was not loyal to him, he would throw me into an interment camp”.

“Why didn’t he”, asked Mudwan.

Abuyin looked at him appalled, nostrils flaring and eyes wide open and chatoyant.

Mudwan saw his expression and tried to explain, “What I meant Abuyin is that Prince Thumim is evidently a monster of the worst kind to the extent that he is willing to have his own brother arrested to secure his succession. If he had firm evidence that you were plotting to usurp him, he would have reported you”.

Abuyin contemplated this grotesque but necessary observation. After deep thought, he said, “It’s because he doesn’t know. He might have some idea that I may be conspiring against him, but he doesn’t actually know what I’m planning. This means we have an advantage over him. After today’s performance, he might think that he scared back into my box”.

Mudwan spoke, “Prince Thumim…”

Abuyin interjected before he could finish “Why do you do that?”

Mudwan asked, “What?”

Abuyin said, “Why do you call him by his title even when he’s not here. It’s just us. Are you afraid of him?”

“Yes, okay? Yes! I fear him”, Mudwan replied.

Abuyin grabbed Mudwan by the face with a single paw, tightly squeezing his jaw with his strong arms. He looked him him in the eye and said “Are you loyal to me?”

“Yes of course I am!” Mudwan replied, “But your brother is cruel. We will need a lot to usurp someone like that”.

“I agree”.

In the Sultan’s Throne Room,
Akas Akil Imperial Palace,
Akas Akil, Packilvania

“Thank you for granting me this audience, sire”, Abuyin said as he knelt before his father who sat on the Akas Akil Imperial Throne.

Sultan Namdun III stood up and came down from his dais. He grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him up as he said, “Rise my son, in whom I am well pleased”.

“Walk with me, as you tell me what is on your heart”, the Sultan said.

“Thank you father”, Abuyin replied, “I think Thumim has lost his mind. He dragged me to the middle of nowhere and threatened to arrest me if I was disloyal to him. Thumim is dangerous”.

“Prince Thumim is many things. He is smart, he is cunning, he is crafty and he is very dark. I agree that he is dangerous. But he is also effective. He is loyal to his family and he is loyal to me”, the Sultan said.

“But father”, Abuyin implored, “Thumim is capable of doing ghastly things. I think he might even try to overthrow you”.

“I would not be surprised”, the Sultan said.

Abuyin looked at him in shock and asked him, “Are you not concerned?”

The Sultan laughed and replied, “Not all my son. If Prince Thumim wants to unseat me, which I am sure he does, and take the throne for himself, let him. If I cannot protect my crown from my own son then I am not fit to be the Sultan”.

Abuyin stared at the floor in disbelief. The Sultan saw his expression and said, “Do not fear my son. Prince Thumim has endured terrible hardship. I might have a firm hand with you, but I was monstrous to him as a boy. I had feared that he would grow soft and I was not willing to pass on my throne to a weakling. So, I prepared him in the best way that I knew. He endured hunger, hard labour and learnt difficult things at a young age. His mother begged for his life. I knew then that I had done something beastly. But ever since that day I knew he hated me. No matter how obsequious he may seem, deep down he hates me. I expect no tears from him at my burial. I tried to mend our relationship by loosening my hand and showing him affection, but he did not reciprocate. I have witnessed Prince Thumin with my own eyes and I was so impressed, I was partly scared. Even if there is no love between us. There is respect. Prince Thumim has protected this family and this throne with life and limb. He has earned his right at my side and that is where he will remain until I see otherwise. Most of all he has protected you”.

“Forgive my impertinence, father, but what do you mean”, asked Abuyin in disbelief.

“When you were being bullied, Prince Thumim took the bullies - who were bigger than himself and fought them. He gave them a few broken noses and it was never discovered who did it but I knew it was him”, the Sultan said, “Prince Thumim has a special brand of ruthlessness that I recognised instantly. The truth is son, Prince Thumim loves you more than he loves anyone in the world including his mother. I would wager this Palace that after your mother, he loves you more than anyone else in the world”.

"What good is love if he has me arrested ", Abuyin asked.

The Sultan laughed, “He will not harm you. You have my protection. Prince Thumim will not harm you as long as I am protecting you”.

