A Song of Sorrow, Part 18

The news of the battle on Trisitania caused a variety of reactions, depending on where in the galaxy it was received. Throughout what was left of the Empire, it was received with dismay. For those people who just wanted peace and stability, the spectacle of rival Emperors fighting over the Palace showed how distant that dream was. For the other men who claimed the Imperial Throne and their supporters, it was mixed news. The elimination of a rival was good news, but all three factions were distraught that the weakest one was first to go, and disappointed that they hadn’t gotten to the capital first. They were also somewhat dismayed that Jimalin Redlamin now held the Throne and the capital, as he was a much more formidable opponent than Adlamor Finegal.

In the rest of the galaxy, the reaction to the news was more positive, but still mixed. The President of Hadramoris and his advisors were pleased that the Empire was fracturing further, but were also concerned that a more competent man now sat on the Throne. As for the leadership of Fangalin, they were mostly satisfied with how their plan to sow chaos in the Empire was proceeding, but there was some disquiet that a pair of foolish Emperors had been replaced with a somewhat less foolish Emperor.

The Supreme Commander of Fangalin, Zhemeen Fortulis, and his chief advisor, Councilor Dren Calabane, were discussing how their plans had proceeded so far, and debating what their next move should be.

“Well, all things considered, this operation has been a success for us, although it could have gone even better,” said Calabane, looking down at a tablet showing a variety of news reports from the Empire.

“Indeed,” replied Fortulis, “The high casualties in the battle for the Palace definitely pleases me, and the destruction of the Legion of the Heart will probably make it easier for us to assassinate Emperors in the future. I wouldn’t have minded if Finegal had remained on the throne for more than a few months though. I can only imagine how much more the Empire would have fractured if that dolt had held on for a few years.”

“I doubt that Jimalin Redlamin will be a great Emperor though,” Calabane said, “He’s decisive, and reasonably smart, but he’s also extremely stubborn and superstitious. I think we can use those traits against him.”

“That’s good to know,” Fortulis said, “What about the other contenders? Is there one that we would rather see on the Throne? It would be harder to remove Extrator than it was to remove Embamor, but I think it could be done. We still have several sleeper cells in the ISS.”

“I’d have to investigate further,” Calabane said, “Valador Mifalis is patient and methodical. He won’t be easy to manipulate, but also has a small following, and is unlikely to ever attain the Throne, especially given his age. Erelisk Votalin is vain and cruel, but he’s also a brilliant tactician and strategist. A formidable opponent, but not without weaknesses that we could exploit. And Vibal Trogoron…well, he’s actually got a lot of similarities to Mifalis; patient and meticulous, but younger and fantastically wealthy. He’s got an even smaller following though, and no military experience, so it remains to be seen how he’ll do as a commander.”

“What a rogue’s gallery,” Fortulis said with a smirk, “Well, it may not happen in my lifetime, but the Empire’s fall seems inevitable at this point. We have done well, my friend.” He lifted his drink towards Calabane, and Calabane picked up his and clinked it against his leader’s.

***

Haasadis Ventelin was passed out in his massive bed, naked, a beautiful young woman on either side, when the news of the battle on Trisitania came to Midigal early one morning. He had been up all night, celebrating a great political victory. He had finally convinced the ruling body of Midigal, the Merchants’ Council, to secede from the Empire and accept him as their King, and a tremendous party had been held in his honor. Ventelin, true to his reputation, had drank more and boasted louder than any other man present.

He had left strict orders not to be disturbed except in an emergency, but his aides had decided that the Imperial Throne changing hands probably constituted an emergency, so they took the calculated risk of waking him. After all, if they didn’t wake him, and he later decided it had been an emergency, he would be just as enraged as if they had woken him for something that he didn’t consider an emergency.

The buzzer on the door rang at least ten times before Ventelin finally stirred. He groaned, roughly shoved the girls aside, and stumbled to the door without putting on any clothes. Once it opened, the aide who rang the buzzer blanched, and then kept his eyes firmly locked on his lord’s.

“Your Majesty,” he said, “there’s urgent news out of Trisitania!”

“It had better be damned urgent for you to be waking me!” Ventelin roared, and then groaned, closed his eyes, and clutched his head. The aide smirked a little while Ventelin wasn’t looking. Ventelin was feared, but he was neither liked nor overly respected, and many of his aides were disgusted by his excessive drinking and womanizing.

“There has been a battle on Trisitania,” the aide said, and that caused Ventelin to stop moaning and look up. “Jimalin Redlamin has executed Adlamor Finegal and taken the Imperial Throne. The Legion of the Heart has been destroyed, but the new Emperor’s forces have taken heavy losses as well.”

“Hmmm,” Ventelin said, stroking his beard, “This is big news indeed. You did well to wake me. Summon my generals and the Merchants’ Council. We need to decide what to do in the wake of this information.” The aide bowed and rushed off.

Ventelin smiled to himself as he got dressed. The moment he’d been waiting for was almost here. The Empire was collapsing in on itself rapidly. Soon, he would openly proclaim the Kingdom of Midigal, and there would be nothing the Empire could do about it.

The End

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