After Indarni leave the room, everyone eats in silence. You roll a coconut covered cream puff around your plate and wonder what the whole point of this dinner was. You didn’t learn anything useful and barely avoided being betrothed to Aiko.
Reva refills her plate with fruit from the buffet. “Yi, why don’t you take Masaru and Svante to see Akiko. I don’t Masaru has had a chance to meet his niece yet.”
“Svante can stay here. I rarely spend time with my nephew and am loathe to let him out of my sight.” Elder Kejak has ignore the dessert table and contents himself with a cup of green tea.
Reva frowns and nods at Yi. The two brothers leave the room, with Masaru looking back with a worried expression.
“Yi looks well. Has he completed his trials yet?”
“No.” Reva peels the leaves off of a strawberry. “Takeshi will be taking Yi on his Trail of Water this summer.”
“How generous of the Admiral to take time out of his busy schedule to assist Yi with his sorcerous education.” Elder Kejak swirls his tea around in his cup. “You are very fortunate Yi takes after you.”
“And you are very fortunate I didn’t cut you down in front of your nephew.” She puts her half eaten strawberry down and sighs. “Must we go through this game every time we met? You threaten my son. I threaten your life.” Why was Elder Kejak taking these threats from Raijin Reva? As an Elder Sidereal, he could do any number of things to show Reva who was really in charge. Unless Elder Kejak wishes Reva to believe she is in a position of power. You consider this idea as Reva continues. “In the interest of time, let’s skip ahead to the heart of the matter. Why did you want to meet with my mother? I’m sure it wasn’t to be married off in one of my mother’s breeding schemes.”
You frantically shake your head in disagreement. “No.” Elder Kejak sets his tea cup down. “I have no desire for a wife nor to enlighten your mother in the complexity of Sidereal… demographics. Rather, I was hoping to discuss her choice for the Shogun’s successor. When will she announce her support for the next Shogun?”
“She is not.” Reva finishes her strawberry. “She cares for neither of the two front runners. If only Kimiko wasn’t killed on the Solar Wyld Hunt….”
“Kimiko is gone.” Elder Kejak declares. “Both you and your mother must accept that.”
“Who do you support?” Reva asks. “As both Secretary and Sidereal, you must have an opinion.”
“I follow the orders of my elders…”
“No.” Reva interrupts. “I am not asking what your elders think, Secretary. I’ve noticed you in the shadows watching the court. You have a brain in your head and thus you must have an opinion. Who do you personally support for the next Shogun?”
“My tea has grown cold.” The Secretary rises from the table and prepares himself a new cup. Reva waits and takes a sip of wine. You sit there and wish you had gone with Masaru. Reva wants something from Elder Kejak…. or the secretary. Why didn’t she just come out and say it? This was worse than watching adults talk about sex.
The secretary comes back to the table with a fresh cup of tea. “I support Akane.” He finally says. “She has promised me a great many things.”
Reva snorts. “You are more of a fool than I thought if you except Akane to remember her promises to a Sidereal. Anyways, she will never get her legions to Meru in time.”
“She will if your husband offers her transportation.”
“You overestimate my influence over Mayim Takeshi. I have seen the man twice since Masaru’s conception.”
“You still correspond.”
“About the welfare of our sons.” Reva smiles and sets her still half full wine glass down. “Admiral Mayim has no love for politics. You Sidereals saw to that. You groomed him to be the perfect admiral. Cares nothing about his reputation. His gent’s reputation. His children’s reputation.” Reva’s voice drips with venom. “All he cares about is defending the Pole of Water from the Raksha. And surprise, surprise. Now you need him to play the game, he abstains. ‘I support the Shogun and neither Akane nor Hayate are yet Shogun.’” She picks up her wine glass again. “I have given up on him years ago. “
“Yet you have discussed the succession with him.” Elder Kejak points out.
“It’s funny, secretary. You never asked me who I support for Shogun.”
“Who do you support for Shogun, Lady Reva?”
The Secretary frowns, taken back by her answer. “Don’t tell me you support Hayate.”
“I did not say that.” Reva continues. “The Shogun has six living children.”
“Neither of the twins are serious contenders. They do not have the temperament for the position. Also no one will allow a Sorcerer to attune to the Chrysanthemum manse.”
“No one respects Yin after he got a child on Hui Satomi. He was sent North to quell a rebellion and ended up fucking its leader. “
“You are talking about Hui Aiko.” You say. Reva glances at you as if she forgot you were there.
“We do not hide the facts of basic biological functions from our children, Reva.” Elder Kejak assures her. “You may continue.”
Reva moves on. “Hayate will purge us into war to please his ego. He does not respect neither Fair Folk nor Anathema as true enemies. Only other Dragonblooded.” She swirls her wine in her glass. “Though mother may complain about them, she has no wish to see the Northern Gents slaughtered.” Reva leans closer. “And I assure you, secretary, it will be a slaughter. The North has no leadership since Hui Satomi died.”
“That leaves you with two children, Akane and Guanyu. And you said you do not support Akane.”