“Why do you do that, my liege?” asked Abuyin.

“What do you mean, son ?” asked the Sultan.

“It’s funny, but I noticed that everyone called him Prince Thumim even when he’s not around”, asked Abuyin.

“Ah! Yes. It’s respect. Prince Thumim disavowed me. We reached an agreement our relationship would be strictly professional. But, he is my heir and he pledged his life to me and he has proven that loyalty. Though I wish it were not so, it is so. There is a deep respect between us, and I honour him by calling him by his title even when he is not present”, answered the Sultan, “If anything, I realise that you and your mother are the only ones who call him by his first name only”.

It was then that Abuyin realized just how much more difficult it would be to take Thumim’s place.

In Abuyin’s apartments
Akas Akil Imperial Palace
Akas Akil, Packilvania
19 August 2021

Abuyin was working at his desk as his servant approached him and told him that Prince Thumim requested an audience with him. Abuyin accepted the request and instructed the servant to let Prince Thumim enter. They sat his salon, facing each other as they sat in comfortable arm chairs. However, the atmosphere between them was not comfortable.

“Brother”, said Abuyin, “What do I owe the pleasure of your visit?”

“You honour me by granting this audience, Prince Abuyin”, said Prince Thumim.

Abuyin was slightly taken aback by Thumim’s formality. Although Thumim was not one to apologize, his strange speech gave Abuyin the impression that he was sorry.

“I realize that you spoke to the Sultan about me”, said Thumim.

Abuyin replied, “Yes, I did speak to father”.

Thumim said, “I see. His Imperial Majesty told me”.

“Ah, I see”, said Abuyin.

“Well, he did not tell you everything”, Thumim said, “I would like to shed more light on what the Sultan said”.

“Oh”, Abuyin said inild surprise, “Please share”.

“Thank you”, said Thumim, “The Sultan spoke truthfully and no word he said to you was a falsehood. But he omitted a crucial detail about the discipline he showed me when I was younger”.

Abuyin interjected and asked, “Do you mean when he nearly… killed you?”

“Yes”, Thumim answered, “His anger was right, of course and it was necessary to make me who I am. An unforeseen side effect of the incident, which I am certain the Sultan could not have reasonably foreseen, was that I was rendered infertile”.

Abuyin’s eyes opened wide and his ears were raised in shock and disbelief, “I am so sorry, Thumim”. He meant that. He could not imagine a father doing something so horrific to his son.

“It’s quite alright. His Imperial Majesty was unhappy and apologized for the incident. Which I accepted as the Sultan hardly ever apologizes. However, I realized that our relationship was no longer feasible given the events that had transpired between us. I have tried for many years through various methods which I will disclose to restore my fertility, but the Goddess Noi and our Lord Pax have chosen to leave me as I am, for which I am humble. I am merely grateful that they have spared my life thus far. Nevertheless, I have recently come to accept my circumstance. In that the truth is, you are my heir”.

Abuyin interjected in surprise, “Excuse me?”

“Yes”, Thumim said, “By you, I shall have heirs. I know that you have honored me by delaying your own date of marriage until mine had come to pass. Even though you do not say it, I know it. And I know that you have done this so as not to eclipse me. Which I am grateful for. But I do not want you to delay the start of a new chapter in your life because of me. Thus, I am going to throw you a big feast where I will handpick maidens from across the realm to tend to you. I hope that among them you will find a wife well-suited to be your Consort. And I pray to the Goddess Noi that she may be the first of many and I pray that you may have many children and that your progeny may fill the Urth”.

“Thank you, brother”, said Abuyin.

“Great! I will proceed with the arrangements for the festivities”,said Thumim. Then he left Abuyin’s apartments.

Abuyin just sat bewildered by his brother’s strange actions. He knew that Thumim would never apologize but this was his apology. After hearing his story, Abuyin felt sorry for him, nearly wavering in his resolve to supplant him. However, he realized that Thumim was so far gone that he would be the greatest and most oppressive Sultan in the history of Packilvania. He would cover the land and as much of the world as possible with his darkness. As far as Abuyin was concerned, his mission to supplant Thumim took on new meaning. Not only was it necessary to meet his personal ambitions, but it was necessary to protect the realm from him.

