And back to the politics. And to the folk who haven't appeared very much in my serials to date - Sidereals! Let's see what the would-be masters of Creation are up to, shall we?
"Tepet Fokuf.â€ Chejop Kejak considered the report in front of him for a moment, letting silence settle around him like a mantle, before looking up at the two members of the Convention of Earth that stood before him. The three were sitting in his office in Yu-Shan, in the Manse of Forbidding Ivy, after he had called his two subordinates earlier in the day. â€œYour reasons?â€
Harakken Cyrus, Chosen of Serenity and one of Kejakâ€™s old friends, gestured to the report. His impeccable blue robes hung around him in a scintillating aura, a thousand shades of cerulean and azure that sparkled as though all the stars hung about his shoulders, and his tight black hair pulled up in a topknot above his head. â€œHeâ€™s a logical choice. First, heâ€™s mortal, which means that we donâ€™t have to worry about having an elder keep him in rein. Secondly, he has no major enemies, and few minor ones. Smoothing his passage onto the throne will be simple; we may not even need to affect fate to do it, as his presence will be marginal. It buys us time to find a true successor â€“ or to locate the Empress.â€ Kejak let the half-inquiring sally pass without comment, and Cyrus continued with an almost-imperceptible sigh. â€œFinally, heâ€™s malleable. We can focus our efforts on the House leaders, who would be scheming against a more aggressive Regent, without having to watch our backs.â€
â€œBut you disagree.â€ It was not a question, but not Cathak Damian nodded regardless. He always felt incredibly nervous around the leader of the Convention, given the massive age gap between Kejak and himself. As Cyrus was fond of reminding him, Davian had yet to see eight centuries of life, and his ability to enter the presence of his elders was based almost entirely on his familial connections to the throne, and he felt badly underdressed â€“ wearing only the red tunic and black breeches that he had been clad in when he had been called, having had to use the best of his Charms just to reach the meeting on time, and already off-balance. Something he suspected that Cyrus had arranged deliberately to support his own position, although the elder Sidereal was far too smooth to suggest such a thing himself. Davian knew how outclassed he was in direct social confrontation with his superiors, and rarely argued with the elder Bronze Sidereals, but this time he felt the need.
â€œYes, sir. Fokuf is not merely malleable. Every indication is that he is dangerously prone to depressive behaviour, and lacking in many of the basic defenses that he would need as Regent. If anyone chose to remove him, they would not have a problem, and we would be even worse off than before.â€
â€œAnd you donâ€™t want to be responsible for the loss of a Regent.â€ Kejakâ€™s tone was understanding, but Damian felt himself shrivel at the unspoken reminder â€“ and rebuke â€“ that was implicit therein. â€œYour concern is noted, and understood, Davian, but I tend to agree with Cyrus. Fokuf is the best of a very small pool of options, as a regent who will not try to take power for himself.â€ He leaned forwards in his desk, fixing the other two with his gaze. â€œWe need time. The plans of the Empress and the returning Solars are throwing everything into chaos, and Mnemon does not intend to give us a chance to keep control of the Realm. As soon as she confirms that the Empress is gone, she will move. Sheâ€™s already started. And we cannot have her take the throne.â€ He sighed, sitting back. â€œDamian, I know how busy you are managing House Cathak, but Iâ€™m going to have to ask you to keep an eye on the Regent as well. I agree with your concerns â€“ we canâ€™t afford to lose him if we donâ€™t have a replacement groomed.â€ Damian nodded uncertainly, and Kejak turned his attention to Cyrus. â€œCyrus, the Inner Circle is meeting tonight to discuss the issue of the resurging Gold Faction. I hope to see you there.â€
â€œOf course, my friend.â€ Cyrus inclined his head, and then stood to go. â€œCome, Damian. We have some work to do making sure that all of Fokufâ€™s protections are in order.â€
Damian stood, bowing to Kejak, and turned to leave his spartan office. Inwardly, he fumed. Another mission to occupy time that was already stretched thin, because Kejak did not consider his time important enough to waste on a mortal. He knew that his purpose was to protect others, but he was stretched thin as it was. Watching the affairs of an entire Great House, repairing pattern damage across a swath of the Blessed Isle, and keeping an eye out for signs of Solar or Lunar meddling was taking up most of his time, and he couldnâ€™t remember the last time that heâ€™d simply sat back and enjoyed a good party. He hadnâ€™t even visited Yu-Shan, except on business, in the last three months.
On the other hand, this could be an advantage. Damian was worried about the soon-to-be Regent. During his research, he had taken a liking to the man, even if Fokuf was unlikely to have even realized that he was being watched. The man was affable and easygoing, and throwing him to the Dynastic sharks left a sour taste in Damianâ€™s mouth. He resolved to place as powerful an astrology as he could manage on the Regent â€“ and if anyone complained, he would just tell them that Kejak himself had requested it. It was technically true, and the leader of the Sidereals was unlikely to argue that Damian was doing his job too well.
Cyrus nodded to Damian as their paths branched, heading towards the more bustling areas of the department. Damian hardly noticed, already drawing up the astrology that he wanted in his mind. Protections like this would not be easyâ€¦