“I do not. She only wants the manse to prove something to her mother. But the Shogun will be dead after she gains the throne. Akane will never gain her mother’s approval. And then what will she do?” Reva purses her lips and muses on Akane. “I suppose she would make a good puppet for you.”
“My elders will not agree to Guanyu.” The secretary declares. “He is barely forty years old.”
“Ah, yet you have been grooming his daughter to take the throne.”
What, what? You miss the next bit of conversation as you digest the concept of Chiyoko as Shogun. A Shogun must be stern. A great general. Chiyoko was none of these things.
“…when Saturn comes for Akane in a hundred years’ time, Lung Chiyoko will be ready for the responsibility.”
“When Akane dies, there will be a succession war.”
“A small one. Chiyoko will need to prove her worth in battle.” The secretary throws down his napkin. “Really, Reva. If everything goes according to plan, one of your grandchildren will be on the throne.”
“Secretary, nothing goes according to plan. Why not skip the unpredictable war and put Chiyoko’s father on the throne?”
“Lung Guanyu will be no one puppet.” She smiles. “Which I think is your true issue with the man.”
“The Shogun will never agree.”
“The Shogun will be dead.”
“She is your mother’s lover.” The Secretary reminds her.
“Who is in great pain and desperately wishes for Saturn’s visit.” Raijin Reva meets the Secretary’s eyes. “She cannot meet Saturn until Akane’s army arrives.”
“And Akane is just going to step aside and let her little brother take the throne.”
“We will take care of Akane.” You take a sharp breath. Chiyoko’s mother was with Akane’s legion.
“Really, Reva. You aren’t planning on assassinating her, are you?” The Secretary lowers his voice. “That would be treason. I can’t be a party to that.”
“Of course not! We will talk some sense into her.” The Secretary looks uncertain of this plan. “We will take care of Akane. We need your people to support Guanyu. Your doctor needs to keep the Shogun alive until her army gets here. ”
The secretary sighs. “My tea has grown cold again.”
“By all means. Refresh your tea if it will help you make a decision.” She crosses her arms and waits. You fidget with a coconut flake, waiting for Elder Kejak to return to the table. What will Reva do when Elder Kejak turns her down? He won’t upset the entire Sidereal plan over a dinner, so you expect there to be trouble. You consider the exits of the windowless room. Out the way your came will be best.
Elder Kejak sits back down with his steaming cup of tea. “I’ll need some assurances.”
You drop your fork. Shit. What about all the missions the other Sidereals were sent on? Is Elder Kejak going to defy the entire Elder council? He was one of the few Elders who voted to let you live! You slide down in the chair as Reva discusses terms with Elder Kejak.
“The Wyld Hunts will continue and the Immaculate Monks will operate without interference.”
“The new Shogun will also need to support the Immaculate philosophy.”
“Yes, Guanyu understands the need to play lip service to your religion, Secretary.”
Elder Kejak considers his options. “I have a few people I want moved into key positions.”
“We will look over your list and consider your suggestions.” Reva holds up her hand to forestall any disagreement. “That is all I can promise, secretary. You will have to bring it up with Guanyu himself.”
“I continue as secretary.” Elder Kejak insists.
Reva rolls her eyes. “What would we ever do without your guidance?”
“I will be put in charge of Lung Chiyoko and her circle’s education.”
“You do want my help…”
“And the children are too high of a price to pay.”
Elder Kejak frowns. “Svante stays in the circle.”
“No,” Reva disagrees. What? Out of all the outcomes of this conversation, you did not expect to lose your friends. And you thought you won Masaru’s mother over with your knowledge of manga.
“Chiyoko’s circle will gain higher profile. Heirs of key allies will around Creation will transfer to her school in an effort to join her circle.”
“Yet Aiko stays in her circle.” Elder Kejak points out.
Reva traces the rim of her wine glass. “We can spin Aiko’s presence as an olive branch to the Northern Gents.”
“There is no need to spin any story in Svante’s case. As a Sidereal, no one will question his presence.”
“I question his presence.”
“But not for the reasons you state.” Elder Kejak stares her down. “Why do you want the boy to leave?”
You stare at your plate. She knows, you realize. She knows about you and Chiyoko. Why else would she want you gone?
“I should have killed you in the ruins, secretary.” Reva’s voice is barely a whisper. “You threaten Yi, yet it is Masaru who is in danger. Takeshi was in one of your special circles and he is the only one left. Everyone else died. ” She closes her eyes. “Masaru is my youngest. I’m not going to let you send him into danger.”
What do you say?
- Say nothing. Let Elder Kejak take care of Reva’s fears.
- Ask her why she cares. She hasn’t seen Masaru since his second breath.
- Promise to protect Masaru as long as you are a member of his circle.
- Remind Reva her son is Dragonblooded. Masaru’s duty is to be sent into danger, even if he not a member of your circle.
((I miscounted the Shogun’s children the first time. Stupid twins being two separate people.))
((This scene ended up much longer than I thought. ))