Jasper Ray’s office,
Kohatu Legislative Assembly Building,
21 August 2021

Jasper Ray sat behind their office in the Kohatu Legislative Assembly Building. It was a dignified structure but it was not imperious. Partly in line with its role as a body for public debate, it was designed to open to the public and was designed as a predominantly functional building. For that reason it did not command the same respect and stature as the Kalmington Parliament in Sani Bursil. Nevertheless it got the job done. Jasper Ray was glad for the ample space in their office, but their problem was that their window faced a boring modernist building across the road.

Sitting alone in their office, Jasper Ray had time to contemplate what they were doing. Jasper didn’t know how to feel about working with Prince Abuyin. On one hand the money was substantial but the risks were starting to wear on the skin. Having to hide information and bribe officials was a recipe for disaster and the botched bombing of the Malachite Palace was drawing suspicion from authorities. They knew that Tipene Rahua was a blood hound and he was searching a culprit on whom to pin the bombing. The dart of his anger seemed to be narrowing dangerously close to Jasper and Sardonyx.

Jasoer had gotten involved with Prince Abuyin and his plot to start a crisis in the Oan Isles by accident. Prince Abuyin had been in Great Morstaybishlia conducting business on behalf of the Packilvanian government. Jasper had been invited to a cocktail party. Prince Abuyin was also in attendance. Due to Jasper’s androgynous appearance, Prince Abuyin assumed that Jasper identified as a woman. To his surprise, Jasper identified as non-binary. He did not know what being non-binary was all about and so he took an interest in Jasper and probed them for answers.

Jasper was happy to oblige and they had a splendid conversation. Rather than being uncomfortable, Prince Abuyin was intrigued and despite this strange revelation took to Jasper. He was attracted to them despite their gender non-conformity and the fact they were human. The relationship between Abuyin and Jasper was intellectual but not more than that. Abuyin found out from one their conversations that Sardonyx had been the preferred head of the NLM. From that Abuyin took advantage of Jasper’s preferences to suggest that they get involved in a plot to overthrow Opal.

Jasoer was keen but as they entered the Bedonite web, they realized that the demands that were to be made of them were difficult. But by then it was too late. Unluckily for Jasper, Abuyin was able to use threats and manipulation on Jasper until they were so deeply enmeshed in this whole plot in that they were unable to escape.

26 August 2021,
Sultana’s Palace,
Bingol, Packilvania

Sultana Mebri was the first spouse of Sultan Namdun III. She had been the daughter of Grand Magister Tawak Mudawaheen. The Mudawaheen family was a powerful clan that controlled the Paxist religion in the country. Namdun III wanted to maintain the compliance of the Mudawaheen clan in his rule and so he married one of their own.

Mebri Mudawaheen had been an obedient daughter and she found the prospect of marrying the sovereign highly desirable. But when she got into the marriage she realized how cruel he was. She gave him his three oldest kids and his only sons among a litany of girls from his other wives.

She could bear him having children outside of their marriage but she could never forgive him for what he did to Thumim. Everyone knew, even if she did not say it openly, that Thumim was her favourite. Abuyin had always resented his mother for choosing Thumim before him but after he realized the suffering and lasting damage he endured at their father’s hand, he imagined that the devotion she showed Thumim was the only love he had ever known.

Namdun III and Mebri’s marriage was incredibly rocky. Soured by him not only taking more wives but giving them royal titles and his abuse of her eldest son, their marriage broke down. To keep her from divorcing him and severing the carefully wrought alliance, they quietly and unofficially separated and he built her a Palace in the leafy Salaam District of Bingol where she lived as she pleased away from the public eye and nosey courtiers.

Yet Abuyin had never known this dark side of Thumim’s past and his relationship with his father.
He wanted to investigate more and find out his mother’s involvement in the entire affair so he visited her on a warm sunny day. A high black fence with a tall and thick hedge behind it separated the massive estate of the Sultana’s Palace from the rest of the area. The massive estate had large perfectly manicured lawns and beautiful gardens to which the Sultana herself carefully tended.

The heavily armed guards at the gate let his Royal Redrugus limousine through. Excited that her son had come to see her, the Sultana awaited him at the door surrounded by her attendants. She was a devoted mother, a stylish and respected woman, but she was indulgent and had never known a day of Labour in her life.

“My son”, she said excitedly, “I am so happy that you have come to see me”.

“I am glad to see you”, Abuyin said, “Listen, I have something important to speak to you about regarding my brother”.

“Oh”, the Sultan’s said, her face suddenly quizzical. Her cheerful expression returned and she said, “Of course my son. Let’s talk”.

She had her attendants bring tea as they sat in the garden under the gazebo.

“Father told me about Thumim”, he said.

“What did he tell you”, she said, feigning ignorance and trying to remain cheerful.

“He told me what father did to him, and how their relationship has irreparably changed”.

“I see”, she asked, her cheerful demeanor wavering, “What do you want from me”.

“Mother”, he said, “I do not think that Thumim is fit to succeed father as the Sultan and I intend to take his place”.

“What is this madness”, she said in anger. She lowered her volume so that the rest of the courtiers and attendants could not hear her. “Abuyin why would you do that to your brother”.

“Brother is dangerous”, Abuyin said boldly, “He cannot be allowed to take the throne otherwise he will plunge the world into darkness”.

“Why are you telling me this, my son”, she  asked.

“I want you to flee to Kalatya as I make my move”, he said.

“This is ridiculous!” She said, “I will not betray my son”. She stood up and commanded him to leave.

22 September 2021
Bingol Royal Palace, Bingol, Packilvania

The Bingol Royal Palace was abuzz with courtiers and pilgrims visiting the Temple of the Authority located on the premises. The Sultan had a full day of work, mostly meetings. He was looking forward to a special meeting at 14:30.

Namdun III rarely showed his feelings on his face, but today he allowed his face to crack a smile. He rarely saw Thumim outside of official work engagements. He was very proud of his son, who had accomplished so much and as he was mellowing with age, he realised that a relationship with one’s children can be nearly as rewarding as the power and circumstance of the office of the Sultan.

The hour arrived and Prince Thumim entered the Imperial Throne Room. The Sultan sat on his throne which was placed on a dais. They greeted each other formally.

“Prince Thumim”, Namdun said, “Must you always insist that we have our meetings in the Throne Room instead of in the parlour?”

“I cannot instruct, your Majesty”, Thumim replied, “But the parlour is for sons”.

Namdun almost rolled his eyes with indignation. Here we go again, he thought to himself, Always with this “I’m not your son” nonsense! I beat you once. Get over it! I apologised. But he didn’t say that. He kept such thought to himself.

“Alright, Prince Thumim”, Namdun said, “What is the purpose of this audience?”

“How many sons does Your Majesty have?”, Prince Thumim asked.

Namdun replied in surprise, “Two”.

Prince Thumim asked another question, “How many grandsons does Your Majesty have?”

Namdun was getting irritated with this line of questioning, “None. What is the purpose of these questions?”

“The answers to question reveal the purpose of this meeting”, Prince Thumim said.

“How?” Namdun asked curiously.

“Your Majesty only has two heirs”, Prince Thumim said.

“Yes, however, soon Abuyin will have plenty of children”, Namdun answered.

“Will he?” Prince Thumim asked, “And what about me?”

“Prince Thumim, don’t do this”, Namdun instructed nervously.

“I will not!” Thumim said assertively.

Namdun was surprised. “What is the meaning of this Prince Thumim?”

“It is Your Majesty’s fault that I will not have children. It is your fault that I am like this. None of my heirs will sit on the throne because of YOU!”

Thumim was breathing heavily, tears forming on the brim of his eyelids and claws out.

“Prince Thumim!” Namdun said, “I have already apologised! What do you want from me? We took you to the best doctors in the world and to the most powerful prophets! I was so desperate to heal you, we even tried… dark magic!”

“Well, Your Majesty”, Prince Thumim replied with the voice full of acid, “We have not tried everything”.

“What do you mean? Get to the point Prince Thumim. I am growing weary of your questions and vague statements”, Namdun replied. Being reminded of that incident, and what he did to Thumim was bad enough, but seeing the pain on Thumim’s face was too much. He tried to conceal it and no matter how much he tried to convince himself that he had done what he thought was right, guilt struck him like a sword.

“Since I cannot have children of my own, I will have them by my brother”, Prince Thumim said.

“What abomination is this?” Namdun asked incredulously.

“As the King of Drakkengard, I want you to legalise artificial insemination in Drakkengard and change the laws of Packilvania to allow adopted sons of one’s brother to be valid heirs of one’s estate including the Throne”. Thumim said, “I will adopt Abuyin’s sons born through artificial insemination and they shall be my heirs”.

“Have you lost your mind?” Namdun said with canines and claws revealed, “This is immoral”.

“Is it”, Thumim asked, “Was beating your son senseless, moral?”

“Stop this, Prince Thumim!”

“Admit it!” Thumim said, “You are cursed! You are cursed to have your line end in a generation. You are cursed for what you did to me!”

Namdun was horrified. “How dare you?! If I were cursed I would not have had Abuyin with with YOUR mother Abuyin is a sign that Noi forgave me! Abuyin is a gift!”

Prince Thumim laughed. His laugh was maniacal, “Abuyin is not your gift! You have not been forgiven. Abuyin is my gift! Noi saw my dejected state and pitied me! She gave me a brother by you, that I should have children of my own”.

Namdun was silent. All this time he had convinced himself that he had been forgiven but in his heart he never believed it.

“Do this for me! Do this so I will not be forgotten. Do this so that someone may carry my name”

Thumim was crying. He was on the ground sobbing like a child. The last time he had seen Thumim’s tears was 30 years ago. Namdun pitied him, he came down from his throne and approached to comfort him.

“Don’t touch me!”, Thumim exclaimed, “Just do what I ask”.

He stood up and walked out leaving Namdun stupefied.

29 September 2021,
Bingol Royal Palace, Bingol, Packilvania

Prince Thumim’s days were filled with many responsibilities. While he had shared his father’s burdens, he bore the full weight of them now that he was in his seat. He slept only 4 hours between 00:00 and 4:00. He woke up with exercise, showered and had a breakfast of Eggs Arlington and Hobsti tea. Following which, he would read over the The daily Imperial Bulletin, a top secret document prepared for the monarch to keep him abreast of National affairs. Following which, he had many meetings. On this day, he had meetings with the Prime Minister, the Chief of the Defence Force, the Chairman of the Legislative Council and the Supreme Magister of Paxism. After this, he had lunch which consisted of souvlaki and baklava with a cocktail.

Following this he had to open a prominent piece of infrastructure, entertain foreign dignitaries at the Palace, read through and promulgate proposed decrees from the Council of Ministers, review requests for pardons, and have a meeting with the Imperial Security Councils. Finally at night, he had chicken curry and sweet meat and afterwards a glass of wine. He went to his room and lay down, dismissing his attendants. Looking to his side, he recognised how alone he felt. “I need a wife”, he said to himself. But he realised that finding and maintaining a relationship and getting a wife willing to have a child by his brother Abuyin would be difficult. As such, he ordered the Imperial Lord Chamberlain, Prince Fidal, to convene an Imperial Consort Committee to search for and advise him on a wife and oversee courtship. Prince Fidal was to work with Sultana Mebri to bring these plans to fruition.

29 September 2021,
Bingol, Packilvania

One of the Chamberlains arrived in Prince Thumim’s Chambers. After exchanging greetings, the Chamberlain said, “His Imperial Majesty, our Lord Sultan has summoned you to the Council of State Room”.

Prince Thumim was surprised but he knew that this summoning rarely happened. So he followed the order and went to the Room. The members of the Council of State were already seated. They were Princes of the Empire, the Sultan, the Sultan’s Mother, the Deputy Crown Prince, the Supreme Magister of Paxism and the Sultana.

“Please sit, my son”, Namdun III said, “I have called this meeting of the Council of State to discuss the proposal His Imperial Highness that has made: that we amend the laws of Succession”.

“Hmm”, said the Sultana, “I think this is a good proposal. My son, unable to have his own sons should at least enjoy the pleasure of having his own heir sit on the Imperial Throne”.

Prince Sajahal opined, “While I sympathise with his Imperial Highness, I must decline to support this. The rules of Succession exist to prevent war within the family. If we change them, we might lose this carefully crafted and fragile peace. Resentment will exist”.

Prince Uhayed said, “I must agree with Prince Sajahal. Allowing the Sultan to change the line of Succession by adopting sons is unheard of. Furthermore, if the Sultan were to appoint more than one son, in what order would they succeed him? Would it be by order of birth or by order of adoption? Furthermore, what are we to do if the Sultan adopts someone who is not a member of the House of Bedon? Shall we have Kilions, Demirs, Zubrayns return to the throne being Bedon only by name?”

Prince Ludan stated,“These are valid questions. But they do not preclude the possibility, they simply raise valid problems for us to solve. Perhaps we can restrict the amendment to the rules of Succession to address these specific constraints”.

Prince Harim said, “I’m sorry but this is not right. Even if we restricted the Sultan’s power to determine his heir to extremely specific cases such as the one we have before us, many other clans and dynasties have fallen because of the sense of unfairness that this created”.

Prince Radeeq said, “Furthermore, this might not be in keeping with the laws of Paxism. What say you Supreme Magister?”

“The scriptures says that only a man and his wife may become of one flesh and it is by this that a blessing from Noi in the form of a child can be received”, Supreme Magister Tawak Mudawaheen said. “Thus, from the fatwa of the Magisterium, a general consensus has emerged that artificial insemination unites the flesh of those who participate. If they are unmarried, it would be yolking them in sin. I cannot approve this unfortunately. The matter of adoption, however is beyond the scope of the Magisterium to opine on. It is by Pax that mortals who were cast out were adopted by Noi to return to the Hive as we all have the opportunity to do. The decision on that lies with this Council”.

Prince Jibrael said, “I’m sorry Prince Thumim, but the reality is that the Constitution binds the Sultan and the Bedonite dynasty to rule according to the laws of Paxism. I think that rules out the matter of artificial insemination altogether. The matter of adoption is far too dangerous. A clear and predictable line of Succession as maintained by this council ensures that we shall have heirs forever and no one can skip the queue or be offended by their lot”.

The Sultan’s Mother said, “And furthermore, should Prince Abuyin not consent to this entire ploy for it to be remotely viable”.

Prince Abuyin said, “I love you brother. I would do almost anything for you. But this, I will not do”.

The Sultan let out a sigh, “Well, I think we’ve spoken enough. It is time for a vote. Those in favour of amending the laws of Succession say aye”.

Prince Thumim lifted his hand and so did his mother but they were the only ones.

“Those against amending the laws of succession raise your hands”, the Sultan said.

Everyone reluctantly raised their hands.

The Sultan said, “I’m sorry, my son”.

Prince Thumim said, “The council has decided”.

The Sultana tried to reach out to him to give him support, but he pulled away, stood up and walked out. They all looked at him with such pain and pity.

The Sultana said to them, “You are all awful, unfeeling and cruel!”

The Sultan’s Mother said, “That may be true, but the future of this family rests with us”.

The Sultana declared, “It doesn’t rest you old cranes, the young ones are the future”.

Prince Idesh looked at Prince Abuyin and said, “Indeed they are”.

29 September 2021
Bingol, Packilvania

“Your Imperial Majesty”, Prince Sajahal said, “I respect your prerogative to make your son the Regent, but I fear he will punish us for our treachery”

“Don’t be absurd Prince Sajahal”, Prince Harim said, “We didn’t betray him. We simply did what was right”.

“You might think that Prince Harim”, Prince Sajahal said, “At least your son is his best friend and he might pity you for his Sake? But what of me? I was never close with him. Nor are any of my sons good friends with him. If anything he finds them repulsive and has insinuated as much”.

“That’s enough”, said Prince Ludan, “You’re being paranoid”.

“Lucky for you”, Prince Sajahal said, “At least your son is the Chief of the Armed Forces. I should have just supported this ridiculous ploy and spared myself the trouble”.

The Sultan’s Mother said, “That’s enough! You think that Prince Thumim is still a child who will throw a tantrum just because he didn’t get what he wanted”.

“That may be true”, Prince Sajahal said, “But he is more dangerous as a grown man who is trying to and has been denied the ability to preserve his legacy”.

Prince Jibrael said, “Hmm, maybe the Sultan’s Mother can keep him distracted with the Imperial Consort Committee. Hopefully he can find a wife to occupy his mind and dull his fury. How are things coming in that regard, your Majesty?”

“Well”, The Sultan’s Mother said, “He has ordered the committee to be convened and I am compiling a list of potential candidates”.

She handed him her diary which contained a bunch of names written down. Prince Harim read them, “Are these the names you have thought of? I’ve heard of some of these women. None of them will challenge him”.

“Hand me the list”, Sultan Namdun said, “I must agree. Maybe, the Sultana should take charge of this one, mother”.

“Excuse me”, the Sultan’s Mother said.

The Sultan said, “Let’s face facts. No one knows him better or would be more suited to selecting our future Sultana than she who sits on the throne today”.

The Sultana smiled a little bit and seemed pleased with herself. Namdun rolled his eyes internally. She is so predictable. I will have you back my Sultana. In time, you will be mine again

29 September 2021
Bingol, Packilvania

Prince Thumim was in his chamber working. His mom entered and he asked his visitor to leave.

“Mother”, he said approaching her to give her hug.

She gladly embraced him and said, “My son, I’m sorry that things turned out the way they did with the Council of State”.

He sighed and said, “Mother, it’s fine”

“Well”, she said, “In other news, your father has asked me to take over your grand mother’s role in the Imperial Consort Committee”.

“Oh”, he said, “Do they want you to keep me distracted so I don’t have time to send them to a re-education camp?”

His mother shifted around uncomfortably. “Oh mother!” He said, “Don’t worry. I understand”.

“Do you really want a committee to find your next wife?” His mother asked.

“You know mother. It’s just I don’t have time to meet people and organise dates. That’s what this committee is for”,He said.

“Do you intend on abiding by its recommendations?”, she asked.

“Maybe”, he said, “I don’t really know anything about love and romance. I don’t think any woman would want a husband like me, nor should she have to”.

“You might be surprised”.

15 October 2021
Cryria-Packilvania Business Conference
Gezer International Conference Centre, Gezer, Packilvania - TEPwiki

“Cousin, why am I here?” Prince Thumim asked.

Prince Alawadun replied, “Sir, the Commercial Cooperation Partnership that we are working on is critical to building economic relationships with the League of Novaris nations and this conference enables the credibility and provides momentum to put some thrust behind that partnership”.

“That doesn’t explain why I’m here”, Prince Thumim.

“Well my Lord”, Prince Alawadun said, “I imagined that your presence here would add weight and show the Novarians that we’re serious about trade and commerce”.

Prince Thumim contemplated what he said and replied, “While I can find some sense in your statement, I sincerely doubt that you need my presence to show them we’re serious”.

“Well, my lord”, Prince Alawadun said, “All the reasons I gave you are true. But a secondary reason is that I think this little conference will give you some time to rest”.

“Prince Alawadun!”

“Sir, please understand”, Prince Alawadun pleaded, “I know that you’re busy. But you are my cousin and I thought some lunches and speeches with some business people is as close to rest as you will get”.

Prince Thumim huffed and said, “Fine, no more than 2 hours”.

“Excellent”, Prince Alawadun said, “You’re the keynote speaker and here’s your speech. And before you say anything, it’s been approved by Prince Luwadeen”.

Thumim gave a look of annoyance, but there was a levity in him as he walked to the stage. Rapturous yells and hoots from the audience arose. People were yelling his name for 8 minutes. He smiled and shook their hands as they fell over themselves trying to get near him. He didn’t often make public appearances but it was nice to be reminded that he was beloved by his subjects. Once the crowd settled down, he read the dull speech. But his eyes kept being drawn to a human human. unlike the rest of the audience whose eyes were fixed on him. She took notes and looked through her phone as though she was almost indifferent to what he was saying.

After his speech he said to Alawadun, “Do you know who that is”.

“Ah”, Prince Alawadun said, “That is the Duchess of Tynam. An incredibly wealthy and astute businesswoman”.

“Since you dragged me against my will”, Prince Thumim said, “You can organise a meeting between the Duchess and I”

Prince Alawadun stifled a gleeful giggle. He summoned his secretary and instructed them to contact the Duchess and organise a business lunch with her and his highness.